§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury)—to leave out Sub-section (4) —it has been pointed out to me that it is closely bound up with the Amendment to Clause 82 in the name of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris)—in page 65, to leave out from the word "Parliament" in line 31, to the end of the Sub-section. That being so, I would not attempt to prevent the later Amendment being mentioned in the course of the discussion. I think we might have a discussion which would cover the two, but, of course, if there are separate points arising on Clause 82, I shall not prevent these being raised.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I beg to move, in page 64, line 32, to leave out Sub-section (4).
I am grateful to you, Sir, for allowing us some latitude in discussing this Amendment and for indicating that you will allow references to the other Amendment on Clause 82 which you have mentioned. In the first place, I would point out that, in the discussion of these Clauses, the Committee find the same difficulty as was found in regard to earlier Clauses of a similar character. The estimates on which certain figures have been arrived at, are estimates concerning the year 1926–27, whereas the proper year for this purpose would be 1927–28. On Thursday last I asked the Minister of Health to furnish a return based on the rate figures for the year 1928–29 or on the latest figures available showing the estimated effect of this Bill —as the Government proposed to amend it—on the rates of the boroughs of England and Wales during the first five years and at the end of 15 years. The right hon. Gentleman in the course of his answer said: 622Although the broad effect of the scheme in future years is clear from the examples in the Command Papers, it is obvious that any attempt to forecast at the present time the poundage of the rates in a particular area 15 years hence could only be misleading. Neither the amount of the rate-borne expenditure of the standard year (1928–29) nor the values in force on the appointed day (1st October, 1929) as apportioned under the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Act, 1928, are ascertainable.This is the point I wish to stress:Moreover, any such forecast would necessarily be based on such assumptions as that not only the circumstances of that area had remained quite unchanged during all that period, but that equally the circumstances of every other area had remained unchanged—assumptions which would certainly be falsified in practice. In these circumstances, it is not proposed to issue such a return as is suggested by the hon. Member."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January, 1929; col. 357, Vol. 224.]I call attention to that answer, because it touches the difficulty in which we find ourselves when we argue the effect of the de-rating part of this scheme. In dealing with the first Amendment, I should like to say that this Clause seems to me one of the meanest in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues are very courageous when they are dealing with the poorer boroughs or the poorer people, but when it comes to dealing with wealthy corporations or with the wealthy districts of the country, they prove themselves cowards, and run away. The tiny Act which is dealt with in this Clause was passed in 1894 in order to equalise some of the burdens which the poorer boroughs bear in the Metropolis. It was carried to equalise the rates of sanitary authorities by a general rate over London. It has stood ever since 1894, and has been of incalculable service to the poorer boroughs of London.
Under the present Act, the fund is based on a contribution of a 6d. rate. This tiny rate of 6d. on the rich boroughs of London is to be abolished. That 6d. rate is not levied on every parish in London. It would not be levied on those boroughs poor enough to receive contributions under the Act. It is levied on the richer boroughs. I think the City of London is the only borough which pays the full 6d. in the pound rate. I think the other contributing boroughs who pay into the fund pay a decreasing amount. The pool that was formed by the contributions of the 6d. rate, has been distributed according to population. The 623 poorest boroughs, who are not paying-in boroughs, receive out of the fund sums ranging from 1d. in the pound in relief of their rates, to 7½d. in the case of Bethnal Green, and 7d. in the case of the borough of Poplar. We take out of the fund each year something like £26,000, and we are expected to spend that money in improvements in our ordinary sanitary health services. The relief was granted specially for that purpose, because I suppose the House of Commons realised that it was just as important to, say, Westminster that Batter-sea should administetr its health services in a proper and efficient manner as to Battersea itself, or to the City of London that Bethnal Green should administer its health affairs efficiently as a borough contiguous to the City of London. Obviously, it is of as much importance to the City of London that disease in Bethnal Green should be kept within limits, especially infectious disease, to the City of London as to the people who live in Bethnal Green. That was the reason why the Act was passed.
While we were and still are very grateful for what we receive out of the fund, those of us who have had experience of administration in the poorer areas agree that the distribution of the fund on the population basis is not the best basis on which to distribute such a fund. As an instance of that point of view, we have only to look at the figures relating to Westminster and Battersea. A penny rate in Westminster produces about £40,000. I should have liked to have rubbed that figure in. Westminster only has to serve a population of 139,000. Just across the water, in the borough of Battersea, a penny rate produces only £4,600, and Battersea has to serve a population, with this very low rateable value, of 160,000. That was the reason which led Parliament in 1894 to pass the Act which it is proposed to repeal. Of the eight boroughs in London who contribute varying sums towards the fund, I know of none, and certainly I have not read of any agitation, which desires a repeal of this small measure of equalisation.
This equalisation has nothing to do with Poor Law or Poor Law administration. It is equalisation up to a certain point so far as the money for health services is concerned. Therefore, there 624 can be no question of pauperisation, or anything of that kind. There are eight contributing boroughs and 20 boroughs on the other side. The test in connection with the fund is need, and the need must be greatest where the population is a poor one and where the rateable value is very low. In Battersea, the rateable value per head of the population is £6 15s. 5d.; in Bethnal Green £5 2s. 11d.; in Camberwel) £5 14s. 7d.; in Westminster £69 l1s. 3d.; and in Holborn £38 17s. 1d. With regard to the City of London and its night population —I admit it would be an unfair comparison, if we wanted to press it to its logical conclusion, as some people might want to do—the rateable value is £600 per head of the population who inhabit the square mile of the City at night. The figures prove conclusively that this very small measure of justice in connection with health administration in the county of London, ought not to be repealed but ought to be retained.
The right hon. Gentleman may tell us that the reason why we are to have the relief of 7d. taken away from us in Poplar and 7½d. in Bethnal Green, is that we are to get relief because the costs of the Poor Law services are to be spread over the whole of the Metropolis. That is an altogether different story, and one which we shall go on to argue. I want to point out to the Comrrnttee—and the right hon. Gentleman will remember his argument in this connection—that if you unify under one authority a service which has been split amongst 32 different authorities, you have no right to say that certain parts of the area shall bear a heavier cost than other parts. Once you make the administration of the Poor Law throughout the county of London a unified one, then you ought to treat that as separate and apart from anything else. It is no answer to say that, because an act of justice, very long overdue, is going to be partially done now we must give up something which was granted for an entirely different service--a service from which all London benefits. I repeat that the health of East London, the health of South-East London and the health of the South of the river near here is as much a matter of concern to the people of Westminster as it is to the people in the East End and on the other side of the river, and the right hon. Gentleman, 625 when he replies will, I hope, give us some definite, clear reasons why this is being done. He must not ride off on the same argument that he put up last week, again and again, that he has come to certain agreements. I am perfectly sure he has not come to any agreement with the boroughs in the East End of London or the South-East of London, and whatever agreement he may have come to with certain other people, he cannot get rid of the fact that in bringing in this Bill, and proposing to repeal this very small measure of justice to the poorer boroughs of London, he will be inflicting a very great injustice on them.
