§ MR. BOWLES
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon what Parliamentary authority the Treasury acted when, in their communication to the Admiralty of the 31st December last, they assumed to authorise that Department to defray the deficits on certain Naval Votes out of moneys partly derived from surplus receipts beyond the sums appropriated in aid.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Following the uniform practice of many years, the authority cited was that of the Appropriation Acts. The question whether the application of Navy (or Army) Appropriations in Aid can be varied like that of Supply Grants is one which is now before the Public Accounts Committee, who will no doubt express their opinion in due course. I may remind the hon. Member that any action which the Treasury can take under the Appropriation Acts is temporary only, requiring Parliamentary ratification; and that the Treasury has no power to authorise even temporarily any expenditure which might cause an excess upon the aggregate sums appropriated by Parliament for Navy (or Army) services.
§ MR. BOWLES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Comptroller and Auditor-General has reported that in his opinion the Treasury had no Parliamentary sanction whatever for its action, and had been guilty of the usurpation of a power belonging alone to this House? Under these circumstances will the right hon. Gentleman see that this £120,000 is surrendered to the Exchequer?