HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 c1161
38. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence his estimate of underspending by the defence Departments in 1954–55; and how this compares with 1953–54.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Exchequer issues in 1954–55 to the defence Departments, which give a rough indication of outturn. were £120 million less than the provision in Estimates. Accurate figures will not be available for some months. Under-spending in 1953–54 was £139 million.

Mr. Swingler

In view of these revelations of further extravagant estimates by the Service Departments, can the Minister now assure us that steps will be taken to impose some more stringent control over the Defence Departments and to ensure accuracy in their estimating?

Mr. Macmillan

As I told the hon. Member last week, it is still not possible to give accurate figures in regard to some of these matters. The Estimates may be as much as £20 million or £25 million out either way when the final figures are ascertained. That results from the amount of cash on account, held at the beginning or end of the year. We are trying to make the Estimates as accurate as possible.

Mr. H. Hynd

Will the temporary Minister of Defence do all he can to encourage underspending by the Services?