[MR. MACMASTER in the Chair.]
Motion made, and question proposed: "That a sum not exceeding £28,632 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the House of Lords." [Note: £23,000 has been voted on account.]
Mr. BALDWIN (Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury): It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I just said one word on this Estimate for the House of Lords, and if I should be in order I should like to make a remark which would be common to this estimate and to the next one, which is for the Offices of the House of Commons. In both cases the management of the staffs, the regulation of salaries and so forth rest practically in the hands of the Committees which undertake the discharge of these duties. There is a Committee selected by the Members of the House of Lords, and there is the Committee in the House of Commons, of which the Speaker is always the Chairman, and at which the attendance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is always necessary. There are also certain other officers upon it. The duty of the Treasury is really confined to putting together the accounts so far as the two Houses are concerned. If anything in either of these Estimates struck the Treasury, when they came before them, as being very much out of the way or unusual, it would doubtless be open to us to raise the question, but the experience for very many years past has been that those two bodies are competent to manage their own affairs. From my own experience I can say that the management by these two bodies of the two offices has worked very well, and has not led to extravagance. With regard to the Estimates that are before this Committee for the House of Lords, there is really nothing to comment upon. There is nothing that differentiates these accounts from those in previous years. If you look at page 3 in the Volume of Class II., hon. Members will find that the only new service is one to which the Treasury has given its sanction under the heading "N"—that is permission to resume the calendaring of the historic documents in the House of Lords, 90 which was stopped during the progress of the war. When the House of Lords made application for permission to renew the calendaring of various valuable historical documents in its possession, it was thought that, as the time had arrived when we considered it right to sanction the continuation of similar work for the Record Office, we could not withhold our sanction for the work in the House of Lords. The Committee will notice that we have not put down any sum under "P" for Appropriations-in-Aid. The reason is very simple. Although a small sum was put down last year, we thought it better to be on the safe side. Before the war the average amount that used to be obtained from Appropriations-in-Aid—which, as hon. Members are aware, consist principally of fees in connection with Private Bills and so forth—was anything from £10,000 to £20,000 a year. That amount was common to both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. When you come to the House of Commons you will find that this is provided for to a reduced extent this year. There is no charge against them. In the House of Lords, according to the ancient practice, the charge against them is met to some extent by the fees, which come to a considerable amount as compared with what they were some fifty years ago, and a proportion is taken out of the fees. We hope the business of Private Bill legislation will revive and provide a surplus to go towards the other expenses. We hope that this year the amount of business in the Committees will justify a considerable sum being put down under that head. I can assure the Committee, and I hope they will agree, that we have done wisely in not reckoning on any large sum this year.
Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed: "That a sum not exceeding £231,774 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the salaries and expenses of the Offices of the House of Commons. [Note: £110,000 has been voted on account."]
Mr. BALDWIN: I can only say on this Vote what I have already said with regard to the House of Lords' Vote. The increase is considerably due to the salaries and other allowances to Members. The reason is that a new Parliament has come into being, and it was thought well to make a full estimate 91 of all the Members of the new House not Members of the Government, who, therefore, do not receive the usual £400 a year which is allowed to a Member of Parliament. The reason the figure is larger than it was in the last House was that during the war a considerable number of Members did not wish to draw their salaries. There are other small items explained by the war bonus and the natural increments in salaries.
Vote agree to.
Lieut.-Colonel STEPHENSON: Where do we find this figure?
The CHAIRMAN: This is the difference in the amount of the Vote on page 7 and the sum voted on account.
Motion made, and Question proposed: "That a sum not exceeding £19,845 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the War Cabinet." [Note.—£20,000 has been voted on account.]
Lieut.-Colonel MALONE: I beg to move: "That the Vote be reduced by £100." I move this reduction in order to take the opportunity that we now have to consider the vote for the War Cabinet and the possibility of its reversion to peace conditions. I hope the Committee will not pass this vote without some assurance that we will be able to go back to the old system. I do not make any aspersion on the work of the War Cabinet or of Sir Maurice Hankey, who have given great service to this Country during the war. The Government was able to work on a single line, that of winning the war, but now the policy before us is rather obscure, and I cannot conceive that the present Cabinet can go on consisting, as it does, of five members who are Departmental Heads.
Mr. PURCHASE: On a point of order, may I ask whether we are entitled to enter into this question on this vote?
The CHAIRMAN: I think this is one of the votes on which the Committee is entitled to discuss the question.
Lieut.-Col. MALONE: This is an analogous point to other questions of general policy which are being discussed on the votes.92
Mr. BALDWIN: On a point of order, I do not wish to object unnecessarily to the discussion, but the hon. Member has raised a question which is one that may very fairly be raised, and I shall be very pleased to give an answer. I submit, however, that it would not be in order to enter into any question of the general policy of the Government, which I understand was the point raised by the hon. Member. That goes beyond what is a suitable matter on this vote, which does not enter into the question of the general policy of the War Cabinet. This is not the place in which that can be discussed. That should be discussed in the House of Commons by putting down a Vote of Censure.
