Summary of Reductions.

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

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I may, I think, sum up the result of this somewhat discursive survey. The Committee on National Expenditure recommended a reduction in Votes of £86,000,000, and that is exclusive of what might occur as the result of the conversa- tions at Washington. I deduct from that £86,000,000 the amount of savings which were unspecified. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] The reason why is this, that when you have done your best to get all the savings that are in sight at the moment, if there is no specification of the particular other savings which might possibly, be achieved, you can scarcely be blamed if they do not occur to your own mind, although you ought to try your-utmost to find other possibilities of economy, but the House, I am sure, appreciates the way in which I am stating the problem. I deduct the unspecified savings, and I reach a figure of £71,000,000.

We accept in all—this is a summation of what I have been eaying—£64,000,000, but that £64,000,000 includes the £10,000,000 attributable to the possible savings as the result of the Washington Conference and the £1,000,000 possible saving on the supply of oil. That brings me down to £53,000,000, and the difference between the figure of £71,000,000 and £53,000,000 is £18,000,000. Of that £18,000,000, £12,000,000 is represented by the savings which the Geddes Committee recommended, but which we do not accept, in respect of education, so that, if I take my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley as a representative critic of the Government in respect to what it has done, there is only £6,000,000 between us, even if we had done everything which the Geddes Committee recommend, and of which my right hon. Friend would approve. I am taking it for the moment as if my right hon. Friend approved of everything in the Reports except the recommendations in regard to education, but even upon that footing—

Photo of Mr Herbert Asquith Mr Herbert Asquith , Paisley

You have deducted the unspecified savings.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

Yes, and the right hon. Gentleman may make what point he likes of that. I do not think he will make very much of it, but perhaps he will specify. On the footing on which I have stated the problem, at the worst there is only a difference of £6,000,000 between the right hon. Gentleman's point of view and the Government, but I do not say that that is going to be the limit of our efforts. We mean to go on with this investigation, and we mean to see that every possible method is adopted by which Departments can effect further savings in their services.

I confidently anticipate that as the result of what we shall be able to do in the coming year, we shall be able to present an account of far greater saving for the year which is to follow it. Generally, so far as the Government are concerned, we mean to use all our efforts to that end. I come back to a question which was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. G. Murray)—how much of this £64,000,000 will be realised in the next year? We shall have to take off from that figure, just as the Geddes Committee would have required to deduct from theirs, a certain sum which will represent the savings not immediately effective. We cannot dismiss your men from the Army and Navy and dockyards all upon a given day, and, therefore, there must be, however much of the Report we take, a considerable lag in the saving. I estimate—it is only a rough estimate—the deduction which ought to be made from the full figure of the year at £10,000,000. By the savings which we expect to effect through the advice of the Geddes Committee, and the operations of the Departments, we shall be able to reduce the Provisional Estimate put previously before us by £54,000,000 in the next financial year. I have no doubt that some hon. Member may remind me to-day that I asked the Geddes Committee to provide £100,000,000 of savings. I have described to you what that figure was, and how I arrived at it.