That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of Moneys to be provided by Parliament, of such additional sums as may be required for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend Parts I. and III. of the National Insurance Act, 1911.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one or two questions. I do not know whether it will be necessary to move an Amendment, but I should like to be informed how much money the right hon. Gentleman proposes to spend under this Resolution. It is a very wide one. It would enable any sum of money to be voted in the Committee once we get there. In view of the present state of the finances of the country, it would be advisable not to vote any very large sum of money, and I should be rather inclined to move an Amendment to limit the amount of money which the right hon. Gentleman will be able to apply in this Amended Bill. If he can give me some satisfactory assurance that the amount. to be spent will be limited in some measure to the one million which he originally proposed to spend—
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
Not a million. I am sorry I have not here the actual figures, but my recollection is that I have already informed the House the actual sum which the actuary advised us these various Amendments of the law would cost. It is certainly not a million. I would remind the hon. Baronet that the first Clause simply regularises the Vote of £1,800,000 already made by this House, and I think the other proposals of the Bill 1812 will involve an expenditure of from £100,000 this year to £220,000 next year.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to conclude my remarks, and meantime he may be able to get figures which will settle this point. It is not our fault that this matter came on unexpectedly. In view of the fact that the expenditure of the country is so large, and that the right hon. Gentleman, when he brought forward his Budget this year, proposed no additional taxation, looking to an increased revenue, owing to the increasing prosperity of the country, to meet any additional charges, I think we ought to have some assurance that the sum allowed to be expended under this Bill shall not be excessive. We have already gathered, in the course of the discussion on the Bill dealing with Irish land, which has just been introduced, that considerable expenditure will have to be incurred in connection with that should it become law, and I, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that the expenditure under this Bill will be limited to the amount, whatever it may be, that he has already outlined. I am saying this in the interests of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I am not sure I shall get the support of everybody on this side of the House, but, I shall certainly expect his support, although he knows that I disagree with him on practically everything. The House should have some assurance that later on, when an endeavour is made to introduce Amendments in Committee, the right hon. Gentleman will not accept them. We want from him an undertaking that he will not increase the amount to he spent under the Bill. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman is economically inclined, as I hope he will show himself to be, he will give this undertaking. I do not wish to delay the proceedings, and I do not propose to deal with the Clauses in the Bill, as I know that would be out of order, but if the right hon. Gentleman has his figures, as I gather he has by this time, I will not say anything further.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I sympathise very much with what has fallen from the hon. Baronet, and my observations will not be so much in the nature of criticism as of mere reply, as I am in such entire agreement with what he has said. The figures I quoted just now are substantially correct.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The first Clause regularises the Vote of £1,800,000, which this House passed earlier in this year, to pay to the doctors. As to the expenditure under the other Clauses, in the first full year it will amount to £209,000. It goes up to £215,000 or £220,000, which is about the maximum, and after that, as it deals with old people, it gradually goes down again. The hon. Baronet asks me whether, in Committee, I will resist any Amendment which would have the effect of increasing the expenditure. Certainly, I will do so, if he will give me a guarantee that he and his Friends will support me in that attitude.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then I am afraid it is very little use my giving that undertaking. I see an hon. Member behind the hon. Baronet who most emphatically dissented from every word he said. I will not say that I see voracity in his appearance, but plunder is certainly imprinted on his features. He has a buccaneering mind, and that is the spirit in which he is entering on the proceedings upstairs.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member has already put some Amendments down, and he is associated on the same side with an hon. Member who just moved a trifle of £1,200,000—a moderate little sum of that sort, for a year. That is the class of Amendment we have to face. If hon. Members enter on the business in that spirit, there is absolutely no limit. It is no use criticising the Chancellor of the Exchequer for putting on taxes and increasing the national expenditure, when there is a real rivalry between the two sides of the House as to who shall have the credit of proposing the biggest expenditure. That is really what it is now. There is a sort of competition as to who shall say "I proposed that." I can see it in the Amendments to this Bill. I am very glad the hon. Baronet has made that speech. I wish he could persuade his own party to adopt the statesmanlike attitude which evidently possesses his soul on this question. It is a perfectly hopeless task to enter upon the shaping of a Bill of this sort when there is not the necessary sense of responsibility, if I may say so, in Members of the House of Commons. They do not realise that they ought to share the responsibility of the Exchequer with the Government in 1814 matters of expenditure. It is not fair to the Government and it is not fair to the taxpayer to complain that the taxes are burdensome, and, at the same time, propose Amendments which involve an enormous increase in national expenditure. Here is a Bill under which the maximum expenditure is from £200,000 to £215,000 in a full year. If all the Amendments proposed, not from one side of the House but from both sides, are incorporated—and it will require considerable moral courage on the part of the Government to resist them—instead of £200,000 the increase will be at least £2,000,000 a year. If an hon. Member goes down to his constituents they will say, "Did you not oppose what was proposed by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division?"
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Or somebody else? Perhaps I am not doing justice to the hon. Member, but I know there are several Amendments down in the names of hon. Members involving an enormous increase in expenditure. I got up not so much to reply to the hon. Baronet, but to do the little I could to enforce the financial lesson he has given us. I wish there could be an Instruction to the Committee, but Clause 1 makes it impossible; otherwise I should have suggested one which would undoubtedly limit the discretion of the Committee. If they increase the expenditure the Government cannot accept the responsibility for it.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I should not have arisen to address the House at all this evening had I not been described by the right hon. Gentleman as a buccaneer. I wish at once to tell him that it is with no predatory instinct that I shall approach the consideration of this Bill to-morrow I, for one, am in entire agreement with what the right hon. Gentleman has said, though not entirely in accord with the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury). I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to ask that we should not support Amendments to this Bill which appear to be purely of a vote-catching character, and are moved with a view to trying to make out that those who move the Amendments are public benefactors, while they merely want to obtain kudos from the Amendments. So far as those Amendments are concerned, I promise the right hon. Gentleman that he will have my support. He intimated that there were some Amendments standing in my name which would involve the expenditure of money 1815 outside the Financial Resolution. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman not to assume that every single Amendment which may make a financial adjustment, without necessarily increasing the charge, is outside the terms of this Financial Resolution. There is a very large number of Amendments which we believe will not add a single penny to the estimated charge to be imposed upon the taxpayers. If he approaches every Amendment from the point of view that because it may involve a financial adjustment it will necessarily involve an additional financial charge, it is quite conceivable that even I myself may have a passage of words upstairs with the right hon. Gentleman or the Secretary to the Treasury. I only want to say that it is in no buccaneering spirit that I, and I believe most of my colleagues, will approach the consideration of this Bill. We do not want to prolong the Session by quite unnecessary talk, and we do not want to do anything deliberately to increase the national charge merely with a view to obtaining kudos which we do not deserve.