§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Cahir Healy (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 1, to leave out "ten" and insert "four."
This Amendment would limit the amount of the expenses to be allowed to the Governor from£10,000 to£4,000. My colleagues and I think that that is ample for his needs. There are now many suitable applicants in Northern Ireland and outside who would like to discharge these duties at the salary and expenses at present allowed. The duties are merely of a nominal character, and we know many public people and people in the professions who would discharge the duties pertaining to this office with credit, if not with distinction.
If£1,000 had been asked, in view of the circumstances of the time, I might have seen a good deal more reason, but that there should be a jump from£8,000 to£14,000 evidently shows that the Northern Ireland Government have reserved this vote for some favourite of theirs. The Northern Ireland Government call the tune, but the Treasury here pays the piper. It is said by some of our friends that we ought not to oppose this increase for the reason that, since the Exchequer here pays, it is only logical and reasonable that the Government here ought to be made to pay a penalty for imposing partition on Ireland, and therefore we should not oppose it.
1810 That argument would appeal to me if we were not part of the general taxpayers of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It strikes me as being unfair that we who were opposed to partition should now be taxed to pay for it. That is the position. There is no reason why somebody who protested against partition should be made to pay for partition. That is why my colleague and I oppose the increase.
Already the Northern Ireland Government have succeeded in reducing their liability for the salary from£5,000, arranged under the 1920 Act, to the£2,000 which they pay now. Now they want to get rid of it altogether and place the burden on somebody else's shoulders. It is remarkable that we have not had any demand for an increase until a gentleman from this country filled the position. For a quarter of a century the Duke of Abercorn occupied the post as Governor of Northern Ireland, and he lived all that time in the Six Counties.
I saw it reported the other day that Lord Wakehurst attended a function in Strabane. An address was presented to him. It was mainly concerned with protests against the high rate of unemployment. He confided to the deputation——
I do not think that it is in order on this Amendment to discuss petitions and unemployment. The Amendment is merely to reduce the expenses.
§ Mr. Healy
I want to show that the previous holder of the office, at a salary of£8,000 a year, discharged his duties with efficiency and to the satisfaction of everybody concerned. I hope that that will be considered relevant. He went about, as I suppose a Governor should, opening parish bazaars and Orange halls. In Northern Ireland it is part of the duties 1811 of the Governor to open Orange halls. He would not be kept long in the post if he did not.
§ Lieut.-Colonel H. M. Hyde (Belfast, North)
I think that it is true to say that none of the three Governors of Northern Ireland has ever opened an Orange hall.
I hope that no one on either side of the Committee will attempt to get out of order.
I hope that hon. Members will direct their minds to the Amendment, which is to reduce the amount allowed for expenses and has nothing to do with whether halls are opened for one colour or another.
§ Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)
Surely, if in the course of his duties the Governor has to open Orange halls and the expenses are met by this country, it is in order to discuss how he spends those expenses?
§ 8.15 p.m.
It cannot be in order to discuss that on this Amendment, which is concerned only with the amount the Governor should be allowed.
Discussion about the nature of any halls opened cannot be in order on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Healy
The salary the Governor had for that quarter of a century was£8,000. I am certain that on that salary he was able to go around doing all the ordinary duties, as well as opening Orange halls. He was the leader of the Tories for all that time. He also got the credit for bringing a number of industries to Northern Ireland. I am sure that he did his best. The name of the Duke of Abercorn was such that it might appeal to many industrialists across here. There was nothing Socialist or Nationalist about him. He was able to assure the people here that the workers of Northern Ireland would not make any trouble over wages or hours.
1812 He never asked for an increase in the 25 years during which he filled the post. He entertained, he dined, he wined, he did everything pertaining to his office, and I never heard anything but praise of his social qualities. He was paid for the whole period, and when he died I never heard that he was in debt through serving in that post.
He was followed by Earl Granville. He made no complaint about the salary or expenses. He did not over-stay his welcome, and he cleared out of Northern Ireland when his period of office expired. The present holder, Lord Wakehurst, has come on the scene, and he makes a demand, not for an additional£1,000, but for an increase of 80 per cent. He knew what the salary and emoluments were when he was offered the position. Why should he have accepted if they were not sufficient.
The size of the territory has not increased, and I am sure that his duties have not been added to. Lord Craigavon coined a phrase, "Not an inch" in relation to the Boundary Commission. Bearing in mind his old friend the Duke of Abercorn who was paid£8,000 for 25 years, he would have said to Lord Wakehurst, "Not a penny." In my opinion, and in that of the people of Northern Ireland, he is not worth an increase of£6,000.
