Mr Rupert Gwynne: This was not a decision of the present Government, but of the late Government, of a number of the Members of which the hon. Gentlemen who raised this question was a supporter. The fact is, he has no grievance at all against the present Government. He knew perfectly well when he stood for his constituency, in which Gretna is situated, that Gretna had been definitely handed over months before...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Before the hon. Gentleman began making promises to his constituents he ought to have known that that Report had been wiped out, and that another Departmental Committee had considered the matter and recommended quite differently, that the Cabinet had turned it down, and that it had been in the hands of the Disposal Board for nine months or a year before he took on the job. He ought to have...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: How can the War Office deal with an industrial factory?
Mr Rupert Gwynne: It does.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The inspectorship of harness and saddlery is at present vacant. I am not at present in a position to say precisely how this vacancy will be filled, but it is probable that a candidate possessing experience of military saddlery and its practical use in the field will be required.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Does the hon. Member say that the position has already been allocated?
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Then the hon. Member knows more than I do. My information is that it was not allocated this morning.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the second part, the hon. Member will not expect me, at this distance of time, to allocate responsibility, if there was any, amongst my predecessors. With regard to the third part, I regret that I do not see my way to recommend that any increase in the ex-gratia grant of 10s. in the should be made. The matter has...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: As I said in my answer, it would be inadvisable for me to allocate responsibility for what took place years ago on any individuals then in my Department.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The contract with McGrigor's was entered into in 1912 for 20 years. The Financial Secretary and the Secretary of State for War are, of course, responsible to this House for contracts of this kind.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I have not received from the hon. Member any notice of his question.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I did not leave the War Office until after half-past one, and no notice had then been received.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: In the absence of my right hon. Friend, I have been asked to reply. I would refer the hon. Member to the replies which I gave on 10th and 26th April to the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Gilbert) and the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Bowerman), respectively. The War Office is desirous of giving up, without delay, the eastern half of the area, which I understand is the part which...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: It is quite clear that the War Office want to terminate their agreement with regard to this part of the market, but they cannot force the landlords. It can only be done by arrangement, which is being pressed forward as much as possible.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I have been asked to reply. As the answer is rather long, I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: These officers, though commissioned, have always been paid on Civil Service lines, and they have received War bonus as though they were civil servants. A Departmental Committee is considering their future conditions of service.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I think the hon. Member is under some misapprehension. An index of 85 is the basis on which Departments were instructed to prepare their Estimates for the current year, but the rates paid to civil servants are fixed twice a year on the basis of the actual average index of the preceding period. For marriage allowance the rate is fixed annually, also having regard to the actual figures of the...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: This Army form was in use for many years before the War, and has been re-introduced in accordance with Treasury direction, and with the views expressed by the Public Accounts Committee in their third Report in 1921. Failure to render the form involves doubt, as to the claimant's identity, and payment in such cases is necessarily delayed pending inquiry. In regard to the last part of the...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I think it saves delay in the long run if the Department is quite certain as to the facts.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: It is merely filling a form up each year, in order that the benefits may be certified.