Q13. Mr. Maurice
asked the Prime Minister what is the present allocation of Ministerial responsibility for the school building programme; what responsibility has been given to the Secretary of State for Social Services for the allocation of public funds between social services as set out in Table II of the Financial Secretary's Memorandum; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Prime Minister
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has the Ministerial responsibility for the school building programme. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services is responsible for all estimates and expenditure within the field of health and social security.
While he also has the task of co-ordinating the work of the social services as a whole, responsibility for estimates and expenditure falls on the appropriate Departmental Minister. In accordance with the provisions of the annual Appropriation Act, neither he nor any other Departmental Minister has power to reallocate funds voted by Parliament for one purpose to any other Vote. The Permanent Secretary as Accounting Officer is responsible to Parliament and to the Public Accounts Committee for ensuring that these rules are observed as was made clear in my right hon. Friend's Answer to a supplementary question by the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) yesterday.66W
Since the hon. Member no doubt has in mind the question of a saving of £3½ million in health service charges which has been the subject of Questions in the House, I should make clear that the Government, exercising its collective responsibility for expenditure control, prior to the laying of this year's estimates and the publication of Command Paper 3936, had to examine earlier this year a list of possible economies in all areas of Government and to decide its priorities between them. In the exercise of this pre-estimate function, my right hon. Friend had certain responsibilities in respect of co-ordination within the social services field, but the final decision was a collective one taken by the whole Government.
The hon. Gentleman will have noted that this year's provision for Health and Welfare is £1,876 million, an increase of £51 million over last year at constant prices. He will also be aware that the programme is scheduled in Command Paper 3936 to rise by a further £82 million next year at constant prices. In cash terms this year's expenditure will be £764 million more, that is 68 per cent. more than the actual expenditure for the last full financial year for which right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible.