Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £153,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for Expenditure in respect of sundry Public Buildings in Great Britain, not provided for on other Votes, including Historic Buildings, Ancient Monuments, Brompton Cemetery and certain Housing Estates.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
There is at least one item in this Vote which I think calls for careful consideration by the Committee. In Class VII, A—Public Offices, etc.: New Works, Alterations, Additions and Purchases, for which an additional sum of £104,000 is required—when one looks at the details, on page 26 of the Supplementary Estimates, one finds that among the works in progress is the Home Office Civilian Anti-Gas School, Eastwood Park, Falfield, Gloucestershire: Acquisition, Adaptation and Extension, etc., of Premises (Revised Total Estimate: 304 Works Services, £47,000; Furniture, £5,450). The remarks I intend to make to the Committee will cover, to some extent, Sub-head 13, but for the present I propose to confine myself to Eastwood Park.
We have had many explanations from the Government from time to time which have shown clearly that the object of Eastwood Park is to train teachers who will teach civilians how to take precautions against the effects of gas resulting from air raids. We have had the publications of the Air Raid Precautions Department, statements in the House, speeches from the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, broadcasts, and so on, and all the statements have at any rate been consistent and shown that we are now being asked to spend money in order to pay people to teach the public about gas-proof rooms and gas masks. It has also been made clear that the general policy for civilians to follow is that gas-proof rooms are the first line of defence, the idea being that the public shall resort to the gas-proof rooms and stay in them, but that if either—
On a point of Order. The Department for which I am answering is responsible for the provision of buildings, and not for the policy underlying the provision of those buildings.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The Supplementary Estimate only deals with the increase not the original policy.
§ The Temporary Chairman
No. The original 5d. was decided upon, and that 5d. is to be increased to 7½d.
§ The Temporary Chairman
In the original Estimates, this school is accounted for, and the only thing which 305 the Committee may discuss is the reason the Estimate was too small.
§ Mr. Pritt
I will confine myself to the second civilian anti-gas school which is proposed, and on which no money has been spent hitherto, and I will put forward my arguments as to why the £13,000 should not be spent. The Government propose to teach people at Easingwold that, first of all, they should have gas-proof rooms and get into them, but that gas masks should be a second line of defence in the event of the gas-proof rooms being broken up or if they happen to be out and unable to get into the gas-proof rooms when trouble begins. I wish to demonstrate to the Committee, on scientific grounds, that this policy is really little better than a sham.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. and learned Gentleman is speaking about policy, and policy cannot be discussed on this Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. Pritt
If I may say so with respect, this is not a typical Supplementary Estimate, but is a request to the Committee to authorise the expenditure of money on something on which money has never been expended before. Surely it would be a very narrow Ruling to say that because this comes up at this period of the year in the form of a Supplementary Estimate, the Committee has no power to say that it will not spend money that ought not to be spent. The policy of Easingwold has never been approved, and it is an entirely new question.
As I understand it, the policy of Easingwold has been approved, and that policy is to set up a school for teaching. The question as to whether or not five or six teachers are required is a matter for the Home Office, which will rightly be discussed when one of their Estimates comes up in the Committee. The setting up of the school has already been decided, and the question now is to provide the necessary money to carry out a policy already decided.
§ Mr. Pritt
The hon. Gentleman has far more experience than I have, but surely that cannot be right. The policy was decided some time ago that money should be spent on an anti-gas school at Eastwood Park. A month or two afterwards someone demanded another school, and the Government replied that there was 306 no need for another school at that time. Then, some months later, the Government announced that they proposed to ask for authority to spend money on Easingwold. That is a change of policy. It is a proposal to spend further money on another school which may not be, for all we know—we have not been told anything about it—the same. If the sum were larger, it might be a great calamity if your Ruling were correct, for there might be an extreme case in which the Committee would be told that it could not interfere with the establishment of 2,000 schools, because in the previous year, with less knowledge, it had approved the establishment of one school.
§ The Temporary Chairman
It would be a new policy if 2,000 schools were to be established, but in the present case it is one school that we are considering. The policy of anti-gas schools has been approved by Parliament, and the only question now is why the original amount estimated was not enough for what the Government required.
§ Mr. Pritt
The policy of establishing an anti-gas school at Eastwood Park has been approved. Would not your Ruling unduly fetter, in a manner which might in some cases be quite calamitous, the right of this Committee to sanction and control the expenditure on public money? To say that because it has authorised the establishment of one white mouse, it is for ever afterwards the policy of this Committee to have as many white mice as the Government want seems to be quite wrong.
§ The Temporary Chairman
That is not the point. The establishment of the anti-gas school at Eastwood Park has been approved and now the Government are asking for another £10,700 in the Supplementary Estimate, because in the first instance they did not ask for enough money.
§ Mr. Pritt
Or perhaps too loud; I am sorry if I wakened the hon. Member. Perhaps I did not make myself clear, but I bowed to your Ruling regarding the anti-gas school at Eastwood Park, and I am submitting now that we have a new 307 policy to establish further schools. I am submitting that it is too narrow a Ruling to say that having once sanctioned a school, the Committee can never again prevent the Government establishing as many schools as it likes.
Perhaps I can assist the hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not think he has quite appreciated the facts of the Office of Works submitting this sort of Estimate. There are two alternative ways of submitting Estimates. The first is to submit a very close Estimate and then come to the Committee for supplementary sums which may be found necessary during the course of the year, and the second method is to inflate the original Estimate. I think I am correct in saying that various Committees of the House came to the conclusion that the first was the better method. The hon. and learned Gentleman has already admitted that he cannot continue criticising, on the lines he wished to follow, the increase for which we are asking in the case of one school. In fact, the reason we are asking for that increase is that instead of 30 students being accommodated, we now propose, at the request of the Home Office, to provide accommodation for 60 at Eastwood Park. The original Estimate was based on a school at which it was anticipated 30 people would attend, and the additional sum for which we are asking is for the purpose of raising the accommodation to 60. The hon. and learned Gentleman has rightly realised that he cannot criticise the policy underlying that increase, but equally he should realise that he cannot criticise the policy underlying the increase of 60 to 90 or 120, which involves the establishment of the new school at Easingwold. The policy has been started, and the principle is the same.
§ Mr. Pritt
Let me give an illustration to show that the policy cannot be the same. In the event of the Committee sanctioning two battleships, could the appropriate Department come back later on and ask for 17 battleships, and say that the policy had been decided? Surely that would be entirely wrong.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I cannot allow the hon. and learned Gentleman to deal with questions of that sort. My Ruling was perfectly clear, and I must ask him to abide by it.
§ Mr. Pritt
Subject to what you may say later, I propose to do that. I submit to the Committee that no further money ought to be spent for the reason that the gas-proof rooms which the Home Office is asking the Office of Works to assist in establishing are a sham and a delusion and ought not to be established at all.
The Office of Works is not responsible for whether or not the gas policy is correct. All they are responsible for is providing in the most economical way the accommodation which is required. Whether that accommodation is required at all or not, it is not for me to say. It is a matter which ought to be raised on another occasion.
§ Mr. Ede
May I submit that when the original Estimate was introduced it was explained and defended by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department who is now in his place? He gave a most elaborate description of the building and of the way in which the surrounding country was to be protected from the evil effects of gas. I think that it is he and not the hon. Gentleman who is now somewhat feebly endeavouring to do so, who ought to defend this Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. Pritt
I have no personal hostility at all to the hon. Gentleman but when he says that all the Office of Works can do is to provide the Home Office with what the Home Office demands, surely this Committee is entitled to say that money shall not be given to the Office of Works to provide the Home Office with accommodation and furniture and structural alterations in order to develop further training of this kind. Both these items in the Vote are concerned with gas training, and I propose to submit to the Committee that no further money ought to be expended upon this matter at all.
§ Mr. Duncan
Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman is again touching upon policy, and if he is allowed to do so, is it not likely that the discussion will become general?
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Gordon Macdonald)
I understand that my predecessor in the Chair made valiant efforts to keep this discussion in order, and I hope that hon. Members on both sides will keep within the terms of the Ruling which has been made.
§ Mr. Pritt
If there is one effort more valiant than another it is the effort of the Government to shield this Vote from criticism. I was about to say that these gas-proof rooms, whether the experimental room at Easingwold or rooms in ordinary households, are intended to protect the public from all gases including smokes and dusts which are often called gases. The gas masks, of course, only protect against—
I submit, with respect, that we cannot discuss that question on the present Vote. The hon. and learned Member can criticise my Department for having spent too much money on the buildings or furniture. He can argue that this has cost more than it ought to have cost, but he cannot go back on the question of whether or not such a service ought to be provided at all.
