HC Deb 12 April 1961 vol 638 cc216-7
2. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Defence how the net expenditure on defence for 1960–61, as at present forecast, compares in real terms with the net expenditure for 1952–53 of £1,392 million.

Mr. Watkinson

The latest forecast of net expenditure on defence for 1960–61 is about £1,606 million. On the second basis referred to in my reply to the hon. Member's Question of 29th March, this would be equivalent to about £1,130 million at 1952 prices.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is it not then a fact that over the eight last years, in real terms, there has been a decrease in defence expenditure?

Mr. Watkinson

These statistics are based, as my hon. Friend knows, on different foundations, one on the consumer price index and the other, we hope, on a more realistic figure. I think that the best picture is given by saying that in 1952 the percentage of the gross national product taken by defence was 10.4, that in 1960–61 it was 7.2 per cent. and that we expect that in 1962–63 the figure will be very slightly less than this. I think that that is the fairest picture.