asked if the Local Government Board has recently remitted a surcharge made by the district auditor of the Board upon Mr. George Lansbury and other members of the Poplar Board of Guardians in respect of an excess expenditure upon clothing which was proved to be wasteful and illegal; and, if so, what were the grounds of the Board's decision?
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Burns)
In the case to which the hon. Member refers, the auditor found that certain articles of clothing purchased by the guardians from the Central (Unemployed) Body for London had cost more than the amount for which they could have been obtained from manufacturers who had submitted tenders. He surcharged the excess upon four of the guardians who voted for the purchase. The effect of the action of the guardians in the matter was to assist the work of the Central (Unemployed) Body for London at the expense of the ratepayers of Poplar, which, in my opinion, was not justifiable, but as there was no question that the persons surcharged had acted otherwise than in good faith, I came to the conclusion that, though the surcharge was lawfully made, it was equitable to relieve those persons of the obligation to pay the amount surcharged. I intimated, however, that I should not be prepared to remit any future similar surcharge in the guardians' accounts.