In addition, we are saving him probably another£1,000 in Income Tax, because the£8,000 hitherto received was by way of salary and allowances. The salary is to be reduced to£4,000, obviously to reduce the Income Tax, but the allowances, on which no tax will be paid, are to be increased to£10,000.
Is Northern Ireland more important to the British Empire than Canada, New Zealand or Australia? Northern Ireland has a population only equal to that of Glasgow or Birmingham, and I believe that the Lord Mayor of Glasgow receives no salary. The Viceregal Lodge is situated in the wilds, miles from anywhere, and nobody ever goes there except Parliamentary Secretaries and gentlemen seeking jobs.
This is a most inopportune time at which to increase the salary of anybody in Northern Ireland, especially of one at the head of the administration. About a thousand people have been put off from work in the shipyards of Belfast. We are reducing the subsidy on housing and the 1813 amount allocated for hospitals. Our National Assistance is being reduced in some cases to 15s. for an individual. When in so many matters we are being so stringent, is this the time to increase the salary of the head of affairs by£6,000, or 80 per cent.?
The dwelling of the Governor is costing the taxpayers of Northern Ireland£23,000. That is for one household and one man. Of that sum,£9,000 goes to the Board of Trade for various duties, such as heating, lighting and cleaning the building. The rest goes by way of expenses and salaries. It is one of the most expensive luxuries in Northern Ireland, next in fact to the gentlemen who look after the Prime Minister. His chauffeur receives£1,000 a year.
I see some hon. Members opposite who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland, and I have no doubt that we shall be hearing from them. I should like therefore to ask this question of them. There are 2,000 branches of the Ulster Farmers' Union and hundreds of branches of the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. Have they received one resolution from all these bodies asking that the salary of the Governor be increased? It is no use talking round the subject. I want them to put their finger on that, because it seems to me to be the vital point. There are 70 public bodies in Northern Ireland, including corporations, urban councils, borough councils and rural councils. Has a single resolution been received from one of those bodies asking hon. Members opposite to support an increase in the Governor's salary?
On the contrary, many of these public bodies believe that in a small community like Northern Ireland, with a population equal to that of Glasgow, the Governor is already too highly paid—and so is the Prime Minister and the whole set-up. In fact, they are of opinion that this country's Exchequer must have money to burn when the suggestion is made here that the salary should be increased to this extent. If we have money to burn, there are a lot of people in Northern Ireland who would like to sit by the fire and warm their hands at the flames—particularly in this cold weather. I believe this to be in the nature of a bribe to make partition and the positions connected with it more attractive than they are at the moment. But notwithstanding this proposed increase and this subtle bribe, I believe that 1814 there is no Irishman in Northern Ireland worthy of his name who would accept the offer.
The Government of Ireland Act presupposes that Northern Ireland pays an Imperial contribution of£8 million. On balance, Northern Ireland pays nothing whatever. If we take into account the various Departmental and other grants for the social services, and for agriculture and other things, I believe that we are driving a coach and four through the 1920 Act by all these subventions and grants, and not the least by this one. In those circumstances, my colleagues and I hope that the grant will not become operative.
§ Professor Sir Douglas Savory (Antrim, South)
We discussed this question almost ad nauseam on Second Reading, when all the arguments we have heard tonight were fully answered.
What the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) has said about the Duke of Abercorn was answered during the Second Reading debate, when I pointed out that, especially during the latter part of his governorship, the Duke of Abercorn was out of pocket by thousands of pounds. His successor, Earl Granville, made a formal complaint to the Government that it was impossible for him to carry on because he was being absolutely ruined by the immense charges he had to undergo. Is it not therefore natural that the present Governor, in presenting his accounts, should have appealed to the Government that it was impossible for him to make ends meet?
What the hon. Member has said is entirely contrary to the facts, all of which were set out very fully and in detail during the Second Reading debate. The hon. Member brought up the point, to which I replied on that occasion, regarding the contribution formerly made by the Government of Northern Ireland and which amounted to£2,000. I explained, and the Minister fully agreed with me, that as the Government of Northern Ireland were taking over the secretarial and office expenses, that would be roughly equivalent to the£2,000 which they had already been paying.
