Class Ix.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1929.

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Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The hon. Member's criticism that the Government were late in coming forward in regard to this matter is a sound one. The Government came to the decision to make the pound for pound contribution on the 19th December last. Of course, as soon as we begin to grant public funds, you require a proper scheme put before the Public Accounts Committee showing the way in which public money is being spent. I would like to point out to my hon. Friend that from the 19th December up to the present time is only a matter of a few weeks, and yet in those few weeks we have already distributed about £500,000. That is something of which we need not be ashamed. The Lord Mayor's Fund Executive Committee was not actually constituted as a new executive until near the end of January, and in that short time we have managed to distribute in an effective way the huge sum I have mentioned. Therefore, there is no justification for the charge that there has been any undue delay in the distribution of these funds.

There is, however, some justification for the charge that the Government assistance was so long delayed because the Government decision was not arrived at until half the winter had passed. If the criticism of the hon. Member for Spennymoor had been more in that direction, I should have supported him up to the hilt. The hon. Member, towards the end of his speech, said that he thought there was a desire to keep a large part of the fund intact. There has been no mention of anything of that kind before the Executive Committee of the Lord Mayor's Fund. Directly a requisition comes from a local committee or a divisional committee, whatever money is required, not only for immediate needs but to provide a balance at the local bank upon which to draw is immediately sent from the central office. I think that, if my hon. Friend were to make inquiry at this moment, he would find that in every case the local treasurer of the divisional or local committee has a bank balance upon which to draw for immediate cases of relief. If there are still cases—and I do not doubt it when my hon. Friend says so, because we all know his very great interest and his very large heart in these matters—if there are still cases of actual immediate and really anxious distress which are not being dealt with out of the bank balances of the local committees, there must be something wrong with the local work—