§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £133,200, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the 670 year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914, in respect of Insurance and Labour Exchange Buildings, Great Britain." [Note.—£90,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Sir J. D. REES
I do not wish to delay the Committee, but I am quite unwilling to allow this Vote to pass without a word of protest. The Committee are asked to 671 pass £133,000, of which £56,000 is on account of insurance buildings, and no less than £167,000 on account of Labour Exchanges. I should be out of order if I referred to the merits of the legislation which has led to this expenditure. Of course, this does occur to one even more strongly when he regards that legislation as of a provisional and experimental character, and when he finds such an exceedingly large amount. I think even hon. Gentlemen who are persuaded that the Labour Exchange policy has been a success—I am not one of them—will think that the expenditure in two years of over half a million is a perfectly astonishing total. I am unwilling to let this Vote go through without calling attention to the extremely large figure which the taxpayer is called upon to find for legislation of a purely experimental and provisional character. The Labour Exchange part of it, so far, has not been productive of any corresponding advantage.
§ Mr. FELL
I would like to know what principle is being acted on in regard to the Labour Exchange buildings. When the Bill was passed it was said that we should have the greater number of those buildings rented, and that it would only be in exceptionally large towns and cities that we should have the buildings erected by the Government. I see now you are proposing to build on purchased sites something like ten freehold Labour Exchanges. I heard of one instance in which a Labour Exchange was put up in a wrong place, and had to be got rid of. It would be a great pity if costly sites were taken to put up great buildings before the Government really found the basis on which they are going to work, and I think they should rent the buildings in the greater number of cases.
§ Lord A. THYNNE
This is one of the instances in which I think economy could be promoted with efficiency, if the hon. Member would represent to the Board of Works the possibility of concentrating the insurance buildings and the Labour Exchange buildings in the same building with other public offices in provincial towns. I have already pointed out what a great convenience it would be if the County Courts, and, even in some cases, the post offices, were put into the one building with the insurances and the offices of the Labour Exchange. First of all, that would result in a great economy 672 to the public purse. It would be very much cheaper to concentrate all those Government offices in a provincial town into one building, and, secondly, it would be a great convenience to the people who use those offices, because everybody would know where the Government offices in the town were; and, in the third place, it would make it possible for the Government, and I am sure this will appeal to the hon. Member, to erect a large Government building, which would be a great architectural and imposing feature in the provincial town. This is a thing which every municipality does. The municipality does not have offices all over a town, but always endeavours to concentrate the offices into one place and one building. I submit that the plan that has been found convenient for the municipality, would be found equally convenient and economical by the Government, and I suggest that the Office of Works should consider it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have a good deal to say upon this Vote. It will probably be in the recollection of the Committee that when the Vote on Account on this Vote was taken, I drew the attention of the House to the fact that there had been a great departure in the amount of money asked for from that mentioned in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who is now First Lord of the Admiralty, when he was President of the Board of Trade. I said then I would defer my views until Committee of Supply, and that opportunity has now fortunately arisen, and I shall be able to lay before the Committee my opinions upon what I can only characterise as a breach of the undertaking, which was given by that right hon. Gentleman, and on which he obtained the passage of his Resolution. I have not, at the moment, a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT, but I feel sure hon. Members will take my word for what occurred on that particular occasion. The right hon. Gentleman informed us then that under no circumstances would the amount of £220,000 be exceeded, and that it would gradually decline to about £160,000 or £180,000 per year. The hon. Gentleman opposite is fully aware of all the facts, and if I in any way make a mistake, perhaps he will kindly correct me. Despite that undertaking, last year it amounted to no less a sum than £350,300, and 673 this year to no less than £233,200. When the Resolution was before the House, taking the statement of the Minister as to the amount supposed to be required during the ten succeeding years, and allowing a considerable margin, I proposed a limiting Amendment. I think the limit I suggested was £250,000. Being of an innocent and confiding disposition, I did not proceed to a Division, because the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the proceedings told me that the Amendment was quite unnecessary, as he had stated what amount would be spent on these buildings. On the faith of his statement I withdrew the Amendment. I do not want to say anything that would be offensive to anybody, either on the Treasury Bench or the benches behind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because I am not in the habit of doing so. What I wish to say is that it is not wise to trust to the assurance of any Minister when the spending of money is the point of issue. I do not say that in this case it is the right hon. Gentleman's fault. His successor may have forgotten what he said and expended money either unnecessarily or more lavishly. The fact remains that if this House desires to keep its control over expenditure it must not give a blank cheque to any Minister, to whichever party he belongs. I should be perfectly willing, if occupying a back bench on the other side, to make exactly the same statement.
