Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £42,589 (including a Supplementary sum of £6,050), 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 Salary of the Minister without portfolio, and Salaries and Expenses of the Cabinet Offices and of the Committee of Imperial Defence, including the cost of preparation of War Histories."—[Note.— £25,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)
Perhaps hon. and right hon. Members will allow me to apologise for my inability to answer questions to-day, but I felt sure that they would permit me, as the head of the Government, to greet their Majesties on their return from their very successful mission in Ireland. Never has the Throne rendered greater or finer service to the Empire, and I am sure we shall all felicitate them on the triumphant success of their visit. I may state that both the King and the Queen are very delighted with the wonderful and enthusiastic reception which they received from all classes in the North of Ireland.
I rise to move the Motion which was read from the Chair. Let me say at the outset that, when the Government came to the conclusion, after some reflection, that it was necessary for some time to continue the post of Minister without Portfolio, I need hardly say it was done from no profligate desire to squander the taxpayers' money. It was because we felt that it was impossible efficiently to discharge the very varied and burdensome duties which are cast upon Ministers in these days without having that measure of assistance at least. We fully realise that when a Vote of this kind is challenged, it is easy to excite prejudice 1594 in a community which is naturally very anxious about its heavy burdens. The burdens are colossal, and whatever anyone may say about the conduct of the Government, and whatever proposals may be put forward, owing to the fact that we have a gigantic National Debt, and that the cost of everything has gone up, the burden must necessarily be a heavy one. Therefore, whenever any item of this kind is singled out, especially when it involves the salary of any individual, whether a Minister or an official, it is very easy in a community so crushed with burdens to excite a good deal of prejudice and hostility. We fully realise that, and knowing it, the Government certainly would not have undertaken the responsibility of continuing the office up to the present had it not been that they felt it was quite impossible to discharge the duties which are cast upon them without getting that assistance, at any rate for some time. We know perfectly well that when there are great issues shaking the country, those issues are very apt to be fought out on small incidents. That is a historical truth — something which appears insignificant, as £5,000 of course is, to the enormous burden of the expenditure. We also know that in the past— and it will be just the same in the future—-when the struggle comes, it is apt to break out upon a very small and comparatively insignificant incident. This is the only question which I am perfectly certain the House of Commons will decide—the House of Commons will, I am sure, rise above any question of personal prejudice, and act worthily of its great traditions in that respect, and examine the proposition upon the only grounds upon which it can either be justified or attacked, namely, whether we were right in coming to the conclusion that, under present conditions, it was necessary that there should be a Minister of this kind.
It is no use quoting pre-War times. These are not pre-War times. The country has not returned to normal. Whatever any Government may do, it would not return to normal immediately, and it would not have returned to normal whatever anyone could have done. There is no country in the world that has returned to normal conditions. I wonder whether Members realise the strain there is upon Ministers in these days. I have been a Member of four Administrations, 1595 two of them before the War. There are Members of the present Administration who have had longer experience than I have, and, without exception, they all tell me that there has never been anything to compare with the work which is cast upon Ministers, or with the magnitude or anxiety of the work which they have to discharge. In the old days —good old days—there used to be one Cabinet a week. It is true of every Government. I am not referring merely to the Government of which I am a Member. I made inquiries about the previous Governments, and there was just about one Cabinet a week on an average; there was a long vacation; there were, of course, meetings of Ministers to confer on matters of inter-departmental importance; and there were occasionally Cabinet committees, but there was nothing which is comparable to the present time.
There have been this year 52 Cabinet meetings, a large number of meetings of Ministers, conferences upon matters affecting their Departments, 119 meetings of Cabinet committees; there have been over 80 sittings of the Supreme Council; and, if the Committee will take the meetings which have been held of all kinds at which Ministers are involved, there are something like 290 meetings for 134 working days. There was never anything comparable to that in the pre-War period. In addition Ministers have to discharge their Departmental functions; they work longer, they work later, and they work earlier; and I venture to say that we have to work harder. I am not putting that in disparagement of our predecessors, or of ourselves in pre-War days, but the necessity is upon us, and we have to do it. In those circumstances, it is idle to compare pre-War periods with present conditions.
In France, since the present Government came into power here in this country, there have been seven Cabinets, and there have been five in Italy. They are rarely the same men. There are no men in Europe who have had the same continual strain, and I want the House to bear all this in mind. We, therefore, have had to resort to the expedient of calling in during the War three or four Ministers without Portfolios. The War Cabinet consisted of men without Portfolios, and why? It was because it was discovered that men who had got great departmental 1596 duties to discharge could not possibly supervise the general direction of the War. After the War, we had to keep one Minister without Portfolio. There was first of all my right hon. Friend the Member for the Gorbals Division of Glasgow (Mr. G. Barnes). He very largely devoted himself to inter-departmental questions which affected the industrial situation. As the Committee will readily realise, there are many questions which belong to three, four, five, or six Departments, and it was found necessary to have a Minister, who had no departmental responsibility and no departmental bias, to coordinate the various activities. He worked hard; he worked so hard that he had a serious breakdown. No Minister with a Department worked harder than the Minister without Portfolio. He was succeeded by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans). He was Chairman and member of a very large number of committees, but in the main he devoted his activities to the settlement of questions relating to the German indemnity, to questions associated with Home Rule —especially the financial side of it—and to questions affecting unemployment. No Minister worked harder than he did in connection with these questions or more successfully.
I say without any hesitation that it would have been quite impossible for the Government to have discharged its obligations and its responsibilities to Parliament and to the country had we not had at our disposal a Minister of that kind, who could devote his mind exclusively to questions of this character. Then my right hon. Friend (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) was made Secretary for War, and we weighed very carefully the desirability of bringing the Ministry without Portfolio to an end. I can assure the Committee that we should have done so had we not found that under the conditions which then existed it was quite impossible for the Cabinet to discharge its functions without having the assistance of a Minister who was free from departmental responsibility, and who could devote his time to five or six questions which were then weighing with the public, with Parliament, and with the Government itself.
There has been a good deal of talk about bureaucracy. The country is naturally 1597 very suspicious of anything in the nature of bureaucratic Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—and rightly so. I am not in the least reflecting upon the very able, painstaking, and conscientious men who constitute the bureaucracy of this country. I do not believe there is a finer, an abler, or a more honest body of men in the world than the British Civil Service. At the same time, their minds are naturally concentrated upon their Departments, each upon the task of his Department. Their whole lives are devoted to thinking out the problems of their Department. In these circumstances, there is always a natural disposition to exaggerate those tasks, and not to bear in mind the relation of the departmental demand to the total demands upon the energies and resources of the country. That is, of course, one of the tendencies of the bureaucracy which ought to be checked and guarded against. They are not in touch with public opinion. They are not in touch with Parliament. There are only two checks upon the activities of the bureaucracy, one of which is Parliament. The bureaucracy is not in touch with Parliament. The only real check upon bureaucracy is the political Minister who is in touch with Parliament and with public opinion. The over-burdened Minister means a Minister who has not got the necessary time to look after the whole of these problems, and the bureaucratic spirit, disposition and policy obtains an ascendency which they otherwise would not get. I ask the Committee to remember that they might very well save £5,000, and in the act of saving £5,000, might lose £100,000. Because the Minister knows that he has to face the House of Commons. The House of Commons knows it has got to face the taxpayer. Therefore, when the Minister comes to examine projects which and put in front of him, he does it with the full knowledge of what is the public temperament and the public disposition.
The Government came to the conclusion that, for the time being—I will come to the question of time later—for the time being, it would be quite impossible to carry on the tasks of Government without having, at any rate for a short period, a Minister without Portfolio. My right hon. Friend the present Minister without Portfolio — [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—I shall have a word to say about him personally later—is Chairman of four important Cabinet Committees, 1598 two of them discharging tasks which Parliament forced upon the Government —one of them a most important and complicated one, as I happen to know by experience in the past, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I refer to that which deals with local taxation. Parliament pressed it upon the Government, and insisted upon our examining the whole of that question. My right hon. Friend is Chairman of that Committee. It is all very well for my hon. and learned Friend opposite to smile—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I can assure the Committee that this is one of the most complicated tasks that any Minister could have. I have been through it many times in the past. It is a most baffling task, and one of the most necessary. There are two or three other Committees, connected with unemployment and other questions. The right hon. Gentleman is also a Member of six other Committees. If the Government were at this moment deprived of the services of the Minister without Portfolio I do not know what other Minister would find time to deal with these matters. I do not know any one who would have time to devote to them. Therefore, until these tasks are discharged, I do not see how it is possible for the Government to take the responsibility of informing the House of Commons that it is prepared to dispense with the services of the Minister without Portfolio.
During the present Session—at this moment—there are very great questions which are engaging the attention of Ministers. There is the great industrial struggle, probably the greatest we have ever witnessed. There is that very important Conference sitting almost daily in Downing Street, one of the most important Imperial Conferences that the Empire has ever witnessed. I hope it will achieve very great and beneficent results. There are questions arising out of the German and Turkish Treaties. There is the very anxious problem of unemployment. These, I agree, are temporary questions. I hope this industrial conflict —I do not want to say a word which would excite any unfair hopes, but I hope it is passing away. The Imperial Conference will be over shortly. I am very 1599 hopeful that the problems arising out of the German and Turkish situation will be liquidated in the course of a very short time. There are certain symptoms which I have observed, and from certain facts which have been brought to my attention, I am very hopeful that the condition of trade, the present distressing condition, is merely a temporary one, and that we shall in a very short time see a very substantial improvement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Certainly I am very hopeful of that happening.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is the information which I get from reliable sources. During the present Session of Parliament, when Ministers have all the responsibility and anxieties, it would be quite impossible to dispense with the services of a Minister who is taking off our shoulders the consideration of five or six very important problems, for which no other Minister at the present moment could be spared.
I come to the question of time. I have always stated to the Committee that we only regarded this appointment as a temporary one. I do not mean to say that no Government will ever summon a Minister without Portfolio to their assistance. That would be binding our successors as well as myself in a way that I am perfectly certain no House of Commons would ever ask a Minister to commit himself. I am now solely on the question of a sum of money for this particular purpose. I shall invite the House of Commons to-day to vote only a sum of money that will enable us to retain and pay for the services of the Minister without Portfolio until the end of the present Session. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear! hear!" and cries of "Saved! saved!"] I am very glad to see how hon. Members like that.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
My hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) has a Motion on the Paper to reduce the sum, I think, by £2,000. That is not quite enough. If I might respectfully suggest to him, instead of moving a reduction of £2,000, he should move a reduction of £2,500. I could vote for that. Otherwise it might be my painful duty to go into the Lobby against him.