Coming to the proposal to deal with Poor Law expenditure, the Government propose in Clause 82 to do for London exactly what they have done in Clause 78 with regard to the rest of the country. I said a moment ago, that through equalising the Poor Law expenditure over the whole of London, there is no doubt that boroughs and unions like Bermondsey, Poplar, and others gain very considerably. We advocated the equalisation of the Poor Law services because it would aid us, and I think I said on the Second Reading of this Bill that with this part of the Bill we very thoroughly agreed. It is a reform very long overdue, and it is one which we, at any rate, welcome. What has happened? The right hon. Gentleman, as I have said, is very courageous when he is dealing with poor people, but when the rich boroughs get on their hind legs and threaten him, he gives in, with the result that the poorer boroughs are going to be called upon to pay for a centralised service exactly double what the other boroughs have to pay. You say to us in effect, that because under this scheme, not of de-rating, but of unification of Poor Law administration for the county of London, it will bring a relief of 8s.—8s. 9d., I think the right hon. Gentleman estimated it at one time, but I am quite willing to take it at 8s., because that is the case for five years—you say, "You shall pay back 4s. of that amount." Poplar is called upon to pay back 4s., and Bethnal Green and other boroughs proportionately similar amounts, into a pool to enable the Government to save the richer boroughs from the cost of this centralised service. The right hon. Gentleman has often said to us that we have no right to have money from the centre unless the centre has 626 control. Now he is going to take money from us locally without giving us any control at all. The control is taken out of our hands, and you are going to make us pay double the amount that is being paid by other people, in addition to taking away the 7d. of the equalisation fund of which I have just been speaking.
I want to say one other word in this connection. The difficulty about this Bill is that the right hon. Gentleman has mixed up the money in such a fashion that very few people can disentangle it. We can see quite clearly that he takes half of this 8s. away from us, but when you come to consider what the effect will be, if the different boroughs which are de-rated are called upon to put in hand other social services or spend more money on the health or the improvement of their districts, through the mixing up of the de-rating business with this, he leaves the industrial boroughs in a very much worse plight than other districts. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head, because here is the fact again to which I called attention. First of all, the rateable value of Westminster is £9,216,000. Out of that sum Westminster will lose £209,000 through de-rating, and Shore-ditch will lose nearly £221,000 out of a rateable value of £949,000. The difference will be seen there, and it may be said that in the case of Poplar, where we lose just upon a quarter of a million, and our rateable value is £917,000, while that is not much more than Westminster, proportionately it is 10 times as much. Therefore, there is no earthly use in the right hon. Gentleman saying to us, especially in view of his answer last Thursday, that nobody knows what will happen in the years after this Bill is passed. It is no use his saying to us that we are gaining this 4s., or that we are gaining any sum at all. The real fact of the matter is that if the weighted population figure had been properly applied, we ought to have had 10 times as much for Poplar as against three times, which the right hon. Gentleman, through his formula, has applied, that is if you weight us in proportion to our rateable value as well as population.
It is true—and I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to ride off on this—that we get 4s. reduction straight away. That looks, on the fact of it. a very fine thing 627 indeed, but when all this is done, Poplar will still be rated at 21s. in the £, Stepney at 16s. 8d., Bethnal Green at 18s. 5d., and Bermondsey at 16s. 9d., whereas the City of London will still get away with 9s. 2d., and Westminster with 9s. 6d. When you think of the County of London as a single unit, there cannot be any justification for the disparity of these figures. If the right hon. Gentleman had wanted to assist his very rich friends, he could have assisted them out of the national Exchequer, and not at the expense of the poorer boroughs. He has no right in one Clause to centralise this administration, and, apparently, equalise the expenditure, and then say, because the richer boroughs complain, "Well, you must give half the addition back again." cked method of dealing with the case, that we want these two Amendments carried.
When one comes to consider the new social services which either the county or borough councils may want to put into operation, the poorer boroughs, owing to the de-rating scheme, are in an infinitely worse plight than the richer boroughs, because de-rating hits the poorer boroughs much harder than it does Westminster. If the Government had adopted our proposal to give back pound for pound as they de-rated, the difficulty of new services would not have arisen. But the plan they have adopted leaves the poorer boroughs ever so much harder hit than they ought to be. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman may tell us that the rate for 1928–29 may show reduction. I think that is possibly true, but that has nothing whatever to do with the Bill now before the House. It has nothing whatever to do with equalisation or with de-rating, or anything connected with this Bill, but it has to do with circumstances of which the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware. The other day I pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that in the case of the Port of London Authority there may be a very big increase of rateable value when the huge improvements, which at long last are being carried out at the docks, are completed, and that our rates in Poplar ought to go down, but we shall not get that advantage because of the operation of the de-rating scheme. 628 As I said at the beginning, the right hon. Gentleman in these proposals is living up both to his reputation and to his practice of taking care of the rich and penalising the poor.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am one of those who feel grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having carried out a long overdue reform, that is, to make the Poor Law a common responsibility over the whole of London. We are thankful that at last there is a prospect of this reform becoming part of the law of the land. Our gratitude, however, is somewhat modified by the fact that his task in effecting this change has been made easy because all parties in London have been agreed substantially upon it. Some years ago the London County Council unanimously carried a resolution in favour of the principle. That is a rare thing, because we are as controversial in the County Hall as in the House of Commons. Nor has there been any real opposition on the part of the borough councils, with the exception, of course, of the City of London, which, needless to say, opposes every reform, no matter from what source it comes. With this single exception the right hon. Gentleman will admit that he has had plenty of support from London in carrying his proposal, and no doubt he is grateful to London for the attitude it has taken up on the matter, as we are grateful to him for putting it in this Bill.
But the removal of one injustice does not justify the creation of the new injustice for which he is responsible by this proposal. There are very great differences in the matter of wealth, population and circumstances between the 28 boroughs in the Metropolis, and I do not think he has been asked by any single authority, any single public authority, to do away with an Act which has existed from 1894, which has worked smoothly, caused no friction, and which put the various boroughs of London on some level of equality and enabled them to carry out public services to their citizens without the imposition of too large a rate. What is the result of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal? In doing away with the Equalisation of Bates Act, Bethnal Green will lose 9d. in the £ and the City of London will gain 5d. in the £. I know the argument which will be put forward in defence of the proposal; it is that we 629 ought not to mind this because the result of the Poor Law being made a common responsibility for the whole area will be to give great relief to the poorer districts. Either it is right or it is wrong to make the Poor Law a common responsibility; it is a common burden or it is not, but it has nothing whatever to do with the administration of such matters as health, sanitation, housing and other public services, carried on by the municipalities, and I cannot see what relation the one has to the other.