There could not be a greater proof of the necessity for this House to keep a check over expenditure than is afforded by this incident. It is to the interest of everybody, especially of hon. Members below the Gangway, to keep down expenditure. [An HON. MEMBER: "Do that to-morrow."] I do not understand the relevancy of that interruption. To-morrow is Friday, and there are on the Paper two private Bills, both of which are probably out of order on account of involving the expenditure of public money. I have no desire to encourage unnecessary expenditure. I have always endeavoured to be consistent, and, when necessary, I have voted against my own party on questions relating to finance. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us a very clear explanation of why it is necessary to exceed to such a very large extent the Estimate given by his predecessor in office. The hon. Gentleman is a great exponent of the art of saying nothing in a very pleasant way. I do not want him to do that to-night. I would rather he departed from his usual courtesy, provided 674 he gave a full explanation. On the Vote on Account the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade admitted that everything I had said was correct, and his explanation was that unforeseen circumstances had arisen requiring increased expenditure. I am not appealing now to Ministers; I am appealing to Members on the back benches. We do not want these unforeseen circumstances, over which we have no control, to occur. It is to our mutual interest to see that Ministers do not obtain money on the understanding that a certain expenditure is to be made, and then, when that expenditure is exceeded, simply say that unforeseen circumstances have arisen. Once you begin to give power to Ministers to spend money in that way, and accept the explanation of unforeseen circumstances, there is no limit to the expenditure that may be incurred. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give me a satisfactory explanation, although I do not see how he is going to do it. I shall, however, be very interested to hear what he has to say on this particular matter.
I will reply very briefly to the hon. Baronet. I will explain the increases of which he complains by pointing to the Estimates which show on New Works, Insurance Buildings, a decrease of £25,000, and on New Works, Labour Exchanges, a decrease of £123,000, and there is a total decrease of £127,000 on an Estimate of £223,000. That is the only explanation I can give of the unforeseen increases to which he has referred.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Then it is a worse explanation than I had thought possible. I really regret that there are not more than four gentlemen in the Gallery about which we had a discussion earlier in the evening, because they could have given the hon. Gentleman a far better explanation than he has offered to the Committee. The hon. Gentleman has said that there is a decrease of £25,000 on Item A and a decrease of £123,000 on Item F. He certainly has not understood the point of my remarks. The point I made was not that in this particular year there was an increase on last year, but that in this particular year there was an increase upon the highest amount which we were told would occur during ten years, and that there was an increase last year of £150,000, or something like 75 per cent. beyond the amount that we were told would be expended. The hon. Gentleman, 675 having spent 75 per cent. more than he is entitled to, takes credit to himself for having reduced that amount by something like 50 per cent. He still leaves himself with having spent a good percentage above the original Estimate given by his predecessor, and that he is entitled to spend. I am very much afraid that the hon. Gentleman has not got any explanation to give.
I beg the hon. Baronet's pardon. I did not properly seize the point the hon. Baronet is making. The fact that there are increases above some Estimates prepared three or four years ago is due to the fact that the Labour Exchanges were originally intended to house the officials under the Labour Exchange Act of 1909. Now they are used not only for that purpose but for the purposes of unemployment insurance under the Insurance Act.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I call attention to another matter which occurs in the Debate of 16th June, 1909?
It costs more to house the officials in connection with the unemployment insurance than if it were for Labour Exchanges only.
