HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc923-4
16. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many projects in the health and welfare capital building programme have been deferred; and what is the value of the projects.

Mr. Ennals

I assume the Question refers to deferments following the announcement in January, 1968, that the planned rate of growth in local authority expenditure would be reduced in Great Britain as a whole by an average of £5 million a year for the period 1968–69–1970–71. It is not possible to identify projects deferred as a result of this reduction.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Does the hon. Member not agree that, deplorable as all cuts of this nature must be, to some extent they are an inevitable consequence of the failure of the wealth of the nation to increase under the Labour Government and of the increase in the uncom-petitiveness of the British economy under the Labour Government? Will he tell us what discussions representatives of his Department have had with representatives of the International Monetary Fund on its capital spending programmes in view of their inspection of the books at regular intervals?

Mr. Ennals

The last part of the question is not for me. The hon. Member is talking absolute nonsense in the first part of his question. There has been a slow-down in the planned rate of expansion but there is still expansion, and this is so in health and welfare, about which he asked. Even for the year in question, though there has been a slowdown in the granting of loan sanctions, £2.9 million more were granted in 1967–68 than in the previous year on these projects.

Mr. Dean

How does the Minister explain the fact that the White Paper on Public Expenditure shows clearly a reduction of £29 million in health and welfare expenditure in this year and of £31 million for next year? Surely he must know something about the sort of project which will suffer under these cuts?

Mr. Ennals

There has been a range of projects in health and welfare and other local government activities in which proposals which have been put forward have not been immediately accepted. It is essential that in local government as well as elsewhere there should be a moderation of the sustained, very rapid rise in expenditure, but there is still a rise, as I said in my Answer.