§ MR. SEARS (Cheltenham)
To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the cost of the stamping office in Manchester and the staff employed there, and the reason for including the staff of the Manchester office in the Estimates for Somerset House; is he aware that the Manchester Stamping Office is located in the same building as the office of the Collector of Inland Revenue; and will he state why this official does not control the stamping office in Manchester as in other towns and thus save the salary of £500 a year paid to an assistant accountant who is engaged on work apparently foreign to an Inland Revenue accountant's ordinary duties.
(Answered by Mr. Asquith.) The total cost of the staff engaged exclusively on "stamping" in Manchester is in round figures £2,100 per annum. It is included in the Estimates for the central staff of the Accountant General and of the Inspector of Stamping respectively, because Manchester is in respect of stamping on a different footing from any other provincial stamping office. At Manchester alone of the provincial offices in England and Wales stamping is done on what may be called a "wholesale" scale, by means of power machinery, and where this is the case a distinct checking staff is required. The cost would be the same, whether the checking officers were included in the staff of the Collector of Inland Revenue or in that of the Accountant General, who is also Controller General of Inland Revenue, but 1446 by employing officers of the latter's staff the check is more complete, as it extends to the collector as well as to the stamping branch of his business.