§ Mr. Attlee
May I submit that we are entitled, on an Estimate of this kind for certain work which the Office of Works is carrying out on the order of the Home Office, to discuss the way in which it is being carried out. I understand that the structural alterations and buildings and furniture involved are in connection with this college of anti-gas training, and it is clear that those who are to study anti-gas methods ought to be safe themselves from gas attacks. We are, therefore, I submit, entitled to consider that matter from that point of view, and to say that the people who are being trained to protect us from gas attack should not themselves be liable to be gassed straight away. Therefore, are we not entitled to consider the position of these premises and the manner in which they are being fitted, and to find out what the Office of Works is doing in this respect, because if this place should prove not to be gas-proof then the whole of this money is being wasted?
§ The Temporary Chairman
It is obvious that this Supplementary Estimate is for a definite purpose, and that had the original Estimate been big enough to include all this there would be no need for the present Vote at all. The 310 limit to which the discussion on it can go has already been laid down. I think the point which the Leader of the Opposition has made is quite fair, and that it can be dealt with within the scope of the discussion as already indicated.
§ Mr. Pritt
I shall endeavour to keep within that scope. I wish to point out that the people at Easingwold will have this advantage, that they will have rooms set aside as gas-proof rooms, but it has been calculated that something like 8,000,000 people in the rest of the population are housed too badly for it ever to be possible for them to set aside spare rooms for this purpose.
I am sorry to interrupt so often, but I do not think the hon. and learned Member can discuss that subject. He can only discuss whether or not the amount of the increased cost is a proper amount or not. He cannot discuss the reasons why the cost is being incurred. There is nothing in the Estimate about an increased number of gas-proof rooms.
§ Mr. Pritt
If the principle is the same then I am going to discuss both items, but I understood that there was a difference between the two cases. What I want to say to the Committee is that unless this Vote is rejected—and the Committee will reject it if the Government allow it to know the facts—more money will be spent on a gas-proof room at Easingwold. I desire to demonstrate to the Committee that none of the methods which the Government have disclosed so far and which are being tested in London, and which the Under-Secretary to the Home Office urges Members to go and see in Kensington, will make a room gas proof at all at Easingwold or anywhere else. I assume, because I attribute at any rate honesty to the Government in this matter, that the method employed to try to ensure a gas-proof room at Easingwold will be the 311 same as the methods which are recommended to the general public for use in Sunderland or in Gorbals or in Hoxton. The thesis which I desire to put forward as regards Easingwold, is that a room so arranged as to prevent the entry of gas, cannot be produced by the method which the Government advocate and propose to apply, and the basis on which I challenge the whole policy is that it is a cruel waste of money and is deluding the public.
§ Mr. Fleming
On a point of Order. Is the hon. and learned. Member entitled to show how he challenges the whole policy of the Government?
§ Mr. Pritt
I may have been wrong in using those words. I desire to confine myself to the policy which is being applied at Easingwold. It is recommended that it should be applied everywhere, but I am confining myself to the case of Easingwold. Experiments which have been worked out demonstrate that this room will never be worth the money spent on fitting it up, and sealing it. Those experiments have been carried out recently on four separate and typical rooms, namely, the basement of a shop, the dining-room of a semi-detached house, the sitting-room of a council house, and the bathroom of a modern villa. The last case was particularly interesting because that room had steel-framed windows of modern construction which could be sealed and were sealed with plasticine. It had tiled walls, and a concrete floor, and was obviously better adapted for being made gas proof than any room likely to be found in Easingwold. All these four rooms were sealed with the greatest care and in exact accordance with the Government's method which is presumably to be worked out at Easingwold. It is not unfair to say that each of the first three rooms leaked like a sieve after the attempt had been made to render them gas proof, and even the fourth room, which was almost ideal for purposes of sealing, leaked like a subsidised ship.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I think the hon. and learned Member is entitled to refer to other experiments of a similar kind which have been conducted, but I hope that he will not seek to make the Debate too wide. The Debate must be kept within the limits imposed by the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. Pritt
I desire to do my best, but the objection raised by the hon. Member must be one that occurred to him after he woke up, because it has been raised several times in the preceding 20 minutes and answered. The whole fallacy behind the Government's experiments is the idea that walls do not admit air. The trouble is that the walls of this building at Easingwold, as of any ordinary building, admit air with such rapidity that on a windy day the volume of air which can enter or leave an ordinary room which has been made gas-proof by the Easingwold method in 15 minutes is equivalent to the total volume of air in the room at any particular moment. If the room at Easingwold is typical of the experimental rooms, and it is exposed to gas of such intensity that it would kill a person exposed in the open air in six minutes it would kill a person inside the gas-proof room in 60 minutes. If the gas is so weak that it would take 24 minutes to kill a man outside the room, it would kill him inside the room in two hours. If it is so weak that it would take 50 minutes to kill a man outside the room, it would kill him in the room in three hours.
We ought not to spend one penny on Easingwold to teach people to proof rooms in that ridiculous fashion. If the room at Easingwold happens to be as good as the particularly fine modern bathroom which I have mentioned, the figures would be different, but even then the gas which would kill a man outside as slowly as one-and-a-quarter hours would still kill him inside in a quarter of a day. I can give another illustration of the same thing. If you go three miles to windward of this room at Easingwold and release 20 lbs. of phosgene gas along a line about 1,000 yards long, and leave the phosgene to drift in an ordinary light way towards the building, when it reaches that building at Easingwold—
On a point of Order. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman keeps repeating "Easingwold," it 313 does not make his speech in order, because the Office of Works is not concerned with the effect of a cloud of phosgene released three miles away. It is merely a question of whether the expense of providing a particular house at Easingwold is or is not excessive.
§ Mr. Ede
I suggest that we are entitled to know that the house at Easingwold is to be so constructed as to make it suitable for the purpose for which it is to be purchased. When I asked the Under-Secretary last year some questions on that point he frankly said that he did not know at that time. I suggest that we are entitled to know that the walls and so on of this building are so constructed as to make experiments really worth while. The Office of Works is responsible for the materials of which the building is to be composed.
The Government are anxious to limit the Debate as far as possible, and the Opposition are anxious to widen it as far as possible. This £13,000 is definitely limited to the "acquisition, adaptation, etc.," of premises at Easingwold. "Etc." is rather a difficult matter on which to rule. Nevertheless, I appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman not to make any attempt to get round the limited scope of the Debate. It is a limited Vote, but there is an attempt by using the word "Easingwold" to get outside the scope of the Debate on the Vote.
§ Mr. Pritt
What I want to put before the Committee is that if the Government acquire, adapt, etc., these premises at Easingwold, and if they are at all ordinary premises and the Government apply to them everything that they desire in the way of making them gas-proof, they will be in this position, that a quantity of phosgene liberated three miles to windward will kill everybody in a room within two hours.
§ Mr. Pritt
The next difficulty presented by the Government scheme is that if by any chance they could make this room gas-proof with all this money and a great deal more, the only result would be to 314 suffocate the inhabitants of it. The calculations on which, I gather from their publications, the Government propose to teach people at Easingwold and put them in rooms at Easingwold, is that five people can live in a gas-proof room, 10 by 10 by 8 for 12 hours. The Government calculations, if one may work it out from that, is that half a cubic yard of air per hour per person is sufficient. The general Home Office figures seem to allow a little more than that, namely, three-fifths of a cubic yard. The French, who may talk faster than we do but breathe about the same rate, have another calculation allowing three times as much space. The Germans allow four times as much. To put the matter no higher, if this room could ever be made gas-proof, which fortunately or unfortunately it cannot be, long before the 12 hours have passed all the people in the room would, in order to keep alive, be breathing at four or five times the normal rate.
It is no good the Office of Works saying that it has orders from the Home Office. We want to know what the Home Office think about it. If the Home Office is asking the Office of Works to spend money at Easingwold for gas-proof rooms and gas-mask training, I want to know something with regard to these gas-masks. The scientific people say that gas-masks are in many respects pretty satisfactory things, but what is to be done at Easingwold about the people who cannot wear gas-masks at all? A very large number of people in this country are under five years of age, and, according to the statement of the Home Office, they cannot wear gas-masks. A great many people, especially in prominent positions, are far too old to wear a gas-mask. They cannot breathe through them. Gas-masks offer, I am told, a good protection against most true gases, but is the Home Office satisfied that, if all this money is spent on this new school, it will help anybody to discover whether gas-masks will keep out poisonous or otherwise dangerous dusts and smokes?
The Under-Secretary has stated that the gas-masks to be supplied to civilians are effective for 15 minutes against the highest concentration likely to be made, and for several hours against any concentration that civilians are normally likely to meet. It looks as if, with fair luck, when the distances involved are not 315 too great, those people who are fairly healthy and neither too old nor too young to wear gas-masks will be able with comparative ease to reach the alleged gas-proof room in which they are going to be suffocated to death. I should be glad to know from the Minister responsible for asking the Office of Works to spend this money at Easingwold what is to be done for people who cannot wear gas-masks as well as what is to be done about the alleged gas-proof rooms which have been demonstrated, by the only experiment known, to be in no sense of the word gas proof. I should also like to know what is to be done about making such buildings still gas proof after they have been either shaken or penetrated by incendiary or explosive bombs, and, in general, what the responsible Department really intends to spend the money on at Easingwold. I should particularly like to hear whether the Home Office have made any experiments or investigated the well known fact that all ordinary walls of brick or plaster, whether papered or not, definitely admit the passage of air.
