Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £85,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931, for Expenditure in respect of Employment Exchange and Insurance Buildings, Great Britain (including Ministries of Labour and Health and the Department of Health for Scotland).
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Lansbury)
This is a Supplementary Estimate amounting to £85,000, and it is for purposes connected with Employment Exchanges and Labour Ministry work during the current year. I would call the attention of the Committee to the fact that there was a bulk cut in the original gross estimate of £38,000. Hon. Members will find that set out in the White Paper, on page 16. That £38,000 cut is mutual, I think, to nearly all the items, and it was made for the purpose of preventing under-spending. Last year I was rather severely taken to task because of under-spending. Fortunately for myself, I shall not be in that position this year. We estimated rather too closely, and we did not take into account the fact that we would be able to expedite the work. Therefore, instead of the cut being necessary, we are obliged to come for an extra amount. But I call attention to the fact, in order that the Committee may understand that the work of estimating for the erection of Employment Exchanges is not quite so simple as it appears when you see it on paper. Very often it takes a long time to negotiate the site, and then there is often great difficulty with the local authorities as to whether it is a proper site, whether it is the best available and so on. Then we have to agree with the Ministry of 1794 Labour as to what demands the Ministry may have, and, finally, we have to settle with the Treasury, who have the last word on the subject.
During the past year, as I say, we have been able to expedite the completion and the commencement of Employment Exchanges which have been needed for a considerable number of years. In addition, it will be found that there is a big sum—25,0000—extra for rents. That is entirely due to the fact that we have had an abnormal increase in the number of the unemployed. The ordinary provision of Employment Exchanges is not to deal with 2,500,000 unemployed, but with very much less than half that figure. Consequently, the very large increase of unemployed has caused us to take temporary buildings in different parts of the various towns affected, and that accounts for the biggish sum of £25,000. The maintenance and repairs are partly due to that, as also is furniture, because, obviously, if you take temporary premises, you need furniture with which to equip them. I should like to say in that respect that I think the officials, both of the Ministry of Labour and of this Department, are to be congratulated upon the manner in which they have been able to provide, perhaps not first-class accommodation, but, at least, adequate and decent accommodation during this period of rush. I can only hope that, as the days go, and go quickly, too, the numbers to be dealt with will be very considerably reduced. Until that is so, I think the Committee will agree that we must make provision, and the provision we have made is the most economical in the circumstances. As for the new buildings, they are very largely a continuing programme that has been laid down since 1927.
§ Sir ASSHETON POWNALL
a thank the right hon. Member for his explanation. There are one or two points about which, I hope, he will give us some information. With regard to the super-cut, I have in my hand the original Estimate of 1930–31, and on page 15 I see that £38,000 is mentioned as being deducted "for services which may not be carried out during the year." I want to know how this super-cut was arrived at in the first instance, because in this case the demand had been very much too large.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I can explain that right away. We discussed this question last year. The £38,000 bears no actual relationship to any particular item. It is on the total figure. It is estimated by those who estimate the requirements, that, taking them all through, one after the other, in all probability a certain amount may possibly be under-spent, and if it be asked, "Did you reckon it on new works entirely?", I am bound to say "No." But, in this case, it does so happen that the bulk of the expenditure is on new works, and also the extra £10,000 is required for new works. That is because it has been possible to expedite the acquirement of sites. Further, a number of sites which were on the point of being available last year, and for which provision was made in last year's Estimates, were not quite ready before 31st March last.
§ Sir A. POWNALL
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. Anyone who has served for a number of years on the Public Accounts Committee must be in sympathy with the super-cut, upon which the Office of Works is to be congratulated. Now that they can get so near to the figures, I hope that when they are framing their figures for the ensuing financial year they will bear in mind the experience of this year, and save the necessity of putting back £38,000 which, in the first instance, they have deducted. One further point. Under Item A, New Works, Alterations, Additions and Purchases, there is an extra £10,000. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman shows anywhere where that £10,000 is being mainly spent. I have the original figures in my hand, and they show a very considerable number of Employment Exchanges up and down the country, but if he can give us some idea as to where the extra £10,000 is going, it will be helpful.
As regards rents, quite frankly, in view of the very large increase in unemployment, I think that the country has got out very well indeed to have only an extra £25,000 for rents under item E—a. total of £161,000, instead of £136,000. I forget the exact proportion the unemployed now bears to what it was when the Estimates were framed about a year ago, but, anyhow, an increase of 20 per cent., or something of that sort, is, in view of the appalling increase in unemployment in the last year or 15 months, 1796 relatively a very small figure, and I make no complaint at all with regard to that. I also appreciate the very great difficulties which the staff must have had in many cases where it was not possible to give the extra accommodation which they ought to have, and the country owes a deep debt of gratitude to the staff of the Ministry of Labour in carrying on with the live register without extra accommodation. Therefore, I make no complaint at all about the £25,000.
§ Mr. MARCH
I would like to ask, what is going to happen to the vast number of men and women who were in the habit of registering at the Employment Exchange in the East India Dock Road, near the iron brige? The demolition of the old Exchange was started, and there is no registration taking place. A number of people who registered there came from Canning Town, while others came from a large area round Bromley. I expect that that is one of the reasons why there must be some temporary buildings taken for registration. There was always complaints of the long distances many people had to come to register, and also the inconvenience in registering. I would like to know what arrangements are being made for the convenience of those men and women who used to register at that place.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
The Committee, I think, enjoyed the right hon. Gentleman's ingenuous explanation of the increase in the Estimate. Apparently, he first knocked off £38,000, and now he more that doubles the amount he knocked off. That, certainly, impresses me as a way, first of all, of pleasing the House, and then of alarming the House. I want to ask, what is the basis on which the right hon. Gentleman is estimating for the requirements of the Employment Exchanges? On what figure of unemployment is the Minister of Labour arranging for accommodation, because the Committee sympathises with the right hon. Gentleman in the tremendous growth of unemployment which has taken place since he took office. While, I presume, we are not allowed this afternoon to discuss the reason for that increase, as the right hon. Member did touch upon that question, I feel that I have a right to say something about it. When the right hon. Gentleman assumed office, the figure of unemployment was 1797 somewhere round 1,000,000; now it is something over 2,500,000, and I would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman anticipates that the unemployment will remain at the higher level under the Socialist Government, or will revert to the lower level which it assumed under the late Conservative administration? The volume of unemployment, I presume, will largely dictate the requirements of the Employment Exchanges and the accommodation for the unemployed.
I am afraid that we cannot discuss that point. It would open up too wide a Debate. The question before the Committee is whether this sum shall or shall not be granted for the purposes stipulated.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
I take it, Mr. Dunnico, that it would be in order to ask the Minister whether, having regard to the increase in the number of unemployed, he thinks that this provision is sufficient, and also whether he thinks there is any likelihood of a further increase in the number of unemployed. I think those points are of importance to the Committee in arriving at a decision as to whether adequate provision is being made by this Estimate or not.
§ Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL-THOMSON
It is a well-known practice in regard to Supplementary Estimates, and it has been frequently ruled from the Chair, that where a Supplementary Estimate is of such magnitude as to constitute a considerable percentage of the original Estimate, a wider latitude should be allowed in discussion than in other cases. The well-known case of the Uganda Railway is the precedent in regard to all these matters, and I call attention to the fact that the present Supplementary Estimate is for £85,000, as compared with a total original Estimate of £540,000. That seems to constitute a considerable percentage of the original Estimate, and, I submit, that in accordance with practice, the discussion should be allowed to have a wider scope than is usual in the case of Supplementary Estimates.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact, which he seems to have overlooked, that the 1798 Supplementary Estimate includes the £38,000 which was originally estimated for but was taken out and that, as regards that sum, we are only restoring our original Estimate. May I also point out that hon. Gentlemen opposite, last year used arguments exactly contrary to those which are now being advanced.
As regards the point of Order which has been raised, where there is an entirely new Vote, covering some service not provided for in the original Estimate, it is customary to allow a fairly wide latitude in debate, and, also if the sum asked for in the Supplementary Estimate is out of all proportion to the sum of the original Estimate, considerable scope is allowed in discussion. But I do not agree that those conditions apply to this Supplementary Estimate, and I think we ought to keep to the ordinary rule on this occasion.
If the right hon. Gentleman values the opinion of the Minister on that point, he is entitled to ask for it.
§ Major GEORGE DAVIES
I wish to be quite clear on this point. You, Mr. Dunnico, have ruled that this Supplementary Estimate is not of sufficient magnitude to justify its being treated as any exception to the general rule, and that it does not introduce any new features. But surely we shall be within the rules of order in drawing attention to the reasons which have induced the Government to bring forward the Supplementary Estimate and also the reason why the amount required has assumed such proportions. That consideration is vital to the discussion of whether this further sum should be granted or not.
§ Major COLFOX
Is not the Committee entitled to discuss the causes which make this Estimate necessary. Unless we are entitled to discuss those causes, and the question of whether this amount is likely to be sufficient, or more than sufficient, or insufficient, then the Debate would seem to have no point.
The Committee is certainly entitled to ascertain 1799 from the Minister what is the cause of the excess over the original Estimate, but it cannot discuss the policy or the lack of policy which is behind the Supplementary Estimate.
