Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £16,100, 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, 1922, for making good certain sums written off from the Assets of the Local Loans Fund, together with certain sums due in respect of advances in Northern Ireland.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG:
This Supplementary Estimate is for repayments in respect of advances in Northern Ireland on account of the Local Loans Fund. This is a purely formal Vote, containing no fresh money at all. It will add not a pound or a shilling to the expense of the Exchequer in addition to the original provision for the year. It is formally necessitated by the setting up of the Government of Northern Ireland, and by the transfer to that Government of its powers on the 22nd November last. It will be within the knowledge of the Committee that money is advanced out of the Local Loans Fund to local authorities for public works, and that it is repaid in the form of instalments of principal and interest to the Public Works Loans Commissioners for the Local Loans Fund. That is the ordinary procedure. The institution of a Government of Northern Ireland on the 22nd November has made it necessary to follow a rather more elaborate and a little more indirect method of financing as regards the Fund. Under the Government of Ireland Bill— and I should mention that all these provisions are either contained in or follow necessarily upon the Government of Ireland Act—the Government of Northern Ireland will retain the instalments of principal and interest for local loans which are collected in its territory. In order to make good those sums retained by the Government of Northern Ireland, we vote this money back to the Local Loans Fund from the Exchequer, and then, finally, we square accounts by deducting an equivalent amount to that amount which we here vote from the Northern Irish residuary share of her revenue, and so the result comes to exactly the same thing in the long run as it did before the new arrangement, but, owing to the new arrangement, this formal authority of Parliament is necessary at this time.
On a point of Order. May I point out that a moment ago when I rose to speak you had not collected the voices, and, therefore, I was quite in order in getting up to speak on the Vote?
On a point of Order. I got up in the usual way, and I venture very humbly and submissively to say that I have a perfect right to address the Committee. You had scarcely finished reading the Vote when I was about to rise, and I sat down to give you the opportunity to finish. You had not, I submit, collected the voices, and, therefore, I am perfectly in order in getting up to speak. I must insist on my right to address the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!"]
The right hon. Gentleman does not quite recognise the position. I really thought I had gone quite far enough. However, I cannot go back on my decision now.
The right hon. Baronet knows the Rules of the House as well as any hon. Member, and even if I had not, as he suggests, collected the voices, having put the Question I cannot go back on it.
There are times that I recall when, after the Chairman had collected the voices, he did go back, and there was a long discussion. In this case now I venture very humbly to say that the voices were not collected, and that, therefore, I have a perfect right to make my statement. It has always been the custom whenever an hon. Member gets up, if the Chairman has not seen him, even if the Chairman has in a way collected the voices, that he should allow the hon. Member to make his speech on the particular subject. I must ask that the usual treatment should be accorded on this occasion, and that I should be allowed to make my statement. All I want to ask is this—
Before you reply to that, Sir Edwin, may I ask if the right hon. Baronet is allowed to make his statement—and we are always pleased to listen to him—other hon. Members will have the opportunity of replying?
I must put myself right with the Committee. I must admit that I did perhaps rather hurriedly put the Question, but this was one of those cases where the Committee did not, as it seemed to me, desire to discuss the Question at all, and I was rather endeavouring to fall in with what I took to be the general feeling of the Committee. The Chairman, of course, has no views on these matters, but endeavours to collect the sense of the Committee, and in a way the right hon. Baronet was rather, as he will admit, a little slower than usual in rising, and I thought I was not exceeding my duty in putting the Question. Having put the Question and arrived at a decision, the matter is not open to review. Seeing that I have acknowledged to the right hon. Baronet that I was in the wrong, he will accept that, and not ask me to allow him to make his speech. If he presses the matter I think I am bound to allow him.
I will not say more than one word. All I want to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is as to the form of certain Repayments in respect of advances in Northern Ireland. Under the heading Original Estimate on the Paper there is a blank. That is to say there was no original Estimate for 1921–22. Then if hon. Members look a little further down, they will see Repayment to Local Loans Fund, original net Estimate £1.669. The two are contradictory. I want to know how it is these two items arise which apparently contradict each other?