On Second Reading, I gave the various comparable salaries earned by the Governors of New South Wales, New Zealand, the Isle of Man and so on, showing that this increase was altogether 1815 reasonable. As the Governor of Northern Ireland represents Her Majesty, I think that we are entitled to compare what it is proposed to grant to him for expenses with the expenses given to our ambassadors abroad. I should like the Committee to consider some relevant figures. The Ambassador to Sweden receives£8,000 for his expenses; the Ambassador to Poland gets£14,450; the Ambassador to Austria receives an allowance of£11,460; the Ambassador to Belgium receives£11,200; the Ambassador to France receives£22,390—not subject to Income Tax—and the Ambassador to Italy receives£10,370. In view of those figures and the fact that they have not to be accounted for, whereas the Governor of Northern Ireland has to prove that his expenses amount to a certain sum, up to a maximum of£10,000—and this amount is doubly checked——
§ Dr. H. Morgan
Is this in order, Sir Rhys? I do not think that it has any relevance to the discussion.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Sir D. Savory
I was arguing that there is a difference between the money paid to our Ambassadors for their expenses and the money paid to the Governor of Northern Ireland. The Ambassadors do not have to account for their expenses, but those of the Governor of Northern Ireland are checked twice—once by the Home Secretary and again by the Treasury. If his expenses do not amount to£10,000 he does not receive the excess. These expenses are public expenses. All private expenses have to be paid for by the Governor himself.
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone challenged other Ulster Members as well as myself to cite any local body or authority which had demanded an increase in the Governor's salary. The answer is obvious; it is not their business. Why should a county council put forward such a resolution? It would be entirely out of order for it to do so. The proper people to put forward this demand are the Government of Northern Ireland, because they know the extent of the Governor's expenses. I am sure, however, that the overwhelming 1816 majority of county councils and other authorities in Northern Ireland will approve of this expenditure, because the present Governor has shown himself worthy of his office.
He has undertaken every possible kind of public function. He has presided at prize-givings and has visited the towns of Northern Ireland. The hon. Member mentioned his visit to Strabane. The Governor has also made a tour of important towns like Carrickfergus. I feel sure that the Committee would think it dishonourable to ask that the Governor should continue to go on losing thousands of pounds a year simply because he is honestly trying to discharge the duties of Her Majesty's Goverment's representative.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
We have heard two speeches by Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies, but I think that we are all interested in this matter. We are here concerned with part of the expenditure of the United Kingdom. I represent a Scottish constituency, and I sometimes have the pleasure of looking over Northern Ireland. We do not begrudge them their internal controversies, but when they ask for money from us we are entitled to be told exactly what the money is for, and the justification for any increase in expenditure.
I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be shocked when he reads the speech which has just been made by the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Sir D.Savory). Last Thursday the Chancellor told us about our serious economic condition, and mentioned the need for restraint and for considering our expenditure. Our situation is so bad that we even have to restrict the hire purchase of perambulators. Is this the time to set an example of reckless expenditure upon what seems to me to be an unnecessary luxury?
The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Sir D. Savory) has compared the position of the Governor with that of the ambassadors to France, Poland, and other European countries, but I regard the Governorship of Northern Ireland as a tinpot, ridiculous job, which could easily be done for a much lower salary. The Prime Minister has repeatedly been asked when he is going to increase the salaries of junior Ministers. His reply always has been, "Well, this is not an urgent matter." 1817 I am quite sure that the junior Minister representing the Home Office, who is sitting on the Government Front Bench this evening, does far more work than the Governor of Northern Ireland.
I have listened carefully to the debate to try to find out what the Governor does. I have been able to find out what the Governor does not do—that he does not open the Orange lodges. If he does not open the Orange lodges in Northern Ireland, what on earth does he do? If the financial situation in this country is really as bad as the Chancellor has made out, this is the time for restraint. This is the time to stop expenditure on unnecessary administrative luxuries.
I do not see why the Governor of Northern Ireland should receive anything at all. I think that any one of the hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies could do all that is necessary in that particular job, and could do it in a very short time. I think that it is entirely off the mark to compare the Governorship of Northern Ireland with that of New Zealand or of New South Wales. After all, one can get to Northern Ireland in a couple of hours by train from London to Belfast, and all the really essential duties necessary in Northern Ireland can be done in a couple of days.
I was quite unaware, until I heard so this afternoon, that the sum of£8,000 is allotted by the Treasury to the Governor of Northern Ireland. I suggest that those hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies do far more work than the Governor of Northern Ireland. It is ridiculous to ask for a functionary of this kind this extravagant sum. I suggest that this is a job that should have been undertaken in connection with the Civil List. I think that one of our Royal Family could very well go to Belfast, in a couple of hours, for two or three days a year, and do the job without any increase in expenditure at all. I am sure that the Duke of Gloucester or the Duke of Windsor would be quite pleased to do that out of affection for and loyalty to Northern Ireland.
