§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [4th November], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—[Earl Winterton.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
On Thursday last I addressed the House, when I approached this Bill with particular reference to Clause 4 (b) and Clause 18. I pointed out to my right hon. Friend the Minister that 4 (b) certainly gives utterance to a principle to which this House is not accustomed, that is to say, borrowing money to pay interest. I also drew attention to Clause 18, Sub-section (5), which provided that there could be a variation by an extension of the terms under which the local authority had borrowed money for a housing scheme. I pointed out in that connection that I considered it a breach of faith that a borrowing authority should vary the terms under which it had borrowed money without first obtaining the consent of the lender. I see in Clause 18, Sub-section (5), there is no provision by which the wishes of the lender of the money should be taken into consideration or that any variation should be made only by his consent. So obscure are these proposals that the Minister of Health has since Thursday issued a memorandum dealing with the financial provisions, in which it is pointed out that the Clause to which I referred, causing my objection that it was wrong to borrow to pay interest, was put in, owing to the fact that in some cases local authorities were carrying out schemes outside their own area and were called upon to construct sewage and other works consequent upon the housing scheme, and that the interest charges incurred by the first authority during construction would be transferred 1030 as a capital liability, as the first authority will have no income from the area out of which to pay interest. Yes, this is borrowing to pay the interest, and that is exactly what I pointed out on Thursday. The explanation of [Cmd.] 1029 does not alter the fact.
The operation of this Clause may also postpone making it clear to the ratepayers that they have to raise certain moneys for the construction of drainage, the cost for which must be raised by increased local rates. With regard to Clause 18, Sub-section (5), the Minister says in this White Paper the reason for the introduction of this Clause is that many local authorities borrow for a period which may be longer or shorter than the period which is authorised, and this provision relates only to a longer period. If that is so, why does the Bill not say so plainly instead of saying so in an obscure manner? We have only had information on this point within the last two or three days after the Bill was put down for the Second Reading. You can test the quality of most propositions of a business nature by their financial structure; here you have two points which are so obscure that they have to be explained by this Paper.
I want to say a few words upon Clause 2 which is the pivot on which the whole of this Bill moves as far as housing is concerned. It deals with the subsidy and it is having a very curious effect. I would like to offer a few observations as to how it is working. In the first place, I want to make my position quite clear. I am not against the subsidy nor do I think it possible that subsidised houses should be assessed on the basis of an economic value. Neither do I think that I find any fault with the Restriction of Rents Act which became necessary when the subsidy was brought into operation—I mean the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1920. The mere fact of new houses being subsidised rendered it necessary for old houses to have some artificial restrictions of assessment in order to make it not unfair to those who had old houses of letting value similar to that covered by the subsidy. Let us consider the result of the subsidy upon assessment. Many hon. Members referred to the extremely large increase in the volume of rates now being borne by the public.
I will endeavour to show that this increase in the rates is to a great extent due to this subsidy and the operation of 1031 the Restriction of Rents. I am not going to argue that they are good or bad, but I am merely going to show why we have part of this very large increase in rates. On page 15 of the Memorandum 1016 which the Minister of Health has issued in response to the request which I made in order to show what we were paying in rates, there is a remarkable statement. I may say here that I cannot accept this document as a response to my question. What we want to know is, what is it going to cost from 1920 to 1921, or 1921 to 1922, so far as the right hon. Gentleman has information? We want to know what it is going to cost for housing propositions in Imperial taxes and what is it going to cost in local rates? It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is evading giving a proper reply to my question in the White Paper which he has issued. This is what is stated in the White Paper:It must be recognised that the present situation in regard to the amounts in the pound of the rates is somewhat anomalous. The costs to be defrayed out of local rates (wages, salaries, charges for materials, etc.), are not limited, and have been moving upwards rapidly; but there are restrictions on the rents of the largest class of rateable properly (dwelling houses within certain limits of rental); and these restrictions are in effect restrictions on assessable value, which therefore has moved upwards very slowly: post-War expenditure is expressed on the rate-demand note in terms of an amount per pound of (approximately), pre-War assessable value.What does that mean? It means restrictions on the rates on the largest class of rateable property, and these restrictions are, in fact, restrictions on the assessable value. In other words, you have kept the assessable values at what they were before the War, or for that matter before the Battle of Waterloo, but you have pushed on to the rates enormous increases of services without allowing for the assessments, based on economic value or cost, being increased in order to meet post-War costs and values of services, and the rest of the property has had to bear these extra charges for street cleaning, lighting and drainage at post-War prices, and yet they are charged on assessments based on pre-War prices and values. The consequence is that the rates have gone up by leaps and bounds.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Dr. Addison)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that this has prevented re-valuation?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
When I asked this question some time ago, the right hon. Gentleman replied:The rents of the new houses are not like the rents of the old houses protected by the Increase of Rent Act …. and consequently the assessments of the old houses are artificially restricted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th October, 1920, col. 1729, Vol. 133.]What has the right hon. Gentleman to say to that? He admits the artificial restriction. What I say is that the Increase of Rent Act is responsible for keeping the assessments low. Here is an example of how the subsidy operates in keeping assessment low. I have in my hand the case of a house costing £900. At 8 per cent. there is an economic charge of £72 a year. Such a house is assessed at £15 10s., although it gets all the advantages which it would have under the economic cost, advantages relating to lighting, street cleaning, police, and schools, which have to be paid on an economic post-war basis, while the rates raised on this post-war house are only based upon less than one-fourth of what the house costs. My point is that we did not know when we passed this subsidy proposal and the Restriction of Rents Act what the effect would be. Let me give an instance. Since I spoke last Thursday I have been to the Zoological Gardens, and I saw two boxes; one contained a small newt and the other a large, vicious-looking reptile. On the second box appeared the statement thatThis animal has been developed from the newt by feeding it on thyroid gland.You have used a legislative thyroid gland by creating a subsidy, a restriction of rent, and you are producing a monstrous rate increase which we did not foresee. The reptile was the product of interference with normal development of the newt. High rates are the product of legislative interference with the development of economic supply and demand. Let me give an example. Supposing 100,000 houses have been built under this subsidy by local authorities. They will cost not less than £100,000,000 sterling. The economic cost of that is 8 per cent., which includes interest at 6½ per cent. for the housing bonds and expenses and 1½ per cent. for replacement, fire insurance, and other things. Those houses will cost £8,000,000 a year whether in the form of rate-paying or tax-paying. They will be let at about £3,000,000, and what is the consequence? 1033 You have £5,000,000 a year assessable rates taken out of the rating on those very houses. You have £50,000,000 of capital taken out of the area of assessment, and what is the result? All the benefits which those houses ought to pay for, speaking economically, are indirectly thrown on the other houses, and up goes the poundage of the rates. The penny in the pound local rate which the Minister of Health told us would be the limit of the expense is not a fact at all. Here we see the result of interference in economic development of supply and demand. The newt becomes a reptile 12 in. long under the exotic pabulum of subsidy and restrictions.
The fact of the matter is that not only is the taxpayer subsidising the cost of the building of the houses and the rent—
§ Mr. SAMUEL
On Clause 2,the subsidy. The Memorandum on the Financial Provisions published this morning, No. 1,029, explains that this subsidy amounts to £15,000,000,of which it is estimated that a sum not exceeding £8,000,000 will be expended in respect of houses completed during the second year.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I am commenting upon the Memorandum, which says:The provisions of the Bill do not affect the aggregate amount of the grant which, as provided by Section 2 of the Additional Powers Act, 1919, will not exceed £15,000,000.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are not discussing the Memorandum. We are discussing the contents of this Bill. At the present time we are discussing what is in the Bill, and not what is outside it, such as the housing policy generally.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I bow to your ruling, Sir, and will confine my remarks to Clause 2. I will show how the extension of the subsidy will throw the cost on to the rates. Suppose we take this subsidy and apply it in the way in which I will venture to ask the House to allow me to explain. I will compare two series of 1034 premises, one house costing £5,000, which does not come under the subsidy, and which is not governed by Clause 2, and five houses built under the subsidy, and which are governed by Clause 2. A building bought to-morrow, say, for £5,000 will be rated at £400 a year. The man will pay rates on £400 a year less statutory allowances. The five houses built for £1,000 each will be let, under this subsidy, for a sum not exceeding £35 a year each, or a total of £175 a year. The £400 on the non-subsidised house, plus the £175 on the subsidised houses, make £575 for assessment. Let us suppose £575 has to be raised in this assessment; 20s. in the pound will be the poundage then. I say it is not economically sound to allow these subsidised houses to be assessed on a subsidised basis. If they were rated at £400 a year, and that £400 were added to the £400 a year on the non-subsidised properties, you would have then £800 upon which to draw your rates. In that case the poundage would be 14s. 3d., as against £1 in the pound at the present moment on the broad and possibly incorrect instance I have given for an illustration only. You are throwing, by this Bill, the burden of subsidised rates on to persons who are occupying houses which are not in receipt of any subsidy benefit. That is one of the reasons why you have part of this large increase in poundage throughout the whole country.
As things now stand, I venture to say this Bill shows that the Ministry of Health is living in an atmosphere of self-deception. It never asks itself what a thing is going to cost, or where the money is to come from, or what effect the tampering with economics will have upon the rest of the Government finances. As a matter of fact, things have gone much further than we have realised. Instead of the Ministry of Health being a Ministry looking after local government, it has become a great spending department. I do not wish to be discourteous to any man, and especially not to my right hon. Friend, but he really is not the man to be at the head of a business of this kind, We require at the head of this great spending Ministry a man of the type of a Financial Secretary of the Treasury, a man who will sit down before such proposals as these are put before the House or embodied in a Bill, and say, "Are these proposals such as I, a prudent man looking after the finances of the country, can allow?" He will insist upon knowing 1035 and will define and state how and where the cost is to be raised.
There is one other point which I should like to make, and I think it is the strongest point of my argument. Whenever a Minister comes to the House with proposals for charges on the Exchequer he has a financial Clause and he has an Estimate. I think this House will be well advised not to allow a Health Ministry or an Education Office Bill to come before it in future unless it has attached to it a White Paper showing what the estimated cost will be, and not only by taxes, but also by local rates. I make so bold as to say that my right hon. Friend does not know what the cost of the proposals in his Bill will be on the rates. This Bill is a Bill of undisclosed liability. I, as a private trustee, would not think of buying shares with uncalled liabilities, and we in this House ought not to vote for a Bill which has uncalled liabilities attached to it. The proposals which the Bill would seek to effect are very good, but that is beside the mark. We have not the means to-day to be philanthropists. We can scarcely pay our way, and at the present moment the position of the country's finances is such that we cannot play any tricks with it. There have been three Bills before the House on which I have been allowed to speak. There was the Profiteering Bill, which I called all moonshine, and it has turned out to be all moonshine; then there was the Export Credits Bill, which I called a silly Bill, and it has proved to be a silly Bill; and there is this Bill, which I call a vicious Bill. I am not going to vote for it, and I advise all those who have, like myself, taken any part in local government, to stand by those who will not support it. The people who sent us to Parliament do not authorise us to assume blindfolded undisclosed liabilities and commit them to pay millions of money out of the rates without being first told what the possible cost might be, be the objects, as they are in this Bill, humane, beneficial, and necessary in principle.
I press the Government to withdraw this Bill. We are all fully alive to the importance and necessity of building houses, and we all know the sad plight of the hospitals. I have sat as chairman of a hospital, and I know, too well, how sad is their present position. This Bill, oven with regard to hospitals, is partly 1036 wrong. I think many hon. Members will get up and deliver themselves of remarks similar to those I have addressed to the House. The Bill is vicious. We do not like it. We do not like thus to be compelled to throw it back on the Government, because in these difficult times we do not want to upset the stability of the Government and we do not want to put the Government to embarrassment. But I cannot conscientiously support this Bill as it now stands. The Bill should be taken back at once. We can then have this Bill back in the House of Commons, better drafted, and with an estimate in a White Paper of what all these impositions upon the local rates will mean before you ask us again to vote for it. As it now stands it involves ratepayers and taxpayers in an undisclosed liability, and I am not going to vote for a Bill to impose such undisclosed burdens on my constituents.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RAW
The Bill now before the House is one of first-class importance to the present community. I will confine my observations on the Bill to Clauses 10 and 11—Clause 10 dealing with the question of lunacy, and Clause 11 dealing with the great hospital question. As a medical man, who has a fairly large experience in the treatment of lunacy, I welcome Clause 10 which, in its general principles, is a much-needed reform, and in regard to which, in Committee, some modifications may have to be made, with which I will not now trouble the House. There are in this country at the present time about 150,000 certified lunatics, all under the care and careful control of the Board of Control, which has recently been transferred from the Home Office to the Ministry of Health. The object of this Clause is to provide adequate and proper treatment for those people who are suffering from mental disorder in its early stages, with the hope and prospect of preventing that mental disease developing into incurable insanity. Prevention is better than cure. I can assure the House that a great number of people are certified as lunatics, and sent into the ordinary asylums, who need never go there, and who might be spared the stigma of being certified as insane had they a few weeks or months of treatment such as is indicated under this Clause in the Bill.
1037 As the law stands at present this is not possible, at least for the working classes. As the House knows, unfortunately, a great many poor women suffer from mental aberration as the result of child-birth. These women require very careful supervision and very special nursing. The well-to-do classes can engage nurses, doctors, and specialists, and treat these cases at home; but you cannot do that in a cottage. Therefore the only alternative for a woman who is suffering from this early form of mental aberration is to have her certified as a lunatic, and sent into an asylum. Another person suffers from the effects of alcoholism, with which very few of us have any sympathy, but still the fact remains. Others suffer from mental disease as the result of pneumonia, influenza, and Bright's disease. Most of these people would make a complete recovery in the course of a few weeks, or a few months, if they could have the advantage of the treatment which is provided under this Clause, instead of, as at present, having to be certified as insane, and sent to an ordinary asylum.
I am very glad indeed to see that the Minister of Health is treating mental disease and insanity in precisely the same way as he would treat any other affliction to which the human body is liable. I should like to inform the House at the present time what happens to these unfortunate sufferers. I am dealing now with the industrial classes. In the case of acute mental disease, the relieving officer is called in, and a medical certificate is given for detention in the mental wards of the workhouse or the workhouse infirmary. The person is then seen by a justice of the peace, who orders further detention for fourteen days. In all, the legal detention of a person suffering from mental disease in the wards of a workhouse infirmary is about three weeks. What happens then? If the person has not recovered, the justice of the peace and two medical men can either certify that person's permanent detention in the workhouse infirmary, or certify the person to be sent to a lunatic asylum. There is no other alternative. If the person is sent into an ordinary lunatic asylum, he will receive the very best possible treatment, and the latest and most scientific methods of treatment. That is fairly shown by the fact that 60 per cent. of all admissions into asylums 1038 to-day are discharged recovered. A few of them relapse, but the great majority make a permanent recovery. In the meantime the families and relations of these unfortunate people are under the stigma of insanity as far as this patient is concerned. I maintain that a great amount of this hardship, which is inevitable under the existing state of the law, will be removed by the application of Clause 10. I feel certain it can do no harm to anybody, and it will do an incalculable amount of good. War, with all its horrors, has shattered the nervous system of many thousands of our soldiers. Very few of these men are insane. They are suffering from neurasthenia and a collapse of the nervous system, which in a few weeks or months may be cured. I had much experience in France in these cases, and I may inform the House that very few of these soldiers suffering from mental disturbance are really insane. I should like to see special mental wards attached to all general hospitals, in which the cases of soldiers suffering from shell-shock and mental disturbance, and in the early stages of mental disease, can be treated, instead of having to be certified as lunatics.
I want to point out to the House that this Clause is entirely voluntary, both as regards admission, treatment, and discharge, and that there is no power whatever of detention. It will simply mean that persons may seek treatment in the wards of Poor Law infirmaries or in other institutions in quite a voluntary way, instead of having to be certified by a justice of the peace for permanent or temporary detention. There are one or two modifications which might be discussed in Committee, but otherwise I consider the Clause a very excellent one. In some cases undoubtedly, in cases suffering from mental diseases, the patient will not be able to give his consent. The Clause provides that he must give his consent in writing, and where obviously that cannot be done, I would suggest that the nearest relative might act instead of the patient himself. Then I suggest that the recommendation of one medical man should be sufficient. The Clause says there shall be two medical men, but that savours rather of the Lunacy Act as at present. Another important point is that the patient should give 48 hours' notice of discharge from the institution, in 1039 order that his friends may be consulted. I can assure the House that the Lunacy Laws in this country are administered with the utmost care, consideration, and kindness on the part of everybody concerned, and the high recovery rate in our lunaticc institutions is quite sufficient testimony of the excellence of the treatment received from both doctors and staff. This Clause would confer a great blessing on those people who are unfortunately afflicted with insanity or mental disease in its early stages, and I am quite certain that, under proper supervision and with proper care, it will be the means of arresting and curing the disease in its early stages in a large number of cases, and thus prevent many people from drifting, as at present, into incurable insanity. Therefore, I hope the House will give this Clause very careful consideration.
I now propose to say a few words on Clause 11, dealing with the important question of hospital reform. All are agreed that the present condition of our hospital service in England is most unsatisfactory, and not worthy of this great country. Let us consider for a moment how the present system arose. For hundreds of years in England the treatment of the sick and wounded and injured has been left entirely to charity. The State has never recognised its responsibility in the matter of the treatment of non-destitute people. The Poor Law, established in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was intended entirely to operate for destitute people who were sick. As a matter of fact, the only condition for admission to a Poor Law institution during these hundreds of years has been destitution. Workhouses were provided all over the country, and sick wards were established in a great many for the treatment of those cases that required immediate attention. If any of the patients or sufferers in the workhouse infirmaries in the past required special medical treatment, they had to be transferred to voluntary hospitals which undertook the work very cheerfully and were repaid by the guardians. In strict law the Poor Law can deal only with cases of destitution even in the hospitals, and any person who enters a Poor Law institution is today officially a pauper.
In spite of this legal difficulty, a great many progressive boards of guardians—Liverpool for instance—have erected 1040 special hospitals for the treatment of acute disease quite unconnected with the workhouses, and the treatment given in some Poor Law infirmaries to-day is quite equal to that given in any of our best voluntary hospitals. I remember that in 1897 permission was asked of the Local Government Board by the Liverpool guardians to provide an operating theatre, so that their patients might have the very best facilities for treatment in cases where operations were required. The Local Government Board at that time had to make a very fateful decision. They had to decide whether they would limit what was done to destitute people only, or whether they should progress, and provide the most modern methods of treatment. The result has been that the Poor Law has provided a great mass of hospital treatment for the people of this community which ought to have been undertaken by the Health authorities of the country. The nation must never forget the splendid work the Poor Law has done in this matter, and especially the magnificent work it did in providing hospital accommodation for many thousands of soldiers sent home during the War. Indeed, had it not been for the Poor Law infirmaries of this country, England would have been unable to undertake the treatment here of these sick and wounded.
Poor Law infirmaries are now out of date, not because they are inefficient, but solely on account of the vast improvement in the social and economic conditions of the people, who will no longer seek Poor Law relief in any shape or form. That is a state of things for which we should be truly thankful. There is an impression abroad amongst some people that voluntary hospitals provide all the necessary hospital treatment in this country. What are the facts? There are at present 170,000 hospital beds in England. We really ought to have for an adequate hospital service 200,000 beds. Of these 170,000 beds, only 40,000 are in voluntary institutions. The remaining 130,000 are entirely provided by and maintained from the rates. The Poor Law provides 95,000 beds. The health authorities provide about 32,000 beds for infectious diseases; and 150,000 lunatics are provided for and carefully looked after entirely at the expense of the taxpayers. The local authorities at the present time are setting up thousands 1041 of beds for the treatment of tuberculosis in sanatoria, and for the treatment of venereal diseases. They are also providing maternity wards, so that hospitals on the rates are already in existence to the extent of about three-fourths of the total hospital accommodation. To sum up—300,000 beds to-day are provided and maintained at the ratepayers' expense, and 40,000 beds are provided and maintained by charitable institutions.
The splendid services of these voluntary hospitals must on no account be curtailed. They must be encouraged. It is not true to say that the voluntary hospitals have failed. They have failed only because the public has failed to support them. That can be remedied by this Bill which gives the local authorities power to assist them. In my judgment it ought to be a condition of assistance to any voluntary hospital that a sufficient number of beds should be allocated to the local authorities, and that beds be provided in all hospitals for maternity cases. I am sure the House will realise the distressingly terrible conditions which exist at the present moment, in consequence of the overcrowded rooms and houses in which poor women have to undergo the trials of childbirth. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will insist that in all general hospitals in future beds shall be reserved for maternity cases. The long waiting lists of our voluntary hospitals are a serious reflection on our hospital system. It is not untrue to say that thousands of people drift into incurable disease simply because they cannot have immediate attention.
I wish to say a word or two on behalf of the class of people who are most important and most deserving, namely, those who do not want to accept charity, and who do not wish to seek Poor Law relief. If they are, ill, they very often cannot afford to get well. If an operation or special nursing is required, this class of the community have to enter nursing homes, and they cannot afford the charges that are made there. This class of the community ought to be permitted to enter voluntary hospitals, to receive the best treatment, and to pay according to their means for any treatment they receive. I am quite certain that they would willingly do that. With regard to the question of the transfer of Poor Law infirmaries to the health authorities, I 1042 estimate that out of 95,000 beds at present in Poor Law infirmaries only about 30,000 would be suitable for the requirements of a modern hospital. So that when the Poor Law is abolished, as we are promised it will be, there will be a considerable shortage which will have to be made up by somebody. I understand the Minister of Health is not insisting on Sub-section (a), in which powers are given to the health authorities to erect and maintain hospitals. I feel sure that that decision has only been come to on the ground of expense.
I sincerely regret that that action has been taken, because I feel certain that this provision, without Sub-section (a), is only a makeshift. Something will have to be done in the very near future to provide, maintain, and equip more hospitals in this country. The alternative is that all the present voluntary hospitals should be considerably extended. I think myself that it would be wise if all voluntary hospitals were enlarged, or even doubled in size, and given a subsidy to assist them in providing more beds.
The question of payment is a very important one. In my judgment, and I think many Members of the House will agree, every person who uses a hospital should pay according to his means. Those who cannot afford to pay—and I am glad to say that there are not so many of that class as there were ten years age—should be maintained in municipal hospitals at the expense of the State. The health of a nation is much too precious and much too serious a matter to be left to charity. It is the duty of the State to provide adequate treatment for those who are sick, and who cannot provide it themselves. The present hospital system in England is inadequate and out of date, and no money could be better or more wisely spent than in providing the very best methods of treatment in the early and curable stages of illness, and so preventing a vast amount of suffering, poverty, and incurable disease.