1600 Let me now say a word about my right bon. Friend (Dr. Addison). I am perfectly certain that the vast majority of Members of the House are not moved by any feelings of prejudice against him. I know that his unfortunate interest in health has excited a good deal of prejudice. He was rather too anxious to build houses! But let me say this about my right hon. Friend. The House, I I know, is a generous Assembly—I know that well—and it will bear in mind that the activities of my right hon. Friend in relation to housing came at the worst time for any Minister. Labour and material were more expensive than they had ever been, and more difficult to procure. All that has to be borne in mind. I am going to say more than that. I am here to make a defence. I think this Minister has been very unfairly assailed. I should like to say another word about my right hon. Friend. I have had experience of him when he was my Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Munitions. There has been a great deal of hunting for little expenditure here and there for which he has been responsible, but I have not seen a word of generous recognition of what he did to cut down expenditure when he was Under-Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions. I do not know whether the House of Commons is aware that he was mainly responsible for the great system of costings which reduced—I have this upon the authority of the accountants who investigated it—the cost of the provision of munitions, first at the Ministry of Munitions, and afterwards at the Admiralty and the War Office, by hundreds of millions. And now when there is an attack made upon him in the interests of economy I am bound to say—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am going to give the House of Commons the facts. When he became Under-Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions, we set up national Factories, and we discovered what a shell cost. The first thing the right hon. Gentleman discovered was that the contract prices of the War Office which we took over—[Interruption]—I am entitled to make this statement, and I propose to make it—the contract price paid for shells was 22s. 6d. per 18-pounder. My right hon. Friend found that it could be done at nearly half the cost.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Our 4.5 shells were costing 54s., and he found that they could be produced for 29s. Six-inch shells were costing 92s. as the War Office price, but he found that they could be produced at 63s. Eight-inch shells were costing 190s., and he found that they could be produced at 170s. The first thing my right hon. Friend did was to insist upon new contracts being entered into. The old War Office prices were broken, new prices were set up, and the saving on shells alone, as a result of that breaking of the prices by this costings system, was £90,000,000. I will carry it a little further. The same system of costings for which my right hon. Friend was responsible—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
If I may say so, my Noble Friend is not an ungenerous man, and when somebody renders a service to the State, I think he would be the first to acknowledge that if there be a great service rendered to the State, this is the place to recognise it. The system of costings was applied to every other expenditure, with the result that there was a reduction of hundreds of millions. And now when my right hon. Friend spends money upon health problems—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It may be that the nation at the moment cannot afford it, but it must not be forgotten that, by his services in saving scores and hundreds of millions during the War, he rendered a real service to economy. I know perfectly well how difficult it is for hon. Members of the House of Commons to face a question of this kind, which excites prejudice out of all proportion to its real value. They go down to a constituency, and are told, "You have voted for £100 a week for such and such a Minister. You voted for a Minister who spends money on health problems." That is a difficult thing to come down here and face, but this is the House of Commons. 1602 It is the greatest assembly in the world. This is the greatest tribunal in the world, and I ask the House of Commons to rise above any prejudices and fears, and not to be intimidated.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am not. I ask them not to be intimidated by anyone who says "You voted for this." The House of Commons must dare to do all that is right.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It does not lie well in the mouths of people who spend fortunes on their own health to hunt down men who are engaged in bettering the health of the people. My right hon. Friend has rendered great service.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
He has done his best. When you come to a question whether there should be a Minister without Portfolio, let us consider it on its merits. I submit to my fellow Members in this House that at the present moment no Ministry could dispense with such an officer. I do not care what Ministry came here now, it would find it impossible to do without a Minister free from Departmental care, or to get through the work of the Session, without having the assistance of a Minister of this kind. I ask the House to support the Government in retaining the services of such a Minister to the end of the Session. We have never treated it as anything but a purely temporary appointment. We consider it necessary to the end of the Session, and I ask the House, as a question of confidence in the Government, to enable us to retain the services of this Minister until the end of the Session.
I beg to move that sub-head AA (Salary of Minister without Portfolio) be reduced by £2,500.
The Prime Minister has shown great skill in meeting a case which he had not even heard, and now for the first time the House has been informed as to what are the duties of the Minister without Portfolio. I think it is regrettable that the Leader of the House made such a mystery of it upon a recent occasion. I agree that the Prime Minister has -made a very considerable concession to those of 1603 us who object to this Vote, and I am sure he will have gone far by what he has said to satisfy us in this respect. We have always a full House when the Prime Minister speaks, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that in spite of what has been said in certain quarters of the Press, it is not only when they are voting their own salaries that Members of the House of Commons turn up on these financial matters, and it is very remarkable that on this occasion so much interest has been attracted.
No one who has taken action on this Vote has for a moment wished to suggest that the Prime Minister should be dictated to in the choice of his colleagues provided that he selects those colleagues in accordance with the ordinary methods of the British constitution, but the revival of the appointment of a Minister without Portfolio that had lapsed was of far-reaching importance as an outward and visible sign of the continunce of War methods of Government. I am sure the House sympathises with what the Prime Minister said about the appalling burden which he and the Cabinet as a whole nowadays have to bear. It is very difficult for us to judge of the detailed machinery of Government. We recognise that Cabinet responsibility, in the old sense, had to go to a great extent during the War, and I am sure anyone who criticises the Prime Minister will recognise that the business of the country could not be done during War time through ordinary channels, and departmental Ministers could not even read their own papers, far less find the necessary time to make themselves acquainted with matters of general importance. For that reason a small Cabinet free from the burden of administration was necessary, and although there were at that time three offices which were sinecures from the point of view of administrative work during that temporary emergency it was reasonable to have an extra Minister.
The Prime Minister tells us that it is idle to compare our present conditions with those which existed before the War. That is where a great many of us venture to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. We feel that it is high time to go back to the old method. We feel that it is not a sufficient answer for the right hon. Gentleman to say that you must have a 1604 watchdog going round these Departments. We feel that the old and tried method of departmental responsibility is a sound one, and the sooner we get back to it the better. We cannot afford this flood of bureaucracy, and it seems to me that we must not go on straining our own machinery to suit the continuance in office of War control officers; but we must cut down these War excrescences to fit in with the old framework of Parliamentary and Cabinet control.
5.0 P. M.
The appointment of a Minister without Portfolio, rightly or wrongly, has been looked upon as an indication that the Government did not yet adequately recognise how deeply the country feels as to the necessity of retrenchment in personnel from the Government right down to the smallest official. It has also been realised by a great many of us that it was a great disadvantage during the War that such a large number of Members were receiving salaries as Members of the Government, and therefore lost their Parliamentary independence. The Minister without Portfolio is most objectionable as a permanency, because he is free from the old constitutional check of having to go before the electors when appointed to an office, which, as everybody knows, is a most valuable safeguard against the old evil of placemen. I need not go into that. It is familiar to the Committee how Parliament struggled for years to free itself from the heavy hand of self-interest in that respect. That danger still exists in other countries. Recently in a native State they came to the Prime Minister, who happened to be a European, and said that remuneration must be provided for the wet-nurse of the ruling prince's illegitimate children. They said that the monthly grant should be made of 4 rupees together with 7 rupees for her lodging and keep. The Prime Minister said, "We can run to that—11 rupees a month." They replied, "Oh, but her husband must have it, too." He said, "All right. We can run to 22 rupees a month, but how long is this to go on for?" "Oh, sir," they replied, "you must surely realise that such recognition is never given for less than seven generations." In the East that sort of thing does not matter, because the wet-nurse I will not really function for seven 1605 generations. The Minister without Portfolio has acted as foster-mother to certain indiscretions of the Prime Minister in his recent office, and it filled a great many of us with great disquiet to feel he apparently was about to start a farm for taking in the worst favoured progeny of the whole of the Treasury Bench.
I should have been very glad to have confined the whole of this matter to the question of principle. That certainly was my idea when I put down the reduction, but the Minister without Portfolio himself has gone out of his way in the Press to impute personal motives in connection with this matter, and the Prime Minister, in the speech to which we have just listened—a very fair speech; I do not at all complain of his line—did devote a great deal of it to the defence of the man rather than of the policy. It was said by the Minister without Portfolio in the Press that these attacks were made upon him because he was a Liberal. I believe there is absolutely no foundation for that. I did not know, and I think most of us did not know, what the position was until I looked it up, and I think such a suggestion is neither wise nor generous coming from a Minister whose particular party occupy 11 Cabinet offices as against seven held by the other wing of the Coalition, and this in spite of the fact that they only muster about a quarter of the Government majority in the Lobby. I think the Coalition most willingly acquiesced in this arrangement, but though the previous political complexion of Ministers before they joined the Coalition Government has little to do with their fitness at the present time, we are all of us deeply concerned by their actions, since they have held office. In this connection I venture to quote what Mr. Disraeli said in a Debate which led to the fall of another Coalition Government. He said:There is no stain upon the character of public men or inconvenience to the public service in statesmen, however they may have at one time differed, if they feel themselves justified in so doing, acting together in public life. All that the country requires of public men when they do so act together is that upon all great questions they should entertain the same views, that in subjects of policy, whether foreign or domestic, they should be animated by the same convictions and the same sympathies.I say it is a perfectly legitimate action on the part of the supporters of the 1606 Government carefully to scrutinise Ministers' actions and records, not from any personal bias, but especially when they are signalled out, as in this case, to act as a Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. It is idle to pretend, now that this personal question has been raised, that the activities of the Minister without Portfolio in other Government offices have not occasioned a great deal of mistrust which has been quickened by the fear that his bureaucratic methods would get greater scope in his new position. On his record in this respect it is very difficult to understand, as I think the Prime Minister suggested this afternoon, that he has been appointed to this post with a view to cutting down bureaucracy in other Departments. It may be that in this case the Minister without Portfolio is less responsible than some of us have been led to think by his record in his previous offices, and I see he has defended himself on the ground that his activities went in no way beyond the pledges of the Government. That may be. At the General Election we heard a lot about "a land fit for heroes to live in" when we were all very lucky to have a country to call our own—
—and when people, with very little thought of the past, might have recognised we should have to devote our energy for a great many years to come to get back to the condition we enjoyed before the War. I say it is very unfortunate that the Minister without Portfolio was so slow to realise that the War had not changed the laws of economy and public finance. Justly or unjustly, his Departmental activities, especially at the Ministry of Health, have become identified in the public mind with the blight of bureaucracy and interference in the extremest form, and it is viewed with consternation that this bureaucratic blight which is associated with him may be communicated to the general activities of the Government. It is for this reason as a test question, that I felt bound to put down a reduction, but in view of what the Prime Minister has said, I beg to move a reduction for a rather different figure.
§ Mr. HODGE
It was generally expected that the Prime Minister in the statement he would make would blanket his opponents, and I think he has suc- 1607 ceeded in so doing. I think we will also agree, notwithstanding anything that the Prime Minister has said, that the enemy have intimidated him into abolishing at the end of the Session the positon of Minister without Portfolio. If the arguments that the right hon. Gentleman used in the beginning of his speech for the justification of the office were sound, they are equally sound for the continuation of it. So far as we on this side are concerned, we believe that, while during the period of the war such a Minister was justified, during recent times he was absolutely unjustified. I do not think Ministers can be so seriously overworked as the Prime Minister says, when we find that one of them can go for weeks to Egypt and, amidst other duties, engage in a painting tour. That does not demonstrate great necessities as far as that particular Department, at any rate, is concerned. Be that as it may, we here have the belief that the Opposition is more against the man than the office. We are more against the office than the man. I have been a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman who at present occupies the position of Minister without Portfolio, and we have had many things to do in common, and I desire to add my testimony to that of the Prime Minister as to the great value of the services he rendered to his country during the War period, not only so far as those points which have been made by the Prime Minister as to costs, but by his sympathetic handling and his successful handling of the labour problems that arose in his Department generally. I think it is only fair that such a statement should be made so far as the Labour party is concerned. As I indicated at the beginning, the Prime Minister has absolutely run away from the position set forth in the first part of his speech, and as he is giving effect to the abolition of the office, I do not think that we need waste the time of the Committee in saying anything further as far as that particular question is concerned.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
The feeling that has been aroused, not merely in this House, but to a considerable extent in the country, on the question of the salary of the Minister without Portfolio, has to a great extent been personal. It has not been a question of policy, it has not been a question of mere economy in the saving 1608 of salary; it has been a much wider question than that. When this House was elected last General Election it was a time when the whole country was tired of War, and was looking forward to good times. There came back from the War millions of men who were filled with one idea, namely, that after the miseries through which they had passed they were going to have a good time. Hence arose the very general idea that there was to be a new heaven and a new earth. I do not think many candidates at the last General Election went before their constituencies and said, "We have passed through a war, we have come out from it victoriously, but we have lost all our savings in the process. We are going now to have to work harder than ever before. We are going to have to live on a lower standard of life than before. We have got to save, we have a vast debt to pay, we have got to knuckle down to it and work as we never worked in our lives before." That would have been a reasonable thing to say, but how many candidates at the last General Election said anything at alll comparable to that? The result was that the House of Commons was elected, charged, or at all events inspired, by the country to give everybody a good time, to build houses, to raise wages, to reduce hours of work, and to do everything which in a period or prosperity was no doubt what everybody desired. They envisaged no period of adversity, they envisaged no slump. They did not think that the seeming prosperity which we immediately enjoyed was but a brief flash in the pan, and the result was that the House of Commons, inspired by the general feeling of the country, and truly representing it, set to work in the first years of its existence on what was an entirely false line to take. It was under that emotion that the housing policy was initiated. It was under that emotion that the Housing Bill was brought in and passed pretty nearly unanimously through all its stages. If there were divisions they were generally divisions on the question of spending more money, which the Minister resisted. The housing policy was handed over to the then Minister of Health. It was handed over to him because he was conceived to be the man most sympathetic to the idea. Why was it not handed over to the Office of Works? Why was it not handed over to the Paymaster-General, who was so 1609 closely associated with housing? It was handed over to the Minister of Health because he was known to be cordially in sympathy with the general idea. It was handed over to him because he was regarded as best embodying the opinion of the House of Commons and the country on this matter at that moment. Therefore, if there has been over expenditure or extravagance on housing the responsibility rests not on the Minister, but on the House of Commons as a whole, and on all parties in it on every side. The whole of the House is responsible for the policy with which the present Minister without Portfolio is associated, and I think, therefore, it is singularly unfair when we find ourselves in a set of circumstances very different from that which we anticipated being in, when we find ourselves driven, on account of economy, to give up all the fine things to which we had been looking forward, when we find that these are the days of hard work and small pay for everyone, professional men as well as working classes, it is singularly unfair to suddenly turn round and rend the Minister with whom we entrusted the policy which we had intended to carry out; it is one of the meanest things ever done.
