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Army And Air Force (Annual) Bill

Volume 237: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1930

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"to provide, during Twelve Months, for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army and Air Force," presented accordingly, and read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Monday next, arid to be printed. [Bill 145.]

Second Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.'

The Secretary of State for War said that the provision which was being made for the Singapore Base was only sufficient to meet outstanding liabilities. For Singapore there are three Appropriations-in-Aid. The War Office share of the fourth instalment of the contribution from the Federated Malay States towards the cost of the Singapore Naval Base is £92,000. The War Office share of the contribution from New Zealand is £29,000. I want to get at what is being done with that money, and I want to know whether it is being returned to the Malay States and New Zealand, and, if not, what is actually being done with it. I want, it I may, to touch on the larger aspect of the defence of this base, and to remind the Government that the Air Ministry have already stated this afternoon that they are proceeding with the work at Singapore.

The question which the hon. and gallant Member is referring to cannot be discussed on this Vote.

I want to know what is being done with that money, and whether it is actually being spent on the Singapore Base.

I see that on page 42 of the Estimates there is an item of £580,000 for marriage allowance for regimental establishments. I would like to know if there has been any change in the regulations, and what the meaning of the increase in this Vote.

I think the short answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) about Singapore is that our policy has been quite clearly stated. It is that pending the result of the Naval Conference all the work at Singapore that can be held up is being held up, and only the work that is necessary is being proceeded with. With regard to the contributions from the Malay States and New Zealand towards the Singapore Base, they will be taken into consideration, because there is no intention on the part of the Government of receiving money and not carrying out their obligations in regard to it. With regard to marriage allowances, there is a larger number of married men on the rolls, and the conditions are quite plainly stated in the Estimates.

Question put, and agreed to.

Third Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

I want to submit that on this Vote it will be competent for us to raise the question as to whether this sum of money includes money for use by the Cadet Corps. A Ruling has been given that we cannot discuss anything to-day about cadets on Vote A, because we cannot show that a reduction would be necessary owing to the deletion of the Cadet Corps. I contend that on this Vote we have a real ground for discussing the new policy of the Government with regard to Cadet Corps, because the main amount provided for Cadet Corps comes under Vote 2. I do not think that the Secretary of State for War will deny that, apart from the main amount for Cadet Corps, in the block grant to the Territorial Associations there are sums for which the War Office is liable. I think under this Vote I am entitled to ask the Government for a further explanation with regard to their policy dealing with buildings and land which will be affected by the change of policy announced by the Government in regard to the Cadet Corps. It is not treating the House with proper respect. I do not think it will be denied that the Cadet Corps do have the use of Government lands for their camps and for their train- ing, and that they also, on occasion, have the use of War Office buildings for living in. That must involve a certain amount of money. It may not be under a separate heading, because, obviously, the amount would only be small, since the total is not more than £15,000, including Vote 2; but, whatever the amount is, it must be included in this Works and Buildings Vote, and this will be the only opportunity of raising the question whether the sum should be included in this Vote or not.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to ask whether there is any expenditure for the Cadet Corps in this Vote, and, if there is, he is entitled to ask questions about it; but, if there is no expenditure for it, it cannot arise on this Vote.

Then I presume that I can proceed, because I have asked the hon. Gentleman to contradict me if I am wrong in saying that there is bound to be something within this Vote. I ask him that question again. There is no doubt that the Cadet Corps are allowed the use of Government land for their camps and for their training, and, apart from the equipment and so on provided by the War Office, which I admit we cannot discuss on this Vote, they are allowed on occasions the use of War Office buildings for living in.

I think that, before we proceed further, it is necessary for me to know whether there is any Cadet Corps expenditure included in these items.

Quite frankly, I have to say that I know of no definite expenditure for the Cadet Corps that is incurred under this Estimate.

I want to follow up what I said on the previous Vote. I see that it is stated in the Estimate, under Item 95, that it is proposed to suspend the work on the Singapore Base as far as possible, pending the results of the London Naval Conference of 1930. I merely want to ask whether, in the event of certain decisions being arrived at, the right hon. Gentleman pro- poses to bring in a Supplementary Estimate for the military defences of the Singapore Base.

I think that the explanation that I gave before was quite clear. There is no intention of bringing in a Supplementary Estimate.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Resolutions agreed to.