HC Deb 14 March 1968 vol 760 cc1615-6
Q6. Mr. Alison

asked the Prime Minister if he will give further details of his use, in Command Paper No. 3515, of a single figure for expressing quantities on two different price bases, details of which have already been sent to him.

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, his Question has already been dealt with in correspondence with me and in a Question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. If he wants further specific information, perhaps he would let us know; alternatively, I would be quite ready to place copies of the correspondence in the Library.

Mr. Alison

Since the figure which the Prime Minister gave in his speech on 16th January now proves, on his own private admission, to have been £10 million to £15 million less than he then claimed, will he now cause a public correction to be made so that the House and the public at large may not be misled?

The Prime Minister

I explained to the hon. Gentleman in what was very long and complicated correspondence the exact details. I do not accept that there is anything in this to correct—[Interruption.]—but I am quite prepared, because we cannot really discuss all these details at Question Time—although there were six days during the defence debates last week when the hon. Gentleman could have raised this—to let the House judge by seeing the correspondence between the hon. Gentleman and myself.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Prime Minister drop the recent practice of expressing growing military expenditure in 1964 terms whereas growing social service expenditure is always expressed in current terms?

The Prime Minister

I have expressed both in both.

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not good enough for a matter like this to be dealt with by way of private correspondence, which is then placed in the Library—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because it is a matter of public concern that a false figure was given in a White Paper. Will the Prime Minister, therefore, issue publicly the necessary statement, which could be brief and which would put this correct on the record?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman now seems to have a subject of the kind of level with which he likes dealing. [Interruption.] In view of his keen interest in the matter, however, I shall be happy to circulate the whole of the correspondence in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The right hon. Gentleman can then form his own view, and follow that up by tabling Questions, if he wishes to do so.

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