Lt.-Col. MALONE: I am dealing with the number and constitution of the War Cabinet. The whole matter was discussed in the Report of the Machinery of Government Committee, presided over by Lord Haldane. In that Report the suggestion was made that the Cabinet should be smaller in number, not less than ten and not more than twelve, and should not consist of Ministers who were burdened with Departmental responsibilities. They suggested also that there should be more co-ordination between the different departments. I cannot conceive how they could get through the business of legislation and consider it properly if the present system were continued. Take an analogy from the principal Government Departments. The Admiralty Board is somewhat similar to the War Cabinet, and it is recognised that it would be quite an unbusinesslike thing if the head of the Admiralty Department were the representative of Naval Construction or any other Department which came under the Board of Admiralty. We might also take the case of big firms like Vickers and the Erith Works. In none of those cases is the head of a department occupying the position of the head of the board of managing directors. The department has its head, and the general scope of the work is under the managing directors. Some member has to attend to the whole scope of the business. On the same principle, the various Ministers should each have their Departments, but the Members of the War Cabinet should not hold Departmental portfolios. That is one of the points on which I should like to have an assurance. During the war we have learned a great deal about staff work, and the difference between executive work and planning work. The various War Departments and, I think, the War Office, have come to see that there is a great difference being burdened with legislative work and 93 executive function. I hope the Committee will see that it is important that the system of Government should be organised on similar lines. We have here five Members of the War Cabinet, four of whom are departmental officers. Every Minister must realise how important it must be to look ahead and to devote his attention to future legislation. It is impossible almost to carry out at the same time the work of a Department. I think this is a matter that comes within the scope of this Committee, and that we should express our opinion that some such reorganisation is necessary. We have before us great questions of Imperial organisation and other questions of that kind. One could give many examples. I do not go beyond saying that I do not see how a Minister can be responsible for a Department and yet be a member of a body which is supreme over the other Departmental offices. For instance, it will be very interesting to know at what stage in the proceedings the policy in Russia came under the consideration of the Cabinet and at what stage it approved of the Russian Expedition. I think we shall find that the matter did not reach the War Cabinet until a crisis had arisen and was developing, and that up to that point only scanty information had perhaps reached it upon these matters of such great importance. Every Member of the Committee could give similar examples. I hope the Committee will not allow this Vote to pass as it stands. We should have an assurance from the hon. Gentleman who is representing the Government that this matter will receive the earliest possible consideration by the Cabinet with a view to the reorganisation of the War Cabinet, so that it may be a sound business body.
Lieut.-Colonel STEPHENSON: I should like to ask whether it is the intention that the War Cabinet should go on, or whether it will be turned into a Peace Cabinet? Is it to be a permanent executive on the War basis, or is it to be restored to a Peace basis? It seems to me that the War Cabinet has almost discharged its functions.
Colonel BOWLES: Does this vote include the substantial allowance for the staff and their expenses, or does it come under the same vote as Public Buildings?
Captain ORMSBY-GORE: It is only right that on this question something should be said of the work of the staff of the War 94 Cabinet. I have had something to do with it myself, and something should be said of the marvellous way in which Sir Maurice Hankey organised the whole of the Government work, both for the Imperial War Conferences and for the War Cabinet. It was only a small staff in a small building, but it did really wonderful work. The staff worked extremely long hours and did a very large amount of work. When one considers what they had to do, we can be quite certain of the importance of the work. They had to prepare everything for the Leader of the House and for the War Cabinet, and had to entirely reconstruct the whole character of the arrangements. They had not only to prepare the business for the War Cabinet, but had to circulate documents which would prepare the various Ministers for the various matters which they would be called upon to deal with, either by way of giving their evidence or their views. This work became still more important as part of the organisation of the Imperial Forces. The War Cabinet staff, under Sir Maurice Hankey had various liaison officers. I was in liaison with the Irish Office and the Foreign Office for some time, and others were similarly in touch with various Government Offices. That system will have to go on to some extent even after war-time, as the number of responsible Government Departments and the number of Ministers and Ministries has been so much increased. It would be necessary to have a properly organised staff so that Ministers can be informed of the various things which are coming before the Cabinet. The War Cabinet system, with its staff, must be retained in some form, and then the advantage will be found of Sir Maurice Hankey's skilful work of reorganisation, by which a large number of Ministers knew a long time before a crisis arose what subjects were coming up for decision, and various Papers were submitted to the various Ministers arising out of these matters. All these Papers had to be prepared by Sir Maurice Hankey and his assistant secretaries. These were submitted to Ministers, who were formed into panels for the purpose as the questions came up, such as the First Lord of the Admiralty, the President of the Board of Education, and various other Ministers. These were brought into touch with the War Cabinet and its work, and sometimes they took part in its discussions. That, I am perfectly certain, is the way in which the Cabinet will grow in future in order to get collective responsibility of the Ministry. We want the Ministers who will be summoned to take part in any discussion to take 95 part on an equality with the War Cabinet. Of course, we naturally understand that that requires the most confidential staffing and the most confidential dealing with Papers and the circulating of Papers, as well as dealing with the record of decisions. One of the great difficulties in the working of Cabinet Government in the past in this country has been the fact that it has been nobody's duty to set forth in clearly drafted language the decisions arrived at by the Cabinet, decisions which have to be conveyed to the Government Departments and carried out. Time and again one has heard of Members of the Cabinet coming out after a two-hours' discussion on an important question and saying, "Oh! we have decided something; I suppose the Prime Minister knows what we decided, but I do not." The system introduced by Sir Maurice Hankey became somewhat on the lines of the Military Staff—that is to say, when the Government came to a decision on any question which required several staffs to carry it out, such as the Admiralty, the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, or the Air Ministry, something dealing—say—with the Caucasus, these Ministries would be informed of the decision of Downing Street and exactly what the decision of the Cabinet was within two hours after it had been reached. That was a valuable innovation that rendered the Cabinet of the Government during the war so effective, and I feel that something of that kind should continue in times of peace. I am perfectly certain that in passing this vote we are doing something which will have enormous influence on the development of our Imperial organisation, because in the War Cabinet are really centred all our Imperial defences, and I am certain that in passing this vote to aid the Services, the germ of a United Empire will arise.
