HC Deb 13 July 1953 vol 517 cc1709-11
38. Mr. Hoy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the grant-in-aid of the expenses of the Council of Europe has been increased by over 20 per cent. in 1953–54 as compared with the previous year; and what steps he took to investigate the need for this increase.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Over half of the increase in the grant-in-aid is for our share in an increase in the Council of Europe's Working Capital Fund. The remainder can be attributed to an increase in the Council's budget for 1953. Her Majesty's Government scrutinised these increases carefully before approving them.

Mr. Hoy

Is the assistance of the Comptroller and Auditor General called in to inquire into this increase in expenditure?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a question of which I should like notice.

Mr. Edelman

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that our contribution to the Council of Europe has steadily risen in inverse ratio to the desire of the Government to make the Council of Europe an effective instrument of unity? In view of the fact that the cost has risen, will he now allow the Council of Europe, for the first time, to be debated in this House?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly do not accept the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question. The second part of the question is not a matter for me to answer.

Mr. Hollis

Whereas the Assembly of the Council of Europe met only twice last year and is due to meet four times this year, surely that accounts for the disparity in the figures?

39. Mr. Hoy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he takes, before authorising grants-in-aid to international bodies, to ensure that such grants are spent with due regard for economy; and if he will make it a condition of such grants that the bodies to whom they are paid shall publish annual audited accounts.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Grants to international bodies, for which provision is made in Foreign Office Estimates, are for the most part calculated in accordance with detailed budgets which are closely scrutinised by committees composed of representatives from contributing countries, on which the United Kingdom is usually represented, before their submission to a Council of contributing countries for approval. United Kingdom representatives wherever possible press for economy.

Annual audited accounts of expenditure by the bodies concerned are made available to the Foreign Office. In the case of the United Nations bodies, audited accounts are submitted to and passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Mr. Hoy

Can the Minister say if that reply means that the Council of Europe also issue audited accounts? Are the audited accounts of these various organisations submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General for his inspection?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice of both those supplementary questions.

Sir R. Boothby

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the insularity of the Labour Party is becoming almost unendurable?

Mr. Nicholson

Is it not a fact that in spite of all this scrutiny the expenditure of these bodies tends to go up and up?