Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £196,456, 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, 1919, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Labour and Subordinate Departments, including the Contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and Repayments to Associations pursuant to Sections 85 and 106 of the National Insurance Act, 1911, and the National Insurance (Part II.) (Munition Workers) Act, 1916.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I am very disappointed that my hon. Friend (Mr. Wardle) is still too unwell to be here to-day, and the Minister of Labour will not be able to take his seat until Monday, by which time the Royal Assent to the new Ministers Bill will be obtained. Therefore, we are deprived at present of the two Ministers who are in charge of the Vote. I am in a little difficulty if we cannot get the Committee stage of the Vote—it is awkward to take it out of its course—and I rather appeal to hon. Members opposite I would suggest one of two things, either that we should have our discussion now, and I will give an undertaking that the Minister of Labour on the Report stage will reply fully to everything that is said, or that we should take the Committee stage and reserve the whole discussion for the Report stage. There is no new material in this except the point my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean) wishes to raise, which might be discussed on the Report stage equally well. If he feels strongly that it cannot be, I do not wish in any way to press him, but I hope it may be satisfactory to the Committee if the Minister of Labour replies on the Report stage.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I quite agree with my hon. Friend in what he says as to the great disadvantage which the Committee must be in with regard to discussing such an item as the training of demobilised officers and men of His Majesty's Forces. It raises the whole question of policy, and it is a matter which is urgent and ought to be in some way, for the satisfaction and guidance of the public, dealt with by the Ministers who are in charge of that most important matter. Whatever criticism we addressed to my hon. Friend he could not say anything else, with the best will in the world, than that he would take a note of it and press it upon the attention of his colleagues. I think that would be quite a fruitless discussion, and with regard to his suggestion that it might be raised on the Report stage I do not know when that will be. In all probability not for another month at least. I do not know when they are going upstairs. I think the Committee has not yet been set up. Perhaps I might ask you, Sir, would it not be possible to put the Vote down again on some other day along with some other discussion? I am certain I could promise for all my Friends that the discussion would be very businesslike and the speeches would be brief, and every opportunity would be given to the Minister to develop his policy on a matter which is certainly a subject of the deepest interest to hundreds of thousands of men and their relatives.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I am only too willing to fall in with my right hon. Friend's suggestion. I see the difficulty from his point of view, as he was good enough to see mine. I shall have no objection, to withdrawing this and my right hon. Friend assures me I shall be able to get it put down in the course of next week.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I am sure the whole Committee is very much indebted to my hon. Friend and the Patronage Secretary for the very courteous way in which they have met us. I can only repeat the assurance that the time we take in that discussion will be brief and businesslike.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.