§ Sir M. CONWAY
We were all responsible alike. When the time came that the policy had to be dropped, not because it was bad, but because we could not afford it, it was possible that a change of Ministers might have marked that change. I wish to dissociate myself from the personal aspect of the question. We have no right to charge the right hon. Gentleman with having wasted public funds when he has merely carried out the policy which he was put into office to carry out, and the responsibility for which rests not on him, but on the whole House of Commons.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
This has been a very bad afternoon for the Government. It is one of the first fruits of the harvest. The Government has itself cut its own Vote into two. It has promised in effect to abolish the Office. The Prime Minister has gone to the extent of saying that after the end of this Session it will not be continued and there will, of course, be no funds available for carrying it on. Amid the almost unanimous derisive 1610 laughter of the Committee the right hon. Gentleman has climbed down on the very question of principle on which the Government staked its existence. As far as I am personally concerned, I feel in a position of some embarrassment, because I have to choose between the charm of a great personality and the pressure of a great principle. No one appreciates more than I do the splendid work which the Minister without Portfolio did in other Departments. But all that is beyond the mark, and the Prime Minister was never more wrong in his life than when he said that, once again, the country is discussing a great principle on a small issue. He spoke of the fact that £100 per week would be saved to the electors by the abolition of the office. It is difficult to come down and face that sort of thing. It is an almost complete misconception of the position. At the moment perhaps I happen to be more in touch with the electorate than the Prime Minister. What the country is concerned about is the fact—and I strongly commend this to the Leader of the House—that after making allowance for the War expenses to which the Prime Minister has referred, after making allowance for the increased cost of living, after allowing in fact for everything, we are spending twice as much on the Government of this country as we were before the War. The country takes this particular incident as symptomatic only of the wider question.
The plea of the Government that Ministers are so overworked that they must have the services of a Minister without Portfolio is a very old plea indeed. I was looking at the Official Report to-day and I find that 10 years ago in this House I raised a question as to the duties and emolument of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Prime Minister of that day after explaining the technical duties of the Chancellor went on to say:In practice it has been found by recent Governments an advantage to possess a Minister whose departmental work is sufficiently light to enable him to attend more closely to other Parliamentary and Ministerial duties. The present pressure on Cabinet Ministers "—That was in 1911, remember, when they did not know a war was coming on—is such as to render it inexpedient to make the change suggested by the hon. Member."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1911; col. 870, Vol. 30.]1611 Ten years ago the pressure on Ministers was such that they required the assistance of the Chancellor of the Duchy. Cannot they have it now? Are that Minister's duties heavier than they were? What about some other sinecure posts? I do not refer to the Lord Privy Seal. We know that he has onerous duties, but there is the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Duchy, and there are various other heads of Departments who might be available. Does it need both the Minister of Mines and the Minister of Labour to deal with industrial unrest? We are told that the Minister without Portfolio acts as Chairman of Cabinet Committees. If he were not there, surely the Committee could elect some other member to act as Chairman? It is not essential that a particular Minister should be Chairman of all Cabinet Committees. May I put it in this way? Let us be free from cant. Let us face the facts. When the present Secretary for War ceased to be a Minister without Portfolio we had no Minister without Portfolio for a considerable time, and yet somehow or other the Government of the country went on. It was only when, as I think wrongly, the tide of prejudice against the present Minister without Portfolio rose—and he was altogether undeserving of it—it was then and then only that the Prime Minister said to him, "There is such a feeling against the Ministry of Health just now, circumstances have been against you, that I am afraid you had better give up the job. We will call you the Minister without Portfolio and continue your services just the same." If the Prime Minister had said plainly to-day what he has led us to infer the House would have been full of sympathy for the Minister without Portfolio.
I believe that the Minister without Portfolio in other Departments has rendered magnificent service to the State. As Minister of Munitions—I am not sure that he claims to be the inventor of that particular system of costings which saved the country so many hundreds of millions—he certainly did do splendid work. When he came to the Ministry of Health circumstances were against him, and the Government could not withstand public opinion. If the Prime Minister infers that the Government wish to recognise his services by continuing him as Minister 1612 without Portfolio, why is this not told plainly to the House? The right hon. Gentleman has climbed down. He did not do himself full justice. He said that the appointment was only for a time. This is the first we have heard of that. When this Vote was put down, it was not explained that it was to be only for a time. Who was responsible for the Vote? It was the bye-elections which gave the Government a warning. I respectfully suggest to the House that the country is tired of the present high expenditure, an expenditure double what it was in normal times. The right hon. Gentleman's statement to-day is an utterly weak exhibition. He tells us that the Minister without Portfolio is to continue in office until the end of the Session. He says, "We will consent to the Vote being cut down by one-half, and in future no more will be heard of this particular office." This is a great victory for public economy. I am not a fatuous Anti-Waster. The policy of the Anti-Waster, in my opinion, is purely negative unless there is something constructive behind it, and although I have every admiration for the leader of the Anti-Waste party in this House, who I hoped was going to take a prominent part in this Debate, I do feel that every Member of the House has at heart the desire to cut down expenditure as much as possible. It is a fact that the public and the country and the House of Commons, the greatest assembly in the world as we were told this afternoon, have taught the Government a lesson. Let them take it to heart, and then perhaps they will not lose quite so many bye-elections.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I put down a Motion on the Paper to leave out Item AA (Salary of the Minister without Portfolio), for a reason which has been fully justified by the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon. I did it because I wanted to show in any little way I could that the opposition to the Ministry without Portfolio does not proceed from any hostility towards those projects of social reform with which the right hon. Gentleman who now holds that office was so closely associated as Minister of Health. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that I could not possibly be a party to any attack upon his housing policy or the housing policy of the Government and of the House of Commons without going back on everything I said on scores of 1613 platforms within a few miles of this place last year. For that reason I wish to say that this action has nothing to do with the question to which the Prime Minister has referred, the question of the housing and health policies of the Government. Whatever some of us may think as to the mistakes of administration which have been made in that policy, whatever different views we may hold as to the form in which that policy will have to be continued by any party in the future which hopes for the support of the country, whatever differences of opinion we may have as to all that, I have no patience with those who two years ago were attacking the right hon. Gentleman because he did not build houses quickly enough and who to-day are attacking him for extravagance because, having to build houses quickly, he built them on the top of the market.
Having said that, I hope to get away altogether from the personal question and the question of the past record of the Minister without Portfolio. I think that the opposition in the country to this proposal was a little more than merely symptomatic. This question of a Ministry without Portfolio does go very near to the root of certain serious doubts that some of us hold as to the whole direction in which Cabinet government is tending to go at the present moment. The Prime Minister mentioned, quite rightly, the tremendous burden which is imposed on Ministers at the present day. But is that burden less or more by reason of the fact that there is a Cabinet Committee, presided over by a Minister without Portfolio, considering questions closely touching the administrative duties of particular Ministers, and considering them in a way which may override the responsibility and the wish of those particular Ministers. Does that add to or lessen their burden? Perhaps, if it is not indiscreet to do so, I might give one recollection of the War period. It was my duty, at a certain period of the War, to press a certain policy on the United States Government, on the official and daily instructions of the Minister of Blockade. When those negotiations had been proceeding for a certain time, a memorandum, prepared, I believe, by a Cabinet Committee—I have never seen it myself, and I have met few who have—was sent to the President of the United States through channels other than the Minister responsible for the con- 1614 duct of the blockade; and for weeks the official policy of His Majesty's Government in that matter was held up, delayed, and nullified by an impression, gathered by the head of an Allied State from a printed document, that the policy of the inner circle of the Cabinet was very different from any official notification that he might receive from the Foreign Office.
That kind of thing, lam convinced, runs through the whole of our Government still, and the Ministry without Portfolio is one of the chief symptoms of a tendency to run policy independently of responsible administrative heads. At this time, especially, the country feels that that is intensely dangerous, because the whole essence of the economy movement, as I see it, is that, in order to make possible sound legislation for social reform, or anything else, in the future, our first business at the present moment is the consolidation and reconstruction of the whole administrative machinery of the country. The establishment of Ministries without Portfolio, indicates that, after all, instead of this attention to administrative consolidation and reform, the Government is giving its attention to vague further schemes of legislation, which at the present moment they have not the administrative machinery to carry out. That is the only thing that I would say as to the housing policy; the Government had not sufficient machinery to carry it out. There are at the present moment before this country two great major questions of administrative reform without which no economy can be effected, namely, the whole question of local taxation and local government, and the whole question of the consolidation of what is commonly known as public assistance in its various forms.
