§ 49. Mr. W. THORNE
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the nonpayment of principal due on loans incurred by the West Ham Poor Law Union; that under the provisions of the Act, 22 and 23 Victoria, Clause 49, Section 1, all debts contracted by the guardians should be paid within the half-year they have been incurred or become due; that relief orders, each and kind, are being made by members of the Union Road staff, who are neither guardians nor relieving officers; and that relieving officers have no power to grant relief in money; and if he intends taking any action in consequence of these illegalities?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
My right hon. Friend has, on the recommendations of the Goschen Committee revised the terms upon which advances were originally made to the guardians, and postponed the date upon which certain instalments of principal would otherwise have been due. These instalments, therefore, do not become due on the dates originally fixed; and there has been no such failure to make due payments as is suggested in the question, and no contravention of the Act cited by the hon. Member. As regards the second part of the question, Article 4 of the West Ham Union (Default) Order, 1926, directs that the Orders and Regulations in force in the Union shall have effect subject to such adaptations as the circumstances may require. As regards the third part, my right hon. Friend understands that the relieving officers are not granting relief in money on their own authority. In these circumstances, there seems to be no ground for action on his part.
§ Mr. THORNE
Is it not a fact that in consequence of this postponement the Commissioners are being relieved to the extent of something like £50,000 in one year, which is equivalent to a 4d. rate which they have remitted?
§ Sir K. WOOD
No. I think that what my right hon. Friend had in mind, in making the arrangement referred to, was that the present guardians have ceased to borrow at the rate of some £450,000 year to meet current expenditure, and, in view of these great economies, he has thought fit to make the arrangement referred to.
§ Mr. THORNE
Is it not a fact that had the late board of guardians been functioning, they would have been called upon to pay over £50,000 more than the Commissioners have already paid?
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
Is it not also the case that they would have borrowed the money to repay the debt?