§ Mr. Duncan
On a point of Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman is asking a number of questions which I am perfectly certain the Minister representing the Office of Works is quite unable to answer.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I am sure the hon. Member will agree that the fact that a Minister cannot answer questions which are put to him is nothing new, but the point is whether those questions come within this Supplementary Vote, and, in my opinion, having regard to the word "&c." I am inclined to think they do.
§ Mr. Pritt
I wish to demonstrate my agreement with the hon. Member who interrupted me about the complete and natural and proper incapacity of the Minister, with whom we stand in friendly relations, to answer all these questions concerning the responsibility of the Department whose policy, or lack of policy, has called for this experiment at Easingwold. I have got the impression from looking into this matter that the Home Office has been guilty of taking over some ready-made scheme without proper investigation, possibly from some foreign country. I hope it is true that it has never fairly and squarely faced the question of the passage of air or gas 316 through walls, because if it has known all about it, then it has been deceiving the public and wasting public money for a considerable time. Those who advise me tell me that it is quite possible, if proper sums of money are expended, to deal with the gas problem even in a crowded country like this, and I ask the Committee not to sanction the expenditure of money on something which has never been proved to be good, and has been demonstrated by simple experiments to be quite worthless.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
May I claim the indulgence of the Chair to follow up the point raised earlier, upon another Estimate, by the hon. Member for Chester-leStreet (Mr. Lawson)? On page 27 of the Estimates we see that extra money is required for fuel, for gas and for electric current, to the amount of £45,000, and I find other sums in other Supplementary Estimates to provide for similar additional expenditure. I gather from what the Minister said earlier that the reason for these increases is to be found very largely in the increased price the Government are asked to pay for coal. May I ask whether the increase in the expenditure on gas and electric current is to be explained in the same way? Are the Government paying an increased price for coal, and then an increased price for gas because coal has increased in price, and an increased price for electric current for precisely the same reason? Sime time ago an appeal was made by the Government to the coal consumers of the country to pay 1s. a ton more for coal so as to enable miners to get increased wages. The consuming public responded. We are told by the owners that the increased money received for coal is substantially less than they have paid in increased wages. I should like to find out whether that is true, and the House of Commons is the place where, as taxpayers, we can find out.
Could the hon. Member tell us what is the total increase the Government have had to pay for fuel and for gas and electric current, because I am positive that if the figures are compiled we shall find that we are being shamefully exploited—not merely the Government but the public. We are paying twice and three times over. The miners have had 1s. a day more at the most, 6d. in Durham and 3½d. in South Wales, and as taxpayers we are paying 5s. or 6s. 317 per ton more for coal. I think the hon. Gentleman told us that we are paying 17½ per cent. more for our coal. The increase which the miner is getting does not nearly amount to 17½ per cent. Who is getting the difference? Hon. Members opposite who are connected with the electrical and the gas industries told us that they out of their charity, out of their good will towards the miners, and because they realised that the miners deserved more pay, had agreed to pay 1s. a ton more for coal. The impression was given to the House and to the country that the gas and the electricity companies would pay that increased 1s. out of their own reserves, that they would accept the burden, that this was a free-will offering to the miners, but now we find that they are passing on the cost to consumers. They have paid the extra 1s. for coal and have increased the price of gas and of electric current, and it is not they who are paying, but the public.
Can the hon. Gentleman give us an indication of the total additional sum which he has to find as a Minister on account of this increased cost? What is the total amount of fuel consumed, and what is the increased cost arising from this increase in prices? What is the increased price per ton of coal? What is the increase in the price of gas and electricity? It appears to me that the nation, as taxpayers and consumers, is being shamefully exploited. We are being charged an extra price for coal under the impression that the money is going to the miners, whereas the money is going, not to the miners, but in extra profits to the gas and electricity undertakings. I press for that statement from the Minister. On page 27 there is an item of £32,000 for fuel which, I presume, includes coke and coal. There are further items of £4,000 extra for gas and £9,000 for electricity, a total of £45,000. There are other Estimates, amounting in all to a very substantial sum. As one who represents miners I would like to know why we are being charged these prices, and I ask for a clear indication. The reason that has been given already is that the Minister discussed this matter with the Secretary for Mines, who said that it was due to the miners' wages.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The coalowners have given as the reason for this conduct that they have to charge the increased prices 318 for coal because of the extra wages. There is no other reason.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is the reason that has been given. The public have been told that the charge of 1s. or 2s. extra for a ton of coal is because of the extra wages for miners. We are interested in the matter, not only as representing miners but as consumers, and we fear that both miners and public are being fleeced. The miners have not had those increases, but the public have had to pay for them. What is the total amount of the increases that the Government have had to pay for these services?
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
To what Departments and what places does the £45,000 apply which was referred to just now by my hon. Friend? As he said, it is split up into various items. I would like to know to which Departments these sums for fuel apply, so that we may get at the difference, not only about coal and coke, but also with regard to what the electricity companies and gas companies are charging. I want to ask questions about other items in this Estimate. There is the item "Works in Progress," amounting to £10,800. May we have an explanation of what that represents? It speaks of theAcquisition, adaptation and extension, etc., of premises.If £10,800 is required we ought to have an explanation as to what it represents. Is this for new premises or for extending and developing buildings which already exist? How much of the money is for works services, and how much comes under the heading of furniture? Those questions apply also to the next item, in regard to the proposed works in Manchester. Where is that factory, and may we know something more about it? Is this a new item? I feel very much interested to know whether it is situated in some of the densely populated parts in Manchester? I am glad to see that one hon. Gentleman on the Government Front Bench shakes his head. I would like to know where this factory is, and 319 whether it is in or near some of those open spaces which we know, but which are certainly not very extensive as open spaces.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
It is in Blackburn.
§ Mr. Kelly
I know Blackburn very well, but I had no idea that Blackburn was in the Manchester area. That will be quite surprising to the residents of Manchester. I would like to know whether this is the factory which was opened quite recently by the Under-Secretary to the Home Office, for the manufacture of gas masks. If that is so, is it being extended already, and on what is this £10,700 being spent? With regard to the next item, £13,000 for the Anti-Gas School at Easingwold, it is hardly fair to the Committee that we should be asked to pass this additional amount without having had the slightest explanation from the Minister in charge or from the Departments concerned. It is unfair to the people we represent that we should, without full explanation and without knowing whether the money is being well spent, agree to this item. On the next item, £75,000 in regard to Richmond Terrace and the extension of New Scotland Yard, I notice that there is an Appropriation-in-Aid of £75,000 to be taken from the Police Fund. Do I understand that the Government are now paying out of national funds the whole cost of the Scotland Yard building?
That question applies also to the section houses throughout London. Other parts of the country might wake up and, if it be right for the State to find the cost of the new building of Scotland Yard, they might ask us to pay for the police building in every other town. I hope we shall have an explanation of this £75,000. As the plans for these buildings were approved nearly two years ago, may we know whether anything in this item is being expended on preparing for their erection? There seems to be a great hold-up in respect of the new buildings in Whitehall. There is a tendency to make the London Metropolitan Police into a Government institution, and I hope it will be watched very closely. The ten- 320 dency of the last few years is to remove them from such control as applies to provincial police forces, and make them appear to be a Government force. I hope that that will not be allowed.
Then there is a sum of £20,000 for urgent unforeseen works. That figure, when a Minister is speaking of figures, may not sound large, but I think we ought to be told why this sum is being asked for for something that is urgent. One can hardly imagine a Government which is said to be far-seeing—I do not admit it—requiring £20,000 for something which it may come across and which it has not foreseen. I think we ought to be told how this figure is arrived at. Item C is for further provision for the maintenance and repair of public buildings, and I should like to ask what are the public buildings for which this extra amount is required. Is it wanted for an increase of wages for the men and women who may be employed on the maintenance and repair of these buildings? I hope this point will be fully explained. We have before us the example of what has happened on this building, where men of many years' service, engaged on the maintenance and repair of this Parliament building, have been discharged by a new official for some reason which none of us can understand. I hope that this amount signifies a change in the mind of the Government in regard to their treatment of the workmen and workwomen in their service.
The only other item to which I desire to refer is one on page 27 with regard to rents. Where are these rents expected to come from, and what are the hirings that the Government have in mind in order to bring in this amount of £19,800? We have had no explanation with regard to this Estimate; I have rarely seen one put forward with so little explanation, and I hope the Minister is going to make somewhat clearer what we are being asked to agree to. Someone from his own side suggested that we were asking questions that the Minister was not able to answer, but a Minister is appointed because he is expected, with his advisers, whom he always has handy though we are not supposed to see them, to be able to answer any questions. If the Minister is not able to reply to the questions which have been put to him to-night, it is a serious position for him to have charge of a Department for which he is not able to answer.
