Mines Department of the Board of Trade.

Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons at on 1 December 1920.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £73,629, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1921, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Mines Department of the Board of Trade.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

This is not, strictly speaking, a Supplementary Estimate; it is a separate Estimate to show the financial position of the Mines Department as far as it can be shown at the present moment, and it is introduced at the instance of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Wedgwood Benn), who extracted from the Leader of the House a promise that something of this kind should be submitted to the House in order that they might see how the figures stood. I am very glad the hon. and gallant Gentleman is enjoying a pleasant relaxation from the strenuous duties which he imposed upon himself of keeping the Government in its place, and if he has time to study our proceedings now, I am sure he will be gratified to find that the Government are keeping to the narrow path of duty. Sufficient money has already been voted to cover the expenses, but this Estimate makes it easier for the Accounting Officer and gives the Committee an opportunity of seeing how the money is spent. I think the figures in the Estimate itself are tolerably plain and require very little explanation from me, and therefore I will not say much about them, although, if any hon. Member has any question to ask, I shall be very glad to do my best to reply to it. In the first place, how ever, I want to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that there are two different periods in this Estimate. The period for the Mines Department starts from 1st September, and the period which includes the cost of those services taken over from the Home Office starts from 1st December, and therefore we have to account for seven months on one side of the Department and four months on the other. I think the Committee ought to know that the actual staff of the Department has been very largely reduced. On 1st April this year the staff of the Coal Mines Department totalled 828; on 1st July of this year it was 683; and at the present moment, 1st December, the numbers are only 376; but to that we have to add 120 transferred from the Home Office, making the total number now 496.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that this Estimate includes seven months for the Coal Mines Department and four months for the Department transferred from the Home Office. Could he tell us what the Estimate is for a full year of the new Department?

8.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

It is not so easy to do that, because I hope it will be possible to make further reductions, but the hon. Gentleman will see that at the bottom of page 4 of the Supplementary Estimate we have given a statement of the cost on an annual basis, calculated as it is at the present moment, and I think he will agree with me that it is better not to prophesy as to the exact cost for 1921–22; but we have put this on the Paper in order to give some sort of guide as to what the actual cost would be on the present basis. There is one other point which I should like to mention, and which, I think, should be mentioned, because it was not foretold when we discussed the Financial Resolution for the Mining Industry Act. There has been added to the Department a Labour Adviser, and I consider myself very fortunate in having secured the services of so experienced a man as the right hon. Gentleman who represented Abertillery (Mr. Brace), who is now giving us the benefit of his advice at the Mines Department. The value of his experience and his influence in the industry, I think, are recognised by everybody, and there can be nobody in this House who has listened to the speeches that he has made or followed the action that he has taken who could fail to recognise how fair and impartial he has been the whole time in his dealings with that important industry. I also think I should say that the Coal Controller, Mr. Duncan, I am very sorry, left us yesterday. So long as the strike continued, we had the benefit of his great experience and advice, and I do not think the public at large have sufficiently realised the services he rendered to the country during the time he was Coal Controller. He had a most difficult time. He came in at a most difficult time, and he went through a most difficult time, and I think there are very few people who possess the good temper and tact, as well as the ability to tackle the situation which Mr. Duncan had. I think it only right that I should testify as plainly as I can to the extreme value that his services have been to us, and the gratitude they should meet with from this House. I am sure that members of the Labour party, as well as everybody else, will recognise the fairness and straightforwardness with which ho handled this very difficult problem. I do not think it is necessary for me to say any more at this stage. I hope I have made it quite clear that we have done what we can to reduce our staff and to bring our expenses within the most modest bounds while fulfilling the. requirements of the mining industry, and I trust the Committee will pass this Estimate, if not with enthusiasm, at any rate, without any feeling that they are doing any harm to their country.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

I intervene with some hesitation in this Debate, because I have no technical knowledge of the mining industry, and therefore it may seem rather presumptuous of me to offer any criticism. But as the finances of this country are in such an unhealthy state at the present moment, I think we ought to have some more information from the Secretary of Mines as to the necessity for the enormous staff which is set out on pages 5 and 6 of these Supplementary Estimates. Before I go further, may I say how pleased I am to see the right hon. Gentleman in the position which he holds. I am sure he will be most successful in carrying on the duties which have been allocated to him. I do not in the least object to the salary of £1,500 a year which he is to receive, considering the responsibilities of his position, but when I come to the next item, "Controller of Coal Mines, £2,750 a year inclusive," I should like to have some more information as to what are the duties of this gentleman.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

He left yesterday. His appointment was one dating long before the change. The Department of the Coal Controller existed under the old arrangements. He leaves now, after having stayed on with us for three months in order to help us through.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Is there to be another one?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Then it is my fault for not appreciating the point which had been made. That £2,750 a year is deleted from the expenses as they are to-day. Next we have the appointment of my friend, Mr. Brace, as chief Labour Adviser. I am quite sure that if you are going to have a chief Labour Adviser you could not possibly have appointed a man who will be more acceptable to everybody, and who will carry out his duties with more efficiency or with greater impartiality. He was one of the most popular Members that ever sat in this House But is it really necessary that all these Departments, or so many of them, should have Labour advisers at all? I do not know what he is supposed to advise about. If there is any difficulty between a Ministry and any of the trades unions, surely the trades unions can go and state their case and the Minister can listen to them, with his permanent staff. I think Labour advisers are, at the present moment, luxuries which we ought not to go in for. I would ask the Secretary for Mines when he replies to state exactly why a chief Labour Adviser was necessary. People have said that the post was created to find something for Mr. Brace. I am sure he is worthy of every support that can be given to him, but I do consider that we ought to have more reasons given us as to why the country should have to pay £1,500 a year for a chief Labour Adviser at all. Then there is a Temporary Financial Adviser. Why should the Department of Mines want a financial adviser? What does he advise on—what price you should ask for coal or to whom you should sell it, or how the money which is got from coal is to be invested? These Estimates really give us very little light and leading as to what are the duties of these various people. The Financial Adviser is to be paid £1,500 a year, inclusive—of what I do not know, but I suppose it means that is to be the sum total of his emoluments.

Then we have four Assistant Under-Secretaries. Surely this Department could get on with two Under-Secretaries or with one Under-Secretary. Is it necessary to have four? What have these four Under-Secretaries to do? Has each a sub-Department, for which he is to be responsible? Next we have got nine staff officers. What is a staff officer? I always thought a staff officer was an officer in the Army or in the Navy who was appointed to assist the technical branch of the War Office or the Admiralty, as the case may be, on particular duties they have to perform. Hero we have got five staff officers at salaries of from £500 to £600 a year, and four staff officers at £400 to £500 a year. We ought to have some more information upon that point. Next I find there are 85 clerks, men and women. The women are to have from £60 to £180 a year, whereas the men are to have from £60 to £250 a year. Do the men and the women do the same work? If they do, I consider the women should be paid exactly the same rate as the men, and not less. If they have less responsible work, I can quite understand their not receiving up to £250, but if they are asked to do exactly the same work as the men, and apparently they are, I do not think it is fair on women to ask them to work at a less remuneration than the men. Then, going lower down, we find that Ireland is to have a Deputy-Controller and a Technical Adviser all to itself. Is that necessary? In our legislation and in our Estimates we always treat Ireland as a separate country, it seems to me, and entirely differently from the way in which we treat this country. When racing was stopped the other day, owing to the strike, it was allowed to go on in Ireland. When the War was on, things went on practically in the normal way in Ireland, as compared with this country. Why should it be necessary to have a Technical Adviser in Ireland? There is only one very small coalfield in Ireland, in the County of Leitrim, and surely it is not necessary to have a Technical Adviser, distinct from the English one, to carry on work in that island. It is a small thing, but surely the right hon. Gentleman's Department in London does not want 31 charwomen. We saw from a return the other day that there are in and around Whitehall some 700 charwomen. It may seem a small point, but we ought to take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves, and I want to know whether the 31 charwomen are all to be engaged in the Department of the Board of Trade in London, of which the right hon. Gentleman is the responsible head.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £55,000.

I would like to take this opportunity, as I believe it is the first occasion on which the Secretary for Mines has stood in the Box to make a speech on behalf of his Department, to congratulate him on being appointed to that office, and to say how glad those of us who take an interest in the coal trade are that he has been appointed. I would also like to associate myself with what he has said concerning Mr. Duncan. There is no doubt whatever that Mr. Duncan—I hope I am not making any invidious distinctions—was the ablest of all the Coal Controllers who acted during the War, and I believe it is a great loss to this country that he has seen fit to take up another occupation. With regard to this Vote, in which we are asked to sanction a gross total of £127,554—that apparently represents an annual expenditure of something like £250,000—I feel the attention of the Committee should be drawn to the Resolution which it passed, and which the House endorsed, when the Mining Industry Bill was before us. My hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Locker-Lampson) moved an Amendment, when the Financial Resolution was being considered in Committee, providing that the total amount to be expended on this Department should not in any one year exceed £250,000. That was accepted by the President of the Board of Trade and incorporated in the Bill. I have endeavoured, from the details given on page 5, in the inner column, to work out how much the annual cost of all these officers amounts to. It will be observed that, while the amount for the seven months or the four months of the year 1920–21 is given in the outer column, the annual figures are given in the inner column. As far as I can make out, omitting the Coal Controller's salary, the total comes to £257,000, and, allowing for the savings which the Secretary for Mines hopes to make, his annual expenditure is going to be about £250,000. What I am going to try to show to him and the Committee is that, when they assured the House that they would not spend more than £250,000 upon this Department, they intended to include in that expenditure a number of departments of other Government Departments which would be transferred to this Department, and whose expenses, when transferred, were to be part of the £250,000. I state that straight away, so that the Secretary for Mines may be able to follow my argument. When the President of the Board of Trade moved the Second Reading of what was called the Ministry of Mines Bill, but subsequently became, as the result of the House of Lords' Amendment, the Mining Industry Act, he said that one of the objects of the Bill was to consolidate in one Department all the various Government Departments which were dealing with coal. He said there would be transferred to this new Department the existing Coal Controller's Department, the Department of the Home Office which dealt with the inspection and safety of mines, the Department of the Board of Trade which dealt with the minimum wage and district boards, and also a portion of the Statistical Department, the Department of the Board of Education which dealt with Geological Survey, and the Department of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests which dealt with coal under Crown lands. When the Financial Resolution- came before the House, I ventured to state what, in my opinion, was the expense which would be transferred from these various other Government Departments to the new Mines Department, and, if I may, I want to repeat those figures. The Home Office Department of Inspection was £80,734, the Board of Mining Examinations £3,210, the Geological Survey Department of the Board of Education £30,043. The Coal Controller s Department was put down as £75,000, which was the President's own estimate for the future. The Minister's salary was estimated at £2,000, but was reduced, I believe by the House of Lords, to £1,500.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