But I must remind the hon. Gentleman that I have already ruled that he cannot discuss either policy or lack of policy.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
Perhaps there is not very much policy to discuss, but, at any rate, what I am asking the right hon. Gentleman is, on what basis is he estimating the requirements of the Department as regards Employment Exchange accommodation? I was drawing attention to the fact that under the late Conservative administration less accommodation was necessary than is necessary under a Socialist Government, and I think the evidence of the last two years of Socialist Government has shown that—
The hon. Gentleman is now entering upon a line of argument which must inevitably result in a discussion of policy and I have already ruled that policy cannot be discussed on this estimate.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
I wish to know on what basis we are to estimate future requirements in this respect. The right hon. Gentleman, when he first came into office, presumably estimated on a basis of about 1,000,000 unemployed, but that figure has now risen to 2,500,000. I wish to know whether that figure is to be taken as normal or whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks it likely that we may revert to the figure of about 1,000,000 which existed under the Conservative administration. I would not dream of arguing that the total is more likely to rise than to decrease under this Government, but the Department must have some ideas on this subject, because it is an administrative question of some importance. It would be absurd of this Committee to sanction an expenditure on Employment Exchanges, based on a figure of 2,500,000 unemployed, when in a short time a Conservative Government may come in again and the figure may fall to 1,000,000 or 1,500,000.
1800 Ever since he came into office the right hon. Gentleman has been urged to tackle the question of an Employment Exchange in Bristol. I understand, although that project has been under consideration for some time, that the new Exchange will not be started until next June. The figure of unemployed in Bristol to-day is something like 25,000, whereas, two years ago, under a Conservative administration it was something like 12,000. Therefore the need for this Exchange is more necessary than ever and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if any provision is being made in this Estimate in connection with it. If not, I would urge him to get on with that work. I am not blaming him entirely for the delay, because I know that there was considerable delay in connection with this matter under the late Government also, but there is no excuse for this Government because this was going to be one of their special cares.
The hon. Member is again discussing policy. The only questions before the Committee are whether this money is necessary or not, whether it should be granted or not and whether the reasons given for making the grant are adequate and sufficient. I would also remind the hon. Member that this Estimate only covers the period to the end of the present financial year, and does not relate to the next financial year.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
I submit to your Ruling, Mr. Dunnico, and I merely ask the Minister to state whether any money is included in this expenditure in respect of the Bristol Exchange. I think the Committee must be surprised at this heavy addition to the Estimates, and I think we are entitled to know on what basis this Estimate has been framed in relation to the volume of unemployment.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL
I am sorry, Mr. Dunnico, that you have not been able to see your way to allow a little more latitude than usual in the discussion of this Estimate. The right hon. Gentleman referred to an item of £7,000 for furniture, and, in view of this large sum and other items in the Estimate, one cannot help feeling that it rather indicates a, belief as to the permanency of the present figure of unemployment. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should find it necessary to provide so much more money in respect 1801 of Exchanges up to the end of this financial year. In reference to the additional £25,000 in respect of rents, surely this is a very large sum when we take into account that the Estimate only covers six or seven weeks. I wish the right hon. Gentleman to inform the Committee as to the contracts which have been made for the renting of these properties. Are these weekly or monthly tenancies, or has the right hon. Gentleman entered into agreements covering long periods? That is a rather important fact, because it will give us an idea of whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the present very heavy unemployment is going to continue, or whether he has hopeful anticipations that it is of a transitory nature. I am sorry that I am unable to join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall) in his congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman regarding this item. I am sorry that it has been found necessary
I appreciate the fact that under the Ruling from the Chair we cannot go into questions of general policy, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, if I may, whether in framing this Estimate he is under the impression that we are likely in the near future to see any considerable reduction in the number of unemployed, or whether the provision of these Exchanges and the expenditure of this money indicates a belief on his part that the storm is likely to last longer than many of us anticipate? I was impressed with the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman explained this Estimate, and I realise that he is very upset at having to come to the Committee to ask for an additional £85,000. It is all very well, however, to say that this £85,000 includes a sum of £38,000 which was knocked out of a previous Estimate, but that is not a correct or businesslike way of presenting figures of this kind. The Department ought to know that certain expenditure is likely to arise and ought to estimate for that expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman ought to inform the Committee how many new Exchanges will be necessary, where it will be necessary to provide permanent Exchanges, and also what are the terms on which these tenancies have been made and whether they are for short periods or for long periods.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the Committee a further explanation of this item of £7,000 for furniture. It seems a very large sum, and I take it that the right hon. Gentleman himself hopes that this furniture will not be required for an indefinite period, as he is always an optimistic person. I presume it does not mean the purchase of Chippendale or Sheraton furniture for these Employment Exchanges. I have recently sold a number of quite good pieces of furniture, and I found that I got next to nothing for them. Have the Minister or his representative attempted, at some of the auction rooms in our great cities, to see whether they could get furniture at rather less than the figures which must be contemplated by this Estimate?
Apart from that, I have noticed, over a large number of years in this House, that we are continually being asked to approve the expenditure of considerable sums for the purchase of furniture, when an emergency of any kind arises, for the equipment of additional offices. During the War tremendous expenditure was necessarily incurred in the equipment of a large number of additional offices. I agree that you could not keep in store all the additional furniture which was then required, but surely it would pay the Office of Works, in the various towns where it is likely to have calls upon it for office accommodation, to have, in some part of the town where rent is not high, a store where ordinary office furniture could be kept in case of emergency. We are always being asked to purchase new furniture. In the last two or three years we have had a great deal of temporary office accommodation closed down, and what has happened to all that furniture? Has it all been scrapped or sold for next to nothing?
I think it would be economical if we had some storage accommodation. I quite agree that you cannot send furniture from London to Liverpool except at considerable expense, but I should be glad to know whether this is a point which the Department take into consideration: that when an emergency arises, as, for instance, here, this £7,000 worth of furniture will not be thrown on the market. As we all know, when you send second-hand furniture on 1803 to the market, just as with a second-hand motor car, you get next to nothing for it. I think the Committee should not be continually asked for these large sums of money for new furniture.
§ Mr. ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) talked about an increased sum of £7,000, but I think he rather understated the case and let off the Minister very lightly. The Minister is asking for £49,200, which includes the increase of £7,000, and that is not all. If one looks at the original Estimate for Class VII—which it would be out of order to discuss now—one finds that under item "J" of the same Vote, in addition to "C," which we are now debating, there is another item of £9,700 representing furniture for labour and health buildings. It is on page 15, Class VII, Vote 4, Civil Estimates 83.—VII. Year after year in this House I have noticed this recurring expenditure for furniture, and while I have been in this House something like £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 must have been spent by the various Governments for furniture. Where is this recurring expenditure going to end? I think we ought to have an account now of what is going to be spent under the right hon. Gentleman's Department, so that we do not have to raise this point on every Estimate.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. The £9,700 does not come into this discussion at all, and I do not know why I should be called upon to discuss it.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I am not asking the right hon. Gentleman to discuss it, and I said I should be out of order in discussing it. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington has said, this is not Chippendale or medieval oak furniture which is being bought. These are merely ordinary office equipments and, it may be, tables and chairs. Why should new furniture be bought time after time? I have been through the Civil Estimates while I have been sitting here, and I find that we are voting under Class VII something like a quarter of a million of money on furniture, and I would point out that when you have to pay £49,200 for furniture, it is no less than 15 per cent. of the 1804 £319,770 for which we are now asked in respect to "new works, alterations, additions, and purchases." I think the time has come when the Office of Works, instead of asking year after year for this money, should make up its mind to take advantage of the misfortunes of people like my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington, who sells his furniture for next to nothing. Why should not the Office of Works secure from honest and decent shopkeepers second-hand furniture for their requirements? I appeal to you, Mr. Dunnico, in this matter. If you or I were to take a new house, we should not at once get new furniture but should most likely look around and see whether we could not find some old household furniture instead. I protest against this expenditure on new furniture year after year.
§ Major DAVIES
I have been searching through the Supplementary Estimates in order to find some part on which I could congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, but I confess that I have found that task not unaccompanied by some difficulty. Taking the largest item first, that of £38,000, it is clear that we are called upon to vote this sum partially because of misplaced optimism on the part of the Department in bringing forward the original Estimate. I think there may have been a little hit of window-dressing about it, and I imagine that the Department was afraid to tell the House of Commons what was the real amount which would be required. The right hon. Gentleman was careful to tell us that this £38,000 is spread over the whole of his Department, and if we asked to what particular item it referred he confessed he would be unable to give a detailed explanation. That makes the situation rather difficult and shows that my suspicions are well founded, that the £38,000 was originally wiped off in a general spirit of hopefulness and comfort in the thought that it would be put back in due course. This is the "due course." It is not for us, in these circumstances, to be able very closely to press the right hon. Gentleman as to the actual directions in which he was so optimistic, whether for permanent buildings for some reduction of chairs, tables, desks, and so forth.