The reason why there has been no opposition to the suggestion that the Poor Law should be a common responsibility for the whole of London, the justification for the proposal, is that a great number of people who live in the poorer districts actually work in the richer boroughs. The carmen, packers, carriers, warehousemen and clerks, who work in the City of London, live in Bethnal Green, Bermondsey, Southwark and Poplar, and it is admitted by every part of London except the City of London that the work of the poor law should be in the hands of a central authority. On the other hand, the Minister of Health will say that one result of the Poor Law becoming a common charge will be a drop in the rates of Poplar from 23s. to 19s. in the £; a drop in the rates of Bethnal Green from 17s. to 15s., and he may say, "Why have you any grievance; why are you not content? Are not the rates of these poor districts coming down? Is it fair to complain against the other part of the Government's scheme?" Let me remind the Comnnittee that whilst it is true that the rates of Bethnal Green will come down to 15s., the rates of Westminster and the City of London will be 9s. 2d. in the £. There will still be that enormous difference. The rates of the City of Westminster and the City of London will remain exactly as they are, at 9s. 2d. in the £, while the rates of the boroughs in the East End of London will be something like 50 per cent. higher.
The reason, of course, is that there is such an immense difference in assessable value. The City of London, with its one square mile, has an assessable value of £8,000,000 and the City of Westminster an assessable value of £9,000,000, while Bethnal Green is only £600,000 and Poplar, with all the advantages of the docks, is only £1,000,000. A penny rate 630 in Bethnal Green brings in only £2,300, but in the City of London, a penny rate brings in £32,000 and in the City of Westminster, £36,000. The result is that the City of London and the City of Westminster acquire a reputation for good government, economy and efficiency. They are not extravagant, while Poplar has become a byword. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is quite able to defend Poplar but it is a remarkable thing, when you investigate the actual expenditure, to find that notorious Poplar does not come out so badly when compared with the City of Westminster and the City of London. If you take the public health services you will find that there is not much to choose between the various parts of London. Take the maintenance, cleansing and repair of streets. It is true that Poplar with its high wages spends £118,000 a year, but the City of London spends £260,000 and the City of Westminster £258,000. My own little modest borough spends £66,000.
If you take maternity and child welfare then the City of London does show economy. It spends £320, against Poplar's £5,300 and Bethnal Green's £4,200, but on the more expensive services, like the provision of public libraries, baths, washhouses and the lighting of the streets, it is quite a mistake to think that the East End Boroughs are more extravagant in their expenditure than the richer districts. The actual total expenditure of Westminster on municipal services is much larger than that of Poplar; it is £509,000 as against £337,000 in Poplar and £190,000 in Bethnal Green. The whole trouble is that owing to a lower assessable value the actual rate in the £ is high in these poorer districts while in the richer districts, owing to their high assessable value, the rate is low. In order to equalise the position the Act of 1894 was passed, under which the London County Council levies a rate of 6d. in the £ on assessable value and distributes the money, when collected, to the various boroughs according to population, with the result that the poorer districts receive and the richer districts pay in.
The Government, not content with doing away with the Equalisation of Rates Act, on their own initiative, without being requested by any of the parties con- 631 cerned, also propose to ask the poorer districts to help the richer districts and later on of the Order Paper I have an Amendment down dealing with this point. They are proposing to ask the poorer districts to help the richer districts to bear the burden of their derating scheme. Under the Bill, Bermondsey is to contribute £32,000, Bethnal Green £22,000, Deptford £12,000, Greenwich £15,000, Poplar £79,000 and Stepney £51,000, in order to help rich boroughs like Kensington, Paddington, Marylebone and Westminster, to carry the burden of the Government's de-rating scheme and prevent a higher rate for the next five years. It is true that the Government are going to bear the other half of the burden, but it is an absurd and preposterous proposal that the Government should ask the poorer districts out of their rates to bolster up the rates of the rich districts of London. There is no other case of this kind in the whole of the country; and it is not reasonable, fair or just. Actually, Bethnal Green will contribute no less than a rate of 11d. in the £ while Poplar —I do not know whether the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley is aware of this fact—is going to be asked to contribute an amount equal to a rate of 2s. 7d. in the £, in order that the rates of the City of London and the City of Westminster should remain stabilised at 9s. 2d. That is a proposal which even the Parliamentary Secretary will not be able to defend. I do not think it can be defended on any ground of reason, practice, or precedent.
There is another and an even more serious anomaly in this scheme. The greater part of the factories which are to be de-rated are situate in the poorer districts of London, not in the richer districts. The industrial districts are in the East End and North of London, not in the centre, and these poorer districts will find their area of rating decreased. In the future they will find that the proceeds of a penny rate will be much less than they are at present. So that, in addition to being asked to bear this extra burden, they will suffer as rating authorities very much more than the other parts of London. The Government should consider, even at this stage, whether it is wise to ask the Committee to agree to drop the equalisation fund—a proposal 632 that is not desired and has not been asked for by any part of London and is certainly not justified by any facts or figures that have been put before it.
§ Mr. SCURR
We are faced with one of the difficulties which constantly arise on account of the stupid system of government which exists in London. It is a difficulty which does not exist in the large provincial towns. Take the city represented by the Minister of Health. It is a large area with a large population. For all the services in that particular city there is an equalised rate levied over the whole of the city, and there is one authority to deal with the services. Here in London we have the County Council, 28 borough councils, 25 boards of guardians and numerous other authorities. The Minister is, of course, taking a step forward in bringing the Poor Law for the County of London under the control of one authority, the County Council. I am only sorry that, when introducing what he is pleased to term a Local Government Bill, he has not gone a step further and got rid of the borough councils at the same time and had one authority for the whole of London.
