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___________________________________________   109
the House that the money which we are asking them to spend
is being spent wisely, and that we are, I believe, obtaining full
value for it.
" In this connection perhaps I might take the opportunity
of assuring the House that the effort of the Defence Depart-
ments to secure their needs as cheaply as possible and to avoid
the possibility that excessive profits may be left in the hands
of manufacturers, has not in any way been relaxed. In earlier
debates the House has been informed of the general nature
of the arrangements that have been made for this purpose.
The Treasury Inter-Services Committee meets at frequent
intervals, and of course Treasury control has been fully
maintained. The House may remember that last year the
Estimates Committee went fully into the question, and they
reported that they were satisfied that the methods followed
were soundly conceived and fair both to the taxpayer and to
the contractor. They also recorded their opinion that, so far
as an estimate could be formed, the methods have been
effective in preventing profiteering at the taxpayers' expense.
" I said a little while ago that I wanted this afternoon to
avoid going into detail, but without doing that there is one
point in connection with the Air Estimates on which I would
like to take the opportunity of saying a word in fulfilment of
a promise which I made the other day to my hon. and gallant
Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour).
The question which my hon. and gallant Friend asked was:
" * Whether the present Royal Air Force expansion pro-
gramme for completion by March, 1939, is still anticipated to
provide parity in first line strength with any European Air
Force within striking distance of our shores ? *
" In so framing his question I imagine that my hon. and
gallant Friend had in mind a statement which was made by
my predecessor, Mr. Baldwin as he then was, on 8th March,
1934. This is what Mr. Baldwin said:
" ' This Government will see to it that in air strength and
air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior
to any country within striking distance of our shores.'
" The House will see that my hon. and gallant Friend, in con-
fining himself to first line strength, has taken a much narrower