This is a time when the Government should set an example in economy. I appeal to the Minister to withdraw the Bill. There is no demand for it. There have been public meetings recently in Northern Ireland, but not to demand an increase of salary for the Governor. They 1818 have been organised for the purpose of calling attention to unemployment. I shall not go into that matter, but I suggest that if the Government are serious in facing the economic position of the country at the present time they should set an example of austerity to the nation and withdraw the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel H. M. Hyde (Belfast, North)
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has told us that he does not know what the Governor of Northern Ireland does, and he also told us that he thought that some of my hon. Friends who represent Northern Ireland constituencies could do the job equally well. He pointed out that it was not necessary to have a Governor, and he proposed that the Duke of Gloucester should visit Northern Ireland from time to time to do what he could. May I say that we are very devoted to the Duke of Gloucester, one of whose titles is that of Earl of Ulster, and we are always extremely pleased to see His Royal Highness.
I think, however, that the hon. Member has missed the point, because under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, the province of Ulster was given a local Parliament for local affairs and a Governor.
It is only fair to say—or to repeat, because this point was made during the Second Reading debate—that the Unionist Members who represented Irish constituencies in this House did not oppose the Government of Ireland Act, but they did not vote for it. The Unionist Members wished to remain under the jurisdiction of this honourable House and of Westminster. We did not want a Governor-General at all, or a local Parliament. As part of the compromise to settle the age-old Irish question, we accepted that arrangement, which was embodied in the Government of Ireland Act. We undertook, as Lord Carson, our leader at that time indicated, to work that Act loyally.
After 32 years, I think we can say that we have worked the Act loyally. This House, having decided that we should have a local Parliament for local affairs and a Governor-General and having voted money for that purpose, should maintain the Governor-General as the representative of Her Majesty in such a condition that he can discharge the functions which fall to him as Her Majesty's representative.
1819 The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) doubted whether the Governor had been out of pocket as had been represented because he knew nothing about it. I certainly knew of my own personal knowledge, because I had the friendship of the late Duke of Abercorn, that he was substantially out of pocket. He put his hand into his own pocket to pay the expenses, and he was too decent a man to make a protest at that time. He carried on for the best part of 15 years.
It is only by hearsay that I know that subsequent Governors-General have been out of pocket. Certainly the first Governor-General was considerably out of pocket. The only point I am making is the very simple one that this House, having given us a Governor-General, should maintain him in such a way that he can discharge his duties as the Queen's representative adequately and efficiently.
§ Mr. Michael O'Neill (Mid-Ulster)
The argument in favour of this increase of£10,000 is that previous Governors indicated that they had been extensively out of pocket. In listening to the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Sir D. Savory) I gathered that that was the only real point which he made in support of the increase.
He mentioned that Lord Granville, who was the present Governor's predecessor, made no secret of the fact that he had informed the Government that he was extensively out of pocket. We may presume from that, that the Government were well aware, previous to appointing the present Governor, that he could accept this office only at a sacrifice. I wonder what he was told. Was he told when this appointment was made that he was going to be extensively out of pocket? If he was, did he accept it on those terms, or did he accept it with the suggestion that if he had it for a year or two—he has had it now for two years—his expenses would be increased?
If one of the professed political aims of the Tory Party is economy in every branch of administration, why do not they say to the Governor, "You are taking on this job, you will be out of pocket, and our suggestion to you is that you should economise and bring your expenses down to the limit of the present expenditure?" That would seem to me 1820 to be more in keeping with the professed policy of the Tory Party than the proposal outlined in this Bill. Apparently, however, the Tory Party does not seem to practice what it preaches, at least as far as Northern Ireland is concerned.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ There is another point of some significance. This£10,000 is to be devoted to expenses, and I understand that it will be absolutely free of Income Tax. That is a substantial relief to anybody in these days of very high rates of Income Tax.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Hyde
It is not true to say that the£10,000 is free of Income Tax. The claim for expenses has to be submitted to the Treasury in accordance with the usual procedure.
§ Mr. O'Neill
No; I think my interpretation of the reply which the Minister gave on Second Reading was that this£10,000 would not be subject to Income Tax, and that only the£4,000 salary would be subject to Income Tax in the ordinary way. I understand that this£10,000 is to be solely for expenses, and that it will not in any manner be subject to Income Tax.