§ 8.49 p.m.
I should like to disabuse the hon. Member of the idea that I am in charge of a Department. My responsibility is merely to endeavour to answer questions on behalf of the Department, and I will try to deal with the points which have been raised. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked about the increased charge for fuel. He is suffering under a slight misapprehension, which may possibly be due to my fault for not having given a sufficiently full explanation in the first instance. I said that the bulk of the increase was in respect of increased prices for coal and coke, amounting to 17½ per cent., but there is a substantial increase left which represents payments for increased amounts of gas and electricity used. I should like to assure the hon. Member and the Committee that there has been no increase in the cost of electricity or gas so far as the Department is concerned; the increased provisions for which we are now asking are in respect of increased quantities of current and gas consumed. In particular, the electrical research station has consumed considerably more electric current during the year than was foreseen, while the opening of the National Gallery at night accounts for an increased consumption of current over and above what was foreseen. Further, the large increase in the number of premises which have had to be hired to accommodate the increased staffs of Government Departments, due very largely to the expansion of the Defence Services, has naturally also involved increased amounts of current and gas. That accounts for the items on pages 22 and 27.
No; the additional item to which I am referring is accounted for on page 22, where sub-head D sets out that further provision is required for:
Included in the £2,500 is the extra current required for the electrical research station and for the National Gallery. The items for additional offices are mainly to be 322 found on page 27. I was also asked how I accounted for the sum of £10,800 asked for under sub-head A on page 26.
"1. Fuel … £5,000 3. Electric current … £2,500"
§ Mr. George Griffiths
Will the hon. Gentleman say how the extra charge of £32,000 for fuel is arrived at?
I have said that it varies, but it is in respect of increases, in the case of coal of between 2s. and 3s. a ton, and in the case of coke of between 3s. 6d. and 6s. I cannot give any more specific figures.
The increase of £10,800 is due to an increase in accommodation, which naturally increases the charges for furniture, water supply and so forth. The item in connection with the purchase and adaptation of a factory in the Manchester area is due to the action of the Department in putting forward originally a very low estimate, with a view to trying not to inflate it. It was subsequently found that more work was needed than had been originally anticipated, in the way of increased amenities, lavatory accommodation and so forth, and the building proved to be not so well adapted to the purpose as had been thought, and larger alterations were required; it was an old factory. That is the reason for the increase for which we are now asking. It includes such items as the provision of sanitary accommodation for 400 women and 100 men, with a new drainage system, machine foundations, a new floor and loading platform, new water services, the construction of laboratories and stores, and additional steelwork to permit of the handling of heavy loads.
I was also asked about the item with reference to Richmond Terrace. Last year a Bill was passed providing for the erection of new Government buildings. In order to ensure that the extension of Scotland Yard was in keeping with the remainder of the buildings to be erected on the Richmond Terrace site it was decided to design the whole of the buildings at once, and this is really a book-keeping transaction. It represents a payment by the Office of Works to the Commissioners of Crown Lands of £75,000 for the site. In due course a cheque for £85,000 will be received, £75,000 being repayment to the Office of Works for the money paid over to the Commissioners of Crown Lands and the balance being a payment 323 in return for surrendering certain leasehold rights which they have on the site.
They will be extinguished, because the building will be handed over to the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police, and the £10,000 is being paid as compensation to the Office of Works.
That is shown as an Appropriation-in-Aid. The hon. Member went on to ask about the increase of £13,000 for Easingwold. The Estimate includes alterations to the mansion, additional rooms, drainage and sewage disposal works, painting, and a whole host of other items. He went on to ask about Item C, further provision for the repair and maintenance of public buildings, an item of altogether £5,000. That is accounted for by a number of additional premises which have been taken over by the Office of Works acting for Government Departments, mainly for the extension of Defence services. The same explanation applies to Item F—rents. The hon. Member asked for particulars. The most important are additional rooms for the Air Ministry, £10,000; for the Home Office and Air Raid Precautions, £1,400; War Office, £1,200; Judge-Advocate-General, £1,000; Admiralty, £3,200; and a certain amount for the Import Duties Advisory Committee for housing as the result of giving up their own accommodation to the War Office.
Adastral House, 333–337, Strand; Cheetham House, Manchester; 73, Strand; Lansdowne House; 80, New Oxford Street; Caxton House; and Palace Street.
That, again, is in respect of the necessary measures of adaptation and change involved in the premises which have been taken over in order to adapt them for the use of the Departments which now occupy them.
§ Mr. Attlee
What arrangements are being made for the adaptation of the factory by way of anti-gas precautions?
I believe they are arranging an air raid precautions scheme. I will certainly find out for the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Attlee
The hon. Gentleman has put forward an Estimate for buildings and adaptations. We are entitled to know what is actually being done.
I quite agree that the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to seek that information. I will make a point of obtaining it and sending it to him, but he will be the first to realise that on a matter of detail it is a little difficult to give the information without any previous notice. I do not think, in any case, the expenditure involved is very much.
§ Mr. Attlee
Surely the hon. Gentleman should be able to tell us. The Government are putting up anti-gas factories and anti-gas schools, and it is common complaint with us that there is no close connection between the different sides of Government work. We are always finding that. We ought to know whether the Government themselves are taking these precautions.
There is actually in being at present a committee engaged in drawing up the necessary plans for old as well as new buildings.
§ Mr. Kelly
With regard to some of the buildings that have been taken in hand, it seems as though rents which are not modest are being paid for Lansdowne House, that luxury place in the West End, and for certain places in the Strand. I should like to know why we are hiring these places while we have the old Metropole Hotel, which seems to be growing worse and dirtier every day by reason of not being attended to. That has been in our possession for some time, and yet we are going outside to hire places at what appear to be very high if not excessive rents.
All I can say is that we are satisfied that we have obtained these places at what is a very fair rent indeed. There are, of course, great difficulties involved which necessitate many of the premises being fairly close to existing Government Departments. It has, no 325 doubt, escaped the notice of the hon. Member that as the Hotel Metropole is required for the rehousing of staffs from existing Government buildings during building operations, it would not be possible to house the staffs from other Departments.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I want to express regret to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) that, when he made a certain retort to an interruption of mine which was intended to be helpful, I replied rather more vehemently than I should have done. I desire to assure him that I intended to be helpful in that interruption, because it is essential, in making the kind of calculation that he was doing, that one should know the rate at which the wind is blowing in order to calculate the concentration of the gas at the time it reaches the building three miles away from the point of discharge. I am sorry that apparently his advisers have not given him the information, and I want to assure him and the Committee that the very much too strong comment which I made was entirely confined to the particular retort that he made to what I hoped he would have recognised was essential. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department will say something in response to what my hon. and learned Friend has said. I want to know, with regard to the building at Easingwold, whether any attention has been given to the question which I directed to him nearly a year ago—on the 27th February, 1936—when I asked himwhether instructions are given to make the room in which the gas is kept, the walls of which must be so made as to resist certain gases, capable of resisting gases other than chlorine, phosgene and the chemical compound commonly called mustard gas?The hon. Gentleman said in reply, with that frankness which was disarming on that occasion—I have, frankly, no information at the moment in regard to that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1936; col. 727, Vol. 309.]I hope that the hon. Gentleman will realise that questions are not put across the Floor of this House with regard to these matters merely for fun. I was on that occasion endeavouring to be as helpful as I could to the hon. Gentleman and I should like to know whether it is now possible to give any answer with regard 326 to the question which I then put to him. The way in which the Government have treated this topic has not increased the public confidence in regard to the seriousness with which they take it. I sometimes wonder whether they did not scare the public rather too much, and now wish that they could reassure public opinion rather more than they are able to do. I hope that we may know whether the Government expect, by the experiments they are conducting at these places, that they will have to meet any gases other than chlorine, phosgene and mixtures of these in accordance with whether the enemy may desire merely to stop or to kill the activities in the neighbourhood, with the possible addition of mustard gas. If the country could have some information upon that point, the public would be very considerably reassured.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Batey
One of the items which attracted my attention when the Parliamentary Secretary was speaking was that dealing with fuel, gas and electric current. His explanation as far as gas and electric current are concerned was fairly satisfactory, because he explained that more gas and electricity had been used. He gave an altogether different explanation with regard to fuel. He said that the extra cost was due not to the use of more fuel, but to the extra prices charged for the fuel. He stated that between 2s. and 3s. a ton extra had been charged for coal and between 5s. and 6s. extra for coke. This sort of thing needs more explanation, because it is difficult for some of us to understand how the coal factors in London are able to get such enormous prices for coal. When one sees the coal carts in London exhibiting notices showing the price of coal to be 2s. 7d. a cwt. one pities the household consumers, because one feels that they are being robbed by the coal merchants in London. While they charge 2s. 7d. per cwt. and even up to 2s. 9d. the miner is fortunate if he receives a penny a cwt. for producing the coal.
