Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,291, 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, 1943, for the salaries and other expenses in the Department of His Majesty's Treasury and Subordinate Departments, and the salaries and expenses of a Minister without Portfolio, a Minister of State, a Deputy Minister of State and the Ministers Resident in West Africa and at Allied Headquarters in North-West Africa.
§ Mr. Ammon (Camberwell, North)
There are two questions I want to ask on the salary of the Deputy Minister of State and that of the Resident Minister. In the first place, we want to know what are the duties of these gentlemen. I presume that the Deputy Minister of State is acting in an advisory capacity to someone and I wonder whether one might convey a hint, which could be picked up elsewhere, with regard to conditions which have been brought to my notice as obtaining in certain parts of the Middle East. For obvious reasons I do not want to be too specific. It has been brought home to me that there is a good deal of ill-feeling, of which some of our men are getting the backwash; that there is nothing to prevent certain sections of people getting rich at the expense of poorer people, and that the peasantry are in such a condition that they cannot buy even the crops that they 1542 sow. I am told by people who have been there that it is having such an effect on the common people that they are resenting it and are rather blaming our soldiers for it, and it is creating ill-will. I wonder whether the Deputy Minister could convey to the right quarters that it might be worth while setting up some such machinery as we have here, with a view to a more equitable distribution. With regard to North-West Africa, one is curious to know to whom this gentleman is responsible and from whom he directly takes his commission, because there is in this country, whether we like it or not, a good deal of cynicism with regard to the political situation there. Many people hold that, while we say we are going to punish certain people who are responsible for the terrible state of affairs, we already seem to be acting with regard to quislings in Africa in a way that is bound to have a bad effect on other nations.
§ The Chairman (Colonel Clifton Brown)
This is not the occasion on which to discuss political conditions in North Africa.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I want to ask a few questions about the duties of the Resident Minister in West Africa. It is now about eight months since he was appointed, and the Deputy Prime Minister assured- us that his duties would be, to ensure the effective co-operation in the prosecution of the war of all services, civil and military. Since then we have heard nothing about how he has fulfilled that duty—
§ The Chairman
The hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to the Resident Minister in West Africa, but I am afraid that West Africa is not among the items included in this Estimate.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I thought that the Minister Resident in West Africa and the 1543 Minister Resident in North-West Africa both came within the Estimate.
§ The Chairman
The Estimate states clearly that it is North-West Africa, and that does not include West Africa.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Assheton)
This Estimate is presented in accordance with customary practice to obtain the approval of the Committee for the salaries of Ministers who have been appointed for certain special purposes which are not covered by specific statutory powers. In normal times there are only occasional appointments of this sort, such as the appointment of a Minister without Portfolio to handle some particular matter of public importance. During the war, however, there have been several appointments of this kind and this Estimate refers to three of them.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) asked about the duties of the Deputy Minister of State and the Minister Resident at Allied Headquarters in North-West Africa. The Deputy Minister of State serves under the Minister of State in Cairo, who is a member of the War Cabinet. The Minister Resident at Allied Headquarters in North-West Africa reports direct to His Majesty's Government here and he is in a position to convey to those in North-West Africa the views of the Government on various matters which may arise there from time to time, and also to convey to the Government any matters which he thinks it necessary for them to know.
§ Question put, and agreed to.