Here again, the Government have set a very unfair precedent, because I know for a fact that certain professional bodies, such as schoolteachers and doctors, have made representations to the Treasury to the effect that certain expenses in connection with their duties should be taken into consideration for the purpose of Income Tax allowances. The Treasury has refused point blank to accept those representations on the grounds of principle. Apparently, a question of principle is involved here—the principle that a salaried official cannot claim for expenses incurred in connection with his job—but here we have the Governor being allocated the vast sum of£10,000, which is to be free of Income Tax, and that, I think, is totally unfair.
Another difficulty which I can foresee is the way in which these expenses are to be determined. What part of the functions of the Governor will rank as expenses? It has been mentioned here that he may open an Orange hall. Well, if the Governor opens an Orange hall, will that be included in his expenses?
§ Mr. O'Neill
The Governor may take a trip to America, and we know perfectly well that, if he goes to America, it will be a propaganda trip in support of the Tory Party in the Six Counties. Will that sort of expenditure rank for recoupment out of the£10,000? If so, we think it is very unfair.
Another difficulty will be to determine the expenses of the household at Hills-borough which will rank as official expenses, as against the personal and family expenses of the Governor. The Home Secretary has explained to us that the Governor would be expected to make a contribution for his personal and family expenses and for his personal guests. I should like to know who will determine who, at a certain period, are the State guests in the Governor's house and who the personal guests, which wine will be paid for by the State and which paid for by the Governor. All that kind of difficulty will crop up, and I think that we are setting a very unfair precedent. The scope of this proposal is far too wide, and it will leave the office open to abuses—and it is being very seriously abused.
We must also consider that in addition to the£10,000, Parliament here is undertaking responsibility for the heating, lighting, fuel, equipment, furniture, staff salaries, and a chauffeur and an official car for Hillsborough. This will be met from a separate Vote, apart from the£10,000, from the Public Buildings Account, and is expected to amount to a further£9,000, making the total expenses of the Governor£23,000 a year.
That is out of all proportion to the services which the Governor of Northern Ireland offers this country. The total population of the area is equivalent only to that of Birmingham or Glasgow, and I think that this Parliament would be very dilatory in voting£23,000 for a lord mayor of Glasgow or Birmingham. Therefore, it is entirely out of reason to vote this ridiculous sum of£10,000 for expenses.
We should also consider whether the duties of the Governor merit the spending of this considerable amount of money; in other words, whether there is appreciation in Northern Ireland to the people 1822 here for their generosity. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has inquired what the duties of the Governor are. I know of only one of his functions. His main function, I think, is to sign Bills which bring nothing but mockery to the democratic institutions of this country. The Bills and the different Orders that the Governor is called upon to sign do nothing but discredit this country in the eyes of the world. And that is the Governor's principal function.
It is very significant from every Irishman's point of view—and it should not be something for a Member from Ireland to have to raise in this House—that ever since partition was established by the 1920 Act, the principal Irish Measures to be brought before this House have been financial Measures, each and every one of which has had the sole objective of giving financial relief to the Six Counties of Northern Ireland. Each and every Measure from 1920 to the present day has formed one long succession of financial reliefs. In other words, this Government here continues to subsidise partition in the Six Counties.
It is made more and more impossible for Irish people to come together and resolve their grievances so long as Parliament here votes these vast sums to interfere—for it is interference—in Irish affairs, and to consolidate the one political party in that one area of Ireland. It is being made physically impossible for the Irish question to become resolved. Therefore, I think that the people in this country will get no appreciation whatever from the Irish people for putting their hands in their pockets to this extent.
The duties of the Governor, as we see them, are merely that he continues to represent the over lordship of Britain over that part of Ireland which is called the six counties of Northern Ireland. No matter what money this Parliament spends on the Governor's office, no matter how much it is prepared to vote from this country, we shall never look upon it in any other light. The time has come when this country should consider seriously the whole question of leaving the Irish people to determine their own affairs among themselves.
§ Mr. Delargy
I donot wish to imply any criticism of the Chair, but I remind you, Sir Charles, that so far we have had five speeches, four of which have been 1823 delivered by hon. Members representing Northern Ireland and one by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), representing a Scottish constituency, and that I am the first Member representing an English constituency to be given, an opportunity to protest against the spending of a sum of money which will be contributed largely by English taxpayers.
Unlike my hon. Friends the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) and the Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. M. O'Neill), I am not making any protest on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland. I have no responsibility to them. I have a responsibility to the people of the United Kingdom, and a special responsibility to the people of Thurrock, who do not like to see their taxes increased on behalf of an institution in which they have no interest at all.
