Clause 1.—(ISSUE OF £40,000,000 OUT OF THE CONSOLIDATED FUND FOR THE SERVICE OF THE YEAR ENDING 31ST MARCH, 1951.) (Hansard, 13 February 1951)
HC Deb 13 February 1951 vol 484 cc207-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

3.38 p.m.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

May I ask your Ruling, Major Milner, on a point which I wish to raise concerning the Colonial Office? This Bill refers to a sum of £40 million. During the Session we have passed the Colonial Development Bill under which £20 million are to be expended for that purpose. I am asking for a Ruling whether this Bill covers that amount so that I may be able to raise the matter of the deportation of Mr. Ignatius Musazi from Uganda.

The Chairman

In reply to the hon. Member, I am informed that no item in this sum covers the Colonial Office and the point to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Therefore, I am afraid it is not competent for him to raise any point on it.

Mr. Brockway

May I ask by what measures the additional amount of £20 million voted to the Colonial Office will be covered? Will it be in any Consolidated Fund or other Bill?

The Chairman

I can only say that the item is not in this Bill. It may conceivably be in a later Bill, but I am clearly not in a position to advise the hon. Member as to that at the moment.

Mr. Brockway

I do not want to press the matter unreasonably, but in view of the fact that this Bill does not define how the £40 million is expended, may I still press the point?

The Chairman

As the hon. Gentleman appreciates, this sum is based on a Ways and Means Resolution which, in turn, is based on proceedings of the Committee of Supply. The hon. Member must therefore look back, if he desires to do so, to the Committee of Supply. I am sorry.

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)

I understand that this Bill deals with a sum of £40 million, of which some is devoted to the Army, some to the Navy and some to the Royal Air Force. I think I am right about that. As we are to stay a bit late tonight there is no reason why we should not talk a little about this £40 million now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Naturally; I made a little protest at the way in which the usual channels completely ignore the private back benchers and do not tell us anything at all. Whether all this £40 million is being wisely spent is open to some doubt. There are two lots of £10 million, one lot of £20 million, and I think the greater sum goes to the Army, although I have not the Bill in front of me at the moment.

Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)

On a point of order. Owing to the declared intention of the hon. Member to waste time as a protest against what he described as the usual channels, is it in order for him to continue speaking?

The Chairman

It would be helpful if the hon. Gentleman would permit the Chair to conduct the proceedings of the Committee.

Sir H. Williams

My declarations are as to my intentions, my deeds have to be judged on their own merits. [An HON. MEMBER: "Then they are already condemned."] Up to now I do not think I have wasted any time. I have drawn attention to the fact that some £40 million of extra money is being voted for a very proper purpose, namely, the Supplementary Estimates for the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force in the hope that at some time or another we shall have defences adequate to defend us against the perils to which we are now exposed. I am wondering whether that money has been entirely wisely expended. From information in my possession, a very large proportion of those who have been called up under the National Service Act are wasting their time.

Mr. Key (Poplar)

Like the hon. Member.

Sir H. Williams

No, I am not wasting my time now. I am instructing the hon. Member for Poplar, which is never a waste of time, although I agree it is rather hard work.

A great waste of time is taking place in the training of many of these young people. What we are suffering from is the fortnightly call-up. Some hon. Members have been engaged in the teaching profession. They would find their task quite impossible if at every fortnight of the 12 weeks' term a new crowd of children were to arrive and the teachers found themselves engaged in the very difficult task of simultaneously teaching six sets in different stages of education. That is what is happening today in the Army. The result is that we have a vast proportion—

The Chairman

The hon. Member appears to be dealing with general policy, which is not a matter within the Supplementary Estimates unless he can point to some item in those Estimates which deals with the matter to which he refers.

Sir H. Williams

As we are calling up more people, the method of training these additional people seems to be pertinent to what I am saying. If this method were not pursued we should spend less money and get more soldiers, which is a reasonable proposition. We are getting a very poor yield of trained soldiers from the main Estimate and also from the Supplementary Estimate. Naturally, Major Milner, I always have a great respect for your decisions, and I do not want to delay the proceedings of the Committee much longer. I have made my protest on an entirely different matter, and therefore I will not obstruct the Bill any more.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported without amendment, read the Third time, and passed.