I should like to remind the House of the pledges which many of us gave at the last general election. I myself gave a very solemn pledge that the object of the Government was, first of all, to improve the physical condition of the people, and, secondly, to provide every possible method of treatment for illness, disease, or injury—in fact, that we were going to 1043 make a C 3 nation into an A 1 nation. I pledged myself to that. I cannot understand the action of any hon. Member of this House who would for one moment think of rejecting these valuable reforms on the ground of expense. Surely there are many other departments which might be cut down first. The right hon. Gentleman cannot make bricks without straw. He has shown us the way; he has formulated a Bill; he has put down Clauses; and now it is for the House of Commons to give him the opportunity to carry out those great reforms which are so urgently needed, and which, I maintain, the public ought to demand. I congratulate the Minister of Health on his courage in bringing forward these reforms in this Bill. I sincerely hope that the House will support the Bill as it deserves, and will give it a Second Reading.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has argued with force, and carried with him the sense of the House in his statement that every hon. Member desires that the physique of the nation should be raised considerably. To do this, however, will involve the expenditure of public money, and we shall require to carry with us public opinion. The ratepayers and taxpayers throughout the country will have to be convinced quite definitely that the Minister in charge of the Bill has thought out the cost, and is prepared to justify his Bill on that basis. I quite agree that the hospitals must be thoroughly maintained, but the right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, reminded the House of the financial position of the hospitals. We have not yet, however, been given direct information of the financial position of the hospitals from the Government side.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I am anxious to carry the right hon. Gentleman with me in my remarks, and not to join issue with him. I have taken some pains to inform myself as to the financial position of the hospitals of Great Britain. Taking the hospitals of Great Britain outside London, and taking the five-year period during the War, the total income of those hospitals exceeded their expenditure. It is true to say that in 1919 there was a small deficit, but that deficit only repre- 1044 sents 8 per cent. of the total expenditure; in other words, they received by subscription 92 per cent. of their annual expenditure. During the last 12 months, well managed hospitals in the provinces have taken steps to wipe out that deficit. They have been organising committees of employers and employed, and, by means of a small subscription of 1d. a week, in many large towns they have been able to collect £50 per week for the hospitals. Therefore, where this question has been faced with courage and on sound lines, these hospitals are solvent to-day. We find, however, that the position is very different in London.
The position in London is not satisfactory, but it is true to say that many hospitals which shout the loudest take the least steps themselves to raise money and manage their affairs soundly. There are many hospitals to-day endeavouring to bring indirect pressure to bear on the Government. The suggestion that I would make to the right hon. Gentleman is that, before Clause 11 is passed, he should set up a small Committee, consisting of hon. Members of this House, a member of the London County Council, and some experts, who would examine the finance of the London Hospitals, and submit to him and to this House a co-ordinated scheme for wiping out the overlapping which exists among the hospital work in London. Clause 11, if passed as it stands, will, I fear, torpedo the marvellous voluntary work which has been done in hospitals in the past. I am not going to argue whether rate aid for hospitals is necessary or not, or whether it is sound or not; but before the House of Commons is asked for the first time in a large measure to allow the local authorities to rate for voluntary hospitals, we should have in this House a large mass of information which no hon. Member possesses to-day. Therefore, I suggest that a small Committee for London should be appointed, and that the passage of Clause 11 should be delayed until that Committee has reported.
There is one other suggestion that I should like to lay before the right hon. Gentleman. There are to-day certain hospitals which train doctors and nurses. The House of Commons has already voted large sums of money for the purposes of higher education. Can there be a higher education that the education of doctors 1045 and nurses? If the right hon. Gentleman would allow the local authorities to support hospitals which train doctors and nurses, I think he would obtain a very large measure of support for that proposal. The proposal as it stands to-day is a very wide one, and I hope the Clause will not be pressed until the matter has been more fully considered. After making these two definite suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman, I would make one further appeal to him. This House, and the country generally, are interested in health questions, but we do not know the amount of public money which is being spent for that purpose. We desire to know how much money is being spent for health purposes by all bodies throughout the country, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to make a wide survey of the health conditions of the country. The Ministry is in its infancy. We do not expect any large scheme to-day, nor do we desire the right hon. Gentleman to press forward in this Bill certain principles which will tie the hands of the Ministry in days to come. Let a wide survey, therefore, be made of the health conditions of the people, and let the amount of money which is being spent be ascertained. With this information, the right hon. Gentleman can come to the House and ask for further powers and further money, and I am sure the House will grant him the necessary funds.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MYERS
It is somewhat refreshing to have the pleasure of listening to such a speech as that of the hon. and gallant Member for Wavertree (Lieut.-Colonel Raw), after the sad and sorry experience that we have had since this Bill was introduced the other day. As a comparatively new Member of this House, I was very surprised at the attitude with which this Bill has been met, and at the points of view presented last Thursday by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). Their observations, when summed up, seemed to be in effect that we must save the rates and the taxes, even if the people perish; and the remark that has just been made by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel), that a financier should be at the head of the Ministry of Health, seems to me to indicate that lack of a sense of proportion which has characterised this Debate. What are the alarming and revo- 1046 lutionary proposals of this Bill? I should like to direct the attention of the House to one or two of the Clauses which have been most keenly criticised. Clause 1 provides for the bringing into occupation of houses which have not been occupied for three months, and it limits the particular type of house to those which are suitable for the accommodation of our working people. It leaves villadom absolutely safe and unassailed. I would have made it apply to all houses. I know a number of people who are living in an overcrowded condition, and I am also acquainted with large numbers of people who have more housing accommodation than they need, and having regard to the fact that we are rationed for all commodities in which a scarcity has been established—and it has been established that there is a scarcity of housing accommodation—a rationing of that commodity would in my judgment have been beneficial all round, and that is why I would have applied it to all houses.
Clause 3 makes provision for local authorities, or a tribunal which has to be set up for the purpose, holding the balance between the erection of houses and of other buildings. The Housing Additional Powers Act of 1919 gave local authorities power in this matter, but they have altogether failed to put it into operation. I have records from our trade union organisations to the effect that, taking carpenters, bricklayers, painters, plasterers, slaters and plumbers, they had a membership in the early part of the year of 305,000, and on 30th June out of that number only 15,000 were engaged in the erection of houses. I saw in a newspaper the other day that two large picture houses are contemplated in London, one to cost £1,000,000 and the other to cost £200,000. I have it from the responsible heads of the building trade that round about a notorious golf course adjacent to this city there is a tremendous volume of luxury building going on, and those people who have been drawn to this luxury building have been taken from the erection of houses in the immediate neighbourhood and have been attracted to the work by the person requiring it giving them the standard rate of pay per hour and paying them every day for two hours in addition that they do not work. That has been pre- 1047 vailing all over the country, and the result is that the erection of houses has been neglected and erections of an alternative character are going up all over the place, and this Clause seeks to effect an adjustment in that direction, and it is entitled to support of anyone who desires to see working-class houses erected.
Clause 6 is another revolutionary proposal. It makes provision for local authorities erecting houses for its officers and its servants. Everyone who is acquainted with the administration of local government to-day knows that our appointments are limited and restricted, by reason of the fact that we cannot promise those people whom we would appoint to official positions housing accommodation, and I know of several appointments which have been cancelled on that account. It also provides for education authorities erecting houses for their teachers. I do not see anything wrong in a local education authority erecting a school and at the same time making provision for the habitation of the teachers who are going to officiate in that school. So Clause 6 from that point of view is entitled to our unqualified support. There is perhaps one weakness in it. Housing loans to-day are borrowed for a period of 60 years, and this Clause proposes to secure houses which are erected under this condition on an 80 years loan. I think that is a retrograde policy. I think the responsibility upon local authorities, so far as loans are converned, ought to be modified, and not increased.
There is another Clause—18—which extends the borrowing under certain conditions from 30 to 60 years, which comes within the range of this argument. Local authorities to-day are having to borrow money at 6 per cent., and there are instances where a figure in excess of that has had to be offered. If we borrow £1,000 at 6 per cent. for 30 years, the annual charges in sinking fund and interest at the end of 30 years amount to £2,180. If it is borrowed for 60 years, £3,712 has to be repaid. If we borrow for 80 years, £4,846 is repaid. We are not going to have municipal development under any conditions whatever, whether it be houses, hospitals, or anything else—we are not going to have municipal 1048 authorities moving in an upward direction, if they are having to pay back £4,846 for every £1,000 that they borrow. It is an unsound financial operation which ought to be discountenanced, and we have reached a period of public development when what municipalities need has to be paid for to a far greater extent down on the nail than has been done hitherto, and not pass on this huge burden of debt to future generations.
Leaving those incidental Clauses I come to the more controversial aspects of the Bill. I will deal with Clause 10, which refers to the treatment of mental disorder. I do not like this Clause. I welcome the willingness expressed in it to do something in this direction. 45,000 cases of shell-shock demand the immediate attention of this House. I saw a man in Oxford Street to-day, suffering from shell-shock, whose limbs were affected selling picture postcards for a livelihood. But those who are suffering from shell-shook and are mentally affected cannot even take to that occupation, and my complaint against the Clause is, not what it does, but what it fails to do. There is not a single line in it which indicates that the Ministry of Health is taking upon itself any responsibility whatever. It removes restrictions and penalties from other people. Under Clause 315 of the Lunacy Act, if a person suffering from mental disorder was detained under certain conditions, a penalty was applied. That penalty is removed. The Bill removes these restrictions and talks about setting up a house, a home, or an institution, but it does not move in the direction of doing it. In a condescending sort of way it indicates that some other person may do it, and after it has made that declaration it makes no financial provision whatever in the direction indicated. These men demand much more than that. I believe the country is ready to apply that same spirit of patriotism towards these men that they applied to the country when they responded to its call. We recognised these men years ago as a great national asset, and the country ought to be prepared to-day to accept them as a national liability, and it ought to move in the direction of presenting very definite proposals and making provision for what it intends to do with these men. My point of view is that what is needed in connection with these cases is intermediate institutions which will approximate as 1049 far as possible to the domestic and home life of these men, where music, games and amusements and other things could be provided for them, and I believe in a very short space of time, if some such policy as this were accepted, many of these men would be restored to a normal condition, and this Clause ought to be so amended that very definite responsibility is undertaken by the State in order to make sure that that will be done.
The chief objection to the Bill till now has been the cost which will have to be undertaken. We can follow every Clause and every line in it up to the end of Clause 10, and it is very difficult to find a single provision which is going to demand anything in the nature of expenditure amounting to any decent sum. Substantially speaking, in the first ten Clauses of the Bill there is hardly anything which will entail any volume of expenditure, and it is only when we come to Clause 11 that this comment does not apply. The Clause makes provision for local authorities providing, extending and maintaining hospitals, and it is entitled to the support of the House on two general grounds. The first is that the financial condition of our voluntary hospitals admittedly is not all that it ought to be. They have had in days gone by to be financed by the benevolence of private individuals, and even now when there is any money available for them it is looked upon as charity. In the North of England there is a very extensive system of workshop collections. Some of these collections are a violation of the Truck Act, but everyone willingly approves and agrees to the method that is adopted, and deductions are made from the wages of our working people week by week for the hospitals in the immediate neighbourhood where they reside and work, and very substantial sums are contributed in that way. Lately another expedient has been resorted to—the series of flag-days that we have had in our industrial towns to such an extent that, though we all take it good-naturedly, it has reached a point where the public is considering if it has not been very much overdone. Charities, workshop contributions and flag-days are not the way to finance institutions of this character. Something more definite has got to be done. The Minister mentioned the King Edward Fund. We were going to get something like £700,000 for provincial 1050 hospitals and a lesser sum for the London institutions. But that is only a temporary expedient. It will only tide us over a very short period. We had an experience of the same kind a year or two ago when the unemployment agitation was before the country. We had what was then known as the Queen's Fund, and a substantial sum was handed over for the purpose of relieving the unemployed. It provided relief for a few hundred unemployed men, but it did not find them any occupation. This King Edward Fund may tide the hospitals temporarily over a somewhat trying time, but it will effect no solution whatever to the problem with which we are confronted.
It will be said, of course, that there are other conditions in this Clause which will work in that direction. I would draw attention to one provision which I believe has not yet been referred to, and that is Sub-section (3) of Clause 11. It provides for recovering the expenses of treatment from those people who enter these institutions. It is a provision contained in the Public Health Act, 1875, which says:Any expense incurred by a local authority in maintaining in a hospital, or in temporary buildings for the reception of the sick, a patient who is not a pauper, shall be deemed to be a debt due from such patient to the local authority and may be recovered from him within six months after his discharge from such hospital or buildings of reception or from his estate in the event of his dying in such hospital or buildings.That provision may have been all right in 1875, but it is a long way out of place in 1920. The Ministry of Health and the old Local Government Board have long ago abandoned that policy, and we cannot have two policies in operation upon this question. The policy has been abandoned in various directions. With respect to tuberculosis, if a local authority sets up a sanatorium the State provides 75 per cent. of the capital expenditure and 50 per cent. of the administrative expenses. There is also a contribution from the State in respect of infectious diseases hospitals. In regard to venereal disease 75 per cent. of the expenditure incurred in treatment is furnished by the National Exchequer. In 1918–19 over 150,000 now cases of venereal disease were treated in England and Wales, and for the last financial year, ending March, 1920, £224,000 in grants were given from the National Exchequer towards the treat- 1051 ment of venereal disease. If a person is suffering from tuberculosis we hurry up to take the person away to the institution provided. If a person is suffering from infectious disease the same principle obtains, and in all and sundry places committees are at work persuading people who are suffering from venereal disease to go away quickly and be treated gratis, there being no charge and no questions asked. Are we going to have one policy for the treatment of tuberculosis, for the treatment of ordinary infectious disease, and the treatment of venereal disease, and then if a person is suffering from appendicitis or who has broken a limb and finds his way to one of these hospitals, are we going to send him a bill for the charges that have been incurred, and if his death takes place in the institution, is there to be a charge upon the estate that he has left? These two policies cannot run side by side. We have to face this question, and it can only be worked on the lines of giving treatment to everybody that cares to apply for it, providing facilities for that treatment and leaving it to the goodwill of the individuals—and the goodwill of the individual is not called upon in vain even now—to make such contributions as they are able to afford.
The inability of existing hospitals to maintain their financial position and at the same time to extend their activities is clearly established. This Clause is entitled to our support from another point of view, and that is that if every voluntary hospital in the country was on a sound financial basis they are inadequate for the calls that are being made upon them. The Minister of Health has stated in the last few days that the voluntary hospitals of the country are not equal to more than one-half of the calls that are made upon them, and the hon. Member for Liverpool (Colonel Raw) has stated that if we add all the beds from the Poor Law institutions to the existing beds in the voluntary hospitals there is still a shortage. If we admit that fact, we have to take steps to meet the demand that prevails. The hon. Member for Liverpool mentioned a great volume of sickness which is neglected and not treated. The Majority Report of the Poor Law Commission of 1909 set forth its considered opinion that one-third of the applications for Poor Law relief was due to sickness that had been 1052 neglected. Obviously, if there had been facilities for treatment of the sickness the expenditure upon our poor laws would have been much less because of that provision. The provision for the voluntary hospitals to-day is not on a reasonable basis. The geographical location of those buildings is not in proportion to the needs of the population. The constituency which I have the honour to represent has a population of from 70,000 to 80,000, and there is only one hospital inside it; one Voluntary hospital for treating ordinary disease. I do not know anything of its capacity, but judging from the size of the building I should say it has anything from ten to twenty beds. I agree that there are a number of voluntary hospitals in the larger industrial centres surrounding that area, but the provision and the geographical location of those buildings is out of harmony with the needs of the community in those areas. It is obvious that there has to be some readjustment in that direction. When we have roped in the Poor Law beds we have not got rid of the tremendous bias there is in the minds of the working class population against Poor Law institutions. We can call them what name we like, but it will take a generation for the stigma of the Poor Law to be lived down, even when we bring those institutions into use through the medium of our local authorities.
I am not an enthusiast for putting voluntary hospitals on the rates. I believe there should be a closer relationship between these hospitals and the local authorities, but we have had quite enough put on the rates in the last few years. The whole trend of legislation during the last few years has been to hand on to local authorities new responsibilities, semi-national in character, and the Government through this House has not made financial provision for those responsibilities being carried out. I find that the commission or the committee which investigated the finances of the local authorities says that from March, 1909, up to March, 1915, the annual call of local rates per head of the population in England and Wales increased by 5s. 3d. per head. The Exchequer grants to all those authorities in the same period only increased by 7d. per head of the population. If these responsibilities are to be continually added to the burdens of the local authorities, some financial grants- 1053 in-aid must follow the demand for these responsibilities to be carried out. When local authorities do take over, as ultimately they will take hold of the voluntary hospitals, direct or indirect, the financial support must not come from the local rates, but from the National Exchequer. There are several very important reasons why that should be so. There are a number of special hospitals in the country. I have in mind the Eye and Ear Hospital at Bradford, probably one of the best institutions of its kind in the country. That hospital serves a tremendous geographical area. A local doctor ten or twelve miles away simply gives a patient a letter of introduction to take to Bradford and the patient gets the best treatment that the hospital can give. The contributions to that hospital from the outside areas are insignificant. It would not be equitable to put the charge for that institution upon the rates of Bradford. Further, sickness and physical incapacity are very largely a result of special local circumstances. Excessive sickness and physical incapacity are due to the direct social and industrial condition under which the people are compelled to live and work, and that penalty itself is a tremendous one without calling upon those same people to make payments for the treatment of the incapacity and sickness which they suffer as a consequence of their social and industrial conditions. Why, for instance, should Sheffield and Wolverhampton, with all the disadvantages of those areas, be called upon to maintain their own particular establishments for the treatment of sickness and physical incapacity, and places represented by two Noble Lords who address this House, escape, and have all the privileges of immunity from the circumstances and conditions which affect the health and well-being of the community elsewhere. When we have got to the bottom of this question, such financial assistance as we give to these institutions must come from the National Exchequer. Let us encourage and stimulate voluntary effort as far as possible, but when it fails or is inadequate the responsibility of the State must be the medium that comes into play.
I would like to say something to the critics who have opposed, somewhat unreasonably, the Clauses of this Bill. This Bill has been challenged on the ground 1054 of national economy. The best economy that this House can exercise is to see that expenditure is judiciously directed into those channels where it is most required, and where it can be utilised to the best advantage. Less than a week ago the Secretary of State for War intimated that certain military responsibilities in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ireland, Constantinople, and Palestine were incurring an expenditure of over £5,000,000 per month, or £64,000,000 a year, which is more than double the entire cost of the Army in pre-War days. I did not hear anything from the advocates of economy when those figures were presented, but on the following day we had questions directed to the President of the Board of Education seeking to postpone, on the ground of national economy, the operations of Clauses of the Education Act which had not been applied. That indicates a lack of that sense of proportion which has characterised this Debate. If we want economy it can be applied in these ways, but we cannot afford to economise either upon education or the health of the community. There is no question of spending less on those Departments of national activity. The time has come when we have to expend more, and if we want economy we must turn our attention in the direction which I have indicated. When a soldier is not on active service, we do the best we can as a State to keep him fit for the time when he is likely to be required, and when active service comes on we organise an army of nurses, doctors, ambulances, hospitals, and all the rest of it, and when, through incapacity, he falls out of the fighting line, the best skill that can be applied is at his disposal in order to get him back to the active list at the earliest possible moment, and we make no reduction from his pay on account of that fact.
What is needed is the same spirit in reference to the needs of our civil population. It is in the best interests of the State to see that where sickness or incapacity shows itself it should be tackled and remedied at the very first opportunity. Hon. Members say that that is all right from the point of view of theory, but we cannot afford it. We on this side do not accept that position. While we are preaching economy and endeavouring to keep down expenditure in this direction, we will point to the fact that there 1055 are yet tremendous volumes of war wealth which can be drawn upon, and if we talk about the necessity of revenue we can turn in that direction. Wherever well-directed voluntary effort can be found it is the duty of the State to foster and sustain it. It is a good spirit to prevail in the country, but when it becomes a question of voluntary hospitals or hospitals of any kind, or any kind of voluntary effort being inadequate, the responsibility of the State must be drawn upon and the community as a whole must accept that responsibility. We shall support the Second Reading of the Bill and introduce the Amendments necessary to make the interpretation of our policy effective.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I have listened to every speech on this Bill, and have come to the conclusion that the Bill ought to have been divided into several parts. The hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. Member for Liverpool (Lieut.-Col. Raw) have dealt more particularly with those Clauses which apply to hospitals. I do not propose to deal with the question of hospitals further than to say that I do fear that, if public authorities are allowed to make contributions from the rates, the people who are contributing to-day will close their pockets. It has been said there are some points in this Bill that are good. I am very much inclined to think it is very much like the curate's egg. Clause 14 I am going to clap on the back. Anything that we can do with the alien to keep him clean would be to the advantage of this country. But I wish to deal more particularly with the housing provisions of this Bill. There seems to be no end to Bills on this subject. We had the Housing and Town Planning Act passed in July, 1919. We had then an additional Powers Bill within six months. We had then the various Rent Restrictions Acts, and various succeeding Acts of all sorts, all tinkering with the matter, and here within 18 months of the Housing and Town Planning Act we have another Bill on somewhat similar lines.
I cannot conceive why the Minister of Health suggests that he wants these powers put into Clause 1. Clause 1 suggests providing for taking the-se houses. He seems to have forgotten in the original Act Section 12, under which he has practically the same powers. I have got from St., Pancras, part of which I represent, 1056 a report from the Medical Officer of Health, just issued. He points out that the Council have asked the Ministry of Health to deal with certain provisions of that Act under Section 12, and the Ministry of Health, or the Housing Board which was then in existence, stated they are in agreement with certain desires they have for converting houses quite suitable for the purpose, and the council should pass a recommendation that the Ministry of Health, acting through the London Health Board, be required to exercise through the St. Pancras Borough Council the powers under Section 12 of the Act of 1919. Here is a specific case, and yet the extraordinary part of it is, that not a single house in the borough has been converted. Why have those powers under Section 12 not been applied? When the Bill was brought in, many of us pressed on the Minister to continue to use every agency by which houses might be produced, public authorities, private authorities, private enterprise. In the first Bill the people who could produce houses were ignored entirely. Then came the Additional Powers Act, which gave a subsidy to private enterprise, and to-day you propose in Section 2 that this should be continued for a further period because it was producing certain houses. I have no fault to find with that, because I believe you will get a great many more houses under private enterprise than under the system which you have to-day. Then we had that much-vaunted appointment that was made of Sir James Carmichael, a man of whom I have got a good opinion and a man of great ability, to carry this out, but why has he left them?
§ Dr. ADDISON
I must protest against suggestions of this kind. Sir James Carmichael left because his health broke down, owing to his strenuous work. He tried to come back and his health broke down again. I think that it is very unworthy to make these suggestions.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I was simply asking a question. I think I am entitled to ask it, because my right hon. Friend does not obtain the whole of the information. We also get information. We are told that he has given this up on account of ill-health—a diplomatic illness. Again we see the arrant muddle that has been constituted by the policy adopted in this matter. I am going to speak frankly. We want houses, and it is not so much the 1057 cost of the houses we need worry about. We do not get houses because they do not leave the industry alone, because they muddle it, because they pile one Act on top of another. For instance, in this Bill Clause 1 says,has not been in the occupation of an occupier at any time during a period of at least three months.And then Clause 2 suggests that you should extend the subsidy. Those two provisions cancel each other. To-day the man who builds houses under the subsidy or any other scheme has great difficulty in borrowing money, and a very limited field to get his money from, and nobody can continue building houses and letting them unless he has a reservoir of money to borrow from. A builder to-day has no reservoir to borrow from. His bank is shut up. The people he had to go to before the War to get it are gone. They say, "No; with all these restrictions proceeding, we are not going to find money for houses." He must sell. Therefore, under this Clause, what is the use of offering a subsidy? He cannot build, because if the house remains unoccupied for three months, the authorities may come in and take it over, and use it as they think proper, at whatever rent they like.