When we are facing all these difficulties, we are led to wonder what is going to be the result, particularly in the case of individual boroughs. I agree with what has been said with regard to the abolition of the London (Equalisation of Rates) Act of 1894. If this Bill is passed, the Poor Law will be a common charge, and in that respect there will be an equalised rate all over London. We admit that that will confer certain benefits on some of the poorer boroughs. Poplar, for example, will benefit, if the expenditure remains as during the past year all over London, to the extent of 7s. in the £. But apparently the right hon. Gentleman, having seen that Poplar is to receive 7s. and Bethnal Green nearly 3s., has decided that these areas are getting too much. Therefore he has had to devise some scheme for taking away with one hand what he is giving with the other. The London (Equalisation of Rates) Act was passed to deal not with the question of the Poor Law at all, but with questions relating to health services. I submit that, so far as London is concerned, despite the absurd division which is made in regard to the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington—some of them seem to like fancy names attached to their 633 titles—there really is a unity in London. Certain portions of the county are largely residential, but persons residing there have to work in other portions of the county. Consequently there is no case made out for getting rid of this equalisation fund. There is another point which concerns the next Amendment on the Paper. Clause 82, Sub-section (1, a,) states:There shall be ascertained in accordance with the rules set out in the Fifth Schedule to this Act.When I turn to the Fifth Schedule I find the following:There shall be estimated and certified as respects each separately rated area the rate in the pound required to raise an amount certified as being the amount of the expenditure for the standard year falling to be borne by rates.I take it that, in making this arrangement in Clause 82, the equalisation of rates is not being taken into consideration at all. That will make a very considerable difference in the estimates by various competent authorities as to what will be borne by the various boroughs as their contributions in order that other boroughs shall not have their rates raised. I should like to know from the Minister whether, in ascertaining the amount which is to be levied by the county council over the whole of London, there has been included the Equalisation of Rates Act. It would make a difference in Battersea, for example, of 5¼d. in the £, in Bethnal Green a difference of 9d., and in Deptford a difference of 6¾d. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give me the information now and so save time, and, perhaps, affect my argument. Does the scheme under the Fifth Schedule include the amounts of the Equalisation of Rates Act or not?
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)
The answer is "No," because the Equalisation of Rates Act is repealed by the Bill, and it cannot be taken into account in the expenditure of the standard year.
§ Mr. SCURR
I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is a very important point indeed, as between the various boroughs. Take Battersea for example. On the assumption which has been made, that equalisation has been 634 included, Battersea will stand where it is now without either gain or loss, but if the equalisation fund is left out there will be an increase in rates in Battersea of 6¼d. in the £.I see that the Minister shakes his head, but I can only take the answer that he has given us. Reference has been made to the way in which the poorer boroughs are to suffer as a result of this proposed arrangement. It is not only the poorer boroughs that are being badly treated. In some ways they may get a benefit. But the boroughs round about the centre have to be considered. Take Islington as an example. As a result of the equalisation of the poor rate, Islington will get an increase of 3.7d. in the £,but as a result of the abolition of the equalisation of rates it will have a further 5½d. put upon it. Therefore, the net result of the three things which the Government are proposing, the equalisation of the poor rate, the abolition of the Equalisation of Rates Act of 1894, and the de-rating proposals, will be that Islington will have to face an increase of at least 6d. in the £.It is only another example of the complete failure of the formula. Right through, negotiations have had to be carried on between the Minister and the London local authorities, and the formula has practically been cast to the wind.
The poor boroughs have had these services put upon them because of the system of dual government which prevails in London. The areas with the low rateable value are the great industrial centres. Poplar is an example. Until recently the great source of its rateable Value was the docks—the docks which very largely produce the problem of poverty in Poplar, by reason of the casual labour system and the fact that docks attract labour from other parts of the country. Just when we were thinking that we were going to get out of that difficulty, when we imagined that the great burden which has been thrown upon Poplar would be taken off its shoulders and laid on London as a whole, we find the Minister coming along and taking away what he has given, so that instead of receiving the benefit of something like 6s. in the £,we are to receive only 3s. in the £.
I cannot see what rhyme or reason there can be for suggesting that boroughs 635 which may suffer to the extent of a few pence in the pound, as a result of the scheme, should be put in the position in which they cannot lose. Figures have already been quoted showing the difference in the amount raised by a penny rate in the different localities. As has been said, when you compare these localities you very often find that, from the point of view of economy and efficiency, the less highly assessed boroughs are really better and more cheaply administered than are some of the richer boroughs. I consider that this scheme is bad from beginning to end, and I hope that even now the Minister will modify it.
§ Mr. MARCH
I want to support the deletion of this Sub-section for the reasons which have already been given, and also in order to point out that this Sub-section, if it stands, will hit the poorer boroughs. Although we know that this is a great Local Government Bill which is going to do good in some directions, I am certain that neither the Minister nor the Government desire to do an injury to the poorer boroughs. If this goes through in its present form, it will certainly hit the poorer boroughs. We have been hit long enough and, as a matter of fact, too long. The poorer boroughs have had to bear a burden that they have no right to bear. Part of the reform in this Bill is one that is long overdue, but that is no reason why the Government should put forward the repeal of the Equalisation of Rates Act, 1894. It is for quite different purposes that it ought to be considered by the Government. So far as we know, there has been no real advocacy from the richer boroughs to get this equalisation of rates taken away. They realise how important it is that the health services should be kept up in the poorer boroughs, when you remember the vast population in the districts of casual labour and unemployed labour—as, for instance, in Poplar, where we have 15.25 per cent. having relief and unemployed, the largest percentage in any one of the 28 boroughs. Our assessable value is not as it should be, had it not been for the alteration in the docks, the re-assessment of which will reduce the rateable value in Poplar very considerably. The question of this 6d. in the £ on the Equalisation of Rates Act, 636 and also the alteration in the de-rating and the loss to be sustained in Poplar on that, will bring us up to another 2s. in the £ on our rates. That is going back again, and we think that this question should be left until we get the further 15 or 19 years while this is working itself out. That would be the time to give consideration as to how it is working. We have no right to go on helping the richer boroughs to the detriment of the poorer boroughs.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I want to ask the Minister to explain fully what is meant by Schedule V. There has been a general impression that no Metropolitan borough is to lose money during the guarantee year.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I mean on the expenditure of 1928. Say it is five years. No Metropolitan borough is to lose during the first year of the scheme on its expenditure of 192S–29 as far as this scheme is concerned. The total loss of the boroughs, as calculated by Schedule V, is to be made up. The point of difficulty is that Schedule V says that you are to estimate the amount of the expenditure falling to be borne by rates in that area during the standard year. Now, the expenditure of the boroughs was made partly by rates in that year and partly, among other things, by the equalisation of rates fund. Taking the 1925–26 figures, about £44,000 went into the borough from the equalisation fund and was spent by the borough. That money was not raised by rates within the borough at all. It seems to me that in calculating the loss, the total loss to the boroughs will not be made up. I do hope the Minister will explain that. The fault is that Schedule V does not quite meet this. If you ignore the equalisation fund and only make up the amount borne by the ratepayers in the district, you will leave some boroughs in the first year of the scheme with a, loss of 6d. or 7d. in the £, or more.