Mr. BALDWIN: I am sure that I have no reason to complain at all of the speeches made on this Vote. I would remind hon. Members that the Vote itself consists really, so far as the Members of the War Cabinet go, of the salaries of two Ministers without portfolio only. The salaries of the War Cabinet are given under the head "B." It must be remembered that we have to make provision for such things as an occasional special train, in case there be an urgent need for Members of the Cabinet being summoned to Paris, as must happen during Peace negotiations, and, again, we have included in this Vote what is purely a temporary Vote under the heading "D," making provision for a Supreme War Council, such as that at Versailles. With regard to the matter to which the Mover of the reduction referred, 96 of course the Committee realises that it is quite impossible for a junior Minister, as I am, to say what the head of the Government may or may not do; but I do not think I would be going too far if I were, in the first place, to remind the Committee of the answer which the Leader of the House gave to my hon. and gallant Friend this afternoon when he asked: "Whether any alterations in the organisation of the War Cabinet are contemplated in order to meet the changed conditions arising from the reversion from War to Peace legislation?" The Leader of the House answered: "Yes, Sir, but the exact nature of the change cannot be stated until the return from Paris of the Peace Delegation." It is very obvious what that means; that the existence of the War Cabinet in its present form is not permanent. I believe that it is the intention of the Prime Minister, as soon as he is free from the immense labour which he is sustaining in Paris at the present time, to devote himself to the restoration of Cabinet Government in this country. I am quite sure that much as the Members of the House may desire that, the Ministers themselves desire it still more. How soon it may be practicable to do that, of course, it is impossible for me to say here. With regard to the salaries of two Ministers without portfolio, I would point this out to the Committee: Provision, it is true, has been made for a whole year. I think that is wise in the circumstances, because in the framing of the estimate it was impossible to know whether it would be six or nine months or possibly more before the War Cabinet in its present form ceased to exist. There is one more thing I would ask hon. Gentlemen to remember: In a time like the present, when great changes are being made, when new Departments are coming into being, if the House of Commons sanctions them, such as a Department of Ways and Communications, it seems to me that it would be in the highest degree unwisdom if we were to leave out for a few months such a provision as is included in this vote, because cases might easily arise, as arose in the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Sir E. Geddes), who at this moment in connection with that Ministry is performing a most arduous work, while there is no vote out of which he can obtain money for that development. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge, is performing most arduous work and trying to get through his Bill for the creation of a Ministry of Ways and Communications, but it has not been pos- 97 sible to make a temporary provision for his salary. Without a portfolio it would have been impossible to have given him any remuneration for the work which he is doing. In the same way, during the period of reconstruction in the remaining part of the financial year, other cases may arise. Supposing that one of the elder Members of the Government felt he would be glad to be relieved of the burden of office, and his office was given to a younger man, the Government might well feel it would like to avail itself of his services for 6 or 12 months, and would be very glad indeed to have his co-operation and have his full time, in considering any questions that might arise, without his labours being hampered by Departmental work. Provision has been made in these estimates which enable us to enjoy the services of such a man, and if it were not for this estimate we would have no means of making that provision. I think the explanation I have given to the Committee will justify leaving the vote for this year as it stands. With regard to the salaries, I was very glad indeed to hear my hon. and gallant Friend pay a tribute to the work of Sir Maurice Hankey. I should like to endorse that tribute, because I have had a great deal, during the two and a quarter years I have been at the Treasury, to do with his work and I know that he has given valuable service to the country.
