§ Resolution reported,
§ "That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of salaries to the chairman and vice-chairman of the statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, constituted in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to make better provision as to the pensions, grants, and allowances made in respect of the present War to officers and men in the Naval and Military Service of His Majesty and their dependants."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. HOGGE
May I ask this question, on which I wish to be quite clear, in view of the discussion in the Committee to-day. Does this money Resolution mean that the only money that is to be provided by Parliament under this Bill is money which will be required for the salary of the chairman or vice-chairman, if such are appointed? Does it mean, therefore, that if further money from the Treasury is required for the purposes of the Bill there will require to be a fresh money Resolution after this Bill becomes law?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is so. If it is suggested that any fund out of the public purse is to be placed at the disposal of the authority who is to administer this, of course that would require another Vote in Committee.
§ Mr. HODGE
I am afraid the Members of the House generally have got so many duties thrust upon them that they have not the time or the opportunity of examining and analysing the proposals of the Government with that care which at other times they would display. It appears to me that this money Resolution does not go far enough, because in the Bill upon which it is founded, while provision is made for the payment of a salary to the chairman and vice-chairman of the body about to be constituted, it appears that any expenses incurred by the Committee must be a charge upon private or other charitable donations. That is not at all a good thing, and I think we ought to 204 have some undertaking from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the out-of-pocket expenses of those who constitute this Committee of Management ought to be paid out of public funds, and should not come from any funds which are collected from private sources. I understand that one of the things the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends doing is to raid the Prince of Wales's Fund. I do not think that will appeal to the Members of the House generally as a desirable thing. The work that is necessary in connection with any provision so far as disabled soldiers and sailors are concerned, ought to come entirely out of public moneys. It is the primary duty of the State to do this, and I trust, therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us an undertaking that at a later stage he will make provision to cover the points I have now raised.
§ Mr. ROCH
I understand from the ruling you have given that the Resolution we are now passing will only authorise under this Bill money from the public funds being paid for the chairman and vice-chairman. I think before we pass this Resolution we should have some kind of assurance from the Government that if the opinion should be expressed later on that under Clause 3 some further provision should be made to make those numerous powers there really effective, we should have some kind of understanding or undertaking that they will give effect to that expression of feeling. I shall be in the recollection of all who heard the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill that the strongest possible view was expressed as to the entire inadequacy of Clause 3 without some further help from the Treasury, and I really think in these days, with all the feeling of patriotism which we are all showing, it would be nothing short of a scandal if the Bill was allowed to be entirely inoperative for want of public funds. We are being enjoined on all hands to use thrift. This is the one direction on which thrift should not be exercised, and I therefore hope, with all the tales that reach us of waste of public money in many directions, we shall not have to exercise thrift and meanness in cutting down the effective operation of Clause 3 of this Bill.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I entirely object to this money proposal. I see no rhyme or reason for the appointment of a salaried chairman or vice-chairman at this present 205 stage. Under the Resolution we should have no power, I take it, to propose any Amendment to try and do justice to those men who are concerned. Even under Clause I of the Bill, Sub-section (8), no provision is made to pay the secretaries a halfpenny. Who is going to find the money? It really comes to this, that the Government—and I am sure the House and the country would be with them—should have been jealous in regard to the men who have given their lives and their limbs and their health and they have had no war bonus of any sort or kind. They are the only people in this country who have not struck, because they have no cause except the good of the nation. Yet, forsooth, the Government are coming down to the House and proposing to us, in pursuance of a Report made by a Select Committee, a scale of pensions that we shall be bound to accept. How shall we ever raise this question again? Our endeavour will be lost unless we get a clear undertaking from the Treasury that money is forthcoming, and that there will be a sufficient supply of money.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to do that on this Resolution. It would be irrelevant. The object of putting the Resolution before the House is that the House should exercise economy in cutting down and not that it should take this opportunity of spending. All the Rules of the House are designed in that way, that the House should not extend and give more than the representative of the Crown offers. I do not think it is right to take this opportunity of pressing the Government to put a largo sum of money into the Resolution.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Should I be in order in saying how inadequate and paltry this provision is? What I want to say is that it would be far better, in my judgment, to postpone the Bill than to offer a sum of money which, in my opinion, is contemptuous and inadequate. Shall I be in order in discussing that?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is a good argument upon Second Reading. This Resolution, however, is of a very limited scope indeed—simply whether the chairman and vice-chairman shall receive a salary or not.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I say that if this provision is persisted in, I shall do my best to kill this Bill.
