§ OFFICE OF WORKS AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That a sum, not exceeding £307,900, 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, 1922, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Works and Public Buildings." [Vote.£275,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Alfred Mond)
As there is no one in this House to represent my successor at the Office of Works I have been requested, and I am pleased, to take on myself the presentation of these Estimates to the Committee. The Estimates deal with the establishment of the Office of Works. I do not think that they require very long explanation from me. As a matter of fact, the Committee may be glad to know that there is a net decrease on this Vote over last year of £30,000. The Vote may be roughly divided into two sections: one part, which I call A, providing for the staff for carrying out the normal functions of the Department, and the other part, B, providing for the headquarter staff for the supervision and preparation of drawings in connection with the erection of houses at the request of the Ministry of Health on behalf of the local authorities. The Estimate for the normal services for the year 1920–21 was £427,000, to which has to be added £32,000 Supplementary Estimates, £66,000 transferred from classified services, and £6,400 transferred from unclassified services, making £582,000 in all. The Estimate for 1921–22, £626,000, shows an increase for the year of £44,000."
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to page 165 of the Estimates?
§ Sir A. MOND
I am dividing the Vote into two parts. It is not divided on page 1332 165. You have merely the total amount. The total amount for 1920–21 is £630,600 with an Appropriation-in-Aid of £17,000. The gross amount for 1921–22 is £732,900 with Appropriations-in-Aid of £150,000. Deducting the Appropriations-in-Aid the amount for 1921–22, £582,900 is £30,700 less than the Vote for 1920–21. I was trying to explain how this figure arose, and in order to make that intelligible I was dividing the gross amount into two factors, namely, expenditure on normal staff and expenditure on the provision of staff dealing with the erection of houses on behalf of the Ministry of Health, which is a very considerable temporary service, more than covered by the Appropriations-in-Aid of £150,000. I have had the figures analysed in order to enable the Committee to follow them. The normal services in 1920–21 cost £582,000 and the Estimate for 1921–22, £626,000, is an increase of £44,000.
§ Sir A. MOND
You cannot find them. I am trying to make the figures intelligible. It is really a sub-division of the figures on page 125, where totals only are given. If you take the estimated cost of the staff for housing, the Supplementary Estimate for 1920–21 was £48,000, and the Appropriations-in-Aid were £17,000. The Estimate for 1921–22 is £106,000 and the Appropriations-in-Aid £150,000. The estimated excess of the Appropriations-in-Aid over the estimated expenditure on salaries in the two years is £13,000. Members of the Committee who take some interest in this matter will remember that when I presented the Supplementary Estimate I pointed out that these were merely pro forma figures and that the money would be recovered from the local authorities as the housing schemes went on. Apparently, more money has been recovered than has been spent, and the Department has a small balance in hand. Having divided up these two factors, I will deal with the normal and more permanent establishment of the office. I might say that a very drastic and careful survey of the establishment of the Department has been going on by the Treasury, and I think anyone who has followed the thing in' detail will agree that the Treasury has made as big reductions as are possible if the Department is to continue to 1333 function at all efficiently. As a matter of fact, the reductions which have been made compel the Department to curtail some of the work which it has been in the habit of doing and reduce, I will not say disadvantageously, some of its activities.
There is one point which I wish to make clear to the Committee. The Department, while it was under my charge, underwent a very considerable re-organisation. When I first went to the Department, I felt that the organisation, particularly on the technical side, was by no means what I considered it ought to be to make it an efficient working machine. While during the War it was obviously impossible to carry out any change, an after-the-war scheme was prepared and approved by the Treasury, in which the whole of the Department's work was largely re organised on a very much better basis. That makes it difficult for hon. Members to compare exactly the figures of this year and previous years, partly because different officers now appear. Many changes of that kind have been made, and it is difficult to compare the personnel point by point with the previous figures. This re-organisation is not yet quite complete. I am certain that it will lead to further improvement in the working of the Department. Already I think the result is beginning to show itself in greater economy. I do not think it can be fully realised what a large amount of extra work has been laid on the Department in the last few years. The percentage of staff to expenditure on work for the current year works out at approximately 5.5 per cent., which no one can say is a high figure considering the large amount of work that is done. In 1913–14 the figure was approximately 6 per cent., so that although the number of the staff and the amount of the money spent on the staff has increased, the proportion of overhead charges to the work done has actually diminished. That is very satisfactory, because the remuneration received by the staff by way of war bonus has naturally increased the individual amount of the salaries, and although it may be argued that the rise in the cost of building material has been appreciable, the result is satisfactory. The cost of the staff in relation to the expenditure on work shows a decrease compared with 1913–14. 1334 Although I have undertaken to introduce these Estimates, I would like the Committee to understand that I am no longer responsible for the Estimates or for the future policy of the Department I would like, however, to take this last opportunity of paying a personal tribute to the loyalty and devotion of the staff whose salaries I am asking the Committee to vote. I do not think that any Minister could have had a more devoted, a harder working, or a more zealous set of public officials to undertake the difficult and various duties that have fallen on the Department—duties which have been undertaken with a desire to benefit the country and with a wish to effect all possible economy. Certainly no Minister has ever been assisted during a long and strenuous period of hard work by a more loyal set of co-operators than the staff over which I had the honour to preside for a number of years.
§ Sir P. PILDITCH
I am sure the Committee will be grateful to the Minister of Health for the efforts he has made during the last few minutes to elucidate further the figures that we are considering. Speaking for myself, I cannot say that I have been able to follow him. I am therefore compelled to deal with the figures more or less as they stand on the papers before us. I am exceedingly glad to see the right hon. Gentleman still in his place dealing with this matter with his usual businesslike savoir faire, but at the same time I should very much have liked to have seen his successor and to have known with whom we are to deal for the remainder of the year. When I mean the right hon. Gentleman's successor, I mean his successor in this House. I do not know whether he can tell us who it is to be. There is a certain amount of interest developing on that point. I wish to draw attention to certain figures because from them some little idea can be gained of the increase of the activities of the Department. I am not about to make a general attack on the activities of the Department, because in many ways I know from experience what good work it did in the great emergency of the War, when its duties were doubled and trebled. The work then done by the Department was magnificent. But I suggest that the Minister and the Committee might well consider the tendencies which some of these figures show. The figure to which 1335 I draw attention particularly is the number of the staff. On page 169 it will be seen that the staff has increased from 581 in 1920 to 997 this year. There is a note at the bottom of the page stating that the two figures are hardly comparable because of some temporary men having been engaged in one of the years. It would have been desirable if some attempt had been made to make the figures comparable. At any rate, I hope the Minister will be prepared to give us some further explanation so that we can make a comparison. I would compare these two figures with the figure for the last complete year before the War, when this staff, which is largely a professional staff, reached a total of 384.
I shall not attempt to make comparisons between expenditures. That would be exceedingly difficult to do in a Department of this kind, when the cost of the staff has developed and is mixed up with the cost of carrying out works. But these three figures are in themselves an indication that in some way or other the activities of the Department must have been very largely increased during the period mentioned. We know, of course, some reasons why they have increased. There was a Debate in the House a few months ago regarding the new work placed upon the Department in reference to housing. I am not going to make an attack upon the Department for having, in circumstances of great emergency and crisis, undertaken the duty of building 10,000 houses. I think it is quite likely that in many cases the local authorities were unable to do this work, and that the aid of some special institution like the Office of Works was desirable; but I would like to point out that there are serious dangers in a public Department undertaking in any large way the provision of houses, even in the present crisis, because, quite apart from all the other points that were raised when this matter was previously discussed, apart from the difficulty of getting proper comparisons between works executed by the Department and works executed by private effort, or as to the procedure adopted by public Departments and so forth, quite apart from that class of consideration, there is this broad consideration to be home in mind, namely, that if you once set up a big central State Department to do housing, the tendency will be, unless 1336 it is very carefully watched, for the Department gradually to absorb all the housing, or as much of the housing as it can secure. For this reason the tendency will be for the Department to dispossess the local authorities, and in some measure also to dispossess the element of private enterprise. Why should a local authority take all the trouble and run the gauntlet of all the local differences of opinion in order to carry out this difficult undertaking if there is a Government Department which is prepared to do it and it is known that, whatever the loss may be, it will come out of the pocket of the State?
While I am not urging that we should ask the Minister to stop the building of these 10,000 houses, I hope he will tell us that this is meant to be the limit. We do not want to see a great bureaucratic, architectural building works Department set up at the centre to absorb the duty, or any considerable part of the duty, of undertaking the housing of the people, which it was originally intended should be carried out either by fair partnership between the localities and the central authority or in a limited way by private enterprise.
There is another respect in which the activities of the Department in regard to building have developed very much, and it is no doubt partly responsible for the increase both in the cost of the Department and in its personnel. That is the fact that, whereas the Office of Works was originally started mainly as a Department for managing, repairing, and looking after existing public buildings, royal buildings, etc., by degrees it has gradually come to be an architectural and building Department. I believe that a short time since there was a Cabinet Minute to the effect that no public buildings required by the War Office, the Admiralty or the Air Force should be carried out by the Office of Works. As I understand it, it was intended by that Cabinet Minute that such large public buildings should be designed by architects in open competition whereby you could get the advantage of whatever artistic elements there are in the country. Now I am given to understand that the Cabinet Minute has been ignored by the Office of Works, and that at present a building is in progress for the Royal Air Force, one of the prohibited Departments under the Cabinet 1337 order, that there is a large building being carried out by the Office of Works for the Ministry of Pensions at Acton, and also that the building which is to increase the size of Somerset House is being carried out by the Department. I think it would be exceedingly undesirable if the activities of the Department were allowed to develop themselves along either of those two lines, as they are apparently developing.
So far as housing is concerned, we ought to have a distinct assurance from the Minister that unless some new circumstances occur his Department will limit itself to the authority which it has already obtained from the House. So far as the other buildings are concerned, I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to give an assurance that this tendency to infringe upon the province of the independent builder and of the independent architect will be checked, and that it will not go any further than, apparently, it is going at the present moment. I have nothing but praise for the admirable way in which the Department carried out the emergency duties laid upon it during the War in building things which were required in a hurry in this country, and for its work in France in the reinstatement of buildings which were destroyed in the German operations at the beginning of 1918. I am not desirous of entering into any campaign against the activities of the Department in such emergenices, but I say that as a matter of principle the Department should, generally, confine itself to its original duties, the maintenance of public buildings that are in existence, and that, except for a nucleus held in hand for emergencies, should not, either in the domain of design as architects, or in the domain of construction as builders, or by acting as contractors by the employment of workmen direct, proceed to aggrandise itself further than it has done. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some assurance on the lines I have put before the House.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote for an explanation of an item on page 169? Under the heading, "Appropriations-in-Aid," there is an entry of £150,000. It is not quite clear to me whether that means that the £150,000 will eventually be recovered from the authorities for whom this Department is building houses, or not.
§ Sir A. MOND
This Appropriation-in-Aid is money which will be recovered, and is being recovered, from the local authorities, as it is received. All the overhead charges are charged to the building schemes of the local authorities concerned, and this money comes back as the building schemes proceed, and appears as an Appropriation-in-Aid.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
May I take it, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman hopes that eventually, when this money is repaid, the work which his Department is now doing for the local authorities will not have cost the nation anything?
§ Mr. A. L. PARKINSON
It cannot come out of the local authorities, as all they can charge is a penny rate, and it is impossible to get anything back for the Appropriations-in-Aid from the penny rate.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
That is my very point. That is what I want to get out for the information of the Committee.
§ Sir A. MOND
Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will allow me to explain. The interruption about this grant is irrelevant to the point at issue. The question of the penny rate has nothing to do with this matter at all. We are building as agents for the local authorities. The whole of the money will be repaid by the local authorities, as far as my Department is concerned. The cost of the staff is charged as an overhead charge, and all this money is being recovered, and, as a matter of fact, I believe at the present moment we have got rather more money in hand than we have been spending, but we are proceeding on very definite lines as to being secure about the advance before we begin a scheme at all, and therefore this is merely a transferred charge. The whole cost of this operation is merely a transferred charge, and will cost the taxpayer nothing at all.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I am very glad to get this explanation, because, so far as I am concerned, this very much modifies my former hostility to the Department undertaking this work. If there is going to be a charge upon the public for this supervision of the work, which should fall upon the local authority, I am absolutely against it. But if they are going to pay the Exchequer the cost of building, I cannot see that there is very much objec- 1339 tion to these undertakings, as there is apparently no private individual to do the work, and no local authority sufficiently energetic to carry out the business.
