HC Deb 01 February 1934 vol 285 cc538-40
52. Mr. T. SMITH

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the Grimsby Health Committee have been presented with a bill for £12 10s. alleged to have been incurred as hotel expenses by him while visiting Grimsby recently; and whether this expenditure is to be a charge on the local rates?


The hon. Member has been misinformed. The facts are stated as follows in a letter from the Town Clerk of Grimsby which, with the permission of the House, I will read: With regard to the question which I understand Mr. Thomas Smith intends to raise, respecting the payment of the expenses of the Minister of Health on his visit to Grimsby, I beg to state that Sir Hilton Young and Sir Arthur Robinson (the Permanent Secretary), at the invitation of the corporation, stayed at the Royal Hotel, Grimsby. The account to which reference is made was for the sum of £12 10s. 2d., and not only included the charge for accommodation, but also for a dinner which the corporation arranged in order to give the Minister an opportunity of meeting the mayor, the chairmen of the various committees, and the chief officials, prior to the inspection of the health services of this borough. At the end of the visit, Sir Arthur Robinson was desirous of discharging the hotel bill, but, acting on the instructions of my committee, I refused to allow him to do so. The account has since been paid by the corporation, in accordance with the express wish of the council.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the protest with regard to this bill was made in the first place by councillors in Grimsby? [An HON. MEMBER: "One councillor!"] Also, is he aware that the Press gave publicity to that protest? Seeing that the right hon. Gentleman states in his answer that I have been misinformed on this matter, is he aware—and I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, to have to say this—that the information now given is different from the information which was given to me on Tuesday of this week when I was pressed not to put the question. [HON. MEMBERS: "By whom?"] By people connected with the Minister of Health. As a matter of fact, now that the right hon. Gentleman says that I was misinformed, is the Minister aware that the information given to me, which I did not intend to disclose except for the first part of the answer, was given to me by his own Parliamentary Secretary? Further than that, is he intending to take steps to correct the impression which has now been created in Grimsby and district as a result of the protest made by local councillors, who stated that they hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would never visit the town again in such circumstances?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the feeling which has been aroused, both in Grimsby and throughout Lincolnshire, is one of great disgust at the affront which has been made to their hospitable feelings by a question of this kind, hospitable feelings which they have freely shown to Ministers of whatever political complexion and, in the past, sometimes to their Parliamentary Private Secretaries?


Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether at this dinner he had in mind the Ministry of Health standard as to the amount of proteins?


May I ask how this bill of expenses compares with the bill of expenses of the average trade union delegate?


This is becoming a Debate, and might now properly be raised on the Estimate.