Going from that to the next figure in a descending order of size, I come to 1805 Item E, "Rents, etc., £25,000," and here I can perhaps give a slight word of congratulation to the right hon. Gentleman. The cause of this Supplementary Estimate, and indeed of the original Estimate itself, is the enormous charges, direct and indirect, connected with unemployment. It is a most regrettable and tragic fact that the figures at this moment are so much higher than they have ever been before, and it is only natural that the Department should have to face up to that situation, but I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that there is an indication in this Supplementary Estimate that a considerable amount of the accommodation that he feels compelled to provide is only temporary; that is to say, that it is rentable property and not included in the first item of £10,000 for the provision of improved accommodation.
It must be in the hearts of hon. and right hon. Members opposite that at some future time, be it near or far, the total figures will begin to show a reduction, and we may find ourselves left with an enormous lot of real estate and buildings on our hands, provided for a particular purpose, which purpose we shall all be delighted to think no longer obtains. Therefore, I think it is a very wise policy that, in spite of attempts by hon. Members behind the Minister, which I have noted all through the past year, urging him to acquire additional permanent premises, there should be a tendency, where possible, to rent even not quite so suitable premises. It would be a quite unwarranted expenditure of public money to add to the permanent equipment one building more than is absolutely essential, if we can possibly rent it, and that is why I get a little bit of satisfaction from this particular item.
I should like to get an assurance that every effort is being made not to commit the Government to actual purchases, and particularly to the erection of new buildings, but that as far as possible the utilisation and adaptation of rented premises is taken into consideration. It is unfortunate and misleading that we still have to spend all this money for this equipment and these premises and still call the premises "Employment Exchanges," as if they were really performing a function in the exchange of labour, when everybody knows that they are 1806 neither more nor less than dole-drawing depots. I think it might be borne in mind, in connection with the bringing in of these Estimates, that the time has now come to face up to the purposes for which this vast expenditure is being incurred.
That has nothing to do with this Vote. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not entitled to discuss anything for which the Minister or his Department is not responsible.
§ Major DAVIES
I was trying to avoid the Scylla of policy and fell on the Charybdis of kindness to the right hon. Gentleman. I have nothing to say on the furniture question, which has been dealt with at some length. It is obvious that whether premises are rented or purchased, some form of furnishing has to take place. In view of certain speeches in this House, not entirely on this side, we do not wish to lose any opportunity of emphasising something which I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has at heart as much as anybody, namely, the necessity of renting premises instead of purchasing them, and of getting second-hand and used furniture instead of new. Every step should be taken to keep new demands on the public purse down to the lowest possible amount.
Sir HILTON YOUNG
You have given us your guidance, Mr. Dunnico, that this Debate is not to be extended to questions of policy. Nevertheless, there is one aspect of a Parliamentary Supplementary Estimate to which some reference ought to be made. I wish to express a point of view which is widely held, and has already found some expression in the Debate. This sum of £85,000 should not be asked for and granted, because we cannot, as a matter of fact, afford any supplementary expenditure at all this year. It is impossible to consider this sum as if it were unrelated to any other facts in the national finances of the year. Admittedly, we must discuss this Estimate on its own merits, but, in order to realise what its merits are, we must consider the wider aspect of affairs, if only by referring to the very interesting summary on the preface page of these Estimates. We find that the £85,000, which we are now called upon to vote as additional expen- 1807 diture for the year, is a constituent element of a total sum of no less than £14,000,000. The country cannot afford £14,000,000, and the only way of recording that opinion is by arguing that it cannot afford this £85,000.
Owing to the Rules of Order, we are debarred from any suitable occasion for discussing the £14,000,000 as a lump, so that all we can do is to express our opinion in relation to each constituent element in it, pointing out that although the little more on this occasion, and another little more that will be asked for on some other, and the further little more—
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the £14,000,000 in question has been approved by the House. We cannot discuss what the House has decided.
Sir H. YOUNG
I shall avoid discussion of the total sum. I am only pointing out in regard to these Supplementary Estimates, the general attitude of the Government towards national finance which appears to be improvident, careless and, I might even say, inefficient. On such an occasion as this, with the national finances in their present position, when we are asked for a sum of £85,000 on a Supplementary Estimate—I know that it is looked upon as an almost negligible sum, yet every mickle makes a muckle—we ought to have an account from the Minister as to whether or not we have the money to pay the amount. For almost the first time in the history of our national finances, there is not money to meet this £85,000, and the Committee ought not to be asked to vote any sum unless it is certain that it can be met.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
On a point of Order. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is in order, because the question before the House is the reduced amount of £84,900, and as the Opposition are prepared to grant that amount, the right hon. Gentleman's remarks seem to be directed to something which is not before the Committee.
Technically, the right hon. Gentleman is right, but actually the custom of the House is 1808 that an Amendment to reduce the Vote by £100 is equivalent to objecting to the full or any portion of the amount.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
On a point of Order. Even if the right hon. Gentleman be technically right, I take it that we shall be allowed to argue that £100 is much too small a reduction?
Sir H. YOUNG
I must express my sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones) on the failure of his well-meant effort to bring relief to an embarrassed Minister. He assumed a position of failing to apprehend the issue before the Committee, but I am sure, from his long experience of the House that he knew perfectly well what the issue was.
Sir H. YOUNG
At the present time, when for the first time in recent Parliamentary finance we seem to be budgeting for a deficit, no proposal for any expenditure should be made, even if it be a token Vote of £10, without a Treasury Minister appearing before us in order to inform us whether or not the draft which is being drawn upon the public finances can be met. We have arrived at a most lamentable condition as regards Parliamentary responsibility when we can go on, by these accumulations of small extravagances piling up a position which we know will be disastrous, without insisting upon calling to a sense of their responsibility those who are at present in charge of our national finances. It shows a lack of the sense of proporiton as regards the necessities of national finance when the right hon. Gentleman in present circumstances introduces a demand for improved accommodation for Employment Exchanges. This is not a time for improving accommodation which has been found possible in the past. We know quite well the standards of accommodation of our public buildings. They may sometimes be a little short of what is perfect, but they are always adequate, and in present conditions the right hon. Gentleman shows a lack of the sense of proportion by in- 1809 dulging in extravagances of this sort. I hope that he will not think that I say this from any lack of sympathy for the amenities of life of Government officials. At the present time, however, everybody will be prepared to make sacrifices in order to pull us through our difficulties. Some hon. Members opposite may be surprised to find where the principle of sacrifice will have to be met in order to redeem the financial situation, and the Government, with their attention on the buildings and the standards and conditions of life of their employés, must be prepared at the present time to call a halt, and to make the same sacrifices that are expected from everybody else.
This Estimate gives an admirable opportunity for once more expressing a protest against the method of the overhead cut. The overhead cut which appears in this case is £38,000, being the "amount deducted from original gross estimate." The Committee should apprehend what is going on. The Department made their original Estimate. The Treasury said, "We think that is too big, and we are going to give you less money to spend." Naturally the Treasury, in the infinite complexity of modern administration, were unable to put their finger upon a particular point at which they could reduce the Estimate of the Department. Nevertheless, they said, "Owing to the necessities of national finance this year, we are going to reduce your estimate, and, since we cannot say exactly what item we can reduce, we are going to put on an overhead cut of £38,000." That is a thoroughly unsatisfactory method. It is better than no cut at all. If we cannot have accurate Estimates, I would rather have the overhead cut imposed, but we need sound and accurate estimating, and the Department should ask for the money that they want and no more, so that we should not have to have this rough and ready method by which the Treasury lays in with an axe, imposing the overhead cut with financial brutality.
We have got into a thoroughly unsatisfactory state of affairs when we cannot have an Estimate accurately prepared asking for the amount of money required, and no more. It is making a joke of estimating, but it is legitimate, and it may be desirable, on the one condition that the overhead cut is absolutely 1810 observed, and that the peg which the Treasury puts in is not allowed to slip. It becomes a most improper financial method when, as in this case, the overhead cut is not to be taken seriously, but when, towards the end of the Session, the Department ask for a Supplementary Vote in order to restore the amount knocked out on the original Estimate. It is really deceiving the House of Commons. The principle of the overhead cut is that it contains a positive assurance—
The right hon. Gentleman knows that he is going beyond the limits of this discussion. He cannot discuss a method of the Treasury for which the First Commissioner of Works is not responsible. He can only discuss what the Minister is responsible for in his Department, and the right hon. Gentleman is not responsible for any overhead cuts made by the Treasury.
§ 5.0 p.m.
Sir H. YOUNG
I am obliged to you for your assistance in confining this discussion within the limits of Order. On a point of Order. May I call your attention to two circumstances which might assist you to define how far this discussion should range. A Treasury Minister's name is on this Motion and on the Estimates. I suggest that it is therefore relevant to consider the action of the Treasury as well as the action of the Minister. I wish to call attention to the following note on page 17 of the Estimate:In the original Estimate a deduction of £38,000 was made from the total of these sub-heads in respect of services which might not be carried out during the year. The progress of the services has been such that it is now anticipated that the full amount will be required.Therefore, what we are, in effect, doing is replacing the £38,000. My argument is that it is improper that we should be asked to do that, and I say that particularly applies to a sum deducted by way of overhead cut, because such a very rough and ready and imperfect method of finance can only be justified if the cut is taken as an absolute limitation of expenditure from which there is to be no departure. If, as now, we are asked to replace the money, such procedure simply opens up the possibility of deluding the House of Commons When the original Estimate is introduced, because any amount of overhead cut—
I think the right hon. Gentleman is still out of order. The explanation of the reasons for reinserting this particular sum is given for the information of the Committee. The Chairman must accept it. If the Treasury are to blame for the method adopted in dealing with these Estimates, the point ought to be raised directly on a Treasury Vote, and not on a Vote which concerns the Office of Works.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
On that point of Order. May I point out that if the right hon. Gentleman does pursue this line of argument the whole policy of making these cuts would come up for discussion, and would raise a number of points some of which have not been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. It would be necessary to argue them at some length. I am not at all in favour of the view that these deductions are necessarily a bad thing, and I should want to argue against the view which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward.