It was reduced by this House to £1,500, and then a certain amount was to be allowed for the section of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests Department, which I was unable to ascertain from the Estimate. The total spent on that Department was £33,000, and a portion of it, possibly £3,000 or £5,000, was to be transferred to this Department. That brought us very nearly to £200,000, and I suggested that an additional £50,000 was going to be spent on new officers and the building up of a fresh Government Department The President of the Board of Trade replied that I was quite right in suggesting that an additional £50,000 was to be spent in appointing new officers. Further details were that the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade, so far as it related to coal, was to be transferred to the extent of £10,000 a year. The Inspection Department of the Home Office, instead of being £80,000, as I suggested, was £98,000, which accounted for another £18,000. There were a number of officers whose services were borne by the Coal Department, amounting to £10,000, and there would also be transferred the Department of Mineral Resources of the Board of Trade, the expense of which amounted annually to £10,000. Thus he accounted for the difference of £50,000. Here we have before us this Estimate, which is for the few months £127,000, and I think in round figures comes to £250,000, or there abouts, a year. What I venture to put to the right hon. Gentleman is, that he has apparently carried out the promise given to the House that the expenditure of this Department should not exceed' £250,000 a year, but he has not transferred to his Department his Geological Survey Department, which was to cost £30,043 a year. He has not transferred the Department of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, which deal with coal under Crown lands, which probably amounts to £3,000 or £5,000. He has not transferred any portion of the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade, which he anticipated would cost £10,000 a year. He shakes his head, but I can see nothing about the Statistical Department. He has not transferred the Department of Mineral Resources of the Board of Trade, which the President said would cost £10,000 a year.

In other words, the Committee and the House anticipated that when it voted £250,000 a year for the Coal Mines Department, that sum would include £30,000 for the Geological Survey Department, transferred from the Board of Education, £10,000 transferred from the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade, £10,000 from the Department of Mineral Resources of the Board of Trade, and a certain sum, which I estimate at from £3,000 to £5,000, from the Department of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. The Secretary for Mines is quite entitled not to transfer these if he so desires. Section 23 of the Act says that he may make arrangements for the exercise or performance of any of these duties by any Government Department, and, apparently, the President of the Board of Trade, or the Secretary for Mines, has decided to leave these Departments, which cost about £55,000 a year, where they are. But if they are going to do that, then I say, according to the Resolution to which this House came, they ought not to spend £250,000 a year; they ought only to spend £195,000 a year, because there was expected that in the £250,000 a year that £55,000 would be included. Therefore, I want to move a reduction of this Vote by £55,000, and I hope the Secretary for Mines will be able to explain to us how it is that, while he may be carrying out the letter of what he and the President of the Board of Trade promised, he is not, apparently, carrying out the spirit of that agreement.

This is a new Vote. This is the first opportunity we have had of discussing the expenses of this Department, or the salary of the Secretary for Mines. I feel, therefore, we have the right and the privilege of asking the Secretary for Mines what is the general policy which he proposes to adopt in regard to his Department. At the present time the coal industry is controlled under the Coal Mines (Emergency) Act, 1920. That Act provides for the extension of the period of control until 31st August, 1921, and it is further possible by resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament for the control to continue year by year. I hope the Secretary for Mines will be able to outline to us his view concerning the continuance of control. The matter has been altered to a certain extent as the result of the recent coal strike, and the terms on which that coal strike was settled. The Committee will recollect that in Section 10 of the Mining Industry Act Area Boards were to be set up and were to have the right to formulate schemes for adjusting the remuneration of the miners in any particular area according to the profits of the industry within that area; they also have the right to take into account the output, cost of production, and the proceeds of the profits in the area as a whole. That has been entirely set aside by the settlement agreed upon during the coal strike. By the new-consideration which is being given by the coalowners, the miners, and the Government to the establishment of a national wage and the consideration of the division of the profits of the industry as a whole, the question of the Area Boards and the fixing of wages according to the areas, has apparently entirely gone. By that settlement one might almost say that Section 10 of the Act has been repealed, because, obviously, there is no intention, without the Government being entirely guilty of falseness to the miners, to insist upon that Section of the Act being carried out in the future. This has entirely altered the position with regard to control.

Personally, I cannot see how it is possible for a considerable time for any division of profits on a national basis to be made amongst the workers or coal-owners unless the profits of the industry are pooled, and those profits cannot be pooled unless control is maintained. I desire that the Secretary for Mines should tell us what is his view concerning the future profits of the industry as it is at present placed? There seems to be no doubt that the prices now being obtained for export coal will fall. The profits that have gone into the pool during the last few months have been almost entirely profits upon export coal; home coal has been sold at or under cost price. There are many signs that the price of export coal will fall. A great deal of coal is being sent to Europe from America. Under the Peace Treaty France is yearly receiving many tons of German coal. The use of oil in ships is increasing, and for that reason, and for the reason that the necessity will not be laid upon us to maintain such a Navy as we had before, the demand of the Admiralty for South Wales coal will fall. This latter observation will equally apply to the other navies of the world who in the past have demanded South Wales coal, and who, by reducing their navy, or by adopting oil fuel, will no longer require our coal. There appears to me, therefore, no doubt that within the next few months the prices that we have obtained by the export of coal will fall, and with it the amount of profit which is going into the pool.

I desire to ask the Secretary of Mines whether, in this event and in order to maintain his agreement, in order that the award arranged should be given to the coalowners, and in order that any agreement which may be given to the miners as a result of the consultations which are going on now and will go on for the next few months following the strike settlement, may be given, he proposes in the event of the proceeds from export coal falling to increase the price of coal in this country. The next point I want to put is in connection with Section 20 of the Mining Industry Act, which provides that a fund should be constituted to be applied for such purposes connected with the social wellbeing, and so on, of the miners in and about the mines, the means of education, and research, as his Department shall approve, and that in order to constitute that fund, every coalowner should, before 31st March next and before the same day in each of the successive five years, pay a sum equal to Id. per ton upon the output for the previous calendar year. I want to ask what has been done towards putting that Section into effect. The Section goes on to say that a Committee shall be appointed on the nomination of the Minister to deal with this matter. I would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has appointed that Committee, and if so who are the members of it, how many are coalowners, and have they so far been asked to contribute their Id. per ton towards the fund, and if any of them have been asked, how many have paid it. What is the position of the fund at the present; and what steps the Committee have taken in drawing up a policy for carrying out the purposes of the fund—namely the social wellbeing of the workers in and about the coalmines?

The Estimates are the next thing I desire to ask about. I see that among the officers that the right hon. Gentleman has appointed is a Director of Health and Safety at a salary of £1,200 a year. It has always been understood that the Chief Inspector under the Department of the Home Office who dealt with mines has full responsibility in regard to both the health and the safety of the coal mines. The Committee may perhaps recollect that the annual report of this official has mainly dealt with this subject. Almost the only things to which he has referred was the health of the miners and the safety or non-safety of the various mines. Possibly he is a former official of the Home Office who is now being designated the Director of Health and Safety. If that is so—

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

Then that is a sufficient explanation of the matter; but perhaps amongst the questions I am putting to the right hon. Gentleman he will answer this one. There is, however, still the Chief Inspector of the Mines Department, who is also getting £1,200 a year. He is the man who formerly wrote this Report. Now we have also got this Inspector of Health and Safety, and I want to ask whether it is a new appointment, and, if so, what advantage is going to be gained, either from the point of view of the miners, or from the point of view of the State, by this apparent duplication.

Reference has been made to the appointment of Mr. Brace as Chief Labour Adviser. Those of us who sat with him in this House have the greatest respect, almost affection, for him; but I cannot help feeling—I am only expressing my own opinion here—that, having regard to what has happened in the past few months, his appointment is not a happy one. Mr. Brace had taken the lead on the part of the miners in many Debates in this House. On 21st October, I think, in the middle of the coal strike, he acted as chief spokesman for the miners. There is no doubt whatever that the Government's offer to him of a singularly lucrative appointment, and his acceptance of it, has created amongst those whom he formerly represented a considerable amount of bad feeling. This reflects not merely upon Mr. Brace but upon the Government itself. So many of the miners feel that here is a man who was their spokesman, who had done great service for them, and he was removed from their side and taken over to the Government side by the offer of this appointment. While it has been done in his case, as in the case of Sir David Shackleton, one hopes it will not often happen, as it is undoubtedly a mistaken policy, and a very bad thing from the point of view of trade unionists. I want the House to note that there is not merely Mr. Brace as Chief Labour Adviser, but there are two Labour advisers and conciliation officers who are going to act under him. I want to ask what is the need for these Labour advisers in each Government Department? We have a Ministry of Labour, the very object of which is to deal with matters of this kind. Before the War the Ministry of Labour had about 4,400 officials, and to-day it has 23,000 officials. It is equipped for its work, and some of us think it is over-equipped. It is also an independent Department, so that when you have a Government Department endeavouring to settle a labour dispute with what are practically its own employés it is surely dangerous to have a Labour adviser who is not the paid servant of that particular Department, but you should have one from an independent outside source, who would, as far as possible, bring an independent mind to bear upon the problem. I see no advantage in having three Labour advisers attached to this Department in the way suggested in this Estimate.