Before the Committee agree to pass this Estimate we should know exactly the price of coal which accounts for these increases, and where the coal is purchased. It is time that steps were taken to deal with the coal merchants in London. I remember that when the Minister of Labour was Secretary for Mines he 327 answered a question just before he left that office, and stated that the distribution costs of the coal merchants in London had not been reduced for the last 20 years—a rather staggering statement. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell the Committee the price charged for this coal, so that we may know really whether they are charging, as they charge household consumers, a most extravagant price? I have myself hewed tons upon tons of coal for much less than a penny a cwt. Some of these coal factors in London who are able to get these huge prices must be making enormous profits, and before the Parliamentary Secretary asks the Committee to pass this Supplementary Estimate, he should tell us what the price is and whether it is extravagant, as one anticipates that it is. In my opinion, we shall be abundantly justified in voting against the Supplementary Estimate.
I notice an item in regard to furniture, on page 27 of the Supplementary Estimate, under the letter "K"—"Services carried out on repayment terms." Surely the Government are not buying furniture on repayment terms. I could understand poor people doing that but not a rich Government. It also applies to clothing. Are the Government buying clothing on repayment terms? If not, will the Minister explain what is meant by repayment terms, and assure the Committee that the Government are not buying furniture and clothing on the hire purchase system?
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. MacLaren
I want to raise the question of the rentals paid for Lansdowne House. Would it be possible to get the actual rental charged for the use of Lansdowne House, and also a statement of the additional cost of taking out the bathrooms, disembowelling the building and making it suitable for Government use? The flats there have been disembowelled and the modern equipment removed to make the building suitable for offices.
I understand that it is not the usual practice to disclose individual rentals, but I am informed that the company which owns the building did the whole of the work themselves and subsequently let the space at so much per square foot to the Government. The rent which they asked and which we 328 agreed to pay was considerably less than commercial rents in other buildings of that type.
§ Mr. MacLaren
I wish to press the matter. It has been the talk of London that the Government have taken a highly valuable site like Lansdowne House for offices, a new building, fully equipped for modern flat letting, with new bathrooms and equipped in every sense as a modern building for flats. I saw the baths being pulled out and the hot water arrangements, which had been put in a few weeks before, being taken out. Now we are told that the figure of the rental cannot be divulged. It has been talked about pretty freely as to how that building was foisted on the Government. If we are asked to vote public money when highly valuable buildings are foisted on the Government, I protest. I am not blaming the Department or the Minister, but this House has a certain responsibility to the taxpayers, and this kind of business ought to be stopped. A public inquiry ought to be made into the whole matter regarding that building and why it was taken and disembowelled. We are told that the rent charged is less than for other similar areas. I should like the Minister not to believe that. I should like to know whether these landowners are philanthropists. I am told that the Government are being asked a rental which is very high, considering the cubic space controlled by the Government in the building. It is my duty to raise this matter. There is another proceeding going on, at the Metropole Hotel. This ghastly thing is being disembowelled also.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)
Under what part of the Estimate is the hon. Member raising this point?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Is it not covered by the ordinary provision in the main Estimates, in which case it does not arise here?
§ Mr. MacLaren
The Minister was asked specifically what the hereditaments were for which rents had to be paid, and he enumerated a number of buildings, and one of them was Lansdowne House. Because of that statement I am raising the question now.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think the hon. Member misunderstood me. Lansdowne House, I understand, is covered by the Supplementary Estimate under head A. So long as the hon. Member kept to Lansdowne House he was in order, but the Hotel Metropole is covered under the main Estimate, and he cannot raise that question on the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. MacLaren
You will perhaps excuse me for making a passing reference to it. I was not going to dilate upon it. I am merely calling attention to this specific case, which is one of many that may happen if this is allowed to go on. There is an idea going about that we must rush in and make preparations for some eventualities which we are told may come or may not come. In the past we have seen preparations being made by a famous Prime Minister in this House, at a time when money was no matter and was squandered with both hands. Afterwards, we saw what happened when we tried to realise on some of that property. I protest against the mockery of calling hon. Members to come here to discuss Estimates for vast sums of money going out of the Exchequer, to be paid away in the form of rents for buildings or offices that might well have been elsewhere on less valuable sites. The management of State Departments in this area is a disgrace, seeing that such a building has been taken for Government offices, and I protest. When we make demands for expenditure on necessitous cases we are told that there is no money in the Exchequer, but there is any amount of money available when the landowners of London want to filch public money, in the guise of doing service to the State. Therefore, I protest against this scandal, especially when we are told that this rental is an item that cannot be divulged publicly.
In reply to the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) I may say that the matter at Easingwold to which he referred is being dealt with.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Hardie
With regard to Lansdowne House, I tried some time ago to find out what was taking place there. It had been fitted in a first-class way for luxury flats, and we are now told that some philanthropist is ready to destroy these newly-made flats so far as living 330 apartments are concerned, and to hand them over to the Government at a price that cannot be divulged. Those of us who remember the swindling that took place during the years 1914–1918, and the huge sums that were paid out for things used during the War that were handed back for an old song, are filled with doubts. It is a shame that anybody sitting on the Front Bench, on either side of the House, should be forced into such a position as to not to be able to reveal the swindle now taking place regarding Lansdowne House. We have become used to statements that in the national interest it is not proper to reveal certain things, but here is an ordinary exchange taking place and yet we cannot be told about it. What is the mystery about Lansdowne House? Who gave the approval, and to whom was it given? What was the purpose? Are we to be told that there is some philanthropic individual who does not want his name revealed in case honours might float to him? I am surprised that any self-respecting Gentleman on the Front Bench should seek to hide behind what is an obvious swindle. One can very well deduce what is taking place in other directions. I have had no blinkers on me regarding expenditure on the rearmament policy.
§ Mr. Hardie
I was only drawing from Lansdowne House a line showing that the same thing was likely to be taking place in every other direction. Hon. Members on the Front Bench, claiming to be honest and intelligent, have not the courage to treat the Committee with the confidence it deserves. They would change their attitude quickly if any question of votes in their constituencies was concerned. Only evil deeds shun the light. Only those who deal in evil deeds are always trying to hide behind something that they say it will be detrimental to the nation to reveal. I hope the hon. Gentleman will see the necessity of taking the nation into his confidence.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
Where does the hon. Gentleman opposite derive his custom of not giving figures? What custom is there standing between the House of Commons and information on these matters, and what is the reason for withholding it?
The practice has been never to disclose prices of tenders, and that practice has been followed in not revealing actual rents. I can give the Committee an assurance on this matter. We were in great difficulty in finding accommodation at the time, and the Government approached Lansdowne House to see whether that accommodation could be transformed into office accommodation for the purposes of the Government. I hope the Committee will take my assurance that the company carried out this work at its own expense, and subsequently let the office accommodation to the Government at a price below that paid for comparable accommodation in the area. There is no ramp. The Government have got fair accommodation for a reasonable rent.
§ Mr. Attlee
There is no analogy whatever between the question of not disclosing tenders and that of not saying what rent the Government are paying for certain accommodation. Does the hon. Gentleman say that we are never to be allowed to know what rent the Government are paying for accommodation? That is a new principle.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Sir Percy Harris
I do not suggest dishonesty on the part of the hon. Gentleman, who is the soul of integrity, but I do not remember so much mystery and secrecy being wrapped round an ordinary business transaction. The primary duty of this House in Committee is to guard the public purse. There was a great deal of surprise when these buildings were transferred to the Government and some criticism in the public Press. It was considered a very extravagant operation for the Government to choose such buildings in a very social centre for carrying on the work of a Government Department.
§ It is vital that in matters of this kind there should be the greatest publicity. The Parliamentary Secretary has taken the safe line and has talked about precedents. I cannot remember any precedent of this kind, but if the Committee fails to do its duty here, the Public Accounts Committee will turn on the limelight and we shall know eventually what the actual figure is. I suggest that this is not a matter even for a distinguished Parliamentary Secretary who is quite capable of holding higher office. The hon. Gentleman however is only a Parliamentary Secretary, and I suggest that a responsible Minister should be here or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I see that the Minister of Labour is present; he is always in his place, but it is not a matter for his Department. At any rate, I do not understand that his Department is occupying these delightful West End flats. Then I do not know why the Secretary of State for the Colonies is present. His mind is on other parts of the Empire.