I might not quarrel very much with the Ministry without Portfolio if I had any hope that it could tackle those vast subjects. The Prime Minister has mentioned one of them, namely, local taxation. Is it conceivable that a Minister without Portfolio, presiding over no matter how many Cabinet Committees, can deal with that question as well as or better than the Minister of Health, responsible as he is for the local government of this country? The Minister of Health has found at every turn, in administering the health policy, the urgent necessity of a thorough, fundamental reform of local 1615 taxation and local government in its relation to the central Government. What we have to face is not lack of material, or lack of investigation into the matter of local taxation. The study of every man who takes the slightest interest in such questions is littered, like leaves in Vallom-brosa, with Blue-books on local taxation and reports of Departmental Committees. I am afraid the Ministry without Portfolio will only add to the litter on the floor, and sometimes in the waste-paper basket, and will not give rise to definite conclusions. Definite conclusions, definite proposals for reform, can only come from the responsible Minister—from the Minister of Health as regards local government, and from the Minister of Labour, mainly, as regards the question of public assistance. I shall rest satisfied with the very considerable way that the Prime Minister has gone to meet us this afternoon, but I would urge upon the Government that the greatest necessity at the present time for the satisfaction of the country is to convince it that the administrative system, both central and local, is being consolidated, reformed, reconstructed, on economic lines, and not to encourage the feeling, which still exists, that vague schemes are still in the making which the Government will be as powerless to carry out as it has been powerless to carry out its agricultural policy and the other policies which it has evolved during the last few months.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
I rise in support of the Prime Minister in his defence of the Minister without Portfolio. I think the House sometimes forgets that the policy which the Minister without Portfolio, when he was at the Ministry of Health, was trying to carry out, was the policy of the Government, and the policy which this House had approved. He would have been unworthy of his position if he had not tried to carry through those reforms, and the Government would have been very unworthy if they had not stood by the Minister whom they had appointed and approved. I am afraid that the Ministry of Health was a little too progressive for some people. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) when he says that the attack was not made because, the Minister was a Liberal, but for the reasons which he mentioned. I think, myself, that the Minister of Health was 1616 too progressive, and is too progressive for a great many Members of the House of Commons. I am not one who wants to waste money; I want to save it. But there are things which are more valuable than money in the country, and one of those is the health of the country. I have noticed that the cries about anti-waste do not touch the things that are really wasteful. They never mention how much we are spending on drink. I know that the House of Commons does not like to hear about it, but they have to face it. Why do they not cry out a little about our drink bill? No nation can afford to spend what we are spending on drink. It does not add either to the efficiency of to the health of a nation. I should have more faith in the anti-wasters if they tackled the drink question and left the Ministry of Health alone. I hope hon. Members will bear in mind that some day they will have to face a different constituency. There will be the women who will say, "Yes, you tried to do away with the Ministry of Health; you tried to do away with the infant welfare organisation." Those are things about which the Minister without Portfolio cared deeply, and for which he worked hard.
You cannot have your pie and eat it too. In the right hon. Gentleman you had a Minister who cared deeply about those things, and yet you allow him to be attacked. That is what the House is doing constantly. You go to your constituencies and talk one way, and you come back to the House of Commons and talk another way. You tell your women electors that you are deeply interested in infant welfare and the things that concern women, but you cry out about the Ministry of Health and its programme. It may be a little bureaucratic, but you have to have organisation before you can get things done, and, of course, you have to have people to do them. I would remind those hon. Gentlemen that they will have to face the women electors, and I would say to them, Do not be frightened of the anti-waste papers. They are just so much waste of time unless they talk about real economy, and you cannot economise in the life of the nation. There are, as I have pointed out, things in which we cannot economise. I feel deeply grateful to the Minister without Portfolio for the great work that he has done as far as the health of the nation is concerned, in his infant wel- 1617 fare centres, and every progressive reform which he had at heart long before he was Minister of Health. I do not think the House of Commons realises what he did in regard to milk. That is a subject which does not seem to interest a great many hon. Members, but it is a very vital subject. Milk is more necessary to the nation even than beer. I appeal to the Government not to give in to the cry throughout the country when attacks are made upon their progressive Members. Do not do it. You will have the whole country behind you if you go forward with a progressive programme which is building up the health of the nation. Do not listen to the people who would economise in child life. Listen to us, who would economise in waste, such as your enormous drink bill, which is not adding to your efficiency or to the moral or spiritual standard of this country. That is a thing that we all of us need, that the country needs.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
Yes, common sense. The taunt from the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London is a tremendous temptation, but I am told not to give in to it. If we followed his policy we should find ourselves in stage coaches and crinolines. I hope very much that the House of Commons will, as the Prime Minister said, be generous enough to support the former Minister of Health—some day they will be proud of the work he did— instead of listening to the people who want to economise in all that is worthy and to spend on all that is unworthy.
Major C. LOWTHER
I doubt whether I should be in Order if I followed the hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) into the questions of beer, crinolines, stage coaches, maternity, and other matters which are of great interest, but are of no particular relevance to the subject that we are now discussing. We feel that we have gained such a signal victory—for the Prime Minister, when he was waxing most wroth and denouncing us even for the comparatively light offence of smiling, was, in fact, making a confession of error—we feel, some of us, that it would be, perhaps, ungenerous to follow him and belabour him too far in his defeat.
Those of us who insisted on the reduction of the salary of the Minister without Portfolio. I listened with considerable interest and satisfaction to one statement of the Prime Minister, which, as I understood it, was that the Minister—and he was referring to the Minister without Portfolio—knows that he has to face the House of Commons. That is very grateful news indeed. I was bold enough one day last week to address to the Minister without Portfolio two questions, perfectly in order, perfectly harmless, searching merely for certain information. He was apparently considered by the Leader of the House too tender a plant to be brought into the light of day, and the Leader of the House rose in his place and said no information would be given on the subject, and I must follow the Prime Minister's counsel to "wait and see" or "watch and pray." I most strongly protest against the attitude of the Government in that matter. It seems to me little short of a scandal that a Minister who is in receipt of a salary should not be allowed to answer questions properly addressed to him and at the same time should be allowed to give to the Press an interview about his office, and state his views as to the reasons for the opposition against him. It will be a little difficult for the Minister without Portfolio to reconcile these words of his which were reported when he said, "I am not to be driven out of office." He said that on 15th June. It is now 23rd June, and he has virtually received his dismissal from the Prime Minister. It is not for me to enter into the family differences of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, but I dare say there will be exchanged some heart to heart conversations on this point. We have every right to protest against a Minister giving information to the Press and refusing it to this House. We are entitled to have certain information, and information as to the duties of the Minister without Portfolio would be of considerable assistance to the House. They would then know the important duties which he was performing and the reasons for his holding his office, and they would be able to form, before they heard the Prime Minister's pronouncement, some sort of judg- 1619 ment as to whether they would be prepared to support the Minister without Portfolio or not.
I could raise the point, but I do not intend to at any length, that the money has already been spent for the Minister without Portfolio without Parliamentary sanction. I hope the Government, when they bear in mind that there has been considerable protest against what they choose to call this apparently small item, will bear in mind also that there is a strong feeling in the House against the practice of spending public money without obtaining Parliamentary sanction. This Supplementary Estimate would not now be before the House unless considerable pressure had been brought upon the Government to have the discussion at an early date. It is rather significant that the pressure of public business was so great when the right hon. Gentleman was appointed, continued to be so great, and the emergency was so urgent until a memorial was signed by some 180 or so of the Prime Minister's supporters calling for urgent economy. Then apparently the emergency ceased to exist, and the Prime Minister found that he could, after all, in a comparatively short time dispense with the services of the Minister without Portfolio. I should like to make it perfectly clear that the attack which I make is not in any way directed against the personality of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I admire and esteem him. It is under two heads, in the first place, that money should be spent without previous Parliamentary sanction having been obtained, and in the second place, that a Minister should not be allowed to give to the House information which it is entitled to have.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Lowther) has claimed the proceedings of to-day up to now as a triumph for him, and his right to claim that triumph has been contested by one of the faithful followers of the Government on the other side.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It is curious the places in which we discover wisdom. I understand the hon. Member was one of the faithful followers of the Government. I am glad to know that, like me, he is not. 1620 I think we had better form a coalition. But, whoever else may boast about the triumph, the proceedings of to-day are, in my judgment, a humiliation of the House of Commons. I have rarely listened to a more dishonest Debate. I have rarely witnessed more dishonest proceedings than the proceedings which have taken place here to-day. In the first place, this is the culmination of a long and well-organised agitation against the Minister without Portfolio. If there is one thing I will never do, it is to praise a Member of the present Government. If there was an archangel in this Government, I could not praise him, so manifold are the crimes of the Government against the country I represent. But, detaching myself from my Irish character and speaking purely as an impartial observer of public events in this country, I think the way the right hon. Gentleman has been pursued has been unworthy of this country. He has been made a scapegoat, he has been assailed from every quarter of those who are supposed to be the supporters of the Government, he has been taken to the sacrificial altar by the Prime Minister himself, and he has been the offering given to all the forces which have been afraid to attack what are regarded as the bigger men. He said himself, in a recent declaration, that he was being hounded out of the Government because he was a Liberal. I wonder if he has ever thought this Government was no place for a Liberal. Whatever is liberal in this Government is merely a camouflage, a veneer, to cover its Toryism, and even the Prime Minister himself would not be at the head of that Government to-day if it were not for his magnetic powers and his Welsh oratorical equipment to enable him to defend Tory policies—for we know of no other policies —fashioned and carried out by this Government.
The right hon. Gentleman has been associated with the House of Commons, therefore he must be a victim. He has been associated with Health, therefore he must be a victim. What have all the economists centred their attention upon? What form has this protest against the expenditure of public money taken? It has been directed against the few good causes with which this Government may be credited, the housing of the people, the health of the people, and the education of the people. For some reason those were 1621 the burdens which were placed upon the right hon. Gentleman's shoulders, and no British Minister could take upon himself a higher or a nobler responsibility than to improve housing conditions, to foster the health of the people who are the citizens of this nation, or to educate the future men and women of England that they might all the more efficiently discharge their civic responsibilities in the future. And this is the only Minister against whom all this organised attack has been made. I should imagine the Prime Minister would have said, "This man stands for good causes, and I will defend him, I will stand by him and uphold him." But instead of that he pursues a course that in my judgment is unworthy of the Prime Minister. I listened to his speech. It was a magnificent eulogy of the qualities and the services of the right hon. Gentleman. I only know the motive which has inspired and the purposes with which the right hon. Gentleman has been associated, and they were infinitely laudable. I know nothing about the value of his services. The Prime Minister does, and if the Minister without Portfolio possesses only one-twentieth of the qualities which were so splendidly recited by the Prime Minister a more disgraceful betrayal I have never heard.
Here, according to the Prime Minister himself, is an invaluable public servant, a man who at the Ministry of Munitions saved the nation hundreds of millions of pounds. The Prime Minister even grew livid with rage in the expression of his indignation against someone on those Benches who dared to question the splendid service which the right hon. Gentleman rendered to the cause of public health. And yet, instead of standing by him as he ought to have stood by him, and saying, "Now that I have proved to the House of Commons what a valuable colleague the Minister without Portfolio is, now that I have impressed upon you the pure cash value of the right hon. Gentleman to the Empire, now that I have explained to you that there never was a man who rendered a bigger service to the Empire, I am not going to be shouted down by clamour either in the newspapers or on the platform, but I am going to defend him to the death," which would have been a courageous and a highly honourable policy, he gives the right hon. Gentleman three months' notice. He not only dismisses him, but humiliates him 1622 before the House of Commons, and he does all this with the full knowledge that if he had rammed the right hon. Gentleman down the throats of his humble followers behind him they would have accepted it and regarded it as the most digestible of political morsels. There was a three-lined whip issued to members of the Coalition party to come down and vote, not for the reduction of the salary, but for the retention of the right hon. Gentleman, and I never saw this House so crowded as it was to-day. You rushed down almost breaking your necks to stand by the right hon. Gentleman, and when you are prepared, after all the agitation you have carried on in the country, to stand by the right hon. Gentleman, when the moment comes the Prime Minister refuses to stand by his own colleague, and deserts him and throws him to the wolves.