That is muddling the matter altogether. It is very unfortunate, because there is no doubt that there was a number of houses being built under the subsidy scheme, and if you do not exclude the subsidised house from the compulsory arrangement the result would be that it must stop. There must be some exception for these houses, or there must be a Clause inserted saying that this shall not apply to houses built after April, 1919. We all want houses. I like a comfortable home, and other people like a comfortable home as well, and I am anxious to give them homes. But with this failure of the housing propositions of the Government up to the present I begin to despair entirely. The Minister will not listen to people who know something about it. I claim to know something about it. I have been in the industry ever since I was a child, and yet when I go to the Minister and point out the difficulties and the necessity of encouraging those people he will not listen to it until it is too late. It was so with the first Housing Bill. On the 13th May, 1919, I pointed out in Committee 1058 how important it was that every agency which could provide houses should be brought in. The Minister ignored that suggestion entirely, but within six months he had to bring in a Bill. At that time I went to Sir James Carmichael and I went with the surveyor of one of the metropolitan boroughs, and I said, "Here is a scheme. If you will give a subsidy of £150 for each house here, there are five or six hundred houses which will be ready for occupation before Christmas, 1919." Nothing could be done. The cancelling of one Clause here against another seems to me to point to the fact that this halting policy with regard to housing will doom it to failure. I hope that yet we shall have an opportunity of amending the Bill so that we may get the houses which are so necessary.
In his introductory speech the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the Bill would not affect any house that was in occupation. The right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), who did not hear the whole of the statement of the Minister of Health, said, speaking as a lawyer, that it would enable any house, to be taken, even houses in the country which people occupy for only a few months in the year. The Minister of Health said that that would not be so. What are you to believe? I believe that adequate time has not been given to these provisions. We remember how the first Housing Act and the second Housing Act were rushed through Parliament. We sat here all night in order to deal with these things. That is not the way to get good legislation. The main Act has been tinkered with four or five times during the last eighteen months. As to Clause 2, I sincerely hope we may have the houses under the subsidy, and those belonging to public utility societies excluded entirely. Many of the public utility society are in almost the same position as the builder. They cannot borrow money on bricks and mortar. It is only those who subscribe a certain sum with whom they are able to deal. In Clause 3 the Minister constitutes himself an autocrat entirely. He takes the power from A to Z In one of the previous Housing Bills a tribunal was set up, the Minister of Health having accepted an Amendment I suggested. I believe that that tribunal has been doing its work very well. No doubt there have been 1059 many cases for it to deal with, and some extension of it is necessary.
There is a good deal of unemployment now. The hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) referred to various trades, but he did not seem to differentiate between those trades. What are the trades in which there is a deficiency of men for housing? The only shortage to-day is the shortage of bricklayers. I hear someone interject that there are others. I have some knowledge of the trade. There is a great dearth of bricklayers. Why?. Because people do not like to go into a trade which is largely a dirty trade. Why should not many of the ex-service men who desire work be allowed to enter the trade? Someone will say it will take a long time to teach them. It will do so if you teach them arch cutting, gauge work, setting out, and work of that kind. But what could they not do in the way of laying bricks to a line? In six weeks ex-service men could be sufficiently instructed to be able to lay bricks to a line in cottage building. In ninety per cent. of the cottages the outside work is covered up, and you do not want a brick laid plan. There is somebody who is holding this proposal back, and doing a very serious injustice to the country. Take the case of a mason. An hon. Member from Dumfries is very keen on masons' work being put into cottages, because that work is characteristic of his neighbourhood. How much work is there in a cottage for the ordinary bunker mason? Not a single day's work. Take the joiner. After three months' apprenticeship to the trade I had four-panelled doors to make. I did not make them as they are made to-day. I had to rip them out from the planks and deals and finish them completely. I do not say that I made them particularly quickly, but they were used in a very important contract. If I could learn to do that in three or four months, why cannot some of these ex-service men do so? There is nothing more required in a cottage than the ability to make a four-panelled door.
There may be a temporary shortage of carpenters. Where have they gone? Into the shipyards. It is not the joiners you want; it is the carpenters, the men who deal with the joints and rafters and do the fixing of the joinery in the house. It is a very small shortage, if the matter 1060 is dealt with properly. Take the plumber. What work is there for the plumber to do in an ordinary housing scheme house? If a man works reasonably, there are not two days' work. There is practically nothing for a fitter to do, and for polishers and fibrous plasterers there is nothing. Take the smith. The most he has to do is probably to fix the gutters, but usually the carpenter does that. Take the painter. There is not a great deal for him to do. I know something about this. The Bill proposes to restrict the building of commercial premises and factories. That will cause more unemployment rather than less. Why is it that the trade unions have not said to their members, "Go on to housing schemes"? They pretend to control their members, but they cannot get their members to obey such an order. Only a small percentage of the roughest mechanics are willing to give up luxury building for housing schemes. Are you going to conscript them for housing schemes? You will have to do that, if you are going to restrict, not what is called luxury building, but what is called commercial building. Who is the man suffering from unemployment the most? Not the artisan, but the clerk, the man in the office. In London to-day there is not sufficient office accommodation to house the clerk. I object to the autocratic powers which the Minister of Health assumes in Clause 3, and I hope he will modify them. If he gets over the difficulty with regard to bricklayers, I believe he will get over the housing difficulty entirely, and then he can go on quite easily.
As to Clause 4, I do not propose to speak from the local authorities' point of view, though I claim to know something about that, for I think there is no authority in London upon which I have not served. What alarms me in this Bill is that the Minister is sweeping away all the valuable safeguards that have been put upon local authorities. In Clause 9 he does an extraordinary thing. You read there that—no contract made by an urban authority shall be deemed to be void by reason only that the authority have not in relation thereto complied with the provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of that Section.6.0 P.M.
That is legislation by reference. I have taken the trouble to turn up these references and to see what effect they have. One of them states that there is need 1061 to give public notice of a contract, and the second says that it is necessary to have an estimate from your surveyor. One of the most important things in local government is that your surveyor should give you an estimate, stating what the probable cost of the work will be. Yet the Minister sweeps that away and says we are to have none of it, because someone has come to him and has said that the surveyor is a nuisance. I admit that if you have a pet scheme a surveyor is an abominable nuisance. I have brought schemes before my council on many occasions, and the surveyor has presented his estimates. The schemes were "washed out." Are they not to have the check of a surveyor's estimate? I I think it is absolute madness to allow such a thing. If ever this Bill gets to Committee—and I hope it will not—the Minister must alter that, because nobody in his sober senses would agree to a contract being entered into without the surveyor submitting his estimate.
§ Mr. LORDEN
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear!" and I ask where are we? It seems to me most extraordinary that the Minister does not realise that this provision cuts away the very root of the check by local authorities. In the commercial world I have heard of what are called, "wild cat" schemes: Clause 4, Sub-section (1, b) reads:to borrow money for the purpose of defraying any expenses (including interest payable in respect of money borrowed under this Section) incurred by the local authority in connection with any such works as aforesaid.When the right hon. Gentleman for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) pointed this out the Minister asked, "Where is it?" To provide that you can borrow money and then can borrow money to pay the interest on that money and then borrow money to pay that, and so on ad infinitum, is a most unheard-of thing.
§ Mr. LORDEN
It must have been done by somebody who was not right in the head. By Clause 18 the period for the repayment of the debt is extended from 30 years to 60. I agree with the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) that it does seem ridiculous, when money is so dear, to extend the period in that 1062 way. I suppose the provision in Clause 4 to which I have just referred is to enable that to be done. I am somewhat in sympathy with the provision in Clause 6 that teachers should have house accommodation found for them. We know that teachers now have salaries of considerable magnitude, but there are many private people who desire to get houses also, but who do not happen to be lucky enough to be teachers, and who cannot get houses, and their incomes are much less than those of teachers. I am not finding fault with the provision, because it points to this, that you are cutting out the words "working classes." Who are the working classes? They are not people who work with their hands only. There are all the middle-class people who work much harder than your so-called working classes, and many of them for longer hours, and they should be entitled to some of these houses which are costing so much and which you are endeavouring to build with such a lavish hand. By Clause 7 the Minister of Health has to decide the rate of interest. It was pointed out by an hon. Member that what was wanted was, not a Minister of Health, but a financier. What does the Minister of Health know as to the value of money? It is not his business, but that of the people who deal in money. Therefore I protest against a provision making the Minister of Health the autocrat as to what interest should be paid. I have referred to Clause 9 and the relaxation of those great safeguards which were put in the 1875 Act. I do not propose to deal with Clause 11, and I greatly approve of Clause 14. I come now to Clause 17, which I call the joy-riding Clause. Sub-section (i, iii) states:a subsistence allowance shall not be paid unless the member, by reason of attending the meeting, is obliged to be absent for more than six hours from his ordinary place of abode, and the amount of the allowance shall not exceed a sum sufficient to meet such actual expenses as ought reasonably to be incurred by the member.I happen to have been Chairman of a body where a number of people served and every month there was a voucher sent to me to be signed for these subsistence allowances. They ranged from one sum to another and some of them were very reasonable and some were not. When I was a member of a certain body there was a list of members who were to attend certain institutions and to visit the patients. I was chosen in the ballot 1063 to attend at a certain place. I was a young member at the time and another member came to me and said, "Do you particularly want to go there?" I said I did not want to go at all, and he said he would relieve me. I thanked him and said it was very kind. Then came a day when I said, "I mean to go to this institution as I have heard a great deal about it." I took a first-class ticket, and had a very good luncheon, and came back first-class. When I next attended the board the clerk said to me, "You went to the institution," and gave me a sheet and asked me to fill it in. I asked, "What am I supposed to fill in," and he said, "You are supposed to fill in your expenses." I told him I travelled first-class, and he told me to put it in. I said I had lunch and tea, and he said it was usual to put it in. It seemed rather a good thing to get this day's holiday down at the seaside. I think the third-class fare was something like 15s. pre-War, and I put in the sheet for 15s. When the agenda paper came out with the amounts that were to be paid there was "Lorden 15s." and there was another man who accompanied me and his amount was 45s. I said "This is a most extraordinary business," I may say he was a gentleman who called himself a Labour Member. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] I will not give the name, though I will give hon. Members the name afterwards, if they like. This thing occurred some years ago and I am only telling it to point out what will happen under this Clause. At the meeting of the board I said, "Mr. Chairman, I see that I am down for 15s. and my colleague, who went down with me, is down for 45s. 4d. What is the reason for this difference?" He replied, "I do not know. What did you charged?" I said, "I charged third class fare and if I were at home I would have had to eat and drink." What happened? The whole of the scheme of payments to people for visiting those institutions was altered, simply through a fluke. This is a joy-riding Clause and by it you will have the rates imposed on. There are certain people who will take advantage of it, and to a certain extent you can be sympathetic with them. At any rate, in the case I mention third-class fare only was allowed and a very small amount for subsistence afterwards.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I am absolutely with the hon. Member. I then understood why these gentlemen were so kind as to relieve me of the duty of visiting the institutions. This proposal should be eliminated altogether. There is no doubt that some people will press for it, but those who do so are the last people who should have it. I have been extremely interested in this Bill, and in housing, and in public affairs, and I feel strongly on the subject. Now we come to Clause 18, which permits the Minister to extend the period, and in Sub-section (5) it says:Where any local authority, owing to circumstances arising out of the War, have been unable to make the required provision by means of a sinking fund or otherwise for the due discharge of any loan, the authority may submit to the Minister a scheme making provision for the discharge of the loan whether by extending or varying the period within which the loan may be discharged or otherwise, and the Minister may, if he thinks fit, approve any such scheme cither with or without modifications.Any scheme approved by the Minister under this Sub-section shall have effect as if enacted in this Act."
That is a whitewashing Clause.
§ Mr. LORDEN
Certainly. It says:Provided that nothing in shall in any manner prejudice or affect the security, rights or remedies of any mortgagee or other person from whom the loan was raised.I cannot see that that proviso makes any difference. I am not here to protect the man who lent his money and is going to lose some of it. I am not worrying about him, but I am worrying at the autocratic powers of the Minister to approve a scheme which he cannot know anything at all about. The officials will have to approve it, and that is the difficulty we are in all the way round. The officials are going to run the show. The Minister has to attend here, and my great wonder is how Ministers can possibly carry on the duties of their office and attend to Parliament as they do. I object to this power, because it will get into the hands of an official, and the official will be the man who will determine whether the things will be granted or not, and we know what officials are. They are men of great integrity; I have nothing to say against them, and I have everything to say for them; but they are human, and it depends very largely how you put your case before them whether you get it or 1065 not. A case that may have a bad advocate may not be granted, whereas a case may be granted whore a man has plenty to say and a good way of putting it, although perhaps the reason for it is not nearly so substantial as in the other case. Now we come to Sub-section (6), and here you have removed another safeguard. The Sub-section reads:Sub-section (2) of Section sixty-nine of the Local Government Act, 1888 (which provides that where the total debt of a county council exceeds a certain limit a loan shall not be raised except in pursuance of a provisional order made by the Minister and confirmed by Parliament), shall have effect as if the words 'except with the approval of the Minister' were therein substituted for the words 'except in pursuance of a provisional order made by the Local Government Board and confirmed by Parliament.'We find that the confirmation by Parliament is taken out, and again you are in the hands of the officials, and I protest against being left to the tender mercies of an official when it may depend very much on what sort of lunch he has had whether he grants the thing or not.
I want to deal with another portion of the Act, I beg pardon, I mean Bill; I hope it never will be an Act. Clause 25 provides that the Minister—again the Minister, which must mean an official—has the power of saying whether boundaries of wards or numbers of councillors shall be altered or not. I have been through some of these inquiries, and I have had experience of them, and if the Minister is to be the sole authority, then I say that it will not be any use holding the inquiries, unless you can get the man who hears the evidence, the same as a Judge, having the final decision. I think here the Minister would be very much better in the hands of his independent official, who, having seen the parties, is able to judge the rights of the case. I fought a division of a borough for a very long time, and I am very much scared that this may mean again the bringing up of the division of that borough if this power is left in the hands of the Minister. In regard to the Schedule dealing with the compulsory hiring of houses, there are certain houses that have been unfairly held up, but because there have been a few—and they are only a few—cases of greedy people, it does not follow that you ought to penalise all the people who deal in property, and who have been, and will be, 1066 the backbone of this country. Give a man a house, and he is a very much better citizen than he would be if he had not got one. Therefore I feel that these provisions are unjust and unfair, and that they ought not to go through. If the Minister insists upon forcing this Bill through, I must say that he will lose all the support of the people who deal in these matters and who have helped him with regard to obtaining such houses as he has obtained. I have it from the principal associations connected with building, with housing, and with the management of property that this is the last straw, and I would again impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that if he wants houses, and intends to continue his subsidy scheme, he must exclude them entirely from the purview of this Bill. I have been longer than I intended, but I was very anxious to put my views before the House, because I claim to know something about building and about local government, and I feel that this Bill is conceived in the very worst possible way either to help housing or to maintain the integrity and the great ideals of the local authorities in this matter.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
I propose, with the permission of the House, to make a dull speech twenty minutes in length. Inasmuch as it is to be limited in time, I am afraid I must go somewhat categorically through the different points which the London County Council have considered in very great detail on this Bill. Not that one wishes to go through all the points that will be raised in Committee, but, in a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, to deal with the principle only means dealing with something like twenty principles in twenty Clauses. The first part refers to housing, and on that alone one has to realise that this Bill is claimed to be essentially a practical Bill. It may be a bad practical Bill or a good practical Bill, but the point is that it is a practical Bill in order to enable us to get on with the work, and I fear that a great many of the criticisms that have been raised against the Bill have, been, oblivious of the fact that we are trying to get on with the work. It is for that reason that the Bill has been introduced. The first Clause, which has been assailed, deals with the question of the taking of houses and using them after they have been empty for three months. It does not seem to deal with houses that require 1067 adaptation, but only gives power to take houses that can be occupied straight away. I take it that what is required is that we should be able to use and adapt the houses and recover payment in the ordinary course, returning them, of course, when no longer required for the purpose. That is a power that is being asked for by many of the Councils, and in some parts, with great restrictions, must be allowed. It is not where people are building houses and waiting to get a proper price for them in the reasonable course of events, but there are cases where people are calling aloud for houses and where other people are holding up houses in order to get a big price for them. That cannot be allowed, and no one in this House could admit that. Therefore we must be able to get over that obstruction.
As regards Clause 3 and the question of building control, I think most of the big authorities, and certainly the London County Council, have been doing their utmost to facilitate the proper supply of operatives for building houses, under housing schemes or under private enterprise, by diminishing luxury building, and one of the chief difficulties has been that, although we have appointed a separate Committee for the purpose, who sit for several hours every week restricting buildings to what seem absolutely necessary for the needs of business as opposed to pleasure, unfortunately the area of the London County Council is very limited, and the same kind of restrictions is not imposed by the ring authorities. Therefore, we are at the present moment cutting off our nose to spite our face. We are stopping building in London, and at the same time building operatives can get high wages for building cinemas in some of the areas just outside London. That is proposed to be met by this Clause 3, and I think it is an extremely necessary measure. I would say one point as regards the tribunal for stopping luxury building, and that is that I hope there will be a better representation of the operatives themselves on this tribunal, because a great deal depends upon the operatives' point of view. Luxury building is not simply a question of stopping down so much building in order to throw it into house building, but there is a great deal of 1068 employment in so-called luxury building for certain operatives that are not used at all in building houses. This class of men are thrown out of work entirely if you stop what is called luxury building. Work like marble cutting, and certain kinds of furnishing and decoration, must go on, even if it only be a question of employing these men Of course, at the same time a great deal of the work that is allowed to be done does give other employment, and enables business to expand and recover, but, inasmuch as it does affect operatives, I do think it would be of great advantage if you could have a certain number of direct representatives of operatives on these tribunals which limit building.
Clause 4, so much abused by the last speaker, I am bound to say was put in deliberately, at the instance of the London County Council, in order to help the London County Council, and much of the criticism that has been raised against this Clause is really due to the fact that we are dealing with an absolutely unique scheme. I do not think people realise, naturally, what it means to develop a town of 120,000 inhabitants in something between five and ten years, which is what the London County Council are trying to do to relieve East End congestion. This undertaking at Dagenham—now to be called Beacontree—not only cuts across private ownership, but the provisions of statutory companies for water, gas, and so on, and if we are to be content with the ordinary provisions for developing a street or two or a house or two we shall never be able to get ahead with this scheme. Take, for instance, a single subject in which we have been dealing this morning, namely, the question of water supply. All Members in this House, I believe, are unanimous in saying that we must go ahead with the development of roads, so far as we can, for the sake of employment. It is the obvious thing to do, and the obvious thing is to go ahead with the roads for our great scheme at Dagenham, tenders for which have already been passed. Why not give the unemployed this job? Even the most reactionary amongst us will say, "We have committed ourselves to this silly scheme, and why not give the unemployed work?" You do not want to lay down your roads unless you are able to put down your sewers and water mains at the same time. You do not want to 1069 put down your roads and pull them up again for water, and then lay them down and pull them up again for sewage. You want to settle these questions. The water supply happens to be half in the area of the Metropolitan Water Board and half in the area of the South Essex Water Company. Roughly, that is the situation, and you cannot clear the matter up between these authorities except by Parliamentary procedure.
The South Essex Water Company, I believe, are going to bring in a Bill asking for powers to enable them to supply the whole of this gigantic town which is being built. Supposing that Bill does not pass through this House. Are we to wait for that, or start afresh and say, "We will go to the Metropolitan Water Board." It seems obvious we have to deal with the Metropolitan Water Board, too, but, if so, we do not want to run across the South Essex Water Company, and take on extra work of this sort. The Minister of Health received a deputation this morning, which I hope, will clear away the difficulty in this direction, but, even so, I do not think it will clear it in 12 months. It is a question of private statutory supply. If we could have got all we wished we should have asked for powers to be able to contract with statutory companies, subject to the assent of the Ministry of Health, in order to get over these difficulties. But that would raise such a tremendous question as to the obligations and responsibilities of private statutory companies, that it does not seem possible to suggest it in this Bill, and I am not proposing to ask for it, although at one time the County Council thought it necessary to do so. I hope we shall be able, with the goodwill of those concerned, and the help of the Parliamentary Committee upstairs, to arrive at a decision on that particular point, but when it comes to a question of dealing with sewage, there you are dealing with a question definitely of local authorities. Here we are dealing with three local authorities, Ilford, Barking and Romford, and we ask for leave to get those three bodies working together, and for us to get our sewage scheme started. How are you going to engage in an expenditure of something like £500,000 for sewerage, with no ratepayers to pay? Ilford does not want to pay out of its rate for the sewerage of this town to be occupied by people not coming from Ilford. The same with Barking. Romford Rural 1070 District cannot do anything of the sort. It has a comparatively small rateable value, and cannot raise a large sum of money if it has to pay the whole loan debt charges out of its own rates.
Therefore, this power is taken which enables the County Council to carry on a scheme outside its area, to execute the works necessary, and to borrow money for the purpose of defraying the expense. The hon. Member who has just sat down raised the very apposite point as to the appropriateness of being allowed to borrow in respect to the interest payable under this Section, and it obviously must be very closely limited. But I will ask him in the same way to realise our problem. We have to spend, say £500,000 on sewerage for this town, and it will take from four to five years before we have got anything like the proper number of ratepayers who will be benefitting from this scheme. It is not only the sewers, but the sewage disposal works. How are we to pay debt charges on that scheme until we have got the ratepayers who can rightly be called upon to pay? Obviously we must have some power to enable us to pay all the debt charges, including interest on the loan, and if the critics of this proposal will give us some alternative way of doing it, by all means let them. But I agree with them that this must be most closely safeguarded, and any provisions that are necessary, and are found possible to insert in Committee, will be welcomed by us, so long as those provisions will not stop us from getting on with the project.
There is another proposed new Clause, but I do not know whether I shall be allowed to move it in Committee. It does, however, more or less, hang on to a miscellaneous provisions Bill dealing with houses, and it is so urgent that I wish to mention it at the present time. On behalf of the London County Council we are at the present time dealing with insanitary areas in such a way that we are prepared to be able to do away with a large amount of insanitary property in as economical a manner as possible, but, at the same time, as satisfactory a way as possible, as soon as the supply of houses has overtaken the demand. In order to do that, we want to get through the innumerable, very difficult and lengthy stages. Amongst other areas we are dealing with the last bit of dear old Petticoat Lane area. Petticoat Lane was enlarged 1071 and dignified by the name of Middlesex Street some time ago, and when 'buses were run there, the street market had to make its way to Wentworth Street, the area north of which is now being dealt with by the London County Council. We have reached the stage of making a scheme, and the Ministry of Health holding an inquiry into it. I have been at that inquiry two or three times. It has already taken four days; it will take something like ten days to complete, because the amount of opposition is tremendous. It is opposition from the owners of in sanitary property, and largely in respect of Section 9 of the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1919, which enables a scheme to be prepared dealing with in sanitary property, and that in sanitary property is only to be compensated at site value. What we find in this inquiry is that that is pressing very hardly in the first year after that Act was passed. After a time it will be discounted, and we shall get the effect which the House decided, and wished to have in passing that Section, namely, that the people will realise in advance when an area is becoming in sanitary, and likely to be dealt with as an in sanitary area, and then there will not be hardship when you decide to remove it. But, at present, there is very great hardship in certain cases where owners of in sanitary property have themselves made it as sanitary as it can be made in its surroundings, and yet, because they share in the general responsibility for the property not being perfectly sanitary up to the model standard, they are only given site value. Therefore, I hope we shall be able to suggest a Clause, which may possibly be allowed to come in a miscellaneous provisions Bill, in order to deal at once with a real case, of hardship, before any precedent occurs under this Section of the Act passed last year.
