HC Deb 07 February 1961 vol 634 cc212-3
49. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct ail Ministers to prepare their estimates of expenditure and income on a three-year basis.

The Prime Minister

For many years forecast estimates covering the two years following the year of submission have been provided by Departments for the Treasury. In addition, much progress has been made in recent years in developing the "forward looks" referred to in paragraph 10 of the Treasury observations set out in the Seventh Special Report from the Select Committee on Estimates, Session 1958–59. The resulting studies are still being considered by the Government and are proving useful in giving a general view of expenditure.

Estimates of income in the coming year are primarily a matter for the Budget being prepared by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I cannot at this stage consider publishing similar estimates for a longer period ahead.

Mr. Donnelly

Does the Prime Minister realise that it would be of considerable advantage to British industrialists if they had a much longer-term introduction to what the Government propose to do at any given time in economic affairs, and does he realise that it would be of considerable advantage to business also, even if it might be a handicap to politicians?

The Prime Minister

I think that the estimates of expenditure which we are now trying to indicate are very valuable to us. I do not quite know what the hon. Gentleman means by "income", but I assume that he means revenue. Of course, one can estimate forward appropriations in aid. Revenue must depend upon Budget decisions in each year.

Sir G. Nicholson

No doubt these and kindred subjects are being considered by the Plowden Committee. Has my right hon. Friend any news for the House about the progress of that Committee, and can he say anything about the extent to which its findings will be communicated to Parliament?

The Prime Minister

I would rather have notice of that question, or perhaps my hon. Friend could put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

At the end of Questions