Orders of the Day — Overseas Service [Money]

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21 January 1958.

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Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).—[Queen's Recommendation signified.]

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed,That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to authorise the Secretary of State to appoint officers available for civilian employment in public services overseas, it is expedient to authorise—

  1. (a) the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in consequence of the provisions of the said Act or of any order made thereunder;
  2. (b) any increase attributable to the provisions of the said Act in the sums payable out of moneys provided by Parliament under any other enactment;
  3. (c) the payment into the Exchequer of sums received by the Secretary of State in consequence of the provisions of the said Act or of any order made thereunder, or in pursuance of any arrangements made by the Secretary of State (whether before or after the passing of the said Act) with Governments of overseas territories, being arrangements relating to employment in the public services of those territories, and any increase attributable to the provisions of the said Act in the sums payable into the Exchequer under any other enactment.—[Mr. Lennox-Boyd.]

8.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

This is the great moment for which we have all been waiting. Many of us have sat here since 4.45 p.m. hoping that we should see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whose name appears for the first time on the Order Paper attached to this Money Resolution. We wish to congratulate him on his appointment, on the circumstances in which he has succeeded, and now we are to be robbed of all this. It is really a sad deprivation for the Committee, Sir Gordon.

As a minor matter, which, of course, the Treasury Front Bench would not think worthy of consideration, I mention that, even if those considerations do not move them, it would not be a bad thing if we had a word of explanation about this Money Resolution. After all, this at least is something on which the Treasury does spend its time. Here is where the great quarrels are coming in the weeks which lie ahead. Now we shall see what the Treasury Ministers are made of. We shall see how these new officials face the battle and fight inflation. Yet, at the first sign of an engagement, the Financial Secretary does not even turn up on the battlefield.

I am bound to say that this is a pretty poor start for the Government. Many of us really hoped that they were in earnest. I trust that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not resigned. Perhaps that is the reason for his failure to appear. If he has resigned, no doubt we shall hear some explanation from his successor. After all, the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton South-West (Mr. Powell) appeared on the Bill, but by the time we receive the Order Paper, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has gone and the new Financial Secretary is the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon). Has he gone now? Shall we find that when we reach the next stage there is someone else? I feel that there is a real mystery behind this. It is not a simple matter of £50 million. There is far more to it than appears on the surface.

We made a simple request that the Financial Secretary should come. At a quarter to seven we asked that he should come, and he did not. At 7 o'clock we asked that he might come. He still is not here. Even in the present state of London transport, it should not take him all that time to come across from Whitehall; it is only 300 yards even if he walks it. We really shall hold it against the present Financial Secretary that, on the first occasion when he had the opportunity to strike a blow for the Government, he could not be in his place to deliver it.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.