Battersea will lose 6d. on account of equalisation of the Poor Rates, and that will be made up clearly, under Schedule V. It will lose 3d. on de-rating and, clearly, that will be made up under Schedule V. But it will also lose a sum equivalent to a 5d. rate, and it is ex- 637 tremely doubtful under Schedule V whether the amount lost by this money coming into the borough will be made up. The words of the Schedule seem to imply that only the amount falling on the rates in the district will be made up. The point is that a large part of local expenditure is made up by the sums which come into the borough from the equalisation fund. That fund is to be demolished. The expenditure is on rates levied within that area. If that means what is says, it means that every district is to have made up to it the rating expenditure in the district, but with regard to equalisation—large extra sums—it does not appear that the loss from them will be made up if the loss is calculated under Schedule V. Battersea, for example, will lose 6d. on the equalisation fund. Will that be made up under Schedule V? Islington, which will be the worst sufferer, will lose 11d. on its rates by losing the grant it gets from the equalisation fund. Will that be made up? If so, how does the wording of Schedule V cover it? It is not raised within the borough. I do hope that I am not right, but if I am right, it means that many boroughs will lose the amount they now gain from the equalisation fund.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), when he moved this Amendment, said that the particular Clause which it is sought to delete was the meanest—
§ Sir K. WOOD
—of the whole of the hundred odd Clauses within the compass of these particular proposals. If this is the meanest Clause he can find, I think the Minister might very well be satisfied with that judgment. What in fact is the proposal? The proposal is this, that the London (Equalisation of Rates) Act, 1894, shall now cease to be in operation. The hon. Member was perfectly right when he gave the general description of the object of that Measure, but he failed to state that when it was brought before the House of Commons it originated in a Resolution that provision ought to be made for the further equalising of rates throughout the Metropolis. What are the circumstances today? Why is it that neither the London 638 County Council nor the metropolitan boroughs have protested, if this is such an outrage as the hon. Member suggests? The reason, of course, is perfectly obvious, that with the equalisation of the Poor Law expenses in London this particular measure of assistance which was hitherto available to the metropolitan boroughs will be trifling in comparison with the assistance which will be afforded to them as a result of these proposals.
We have heard also from the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) as to the circumstances, and he quite frankly admitted that, so far as the Bethnal Green grant was concerned, instead of the assistance being measured in pence, the assistance given to Bethnal Green and Poplar by the Government scheme would be measured in shillings. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green gives modified gratitude for this. I understand he has been a supporter of the equalisation of rates in London for many years. I think he ought to commend this Government for bringing it into operation, especially when he recalls the failure of his own party ever to do so. I remember years ago, when the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was writing about the necessity of all this, but he never did anything. The Liberal party never brought into operation a Measure of this kind, and they had plenty of time and opportunity, and yet the hon. Gentleman, when we do this and bring in a great measure of relief, so far as Bethnal Green is concerned, complains in a trumpery sort of way, if I may say so, and endeavours to minimise the considerable benefit which Bethnal Green is getting, simply because a few pence are lost to them by the repeal of this particular Measure. I hope when he does explain this Measure to Bethnal Green he will tell them exactly what has happened.
I must say I think it is rather small for hon. Members who represent London constituencies in this House, simply because they happen to be in opposition, to minimise the benefits which are being given in this way, here and, no doubt, on public platforms. So I gather from the efforts of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley in Battersea. That is why we have heard such a lot about Battersea this afternoon. I suppose the hon. Mem- 639 ber and the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence) are now endeavouring to justify the speeches which they made in Battersea on Friday and Saturday last.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Will the right hon. Gentleman say when and where I spoke about the loss of rates to Battersea?
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I thought the right hon. Gentleman referred to my speech on de-rating on Friday or Saturday last, and I ask him to send me any report in which he can find any remarks of mine at Battersea about the loss of rates.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I am glad to hear the hon. Lady did not say anything of that sort. I think she was very wise not to have done so.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Then will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw his remark that in a speech in Battersea I made such remarks?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I will do anything that will please the hon. Lady. I think she would be very unwise to have gone down to Battersea on Friday night and told them what was the real result of this scheme so far as Battersea is concerned. Then we come to another objection. Hon. Members who wish to pick holes in this scheme, speaking about another Amendment which will come later, referred to the payment of the supplementary Exchequer grants, and the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley even went so far as to say that this system of supplementary Exchequer grants has been devised by my right hon. Friend in order to penalise the richer boroughs of London and make them pay for the poorer boroughs.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The right hon. Gentleman is forgetting his argument. I certainly did not say he was penalising the richer boroughs, but that he was penalising the poorer for the benefit of the richer.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I apologise. The hon. Member said this was brought in for the purpose of penalising the poorer boroughs in order to bring assistance to the richer boroughs. The hon. Gentleman would, on a moment's reflection, or if he consulted the hon. Member beside him, 640 know that this scheme is not a scheme that affects London only. It is a scheme that is in operation for other parts of the country, and the hon. Gentleman should know that the purpose of spreading over this period, which is now being extended from 15 years to 19 years, is in order to ease the transition until we get to the final financial arrangements under this Bill. If he would examine the scheme in detail, he would find that throughout the country generally the purpose is not in any way to penalise the poorer boroughs. All it is doing, even in London, is that where areas will get a considerable gain, then for a limited period only they will help to ease the transitional stage for the others. When a Scheme of this kind, involving a considerable alteration in local government machinery, is being brought into operation, is it unfair to say to a borough which is gaining considerably as a result of this proposal that for a limited period they should come with some assistance to other boroughs who have to make sacrifices on account of this scheme, and ease the position in that way?
I remember very well that when the representatives of the London County Council came on a deputation to my right hon. Friend, I think they were almost the first—there have been many more since—to say, speaking generally and broadly, with regard to the administrative proposals of the Government in relation to local government, I hat they were in agreement. I have if he shorthand notes, and they made none of the criticisms which we have heard for so many days during these Debates from hon. Members opposite in connection with the abolition of the boards of guardians and matters of that kind. They were in general agreement with the Government as regards this scheme; hut who would think, hearing the observations of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood). leading his party, as he has done with great ability, and certainly with great patience, considering the length and number of the speeches made by his own followers, that as regards London, the great capital city, all the parties on the London County Council were in agreement with the Government in connection with this scheme?
