Whereas it appears by the Air Appropriation Account for the year ended the
|Number of Vote.||Air Services, 1920–21, Voted.||Differences between Exchequer Grants and Net Expenditure.|
|1||Pay, etc., of the Air Force||116,839||0||11||—|
|2||Quartering, Stores (except Technical), Supplies, Animals, and Transport.||236,706||10||9||—|
|3||Technical and Warlike Stores||1,434,883||9||0||—|
|4||Works, Buildings, and Lands||388,670||17||2||—|
|6||Miscellaneous Effective Services||—||17,677||19||7|
|7||Half-Pay, Pensions, and other Non-Effective Services.||989||3||9||—|
|9||Experimental and Research Services||14,472||10||2||—|
|Balances irrecoverable and Claims abandoned||—||46,657||13||8|
|Net Surplus||£2,292,261 13 0|
§ Resolution read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
I desire to have some explanation about this Resolution. Why is it that only at the end of 1922 we get this Resolution as to accounts ending on 31st March, 1921? Secondly, what is actually done with this surplus? Is this money going to be used for the Air Service? Thirdly, who takes credit for this item of £148,850 surplus on civil aviation, and will that money be in addition to the money provided this year?
§ 31st day of March, 1921, and the statement appended thereto, that the aggregate expenditure on Air Services has not exceeded the aggregate sums appropriated for those Services, but that, as shown in the Schedule hereto appended, the total differences between the Exchequer Grants for Air Services and the net expenditure are as follows, namely:
§ And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of so much of the said total surpluses on certain Grants for Air Services as is necessary to make good the said total deficits on other grants for Air Services.
§ That the application of such sums be sanctioned."
The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Captain Guest)
The explanation is very simple. The accounts relate to the period of 1920–21 and the deficits amount to only £04,335, while the surpluses amount to £2,357,297. The latter mainly arise from under-spending in Votes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8. As to the deficits. £17,677 is due to the transfer to a special sub-head set up, under Treasury direction, of expenditure incurred on behalf of various Russian Governments in previous years. The other item of £46,657 is money overspent, and arises out of the rapid demobilisation of officers and men, to debtor balances on non- 641 effective airmen's accounts, and in respect of barrack damages. In the deficit column the amounts are not very great, but the surpluses are very great. The surpluses are handed back to the Treasury, and this is the Parliamentary form to give permission to do so.
§ Captain W. BENN
The right hon. Gentleman will realise that he does not excuse deficits by drawing attention to surpluses. I would like information about these sums spent, he tells us, on various Russian Governments. We have been told no sums are being spent on Russian Governments.
§ Mr. HOLMES
The right hon. Gentleman was, apparently, apologetic with regard to the year being 1920–21. What does this item mean "Balances irrecoverable and claims abandoned, £46,657?" If they have been abandoned, why have they been abandoned, and what are they?
I passed rapidly over them. They are for over-issues of pay owing to the rapid demobilisation of officers and men. That is one of the main items of the £46,000. My hon. Friend will appreciate that when you demobilise 30,000 officers down to 3,000—which is the process which took place between 1918 and 1920—it is clear that a. certain number of payments Were made to officers and men leaving the force who were afterwards untraceable. There is no doubt there are occasions when the Government must sacrifice its legal right of trying to press for these outstanding debts. The second item is the deficit balance on non-effective airmen's accounts, which is quite simple. When a. man is on the effective list, he receives a certain rate of pay, but when, owing to casualty, sickness or otherwise, he drops in the scale, he is only entitled to a lesser rate. There have been occasions when the Government have thought it reasonable not to press outstanding claims against men who suffered in this way. The third item is in respect of barrack damages. That is a case where the Government have thought it reasonable to cut their losses. For the purpose of
§ bookkeeping the Treasury enforces upon us a system by which all losses are shown as well as surpluses. The surplus side I do not think needs explanation. They are on certain Votes and are handed back to the Treasury. That we have had the advantage of using these surpluses in the current year is not correct. As regards the Russian Governments, that goes back to a period in Air Ministry affairs with which I am not well acquainted. There must have been occasions when certain units were there engaged in handling situations with which the Air Ministry had been brought into touch. That is a subject with which I am unacquainted.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The Minister of Air has got up and explained to the House that he has no knowledge of the method in which certain sums of money were expended. It is a matter which has often been alluded to, and we have tried to find out by question and answer how far this country has been involved from time to time in the assistance given to the various people in Russia who were attempting to set up Governments. This is the first time I remember that across the Floor of the House a Minister has admitted that certain sums have been expended for this purpose. I do not want to delay the House for a single moment; it would not be fair at this time of night. We can divide upon it in order to show how we deplore the loose way in regard to these accounts. Either the Air Force did or did not assist in one or other of the adventures which sought to overthrow the Russian Government. The Minister for Air knows this House well. He is always willing to meet it, and he has been quite frank. I invite him, before we challenge a Division, and in order that we may not challenge a Division, to tell us precisely what this means.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolutions."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 18.643
|Division No. 255.]||AYES.||[12.43 a.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barnston, Major Harry||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Breese, Major Charles E.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Brings, Harold|
|Atkey, A. R.||Betterton, Henry B.||Broad, Thomas Tucker|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Brown, Major D. C.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Bruton, Sir James|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hinds, John||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Pratt, John William|
|Casey, T. W.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Remer, J. R.|
|Chamberlain, At. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Hunter, General Sir A, (Lancaster)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jameson, John Gordon||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cope, Major William||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Klnc.,||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Shorn, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lorden, John William||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lort-Williams, J.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Lowe, sir Francis William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Evans, Ernest||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Maryhill)|
|Forrest, Walter||Manville, Edward||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mason, Robert||Vickers, Douglas|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wallace, J.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Cot. J. T. C.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Murchison, C. K.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Gould, James C.||Murray. Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Nail, Major Joseph||Windsor, Viscount|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Neal, Arthur||Wise, Frederick|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Hamilton, sir George C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parker, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||McCurdy.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hogge, James Myles||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Mr. Stanley Holmes and Mr. Foot.|
Question put, and agreed to.