What I really want to say a few words about is the extraordinary amount that the Exchequer has to find for war bonuses. I think the Committee ought seriously to consider whether at the present moment the nation can afford war Bonuses on the scale which is indicated on pages 165 to 169 of these Estimates. Let me take the first item which comes under my notice, namely, the bonus of the Secretary. I have no doubt he is an excellent public servant, who carries out his duties in a most efficient manner. In the financial year 1920–21 he received a salary of £1,500, and for the financial year which we are now entering on he is going to receive £2,200, a rise of £700. If you go through every one of these items you find exactly the same tale. The three inspectors of ancient monuments cost £600 last year, and this year they are going to cost £1,080. I cannot understand how the nation can possibly afford these enormous bonuses for civil servants when everybody else's salary is being cut down, when we are faced with a national crisis owing to the absolute necessity of cutting down the miners' wages and cutting down the profits of the mine owners, when everybody has to submit to a reduction in his income, and when the cost of living is falling. It is in these circumstances that we are asked to vote to civil servants an increase of 50, 60 or 70 per cent, over what they received in 1920–21. It really is not sane policy. Why should they be the only class who are to receive these additions of salary, whereas nearly every private person has got a smaller salary and the working classes are having either less wages or will shortly have to receive less wages. Why should their salaries go up for, at any rate, the next six months, and probably the next 12 months? I think the House of Commons would not be doing its duty if it did not make a very serious protest, and some practical protest, against the kind of salaries which are being paid to civil servants. I sympathise with them; they have had hard times, the same as everybody else, but I do not see why there should be one privileged class in this country when all other people are suffering, and I think it is time some practical 1340 step should be taken whereby the burden of taxation can be reduced. We are always talking in this House of economy, but when there is a chance of doing something for economy these salaries are always voted practically without any protest, and these professions of economy really mean nothing. Let us really do something.
§ Mr. LORDEN
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has raised some question with regard to those Appropriations-in-Aid. In my opinion these Appropriations-in-Aid are simply eyewash, and nothing else. Local authorities, when they have paid the proceeds of a penny rate per annum into the housing funds, have no more liability whatever. The right hon. Gentleman's late Department say, "We will carry out this and we will make an overhead charge." But that overhead charge is not put on the local authorities at all. They do not pay it. It comes out of the Treasury, under the arrangements they made for housing, and therefore it is purely eyewash, and merely a book entry in these accounts. The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Middlesex (Sir P. Pilditch) raised a point with regard to the number of staff, but he did not deal with the increases in the Department from year to year. Some time ago, in December, I think, the right hon. Gentleman gave me, in answer to a question, the cost of his Department in 1912–13 and in 1920. In 1912–13 the total cost was £188,700, in 1919–20 is was £488,100, last year it was £630,600, and this year it is to be £732,900. That is not even the gross amount. When you go down a little further in the accounts you see it says here, in addition to these amounts, the total expenditure will be £863,708. This is a case in which we are asked to vote very considerable and unnecessary sums. In each of these housing schemes that are being carried out for a local authority, first of all they have the volume that was delivered to them by the Ministry of Health. That is their text, as you may say, which they propose to follow to a certain extent—more or less. Then they have to appoint their architect. On page 167 you will see that, entirely used for housing, there are one superintendent architect, two senior architects, seven architects, and 16 assistant architects. Then it says "draughtsmen." There is no note at the bottom which shows how many of 1341 these draughtsmen are employed, but the expenditure is £75,000, and if you put them down at £500 each that provides for 150. I do not suppose all these are necessary for the purposes of housing. I take it that there is about a third of them who would be used for housing. If they have got the superintendent architects and senior architects they will want these other gentlemen to wait upon them, and therefore the draughtsmen for getting out sketches would probably be about a third of this number. These are entirely unnecessary. When he is carrying out housing by direct labour the right hon. Gentleman may want a superintendent of works, but not all these architects. Although the right hon. Gentleman has stated that the overhead charges only amount to 2.75 per cent that is very largely wasted on the duplication of architects.
We have had a paper issued by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the number of houses he has got in hand, and he gives the date when they were commenced, the number completed, and the number roofed in. He points out that one scheme was started in January, 1920, and yet by the end of February or March, of the 120 houses in the scheme, only 32 were completed. It seems to me' that if it had been dealt with by a private contractor, the contractor would have had a great many penalties to pay if he could only produce 32 houses in 15 months. In another district, although further schemes were started in May, 1920, a very small proportion of the houses have been completed. As one of those who is a great believer in private enterprise, I am strongly opposed to this endeavour to nationalise the building industry by this back-door method. That is the view that I take, and I take it very strongly. I do not think we ought to let it go on, and it is essential that some limitation should be put upon it. I feel that we are not doing our duty if we do not press for a considerable diminution. We are asked to spend over £100,000 more in this Department than last year. I am not dealing with the appropriations-in-aid, because they are, in my opinion, of no value. They come to the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and he goes to the Treasury, and they honour a cheque for it, and that is what they are bound to do. There is no other method, and therefore I strongly protest against that.
1342 I also wish to deal with the question of War bonuses. After we have dealt with all these rises in salaries, which are consistent almost throughout, there is an item of £210,000 for bonus. It used to be War bonus, but now they have dropped the "War." Is there any method by which these bonuses rise and fall with the cost of living If it is good for the goose, it should be good for the gander, and I do not see why civil servants should not be under the same arrangement as others and have their salaries reduced as the cost of living goes down. In these Estimates there has also been delivered a paper called "House Building." The figure we have got in these pages 165–169 of the Estimates does not represent the whole of the money that the right hon. Gentleman has, as he has got a consider able sum in hand with which he is carrying out this work for the local authorities. Who is paying the interest? Each one of these local authorities are obtaining some advantage, although probably, when you come back to the true point that the Treasury have got to pay, it does not matter whether the Treasury pay out of one pocket or out of another, but there must come, and there ought to come soon, some determination on the part of the Treasury to stop this expenditure to the extent to which it is going on. Can we afford it? I think I might be in Order in quoting what some of the housing schemes have cost. In one scheme, I understand, the houses are being put up and the roads and sewers are being constructed, that the tenants are asked to pay 25s. per week, that they are then asked to pay approximately 7s.—
The hon. Member may refer to any administrative act of the Office of Works during the year, but he cannot go into the question of the general housing policy. That would come under another Vote. Here we are only concerned with how far the Office of Works has any jurisdiction in the matter.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I thought I was poaching a little, and I will not pursue that point, but I feel that the whole question of the Office of Works carrying out this work wants thoroughly reconsidering. I am the last person to put any difficulties in the way of the Government at the present time. I am not prepared probably to go into the lobby and vote against 1343 them in the present state of the country, but I feel it would not be right of me to go through a stage such as this and to see such extravagance and unnecessary expenditure without raising my voice against it, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some hope that this expenditure is going to be curtailed.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I wish very briefly to call attention, in even more pointed terms, to the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Fylde Division (Colonel Ashley). He referred to this increasing charge for the higher posts in the Civil Service. From what he said, I gather that the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden) has not yet grasped, and I am certain the House generally has not yet grasped, what is the real meaning of this change in the whole pay of the higher civil servants, against which I, as an old civil servant, have repeatedly raised my voice, and in doing so I am certain that I have the sympathy of many existing members of the Civil Service. What is it that we are doing in this House, day after day? I cannot now refer to another Vote, but two days ago we debated the Education Estimates. Did the House know that it was voting then to the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Education a salary nearly double that received by the President himself, that the salary of the Permanent Secretary is £3,700, while that of the President is only £2,000? I am certain the House generally has not recognised it, and the hon. Member for North St. Pancras showed that he has not. I am quite ready to admit that in certain cases a certain increase of salary to these higher officials, such as is indicated in this Vote, was necessary, but take the case of this particular Department. For years and years in my recollection the salary of the higher-paid posts was £1,200 a year. A few years ago it was raised to £1,500, and last year it was raised to £2,200. Possibly, it may be an expedient thing, but what I do object to, and what I am certain the House has not fully realised—and it was not helped to realise it by the answers which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave to me and others on the point—is, that in addition *o that increase of £700 a year in salaries, a further bonus was paid of £750. Is that 1344 fair or reasonable? Is it an economic proceeding?—Does it really rest on any sound ground whatever?
I am quite ready to agree, as I have repeatedly stated, that the lower paid branches of the Civil Service, men who, I know, are paid a limited amount and who have felt the pinch of the times, should have this bonus proportionate to the increase of expenditure, but I do say that the man who reaches a standard of £2,000 or even £3,000 a year should, with the rest of the community, share the burden of taxation. Can any man honestly stand up and deny that? Are we, not all living on half the incomes that we did before, and are we not doing so by denying ourselves small luxuries to which we had become accustomed, but which we have learned to do without? Why cannot the higher paid civil servants do the same? I am quite ready to say that a certain increase of salary was necessary in the lower posts, but let me point out that there has been almost no increase of salary in the lower posts. The increase of salary, apart from bonus, haw been in the higher posts. The lower paid officers have got, what I think is a very fair thing, a bonus, but they have not, like the higher paid posts, got both an increase of salary and a bonus. One or two hon. Members asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury yesterday, "Will these bonuses go down as the cost of living goes down?" "Yes," the right hon. Gentleman said, "of course they will." "But," I asked, "will it be effective in the case of those higher officials?" "Oh, yes," he said, "the whole bonus is affected by the cost of living." But what is the fact? A man gets a percentage of increase proportionate to the rise in prices. The percentage of £750 to a man whose salary is £2,000 or £3,000 a year is very small. No human being ever expects that in the times in which we are now living the cost of living will approach that of 1914 by anything like 30, 25, or 15 per cent. Supposing the increased expense of living were halved, still it would not touch this monstrous bonus of £500 or £750 paid to those higher officials. That, I think, is wrong. Give your higher officials a fair salary, as you have done in every case by increasing salary, sometimes by 50 per cent., but do not let them share in a bonus which will go on 1345 evidently until the cost of living comes to within 15 or 20 per cent, of what it was in 1914. I say, give your bonus as liberally as you like, and be generous with the bonus to the lower paid civil Servants. In the case of the higher civil servants, let them have an increase of salary or a bonus, but do not give them both, and I do not see on what argument you can rest this double pay. It is very easy for any Member of the House to look at these Estimates and think he has the full salaries before him, but he must pursue his investigations much more closely. You have to look at a totally different part of the Estimates—to another Vote altogether—to see the explanation of this bonus. I confess that I have not yet heard from the Treasury Bench a justification or even an explanation of the ground upon which they give these lavish increases, rising in some cases to 50 per cent., and, in addition, a large bonus—a bonus so high that it has raised the salary of many of these permanent officials to something like 30 or even 50 per cent, in excess of the Ministers' salaries under whom they serve. Until the Treasury gives us a better explanation of this extravagance, we cannot think that they are performing properly their function of parsimonious management of the revenue, and until that is done I trust the House in Supply will continue to object to what I consider a very unjust expense.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I might tell the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in case he was not here at the time, that that very question of bonus for the higher civil servants was raised very late at night by myself, and was answered by Mr. Stanley Baldwin.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Yes, the right hon. Gentleman did, and the explanation, which was very inadequate, was that it was necessary to give the some bonus to the higher grade civil servants as to a charwoman. The explanation given by Mr. Baldwin at that time was that it was necessary for these higher grade civil servants to educate their children in the way they had been educated. I hope I carry some hon. Members with me when I say that exactly the same problem is assailing the harassed taxpayer of the same class of 1346 people who wish to educate their children —I mean members of the professional classes, Navy and Army officers and other people, who are very hard put, because so much of their income is taken by taxation. It was late at night when Mr. Baldwin made that inadequate explanation, and it was hopeless to try to press the matter. I do not know that we can raise the matter very fully on this parcular Vote, but I would like to point out that this bonus of £210,000 for 1921–22 as compared with £160,400 for 1920–21, applies not only to the coal porters and hall porters, whose wages vary from 27s: to 32s., and to charwomen and caretaker, but it also applies to the chief quantity surveyor, whose salary is between £900 and £1,000 a year, to the chief architect, with his £1,200 a year, to the chief surveyor, with his £925 a year, and to the comptroller of accounts, with his £1,000 a year. I think we ought to have an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman, who is very kindly taking charge of this Estimate for the First Commissioner of Works in another place. I think when he comes to reply he might tell us to what the bonus will work out to those persons. At the present moment the country is distraught by a question of reduction of wages, and, before the matter is settled, we are going to have, I am afraid, a good deal of trouble, apprehension and distress caused in this country. Now we are asked to vote an increase of wages to admittedly well-paid people, and we ought to know how much the bonus will be to the chief architect, with his £1,200 a year.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
That is so, and I object to it very strongly. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but all I am asking now is, to how much this will work out? If, for example, the chief surveyor with his £925 gets an extra bonus of £300 on top of that, we ought to be told.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The real point is as to those cases where there has been an enormous increase of salary and also a bonus given.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I know there is a great deal in that. I do not think there are any cases of that kind in this Estimate.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I daresay the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, and if he goes to a Division, I will support him on that point; in the meantime, I am pointing out that I do not think these people are badly paid at £900 a year, and in these times, when one remembers the financial stringency, I do not think we are justified in voting a bonus to them. At the same time, I am sure hon. Members on this side were glad to hear the tribute paid to these people to the right hon. Gentleman for their efficient and whole-hearted services, and so on. We quite appreciate that. We are not making any attack on them or their efficiency. We wish them well in every way. We have a very excellent Civil Service in this country, and I, personally, have no hostility to them, but when things are so serious financially, and when we are harping on reductions of wages in every class of the community, I think it is wrong to give these bonuses to these people, especially as they may last for another 12 months, and the cost of living may come down very considerably in the present year.
