DEFENCE PROGRAMME (Hansard, 30 April 1951)
HC Deb 30 April 1951 vol 487 cc839-40
47. Mr. Eccles

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the competing claims within the defence programme and between the defence programme and the requirements of civilian production, he will set up a Ministry of Economic Co ordination responsible for the supply of raw materials, machine tools and kindred common services.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will have seen the announcement which has been made about the responsibilities to be undertaken with regard to raw materials by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. Economic co-ordination within the field of Government planning generally is, of course, the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am satisfied that this and the other points mentioned in the hon. Member's Question, will be adequately dealt with under existing arrangements and those announced.

Mr. Eccles

May I ask the Prime Minister two questions: Will not machine tools and castings have to be included in the field of action of the Lord Privy Seal if he has to iron out the competition between the Departments; and, second, will the Lord Privy Seal be responsible only for the procurement of raw materials or will he also be required to screen the demands of the supply Departments for raw materials?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal will be dealing with the acquisition of raw materials, but the allocation is done by another piece of machinery.

Mr. Duncan Sandys

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether the decision to set up a new Department to deal with raw materials was taken before the resignation of the three Ministers on this issue?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. A considerable time before.

48. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Foreign Secretary on 25th April on the question of the allocation of raw materials to the defence programme represents the policy of His Majesty's Government.

Mr. Blackburn

While in no way disagreeing with the policy that cuts should not be permitted to affect the defence programme, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would agree that any cut in our standard of living would, in a sense, be a victory for Stalin in the cold war? Will he, therefore, at the earliest possible moment say what action the Government are taking and what action the workers of this country can take to prevent a cut in our standard of living?

The Prime Minister

That opens up a matter which might form the subject of a debate——

Sir H. Williams

Or an election.

The Prime Minister

—and can hardly be dealt with in a Parliamentary reply.