Lieut.-Colonel MALONE: I should like to say that fearing it might be thought that I made this motion on personal grounds I would like to asssociate myself with the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Capt. Ormsby-Gore) in the tribute he paid to Sir Maurice Hankey. I raised my motion entirely on the question of principle. The explanation seems to satisfy the Committee, and I beg leave to withdraw the motion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed: "That a sum, not exceeding £107,519, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and other Expenses in the Department of His Majesty's Treasury and Subordinate Departments, including Expenses in respect of Advances under the Light Railways Act, 1896." [Note.—£80,000 has been voted on account.]98
Mr. BALDWIN: A very few words will suffice for this Vote. Hon. Members will notice that it not only includes the Vote for the Treasury Office, but two or three things are added, with which I have had most slender connection, chiefly the Committee of Imperial Defence. With regard to the Treasury Vote, I do not think there is much for note there. Item A., "Salaries, Wages and Allowances," is increased largely owing to war bonus, the details of which are set out on subsequent pages, and to a slight increase in staff. I should like to say to the Committee that I am very strongly of opinion that the Treasury ought to be increased in number, and I am very anxious to see that done. When you look at the increase in Government Staffs throughout Whitehall, a great deal of which increase must be permanent having regard to new offices which have been formed, notably Labour, Pensions, and Health, I do not think it will be possible for us to do our work with the existing staff, but I feel quite confident that when the time does come for us to appeal to the House to give us a rather larger estimate than we have had in the past, we shall be able to make a perfectly good case, and it will give it to us cheerfully. There is an item, "Special Inquiries," which looks rather mysterious, and in which there is an increase of £9,000. The bulk of that money consists of maintaining missions in the United States of America. Some of our people from the Treasury have been in America for some time past, and Sir H. Babington Smith has been in that country for some time. They have been working partly on the ordinary financial questions that arise, or have arisen, between the American Government and our own Government, and partly on various kinds of work which arise out of the liquidation of contracts with American manufacturers of munitions. Of course this work was absolutely essential, and although we have cut down the Vote as far as possible, yet, as the Committee knows, to keep men of the requisite stamp in that country and give them such a staff as they need, cannot be a cheap process. With regard to the Committee of Imperial Defence, there is no change there over and above the war time expenditure, except that there is an increase of about £4,000, the whole of which is caused by the sanctioning of additional staff which will be occupied with the History of the War. I am sure Members of the Committee will agree that an authentic history of the war is a matter of very great importance, not only to students of the war, but also to students of history and the people of this country. It was felt, and I think rightly, that there should 99 be no delay now in getting on as fast as possible with that great work, and that is being done. I think that an adequate staff and a very capable staff has been selected for the work. With regard to the Vote for the Paymaster-General's Office, which does not much concern most of us here, Members may wonder why there is so large an increase. The reason is that the Paymaster-General's Office is the one responsible for the issue of pensions to officers; and that work has now attained very great importance and has increased with a tremendous rush since the termination of hostilities. There is a small item here—and small items very often give rise to the most curiosity—for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, where the expenditure has increased from £500 to £600. Hon. Members may know that the Government nominate two representatives to watch their interests on the board of that Company, there being a considerable sum of public money involved. Last year the Treasury had only one representative, at a salary of £500, and this year we have a second representative from the Admiralty, the interests of the Admiralty being very great in this matter, and as he is a Government servant and is drawing his salary, he receives merely the nominal fee of £100. Both these gentlemen receive these sums from the Government as a full remuneration, and all ordinary fees which would be paid to them as directors are returned to the Government. An estimate of them appears in "Appropriations-in-aid," where you find the figure £2,472. We shall gain, I think, by that process. I do not think anything else calls for comment, but if there are any questions hon. Members would like to ask, I will endeavour to answer them.
Mr. LUNN: As the hon. Member says, it is the small sums that one notices. I notice in vote A, charwomen are paid 16s., the highest; others are paid 14s., 12s., and 10s. 6d. 1s it per day, week, or month? If it is per week, I suggest something more ought to be done for these women in order to enable them to live decently and respectably.
Mr. BALDWIN: I can reassure my hon. Friend. We have not yet any permanent consolidated salaries, and these salaries are at the old rate. At the bottom of the page is a figure of £10,000 for War bonus. I think the actual bonus these women receive is 16s.
Mr. LUNN: What about porters at 24s. a week?100
Mr. BALDWIN: The bonus affects everyone. In the House I have answered questions about messengers, who, with the bonus, are getting 55s. per week.
Captain STANLEY WILSON: I was horrified in listening to the speech of the hon. Member the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I am sure that every Member of the Committee has been returned for his constituency pledged to economy. The hon. Member has not promised any economy, but has warned us that the Treasury ought to be very considerably increased. I must register a very strong protest against any increase. What we want to see in the future is a reduction of the number of officers in departments. I am certain that every Member of this Committee has told his constituents time after time that we are going to see that the Government is to economise immediately the war is over, and that these estimates will be reduced. I have not heard the slightest little bit of shame in my hon. Friend's speech at the huge sum which these estimates reach. If one had time to consider some of the items, many holes might be found. I will take one item he mentioned himself—the "History of the European War." It seems to me to be a colossal sum of money to spend. Is it necessary to have four historians, directors of branches, senior assistants, and so on, all dealing with the History of the War? Admirable histories have been and are being written at the present time, and this is an expenditure which I for one cannot pass without making some slight protest. I have known many cases in past years in which nobody in the House of Commons would have dreamed of allowing such estimates as these to go through without registering their strongest protest. I wish to register some humble protest, on account of the speech to which I have just listened, in which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has told us that it is his intention to increase, and hot to decrease, expenditure.