I would like to draw attention to the fact that the Office of Works proposes to pay some of its humbler members what I consider an inadequate salary. Hon. Members will see in the Estimate an unspecified number of coal porters, hall porters, etc., to whom it is intended to pay wages ranging from 27s. to 32s. a week. Now a coal porter has to be an able-bodied man, obviously. A hall porter has to be a man of good character, and is usually a man of mature years, and very often is married and has a family, and wages of this sort are altogether inadequate. These humble people, I consider, are being offered wages that good employers ought not to pay for the same class of work, and I desire to enter, very briefly, my protest against these wages, Then there is an unspecified number of charwomen for whom the sum of £2,500 is asked. I am sorry we are not told the number, and what each is being paid. The principle, I think, ought to be adopted by the Office of Works in regard to both charwomen and the junior clerical staff of adequately paying them, but not having more than are absolutely necessary. There is in the Secretariat what appears to be altogether a disproportion- 1348 ate number of junior clerical people who are very lowly paid. You have there ten superintendents of female typists for this year, as compared with two last year; 52 shorthand-typists, as compared with 13 last year; and 74 typists, as compared with 13 last year. I daresay the increase is due to the building of the 10,000 houses, but even then it seems to me that, simply for the secretariat alone, and remembering the fact that there are many other clerks and junior clerical workers included in other Departments of the Office of Works, the number is excessive. The explanation can be found when we look at the salaries. For the typists, the salaries are from 22s. to 36s. a week, which, I think, is well below the wages offered for typists in the City. The shorthand-typists are paid from 28s. to 46s. a week. I think 28s. a week for shorthand-typists is altogether too low. You have a vast number of underpaid clerical workers. It would be preferable to have a smaller number of better paid clerical workers, who were thoroughly efficient, and see you got the best work out of them. I think the policy there revealed deserves attention. Might I ask a question with regard to the architects abroad? Why is it that we require architects in China and Japan, two in number, and an assistant architect, in addition, stationed in China? Is it in connection with the dockyard at Hong Kong?
§ Sir A. MOND
Their business is to look after the Embassies and all the Consular buildings, which, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, are very numerous.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I should have thought it would have been much better to have employed local architects. There are English architects in Hong Kong, and I should have thought local assistance could have been got. There are English architects in Shanghai, and I think I am right in saying there are a certain number of English architects in the chief Treaty Ports in Japan. I do not know if that matter has been considered, and whether we get a saving by this system.
§ Sir A. MOND
I have considered it myself, and I finally came to the conclusion that it was more economical than to employ outside architects, who can exercise practically no control, and who, 1349 naturally, would be more inclined to favour the local wishes of the people who attend to these buildings than architects who are directly responsible to us.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I think that explanation is very satisfactory. I am quite aware how important it is that our Consular buildings in China should be kepi up to the mark, but why is it necessary to keep an architect employed in Constantinople? Is not that rather a luxury, and one that we could do without? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us why it is necessary to have this man, if only temporarily, at Constantinople? We have only one Embassy there. We have not any Consulates at Anatolia, for our writ, or even the writ of the State forces, does not run in the Highlands of Anatolia, or, for the matter of that, at the sea coast. May I also ask a question in connection with the inspectorate of ancient monuments? I note that we pay a chief inspector, three inspectors, and a clerk, which, I daresay, is very right and proper. I, for one, welcome the policy of seeing that ancient monuments are properly preserved, but I should like to ask Sir Edwin, first of all, who decides on the expenditure that these people may advise? Is it the Office of Works? Is this on another Vote Is the expenditure undertaken by local authorities, and is the advice of the inspectorate given? The matter is one of some interest to me, and, I imagine, to other hon. Members as well. I think we might be told a little about it. In any case, is it for the whole of Great Britain, or are there separate Departments for Scotland?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Then in that case the number is not too great. The work is quite an important work. It would be of interest to the right hon. Gentleman to tell us about the expenditure on this Vote. Furthermore, who looks after monuments which are not ancient—in other words, the new monuments What is the procedure with regard to setting up war memorials, for example, in the City of London, in White- 1350 hall, Westminster, and the neighbourhood? Is there anyone in the Department of the right hon. Gentleman who is consulted or who advises on this subject? I do not want to enter into controversy, but there has been great criticism on the part of some of the public as to memorials which have been put up recently. In particular—I do not want to express an opinion upon the matter—there has been great public criticism of the monument to Nurse Cavell. Is there anyone in the right hon. Gentleman's Department who is paid for supervising the new monuments put up, because if we have to vote a sum of money for the preservation of ancient monuments I personally think it is just as well and important that we should have someone to supervise the taste, suitability, situation and durability of the new monuments.
London is at present, in some cases at all events, disfigured by some extremely hideous monuments of past warriors, nobles, and monarchs. I trust the generations to come will not blame us for putting up new monstrosities. Important as it is to preserve ancient monuments, I personally think it is just as important to see that the new monuments are suitable, in good taste, and will be accounted to our credit in the years to come. The number of officials has increased very largely, as some hon. Member have pointed out, the number actually being from 581 to 997. I accept, of course, the footnote which says that a real comparison is not possible because of the number of temporary appointments that there were last year, but I would like to point out that apparently there is no decrease. We ought to have some explanation of this.
During the War the Office of Works, as has been referred to before, was very busily engaged in very important national work. That work is in abeyance now. The Office of Works has undertaken housing schemes for 10,000 houses, which I personally welcome. I, like the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden), think it is an excellent thing, and I wish they had started sooner and were building more. Although I welcome this, I would like to ask why the officials, architects, surveyors, typists, clerks, and so on, who were employed on the very heavy work 1351 undertaken by the Office of Works during the War, are not available for the housing schemes, and why it is possible to come here year by year and ask for credits for more and more personnel for the Office of Works? The hon. Member for North St. Pancras just now hinted that he would have liked to vote against this Estimate, or, at any rate, move a reduction, but would not do so because there was a national crisis. But may I point out that we have always a national crisis with this Government? If it is not abroad we have it at home. There is always some terrible danger overhanging us, and there always will be so long as my hon. Friend and others maintain the present Government in office. If he wants to secure economy, he can only do it, I would respectfully suggest to him, by voting against the Estimates, and if he is going to take any excuse not to do so, of course, the number of officials will go on increasing this year, and if this Government is unhappily in power we will have another increase next year of 2,000 or 3,000 officials and £200,000 or £300,000 expenditure, and it will serve my hon. Friend perfectly right!
Not only is there this expenditure, but the public is hit in another way. We all know the serious situation of the taxpayer to-day and of the public and visitors to London, the strangers within our gates, who are penalised by the enormous number of huts required to house these officials. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Mond), who is answering to-day for the Office of Works, has aesthetic tastes. I am sure he is as much distressed as any of us by the huts and wooden buildings disfiguring our parks, and, in particular, the Embankment along the Thames, and particularly that beautiful vista which is debauched by these horrible wooden atrocities. If the right hon. Gentleman still finds it necessary to houses these hundreds of extra officials, against whom my hon. Friend the Member for North St. Pancras will not vote because it is a national crisis, then I suppose we cannot get further. But not only is this a matter of expense but of the amenities of our public spaces which are kept from the public in order to provide accommodation for those employed. It does not sound very much when I read 1352 out 74 typists, 10 superintendents of female typists, one chief superintendent, and so on, but these people who are—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not want to criticise them, for they are underpaid people, and I do not expect them to work very hard for 22s. per week. This is underpaid and sweated labour. There ought to be fewer of them, and those ought to be better paid. After all, why should all these officials not be housed in the cheaper suburbs? Why should the right hon. Gentleman, in his capacity as Head of the Board of Works, purchase houses, as we know from the Supplementary Estimates, where they are most expensive, in the neighbourhood of this House and the West End of London, and so on, when he could get them much cheaper in the suburbs of Hoxton, Hounsditch, and so on. [Laughter] Yes, where millions of people live and bring up large families quite happily. There is no reason why the typists, clerks, assistant architects, and the rest of them should not go there, and then perhaps the amenities of the place would be the better for it! The right hon. Gentleman the other day, in reply to a question of an hon. Friend of mine, said that he was keeping the huts and taking them over for the officials, clerks and typists when they left the hotels and public buildings. That is a wrong policy. If we cannot get rid of all these officials, then empty buildings ought to be taken in the cheaper outskirts. It is all nonsense, I submit, to say that all these people must be in the very heart of official London. You can have the Heads of Departments at Whitehall, but the junior people and the clerks, typists, and so on are just as well doing their work outside, and I am not sure they would not be the healthier for it. In the meantime, for Heaven's sake, let us hear that these wooden huts are going to be cleared out of our parks, for at present they are depriving the people of their pleasures and children of their recreations, and even lovers of their legitimate trysting places. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen, on the grounds of economy and on the grounds of the artistic 1353 appearance of London, which I know he has so much at heart, to hasten the demolition of these awful places.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
There are three very short points that I should like to refer to, but it is rather difficult to know what one can discuss on this Vote. One is not apparently allowed to go into details of the public buildings which really come under the Office of Works. I suppose we shall have to discuss the actual policy of the building of these houses if the thing is discussed at all, and the way in which the business has gone about.
Whatever comes under the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Works is now open for discussion.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The first point I wanted to ask the right hon. Gentleman about is this: I still do not understand what he means by this Appropriation-in-Aid of £150,000. I gather from my right hon. Friend that this does not come into the question at all of the penny rate. In his first speech the right hon. Gentleman pointed out how the matter stood, and, as I understood, said that that £150,000 will be handed back to the local authorities if some of them have expenditure that comes over a penny rate. Therefore, so far as I can see, this Appropriation-in-Aid of £150,000 is merely a matter of accounting, for it does not really mean we are going to save £150,000 in the long run.
§ Sir A. MOND
You neither save nor lose it. Its is obvious to carry out these services you have to have your architect, clerk of works, surveyors, and so on, and I do not see how the question of the penny rate comes in at all.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
As far as I can see, it actually means a saving as far as the Department is concerned, although the Treasury may have to hand over the whole of that money in the future. Although there is an appropriation-in-aid of £150,000, I understand that there is £200,000 still outstanding from the local authorities owing at the present moment to the right hon. Gentleman's Department. If that is the case there is a deficit of £50,000 at the present moment My second point is in regard to the question of assimilation. Various speakers have touched upon the question of the 1354 bonus, but in addition to that you have on page 165 £6,400 for Civil Service assimilation. Assimilation was agreed upon by the Treasury on the understanding that there should be equivalent savings in each Department so far as the increase in the salaries was concerned. Supposing a Department got an increase of salary in addition to the bonus of £10,000, the Treasury laid it down that there should be an equivalent saving of £10,000 in the Department to meet the increase, Instead of a decrease in the Office of Works Department there is a heavy increase, and although the assimilation has raised the salaries of all these people in addition to the bonus for this year by £6,400, there is very nearly an addition of £100,000 to the salaries of the Department, and they have not taken into account the possibility of economy. Consequently they have really got the increase contrary to the condition laid down by the Treasury.
I am very disappointed to find such a large increase in the number of officials. I have been looking through the Estimates for 1914–15, and it is quite clear that there is an increase of staff over last year, and there is a very large increase over the Estimates for the year before the War. Before the War we find that the officials numbered 417, and to-day they number 997, so that in the right hon. Gentleman's Department there are 580 more officials than there were before the War. I notice that last year there were two superintendents of female typists, and this year there are 10. Last year there were 13 shorthand typists, and now there are 52. If you take the heading, "Ancient Monuments Inspectorate," you find that before the War there were four inspectors and clerks, and we have now added another clerk. You find all through the list in nearly every case there has been an increase since the year before the War. Before the War there were 3 pensioner messengers, and now there are 46. I hope that in future there will be some attempt on the part of the Government to reduce the staff of this Department. It is really time we did something to economise. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to explain why it is that in the case of assimilation apparently there has been no attempt to reduce the figure in accordance with the conditions categorically laid down by the Treasury.
