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Third Schedule—Minor And Consequential Amendments Of The National Service Acts, 1939 To 1946

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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Lords Amendment: In page 18, line 24, at end insert:

"and at the end of subsection (2), there shall be added the following words—
'and in particular, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, the Minister may, if he is in doubt whether an enlistment notice served on any person other than by registered post has been received by him, cause a further enlistment notice to be served on him by registered post and may by that notice direct that the former notice shall be deemed never to have had effect.'"

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

It seems to me that this Amendment does not go quite as far as was expected, in view of the arguments put forward when this matter was discussed on the Committee stage. I should be glad if my right hon. Friend would give an assurance. It is stated that:

"the Minister may, it he is in doubt whether an enlistment notice served on any person other than by registered post has been received by him, cause a further enlistment notice to be served on him by registered post and may by that notice direct that the former notice shall be deemed never to have had effect."
It seems to me that that does not go far enough, because if the Minister is in doubt whether a notice has been served, then obviously the benefit of the doubt ought to be given to the person to whom the notice should have been served. We should be given an assurance that a man will not be in jeopardy in such circumstances, and that another notice will be served. I think the word "shall" should be inserted instead of "may."

I do not share the doubts of the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner), in view of an Amendment which is to be considered later. I feel a little doubt about the

NAVY. ARMY AND AIR EXPENDITURE, 1945–46

Resolutions reported:
1. Whereas it appears by the Navy Services Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March 1946, that, as shown in the Schedule hereunto appended, the total surpluses and deficits on Navy Votes for that year are as follows:—
£s.d.£s.d.
Total Surpluses, viz.:—
Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Votes 2–6 and 8–16)55,106,623124
Deduct—Sum to be surrendered to the Exchequer in respect of the Excess of receipts over the total of Appropriations-in-Aid authorised by Parliament8,215,984157
46,890,638169
Total Deficits, viz.:—
Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Votes 1 and 7)46,890,638169
Excesses of actual over estimated gross expenditure721,843,2601511
768,733,899128
Net Deficit charged to the Vote of Credit£721,843,2601511
And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of that part of the surplus receipts realised under Votes 2 to 6 and 8 to 16 which is required to make good the deficit in receipts under Votes 1 and 7.
1. That the application of such surpluses be sanctioned.
[For details of Schedule see OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1947; Vol. 440, c. 181–2.]

drafting, because the circumstances in which the Minister can be in doubt under this arrangement seem to me unlikely to arise. I think that the point raised by the hon. Member, and by hon. Members on this side of the House, in our previous discussion is adequately covered by this Amendment, if the three Amendments are considered together.

I will try to explain the position. A notice will be sent to a man telling him to report. If he does not report on the day given, the Service authorities will report to the Ministry of Labour that he has not appeared. We shall then take it that he has not received his notice, and send a further notice by registered post. That notice will cancel the previous notice which brought him into the Forces, so that the man in question cannot possibly be arrested as a deserter.

That is a very satisfactory answer, and I am very pleased to have the assurance.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.

11. Whereas it appears by the Army Services Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March, 1946, that, as shown in the Schedule hereunto appended, the total surpluses and deficits on Army Votes for that year are as follows:—
Total Surpluses, viz.:—£s.d.£s.d.
Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Votes 2–15)30,250,475179
Total Deficits, viz.:—
Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Vote 1)188,365,139311
Excesses of actual over estimated gross expenditure1,309,873,523172
1,498,238,66311
Net Deficit charged to the Vote of Credit£1,467,988,18734
And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of surplus receipts realised under Votes 2 to 15 towards making good the deficit in receipts under Vote 1.
2. That the application of such surpluses be sanctioned.
[For details of Schedule see OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1947; Vol. 440, c. 183–4.]

III. Whereas it appears by the Air Services Appropriation Account for the year ended the 31st day of March 1946 that, as shown in the Schedule hereunto appended, the total surpluses and deficits on Air Votes for that year are as follows:—
Total Surpluses, viz.:—£s.d.£s.d.
Surpluses of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Votes 2–11)54,669,692112
Total Deficits, viz.:—
Deficiencies of actual as compared with estimated receipts (Vote 1)65,540,918175
Excesses of actual over estimated gross expenditure510,859,611191
576,400,530166
Net Deficit (charged to the Vote of Credit)£521,730,83854
And whereas the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury have temporarily authorised the application of surplus receipts realised under Votes 2 to 11 towards making good the deficit in receipts under Vote 1.
3. That the application of such surpluses be sanctioned.
[For details of Schedule see OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1947: Vol. 440, c. 185–6.]

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

10.20 p.m.

This may appear to be a formal matter, but I do not think the House should pass it entirely formally. This is a very useful piece of procedure. I remember, during the war, being very irritated by the procedure which obtained in the years before the war, whereby the Treasury would not write off the deficit on one Vote against the surplus of another. That had a bad effect on our preparations for the war effort. When there was a surplus of money available for wireless experiments, it could not be converted to tanks and, consequently, the whole of our tank production suffered. I am delighted to find that now, in peace time, we have returned to the original and correct practice. I do not think the House should pass these Resolutions without some comment. It is true that the Public Accounts Committee—

The noble Lord is not in Order. The only question is whether debits can be set against credits. Details cannot be discussed, as they have already been passed.

We have formally to pass the procedure by which the credits and debits are aligned by the Treasury, and the net result is brought before this House for sanction. Under the Navy heading, there is a deficit approximately of £720 million; under the Army heading there is a deficit of approximately £146 million; and under the Air Force heading there is a deficit of approximately £521 million. These are fantastic sums, and although they have been passed by the Public Accounts Committee, they reflect on the situation in 1945–46, during nine months of which we were at peace. If it is a fact that the great spending Departments, in a particular year, during nine months of which we were at peace so inaccurately budgeted.

the question of expenditure has already been discussed and settled; the only question now is whether expenditure can be covered by a Vote of Credit.

Then may I express the hope that this time next year we shall not see such very large discrepancies between the receipts from one Department and the expenditure of another Department, which are brought before this House for equalisation and sanction? I object to the fact that these great discrepancies between income and expenditure should have occurred in a year during nine months of which we have been at peace, and I ask for more accurate budgeting in future. I think I am in order in saying that.

I think not. If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Vote, he will see that he can only argue about the surpluses.

We are under force majeure. The Public Accounts Committee has sanctioned them, and they come before the House now for formal approval. I submit that anything brought before the House is not entirely formal, and to some extent can be debated. However, I do not wish to prolong the discussion.

Question put, and agreed to.