HC Deb 20 July 1953 vol 518 cc6-8
5. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Materials the number of officials employed by his Department and the cost of it at 1st July, 1953, including all overheads and measured on an annual basis; the comparable figures for 1st November, 1951; and when his Department is to be expunged.

Sir A. Salter

The number of officials was 1,018 on 1st July as compared with 1,862 on 1st November, 1951, and the gross administrative cost, including overheads, is estimated at £1,112,000 this year as compared with an annual rate of £1,436,000 for 1951–52.

As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) on 19th March, 1953.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that while we on this side of the House applaud his unexceptionable character, we do not like his ministerial habits? Is he aware that if the amount of State trading has declined by 84 per cent., then the number of officials and the cost of his Department ought also to have declined by 84 per cent.?

Sir A. Salter

If I may say so, that is a most foolish conclusion, for this reason among others, that State trading is only one of the duties of my Department.

Mr. Stokes

Is it not a fact that were his Department to be closed down, at least 75 per cent. of the personnel would be transferred to another Department?

Sir A. Salter

Undoubtedly, a great proportion would have to be transferred, because there are other duties—I will only mention, for example, the stockpiling of strategic materials—which would certainly remain essential and would have to be carried out by some Department in any case.

Mr. Edelman

Leaving on one side the ungracious attack by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), is it not the case that the Ministry of Materials is continuing to do a most valuable service to the Commonwealth through its association with the International Materials Conference, and is not that a reason for a large percentage of the staff remaining in being?

Sir A. Salter

We have, of course, kept in touch with the I.M.C., and we think it is important that a body should remain to deal with future eventualities, whether involving abnormal shortage or surplus.