HC Deb 07 August 1900 vol 87 cc962-3

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[MR. J. W. Lowther (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:—


said lie desired to call the attention of the House to the end of the last paragraph of this clause. He did not know why it was necessary to insert it. It seemed to him that Clause 2 of the Public Accounts and Charges Act gave all the necessary power. It might possibly be that the paragraph was a survival of the times before the Public Accounts and Charges Act was passed, and if that were so he would commend it to the attention of those who drafted the Bill, who might study the matter during the recess. The point he wished to make was that this paragraph brought for the first time under the purview of the House the appropriations-in-aid. It was quite true that the estimated amount of the appropriations had been before the House, but that was another matter. By a considered ruling the Chairman had ruled that the appropriations-in-aid could not be attacked in Committee. He did not himself intend to move any Amendment, but there was now nothing to prevent any hon. Member moving an Amendment if he chose. His object in rising was to call attention to the very large increase in the appropriations-in-aid. In 1896–97, excluding the ordnance factories, which ought not to be excluded, the appropriations-in-aid effected by this clause amounted to £5,700,000; in 1897-98, £5,900,000; in 1898-99, £6,700,000; and in 1899–1900, £6,965,600, an increase j of a million and a quarter in four years for appropriations-in-aid, which were entirely withdrawn from the purview of the House. The large increase in these appropriations-in-aid was a matter seriously deserving the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the House. He hoped next year instead of an increase the amount would be largely diminished.


said the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly well aware that it had been the consistent policy of the Public Accounts Committee for the last ten or twelve years to recommend that wherever it was possible to alter the payments from Exchequer receipts into appropriations-in-aid that should be done. The hon. Gentleman had plenty of opportunity to convince the Public Accounts Committee upon that technical subject. No doubt these appropriations-in-aid had largely increased during the last few years, but that had been due to the recommendation of the Committee having been followed. The result was that wherever the receipts were small and variable in amount they were made direct. It was not so much a matter for the Treasury as for the Committee of Public Accounts.


said he only wished to emphasise the fact that these appropriations-in-aid were withdrawn from the control of the Committee and were largely increasing, and he respectfully submitted that this was a matter the Committee ought to consider.

Clause 3 and the remaining clauses were agreed to.

Bill reported, without amendment; to be read the third time To-morrow.