HC Deb 03 April 1913 vol 51 c569

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board a question, of which I have given him private notice, namely: If his attention has been called to the surcharges made by Mr. R. T. L. Parr, the Local Government Board auditor, against the West Ham Union Guardians, varying from a few pounds up to sixty, for giving outdoor relief, and in consequence the guardians in question have gone on strike, and have refused to open tenders by a majority of sixteen to eight; and to ask him whether the guardians are not justified in giving outdoor relief to destitute persons in accordance with the evidence submitted to them by the investigators, and whether it is not the duty of the Local Government Board auditor to pass such accounts without surcharging the guardians; and if he can state what action he intends taking if the guardians still refuse to carry on their duties?


The district auditor has not reported to me that he has actually made any surcharges of the kind referred to, though I understand he is considering the question of making some disallowances or surcharges. Beyond a brief newspaper report I have no information as to the alleged action of the guardians. A board of guardians cannot legally give relief unless such relief is needed on account of destitution, and where guardians order relief to be given unlawfully they render themselves liable to be surcharged by the district auditor. Persons aggrieved by a surcharge have the right of appeal against the auditor's decision.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the auditor has told the guardians that he cannot define what is a destitute person?


If the hon. Member will look at the circular dealing with that particular point, a copy of which I shall be pleased to give him after questions, he will find destitution is there set out.