There are one or two small points which are important to which I want to direct the attention of the Secretary for Mines. One reads at the top of the list the salaries which are being paid first to the Secretary for Mines, £1,500; Permanent Under-Secretary, £1,800; the Chief Labour Adviser, £1,500; Financial Adviser, £1,500; Assistant Under-Secretary, £1,200; and one goes down the list and you find shorthand-typists at 28s. a week. I want to ask whether for a shorthand-typist 28s. a week is considered enough at the present time. Then there is a typist at 22s. a week. I suggest there is not a business man in this House who would pay his typist 22s. a week at the present time, because women cannot live on a wage like that. Then there are clerks at £60 a year. Is the Government in paying £60 a year to a man at the present time having regard to the cost of living. Right at the bottom of the list is what to me is the most amazing thing of all, that is, a mechanic at the station for testing mining explosives £80 a year. One would have thought that a mechanic to test mining explosives, which is a singularly dangerous occupation and one which needs the greatest possible care, should be paid a higher salary or wage than 30s. a week. I do not want to suggest, having regard to present-day conditions, that the salaries paid at the top of the list are more than ought to be paid, but I do suggest with great earnestness that the salaries which are being offered to girls of the shorthand-typist and the typist class, and some of the male employés are less than it is possible either for women or men to live comfortably upon at the present day. I put these points to the Secretary for Mines, and I feel sure that, with the usual courtesy that he always shows in Debate, he will endeavour as far as possible to explain them.

Photo of Mr Vernon Hartshorn Mr Vernon Hartshorn , Ogmore

I desire to ask one or two questions entirely for the purpose of eliciting information. I would like the Secretary for Mines to explain why the sum of £2,750 is placed in the Estimate for the Coal Controller's salary. On 29th October last year, when the Coal Controller was appointed, I inquired of the then President of the Board of Trade (Sir Auckland Geddes) what were the financial arrangements in regard to that engagement, and I was told that Mr. Duncan's remuneration as Controller of Coal Mines was to be £2,300 per annum. I assumed from that reply that he was given a salary of. £2,000, with £300 as war bonus. I expect every other Member of the House drew the same inference, and I should like to know why there is a further £450 in the Estimate under that head. I notice the amount is said to be £2,750 inclusive. The Permanent Under-Secretary is to draw a salary of £1,800 a year. That is not inclusive. I should be glad if the Secretary for Mines will tell us what is the total salary, how much it is in addition to the £1,800 a year, and whether the addition is by way of war bonus or pension, or anything else. I shall be pleased, also, if the hon. Gentleman will tell us what this gentleman was receiving prior to his appointment to his present post. I understand he has been engaged for a considerable time in the Department, and I should like to know the total amount he is now receiving, as well as what he received in the past. I should also like to know whether £1,500 a year is the total amount received by the Chief Labour Adviser, and, if not, what is the total and how is it made up?

I see a figure here, "War Bonus £34,397." I assume that these war bonuses are spread over the different salaries. How are they spread, and in what proportion? Is it a percentage of salary, and is there a minimum or a maximum? I think we should be in a position to know the actual salaries of all the persons referred to in the schedule. I should like also to associate myself with the remarks of the last speaker (Mr. Holmes) with reference to the low wages paid to people at the bottom of the scale. I think they are scandalous, and ought to be raised immediately. I would also like to call attention to the salary of the mines inspectors. It is simply amazing that 32 junior inspectors should be paid salaries ranging from £300 to £450 a year, and that 30 sub-spectors should be drawing the magnificent sum of £150 to £200 a year. These inspectors of mines are drawing less than is paid to boys employed in the industry on the surface at 18 years of age, and if these figures represent the salaries actually paid to them it is high time they were raised. Will the Secretary for Mines give us information which will enable us to know exactly what the staff are being paid; because if, in regard to some of them which are very substantial as they stand, there is 50 per cent, added for war bonus, then I would suggest those salaries would seem to be altogether out of proportion to the services rendered by some of these people.

Lieut.-Commander WILLIAMS:

I am prompted by the advice given by the Prime Minister as well as by the intense interest. I take in this subject to ask a few questions of the Secretary for Mines on the subject of this Estimate. May I first be allowed to congratulate him on his appointment and more particularly to congratulate the British tax- payer on getting such a very efficient head for this Department. We are accustomed in these days, when we see new Ministries created, to having what are known as supermen appointed to the head. I have never yet-discovered anything very useful about a superman except his extraordinary capacity for using the taxpayers' money with the minimum advantage to the taxpayer. I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman at any rate will do his best to see that this money is laid out in the very best way for the country as a whole. I should also like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having been enabled already to lower very considerably the number of individuals employed in his Department, and I hope that during the course of his régime, in the next twelve months, he will be able to reduce it by another 50 per cent., bringing it to a total which, in my opinion, would be more in keeping with the needs of the Department. Coming to the list of salaries, we start with nine of something over £1,000 a year. Further down the page we come to two more big salaries. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot go into this question again and if he cannot sandwich together one or two of these jobs. For instance there is the Permanent Under-Secretary of Mines, there is the Chief Labour Adviser, there is the Financial Adviser, there is an Assistant Under-Secretary, the Director of Health and Safety, and two Assistant Under-Secretaries of another species. Could not he do away with some of these Assistant Under-Secretaries? Could he not do away with the Financial Adviser, seeing that we have at the head of the Department a man whose financial ability is so-extraordinarily good in every way?

Then I come to the Chief Labour Adviser. As a new Member I listened to the late Member for Abertillery (Mr. Brace) many times. I have the greatest respect for him, and I think it is a pity in the difficult times with which, we are faced to-day, that a man of his ability should be taken out of the House of Commons and put into an ordinary Government Department where his extraordinary capacity for leading and dealing with men is lost to the nation as a whole. I have no doubt he is the best labour adviser that could be appointed, but I do say the loss to the country is far greater than the gain to the Department when we come to weigh it in its fullest sense. I now come to a rather curious case. I see that there are four principals and three assistant principals. How am I to explain to an intelligent elector who may cross-examine me on these Estimates—and some of them do—the precise way in which these three assistant principals are going to help their four principals? How are they divided up? It is a small point, but there does seem in this particular case to be a rather large surplus of principals to their assistants. As I notice that a principal is paid from £700 to £900 a year, and an assistant principal is paid very much less, surely we might squeeze out, say, two of the principals, so that there might be more room for their assistants to work.

Then I notice—this point has been already mentioned—that in the Mines Inspectorate there is a "Mechanic at the Station for Testing Mining Explosives," who is also a caretaker. I protest against taking a man who is in charge of high explosives and also making him into a caretaker of any kind, even if he does get for it the magnificent salary of 5s. a week. Following this individual a little further, I find that, in Section C, a further sum is required, for "Testing of Explosives, Apparatus, etc.," of £1,600. What is the precise work which that man is doing? Surely his value should be paid for, not so much by the State, is he is testing explosives, as by the users of those explosives —in other words, by the mine owners. If this individual's history is followed a little further, it will be found that the assumption that he, and also his apparatus, should be paid for by the actual owners, is borne out by the fact that under the Appropriations in Aid, in Section F, there is an item, "Fees for Testing Explosives for Use in Mines, £75." If £1,600 is required plus the salary of this individual, surely the fees for the testing of explosives used in mines should be much higher, and should be made to cover the cost. Again, the fees for the testing of miners' safety lamps seem to be ridiculously small at £40, when they are compared with the cost to the State of the people employed in testing. If any fees whatever are to be charged for these tests of explosives, or lamps, or anything else, they should, in these days of heavy national taxation, be made large enough to cover the whole cost of the work. I would ask my right hon. Friend to be Very careful and exacting, as I am sure he will be, during the next few months, in endeavouring, as far as he possibly can, to reduce the whole expenditure of his Department; and I should also like to express, not only to him, but to the Government—I am glad to see that the Patronage Secretary is here—the wish that every endeavour may be made to cut down the official standard. I do not mean the very low wages of which we have been told, and which are certainly too low in many respects, but this extraordinary number of big salaries which is always found in every fresh department, and which I believe to be one of the reasons why the country is suffering at present from a burden of taxation which it is quite unable to bear.

