Economic Affairs (Ministerial Responsibility)

Oral Answers to Questions — Fuel and Power – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th December 1947.

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Photo of Captain Charles Smith Captain Charles Smith , Colchester 12:00 am, 18th December 1947

asked the Prime Minister whether he will define the respective functions and responsibilities of the Economic Section of the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of the Economic Secretary of the Treasury and the Planning Board under Sir Edward Plowden; and to which Minister the last-named body is now responsible.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 15th December to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton).

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

asked the Prime Minister which of the functions of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury are new and which transferred from another Ministry.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Generally speaking, the Economic Secretary assists my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that part of his duties which previously fell to him as Minister for Economic Affairs, and, therefore, on duties which have been transferred from that office.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

Am I right in assuming that there are no new functions and no transferred functions, and that since there was not an opportunity, on the Bill which appointed this new Minister, for the House to discuss anything other than his salary, the Prime Minister will give the House a chance of discussing the functions of this new important Minister?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

That matter can be discussed on a Supply Day on the Estimates, or on any other appropriate occasion.

Photo of Mr Thomas Scollan Mr Thomas Scollan , Renfrewshire Western

Is there any mode of approach to this new Minister other than through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and can any question be put down to him?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The normal course would be to put down a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, no doubt, if it was appropriate, the Economic Secretary would answer it.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance that the appointment of this new Economic Secretary will in no way relax the old established rule that Departments must have Treasury permission before they can spend money?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Certainly. It has nothing to do with that at all.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance that there will be no interference with the Foreign Secretary's Economic Department by this office?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I do not see how that arises at all.