HC Deb 27 June 1927 vol 208 cc54-6W

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Mr. H. T. Mills, late acting vice-consul at Monrovia, Liberia, submitted his claim for travelling expenses on the 14th February last; that the necessary vouchers were submitted by the 1st April; that payment of part of the expenses was not made until the 3rd May; whether he can give the reason for this delay and for the non-payment of the remainder of the travelling expenses; and whether, seeing that Mr. Mills submitted his claim for rent allowance on the 17th February, that vouchers in respect of this were submitted by the 4th March, that payment was not made until the 25th May, that he submitted his claim for high cost-of-living bonus on the 17th February, that payment of this claim has not yet been made, and that Mr. Mills informed the Foreign Office on the 5th May that he would shortly be leaving England and desired a settlement before his departure, he can facilitate the prompt settlement of this claim?


(1) Travelling expenses.—The facts are as stated. The reason for the delay was that one of the items in the claim was for Mrs. Mill's passage; no evidence was furnished to the effect that this had been paid for by Mr. Mills, and correspondence with him took place on the subject. As the result of this correspondence it was established that Mr. Mills had not in fact paid for Mrs. Mill's passage, and he was accordingly informed that payment for it- would not he made to him by the Foreign Office. This is the item to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers as remaining unpaid.

(2) Rent allowance.—The delay in making this payment arose from the fact that Mr. Mills's claim included sums which he had expended, without obtaining the prior sanction of the Foreign Office or of his superintending officer, in excess of the amount which he had been authorised to expend. A special request had therefore to be made to the Treasury, and correspondence with the superintending officer was also necessary. Treasury sanction for the excess expenditure was obtained on 21st May, and payment was made on 25th May.

(3) Cost-of-living bonus.—Delay in payment of this bonus which is based on the cost of living in Monrovia, arose in this case, as in the case of other officers in countries which do not publish statistics of cost of living, owing to the difficulty of establishing the correct level of prices. A figure is now available, however, and payment will be made as soon as Treasury approval of the figure, which is now being sought, is received.

It will be seen from the above that the delay which has occurred in this case was inevitable.