If the hon. Baronet will look he will see the item is Labour Exchanges and Insurance (Unemployment) Buildings.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am quite aware of that, but still there are in other Votes little items, and these little items may be in respect of something else, for Labour Exchanges or unemployment insurance. That occurs over and over again. But I would point out to the hon. Gentleman this fact, that you do not hire a building or erect a building for twenty clerks which will accommodate only twenty, but pro- 676 bably so arrange it that with a little alteration it will accommodate more clerks. I have previously raised this question. I first of all objected to the Vote being lumped together in this way so that you could not find out what the cost of the Labour Exchanges is and what the cost of the unemployment insurance is. I was replied to by the hon. Member in charge of the Vote saying, "Oh, well, all we did was in the interests of economy; we had certain buildings, and we put in a few more clerks under the unemployment insurance, and so there was no need to provide new buildings." I accepted that explanation on that occasion as being more or less reasonable, but in the case of the hon. Gentleman opposite, he says that the great increase in the expenditure is due to the cost of extra buildings for unemployment insurance.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Larger buildings, or more of them? Is the hon. Gentleman quite certain that the buildings were increased in size? We hear as to the spending of more money on them.
Oh, yes. Unemployment insurance is provided for in connection with the Labour Exchanges, and in consequence it has been necessary where rentings have taken place to rent additional adjoining places, or where building has taken place to build bigger buildings.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is quite a new statement, that it has been found necessary to have additional buildings. That was why I think they should have been put separately in the Estimates so that we could know what is exactly the cost of the Labour Exchanges and what exactly the cost of the unemployment insurance. That is a matter which not only the Public Accounts Committee, but also the Estimates Committee, of which I have the honour to be chairman, has been very insistent upon: that we should not allow matters to be lumped together in the Estimates. I do not say for a moment that that is done with the idea of concealing them, but it has that effect. It is impossible for the ordinary Member to find out the actual cost of two different items, because they are lumped together.
I have the report of the hon. Member's Committee here. He has not 677 raised the question of the separation of the items.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
These discussions raise very interesting questions. Let me ask the hon. Gentleman concerning the footnote on page 43, which we are on now. Let me read it:—In addition, accommodation for Insurance and Labour Exchange buildings will be found in various public buildings.That is rather a large order—various public buildings. Does the hon. Gentleman know how many public buildings and what the cost is? The hon. Gentleman tells me that £223,000 is the cost at the present time, but he has got to add to that a little footnote that, in addition, accommodation for the Insurance and Labour Exchange buildings will be found in various public buildings! It is a most convenient Vote for any Minister who desires to obtain money without giving full information to the House of Commons, but it is not so convenient for Members of the House of Commons who are desirous of keeping control over the public expenditure, because it is quite impossible for even the most learned financier on either side of the House to ascertain what the sum involved in this little footnote means. Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman what really did occur when we were foolish enough to vote this money in the first instance without putting any limitation upon it. This is what the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty said:—There is no doubt that this system will be expensive.There he was quite right. It would not be in order for me to go into that point, but the First Lord went on:—This great national system will cost us in round figures something like £100,000 a year to administer, and buildings and other expenses will raise that sum to about £200,000 for the first ten years.Last year it was £350,000 and this year it is £223,000.
What was the scheme to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring when he made that speech?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Quite so; but the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that if he takes in a little additional staff in the offices in Whitehall he merely puts them into a room which is not engaged or not quite full; it does not mean that he has to provide an enormous number of fresh buildings for them.
I apologise for going for the source of my information to the gentlemen under the Gallery, but I may add that in some of these cases the rooms at liberty in post offices have been made available.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, and I must apologise to the House for my remarks being rather discursive; but if the hon. Gentleman will go again under the Gallery and get all this information for us and put it upon the Estimates I would not object, and it would save a great deal of time. Owing to the persuasiveness, shall I say, of the First Lord of the Admiralty on the occasion to which I refer I withdrew my Resolution. But this is a warning to me not to do it again. Being desirous of economy at the present time, when we are spending nearly £200,000,000, and taking the example of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, to combine clear thinking with efficiency, I am not desirous of allowing money to be spent in this way.