I am not in the least concerned with this question, much as I feel that the Minister without Portfolio has been badly treated. It is rather strange to find a whole day of the House of Commons occupied in discussing the salary of a painstaking, a highly public-spirited, a humane, and an honest statesman, while out of the reservoirs of Imperial wealth you are pouring money every day into the most unproductive and most dangerous of causes, and doing it without protest. We hear these violent protests raised in the Press and in the country about the salary of the right hon. Gentleman; why do we not hear them about the appalling expenditure on armaments? I have never heard a Tory economist yet get up and denounce increasing armaments. Sacrifice the health of the people, sacrifice their education, let the heroes who have returned from the War do without houses, but build up military power in every part of the world. We would believe in the realities of these protests against extravagance, and we would have some faith in these apostles of economy if, instead of play acting for the benefit of their constituents, play acting on questions such as a salary of £5,000 a year, they would deal with the crushing burdens of the millions, that are growing more and more, that are spent on armaments and upon measures not for the preservation of life but for the ruin of human life and the destruction of human happiness. Not a word about armaments, not a word 1623 about the profligate expenditure of public money in Ireland. I asked for a return of the expenditure upon the army in Ireland, and I was shocked by the appalling character of the figures; £18,000,000 a year.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Not on this Vote. I am drawing a comparison. You are afraid of these comparisons. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend will go down to Kent and talk about economy, and how he came to the House of Commons and looked at Lloyd George, and how the right hon. Gentleman shivered on that Bench, and how, instead of keeping the Minister without Portfolio, he dismissed him with three months' notice. I can imagine the hon. Member saying, "I raised the standard of revolt against this public expenditure," but not a word about the £18,000,000 a year which is being spent in keeping up an army in Ireland to crush the aspirations of the people. Not a word about the expenditure on a military machine to destroy peaceful Irish villages. Not a word about the organised military power to make life unbearable in Irish cities, towns, and villages. You cannot go through Dublin or Cork or any Irish community without seeing armoured cars, with soldiers bearing rifles.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
It is not in order to have an Irish Debate on this Vote, but I did not understand the hon. Member to be out of order. He is simply using the Irish position as an illustration. Of course, he must not carry the illustration so far as to start an Irish Debate.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I will only carry it to the extent of exciting the hon. Member opposite. It is a perfect luxury to see him moving about £5,000 a year, but not moving about £18,000,000 spent in Ireland. The whole thing is a fraud. This Debate is a false Debate from beginning to end. One of the justifications which the Prime Minister gave for the continuance of the position of a Minister 1624 without Portfolio was the enormous burdens which Ministers had to bear in the very varied functions they had to discharge in the Departments over which they rule. He told us that in the last six months there had been 298 meetings either of the Cabinet or meetings of Cabinet Committees or meetings for administrative purposes, and so forth. Why did he not tell us what amount of wisdom oozed from all these meetings? As a result of these 298 meetings the millennium ought to have been reached. What have we got for these 298 meetings? I advise the right hon. Gentleman to stop holding these meetings. All we have got from the meetings is the coal strike—[HON. MEMBERS: "Lock-out!"]—The coal lockout. I believe there would have been a strike and not a lock-out if there had been five more meetings. There have been 298 meetings, and the Peace Conference is still sitting; 298 meetings and we are still quarrelling about Mesopotamia; 298 meetings and Ireland is 50 times worse than she ever was in her history. For what do these people meet? Is there any wisdom in their councils? We will send the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the second Cromwell, and tell them to disappear.
If the function of the Minister without Portfolio is to go round to all these different administrative bodies and Cabinet Committees, and if he was so statesmanlike in his wisdom, why is he to disappear? If this functionary discharged with such efficiency and such wonderful skill the duties devolving on him, why is he to be dismissed with three months' notice? I know the reason, but the right hon. Gentleman does not know it, and it is the one thing that proves that they are not going to get rid of all the Liberals in the Cabinet. They are going to put the Chief Secretary into the job. He is a Liberal. Can anybody show me a Tory? Are there any Tories anywhere about? I should like to see them. I understand that one of the Ministers said that this was a Liberal Government. The right hon. Gentleman is to leave the Ministry without Portfolio, but as it is a position which renders such invaluable service to the State we must fill it again. Health, education, housing are dangerous to the State, so away with Addison and bring in Hamar Greenwood! He will not talk about health. There has been no health in Ireland since he came there. 1625 He will not introduce any Education Bills. The thing he teaches us is taught by the rifle and the sword. He does not need to bother about housing. He can house us all in gaol. He will be able to bring a fine, refined mind, and a splendid picturesque figure to the discharge of the functions of this new office of superintending all the other offices.
The whole thing is a sham and a humbug. There was no need for the Prime Minister to come down here and get excited. His excitement and anger with his critics and the critics of the Minister without Portfolio would have been justified if he had stood by the right hon. Gentleman, but he did not. The Tories would have jumped at the crack of the Lloyd George whip, but instead of that we have Lloyd George hopping at the crack of the Tory whip.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE
Is the hon. Member in Order in referring to hon. and right hon. Members of this House by their names?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is not entitled to refer to hon. and right hon. Members by their names. He has been long enough a Member of this House to know that he should refer to hon. Members by their constituencies.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I was only quoting. However, I will not quote again. I will never call them by their names again. The hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee) is also getting excited. The only difference between him and the others is that he is always excited, and he is never so much excited as when there is no reason for being excited. I merely rose for the purpose of adding some seriousness to this Debate. Up to now it has been a joke, a perfect Coalition joke. Three months' screeching in the Press, three months' denunciation of the right hon. Gentleman, three months of volumes written and columns spoken about the existence of this nefarious office, and then hon. Gentlemen come down here and they accept an Amendment of the Prime Minister which gets him out of his difficulty and gets them out of their difficulty, and that is the solution of the whole problem. I wonder 1626 how long the English people are to be taken in by all this humbug. There were some people in this country who actually thought that hon. Members were going to vote against the Government this evening. They had as much intention of voting against the Government as I have of voting for the Government. I once asked a friend whether he thought there would be a General Election soon, and he said: "Not at all. Do you think that about 400 Members of Parliament who have paid £2,000 each to get into the House are going to vote themselves out of the House."
You are afraid to go to the country, every one of you, because you know that not upon this mere question of the salary of a Minister, but upon your whole policy and upon every branch of that policy in which your failure has been collosal, you will be tested. Every by-election that has taken place you have only to watch the triumphant march of my hon. Friend the Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley). He goes down with an Anti-Waste party of four and comes back with an Anti-Waste party of five. If things go on as they are going he will be Prime Minister of England, and I think he will make a better Prime Minister than the present Prime Minister. Any change would be better than the present condition of things. There is not a single part of this Empire safe and there is not a single Department of this Empire solvent, and therefore the country finding no other man to lead it along the lines of public rectitude and imperial strength is following the hon. Member. And whom does he bring into the House? I believe that he will be Leader of the House. I will tell you why. This is a militarist House. He has got an Admiral as one of his successful candidates, and he has got a general as another.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
And the most distinguished man they have is a private, my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Captain Gee) who earned the Victoria Cross.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
All I know is that some of the most eloquent speeches delivered in 1627 favour of the candidature of my hon. and gallant Friend were delivered by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am so near the point that I am going to say my last word. This Government, which has humiliated England, has nearly ruined Ireland, and has destroyed itself in the country, has left us with a new party, and that party is the party of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
The hon. Member (Mr. Devlin) has, I am afraid, failed in his attempt to introduce an atmosphere of seriousness into this Debate, but I do not think that is the fault of my Hon. Friend himself. If we may be allowed, I would like to come back to the subject, the question as to whether, owing to certain utterances in the Press, steps have been taken by the Prime Minister which were unjustifiable. In what I am going to say I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman (Dr. Addison) will not think that there is any real personal feeling. I felt it my duty ever since the initiation of the policy which has proved so disastrous both to the hon. Gentleman himself and to the country at large, having a certain knowledge of the subject, to oppose that policy to the very best of my ability, and I think I did so with a certain amount of success. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has been inclined to think that in doing so I have been taking a personal view of the matter. I wish to declaim that absolutely. If he remembers, from the very start of this controversy I have stuck strictly to the question of the policy concerned. I have shown, I hope pretty early, what the inevitable result of that policy must be. Again and again on the Floor of this House and upstairs in Committee I have rubbed in that one point that it must end in disaster, and therefore I do hope that he will not regard any remarks of mine as personal.
I understand that when in the jungle a kill has been effected, it is customary for numberless creeping things of various sorts to come and take part in the dividing of the body, and I protest strongly against so much of what has been said this evening and what will be 1628 said after I have sat down, and when we have so much of this type of creeping thing that preys on what somebody else has killed, it is most objectionable for Members of this House to pursue that policy here. We have the claim of certain organs of the Press that they have succeeded by gross personal attack on the right hon. Gentleman in driving him from office. The thing is as cruel as it is false. It is false to say that any organ of the Press or any stuntmonger in this House or outside has created this state of affairs. The right hon. Gentleman has not been beaten by any paper or any person or any group of persons. He has been beaten, just as these unfortunate coalminers have been beaten recently, by the hard pressure of economic facts. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are not beaten yet!"] The miners of this country are absolutely beaten to the ground, but they have this satisfaction, if it is a satisfaction, of knowing that the coalowners were beaten to the ground months ago by those same economic facts.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
The extreme rapidity with which I was speaking may have shown that I was endeavouring to keep within the parenthesis. The right hon. Gentleman need not feel, any more than the mineowners, that he is beaten by anything else but the hard pressure of facts. To the best of my ability, for the last two years, I have endeavoured, as far as I can, to show the right hon. Gentleman that those facts would eventually beat the policy to which he was committed. In view of what the Prime Minister has said this afternoon, I think that none of us are justified in introducing the taint of bitterness into this Debate. The Prime Minister has gone an enormously long way to meet those of us who, not from any sense of distaste towards the right hon. Gentleman himself, but from our conception of the present economic situation in this country, brought a certain amount of pressure to bear through the proper channels on the Prime Minister in this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) has tried to draw a picture of the Prime Minister being threatened by Members on this side of the House to compel him against his own will to turn down a trusted colleague 1629 of his own. I think we must at any rate give the Prime Minister on this occasion the credit for having seen at length the futile results of the policy adopted 2½ years ago.
I hope that this Committee will not think that I am taking too much on myself in this matter. What nerves me to speak on this is this: I am unlike the hon. Member for the United Universities, who told us that we all agreed to his policy at the General Election. I did not. I simply promised my constituents, and I have promised them ever since, one of the worst times economically that the country has ever seen. If during this controversy I have imported any bitterness I ask the right hon. Gentleman to forgive me, and to understand that it has been owing to the fact that I did really see—I claim no virtue in this—the results of his policy and the appalling privations which have been undoubtedly to a very large extent produced by his policy, so that I felt it my duty to keep up the fight for those two years. Now, when all is said and done, let him remember that I have not beaten him, and those who were with me have not done so, but that he has been beaten by certain economic laws with which we cannot tamper. In this case it is the policy pursued that has caused all the trouble. He has failed perhaps, and I have succeeded, just because of those laws which made that policy impossible.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
In listening to this Debate it is impossible for me not to feel that anyone who takes part in it is playing a role in a political comedy. A more unreal performance I have never witnessed in my whole experience in the House of Commons. In two or three sentences I shall try to make good that which is to me the really serious lesson to be drawn from our proceedings here. First I subscribe entirely to the tribute which has been paid by the Prime Minister and by independent Members in almost every quarter of the House to the ability and public services of the right hon. Gentleman whose salary we are discussing. I believe that I was the first person to select him for a place in the Government and I am not repentant for that, though I have had to disagree with some of the aspects of his policy from time to time. But I could not help thinking, and I am sure that the Committee must have thought, while the Prime Minister was 1630 indulging in what I think was a well-merited and not exaggerated eulogy of the public services of the right hon. Gentleman, what a mysterious thing it was that a man so well equipped by native talent and acquired experience for departmental work should be withdrawn altogether from the exercise of administrative duties and put in a position which is nebulous and undefined with a kind of roving commission, supervising the work of his colleagues, but not responsible for any one of the Departments of the State.