When we come to the financial side of it, it is perfectly true that at that first interview with my right hon. Friend— 641 as was the case with the associations of local authorities which have raised, as they are quite entitled to do, points affecting the financial structure of the scheme—they made certain suggestions to my right hon. Friend, and those suggestions have received the attention of my right hon. Friend and his advisers. I have the agenda of the London County Council here, and they say, in regard to the finance of the scheme, that the Government have met them with great fairness. As to the statements that there is no provision in London for social services and that there is nothing to advance the health of London, we have only to turn to the agenda of the London County Council itself to look at their figures— and these are not the figures of a partisan majority, because I suppose there is no municipal body in the world that is better staffed and has better experts to advise it than the London County Council. Even in the early days of the scheme, when all our financial arrangements had not been completed with the local authorities, I read in the London County Council agenda that London as a whole will benefit to the extent of approximately £797,000 a year during the first five years' operation of the scheme, and £348,000 and £131,000 a year, respectively, during the second and third five years. That was the original proposal, before further concessions were made. I wonder whether the hon. Members opposite told that to the electors of Battersea on Friday night.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Then again, I suppose, for the benefit of Battersea, there is another hare that has been run this afternoon, and that is the statement that the Equalisation of Rates Act has not been taken into account in connection with this scheme, that the London County Council and all their officials have overlooked it, and that (ho hon. Member for Bow and Bromley and his comrades have discovered it. My answer is that the effect of the abolition of the Equalisation of Rates Act is taken into account, and in the calculation of rates and gains under Clause 82, all changes of the Bill are given effect to and the rates of the standard year under the scheme are compared with what the rates would have been on the assumption that all the 642 changes had been in force in the standard year. Do not let us go down to Batter-sea or anywhere else and say that we have discovered something in which all the figures are wrong and that the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley is the only financial expert who has discovered it. That is not so, and London can rest content with the verdict of all three parties on the London County Council that, so far as the administrative side of the scheme is concerned, they are in agreement with it and that, so far as the financial side is concerned, the Government have met them with great fairness.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
We have had the usual delightful speech from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health; if we except his references to Battersea. I do not know whether coming events cast their shadows before them by causing the right hon. Gentleman some concern as to what is really going to take place at Battersea on the 7th of next month, but? hope his premonitions will be fully justified by the event. I think the right hon. Gentleman was not quite frank with the Committee in his closing statement or else he has rendered himself liable to be misunderstood. There is still some doubt on this side of the Committee as to the incidence of the changes in relation to the operation of the Equalisation of Bates Act, and, so far as I have been able to understand from the reply given by the right hon. Gentleman, my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) will be fully justified in going again to Battersea and saying exactly what he said last week. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the effect of the formula and of the Fifth Schedule is such as to bring about automatically complete equalisation of the rates, then what can be the objection to leaving the Equalisation of Rates Act still on the Statute Book? Surely its retention is at least a protection to the poorer boroughs of London.
The Parliamentary Secretary made great play of the fact that the London County Council had expressed no opposition to the Clause, but the London County Council raises its own rates through the borough councils, which have not only their own rates to raise, but those of the London County Council. Who then has a more direct interest in the operations of the Equalisation of 643 Rates Act than the poorer boroughs of London, which have to collect rates on behalf of the London County Council? The same thing applies in regard to Clause 82. The Government come down upon the boroughs which are able to show a gain or a surplus under the formula, and say that as much as they gain shall be taken away by the London County Council for its own purpose. Are we right in understanding from the Parliamentary Secretary that the gain is a gain after taking into consideration all that the borough might have received under the Equalisation of Rates Act? Would the position have been different supposing the gain to the poorer boroughs under the Equalisation of Rates Act had not been taken into account?
In spite of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said—and he has said nothing definite on this matter yet—in spite of what he has tried to explain about the effect on equalisation of the Bill, and how the Bill would have been affected by the Equalisation of Rates Act, I still maintain that certain boroughs which are now on the list, and which are in the position of gaining under the proposals of this Bill, will, by the elimination of the Equalisation of Rates Act actually incur a loss. The question has been put to the Parliamentary Secretary twice, and I would not repeat it until I had had an opportunity of hearing his answer. It is in consequence of the unsatisfactory nature of his answer that I feel it necessary to put it again.
§ Sir K. WOOD
How can I say more than that it has been taken into account? I cannot say more than that. I have given an assurance that it has been taken into account, and I do not know what more I can say.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
The right hon. Gentleman appears to have given a categorical answer, and I understand him to say that, in estimating the gains and losses of the London boroughs, account has been taken of the payments on the one Bide and the receipts on the other of the boroughs under the Equalisation of Rates Act. Is that correct?
§ Mr. NAYLOR
Also, that all that has been taken into account, not only in regard to the results of the formula, but in regard to the whole operations of the Bill in the financial transactions between the London County Council and the borough councils under Clause 82. Is the answer in the affirmative?
§ Mr. NAYLOR
I am bound to accept the right hon. Gentleman's answer, and I do accept it, but I must express the hope that he has not been misinformed. I am satisfied on the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary that all that has been taken into account. We object to this Clause mainly on the ground that the need for equalisation of rates may ensue as a result of the incomplete accomplishment of what the promoters of the Bill expect. We would desire to maintain this Act because of the weakness of the human factor in making these estimates of another year. Is not that sufficient for the Parliamentary Secretary, or is he so convinced that it is impossible for his advisers to make any mistake that it is unnecessary to retain the Equalisation of Rates Act? I trust that the Parliamentary Secretary is right, and that things will work out as he says. At the same time, I am still of opinion that it would be an advantage and far safer from London's point of view if this Section of the Clause were repealed.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I would like to return to the question of the Schedule. I am sorry to find that Battersea seems to be on the right hon. Gentleman's nerves.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I was under the impression that my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the right hon. Gentleman had been to Battersea together, and had been having a pleasant time there. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the intention of the Government is that the Equalisation of Rates Act should be taken into account, but it is needless to tell him, as a lawyer, that it is often found that what is the intention of the Government is not what the Act finally says, and we should have been glad if he could have told us 645 where to find this explained. There is no city in the world where anything like the Equalisation of Rates Act is in existence; therefore, if provision has been made, there surely must be some definite wording which can be pointed out.
