HC Deb 30 June 1919 vol 117 cc727-8

Resolution reported, That a sum, not exceeding £900, 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 the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Munitions.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The last time this Vote was before the House I and another hon. Member drew attention to this £185,000,000 as an Appropriation-in-Aid, and we expressed surprise at such a tremendous sum coining forward seven months after the Armistice. This sum is money that will be realised by selling the wood and timber, metal, leather, clothing, boots and everything connected with munitions which was purchased for the supply of the Army, and it is said that this large amount of money is required for the expenses of the Ministry and other things. I cannot see any difference at all between an Appropriation-in-Aid and ordinary Votes for money. This money is for Government stores, and belongs to the people, and it would serve a very useful purpose for housing. Is the whole of this money still required. Cannot we look forward to a time of prosperity and gradual disarmament, and cannot these expenses be cut down say to £90,000,000. I really think the House is entitled to some explanation, and some promise of a new policy that will lead to a general drastic reduction of armaments, and all that armaments mean, which many of us think is the only hope of peace in the future.


I cannot give any further explanation than I gave the other night. All that I can add is that this expenditure would be a very depressing figure if it were to be regarded as normal expenditure for these purposes. I look forward quite as eagerly as the hon. and gallant Gentleman docs to the time when these great swollen Estimates will have become an unpleasant memory, but do not let the hon. and gallant Gentleman paint the picture more black than it is. Out of the £185,000,000, the expenditure of which the House has approved, the larger part is purely War expenditure. It is really the aftermath of the War, and the winding up of the contracts running at the date of the Armistice, and unless we banish all our ideas of honest dealing, those contracts have to be liquidated on honest terms, and the largest part of this expenditure is for the liquidation of those contracts. A very substantial sum—about £86,000,000 —is for reconstruction work in connection with the housing programme of the Local Government Board, and the remainder can be described in a sense as being for military purposes. You cannot at once step out of a state of the most tragic war that the world has ever seen into the ordinary conditions of peace. The quicker it comes the better, and I hope that we shall have the help of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in expediting that happy time.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask how much of this money goes to our pseudo-Allies in Russia and other countries?

Question put, and agreed to.

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