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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- I direct the attention of the ' Minister to the item " Director-General of Postal Services and Chief Inspector of Telegraphs - Visit to Great Britain" for which £200 was voted last year and £842 expended. The committee is entitled to some information on the expenditure incurred by those two officials, particularly as the actual amount expended was four times greater than that voted.

Mr Ward - That is a regular occurrence.

Mr BARNARD - It is. I have no objection to highly paid departmental officials visiting other countries to conduct investigations when necessary, but I am strongly opposed to the amount provided being exceeded as it has been in this instance. Although it appears to have been the practice, since T have been a. member of this Parliament, to exceed the Estimates, the position in this respect is becoming worse.

Under " Advance to the Treasurer '" £2,000,000 was voted last year, and this year it is proposed to appropriate £2,500,000. I understand that such provision is made to enable the Treasurer to make advances, and to meet expenditure, particulars of which are afterwards included in a parliamentary appropriation. I admit that there must be some elasticity in the advances made to the Treasurer so that the requirements of departments may be met throughout the year; but I should like to know why the amount this year is being increased by £500,000. It appears to be quite unnecessary, and indeed, undesirable, that Parliament should vote such a large additional amount without knowing the purpose for which it is being appropriated. Although there is a footnote which reads. " Expenditure shown throughout the Estimates under the heads to which it will be finally charged when specially appropriated ", further information should be supplied. I have a very distinct recollection of money which was not definitely earmarked last year being used for a purpose to which I objected. I trust that the Minister representing the Treasurer will be able to explain why the advance has been increased by £500,000 this year.

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