9.0 P.M.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

A great deal has been said with regard to the high salaries included in this Estimate, and I should be much interested if the right hon. Gentleman would indicate the increase that will accrue to the Permanent Under-Secretary for Mines on the salary which he received before the Mines Department was established. I think that that will throw some light on the low salary to which attention has been called by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn). How can we expect to get efficient men as sub-inspectors for the absurdly low rates which he instanced—men who must possess both practical and theoretical knowledge, and must, to be of service at all in the mines, be of some standing? Then the Estimate includes, for inspectors of horses, the handsome and generous sum of £2 8s. per week—the wages paid to a boy of 16 underground. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose that these shall be whole-time men, or are they to be part-time men, to go down in the morning or the evening after they have done some other work?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

Perhaps I may interrupt my hon. and gallant Friend, as I think it may save time, to point out that those salaries which are not marked "inclusive" carry war bonuses on a regular scale fixed by the Treasury. As far as these inspectors and others who have been referred to are concerned, they follow the same scale as everyone else in the Civil Service, and the war bonus has to be added to all those salaries which are not described as "inclusive." I may also point out to the Committee that all of the items in the Mines Inspectorate, which have been taken over from the Home Office, have been in the Home Office Estimate, and have been passed by the House as they stand now on the Paper. I venture to think, therefore, that it is out of order to criticise them one by one, because they have been passed by the House already.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Morgan Lieut-Colonel David Morgan , Rhondda East

The Secretary for Mines has not told us what the rate of advance is. May I take it it may be anything from not less than £30 to not more than £60, or perhaps I may put it that it is 60 per cent.—the highest amount payable on the £'2 4s. 2d.a week. That will give a wage to the sub-inspector of £3 16s. a week. Does he think that is an adequate wage to pay if the inspection is to be made properly? If it is to be of any benefit at all the inspection should be made by the inspector in going round the works and seeing where the horses are employed. If only eight inspectors are to be appointed, and this inspection is to be carried out in the stables, right under the pit bottom and under the pit shaft, we might as well be without any inspection at all. If the right hon. Gentleman wants us to have any admiration for him at all he will see that some of the salaries in the high class are taken off and considerably more put on to those who are so badly paid. These men have not received attention in the past, and now when the matter comes before the House it is our duty to see that it is put right and that these men, from whom we expect efficient service, shall be adequately paid for the work they do.

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

Perhaps I ought to say something on the point raised by the Secretary for Mines. It is quite true that most of these appointments have been before the House under the Votes of other Departments. While I have allowed some reference to cases included in that category, I do not think it right to allow a general discussion, because the House has already dealt with them. I can only allow a general discussion on appointments which are new appointments. Perhaps hon. Members will kindly bear that in mind.

Photo of Mr John Cairns Mr John Cairns , Morpeth

I see on page 5 of the White Paper, under the heading of "temporary staff," "accountant, £850 inclusive." That means no war bonus. Is it intended that there should be only one set of accountants for the whole country —that is, for 240,000,000 tons of coal or 60,000,000 per quarter? If so, is this intended for the whole country and is it intended that each district or county should account for the figures as well pertaining to the county. £850 does not represent anything like a fair wage. There were County Conciliation Boards before the War, but I understand now all the money goes to the pool and there is going to be one general wage for the whole country. Will there be an accountant or set of accountants for the whole country as well as for each district? I should like also to ask a question under the heading "Technical adviser." Technical adviser of what?£500 is set down for that, inclusive. Some time ago I put a question to the Minister of Mines in respect to a penny per ton in the last Mines Act for building mechanics' institutes in colliery villages. Can Id. a ton be paid by the coal trade in each respective colliery district to build mechanics' institutes where the men can meet at night? Under inspectors of horses (mines inspectorate) each horse keeper at present in a mine has 15 ponies or horses and no more. Is this inspector fully employed at £125, £140, £175 inspecting horses? Under the heading of temporary staff I find male messengers 27s. to 42s. a week and boy messengers 9s. to 15s. a week. I am glad to say we have no boy miners on any such money. My complaint, if I have any complaint at all, is that sufficient money is not spent on the salaries of inspectors. When you have 14,000 of my fellow workers killed between 1914 and 1920—I worked in a mine for 40 years before I came here—and thousands upon thousands who have met with accidents and are practically maimed for life, you cannot be too careful about protecting the men.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

I should like to ask with reference to the Director of Health and Safety whether my right hon. Friend can give an assurance that the gentleman who is appointed to this post has had some experience of the special dangers of mines?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I have already explained that this is the chief mining inspector under another name.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

I did not understand that. My second question is this. When the Bill was before the House a request was made to my right hon. Friend that there should be an Inspectorate of the Ministry, however small, appointed to look after the special interests of non-ferrous miners. I should like to ask whether any, and if any, how many, of the assistant under-secretaries, technical officers, staff officers and inspectors are allocated to the special duty of looking after the interests of the non-ferrous miners?

Lieut.-Commander HILTON YOUNG:

There are two points on which I should like to ask for explanation. First in connection with the financial organisation of the new Department. Since this is the occasion on which the organisation has been crystallised it is perhaps not wholly irrelevant to refer to it. In looking at the staffs provided for, I see in the first place "financial adviser, temporary." In so far as he is an adviser and not executive, that leaves something to be desired. In so far as he is temporary and not permanent, that seems to leave a good deal more to be desired. The next financial officer is an accountant. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the financial organisation is to be? In particular, who is to be the responsible officer for financial matters in the office? Who is to be the accounting officer for the Exchequer audit? Is there to be a separate financial branch distinct from the executive branch? Is there to be a financial branch or only an accounting branch? I should also like information in connection with the appropriations-in-aid, and in particular the first item, which is a sum of £53,700 from the Coal Mines (Emergency) Act Account. The Section referred to in this item is the Section which provides that there may be debited to the coal mines account such amount as may be necessary to meet the administrative expenses of the Department. There must be some obvious explanation of this item, but it is not clear to me. What is the explanation why we have taken from that account not an item of the administrative expenses of the Department, but an odd sum of £53,700? What is it that has fixed this amount as an appropriation-in-aid to be taken from the coal mines account, and why is there not enough in the account, if that is the case, to meet the administrative expenses of the Department? It is a matter of very considerable concern, because the intention was that the Coal Mines Department should be made self-supporting, but from this Estimate it seems not to be so.

Colonel LAMBERT WARD:

On page 6 of the Estimate we find that there is a sum of £34,397 for war bonus. It is rather hard that people who went through the War without having any war bonus, and in the majority of cases without asking for it, should now be taxed to death in order to provide war bonus, two years after the War, for people who may or may not have taken any active part in the War. The taxpayer pays this war bonus. What is the reason for giving the war bonus? We shall be told that it is to meet the increased cost of living; but the people who pay the taxes and, consequently, are supplying this war bonus, do not in a large number of cases get any war bonus. They do not get anything to meet the increased cost of living. The people who are not fortunate enough to be employed in some Government office cannot come along and say, "My cost of living has gone up so much that I want an increase in my salary in proportion." However skilfully taxation may be designed, in the long run it falls upon the shoulders of everyone in this country, if not directly, then indirectly, and it is not fair that people should have to pay taxes to provide these gentlemen occupying Government positions with bonus. What it practically comes to in the case of a large number of these high-salaried officials, who are getting war bonus theoretically to meet the increased cost of living, is that they are getting their salaries paid free of Income Tax, while other people are confronted with taxation of something like 6s. in the £. That is an injustice. The burden of meeting the cost of the War ought to fall on all of us equally, and there ought not to be one privileged Government class who are in the position of being able to claim and get their salaries and their incomes paid free of tax.

Photo of Mr William Shaw Mr William Shaw , Forfarshire

I should like to ask the Secretary of Mines if he will tell the Committee what duties are performed by the Chief Financial Adviser, the technical advisers, and other advisers. To-day I put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to the number of persons appointed to purely advisory posts during the last two years, and I have just received a reply which states: I am not aware of any appointments to salaried posts which can be correctly described as purely advisory with no other functions attached to them. Are these advisers simply in the position of Counsel whom we consult when we are in a legal difficulty, or, if not, what duties are they performing for which we are asked to pay?

Major BARNES:

Though we may criticise this Estimate, there is only one feeling towards the Minister who is in charge of it, and that is one of the most entire friendship and a desire for his success in this new Department. My hon. Friend (Mr. Holmes) has moved a. reduction of the Vote by £55,000. That may not seem very friendly towards my right hon. Friend, but the fact is that we are anxious to start him off right, and we believe that he has deviated considerably from the understanding come to in the House when the Ministry of Mines Bill was passed. We had a Debate on the Financial Resolution, a Debate in Committee and on Report. The House felt so strongly about it that it was not until after an explanation by the President of the Board of Trade and the right hon. Gentleman himself that they got the Vote. That Resolution appears in the Act in this form: The expenses of the Ministry of Mines to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury shall be paid out of monies provided by Parliament, provided that the total amount of such salaries and expenses shall not in any year exceed £250,000. That was the limit which the House was prepared to give to the Mines Department. We have now before us this Supplementary Estimate, and it is difficult to gauge the actual cost of the Department; but my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Holmes), who is professionally an expert in these matters, is of opinion that the figure now presented, £127,000, may be taken to represent a total sum for the year of over £150,000. He also pointed out that at the time that the House agreed to this £250.000 there was distinctly held out a promise that the £250.000 should be an inclusive sum, and that it should cover the cost of all the services which were being rendered in the various Departments in connection with the mines. I will read what my hon. Friend said on that occasion. It was on the Report stage on the 6th July— I will ask the House to realise what Departments are to be transferred to the Ministry of Mines. In the first place there is the Coal Controller's Department. That has been transferred. Then there are certain sub-departments of the Home Department, one of which deals with the protection and safety of mines, and another with mining examinations. That has been transferred. My hon. Friend further said: There will be a sub-department of the Board of Education which deals with the geological survey. That has been transferred. There will be a sub-department of the Wood and Forests Department."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1920, col. 1387; Vol. 131.] That has not been transferred, and my right hon. Friend agrees. That was put to the House by the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire. In pressing the Resolution upon the House, the President of the Board of Trade used these words, speaking on what has been transferred to the Coal Department from the Home Office: We have arrived at the two figures of £98,000 and £75,000 Then he went on to say: and there are, as the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire said, other Departments of the Government which are to be taken over and which cost a certain amount of money."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1920, col. 1392; Vol. 131.] I contend that in these words there was clearly held out to the House a promise that the Departments referred to by the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire were to be taken over. They have not been taken over, and he estimates that if they are taken over the cost will be £55,000. That makes the actual figure which the Mines Department is going to cost, £255,000. Adding to that the £55,000 of my hon. Friend's estimate, the total comes to £310,000. That does not exhaust the list. The Bill clearly says that the total amount of salaries and expenses shall not in any way exceed £250,000, but there are additional sums for additional expenses in connection with the Ministry of Mines referred to in this Paper. On page 4 of the Supplementary Estimate at the bottom there is this note: Provision is also made as follows in other Estimates for Expenditure in connection with this Service. It goes on to say what these provisions are. Office accommodation, inland revenue, and so on, making up a total sum of £34,550; so that what in fact is being spent on the Ministry of Mines is not £250,000 but nearer £350,000—£345,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Mines is really starting on his new career with an expenditure of £100,000 a year more than this House approved of. I do not know whether the Committee is going to allow this to pass. If it does so, it appears to me that all our talk about economy will be mere pretence. If, after devoting several hours on two evenings, to pinning the Government down to a limit of £250,000, we are going to allow them to ride off to the extent of £100,000, something like 40 per cent, more, I consider that all the theory that this House of Commons is any guardian of economy at all is mere pretence. The hon. Member for North-East Derby has put up a very serious case for a reply. No doubt, if any reply can be given, it will be given by the right hon. Gentleman, but I am sure the Committee will insist upon this matter being cleared up before it agrees to these Supplementary Estimates.