§ Mr. HEWINS
Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether, as a matter of fact, it is intended to finance this Bill out of the Prince of Wales' Fund?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. McKenna)
I am astonished at the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Holder). He speaks of the paltry and insignificant provision that is made in the Bill. Any provision that is made in the Bill is made solely for the purpose of giving this House an opportunity of discussing the working of it; it is not in order to find public money for the purpose of this Bill. That is not the real object at all. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman has entirely overlooked what has happened. The Government originally proposed a certain scale of separation allowances and pensions and allowances to wounded soldiers. This House, being dissatisfied with the proposals of the Government, appointed a Select Committee to reconsider the scale, and to reconsider the whole scale of Government allowances. The Select Committee reconsidered the scale and they considered other things too, and they submitted a scale of Government pensions and allowances to this House. That scale was accepted.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the scale was only accepted provisionally. We were told we should sec the Bill and have a chance of amending it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I stated the whole of the circumstances, and I had before me, not precisely this Bill, but a similar Bill in print. That scale was accepted by the House as a generous scale. I think the provision made by this scale, both for separation allowances and pensions and provision for wounded soldiers, is accepted as generous. One of the problems which the Select Committee had before them was the problem of the better-to-do soldier who had left his family, and whose absence, having regard to his income, left his home far worse off in proportion to the scale of his living than was the case in regard to the larger class of recruits. We had to consider the problem whether the case of such a soldier's dependants was a case to be met out of public funds, and we unanimously came to the conclusion that so far as public funds were concerned, at any rate in the first instance, we must give a flat rate which would be sufficiently generous to cover the whole mass of the 207 community. That is what we did, but we were not oblivious to the need of seeing how far, by voluntary effort, we could arrange a scheme to supplement the pensions and allowances and the grants to disabled soldiers out of voluntary contributions. We proposed, therefore, a scheme by which a new statutory Committee would be set up, and we contemplated, and I still contemplate, that at any rate, in the first instance, that scheme shall be financed out of private contributions, in accordance with the general scheme of the Committee. If we ask the House now to give a large Vote in support of this scheme, we should be directly contravening the principle which had the direct sanction of this House, that so far as public money was spent on separation allowances, it should be on a flat rate. There was no section of the House more ardent in support of that principle than my hon. Friends who usually speak from the Labour Benches.
§ Mr. McKENNA
This Bill proposes to supplement the flat rate in individual cases, but how can we come forward in the first instance and say that Parliament shall finance this Bill out of public money. It would be a direct contradiction of the principle that Parliament has already accepted. It is quite true that I have suggested, and I do suggest now, because I think it is the wisest course, that the Prince of Wales' Fund should hand over to this new body so much of its money as it chooses to allocate for the purpose of naval and military expenditure.
§ Sir GODFREY BARING
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to go into these matters on this Resolution?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is not relevant to this Resolution. It is relevant to the Bill but not to this particular Resolution.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I apologise for being out of order. I have gone a great deal outside the terms of the Resolution, but I felt it necessary to do so in view of the misunderstanding on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Holder). I will not carry the point further than to say that I think that this new statutory Committee would be the best body to administer so much of the Prince of Wales' Fund as the governing body think would be properly devoted to naval and military 208 purposes. We shall hope also to recover from the War Office the very large sums which the Prince of Wales' Fund has already expended out of their voluntary contributions, which we think should have been met originally by the War Office. If we get that contribution from the War Office then we start with a large capital sum, but all of it from private contributions. Following the principle of the Bill we should then hope that we can get a large sum of money from private contributions to finance that part of the Bill, but if when all is said and done we have not enough money we shall have to come to Parliament and say that our hopes have not been realised. But to come to Parliament in the first instance is to prevent private contributions and the whole principle of our scheme is that there should be private contributions.
§ Sir C. K1NLOCH-COOKE
Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to refer to the Prince of Wales' Fund when the Bill refers only to the National Fund?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The only question now before the House is whether the chairman and vice-chairman of the new body which is to be set up are or are not to be paid out of public funds.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I submit after this brief explanation that it is proper that the salary of the chairman and vice-chairman should be paid out of Parliamentary funds for the purpose of giving this House some measure of criticism in regard to and some direct knowledge of what is happening in connection with the work of the statutory Committee.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The expenses of the Committee will be paid out of their funds, but by putting the expenses of one or two of the new body's principal officers upon the Parliamentary Estimates we secure an annual power in this House of reviewing the work of this Committee. I hope that the House will now accept this Resolution.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I am not going to deal with the question of the desirability of the appointment of two paid officials instead of having this work done by voluntary workers. Assume that the Government think that they cannot get work of this kind done by voluntary workers, then, if that is so, it is a very simple matter for 209 a limit on the amount of expenditure to be put in the Money Resolution. It is a course which I have urged very often in this House. This is essentially a Resolution to which a limit should be put. We should know the amount of the salary which it is proposed to give to these two officials. It is desirable that the House of Commons should keep a very tight hold over these matters. That is the object of these Resolutions as to the amounts to be paid in connection with every new appointment. It is not creating a precedent. We pressed for it two or three times under the late Government and our request was granted, and I would press the Government very strongly that in this case we should know the amount which is going to be spent on the creation of new salaried officers, assuming that salaried officers are necessary.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
You could have moved that in the Committee on the Clause, but of course you cannot move it now. I have already put the Question, "That the House doth agree with the Committee."