The Prime Minister spoke of the office of Minister without Portfolio and said that it was a useful corrective to the bureaucratic tendency of the time. A more extraordinary misconception and mis-description cannot be imagined. It is true that if you left the civil servants to themeelves—there is no abler or more disinterested body of men to be found in this or any other country—the administrative machinery of this country might degenerate into bureaucracy. You correct that by having at the head of each Department a Parliamentarian, a Member of this House, who is responsible to the House for what his Department does in Whitehall, Downing Street, or elsewhere. The liaison officer, the real nexus, the real guarantee for Parliamentary control, is not this shadowy, flitting figure of a Minister without Portfolio. It is the head of the Department concerned. He is responsible. It is to him that our inquiries should be addressed and are addressed. It is his salary, and his salary alone, that ought to be attacked when any departmental negligence or misfeasance is made out.
I confess, speaking for myself, that I see no necessity whatever for the continuance of this office. I was the first Prime Minister in modern times, during the last half-century or more, to have in his Cabinet a Minister without Portfolio. That was in the War, when the first Coalition was formed and a very eminent statesman filled that post without any remuneration at all. I refer to Lord Lansdowne. It was an exceptional appointment, justified and justifiable only by the special incidence of an abnormal and unexampled situation. That is all over now. I am totally unable to realise that Ministers of the Crown, assisted as they are in these 1631 days by a far larger staff of public servants, a staff which has been added to and even multiplied beyond all precedents—I am totally unable to realise that those Ministers cannot do what their predecessors did in the most critical emergencies of our history and carry on without the assistance of this intruder from a constitutional point of view, the Minister without Portfolio.
We have been told by the Prime Minister this afternoon that the Ministry is to be abolished whenever this Session ends, at the outside, I suppose, in the course of the next two or three months. It is a very curious psychological coincidence that this office having been left vacant, and the present incumbent having been appointed to it, and the salary having been put down for the whole year, that it was found possible by the Prime Minister to dispense with this apparently indispensable wheel of the coach at the end of the present Session? What change of circumstance is there in the volume and complexity and difficulties of administration which has occurred since this Estimate was presented not Very long ago? The explanation is very simple. Some 180 gentlemen, Members of this House, faithful supporters of the Government, have, in the interval, signed a round robin, and have shown very inconvenient symptoms of a mutinous temper. I know of no other reason and no new circumstance.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I am coming to that. Things have happened, we know. Here I must say a friendly word to the 180 gentlemen who signed the manifesto. What has made them so suddenly and so keenly sensitive to this comparatively small expenditure? As the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) in his most brilliant and entertaining speech pointed out, these 180 gentlemen, or the great bulk of them, have sat by silent, or sometimes actively approving, when millions and tens of millions and hundreds of millions have been voted at the dictation of the Government. Protests from this side of the House have for the most part been addressed to empty Benches, or nearly empty Benches. It is only after one or two by-elections, formidable, I agree, and menacing to 1632 them, that their dormant consciences were suddenly aroused to life, and the Government were threatened. There was the momentous manifesto addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his reply to which I read with great pleasure, because I thought it very pertinent, and, indeed, conclusive, as against those who addressed him. It reminds me of a famous saying of Dr. Johnson. When he was told that a fashionable preacher in his time, Dr. Dodd, who had been sentenced to death, had preached a moving and edifying sermon to his fellow-criminals in Newgate, Dr. Johnson said:Depend upon it, Sir, that when a man is going to be hanged in a fortnight it concentrates his mind wonderfully.Now we see the concentrated mind. I am delighted to see a full House prepared to vote against any form of extravagant administration, but the lesson I draw from this Debate is, that if you are really in earnest—I do not care by what means conversion may have been effected—in the pursuit of public economy, you should not spend your time on comparative trivialities, but get down to the root of the matter.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)
I am not quite certain that I am the proper Member of this House to reply to the right hon. Gentleman, for, indeed, I am almost the only Gentleman sitting in the House for whom the right hon. Gentleman had a word of commendation. His principal purpose appears to have been to deliver his sentence on the intentions and the effect of a memorial recently presented to me by supporters of the Government. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend did not take some trouble to inform himself as to that memorial before he undertook to explain it to the House. That memorial was presented to me by one of my hon. Friends on behalf of the signatories with the express statement that they desired me to understand that the meeting out of which it arose had taken place before the question of the salary of the Minister without Portfolio had arisen, and that the memorial had no reference to the Minister without Portfolio, and the Members who signed it particularly desired me to understand that they were animated by no hostility to the Minister without Portfolio. I am glad to think that in this Debate there has been from all sides of the House a just appreciation of the work which the 1633 Minister without Portfolio has done both during the War and since the War, and of the spirit in which he has served the Government and the country. I am not going to elaborate or add to the tribute which the Prime Minister paid to my right hon. Friend on behalf of his colleagues and himself, but I must say one word with regard to what has fallen from the right hon. Member for Paisley.
It may be that the Government ought to be very despondent and very chastened and depressed because of recent by-elections, but I confess that I do not feel myself exactly in that mood, and I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Member for Paisley must get even less comfort out of those elections than do the Government. The right hon. Gentleman cannot win a seat for his party anywhere, except by his own personal presence and superhuman exertion. He has not won a solitary seat. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] In the twenty-four elections which he thinks have gone so badly for the Government I believe he has lost one or two seats. Upon the whole I think the signs are that we shall still be here when his party has disappeared into space. The right hon. Gentleman asked why it became necessary to appoint a Minister without Portfolio when it had been determined that it was unnecessary to maintain that appointment permanently? The right hon. Gentleman goes back to conditions before the War. He habitually lives in them; he has never been able to persuade himself that there was a new world created by the War. That is why the right hon. Gentleman is sitting on that side of the House and not on this. The circumstances are not the same as before the War, the volume of work is not the same as before the War, and the strain upon the Government and upon Members of the Government is something that I believe has never been experienced in this country before. Not only so, but whereas when he appointed, very properly, my Noble Friend Lord Lansdowne as a Minister without Portfolio during the War—a Minister who refrained from accepting any salary—there was no Statutory recognition of the position which has since been given Statutory recognition by this House and Parliament. When the Secretary of State for War was appointed to the office we tried to do without the Minister without Portfolio. We found it inconvenient. There was more work than 1634 we could perform satisfactorily, and we were driven again to have recourse to the appointment of such a Minister. The appointment was justified because of the exceptional strain; it is justified so long as that strain exists and no longer. That is the principle laid down in my right hon. Friend's speech, and it is upon that principle we are acting.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
There is one aspect of this case on which I wish to address the House. I was greatly struck by, and I am bound to confess I sym-pathised with, the speech of the hon. Member for the Falls Division of Belfast (Mr. Devlin). My fears arising out of the proceedings of this afternoon were confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt by the speech of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson). He made no bones about stating the reason for this attack on the Minister without Portfolio. He stated distinctly that the reason why the reactionary elements in this House, in the Press, and in the country generally, were trying to hound this Minister out of office was because he attempted to deal with the housing problem. I myself greatly fear that this "stunt" of anti-waste is being used, not so much to protect the taxpayers' pockets, as to try to avoid necessary social reforms. I was not at home when the last General Election was fought, and if I give a wrong impression of the ideas which I believe returned the majority of Members of this House, hon. Members will excuse me. Reading the reports of speeches and the manifestos of politicians on the Coalition side then, we understood that even the great conservative elements of the country who are, we know, all-powerful when aroused, and when their interests are attacked, had at last come to the conclusion that the way in which labour had sprung to the defence of the State had given labour a justification and a reason for demanding and expecting something in the nature of a decent position in the country which their bravery defended. We were told that the main object of the Coalition was that the moderate elements of all parties in the State should combine together for the purpose of making this country more like a land for heroes to live in.
Naturally it devolved upon the Ministry of Health to attempt to give this policy practical shape. I admit that at the 1635 time the Minister of Health was confronted with an almost impossible problem. Housing at that time was in such a condition that it would have been a miracle had anyone succeeded in arriving at a solution of the problem. I know it is alleged that workmen and their wages provide the sole cause for raising the cost of building to such an enormous extent. As a Member of the Costs Committee appointed by the Ministry of Health, I know perfectly well it is not merely the wages of the workmen but the profits of the middlemen and those who supply materials which have done a great deal to make it impossible to build houses at an economic rent. The right hon. Gentleman in spite of these difficulties was bound to proceed. Public opinion outside insisted upon houses being built, and the Government of the day would have shirked their responsibility and their duty had they not at least attempted to solve this very pressing and difficult problem. If that problem had been shirked and shelved and put back, what kind of charge would have been made against the Coalition Government, and those who supported it? They would have been charged with neglecting one of the most important subjects affecting the lives of the people and one which they had put into the forefront of their political programme. The speech made by the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin), in his own inimitable style, greatly amused and interested the House, but behind the whole thing I am afraid there is a serious and grim fact. I fear the conservative elements of this country, both in the Press and on the platform and generally have made up their minds as to the first attack to be made in pursuance of the anti-waste campaign, and that the main points of that attack shall be upon education, upon housing, and upon everything that tends to improve the condition of the country and makes possible the very programme upon which the overwhelming majority of the Members of this House have been elected.
I hope it is not so, because I can quite see the possible end of this agitation which at the moment has produced the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman and caused him to be thrown to the wolves. I can see what may happen if the Conservative block really is deter 1636 mined to destroy all social reform, and to use for that end this anti-waste campaign and the few temporary reverses which have occurred. These reverses are only such as always occur when a Government has been in office for a certain time. One stunt after another may turn one election after another, but when a general election comes it is wonderful how nearly every one of these by-election representatives disappears into thin air. That block have really got the country in their hands. At the moment I am prepared to support the Coalition in the House and the country, because I believe we are passing through such a condition of things that the moderate elements of every party must stick together. If that sticking together on the part of men like myself, and others who are Liberal and Radical in politics, means that the great centre of conservatism is going to use this cohesion of advanced elements, for the purpose of destroying social reform and of setting back every attempt to improve the condition of the people on the plea of the burden that may be put upon the State, then I am certain that the time will come when those who adopt that policy for the moment because it is popular will regret it for very many serious and dark days. Once let the impression get outside to the ordinary moderate Labour man that his trade union is to be destroyed, and that his industrial power can only operate within the range of economic forces and laws, and then use political institutions, political prejudices and the enormous social influence which wealth and position give you to frustrate-any effort to improve his position, and you will create a most serious state of affairs. It certainly looks as though you intended to do that by the way in which this officer of State is being pursued, simply because he has attempted to carry out the principles on which you were elected. If you persist in doing that, a condition of affairs will have been produced, and a state of mind will have been created amongst the industrial classes which you yourselves will be the first to regret.
Though I share to some extent the apprehensions of the hon. Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), I do not altogether despair. If he looks carefully around this House he will find that there is not in the majority of its Members that innate Toryism, 1637 which he and I so much deplore. We have had a series of speeches this afternoon in which practically every Member has answered the question of "Who did it?"—" it" being the reduction of the salary—by saying "I did it." The whole point is that to which only one or two speakers have addressed themselves, namely, whether there is work for this Minister to do or whether there is not. The Government have made out a good case for the useful work which this Minister can do. Why then should that work so suddenly come to an end. It seems to me that if their case is good to-day, it will be good for some time to come. I am sorry that upon this question the Government have seen fit to wobble.
I quarrel with the thesis put forward by the hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), that not only rigid departmental responsibility but also rigid departmental initiative should be insisted upon. He says that the Cabinet Committees were no good, but I totally disagree with that proposition. It is not a question of denying that a Minister should be responsible to Parliament, but of saying that he should be assisted and advised by a Cabinet Committee. In point of fact, as I understand it, what these Cabinet Committees do is to clarify and present in an easily digestible form various items of information upon vitally important subjects, thus fulfilling a most necessary function. In the last resort, it is the Minister himself who has to co-ordinate these reports and present the resulting legislation to Parliament. He is still just as responsible to Parliament as he would have been if there was no Cabinet Committee. I dissent from those who say that the necessity for Cabinet Committees has disappeared, and, for the life of me, I cannot see why the necessity for this particular office should disappear in the course of a few months.