That is hardly a point of Order. What I wish to make clear is that if the Committee are to get through their business we must keep the Debate within the limits of the particular Vote before us. The discussion raised by the right hon. Gentleman could be raised directly on every Supplementary Estimate that comes before the Committee, and in that case an absurd position would arise. If this matter is one meriting the attention of the House of Commons the right hon. Gentleman must raise it on a Vote of the particular Department responsible for it, and not upon this Vote.
Sir H. YOUNG
If you please, Sir; but I will venture to call these points to your attention. In the first place, it must be possible to discuss this question at some time, because if it were ruled out on each Estimate on which it arises it would never be possible to discuss it at all. Secondly, as regards what you have said about this being a matter involving the Treasury, I would suggest that, in the first place, the responsibility for an Estimate is the responsibility of the Department. If we are not able to challenge the amount demanded by a Department upon its own Estimate it may amount to a very serious hindrance to criticism of a Department's finances. 1812 Secondly, and more especially on this particular point, while no doubt the method of the overhead cut is one which is accepted by the Treasury and, it may even be, is devised by the Treasury—the original reduction of this £38,000 may have been made on Treasury responsibility—it is clear that the restoration of the £38,000 must be the responsibility of the Department, because it has been necessitated by Departmental expenditture, and it is really from that point of view that I have criticised it on this occasion.
May I say at once, and quite plainly, that I have no desire to prevent the right hon. Gentleman discussing the £38,000 in so far as it affects the budgeting of the Department concerned, and in my position in charge of this Debate I have no knowledge whatever of overhead cuts. On this particular Supplementary Estimate the precise reason why the £38,000 is now asked for is given in the Estimate, and that is the only question before the Committee. If any method has been followed for which the Treasury is responsible I must repeat that it must be raised on a Vote concerning the Treasury.
Sir H. YOUNG
If you please, Sir, and I will content myself by saying that a Department which has been subjected to an overhead cut ought to show a special reluctance to undertake expenditure which will necessitate the restoration of the money which was the subject of the cut. In your original directions as to the course of this Debate you said it would be in order to discuss whether the expenditure ought to be granted, a point to which I have already referred; and, secondly, you said that the relevant issue was whether it was expenditure that. was necessary, and I venture to say, in one word, that no such expenditure as this can be necessary, because there is no reason why unemployment should have been allowed to mount to its present figure.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I have a feeling that we are in the land of the innocents abroad. I have been a Member of this House for 12 years, and have heard similar speeches delivered by both parties when we have been discussing Supplementary Estimates, and yet these Supplementary Estimates keep coming along. The right hon. Member for 1813 Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) says it is not necessary to provide more accommodation at Employment Exchanges. I would like to take him on a tour of the East End of London to show him some of the Employment Exchanges where men and women in their hundreds, if not in their thousands, have to muster to draw their unemployment benefit; and I will undertake to say that if his wife, or anybody else belonging to him, had to stand about in similar circumstances he would not merely vote for this £85,000, but for any amount of money that might be necessary to remove the present difficulties. We are not responsible for the fact that these people have to muster at the Employment Exchanges. A new Employment Exchange which has been erected in my division has no sanitary accommodation for either men or women. I suppose the right hon. Member would say that he is a Christian and believes in all the ordinary decencies of human life, and I am sure he will agree that we ought to provide proper sanitary accommodation, though he is not used to being amongst the poor unemployed, but is mainly concerned with the rich unemployed. The latter do not have to go to Employment Exchanges to draw their dole; they go to the banks for it, or they have it sent by their, brokers. Our people even have to line up at a temporary urinal. I do not want to see permanent Labour Exchanges, but I know that under capitalism they will be permanent. As long as the present system lasts we shall have an unemployed army of at least 1,000,000.
I have already ruled that we cannot discuss the causes of unemployment. All that we can discuss on the Estimate is the making of adequate provision for those who are unemployed attending Employment Exchanges.
§ Mr. JONES
I do not wish to say your Ruling is wrong, Sir, I quite accept it, and all I was wishing to submit is that this expenditure is necessary and ought to have been undertaken before. 1814 Supplementary Estimates are very often submitted though there is no justification for them. I will undertake to say that if this had been a Supplementary Estimate to provide more accommodation for naval or military officers hon. Members opposite would be supporting it with both hands and feet, but they are not so anxious about it as it concerns unemployed people. These men and women are being treated now as though they were simply dole takers; in the eyes of some hon. Members they are not human beings, they are taking something for nothing, which is their opinion as experts, who know all about it.
The question before the Committee is not whether they are entitled to what they are receiving or not. The only question is the provision of proper buildings to which they may go to receive what they are getting.
§ Mr. JONES
That is what I am arguing, that they ought to have proper accommodation. If this money is not voted they will not get that accommodation. Those of us who mix with these people every day of our lives and have to deal with their grievances day by day and hour by hour claim that the accommodation is not being provided. As I have said before, I invite any hon. Member opposite to come with me to my own constituency, where he will see hundreds of men and women standing in queues for hours at a time through lack of proper accommodation. Surely they are human beings, just as we are. I have already approached the Minister about the conditions at one of the Employment Exchanges, but up to now proper arrangements have not been made. I suppose it is due to lack of money. These financial people do not look at the thing from the point of view of treating these unemployed men and women as human beings. Do they want to treat them as criminals Are they suggesting that they ought to be left outside the pale of ordinary civilised life? [Interruption.] When elections are on they talk about the unemployed with tears in their voices, but when it is a question of treating them with elementary decency, they say the money cannot be found, the country is too poor. That comes from 1815 men with directorships averaging £1,000 a year—for directing nothing, because they cannot direct anything. They say now that the nation is too poor to afford decent treatment to men and women who, when they have had a chance, have done the best they could.
§ Captain CAZALET
The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) has told us that he has been in the House for 12 years, and that when Supplementary Estimates are introduced he hears more or less similar speeches from both parties in the House. Surely that shows that for 12 years Members of Parliament have been trying to do their duty, and to examine with great care every pound which the Government want to spend, especially when we are asked for a considerable sum in addition to the Estimates originally put before the House. I wish to know whether this cut of £38,000 was made by the Ministry concerned in order to meet the wishes of the Treasury, or was it imposed by the Treasury on the Ministry; and, if that be the case, I wish to know how that £38,000 was calculated? Is it a percentage cut on the total estimate of the Department? We ought to be allowed to hear exactly how the £38,000 was arrived at. I will refer for a moment to the question of furniture. Almost everything has been said on this subject that can be said, but perhaps I may he permitted to draw attention to one fact which emerges from the discussion, and it is that there are many hon. Members in every part of the House who have a great deal of spare second-hand furniture which they would be ready to offer to the Government at a cheap rate.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I would like to ask you, Mr. Dunnico, if the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) is in order in seeking to advertise that he has some old furniture to sell?
§ Captain CAZALET
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman would not be prepared to pay the price of my secondhand furniture. But perhaps hon. Members would be willing to give their second-hand furniture as a free offering 1816 in order to help the First Commissioner of Works out of his trouble, and this might be the means of effecting some further economy. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether all this furniture is wholly British made. I think that is a fair point to raise, and I hope we shall be given a full answer. The hon. Member for East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall) spoke of the conditions under which the officials had to work in the Employment Exchanges, due to the enormous amount of additional work which had been imposed upon them by the large increase in unemployment. The sum asked for in order to make the work of these officials more comfortable is a very small amount indeed. I would like to inquire whether the Minister is satisfied with the conditions that prevail today in these various offices, for if the conditions are unsatisfactory it means that the work will not be efficiently done. I suggest that some of the abuses which have been complained of to-day are due to the inadequate accommodation in the offices of the Employment Exchanges, and I think we ought to have a few words from the Minister of Labour in regard to the prevailing conditions.
The hon. Member for Silvertown has given us some dramatic details in regard to certain Employment Exchanges with which he is acquainted. It is always well to give an example in order to prove a case, but I cannot believe that the conditions which the hon. Member outlined are prevalent in any great degree in the various Employment Exchanges throughout the country, and a few words on that point from the Minister of Labour would be very acceptable on these benches. The main question which has been put by hon. Members on this side of the House has not been answered, and it is on what basis of unemployment are the Government estimating in asking the Committee to vote the sum we are discussing. Does the Minister of Labour think that the existing accommodation will be sufficient in the near future, or will she have to come again in a short time with another Supplementary Estimate for this purpose? We are very desirous of getting a reply from the Minister of Labour on these points.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Most of the questions which have been put deal with the same subject. The first question is 1817 in relation to the cut which has been going on for the last seven or eight years. Last year nearly all the questions put on this point were answered by the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, if I had had time I would have looked up the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I would have quoted their own answers to these questions. I quite understand that hon. Members' views may change on a subject of this kind. Complaint has been made that the work we are carrying out is not being done in an efficient manner, but the hon. Baronet who made that complaint is quite wrong, and he knows as well as I do that the Estimates are very carefully prepared by very efficient civil servants, and therefore the last charge that could be made is that of inefficiency.
