HC Deb 02 April 1968 vol 762 cc295-8

Queen's Recommendation having been signified—

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to increase family allowances under the Family Allowances Act 1965, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of any increase in the sums payable out of such moneys under the Family Allowances Act 1965 (whether on account of allowances or in respect of administrative expenses or otherwise) which is attributable to any provision of that Act of the present Session increasing the weekly rates of the allowances payable under the said Act of 1965 in respect of the first child of a family other than the elder or eldest and in respect of each other such child to amounts not exceeding 18 shillings and 20 shillings, respectively;
  2. (b) subject to the provision made by section 85 of the National Insurance Act 1965 for reimbursement out of the National Insurance Fund or by section 61 of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1965 for reimbursement out of the Industrial Injuries Fund, of any increase in the expenses of the Minister of Social Security or any other Government department which are so payable under either of those sections, being an increase attributable to any provision included in that Act of the present Session in connection with any such provision as is mentioned in paragraph (a) above.—[Mr. Diamond.]

9.59 p.m.

Mr. Marcus Worsley; (Chelsea)

I wish to speak very briefly to this point. I think the right hon. Lady heard the points that I made when winding up and I have no wish to keep the House longer than necessary. In his Budget speech the Chancellor made certain statements about how this was to be financed. These statements are not echoed either by the Bill or by the Money Resolution, and I should like an explanation why, in the Budget Statement, the Government made certain propositions about financing a certain social change, but no mention has been made of that now. Perhaps the right hon. Lady will explain it.

10.0 p.m.

The Minister of Social Security (Mrs. Judith Hart)

In fairness to myself, I think I should say that I thought I had made the point clear this afternoon, but obviously I did not do so to the satisfaction of the hon. Gentleman, so I shall try to do so again.

Perhaps I might quote exactly what the Chancellor said, because the hon. Gentleman slightly paraphrased my right hon. Friend's statement. This made it a little difficult to understand, just as an exact quotation makes it easy to understand. He said: We propose to meet the net cost of this further increase by a small change in National Insurance benefits, the savings resulting from which will accrue to the National Insurance Funds rather than to the Consolidated Fund."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th March, 1968; Vol. 761, c. 266.] My right hon. Friend said that the cost would be met, not, as the hon. Gentleman said a few moments ago, that it would be paid for. My right hon. Friend made it clear in his Budget Statement, and I certainly made it clear this afternoon, that there is a distinction—this was the point on which I interrupted the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), because I thought that he was getting it wrong—between expenditure from the National Insurance Fund—that is one category—and expenditure directly financed from the Exchequer, which appears in the Vote—this is another category.

They both come within the heading of public expenditure, although one appears in the Vote, and the other does not. When the Government were considering the need to limit public expenditure in the kind of way that was announced in January, it was public expenditure, wherever it appeared, on whatever piece of paper it appeared in terms of accounts presented to the House. It was public expenditure which was being considered, and in this sense both expenditure from the Fund, and expenditure directly financed out of the Vote, count as public expenditure.

In other words, it is taking an economic, and not purely an accounting, look at the financial responsibilities of Government. It was in this sense that the Chancellor meant that public expenditure would be balanced—an increase in public expenditure financed by an Exchequer balance; but, in terms of public expenditure, by the saving on the National Insurance Fund which was proposed in Clause 2. That is the link between the two, no more direct, but no less direct than that.

Question put and agreed to.