There are two other points which the London County Council, with their very big experience, asked me to submit to the House. Part of Clause 10, which deals with mental deficiency, is very difficult to support, and yet if you really go into the actual cases which it is meant to meet, you feel that it is impossible to resist it. The point of view of the County Council is very clearly that it is a contribution, and only a small contribution, to a solution of the problem of dealing with the cases of mental 1072 deficiency and disorder in their early stage. They would oppose it if it were in any way prejudicial to the system which they are gradually adopting in their mental hospitals of admitting voluntary boarders without certification. That is a very useful measure, which has been adopted and generally used, and it appears to them, from the actual framing of the Clause, as if there were some underlying, hidden, secret design of my right hon. Friend to do away with that power of the mental hospitals to meet the same kind of cases it is proposed to meet under this new Clause 10. That should be safeguarded and, at the same time, it must be most sparingly used. Private homes, whether for nursing, massage, the maintenance of children or, in this case, for mental diseases, are liable to the grossest possible abuse, and must be most carefully safeguarded. Perhaps one of the best ways of safeguarding against this danger would be that the right hon. Gentleman, in appointing his officers to inspect these homes, should appoint them from the county medical officers or the county medical staff who are themselves concerned with all the local conditions, and could report to him quite clearly and accurately, and see that there was no abuse of these homes. The main objection to the whole question from the professional standpoint is that you are dividing what is essentially one. The problem of mental disorder ought to be treated as a whole. Possibly it may be necessary in view of the unenlightened feeling on the subject by the general public to divide it, and to give such safeguards as the right hon. Gentleman has given, and we hope that he will not by any means associate this new system with the lunacy system. But I think that should be as much tempered as possible by the simultaneous desire, indeed necessity, to keep the whole problem of m[...]ntal disorder and lunacy in one hand and treat it as a whole, at any rate, in the Ministry of Health.
The Finance Committee of the County Council at the same time ask in this, as in Clause 11, despite the objection there may be to Clause 11, that whatever happens the right hon. Gentleman shall arrange that if there are contributions to be made from the rates that at the same time there will be an equivalent grant from the Treasury. I hope that will be done as it 1073 is already done in so many other cases. That will do away a very great deal with this particular difficulty. I must just mention also Clause 22 which has not had sufficient attention to-day. The question of Poor Law contributions is only a small point, but the continuation of the War Emergency Act of 1916 is essentially bad. It may be necessary still, but it undoubtedly presses upon the poorer areas—there is increased expenditure in those particular areas by virtue of it—and it operates against equalisation of the rates. The London County Council would like this matter to be cleared up, if possible, in order that it may not be stereotyping a condition we all recognise to be bad and which ought only to be temporary and provisional.
The last Clause I want to make any remark upon is Clause 17, and the first point refers to the Sub-section that deals with the subscriptions by the local authority, the second one deals with the question of expenses of meetings and conferences, and the third with that of the expenses incurred by Members. As regards the latter, I do feel that we must remember, much as we would recognise and hate the abuse of such a privilege, at the same time it is quite impossible to expect that we shall have the help—a very great help it is—and the assistance of members of the working classes on these local authorities unless we are going to compensate them for the actual loss they incur by doing their duty as members of any particular authority. This is not a new principle, nor does it appertain to any Party in this House. I think it was certainly from the Unionist side that the original proposal was made for payment of Members—[An HON MEMBER: "No!"]—to which so many since have taken objection. Objection was raised rather intensely, but the proposal is necessary in order that we might get the assistance of members of the working classes without it being an undue tax upon their own or the purse of other people who support them—and this in the interests of local government. If you are going to compensate members for their out-of-pocket expenses, still more necessary is it that you should compensate officers who have to carry out these Statutes. It is generally done, but there are certain cases where an Act which this House has considered it wise to pass, if it is to be properly administered, has 1074 thrown upon the officers of the local authorities a definite burden of £5, £10 or £20 a year out of their own pockets in the way of travelling expenses, stationery, clerical work, and so on.
I would even go so far as to suggest that whenever we ask a question in this House—at all events, very often—that particular question involves inquiries which mean, say, expenses of £10 to £20 for travelling, for those who collect the information. If these officials have their salary paid, so to speak, inclusive of travelling expenses, it is all the more hard, and it tells against the proper administration of the will of this House, of the law that has been passed by this House. It is all very well if that inclusive salary has been arranged at the time the Acts have been passed, but to take £10, £20 or £30 out of the pocket of a man who occupies an office under a local authority for perhaps a very niggardly salary becames a hardship whenever a progressive Act of Parliament is passed. It follows that it becomes the natural tendency for those concerned to feel that it is not necessary or possible to go about the matter in the way required, and, there fore, the Act does not get administered as well as it should do. Therefore I ask that these long-established requirements, recognised by a long succession of Ministers or Ministries of Health, or Local Government Boards, shall be passed as they have been passed for county councils and county borough councils, for medical officers of health to enable them in the matter of expenses and also of security of tenure of office to carry out the particular terms of this House.
I would end with one last plea against the economists. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, I say that I am myself an economist pledged up to the hilt to economy, and, consequently, being cross-questioned on the subject in my constitutuency, as, I suppose, other Members are. There are few people who would be more sincere than myself in supporting proposals for economy where they really matter. I am the last to admit the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last—that any officer or any Minister should be in any way oblivious of finance when proposing measures of social reform. It was suggested, when I was a county medical officer of health, in connection with one of my reports, that it 1075 was not my business to consider finance. It was a prominent financier and Member of this House who definitely said, in the council, that my business was to say what was required to be done and not to consider finance. I rose in my place in that council and said, "In that case, Sir, I propose the whole county of Hertfordshire should be sewered at once." It is absurd to say that one must not consider finance. No one of any standing in the public health world ever puts forward a social scheme without recognising the financial side. What we say in this Bill is that the financial burdens are infinitesimal as compared with those that are passed every day in this House in connection with other Departments. It is an objection that many of us always had to the formation of the Ministry of Health, that as soon as the formation of the Ministry took place it would be the Cinderella of the other Departments, with no real friends in the House, and that when it took up the question of health you would get Noble Lords and hon. Members from every portion of the House attacking it from the point of view of economy—because it had no friends! There is very little point as to the question of economy in this Bill as compared with the enormous estimates of other Departments. My right hon. Friend the Minister said that out of the increase in the rates only 4d., I think it was, has been due to matters put forward by his Department in this House. That is an insignificant amount.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Do I understand the argument of the hon. Gentleman is that this Bill will not add greatly to the rates? Is that it?
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
No, Sir, it will not add greatly to the taxes. It need not add to the rates at all, because the matter of the rates is in the hands of the local ratepayers. That is what I object to, this constant difficulty as regards the ratepayers and the question of economy. Surely the ratepayer is not a child! Surely he can take care of himself in this matter! I admit that he is often pressed unduly by Government Departments to spend the money. [HON MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] We all recognise it; but a great deal depends upon administration in which I have no doubt we should have the help of various hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on these benches. The main point, however, is 1076 that the ratepayers can perfectly well stop their Council from spending unduly if they like. It is because the ratepayer does not stop them that the rates go up. You get only 25 up to perhaps 40 per cent. of the ratepayers at a poll, and the majority of the Council, consequently, consist of extreme people who consider spending without due regard to economy. That is the reason the rates go up. But it is the ratepayers! They do not take enough trouble to organise local politics, or to look into local politics; never even probably record their votes; or often do not, and then they raise all the objection because the rates go up, and talk about it whenever they meet in their clubs, or in the train. Their blood be upon their own heads. I cannot help feeling that if some of the rates do go up it will be a very helpful thing from one point of view, because it will put upon these people the necessity of taking their proper share in the government of their locality. The real claim for economy, or cry out about economy, does not lie against this Bill. The real question of economy must be raised in relation to other Bills. Here we are fighting a warfare quite as deadly as was fought in the late disastrous War, and at an expense very, very small indeed compared with the cost of that War. We must fight it with the same heart and give equal help to the Ministry in trying to get through a Bill which is practically the Army Orders to enable us to get on with our work.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McLEAN
No one need question the good contained in this Bill; but I do not agree with the last speaker when he said that we should not consider economy in the matter. Governments, like individuals, must practice economy. It is not advisable now to spend money on luxuries which is needed, and badly needed, for the country. Rates are going up. Taxes are going up. Everything is going up.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McLEAN
Yes, but many people in the country do not now know how to meet their obligations. If this Bill passes taxes will continue to go up. It is most unwise and unjust at the present time to incur more expenditure of this character.
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS
In common with other hon. Members of this House I have had a good deal of attention directed to 1077 this Bill from various constituents and organisations in my constituency. Everybody is agreed, I think, that it is a very healthy sign when one's constituents are taking an interest in matters of public expenditure. We all profess to be economists. I am afraid I am inclined to strike a middle course. The opponents of this Bill seem inclined to oppose anything and everything simply because it involves the expenditure of money. But due economy contemplates the expenditure of money that is necessary for the promotion of the national well-being. Undoubtedly there is a great deal of feeling in the country on this matter. It was exemplified at the recent municipal election. If the ratepayers decide to exercise full control over local expenditure it is competent for them to do so, and I am sure that none will regret their activities in this direction.
In respect to the first part of this Bill I confess to some little doubt as to its expediency or possible benefit. My right hon. Friend proposes here to hire compulsorily houses which may now be standing empty. The qualification is that they must be suitable for working-class occupation, and he told us that everybody knew what was intended by that statement. I have made some investigation myself, and I find that such houses as are empty would, in all probability, cost very large sums of money to make them suitable for working-class accommodation, and I am afraid that all these expedients have the effect of diverting attention from the real problem, that is, the necessity of expediting the erection of new houses. I am not saying anything derogatory to the efforts of my right hon. Friend, because for some time I was associated with him, and I know his activity in these matters. Nevertheless, I always consider it extremely unwise to take up an expedient unless it is likely to produce tangible results, because of the danger of diverting attention and activity from the real policy of building new houses.
Moreover, there is a possibility of some injustice being wrought in this matter. My right hon. Friend will no doubt take possession of these houses for a limited period. As a matter of course, this will involve the spending of a good deal of money to adapt them to the purposes of this Bill. When those houses come to be restored to the original owners, will 1078 the owner be charged with the expenditure which has been incurred upon them? Will he be required to pay over money for something which will be unproductive to him? The probability is that the owner will not continue to let those houses as working-class houses, presuming, of course, the necessity for retaining them will have been removed by the erection of new houses.
In that case those houses will be thrown upon the hands of the owners who may have spent upon them sums of money in a way unsuitable for their purpose. I think this may involve considerable injustice, because in many cases these houses are situated in localities which are not suitable for the working classes. Often the working classes prefer to reside in the districts most convenient to their place of employment. Therefore I feel when this Bill gets into Committee this part will have to be subjected to very careful consideration. I am sure my right hon. Friend will meet with no captious criticism and no real opposition in his endeavour to provide houses for the working classes, but unless we are assured that his proposals will affect that purpose, I believe we shall be best serving the public interest by offering our suggestions in regard to this matter.
I view with some little doubt the proposal to confer on local authorities the power to build houses for their own employés, and this is the principle which I have previously opposed in the course of my public career, as I am opposed to the segregation of classes. Sometimes it has been proposed that railway companies and other bodies should be assisted in order to erect houses for their own workpeople, but I do not want people to be segregated according to their trade or occupation. I do not want a "teachers' villa" or a "seavengers' avenue." They are all citizens, and it seems that what we have to do is to concentrate on the general supply of houses, and leave the citizen perfectly free to select his own house and locality.
I am not going to say that I shall oppose this proposal, but I submit that it ought not to be accepted as being so attractive as one might infer from some of the speeches. After all it might very well happen that thereby we might be drifting once again into the old system of tied houses which has been found so 1079 objectionable in agricultural areas. If a local authority is to be encouraged to undertake this responsibility I presume it will not be impossible to lay down as a condition that the houses they have erected for their employes shall be occupied by their employés, and then if they cease to be in the employment of that authority they should lose their house, although it may be difficult for them to get another. I feel that the proposal ought to be very carefully scrutinised. I am opposed to the principle, and have been throughout the whole of my public career, and I think I shall continue to be opposed to it. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden) made a very practical as well as an instructive speech. He speaks with a great deal of knowledge and authority and he delivered a most interesting and informing speech. Nevertheless my right hon. Friend and the Member for North St. Pancras were quite entitled to point out that the great obstacle to housing was the lack of skilled labour in the building trade. It seems lamentable to me that up to the present it has been impossible to devise methods to remove the objections of those who have control of that industry. If I have any influence, and I believe to be expressing the sentiment of my late colleagues in the Labour party, we say that this question should be viewed from the point of view of national well-being and not merely strict trade regulations. During the War we had to mobilise armies for the purpose of protecting our country, but the provision of houses at the present time is as much the protection of the life and integrity of our country as the creation of armies during the War. If we could furnish every family with a good house at a reasonable rent, I think we should have deprived certain extremists of a power which they attract to themselves because of the legitimate grievance entertained in this respect by a large section of the community.
I wish to refer to one or two other points. I agree that the Bill is very complex, as are all composite Bills. There is enough matter in the Measure to form five or six Bills, and I presume that it is only the exigencies of the Parliamentary occasion which have induced my right hon. Friend to deal with such a large number of subjects together. I have been ques- 1080 tioned so often on points in the Bill that I had to resort to a legal work in order to understand it. Nevertheless, there are one or two points which have caused me some apprehension. In Clause 19 it is proposed thatSo much of paragraph (2) of Section one hundred and seventy-four of the Public Health Act, 1875, as requires a pecuniary penalty, shall cease to have effect, and no contract made by an urban authority shall be deemed to be void by reason only that the authority has not in relation thereto complied with the provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of that Section.The book to which I have alluded purports to give legal expression to the proposals of this Bill, and it sets forth the fact that Section 174 of the Public Health Act of 1875 prescribes Regulations which shall be observed with respect to contracts made by an urban authority, and Section 2 requires that every contract shall specify the work, materials, etc., included in the contract, and then paragraphs (3) and (4) requirethat the surveyor to the urban authority shall prepare an estimate of the cost of the work thus to be undertaken, and moreover that before any contract of the value or amount of £100 is entered into by an urban authority ten days' public notice of this shall be given expressing the nature and purpose thereto and inviting a tender.To abrogate those provisions seems to me to be very dangerous. If my right hon. Friend was endeavouring simply to meet abnormal circumstances, and if this were simply a temporary provision, then a good deal might be said for it. As I understand it, however, this is a permanent change of the law, and I repeat it may be dangerous and might lead to corruption in local life. It appears to me that these provisions under the Public Health Act of 1875 have been valuable safeguards to the ratepayers, and have conduced to the more effective administration of local affairs.
With respect to Clause 18, Sub-section (5), to which allusion has been made, I understand it is devised to meet the very hard circumstances of certain local authorities. I have been questioned as to whether this would now apply to such places as the eastern seaside resorts, which were very badly hit out of all proportion to other parts of the country during the War. They were placed in such a position by the actual circumstances that it has been found impossible for them to 1081 keep up their sinking funds. After all, in this matter the Minister must be the deciding factor. It is true that he must act largely on the advice of his officials, but we must have some representative in this House who can be called into question if necessary on these matters. If I can have an assurance on this point I shall be quite content.
With respect to the provision enabling payment to be made to those who serve on the local authorities, I should like to say a word or two. Why did we do this with respect to Members of Parliament? We did it because we found that there were men of humble circumstances who were proving their capacity to do public work as well as those who were fortunate enough to belong to the higher walks of society, and it was to enable them to bear the expenses incidental to their position that Parliament accepted this principle. When this House adopted that principle I felt that there was no logical halt between that and its application to local affairs. After all the work of a local authority is becoming very onerous. A member of the London County Council, for instance, must find his duties almost as exacting as that of a Member of Parliament. Nevertheless, I agree that there is some danger in the principle. I have had some experience in my ministerial capacities where we have made payments for travelling and subsistence purpose in respect of members of advisory bodies that we have established. There is a danger of some abuse in the matter. There are numbers of people who come to regard themselves as almost professional representatives of these bodies; but, still, the principle is a sound one, and, properly safeguarded, I think it is one that can be generally accepted.
What is the alternative? A man must be reimbursed from some quarter. If he is a recipient of aid from a private individual, then his independence is very often sapped. The private individual may have no such intentions, but, if the practice is widespread, I submit it does deteriorate the independence of those who receive aid of that kind. Similarly, if he is paid by trade unions, or trade councils, or bodies of that sort, his freedom is limited, and he is not likely to become so efficient a representative as might otherwise be the case. Therefore, in order to free his mind from 1082 trammel, and to allow him to undertake public work, I think the principle, with adequate safeguards, is a sound one. I am sure we may rely upon it that the Ministry of Health will do as other Departments have done, and lay down a suggested scale of allowances. My experience is that these scales are such as never to warrant one contemplating deriving any great fortune from them.
There is one point to which I desire to direct the attention of my right hon. Friend. I conclude that he may already have had it brought to his notice. The proposal that hospitals may be aided by the rates, or taken over by local authorities, has caused some alarm to those who are now employed in those hospitals. They are apprehensive that their tenure of service, or their pension rights, may thereby be prejudiced, and if my right hon. Friend is able to say that their present legitimate interests will be safeguarded in this matter, he will reassure those who are at present considerably agitated. With respect to the principle itself, I think those who have followed public affairs have felt the occasion was near. The heavy taxation and the many drains that all classes have had put upon them for years, have diminished their ability, however willing and desirous they are, to maintain hospitals in the way in which they ought to be kept up, and I see no harm whatever in these institutions being aided out of public funds. At the same time, here, as in the case of the original Insurance Apt, I do hope that we will succeed in preserving the voluntary principle as far as practicable. We were able to dovetail the voluntary friendly societies into a great scheme of National Insurance, and I hope that this proposal will not lead to hospitals becoming either purely State-aided or rate-aided, but that we shall succeed in keeping them up in a voluntary fashion, aided by such means from the municipalities or from the State as may prove to be necessary. I apologise Mr. Speaker for having occupied the House a little longer than I had contemplated.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
When the House last discussed the Second Reading of this Bill, we had the advantage of hearing a representative of the County Councils' Association. To-day we have heard a representative of the London County Council. I have now to claim the indul- 1083 gence of the House while I put forward the view which the Urban District Councils' Association has with regard to these matters. There are 800 of these bodies, and they are in the habit of expressing their views through their association. It is, I think, particularly desirable that a word should be said for them to-day, because on Thursday last a wrong impression was inadvertently given to the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwelty (Mr. Charles Edwards) referred to a memorandum which he had received from the Urban District Councils' Association, in which objection was taken to certain proposals in Clause 11, and he said that it was the wish of the Urban District Councils' Association that this Bill should be withdrawn pending further consideration. I can assure the House that that is an entire misstatement. My hon. Friend, like myself, is closely connected with the Urban District Councils' Association, and I do not know quite how he came to have misunderstood what was sent to him; I think it was fairly clear. At any rate, the important point is that it was an entire mistake to say they desire that this Bill should be withdrawn. On the contrary, they desire that the Bill shall be gone on with. There are, from their point of view, many very important provisions in it with regard to hospitals, with regard to insanity, with regard to water supply, and with regard to all the great questions that have been discussed here to-day.
I should like to make some observations on a few Clauses of the Bill. Clause 1 we welcome very heartily. There may be provisions necessary to safeguard it. I do not myself see in it any provision for taking large houses that would require a lot of money spent upon them to modify them. It does not seem to me that that is the object of the Clause, and therefore I do not think the dangers which have been indicated with regard to that arise. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden) dwelt on the danger of taking subsidy houses being kept empty until they could be sold, and the result that would have in preventing people from building subsidy houses. I think that may be put in another way, namely, that if the subsidy houses are to be built and then kept empty for an indefinite time, it is hardly worth while for the State to pay a subsidy to have them put up. We must in this matter arrive at a 1084 reasonable period. If three months is not a reasonable period, it ought to be increased a little; but the idea that subsidy houses could be excluded altogether seems to me unreasonable.
My hon. Friend said at the same time that he thought the same difficulty arose with regard to Public Utility Societies' houses. I have had a good deal of experience of Public Utility Societies, and I do not think the difficulty arises at all. They do not build houses to sell. They build houses to let, and for years past, whenever they have had a house ready, they have been able to let it, not only as soon as it was dry, but long before it was dry and before they would allow people to go in. Therefore I can see no reason whatever why public utility societies should keep their houses standing empty.
Clause 17 very specially affects the Urban District Councils' Association. These are mostly comparatively small bodies, and it is not possible for them individually to go to very great expense on legal and technical advice on all sorts of matters. It is essential to them that they should have an association, and that that association should, to a large extent, do for them things which perhaps the great county council of London might do for itself in the way of information, advice, and so forth. This association has, of course, to be supported. Its expenses are comparatively small, but still a small contribution from each of the urban district councils is necessary. It is necessary, when Bills are introduced into this House affecting all the 800 urban district councils of the country, that some central authority should be considering them from their point of view and advising them, from their point of view, on the hundred and one matters that arise during the year; it is also highly desirable that occasionally representatives of the urban district councils should meet together and consider the legislation of the past 12 months and the needs of the immediate future. These meetings involve some little expense, but that expense is trivial compared to the amount of money which can be saved to the councils by the better knowledge which is acquired by their members and by the more efficient administration of their affairs in consequence.
My hon. Friend the Member for North St. Pancras spoke of these meetings as 1085 "joy-rides." Of course, there are some people who do everything with a joyful face, and I do not know whether we need grudge them that; but I guarantee that these gatherings are, on the whole, for almost every man who attends them, of extreme value, and are very enlightening, and that the money spent upon them is repaid over and over again by the more efficient administration of the districts which are represented by those delegates. Therefore I welcome the provision in Clause IV allowing quite a small contribution to be made from each urban district council to the central association, and quite small sums to be paid where necessary to members of the councils or to members of the staff of the councils, attending the meetings of the Association. Of course, everything is open to abuse, but my hon. Friend's own anecdote about his raising the question of why his expenses were only 15s and another member's expenses were 45s., shows the remedy, namely, that members of the councils and members of the public must speak up and must keep their eyes upon these things. If the light of publicity is thrown upon them the result will be what he described, namely, that proper moderate scales of expenditure will be fixed, and the possibility of abuse will be done away with. In these matters the urban district councils already have certain powers under an old Order of the Local Government Board. The object of this Clause is to extend and regularise those powers, but I am not quite sure that it is altogether successful. I am not going into matters of detail; I will keep them for the Committee stage, but I think it is only right to say that there are certain restrictions in this Clause which are almost more severe than the restrictions under which the councils have already worked. That, however, is a matter for the Committee stage.
I should like to refer to Clause 11 from the same point of view. As introduced, it was proposed to give the county councils very large powers indeed. It was something like a little revolution with regard to the relation of local authorities to hospitals. It might have resulted in a certain district, which had done its duty in the matter of providing hospital accommodation for its own sick, being rated by the whole county to provide hospital accommodation in other parts of the county. I think my right hon. Friend 1086 has to a very large extent met objections of that sort by the modifications in the Clause which he announced in his opening speech, especially by the withdrawal of Sub-section 1.
