HC Deb 27 April 1926 vol 194 cc1867-8W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the statement printed on page 6 of the First Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, which pointed out that in the 1925–26 Estimates the difference between the gross estimates and the total estimated expenditure on behalf of Departments is very great; and whether he proposes to take steps to secure that the Estimates shall be brought more nearly in accordance with estimated expenditure?


I think there is considerable misapprehension on this matter. There is no question of bringing "Estimates more into accord with estimated expenditure" at all nor of altering the present units used for estimating purposes. On the face of each Departmental Vote in the existing Estimates there is a statement of the costs incurred on other Votes, such as Works Votes, Stationery Office Vote, etc., in respect of that particular Department. Naturally the total of these charges and the Departmental Vote often considerably exceeds the Departmental Vote alone. It does not however follow that either Parliamentary convenience or the economical administration of the public service would be served by a change in the method of centralised accounting adopted at present as the result of considerable experience.

Indeed if the hon. Member will look at paragraph 24 of the Report he will see that the Select Committee on Estimates themselves state that it would be undesirable to alter the existing system of accounting for such items as Works, Stationery, etc. They referred to the difference which existed in some cases between the total expenditure in connection with a Department and its Vote as an argument for modifying to some extent the rules of debate, which is quite another mater. That and other recommendations of the Committee are under consideration.