War Service Canteens (Disposal of Surplus) Bill.

Oral Answers to Questions — Unemployment. – in the House of Commons at on 18 July 1922.

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Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Government intend to take the War Services Canteens (Disposal of Surplus) Bill for Second Reading to-morrow. Whether he is aware that the Bill was only printed and circulated to hon. Members to-day, that the Bill is of a most controversial character, and that it affects every ex-service man in the country; and that the accounts of the Expeditionary Force canteens, the Navy and Army Canteen Board, and the Navy and Army and Air Force Institutes, covering a period from 1918 to 1922, with which it deals, were only printed late last night in a document of 36 pages; and whether he will give an undertaking that the Bill will not be proceeded with until hon. Members have had an opportunity of studying the facts revealed in these papers?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I only received notice of the question after I came into the House. I have been making inquiries on the subject. I do not intend to take the Bill to-morrow if the Noble Lord and his Friends desire further time to consider it. But perhaps they will allow me to say that the difficulties are less than my Noble Friend would lead the House to believe. The Bill contains only two Clauses, which will not require a great deal of study. The accounts are prefixed by a statement by Sir William Plender, which summarises them, and will, I think, be found an easy guide to knowledge by those who care to study it. I understand that the Bill deals with a sum of money—five millions sterling— which is not the property of the Government, but which cannot be devoted to the advantage of the beneficiaries without legislation, and therefore, in the interests of the service men, this Bill should be dealt with rapidly, and although I will not attempt to take it to-morrow, I shall have to ask the House to consider it on a very early date.