1. "That a sum not exceeding £54,600, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment dining the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for Expenditure in respect of Houses of Parliament Buildings.
2. That a sum not exceeding £39,000, be granted lo His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day. of March, 1920, for Expenditure in respect of Miscellaneous Legal Buildings.
3. That a sum not exceeding £75,400, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for Expenditure in respect of Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain.
4. That a sum not exceeding £69,000, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for Expenditure in respect of Diplomatic and Consular Buildings, and for the maintenance of certain Cemeteries Abroad.
§ First Resolution read a second time.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.
§ Mr. C. WHITE
There are one or two words of explanation which I should like as to this matter. This is the Vote which was reduced by £4,800 providing for a bath and lift for the Lord Chancellor's resi- 114 dence and the decoration of the rooms. I am not going to discuss the policy which led up to the Committee refusing to pass this Estimate. I know it has been usual in the past to propose to reduce the salary of a Minister by £100 or some nominal sum, but I did not think that was the best way, and therefore, having regard to the fact that we had a lecture from the Chancellor of Exchequer on economy, I proposed in Committee that those items to which I have referred should be eliminated. But it came to the notice of the Committee that although it refused to pass this large sum of £4,800, yet a large amount of that had been expended. It may appear to be a parochial point of view to take, but what I want to know is what is the good of bringing Estimates before us to consider if the work is already partly done. This was new work, and, as I saw myself, some of it was done before being submitted to the Committee. I understand that now the Lord Chancellor has refused to come to the House, and something has been said about that, but I am not going to discuss that question. I ask now how is this money expended to be paid, and how is it to be passed by Parliament or the Treasury when it has been refused by the Committee upstairs. I was told by the first Commissioner of Works upstairs that I only brought this forward as a way of gaining some cheap popularity. I care nothing for popularity or notoriety or persecution. I have had some of all three, and I am quite impervious to their effects. My desire was to see economy, and having taken part for a quarter of a century in public life in the county of Derby, it did not appear to me to be a businesslike way of doing things, to present an estimate with the work partly done. I also considered it was unnecessary to make the Lord Chancellor a present of £1,000 to £1,500 per year, and when I moved the rejection of these items, the Motion was carried by the votes of all parties in the House, and was not a party vote. I ask now who is to pay for the work that is partly done?
§ The FIRST COMMISSION of WORKS (Sir Alfred Mond)
This Vote is only reduced, and it is not proposed to put back on the Report stage the items to which the hon. Member has referred. What has been spent will appear on a future date in a Supplementary Estimate in order to enable the Government to meet 115 the obligations which have been incurred. I do not want to reopen the question, which has been discussed at great length, but most Members of the House are well aware of the practice of anticipating Votes, and that the practice is one which is common form, and without which machinery would break down. Unless that course had been followed, and if the premises were to be used for a Lord Chancellor's residence, we would not have been able to get it through this Session of Parliament at all and we could not have begun the work until August, while the intention was that the Lord Chancellor should occupy the residence during this Session. On that ground the Treasury approved of the anticipation of the Estimate. As regards the actual sum expended, when that is ascertained it will have to be put in a Supplementary Estimate.
Sir F. HALL
I should like to draw attention to the inconvenience to which Members are put in regard to their secretaries. In pre-war days the rooms were divided between the male secretaries and the lady secretaries. At the prsent time there is a small room which is set apart for both male and female secretaries, and telephone communication is not even provided. My right hon. Friend may think this is a trivial matter, but I can assure him it is one which has been discussed a good deal by many Members. If the right hon. Gentleman would look into the various rooms at his disposal in the Souse, and if he could find some improvement for the accommodation of the secretaries, then I am sure the Members of the House, who bring secretaries here, would be grateful to him. I hope he will not overlook the fact, also, that telephonic communication would be a great convenience. There is another matter to which I wish to refer. It is now, I think, some eight or nine years ago since we had a discussion in this House about the repairs to the roof of Westminster Hall and we were then informed that it was anticipated that the work would only last some twelve or eighteen months. I readily appreciate the fact that during the past four or five years the various Departments have utilised their labour, as they should have done, on work of greater importance than even the renovation of the roof in this hall. But I think we should have some guidance now as to when we may expect the removal of the scaffolding, which is a great impediment to Members using the rooms of Westminster Hall.
116 It being a quarter past Eight of the clock, and leave having been given to move the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, further Proceeding; was postponed, without Question put.