HC Deb 01 August 1944 vol 402 c1149
24. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the maximum expenditure that a colonel, a brigadier and a major-general of the R.E.'s can authorise without reference to higher authority; and to what extent has this procedure been modified and centralised since the war began.

Sir J. Grigg

I will, with permission, circulate a statement about this in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir W. Smithers

Will my right hon. Friend make the most careful inquiry to see that the megalomaniac policy of centralisation, which leads to waste of time and money, is brought to an end?

Sir J. Grigg

When the hon. Gentleman reads my answer he will see that, so far from there being centralisation, there has been a good deal of decentralisation since the war. I have been accused of a good many things, but over-centralisation is not one of them.

Following is the statement:

My hon. Friend will realise that rank does not of itself carry with it financial powers: these are dependent upon appointments. There are no Major-Generals in the Royal Engineers executive in Home Commands. A Chief Engineer of the Command is a Brigadier. He now has powers to authorise local expenditure on stores up to £2,000. Prior to the war his powers were limited to £400. A Chief Engineer of a district is a Colonel: he has no local powers of purchase: under the present centralised accounting system such purchases are carried out centrally by the Chief Engineer of the Command. There was no such appointment as Chief Engineer of a district at Home before the war. As regards works services, authorisation is a matter for the Officer i/c Administration of Commands and Districts and not for the Royal Engineers.