Viscount CURZON: May I support what the hon. Member has just said with regard to suggested increases in the Treasury staff? I do not think any Member of Parliament wishes unduly to hamper the Government in the matter of staff, but we really must see a reduction, and not an increase. I should like to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he could give us any more information on the subject of the "History of the War" I should like to inquire whether this is to be a Naval as well as a Military history, and whether it will include the Air Force? I notice in item B, "Travelling and Incidental expenses," 101 travelling expenses, newspapers, foreign telegrams, tape machine, and refreshments. I should like a little more information on these items if the hon. Member can give us them.
Mr. MORRISON: May I ask what steps are being taken to restore Treasury control, which is one of the most important things if we are to have national economy? These Estimates are for £9,500,000, as compared with £4,263,000 in the year before the War. I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Holderness (Captain S. Wilson) about the need for economy, and I should support an increase in the Treasury Officers if it were likely to lead to that result.
Brigadier-General COCKERILL: Those of us who have served in a great department of State during the War have noticed that every financial proposal put forward is submitted to a financial department. For instance, for the War Office there is, I believe, a financial department by which every proposal involving extra expenditure is considered very carefully, and the proposal is eventually submitted to the Treasury, who considers them all over again. It has often occurred to me that this double consideration of financial proposals submitted by departments must really involve duplication of work, and that there is a possible means of increasing control and reducing expenditure at the same time by dealing with these departments as if they were outlying sections of the Treasury, thus adding to the Treasury staff, which is exercising control, and placing that staff in a position to watch expenditure far more closely than any official of the Treasury can do. It has seemed to me—I have no doubt there must be some grave objections to it, of which I myself am not aware—that possibly there is some duplication there, possibly some added control, and probably, at the same time, some lessened expenditure which might be arrived at.
Colonel STEPHENSON: I do not quite understand the statement of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury with regard to Item C, "Special Inquiries." I know he spoke about some very important people having been to America in connection with some financial matters, but I do not understand why, a year after the Armistice, it is going to cost £3,000 more than before, that is, £12,000, as against £9,000; nor do I understand, in view of the various things we are told in the House, why this mission 102 —I suppose it is a financial mission—to the United States is any longer necessary, because, from what we read in the newspapers and are told in the House, de-control is the order of the day in matters of finance as well as in other matters.
Mr. PRETYMAN: I only wish to say one word in support of what my hon. Friend has just said, as I cannot help thinking that this is an instance which might well be worth while the Treasury considering. There are so many stages of control, yet none seem complete, and all are very costly. Of course, the effect of any attempt to increase the control of the Treasury is apt to lead to a defensive effort on the part of a department to strengthen its own financial department to deal with the Treasury, and so increase expense against yourself, and I am not sure you will arrive at very much more satisfactory results. There are so many stages through which any expenditure arising out of a financial proposal has to go. Take, for instance, the case of the Navy, as to which I can speak with some experience. I suppose the demand for expenditure arises with the executive branch of the Navy. They want, say, some new equipment. The matter goes to the administrative people, who have to decide where that equipment can best be obtained, and what price ought to be paid for it. Then it goes from the administrative to the financial department of the Admiralty. They have to look into the financial side, and carry on negotiations with the Treasury. There, it seems to me, must necessarily be, and often is, an unnecessary duplication of work on the question of finance. After going through the Treasury it has to go to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, then to the Public Accounts Committee, and, finally, I suppose, to the Committee of this House on which we are sitting here. All those stages are gone through, and are all supposed to result in economy and avoidance of waste. I am not at all sure that, looking at the whole of the money expended on taking the accounts through all these stages, you would not save money if you left it to the Department, and had no revision at all. I do not suggest that, of course, but the expense is enormous, and I do suggest to my hon. Friend who is representing the Treasury here that the experience of the War has thrown a little light on it. For instance, that procedure was very much shortened during the War, because there was an arrangement under which the Treasury had a representative actually in the Admiralty, and I may 103 say that, if the Treasury wants to know about what is going on, they ought to have a representative themselves in the Department who will really know exactly what is going on. You have now a kind of wall between the financial side of the great Departments and the Treasury, and if it is up to the financial Department of the War Office, the Admiralty, or any other great spending Department to get the best it can for its Department, it is up to the Treasury to try to cut them down. There is a line of economy, if you can possibly avoid these opposing designs between the two Departments, and if the Treasury were to have a representative, as they had during the war, in the great spending Departments, who, while the Estimate is being prepared, and when the expenditure is being actually considered, could be in close touch with the Treasury, and if the Treasury could get their financial finger introduced into the business before it is actually and finally settled, and before it comes to them officially, they would know more about it, and I believe economy would be secured. I know these matters are very difficult and very complicated, and there are certain forms which have to be followed, but we have somehow or other to try to do things a little more cheaply. It really did not matter to this country in the past whether we spent what looked a great deal, or whether we spent something less, on administration; it merely meant putting another penny or two-pence on the income tax. Now we are in a very different position indeed. We are spending up to the hilt. The spending Departments are increasing expenditure, and we have new Departments springing up which are going to spend millions of money. The suggestion, I take it, that the Treasury makes is that every one of these vast new outlays will involve a corresponding addition to the Treasury staff in order to supervise it. It is really worth while going into this question to see if some kind of machinery could not be arranged, at any rate, with some of the new Departments starting, and, instead of giving them financial Departments to fight the Treasury, and the Treasury having to create separate Departments to fight them, whether there could not be some kind of unification. I believe the result would be really more effective, because it would get a more inside view of the Department at an earlier stage, and at the same time there would be less money spent on official staffs. Something of the kind has got to be done, otherwise we shall find ourselves in a position where there will not be the funds that are necessary, and if we can cut out something 104 that is unnecessary, we shall at least arrive at that stage a great deal more slowly, and perhaps accumulate some further means.