§ 7.0 P.M.
Mr. E. HARMS WORTH
The hon. Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel Ward) accused those who are associated with the anti-waste of shouting for economy on one or two questions only. I may remind him that the call upon which we won the by-elections was that there should be retrenchment in every single department of State with the exceptions of the pensions and the war debt, and our demand for economy was not in reference to any 1638 special item. I should like to state on behalf of those who are allied on the anti-waste issue that in pressing this particular matter we are doing so with absolutely no animus against the right hon. Gentleman. I have never, I do not now, and I never shall attack him personally. Although I have regarded him as one of the master spenders in the past, I have never objected to him in a personal sense. I listened very carefully to the speech of the Prime Minister. He told us that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister without Portfolio was chairman of four committees of the Cabinet. Every hon. Member in the House knows when Committes are set up that there are chairmen elected, and some hon. Members sit as chairman of many committees, but they do not get paid. Why should a salary of £5,000 a year be paid to the Minister without Portfolio who merely presides at Cabinet committees which look into various matters? One of these committees, we were told strangely enough, was a committee appointed to put a check on the increase of rates. It seems an extraordinary anomaly that the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible as much as any other Minister for the increase of rates should subsequently be put on a committee of the Cabinet to look into the question of how they can be decreased: in other words, to try and check his own mistakes.
I regard this Vote as an example of the spirit of the Government. I think I am right in saying that the Government is composed of more Ministers than any other Government in our history. I should have thought enough Departments had been created since 1914 to satisfy any Government in history, but it appears there must be a Minister without Portfolio, and so this office has been created at a salary of £5,000 a year. I admit that salary is very small in comparison with the sums with which the Government is apt to deal, but it is a very large sum to many of the overburdened taxpayers of this country. It is more than the actual amount; it is a sample of the whole spirit of the Government. How can the Government force economy on the Departments and cut down waste when in the Ministry itself there is a glaring example? I see that the staffs of the Government Departments have actually risen during the past 1639 month. Is it any wonder that that is the ease when in the ranks of the Government itself there is this Minister without Portfolio with a salary of £5,000 a year? I have thought over this question to see if I could discover any cause for satisfaction from the position of the Minister without Portfolio. There is only one cause far satisfaction that I can see, and that is that the Minister without Portfolio, in his present office, can spend very little, whereas when he was in charge of a great Department he spent a great deal.
I should like to point out why this special Vote has caused such a fury in the country, and why the people have caught on to this Vote more than any other. It is because it represents the way in which the Government have wasted, and still are wasting, money in the desert sands of Mesopotamia and Palestine, in so-called social reform schemes after the War which the nation cannot afford, and in bureaucratic expansion, at a time when the trade of the country has never been so bad or taxation so high, and after a war which has-consumed the national resources. These are the reasons why the people of this country have clutched at this Vote and why public opinion has been so focussed upon it. It is because it represents the whole spirit of the Government and of all those matters which I have mentioned in which the Government has failed to economise. That is why I and others who think like me will, when a reduction of the Vote is moved, vote for the reduction.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister, and we were asked many times not to be intimidated at all in our attitude to-day by what was going on outside. I think that was very well-considered advice, but I am sorry to say that on this occasion the Prime Minister himself has been intimidated into doing something which, in his heart of hearts, I do not think he really intended to do or would like to do. I would support the Vote for this Minister, and exactly on the same grounds as those advocated by many hon. Members who have spoken, and especially the last hon. Member (Mr. Harmsworth), who opposed it, namely, that of economy. The last speaker rightly mentioned that the country was fastening on this particular expenditure of £5,000 a year for the 1640 Minister without Portfolio, and that it was being interpreted in the country in perhaps a ruder and rougher way by the saying that £100 a week was being wasted. I think, in that sense, the hon. Member interpreted the feeling of the country quite rightly, but, in my opinion, those in the country who look at the matter from that narrow point of view, as the hon. Member himself does, are entirely wrong. I believe, as was suggested by the Prime Minister, that the Minister without Portfolio was absolutely necessary to help the Government during the very trying times through which they have been passing in the last three months. It has been said by many hon. Members that had we had the privilege of obtaining the assistance of the Prime Minister many weeks before we were able to do so, that the long and lamentable struggle in the coal trade either would not have taken place at all or, if it had occurred, would have been ended much sooner.
When we talk about waste, do we think about the waste that is going on at the present time through the lack of production in our industries? Talk about £5,000 a year, you may well say that we strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. At the present time we ought to be producing £10,000,000 worth of coal per week, but we are producing practically none. Why do not we talk a little about the waste that is going on there? How is it that there are no questions from hon. Members as to when there will be another meeting between the miners and the owners, to see if there is any other way to a settlement than by fighting to the death about this thing? Where is the interest of hon. Members in economy in regard to a matter of that sort? If it had been possible for the Prime Minister to give more time to a subject like that and to deal with other essentials through having a Minister without Portfolio then it has been money very well spent and very easily earned. It is necessary that these men in the Cabinet should be able to devote their time to the most essential matters which require attention not only in our home politics, but also in our foreign politics. I would ask hon. Members not to look upon these things from too narrow a point of view. I regret very much that the Prime Minister has stated that at the end of this Session he will dispense with this Minister. There is no doubt that if the 1641 right hon. Gentleman was indispensable a few weeks ago and if he is indispensable now he will be indispensable at the end of this Session. How do we know that things are going to improve so much as we all expect and desire? The Prime Minister says trade will be better at the end of the Session. I hope he will prove to be a good prophet and that it will turn out to be true. It is, however, a singular thing that those who prophesy so much about an improvement in our trade are nearly always those who know the least about it and are least connected with it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] What I mean is that nobody knows when you are in the soup so much as you yourself when you are up to the neck in it. I could give you instances of what I mean, but I do not wish to weary the House. "What I want to point out is that we ought not to look too much to an expenditure of £5,000 a year and to allow it to obscure our vision with regard to higher and more important things.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman the Minister without Portfolio, who, if the Prime Minister sticks to his word—I hope he will withdraw it—will vacate this position. I sympathise especially in regard to his policy in the building of houses. The firm with which I am connected were the first to build houses in the town of Oldham and the houses were the first to be occupied. We were forced by the pressure of circumstances to build when prices were high. We built houses which cost us about £1,050 each and which are now worth £700. I realise the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman had to face with regard to that, and he has my sincerest sympathy. I hope that the friendship and faithfulness to his colleague which the Prime Minister has shown will be extended to a greater degree than has been the case in his speech this afternoon, and that he will continue, as a means of true economy, to keep this office in existence even after this Session, and in spite of all the protests and intimidations, so long as about half the people in this country who ought to be working are out of work.
§ Mr. SWAN
There is no reason why hon. Members of the Labour party ought to join in a pæon of praise to the Minister without Portfolio although, if we do criticise the Vote or Divide against it, it will not be because we have any dis- 1642 respect for the right hon. Gentleman himself. I should think there are very few Members in the House who have been more faithful to the late Minister for Health than we have in supporting him when he was trying to pass his Measures of reconstruction, and to carry out the policy which he and his Government were returned to power to achieve. What have we found? We found, although we acted loyally by him to achieve that reconstruction, that the only Members on whom he could depend to assist him were the Members of the Labour party and a few Radicals, and he had up against him a hostile section belonging to his own party. We would like to have seen the right hon. Gentleman, as a protest against the treatment which was continually meted out to him, assert his dignity and resign 12 months ago, as a protest against the reaction which was settling down on this House.
We cannot quite understand the desire for economy in the party opposite. We ourselves are very anxious for economy. The protagonist of the economy party in the House suggested that the two things which they would desire chiefly not to economise upon were the National Debt and pensions. We are not desirous of economising on pensions, as we think in a very large measure they are insufficient and that by adding to them you would effect a great humane economy in this country; but as far as the National Debt is concerned, members of the Labour party have repeatedly put forward a policy which we believe would have been of great economic value to this nation in reducing that Debt without injuring any individual in the country, and instead of us being stranged industrially as we are with these great burdens, the amount that would have been saved by the policy we advocated could have been utilised to carry out the reforms for urging which the right hon. Member the Minister without Portfolio was so ruthlessly hounded out of office by certain hon. Members. I believe there is a great deal of truth in what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), that there has come about a disintegration and a division in the Coalition party on the question of the desirability of carrying out the pledges upon which the Government were returned to power. Three years ago appeals by responsible public men were made to the nation for unity, so as to 1643 banish out of this country all the social evils from which we were suffering, but instead of unity of all the best in this nation, we see that party strife has again demonstrated itself in this Vote.
If any section of this House has substantial grounds on which to protest against the policy of the Government, it is the Labour party. We sat for three weeks last year, with others, with the right hon. Gentleman who was then Minister of Health, discussing the Ministry of Health Bill, expecting that the Government were going to honour their pledges, so that we could repair the injured who returned from the War by assisting, to build hospitals, which would have been a great economy instead of being a charge on the community, but what did we find? When the Minister attempted to put forward these beneficent proposals, we found that the hon. Members opposite most vigorously opposed every Measure to establish any social amenities. We believe that if the present Minister without Portfolio had been allowed, when at the Ministry of Health, to go forward with his schemes, instead of being the failure that many hon. Members say he was, he would have done great good, but his inability to do so was due to the hostile and unfair criticism with which he was met and to the lack of support he got from Members of his own party. When we hear the Prime Minister making his statement as to the great economy which the right hon. Gentleman effected while at the Ministry of Munitions, how he saved the nation hundreds of millions of pounds by setting up the system of costings and national factories, we suggest that if the same policy had been pursued while he was at the Ministry of Health, houses would have been built more rapidly, and a larger number would have been built at a substantially less cost to the community, and without our having to subsidise certain sections of the building trade, and thus adding to the Debt of this country. The right hon. Gentleman was beset with difficulties, not only arising out of the five years of war, but he had a heritage to face of a hundred years of legislation and administration in this House by the orthodox political parties who preceded the Coalition, and if he had had that support to which he was entitled in a substantial measure, things would have been very different. 1644 but he was frustrated by people who did well out of the War, the very people who want to maintain the Debt which is strangling the industry of the country and making it impossible to carry out the reconstruction policy.
If our counsels had been listened to, we would have had the Debt reduced by at least half, and saved as interest on Debt approximately £200,000,000, and that money could have been used for the better education of our people and for building better homes. Hon. Members talk about economy, but we have suggested that some of this wealth, instead of being wasted in Ireland or Mesopotamia—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Gentleman is getting rather wide of the point. He is entitled to talk of the work of the right hon. Gentleman at the Ministry of Health, but he is not entitled to talk about other matters as he was proceeding to do.
§ Mr. SWAN
I have no intention of making wide digressions, but we criticise the Government's failure to carry out its pledges and the manner in which it has wasted wealth which might have been utilised in developing our resources. We have appealed repeatedly that money might be set aside so that land might be developed, so that—
§ The CHAIRMAN
That has nothing to do either with the present work of the Minister without Portfolio or with his work at the Ministry of Health.
§ Mr. SWAN
I do not want to follow the policy which many hon. Members have followed in traversing the whole field, but we have got legitimate grounds of complaint against the Departmental work and the policy of this House, and we want to save every penny that can possibly be saved, in order that the Government might honour the pledges that it gave to the country three years ago. We want to see every penny utilised so that our children might have better opportunities in life than we had, so that their minds might be trained and developed—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is again going beyond the scope of the discussion. It is in order to speak about the housing question in so far as it concerns the present Minister without Portfolio, but we really cannot go into these other wide fields.