I know that this is a difficult question to answer, but I should like the Home Secretary to tell the Committee how the Governor will spend this enormous sum of£10,000. We are already assured that he does not pay any rent, that he has no fuel or transport costs, and does not pay his own office staff. On what will he spend£10,000? The Committee should have some indication before we are asked to vote in favour of the Clause.
The Amendment is far too mild. Although I support the Amendment, I should not have named a sum of money in it. I should have excluded words from the Clause and made it so read as to provide that the Governor's expenses in Northern Ireland should be determined by the Secretary of State. That would be much more equitable. I notice that the words, "from time to time determine" appear in the Clause. My recollection is that I asked the Home Secretary on Second Reading what the words meant, and that he assured me that they meant that this sum of money would be reviewed annually. I should be grateful for that assurance today.
I am very much in favour of the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire that if the office of Governor were abolished, the hon. Members representing the Six Counties might take it in turn to fulfil the duties of that office. There are 12 of them. My hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and 1824 South Tyrone would make an admirable Governor, even in a temporary capacity. It all goes to show how little the Governor has to do in Northern Ireland.
I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) on the Opposition Front Bench. He and one or two of my hon. Friends have done more at a week-end than the Government or the Governor of Northern Ireland have been able to do in the last 25 years. They, at least, have drawn attention to the parlous condition of employment in Northern Ireland. I see that the Governor is now going to send a deputation over here to discuss the very matters to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth drew attention. I also see that some work is now to be given to some of the unemployed in Northern Ireland. That is another direct result of what my hon. and right hon. Friends did when they visited Northern Ireland.
If the Governor did a similar job I should have no objection to increasing his salary, but he does not, and nobody seems to know what he does. I hope that the Home Secretary will give us an assurance about the annual review of expenses, and will tell us what the Governor will be doing in return for this sum of£10,000. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman gives us that assurance, we may not force the Committee to a Division.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
It is rather remarkable that in a debate on an Amendment such as this Members on the Government benches should remain so silent. One would have thought that they would have been very anxious to support the Home Secretary and to defend this particular Clause. But perhaps they know as well as I know why they are remaining silent.
This Bill, and more particularly this Clause, is putting last things first. Last Thursday I asked the Leader of the House whether he did not think we ought to provide time for a debate on the serious unemployment position in Northern Ireland. He could not find time for that, although he has found time for this little, miserable, niggling Bill that nobody wants. The Prime Minister, in reply to a question last Thursday on the serious position in Northern Ireland, said it was very serious and very painful.
1825 If that is so, what must be the reaction of the ordinary people in Ulster at a time when thousands of unemployed are seeking jobs which do not exist under Toryism? Imagine the single man in Ulster tonight with his 32s. 6d. a week or the married man with his 54s. a week. I bet they feel delighted that, at a time when their suffering is being ignored and when this Imperial Parliament is indifferent to their difficulties, we are finding time to remove the financial difficulties and hardships which afflict the Governor.
What I cannot understand is this. Some time ago there was a Motion before this House that Members' salaries should be increased. What did we do? It was said there were shoals of letters and bags of protests from all over the country. What for? Because we were going to give each Member on an average an increase of£250 a year. If the people who protested against the£250 for Members are remaining indifferent to an increase of£6,000, it only shows what a lot of humbugs they are. Some of us never believe that the letters arrived here. None of us read them, and we did not get any or hear about them in our constituencies.
But it seems to me a shocking thing that, at a time when Northern Ireland is going through grave economic difficulties and when large sections of the industrial population are finding it difficult to make ends meet and are denied the right to work, we should bring this Measure forward to increase the Governor's salary. To me it is very inappropriate.
This week we are going to discuss defence, and all the money we are going to spend on it is for the purpose of protecting us from the dangers of aggressive, militation Communism. Believe me, if there is anything which makes Communists, it is this sort of thing where the people right at the top who have no difficulty are voted large sums of money which in the minds of the average worker are astronomical, while at the same time there is complete indifference to the workers' well-being and welfare.
It is a standing disgrace that the Members who represent Northern Ireland are not tonight protesting about this increase. They know what is happening to their own people and they know of the difficulties and sufferings which they are under- 1826 going. For my part, I could never be a party to supporting an increase of this kind on the part of a Government which is completely indifferent to the well-being of tens of thousands of loyal citizens in Ulster.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
The Committee this evening is having to determine whether the maximum expenses of the Governor shall be at the rate of£10,000 or£4,000 a year. We are all agreed that it is a good thing that the salary of the Governor should be divorced from expenses. We have to decide what should be the maximum amount of expenses that he may incur.