Captain ORMSBY-GORE: I should like to support the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down as to the great help it would be to have Treasury representatives in not only the great spending departments, but even in a department like the Foreign Office. Instead of the whole thing being done by minutes going across from the Foreign Office to the Treasury and back again, and an acrimonious correspondence arising, it would be far better if the Treasury had a subordinate officer with Treasury training in the Foreign Office who could deal personally with the man who spends the money—that is to say, not the Minister, but the permanent head of the department, because the permanent head of the department really holds the purse-strings in these offices when it comes to important questions. I think it would be a great help both to the department and to the Treasury. I would like to say that I certainly agree with something which, I think, fell from the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Estimates when he said that the Treasury has been the most overworked department of State. I certainly think that certain individuals in the Treasury during the war have been more hideously sweated than any Government department in the world. A man like Mr. Keynes has really done more than five men's work. It was very difficult, of course, to expand the Treasury during the war—to get any man who knew Treasury work, which is the most skilled of all the administrative duties of our Civil Service—and it is most difficult to expand that office, but I do think it would be an economy in the long run, and a safeguard of expenditure by Government departments, if you had a little stronger Treasury. I am perfectly certain it will be false economy to try to put down the Treasury. I do not think this Committee is going to be much of a check upon the expenditure of the various departments or indeed by the House of Commons. The Members of the House are far too keen about measures of reconstruction to think much about economy. They may be perfectly right in that. What we want to do in order to keep things within bounds is that the Treasury should have tentacles in every Government Department. I shall not vote for a reduction of the Treasury staff. I hope it will be the controlling body and will be made efficient for the purpose. I should like this Committee and the House to insist that it especially shall be the Department which has to look after economy in expenditure and act 105 as a trustee of a taxpayer, even more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer does. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the head of the Department and should be in the Cabinet, but in addition to that we want his officers to realise that he is their chief and their head, and that they too are determined to support him in dealing with the expenditure of every Department.
Major McKENZIE WOOD: Can the representative of the Treasury say anything about the cost of the "History of the War"?
Mr. BALDWIN: I do not think this is the place to make a statement on the subject of Treasury control as has been pointed out by the Member for Holderness (Capt. S. Wilson). This is one of the points gone into by Mr. Herbert Samuel's Committee, which was anxious that the Treasury should get more control over expenditure. I think that the report of that Committee should be quite sufficient for us to-day. On the question of special inquiries, I should have called attention to the fact. I regret that I have not the figures for last year showing the charge against this item.
Colonel STEPHENSON: Why are these special inquiries going on? We want to get rid of them.
Mr. BALDWIN: I quite agree, but people will find here, as in America, that you cannot wind up all these contracts in a moment. It is principally a matter of liquidation of contracts. It is a most important subject. With regard to the "History of the War" I cannot say how long it will take, but, judging from the time taken over the history of the Russo-Japanese War, it will take a long time. There were histories prepared and charged to the War Office in that case and they came out very slowly. I hope to put on a considerable staff in this case in order that the work may not take such a long time. Incidentally, it is finding work for a number of light duty officers, who are able to lend their assistance. I understand that there will be a Military history, a Naval history, a Mercantile Marine history, and a History of the Air Force.
Viscount CURZON: Is this part of a history at present being prepared at the Admiralty?
Mr. BALDWIN: I am afraid I cannot answer that. The official history is under the editorship of Sir Julian Corbett. I cannot 106 speak positively, but there may be one or two more small histories produced while the larger history is being got out.
Viscount CURZON: When is it expected to complete the history?
Mr. BALDWIN: It is perfectly impossible to say at the present.
Captain S. WILSON: Shall we be able to get the volumes inside this room?
Mr. BALDWIN: I do not think there is any other point I have left out, and I hope hon. Members will give me the Vote.
Mr. PRETYMAN: You have said nothing as to the main suggestion which has been made.
Mr. BALDWIN: I listened with great interest to the speakers. It would be impossible to commit myself here, and I am not in a position to do so. I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pretyman), which was very much on the lines which I had in my own mind, and I think that is one of the directions in which good work might be done. I do not think any scheme that could be put forward could give more effective control. It must be considered most carefully.
Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed: "That a sum not exceeding £10,777, including a supplementary sum of £3,000 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Departments of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council."
