HC Deb 22 February 1922 vol 150 cc1895-6

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, while Great Britain is called upon to pay 10 per cent. of the total expenditure of the League of Nations, this country has no representative on the Commission of Control responsible for the finances of the League; will he take the necessary steps to remedy this deficiency; whether his attention has been called to the suggestion made in the Second Interim Report of the Committee on National Expenditure that some method should be devised whereby a closer check may be kept on the activities of the League, which appear to involve considerable expenditure; and will he say what steps, if any, it is proposed to take to secure this end?

The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Balfour)

The contribution of Great Britain will be something between 9 and 10 per cent. The League finances go through three stages. Only the first of these stages is dealt with by the Commission of Control, the majority of which is, by the decision of the Assembly, selected from nations not represented on the Council. The duty of this Commission has nothing whatever to do with policy, or with the objects to which the financial resources of the League are devoted. It simply has to see that money devoted for a specific purpose is devoted to that purpose.

In the second place, the budget estimates are scrutinised by the Council of the League. In the third place, they are scrutinised and passed by the General Assembly of the League, after they have been examined by a special Commission appointed to look into them.

It is difficult to see what further checks on the expenditure of the League can be devised, nor do the Committee on National Expenditure make any suggestions to that effect. The policy, whether involving expenditure or not, can only be determined by the unanimous vote of the Assembly of 51 nations, or by the Council, on which this country is represented.

As far as I am able to form an opinion on the matter, the results of League activities have been achieved at a relatively small pecuniary cost.

Sir J. D. REES

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the propriety, in the interests of the taxpayer, of publishing a list of the 40 odd nations who belong to the League, marking with a star those whose revenues are above an unappreciable amount, and with an asterisk those who have paid their subscriptions?


Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the effect of his answer is that on behalf of his Government he is—


The hon. Member must follow the answer.