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
I consider that the Office of Works is a very impor- 1355 tant Department, and for that reason I want to say a word about the First Commissioner of Works. I consider that official ought to be a Member of this House. I look upon this House as being much more important than the other Chamber, and I think it is right to say that we are more intimately acquainted with the different departments of work that come under the Office of Works than the Members of the other House can be, and for that reason I think the First Commissioner should have been a Member of this House. I am not saying anything against the Noble Lord who is at present First Commissioner of Works, for no doubt he is a very excellent and able man, but I still consider that the holder of that Office should be a Member of this House, and not the other House.
We have been dealing with the question of housing, and there has been some criticism about the Office of Works taking up the building of houses. I think they have done a good thing for the nation in this respect. When the Minister of Health made his statement in December last, he showed that the Office of Works were building houses £200 and £300 cheaper than the private contractors had tendered for. That is a very considerable reduction and a very excellent thing for the nation as a whole, because the nation is responsible for the amount over and above what is brought in by the rents and the penny rate in addition. If houses can be built for £200 less it is a saving of that amount to the nation as a whole, and from that point of view this Department has done a very valuable work. I am pleased that the Office of Works has taken on house building. It may not be in order to compare their work with that of the private builder, but I wish to point out that there are many housing schemes now being held up because the tenders are too high, and the Ministry of Health will not sanction them. I think it is fortunate that the Office of Works has done this work, and they have done it so much cheaper than the private builder.
I want to refer now to the question of restoring buildings commandeered during the War for different purposes. I do not know who orders the renovations that have taken place when the use of these buildings has been discarded by the Office of Works. I know you can go through 1356 any town in this country, and looking at the different buildings you can almost point out those which at one time belonged to the Government. It would be interesting to know how much more valuable such properties are to-day since they were handed back, repaired, and redecorated. I should say some of those buildings are hundreds and thousands of pounds more valuable than ever they were before. I want to know what control we have over these matters. I know these buildings are being done up very well, and it is a very good thing for the people who own them that they were taken over.
I intended to refer to the low salaries which were being paid to certain classes, but my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut. - Commander Kenworthy) has dealt so well with them that I only need to refer to them very briefly. There are messengers, coal porters, typists, and different people getting from 22s. to 36s. per week, and some of them go up to 46s. and 48s. per week. That is simply a wage that no one can live upon, and, although we are talking a good deal about economy to-day, it should not be practised until a proper standard of living is assured. I assume that these typists at 22s. a week are girls, but no girl to-day can live upon that, and no messenger or coal porter can live upon the wages I have mentioned.
I notice that the salary of the Secretary in 1920–21 was £1,500, and it has now been raised to £2,200, or an advance of £700. I understand that there is a bonus in addition to that. That represents a very substantial advance, and I do not know how you make these things fit in. You are asking miners to go far below the cost of living to 46 as against 101, and yet we find the Secretary's salary has been raised from £1,500 to £2,200 per annum. I do not know how this is going to be justified, but I suppose we shall hear some justification. How it is going to be justified to our satisfaction I fail to see. It seems to me that both ends of the programme ought to be considered, and I think there is very great room for improvement. I think the lower salaries ought to be raised, and the wage of 22s. a week ought to be wiped out altogether. If the nation is to economise by keeping down to that standard it is about time we finished as a nation. We are not in that state yet, and there is no fear of getting into that position. I hope the Minister will seriously consider the very low amounts we find in these Estimates. 1357 I would like a reply from the Minister on these different points: first as to the buildings which have been renovated out of all proportion to the damage done, and out of which the owners must have made very good bargains; secondly, the question of the salary of the Secretary; and, thirdly, the question of the lower-paid officials.
§ Mr. A. L. PARKINSON
I wish to draw attention to the fact that the amount of the appropriations-in-aid for 1921–22 is £150,000, whereas in 1920–21 the amount was £17,000, thus representing a decrease in the Estimate of this year of £133,000. Are we to take it that an Estimate or a Supplementary Estimate was made for £150,000 and that only £17,000 was spent, and that the remainder is being carried forward? I also wish to draw attention to the proportion which the appropriations-in-aid bear to the total sum for salaries, wages, travelling expenses, and so forth. The previous speaker has made reference to the fact that the Office of Works is building houses. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Office of Works have completed any of these houses, and, if so, what is the cost? Where the Office of Works comes into competition with contractors or with guilds which are engaged in building, it tends to make the position of those who are trying to carry out the work very difficult indeed. I can give you instances where the Minister of Health has sanctioned schemes for 500 houses in one, district, and where on that site one cannot get more than three or four brick setters to try to carry out the work. It seems to me a fallacy for the Office of Works to get into competition when other people, who are trying to complete building schemes cannot obtain the necessary men. It is not a case of not having a sufficient staff, but of not having sufficient workmen. When the Office of Works starts in opposition you immediately find men taken off one particular job, which is then only able to proceed at half the speed that could have been maintained if the Office of Works had kept out of the way.
I suggest that the cost mentioned by the previous speaker as that at which the Office of Works can build these houses is almost impossible, and I will give you reasons. In past years, when the Office of Works had always difficulty in getting 1358 contractors to tender, I was connected with a firm which submitted tenders, and it was then said that if you wanted to tender for the Office of Works you should work out your tender on the usual lines and then double it and add half again, and you might make a profit, because the red tape made it almost impossible for a contractor to carry out the work. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman was at the Office of Works then, or if the same thing exists to-day which prevailed at the office then. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] It is the first time I have trespassed on the time of the House, and I know the House, which is always ready to sympathise with a young Member, will give me indulgence. When the Office of Works was carrying out a particular building about which there were many controversies, namely, that at Slough, the Committee which formerly sat under the presidency of Lord Goschen decided they would take it out of their hands and put a contractor in to complete it. If things were carried out on those lines in those days by the Office of Works, I can only surmise that they will have a much bigger cost on this housing scheme than has been indicated.
§ Sir A. MOND
I think the hon. Member is wrong. The Office of Works had nothing whatever to do with Slough at any time.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I think you will find that what I say is correct. What I wish to point out is, that if the building trade had provided all the men which the Cabinet asked for to give us the greater production necessary, then it might have been all right for the Office of Works to take up this scheme, but when all the people who are carrying out building are trying to do their best with an insufficient number of workers and cannot get the workers, then it is quite wrong for them to intervene. Every Member of this House knows how much more costly it is to carry on building when you have to keep a staff there with very few workmen.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
Then why should the Office of Works want to put on a bigger staff when there are so few men? I find in these estimates a sum of £75,000 set down in respect of draughtsmen, and I find the total of salaries, wages and 1359 allowances is £694,000, and then I further find a sum of £210,000 set down for bonus, or nearly one-third of the wages. I would like to know exactly what is going to be the cost of these houses to the Office of Works and I say again that it would be far better if the Office of Works did not interfere while there is such a shortage of men, but allow the schemes which are going on to proceed until they get nearer completion.
§ Sir A. MOND
We have now been dealing with this matter for a considerable time and I imagine it would convenience the members of the Committee if I replied to some of the many points which have been raised. I would like to assure the hon. Member who spoke last that I was perfectly correct when I said that the Office of Works never at any time had anything whatever to do with Slough. I was astonished to hear him make the allegation, so well acquainted am I with all the large building operations carried out by this Department during the period of the War and so well aware am I that Slough did not form a part of them. We never had anything to do with it and therefore, so far as the criticisms regarding Slough are concerned, my withers are unwrung. I am not going to deal with the general question of the Office of Works undertaking the building of houses however. That is a question which has been settled by this House a long time ago and it would be entirely out of order for me to re-open it to-day. I would like to refer to a misunderstanding which has arisen—very naturally—and which has been made a great deal of by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and also by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Charles Edwards). That is in regard to the lower rate of salaries. I can quite understand hon. Members being surprised and even indignant to find a girl employed at 22s. per week, but if hon. Members reflected they should have realised that there must be some explanation of this low figure. The explanation is a very simple one and it is that the war bonus is excluded from these figures. In the case of the coal porter referred to, the war bonus is 45s. 10d. per week.
§ Sir A. MOND
If you add that to the 27s. a week the total is £3 12s. 10d. The charwoman is paid 15s. 6d. a week, but there is a bonus of 41s. Id., which brings the total up to £2 16s. 7d. The typists' War bonus is also added to the salary returned here, and that explains these figures. It is obvious that no person would work at the figures in the Estimates when they can secure better wages elsewhere. But I think, with the bonus added, the figures are approximately similar to those which obtain in the open market.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Does the Government by these figures mean that they expect one day to be paying coal porters 27s. and typists 22s. when the cost of living goes down?
§ Sir A. MOND
As a matter of fact, I do not think the question of the consolidation of the War bonus and the basic salary has ever yet been finally taken in hand by the Treasury. I think the Government is to-day in a position similar to that of many private firms in regard to this. I do not suppose that anyone anticipates that wages will ever come down again to the basis which existed before the War, but as to what extent they will come down, or as to what will be the standard ised figure, it is difficult to say at the moment. The Government, like private employers, would naturally prefer arriving at a stabilised figure, but in order to do that we must first see the course which will be taken over a very considerable further period in regard to the cost of living and the general industrial position. I was asked something about the architect stationed at Constantinople, and I might point out the works which it is necessary the Department should look after in such places as Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, and also the Consulates in the Balkans and Government buildings in the 'Balkans generally. There are also cemeteries, one of which remains from the Crimean War, and one at the Dardanelles. It is always a difficult question to decide how far it is better to have an architect who knows your own methods and requirements than to have some person possibly quite unacquainted with these requirements. Personally, I think it is better that we should have our own architect there.
Ancient monuments, about which the hon. Member asked, are an important 1361 part of the work of the Department. A large and continually growing number of ancient monuments are being handed over to the Crown by owners who, while not in a position to keep them up themselves, naturally do not wish them to fall into ruin. In the course of my tenure of office a large number of important national monuments, like Melrose, Stonehenge, and Wyburn Abbey, have been transferred under the Ancient Monuments Act to the Department. The number of inspectors is not at all excessive, considering the responsible nature of the work. The expenditure is borne on the Vote of the Office of Works. Of course, we have had to cut it down, like most expenditure, to the lowest point compatible with the buildings being kept from absolute destruction. The inspectors supervise the buildings and all the work in connection with them, and they have the further duty of inspecting buildings scheduled under the Ancient Monuments Act which belong, not to the State, but to private owners, who are not permitted under the Act to make alterations or repairs without referring the matter back to the Ancient Monuments Board for expert advice.
§ Sir A. MOND
No, that is an ecclesiastical building. Reference has been made to commandeered buildings which are being restored. The restoration of such buildings may take place in one of two ways. The procedure is that a bill of dilapidations is sent in, and the Office of Works surveyor examines it and endeavours to the best of his ability to cut it down. If agreement is not arrived at, the matter goes to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission, and then the owner can either restore the building himself or he may ask the Department to do so, and they may undertake it if they consider that to be the cheaper course. If the owner prefers to take the sum allotted to him, he may, perhaps, improve and increase the premises, and, particularly if he is doing up a hotel, bring them up to date. In that case, some of the money may come out of Government funds and some out of the pocket of the owner himself. With regard to war bonuses, a good deal of discussion has 1362 taken place on war bonuses in general, and on the Civil Service war bonus, but that is not really a question with which I can deal, as the question of war bonuses, and, in fact, the whole question of salaries in the Civil Service, is regulated by the Treasury for the whole of the service. No Minister or Department has any discretion in the matter; they simply have to carry out the Treasury regulations.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I quite agree that it is not fair to ask the right hon. Gentleman to deal with war bonuses, but I am afraid that the only way in which we can get information about them is on the particular portion of a Vote which relates to particular salaries. I would much rather raise it as a general question.
§ Sir A. MOND
Yes, it applies to assimilation in the way that it applies to the whole scale of salaries. The war bonus does go up and down, and, as it has been arranged, it has a curious effect. The war bonus in the Civil Service has always been postponed, and, instead of people getting the bonus at the time when the cost of living was high, they have, in reality, got it about six months later, so that you now have the curious phenomenon, which has rather astonished some hon. Members, that, although the cost of living is going down, the war bonus is still there and not likely to diminish. Hon. Members must, however, in fairness remember that the war bonus is for the purpose of making good the high cost of living during a time when the Civil Service had no war bonus, whereas in private life people in similar positions had their war bonus at the time.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. I do not know of any office or any important firm or even unimportant firm in this country that has not given a war bonus to their managers, clerks, and other members of their staff during the War; and I know that that has been the practice, not only in regard to that class of staff, but in regard to workmen as well. As a result, we have systems in our most important industries, 1363 such as the railways, in which the wages fluctuate according to the cost of living, and the war bonus is added.