I do not want to be a merely destructive critic. We on this side of the Committee are often asked to be constructive. I want to show where the right hon. Gentleman can save some money, and bring himself more nearly within his undertaking to the House. It is not very easy, on looking at page 5, to see exactly what the amounts are for each Department. He has a Coal Controller's Department. He has a Mines Inspectorate Department, and a Mines Examination Department. So far as the Mines Inspectorate is concerned, that is pretty clear, and one may assume that the first item on the page, down to "allowances to officers loaned by other Departments," are permanent Departments dealing with the officers of the Secretary of Mines in the work of the Coal Control Department. It is not easy to get from this account the amount of money which is being expended in connection with the restrictions on the export of coal, and I wish to speak on that matter. I have received representations to the effect that a great deal of money is being wasted by the Mines Department on premises and on staff in connection with the issuing of licences for the export of coal which might very well be saved. The method is this. In every coal export area there is a Coal and Coke Supplies Committee, formed of gentlemen interested in and connected with the mining business, who give their services without remuneration. They act very largely as agents of the Secretary of Mines in that district. The criticism which is directed to this Department is that, side by side with these committees, which are costing the country nothing, there has been set up or planted down in these areas offices and representatives of the Ministry of Mines. Some of them appear in this Report. Somebody, called the Head of the Shipping and Export Branch, gets £900 a year. On page 6 there are Export Representatives, who get from £600 to £1,000. There are five of these. There are four Deputy Export Representatives, who get from £300 to £500. It is very difficult to find out what is the total cost of this unnecessary staff dealing with the question of export licences. I asked a question in the House the other day, and I think the answer was that the cost was small, about £25,000 a year. It is not possible to disentangle that figure. Taking the figures as they appear here, it looks something like £40,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman might save on the Department, and get nearer the limits laid down by the House, if he were to do away with these branch export establishments which he has set up in different parts of the country. I understand that there is a considerable amount of confidence in the Coal and Coke Supplies Committee, and they might very well be entrusted with the duty of issuing such licences as the right hon. Gentleman feels should be issued. In each area, I understand the method is to allow them to export a certain amount of coal. I saw a notice in the Press this morning that all restrictions on prices and conditions are now removed, and the only thing now remaining to be determined is the question of quantity. For that, it does not seem to me necessary to maintain an expensive establishment. I asked in my question how many licences were issued by these bodies. The people who made representa- tions to me were anxious to know what the country was getting for this expenditure of £20,000 or £30,000 a year. I was told then that it was not possible to give that information. I have not got it yet, but I suggest to the Secretary for Mines that in that direction at least he might find room for considerable economy. I support the Amendment, and unless the Secretary for Mines can show the House that he is really within the terms of the Financial Resolution, and that the sum expended by his Department does not exceed £250,000 a year, if my hon. Friend goes to a Division, I shall vote with him.

Photo of Mr John Gretton Mr John Gretton , Burton

I should like to make a few remarks on the general financial statement. I do not propose to go into it in detail, but I suppose there is some reason for this confused statement which we are asked to consider. It appears to me, on the face of it, to be deliberately designed to create confusion, because I find that in the charges set out the Committee is asked to authorise in this connection a net total of £73,629. The gross total, however, is £127,554, as set out on the paper. I want to ask whether these Appropriations-in-Aid are only temporary Appropriations, or are to continue year by year in the future. The Committee ought to know to what annual expenditure it is committing itself in passing these Votes. If the Appropriations-in-Aid are to be annual Appropriations, I would ask my right hon. Friend what is the estimated amount of the Appropriations-in-aid received in the next succeeding year? Again, when we come to examine the statement with regard to £127,554, with the details on page 5, it will be seen that the amounts of salary we are asked to vote do not correspond to any fixed period. The salaries range from a period of six months down to one of three months. Such a calculation should be made for a general period which all these salaries would cover. Clearly, they are a period of less than twelve months. The average appears to be for somewhere about six months. If that is so, the total salaries, including war bonuses, which we are asked to vote is more than £255,000. My hon. Friend who spoke last called attention to the item of £34,500 which is hidden away in a note at the bottom of the page, showing charges of the Department which must be included in salaries and expenses of the whole Department. So that the total charge apparently would be £267,000 without taking into account the sums referred to by the last hon. Gentleman. Yet on this Paper we are asked, to make a comparison between gross total of £127,000 and a gross total of £232,000 transferred services. The £232,000 is calculated on an annual basis, and what we are asked to vote to-night is calculated on a very much shorter period. I am surprised that such a statement should be laid before the Committee in such a form. I am sure that my hon. Friend has no desire to deceive anybody, yet the statement is made up in the most confused form as if it were intended that the Committee should be deliberately deceived as to the general effect of what is now proposed. What is the total annual charge on the basis of this Paper? Will this £34,500 referred to in the last note on page 4 be an annual charge? If so, it must clearly be added to the salaries and expenses, the amounts of which are set down in this Estimate. Then I would like to know if the Appropriations-in-aid are a recurring amount or are only a temporary amount?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I have no reason to complain of the criticism of this Estimate and I much appreciate the friendly spirit shown and kind words said regarding myself. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Gretton) has said that I would be the last person who would wish to deceive the Committee, yet apparently he thinks that I have done so in the grossest possible manner. I am afraid that he has not read the Paper quite carefully. I said in the beginning when I spoke that the Mines Department was taken for the period from the 1st of September and the Home Office from the 1st of December. Therefore there is a period of seven months for one and four months for the other, and by a simple process of arithmetic the general result can be arrived at. As regards the Coal Controller, I have already said two or three times that he left yesterday, and that the £688 which appears is the three months' salary which he got from the 1st September to the end of last month. Then as to the Appropriations-in-Aid to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred, they are the payment out of the Coal Surplus Profits Fund which is charged after distribution of the pre-War profits and the one-tenth, if there is more, with the payment of the cost of control. The figure given here for the seven months, £53,000, is seven-twelfths of what we estimate will be the annual cost attributable to coal control out of the expenses of the Mines Department. In reply to the question whether that will be permanent or not, that is entirely a question of what profits are derivable from the coal industry.

One general remark about the criticisms that have been made. The most serious ones seem to have been aimed at next year's Estimates, rather than at these. By the provisions of the Mining Industry Act the Department is not to spend in any year on salaries and expenses more than £250,000. In this particular year we are not violating that undertaking. It will be time enough when next years Estimates come to be prepared for hon. Gentlemen who say that we are going to exceed our limit to prove that we are doing so. I quite admit that it will be very difficult to keep within the limit. One of the reasons is that when that calculation was made the War bonus, as it is called, stood at a lower figure than it does now. Also a rise in the payment of inspectors was proposed subsequently to the preparation of the figures by which the President of the Board of Trade was guided when making that Estimate. Other increases are in subsistence allowances and temporary clerks. Payments have been made since that time, by direction of the Treasury, generally to all Departments, which have considerably increased the difficulty of bringing these services within the £250,000. But this will be a question for next year's Estimates rather than for this year. Now I come to some of the other criticisms that have been made. The hon. and gallant Member for the Fylde Division (Colonel Ashley) spoke of the large staff. The staff has been reduced between the 1st of April this year and the 1st of December from 828 to 376. I think one hon. Member did compliment the Department on that reduction, but he was the only one who did so. When we have this enormous reduction it seems to be a little hard to have these criticisms made. I have been asked a great many questions about the officers of the Department. First of all, I take the position of the Labour Adviser, about whom several questions have been asked, although there has been a consensus of opinion that he was the best possible man we could have got for the job. An hon. Member asked what his exact salary is. It is £1,500 per year plus War bonus of £750, making a total of £2,250. That may seem rather high as compared with some of the other salaries, but I would remind the Committee that the other salaries of ordinary civil servants carry with them a pension. In the case of the Labour Adviser going in at the age he did it was necessary to make a special allowance to enable him to provide his own pension out of salary. Therefore there is the difference between his salary and the others that he has to provide out of it his own retiring allowance. An hon. and gallant Gentleman described him as a luxury. It is a luxury that may save a good deal of trouble and it is a luxury to have an adviser such as Mr. Brace, who is so thoroughly conversant with every aspect of the industry. Surely it must be fairly obvious, when you have a Ministry which is intended to look after the interests of something like 2,000,000 workers in the mines and connected with the industry, that a large number of labour questions will arise in which the experience of a man who has been engaged in the industry all his life will save an immense amount of time and trouble and expense to the Department that has to deal with them. I feel perfectly convinced that the value of this office to the Mines Department is justifiable in every way. I think it was the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Holmes) who said it was an unfortunate appointment because of the time at which it was made. I really think that was a very unfortunate criticism to make. If we were to have a Labour Adviser in the coal industry what other man could we have asked before the right hon. Gentleman who has now accepted the office? That right hon. Gentleman has had experience of official work. He has been Under-Secretary for Home Affairs, and was chief spokesman of the coal miners. I think anybody who had been asked would say that we could have made no other choice.

