HC Deb 26 November 1968 vol 774 cc289-91
28. Mr. David Howell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what instructions he has given in the current year to officials in his Department to delegate greater financial authority over detailed spending decisions to the main spending Departments.

Mr. Diamond

The levels of delegated expenditure are revised from time to time as circumstances warrant.

Mr. Howell

In view of the Fulton Committee recommendations and the setting up of the new Civil Service Department, is there not a need for a complete new look at this whole system of delegated expenditure? Does it make sense to urge new delegated management responsibility in government without major delegation of financial responsibility to Departments? Is not this in need of reform now?

committed to repay at various dates between now and 1971.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

With permission I will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Higgins

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us now what the total figure is and what percentage is due to be paid in the next five or ten years?

Mr. Jenkins

The total figure is£1,536 million.

Mr. Diamond

The hon. Gentleman should not assume that there is any fixed view about this, or that the amount of delegation is equal for all Departments, or for all elements within a given Department. Each has to be looked at on its merits and, as the hon. Gentleman, who takes a great interest in these matters, knows, one has to have regard both to the responsibility of the Treasury and the responsibility of the Department and its feeling that it is doing a responsible job by itself.

Mr. Macdonald

Has my right hon. Friend noted the recent Report of the Estimates Committee on the very detailed candle ends control exercised by the Treasury over the Ministry of Overseas Development? Will he look carefully at that?

Mr. Diamond

I have noted the Report and I always pay great attention to the Reports of the Estimates Committee and the Reports of all Committees of the House, and I am familiar with the complaint about candle ends. I am also aware that if a candle end were only 1 per cent. of the length of a candle of£15,000 million public expenditure, it would be a considerable sum.