Ministries of Labour and Health.

National Expenditure. – in the House of Commons on 1st March 1922.

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There are three other Departments dealt with in the First Report of the Committee. Those are the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health and the Department of War Pensions. With regard to the Ministry of Labour, the Geddes Committee made no recommendation for any reduction at all, but the Ministry itself is reducing its expenditure from £22,000,000 in this year to £14,000,000 next year. The Committee, however, did recommend that consideration should be given to the amalgamation of health insurance and unemployment insurance, with a view to economy and also, at the same time, paving the way, as they suggest, for the abolition of the Ministry of Labour. I do not desire to say anything upon the merits of that at the present time. As an old Minister of Labour I could say a good deal on that matter, but the question which is raised, as to how proper economy might be achieved by amalgamating health and unemployment insurance, is obviously one which should be dealt with, and preparations are being made for the purpose of making a complete investigation as to the possibility of carrying out some such scheme. As regards the Ministry of Health, the reduction proposed was £2,100,000, and that has been accepted. It is true that, in point of fact, it is not all achieved by precisely the same method as is suggested by the Geddes Committee, but we get the same amount by way of reduction in the cost. They make two other important recommendations with regard to the Ministry of Health. They suggest that means should be taken to carry out the sale of many of the houses built under the Ministry of Health, and on that recommendation the Government entirely concur, and they have authorised the Minister of Health to proceed in so far as it is necessary to remove statutory restrictions on sale. The other suggestion they make is for an increased contribution on health insurance. That also the Government has adopted, the increase being in the amount per head per week of one halfpenny from the 1st July this year.