§ Question put, "That a sum not exceeding £133,100 be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 31; Noes, 165.679
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[9.38 p.m.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gilmour, Captain John||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barton, William||Goldsmith, Frank||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Grant, J. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Boyton, James||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Touche, George Alexander|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Cassel, Felix||Ingleby, Holcombe||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Cautley, H. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Arnold Ward.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Rawlinson, J. F. P.|
|Fell, Arthur||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Malley, William|
|Adamson, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Shee, James John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hazleton, Richard||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Higham, John Sharp||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hinds, John||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hodge, John||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hogge, James Myles||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, North)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Radford, G. H.|
|Brady, P. J.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hudson, Walter||Reddy, M.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hughes, S. L.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Illingworth, Percy H.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Jones, J. Tewyn (Carmarthen, East)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, Leif Stratten (Rushcliffe)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Jowett, Frederick William||Roch, Walter F.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Joyce, Michael||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Clough, William||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rowlands, James|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kelly, Edward||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Kilbride, Dennis||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Crooks, William||King, J.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Sheehy, David|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lardner, James C. R.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Delany, William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sutton, John E.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lundon, Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Doris, W.||Lynch, A. A.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wadsworth, J.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Millar, James Duncan||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molloy, M.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Molteno, Percy Alport||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Mooney, J. J.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Gill, A. H.||Morgan, George Hay||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Morison, Hector||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Muldoon, John||Wing, Thomas|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Needham, Christopher T.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nuttall, Harry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hackett, J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Captain Guest.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Duherty, Philip|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There is a very interesting item in this Vote that I should like some explanation of. It is on page 45: "Bristol (Class A, Exchange and Divisional Clearing House), Acquisition of Site and erection of a Building (see also Sub-head A, Public Buildings Estimate). (Revote £2,860)." The original total Estimate was £10,000, and the revised total Estimate £17,500. That is to say, the revised total Estimate shows an increase of 75 or 80 per cent., which is an enormous increase. This is a question which we debated at very considerable length for several days with the Office of Works before the Estimates Committee, and we have made a 680 report upon it. Last year, owing to the pressure put upon us it was found impossible to have a day to discuss the Report of the Estimates Committee, but one of the recommendations of that Committee can now be considered. The Estimates Committee was set up to do what I am endeavouring to do now—that is, point out to the House certain errors in the Estimates which we had ascertained, and which we point out with a view to rendering the Estimates more efficient and economical in the future. This question of putting in an original Estimate of £10,000 was considered. I might explain that when the original Estimate is put in, sanction is given by this House to the work which is contemplated, and when the item to 681 which I have referred appeared in the Estimate, we were told it would cost £10,000, and the Committee gave sanction to proceed with the work. On the Estimates Committee we examined the customs and the habits of the Office of Works and other Departments, and we found it was their custom, if I may use the term, to take a shot at the cost of a building. I have the report here and actually one of the witnesses admitted that when they put down this total cost of £10,000 they had no more idea than hon. Gentlemen opposite and myself what the total cost was to be. They put down something in order to get the Vote, and we have been foolish enough to believe that that was a considered Estimate and upon that we granted the money. We now find that in a large number of cases the Estimate was exceeded.
I do not believe there has ever been a more glaring case than this. I have not had time to look up the Report of the Estimates Committee, but my recollection is that there has never been a greater increase than 75 per cent. We recommended something which in our opinion would put an end to this very reprehensible practice. I am not saying that this is a practice indulged in only by the present Government, for, apparently, it has been indulged in by all Governments for a considerable number of years. It is reprehensible because, if the Estimates are to be of any use and not merely delusive, we must know what it is that is going to be spent. We suggested that it would be possible to obtain an actual estimate from a builder as to what the expenditure was going to be. We were met by considerable opposition from the Department, who told us that no builder would tender if he did not know his tender was going to be confirmed by the House of Commons. That is not a good reason, nor is it, in my opinion, a reason which is likely to occur. All builders are very anxious to obtain contracts, and if a contract is brought before them, shortly before the House of Commons is going to sit, they would consider it was a reasonable contract, and that the majority of the House of Commons would have to approve of the work being carried out. The only difference would be that we on this Committee should actually know before we sanction the expenditure on a particular work what, it is going to be.
