Revenue Departments.

Civil Services and Revenue Departments Supplementary Estimate, 1921–22. – in the House of Commons on 21st February 1922.

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4. "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £150,000, 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 the Salaries and Expenses of the Customs and Excise Department."

First Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Photo of Mr John Hodge Mr John Hodge , Manchester, Gorton

This is the Report stage of one of the larger Votes dealing with Ireland, which we discussed yesterday, and there are a number of questions left unanswered by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant on that occasion. There was a point relevant to the discussion, which we have just finished, dealing with the pension of the Inspector-General. I remember that that particular Inspector-General was Sir Thomas Smith. There is one question with regard to that which requires some elucidation. On page 95 of the original Estimate, there is a sum of £1,800 put down for. 1921–22, as against £1,983 for the previous year, for the salary of the Inspector-General. If you look at the bottom of the page, you will find that that payment is starred, and opposite the star you read that the post, of Inspector-General is vacant. In the addition, on page 95, there is taken into account in the total of £32,546 this sum of £1,800. I believe that it applies to another distinguished officer who was, I think, retired from the Service—Sir Joseph Byrne. I want to know whether this sum of £1,800, which is taken in the original Estimate for this officer, ought not now to appear under an Appropriation-in-Aid? There are a number of other matters I had intended to raise had the previous discussion not collapsed. I have not the particular references with me, however, and I will not unduly raise any further Debate. I think we are entitled to know where that £1,800 has disappeared, because this officer, who was retired, is not drawing salary. If that is so, this obviously ought to have been under an Appropriation-in-Aid, and to have appeared as a reduction of this Supplementary Estimate.

Photo of Major Murdoch Wood Major Murdoch Wood , Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Central

I should like to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary to several items in this Estimate which do not seem to me to be clear. Under subhead G, we find the sum of £280,550 for arms, ammunition and accoutrements for additional men; and also additional machine-guns and ammunition. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us from whom he got those machine-guns and what has been done with them. I have understood that the end of the War found us in possession of enormous quantities of all kinds of arms and am- munition which we did not require. We were told that we sent a great number of arms to Russia because they were of no value. Why did we not keep them for the use of the troops in Ireland? If we did so, did we pay this £280,000 to the Disposal Board? If that was the case it gives a different complexion to the whole Estimate, and we ought to know it. Several of the subheads mentioned are also for sums which seem to have been incurred in 1920. Take, for instance, subhead F—clothing. This is an "increase in the numbers of the Force and provision for uniform for men sent out in the previous year without their full complement "—that is 1920. We were told at the beginning of the consideration of this Estimate that the original Estimate was framed in December, 1920. I think I am right in saying that since that original Estimate was proposed there was a previous Supplementary Estimate. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why this expenditure of money, which was incurred in 1920, was not put in that previous Estimate, and why it only appears now at the end of this financial year? Under almost every one of these subheads we are not given the information necessary to enable us to understand them. I think the right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with subhead M, prefaced his explanation by saying he would divide it into several heads in order to enable us to understand it. If it was necessary to do that when he was speaking here, it should have been necessary to do it when he published this Estimate, because we cannot understand it as it is put down here.

My last point is in regard to the Inspector-General, to which reference has already been made. This Inspector-General retired in December, 1920, and I understand that as he incurred more than the normal nerve strain the Government think that he is entitled to a higher Pension. Does the Chief Secretary not consider that the inspectors-general who succeeded Sir Thomas Smith have deserved even more than Sir Thomas Smith? Is this increased pension peculiar to Sir Thomas Smith or is it to be given to all those who succeed him? There is a great deal more that I would wish to refer to on these Estimates, but the matter has come before us so suddenly that I am not now prepared to deal with other points as I had intended.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

In this Estimate there are large sums for pensions and gratuities. Will the decision of the Government on the last Supplementary Estimate be applied in the case of the Royal Irish Constabulary or will there be one system applied to men who retire from the Royal Irish Constabulary and another system applied to civil servants who retire in this country? Last night I asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland one or two questions in regard to certain large sums of money. The right hon. Gentleman had many questions put to him, and I do not complain that he did not answer the specific points I raised. Did his Department buy small arms or additional machine guns or ammunition during the past 12 months? There are large quantities of these munitions of war in the possession of the War Office, and it seems to me unnecessary that the State should incur further liabilities which could be avoided by co-operation between the War Office and the Irish Office. We know that the Disposal Board are disposing of motor vehicles, tyres and accessories. Was the Irish Office at the same time buying these articles from contractors?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