§ Sir A. MOND
I can only speak of firms that I know, and I do not know a single firm of any repute which has not given a war bonus to its clerks and managers.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Is not the difference between the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik) and the Minister this, that what the Minister means is that everyone in employment has a bonus, and that it is those who have not got employment who have suffered? Is not that the whole point?
§ Mr. E. HARMSWORTH
They get a bonus, it is true, but they get, besides the bonus, a very large increase. The point at issue is not that they get a bonus only. In the case of the Secretary, for instance, he gets an increase of £700 in salary, and on the top of that he also has a very large war bonus.
§ Sir A. MOND
That is a question of the salary of a higher officer. As hon. Members know, the question of the salaries of higher officers in the Civil Service was the subject of an inquiry by a Committee over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) presided. That Committee, which investigated the whole question at very great length, was an independent Committee presided over by an ex-Prime Minister, who has had a life-long experience in the administration of the country and has served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. They deliberately came to the conclusion, and I think rightly, that the higher officials of the Civil Service were under-paid. One knows, indeed, that in consequence quite a considerable number of very able civil servants left the service and went into the City, where they were able to make much greater salaries—considerably more even than the increased salaries which are now offered. Speaking with some considerable experience of business matters, I must say it seems to me an extraordinary idea that, in a huge Department of State, which is responsible for an expenditure of £11,000,000, £2,220 a year should be con- 1364 sidered too large a salary for a man who is really the managing director of a business of that character. If the hon. Member (Mr. Harmsworth) will go to any of the large journalistic offices with which his family is concerned, and ask what is the relation of salaries to turnover, I think he will find that that would not be considered a large, salary for a person having such great responsibility. Government work has immensely increased, and, for good or for evil, we cannot get away from the fact that the responsibility of permanent officials is now very much greater, as is also the amount of work that they have to get through. In the Office of Works, the work is at least 200 per cent, more than it was before the War. If you want to get men to do this work who are worth anything—of course you can always find some kind of man who will fill any job at any price, but, if you want men of any worth, it will pay you to pay sufficiently high salaries to keep good men in the service and to attract good men to it. When I was in America an American magnate said to me, "I am looking for two men, one at a salary of £10,000 and another at a salary of £20,000, and I cannot find them. I can find hundreds of men at £5,000 a year, but they are no good to me."
§ Sir A. MOND
I was not under the necessity of taking either; I am merely using that as an illustration. This point has been before the House more than once. If you have in the Service officials who are not worth a reasonable salary for the work they have to do, you will in the long run have a very second-rate staff in your Government offices, and you will have real losses occurring, not merely in money, but in the prestige of Government Departments.
§ Sir P. PILDITCH
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman where the bonuses to which he is referring are shown? Are they included in these figures, or, if not, where are they shown?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The bonus is not actually included in the figures on page 165 of the Estimates; the bonus must be added.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The bonus is explained on page 5 of the Estimates. It is not explained under each Vote, but we are always referred back to page 5. You do not add the bonus in giving the salaries on page 165. In the case, for instance, of the Permanent Secretary's salary, the bonus, although it is paid, is not added. It ought to be printed there, so that we may see clearly how it stands.
§ Sir A. MOND
I was hoping that I had made it clear that the bonus is not calculated with the salaries, but is only shown in a lump sum. The bonus is shown on page 169 as a lump sum of £210,000. An hon. Member at the beginning of the Debate asked a question as to the policy of the Department, and was good enough to pay a high tribute to what had been done by the Department during the War. Like many people, however, he appears to have come to the conclusion that people who did very fine work during the War in connection with the erection of buildings, and other work of that kind, are, now that the War is over, incapable of again doing anything useful for the State. I cannot follow that argument. These people were capable of doing good work for the State in war time, and surely it is reasonable to employ their services for the State in peace time. My own view is that there is nothing more wasteful than to have a number of Government Departments carrying on building separately. It is a much more businesslike thing to concentrate your building on one Department and have it adequately staffed and adequately worked. It cannot be the best economy to carry out four building Departments instead of one, and that is the view the Treasury took with regard to buildings for the Air Board.
§ Sir P. PILDITCH
I do not think it was ever contemplated that there should be four different Government Building Departments. I understood the Cabinet order to be that the arrangement which has subsisted up to the present, that the Admiralty, War Office and Air Force buildings should be erected by private enterprise, should be maintained.
§ Sir A. MOND
The hon. Member is well aware that the War Office always had a Building Department to build barracks and all kinds of things all over the country.
§ Sir A. MOND
It does not matter if the scale is small. The question is whether it is wasteful. I think the hon. Gentleman rather confuses two things. A building Department, with the direct employment of an architect, is different from building by private contractors. Someone has to issue tenders and someone has to supervise and to measure up. Let me take the case of the building the Office of Works is housed in now. Like all the other great Government buildings, it was designed by a private architect, and it was carried out by a contractor, but it was carried out under the control of the management of the Office of Works as a building Department, and the War Office in exactly the same way It does not follow that because the Office is a building Department it employs the architectural talent it possesses. It may be better to get an outside architect, but someone has to look after the outside architect and pay him his money, and someone has to look after the contractor and his accounts, and that is the real function of the Office of Works. Whether it likes to employ its own architectural staff or not must be a matter for the First Commissioner to make up his mind on. The building at Acton is very important from the point of view of office accommodation. The problem was to put up the cheapest form of office accommodation that could be devised, of which the Department had a great deal of experience during the War. It makes no pretence of being a great public building, but the result, from what I was told before I left the Department, will be very satisfactory. That is one solution of the problem the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) so vehemently spoke about. He accused me of not trying to get people to leave the centre of the town for the salubrious suburbs when I was First Commissioner of Works. I can assure him I spent days, weeks and months in trying to induce people to do so. I moved people from the National Gallery to the Alexandra Palace. I moved them from the British Museum to Earl's Court. I had a terrible struggle with gentlemen who naturally very much disliked leaving the comfortable club area of London in order to go out into the wilderness. It is a very unfair accusation to bring 1367 against me or my administration, when I have battled for three years, day and night, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully, that I did nothing in this direction. I did all that was humanly possible. Acton was designed to accommodate a very large number of people who are now partly housed in Regent's Park and partly in St. James's Park. It is a very large scheme, and it has taken a long time to get going on account of the shortage of material and of labour. Part of it will come into operation in a few months. The rest, I hope, will be completed towards the end of the year. I only hope my successors will see that they get people to go there. But moving the Hindenburg line is a relatively easy task compared with inducing people to go where they do not want to go. I am glad to say a Committee is now sitting considering the question who is to be moved to Acton. I am in very full sympathy with the removal of the temporary buildings. I made the greatest act of self-sacrifice during the War that almost anyone was called upon to make in consenting to the erection of a hideous building outside my own office and my own window, which I have had to look at ever since.
§ Sir A. MOND
I am glad to say my functions in that capacity have now ceased. I hope that when this comes along it will ease the situation and that a system will be begun by which the parks will be restored, and my successor will obtain the applause of this House and a grateful nation when it returns the beautiful parks which it has been the unfortunate lot of my administration to disfigure.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I want to raise the question of salaries. That is a Treasury matter, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is not here. Ought we not to have him here?
§ Sir A. MOND
I should like to say a few words on the question of the staff of the Office generally. Naturally, the increase has been very considerable. The staff, of course, depends upon the work, and the work of the Office depends very much on policy outside the Department. The Department is the maid-of- 1368 all-work, and has to take on all kinds of problems which are handed over to it. For instance, we had to take over about 80,000 houses which were erected, or were in course of erection, by the Ministry of Munitions during the War for housing mution workers. Branches had to be started for managing and letting the houses or disposing of them. No Department desires to manage cottage property about the country.
§ Sir A. MOND
Sub-head A: Salaries and Wages. An increase of £6,000 had to be incurred in order to take over and manage the business, of course, with the intention at the earliest opportunity of disposing of the property. The Government have no wish to go on owning cottage property. But there it was. Someone had to take it over, and the Office of Works was looked on as the most suitable Department, and they have had to take it over and entirely re-organise it. It is under the charge of a very competent man, and they are handling it as well as they can. That is a typical example of new duties. A great deal of additional work has been thrown on the Office of Works by the Pensions Ministry. Hospitals had to be equipped and work of all kinds in connection with these hospitals had to be carried out. The same with the Ministry of Labour. All the work of providing tools and apparatus to enable the men to work has fallen on the Office of Works. These are only symptomatic. The provision of Labour Exchanges, the building of Labour Exchanges, the hiring of premises for Labour Exchanges was all carried out by the Office of Works, which, from being what it was originally, a quiet family party to maintain a few royal palaces, has become a very large Department, spending about £12,000,000 a year and carrying out a very large amount of responsible duties which cannot be carried out by the same number of people who carried them out in 1913–14. The only fair thing to ask is, are the duties being carried out proportionately, at the same rate and not more expensively? The amount of overhead charges of the Department is actually less. That is rather a good achievement. It is 5–5 instead of 6 per cent. It may be argued that a lot of the work ought not 1369 to be done, but that is quite a different question, which does not relate to the Office of Works, but relates really to the Votes of the different Departments. The question whether we ought to have Labour Exchanges or not, whether we ought to have post offices or not, whether we ought to have hospitals for pensioners, or whether we ought to have training factories, arise on the Votes of those Departments. The Office of Works as a Department is not consulted on them. It has to make the best of them. I contend that in view of the amount of work done the staff is not unreasonable.
One hon. Member could not understand why when we are carrying out building schemes we require architects to look after them. The Office of Works were called in because the efforts of the local authorities had broken down. If the local authorities had had sufficient competent people they could very well have carried out the schemes themselves, but because they could not get on we had to come in and take over the work. The first thing that happened was that we had to send architects to the local authorities to study schemes, to make out schemes, to prepare the lay-out, and to do all the work for which architects are required. That cannot be done without a staff, and I think, having regard to the amount of work undertaken all over the country, the staff is not excessive.
One hon. Member asked for some undertaking to be given that this work was not to be indefinitely extended. I can no longer speak as head of the Office of Works; I have to speak on housing as Minister of Health. I am certain that it is not the intention to extend this policy, and it never was the intention. It was done because of a kind of S.O.S., which produced very useful results. The Office of Works have given very definite instructions for the getting of lump-sum contracts for the work as far as possible, and I am glad to say that very much more reasonable lump-sum contracts are now beginning to come in. The position has changed very much in the last six months, and when tenders are really meant to be tenders on a reasonable basis, I have no doubt the Office of Works will go back to the performance of its usual departmental work. It is impossible to expect anyone to define exactly the functions of a Department, but I can give an undertaking that these temporary schemes are not 1370 going to form part of the permanent undertaking of the Office of Works. I agree in the main with what has been said, and I do not think that it is advisable that any Government Department should be responsible for the only building schemes in the country. You cannot nationalise building, and I do not think anybody would attempt to do so. There must be a happy medium, and I hope that the happy medium which has been observed between the official architects and the contractors will be continued in future, and that the harmonious relations which have existed between the technical staff at the Office of Works and the profession outside, which are very essential and important, will go on unimpaired.
An hon. Member asked me a question about monuments. This is a very difficult problem. It raises the question of art in our everyday life. It is very fortunate that my successor in office (the Earl of Crawford) is one of the most qualified people in the country to speak with regard to art, and especially in matters of sculptural art, and I have no doubt that he will give a great deal of time and attention to questions relating to monuments which are brought before him. It is not an easy position. The jurisdiction over Crown property is very absolute, but the jurisdiction over other property is not so easy to enforce. When I was at the Office of Works I did manage to establish a Sites Committee to assist me on the question of sites. This Committee included eminent architects, who were of assistance to me in discussing designs as well as sites. This whole problem is not an easy one. I hope that we shall proceed on very different lines in the future and follow the American model, where at Washington they appoint official Committees of Fine Arts, which include the heads of artistic institutions in the country, to advise the Government on matters of art. The question of art is largely one of controversy. What is beautiful and what is not is a matter of personal taste. Experts have different opinions on it. It is very difficult to get people to agree on what is beautiful and what is not beautiful when it is so much a matter of individual taste. I hope that my suggestion, or something of the kind, will be adopted and that there will be established a Commission of Fine Arts which may provide a solution in regard to these matters of artistic taste. 1371 My successor is well qualified to deal with these matters. If he does not admire the last production of the last school of the satirists or cataclysts he will be dubbed "old-fashioned"; if, on the other hand, he is not enthusiastic about some reproduction of bad early Victorian art he will be considered "revolutionary." It is difficult to steer between the Scylla of ancient tradition and the Charybdis of modern art. I have no doubt that his tact will enable him to perform that delicate function with all success.
