HC Deb 07 February 1956 vol 548 cc1484-5
15. Mr. Holt

asked the President of the Board of Trade the new duties under taken by his Department which at present require the employment of 7,400 civil servants compared with 4,800 in April, 1939; and if he will give the increased number employed under each category and the reduction he expects to make in the coming year.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The present staff of the Board of Trade is 7,314. The main functions which the Board exercise now which did not exist in 1939 are in respect of export and import licensing, the administration of enemy property and the distribution of industry. These together involve the employment of a staff of over 1,000. Any comparison between the range of responsibilities exercised by the Board of Trade today and that of 1939 would be difficult and might be misleading, since, given the greater complexity of economic affairs, for instance in the whole field of overseas trade, it is the character and scale of the work which has changed rather than nominal functions. I am sending the hon. Member a statement showing upon what functions the present staff is engaged. As regards the possibility of a further reduction in that staff, I would refer to what was said in the Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Sir F. Medlicott) on 2nd February.