HC Deb 13 February 1917 vol 90 cc533-4

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £l,300, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1917, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Establishment under the Public Works Loan Commissioners."


This is a very small Vote, but I rather gather from the feeling of the Committee to-day that they like to have small Votes explained as well as large ones, and I will see if I can give an explanation which is satisfactory to those who are listening to me. This Vote of the Public Works Loan Commission before the War was a token Vote, because the fees that used to be received for the work done in issuing these loans used to pay for the expenses of the office; but during the continuance of the War, not only has the issue of these loans been considerably lessened, but there has been a slowing down in the request for instalments on account of loans that have been previously granted. Under those circumstances, even the reduced amount that was expected to be received from fees was not reached, and we find that we have to make a supplementary provision this year to meet the expenses of the administration of this office. But I think that the Committee will feel less indisposed to meet this very modest Vote when I tell them that out of a staff of about forty, fifteen members are on military service, that the solicitor and other members of the staff are giving either whole time or part time service in other Departments where help is badly needed, and that, although the Committee may think that with a reduced volume of fresh business it may be possible still further to cut down, the staff, I should like to remind them that there is a very large number of open accounts for loans that have already been granted, that annual repayments are made up to a considerable sum, and that in our opinion it would be impossible to reduce the staff to a less figure than that at which it stands to-day.

Question put, and agreed to.