HC Deb 15 April 1969 vol 781 cc981-2
Q1. Mr. Lane

asked the Prime Minister what further proposals he has for mergers of Departments.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

None, at present, Sir, though the Question is kept under review.

Mr. Lane

As since 1964 the gross national product has risen by only 24 per cent. while the number of Ministers concerned with economic, financial and industrial matters has risen by 80 per cent. and their salary costs by 180 per cent., could the Prime Minister at least assure us today that his mind is not closed to the advantages of merging the D.E.A. with the Treasury?

The Prime Minister

I have said that some of these questions will be kept under review. The increase in Ministers has been mainly in connection with the long overdue requirements of regional development and catching up with 13 years of drift in industrial policy.

Mr. Brian Parkyn

Will my right hon. Friend look carefully again into the areas of responsibility of the Board of Trade and the Department of Economic Affairs on the one hand and of the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Technology on the other?

The Prime Minister

I think that, despite a number of comments three or four years ago, there is now widespread acceptance of the great job that the Ministry of Technology has done—[Interruption.]—I thought it was fairly universal—in relation to the modernising and restructuring of a considerable number of industries, including shipbuilding and machine tools, which are now in a far better position to contribute to our balance of payments, in consequence, than they were five years ago.

Mr. Maudlin

May we take it that the Government intend this afternoon to continue halting the 13 years' drift towards lower taxation?

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