Mr. BALDWIN: There are only one or two matters that I need refer to in this Estimate. There are several of the Estimates which present the same feature, that is to say, I have really nothing to do with them. There are other matters in which the Committee will find one point in common, which is that the amount is practically the same as last year, except for the increased war bonus which has been charged under the Vote of Credit. That makes the difference in the sum which you will find here. One of the additional sums is in respect of the increase of the salary of the Lord President of the Council from £2,000 to £5,000. The 107 salary of the Lord Privy Seal was increased and submitted as an Estimate before Easter. The Lord Privy Seal being the Leader of the House and a Member of the War Cabinet, it was felt by the House of Commons that his salary should be at the same rate as the recognised salary for those who hold the highest Cabinet rank. The case of Lord Curzon is similar. He is Lord President of the Council, and occupies an office like that of the Lord Privy Seal, to which very few duties are nowadays attached, but the actual duties he is doing are manifold, for he is a Member of the War Cabinet, he is Acting Foreign Secretary, and has been since Mr. Balfour has been giving the whole of his time to the work of the Peace Conference in Paris. In these circumstances the Government felt that the salary of the Lord President of the Council, for this year at any rate, should be at the same rate to which the House of Commons has raised the salary of the Lord Privy Seal.
Captain S. WILSON: I wish to protest against this increase in the salary of the Lord President of the Council. One cannot say that a case had been been made out for it. Nobody can accuse him of being a poor man or of being in want of the increase. Whenever it is desired to make an increase of this character, someone is sure to say that it is only temporary, but we generally find that never are these salaries reduced once they have been increased. I therefore must strongly protest against this increase. We have not been given any real reason in favour of it. We are told that his work has greatly increased as compared with the past, but everybody's work has increased during the War, and I am certain that Lord Curzon would be the last man who would ask for this increase. It is only put forward to justify other increases that have been made all round. I am a supporter of the Government, and therefore cannot move a reduction in this salary, but if any other Member chooses to move the reduction I shall support him. I think it is important that this Committee should make a protest against Lord Curzon's salary being increased.
Lieut.-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE: I wish to support the hon. Member in his protest against this increase. I am sure it will be made permanent long after the extra work of Lord Curzon has passed away.
Brigadier-General COCKERILL: May I suggest that a possible solution of the difficulty would be to give this extra salary in the shape of a war bonus?108
Captain ORMSBY-GORE: If anybody will have the courage to move a reduction in the vote, I will support him.
Mr. BENNETT: If nobody else has the courage to move a reduction, I will do it.
The CHAIRMAN: You must move to reduce the vote by a particular sum.
Mr. BENNETT: I beg to move: "That the vote be reduced by £3,000."
Mr. BALDWIN: Before we divide on this vote, there is only one thing I would like to say to the Committee. There is not a single Member of the War Cabinet whose salary has been less than £5,000 a year. If hon. Members think that is too much for a Member of the War Cabinet it is for them to say. Are they merely going to give Lord Curzon two-fifths of the salary of the other Members of the Cabinet? If they think that is fair, it is perfectly open to them to do so, but it would be a great pity for this Committee to make a reduction of this kind. I do not think it is one that could possibly be sustained in the House downstairs. I hope that every Member will not treat this division as a joke, but will vote seriously.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir MATHEW WILSON: I, for one, think that every Member of the War Cabinet should get £5,000, but I fear that if we once pass this the Lord President of the Council will always get £5,000 a year. That is wrong. Therefore I quite agree with the hon. Member who suggested that in order to avoid this becoming a permanent figure we should pass it in the shape of a war bonus. I personally would not vote for it to be passed as an extra sum granted to the Lord President annually, because if you once do it, the country will be burdened with it for life.
Mr. PRETYMAN: Could it not be included in the War Cabinet vote? Then it will only be for this year.
Mr. BALDWIN: The War Cabinet Vote was prepared some time ago. The War Cabinet Vote hitherto has only contained the salaries of two Ministers without portfolios. If it would be any satisfaction to the Committee, I would gladly give the assurance that there is no intention to raise the salary of the Lord President qua Lord President. This increase shall be personal to him as long as he is in office. There is no other 109 way of making this increase except by raising the amount of the office generally. I do not know whether this point was raised when the increase was given to the Lord Privy Seal. I am quite sure that no one believed, nor did I contemplate that the salary of that office would be raised permanently from £2,000 to £5,000. It was raised because the office happened to be held by the man who at the moment was leading the House of Commons, and there was no other means of increasing his salary to what was deemed to be a proper figure.
Captain S. WILSON: Is it perfectly understood that Lord Curzon is to receive this salary as a member of the War Cabinet doing the work of President of the Council? If that is understood, I will withdraw my opposition to the vote.
Mr. BENNETT: Having had from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury a very definite assurance, I shall be very glad to withdraw my Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Vote agreed to.
Motion made and Question proposed: "That a sum, not exceeding £55,000, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for a grant to the Interim Forestry Authority." [Note.—£45,000 has been voted on account.]