It seems to me that hon. Members opposite did not take the trouble to listen to me when I spoke on this very subject at the beginning of the Debate, because I pointed out that the cut was made because it had been found impossible to estimate more closely on account of the fact that the Estimates concerned are affected by such things as bad weather. If you get a very bad season during the summer or the springtime, very often your buildings are delayed and you cannot get on with the work. Furthermore, there is great difficulty experienced sometimes in negotiating for the necessary sites. Everybody who has had to buy property for the Government, or for a municipal authority, knows that, in one particular year, or on one particular occasion, you may be successful in your negotiations, and obtain your site very quickly. I pointed out that last year we failed to do that, and therefore a very large sum was carried over, as it were, and was unspent. This year we have been more fortunate. Our work is proceeding without interference by bad weather, and we have been more successful in getting through our negotiations for the purchase of sites. That is the whole reason for the extra expenditure and the restoration of the cut. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that the Office of Works does not go into expenditure of this kind without the supervision, control and assent of the Treasury.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It is my business, as it happens, to answer, and no one else's, and the hon. Gentleman has no right to assert that someone else should answer. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that that is the fact in regard to this expenditure, and to have all this nonsensical twaddle—
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I want to raise a point of Order. On this side of the House we have argued this question very courteously, and I do not think that we should be addressed by the right hon. Gentleman in that way, and told that our objections are nonsensical twaddle.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
That is a phrase which is constantly used and applied to the arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think the phrase is thoroughly in order, and, as a matter of fact, it is the only phrase to describe what they say.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have no desire to say anything discourteous, but, when I was told a little while ago that these Estimates showed inefficiency, I think that was as severe as my criticism, and I was only replying to that argument.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think we are entitled to have your Ruling, Mr. Dunnico, on this point. I do not know whether you heard the words used by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think you did, but I am sure such a phrase will not advance the right hon. Gentleman's Estimates, and you, Mr Dunnico, might very well rule that the phrase which was used was not in order.
I was otherwise employed at the moment, and I did not hear the conversation. I understand that the word used was "nonsensical," but I cannot rule that that word is out of order; it is purely a matter of taste.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
As I want to be an example of good taste, I will withdraw that expression. I think it is really absurd for hon. Members opposite to talk in the fashion which they have adopted to-night without any consideration for those who are in charge of these matters. Complaints have been made, and on that account the Minister of Labour asked the Department to expedite this work. The 1819 work was expedited, with the result that we have spent the whole of our original estimate, and something in addition.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
We spent £3,000, and the hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Culverwell) pestered me pretty fairly to get that amount spent. The hon. Member is not so thin skinned, and he knows perfectly well that he has done as much as anyone else to get that amount spent under this Estimate. With regard to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for South Poplar (Mr. March), I should like to say that accommodation is being provided in Freemason's Road, and there is an exchange to be erected at the bottom end of Burdett Road, at the corner of Dod Street. That site has been purchased, and I hope, although I cannot give any definite pledge about it, that the new exchange will very soon be in operation. I do not know, Mr. Dunnico, how you may rule, but I have been asked on what basis we are making provision for the unemployed, that is to say, whether we are reckoning on the figure being always 2,500,000. I should like to point out that in 1927 a Select Committee of the House of Commons put forward a programme to the Minister of Labour of that day, and that programme was based upon 4 per cent. of the insured workers being unemployed. We have not caught up to that 4 per cent. yet; we are nowhere near it. We are working to it, and when that has been accomplished it will be time enough to consider a new basis. That is the answer to that question.
As regards furniture, even if we took furniture out of a store we should have to charge it up somewhere, and, therefore, you get figures here showing that the charge has been made against the Department. I suppose everyone understands that. It does not mean that we always go and buy new furniture for temporary premises. I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman who has ancient furniture for sale. It does not all mean chairs and tables; it means filing cabinets, files, desks, stools, and all kinds of other things. I should like to tell the right hon. Baronet who has 1820 just left the Committee that it is Employment Exchanges, and not officials, that we are providing for. We are making provision for men and women who are compelled to attend at these places in order to sign on, and I think everyone will agree that the nation ought to supply decent places in which to carry on that work. We do not provide lounges and arm-chairs, or Jacobean or any other kind of furniture, as the hon. Member well knows, but we do, as far as we are able, supply the kind of equipment that will enable the work to be done with decency and, as far as possible, with comfort to those who are out of work and have to attend. I think I have now replied to all the questions that have been put to me.
§ Mr. ALBERY
While the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with that subject, may I ask one question? Could he give us some explanation as to the big discrepancy in the amounts which have been spent in different towns of apparently somewhat different standing? For instance, I see that in Sheffield the total amount was £39,000, in Cardiff, £37,000, and in Birmingham, £40,000, while, on the other hand, in Glasgow it was only £28,000.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
May I ask what figures the hon. Member is reading? Is he reading from the Supplementary Estimate?
§ Mr. ALBERY
No, from the original Estimate, of which these Supplementary Estimates are part. The Committee is considering Supplementary Estimates on these Votes, and there is this big discrepancy to which I have referred. I was hoping that the right hon. Gentleman, before sitting down, would be able to give us a word of explanation as to why the expenditure in one town is nearly double the expenditure in another town of similar standing.
We cannot now go into the original Estimates, upon which the House has already decided. All that we can discuss now are the Supplementary Estimates. If the hon. Member has in mind some particular place where he thinks neglect has occurred, it would be in order to refer to that, but a general discussion on the original Estimates would not be in order.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
Does not that show the difficulty in which we are in dealing with this sum of £38,000? I do not, of course, for one moment dispute your Ruling, but we have here a cut of £38,000, and my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Albery) has referred, I think with some reason, to certain towns in which the money is being spent. As this overhead cut is not allocated to any particular place, but is general, no one knows in what towns the money may or may not be spent. Is it not, therefore, the case that you, Mr. Dunnico, are placed in a difficulty when we are discussing this cut of £38,000, because it may have been a cut at the very places referred to by my hon. Friend? For that reason I would appeal to you to allow him to refer to the possibility of some portion of the cut of £38,000 being allocated to the cities which he has in mind.
The hon. Member would be in order in calling attention to a place where the Employment Exchange was inadequate for its purpose, but he would not be in order in criticising the details of the original Estimate passed by the House a year ago.
§ Mr. ALBERY
I only wanted to say that, in the case of each of the towns to which I referred in my question, there is a Supplementary Estimate, and in some cases the amount is considerable. I will take two cases. In the case of Birmingham the total amount spent is £40,000, while in the case of Glasgow, on the other hand, it is £28,000. There are many other cases in these Estimates—including the Supplementary Estimates—where there is a big discrepancy of this kind between two towns, and I think the Committee is entitled to some explanation as to why one city should require double the amount required by another of similar standing.
I am afraid that the hon. Member is speaking on the original Estimate, and not on the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
May I submit that in your original Ruling, you said that, if we considered that in any particular town too little had been spent, we could discuss it? Would not the same apply if in a particular town too much had been spent, thus giving rise to this Supplementary Estimate? Should not we be allowed to discuss that question?
I do not think I used the words "too little had been spent." What I said was that, if an hon. Member felt that adequate provision was not made in a given locality, there was no objection to his making reference to that point; but at present the discussion is going a good deal farther than that.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Surely, an hon. Member's observations need not be confined to his own constituency? Would he not be allowed to raise a matter outside his own constituency?
Sir F. HALL
I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would be kind enough to give us some idea as to whether he anticipated a permanent increase in unemployment. Would he be good enough to explain to us the increase of £25,000 in the accounts for this period, and tell us whether the agreements into which he has entered have been for a short or long period?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The increase is due to the fact that there are 2,500,000 unemployed, and that there has been a very considerable increase during this year. The agreements are short. They are weekly or monthly agreements—for as short a period as we can possibly make them.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Perhaps I may be allowed to offer one or two observations on the speech of the First Commissioner. of course, the right hon. Gentleman has his own methods of getting through his Estimates, but I would respectfully suggest that he should not think, when questions are put to him from this side of the Committee in fulfilment of an important duty which has always played an important part in House of Commons procedure, he must, therefore, feel a sense of grievance. The whole of his speech seemed to indicate that he thought he was the most aggrieved man alive because these questions were being put to him, 1823 and because he had to come here this afternoon and defend his Estimate. That is a most astonishing attitude for a Minister to take. The right hon. Gentleman comes here with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and they present Supplementary Estimates amounting to £1,858,500. The first is one for £85,000, presented by the First Commissioner of Works, and his whole attitude has been one of complaint—I do not know whether it is Parliamentary to say whining, but that seemed to me to the sort of attitude which the right hon. Gentleman was adopting.
