HC Deb 27 February 1919 vol 112 cc2009-10

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,300, 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, 1919, for the Survey of the United Kingdom, and for minor services connected therewith.


If the Committee will look at the notes at the bottom of page 5 they will see that £3,500 is to be taken for the pay and allowances of non-commissioned officers and sappers. I have looked back to the original Estimate, and find it was for three non-commissioned officers and only two sappers. I think we ought to have some explanation from the Committee as to what they mean to do in the forthcoming year. In the same way I find that in Item C the original Estimate was for 1,348 civil assistants and 100 other assistants. I should like to know what the Committee are now going to do in that way. Will they take the £1,300 for them? It would save a good deal of time if someone who knows the business of the Committee would say what the extra money is taken for and how they mean to spend it.


I am responsible in the House for this Vote, and the explanation is quite simple. During the War the work of the Ordnance Survey was largely reduced because they worked principally through non-commissioned officers and sappers of the Royal Engineers, with a certain amount of labourers and civil assistants. During the War, naturally, the Royal Engineers were wanted for military duties, and the work was cut down very materially. Last November the Armistice took place, and the work is being expanded, and, as these men who used to work on the Ordnance Survey and who were temporarily engaged in military operations return, they are taken back on to the Ordnance Survey Vote, and as they come back naturally the number of civil assistants and labourers and others employed in the Ordnance Survey is correspondingly increased. Of course, when this Estimate was made, it was expected that the War would last for the present financial year. The Armistice and the consequent demobilisation has made it necessary to bring in a Supplementary Estimate. It is hoped by degrees that the Ordnance Survey Department will get back to its original strength and carry out work on a scale similar to what it used to do before the War.


I would like to ask your ruling, Sir, as to raising questions of discontent among the civil assistants for whom pay is now asked in this Vote?


That will come on the main Vote for the year. The present Supplementary Vote is confined strictly to items for which the additional money is required.


Therefore I shall not be in order in raising questions such as how this money is to be employed?


No; the occasion for that would be on the main Estimates for the year or on the Vote on Account.

Question put, and agreed to.