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Navy Supplementary Estimate, 1919–20.

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Services and Revenue Departments and Navy Supplementary Estimates, 1919–1920. – in the House of Commons on 17th March 1920.

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Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

It is not necessary for those who criticise this Supplementary Estimate to say that, of course, they do not refer to any individuals, nor that they are lacking in appreciation of the courtesy and ability of the present officers who fill these posts. It is a question whether this is a wise moment to increase these salaries. The same question arose in connection with the Ministers' (Salaries) Bill, and on that occasion the House came to the conclusion that it was not wise to vote additional money to Ministers of the Crown. I think it was recognised that a considerable hardship was inflicted by retaining these salaries at the old level. I have the figures here for 1918–19, which are the latest available, and I see that the Law Officers of the Crown are shown in that account as having received on the reduced scale, the Attorney-General £8,400 and the Solicitor-General £10,300. So that in addition to the £6,000 and £3,000 respectively, which represented the voluntary surrender of £1,000, there was this £8,400 and £10,300 supplementary, in addition to the salary. I understand that the salaries are to be raised by the £1,000, which was surrendered during the War by the Law Officers. It is also proposed to raise the fees to the old scale. I think it would be helpful if the hon. Member who has spoken for the Treasury would tell us by what amount these lees are likely to be raised; what will be the value of these fees on the increased scale. They were £8,400 and £10,300 on the reduced scale; what are they likely to amount to on the higher scale? If he could give some figure, it would enable us to judge how much they would be raised on the whole if the scale of fees was raised in addition to the £1,000; then we should know how much we are voting in the way of supplements to the salary and fees. I agree with my hon. Friend who has spoken from this Bench. Much as we may feel indebted to them for their services, this is not the moment when we should vote additional money to the Law Officers of the Crown, and we ought to know how much money we are being asked to vote.