I would respectfully suggest to him that he alone is not responsible for these Estimates. After all, at the bottom of this Estimate, and of the Motion itself which is on the Order Paper, stands the name of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and the right hon. Gentleman must not think, when we say we want to know what is the position of the Treasury in this matter, that that is an unreasonable attitude to adopt. That is the reason, I understand, why the Financial Secretary is here this afternoon, as we should expect him to be. We know that he desires to carry out his duties to the best of his ability, and no doubt he is prepared if necessary to defend the Estimate as well. Therefore, do not let them think that they are under some sort of grievance. One knows that they have their difficulties and troubles at the present time, but let them shake off, and, when they come to the House of Commons, show a little cheerfulness of spirit. After all, this sum is not a small one. The First Commissioner seems to think that, when a sum of £85,000 is mentioned, he ran, so to speak, walk into the Committee and take it away with him without any question being asked at all. The Government appear to have become so used to this terrific expenditure that they think a sum of £85,000 is of no moment at all. I thoroughly agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Young), who at one time occupied the position of Financial Secretary, that, unless we begin to take account of even small items of this kind, the House of Commons will be losing its functions altogether. I am not going to attempt to refer to other Debates, but the right hon. Gentleman is now follow- 1824 ing out the suggestion which was supported by the Liberal party the other day that we should allow the Government to walk away for six months with many millions of money and not ask them to account for it. Surely, they will support us in asking for a proper scrutiny and a proper explanation of a sum of £85,000. If we are going to let the Government have a free run with millions of money, paying no regard to figures like £85,000, the House of Commons might as well give up its functions so far as the supervision of finance is concerned, and I daresay some of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters would rather approve of such a course. [Interruption.] As to the Minister's attitude, we certainly must have some regard for the traditions of the House, and he should not consider this sum of £85,000 as a small amount. I do not think, with all respect, that he has really given us the information to which we are entitled so far as this Estimate is concerned. It is true that he presented the item as if it were a token, but he has given us very few particulars so far as a good many items in this amount are concerned.
I want to make my position plain as regards better accommodation at Employment Exchanges and better conditions generally. I have had experience, as other Members have, and I think that the worst sights that can he seen in this country at the present time are those long queues of unfortunate people who have to stand outside these Exchanges; and I would not say for a moment that some proper provision should not be made for them. But the right hon. Gentleman has to account to the Committee and tell us what has been done as regards that Item E for rent.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The hon. Member misunderstands me. I am not complaining. It is the function of the Committee to make inquiries and to scrutinise these accounts. The hon. Member must not think that, because we are asking questions, we are necessarily complaining of a particular item or saying that proper provision should not be made. It is our proper function to ascertain in exactly what way the money has been expended. All the information we have been given 1825 is that these are varying tenancies for six months or a year or two years. That does not permit us to test whether the Government have been judicious and careful in the expenditure of this money. If the right hon. Gentleman had given us a few examples of leases or agreements, we should be able to see whether proper bargains had been made.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The hon. Member says we should be some time discussing it. That is not a matter that we need be unduly apprehensive about if we are doing our duty. I am sure the hon. Member would spend any number of hours in order that that might be done. I do not think anyone would object to proper and decent provision being made for these people. This Estimate is only another item in the tragic tale of unemployment and its consequences. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has used proper discretion and has had regard to the financial position in the agreements into which he has entered. Has he taken premises in some of the principal streets, because that is quite unnecessary. All that is wanted is proper and adequate provision for the people who, unfortunately, have to draw their unemployment benefit. A large amount of money has been wasted in the past on rents in very expensive thoroughfares. It is only by hearing exactly what the right hon. Gentleman has done that we can come to any judgment in the matter and can know whether money can be saved. We do not want to waste time and, if the right hon. Gentleman would give us some more particulars, it would expedite the progress of the Vote.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
The First Commissioner has tried to get away with this Estimate by saying that it was a matter of a very small amount merely restoring the original Estimate. He forgot that any Department could get any Estimate whatever through merely by putting a figure enormously beyond their obvious needs getting a Treasury cut and restoring to the original position without introducing a Supplementary Estimate at all. After the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) it is apparent that this is a large matter con- 1826 cerning £85,000 and not the smaller sum which you, Sir, said was the reason why we should not travel too far in our discussions. The matter has really extended in scope. I submit to your Ruling in every way, but the Debate has somewhat enlarged itself.
I must remind the hon. Member at the outset of his speech that my Ruling still stands. I have not departed one iota from my original Ruling.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
The First Commissioner somewhat enlarged the discussion by his own speech, because he raised the question whether the Treasury was entitled to answer on this matter at all. He said it was his business. I remember very distinctly that you said at the beginning of the discussion that we were entitled to ask the Minister of Labour certain questions which she was entitled to answer.
The hon. Member must not impute to me words which I did not use. I made no such reference concerning the Minister of Labour, but to the Minister in charge of this Vote.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I am very sorry if I was mistaken. I understood you to say we were entitled to ask the Minister any questions that we chose to ask, though we could not enter into the wider question of policy and unemployment.
The hon. Member ought to know perfectly well. I have ruled again and again that the Minister in charge of the Supplementary Estimate is the First Commissioner. He is the responsible Minister, and questions must be addressed to him.
It is well known that when a responsible Minister is put up to answer questions it has been ruled by my predecessors to be out of order to question the right of the Government to appoint that Minister to represent it.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
It seems to me that the Motion is down in the name 1827 of the Treasury, and, if I have made a mistake, it is a mistake that one might easily make. If the Motion is in the name of the Treasury—
I want to say distinctly that the original suggestion that the hon. Member imputed to me was that I had stated that any question could be put to the Minister of Labour. I never mentioned the Minister of Labour, though I may have mentioned the Minister in charge of the Vote. The hon. Member is entitled to ask the Prime Minister a question if it is relevant, but the Prime Minister can decide whether or not to answer.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I rather hope the Financial Secretary will decide to answer on the matter. I wish to cut away the ragged edges of the Debate and come down to two very definite matters that are dealt with in the Vote. With regard to furniture, the right hon. Gentleman may consider that this is taking an unfair opportunity on a minor matter, but people who feel deeply about things are entitled to raise them even though they are questions of the smallest detail. We want to know whether this furniture was of British manufacture. We want to be absolutely sure, in any question of public expenditure, that, as far as possible, the interests of employment in this country are served. This £75,000 worth of furniture would give a great deal of employment, and we want to know what proportion of it is new, whether it is of British manufacture and whether the materials are British. We want to be absolutely assured that there is no Russian timber used in our public works. The right hon. Gentleman is a very suitable person to whom such a question could be put. In his unregenerate days, before he was made one of His Majesty's servants, he had a good deal of knowledge of the Russian timber trade, and will be able to make investigations which would not be open to us.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. Just now hon. Members were very susceptible to a word that I used. I want to state that I never directly or indirectly had anything to do with the buying of Russian timber or soft woods of any kind.
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
I am very glad to have that disclaimer. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman ought to inform the Committee whether any of this furniture was made of Russian timber. The conscience of the people has been shocked by the conditions of labour there, and we wish to be absolutely assured that none of the furniture purchased for the use of any British public works is made under these terrible conditions. We intend to bring these matters forward on every possible opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman has no right to take umbrage. It is his duty to assure the Committee that no Russian timber is being used in this very considerable amount of new furniture.
The right hon. Gentleman has been congratulated, I think in a quite unnecessary way, by Members on this side of the House on the small increase of rents. Rent is a wasting asset, and we want to know in respect of what kinds of rent this £25,000 has been paid. It may he that rents have gone up on existing premises occupied by the Ministry of Labour. It may be that there have been one or two buildings in respect of which rent has been paid, or it may be it is spread over a whole area. I want to ask in respect of what buildings. giving some particularity to it, this £25,000 was incurred, how long are the tenancies going to last and for what period the liability has been incurred, because £25,000 for a week may be a very large matter hut for a longer period it might be comparatively small. There is a suspicious smallness about this Estimate, and I think the House of Commons and the country should be made aware that this amount is only in respect of actual property and has nothing to do with the large expenditure that must have been incurred with regard to employment in what was felicitously called, in a very unhappy speech, by the Minister of Transport the Unemployment Exchange industry. We have vastly bigger commitments which have been incurred—
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I can understand up to a point the desire for 1829 a Supplementary Estimate being brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman owing to the fact that the numbers of the unemployed have increased so very materially since the present Government came in to office. I have had one or two experiences brought to my notice in my constituency with regard to conditions at Employment Exchanges, and I want to say a few words about them. I notice that under Item A provision is being made for improved accommodation for Employment Exchanges, and I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works whether these improvements are merely for the personnel of the Exchanges, or are being made, for instance, for the convenience of the unfortunate people who are unemployed? In my constituency, which is in the North of England, there is a great deal of rain, I am sorry to say, and these people sometimes have to stand outside the Employment Exchanges for a very long time. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it might be possible at these Exchanges to provide some sort of shelter from the rain for the unfortunate people who have to wait outside.