I am very sorry that the hon. Member who has just spoken was not in the House last night when I tried to answer the questions he has raised Reference has been made to pensions and gratuities. There is no bonus in connection with police pay and there can therefore be no pension based on bonuses, to the police.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

I understood from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when we were on the last Supplementary Estimate, that pensions were to be based on or influenced by the cost of living. If that be the correct interpretation of his words, I wish to know whether the pensions granted to these individuals will also be based on the cost of living?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

I was not present during the whole of the debate on the last Supplementary Estimate, but I understood that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was dealing with pension on bonuses. No one knows better than the hon. Member that, whatever the procedure laid down by the Treasury, it must apply to all public servants, but as the Irish police have no bonus the question of pensions on bonuses does not arise in Ireland. I am asked whether we purchased arms of the War Office. We did.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

Did the Irish Office purchase from contractors or from the War Office as a transfer from one Department to another? Were further liabilities incurred?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

Arms and ammunition were purchased from the War Office, and throughout the recent history of Ireland there has been the most intimate co-operation between the Army and the War Office on the one side, and the police and the Irish Office on the other side for the obvious reason that the objective was the same and similar instruments of warfare were required. As far as possible motors were bought from surplus stores, but the hon. Member will realise that when you come to certain kinds of armoured cars for the protection of police and military, they were not so obtainable, and had to be purchased. Most of them were made at Woolwich. Every regard has been paid to economy, and the Irish Office never went far afield to purchase stores when those stores were in stock. I am glad to assure the hon. and gallant Member for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood) on the points he raised. The hon. and gallant Member criticised the form of the Estimates. That is a prerogative of the Treasury, and I am not responsible. The pension payable to Inspectors General who may follow Sir Thomas Smith does not arise, at any rate at the moment, because there is no succeeding Inspector-General to Sir Thomas Smith. It was considered a better administrative policy to engage a Chief of Police for all police forces in Ireland, instead of filling the position of Inspector-General. The hon. and gallant Member also criticised me because certain items were not included in a Supplementary Estimate last year. I am glad to say that there were no Supplementary Estimates last year in which these particular items could have been included.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that these things were purchased in previous financial years and have been paid for in the Estimates of this Financial Year?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

Does the hon. and gallant Member refer to the purchase of arms?

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

I refer to the same matters as were referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Aberdeen.

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

I think he was referring to the purchase of arms.

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

There was no Supplementary Estimate last year in which that item could have been included. As to the purchase of arms, I explained it in the greatest detail yesterday. In 1920–21 the War Department sold to the Royal Irish Constabulary arms and ammunition to the value of £350,000, but only £170,000 was paid for 1920–21, because the accounts were not cleared in time for payment to be made. I am now compelled to ask the House for the balance of £180,000 and also additional new money making a total of £280,550 for arms, ammunition, accoutrements, and so on. A question has been raised in reference to the original Estimate and the payment of the Inspector-General. I think the House is well aware that this refers to the salary of Sir Joseph Byrne, who was Inspector-General before my appointment as Chief Secretary and is still paid by the Government the salary of an Inspector-General pending further reappointment.

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

He is drawing the money.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

Does that arise on this Supplementary Estimate?

Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

The point I made was that it would form an Appropriation-in-Aid on this Estimate if it had not been spent. The figure is £1,800, and the post is vacant. The money is taken as spent in the original Estimate. Obviously it ought to appear as an Appropriation-in-Aid.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I do not see how it affects this Vote. The fact that certain things are not there would not allow any Debate on policy to arise.

Question put, and agreed to.

Second and Third Resolutions agreed to.

Fourth Resolution read a Second time.

Ordered, "That further consideration of the Resolution be now adjourned."—[Colonel Leslie Wilson.]

Resolution to be further considered To-morrow (Wednesday).

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]