I notice that in the early discussion with the London County Council a matter was raised in connection with the standard year. A number of people who are entitled to claim exemption under the de-rating Clauses of this Bill in one or two of the London boroughs, including the one which I represent, have not claimed, and certainly not anything like the numbers who were expected to claim have made claims. The reason apparently in some cases is that, being tenants, they have expected that if they obtained exemption, the landlords would ask for increased rents. Therefore, they have preferred to leave the matter alone. In other eases, they have not thought it worth while to put in a claim. The London County Council, I believe, asked the right hon. Gentleman what would happen if, during the period that elapses between the fixing of the standard year and the present time, a large number of the people who have not put in claims, made claims. Although I have seen a question raised on the minutes of the London County Council, I have not seen the answer of the Minister, and I should be glad to know whether this matter is to be met in any way. I confess that I do not see how it is to be met if we are to have a definite figure decided on in the standard year. Yet report has it that in one London borough 50 per cent. of the claims that were expected—it may have been that the anticipations were mistaken—have not come in. To a certain extent, I understand, this is the case in the borough which I represent.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that all parties on the London County Council have welcomed the abolition of the Poor Law in London, and I agree with it. I welcomed the Measure so far as that question is concerned. But it seems to me, when we look at this Clause dealing with the financial aspect of London, and incidentally with the equalisation of rates, that the de-rating portion of the Measure still remains the most unsatisfactory, for the poorer boroughs of London will lose in a cer- 646 tain number of cases a very considerable proportion of their assessable value. While it is correct for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Government are meeting the difficulties so occasioned, and that these boroughs, many of them in the east end of London, are gaining a considerable sum of money, we overlook what the future has in store. No one imagines that the public services of London have reached the highest point of efficiency, nor that there will not be claims in the years to come for larger sums of money. When this comes about, it will be discovered that the Measure has removed from these boroughs a certain part of their wealthiest centres, and has thrown the burden of further increased expenditure upon a limited portion of the boroughs. In those cases the people who will suffer to a large extent are the shopkeepers and the poorer people.
In places like Westminster, where there are large shops, the council, on account of these premises not being productive but distributive agencies, will still go on drawing their additional rates from the increased assessable value. The fact that places like Westminster are, to a large extent, not being touched in the same degree as the East End of London, is to me the fundamental objection to the financial parts of the Measure, and the de-rating Clauses still form part of the Bill to which I am strongly opposed. I believe that the poorer parts of London in time will suffer under these parts of the Measure. The right hon. Gentleman is cleverly getting over his difficulties by pouring out money to calm down any person who criticises the scheme, and anybody who sits in his seat in five or seven years' time will have to settle the problems that will then be presented. The Committee is content to let the Measure pass on its way for the time being so long as they get money at the moment, but that does not do away with the fact that the fundamental principles on which the finance of this Measure is based are unsound. Whoever occupies the Ministry of Health in five or seven years' time, and finally has to come to some permanent settlement with people who will not be satisfied just to accept a little sum of money to tide them over a few years, will find that the financial ground on which this Measure has been 647 made is unsound and requires large alterations.
§ Sir K. WOOD
What the hon. Member has said in general criticism of the proposals on the de-rating side is, of course, applicable to London, but not specially to London. I would like to remind him, because I think it may help to mitigate some of his disappointments, that according to the London County Council itself this Measure does something which, I think, the hon. Member and his party have for a long time advocated, in common with other people, because, as the hon. Member knows, I have followed his utterances for a good many years now. The London County Council say:It must not be overlooked that a sum of no less than £2,645,000 a year, (as calculated on the figures for the year 1926–27) now borne by the London ratepayers, will be borne by the taxes.That is, a considerable alteration has been made in the burden as between the national Exchequer and the ratepayers. Until this matter became a controversial one, and the Opposition had to oppose it, I always understood that it was a general understanding of nearly all parties that the ratio of expenditure between the national Exchequer and the rating authorities ought to be altered in favour of the ratepayers. When the hon. Member goes over all the points against the Bill, he ought to keep in mind this very important step in the right direction, which, I am sure, will find support among his constituents in Finsbury. The hon. Member also put to me a question about de-rating claims. It is perfectly true, as he said, that the London County Council and a number of associations
§ have been to the Minister of Health with regard to the number of claims. I cannot pretend either to confirm what the hon. Member said as to the number of claims or the reason, but there are a number of claims which have not been made, and my right hon. Friend has agreed to meet the request of the London County Council and these associations by putting down a new Clause in which the time for making these claims will be extended. I think that will appear on the Paper in a day or two, and I think it will meet with general agreement from the London County Council and the associations referred to.
Referring to another matter which the hon. Member raised, if he will look at the Fifth Schedule, on page 112 of the Bill, he will see, when we prepare the list of losses of the standard year which we have to apply under this particular Clause, that under paragraph 2 (c) of the Schedule it is to be assumed that the standard year is to be
a year falling within the first quinquennium, and that the provisions of Part VI of this Act, other than sections seventy-six, seventy-eight, seventy-nine, and eighty-two had been in operation.
And, of course, Part VI includes this particular Clause, with which we are dealing. So he will see under what conditions the comparison was made. I hope, with these concluding observations, that hon. Members are now satisfied that London will receive considerable and lasting benefits as a result of this Measure.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 204: Noes. 83.649
|Division No. 126.]||AYES.||[5.35 p.m..|
|Albery, Irving James||Brittain, Sir Harry||Clayton, G. C.|
|Alexander. Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Colfox, Major William Phillips|
|Astor, Viscountess||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.( Berks, Newb'y)||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Atkinson, C.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cope, Major Sir William|
|Balniel, Lord||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Burman, J. B.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Bennett, A. J.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H, (Ox. Univ.)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Dean, Arthur Weltesley|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Christle, J. A.||Drewe, C,|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Iveagh, Countess of||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Ellis, R. G.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chts'y)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rodd, Rt. Hon. sir James Rennell|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut-Colonel E. A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rye, F. G.|
|Forrest, W.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Salmon, Major I.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S,||Lamb, J. Q||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Frece, Sir Walter do||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sandon, Lord|
|Fremantle, Lieut Colonel Francis E.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon, Godfrey||Savery, S. S.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Loder, J. de V.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Long, Major Eric||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gates, Percy.||Looker, Herbert William||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Laugher, Lewis||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lucas-Tooth. S'r Hugh Vere||Skelton, A. N.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lumley, L R.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Lynn, Sir Robert J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macintyre, Ian||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Greaves Lord, Sir Walter||McLean, Major A.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Greene, W. p. Crawford||Macquisten, F. A.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Hanbury, C.||Malone, Major P. B.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Captain D.||Vauahan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Meller, R. J.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Meyer, Sir Frank||Water-house, Captain Charles|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon. Totnes)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Moole, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Williams, A M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquayl|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks, Richm'd)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Nuttall, Ellis||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hohler, sir Gerald Fitzroy||Oakley, T.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Withers, John James|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hudson, Capt A. U. M. (Hackney. N.)||Pilcher, G.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Pownall, Sir Aasheton||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Preston, William|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Price, Major C. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Remer, J. R.||Mr. Penny and Captain Wallace.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Harris, Percy A.||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, G. H.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scurr, John|
|Baker, Walter||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bellamy, A.||Jones, W. N. (Carmarthen)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Dennison, R,||Lunn, William||Thurtie, Ernest|
|Dunnico, H.||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||MacLaren, Andrew||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Gardner, J. P.||March, S.||Townend, A. E.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G, M.||Montague, Frederick||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Win. (Edin.,Cent.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coins)||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Palin, John Henry||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ponsonby, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.||Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Paling.|
|Hardie, George D.||Purcell, A. A.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Before we part with this new Clause, I would like to remind the Committee what it really does. As I warned the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman did his best to confuse and belittle the issue, as he usually does. He said that the Government were doing a very beneficent piece of work by unifying the Poor Law system of London. No one denies—and I was careful to say so— that certain of the poor boroughs do receive some amount of advantage from the Bill, but what we do object to, and what I think is a very mean thing, is for the right hon. Gentleman to put into a Bill of this kind an Amendment of the law which has nothing whatever to do with the proposals under the Bill, but which concerns London, and London alone. The Parliamentary Secretary said that I have forgotten, or omitted, or did not know of a certain resolution on which the proposal to repeal the Act was founded. But even if that were true, I do not see what it has to do with the question. The Act which the House of Commons is being asked to repeal is one which assists the poorer boroughs in regard to their health and sanitary administration and other amenities of life. The right hon. Gentleman appears to pour scorn on this argument because these people think in terms of pence, whereas under the Poor Law part of this Bill we are getting assistance in terms of shillings. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that when poor people are dealing with money pence count for a good deal; consequently, I think the boot is on the other foot.
