§ Considered in Committee.
[Mr. JAMES HOPE IN THE Chair.]
Whereas it appears by the Navy Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March, 1926, and the statement appended thereto, that the aggregate expenditure on Navy Services has not exceeded the aggregate sums appropriated for those Services, and that, as shown in the Schedule hereto appended, the net surplus of the Exchequer Grants for Navy Services
|No. of Vote.||Navy Service, 1925–26. Votes.||Deficits.||Surpluses.|
|Excesses of actual over estimated gross Expenditure.||Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.||Surpluses of estimated over actual gross Expenditure.||Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.|
|1||Wages, etc., of Officer, Seamen, Boys, and Royal Marines, and Civilian employed on Fleet Services.||—||20,534||11||10||334,385||16||9||—|
|2||Victualling and Clothing for the Navy.||3,074||16||3||—||—||109,334||11||0|
|4||Fleet Air Arm||—||—||—||—|
|7||Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Fleet Reserve, and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, etc,.||—||561||1||8||21,447||8||2||—|
|8||Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, etc.:|
|Sec. 1. Personnel||14,886||19||9||26,902||2||1||—||—|
|Sec. 2. Matériel||—||177,329||11||0||301,945||6||5||—|
|Sec. 3. Contract Work||183,317||9||11||17,788||5||0||—||—|
|10||Works, Buildings, and Repairs at Home and Abroad.||—||164,792||16||1||330,742||17||10||—|
|11||Various Miscellaneous Effective Services.||21,635||12||3||13,883||12||8||—||—|
|13||Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine), Officers.||—||—||74,937||13||7||2,506||12||9|
|14||Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine), Men.||44,773||13||1||2,910||19||5||—||—|
|15||Civil Superannuation, Compensation, Allowances, and Gratuties.||92,082||13||10||—||—||2,856||19||10|
|Total Deficits £905,956 6 5||Total Surpluses £1,401,508 10 4|
|Net Surplus £495,552 3 11|
§ "Whereas it appears by the Air Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March 1926, that the aggregate1892
§ over the net expenditure is £495,552 3s. 11d,. 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 Navy Services as is necessary to make good the said total deficits on other Grants for Navy Services.
§ Resolved, That the application of such sums be sanctioned."—[Mr. McNeill.]
§ expenditure on Air Services has not exceeded the aggregate mans appropriated for these Services, and that, as shown in the 1893 Schedule hereto appended, the net surplus of the Exchequer Grants for Air Services over the net expenditure is £63,007 Os. 9d., namely:
|No. of Vote.||Air Services, 1925–26. Votes.||Deficits.||Surpluses.|
|Execesses of actual over estimated gross Expenditure.||Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.||Surpluses of estimated over actual gross Expenditure.||Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.|
|1||Pay, etc., of the Air Force||—||—||181,091||8||10||46,314||6||7|
|2||Quartering, Stores (except Technical), Suplies, and Transport.||—||116,315||17||4||173,037||13||6||—|
|3||Technical and Warlike Stores (including Experimental and Research Services)||141,817||10||11||40,387||13||0||—||—|
|4||Works, Buildings, and Lands||230,169||4||4||—||—||44,015||1||2|
|7||Auxiliary and Reserve Forces||—||988||13||5||50,931||8||6||—|
|9||Meteorological and Miscellaneous Effective Services.||—||11,110||6||10||10,489||2||7||—|
|11||Half-Pay, Pensions, and other Non-Effective Services.||—||541||3||3||5,488||12||0||—|
|—||Balances Irrecoverable and Claims Abondoned.||3,755||1||5||—||—||—|
|Total Deficits £563,547 17 9||Total Surpluses £626,554 18 6|
|Net Surplus £63,007 0 9|
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
One of these Votes has already gone through without challenge, but I think we are entitled to an explanation of what this means. If I understand the Order Paper correctly, we have on the particular Vote under discussion a sum of nearly £250,000 in excess of the estimated gross expenditure. That sum is in connection with works, buildings and land. On the other side of the account we have surpluses among savings in respect of medical services, civil aviation, meteorological and other services. It seems to me that if money is to be saved on these three very valuable services and money is to be under-estimated by £250,000 on works, buildings and land, the Committee is entitled to some explanation as to how these figures come about.
§ 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.
§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed, That the application of such sums be sanctioned."—[Sir Samuel Hoare.]