I have approached the Minister of Labour on several occasions with regard to the payment of unemployment benefit in different villages in my constituency. I should like to thank the Minister for having arranged for the payment of benefit in one of the villages in my constituency which is some distance from one of the big towns, but she has repeatedly, on other occasions, refused to have payments made in villages where the accommodation for the Employment Exchange has been offered free of all rent to the Ministry of Labour. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is taking advantage of those offers, which are made in various villages, especially in the mill districts, of free accommodation for the officials of the Ministry of Labour to pay out and to sign on the people in the villages. This is a very important matter in a constituency where a good deal of rain falls, and it would help them very much if something could be done on these lines. One of the reasons which was given to me when I was communicating with the Minister on this point as to why this extra accommodation was not given in the villages was that 1830 there was a good omnibus service from the village to the larger town where the Employment Exchange existed.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have nothing to do with determining whether unemployment benefit should be paid in this or that place. It is specifically a matter for the Minister of Labour, and does not arise on this Supplementary Estimate.
§ Sir W. BRASS
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed. In this Estimate he is asking for certain specific things. He wants a certain sum of money to be granted to him for rents of Employment Exchanges, for instance, and I want to know whether in considering the rents which he is going to pay, he has considered the free accommodation which is available in certain places in this country? I think that it is very pertinent to ask whether he has considered that matter.
The CHAIRMAN (Sir Robert Young)
I was just trying to find out what the hon. Member was endeavouring to point out, and whether the right hon. Gentleman had any particular jurisdiction in this matter.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Of course, I do not object to questions or discussion, but I understand from the hon. Member that he has written to the Minister of Labour suggesting that payment should be made in certain villages and that the Minister has declined to accede to the suggestion. I do not come into the matter at all. The Ministry of Labour instruct us where they want an Employment Exchange and we have to look round and get a site, or hire a building and so on, but we have no voice as to where that building or school shall be. That is a matter for the Ministry of Labour.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I understand the exact position now, which is, that the point I was discussing was really a point for the Minister of Labour and not for the right hon. Gentleman, because the Minister of Labour asks him to do something and he arranges for certain buildings, and so on, to be hired in certain places as the case may be.
There is another point to which I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. He has an item B, "Maintenance and Repairs," and I 1831 should like to know whether this sum—it is not a very big sum—applies to the permanent buildings of the Ministry of Labour, or to the more temporary ones which are taken on from time to time as they become necessary under the present conditions. In regard to the question of rents, I see that the Estimate is for £25,000 for the hiring of additional premises. Can the right hon. Gentleman inform me whether, in taking these premises, the Government are careful to ensure that the lease is a short one and terminable at very short notice? That is a very important factor. If the right hon. Gentleman will answer these questions later on, I shall be very much obliged.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
May I appeal once again to the Minister out of his good heart, which he seems to have shown in the replies which he has made so far, really to explain the system upon which the super-cut is carried out? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) put the question very succinctly. The right hon. Gentleman, as far as I can make out, made no attempt to reply. It is clear that it is not being done on a percentage basis. Here you have super-cuts of £38,000 in an original total sum of £642,000. If the right hon. Gentleman will look into the matter, he will find that the super-cuts only appear in building votes under Class VII and not in other Estimates. If he will look at Vote 1 in Class VII, he will find there the super-cut was £53,000 in. a sum of £600,000, a very much bigger percentage, and if he looks into another Vote he will find that the super-cut is only £20,000 in a sum of £1,500,000. Therefore, no one can pretend that it has anything to do with the percentage basis over the total Vote. What has it go to do with the total Vote, and who is the person responsible for doing it? That was the question, Sir Robert, about which there was a dispute when your predecessor was in the Chair. Am I to understand that the procedure is as follows: The Minister puts up his Estimate, and then of his own free will decides to cut off £38,000. This is really a matter of some interest to the Committee because, in spite of the Minister's allusions to what happened last year, of which I have not such a lively recollection as he appears to have, if one looks 1832 into the main Estimate for this year, on page 15, Class VII (4), there is nothing in the line, which this year shows a super-cut of £38,000, indicating a super-cut in 1929. I do not know to what the Minister was alluding. I have not the faintest idea. If he would clear up that matter, it would be one good thing rescued out of a somewhat prolonged Debate.
The Minister should recognise that the Committee have good grounds for complaint, because we have an additional Estimate to the tune of £85,000, making a grand total of £727,000. In 1929, the grand total was £550,000, and this year, with the main Estimate and the Supplementary Estimate, there is a big increase. That is one reason why we pay so much attention to the details of this Estimate. After all, if an Estimate goes up from £550,000 to £727,000 in 12 months, it requires a good deal of explanation, and I hope that the Minister will be good enough to let us know a little more about this matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) wanted to make his position clear, but one of the reasons was, I imagine, that there is a new Employment Exchange being put up at Woolwich. A specific sum of £10,000 is required for these proposed works, and I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman was not at all lucid in his explanation. Particulars are given in page 28 in the main Estimate where it says:Provision of improved accommodation for Employment Exchanges as required.Neither in his remarks on the main Estimate nor in his speeches to-day has he given the slightest inkling as to where these Exchanges are being put up. It is not as if the Minister had not considerable detail. After all, in the earlier part of the description of the works in progress there is mention of no less than 75, and there are six buildings under proposed works, and when we come to insurance buildings, about which not very much has been said, there are only two—one in progress, and one proposed—works. Therefore, we should like to know whether the improved accommodation, for which £35,000 was originally taken and for which an extra £10,000 is required, relates to those building's.
The hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Culverwell) asked about Bristol. I could 1833 not quite make out from the right hon. Gentleman what the answer to that really was. According to the Estimate, there are two buildings being put up in Bristol. My hon. Friend is particularly anxious to know about one of them. I understood from what he said that work was not going to be put in progress until June. If that is so, what is to happen to the money allocated for that Exchange? Is that included further to the £85,000 which is specifically shown in the Supplementary Estimate This is the sort of point which arises. It is a very curious fact that an extra £85,000 is required, and I know it will interest the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones), because it is one thing in these Estimates to which he has always paid attention, namely, Appropriations in-Aid.
§ The CHAIRMAN
if that is so, the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not in order in referring to it. There is nothing in this Estimate under Appropriations-in-Aid, and, if there were, it would not be possible to discuss it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, but the hon. and gallant Member knows that we are not discussing the main Estimate, but are tied to the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
I know we are very tied, Sir Robert, but in sub-heads A to N in the original Estimate, the £38,000 is scattered all over. I am sorry that I am not able to ask a question on that matter. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne will be more cunning and will be able to ascertain, if I may put it in this way, whether in view of the extra charges to which the Minister has been put through the extra expenditure on unemployment, he is not receiving any extra income? I understand that there is an arrangement by which certain proportions of expenditure are recoverable by the Office of Works from the Ministry of Labour for 1834 the work that it does for that Department. Therefore, it seems to me that as there is an enormous increase in the number of the unemployed, jumping up from 1,100,000 to over 2,500,000, the right hon. Gentleman ought to be getting more back from the Ministry of Labour. The whole of his argument justifying the expenditure has been the abnormal and unexpected increase in the number of unemployed, and I want to know, although I cannot refer to points that are out of order, whether he has not received more back from the Ministry of Labour on that account. If so, he must have got mathematically—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member is getting back to Appropriations-in-Aid when he asks what is being done in this way.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
One Department does not go to another Department and say: "We have spent so much money for you; just hand it over." We carry out this work for and on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, and we come to the House to get the Vote sanctioned. As to how the Treasury and the Ministry of Labour arrange for the payment of the money, it is not my business.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
I am glad to know that it is not the right hon. Gentleman's business. I thought that everything dealing with buildings was his business. If that is not so, I apologise to him for questioning him in regard to something which is outside his purview. I am sorry that he does not know the amount of the sum involved. I have got the answer that I expected, and I will leave it at that. I come to my original question and ask the right hon. Gentleman where and by whom was the super-aut made?
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
No. The figures that I have quoted have nothing to do with percentages and nothing to do with the weather, which applies whether the buildings are Labour, Health or Inland Revenue buildings. There is no special providence which guards one 1835 kind of building. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain exactly how it has been done? I would remind him, as the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) pointed out, that although the sum is small, only £85,000, it is part of a big lot of Supplementary Estimates, 19 in number, costing £2,000,000. We have already had 17 Supplementary Estimates since the main Estimates were passed. Therefore, there are 36 supplementary sums which are required over and above what was anticipated. If that means anything, it means that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were extremely bad at estimating how much money they would require in the course of the year. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not take it amiss, when we remember what right hon. Members opposite do not seem to trouble much about, namely, the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling us the parlous condition of the finances of the country. That is why we take exception to this particular Vote and—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. and gallant Member that he must keep to the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am a little suspicious about the change in wording which I perceive in this Supplementary Estimate. I know that these changes in wording are not usually made without good reason. I refer to the question of the super-cut. There is a change in the way in which the super-cut is described in the Supplementary Estimate this year. In previous years the super-cut was always made specifically on the itemised portion of the programme dealing with new works, and was described in the wordsDeducted for work which may not be carried out during the year.For the year 1929 there was a sum of £22,200 for Works Votes, and I think £2,000 for Insurance Votes.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On page 15 of last year's Estimates, the words used are:deduct for services which may not be carried out during the year £38,000.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
On a point of Order. Are we in order in discussing the method under which this cut was made on the original Vote of last year? 1836 The right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) was not allowed to proceed with his argument, and I showed some symptoms of wishing to debate it, but I was told by your predecessor that I could not do so. I submit that the ruling of the Chair was quite right, and that we cannot now discuss that method of deduction. The First Commissioner of Works has brought this upon his own head. There is no need for him to mention the £38,000 at all in this Estimate. What he ought to have done, but what he has not done, is to tell us on what the £38,000 has been spent. My point is that we cannot discuss the way in which the cut was made, but we can ask how the £38,000 has been spent. Is it for new works, or for furniture or rent?