There remains the question of the taking over by the county councils of the Poor Law infirmaries in certain cases. That is a very great change, and one to be regretted in many ways. At the same time, it seems to be necessary in the present state of affairs arising out of the conditions of the War. It is a matter for consideration in Committee. Anyhow, I think it is quite clear that it is necessary to give local authorities power to contribute to the voluntary hospitals, and power to contribute to the ambulances in their districts. I want to ask why the powers which are to be given under this Clause are to be confined to county councils, and why they are not to be extended in proper cases to other local authorities? Many local authorities already, under the Public Health Act, 1875, have established hospitals, and, under that Act, there are powers for local authorities to come together and form a joint authority. Two hundred joint hospital authorities are already in existence in the country under that provision, and many of those authorities have an area coterminous with the Poor Law area of their district. I ask why in these cases the county council only is to have power to take over Poor Law infirmaries? I suggest for the consideration of the Minister and of the House that in many cases it would be more appropriate and useful for some one local authority, or for a group of local authorities, other than the county council, to have this power conferred upon them. I hope that will be considered when the Bill is in Committee.
It is said that the provisions of this Bill may be useful, but that the expenses involved are going to be terrible and the country cannot afford them. I would ask which clauses of the Bill are going to give rise to this terrible expenditure. You cannot judge a Bill of this sort as a whole; you must deal with it clause by clause. I have not been able to find the clauses which are going to give rise to this suggested big outlay. Clause 2 extends the subsidy for houses built to the end of next year, but that subsidy is to come out of money already appropriated for the purpose. There is consequently no increase there. Clause 6 enables a 1087 local authority to provide in proper cases houses for their own employees. Houses must be found for these people in any case, and the cost of providing them under this arrangement would be no greater than if they are provided by the local authorities and the Government combined under the Housing Scheme now before the country. There may be some expenses involved under Clause 11, but I do not think they will be very large. We have had an account given of the lack of hospital accommodation in the country and of the disastrous results to the people in consequence. We have had an account so serious that I do not think we can hesitate to spend a modest sum of money upon that work, and I do not believe it is likely to be more than a moderate amount.
I would call particular attention to the Clause which gives power to the local authority to recover hospital expenses in the case of any patient who is not a pauper. One of my hon. Friends, in objecting to that, quoted cases in which certain diseases were treated very largely at the public expense. But I think every one of those diseases which he mentioned, tuberculosis and the rest, were diseases which affected not only the person suffering but were liable to become a great public danger. I do not think we ought to extend the principle of treating people, even in sickness, at the public expense where it is not absolutely necessary to protect the public, and when the people themselves can afford to contribute towards the expense. The same hon. Member quoted the case of workmen in the North of England who contributed a number of pence weekly to the hospital, and whose contributions, in fact, were stopped out of their wages. I know that system of old. I knew it 35 years ago or more in the North of England. In the neighbourhood with which I was associated practically every workman in every big works contributed a penny per week or more to the local hospital, the amount being stopped from his wages before they were handed over. My hon. Friend suggested that there was something in that contrary to the Truck Act. I believe he is mistaken. There is a special provision in that Act covering that point. The money thus collected was handed over to the hospitals. At that time 1088 I was a member of the board of governors of an hospital. We found that on the tickets it was stated that "so and so is a proper subject for this charity." We struck those words out; we said this is not a charity. These men have paid their penny per week, and they are entitled to treatment as a matter of right. Thenceforward we instituted two kinds of tickets, one for the men who paid their contribution weekly, and the other to be issued to charitable subscribers to the institution for distribution among people who did not so contribute. I hope we shall see that principle extended, and that people who can afford to pay will do so, so that we may thus avoid this eternal extension of charity either at the expense of the public or at the expense of the charitable individual.
I am not going further into this question. I have indicated a few of the points which are especially interesting from the point of view from which I have regarded this measure. We have had a suggestion made that this is hasty legislation, that it is going to be wasteful, and that it will give too much power to the local auhorities. I hope the House will not be too much influenced by that. The greatest danger before our country to-day is not hasty legislation, but delay in reform, and I hope we shall confer on our public bodies powers adequate for the great works of reform, which lie before them. The cure of any abuse there may be in local administration is not to limit the powers of the local authorities, but to make the public see that they must take interest in these matters. If the powers are abused—I do not think they will be—the public will find out that they must wake up and take an interest in these questions. That, I suggest, is the true solution of the problem. I believe this Bill contains many most valuable provisions; it certainly requires careful consideration in Committee, and I am prepared to give it a Second Reading.
§ Mr. LEONARD LYLE
I rise to support the action of the Noble Lord who moved the rejection of this Bill, and I do so on the ground that it is an ill-thought-out measure, an ill-conceived measure, and one the finance of which savours of the Soviet. Its nature is such as might be expected from a fourth form school-boy. It has been interesting to listen to the views expressed by hon. Members in various parts of the House on 1089 the question of finance. The hon. Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), speaking as a member of the London County Council, said the finance of the county council did not matter very much.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
I made no such suggestion; I only said it was a matter for the local ratepayers, who had it wholly in their hands.
§ Mr. LYLE
I accept that correction, but I think I am in the recollection of the House when I say that the hon. Gentleman's words were that it was a matter for the ratepayers of the district itself. In other words he said, and other speakers have said the same thing, that it is a question of the apathy of the ratepayers in the district, and that that is what we have to deal with to-day. In order to get over that apathy we are to let the rates go up to such a high extent that the people who hitherto have been apathetic will be forced to take an interest in public matters. That seems to be a very simple way out of the difficulty, but it is not businesslike. Some of us have often wondered at the financial policy of the London County Council, but if this is an indication of the principle underlying that policy there need be no cause for surprise. This Bill is called a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill. In that respect it is a good Bill, and in that respect only. It is a Miscellaneous Bill, it is a wonderful Bill; it deals with all manner of subjects. It travels through the mercurial atmosphere of clinical thermometers, and the void of empty houses, and, touching on a vast number of complex questions, it proposes to deal with the hospitals of the country. I wish to ask the Minister of Health, does he really think that the proper way to deal with such a vast question as that of hospital accommodation, and the financial position of hospitals, is by way of a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill in a Clause tucked away at the end of the Bill. I say that that question is part of one big health measure, that it should be properly considered in conjunction with the various interests concerned, and that it should be dealt with in a comprehensive Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman expects to get a satisfactory solution of this problem by means of a Clause at the end of a Mis- 1090 cellancous Provisions Bill, he will find himself very badly mistaken.
The question of housing has been dealt with very ably by hon. Members in various parts of the House. I do not wish to dwell upon it more than to say that in regard to the Clause which deals with the matter of empty houses it seems to me that the Minister of Health is toying with this as with other subjects. He never seems to be able to put his finger on the really big question. In the question of the revival of trade, the revival of building, and the provision of houses, what is wanted more than anything else to-day is confidence. We want to restore the confidence of the people who are going to supply all the various goods, whether they be manufactured articles or houses, and all these regulations and restrictions which we suffered under the Defence of the Realm Act ought at the earliest possible opportunity to be got rid of. In his dealing with empty houses the right hon. Gentleman is doing nothing move or less than perpetuating the evil. The game is not worth the candle. Thoughout the length and breadth of the land how many empty houses are there which are being held up by greedy land lords? The right hon. Gentleman is only touching the fringe of the problem. He is not dealing with the housing problem at all; his action will cause great dissatisfaction, and will do much more harm than good. I want to say one or two words about the hospital position, and I should like to say that I speak as chairman of a hospital, as a member of the British Hospitals Association, and as one who is connected with the King Edward's Hospital Fund of London. I mention those points to show that I am speaking on a subject of which I have some little knowledge, but I am speaking, not in any way as representing any of those associations, but only for myself. I feel that we want to get at the business of things. We want more hospital accommodation in this country, and at the same time we have the fact that, although there are a great many more beds in Poor Law infirmaries than in voluntary hospitals, still it is the voluntary hospitals that are today doing the bulk of the work. You have the position that, while there are these long waiting lists, and while you have more accommodation, some of these voluntary hospitals are on the point of closing their doors.
1091 The Minister of Health has been warned of this position again and again. On the 28th October, 1919, a question was put to him as to the position of the voluntary hospitals and as to what he was going to do; and we got the usual reply, that he was not yet in a position to make a statement. The same sort of thing happened again in June and July of this year. On the 28th June he was asked if he would appoint a Select Committee to go into the position. That was refused. On the 15th July he told an hon. Member that the situation was relieved by the emergency grant from the King Edward's Fund. This is the position to-day—the voluntary hospitals are almost closing their doors, more hospital beds are needed, and yet we have the Minister of Health coming forward and saying, "Behold, I am the man; I have done it. Here is a Bill which will solve all these difficulties." The Minister of Health said in his speech the other day that he had done a lot to try and help the position of the voluntary hospitals, and he said, "In order to prove what a lot I have done, I will show you how much I have persuaded others to give "—not what he is giving himself, but what he has asked other people to give. All that the Minister of Health has done to meet the situation in which we are to-day has been to approach the King Edward's Fund in June or July last and ask them to give an emergency grant. I must say that I think that that is the most colossal, the most shameless, the most brazen-faced piece of self-approbation that. I have ever heard, even from the Front Government Bench. What has the Minister of Health done? He has been going to the King Edward's Hospital Fund. Does he not know—of course, he does—as well as all hon. Members, that the King Edward's Hospital Fund have had this money ready for the purpose of such an emergency as this. He has not collected one penny piece for the hospitals; he has simply gone to people who had a sum of money especially for the benefit of hospitals, and asked them to give a grant out of that fund. The situation is met for the moment, but there is so much less money to meet the financial needs of the future.
There is an old proverb, "He that is full of himself is very empty," and I think that the Minister of Health has proved 1092 to be very empty as regards giving us any concrete help. The position to-day is that the Minister of Health has endeavoured to get a grant from the King Edward's Hospital Fund, which has been in existence the whole time. He said that he had great hopes of what the Red Cross might do in the future, and that he was also trying to influence a grant from the National Fund. Finally comes this Bill. The solution which it offers is that the county councils or borough councils are to be allowed to give grants, if they so desire, to hospitals, and the burden will fall upon the rates. In my opinion that is unsound, unworkable, and totally mischievous. Unless there is absolute equality in dealing with matters of health, you will have the fact that those areas which to-day are heavily rated, and which cannot afford to give grants, will be the very areas where hospitals are needed, and where hospitals will be in difficulties and will require grants, while, on the other hand, you will have rich districts, like Kensington or Bournemouth, whose hospitals may be in a perfectly flourishing condition, and who can well afford to pay an extra rate, but who will not need to do so. You will have the difficulty and the trouble of the education rate all over again. It is the heavily rated areas that are struggling under this burden of the education rate, and the Minister of Health now suggests that the way to meet the hospital difficulty is to perpetuate this iniquitous system and to put the responsibility and the onus of finding the necessary money upon these local councils.
I submit with great confidence that, if the voluntary system has come to the end of its tether, and if grants have to be made, the proper and fair way to make grants is to make them from the Exchequer, and to let them come in the form of a tax which is payable by the whole country, and not in the form of a rate which bears heavily on heavily rated districts. There is another inequality, namely, the fact that the big hospitals, which are centres properly equipped with every modern appliance, are used, not only by the people immediately around them, but by people who come from north, south, east, and west to these hospitals for advice and assistance. Are the people in the central district to tax themselves for the purpose of that hospital in order that all those people from the 1093 county all around may come in and take the benefit? It may be quite well argued that those people will have to pay, and that you will get subscriptions or donations from the outlying districts; but these things are very much easier said than done, and there is no question that the fair and equitable way of dealing with a matter like this would be by a general tax and not by a local rate.
In my opinion, the Minister of Health knows very well that this Bill will settle nothing. I am told—I do not know whether it is true or not—that he himself approached the Exchequer with a view to getting a grant of money, and that that was refused. If that is so, then all I have said about the Minister of Health should, strictly speaking, apply to the Government. Money is spent, as if it were of no moment at all, upon all sorts of wild-cat schemes by this present Government, but for this particular object of putting the hospitals upon their feet a comparatively small sum would have been required as an Exchequer grant to make up the deficit. There are various methods which could be suggested for making such a grant, and I think that in that way the matter could have been dealt with on a satisfactory basis. This Bill is, in my opinion, another example of milk-and-water compromise on the part of the Government, and, although I am a supporter of the Government, I believe that this sort of legislation will do them great harm. It disgusts their followers in the country and makes it extremely difficult for their supporters in this House.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Major COLFOX
I rise to make an appeal to the Government to withdraw this Bill, to split it up into the various parts of which it is composed, and then to allow the House to form a judgment on each of those individual parts, instead of trying to thrust the whole measure through in one lump. It is a measure which is a collection of entirely unrelated subjects. The Debate to which we have listened has spread over an enormous field, but that is unavoidable on account of the great number of subjects touched upon in the Bill. I will confine my remarks principally to that part of the Bill which deals with housing. Clause 1 gives to the Government, or to the local authority acting for them, the power to take any house which, in their opinion, is suitable for working- 1094 class occupation, if it is unoccupied, and to put working-class people in that house. It is perfectly arguable that to cause empty houses to be occupied will help to relieve the congestion which undoubtedly exists. Perhaps it will do so for a short time, but it is no use trying to deal with the symptoms of a disease without attacking the root cause of the evil. We all of us in this House want to do something to help to solve the admitted Housing shortage. We all of us want to help to got houses built, for the benefit, not only of the working classes, but of all classes. Let us, however, look at this particular Clause in the light of what its effect will be upon the problem which we are now considering, namely, the housing shortage. I maintain that it will have exactly the opposite effect to that which is expected from it by the Government, and possibly by some of those hon. Members who sit on the Labour Benches. If Clause 1 is put into operation it will check the solution of this problem, and it will check the building of houses. The reason we are short of houses is because houses have not been built, and they have not been built because those whose business it is to build them have lost confidence in the trade, and the reason of that is largely on account of the Government's action. But now if this Clause becomes law no man will embark either his capital or his labour on building houses when he knows that three months after those houses are built, if in the meantime they are not let, they will be liable to be taken by the local authorities, acting on behalf of the Minister, and let at a rent which very likely will not bear any relation to the cost of building, and in any case a rent over which the people who built those houses would have absolutely no control. So far from tending to solve the housing difficulty, the Clause will merely accentuate it and, therefore, I hold that it is a very dangerous thing to enact in this or any other Bill.
Clause 4 deals with the power of borrowing money "to defray any expense, including interest, payable in respect of money borrowed under this Section." The hon. Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) has told us the reason for this provision. It is introduced for the benefit of the London County Council housing scheme. Then why is it necessary to put it in a Bill which applies 1095 to the whole country? Why cannot the London County Council promote its own Bill to deal with its own situation? Why make legislation, which is admittedly only applicable to London, deal with the country in general? We frequently suffer in country districts from legislation which is designed for the good of urban districts, and this is another example of that tendency. An hon. Member said this Bill would not increase the expenditure of the country. It is quite possible that, as the Minister said, it will only entail the expenditure of a few thousands a year, and perhaps even not that. But it will entail a very large expenditure on the ratepayers throughout the country, and we must all admit that in the main, at any rate, the ratepayers and taxpayers of the country are the same people, and it matters very little to them whether they pay a certain sum of money and call it rates, or whether they pay the same sum of money and call it taxes. It all comes very largely from the same people's pockets. An hon. Member said ratepayers were perfectly well able to look after themselves, and that it was not necessary for this House to look after their interests, or that is what I understood him to mean. He would, I am sure, admit that local authorities are pledged to an expenditure over which very largely, though not entirely, they have no control. They have expensive schemes thrust upon them by Government authorities which they have to carry out, and therefore the ratepayers, although in a minor degree they have their own salvation in their hands at local elections, have not the power of protecting themselves against such legislation as this except through the House of Commons. I am a ratepayer myself, and I represent ratepayers. My constituents are ratepayers, and I consider it is part of my duty to represent their interests in this House, and therefore I most strongly oppose this Bill as it stands, and holding, as I do, that it will not tend to solve the housing problem, but will increase it, and also holding, as I do, that it will throw a large expenditure on the country as a whole, I shall be compelled to vote against the Second Reading.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The mover and seconder of the Amendment for the rejection of the Bill, and those who have followed them, base their 1096 objection on two main grounds. They have posed as new converts to great economy, which is something new in supporters of the Government, and they have also shown a considerable suspicion and distrust of local authorities and of the Ministry of Health itself. An hon. Member earlier in the Debate to-day urged that there should be a survey of the medical needs of the country before action was taken. He counselled delay. In the archives of the Ministry and in the Blue Books and White Papers presented to hon. Members there is ample evidence of the need for immediate health reform on the lines of this Bill and on much more extended lines We are all anxious for economy, but for real economy. There is an old saying about being penny wise and pound foolish, and we cannot afford to economise on certain vital matters. The question has been raised over and over again, "Can we afford this?" I put it to the House, can we afford to neglect to remedy the glaring evils which the various reports which have been presented to us from time to time disclose. We do not want further reports. We do not want further surveys. We want action taken on those reports. We have each year the return from the medical officers of health presented by the Ministry showing the mortality statistics for the country. If anyone looks at these returns of the death rate in our large towns and the infantile mortality, does he need further evidence as to the distinct need for action to be taken? In the town which I represent the average death rate for the last five years totals 20 per thousand and the infantile mortality is over 150 per thousand births—surely sufficient evidence that more hospital accommodation and more sanitary reform is necessary.
We have further the report presented a year or two ago by the medical officers who examined recruits in 1917 and 1918. That report disclosed an appalling state of health and life statistics. It showed that only three out of every nine adults who presented themselves under the 1917 Conscription Act were physically fit to shoulder arms. Could you have more convincing evidence of the degrading conditions which are apparent in our industrial and social life? Then you have more recently the medical officer's report of the inspection of school children issued from the Education Office. There we are 1097 told that last year out of every hundred children who presented themselves at school 49 were in such a condition that they could not take full advantage of the education offered. Surely it is wise economy, when we are spending millions of money of the ratepayers and taxpayers every year to provide education, that we should see that the children who are there to receive that education have a body sound and fit so that they can take full advantage of these millions that we are spending. The true economy is in providing for better health conditions, and this Bill, small as it is, will go some measure in that direction. We have had an outcry from what I may term without offence the self-constituted champions of the ratepayers. It has been my privilege to be a member of an urban council for the last 17 years. I have just been before the electorate, along with the rest of my colleagues in the council. I have not found the ratepayers complaining about curtailing their health services, or the conveniences which the municipality offers, but I have found complaints about the inequality of the burden which is placed upon large industrial towns by this House. The grievance the ratepayer has is not against his local council for squandering the ratepayers' money, but against the Legislature in placing on him burdens which he considers should be a national charge and should not be borne locally.
Reference has been made to the education rate, and in the Paper which has been submitted in connection with the Bill we have some rather interesting figures showing that where the need for education is greatest there you have the smallest rateable value, and where the need is greatest the burden is heaviest. In this Paper, side by side somewhat significantly, we have East Ham, with an estimated education rate for the current year of 4s. 3d. in the £1, and Eastbourne with an education rate for the same period estimated at 1s. 11d. Four shillings and threepence in a large industrial area where you have a huge conglomeration of cottage property with a low rateable value, unable to boar a heavy burden, and in a residential district with a high rateable value you have less than half the heavier rate of East Ham. It is the same with regard to other towns. This is not an isolated instance. In Middlesbrough in 1918–19 the education rate was 2s. 4d. and at Bourne- 1098 mouth the education rate was only 11d. in the £1. On the one hand you have an industrial community with a large working-class population, small cottage property and small rateable value, with consequently a heavy rate. In Bournemouth, a large residential area with wealthy people and a high rateable value, you have a comparatively small rate, less than half that of the industrial community. That applies throughout the length and breadth of the land and the same applies to the Poor Law. Where you have a big burden on the rates you have a small rateable value to bear it. The burden is heaviest whore the back is weakest, and the com plaint the ratepayer has against this House is not that the medical services are more than they need, but rather that charges are put upon the locality which should be national charges. The education of our children is a national question, the relief of our poor is a national question, and, whilst welcoming this improved service, we look to the Minister, in the very near future, to relieve the ratepayers of this unequal charge by bringing in a comprehensive measure for levying and putting on a more equitable basis the incidence of local rating. With that proviso the local authorities welcome this Bill, because they believe that it will enable them to improve their health conditions.
Ratepayers are able to look after themselves, and they do take an interest in local affairs, despite what has been said by hon. Members. Reference has been made to the apathy shown by the ratepayers, and it has been said that this House ought to come in and protect them. This House, forsooth! This House, which has squandered millions of money in Russia and Mesopotamia. This House, which has not shown one sign of economy in any of its Government Departments. This House, forsooth, is to come in and say to the ratepayers, "You are incompetent. You are unable to look after your own affairs, and we are going to teach you how to be economical and how to safeguard your finances." I have a statement which was prepared by the town clerk of my borough giving statistics of the last municipal elections, when the majority of the wards were contested. Of the electors on the roll 71 per cent. went to the poll. I wonder how many Members of this House can say that 1099 they represent constituencies which polled 71 per cent. of the electors on the register of their Parliamentary Division. Where there is extravagance, as there may be in certain cases, the true remedy is to see that greater interest is taken in these matters.
A great deal of the criticism that has been levelled against this measure is based on a total disregard of the actualities of the ease. Hon. Members seem to have been almost living in a world to themselves, unacquainted with the facts. Take Clause 1. The Noble Lord (Earl Winterton), who moved the rejection of the Bill, was most scornful as to the need of Clause 1. He declared that there was no house that would be added to the public service under this Clause, and the Noble Lord, the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) was of the same opinion. I can only speak from my own experience. A few months ago a canvass was made of the working-class houses in the borough which I represent, which is a town of 120,000 population, and there were from 20 to 25 empty, unoccupied houses suitable for the working classes. A return from a neighbouring town which came to me this morning and which deals with a small seaside resort, shows that the proportion there is about the same. If these returns are a fair index of what is prevailing in the rest of the country, you have not merely a handful of houses, but an aggregate of many thousands of houses which are empty, and which under Clause 1 will be brought into immediate occupation. That is without taking into consideration the larger houses which some of us would like to see commandeered and adapted for the needs of working-class people at this critical juncture.
Hon. Members have said that not one single fact has been adduced to show the need for this measure. You can go to any industrial constituency and find there families, two, three, and sometimes four families, crowded into one house. I had a return got out from my division a little time ago, and seeing that hon. Members have said that no evidence has been produced as to the need for this Bill, I beg the indulgence of the House while I give two cases, of my own personal knowledge, which are only typical of thousands of cases throughout the country. In one case, a man, his wife, and six children are turned out of the 1100 house they occupy because it has been sold and they have to make way for someone else. The man, his wife, and six children as a result have to occupy one room 10 ft. by 12 ft., which serves as their living room, their kitchen, and as a place where all the amenities of life have to be carried on. The woman was tubercular, and I had a letter this morning to say that she had died. Can you wonder? Eight people crowded together into that small space, unable to get a house anywhere. The consequence is that the tubercular affection is spread right through the family and contaminates the whole area. Is it wise, is it economical to spend thousands of pounds in stamping out tubercle and then to allow this state of things to go on? Here is another case. A soldier from overseas comes back to find that his house has been sold over his head, and the order of the Court is that he has to make provision for the landlord. The house consists of a parlour and three bedrooms. The landlord, his wife, and a child are allotted one bedroom and the parlour, while the soldier, his wife, two sons, aged 18 and 9, and a girl aged 16, have to live and do all that is necessary in two small rooms. There they have to live, sleep, eat, wash, and carry on their whole domestic existence. These are cases typical of thousands of cases that are taking place in every large industrial area, and yet hon. Members and Noble Lords rise in their places and declare indignantly that there is no need and no justification for this measure. The justification is in facts like those I have quoted.
