HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 c43

The Committee will remember that I budgeted last year for a small surplus of £10 million. In fact, we have realised a surplus of £433 million. Of the difference of £423 million, increased revenue accounts for £205 million and lower expenditure for £218 million. Below the line receipts for the year were the same as the estimate of £191 million; but expenditure, at £692 million, was £94 million bigger. Three items account for practically the whole of this excess. The first is a larger volume of advances to local authorities by the Public Works Loan Board which involved the Exchequer in issues of £353 million, or £53 million more than the estimate.

The second item is a new one, £45 million advanced to the Post Office for capital expenditure. This follows from the Post Office and Telegraph (Money) Act, 1953, under which the Exchequer took powers to make advances to the Post Office which had previously been made by the Savings Banks funds. The third item is an increase in Exchequer advances to the National Coal Board for capital purposes which at £75 million were £16 million more than the estimate.

As a result, total net payments below the line amounted to £501 million, or £94 million more than the Budget forecast. But owing to the surplus of £433 million above the line, all but £68 million was met from revenue. Most of these payments below the line are made to finance capital expenditure by local authorities. Housing is, of course, the main item. This expenditure and the money spent by the National Coal Board and by the Post Office, are matched by an increase in the useful physical assets of the country.

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