§ Sir FRANCIS LOWE
May I ask whether the only object of the right hon. Gentleman in paying this chairman and vice-chairman out of public funds is to bring the Committee under the review of this House? It seems to me that that is a very insufficient reason for paying these two officials out of public funds. If the rest of the Bill is to be financed out of private contributions I cannot see why the salary of the chairman and vice-chairman should not be provided in a similar way. If the Committee did anything wrong or improper it would be quite within the province of any one person to bring their action before this House for discussion and criticism. But if the whole principle of this Bill is to pay the charges out of private contributions I cannot see why an exception should be made in the case of the salary of the chairman and vice-chairman. I think that a little more explanation on that point is required before we pass this Resolution.
§ Sir GEORGE TOULMIN
It is of the utmost importance that the two officials mentioned should be officials under the control of this House and paid by this House. They have not merely duties to perform in connection with the voluntary fund, but they have also extremely responsible duties to perform in connection with the allowances which are made by this 210 House. They are to decide whether the separation allowance has been forfeited or not. They are to decide also as between two or more claimants which of them is entitled to draw it, and they are to determine any other questions that are referred to them. This House would do well to keep officials performing such important duties under its control by paying them. If you had not ruled it out of order I would have liked to refer to the Section" as to deciding between two claimants, showing how necessary it might be to consider this matter.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
May I ask whether the object in this case could not be obtained by putting on the funds the salary of the secretary, or the assistant-secretary, which would be a much more satisfactory thing than putting on the salary of the chairman and vice-chairman? There are plenty of people in this country who would be prepared to take the place of the chairman or vice-chairman without payment of any sort, and would it not be possible to attain the object in view by transferring the payment by this House to the salaries of some such officials of the Department as the secretary and the assistant-secretary, while the chairman and vice-chairman will discharge their duties as honorary officials?
§ Sir G. BARING
Might we have some kind of reply from the Government? We are all being exhorted by people in high places to exercise rigid economy. Is it really necessary, then, at such a time to appoint two new salaried officials under a Bill of this kind? What the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to do, I understand, is to secure that there should be some control by this House over the proceedings of the statutory Committee. That would be secured, as the hon. Member has stated, by appointing the secretary as a Government official and, if necessary, taking a discussion on his salary in this House. But I do think in the meantime, with the object of saving anything that is possible, that the right hon. Gentleman might consider whether it is really necessary to appoint these two officials at salaries which will have to be on a fairly generous scale.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The officers of the Department, who must be responsible to this House, will have to be the head of the Department. It is no good having the 211 salaries of subordinate officers on the Estimates, leaving them to be discussed or criticised, while their superiors whose orders they obey escape scot free. I might mention that in the first instance certainly we do not propose to appoint two paid officers; we only appoint one, but we take power to appoint two because we do not know how far the work of this Committee is going to extend. We have to keep in view the question of disabled soldiers and sailors, and it may possibly be that the work will require two.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I was for many years the only salaried officer on the Scotch Education Vote, and the discussion was taken on the Vote for the Secretary for Scotland.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not think there is any analogy to the present case. The Secretary for Scotland was not in this House at the time.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I thought that he was in another House. If he was in this House at the time the House had ample opportunity for discussing it. In the present case the chairman and vice-chairman may not be in this House, and the House might have no opportunity of discussing the conduct of the really responsible person. You must have the really responsible person who is doing the work responsible to this House. We shall certainly have every regard for economy, and we do not intend to appoint two paid officials unless it is absolutely necessary.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I personally welcome very much the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen. It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman made a misleading comparison between the secretary of the new Department, which is to be set up, and himself in his former distinguished capacity as secretary for the Scotch Education Department. When the hon. Gentleman held that position he was called the secretary, but he was really the dictator of that office. He described himself in formal notes as "My Lords of the Council of Education for Scotland," but "My Lords of the Council" were only the hon. Gentleman opposite all the time. We do not want a similar situation in connection with the Committee being set up under this Bill. 212 We wish the chairman of this Committee to direct the policy of the Committee, and to give his whole time, or practically his whole time, to the direction of policy. Consequently, it is of the utmost importance that the salary of the gentleman who directs the policy of the Committee should be on the Votes, and subject to the control and criticism of this House.
§ Sir J. JARDINE
I support the Resolution. We have just heard an explanation as to how far the Resolution is to extend as regards amount, and, by this means, we bring before Parliament year by year a large expenditure, not only out of Parliamentary funds, but out of other expenditure on public purposes. In that way we place on the highest officers of this Corporation the necessity of economy. The suggestion that the secretary, instead of the chairman or deputy-chairman, should be responsible to this House, would be entering upon a most unbusinesslike and unprecedented course.
§ Question put, and agreed to.