§ Sir P. Harris
I am suggesting that on a matter of this importance a responsible Cabinet Minister or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury should be present. I hope the Committee will be firm, and in order to insist on the presence of a responsible Minister to explain all this mystery about an ordinary business transaction, I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 110; Noes, 168.333
|Division No. 75.]||AYES.||[9.38 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cluse, W. S.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Cove, W. G.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Batey, J.||Ede, J. C.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hardie, G. D.|
|Benson, G.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Harris, Sir P. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Hayday, A.|
|Bromfield, W.||Foot, D. M.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Brooke, W.||Frankel, D.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Gallacher, W.||Hollins, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Gardner, B. W.||Hopkin, D.|
|Buchanan, G.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Cape, T.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Cassells, T.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||John, W.|
|Chater, D.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Oliver, G. H.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Owen, Major G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Paling, W.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Lathan, G.||Parker, J.||Stephen, C.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Parkinson, J. A.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Lee, F.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Potts, J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Logan, D. G.||Pritt, D. N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lunn, W.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Ridley, G.||Watson, W. McL.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Riley, B.||Welsh, J. C.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Ritson, J.||Westwood, J.|
|MacLaren, A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Maclean, N.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rowson, G.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Marshall, F.||Sanders, W. S.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Mathers, G.||Seely, Sir H. M.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Maxton, J.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Milner, Major J.||Shinwell, E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Montague, F,||Short, A.||Sir Francis Acland and Mr. R.|
|Naylor, T. E,||Silkin, L.||Acland.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J||Guy, J. C. M.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Hanbury, Sir C.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hepworth, J.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Holdsworth, H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Holmes, J. S.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Remer, J. R.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hunter, T.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Rowlands, G.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Bull, B. B.||Kimball, L.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Salt, E. W.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Leckie, J. A.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Lees-Jones, J.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Levy, T.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Liddall, W. S.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Lloyd, G. W.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Loftus, P. C.||Somerset, T.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Spens, W. P.|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||M'Connell, Sir J.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Critchley, A.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Storey, S.|
|Crooke, J. S.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Cross, R. H.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||McKie, J. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Magnay, T.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Denville, Alfred||Maitland, A.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Markham, S. F.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Morgan, R. H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Furness, S. N.||Monro, P.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Nall, Sir J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H H.||Wise, A. R.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Goldie, N. B.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Peaks, O.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pilkington, R.||Commander Southby and Lieut.-Colonel Llewellin.|
§ Question again proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £152,900 be granted for the said Service."
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
May we now have a statement in regard to this question of Lansdowne House? It is surprising to find that Lansdowne House is being used for this purpose. When the town planning committee of the London County Council approved that building, they approved it for residential purposes only, but now we have had it converted for these business purposes, and we want to be told who are the owners of Lansdowne House. The more one hears of this, the more suspicious one becomes of it, and I hate being suspicious. The information as to the rent which is being paid is refused to us. With regard to the buildings in the Strand, Nos. 333 to 337 or whatever they are, and the building for the Ministry of Health, it is astonishing how much the Strand is in possession of Government Departments. We know the rental of those places, so why cannot we be told the rent that is being paid for Lansdowne House, which we understand is being used by the Government contrary to the directions and the approval given by the London County Council for the use of that building for living purposes only.
§ 9.48 p.m.
Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen
May I ask whether at any time during the régime from 1929 to 1931 such information was either asked for or disclosed? The "Daily Herald" the day before yesterday pointed out that the Opposition were most inefficient, and with that I fully agree. I suppose that this discussion is merely the result of the crack of the whip of the "Daily Herald," to show that the party opposite are of some use in this House.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ Mr. MacLaren
Taking the Committee into his confidence, does the Minister now assert that the Government approached the owners of the property at Lansdowne House in order to get offices in that building, and, if so, may we be told on what grounds the Government considered that Lansdowne House was the most efficient site for their purpose? The enormous expenditure on the initial preparation of that building and in converting it into offices must surely have weighed heavily 336 on the minds of the Government before they undertook this enterprise, so we want to know from the Minister now, in case there should be any statement made afterwards, that he made a slip to-night in the heat of the discussion, whether it is true that the Government approached the owners of the property, that the Government did so on the best policy open to them at the time, that there was not within the confines of Westminster or contiguous to the House of Commons a more efficient site at a less ample charge to the State, that Lansdowne House was the best possible proposition, and that the Government, weighing all things in their minds, approached the owners of the property accordingly. I want the Minister to say whether that is the advice given to him to-night. The next point is as to the initial cost to the State to convert these flats into a condition suitable for offices. That, I think, we ought to know. The Minister made a remark tonight which I suggest is challengable, namely, that it was the Government that pursued the owners of the property and not the other way round, and I want the assurance of the Minister that his statement is correct, so that we can have it on record.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
I welcome this opportunity of trying to obtain some information for people living in the vicinity of these offices and also for the readers of certain newspapers that have been probing this particular expenditure. In the first place, I would like to ask whether any of the expenditure mentioned on page 26, namely, £20,000 for urgent unseen works, took place in Cumberland House or on any building in the vicinity of Cumberland House. The other question that I would like to ask is whether the building that has been converted at the corner of Tottenham Court Road is included in this Supplementary Estimate. Then there is a revised Estimate to the extent of £344,790 for maintenance and repairs of public offices. More and more in industrial parts it is being recognised that the whole of Britain is becoming a vast arsenal, yet the people of this country are not being informed of that fact.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Sir Francis Acland
I apologise to the Minister concerned that I have not heard the whole of the Debate, but I want to ask whether he definitely takes up the line that it is against the public interest to tell the Committee the rents that are paid for Government property which is to be taken on lease. I am thinking of an office in which I myself and my hon. and gallant Friend opposite do some work, namely, the Forestry Commission in Savile Row, and there—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I must point out to the Committee that although they are quite entitled to ask the Minister about the specific properties covered by the Estimate, they cannot go into the general question of the policy of the Department on a Supplementary Estimite. That must be done, if at all, on the main Estimate.
§ Mr. Attlee
On a point of Order. The whole question has been whether we could get certain information on this Estimate. The Minister has stated that, as a matter of custom, we are never given this information. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) was giving an instance of where the information has been given. Is it not permissible for the Committee to be shown what the custom is?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think the right hon. Gentleman is not quite correct. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) was going into the practice, not of this Department, but of another Department altogether. The Committee must remember that on a Supplementary Estimate we are bound very tightly to the Estimate before the Committee and cannot go into what other Government Departments may do in any circum- 338 stances. The Committee is entitled to ask about various items, but beyond that it is not entitled to go.
§ Earl Winterton
I am interested in this matter from the point of view of the discussion of Supplementary Estimates, and I would like to ask whether it is not in order for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to ask a question of the Minister and in asking that question to give as an illustration what occurs in another Department?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I assure the Noble Lord that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen can only give as an illustration what might be the practice of the Department under discussion.
§ Earl Winterton
In that case, I must say with great respect that it very greatly limits any reasonable discussion on the Supplementary Estimates.
§ Mr. Attlee
As I understood it, the illustration was not given as the practice of a particular Department, but as an illustration of the general practice where the Government have buildings on lease. I understood the Minister to say that it was a custom not to give the information. Surely, we are entitled to challenge that custom of the Government in its treatment of the Committee in not giving information on Supplementary Estimates.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I will not say all, but practically all buildings taken on lease are taken by the Office of Works, and, therefore, it is a question for that particular Department. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) was raising the practice of a completely different Department, namely, the Forestry Commission, and I do not see how, if we start to take the illustration of what the Forestry Commission does, we can avoid discussing what that Department does, or other Departments do, when they have any kind of property for which in no possible circumstances can the Office of Works be responsible. The Committee must confine its discussion to that for which the Minister can answer, and he cannot answer for other Departments.
§ Sir F. Acland
I was not even going to give an illustration about rents. Of course, the Forestry Commission's offices are taken in exactly the same way as any 339 other offices—by the Office of Works. With regard to other offices, we know the expenses down to the wages of every charwoman, and I want to know whether, in the case of the buildings now under discussion, the position is taken that we are not entitled in the public interests to know what rent is being paid. I have not heard it suggested, and I do not suppose anyone thinks, that unreasonable rents are being paid. I would not for one moment deny that if you want a great many people to work together in the middle of London, and have to take a place such as Lansdowne House, it is very likely that a very high rent will have to be paid, and probably it is perfectly justifiable. I simply wish to be clear why it is not in the public interests to state the rents that are paid for buildings such as Lansdowne House and any other buildings taken by the Office of Works.
§ 10.0 p.m.
I think that probably I can satisfy the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) and, I hope, the Committee. The question is whether it is in the public interest to disclose the rents paid for buildings when they are hired by the Office of Works. Clearly, the main public interest is to get accommodation as cheaply as possible, and that is the policy which has always been pursued by the Office of Works. It is the practice of the Office of Works to go to the owner of the building and bargain, and the owner of the building, knowing that the Government is a good tenant, and that he is certain to get his rent paid on due date, is naturally inclined to give the Government the very best terms, terms which are better than those that he would give or might be inclined to give to an ordinary tenant. That is what happens day in and day out, and the Office of Works is firmly of the opinion that if it proceeded to disclose to the Committee, and, therefore, to the public, the terms given by a particular owner, the owner would know that other tenants would come along and say, "You have given this price to the ex-tenant and you ought to give it to us." The net result would be that, as soon as it became known, the Government would cease to get preferential terms.