I have endeavoured to reply to a large number of points raised in the Debate, and I hope satisfactorily. One point was raised with regard to typists. The figures in regard to typists show a nominal rather than an actual increase. The increase is due to the fact that a large number of temporary typists whose salaries were paid last year out of a lump sum for temporary clerical staff has now come on to the Established List. Therefore, the increase over last year is more nominal than actual. Unexplained the increase seems rather staggering. I hope that the Committee will now agree to let us have the Vote.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The Committee is very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the very exhaustive way in which he has replied to the criticisms which have been made or which were not made, but might have been made if other hon. Members had spoken before the right hon. Gentleman. Some suspicious Members might have thought that the right hon. Gentleman was obstructing his own Vote, but we know that that is quite an impossible thing for him. Before I come to the question of salaries I should like to say a few words upon the question of architects. I was chairman of the Select Committee on National Expenditure which went very exhaustively into this question as to whether it was more economical to employ at the Office of Works a considerable number of permanent architects or to go to private architects. I think the majority of the Members were of the opinion that it would be better if private architects were employed. However, we did not report on that; we came to the conclusion that the system pursued by the Office of Works was the best one and the more economical in the long run, although we 1372 were not prejudiced in favour of the system.
The right hon. Gentleman in answering criticisms in regard to the increasing of the salary of the Secretary of the Department from £1,500 last year to £2,200 this year, together with a bonus of £750, said that the salaries were matters for the Treasury and that he was not responsible. I believe that is correct, but, as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik), this is one of the few opportunities that we have for raising these questions, and perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will be able to report what I am almost inclined to think is the unanimous opinion of the House that these higher salaries should not be raised in the way they have been raised. The salary of the Secretary has been raised from £1,500 to £3,000 this year. I am not certain whether he had a bonus last year, but assuming that he did not have the bonus his salary has been doubled. To double a salary of £l,500 a year at the present time is a very great mistake. The right hon. Gentleman said that unless we give high salaries we shall lose these officials, who will go into the City. I have had some experience of the City, and I say that that is a delusion. There may be a few—I believe there have been one or two—eminent civil servants who have been taken into the City and put upon boards of directors. What they get upon those boards I do not know, but my experience of the City is that it is a very difficult thing for the vast majority of people to make £1,500.
The idea that all that you have to do is to take an office in the City, hang your hat up, and make a large fortune, is quite erroneous. There are very few large com panies or firms in the City who would take people at anything like a salary of £2,000 or £3,000 a year. That being so, we can dismiss from our minds the idea that we are going to lose these Civil servants if we do not give them these very high salaries. It must be borne in mind that in the City you are subject to very varying conditions. A man may make a considerable sum of money, but, on the other hand, he may lose a great deal of money. Even if you are fortunate enough to be taken into one of the large firms or companies, and paid a large salary, if the firm has a bad time you are likely to lose your posi- 1373 tion, whereas in the Civil Service, unless you commit a very flagrant dereliction of duty, you have a permanent position, and a pension at the end of it, to say nothing of the social status. All that is very different in the City. They do not have their lives cast in the pleasant paths which as a rule those have who happen to be officials. Then we may dismiss that idea from our minds.
Then as to large business firms having raised the salaries of their high officials. You cannot say for certain what has been done, because it is different in so many cases. It may have occurred in some cases, but it certainly has not occurred in others. I do not know of any instance of a man in receipt of a salary of £2,000 a year who has had his salary doubled. There are very few instances I know—I am not sure of the North Eastern Rail-way, but we will leave that out—where that has occurred. But I would have said it is much more likely that a man in receipt of £2,000 a year may have had a rise of, say, £500 between 1914 and now, but not between 1920 and now. I believe it to be absolutely necessary for the prosperity of the country that the wages of the working classes should come down. I do not believe that that can be done honestly or justly unless those people who are in receipt of higher salaries set the example and show that they are willing to participate in the sacrifice which they are going to ask the working classes to accept. Therefore it is very unfortunate just at this moment that these large increases should be made, and I ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, as I understand that they are the ultimate tribunal in these matters, to consider this point.
§ Mr. INSKIP
There are one or two points on which I should like information. One is with regard to the maintenance and inspection of ancient monuments. The sum in the Estimates, about £2,000, is comparatively small, but I would like to know exactly what the policy of the right hon. Gentleman is with regard to these matters, because this is an item, of which I think a great many can be found in the Estimate, which should be rigorously ruled out. I have a horror of finding in these Estimates the germs of future expenditure, and though £2,000 may be a small sum it may be the basis of what will mount 1374 up to be considerable expenditure in years to come. I think that we lately had a number of impecunious owners of ruined castles on the borders anxious that a Government Department should take over these castles. There are three inspectors going about the country. Suppose they inspect and find that some outlay is necessary in order to preserve the monuments in a decent state of, shall I say, decay, to have all the appearance of an interesting relic of a bygone age; is the Office of Works going to put up money necessary to preserve these monuments? What exactly do these inspectors do? I cannot see that it is essential in these days that they should be employed, I was recently handed a letter to the chairman of what is called an advisory committee in the West of England in connection with ecclesiastical monuments, churches, and other buildings. It was addressed from the Office of Works, and asked the name of the committee, what were its duties, of what monuments or churches it took charge, and generally it asked a great deal of information which concerned the Bishop and Chancellor of the diocese and the advisory committee, but had nothing on earth to do with the Office of Works. I think that it has been suggested that the Office of Works should take over responsibility for the upkeep of some churches, and I think that the authorities of the Church of England are satisfied that there is no necessity for the Office of Works, because these buildings are being looked after properly. Then what is the necessity for this inquisitive letter?
I am afraid that this expenditure will develop into a much larger expenditure. I take the view, which has already been put "forward, that it would be much better that such matters should be left to private enterprise, and if the country is not sufficiently interested in its ancient monuments, the country should not be expected to pay for a couple of inspectors or people engaged in preserving these monuments. I would like to see these items in these days of necessity struck out and an appeal made by the appropriate societies or individuals interested for the money that is required. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the fact that the Office of Works is responsible at present for something like £ll,000,000. So far as I can estimate, there is a sum of something like £600,000, 1375 expenditure for the staff which is engaged in carrying out this outlay of £11,000,000. The staff appears to have risen from 674 to 1,800. It may be said that this is necessary in consequence of very much extended duties which the Office of Works has taken upon itself. If that increase goes on from year to year, the Office of Works, which the right hon. Gentleman described at one time as being a happy quiet family party, which is now swollen into a very large Department, may, in the course of a few years, become an octopus which will lay its tentacles on every activity of public life from one-end of the United Kingdom to another. It is the old fallacy of the heap over again; some limit should be put. £600,000 strikes me as an enormous expenditure for a staff to carry out work which costs £11,000,000. I should like to see some definite line drawn in these Government Departments in order that it may be made plain that they are not going to swell and expand through the beneficent desires of the right hon. Gentleman. Anxious as the Office may be to preserve and improve the amenities of Government Departments and preserve ancient monuments, it should not be permitted to swell its outlay on the staff year after year.
I have always thought that one of the great objections to nationalisation is that, time being limited, there being but 24 hours in the day and 365 days in the year, it is not possible for this House to discuss the whole of the activities of the Government Departments, if Government Departments extend in the direction and at the pace at which they are extending. It may be very desirable that the Office of Works should build houses, and act as a sort of agent for housing properties, inspect ancient monuments, and do a hundred and one things which it does. But life will not be long enough, our time here will not be long enough, properly to control these activities if the process goes on indefinitely. It is the same with a great many other Government Departments. It is said that the Department has taken over 8,000 houses from the Ministry of Munitions. If 8,000, why not 80,000 I suppose it will be used as an argument that as it has proved successful with this small amount of house property, its activities in this direction should be extended. Why are not these houses sold? This is an opportune moment. 1376 Probably they could be sold now at a very suitable price. How long is the Office of Works going to practise this method of dealing with the housing problem? There will be items for the cost of collection of rents, and no doubt repairs. The work will require supervisors and architects. I do not like to see this item, because it is the sort of thing which may become a great deal bigger, and which should be cut off at the earliest moment.
I do not want to say anything about the cost of building houses, because it is very desirable that a house should be built, but more ought to be done by local effort. More should be left to local authorities in connection even with the houses built by the Office of Works. We find a superintendent architect, two assistant architects, travelling agents, measuring surveyors, and a whole hierarchy of officials who travel round the country while the great bulk of the work could be done by the local authorities, and people acting in an honorary capacity. Everything done in a Government office has to be paid for. A great many of the expenses are eventually to be recovered, we are told, from the local authorities. The local authorities object to having to pay expenditure which they cannot control. If this work were done locally I am satisfied that a portion of it would be done by local gentlemen who are interested in these matters, and would be done without expense to the State or the local authorities. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, in connection with any houses which he takes upon himself to build in future, will do everything he can to encourage the delegation of duties of this kind to local authorities who are so eminently capable of managing their own affairs, and are much more likely to become interested in them if they are encouraged to manage their own local affairs.
I want to refer to a question which perhaps does not wholly concern the Office of Works. The right hon. Gentleman said something about the necessity for finding premises for pensions officials. I do not know whether the Office of Works chooses the buildings or whether the Pensions Department does so. I rather suppose, from what he said, that the Office of Works chooses them. I deplore one particular choice which they have 1377 made, if that is so, in my own city of Bristol, which has always been ill-equipped with hotels. The Office of Works has selected a large hotel in one of the most beautiful situations in the whole city of Bristol, overlooking the famous Avon Valley and the Suspension Bridge, an hotel to which visitors to Clifton and Bristol resort. They have taken that enormous building in this magnificent position for the purpose of the officials of the Pensions Department. It is a considerable distance from the railway station, people can get up and down by using trams and omnibuses, but it deprives Bristol and Clifton of the only hotel really which there is to accommodate visitors except those right in the very business heart of the ancient business city. That is a deplorable choice, if the Office of Works were responsible for it, as I understand they were. I hardly like to encourage them to go out of it, because the innumerable young women and young men whom I see escaping from the building at five o'clock punctually every day would have to be accommodated in another building.
I hope that the Office of Works will not make a choice of that character in future. Indeed, I trust the time may come when they will not have to choose buildings in London or elsewhere to house Departments, which will then decrease in size and number rather than increase. I hope the Office of Works will return to that happy condition, to which we look back, when it was quite a family party. I am sure the country will find itself as happy and as prosperous and as well able to do without this very large Government Department as it was in the past. We are all apt to think we are indispensable and that we fulfil a function which nobody else can fulfil, and which it is difficult to think that someone did not perform in the past before we came on the scene. If, however, the Office of Works will have a little more faith in the capacity of the citizen to carry on his own business we shall be encouraged to revert to that time when it was a happy family party.
§ Mr. E. HARMSWORTH
I should like to bring the discussion back to the real point, in order that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury may reply to the various points concerning salaries which have been put to him. The point at issue is the salary of the Secretary to the Office of Works. In the higher 1378 salaries, where they get a war bonus of from £500 to £750, I think it will be practically a permanent war bonus. It will be many years before the cost of living goes back to the position in which it was in 1914. Until it goes back to a point very near that, the larger war bonuses will not decrease. The lesser ones, for the smaller civil servants with very small salaries will do so, but, so far as I can see, from a calculation, the larger ones will not. Therefore these bonuses will practically be a permanent thing. If the only thing was an increase on these war bonuses, I would have no criticism. It is obvious that in the present cost of living there must be an increase of some sort on these salaries, but what does incense me is that, besides the war bonus, which, by itself, is perfectly justifiable, there is also, just taking this one case, a very large increase of £700. Whether it is caused through assimilation or some other arrangement in the Civil Service, I do not know. In this case, the salary for the Secretary to the Office of Works rises from £1,500 to £2,200, plus the war bonus, which is not shown here. One has to find out by calculation what it is. Therefore, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) pointed out, this is really doubling the original salary of £1,500 for the Secretary. At a time like this, when we are in the midst of a crisis which intimately concerns the wages of an industry, and when it is quite obvious that all industries will have to reduce their wages, it seems a very bad example that a highly paid civil servant should have an increase of this amount. The strike we are undergoing will make the necessity for economy far greater than it even was before. The position in industry as regards money was bad enough before, but it is practically impossible to realise what it must be if we have, as it appears we shall have, this very bad strike, which, from the news we have at present, seems to be coming about at the end of the week. With this strike, which will cripple industry still further, we ought to be even more careful in regard to our expenditure. I have not calculated the exact amount that this in-crease for war bonus will come to, but it must be very large, and it has a larger influence than the mere expenditure of the amount. It has an influence on the 1379 Government and on the whole of the salaries outside the Government Nothing so infuriates the taxpayer in the country than to read in the newspapers that these highly-paid civil servants are getting enormous increases.