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Samuel Hoare)
The big under-expenditure referred to is due to two causes, first of all the slowing down of the expansion programme for the home defence force. The hon. Member will remember the deceleration of that programme, which meant a very substantial diminution of the estimated expenditure. The other reason was mainly connected with the slow progress that was made with the buildings at the Croydon Aerodrome, as the result of circumstances over which we had no control. A road had to be diverted, and there were other things as a result of which we did not spend anything like the amount of money that we expected to spend. As to the other services to which the hon. Gentleman referred, in 1895 the case of civil aviation the difference, again, is due to the Croydon programme going so slowly. It was not in any way due to the cutting down of subsidies or any of the other encouragements to civil aviation.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I understand the right hon. Gentleman's explanation about the surplus of £90,000 in respect of civil aviation, but the other item to which he was referring just now, namely, "Works, buildings and lands, £230,000," is not a saving but a deficit. In the words of the Vote it is "Over-estimated gross expenditure."
§ Sir S. HOARE
There was an overhead cut in the programme of works, and, taking the cut into account, there was no substantial deficiency at all. I remember that when I was introducing the Estimates, I said that there had been a cut, and that very probably there would be overspending, and I should have to come to the House for a Supplementary Estimate. As a matter of fact, I did not have to do so. In regard to civil aviation, as I have said, there has been no diminution in the grants. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's other question, as to reserves, there we found that our programme for building up reserves did not go as quickly as we expected, for various reasons of detail which I can give the hon. Gentleman if he desires them. The result was that we were not so far advanced with it as we expected to be. Since then, we have made up time, and we are now pretty well ahead with the programme.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
I am sorry to ask the right hon. Gentleman questions for which quite excusably, he may not be adequately prepared, but there are one or two items here which I think ought not to be allowed to pass without some explanation. When one finds items such as "Balances, irrecoverable" and "Claims abandoned," one would like to know what are these irrecoverable balances and abandoned claims, and why they have been abandoned or are irrecoverable. This is only a small matter, and I am asking for an explanation as much out of curiosity as for any other reason, because one generally finds that there is a good deal of interest in these 1896 little amounts. There is, however, a much larger amount, namely:Pay, etc., of the Air Force (surplus of estimated over actual gross expenditure) £184,091 8s. 10d.That is a substantial amount, and I should like to ask how it has come about. The sum involved is very large, and I think we ought to have some more detailed explanation, if the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to give it.
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
When the hon. and gallant Gentleman talks about balances irrecoverable and claims abandoned, is he not rather confusing the matter? Does not that relate, not to the Air Force, but to a fund known as the Lloyd George War Fund?
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The figure "Balances Irrecoverable, £3,700" is on a total expenditure of about £20,000,000, and I think, therefore, that the House need not be very suspicious about it. In any case, the Public Accounts Committee have had an opportunity of going into this small item detail by detail. It is a very small figure, a great deal less than has been the case in the past. As to the question of pay, the general answer is that there again deceleration of the home defence programme has meant that we required fewer men and officers than we expected at the beginning of the year. The programme was only decelerated some time during the course of the year. At the beginning of the year we did not know that it would be slowed down and we estimated for a larger number of officers and men than we subsequently discovered we needed.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Is any part of these sums in the column showing surpluses from Cardington, where you are supposed to be building a shed to hold a lighterthan-air machine that we cannot get any information about?
§ Sir S. HOARE
This is the statement of 1925–6. The airship programme then had scarcely begun. There was no substantial surplus or deficiency upon the Cardington Factory that year.
§ Mr. HARDIE
While that statement is true, it is not true to say money had not been allotted for the purpose. Much has not been done yet though there has been money spent.
The only matters in Order now are an explanation of why in some cases there has been over-estimating and in others under-estimating, and in consequence, what the surplus has been, and whether that surplus shall be sanctioned by the Committee.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
It is on that very point that I rise. I want to know why Scotland does not come in on the Estimate for the Air Force. We have as much right to be considered as England.
I am afraid the hon. Member is two years too late. This is as to how certain sums were spent in the year ending 31st March, 1926, and the opportunity for raising questions as to these Estimates was some time in 1925. The only question now is why there has been over-estimating on some heads and under-estimating on others. The policy of the Estimates themselves is not now in question.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to know why Scotland cannot be considered here. There is evidently a deficit on one hand and a surplus on the other. I want to know why Scotland is neglected.
The hon. Member must raise this point on the Air Estimates for 1927–28, and not on those for the past year.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.