The rich City of Westminster has a rateable value quite 10 times the rateable value of a district like Bethnal Green. The right hon. Gentleman exhibits a delightful humour in regard to our position in this matter, but he refuses on every occasion to face the arguments which are put before him. It is perfectly true to argue that in the natural order of things equalisation of the poor rate has come about at last, but it is equally true to say that the proposal to repeal this Act is one which I do not believe, if it had been put to the people of Westminster, would have been approved. A paltry 5d. in the £ to the people of Westminster is a miserable amount when 652 you remember that the rateable value of the City of Westminster is £9,000,000. I cannot believe that if this question had been put to the vote in the City of Westminster there would have been anyone except the very meanest of people who would have raised any objection to the continuance of this payment. It is perfectly true to say that by taking away this equalisation rate you will be taking away from Battersea, when this Bill comes into operation, 5d. in the £, and you will in fact give that amount to Westminster. It is because that is so that I call this proposal a very mean proposition on the part of the Government.
Hon. Members who sit on the Labour Benches can do nothing but support any extension of financial responsibility for conditions of poverty, or the need of better health services, anywhere in the country. As I stated, when moving the rejection of this Clause, I am very glad indeed that the Poor Law is going to be dealt with in some measure along the lines that we have agitated. I agree that the scheme put forward is not the one that we should have adopted, but, as far as it goes, one is glad to see what is being done. Notwithstanding that, there is no logic in saying that because you do one right thing you should be allowed to do a bad thing. It is a bad thing to say that the poor local authorities in London should be obliged to bear to the fullest extent the heavy burden of sanitation, the maintenance of roads and other things. When the Tory Government created the 28 boroughs of London, they did a very bad service for the people of London from a financial point of view. We have to face conditions as they are at the present time. In 1894, it was proposed to remedy the evil which the creation of those boroughs had produced by separating them financially into watertight compartments, and that proposal did, to some extent, modify the difficulty that had been created. When the scheme of this Bill is in full operation, places like Battersea will lose to the extent of 5d. in the £ and wealthy and prosperous cities like Westminster will gain 5d.
§ Mr. SCURR
In the previous Debate, the Parliamentary Secretary referred to what is happening in Battersea, and he made certain statements which, I am afraid, misled the Committee. It is per- 653 fectly true to say that the three parties on the London County Council are substantially in agreement in regard to certain Clauses of this Bill, but it is not correct to use that argument in regard to the financial Clauses, because there is as much difference of opinion on that subject at the County Hall as there is amongst the three parties in this House at the present time. The Parliamentary Secretary quoted from a report issued by the London County Council, and he mentioned £2,000,000 as a sum which would be gained by London. The right hon. Gentleman declared it to be common ground that the proportion between rate-borne expenditure and expenditure borne nationally should be varied, and he contended that the £2,000,000 mentioned by him was carrying out that idea.
Although it is true that there is a certain amount of agreement in regard to the
§ variation of the proportion, I would point out that the benefit has been conferred on all ratepayers. Under the Government proposals the benefit will go to a certain select class, many of whom are already in a very prosperous condition. We have heard instances given as to how these proposals will affect certain industries. We have heard of one case where a firm paying 25 per cent. dividend is going to be relieved of its rates under this Bill. If the Government think that proposals of that kind will influence the policy adopted on this side of the Committee, then they are absolutely mistaken. The electors of Battersea are intelligent enough to see through a policy of that kind.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 211; Noes, 84.655
|Division No. 127.]||AYES.||[5.55 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon, C. C. (Antrim)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W,||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Astor, Viscountess||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, s)||Hope, Capt. A. O J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Atkinson, C.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Bainlel, Lord||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Crewe, C.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hudson, Capt. A.U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Benn, sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiten'n)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Ellis, R. G.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Brass, Captain W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Bridgeman Rt. Hon. William Clive||Forestler-Walker, Sir L||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Forrest, W||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Foster, Sir Harry S.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Frece, Sir Waiter de||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gates, Percy||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gauit, Lieut. Col. Andrew Hamilton||Loder, J. de V.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gilmour. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Long, Major Eric|
|Barman, J. B.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Gower, Sir Robert||Lougher, Lewis|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grant, Sir J. A.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox Univ.)||Greens, W. p. Crawford||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. SirJ.A. (Birm., W.)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||McLean, Major A.|
|Christle, J. A.||Hacking, Douglas H,||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hanbury, C.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harrison, G. J. C.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hartington, Marquess of||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Cohen, Major J. Bruael||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Colfox, Major Wm- Phillips||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Haslam, Henry C.||Meller, R. J.|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. l.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Ropner, Major L.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Morrison, H. (Wills, Salisbury)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Cilve||Rye, F G.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Salmon, Major I.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S.D. L. (Exeter)||Sandon, Lord||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Savery, S. S.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Oakley, T.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks.Richm'd)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Skelton, A. N.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Smithers, Waldron||winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Pilcher, G.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Withers, John James|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Preston, William||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Renter, J. R.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Thomson, F. C (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Penny and Captain Wallace.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Stan., Cannock)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, G. H.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Scurr, John|
|Baker, Walter||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, W. N. (Carmarthen)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bellamy, A.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Briant, Frank||Kennedy, T.||Stamford, T. w.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Strauss, E. A.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Dennison, R.||Lunn, William||Thurtie, Ernest|
|Dunnico, H.||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||MacLaren, Andrew||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Gardner, J. P.||March, S.||Townend, A. E.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Palin, John Henry||Windsor, Walter|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wright, W.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Hardie, George D.||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Percy A.||Purcell, A. A.||Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Paling.|