I would urge the hon. Gentleman, when he replies, to consider this fact, because the Committee has really had no opportunity of discussing the matter. I admit that some blame was thrown on the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who presided over a Committee which recommended the increase, but I do not think the Government should take into consideration the report of every Committee. The Government really must look at the point from the view of the taxpayer. The Committee probably looked at it purely from the point of whether they earned the extra salary. Perhaps the officials did earn the extra salary: they may have earned £5,000 a year for the excellent work that they do— I am sure they do excellent work, and I do not criticise it for a moment—but when the Government are considering these increases to civil servants, or are considering only a scheme and not an increase, they ought to keep in mind the impoverished taxpayer, who is going to be far more impoverished after the strike. The first essential, if we are going to get back to the prosperity which existed before the War, is a reduction of taxation. Therefore it is imperative that all these increases, even though they may be small, must be pointed out to the Government so that they may reduce expenditure and enable taxation to be lowered.
The right hon. Gentleman who introduced these Estimates contended that work made the Department. I might add that the Department very often makes the work. The more officials you have the more work you must have, and certainly they are more expensive in stationery and in other things they use. I would like to make one protest, and that is that there are two different Estimates presented to the House apart from other Departments. They are for Works and Public Buildings and for Stationery. In both cases the Estimates are presented to the House separately from the Departments which actually* use them and spend the money. That is to say, the stationery bills for the War Office or the Ministry of Health are not 1380 presented with their Estimates, but in one Estimate, so that you cannot tell which Ministry is being extravagant. You can merely say that the whole bill is extravagant; you cannot point to one Department and say that is spending more money than it should do. I hope if the hon. Gentleman replies, he will say whether it is not possible for the stationery bill to be included under the different Departments, so that we can trace the expenditure.
The principal point of attack on these Estimates is the cost of the salaries of the higher civil servants. I would ask for a reply that will contain proper reasons, and not the ordinary reasons that the men are worth it and that they would get more in the City or elsewhere. The country cannot afford to pay this enormous increase, which has practically doubled this salary, at a time when such a wave in favour of lesser salaries and wages is sweeping through it.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I have listened to the whole of the speeches made on these Estimates. There are six points which I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister, and on which I wish a reply from him, as to how certain monies are estimated in regard to this Vote. The first point—and perhaps the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London will listen to what I have to say on this matter, because I can certainly join issue with him on what he said—is how does the cost of the technical and clerical staff of the First Commissioner of Works in respect to the building of houses compare with the technical and clerical staff which a private builder would employ in erecting those houses? I want to make this definite statement, that the cost of the technical and clerical staff which the First Commissioner of Works employs is at least 40 per cent, more than it would be if a private contractor did the work of building these houses. That is very serious and a matter of grave concern when we consider the state of the finances of the country and the heavy burden of taxation on the working people. We were told by the Office of Works, in the White Paper they issued a few weeks ago, that they had under construction 6,700 houses. They were good enough to give to us particulars of 3,048 of these houses, showing what they would cost, and details which enabled us to calculate what were 1381 the overhead charges in regard to the technical and clerical staffs. I have very carefully made a calculation which proves to me that it will work out at 3.75 per cent. of the cost, first upon the central office of London; but on the top of this we must include a certain proportion of overhead charges for the localities in different parts of England. I have tried, with the assistance of certain expert advisers, to make an average calculation on this heading. For the country as a whole the overhead charges, over and above that which would be required by a private contractor, are no less than 6.25 per cent. I give fair warning to the Government that those of us who come from heavily taxed areas will vote against this Estimate unless we are promised definitely that there will be a reduction in these overhead charges for technical and clerical staff. We, who have a knowledge of building, can do the work and find the staff to do it efficiently, and we can deliver the goods now. I suggest to the First Commissioner of Works that he should go very carefully through the whole of his staff and see how he can eliminate any unnecessary section of it in respect of the work he has undertaken. The technical and clerical staff dealing with housing must be materially reduced and must be made of such dimensions that it will not prove a greater burden upon the taxes of the country than if the same work was in the hands of private contractors, as it should be now. It might be suggested by the Minister that at present a saving is made by the employment of this staff in London. I suggest that over and above what is required for the execution of the work locally, there is an extra connecting link of technical and clerical staff between the local authority and the authority in London, which would not be required if retrogressive local authorities were compelled to accept their full responsibilities Secondly I presume that the civil servants who have been included in this Vote and who deal particularly with the housing question will be engaged temporarily. Are they to have the right of pension? If so, have the pensions been included in the cost of the overhead charges on these building schemes? These staffs must be temporary, unless the First Commissioner of Works intends to embark on further undertakings after the housing schemes are finished. Again, what system is there for the treatment of these ser- 1382 vants? All of us who have any understanding of this kind of professional labour know that we cannot obtain the greatest efficiency and the best results, either from men or women, unless there is a definite outlook and opportunity for promotion. As far as I can see this staff must have been obtained from the professional ranks outside. I cannot see how its members can have a chance of promotion or how they can escape a cul de sac.
I notice that houses are being built in Wales, Yorkshire, Lancashire, the South of England, and all over the country. Those of us who have any knowledge of the architectural or surveying profession know that to handle bodies of men, whether they are brick-setters, or carpenters, or plumbers, or joiners, it is vital that the men of the territory in which the work is to be done should be guided and supervised by and must be chosen from the people who live in that locality. I want to know, for example, whether the men. dealing with housing in Wales have been chosen from Welsh localities. Have they full information as to the customs and trade methods in the building trades in the principality? I should like to be assured that those chosen for the task are really able to deal with the type of labour obtainable in different parts of the country. The memory of the public is very short. In this time of extreme pressure and competition ex-service men are very soon forgotten. In the staffs chosen by the Office of Works has a large and predominating proportion of the men been composed of ex-service men? I shall not be prepared to support this Vote unless I am assured that that is so. There is another point I wish particularly to emphasise. We who have studied the work of the Civil Service—I should be remiss in my duty did I not pay my tribute to the Civil Service in all its ramifications—know that in many cases after an announcement that a Department was to close, much lethargy has been displayed in the conclusion of the Department's work. Can we have a definite promise that there will be no lethargy in the work connected with the supply of houses? If I can have my six questions suitably answered I shall support the Minister, but I say definitely that economy must be practised as well as preached. We must have definite proof, first that this professional work 1383 of the Department is to be competitive with professional work utilised in private contracts; second, that the temporary civil servants shall have proper opportunities, but shall not have pension rights if they have been taken from the ranks of the professional class, and will return once again into ordinary private life; third, that there shall be adequate schemes for promotion, for it is only thus that you can get the highest efficiency; fourth, that the staffs shall be chosen from the localities in which they are to operate; fifth, that ex-service men shall be chosen rather than any other type; and sixth, that on the conclusion of the housing scheme these men shall go back into private practice and work, and shall not become a permanent incubus upon the State.
§ Mr. D. HERBERT
I trust that the late occupant of the office of First Commissioner is not trembling too much in his shoes because of the threats as to the reduction of his salary. The hon. and learned Member for Bristol (Mr. Inskip) spoke of the possibility of honorary work in connection particularly with the Department of Ancient Monuments. As an occasional student of the correspondence in the evening newspapers, it occurs to me that that Department might find a certain number of gentlemen of education and great knowledge and experience in regard to antiquities who presumably have sufficient private means to live in comfort and sufficient leisure to give up a great deal of it to the writing of letters to the newspapers, particularly on the subject of tombstones and other monuments of more or less antiquity. I do suggest that that is a Department in which a very great deal of use might be made of gentlemen who would be not only ready, but pleased, to give their services in connection with work which would be of definite interest to them, and in regard to which it is quite possible, if we were careful to avoid eccentrics, we might have very valuable assistance, assistance far more valuable than that which is paid for by the comparatively low salaries which, in these days, the Government feel bound to give to the Inspectors of Ancient Monuments.
To pass from suggestion to inquiry, I would like some information in regard to the work of the rebuilding of Regent-street. There have been, I believe, a number of questions asked in the House from 1384 time to time in regard to that. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with it, but the rebuilding of Regent-street is a thing of much interest to Londoners and to others who care for London very much indeed. It is also of interest to the business world in London, in regard to the terms which are being made by the Office of Works with their lessees. It would be interesting to know whether and to what extent the Office of Works has found any difficulty in arranging building agreements at the prices offered. The Office of Works must necessarily obtain the best prices it can get, but my experience is that in some cases firms of large standing who have been in Regent-street for a great number of years, and have always contemplated a new building agreement there, have felt that the expense was one which they could not undertake. I hope it may not be the case that the Office of Works, by maintaining the very large rents, in some cases are perhaps losing tenants and in other cases are finding difficulty in obtaining tenants or lessees who will undertake the building agreements; because it would surely be bad business for the Office of Works if they got a considerable part of Regent-street rebuilt and then found it practically impossible to obtain building agreements for the other portion of the street, or if they had to enter into those building agreements on much less profitable terms than those which were first granted.
On turning to the Estimates I notice there is an item "Appropriations-in-Aid," but I do not then find a reference, which I rather expected to discover, to the fees which are charged by the Office of Works, or some of the officials, in connection with work done in relation to Crown property. One could not do otherwise than imagine that there are very considerable sums received by the Office of Works in that way, and I would like to hear what the amount is and where it can be found in the Estimates. There has been a great deal of discussion about architects. I question whether the Office of Works is pursuing the most economical course. I am not going over the ground touched upon by previous speakers, but I think I am right in saying that certain architects and surveyors who are employed by the Office of Works, and are presumably well paid for what they do, are not merely 1385 allowed to do other work, but because of the work which they do for the Office of Works, and with the full permission of that Office, are put into such a position that business drops into their mouths like ripe plums, and they get business from other quarters and perhaps from persons entering into building agreements with the Office of Works which brings them in very large fees indeed.
§ Sir A. MOND
Is the hon. Gentleman referring to the members of the staff on salary in the Office of Works?
§ Mr. HERBERT
No. I was referring to architects or surveyors in private practice who are employed by the Office of Works. I am not making allegations against anybody, but what I say is that architects and surveyors and lawyers also, may do work through which, from other employers, they earn more money; and thus, by reason of the work which they are doing for the Office of Works, they are afforded an opportunity of making large profits in other directions. I do not think that it is unfair, particularly in these days, to take these things into consideration, and I hold that a Government Department, when it is fixing the remuneration of people it employs in that way, should bear these things in mind. How far I am right in suggesting that a great deal might be done in that way I do not know, but it is a matter which might be considered by the Department in the future with a view to reducing to some extent one item of public expenditure. I do not know whether it is permissible to discuss another matter on this Estimate, but I want to draw attention to the extension of the sphere of action of the Office of Works with regard to ancient monuments. From what has been said it would appear that the feeling of the House is against making the Department of the Office of Works a veritable octopus. But I venture to think that the very good work which is done by that Department in regard to the preservation of ancient monuments is hampered very much by the limitations as to the scope of action, and if that could be increased it would perhaps be able to pay attention to ancient monuments which are at present outside the purview of the Office, and the preservation of which is at least as important as some of those which do come within the scope of the Office at the present time.
I wish to make some remarks about that branch of the Department which deals with ancient monuments. I do not agree with some of the criticisms made this afternoon. I say this branch of the Department has done most excellent work. I do not think the protection of ancient monuments should be left to voluntary effort, because some of the most ancient monuments, and some of the most interesting, are situated in very poor localities where there is no rich man who will take it upon himself to see that they are kept in proper repair and protected from the depredations of those who are so anxious to carry away relics of this kind. In my own constituency we have some very interesting monuments which show that we were in a state of civilisation when the rest of the country was in a condition of barbarism. But it is a poor locality, and therefore I suggest that this branch of the activities of the Office of Works should not be handed over to voluntary organisations, which might overlook monuments in poor parts of the land. I come next to the question of the rebuilding of Regent Street. I am not particularly acquainted with that subject, but I have some questions to ask with regard to the falling in of leases. I suggested on one occasion that the best way of dealing with this question was that laid down by the Prime Minister in his speech at Limehouse, and I urge that the principle the right hon. Gentleman then advocated should be applied to leases falling in at the present time, because, if they were so applied I do not think people would be as dissatisfied as they appear to be.