340 I venture sincerely and honestly to say that it is not in the public interest, taking the long view, to disclose what this particular house costs. I, personally, had something to do with the matter when it first arose, and I was as reluctant as anyone in the Committee to agree to take what seemed, prima facie, a much too expensive building for the purposes of a Government Department; but when I went into the matter more closely, I was quite convinced that, having regard to the general situation and the lack of accommodation in London at the time, and considering the necessity which was put to the Office of Works by the Service Departments that they must have accommodation within very close reach of the War Office and the Admiralty, there was really no alternative but to take that particular building. As I have said already, the Government did not pay for the alterations, but the owners of the building paid for them. I make a further appeal to the Committee to take my word for it that the actual rent being paid, whatever rumours hon. Members may have heard, is below that paid for other comparable office accommodation available. I hope that information will satisfy the Committee.
§ Mr. Attlee
The hon. Gentleman was dealing with the question of bargaining. Is not the fact known to the landlord that the Government are looking for accommodation, and does not the landlord know just as well as the Government that there is no other available accommodation, and does that not influence him?
Yes, Sir, I do not deny that for one moment. I ask the Committee to believe, however, that in this particular instance, despite the apparent advantage that the owner might have been expected to have owing to the difficulties of finding alternative accommodation, we did actually get the building at a lower rental than would have had to be paid for other comparable accommodation that was available.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
We have asked two questions to-night to which we have not received answers. One is what is the rent paid for Lansdowne House and the other is what price is being paid for coal. Why such evasion? Why such awful argument about these matters? We are 341 told very often when we put forward propositions from this side that our proposals are against human nature. Yet we are told that a company which is out for rents and profits has taken the responsibility and borne the cost of reconstructing a building and has then charged a lower rent than would be obtainable for similar buildings where reconstruction has not taken place. Is not that against anything we have ever known of human nature, as represented by those for whom hon. Members opposite speak? I never heard such a story before, and I am positive that there is not an hon. Member opposite who believes it—that any company would reconstruct a building at its own expense and then charge a lower rent for it than would be charged for comparable buildings which had not been reconstructed. Yet the Minister gets up here and tells us—and hon. Members opposite do not seem to be much concerned at it—that the reason is that the Government, through the Office of Works, have entered into a conspiracy with the landlord to keep up rents. The Committee is asked to accept that.
Let hon. Members opposite smile, but I challenge any of them to go to his constituency along with me and try to justify such a trick as that. We are told by the Government that they will not make known the amount which they are paying in rent, because it might bring down the rents of other buildings in this neighbourhood. Is the Committee going to pass this Estimate on subterfuges of that kind? I say that this is a public scandal. There is a lot of talk going round here about some of the people to whom the rents are going. I hear references round about me to a certain party whose name was in the Press not long ago sharing in some of these rents. I hear them talking about it and it has obviously been talked about in London. I repeat that it is a public scandal. We ought to know the amount of rent that is being paid and then we shall be able to judge, as well as the Minister, whether that rent is comparable with other rents in the neighbourhood and whether it is an exorbitant rent or not. Why should we not be allowed to judge as well as the Minister? In regard to the price of coal the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) has drawn attention to the interesting fact that while the Minister says that the increased cost of electricity and 342 gas has been due to the fact that they are using more, the increased cost of coal is due to the fact that they have been paying more for it. To whom are they paying and what is being paid per ton? These are questions to which we demand answers, and if the Minister is not prepared to tell us we shall find out for ourselves. The whole question will be made public and we shall see that some hon. Members opposite answer in their constituencies for the trickery and swindling that are going on in connection with these Estimates.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Mr. MacLaren
I am sorry to go over this ground with the Minister again, but I assure the Committee that there are no sensational names floating about in my mind as participants in this rent. I know nothing about that, and there is no sensation behind my criticism. The Minister has stated, and no doubt is serious in doing so, that the Government could find no accommodation near the War Office, to meet the requirements of the case, without going as far afield as Lansdowne House. There were hundreds of offices to let at that time in Westminster. I assert that there were buildings with offices in them into which the Government could have gone right away with their equipment and started work at once, whereas this building had to be pulled to pieces. I saw baths being taken out and lowered from the top floors, steam pipes being taken out, tiles being torn from the walls. Is anyone going to tell me that that was a cheaper proposition for the Government than going into office buildings at Westminster? Instead of having an entirely new building which was let as flats reconditioned for offices, I assure the Minister that if he was advised that he could not get offices nearer than Lansdowne House, he has been misled. I happen to know this area pretty well, and it was a scandal and disgrace at the time to see what went on in regard to these flats.
We are told that it would not do to make the rentals public. Here is a building of two wings, and one wing is let off in flats. Naturally, the tenants of the flats would think they had signed rather doubtful contracts if they found that the Government had come in later and got a better bargain. That may be so, but surely there comes a time when Members 343 of the House of Commons who are the protectors of the taxpayers of this country—at least we aver that we are—should have some information divulged to us to make it clear that the Government are not being played with and led into bad contracts. I submit that it would be well for the Government to make an open statement of the annual rental in this case. There is nothing to be lost now. To-morrow after this Debate every tenant occupying a flat in the contiguous building will say, "Ha, ha. Nothing will be divulged in the House of Commons," and that will be taken by the tenants to mean that the Government are getting better terms than they are getting. If so, the harm has been done and the Government should let us have the figures. Otherwise, the Committee ought to divide upon this Estimate. I do not think I have ever used any little difficulties of the Government for the purpose of cheap demonstrations, but I feel strongly on this matter and that is why I protest vigorously. I feel in fairness to the taxpayers that the details of this particular transaction should be exposed by giving the figures. I should like to know what was the cost of reconditioning the building as well as the amount of the annual rental.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hardie
Since the Minister cannot give the details in regard to rent, can he say what is the length of the lease of this building and whether at the end of the lease the Government are responsible for replacing all that has been displaced and bringing it back to the furnished flat basis on which it was when they took it over? Some hon. Members have been trying to look upon this question as a bit of fun, but I do not know any more damaging statement to the public interest than the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary. A clear statement of what is being paid for this building would have finished the matter. The hon. Gentleman, however, has aroused every kind of suspicion, and it will now be said that certain people in the flats are having to pay in order that the Government may have cheap offices. They will say that they are not only being taxed in the ordinary way, but are being bled, and that the Government are linking up with the owners of houses in order to keep up rents.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
May I have an answer to the question I put earlier, as to why the Government have taken a place which is scheduled and zoned for residential purposes and have turned it into office premises? There is no need for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to shake his head, for the Government have taken the building for that purpose, as we have heard to-night. If the Government are going to defy the local authority in this way when the authority has paid some regard to the planning of London, they are going contrary to all the professions they have made with regard to development throughout the country. This is an entirely new building, and I doubt whether some of the flats had been occupied by tenants. It is a new building of luxury flats. I saw the plans when they were presented for approval, and it is amazing to think that there should be such a waste of money and material on that building in order that it may be used for Government office purposes.
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Everybody will agree that it is in the interests of Government employés that they should have good office accommodation. The Government, however, have taken up a high and mighty attitude and refused to disclose the terms. A large number of people must already know what they are. When the bargain was made there were two parties at least to it, if not three. There was the person making the bargain with the Government. He knows, and those who are in his office know. I have no doubt that the agent who is acting for him knows, and everyone in his office knows also. Then there is the solicitor acting for the person who owns the flats and he, no doubt, has an office staff who also know. The only people who are not allowed to know are Members of the House of Commons. If any of us were in adjacent flats and wanted to use this affair to get our rents down, we could easily find out through some person or other concerned in the building the amount of the rent the Government are paying. It is being treated as though it were a Cabinet secret. Every Cabinet, whether a Labour Cabinet, a Tory Cabinet or a National Government Cabinet, has its Cabinet secrets, and yet we have the Press constantly coming 345 out with what is now called "intelligent anticipation."
The Under-Secretary has said that the Government are getting a better bargain than the private tenants, so already the private tenants have a grumble, only they do not just know the actual amount which is being paid. I confess that I was amazed at his statement that the Government had got better terms, because I have been a member of a local authority which, in a city like Glasgow, is near akin to a Government Department. We used to have to send a law agent out to negotiate for us, because the moment it was known that the Corporation were after any land or buildings up went the price. I am told that the real reason why there is not a single post office in the central street in that city is that the moment the Post Office go after a site up goes the price. We are told that in this case the demand was urgent. The private landlord must have known of the urgency of the demand.
