15 AUGUST 1947, Page 16


SIR,—The recent question and answer in Parliament regarding the cost of hospitality and entertainment by Members of the Government prompts the query as to whether the Accountant General has the courage to enquire into the rising expenditure, incurred by local authorities, on unnecessary deputations, conferences, &c.

As one who worked with (not on) the Council of a County Borough of some 70,000 inhabitants for thirty years, I was amazed at the tendency to squander the ratepayers' money which developed to an alarming degree when the Socialists came into power some two years ago last November. Most departments of a council (whether it be health, education, surveyor, cemeteries, estates or what not) have an annual conference, not to mention associations of municipal corporations, education committees and other national bodies. These conferences are usually held either in London or at a well-known seaside resort, and no chance is missed by the Socialists of sending an officer and two or three members, whose first-class return fares and subsistence allowances on a generous scale for two, three or four nights may easily run into £50 for each conference.

Further, if a new type of excavator, or destructor, or other piece of apparatus is reported to be in use in another area—maybe in Scotland— what better opportunity for a joy ride than for an official and two or three members to go to inspect it—at the ratepayers' expense. Again, short journeys which could be undertaken by 'bus now necessitate a hired motor-car which may be kept waiting a whole day.

Is it not time that the appropriate Government Department limited this unnecessary expenditure—in view of the call for urgent national