HC Deb 13 March 1919 vol 113 cc1434-5
2. Mr. ROSE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he can make a statement detailing as regards the Department of Overseas Trade the number of part- and full-time officials and employés of that Department, the amount expended for salaries, fees, expenses, office rents, and upkeep for the entire establishment, including branch and provincial offices as well as for headquarters staffs; and whether any measures are being taken, or are in contemplation, for drastically reducing the staffs and expense of the Department?

Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND (Department of Overseas Trade)

I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the statement desired by the hon. Member, with the exception of office rents, for information in respect of which he should apply to the First Commissioner of Works.

With reference to the last part of the question the object of the Department, which controls the commercial intelligence services abroad and exercises no functions restrictive of trade, is to assist the export trade of the United Kingdom; it is obvious, therefore, that as the measures of control exercised for war purposes by other Departments diminish, the operations of the Department of Overseas Trade must develop. The work during the first two months of the present year shows an increase of approximately 100 per cent. as compared with the corresponding portion of 1918. It is neither possible or desirable, therefore, drastically to reduce the staff and expense of the Department if adequate assistance is to be given to the export trade, though the hon. Member may rest assured that every effort is taken to prevent waste.

I may add for the information of the hon. Member, that a sub-Committee of the Government Committee on the Staffing of Public Departments has recently investigated conditions in the Department of Overseas Trade, and I invite him to visit the offices of the Department and examine its work for himself.

The following is the Statement promised:

Return of Headquarters Staff and Expenditure

Number. Approximate annual coat at present rate.
126* Salaried staff 38,050
307 Weekly staff 33,635
34 Messengers 3,700
7 Charwomen 430
Incidental expenditure 1,450
474 £77,265
*Note.—The salaried staff includes two officers on Army pay and one part-time Commercial Adviser. There are no other part-time officials or employés.
The Department is accommodated in various suites of offices in the City and elsewhere in London; there are no branch or provincial offices.


Is it not a fact that the accommodation is grossly, seriously inadequate and detrimental to the health of those who are employed on the premises which you now occupy?


The question of accommodation is under consideration at this moment.