Orders of the Day — Navy, Army and Air Expenditure, 1927.

– in the House of Commons on 3rd May 1929.

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Considered in Committee.

[Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]

"Whereas it appears by the Navy Appropriation Account for the year ended the

SCHEDULE.
No. of Vote.Navy Services, 1927, Votes.DeficitsSurpluses.
Excesses of actual over estimated gross Expenditure.Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.Surpluses of estimated over actual gross Expenditure.Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.
£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.
1Wages, etc., of Officers. Seamen, Boys, and Royal Marines, and Civilians employed on Fleet Services.9,53036134,86846
2Victualling and Clothing34,4561336,85246
3Medical Establishments and Services.9,099495,42414
4Fleet Air Arm
5Educational Services3,122111084315
6Scientific Services19,306253,117186
7Royal Naval Reserves1111027,62532
8Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, etc.:
Sec. 1. Personnel4,11021024,690149
Sec. 2. Matériel20,10609151,54203
Sec. 3. Contract Work61,23619911,4851211
9Naval Armaments26,36018115,0901211
10Works, Buildings, and Repairs.49,06612932,778118
11Miscellaneous Effective Services.35,6930815,14106
12Admiralty Office1,970726,838174
13Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine), Officers.5,78051504172
14Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine), Men.1,4461596,294011
15Civil Superannuation, Compensation Allowances, and Gratuities.3,79043187186
Balances irrecoverable and Claims abandoned.2,27680
108,77617978,22623325,54743188,1981711
Total Deficits £187,003 0 0Total Surpluses £513,746 2 2
Net Surplus £326,743 2 2"

31st day of March, 1928, that the aggregate expenditure on Navy Services has not exceeded the aggregate sums appropriated for those Services, and that, as shown in the Schedule hereto appended, the net surplus of the Exchequer Grants for Navy Services over the net Expenditure is £326,743 2s. 2d., viz.:—

£s.d.
Total Surpluses513,74622
Total Deficits187,00300
Net Surplus£326,74322

And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of so much of the said total surpluses on certain Grants for Navy Services as is necessary to make good the said total deficits on other Grants for Navy Services.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the application of such sums be sanctioned."—[Mr. A. M. Samuel.]

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I have one or two questions to ask. In Vote 8, Section 3, dealing with contract work, the first column shows an excess of actual over estimated gross expenditure of £61,236. I wish to know whether that indicates that far more contract work was undertaken than had been expected, and why this contract work proceeded so much more rapidly. May we take it that this expenditure in advance on that work in the year ending last March means that there will be a saving on the Estimates which have been prepared for this year?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

I would like to put a number of questions relative to the position at Port Edgar, on the Forth. I have asked questions on this matter more than once, and have received very courteous replies.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not quite see the relevance of that matter to this question of surpluses and deficits.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

With great respect, I think that the question of the maintenance of Port Edgar arises under this heading.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think not, unless it can be shown that some work done or left undone at Port Edgar is responsible for one of these deficits or surpluses. This is a purely accounting matter. It does not deal with the year just ended, but with the year before that.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

I am in your hands, Mr. Chairman, and I can only make my submission to the right hon. Gentleman and ascertain from you whether it is strictly within the terms of this question.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think this might arise on the Appropriation Bill, but I do not think it can arise on this purely accounting matter.

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) any details as to this excess expenditure on contract work. It very often happens that, for some reason or another, work proceeds more rapidly or more slowly than was originally expected. Sometimes the progress of work depends on the weather, and there may be other reasons. The hon. Member asked for an assurance that the things for which we have paid and which have caused this excess will not have to be accounted for in future years. What was spent in excess of what we expected to spend will come off what would have been spent later. The only point is that the bills come in rather sooner than we expected.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

We may expect the saving in the present year?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I do not know about that, but at any rate the Government are not going to pay twice.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I did not imagine the right hon. Gentleman's Department would do that.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

May I direct attention the the Vote "Works, Buildings and Repairs"? On that Vote am I not permitted to raise the question of the maintenance of Port Edgar?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

This is not an estimate in the ordinary sense. This is only a statement of how, in a former year, the estimates compared with the realities, and the only question that can arise is why more was spent than was expected on one item or less on another. No question of policy can arise here.