§ Mr. SWAN
One of the reasons for our criticism is that the nation is deprived of wealth which could be more wisely used in other channels. While the right hon. Gentleman was the Minister of Health, hon. Members who criticised the Labour party endeavoured day in and day out to make it absolutely impossible for him to function.
§ Mr. SWAN
We are speaking against the policy of the Government, because many Members opposite have made it impossible for him to function and carry out the pledges which were made. We hope there will be a better spirit manifested in this House than we have seen to-day and in days gone by, and we are anxious to join with the Government when it is out to achieve progress. The situation reminds me of a story of the North Country, where a policeman was set to be the custodian of a certain bridge at Newcastle. A young lady came along and said to him, "Which is the way to Gateshead?" The policeman replied, "Ower the bridge to Gateshead, hinny." "But," said the young lady, "I've got these parcels and luggage." "It doesn't matter, hinny," said the policeman, "whether you have got a wooden leg and an iron foot, it's ower the bridge to Gateshead, hinny." It is the same with the late Minister of Health. If there is anyone who comes and wants to put forward a useful reform in this House, he will find certain people who are more interested in the welfare, of the few than in the general welfare of the community, and he will have to get out of office if he wants to function for the general welfare.
§ Mr. G. BARNES
There has been a great deal of unnecessary heat imported into the Debate and a great deal of irrelevance. Comparisons have been made as between the £4,500 on this Vote and the hundreds of millions which have been expended elsewhere. To my mind that has nothing at all to do with it. If the expenditure elsewhere is justified then these things can stand upon their own legs and be judged on their merits. Therefore I pass from that. It has also been suggested that the Minister is being criticised because he is responsible for the housing policy of the Government. I have no knowledge of that. I have not heard any- 1646 body on the Floor of the House say to-night they had any knowledge; it has been a supposition. If it is the fact that the Minister has been criticised because he has stood for social reconstruction, and if that impression has been conveyed outside to anybody by the speeches that have been made here, then this Debate may do a good deal of harm in the country. I hope that impression will not be created.
§ Mr. BARNES
So far as I know, there is no justification for it. Therefore I appeal to the House just to consider this question fairly and squarely upon its merits, and the merits of the thing are to my mind within a very narrow compass. The simple question before the House is, whether or not this expenditure of £4,500 is justified? I believe it is. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) told us a little while ago that the War was over and that therefore we might get back to pre-War conditions. We may get back to pre-War conditions sometime or other—I hope so— but it will not be in my lifetime. I feel quite sure of that. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think, at all events, he wanted to convey the impression to the House that, the War being over, we might now return to the same conditions of political life as in 1914. As a matter of fact we cannot. The War has upset the world. The War has shaken everybody out of their accustomed groove. The War has more or less given us all neurasthenia, and as a consequence life is more complicated and more difficult in every branch than it was in 1913. That is nowhere more marked than in the Government. That brings me to the few observations I intended to make, though I may have been a long time in getting there.
I happened to be a Member of the Cabinet for some considerable time as a Minister without Portfolio. I believe that it would not have been bad for the Government and the country to have had two or three more Ministers with Portfolio while the War was on. I will tell the Committee why. Because those Ministers who were charged with the great duty of carrying on the War, and at the same time looking to the interests of the country at home, had got too much on their minds and on their hands; and it would have been a great thing for the 1647 country and for everybody concerned if these men could have had a little more time to think. The same thing has gone on since the War was finished. As a matter of fact, I have been in pretty close touch with the Minister of Health while the right hon. Gentleman was in that office, as well as in touch with the Minister of Labour, in regard to certain matters which I need not now mention. What did I find? I found that both these hon. Gentlemen were immersed in detailed work, and therefore they could not give their attention to the matters. I am afraid I could not even get time from them to get what I desired into their minds so that they might be seized with the importance of certain things I wanted to put to them. It seems to me, therefore, if we had now another Minister without Portfolio, as well as the right hon. Gentleman who is now under discussion, that we should get value for the additional expenditure.
It was said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Asquith) that not only was the War over, and, therefore, it was desirable to return to pre-War conditions, but he attacked the principle of the office of Minister without Portfolio on constitutional ground's. He told us that the House of Commons was an assembly to which the Departments were responsible, and that the Minister at the head of a Department was necessarily personally responsible. As was afterwards pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, that has been recognised as the difficulty in fixing up Ministers without Portfolio, and special legislation has been passed. It seems to me, however, it would not matter if there were two or three other Ministers without Portfolio, for the man at the head of a Department would still be responsible. It makes no difference in that respect. What I do say, however, is, that affaire now are so complicated, Government is so difficult, we have all these questions of industry and many other things which did not occupy the minds of Ministers before the War as they do now, and that being so, I believe it would be a good thing for the House and for the country to have Ministers at the head of affairs who are relieved to some extent from detailed work by being assisted by those who have no special Department to look after and who could 1648 give valuable advice based upon experience and knowledge. All that, then, I say, is a justification for the expenditure which is now challenged.
In conclusion, I have to express my sincere regret that the Prime Minister has capitulated to a miserable newspaper stunt, because, after all, it has been a capitulation. I do not want to hurt the feelings of my right hon. Friend who is sitting on the Front Bench (Dr. Addison), but I would feel rather sore if I were in the position he occupies to-day. The Prime Minister made a very handsome statement in regard to his past services. He told the House that the ex-Minister of Health had saved the country hundreds of millions of pounds. But he did not say in a single sentence that the Minister without Portfolio was not now necessary and would not be necessary in the future. While eulogising his right hon. Friend for past services and telling us of the onerous duties that attach to him at present, the Prime Minister at the same time said he was going to get the sack in two or three months. I am sorry for that. The ex-Minister of Health has had a lot of experience in government during the last 12 or 14 years. Believing, as I do, that the Minister without Portfolio is a necessary adjunct to the Government, it seems to me that we could not have had a better man in the post than he. I am sorry that he has been sacrificed to an agitation which was not directed so much against him, but which had for its simple aim and object, an agitation first against the Government, and then, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stoke, a little also, I am afraid, against the expenditure of public money upon the best of all services—those connected with the health and education of our people.
§ Mr. WALLACE
I am not altogether in accord with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I do not wish to see any addition to the Ministers without Portfolio, because in a general way I am opposed to the multiplication of officials. The Government has come to a certain decision announced by the Prime Minister, and I intend in this matter to support the Government in the line they have taken. I think it is a very good thing that we have had the question of economy raised to-day in the House. This discussion will do good. I wish to discuss economy, but I do want to discuss it on something like 1649 wide and broad lines, and with some sense of proportion. I suggest that the Debate to-day is altogether out of proportion in the question we are considering. There has been a certain amount of acrimony introduced into the Debate. I wish to say that however easy it is to criticise my right hon. Friend when he was Minister of Health that he had to face an extremely difficult task. That task called for the highest and very best energies in the administrative class of individuals. There are people who always find it easy to criticise those who do more work than they themselves do. I hope the time is far distant when this House of Commons will lack loyalty to the men who have rendered the country distinguished public service as my right hon. Friend has done. That is all I have to say in relation to the Minister without Portfolio.
I do, however, want to raise one other point which is, I think, relevant, and that is the amount of salary attached to the office. The Minister without Portfolio receives £5,000 a year. We have a distinguished Minister sitting on that Bench not without Portfolio, but with four or five Portfolios, who only gets £2,000 a year. I refer to the Secretary for Scotland, a man who combines in his own office many important Ministerial functions. He has a salary less than that attached to the Minister without Portfolio. The right hon. Gentleman to whom I refer is Minister of Education, Minister of Agriculture, and Minister of Health. I do suggest that he is one of the ablest Scottish Secretaries that we have ever had. He is invariably accessible to Members and is always courteous.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is not in order in discussing the merits of the Secretary for Scotland. The question before us is the salary of the Minister without Portfolio.
§ Mr. WALLACE
I will bow to your ruling, and I am exceedingly sorry that I have gone beyond the province of this Debate. I shall not pursue further the arguments I intended to use had it not been for your intervention. I would finish with this one remark: In paying salaries to Members of the Cabinet I want to know whether the Cabinet consider that the English race is much better than the Scottish race. I do not, however, wish to pursue that very inviting 1650 subject after your ruling. I hope, however, the point I have raised will not be lost sight of by the Leader of the House.
§ Captain BOWYER
I want to lodge my protest against the speech of the Prime Minister. I want to submit to the Committee that the Prime Minister when he was making his speech, instead of facing the Opposition, turned round to his own supporters, and the plea I want to make to the Government is a plea for some support of the back bench Members of the party. I am aware that if the Prime Minister were present he would not even know who I am or whom I represented, but I wish to say that we came down here not knowing what the task of the Minister without Portfolio was. I have received resolution after resolution protesting against the administration of the right hon. Gentleman in his late capacity as Minister for Health, which I sent on to him, and I did so without any ill-feeling. I think the right hon. Gentleman will recall the fact that he wrote to me and said that he thought they were ill-advised and intemperate resolutions. What I want to know is, why the Prime Minister or the Government did not approach their own supporters and say, "We have these good reasons why you should support us in this appointment"? Why did they leave it until the last day in an uncertain state as regards the facts, and why did not the Prime Minister address his own supporters, who want to burst with loyalty to their leader, and tell them the fact. The Prime Minister now comes forward and says this is a matter of confidence and I want your loyalty, but what I claim is that if the right hon. Gentleman is going to lead properly, he should take us more into his confidence, and not put us in the position in which we find ourselves to-day, and this is not the first time it has happened. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have let us know the full facts of the case long before this Debate came on, because there are many insignificant supporters of the Government who wish to support the Government, but who hate being put into the position in which we now find ourselves.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put".1652
§ "The Committee divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 40.1653
|Division No. 193.]||AYES.||[750 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Martin, A. E.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gardiner, James||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Armitage, Robert||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Gee, Captain Robert||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morris, Richard|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gilbert, James Daniel||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Mosley, Oswald|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Gould, James C.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Green, Albert (Derby)||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Bell, Lieut. Col. W C. H. (Devizes)||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Neal, Arthur|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Greer, Harry||Newman, sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Gregory, Holman||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir. Henry|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Parker, James|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Middx.)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Haslam, Lewis||Perring, William George|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Higham, Charles Frederick||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Britton, G. B.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pratt, John William|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Preston, W. R.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling &Cl'ckm'nn'n,W.)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Clough, Robert||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurd, Percy A.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jameson, John Gordon||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jephcott, A. R.||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Johnstone, Joseph||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cope, Major William||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Seager, Sir William|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Kidd, James||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Simm, M. T.|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Edge, Captain William||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lorden, John William||Sueter, Murray Fraser|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Taylor, J.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Evans, Ernest||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Waddington, R.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Wallace, J.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Fildes, Henry||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Maddocks, Henry||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. steel-||Waring, Major Walter|
|Forrest, Walter||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Wilson-Fox, Henry||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Winfrey, Sir Richard||Yeo, Sir Alfred William||McCurdy.|
|Wise, Frederick||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Swan, J. E.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayday, Arthur||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Briant, Frank||Hayward, Evan||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cairns, John||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hogge, James Myles||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Irving, Dan||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Jesson, C.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rattan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York W.R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Colonel Penry Williams and Mr.|
|Hallas, Eldred||Royce, William Stapleton||Myers.|
|Halls, Walter||Seddon, J. A.|
Question, "That item AA be reduced by £2,500," put accordingly, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question,
That, a sum, not exceeding £40,089 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,550), 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 Salary of the Minister without Portfolio, and Salaries and Expenses of the Cabinet Offices and of the Committee of Imperial Defence, including the cost of preparation of War Histories,
put, and agreed to.