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Tuesday, 5th April, 1927.
Major-General Sir Fabian Ware, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., C. B., C. M.G.
Mr. M. F. Headlam, C.B.
Brigadier-General Sir Samuel H. Wilson, K.C.M.G., K.B.E.,
Tuesday, 5th July, 1927.
Sir Herbert J. Creedy, K.C.B., K.C.V.O.
Mr. R. Townsend, C.B.E. (Director of Ordnance Factories) 549
Sir MALCOLM RAMSAY, K.C.B., Mr. F. PHILLIPS, and Mr. A. E. WATSON, C.B.E., called in; and examined.
EXCESS VOTES, 1925-26.
CIVIL SERVICES APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS.
ON VOTE 5.
Sir F. G. A. BUTLER, K.C.M.G., C.B., called in; and examined.
1. Members have been supplied with a copy of the Statement of Excesses. We will begin first of all, Sir Malcolm, with the Foreign Office Vote, page 148 of the large volume, and paragraphs 2 and 11 of your Report, but particularly paragraph 11 on page vii. Sir Malcolm, you give us a short statement in regard to this excess in the Foreign Office Vote? (Sir Malcolm Ramsay.) Yes.
2. Paragraph 11 is before you, Sir Frederick. Probably you would like to add a word or two in explanation to the Committee?-(Sir Frederick Butler.) When we, in accordance with our usual practice, surveyed the progress of expenditure in the financial year 1925-6 in December 1925, for the purpose of informing the Treasury whether we anticipated any excess, we came to the conclusion that by the end of March we should be in deficit to the amount of 61421
£580. We reported that to the Treasury, and both the Treasury Treasury and we were naturally very anxious to avoid a supplementary estimate, if we possibly could, for such an insignificant amount. We therefore went into the figures again and looked for any hopeful feature which would enable us to keep within the vote, and we came to the conclusion that we could just do it. The event falsified our hopes, however, mainly owing to two causes. One cause was that a seasonal reduction in the cost of the staff of the Passport Office which we expected in the March quarter did not come off quite so well as we expected, and that fact is no doubt connected in some way with the other fact that we collected £19,000 more in passport fees in the year than we had anticipated. The second disturbing factor was that in the event we had not been generous enough in our estimate of messengers' travelling expenses in the last quarter of the
3 March, 1927.]
Sir F. G. A BUTLER, K.C.M.G., C.B.
year. Those two facts together falsified our hopes of keeping within the vote, and resulted in an excess of £751.
3. Might I ask, have you any estimate of what it costs the Department that deals with passports?-It costs salaries whicir, are borne on the Foreign Office Vote, about £50,000. The other Government services on behalf of the Passport Office, such as Office of Works expenses, Stationery Office, and Post Office, add to that another £22,000. So that the total cost of the Passport Office is roughly £72,000.
4. Then you make a profit of about £50,000?-We did in this particular year, but I do not think that is going
5. Has the point been considered at all recently of reducing the charge for passports?-Yes, that has been considered, and the cost was reduced two years ago. A reduction came into force two years ago which consisted in giving a five-years' passport for a fee of 7s. 6d, as against a two-years' passport which had been given for that fee previously, and giving renewals at 1s. a year up to another five years instead of, as under the previous system, renewals for two years at 2s. a time. The net effect was that over the whole life of a passport of ten years the fee was reduced from 15s. 6d. to 12s. 6d.
6. Was that system in force last year? -That system came into force just before the beginning of the financial year which we are talking of. But it had this curious effect. We were likely to get more money from passport fees in the first two years of that system than we shall get in future, because passports which under the old system would now be two years old and due for renewal, will not be due for renewal for another three years. Similarly, in those two years no doubt many passports will have been renewed for five years for 5s., whereas previously they were only renewed for two years for 2s.
7. What are the estimated savings?In the coming financial year we have estimated for £101,000 in passport fees.
8. On page 148 there is a reference to an "additional Legal Adviser ". To what Department does the "additional Legal Adviser belong "?-To the Foreign Office.
Unless I am wrong, the only relevant part at the moment would be 66 C." on page 148, in regard to the part of the Excess Vote which is now before us. At a later date we shall have Sir Frederick Butler before us dealing with the matter at large, but for the moment I am afraid we must confine ourselves to this particular point.
11. Is this excess journeys to Geneva the excess of the cost of sending messengers to Geneva, or is this figure of £1,060 the cost of the total trips to Geneva?-The sum tioned in the note to sub-head "C" is excess. The original estimate was £235. The reason is this. In that year we had a Secretary of State who broke the previous practice by attending all the Council Meetings of the League as well as the Annual Assembly in September. When the Secretary of State is at Geneva it is necessary to keep touch with him every day by means of a messenger. We had had no experience of that before, and therefore had not estimated for it.
12. Have the Foreign Office any other costs in addition to these in connection with Geneva ?-Oh, yes. These are simply the costs of the messengers who go to and fro between Paris and Geneva.
13. So that Geneva really costs us more than the £100,000 which is our share of the annual grant?-Certainly it does. to