I want particularly to draw attention to a comparatively small point. I have heard praise bestowed on the administration of the right hon. Gentleman who was lately at the head of the Office of Works. But there is one dark spot in that administration. It may be somewhat microscopic, but it has regard to the temporary buildings of the Ministry of Pensions at Cheltenham Terrace. The surroundings of these offices are really an eyesore to any person whose business takes him there. It is an important part of London, it is the part which has an artistic atmosphere, and I do think there should be some reasonable care exercised to prevent such an eyesore existing. In the ground occupied there and surrounded by 1387 temporary buildings last summer the place was a howling wilderness. It is a piece of excellent land that might easily be used as allotments, but it was overgrown with the finest crop of thistles I ever saw in my life. The Minister of Pensions is a good Highlander, and it is a nice thing on the part of the Office of Works to pay a compliment to the right hon. Gentleman by having some thistles in connection with the Ministry of Pensions buildings, but you can get too much of a good thing, and really that ground was simply a forest of thistles, and I see evidence that we are going to have just as big a crop this year. Every outgoing tenant is supposed to leave the premises in a tidy way, and now I have brought this little blot to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, I have no doubt he will drop a hint in the ear of his successor to employ one or two of the unemployed to turn up this ground and to sow something in it—potatoes, or cabbages, or something of that sort, or even flowers. I think the right hon. Gentleman might find much better use for the ground and yet cost the State hardly a penny.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Lieut.-Commander Hilton Young)
In view of the course that a certain part of the Debate has taken, the Committee will not unnaturally expect, and feel itself entitled, to have some effort at least at a reply from me upon those aspects of this question which relate, in particular, to salaries and bonuses. In the first place, these criticisms have centred, in particular, around the salary which appears on the Estimates for the principal Secretary of the Office of Works, and it is to that that I should like to direct my attention, but I should wish to attempt to remove an impression which I think may unfortunately be conveyed by the speech of the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harmsworth), that what he has selected as this particular increase in the base line of salary is in the least typical of other cases in the rest of the service of the Department. That, of course, is not so. It is a particular case due to the special recommendations of a Committee presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and to which I shall have to 1388 make a very brief reference. The question was asked by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) as to whether the bonus which appears, of course, on the Estimates this year in respect of that salary was also paid last year. The answer to that question is: Yes, the bonus was paid last year, and runs on on the normal basis.
In general, on that matter of the bonus and the large salary, let me seek to remove what I have found on previous occasions to be a current misconception. It is a misconception one might almost say of a gross nature, and that is that the bonus paid is to the extent of 130 per cent. in all cases of the salary. Of course, the most careless inquirer is well acquainted with the circumstance that it is not so. The bonus starts on the lowest scale of salary, the salary which may be said to be near to the industrial level, on the basis of 130 per cent.; but, as Members are no doubt aware, though some outside perhaps may not be so well aware, that basis of 130 per cent. is very rapidly reduced to as low a level as 45 per cent. on the base line of salary in the case of the larger salaries. Here let me point out this circumstance in connection with the bonus scheme, because it sometimes escapes observation. It may be contended that taking the figure as a basis for calculation of 130 per cent. does actually amount to something in the nature of a term of the bargain, which is by no means bad from the point of view of the taxpayer and of the State, because that is not as high as the present actual figure of the retail index figure of the rise in the cost of living, and, as it has been no doubt observed by those who have carefully studied the Estimates from this aspect this year, it has been thought prudent to estimate the amount to be allowed for war bonus in the course of the year upon the figure of 140 per cent., so that in this circumstance of the fixing of the base figure for the calculation at 130 per cent. there is undoubtedly an advantage to the Exchequer, though it is equally not open to doubt that that advantage is set off by other circumstances on the other side in the working out of the scheme of bonuses which are not so advantageous in the interests of the Exchequer.
Let me take the point which was taken earlier in the Debate, I believe, by the 1389 right hon. Baronet the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) and also by the hon. Member for Thanet. As I understand their argument, it is this, that owing to the circumstance that the maximum is fixed upon a bonus payable on these high salaries, the reduction in the bonus, which will come with the fall in the price of living, which we all hope and expect to see does not come into operation so as to reduce the total salary paid until there has been a very substantial reduction in that price of living. That contention, if I have rightly understood it, is no doubt, as I have put it, an accurate contention. It is so, that owing to the fixing of the maximum there will be no reduction in the total salary paid in the case of some of the higher salaries until there has been a very substantial fall in the cost of living. That is a part of the general balance of the bonus scheme, but I think it would be unfair to lay stress on that without looking at what it is that keeps the balance on the other side, which is the fixing of the maximum. The initial arrangement is the 45 per cent. on the total salary over the minimum, and then the weight is put in against the recipient of the salary of imposing the maximum in order to prevent him getting what would otherwise be the full benefit of the scheme, and thus preserving the interests of the Exchequer. That being so, obviously you have a counterpoise. You have the maximum, and in compensation for that he has this circumstance, that there must undoubtedly be a substantial fall in the cost of living, as shown by the index number of the Board of Trade, before there is an actual reduction in the amount of his globular salary for the year.
Having attempted to remove, and I trust succeeded in removing, what I believe to be a very current misapprehension on that point, let me direct myself rather more closely to the argument which was strongly advanced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. There again let me make it very clear that in dealing with his contention we are dealing with a very limited area of the increase of salary. He has pointed to the single increase in the salary of the principal permanent official of the Office of Works. Let us be quite clear that this increase is not widespread over large classes of officials, but is confined to very few, to those, in fact, enumerated in the 1390 very weighty report made upon this subject by the right hon. Member for Paisley. As regards that report, before coming to the arguments directed by the right hon. Gentleman, let me point out that, in addition to the right hon. Member for Paisley, upon that Committee there were sitting two other Members, and the only two other Members of the Committee, who are themselves gentlemen of the greatest experience, entitled to the utmost weight in all matters of business organisation in what might be called the spheres of the larger forms of business, so that in some of the considerations which I have to take it is not to be expected that a Committee so composed would not have been able to hold a just proportion between salaries paid in Government service and salaries paid in business circles. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman really amounts to this, as I appreciate it, that it is unnecessary to increase the salaries of these high permanent officials in order to keep them in touch with the general scale of what might be called the labour market in this particular sphere. As the Committee may well suppose, it is not a point of view which I am likely to advance with what might be described as any strong inclination to argue in favour of the increase of salaries which are a charge upon the Exchequer—very far indeed from it. The natural inclinations and predispositions which must affect anybody who stands in my place are very much the reverse, but it is to be admitted that, taking a wider outlook and viewing this matter in a reasonable light, the contentions advanced by the Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for Paisley are scarcely open to any successful answer. I think the right hon. Baronet very greatly underestimated the enormous increase there has been in the scale of remuneration in the City and in circles of what is commonly called big business. Although I am far less entitled to speak with any authority on the subject, I was nevertheless somewhat surprised to hear him describe the scale of remuneration which could be commanded by men of leading ability at the present time in the world of finance. Salaries very greatly in excess of the level of £2,000 a year that he mentioned are, I believe, very much more common now in those circles than some of his 1391 observations would have led the Committee to suppose. Indeed, a scale of remuneration more approaching the £10,000 level than the £1,000 level is the sort of scale with which you have to reckon when you are dealing with men of leading ability. I do not mean to say that £10,000 salary is a common thing in the City; certainly it is not, but it is very much commoner than it was before the War. Whereas before the War, it may be said to have been a rarity, at the present time it is by no means a rarity. Let us look, then, at the position in which the State is as regards the men to fill the most responsible, the most arduous and the most important places in the Civil Service. I would like to direct particular attention to the circumstances that you are dealing here with what may very well be termed the prizes of the profession—those fruits, as it were, which are found at the top of the tree, only for those whose abilities enable them to climb to that summit. You have got to think of the frame of mind of the young man who is contemplating going into the Civil Service, who has confidence in himself, believes himself to be the sort of man that possibly may not unfairly hope to attain a station in his profession. What he will naturally think about is what is the best he can hope to gain by way of reward in the service which he contemplates.
It is a very just argument that, in order to be able to tempt into this service, or any other, the very finest brains, you must give some special attention to the particular prizes to be gained at the head of a profession. Of course, it does not at all follow that you ought not to maintain a very careful balance between the degree of reward which you hold out to those seeking entry into this particular service and any other service. Anybody who will regard the groups on which the recommendations are based, will find that that is exactly what has been most carefully considered by the right hon. Gentleman and his extremely authoritative colleagues upon that Committee. It will be found that the principle reason on which they base their recommendations for these advances is the comparison between the rewards at the head of the Civil Service, and these three callings—the commercial and professional worker, the fighting services, 1392 and the remuneration for technical officers. The conclusion to which I believe any impartial observer must come is that, even although his point of view is necessarily that of approaching any increase in salaries—I will not say in a hostile spirit, but in a spirit of the most vigilant criticism—yet here so strong a case does exist for the actual increases in question that there is no possibility, in the interests of the service itself and the maintenance of the public service, at the high state of efficiency to which the nation is entitled, of rejecting that particular claim. I believe that that was referred to as "a certain amount of hostile criticism" which the proposal had excited, both within this House and outside, is due very largely to what, I think, also entered in some small degree into the manner in which the matter was approached by the hon. Member for Thanet, and that is, for not carefully limiting the field of criticism to the very few appointments in which the two has been increased, and, perhaps, a not very perfect apprehension of exactly how the bonus scheme does work in this matter.
May I make a single reference to a matter of very great interest, which was raised—and, I imagine, rather raised for my benefit—by the hon. Member for Thanet? It is a matter which, I think, very frequently turns up in these discussions both on the Office of Works Vote and on the Vote for the Stationery Department. It is the unfortunate indirect responsibility for expenditure by those two Departments. That is a matter which is always likely to cause a certain amount of lack of cohesion in the perfect working, as it were, of the constitutional machine as regards those two Departments. One Department spends the money, and the other Department—that presided over by my right hon. Friend—has to accept responsibility for the expenditure, although it may not itself be responsible for the policy to which the expenditure is directed. It is, perhaps, in the nature of the case, and I will express myself, if I may do so becomingly, in agreement with the criticism which has been advanced, that that is a direction in which the wheel of the constitutional machinery of finance requires much vigilance.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
I wish to repudiate altogether the pernicious doctrine that a 1393 mere comparison of Civil Service salaries with the salaries paid in the higher positions of the business world in any way is justified in considering this matter. The hon. and gallant Gentleman entirely ignored the very great difference in position, and the many amenities that accrue from service in the Civil Service. It really cannot be the standard by which we approach this matter, to consider the position of the Civil Service merely from the point of view of the monetary remuneration. The State can never compete with the big business, especially in these days. The State must rely upon the attraction which public service always presents to men of ability and ambition. The young man whom my hon. and gallant Friend describes as preparing for a career in the Civil Service, or in any walk of public life, would not be actuated by considerations of the salary which he was likely to attain, but rather, one hopes, by thoughts of the influence he might ultimately possess in conducting the affairs of his country, and perhaps by some idea as to the prestige and influence which always attach to a high position in the Civil Service. We cannot judge this matter purely from the standpoint of a comparison with the salaries of business men. But it really does impress me, at this moment of all others, as a most disastrous policy, and a policy which is incalculable in its moral effect upon the country, to come down to this House with an Estimate that proposes, virtually, to double the salaries of highly-paid civil servants at a moment when you are asking the mining community, men who live by the daily toil of their hands, to accept a reduction in wages which, in many cases, compared with figures with which we are confronted, amounts to a margin very little, if at all, above the subsistence level.
It is not a matter of effecting a petty economy. The danger of this situation does not merely lie in a few hundreds extra that we vote to these men. It lies in the psychological effect produced on the minds of a vast number of workers of this country at a moment when there is a demand for a reduction of wages, in many cases to a low standard of life. It has always been a principle of the Government, and a principle which I, for my part, deplore, that the one class of the community which is sheltered from the effect of present-day conditions is that 1394 very class which is largely responsible for those conditions by their excessive expenditure of the public money. It always impresses me as being highly unbecoming that it should be the very last class in the community to feel the economic effects for which they are, in a certain degree, responsible. But I do protest, with whatever strength I can command, against doubling the salaries at this particular moment of highly paid civil servants, and raising the salaries of many of the subordinates. As I have said, it is not a question of the money involved. It is a question of the moral effect, and I urge upon the Government that they are very ill-advised at this particular moment to persist in a proposal to raise these salaries to the point proposed in these Estimates.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ It being a quarter past Eight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.