HC Deb 15 February 1926 vol 191 cc1539-41
Mr. REMER (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that a large number of Members take strong exception to the fact that in existing financial conditions the Foreign Secretary should have announced at the Civil Service banquet that the Government are making a grant of £200,000 for sports grounds for the Civil Service; and if he will give an undertaking that no immediate grant will be made until the House has had an opportunity of expressing its views upon the subject.


My hon. Friend must surely be aware that the grant of this money is dependent on the authority of Parliament, and that the House will have full opportunity of expressing its views in connection with the Estimate for the first instalment of £150,000, which will be presented in the ordinary form for 1926–27. I take the occasion of my hon. Friend's question to remind him that every good employer of labour nowadays makes provision for the recreation of his employés, and that the civilian employés of the Crown, who include over 300,000 industrial and manipulative workers, apart from the clerical establishments, have so far enjoyed the distinction of being practically alone in receiving no such consideration from their employer, that is, from Parliament.


With reference to the Prime Minister's allusion to private employers, is he aware that many employés of the Government are considerably worse off in other directions, particularly in the fact that they do not get any holidays at all except those for which they pay; and is it the fact that this applies to the whole of the industrial staff?


Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it would be very much better that civil servants should play games and engage in sports among their fellow citizens rather than that they should be segregated into a class by themselves?


In view of the fact that so many of these Estimates are liable to come under the Guillotine, may we have some guarantee that we shall have a chance to debate this matter?


I should like nothing better. I will see that it is done.


Quite apart from the merits of the grant, may I ask whether the Prime Minister does not think it would have been more proper and more in accordance with constitutional practice, if the announcement had first been made to this House?


No; I see nothing improper in a Minister of the Crown making an announcement at a large gathering of civil servants of what he proposes to bring forward in Parliament. The authority of Parliament is not impaired.


Does it not tend to place hon. Members who wish to vote against this sum in an invidious position, and in view of the fact that the Government have pronounced in favour of it, have they not made it difficult for hon. Members, if they so desire, to vote against it?

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