I gathered from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman during the Second Reading debate that, merely because there was a maximum of£10,000 per annum, it did not necessarily mean that the Governor would spend that amount, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated that there would be an estimate of the expenses likely to be met and that the Governor would be expected to keep within that estimate. Consequently the Minister and the Treasury have decided that at no time could that estimate or the actual spending exceed£10,000 a year.
Two of my hon. Friends from Northern Ireland take the view that the maximum should be£4,000 and they have indicated that, from their own personal knowledge and as residents of Northern Ireland,£4,000 would be an ample upper limit for the expenses of the Governor. We have not discovered what the functions of the Governor are in respect of expenses that he will incur, although I gather that nothing can be charged if he opens Orange lodges.
§ Sir D. Savory
I have contradicted again and again that the Governor has ever opened Orange lodges. Why does the right hon. Gentleman repeat a charge which he knows to be untrue?
§ Mr. Robens
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has cleared up that matter, because it concerns many of us. Obviously, if the expenses of opening Orange lodges were to be charged against the Governor's expenses, it would be wrong.
We have to decide, therefore, whether the sum should be£10,000 or£4,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) made an important 1827 contribution when he said that at this time and day, when unemployment is mounting rapidly in Northern Ireland and week after week we see regretfully in the newspapers more and more discharges of workers from their jobs, it is important that if this Committee is to say that the maximum permitted expenses of the Governor shall be£10,000 per annum, we must have from the Home Secretary the details of how those expenses have been arrived at.
None of us wants or expects any servant of the Crown to incur expenses in his proper and lawful functions and duties and to pay for them out of his own pocket, and in this Bill we are determined that he shall receive a salary of£4,000 per annum out of which we do not expect him to pay expenses which he incurs directly as a result of his duties as Governor. Therefore, what the Home Secretary must do this evening, before we can part from this Amendment, is to satisfy the Committee that a sum of£10,000 is really necessary in connection with the duties and the functions of the Governor.
In view of the fact that we gave the Home Secretary due warning during the Second Reading debate that such was necessary, I hope he will tell us in detail what decided him and the Treasury officials that the maximum should be£10,000 and not£4,000, as my two hon. Friends have indicated, because they speak with great knowledge of the work performed by the Governor, and we do not know precisely what may be his functions, although the Home Secretary knows. I shall be glad, therefore, if the Home Secretary will spend his time on this one point as to why£10,000 was decided as the maximum sum which might be incurred as expenses, what he thinks the estimate might be for the first year and how, in great detail, he arrives at that estimate.
There are two reasons why I want the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to give us the information in great detail. One is for the benefit of public opinion in Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland really must be satisfied that these expenses are proper expenses and ones necessarily incurred in the duties of the Governor. The second is that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman must give the Committee very good reasons why the 1828 maximum permitted expenses should be£10,000 and not£4,000.
I hope the Home Secretary will be able to assure us by giving us great detail about the sum required. The House of Commons will never be niggardly about providing proper expenses for servants of the Crown for whom it is responsible. I should be glad if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would give us a very careful analysis of the estimate of the proposed expenditure so that the Committee may judge whether it should agree tonight to a maximum of£10,000 or the maximum of£4,000 suggested in the Amendment.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George): We have had a fairly exhaustive debate on the Amendment, as indeed we had on the Clause itself on Second Reading. I do not think the Committee has heard anything very new tonight. Therefore, hon. Members will not be surprised, I am sure, if they do not hear anything very new from me; the same speeches very often require the same answers.
One or two points have been put by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and I will do my best to deal with them. I know the difficulty of confining a discussion about this part of the world to the subject of any Amendment. So it has turned out tonight. We have had a reference to Partition, which I should have thought was entirely out of order. On that subject I would merely say that the Government are simply carrying out the statute enacted by Parliament in 1920 and amended in 1922. That question is really not relevant at present, nor, I suggest, is any resolution from the National Farmers Union which apparently did not come.
It has been pointed out that many of the present Governor's predecessors were out of pocket, and indeed the present Governor is very much out of pocket as a result of his occupying the office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said, and I agree with him, that nobody wishes any representative in such a position to experience that embarrassment.
I should like to say a word or two on the question of the salary.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
When the Governor intimated that he was out of pocket, did he say by how much? Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us that?