During the War the manhood of the nation was commandeered because of the nation's need. The men went out acclaimed as heroes, with bands playing, and with promises that their homes would be cared for, and that when they came back they would be treated as heroes. Now they come back and they cannot find accommodation anywhere. They are turned out of the houses they were occupying, and we find that six and eight of a family are crowded into one small room, and that tuberculosis is rife. Can you wonder that there are complaints? Can you wonder that there is prevalent, I was going to say Bolshevism, but all manner of violent talk, amongst these men that the State allows this kind of thing? In 1101 face of facts like these, it would be just even to commandeer the Noble Lord's country house, in order that the men who have been overseas, and have come back, and have nowhere to go, may have temporary accommodation. A case has been made out over and over again for Clause 1. The municipalities have been pressing the Minister for this Clause. They have been urging him for months to give them the power when empty houses are hold up that they should be allowed to take them for the time being.
The Noble Lord says that these houses come under the Rent Restriction Act. Would any landlord wilfully keep these houses empty until the Act comes to an end in order that he may charge increased rent? The people who are acquainted with the facts know that as soon as these houses fall empty through the death of the tenant or otherwise the landlord wilfully keeps the houses empty in order that he may get a higher sale price and in order that, by waiting and trading on the needs of the community and the exigencies of the moment, he may get perhaps £500 or £600 for what did not cost more than £200. It is not unfair, it is not unreasonable, and it is not unjust that, in the tremendous shortage of houses which now exists, those who seek to profit out of the community should be compelled to let their houses or the local authorities will let them for them at a reasonable and fair rent. I hope that in Committee the right hon. Gentleman will strengthen this Clause and will reduce the time. Three months is too long to allow any house to remain empty when people are crowded together in the conditions I have described. I wish that it would include houses that were partly occupied and kept, say, as summer residences. Why at the present time should one person have two or three houses which they cannot occupy while other people are crowded together in the apalling conditions which we know?
The Noble Lord who moved the Rejection suggested that Clause 18 savoured of Sovietism, came direct from Moscow, was revolutionary, was going to upset the sanctity of contract and was all kinds of things that are wicked. Take an illustration of what happens under this Clause. In my own municipality shortly before the War we had a loan sanctioned for about £40,000 to carry out certain sanitary and sewage works. The loan was for 20 1102 years. The work was held up on account of the War, and it is held up now on account of the shortage of housing because we want to put all manpower on to housing. Therefore it may be more than seven or ten years before that work is undertaken. Is it unreasonable to ask that the term of the loan should now be extended to 30 years? It only refers to the sanction of the Ministry with regard to borrowing. It docs not affect in any way the money which the local authority has borrowed from the investor. That is left as it was. We borrow mostly on short loans of five, seven or ten years from the people in our own districts. Whatever loan may be sanctioned by the Ministry has nothing to do with the borrowing from the particular investor in our own particular district. Yet Members one after the other have got up and in no measured terms have denounced the Ministry as to this wicked proposal of Clause 18, which was going to break the sanctity of contract and allow municipalities to be so extravagant. The criticism of Clause 1 and Clause 18 is based on misapprehension of the facts of the case. If there was closer contact with the realities existing, particularly in our large towns, we should not have had many of the speeches which we have heard this afternoon.
With regard to hospitals, while I realise that private enterprise has done and is doing extraordinarily good work, it seems unable to deal with the whole of the case. If we cannot get full treatment for disease and ill-health by private enterprise, the State as a whole, whether through the municipality or the Exchequer, must come to our aid. I agree with the last hon. Member that the burden should not be thrown on the locality, but should be a national charge. I trust that when the Minister brings in his reform of incidence of taxation and local rating he will see this burden shouldered by the Exchequer and not by the municipality. At the same time, as it is shown we have a C3 nation instead of an A1 nation, we should do all we can, whether by private enterprise or through the State, to bring up our manhood so that the men who have come back will realise that they are living in a land which was worth fighting for, and in which they will not be cast aside when their work has been done.
§ Mr. WISE
I propose to deal with Clause 11 which refers to hospitals. One of the greatest assets which we have in this country is our voluntary hospitals. I hope sincerely as far as we can that these hospitals will be kept going in the voluntary way. I cannot help thinking that in many cases it is owing to the possible apathy of the local committee or the treasurer or secretary of the voluntary hospitals that sufficient funds are not available to keep the hospitals going. With regard to the big infirmary in New-castlc-on-Tyne whore the subscriptions have increased considerably recently, half of the amount of the increased subscriptions has been supplied by the workmen themselves. They subscribe largely. I consider that there is just as much money in the country to-day as there was in pre-War days. It is possible that, owing to the apathy of the committee, they do not appeal to the nouveaux riches as they should. Hospitals are essential to all business communities. If there is a hospital near an office it is essential that the firm or private individual should subscribe to it, so that if an accident happens they are in a position to send their clerk or their manager to that hospital, where they will get the relief which they require. If you put these hospitals on the rates you will get the rates up and you will also get bureaucratic control, because undoubtedly if these hospitals come on the rates certain members of the committee will be of the bureaucratic class whom we have had to deal with in the past, and as we know, when you get bureaucratic control then individualism ceases. It is essential for our hospitals to run them by individualistic effort, a position which has made them the success which they have been in the past. In the matter of efficiency we all agree that the doctors have done more than can be said in words. The doctors, I believe, are ready to continue their work. They will look after the economy, and the committee should look after economy of the various hospitals. These hospitals need not come on the rates, but if it is necessary for them to come on the rates I agree with the hon. Member opposite that it should be done not in a local way, but in a national way so that there may be fairness, and with fairness you will get the confidence that is required to keep these hospitals going.
1104 With regard to housing, we all agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down in thinking that no individual should have two or three houses in the present time of stress. Of course, we know that houses built now are not successful from the financial point of view, but in other countries like the United States of America we find that houses are being built much more cheaply than in this country. They are built of wood. Wood is slightly cheaper there than here. I do not know whether the right hon. Member has considered or tried wood instead of bricks, and whether it would be cheaper. If they can build houses in the United States of America at £700 or £800 I see no reason why they should not be built at that rate in this country. In Clause 18, Section 5, I cannot understand what is meant by sinking fund—sinking fund or otherwise for the due discharge of the loan.What does this liability represent. Does it come on the actual taxpayer? Suppose it cannot be raised in any other way but by a new loan, you may have great difficulties in raising the extra amount that is required. It does not look to me a business Clause.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST
Many of the speeches against this Bill, on the last occasion as on this, have been directed against the alleged waste on the part of the Government and the alleged inordinate increase of bureaucracy. Both these principles are undoubtedly well founded. Everybody in the country distrusts an increasing bureaucracy, and everybody hates waste, but much of the dialectic which has been used against this alleged waste and bureaucracy is wide of the mark, and speakers have been fighting shadows. This talk of a great octopus of a central government, stretching its tentacles over all the local administration, is really rubbish. Clause 1, to which the last speaker referred, is a Clause of which I have first-hand knowledge, and on it the Government was challenged by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). In the Moss Side Division of Manchester events have taken place which really amount to the fons et origo of the Clause under discussion. The great congestion of the population and the acute shortage of houses gave rise to scenes which were a discredit to the community and to the 1105 laws under which the community lives. Early this year, owing to that congestion of population and the utter inability of anyone to find accommodation, owing also to the fact that three or four families were obliged to live in the same house, owing to the breakdown of the Manchester City Council's scheme of building, which was due in turn to the most unpatriotic action of the trade unions in refusing to allow building labour to be diluted, there were these turbulent scenes. Great crowds collected and went about the streets trying to trace houses on which there were fixed boards "To be Let" or "To be Sold." Those houses were broken into. Where there were caretakers they were ejected by violence and tenants were installed.
That is the system under which a large part of Manchester is living to-day. It is ridiculous to say, as the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) said, that this Clause invades private right, because private rights have already been invaded. This Bill substitutes for the invasion of private rights a system by which discrimination is made between the just and the unjust. The chaotic system at present in vogue in that part of Manchester is disastrous to everybody concerned. It is disastrous to the landlord, because instead of being able to make his own selection of tenants, he is obliged to take those who are forcibly put into his houses by a lawless mob, and if he wants to get the people out he has to bring an action; and if he succeeds he will, in all probability, have to pay the whole costs of the litigation because the defendant will be a man of straw. I was in the Palatine Court earlier in the year, and the lists were full of cases where landlords were bringing actions to dispossess these land pirates of the houses of which they had possessed themselves by force. In many cases the fear of having to bear their own costs in expensive litigation like that has induced the landlords to make terms with the tenants who have gone in. It is bad also for the tenants, because, naturally, they have no security of tenure; they are liable to be dispossessed by the landlord commencing this litigation.
Of course, it is a public scandal that the occupation of tenants should be founded upon the forcible expropriation of caretakers by acts of piracy. It is also 1106 bad for the country, because the present system is simply the glorification and sanctification of mob law. What makes it all the worse is that there is some justification for the action which these lawless mobs have taken, because in these days it is a standing irritant for the people who want homes to go about the streets and find houses which, week after week and month after month, are unreasonably withheld from occupation. Where the landlord is trying to make for himself an exorbitant use of the monopoly value of a dwelling-house, he is really defrauding the community, and is making the path easy for anyone who wises to adopt this lawless piracy. In this particular quarter, what makes it all the more obvious that there is some justice behind the mob law is the fact that these crowds, which dispossess caretakers and property owners, are not made up of the ordinary stuff from which Bolshevists and revolutionaries are made. This district is inhabited entirely by black-coated clerks and warehousemen of sedentary pursuits, who would no more think of setting about revolution or Bolshevism than they would of being late for business in the morning or of dressing for dinner at night. They represent what used to be called the lower middle class, or what our Labour Friends above the Gangway call the bloated bourgeoisie. It is absurd to suggest that citizens of this typo would collect and would have the power and the energy and the enthusiasm they have shown, had there not been some right behind their cause.
The point I want the House to appreciate is that when the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University refers to this Clause as an invasion of private rights, he does not realise that private rights now are not inviolate; that they have been invaded time after time in our great cities, and that this Clause substitutes for the existing anarchy a system of justice which must appeal to fair-minded men of all sorts. It is said that it is penalising the property owner. It is totally unnecessary in these days to allow a dwelling house of this type to remain empty for three months. I do not think that this Clause will be brought often into play, because rather than have tenants forced upon them by a local authority, the landlords will be induced to find tenants for themselves. That they can do. It is not suggested that this Clause goes to the root of the housing 1107 difficulty, but it will certainly be a palliative for the present immense famine in Houses. Moreover, the landlord is to receive, not an arbitrary rent according to the wish of the local authority, but a fair rent to be awarded by a skilled arbitrator. It is far better to have a system by which these houses are allotted to individuals by a discriminating authority, to men who deserve accommodation, and only in those cases where there is no justification for allowing the house to remain unoccupied, than to continue the present system by which the root of title is as often as not the direct action of a lawless mob.
I have a few criticisms to make with regard to the actual language of this first Clause. I contend that it is a mistake to use the words, "working classes" in any Act of Parliament at the present time, and under that head I cordially support the observations which were made by the hon. Member for St. Pancras North (Mr. Lorden). In the Act of Parliament which is referred to in the margin of this particular Clause there is no definition of "working classes." The latest definition of working classes I have been able to find is in the Settled Land Act of 1890, in which working classes are defined as all classes of persons who earn their livelihood by wage or salary. That definition rules out the pensioner, the schoolmaster, the school mistress, the small professional man and the shopkeeper, whose requirements with regard to accommodation are very much on the same lines as those who are called working classes. I think, therefore, that such definition as there is is far too vague, and that it would be far better to avoid the use of that term altogether. I say that particularly for this reason, that the whole description of any classes as working classes is based on the fallacy which lies at the root of half the Socialist propaganda in this country. It is based on the fallacy that the people of England can be divided roughly into two classes, the leisured class on one side and the working classes on the other, whereas everybody knows at the present time that most of the leisured class have no leisure and many of the working class do no work. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman while on the question of definition whether he includes under occu- 1108 pation the occupation by a caretaker. Looking at it from the legal point of view, occupation by a caretaker would be occupation, but at the same time where one individual is put in as a caretaker at certain times of the day I do not think it would be right to allow an occupation of that sort to rank as occupation within the meaning of the Clause. I think we might have a little light on that matter.
There is a criticism I desire to make with, regard to the Schedule. The First Schedule contains the procedure which it is suggested should be adopted in bringing Clause 1 into operation. I must say it is very vague and sketchy. The House will remember how largely abortive the provisions of the Housing (Additional Powers) Act, 1919, have been owing to the decision in the Court of Appeal in July last in the Huddersfield case, which more or less decided that tribunals exercising jurisdiction under that Act were obliged to give anybody affected under that Act the opportunity of giving viva voce evidence. I think in this Bill some provision ought to be made so that property owners may know where they are. The property owner is certainly entitled to have a chance of putting his case fairly and fully before the Minister of Health before the Minister sanctions the order which the local authority has attempted to make. I have no doubt the Minister would give ample opportunity to the property owner to show that there may be some reason for withholding his premises from occupation for a period of three months. For instance, it might be shown that there was a bonâ fide scheme for reconstruction of the premises, or there might be some other just reason why the jurisdiction of the Bill should not be called into play. I have no expert knowledge with regard to hospitals, and I leave it to the distinguished medical Members of the House to deal with such a question. But from what I have heard in the past from doctors I feel that they are entirely with the Minister on the question of the advisability of making the provision which this Bill makes for the benefit of soldiers suffering from shell-shock, and with regard to maintaining hospitals to some extent by the aid of rates from the county councils. The only other Clause to which I wish to refer in detail is Clause 25. The effect 1109 of that Clause is to substitute for the very excellent procedure which has been in force for many years past under the Municipal Corporations Act with regard to altering the ward boundaries of a borough, the very arbitrary rule of the Minister upon the recommendation of the local council. At the present time, not only has the population of a ward to be regarded, but also its rateable value. Both those matters can be, and have been in the past, put very well before the Commissioner sitting locally to hear evidence. What is the necessity of transferring these Poor Law Hospitals and Infirmaries, which have in many cases been magnificently equipped by the Boards of Guardians, who, I am afraid, have not received much thanks for their work, to County Councils?
The fight that has taken place during to-day and on the last occasion when this Bill was before us has really been a fight between two broad principles by which public opinion is, I think, governed. Since the inordinate extension of State interference during the great War there has been a tremendous swing against it, and that is quite natural, as reaction is the law of life. We are swinging fast back and reverting to the old individualistic ideas. We have had speech after speech extolling the sanctity of private rights, and we have been told that all these matters should be left to the free play of supply and demand. I almost wonder that we did not hear of the survival of the fittest and that the race ought to be to the swift and the battle to the strong. We are back to the individualism of the Manchester school, emanating from people whom we would normally regard as very hide-bound Tories. No doubt, there are qualities in the Manchester school which command the respect of everybody, and in normal times it might very well be right to allow private enterprise to decide all these great economic and social questions, but it is ridiculous in 1920 to think that private rights and the independence of the individual to carve out his own destiny represent everything and all in all in our political philosophy. If that were carried to its logical conclusion, not only would there be no Bill of this kind, but there would be no Ministry of Health at all. On the one side, you have got dogma and on the other side you have got humanity. I 1110 think most of us will not range ourselves on the side of the doctrinaires. It has been very significant, as has been hinted by an hon. Member, that all the speeches which have been made against this Bill have proceeded from hon. Members who represent universities—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—most of them—I have not finished my sentence yet—and remote agricultural districts and other places very far remote from those great industrial centres which really have got to face these great problems. I have spent most of my life among poor people and in big cities, and I believe that the ideas which lie at the root of this Bill represent a far truer and nobler conception of the State and its functions than those which have been argued for by the individualists. Their great blow against this Bill is to describe it as Bolshevism or as Socialism, but, after all, what are the two main pillars of this Bill? The first is the idea that the furtherance of public health is one of the first duties of government, and the other is that the development of local government is vital in our present complex state of civilisation. Neither of those principles is Socialistic in the least, and each of them represents a very Conservative tradition: the one is a legacy of Lord Beaconsfield and the other is a legacy of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. I say that this Bill serves those interests, without either imposing an inordinate burden on the taxpayer or the ratepayer, and without extending to any unreasonable degree the lawful and proper orbit of either municipal or State government, and upon those grounds I certainly commend this Bill to a Second Reading by this House.
§ Mr. BRIANT
I have no intention of being attracted by the variety of subjects provided in this Bill into a discussion of them all. I am simply going to confine myself to one subject, though I join in the regrets of many hon. Members that this Bill should contain within its borders so many questions which deserve separate treatment. There is one subject which does not seem to have received adequate treatment in the discussion so far. I refer to Clause 11 (i, c), which gives a county council power to undertake the maintenance of any poor law hospitals or infirmaries within its area. That is a different question entirely from the grant for the maintenance of a hospital. This gives a county council the power, 1111 unimpeded so far as I can see, and when and how it likes, to take over the infirmaries in their area and administer them. I do not think the House seems to recognise that this is the first great step, I will not say in the reform, but in the destruction, of the Poor Law. I am not shedding any tears because of that, although I was a guardian for twenty years and have been chairman of one of the largest unions in London for ten years. I am by no means a defender of the present Poor Law system, and rightly or wrongly it is time the old Poor Law system departed. Around it have gathered certain things which have made it more or less difficult, but public prejudice exists very strongly against anything to do with the Poor Law. I recognise that to the full, and that Poor Law workers have to suffer more or less for the sins of the past, but you will not get rid of that prejudice, and I therefore welcome any step that eventually will lead to the dissolution of the present Poor Law powers.
I would go further and say that the provision in this Bill seems to be singularly ineffective, and also gives an example of the dangers of piecemeal legislation. When once you start attacking the question of the Poor Law, I am sure it would be far wiser to deal with it altogether, instead of attempting to attack it bit by bit. Those who know anything at all of Poor Law administration know how Poor Law services overlap, and you have a concrete example of it here, and may I suggest that the Bill has internal evidence of being hurriedly prepared and that there is a lack of provision for many most important things? So far as I can see, for example, there is no financial provision made when you take over a Poor Law infirmary for the unfortunate borough with a new institution. There is one borough which has recently erected a very highly and efficiently equipped infirmary, which has involved that borough in a very large expenditure of rates. The county council can take that over in three months' time. Another borough has an ancient poor-law infirmary on which the debt has long since been paid, and there is no interest due on that debt, yet there is exactly the same financial provision in both cases, apparently, for there is DO mention what 1112 ever of any financial arrangements to deal with this matter. If the county takes over the infirmaries, it should be compelled to take over all the infirmaries and not to pick and choose two or three. What will happen supposing there is one infirmary left in the possession of a borough? That borough will have to pay in its rates for that one infirmary, and it will also have to pay in the county rate for the support of all the other infirmaries. It will, therefore, be paying twice over for infirmary treatment, and that seems to mo to be unfair. I wish further to point out, as, indeed, I have already done to the Minister of Health, that there is not an atom of provision in the Bill for the protection of the officers concerned with these Poor Law infirmaries, and for all we know from the Bill, in three months' time they may all be discharged. That is contrary to every precedent of every public body that has been taken over in any Bill of this or any other Government. It is only fair to say that, in response to an appeal which I made to my right hon. Friend and to a deputation which I took to him, he has volunteered to insert some Clause which will protect their interests.
I want now to take the House a step further in this matter of which I have some personal acquaintance. I may say, incidentally, that many who talk glibly about the Poor Law have very little practical acquaintance with the subject. I wish the Government had been bolder. I wish that, instead of stopping at taking over Poor Law infirmaries, they had taken over the entire care of the sick so far as it is in Poor Law hands now. I would suggest that the Clause should not read as it reads now, but should readto undertake the maintenance of the sick in any Poor Law hospital, infirmary, or other institution, and the care of the sick receiving domiciliary treatment by Poor Law officers.The practical difficulties of separating the two are immense, and anyone who knows what occurs in Poor Law administration knows that at present, if this Bill passes in its present state, institutional treatment will be in the hands of the county council, supposing it takes over the institutions, and the treatment of the outpatients will be in the hands of another public body altogether. What it will mean every day of the week, certainly in London, is that the medical officer under 1113 the Poor Law Guardians will be treating an out-patient, and, as happens every day, several times a day, in every big borough, the doctor may come to the conclusion, after a week's treatment, or because of a sudden change in the patient's condition, that the patient must be transferred to the infirmary. Under the present system, he simply gives an order for the infirmary, and the person can be transferred there before very long, but now he will have to apply to another public body for permission for that person to be admitted to the infirmary, and anyone who knows the critical attitude of public bodies to each other and the critical attitude taken by medical officers towards each other will know that the medical officer in the infirmary may not be willing to take the mere word of the medical officer outside in a particular case, and that may mean pain, suffering, and even loss of life to the patient concerned.
Again, take the case of the workhouse. I have as much wish as anyone that the care of the sick shall be separated from the workhouse. But what happens now? The word "workhouse" is entirely anomalous. Out of a thousand persons in workhouses not five are able-bodied. The others are aged and infirm, and have not very long to live. At any moment a sudden attack of bronchitis, or anything like that, and in a few hours life is in danger At present the officer simply gives an order, and that person is in the infirmary having the proper treatment. Now, application is to be made to another institution, to another public body, to another medical officer to obtain an admission order. Take another case. Most workhouses contain a large number of patients for whom there is no room in the infirmary. Instead of minimising the division of service for the sick and those who need some medical attention, we are multiplying the services. There will be the workhouse still retaining hundreds of people who are unfit, and who are not removed to the infirmary. They will be under one medical treatment. Then there will be those in the infirmary under another, and those receiving out-of-door medical relief under still another. Instead of effecting co-ordination of medical service, and making it much more simple, unless the Minister of Health takes a little more courage in his hands, and boldly tackles the whole problem, I am afraid 1114 it will be more complicated. I am extremely anxious that we shall grapple with the whole problem. I think the time has come when differentiation between infirmary treatment and hospital treatment should be done away with.
I never can understand what, in my opinion, is the remarkably stupid attitude of some people who seem to regard it as something humiliating to be treated in a Poor Law infirmary, and as something which maintains their dignity if they are treated in a hospital. The hospital is charity; the infirmary is not. For the infirmary you have paid rates, but not for the hospital. Whatever it be the sooner we remove the separation the better. The modern infirmary is by no means far behind the hospital, and by no means a place only for the care of the aged. It is a place where there is up-to-date surgery, where major and minor operations are performed in up-to-date operating rooms, and the nursing is as efficient as in hospitals. The sooner, therefore, we get rid of all this differentiation, which causes a good deal of harm and an infinite amount of prejudice, the better. I do not say these hospitals are dying, but their days are numbered, and it will not be so very long before we have to face this problem. I recognise facts which have become patent to anyone who studies the problem. It is important that the whole question be tackled.
