HC Deb 27 February 1957 vol 565 cc1203-4
3. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence what instructions he has given to the Service Departments concerning economy in the expenditure of moneys voted by Parliament for military stores and equipment.

Mr. Sandys

The Service Departments are fully aware of the importance of economy. I am, however, considering what special action should be taken to deal with the points raised in the Third Report of the Select Committee on Estimates.

Mr. Swingler

If the Minister has read the Third Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, is he not aware that a representative of one of the Service Departments said there that it was the policy to spend up to the hilt? Will not the Minister issue a directive to say that it is not his policy that the Service Departments should spend up to the hilt of the Estimates but that they should try to underspend the money voted by Parliament?

Mr. Sandys

That is one of the points that I have in mind, but, as the House knows, the system of annual accounting for matters which really extend over longer periods has always raised difficulties of this kind, and always will.