asked the President of the Board of Trade the approximate cost of the proceedings of the hearing of the complaint that cream of tartar has been wrongly included in the Board of Trade list of articles chargeable with duty under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which has now occupied seven sittings; if he is aware that Mr. Percy Ashley, accompanied by a number of the Board of Trade officials, Government and other expert chemists, and counsel are present at these proceedings; what arrangements are made for carrying on the normal work of his Department during the absence of these officials; can he state the total number of counsel and chemists present at these hearings; and has he any idea of the total cost involved in the holding of this inquiry?
I am not in a position to give the estimate asked for by the hon. Member, as I have no information as to the costs incurred by the complainants or by the companies allowed by the Referee to appear in opposition to the complaint. But, so far as the Board of Trade are concerned, the only costs incurred (apart from the the fees of the Referee) are the fees of one junior counsel representing the Board and the cost of the shorthand notes. No officers of other Departments have been present, and as regards the attendance of officers of the Board at the hearings, which have hitherto been either on Saturdays or on other days from 4 to 6 p.m., as a general rule only one officer is present for any length of time, and I am satisfied that the normal work of the Department is not being impeded, since, as is usual in times of pressure, the staff is working overtime, for which extra remuneration is not entailed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this bundle I hold in my hand are the shorthand notes of the parties concerned in only one of these cases, and that they cost over £500 to take? How can the right hon. Gentleman reconcile that with the statement that only one official in his spare time is doing the work from the Government point of view?