One other point. There are dangers in the transfer to any public authority unless you transfer powers as well. You are transferring to the County Council certain powers, but not all, and those who endeavour to have an enlightened Poor Law policy—and I think my right hon. Friend will admit that those with whom I am associated have, perhaps, carried out a more enlightened policy than many—do that which the County Council will not be allowed to do, and that is, more and more to deal with the cases, not because of their destitution in the ordinary sense of the word, but because they are destitute of some medical necessity. It is a different definition. The consequence is that hardly a week passes but some patient is provided with dentures, spectacles, or some other necessity of the kind. We are able to do that because we have also the powers of relief, but the public body to which those are transferred will not have those same 1115 powers of relief. I venture to lay before the House these points, which may seem more for the Committee, but they are points which I do not think have been carefully considered by the Ministry. I hope, if the Bill goes through to-day, they will receive, at any rate, careful attention in Committee, and that the House will aim at bringing the whole medical care of the poor and rich alike under one system. It is not to the interest of the State to offer cheap medicine or cheap medical treatment. The best is the cheapest, whether for poor man or duke, and the country will gain in the long run by restoring to health, at the earliest possible moment, any person who is suffering from any form of disease or complaint.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I agree with almost everything that has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I think the chief blot on this Bill is Clause 11, in the piecemeal way it attempts to deal with a great problem and in the way this Bill absolutely fails to face the crisis with which we are confronted with regard to hospitals. By what I can characterise as nothing else than camouflage, it merely transfers from the Poor Law guardians to the county council the cost of maintenance of a certain number of beds; and, further, it makes no provision where such hospital infirmaries are transferred from the boards of guardians for the necessitous poor who are left. What is going to be the first thing that will happen if this Bill goes through, and county councils start taking over the best of the Poor Law infirmaries? Why, the boards of guardians will be forced to build new infirmaries and new hospitals at the expense of the rates. That, I am perfectly certain, is what wlil happen. Take the speech of the Minister of Health in introducing this Bill. He quoted a series of figures about the empty beds in Poor Law infirmaries at present, but he quoted figures for August and September, when it is notorious, both with regard to voluntary hospitals and Poor Law infirmaries, that the figures are below what they are in the winter months. He quoted various instances. I will give one. Take Fulham, one of the most celebrated of the board of guardian infirmaries in London. In September, admittedly, there were 122 vacant beds in that great institution, but last week there were only 44 vacant beds, and when the right hon. Gentleman used 1116 his argument about the vacant beds in Poor Law hospitals in this country he was absolutely misleading this House by making out there were large numbers of beds free, because he gave August and September figures, and never gave us the figures for the winter months.
This really is the most extraordinary proposal, that by transference of the hospitals of administration from the rates, which are collected by the boards of guardians, to county council you are making a great reform, or providing a great remedy in the hospital crisis with which we are faced. The right hon. Gentleman says he consulted those interested. Did he ever consult the Association of Poor Law Authorities? I do not believe he ever consulted those whose hospitals are to be taken away under this Bill. They have every right to be consulted and heard by him before he carried through the ridiculous proposal of the Bill. If he wants to break up the Poor Law, or to abolish boards of guardians, and put aside all the good work done by boards of guardians, let him come down with a Bill to deal with the whole Poor Law question, or if he wants to deal with hospitals let him come down not with a Housing Bill with this wretched hospital Clause in it, but with a proper hospital measure.
This Bill is in a more disgraceful form than any Bill ever introduced into Parliament. It is a hotch-potch of every conceivable kind of thing. It is a most disgraceful bit of legislation. Clause 11 deserves a major Government Bill introduced at the proper time and consideration, not in Committee upstairs, but of the whole of the Members of this House when we can face the whole problem of the hospitals. Similarly with Clause 20. You are tacking on to a Housing Bill, with whose objects I in the main am in agreement, a number of provisions good, bad, and indifferent, and this is the sort of legislation which ends in shoddy Acts of Parliament, in wasteful and extravagant administration, and in all the evils from which we are now suffering owing to ill-digested legislation poured upon the Statute Book recently. I object to Clause 11 being considered at all in this Bill. I have a complete objection to Clauses 18, 23 and 25. These three Clauses seem to me thoroughly bad. They ought, in my opinion, to be rejected by the House. The House ought only 1117 to be asked to pass Part I during this Autumn Session. I feel I must put forward one or two constructive suggestions.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
With regard to the hospitals in the first place, if any State-aid is to be given to the voluntary hospitals of this country, we ought not to take the responsibility off this House, we ought to do it by way of grant, and not by throwing the burden on the ratepayers. I am absolutely convinced of that. What will happen? It will mean that you will simply increase the rates of particular areas where the rates are already high, while rich county areas, like those of Surrey and Sussex, conservative counties, will not avail themselves at all of this Bill, and there will consequently be absolutely inequality of treatment. The duty of this House is primarily to be the guardian of the public purse. If you are going in for very far-reaching proposals of State assistance to great voluntary hospitals such assistance ought to be kept within the purview of this House and we ought not to throw the responsibility on the local authorities. The very last authorities properly equipped to deal with the matter are the county authorities. I would far rather the urban and district councils and similar authorities had the task, than the county council authorities. It is very difficult to-day to get the existing burden of work thrown upon the county councils done, and if they have got to have hospitals committees in addition you will be burdening them still further. Then comes the question of the voluntary hospitals, the question of payment for insured persons out of the insurance money. That is a subject which ought to be considered, and considered very much further before you declare the voluntary hospitals of this country to be bankrupt. Why I feel very strongly about Clause 11 is that because is my constituency, I say it quite frankly, there is a political question at issue. My Labour opponent says: "I want all these things because I want State services, State hospitals, and so on." This Clause 11 is a quick and short way to State hospitals and State-aided medical services. What is the history of the voluntary schools, and will it not be repeated here? Directly you put the hospitals on the rates you will have the inevitable demand for popular control.
In this Bill as introduced we heard the mild conciliatory voice with which we are 1118 so familiar, that of the Minister of Health. When I read the Bill I saw there the heavy hand of the Fabian. What does that mean? The Fabian is a man who believes in political painless dentistry. That is to say, you will drift, without knowing it, into nationalisation and into socialistic conditions. That is what will be meant by the hospitals on the rates. It is the thin end of the wedge to state medical service and state-aided medical services. So absolutely opposed am I to this proposition in the interests of the public health and the progress of medical science in this country, that I have taken this, the earliest opportunity, to register my protest against Clause 11 of the Bill. Every other alternative ought to have been explored and developed rather than this alternative. This seems to me to be the worst of all possible alternatives. Personally I do not believe that the resources of the voluntary hospitals are as bankrupt as they are made out to be. If the right hon. Gentleman would leave his office and lead a campaign for the support of the voluntary hospitals he would find many people ready to respond more generously than in the past towards their maintenance. "What about the pauper taint"? will be asked. What is the origin of this old Victorian concept of the pauper taint? It is that by going on the Poor Law a man or woman is making himself a burden to his neighbours by being kept or provided for out of the rates. If there is a pauper taint in the present Poor Law hospitals by being treated there there will be the pauper taint exactly in the same way by being treated in rate-aided hospitals by the county council—absolutely the same.
§ Mr. ORMSBY GORE
Both come out of the rates. It is really the same thing in the long run. I feel in regard to this Poor Law service that the problem will be solved by continuing in peace-time that which obtained during the War. Many of the Poor Law hospitals during the War were filled with wounded and sick soldiers, and there was never any suggestion that this was pauperising the soldiers
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I say that you can do it just in the same way now, be- 1119 cause with the assent of the Ministry of Health, boards of guardians are now taking in paying patients.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Well, why not legalise it? What is the necessity of transferring these Poor Law institutions, which are so magnificently equipped, and which, I am afraid, do not receive much thanks for it. What is the object of transferring those institutions from the boards of guardians to the county council, which, I maintain, is not the right authority to administer these hospitals. You can legalise the existing practice, but I am quite sure you must not, and you ought not, to deal with a great question like this in a Housing Bill of this kind. It is a big question, which we ought to deal with as a whole.
There is one other thing I want a further explanation about and that is Clause 25. As I read that Clause it fills me with a good deal of alarm. Hitherto, under the Municipal Corporations Act, the changing of wards and the system of representation in boroughs has been quite rightly and properly very carefully safeguarded, and it seems to me that the safeguards provided in the proposed new Clause are quite inadequate. It is open to successive administrations to alter the constituent wards of the various boroughs, and by this means you are simply inviting political recrimination. If there is one thing which ought to be stabilised in this country it is the internal representation of our local authorities, and it should not be left to the ipse dixit of the Minister of the day, by a bare majority of any council, to change their organisation and their system of representation. The Municipal Corporations Act, if it is considered too cumbersome, should be altered, but I am not prepared to support in any way the Clause as it is drafted in the Bill.
I ask that before this House goes any further with this Bill to pause and realise what this Bill does. I maintain that this measure ought to have been financed where finance is required by this House. What has happened? There has been a great cry about economy, and the Government do not like to ask for further grants and further financial resolutions, and so the finance that is necessary to Clauses 1120 10 and 11 and other parts of the Bill is all to be placed on the rates. This is shirking our responsibilities. People complain of the rates going up. To what is it due? The Legislation passed by this House. There is no getting away from it, for that is one of the main causes. If we pass Acts like this, where there is no estimate provided, where the Clauses are nearly all permissive, it is impossible to get an estimate.
In this case there is no definite relation between Imperial grants and the local funds, and the whole thing in the long run falls upon the rates. It is no use saying, "Oh, but an economical authority will not exercise the spending powers we are giving them under this Bill, and it is for the ratepayers to look after that." Everybody knows that the Minister of Health is becoming more and more powerful, and more and more in a position to persuade, urge, and encourage local authorities to exercise their various powers under this Bill. The danger is that at the present moment the Imperial Parliament is unwilling to face the racket of criticism if further expenditure is to be met out of the taxpayers' money. We are shirking that difficulty and not facing it, because we are putting it all on to the local authorities. That is a most dangerous doctrine, and a most dangerous thing for us to do.
I cannot sit down without offering a final word of protest against the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), who spoke as Chairman of the Housing Committee of the London County Council. His remarks about fighting the economists and opposing the economists are a very sinister example coming from a man at the head of a committee which is spending millions of the taxpayers' and the ratepayers' money upon housing schemes. It is easy for people in that responsible position to speak of those who are endeavouring to cut down the enormous expenditure of this country in rates and taxes as if they were all reactionists. It is not true to say that those of us who are anxious to see some limit placed upon our local and national expenditure that we are reactionaries. What we want to feel is that, before we throw any expenditure on local authorities or increase any expendi- 1121 ture by votes of this House, we know the exact amount we are letting the taxpayers and the ratepayers in for, and that we know the limitations, and the safeguards we are imposing both administratively and by statute. In this Bill there is no sign of limitation any more than under Clause 10 is there any safeguards about the regulations which the Minister of Health may make for the contravention of which a man may be fined £100 or imprisoned for six months. One after another these proposals are brought in, and the guardianship and watchfulness of this House was never more needed than it is now over an omnibus, ill-drafted, hotch-potch of a Bill such as has been introduced by the Minister of Health.
Colonel LAMBERT WARD
As one of the financial economists who have been attacked by several speakers, I rise to say a few words in favour of the Resolution which has been moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham. Although it has no relevance to the matter under debate, I may say that I am not a representative of a university or a distant agricultural constituency, but I represent one of the other places where they make things, a big commercial industrial town, where the people are sufficiently hard headed to realise that a bankrupt country does not make for progress. They realise that unless the Government put a check on their expenditure, not only on this measure, but on all the wild cat schemes in which they are engaged in all parts of the world, financial ruin will put an end to social progress for a good many years to come. The hon. Member for the Wavertree Division of Liverpool (Lieut.-Colonel Raw) said, "How can anybody object to this Bill on the score of economy?" That is the ground on which I do object to it. I admit many of the provisions are excellent, but at the present moment this country cannot afford any further expenditure, either national or local. I should like to remind the House, and particularly to remind the Government, of some little words of wisdom which fell from the lips of an eminent financial expert very nearly 12 months ago. That financial expert was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think the House will agree that he knows what he is talking about. He ought to. I am afraid I have not got the OFFICIAL REPORT here, so I cannot 1122 give what he said word for word. It was something after this manner: He said that future legislation involving expenditure would have to be very carefully reviewed, and that, however desirable the object of that expenditure might be, the House, oven after deciding that it was desirable, would still have to consider whether the country was able to afford it. I should very much like to ask him, had he been here to-night—he very rarely is present when questions of expenditure are being discussed—whether he really thinks that, in the existing state of trade and in the present condition of the country's finances, we really can afford the almost unlimited expenditure which is authorised under this measure?
There is accumulating evidence to prove that the burden of national and local taxation is rapidly approaching the taxpayers' capacity to bear. I will not say in my opinion, because that means nothing; I will not even say in the opinion of financial experts, because financial experts can prove anything if they are only given time; what I will say is, in the opinion of business men generally the taxable capacity of this country has already been reached. No doubt it is possible to extort more, but only at the cost of damaging and hindering trade and commerce. Can anybody doubt that the present slump in trade, which is going to cause this winter to be the worst, as far as unemployment is concerned, that this country has known for many years, is to a large extent due to the present high rate of taxation? Extensions and improvements of works are at a standstill. All development is stopped, for the very simple reason that money, which ought to be spent on extending works and keeping plant up to date, has to be paid away in taxation. One hears employers openly saying that it is not worth while doing business at all merely to act as tax collectors for the Government. Not only is the lavish expenditure caused by measures such as this, not only is it having a disastrous effect on trade, but it is affecting, more than anything else, the cost of living. It is no good publishing figures, statistics, and percentages. Until this lavish expenditure is checked, the cost of living will always elude the efforts of the Wages Board. The Government, having done their worst as regards national expenditure, are going to authorise, I might 1123 almost say compel, local authorities to emulate them, and to get rid of the maximum amount of money in the minimum amount of time. All these Clauses, if they do not order, they authorise, either the Government or local authorities to spend somebody else's money.
It is incredible that a measure like this should be introduced at a time when the rates in many urban districts are already more than 20s. in the pound. It is an intolerable burden on the middle classes, on people of small fixed incomes, and on those people who have no means of raising their incomes to meet the increased cost of living. A few years ago, if a man bought a house, he considered that, apart from some small contributions towards the public services, he had that house to live in, with the expenditure of that amount of capital which the purchase of the house involved. To-day, if a man buys a house, he is practically no better off than if he does not buy it, because he has to pay, in many urban districts, actually more in rates and taxes than was the whole rent of the house ten years ago. To borrow a phrase from the Leader of the Opposition: "That sort of thing cannot go on." It is for that reason I say that, however desirable the various provisions of this Bill may be, the country at the present time is utterly unable to afford them.
If I may just glance at one or two provisions of this Bill, I should like to say a few words on Part I, Clause 1. This Clause has already been severely criticised by various hon. Members, but there are one or two things which appear to have escaped their notice hitherto. For example, it contains that particularly objectionable sentencewhich is suitable for the housing of the working classes.That sentence is much too lax. What is suitable? After all, it is just as easy to live in a big house as it is in a small one, and I am quite sure that any member of the class which is described here as the working class would be quite as capable of living in a large house as in a small one. If it is intended—which I think the right hon. Gentleman said was not the case—that large houses are to be taken for this purpose, although I know certain Members have already advocated that, those houses would not be put to their best use unless they were 1124 altered and divided up into flats. As things stand at present, most of the large houses which are empty have caretakers in them, and to turn out the caretakers and put in what are called working-class families would not improve matters in any way. The only thing that could be done really to increase the accommodation would be to turn those houses into flats, because as they exist at present there are not either the sanitary accommodation or the cooking facilities for large numbers of people in those houses. If that is done—I do not quite gather it is not to be done—who is to bear the cost of it? It says in the Schedule that no compensation is to be given to the landlord other than the rent. But if, first of all, a house is to be turned into flats, and then at the end of two years it is to be returned to the owner, and it has to be restored to its original condition, who is to bear the cost? If it is the landlord, it seems to me it is inflicting a considerable injustice upon him; and if the ratepayers, then I consider it is throwing an additional and unnecessary burden upon the rates.
I come to Clause 4, Paragraph (c). I would very much like to know where is the money mentioned here to come from. The present rate for borrowed money is about 7½ per cent. If the local authorities are to be compelled or permitted to borrow money at that rate it will still further involve the unfortunate ratepayers in debts already sufficiently heavy. With regard to Clause 6, and the building of houses for employés, some years ago this experiment was tried in France, and, after a few years it was found that the houses were occupied not only by employés of the local authority, but also by their aunts and cousins and sisters, and by everybody related to anyone in a position of authority on any of the provincial councils responsible for the building of the houses. I should think that probably a similar result would follow the experiment in this country. With regard to the reasonable expenses which are provided for under Clause 17, these represent nothing more or less than joy-rides for the benefit of the councillors. A very large number of Members of this House always travel third class. I imagine that a large number of members of county and borough and urban district councils do the same thing. Why should they be allowed to travel first class at the 1125 expense of the ratepayers, when they are always content to travel third class when at their own expense?
With regard to the Clause which has been described as putting the hospitals on the rates, I quite appreciate that something will have to be done. I should like to be able to agree with hon. Members who have declared that the wells of voluntary subscriptions are not yet dry. I hope that is the case. It is an insult for anybody to attempt to praise the work done by hospitals in this country, and I should very much regret to see any alteration made in the status of the voluntary hospitals. With regard to the hospitals which it is suggested may be taken over from the Poor Law Authority, I should like to suggest with all humility that the National Insurance Act might be amended, so as to cover hospital treatment in-those institutions, and thus do away with the Poor Law taint more effectively than anything else could possibly do, because these people would then feel that they were contributing towards their own hospital treatment as well as ordinary medical treatment. It is not my intention to go through the various provisions of the Bill, complex as they are, and costly as almost all of them will prove to be. The right hon. Gentleman has not hitherto been able to give us any indication as to what will be the total cost of administering all the Clauses of this Bill. Some time ago a Member of the Government said that all the economies had been effected which could possibly be effected with the approval of public opinion. This means in plain English that the Government are afraid of losing votes should they effect more economies. In other words, they are buying votes with other people's money. There can be only one end to that. It will debase this Government to the level of those Governments which are ruining and disgracing nearly all the countries in Central Europe. I would urge the Government to set an example now by dropping this Bill, and give us some evidence that they are in earnest in their efforts to effect economies, even although by doing so they may lose a certain number of votes in the country, and may also lose the support of arch-spendthrifts.
§ Mr. SEDDON
There have been attacks on this Bill from every side of the House, and I myself feel strongly that we are 1126 being made the tool of a Department in a hurry. This Bill has material and objects sufficient for at least half-a-dozen first-class measures. I am on the horns of a dilemma. Many of the provisions of the Bill suggest remedies of which I am in support, but there are others with which I disagree, and my vote this evening will depend on the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to the criticisms which have been levelled against his proposals. I have listened to many Debates in this House. I venture to say I have listened to few which have been productive of speeches of such well-informed criticism as we have heard tonight. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden) brought a well-informed mind and lifelong experience to bear upon the subject. I remember when the last Bill was going through, at an all-night sitting, my hon. Friend warned the right hon. Gentleman that there were dangers in what he termed hasty legislation. I am quite sure that that warning holds good at the present time, and if the right hon. Gentleman will persist in this omnibus Bill, which deals with very great questions, which go much further than has been pointed out even in the speeches to-night, I am convinced that the Committee stage will be protracted and acrimonious, and many supporters of the Government will be forced to take action which otherwise they would not feel called upon to make. I want to emphasise a remark by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) with reference to the infirmaries connected with our Poor Law system.
From my earliest childhood I have been associated with the Poor Law system. My father was a Poor Law official for some 35 years. He occupied a position which, I think, has now been abolished, or has been merged in other official duties. He was known as the Law Settlement Officer, and he had to collect contributions from those who were compelled to pay towards the maintenance of their relatives, Poor Law or any other charges which the guardians were entitled to make, and to domicile people in their respective union areas. From that experience I came more and more to the conclusion that the attitude of the Poor Law guardians was radically changing, and I do not agree entirely with the hon. Member for Stafford that it was because they were on the rates that people ob- 1127 jected to go into the infirmaries. It was because of the old, bad traditions of Bumbledom. The enlightened policy of the guardians, however, during the last quarter of a century has done a great deal to destroy that feeling, which was very prevalent amongst the working classes of this country.
I desire here to pay my meed of tribute to the desire that has actuated most boards of guardians to try and humanise the Poor Law system of this country, and I say that, so far as their hospitals or infirmaries are concerned, they stand second to none throughout the length and breadth of the country. This Bill is not going to bring to the hospitals the help they need at present, but I join with my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. Roberts) in the hope that nothing will be done to destroy that voluntary work which the hospitals have given to this country. I do not wish to single out any particular section, but I know that thousands of women and men from many sections of society have given of their substance, their time and their ability to serve the sick poor of this country, and I say that it would rob the country of a very valuable possession if you were to say to them, "Your services to these unfortunate people are no longer required; we are going to put them under the tender mercies of a bureaucracy, and make hospitals a State Department entirely." Therefore I hope that if this Bill reaches the Committee stage the Minister will consider in the interests of the country—never mind the Government—the fact that the opposition to his Bill from every quarter of the House—[HON MEMBERS: "NO!"]—well, from most quarters, and even the support that gives its faint praise would damn the Bill if it were carried to its logical conclusion—in any case, if the Bill does reach the Committee stage, I sincerely hope that between now and then the Government will recognise that the opposition to the Bill as it stands is not opposition to the Government, but from Members of this House who believe that the passing of this Bill will inflict hardships, and will not remove the difficulties that exist at the present time.
With reference to the question of taking over houses, the hon. Member who spoke last pointed out the unsuit- 1128 ability of a certain class of houses for this purpose unless they were turned into tenements. I want to point out another danger which, although it may not be very widespread, is still a danger. There are to-day some private builders who are engaged in building houses in certain localities, especially in the suburbs of London, where a system has grown up of building small colonies of houses for small traders and professional people, with the idea of selling those houses to prospective buyers. These small colonies were in existence before the War, and these people have bought their houses in order that the same class of people may live together. I could take the right hon. Gentleman to a district where at the present moment there are six untenanted houses that have been built during the last three months.
§ Mr. SEDDON
No; I am not talking about subsidies. It is a class of property for which there are purchasers as a rule, but during the last six months there has been a slackening off of that class of purchaser. They do not know what is going to happen. They feel that the Excess Profits Duty having been a failure, the Income Tax may go up next year, and, not knowing what is going to happen, they have ceased to buy, and now there are six houses there. They are just large enough for an ordinary family, and have five or six bedrooms. Will the light hon. Gentleman, if this Bill passes, go to that builder and say that because he has not sold these houses he must let them? If he does that, what is going to happen to the other people who have bought their houses in pre-War days, thinking that they were going to have certain surroundings? Surely he is not going to inflict upon those people any legislation that will even tend to lower the value of the property which they have bought with their own hard-earned money?
I want to say one word also with reference to the question of cinemas. To hear certain hon. Gentlemen talk, you would think that cinemas were being built in every street, and that the idea of building a cinema was some sort of original sin against the interests of the community, with the idea of preventing the 1129 building of houses. The critics of the cinema forgot that it is the modern form of entertainment for the working classes. The closing hours of public-houses have been reduced. You cannot say to grown men or women that, when the public-houses close at 9 o'clock, they must all go to bed like good children. If you do not give them some place for entertainment you will drive them to the corners of the public streets with a grievance. This is a form of entertainment which gives them somewhere to go, instead of going to the street corner to listen to the revolutionary talk that is so prevalent at the present time. How much of the skilled labour that would go to the building of houses is being employed in building cinemas at the present time? I have been seeking information from those who are attempting to build, and are already building, cinemas in this country, and I have it on the best authority that, if you took the whole of the skilled labour that is engaged upon this so-called "luxury building"—although I claim that it is a necessity for the working classes—there would not be move than 20 per cent. that could be applied to the building of workmen's cottages at the present time. Not as much as 20 per cent. I believe if it was analysed it would not be more than 10 per cent. Merely because someone can have some stick to beat a dog with, because they have not shares in a cinema themselves—I have not a halfpenny in it, so I am not speaking from that point of view—it is sour grapes to them, and they say the building of cinemas is the cause of the lack of housing for the working classes If you are going to take drastic action in this direction, the remedy is worse than the disease, and if you are going to put out of employment 80 or 90 per cent. of the skilled workmen and increase the army of unemployed, you are not doing any good to the country nor to the unemployed problem which is going to give us as much as we want of anxiety before next summer. Therefore, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to listen to the speeches and arguments which have been delivered. I am convinced that everyone who has spoken is just as much interested in the housing of the people and the state of the hospitals, their success and their prosperity, and everyone of the half-dozen items that ought to form separate Bills, as the right hon. Gentleman himself. But they say that we 1130 have reached the limit when this House will not be the docile, obedient servant of bureaucracy, but will assert its authority in the Bills that are presented for our consideration.