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the right hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson) was referring to the main Estimate he was certainly not in order, and I was going to call him to order. We cannot discuss the cut now.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The point, surely, is that the £38,000 which is being voted has not been voted out of the list before. The First Commissioner of Works proposed to include the £38,000 before, but the Treasury came down with the axe or the bludgeon and knocked it out. He has been asked, but he has not told us, to what services he proposes to appropriate the £38,000. The point that I was putting, although it was only a point of wording, is that whereas in previous years these deductions have been made in respect of works that are not going to be carried out, this year for the first time for some unknown reason the wording is changed and the deduction is made in respect of services.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am being asked to vote £38,000. In the original Estimate there was a deduction of £38,000 from the total, and under the sub-head in the Supplementary Estimate the reference is to services which may not be carried out during the year, and I have pointed out that there is a difference in the wording. The right hon. Gentleman says that this is not a new 1837 thing in the Supplementary Estimates, but I arm entitled to say that in previous years the reference has been to works whereas the present reference is to services.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman should have raised that point on the main Estimate. We cannot discuss that matter now, but the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to ask what the £38,000 is for.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will note that on the main Estimate next year I should like some explanation, because I am always suspicious about changes. I hope we shall be able to bring the discussion to an early conclusion by the right hon. Gentleman giving us the information for which we have asked.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not want to intervene at this point if there are any hon. Members who wish to speak. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"] I do not want it to be said later that there were other speakers who desired to take part before I replied. With respect to the £38,000, I was under the impression, and I leave the OFFICIAL REPORT to bear me out, that I said, in moving the Vote, that the money would be very largely spent on new works and on the acquisition of sites for new buildings, and so on. I also tried to explain, and I am extremely sorry if my want of explanatory powers made me not clear to hon. Members, that the cut that is made is not on any percentage basis at all, but on the basis of the general experience of the Department. It is not a question of bludgeoning by the Treasury.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is now dealing with a point on which my predecessor ruled discussion out of order.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The difficulty about this discussion is that so much has been out of order. I have been anxious to give hon. Members an opportunity of asking questions.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman said that the £38,000 was mostly for new works and sites. If so, why was it not added to the 10,000 under sub-head A?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It was put in its present position to show that it was a cut 1838 from the general total of last year. It had to be shown in that way. The only other point of discussion is the question of rent, and whether we have bought British goods as far as possible or, failing British home-made goods, goods from the Dominions. Everyone acquainted with Government Departments for the last few years, must know that there is a Treasury Order, which we all have to carry out, in respect of the purchase of goods, that wherever possible and practicable we must buy British products or products from the Dominions. There is no question at all about that. The Committee will not expect me to give a long list of weekly tenancies here or monthly tenancies there; there are all kinds of tenancies, but the Committee may be quite sure that we are not hiring any premises that are unnecessary or taking them for an unnecessary period.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
When the right hon. Gentleman says that it must be because of the failure of his explanatory powers if it is not clear how this £38,000 is to be spent, he exaggerated a little. His explanatory powers are, in fact, a little too great, because even yet no Member of the Committee can tell where this £38,000 has gone. This is very important because we have the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that owing to the grave financial position of the country we cannot afford any large expenditure of public money. When we appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, out of his charity, to give us this information he burks the question. It would facilitate business if he would rise in his place and make a manly statement, such as he makes everywhere but in this House.
§ Captain GUNSTON
The Committee is entitled to some explanation. This £38,000 is nearly 50 per cent. of the Vote, and we are not given any details as to how the money is to be spent. In the Vote for maintenance and repairs we have the words:Provision required for unforeseen services.I can understand the words "unforeseen circumstances," but I do not know what these particular words mean. Under subhead E there is a provision for £25,000 for rents, a 20 per cent. increase on the original Estimate—a fairly large increase. I should like to know whether it is for rent in respect of buildings which form 1839 part of the permanent structure, because I see that the right hon. Gentleman is asking for £10,000 more for permanent buildings, and the increase may therefore be greater than is apparent. The extra cost of furniture is 16 per cent. As we have an increase in unemployment of 60 per cent., and an increase for rents of 20 per cent., this increase for furniture is rather extravagant. Is there not a great deal of furniture already in the buildings which the right hon. Gentleman acquires and which he could utilise in order to keep the Estimate down? We all know that temporary accommodation is necessary, the sanitary arrangements are sometimes very unsatisfactory in many Employment Exchanges. I have had many complaints about this at the Kingswood Employment Exchange, outside Bristol, and I should like to ask whether the attention of the right hon. Gentleman is being given to this matter, especially in view of the great increase in the numbers of unemployed.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
There are a large number of Estimates to be considered, and I appeal to the Committee to let us have this Vote after I have tried once more to answer the questions which have been put to me. "Unforeseen services" include washing and cleaning, keeping the Employment Exchanges in order, perhaps adapting a temporary building, and you may have to put up partitions to provide accommodation for women. As regards furniture, there is no Department of State setter equipped and more anxious to watch expenditure than the Office of Works. I say that not because I am head of the Department, but to pay a tribute to the men who have to carry out the work. I am astonished at the detail into which they go on all these
§ matters, and I should not be so strong in asking the Committee to pass the Vote if I was not fully assured that the country will get full value for every penny it is asked to spend.
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the number of persons under the Insurance Act at the moment?
§ Mr. SMITHERS
We have been told by the First Commissioner of Works that these Estimates were prepared and issued with the consent and advice of the Treasury, and I want to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury a question as to how these accounts are kept.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That question should have been raised on the main Estimate. It cannot be raised on a purely Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I want to ask a. question on the first item in the Vote—"New Works, Alterations, Additions and Purchases." If the Office of Works makes a purchase, is that amount written off, or is the building for which the money has been paid retained as an asset and the sum taken into the account? When the accounts are made up, is a valuation placed upon that asset at the end of the year?
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £84,900, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 143; Noes, 237.1843
|Division No. 165.]||AYES.||[6.43 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Campbell, E. T.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Chapman, Sir S.||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Christie, J. A.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Colfox, Major William Phillip||Fielden, E. B.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Bracken, B.||Cowan, D. M.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Cranborne, Viscount||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Crookshank. Capt. H. C.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Buchan, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Guinness Rt. Hon. Walter E||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencestar)||Somerset, Thomas|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Muirhead, A. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||O'Connor, T. J.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hanbury, C.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Penny, Sir George||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd,Henley)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Train, J.|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ramsbotham, H.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Remer, John R.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, Sir J. O.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay).|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Ross, Ronald D.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Long, Major Hon. Eric||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Womersley, W. J.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Savery, S. S.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Simms, Major-General J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Skelton, A. N.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Middleton, G.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)||Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain|
|Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Sir George Bowyer.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Duncan, Charles||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Ede, James Chuter||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Elmley, Viscount||Kinley, J.|
|Arnott, John||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Knight, Holford|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Freeman, Peter||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Ayles, Walter||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lathan, G.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Gibbins, Joseph||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Barr, James||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Lawson, John James|
|Benn, Rt Hon. Wedgwood||Gill, T. H.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Glassey, A. E.||Leach, W.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Gossling, A. G.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Benson, G.||Gray, Milner||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Bondfield, Rt, Hon. Margaret||Groves, Thomas E.||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Longden, F.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lowth, Thomas|
|Bromfield, William||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Bromley, J.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)|
|Brooke, W.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||McElwee, A.|
|Brothers, M.||Hamliton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hardle, George D.||McKinlay, A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Haycock, A. W.||McShane, John James|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hayday, Arthur||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hayes, John Henry||March, S.|
|Chater, Daniel||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Marcus, M.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Markham, S. F.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Herriotts, J.||Marley, J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Marshall, Fred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hoffman, P. C.||Mathers, George|
|Compton, Joseph||Hollins, A.||Matters, L. W.|
|Cove, William G.||Hopkin, Daniel||Maxton, James|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Horrabin, J. F.||Melville, Sir James|
|Daggar, George||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Milner, Major J.|
|Dallas, George||Isaacs, George||Montague, Frederick|
|Dalton, Hugh||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Mort, D. L.|
|Dukes, C.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Muff, G.|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Sawyer, G. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Scott, James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Scrymgeour, E.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Scurr, John||Tillett, Ben|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Shaw, Rt Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Tout, W. J.|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Townend, A. E.|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Sherwood, G. H.||Vaughan, David|
|Palmer, E. T.||Shield, George William||Viant, S. P.|
|Perry, S. F.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Walker, J.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Shinwell, E.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Simmons, C. J.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Potts, John S.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||West, F. R.|
|Pybus, Percy John||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Raynes, W. R.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Snell, Harry||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ritson, J.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Romeril, H. G.||Sorensen, R.||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Stamford, Thomas W.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Rothschild, J. de||Stephen, Campbell||Wise, E. F.|
|Rowson, Guy||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Strauss, G. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Sullivan, J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Sanders, W. S.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Sandham, E.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
Bill read the Third Time, and passed.