I have been asked also with regard to the salaries of some of the major officials, which were criticised on the grounds that they were too high, and as to the salaries of the lower ones, which were criticised on the grounds that they were too low. The whole question really turns on the war bonus, as it is called, which they receive. I agree with the hon. Member for Hull (Colonel L. Ward) in thinking that "war bonus" is a very absurd name to give to this addition to their salary. It is an addition given on a scale based on the cost of living. It has nothing to do with the War, and is a cost of living bonus. It is settled by the Treasury, and has nothing to do with me. I do not fix the salaries, and that is done by a scale arranged by the Treasury. The bonus of Civil servants is as follows:—Where the ordinary rate of remuneration does not exceed 35s. per week it is 130 per cent, of the ordinary remuneration; where the ordinary rate of remuneration exceeds 35s. per week, but does not exceed £200 per year, it is 130 per cent, on the first 35s. and 60 per cent. on the amount of remuneration in excess of 35s.; where the ordinary rate of remuneration exceeds £200 per year, it is 130 per cent, on the first 35s. and 60 per cent, on the amount up to £200, and 45 per cent, on the excess of £200, with a maximum bonus of £750.

Colonel L. WARD:

Is that subject to Income Tax, or classed as an allowance and free of Income Tax?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I will inquire about that, as I cannot answer off-hand. Reference was made also to the remuneration of typists, and 28s. per week was referred to as very small. But the real wage in that case is 28s., plus 45s., making 73s. in all. That is a very good example of the way in which the bonus acts on the lower-paid officials.

Photo of Mr Samuel Finney Mr Samuel Finney , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

Does that include charwomen?

10.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I think it includes everybody. I was also asked about the Permanent Secretary's salary, which is £1,800 plus £500 bonus, a total of £2,300. His salary before he became head of the Department was £2,150, so that he only gained by attaining the high position of head of a Department an extra £150', and I am quite certain he thoroughly deserved it. With regard to some of the observations of the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire, who referred to services which he thought were going to be included under the expenses of the Mines Department which had not been transferred, he was wrong about the statistical part, because that has been transferred, but he was perfectly right about the Geological Survey and the Sub-Department of the Department of Woods and Forests, which might have been transferred. It does not rest with us alone to take over these Services, but it has to be a matter for agreement. I think there was some misapprehension when we discussed the matter on the Financial Resolution with"" regard to the Geological Survey portion of the Board of Education. I think the President did at one time suggest that it might be taken over, but it was not regarded as about to be taken over when we made the estimate of £250,000 a year.

An hon. Member spoke about area boards. Under the Act, if any of the parties render the scheme of area boards abortive by not appointing representatives on them, that part of the Act falls out. He seems to think it is in some way a fault of the Department that the area board system has not already been set up, but it has not been set up for two reasons; first of all, because the representatives of the Miners' Federation have not yet agreed to do so, and it cannot be set up without that agreement, and, secondly, because the whole question is being discussed now by a joint committee of owners' and miners' representatives in the hope of arriving at some agreement. I believe they have made a fairly good start in the way of getting a permanent settlement, and whether it takes the form under the Act or some other form, if it is a settlement satisfactory to both parties and fair to the public, I do not think anybody will mind whether it takes the form under the Act or some other shape. He asked me about export prices, but I cannot prophesy on that question. Many hon. Members have been anxious for me to go into the dangerous region of forecast, but I have not prophesied yet since I have been at the Department, and I do not intend to do so unless I have some very much better data to go on than I have at the present time. He asked me if we had done anything about setting up the Committee under Section 20. For about three months immediately after taking over this appointment we were engaged practically the whole time with the strike settlement, and it is only since that has been disposed of that we have had time to turn to some of the arrangements necessary for organising the Department and working the Act, but I have been searching, so far without success, for a Chairman and for members of this Committee. I hope to get it appointed before the end of the year. I have already explained that the Director of Health and Safety is merely the Head Home Office Inspector under another name.

Photo of Mr Vernon Hartshorn Mr Vernon Hartshorn , Ogmore

Why are there two items of £1,200 in this Estimate?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I believe there are two men of the same name. The chief man is called Director of Health and Safety, and the second man is now called the Chief Inspector. Several hon. Members referred to the question of further reductions in the staff, and I desire to see such reductions, but there comes a point at which further reduction becomes impossible. We shall, however, never relax our efforts in that direction. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) made a suggestion with regard to the expenses of our export licencing staff, which I quite agree is a very valuable suggestion, and one that wants going into. There are reasons why it may be necessary to spend rather more than we thought we should have to do on that branch, but I hope those reasons will not continue. The hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Betterton) asked about the non-ferrous mining section. We have not actually got a section set up confined entirely to that, but we are beginning our work on it. The hon. Member for Norwich (Lieut.-Commander Hilton Young) asked about the Chief Accounting Officer? That is the permanent Under-Secretary. I think I have now answered the main questions put be me, and hope I have made clear some of the points which were not previously clear to the Committee. I shall certainly bear their criticisms in mind, and I am far from supposing that we have yet done all that is possible to make this a thoroughly efficient and economical Department. Under very trying circumstances, for there has been strike trouble going on nearly the whole time, my staff have devoted their attention to the work of starting the Department with an energy and a public spirit which deserve the highest praise.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I want to acknowledge the way in which the Secretary for Mines has answered a number of questions put to him by myself and other Members, but I cannot say that he has in any way satisfied me in regard to the main point of criticism. He has constantly referred to the economy which has been exercised by the Coal Controller's Department, and has told us that the staff has been reduced, but this is a sort of stage army which he is constantly bringing before the curtain. On the 5th July, when we discussed the Financial Resolution of the Ministry of Mines Bill, the President of the Board of Trade told us that some new arrangements had been made by which the cost of the Coal Controller's Department would be reduced from £500,000 to £75,000 per annum.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

But those officials that I mentioned were not engaged on that part of the work.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

Whatever was meant, full credit was taken for economy in reducing the cost of the Coal Controller's Department from £500,000 to £75,000. Now we find that the Coal Mines Department 1920–21 is costing us at the rate of £119,000 a year, so that the reduction to £75,000 which we were promised in July has not materialised.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

The £75,000 which was mentioned was calculated on the bonus of the staff at that time, without any expectation that that was going to be raised. It has since been raised, and several other salaries or payments have been raised since that time by the Treasury, and that accounts for a very large part of the difference between £75,000 and the £119,000.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I will accept the hon. Gentleman's statement that what was £75,000 in July is to-day actually £119,000 because of certain bonuses and other things which the Treasury have awarded.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I did not say it was all that.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

No, there are other things; £119,000 is the amount that it would be in a year at the point we now are at. We hope that from this moment we shall be able to make very considerable reductions, if all things go well in the coal industry, as we hope they may. Part of the increase is to be accounted for by the additional war bonuses.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

On the 5th July the House, in its anxiety for economy, was delighted to hear that the Coal Controller's Department was to be reduced from £500,000 to £75,000. To-day, as a result of inability to reduce as anticipated, and as a result of increased war bonuses, the cost of the Coal Controller's Department is £119,000. That being so, it is really no use for the Secretary of Mines to get up and continually say in his speech, "Look how economical we are at the present time, because we have reduced the staff." He has not reduced the cost of it to the nation, but has increased it. But the real point that I make is that, on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), the President of the Board of Trade agreed that the cost of this Department should not exceed £250,000 a year. The Secretary for Mines says, "Oh, we have not come to a full year yet and therefore you ought not to bring this up against us at the moment." When he has admitted that for seven months in the case of the Coal Controller's Department and four months in the case of the Home Office they were at the rate of more than £250,000 a year, the House is surely entitled to say that he is exceeding the promise given by the President of the Board of Trade, and I do not think there is any need for those of us who criticised the Estimate on those grounds to apologise to him or the Committee for raising the point. The President of the Board of Trade said, "We are not creating a new Department. In creating this Ministry of Mines we are simply putting under one roof various sections which exist in other Government Departments," and in his speech on the Second Reading of the Ministry of Mines Bill on 30th June last he gave a list of the various Departments which were to be transferred. They were the Home Office Department, dealing with inspection and safety of mines; the Board of Trade Department, dealing with the minimum and with district boards; the Board of Education Department, dealing with the geological survey; the Department of the Commissioner of Woods and Forests, dealing with coal under Crown lands and under sea; and there were various other bodies —I have not enumerated them all—each dealing with some aspect of the coal question. We were asked to agree to the transfer of these Government Departments to one new Department. A few nights later we had a Financial Resolution, and the President of the Board of Trade then said that the Coal Controller's Department was going to be reduced to £75,000. I will quote his words: The £75,000 which the Coal Control Department will cost, together with the Home Office Inspection Department and the other Departments which we take over from other Ministries, will, we estimate, come to something like £250,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1920, col. 1186; Vol. 131.] That is the figure which my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green adopted in moving his Amendment. The House agreed to that £250,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman now admits that certain of these Departments have not been transferred to his Department. The Geological Section of the Board of Education, which costs £30,000 a year, has not been transferred. I think he also admits, though he did not say so in his reply, that the Department of Mineral Resources of the Board of Trade, costing £10,000 a year, has not been transferred. The Department under the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, which I suggest costs £5,000, has not been transferred. Those amount to £45,000—a sum being spent by other Departments which we expected would have been transferred to this new Department. This House had been promised that not more than £250,000 should be spent on all these Departments put together. As some Departments costing £45,000 have not been transferred, the total expenditure, on the Departments which have been transferred should not exceed £205,000, that is, £250,000 less £45,000. So in my view the right hon. Gentleman should have come here to-day with an estimate for not more than £205,000 in any year. All these items are set out in the Estimate for 1920–21. They amount to £267,000, so that the Secretary for Mines is spending the full limit of money, although three Departments, which were to be transferred to him, had not been transferred. He may have carried out the letter of the Resolution to which he agreed on the Motion of the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lamp- son), but he has not carried out the spirit of them. The House expects a Minister to play the game fairly, and when he agrees to £250,000, including the expenses of certain Departments, and those Departments are not concerned, then the amount should be reduced by the annual expenditure of the Departments which are not transferred. It was for that reason I moved the Amendment for a reduction of £55,000. I do not know whether, after the explanation that £10,000 for the Statistical Department was included, I shall be in order in reducing my Amendment to £45,000.