There is not a man of business in this House who, if he were the head of a 682 Department, and some of his subordinates said they desired to erect a building connected with his business, who would not say at once to them, "What is the cost going to be?" He would not be satisfied with a mere rough guess, and he would say, "I must have a proper estimate either from an architect with the quantities taken out, or an actual tender from a certain number of builders." There are no builders in the country who would not be too glad to tender on those conditions, the only difference being that they might have to wait a month or two until the House of Commons had given its sanction. I am sorry I did not see earlier that this item was in the Vote, or I would have taken this opportunity of bringing down the actual evidence given before the Estimates Committee, and pointing out the reasons which were advanced and the answers which were given; but, speaking from memory, I think I have been able to put before the Committee the reasons why the Committee came to the conclusions they did. We had a report from the Treasury on that subject, and we only received it the day before yesterday. I am sorry to say that the Treasury apparently do not agree with the report we made. They say:—Before the issue of the Report, your Lordships had given directions that the total commitments on works in progress should be shown in the Estimates.I am not certain it is in order, but I would just like to say, as Chairman of the Estimates Committee, that in this respect the Treasury mention that an economy, not a very large one, has occurred in the Osborne House Vote owing to the Statements we made. The Treasury go on to say:—There remains the recommendation that an experimental effort should be made in the direction of preparing full plans, specifications and bills of quantities, and obtaining a tender on these before the estimate is presented, a clause being inserted in the contract that acceptance was subject to the estimate being approved by Parliament.That was our recommendation, and I think it was a very reasonable one. We do not suggest that every work was to be subject to this procedure, but simply that an experiment should be made in the direction we indicated. The Treasury Minute says:—On the 8th of July, and since the issue of the Report, they have had the advantage of learning the view of the Post Office and the Office of Works on the subject. As will be seen from the Report of 16th October, 1912, the Postmaster-General fears that the scheme is open to objections so grave as to make it impractical, so far at least as the Post Office is concerned. The Office of Works, after arguing the matter in detail, state in their Report of 6th November, 1912, that they are at present unable to give effect to the recommendation, 683 Further, the recommendation, which is far-reaching in its effect, necessarily concerns the Board of Works, the Works Department, the Admiralty, and the War Office—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I desire to ask whether we shall be in order in discussing the policy referred to in this Report of the Assessment Committee, as far as that policy relates to other Departments, and not to the Vote before us.
I think the hon. Baronet is going too widely into the general question. I understood he intended asking why the recommendation had not been applied in the particular case to which he referred. I cannot, of course, allow a general discussion on the Report of the Estimates Committee.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This is a case where the revised Estimate is something like 75 per cent. more than the original Estimate, and I suggest that the proper course would have been to have followed our recommendation. The Estimates Committee was set up in order to go through the Estimates before they come to this House, and I was pointing out that here was an opportunity of discussing a recommendation which was made by the Committee on a particular subject. It is quite true that in reading the reply of the Treasury I did begin to read one of the reasons which they gave for not agreeing, and that it included a statement that it applied also to the Admiralty and the War Office, but that does not touch my point in the least, and, if the hon. Gentleman does not like that point raised, I will abandon it. If the Estimates Committee is to be of any use at all, its recommendations must be seriously considered by this House. This is the first opportunity that we have had of considering a serious recommendation made by that Committee, a recommendation which, I venture to think, quite irrespective of party—this is not a party question in the least—will recommend itself to every man of business in the House. I hope hon. Members opposite, if they agree with me, will get up and say so, or, if they disagree, that they will give their reasons why they think the recommendation of the Estimates Committee should not be carried out.
I can assure the hon. Baronet that this Bristol item has no relation whatever to the matter he was discussing. The reason it is enlarged is that between the time of the first Estimate and the second Estimate the unemployment 684 part of the National Insurance Act came into force, and it was necessary to provide a staff to regulate the unemployment insurance of a large number of the scheduled trades in Bristol. We could not obey the instructions of the Estimates Committee in this Estimate because it was made a year before the Committee gave us the advantage of their advice. I am very anxious to deal with the point raised by the hon. Baronet, but it would be much more convenient to do so on Vote 26.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I notice there is a considerable sum for works in Dundee and Edinburgh, and I should like to know why work, for which money was taken, was not done. Perhaps the hon. Member could also give me some information as to the acquisition of a site and the erection of a building at Glasgow south side.
§ 10.0 P.M.
The reasons are similar to those I have already given. In Dundee we found we had to take in unemployment insurance, and we had to revise the plans. The revision took so long that we could not spend the money we anticipated spending. With regard to Edinburgh, the Feudal Superior wanted to prevent us putting up a building on land which he said was let on the condition that only a private building could be put on it, but we overcame that difficulty by a money payment.