HL Deb 15 August 1921 vol 43 cc561-4

Order of the Day read for the consideration of the Third Report from the Select Committee.

The Committee reported as follows:—

That the Committee have met, and have been attended by the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.


At their last meeting the Committee appointed a Sub-Committee to inquire into the various headings in the House of Lords Estimates with A view to ascertaining what reductions were possible. It was further decided that this Sub-Committee should also consider the following questions:—

  1. (1) The question of the salary of the Clerk of the Parliaments which was raised in a letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Leader of the House in November, 1920.
  2. (2) The question of the augmentation of pensions to retired officers of the House of Lords which was raised by a petition presented to the Committee on the 16th of November, 1920.
  3. (3) The question of raising the amount of the Private Bills and judicial Fees.
The following Report by the Sub-Committee was laid before the Committee t his day:—

The Sub-Committee met on Monday, the 11th of July.

There were present the Chairman of Committees (the Earl of Donoughmore), the Marquess of Lincolnshire, the Earl of Crawford, the Lord Hylton and the Lord Buckmaster.

The Clerk of the Parliaments and the Gentlemen Usher of the Black Rod were in attendance.

The first question for the consideration of the Sub-Committee was the Treasury circular of the 13th of May, 1921, asking for a reduction in the Estimates for the financial year 1922–23.

The Sub-Committee had before them a Memorandum by the Clerk of the Parliaments dealing with the various headings of the House of Lords' Estimates, and other papers.

The Sub-Committee considered that it was impossible for them to make any detailed examination of the expenditure included in the Estimates, but they noted that the total of the present Estimates, putting aside Bonus and cost of Police, was £39,694 as compared with £39,137 in 1913–14, an increase which was very small, having regard to the extra cost of various services due to the general rise of prices. They also noted that the cost of the staff of the Clerk of the Parliaments, which is the largest item of expenditure as far as stall is concerned, had, by means of the re-organisation which took effect in March, 1919, already been reduced by at least £1,500 a year as compared with the expenditure of 1913–14.

The attention of the Sub-Committee was called to three items in connection with which some reduction in the Estimates could be effected.

The first of these was the cost of the Police, which is now £12,500 a year as compared with £4,900 in 1913–14. It was agreed that the Chairman of the Sub-Commit tee and the Marquess of Lincolnshire should meet the Commissioner of Police with a view to a reduction of this item of expenditure—a reduction which it was believed the Commissioner of Police was ready to assist.

In recommending this reduction, however, the Sub-Committee wish to put clearly on record their opinion that the responsibility for the safety of the House must ultimately rest with the Police authorities, and that any reduction must be made with their consent, having this responsibility in mind. [Since the meeting of the Sub-Committee the Chairman, accompanied by Sir Arthur Tilling and Sir Thomas Butler. has seen the Chief Commissioner of Police. The Chief Commissioner agrees to a considerable reduction, the details of which will be settled by those responsible.]

The next item to which attention was called was the amount of the War Bonus added to the pay of the various members of the staff. The total of the Estimate for War Bonus is £20,752, amounting to 40 per cent. of the total net Estimate for the House of Lords' services. The Sub-Committee cannot make any recommendation as regards this item, inasmuch as the House of Lords merely follow, in this respect, the general rules of the Civil Service. They noted, however, that in the ordinary course of events the amount of War Bonus would be considerably reduced in September next—a reduction which for the 1922ߝ23 Estimates may amount to between 20 and 30 per cent.

The next item to be considered was that of Fees taken in connection with Private Bill proceedings and Judicial proceedings in the House.

The Sub-Committee approve certain increases of the fees paid in connection with Judicial pro- ceedings, which would probably increase the total amount of the fees paid by about. 30 per cent.

The average amount of Judicial fees is about £2,500, and the proposed increase would therefore mean a reduction of about £750 in the Estimates.

As regards Private Bill fees, the Sub-Committee consider that it would be inadvisable at the present moment to make any general increase of these fees, but agreed that the Chairman should consult with the House of Commons' authorities with a view to considering the possibility of imposing a fee to be taken in respect of every Provisional Order on certain stages of the Bill in which the Provisional Order is included.

A petition from certain retired officers of the House as to the augmentation of their pensions was considered. The Sub-Committee decided that they could not depart from the general practice of the Treasury as regards these pensions.

The Chairman of Committees brought before the Sub-Committee the question of the status and pay of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk Assistant, drawing special attention to the difference in the circumstances of their remuneration as compared with that of the two senior Clerks at the Table in the House of Commons. It is understood that the pay of the Clerk of the House of Commons has lately been raised and that he now receives remuneration amounting to approximately £500 per annum more than the Clerk of the Parliaments. The Clerk Assistant in the House of Commons again is paid £1,800 a year plus bonus, whilst the Clerk Assistant in the House of Lords receives £1,500 a year plus bonus.

The Lord Chairman drew special attention to the fact that hitherto stress had been laid on the fact that positions of equal importance in the two Houses should be in no way inferior to each other in status or emoluments. It is also necessary to remember that it is important that the remuneration of these high positions should be sufficient to attract men of proper experience and attainments in view of the important duties discharged.

In normal times the Sub-Committee would have been willing to suggest the raising of these two salaries in question in order that the remuneration of the posts should correspond exactly with the scale in the House of Commons, but they feel strongly that present times are not normal, and they do not, therefore, recommend any increase in these two salaries at present.

A further suggestion was received as to whether two floors above the three principal rooms in the residence formerly occupied by the Clerk of the Parliaments could be set aside as a residence for the present Clerk of the Parliaments in return for the surrender of some part, at any rate, of the allowance now paid to him in lieu of a house. The Sub-Committee understand that in order to make this possible the provision of a lift is essential and Lord Crawford informed them that the provision of such a lift at the present time is estimated to cost anything from £1,200 to £1,500. On this basis, and again in consideration of the general financial position, the Sub-Committee do not feel justified in recommending what might be otherwise a desirable arrangement.

The Sub-Committee are glad to note that two, or preferably three, of the principal rooms above referred to are now to be fitted up as Committee rooms.

After discussion, the Committee decided to endorse the recommendations of the Sub-Committee.