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

The hon. Member must withdraw his Amendment, and move it in the corrected form.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

Photo of Mr Stanley Holmes Mr Stanley Holmes , Derbyshire North Eastern

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £45,000.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

I only rise for a few moment, because it was my Amendment which the Government accepted a few months ago to the Financial Resolution. The Government, as a matter of fact, were in rather a difficult position, and they were threatened, I think, with an unfavourable decision if they had actually taken a Division on their original Clause, which gave them an indefinite sum to work with. The Government accepted the figure of £250,000 a year. That was the figure beyond which they were not to go.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

Certainly. I am very sorry I was not here to hear the statement of my right hon. Friend. I had been sitting here for five hours this afternoon, and did not come back till the right hon. Gentleman had sat down, but I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. S. Holmes) that not a word was given as to why this figure did not include various services which were going to be included, according to the statement of the President of the Board of Trade, and also, I think, my hon. Friend, two months ago, and I still do not understand what the explanation is. It is quite clear, according to this Estimate, that the £250,000 has not been exceeded by any very large amount I make out the exact sum for which they are asking is practically £267,000, because, really, you have got to include provision which is made in other Estimates for expenditure in connection with this service. But, allowing they are only spending £250,000 a year, that £250,000 per year, as pointed out by my right hon. Friend, does not contain four very important items which were promised by the President of the Board of Trade— the geological survey of the Board of Education—the impression left upon everyone who listened to that Debate was that that item of £30,000 was going to be included in the £250,000—the Commission of Woods and Forests—dealing with the coal in the Crown lands under the sea— £5,000; then there was the Department of National Resources £10,000, and also the Statistical Department. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said the Statistical Department £10,000 is included. I have looked very carefully through these items, and I do not see it.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

It is here, at the bottom of the page—in the salaries.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

Anyhow, we will knock out the £10,000 and that leaves £45,000. That figure has not been included in the £250,000. I therefore maintain that what was accepted by the House has been exceeded by £45,000. What is the use of this House going to the trouble of getting a promise from the Government to but down their yearly expenditure by spending a sum of not more than £250,000, when by a scheme of camouflage in not taking over a sum of £45,000 they spend more than was allowed by this House? It really is a farce. We might just as well not be here to legislate. I do not want to criticise my right hon. Friend personally. I join with other Members in saying that he always treats the House with great courtesy, but really this is a constitutional matter, and it is a perfect farce that we should sit here and accept concessions from the Government thinking we are getting a limited expenditure when there is really no such a limit.

If you take the £45,000 it is rather interesting to observe that this is really made up by increases of salaries. You have got war bonus £34,000 odd, travelling and subsistence allowance, and personal donations amounting to about £12,000, which gives £46,000. This extra sum of money therefore which the Department has spent beyond the wish and expectation of this House is entirely due to Departmental salaries and personal donations. There are no less than 23 persons in the Department of my right hon. Friend who get £1,000 a year and over in salary. That does not include war bonus. If you take that in addition you will find nearly 30 officials in the Department getting salaries of £1,000 a year and over. That is not fair in view of the state of employment throughout the country. Why should Civil servants employed by the Government be given this wage privilege? It is extremely discouraging to other employments throughout the country. Take, for instance, young people entering the Civil Service. I understand quite young boys and girls entering at 16 and 17 get £3 a week and they get a war bonus of £153, and entering at 18 or 19 at competitive examination their salary is £100 a year, increased by war bonus to £248 or £5 a week. That is to say, the taxpayer is asked to pay all this extra money to employé Government. This kind of thing when we are supposed to be on the edge of a financial crisis is really monstrous, and we should not go on increasing salaries which are already large. If my hon. Friend goes to a Division I shall certainly support him in the Lobby.

Photo of Mr John Guest Mr John Guest , Hemsworth

The Secretary for Mines has been much criticised on account of his suggested expenditure and the urgency of it. I want to suggest one or two items on the short side where I think more money might be spent with benefit to the Mines Department and the State. There is provision for only one electrical inspector, and I suggest to the Secretary for Mines that the provision of one such inspector is altogether inadequate. With the growth of electrical work, and the way it has developed in mining, there is certainly a demand for a further supply of inspectors, and in this respect one will be altogether inadequate. I think there is room for the Department to be enlarged in that direction. I notice at the foot of the Inspectors List there are to be 32 sub-inspectors at salaries varying from £150 to £200 a year. In the first place, 32 sub-inspectors are altogether inadequate for such responsible work, and this number could be very well increased with advantage to the industry and with benefit to the workmen. Not only should the number be increased, but I think the wages ought to be advanced.

The important work these men have to do, and the qualifications they will have to possess in order to carry any weight as inspectors, will not be adequately remunerated at £3 to £4 a week. Probably the Secretary for Mines will say that they will receive a substantial bonus, but the point is this salary is looked upon as being the value of their services in normal times, and you are not likely to attract men of the calibre you require as sub-inspectors by offering them £3 a week in normal times, rising to £4. The work of the mine inspectors, in the opinion of the mining community, is of the utmost importance, and if we are to have a reduction in the number of accidents in our mines, I think the number of inspectors will have to be increased, and you will have to offer such salaries as will attract the very best men you can get. There is in this Department, at all events, an inadequate provision as to numbers, and to my mind the scale, as far as the sub-inspectors are concerned, is very inadequate.

Photo of Mr John Gretton Mr John Gretton , Burton

This Estimate apparently covers a multitude of subjects. I want to ask whether in it are included the expenditure on office accommodation and stationery, and, if not, why not? We know that our Financial Resolutions are interpreted by officials at the Treasury, but I think the House should be assured definitely and clearly that when it authorises particular payments to be made no more than those payments are included in the Estimate. I am not holding my right hon. Friend responsible for the form in which the Estimate is submitted to the House, but I do want to call attention to the unintelligent and ambiguous statement which is to be found at the bottom of page 5 of the Estimate, and I think some more clear explanation might be given. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt fully understands it himself, but he should not assume that members of the Committee equally understand it. I cannot support the Government on this occasion unless my right hon. Friend can clearly demonstrate to the House that all these charges are included in the £250,000.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

It is clear from the statement on page 4 of the Estimate that certain of the charges referred to by the last speaker are covered by Estimates for other Departments, and are therefore not included in this £250,000. Indeed, it was never considered that they should be taken into account in the £250,000. In this matter we have followed the practice of other Departments. The whole thing rests with the Treasury, and it never occurred to us that we ought to include items which are usually charged on the Votes for other Ministries. I note what the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Guest) said with regard to increasing the inspectorate and increasing their pay. I am afraid, in view of the criticisms I have had in the direction of economy, it is not likely I shall be able to do anything in that direction. I want to say a few words in reply to the hon. Members for Wood Green (Mr. Locker-Lampson) and North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Holmes). A suggestion has been made that I have not played fair to the House. I resent that. I am bound by the words of the Resolution— "£250,000 in any one year." But does anybody suppose that in a year in which £550,000 had already been voted for the Coal Mines Department it would have been possible within a few days to cut the expenditure down to that extent? Was it possible to have done that at a time when a strike was going on? We have done our best to reduce the expenditure, and I have already informed the Committee that, in the matter of staff, we have reduced it from 800 odd to 300 odd. Let me take the cost of the Department at three given moments—the 1st July, the 1st September and the 1st December. On the 1st July it was at the rate of £161,000 a year; on the 1st September it was £119,000; and on the 1st December it is £112,000. We are going as fast as we can towards reducing expenditure, and I am sure that not even the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Locker-Lampson), when he made his previous speech, ever imagined that he was referring to this year. In the first place, I do not admit that these Estimates, on the average, exceed or will exceed £250,000, and in the second place, I say that it was never intended that the £250,000 should apply to anything but a full year. This is merely an estimate for the convenience of the Committee. The money has already been voted, in the Home Office Vote for those items which we have taken over from the Home Office, and in the Board of Trade Vote for the Coal Mines Department of the Board of Trade which we took over. They were passed in the ordinary way in the Estimates for the year. This Estimate was only made up in accordance with a request asked that a separate account should be produced. It is not really a Supplementary Estimate in the proper sense of the word at all.

