HC Deb 29 March 1946 vol 421 cc785-7

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [15th March]: That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in pursuance of the provisions of Section 157 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935, praying that the Government of Burma (Governor's Emergency Allowances, Repair of Furnishings) Order, 1946, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament.

Question again proposed.

3.53 P.m.

Sir William Darlinģ (Edinburgh, South)

I cannot quite agree in silence to this humble Address. I may be unique, but I know nothing about this. Is it the Governor's emergency allowance for furnishing? Where shall I get the infor- mation about this matter? I want some explanation. I would be glad to know something about this matter before I say either "Aye" or" No."

3.54 P.m.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

May I reinforce what my hon. Friend has said by asking some Member of the Government how long these allowances are likely to go on? We should really be given some information, because we have to find the money and take the blame in our constituencies for spending the money. I do not want to blame the hon. Gentleman opposite, but I wish to put the point of view that we all have a part to play. I know the hon. Gentleman opposite will do his best to help us because it is very awkward when we are questioned and do not know precisely what the matter is. The hon. Gentleman has a wonderful platform to enable him to come forward and tell us all about this thing.

3.55 P.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for India (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that this is an adjourned Debate, and that this Order was before the House some days ago, when an opportunity was provided for asking for any information that the hon. Gentleman required in explanation of this particular Order. However, I am quite happy to satisfy the hon. Gentleman. The explanation is this, that during the occupation of Burma by the Japanese forces, the Governor's residences at Rangoon, Mandalay and Maymyo were, as one would expect, looted by the Japanese, and it is necessary to provide furniture for those places of residence which are used by the Governor of Burma. The sole object of this particular Order is to enable money to be expended upon furnishings for the residences of the Governor of Burma.

Mr. C. Williams

How much?

Mr. Henderson

The amount is left to the discretion of the Secretary of State. That is quite consistent with the main Order which was passed in 1936, which also gave discretion to the Secretary of State in respect of structural alterations of the residences. This is applying the same principle in respect of providing furniture for the residences.

Mr. Williams

Before the hon. and learned Gentleman sits down, I think we are entitled to some sort of estimate of this, maybe only a provisional one, but is, it £10,000, £5,000 or £50,000?

Mr. Henderson

I think we can take it that the estimate will be very carefully scrutinised by the Department responsible for sanctioning expenditure, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it will be very well within £50,000 or possibly even £10,000. I am not able to give an exact estimate because the Governor is at present having his estimates formulated, and there is no exact amount before us.

3.58 p.m.

Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox (Henley)

Could we be given an assurance that this will also include air conditioning? I had an opportunity once of staying in the Governor's house in Burma and found the nights unbearably hot and I could not sleep properly. If there could be air conditioning, I am sure it would be of great benefit not only to the Governor but to all the people who live in Burma.

Question put, and agreed to.

Address to be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.