Question put, and agreed to. Whereas it appears by the Army Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March, 1928, that the aggregate Expenditure on Army Services has not exceeded the aggregate sums appropriated for those Services and that, as shown in the Schedule hereto appended, the net surplus of the Exchequer Grants for Army Services over the net Expenditure is £1,009,265 0s. 7d., namely:

£s.d.
Total Surpluses1,893,0431711
Total Deficits883,778174
Net Surplus£1,009,26507

And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of so much of the said total surpluses on certain Grants for Army Services as is necessary to make good the said total deficits on other Grants for Army Services.

SCHEDULE.
No. of Vote.Army Services, 1927, Votes.Deficits.Surpluses.
Excesses of actual over estimated gross Expenditure.Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.Surpluses of estimated over actual gross Expenditure.Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.
£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.
1Pay, etc., of the Army604,64495261,75784
2Territorial Army and Reserve Forces.132,0641885,937161
3Medical Services39,8981634,1841610
4Educational Establishments5,28819921,33738
5Quartering and Movements165,349141146,70323
6Supplies, Road Transport, and Remounts.32,702113332,3971011
7Clothing1,82087114,430115
8General Stores48,3791604,047117
9Warlike and Engineer Technical Stores.133,9901210176,94767
10Works, Buildings, and Lands17,725153202,53498
11Miscellaneous Effective Services.99,1934144,66325
12War Office2,3271579,02496
13Half-Pay, Retired Pay, and other Non-effective Charges for Officers.14,52318040,533109
14Pensions and other Non-effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, Men, and others.182,4422410,71227
15Civil Superannuation, Compensation, and Gratuities.9,2248744367
Balances Irrecoverable11,590147
194,0321611689,746051,610,116157282,92724
Total Deficits £883,778 17 4Total Surpluses £1,893,043 17 11
Net Surplus £1,009,265 0 7"

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the application of such sums be sanctioned."—[Mr. A. M. Samuel.]

Photo of Mr William Kelly Mr William Kelly , Rochdale

I wish to draw attention to the last item, "Balances irrecoverable," which amounts to £11,590 14s. 7d. May we have some explanation as to what is meant by that?

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I have four points on which I would like to put questions. The first refers to the figure of £604,000 in Vote No. 1, representing deficiencies of actual receipts in connection with the pay of the Army. I notice that there is a corresponding reduction of £261,000 in the gross expenditure. One would have thought the pay of the Army would have been more closely estimated, and these figures seem rather extraordinary. In regard to Votes No. 9 and No. 10, the question I have to raise is somewhat similar to the one I brought up in regard to the Navy. I wish to know whether Vote No. 9 means simply a, reduction in the amount of the holding of stores by the Army, and whether Vote No. 10, dealing with works, buildings and land, means a postponement of certain work which they had expected to undertake before now. The fourth figure to which I wish to draw attention, and which seems rather an amazing figure, comes under Vote No. 14, dealing with pensions and other non-effective charges. One would have thought the pensions would have been much more closely estimated.

Photo of Mr Duff Cooper Mr Duff Cooper , Oldham

I will answer the four points raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett). With regard to the first question, the strength of the Army during the period in question was lower than had been estimated. That is part of the explanation. Then, the provisional payment made by India was £200,000 less than the estimate. That matter is under discussion with the Indian Government. The Egyptian Government's contribution had also not yet been settled, and £150,000 has not been received. The amount provisionally brought to account as regards the military contribution of the Straits Settlements was £140,000 less than the estimate, pending discussion. The portion of the Dawes Annuity received in respect of the Rhine Army was £116,000 less than estimated. The Hong Kong contribution was £43,700 below the Estimate. That is the explanation of that item. Items Nos. 9, 10 and 14 deal with warlike stores; works, buildings and lands, pensions and other non-effective charges. In reference to warlike stores, the explanation is the claim made by the Government of India for employing Indians in China. The policy of the Government was to make savings in order to meet the extra expenditure incurred in China. The deficiencies in regard to the expenditure on works, buildings, and land are due to the same reason. The expenditure was cut down to a minimum in order that we might have extra money to meet the extra expenditure in connection with China. As far as the increase in pensions is concerned, that is due to the efficiency of the Ministry of Pensions which has enabled them to settle more of their business than was expected within that period. With regard to the question put to me by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) relating to irrecoverable balances, I will look into the point and communicate with him.