Major BARNES:

On a point of Order. Arising out of what has been said, may I, in my ignorance as a new Member, ask what would be the effect if on these Estimates the expenditure in a full year were to exceed £250,000?

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

I have turned up the Act which was passed this year, and in Section 5 (2) it allows for certain expenses— Provided that the total amount of such salaries, remuneration and expenses shall not in any year exceed Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds. That is the law, and therefore, unless it it is altered by an amending Act, if in any one year the Ministry exceeded that amount—not in the Estimate, but in its expenditure—I presume that the law would take its course.

Major BARNES:

On that ruling, does the Act as it stands mean that in this year, which has only six months to run, the Secretary for Mines can spend his £250,000, as long as he does not exceed it? Certainly that was not at all the impression of the House when they voted £250,000; they did not think they were giving the Secretary for Mines the right to spend the whole of that.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

It is not a Vote of £250,000. The money was voted in the Estimates for the Board of Trade and the Home Office. The £250,000 is merely a provision of the Act; it is not a Vote of the House.

Major BARNES:

I think the right hon. Gentleman is taking me up on a very technical point. The House passed a provision that a sum not exceeding £250,000 should be spent in any year, and it was certainly my impression that that was for the year, and that it was not open to the Secretary for Mines to spend that amount in a period of six months in any year. I have never heard a more amazing defence. The right hon. Gentle- man says that, as long as he does not this year, of which six months have passed, spend more than £250,000, he is within the Act. He may be within the Act, but I certainly do not think that he is within the impression of the House after they had passed the Resolution. The hon. and gallant Member who spoke before him (Colonel Gretton) has rendered a very real service to the Committee in bringing out the point that this sum of £34,000 for charges on other Estimates was not regarded by the Mines Department as being included in the £250,000. I think the impression of the House when they voted this sum for salaries and expenses was that they were covering everything, and not that they were leaving something like 20 per cent, of the amount outside the Estimate.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

In answer to what the hon. Member said about inspectors, there are 32 inspectors whose salaries commence at £300 a year and go up to £450. Surely in these times £300 for an inspector is quite sufficient. We really-must not judge the salary and wages of everyone by the fortunate people who work in the mines. They are an exceptional class all to themselves, and they are getting no doubt a very much larger sum than any other person who is not fortunate enough to work in a mine can possibly hope to get. In these days of national distress, if you can get a man for £300 a year, it is not good business to give him any more, and you do not make him any better, if he is willing to come for £300, by giving him £350. You only waste the taxpayers' money.

Photo of Mr John Guest Mr John Guest , Hemsworth

I made no reference to £300, but only to £250.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

There are 30 sub-inspectors. I should say we might have done away with the sub-inspectors altogether. 62 seems to me to be a very large number of inspectors who will probably be utterly unnecessary. I should like to say a word about what is a new feature to me, and that is the question of this £250,000. Am I to understand that my right hon. Friend's reference was that he was entitled to spend £250,000 in six months, the original Vote having been £250,000?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

My right hon. Friend is confusing two things. There was no Vote for £250,000.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

No, that is in the Act, and if in any one year that sum is exceeded, and unless the Act is amended, someone will be liable for a breach of the Act. But the money in this Vote is m the Home Office Vote and the Board of Trade Vote in the ordinary Estimates of last year—£550,000, I think, for the Board of Trade Coal Mines Department, and whatever it was for the Home Office. That has already been voted.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

What I wanted to get at was with regard to this £250,000. I think now I understand. There was in the Act a provision that in any given year a sum not exceeding £250,000 might be spent, that this given year, which terminated on 31st March, 1921, is the given year to which the Act refers, and, therefore, although it is only six months, it is the year ending 31st March, 1921. Therefore, my right hon. Friend says, in that particular year, although he has only been in existence for six months, he may spend £250,000. Is that it?

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

I want to assist my right hon. Friend. I do not want to vote against him if I can possibly avoid it, but I really do not know exactly where we are. I cannot quite make it out.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

It is very kind of my right hon. Friend to wish to assist me, and I hope he will assist me by letting us have this Vote in a few minutes. My contention was that this £250,000 limit obviously did not refer to the year of transition. We have already voted £550,000. How can we expect that to go down to under £120,000, or whatever it would be, straight away? Obviously, it did not refer to that, but to the next financial year. I do not admit, even so, that we have exceeded the average, but we are in the process of reduction. We are reducing gradually and steadily all the time. The figures were only given of what would have been the annual amount taken on 1st September this year. Since then we have gone below that.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

Nobody who is intimately acquainted with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bridgeman) would desire to charge him with any attempt to mis- lead the House. That is not in the mind of anyone. The discussion has shown how very necessary it is for the Committee to examine these Estimates with the most scrupulous care. It is now quite clear that my right hon. Friend understood that £250,000 could be spent in any given financial year, but what I understood, and what most of us understood was that the limit of £250,000 applied to the 12 months' currency of the existence of the Department. It is clear that there has been a misunderstanding. Certainly that was what most of us thought. It seems that the majority of us were wrong. There was a minority that was right. It means that in future we must be very careful to see where we stand. I hope that in this Supplementary Estimate, and in the others that will come before the House rises, that the Committee will realise its financial responsibility to the country, and will examine them with the most scrupulous care, so that, whatever we do, we shall all understand the same thing, whether we agree or disagree. I should have thought that the Department would have taken great care to cut down expenditure in view of the remarkable manifestations of a desire

on the part of the public to save all the money possible. That desire for economy was wound up by the emotional appeal of the Prime Minister last night, which we may take as real and genuine distress on his part; and in view of this I must presume that the same desire is now permeating the whole of the Departments, of which he is a distinguished head. One would have thought that this Department would have seen that the amounts, wherever possible, were cut down. There are all sorts of opportunities in this Estimate for cutting down expense.

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Peebles and Southern

I think so. Take the case of the ridiculous staff for dealing with exports. You are going to abolish the restrictions on exports. That must have been in the mind of the Department before it was made public. Thousands of pounds could have been saved there. I shall certainly vote for the reduction which has been moved.

Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £28,629, be granted for the said Service.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 34; Noes, 160.

Division No. 380.]AYES.[10.53 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.Gretton, Colonel JohnRose, Frank H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Hartshorn, VernonSugden, W. H.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Hogge, James MylesSurtees, Brigadier-General H. C.
Borwick, Major G. O.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Johnstone, JosephWaddington, R.
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Conway, Sir W. MartinLocker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green);Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Morgan, Major D. WattsTELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander HarryMurray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Mr. Stanley Holmes and Major
Galbraith, SamuelMorris, Colonel Sir Henry G.Barnes.
Glanville, Harold JamesPerring, William George
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteBuckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William JamesCairns, JohnFildes, Henry
Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.Cape, ThomasFinney, Samuel
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel MartinCarter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Ford, Patrick Johnston
Armitage, RobertCasey, T. W.Foreman, Henry
Baird, Sir John LawrenceCecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Blrm., Aston)Forestier-Walker, L.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyChamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Barlow, Sir MontagueChurchman, Sir ArthurGibbs, Colonel George Abraham
Barnett, Major R. W.Clough, RobertGilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Coats, Sir StuartGraham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Betterton, Henry B.Coote, William (Tyrone. South)Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)
Blades, Capt. Sir George RowlandDavidson, J.C.C. (Hemel Hempstead)Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)
Blake, Sir Francis DouglasDavies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Gregory, Holman
Breese, Major Charles E.Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)Gritten, W. G. Howard
Bridgeman, William CliveDavies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)Grundy, T. W.
Brittain, Sir HarryDavison, J. E. (Smethwick)Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)
Broad, Thomas TuckerEdge, Captain WilliamHacking, Captain Douglas H.
Bromfield, WilliamEdwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)Hayday, Arthur
Brown, Captain D. C.Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)
Bruton, Sir JamesEdwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Hennessy, Major J. R. G.
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, s.)
Hewart, Rt. Hon. sir GordonMoles, ThomasSexton, James
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Hinds, JohnMoreing, Captain Algernon H.Sitch, Charles H.
Hood, JosephMorison, Rt. Hon. Thomas BrashSmith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)Morrison, HughSpencer, George A.
Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)Mosley, OswaldStanier, Captain Sir Beville
Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)Murray, John (Leeds, West)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Hotchkin, Captain Stafford VereNail, Major JosephSteel, Major S. Strang
Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)Neal, ArthurSturrock, J. Leng
Inskip, Thomas Walker H.Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Sutherland, Sir William
Irving, DanO'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.Swan, J. E.
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertOrmsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Jephcott, A. R.Parker, JamesThomas-Stanford, Charles
Jodrell, Neville PaulParry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Johnson, Sir StanleyPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeThomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)Perkins, Walter FrankThorpe, Captain John Henry
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newlngton)Pollock, Sir Ernest M.Tootill, Robert
Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel AsshetonVickers, Douglas
Kidd, JamesPrescott, Major W. H.Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor
King, Captain Henry DouglasPurchase, H. G.Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)Randies, Sir John S.Weston, Colonel John W.
Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Rankin, Captain James S.White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
Lewis, T. A. (Glam, Pontypridd)Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.Wild, Sir Ernest Edward
Lort-Williams, J.Remer, J. R.Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.
M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.Renwick, GeorgeWilliams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)
McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)Robinson, s. (Brecon and Radnor)Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Rodger, A. K.Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Mallalieu, F. W.Royce, William StapletonYeo, Sir Alfred William
Manville, EdwardRutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)
Martin, Captain A. E.Seager, Sir William
Mason, RobertSeddon, J. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.

Question put, and agreed to.