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Works, Buildings And Lands

Volume 237: debated on Monday 24 March 1930

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a sum, not exceeding £2,668,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings, and lands, including military and civilian staff, and other charges in conection therewith which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931."

I may be foolish, but I cannot find out where we are. Are we on Vote 10 (c>?

The hon. Member must not think we are going through the list of Estimates. We take the Order Paper for our guidance, and there is no Vote 9 down for to-night. Vote 9 will come at some other time.

On that, may I briefly raise one or two points? The first is the question of construction and maintenance at home. I see that the Vote is reduced by about £40,000 this year. I am not at all sure that this matter is not to some extent bound up with the point that we have just been discussing about recruitment. When you get large barracks situated in the middle of industrial centres, you cannot expect to get such free recruitment to the units stationed in those barracks as when the units are stationed outside in some part of the country more attractive to possible recruits. I am quite sure the Financial Secretary will agree with me that when, for any reason, a Territorial camp in any year is held in what the men consider to be an undesirable quarter, in some place that they do not like, there is always in the following year a falling off of recruitment in that Territorial district. The same thing happens in the Regular Army, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the possibility of bringing out some broad scheme for doing away with barracks in towns such as Sheffield and Leeds and centralising them in camps analogous to Catterick. That is my first point, and my second point is about Singapore. I see there is a tremendous reduction in the amount voted for Singapore, a reduction of nearly £200,000. Does that reduction represent any change of policy on behalf of the Government?

I can reply, very briefly. As regards the first point relating to the removal of barracks from industrial centres, that would be a very costly process to undertake. It could not be contemplated immediately, but the accommodation is constantly under review. If and when it is found necessary to make changes which will be more suitable for accommodating troops, it will be done. As regards Singapore there has been a change undoubtedly in the policy of the Government. We are slowing up the operations at Singapore. That policy has been adumbrated before and is generally known. There have been certain items of expenditure still to be borne by the Vote and these appear in the Vote.

There has been no cancellation of work but a retarding of progress?

Yes, there has been a cancellation so far as certain items of expenditure were concerned.

Question put, and agreed to.