SCHEDULE.
No. of Vote.Air Services. 1927, Votes.Deficits.Surpluses
Excesses of actual over estimated gross Expenditure.Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.Surpluses of estimated over actual gross Expenditure.Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated Receipts.
£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.
1Pay, etc., of the Air Force108,273101087,207113
2Quartering Stores (except Technical), Supplies, and Transport.140,7970688,229140
3Technical and Warlike Stores (including Experimental and Research Services).232,39245471,727121
4Works, Buildings, and Lands55,820109264,442149
5Medical Services14,2221086,2851511
6Educational Services4,86319813,212610
7Auxiliary and Reserve Forces192645,607114
8Civil Aviation47,343153,21741
9Meteorological and Miscellaneous Effective Services.3,03919107,65454
10Air Ministry5,255164647145
11Half-Pay, Pensions, and other Non-effective Services.5429611,84895
Balances irrecoverable and Claims abandoned.3,141187
11,437149557,75271995,90417010,87195
Total Deficits £569,190 1 10Total Surpluses £1,006,776 6 5
Net Surplus 437,586 4 7"

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

The hon. Member referred to the negotiations going on with the Indian Government as to their contribution for the services of the Army in India. That matter has been under negotiation for a number of years, and I should like to know whether there is any likelihood of an early settlement.

Photo of Mr Duff Cooper Mr Duff Cooper , Oldham

There is more likelihood of a settlement being made in the near future than there has been during any previous period.

Question put, and agreed to.

"III. Whereas it appears by the Air Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March, 1928, that the aggregate Expenditure on Air Services has not exceeded the aggregate sums appropriated for those Services and that, as shown in the Schedule hereto appended, the net surplus of the Exchequer Grants for Air Services over the net Expenditure is £437,586 4s. 7d., namely:

£s.d.
Total Surpluses1,006,77665
Total Deficits569,190110
Net Surplus£437,58647

"And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of so much of the said total surpluses on certain Grants for Air Services as is necessary to make good the said total deficits on other Grants for Air Services.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the application of such sums be sanctioned."—[Mr. A. M. Samuel].

Photo of Mr William Kelly Mr William Kelly , Rochdale

I would like to have an explanation of Item No. 3 dealing with technical and warlike stores (including experimental and research Services.) The deficiencies in this case amount to £232,392 4s. 5d., and I would like an explanation of that Item. I would also like some explanation of the last Item "Balances irrecoverable and claims abandoned." I do not want to raise any suspicion in regard to the Services, but in view of many questions raised in this House, we are certainly anxious to be sure that matters are going on smoothly.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

The answer to the first question put by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) is that, owing to the expenses at Shanghai and the falling off in revenue due to labour troubles, the Air Ministry were asked to make a substantial saving after the Air Estimates had been passed by this House. We were asked to save £500,000, and we succeeded in saving the greater part of that sum, amounting to £450,000. We had to make our principal economies on Votes 3 (Technical and warlike stores) and 4 (Works, buildings and lands). The discrepancy to which the hon. Member for Rochdale has called attention is chiefly due to the fact that we made substantial savings on Vote 3. Those two facts explain the discrepancy to which attention has been drawn. The hon. Member for Rochdale asked for further information about the last item in the Financial statement, "Balances irrecoverable and claims abandoned." This is only a question of a very small sum remaining to be written off.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I do not quite understand the contribution relating to the Middle East. Does it depend on the policy of some other Department?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

It depends upon the expenditure of the garrisons during the period of reducing the units. The real reason is that we were able to make quicker reductions than we expected.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next, 6th May.