Expenditure, 1919–20.

Orders of the Day — Finance. – in the House of Commons on 29th October 1919.

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With these preliminary observations, I turn to the expenditure of the current year. The Budget deficit has been increased, as shown in the White Paper, by £223,500,000 to a total of £473,500,000. This, as the White Paper shows, is largely due to the deferment of receipts. Whatever credit is obtained by these deferred receipts will go into next year's Estimates. At this point I wish to utter a word of caution. In the White Paper the figure is given at which the cost of the Army of Occupation was expected to stand when the Budget statement was made. We have been able to reduce the Army of Occupation much below what was then contemplated: £70,000,000 is the cost of an Army of the size that was then thought likely to be necessary, and that sum was therefore taken as an Appropriation-in-Aid this year. I do not now say that £70,000,000 will come into next year, because, the Army being reduced, the cost is reduced, and our claims are in reference not to an imaginary army, but to an army actually engaged in the occupation of Germany. Similarly, the figure for the trading assets of the various Food Controls does not necessarily remain unchanged from year to year, and very likely may not be as much next year as it was at the beginning of this year.

After allowance is made for the postponement of receipts, the actual increase of expenditure over the Budget estimate is £133,000,000. I invite the House to consider how that increase is made up. War pensions, war bonuses, extra police grants, expenses due to the strike, account for 144,000,000. Loans to Allies £32,000,000.

Photo of Sir Robert Houston Sir Robert Houston , Liverpool West Toxteth

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what Allies?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I will explain that later. The increased pay to the Army, Navy and Air Forces amounts to £21,500,000, making altogether £97,500,000 out of an actual increase of £133,000,000. My hon. Friend asks me to explain the loans to the Allies. That excess is due to the claims of the British Government Departments on the Allies for past services rendered, but not paid before the 31st March of the current year, being much larger than was then anticipated. The Governments of Italy and France owed us More than we then supposed. I need not point out that it is very difficult to obtain accurate figures. It has proved impossible to obtain accurate figures on this subject. They have to be collected from various sources, such as the commanders in the field, and to be subjected to a scrutiny by the War Office or other Department before they reach the Treasury.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

rose and made observations which were not audible in the Press Gallery.

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

The hon. Member must not interrupt.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I believe that the whole is accounted for between France and Italy. During the War we added to the debts of our Allies the new sums in which they became indebted to us, so now the outstanding debts, as we ascertain them, are being added to the capital debt owing to us.

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

They are not paying any interest?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

They are not paying any interest. I hope I have made it clear to the House how the £32,000,000 is made up. I now ask the House and the critics outside—Of these items, making altogether £97,500,000 of the increased expenditure, which do they challenge? Is it the increased pay to the Army and Navy? Is it the increased pay to the police? If they challenge any one of them, did they challenge it at the time? I do not believe that in any quarter of the House there is any dispute about these sums, unless you separate the Government from the House as a whole. Then there remain £36,000,000 open to criticism. Let us understand what we are talking about, and the limits of what is possible, before we exhaust ourselves in superlatives.