Mr. BALDWIN: I remember that when I first took the office of Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mr. John Dillon said "You are the donkey boy of the House," and I do not know anything which more admirably or with more common sense described the position, because I have to put this Vote before the Committee. I had to defend it in the House of Commons just before Christmas. There being so many new members who will not be familiar with what took place last December, I would like just to remind them of the fact that this was a Supplementary Vote taken last year for the sum of £100,000, and before the financial year was at an end only £14,000 or £15,000 had been spent. The rest had to be surrendered to the Exchequer. I am now only asking for £15,000 more than the House sanctioned in December. The purpose of the 110 vote is this:—One of the many reconstruction schemes of the Government is forestry. This amount was sanctioned by the House of Commons on the understanding that as soon as it was practicable in the new year the Government would introduce a Forestry Bill. It has not been a pleasant matter to draft a Bill of that kind because there are a great many conflicting interests to be reconciled, but a Bill will now be brought in in the other place and will be on its way to this House very shortly. In that Bill there is provision for a certain expenditure, and in passing that Bill that expenditure will be sanctioned. I should tell this Committee that any unexpended portion of this money will be treated as a charge against the money which will be voted in the Bill, so that the actual amount of the money that we vote to-day will not be very large. The money is wanted for exactly the same reason that we required it in December. It was to give the Committee over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) is Chairman funds to draw upon for such preliminary work as they would find it desirable to do in the matter of forestry before the Bill becomes law. That will consist in examining schemes suggested in various parts of the country for afforestation and for appointing certain officers who would be able at such a time as the Bill became law to fit in with the scheme of administration contemplated by that Bill. That is the history of this estimate. It is, as I said, merely resanctioning what was done after a debate of some considerable length in the House of Commons last December, and I hope the Committee will see fit to re-vote the amount.
Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and question proposed— "That a sum not exceeding £19,619 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Charity Commission, for England and Wales." [Note.—£17,000 has been voted on account.]
Mr. BALDWIN: This and the next two or three Votes are only small ones, and hon. Members will see that the increases are entirely accounted for by the War Bonuses. I would be very glad if they will give me some of these small Votes.
Vote agreed to.
Resolved— "That a sum not exceeding £20,825 be granted to His Majesty to Complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Government Chemist." [Note.—£19,000 has been voted on account.]
Motion made, and Question proposed— "That a sum not exceeding £29,059 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Civil Service Commission." [Note.—£27,000 has been voted on account.]
Mr. BALDWIN: On this vote there is a rather larger increase, because we have in addition an item of nearly £4,000 hitherto charged to the Vote of Credit. Part of that is caused by the work of the Civil Service Commission once more being restarted. The examinations are now to start again, and the staff had to be strengthened. Otherwise there is nothing in this vote that calls for comment.
Vote agreed to.
Resolved— "That a sum not exceeding £1,282 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Government Employees." [Note.—£2,000 has been voted on account.]
Motion made, and Question proposed— "That a sum not exceeding £63,030 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor General." [Note.—£50,000 has been voted on account.]
Captain S. WILSON: There is an increase of £41,000 in salaries. It seems to me that if the Committee pass that without an explanation, they are not carrying out the duty they were sent here to do.
Mr. BALDWIN: I was going to rise to 112 make that explanation, but my hon. Friend was too quick. £19,000 of that sum is due to temporary clerks, and the re-employment of retired officers, and £17,000 to war bonus. Both items have been charged previously in the Vote of Credit. When you bear that in mind, you will find that the figure is practically the same as last year.
Vote agreed to.
The CHAIRMAN: Sir Samuel Roberts, the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, is present and wishes to make a statement.
Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS: Perhaps it might be convenient if I told the Committee the position with regard to the resolution I read to them which the Committee of Selection passed. We were very anxious to make arrangements with regard to Ministers attending this Committee, and wished to appoint all Ministers ex-officio Members, without power to vote except when matters concerning their Department were under discussion. Unfortunately, we found we could not legally do it. We consulted the Speaker and Clerk of the House, and both thought that it would be necessary for the House to repeal the Standing Orders. There will be a special Report in the Parliamentary Papers to-morrow morning, and the Committee will see the resolution we passed recommending the House to alter the Standing Orders. Whether the Government will act on that I do not know, but I thought I would tell the Committee what the position was.
Motion made, and question proposed— "That a sum not exceeding £19,074 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Registry of Friendly Societies." [Note.—£15,000 has been voted on account.]
Mr. MORRISON: May I ask why the figure is nearly double what it was before the War? I am afraid that is the case with so many items the hon. Member has presented this afternoon.
Mr. BALDWIN: I must apologise to the Committee, because I cannot give a full reply to that. The increase since the year before the War has gone up very much in all these Departments. This particular Vote has increased progressively for the last 20 years. Part is due to increase in salaries 113 occurring by natural increment, and part to War bonuses. I think that what accounts for the great and progressive increase after about the year 1911 to 1914 and through the War has been the additional work thrown on the office on account of the National Health Insurance Act. I cannot give exact details, but that is the explanation of in- 114 creased work that has led to increased staff in that office at that particular time.
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported.
The Committee adjourned at Five Minutes before Six o'clock till Tuesday at 4 o'clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE.
Macmaster, Mr. (Chairman)
Green, Mr. Joseph
Morrison, Mr. Hugh
White, Lieut.-Col. Dalrymple
Wilson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Mathew
Wilson, Captain Stanley
Wood, Major M'Kenzie