§ Major Lloyd-George
No, I could not say—obviously I should not know it—but I shall deal with the point in a minute. The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. M. O'Neill) asked whether the Governor knew when he took office that he would be out of pocket. I do not know whether he did, but if he read Hansard he probably did know because when the amending Act of 1922 was going through the House the Government spokesman said that one could not carry out the duties of such posts on the salaries that were paid and that every one of the salaries had been fixed below what the occupant of the post was expected to spend.
That was in 1922. I suppose that there were then a few people who could contemplate taking an official position where they would spend more than they could possibly receive, but despite all that was said by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy)—he said there were plenty of people who could do the job—I do not think there would be plenty of people who could do the job at the present time.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ I now turn to the question of the actual remuneration, which is a matter of some importance. I do not know whether it would be in order to refer to both salary and expenses, but I might do so simply to make the position quite clear and remove any misapprehension.
§ The Chairman
This Amendment deals only with expenses, but it might be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss the two, which obviously go together.
§ Major Lloyd-George
There is some confusion about this. So far as the salary is concerned—it is£4,000—that is taxable as is anybody's salary. No question arises; the£4,000 is subject to Income Tax.
The Amendment refers to the£10,000 expenses. There is a good deal of misconception about that. The Bill says that the allowance is in respect of expenses not exceeding£10,000 in any one year:… as the Secretary of State may, with the concurrence of the Treasury, from time to time determine.1830 Therefore, there is a limit to the expenses that can be claimed and that limit can be varied from time to time. What the Governor gets may from year to year be varied by the Secretary of State in concurrence with the Treasury.
How was this figure of£10,000 arrived at? It was arrived at by an examination of the accounts of expediture for a specimen year and by adjusting that expenditure to take into consideration subsequent increases in wages and costs. I can assure the House that, from the examination made, it is clear that there is not likely to be a substantial margin.
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) asked me for details. I am not able to give him actual, detailed expenses, but I can show the sort of things that would be involved. They are domestic supplies for his official duties, servants' wages, food, entertainment and the salaries of private secretaries. Judging by the examination of the specimen year's accounts, this expenditure alone would amount to almost the figure suggested in the Amendment. Salaries alone amount to about£3,600 and if to that is added just over£2,000 for food, one gets nearly£6,000 of expenses, already proved from the specimen years' accounts. These are actually proved figures and go far beyond the figure which this Amendment suggests.
When it comes to the question of how the allowance will be determined from year to year, the Committee might like to know what we have in mind. The expense allowance, which will be given, will be related to actual expenditure in any one year. Estimates will be submitted by the Governor at the beginning of the year, together with the accounts of the actual expenditure for the preceding year. The Comptroller and Auditor General will have the right of access to the relevant documents, so that there is complete control. Over-spending and under-spending during the year will be taken into account in determining the allowance for the following year.
In case I am misunderstood, let me repeat some very careful words. Somebody asked me whether this allowance of£10,000 would be subject to Income Tax. The expenses will be liable to scrutiny for Income Tax in the normal way. What that means is that they will have to be shown to have been wholly, necessarily 1831 and exclusively incurred in the performance of the duty. I think that there is a sufficient safeguard.
The estimate has to be made. That will be based on actual expenditure the previous year, and that expenditure will be very carefully scrutinised. The Secretary of State, in concurrence with the Treasury, will have to agree, and the Comptroller and Auditor General will have access to the documents. I do not think that we could possibly have a better supervision than that.
§ Major Lloyd-George
I do not think so. In any case, the hon. Gentleman need not worry. The Treasury may be relied upon to keep a careful control, and we have the Comptroller and Auditor General, too. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman need worry about that. The matter will be in pretty safe hands.
There is one other point. It was out of order to discuss unemployment on Second Reading. I want to make a short statement about it. The matter has been given great attention for a considerable time, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blythe knows. He himself has been anxious to put forward schemes, as have others. I think that I have told hon. Members before that the matter is now being examined actively, both inter-Departmentally and inter-Governmentally. I am hopeful, as the Prime Minister said recently, that the men discharged on completion of a passenger ship will be taken on for work on another ship about Easter. I hope that that will be some help.
Nobody underestimates the difficulty. We are doing everything we can to put it right.
§ Major Lloyd-George
I appreciate that. I do not want to minimise the difficulty in any way; I hope that the hon. Gentleman will acquit me of that. The fact is that the position today is a little better than it was a year ago. That does not mean to say that satisfies anybody. The Government are doing everything they possibly can to put it right.
1832 I am sure that the Committee will not be surpised to hear me say that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.