§ Dr. ADDISON
During the day and a half that this Bill has been under discussion we have traversed most of its Clauses in considerable detail, and, as far as the Minister of Health is concerned, he has had the interesting and no doubt salutary experience of listening to a considerable amount of denunciation of himself which I have no doubt will sink into his mind and have due effect.
§ Dr. ADDISON
At the same time we have to bear in mind, as I am sure we do, that that kind of thing is very remote from the actual proposals of the Bill, and it is the actual proposals of the Bill with which the House is concerned and not the inherent wickedness of the Minister of Health.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I will turn now to the criticisms of the Bill itself, for the other leaves me rather unmoved. I am sure hon. Members, as the hon. Member (Mr. Seddon) said quite plainly, are sincerely and mainly moved by the desire at this time to avoid any expense which can be avoided. That, I think, is the main cause of the protests which have been made. I must say I think if some of my hon. Friends had confined their examination of the subject to the proposals in the Bill they would not have found any justification for the somewhat extravagant denunciations in which they indulged because, having listened to the Debate all through, I am still unable to find where this pouring out of public money of which we have heard so much, will come from the proposals of the Bill. At all events, I am willing and anxious to join with hon. Members, in Committee and elsewhere, in a scrutiny of this Bill so that we do not allow any liabilities to be incurred which the public necessities do not warrant, and in giving the most friendly consideration of proposals designed to limit them fairly and strictly to the necessities of the time, the Government will of course gladly co-operate. The proposals of the Bill, so 1131 far as they have been criticised, fall into three groups, and I will go over them. The Noble Lord (Earl Winterton) is, I think, under a misapprehension, as are other hon. Members, as to what Clause 1 deals with. For example, I find he had the impression that there were very few of these houses with which the Clause deals, that is to say empty houses, unlet for three months, suitable for the occupation of working class people.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Yes, I do. I am talking of old houses, and not of new houses at all. That is not so. I wish the Noble Lord had been present when the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst) spoke, and told the House what had actually happened in that district, where a large number of houses had been forcibly taken possession of by a mob. I have here one of a goodly number of cases from a manufacturing town in Lancashire, where the vice-chairman of the housing committee called together those concerned in a number of houses which had been standing empty for a long time.
§ Dr. ADDISON
No, in a Lancashire town. I had rather not give the name. There were 170 houses, and he called together those concerned in the houses and pointed to a printed copy of the Bill, and informed them that if the Council obtained powers of this kind they proposed to use them. Within a fortnight the number of empty houses had fallen from 170 to between 50 and 60. That happened in one town. I could multiply instances.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Oh, yes. I assure my hon. Friend that one only put down a proposal of this kind after great hesitation and only because one had seen, in Manchester and other places, that it had given rise really to riot and taking possession of empty property. Therefore we had to take some powers of this kind. The hon. Member (Mr. Seddon) made what I thought were quite reasonable suggestions with regard to other safe- 1132 guards. It is not intended to deal with the class of property he referred to at all, and I am quite willing to consider his suggestion to secure that that is made clear. One hon. Member who criticised the Bill seemed to have a complete misapprehension as to what the Rent Restriction Act is designed to do. He made out that the houses erected under the subsidy were accountable for the fact that there have not been the usual valuations and that assessments had not risen to the same extent as rates. The houses erected under the subsidy, which have only begun to be occupied during the last few months, have nothing whatever to do with it. What the hon. Member was trying to explain I am unable to understand. The fact is that during the War assessments were not made in the same way as at other times. Therefore, the assessable value of the property has not been increased materially, and there have not been rating assessments until lately in a large number of districts. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) also seems to have an erroneous conception of the effect of the Rent Restriction Act. He says that no one would wilfully keep a house empty in the hope that when the Rent Restriction Act comes to an end he would be able to obtain higher rent. He said that such a suggestion is absurd. I agree with him. I have never heard such a suggestion.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The hon. Member misunderstands the position. The Rent Restriction Act applies to occupied houses. It is only when the house is vacant, when the owner has vacant possession, that he is able to take advantage of the increased market price. The Act does not place any premium upon the letting of a house. I am sorry that the Noble Lord has misunderstood the class of house to which the Rent Restriction Act applies.
I come to the more important set of criticisms, those relating to the expense. The Financial Resolution on the Paper shows plainly that, so far as Exchequer expenditure is concerned, there is no increase involved in the Bill. I was under the impression that there might be a certain amount of increase under Clause 6, but I find that the assistance 1133 to local authorities providing houses for their own employés under the provisions of the Housing Act and under this proposal all fall within the limits of the subsidy. Therefore, there is no additional Exchequer money in the Bill. We simply carry forward into next year the unexpended portion of the subsidy money which has already been authorised. The criticism of the various financial Clauses mostly began at Clause 4. I think the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Lyle) described it as something that had emanated from the Soviets, or words to that effect. He also said that it was worthy of a fourth form school boy. The fact is that this Clause is a clause asked for by the London County Council. This is to cover a case where an authority incurs expenditure outside its own district, the construction, let us say, of a sewer in the district of Romford. The public health authority in that district is the Rural District Council of Romford. That authority will ultimately take over the capital liability in connection with that sewer, as it is responsible for the public expenditure in its own area. Therefore when the scheme is completed the county council will have to transfer it to the sanitary authority of the district in which the houses are. Pending that the county council has to raise money to build the sewer and for a year or two, as the case may be, until the houses become rateable and yield revenue in the district in which they stand, the county council will be out of pocket by the interest they had to pay on the capital they had to raise to build that sewer. The authority which takes over the houses along with the sewer will then owe the county council the original capital for the construction of the sewer and the interest which the county council has had to pay pending the time it was taken over by the authority in the district where the houses stand.
That is all that is in Clause 4. This Clause is quite a common Clause and the Soviet from which it emanates is to be found at the other end of the passage. This is modelled upon the Clause as approved by the House of Lords in 1919. Here you will find an alternative Clause, powers to pay interest on account during construction. Here is the model Clause which provides for this very thing. It is quite a standard Clause which is already embodied in various Acts of Parliament. Clearly it is the only practical way of dealing with matters of 1134 that kind. The authority which takes over, let us say, the sewer at Romford, must wait until it has a revenue. It is a practical commonplace way of dealing with it. If in Committee hon. Members can suggest any other way, so far as I am concerned, I have no special affection for this particular method, but it appears to be a businesslike way of dealing with the question.
There are other Clauses which really do conduce materially to economy. For instance, Clause 8 would save a great deal of expense in litigation. At present a local authority can only supply water to the authority of an adjoining district. In several cases a district may not adjoin absolutely but may really be served by the same water sources, and under this Clause it may be provided with water. Similarly, Clause 13 has been represented as necessitating a large number of officials. It does exactly the opposite. Under the provisions of the Public Health Act only an Inspector of Nuisances so described, can take samples of foods and drugs. All this Clause does is to enable the authority to use other officers to do the same thing. It saves officers, and is designed for that purpose. There have been some very hard words said about Clause 18, particularly about Sub-section (4). I think it was the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham who, in one of his flights of denunciation, described it as worthy of a corrupt finance minister from South America.
§ Earl WINTERTON
No. The right hon. Gentleman should not attribute wrong words to me. I did not use the word "corrupt." The right hon. Gentleman should really quote hon. Members correctly.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I will quote the Noble Lord, though I suggest that that is a fair interpretation of what he suggested. Here is what he said:In fact, I believe the very reason why this obligation was imposed was because in former days there was a great deal of corruption in Government administration, and Government Departments were in the habit of taking a balance from one fund and using it for sometimes a wrong purpose, and therefore it was laid down very many years ago. Yet the right hon. Gentleman proposes to alter it. The whole thing is reminiscent of the finance of a South American Republic. If we are ever deprived of his services I am sure he will have no difficulty in obtaining an important post in the Finance Ministry of some Central American Govern- 1135 ment. His proposal is quite in accordance with the best traditions south of the Panama Canal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1920, col. 644, Vol. 134.]
§ Earl WINTERTON
I never said the right hon. Gentleman would be a corrupt Minister. I would never make such an acccusation against a South American Republic.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I have read the passage, and I do not think anyone can say I was very far out. What is this particular Clause? It has been mentioned that certain authorities raised money before the War for certain public works and other purposes. These things were in suspense during the War, and in many cases the authorities have not gone on with them since, simply because last year we asked the authorities to concentrate on housing. At present the authorities are turning to these public works again in order that they may assist unemployment. In consequence of the conditions I have named, local authorities have in their hands money which they were entitled to borrow, and if they simply discharge those loans they would have to re-borrow at a much higher rate of interest. It is common sense, and in the interests not of extravagance, but of economy, that they should be able to use the money, if properly borrowed, as long as they maintain their obligations to their leaders, instead of having to re-borrow at a higher rate. That is all we propose. That is a correct statement of what is in the Bill. The Noble Lord is very sensitive about replies to his own vehement attacks, but no amount of denunciation or high-horse riding on the part of the Noble Lord makes any difference, for the fact is as I have stated it. The next Clause, he said, came straight from Moscow, or he used words to that effect.
§ Dr. ADDISON
What is this Clause, and what is Sub-section (5), which is supposed to have come from Lenin or Trotsky? The Sub-section states:Where any local authority, owing to circumstances arising out of the War, have been unable to make the required provision by means of a sinking fund or otherwise for the due discharge of any loan, the authority may submit to the Minister a scheme making provision for the discharge of the loan whether by extending or varying the period within which the loan may be discharged 1136 or otherwise, and the Minister may, if he thinks fit, approve any such scheme either with or without modifications.Any scheme approved by the Minister under this Sub-section shall have effect as if enacted in this Act:Provided that nothing in any scheme shall in any manner prejudice or affect the security, rights or remedies of any mortgagee or other person from whom the loan was raised.Some authorities during the War were so hard hit that they could not make their usual contributions to the Sinking Fund, and clearly they have got to re-establish the Sinking Fund. They must do that if they are to discharge their obligations to the lender. We cannot let the suspension of payments to the Sinking Fund go on. This provision will in no way affect their obligation to the lenders of the money.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This is a rather important question as it concerns the future borrowing of money. Am I right in thinking that this would be the result? We will presume that a public body on the East Coast had borrowed a sum of money repayable in 1930. When 19[...]0 comes will the local body not have the power to extend the repayment to 1940?
§ Dr. ADDISON
No, they will have to repay to the last farthing the persons who lent money in 1930, if that is the year agreed upon; but in re-borrowing money to meet the obligations the authority may re-borrow on different terms, that is to say, for a longer period.
§ Dr. ADDISON
They have not the power now and we are giving it to them, but it does not affect the obligation to the lender.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
The Clause states thatthey may submit to the Minister a scheme for the discharge of the loans whether by extending or varying the period within which the loan may be discharged or otherwise.That is totally inconsistent with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The obligations to the individual persons who advanced the money remain the same. If a local authority borrowed, say, £50,000 repayable in 1930 the persons who advanced the money retain their right to be paid 1137 their money in full at the time it becomes due. If that is not clear, let us make it more clear; the loan which they raise to redeem these obligations may vary the conditions of the original loan, but their obligation to the lenders is unaffected.
§ Dr. ADDISON
If anyone can put before us better words, we will accept them, but I assure hon. Members that the Clause has been seriously misunderstood. I have looked this Bill through to find where this great outpouring of the ratepayers' money, which some hon. Members have talked about, is to come from, but there are practically only Clauses 11 and 17 under which there could be any material expenditure of the ratepayers' money at all in the whole Bill. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras spoke of joy rides in connection with Clause 17, but I would remind him that the war pensions committees, the Insurance Act committees, the education committees, and all these committees have similar powers, and they have strict regulations, and none of them travel first-class. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), who spoke as Vice-Chairman of the County Councils Association, the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), Chairman of the Housing Committee of the London County Council, and other hon. Members representing associations of local authorities have, without exception, supported the Bill, a very significant fact.
The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham said I proposed to over-ride the Lunacy Acts practically carte blanche. I do not propose to do anything of the kind. There is nothing in the Bill to deprive any citizens of the protection of the Lunacy Acts, and I am prepared to put words in the Bill to make that quite clear. I would also call attention again to the fact that every Member who has spoken on behalf of the great public authorities, welcomes the proposals of the Bill as the most economical and simple way of dealing with this mass of unfortunate people, shell-shock cases, and other mental disorders. Even the Noble Lord, at the conclusion of his remarks on this subject, said:What is needed is, not such institutions as are proposed in the Bill, but the provision of cheerful hospitals run on a purely hospital footing, not for profit but philanthropically." 1138 —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1920, col. 640, Vol. 134.]If a number of people would provide these "cheerful hospitals," there would be no necessity for this proposal, but the trouble is that they are not here. I wish they were.
I think that the provisions of the Bill during the week-end have become more acceptable than they were during the last Debate here. Some hon. Members have dealt with local authorities' contributions to hospitals. I have a list here of thirty-four different local authorities who have promoted, and got passed through this House, Bills enabling them to give assistance to hospitals. I observe with interest that the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), who roundly trounced me in regard to the Bill generally, went to a medical meeting the next day, according to a report by the medical correspondent of the "Times," and is alleged to have voted for this resolution—
§ Sir H. CRAIK
There is a contradiction in the "Times" to-day. I was invited as an outsider to attend that meeting. I neither voted on one side nor the other on any resolution. I sent a contradiction at once to the "Times," and they put it in to-day.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I have not seen the letter in the "Times" to-day, and I got this report from the "Times" of last Saturday.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I have here a correct copy of the resolution passed by this meeting of medical men. It says:That this Conference suggests that the British voluntary hospital system be supplemented by State aid.So that it comes to this, that the examination of this question during the weekend has shown, first, that the Ministry of Health has used its utmost endeavours to assist the voluntary hospitals to keep off the rates, and, by the help of the authorities whom we have consulted, as I told the House the other day, £950,000 has been placed at their disposal to help keep them going; and, furthermore, that to allow authorities, where they are willing, to make a contribution to keep the hospitals going, is the shortest way of keeping them going, and I have still to learn of a more practical and economic 1139 suggestion. Lord Knutsford, speaking at a meeting of the London Hospital, used these words:At the present time at the London Hospital 900 people are waiting to come in, while close by there are 200 empty beds in the Whitechapel Infirmary.That is the situation. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University and other hon. Members must have been living in a strange world! Where have they been living? The reason people do not go to the Poor Law hospitals is not that they are not very efficient or well run—many are very well run—but the fact is that the Poor Law authorities can only give relief to people who are destitute. That is why these beds are empty. I claim that where the necessity arises they ought to be taken over by the county councils or borough councils and used for general hospital purposes. It is quite clear that the population will not use them so long as they are Poor Law institutions. You have that deep-rooted prejudice of which we know. Besides, you will have to alter the Poor Law Acts to make it legal for the guardians to do what is required, although at present one or two boards are using these beds. I am winking at that. I know it is illegal. But I cannot help it. There is no other place for the poor people to go. I must, therefore, make some sensible proposition in advance to deal with the situation.
I would be unworthy of my post if I left the matter where it is, and there would only be one result. The whole burden would grow, and ultimately roll, like a great mass, on to the shoulders of the local authorities and the Exchequer. It is only by timely aid of this kind to the voluntary hospitals to keep them going and off the rates—it is only by proposals of this kind that we can prevent this service, lock, stock, and barrel, becoming a charge on the public purse. Our proposal is the only practical proposal, notwithstanding all the denunciations—for I have not heard of another proposal. No alterative suggestion has emerged in the whole course of this discussion. Certain pledges were made before this Government was returned. We are continually being held up to opprobrium, because we have not kept our promises. We certainly did say we would do our best to secure that the miseries of the C3 1140 population should be avoided if possible. That is a mild interpretation of our promises. Nothing makes for impoverishment, lack of working power, discontent, private and family misery, and inefficiency more than the fact that there are hundreds of people to-day on the waiting lists of our voluntary hospitals for whom there is no accommodation. Week by week, month after month, they wait, to their own physical detriment. As Minister I cannot ignore the needs of those people. Therefore, I hope the House will support this measure and give it a Second Reading. I repeat the assurance I have given that we are most anxious to do everything we can, consistent with the urgent public necessity, to accept suggestions and to introduce into the Bill any safeguards to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of a single penny of public money, either from the Exchequer or the ratepayers. I trust, therefore, the House will give us the opportunity to consider fairly these proposals upstairs in the spirit I have suggested.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
May I appeal to hon. Members to allow a Division to be taken now on this Amendment? I know quite well how strong the feeling of the House is in regard to this Bill. My right hon. Friend has pointed out that there are many difficulties from a financial point of view, and has stated that he is ready to consider any practical suggestions. Under these circumstances, those points might be left to the Committee and we might be allowed to take the Division now.
§ Major MOLSON
As a medical man, I am very sorry to have to oppose this Bill. The Minister of Health has brought forward several medical measures with which I am fully in accord, but he has attached them to many other measures which I cannot support at all. My chief objection is the very severe financial liabilities he is placing on the country, and I think they are all the worse for being brought forward as a burden upon the rates instead of the taxes. I think that, as Minister of Health, he ought to have been allowed a free hand to carry on this work in a scientific way as a medical man, and that would have been for the benefit of the nation. Instead of that, he is burdened with this enormous 1141 housing scheme, which should have been carried out by private enterprise. I have often spoken against Government control, and I object to it in this measure. We have been asked to try and convert a C3 population into an A1 population, and I think by curative and preventive medicine and public health that might have been done. Instead of that, the Minister of Health has been burdened with measures which might have been carried out by private enterprise. To try and carry out as an economic principle putting the working classes into houses costing from £1000 to £1200 a year is absolutely impossible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] The reason I say that is that many of the working classes in my own constituency have bought two houses, and they live in one and let the other, and they feel very strongly that they are being taxed so highly. I will not delay the House longer, except to say that I intend to vote against this Bill.
I rise to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions with regard to the housing Clauses. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that on a good many occasions I have asked him what he intends to do with the great numbers of empty houses in such residential quarters as South Kensington, Belgrave Square, and elsewhere. Out of
§ 30 houses in the square in which I live, 10 are to be sold or let, and I happen to know there are a great many more which would be sold or let if the owner could get people to take them over either by purchase or hire. I want to know what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do in regard to hundreds of these houses. Is he going to give the people who own or lease those houses the power of going to their ground landlords and saying, "We want to utilise as flats these houses of ours, which are too expensive for us. We cannot afford the servants to staff them. We want to be allowed to turn these houses into flats in order to make much greater accommodation for the population"? When is the right hon. Gentleman going to give that power of turning those houses into flats? I have asked him that question over and over again, and I have not had an answer. I had hoped that in the discussion of this Bill I should have heard something about those houses, but I have not. I have heard of what is going to happen to the small houses.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 52.1143
|Division No. 356.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Greens, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Clough, Robert||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Amery, Lieut. Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Coats, Sir Stuart||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hayday, Arthur|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Higham, Charles Frederick|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hinds, John|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Edge, Captain William||Hood, Joseph|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Elveden, viscount||Irving, Dan|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Briant, Frank||Finney, Samuel||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Ford, Patrick Johnston||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bromfield, William||Foreman, Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Forestier-Walker, L||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Forrest, Walter||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Galbraith, Samuel||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Ganzonl, Captain Francis John C.||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Cairns, John||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Cape, Thomas||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Glanville, Harold James||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Gould, James C.||Lunn, William|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Casey, T. W.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Mason, Robert|
|Mills, John Edmund||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Tootill, Robert|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Robertson, John||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Turton, E. R.|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Rodger, A. K.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Rose, Frank H.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Myers, Thomas||Royce, William Stapleton||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Seager, Sir William||Wignall, James|
|Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Seddon, J. A.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Sexton, James||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Pratt, John William||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wise, Frederick|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wood, Major S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Spencer, George A.||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Randles, Sir John S.||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Swan, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Towyn|
|Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Jones.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gretton, Colonel John||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Flnchley)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hailwood, Augustine||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perring, William George|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Remer, J. R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Blair, Reginald||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Cecil, Ht. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Kidd, James||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lorden, John William||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Macveagh, Jeremiah||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Manville, Edward||Earl Winterton and Mr. G. Locker.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Lampson.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1144
§ The House divided: Ayes, 156; Noes, 76.1145
|Division No. 357.]||AYES.||[11.8 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Casey, T. W.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Chadwick, R. Burton||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.||Clough, Robert||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Higham, Charles Frederick|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Coats, Sir Stuart||Hinds, John|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hood, Joseph|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Edge, Captain William||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Irving, Dan|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Finney, Samuel||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Foreman, Henry||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Forestier-Walker, L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Forrest, Walter||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Bromfield, William||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Galbraith, Samuel||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Bruton, Sir James||Gilbert, James Daniel||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Glanville, Harold James||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Cairns, John||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Lunn, William|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Greig, Colonel James William||Manville, Edward|
|Mason, Robert||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Mills, John Edmund||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Turton, E. R.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Robertson, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Morison, Bt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Rodger, A. K.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Rose, Frank H.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Myers, Thomas||Royce, William Stapleton||Waterson, A. E.|
|Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Seager, Sir William||Whitla, Sir William|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Sexton, James||Wignall, James|
|O-Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Peel, Col Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Sitch, Charles H.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wise, Frederick|
|Pratt, John William||Spencer, George A.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wood, Major S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Sturrock, J. Leng||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Sutherland, Sir William||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Swan, J. E.|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Towyn|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gould, James C.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Gretton, Colonel John||Perring, William George|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hallwood, Augustine||Remer, J. R.|
|Blair, Reginald||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kidd, James||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lorden, John William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Williams. Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Earl Winterton and Mr. G. Locker.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Lampson.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Com-1146
§ mittee of the Whole House."—[Mr. Hailwood].
§ The House divided: Ayes, 55; Noes, 153.1147
|Division No. 358.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gretton, Colonel John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Remer, J. R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kidd, James||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lorden, John William||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Williams, Lt. Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Macquisten, F. A.||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Mr. Hailwood and Commander|
|Gould, James C.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Viscount Curzon.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Morden, Colonel H. Grant|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Purchase, H. G.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Glanville, Harold James||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Greig, Colonel James William||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Robertson, John|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hartshorn, Vernon||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Hayday, Arthur||Rodger, A. K.|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Higham, Charles Frederick||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hinds, John||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Seager, Sir William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hood, Joseph||Sexton, James|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Howard, Major S. G.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Johnstone, Joseph||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Spencer, George A.|
|Cairns, John||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Cape, Thomas||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Swan, J. E.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Casey, T. W.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Lort-Williams, J.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Lunn, William||Turton, E. R.|
|Clough, Robert||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Manville, Edward||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Mason, Robert||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Mills, John Edmund||Waterson, A. E.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Mitchell, William Lane||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Whitla, Sir William|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Wignall, James|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Edge, Captain William||Myers, Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wise, Frederick|
|Finney, Samuel||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Middx.)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Foreman, Henry||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Forrest, Walter||Pratt, John William||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Towyn|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.1148
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-four Minutes after Eleven o'clock.