HC Deb 09 April 1957 vol 568 cc972-3

Now for expenditure. Total expenditure above the line was originally estimated at £4,738 million. It turned out to be £4,868 million, or £130 million higher. This increase was spread over all types of expenditure. The cost of the Consolidated Fund services was £824 million, which was £46 million above the estimate. One reason for this was that large numbers of National Savings Certificates were encashed last autumn and the interest which had accrued on them had to be paid out. I am glad to say that much of the capital and the interest has been reinvested in the new issue.

Defence expenditure exceeded the estimate of £1,499 million by £26 million, despite the economies of £45 million which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in June and October. This was partly due, of course, to the cost of operations at Suez, but partly, also, to higher pay and greater expenditure on research and development and other items.

Civil expenditure, at £2,519 million, was £58 million above the Budget estimate, again despite economies of £48 million. The main increases were £24 million for health and £21 million for education. These increases were due to a great extent to the effect of higher salaries, wages and prices. The cost of food and agricultural subsidies was £6 million above the Budget estimate. We spent £19 million more than the estimate on eggs as a result of the big increase in the supply of eggs in recent months, partially offset by savings on cereals and on the bread and milk subsidies.

To sum up the result above the line, there was a surplus of £290 million. This compared with an estimated surplus of £460 million, which was to be increased during the year by £100 million as a result of savings on expenditure provided for in the original estimates.

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