We are fobbed off with the excuse that the landlord paid so many thousands for alterations and so on. Does anyone wish to credit him with spending that money and not putting it on to the rent? Either it was charged to the rent, or else there was a readjustment in some other way so that he got those thousands back. The Under-Secretary has aroused all the suspicion which he needs to arouse; he is starting gossip in its worst possible form. After to-night everybody will be looking round to find out what the rent is, and they will get at something one way or another. It may be they will not get the actual truth, but there will be all kinds of rumours, and so it would be much better that the House of Commons and the country should know the actual rent paid. I am amazed at the attitude of the supporters of the Government. I cannot follow them in what I can only describe as their unfairness. Suppose that this attitude had been taken up by the Government in regard to other aspects of Government work. If the Minister of Labour refused to disclose the income of some poor person about which information was being demanded they would be saying, "Why this secrecy; why this hiding of things?" In this case those who know, in addition to the landlord and his agent, are the Government Department which negotiated the business, the valuation department of the London 346 County Council, because they have some say in the rent, and the Income Tax people—there are whole ranges of people who know; but we here are not to know.
An hon. Member opposite asked what happened from 1929 to 1931, when a Labour Government were in office. Suppose that the Members on the Labour Front Bench were occupying the Government Front Bench. I see opposite the hon. Member for Horsham—[An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. Member!"]—the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). Sometimes I should like to give him an extra title or two. If he and his friends had been sitting here would they have allowed this business to go through in this way? One of the curses in politics to-day is that the ordinary man says that we are all alike. He thinks that there is no sincerity. If hon. Members opposite were sitting on this side they would have plagued the Labour party and they would have done it with every political device.
To-night we are asking for a perfectly simple thing. What is the record? Should not the House of Commons be given the information which large numbers of people in London know? In common fairness, the figure ought to be given. I remind the Minister that he has usually been noted, in his old days, for candour. He made a reputation, whether for good or for bad I am not judging, as one of the Y.M.C.A. group, who were out for candour and cleanliness in public affairs—no underhand dealing. I think the members of that group have now all occupied Government posts, and most of their motives have gone since then; but they had them. In view of that fact the Minister ought to tell the House the rent of this place. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us exactly what the rent is. There is no business company up against it, and I know all about the tenants in flats, but, from the business point of view, I see no reason for not disclosing this figure.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton
As the hon. Member has mentioned me, there are two sentences or so in which I ought to reply. If I thought there was cause for suspicion I should be ready to attack the Government, but I do not in the least think that there is cause for suspicion. Some speeches upon the subject have shown that suspicion, but no doubt with the 347 very best motives. The criterion seems to be, is it or is it not the custom of this House to disclose these things? We have been assured by the Parliamentary Secretary that it is not the custom to disclose this information. He assures us that that has been the case for a great many years past. By inference, I suppose we may assume it was the case when the party opposite were in power. I do not see what other possible ground there is for the Parliamentary Secretary refusing to give the information to-night. If the Parliamentary Secretary is wrong, there is a case for the most serious investigation, and the case would bear an impression for grave suspicion, but as it has always been a case of refusing such information upon Supplementary Estimates in this House, I cannot see what reasonable ground there is to complain.
§ Mr. E. J. Williams
If a question were put down to the Minister responsible for the Department, does not the Noble Lord think that we ought to have an answer?
§ Earl Winterton
No. The Minister would reply, if he knew his job: "I regret that I am unable to give the information. I would remind the House that my predecessor and I have always refused to give the information because it is not in the public interest to do so." That is the answer.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Sir F. Acland
I was very much impressed with what the Minister said, and it recalled to my mind the time when I had an office in Grosvenor Gardens. I found out, quite incidentally, that the people two doors off occupied a house exactly similar, but were paying a higher rent than the Office of Works were paying for the office which I was occupying at that time. I can see quite well the general principle; they could get a house, or a couple of houses, in a row, if they did not disclose the rents, and I think that must be perfectly sound. This sticks in my mind a little. We are not asking this evening that all the rents of all the premises shall be included in this Estimate, or that the rents of all the premises that may be taken by the Office of Works should be disclosed, but that we should be given the information with regard to Lansdowne House.
Has not the point to be made that Lansdowne House is a unique property—that 348 there are not the same owners wanting to let other houses just like Lansdowne House next door, so that it would do no harm to those owners who have only got Lansdowne House in that neighbourhood if the rent paid for it were divulged? I think that, if the Minister could treat the matter in that way, and if the House could regard it as not infringing the precedent that where you might do a landowner damage you must not disclose the rent, the House would be quite satisfied, if it were told this figure, not to press upon him that a precedent was thereby established which would entitle the House always to know every rent of every premises taken.
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I should like to ask the Minister whether he could disclose the purpose for which this rent is paid. I agree with many of my hon. Friends that it is very unwise of him to make such a great secret in the case of this unique property standing by itself. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) made a very valid point when he said that this is not a kind of property that could be compared with other property in regard to the rent paid for it, and that therefore neither the Government nor the landlords would find themselves in an invidious position vis-a-vis other tenants who might be paying a higher rent. The Noble Lord who supported the Government on this issue would, I am certain, if he found himself on this side of the House, be one of those who would put the strongest pressure upon the Government; his whole Parliamentary record bears out that statement. In the course of our discussions there occasionally arises an issue which is not so much an issue between parties, but is preeminently an issue between the House of Commons and the Government Front Bench; and it is no answer for the Minister to say that this information has not previously been given.
That is an argument on the ground of precedent, but there is something higher than precedent, and that is principle; and it is an overriding principle that, when public money is being expended, unless good reason can be shown why it should be kept secret, a full disclosure should be given. No good reason has been given in this case. The Minister has stated that it is not in the public interest to 349 give this information, but that has never been held to be a valid excuse for not giving the details of expenditure to the House. As regards the secrecy with which the Minister has attempted to surround this building, everybody knows that the surest way to attract attention to the purpose for which this building is being used is to make a secret of it. We shall certainly have reporters surrounding Lansdowne House to-morrow to find who is going in and who is coming out. As regards the amount of the rent that is being paid, I hope the Minister will reconsider his decision, or, if he cannot do that, that he will tell us the purpose for which the premises are being used.
There have been some curious dealings lately in regard to premises taken by the Government, and, I strongly suspect, in the class of case to which the House had recently to devote its attention in regard to the establishment of an aircraft factory at Maidenhead. This property is owned, I believe, by a firm called Commercial Securities, Limited, that is to say, Stewart and Ardern's motor firm. I believe that their property firm owns these premises—not the same firm. When that firm, which is a public company, comes before its shareholders, they will be entitled to demand the amount of rent that they receive for these premises. Members of the House of Commons are to be the only people who will not get the information. The Press will certainly find out to what purpose the premises are being put. The shareholders will ferret out the rent that is being paid, and it is regrettable in the circumstances that the House of Commons is not to be given the information in the discharge of its duty as the watchdog of the public purse.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
I would appeal to the Minister to give us this information. We are told that there is a precedent that it should not be given, and I accept the Minister's statement on that without hesitation, but I should like to see the precedent. I am not like the gentleman playing poker who wanted to see the cards—there is no suggestion of mistrust—but when precedents are examined it may be seen whether they really have any bearing on the point that arises in the case. The Minister says, and I accept the statement without hesitation, that the rent per cubic foot is less than that of 350 other premises in the neighbourhood. But two questions arise. Firstly, does it mean that an intelligent and resourceful house agent comparing the 10,000 tenements within half a mile of the premises has found, perhaps, a shop frontage with a moderate cubic footage and a rent which consequently, calculated by the cubic foot, is much more than the rent that the Government are paying for the whole of these premises, chimney pots and all? Does it mean that, when you make a hierarchy of all the premises, showing which pay most and which paid least per cubic foot, this block of offices is the third on the list or the tenth or the thousandth?
The Minister says one wants to protect the landlord from having stones thrown at him by his tenants, because the tenants, on comparing the rent that they pay with what the Government pay, will find that they are apparently being overcharged, but may we not attribute a little intelligence to the tenant? The tenant of a flat in a building ten years older, with a slightly different outlook, half a mile away, learns that the Government are paying—I will take an imaginary figure—a shilling a cubic foot a year. Does he say, "I am paying more than that"? Has he the remotest idea how many cubic feet he has? Has he ever had his rent calculated by the cubic foot? Could he discover how many cubic feet there are in a cubic yard? If a tenant calculated his rent like that and discovered that a portion of the Government offices which had once been a flat rather like his worked out at rather less per cubic foot than he was paying, would he not say, "I am paying retail and they are paying wholesale and I suppose they will get it cheaper"? He also might say to himself, "My flat is a little better or a little worse." It is like saying, "You could not, possibly disclose the price of violets in town because you might depress the price of violets in the Noble Lord's constituency." The reason given by the Government for not departing from precedent is one which can only further excite public suspicion.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £152,900, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 185.353
|Division No. 76.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Parkinson, J. A|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Potts, J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Groves, T. E.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Ridley, G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hardie, G. D.||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Ritson, J.|
|Batey, J.||Hayday, A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hei derson, T. (Tradeston)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rowson, G.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hopkin, D.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jagger, J.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Shinwell, E.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Short, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Silkin, L.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cape, T.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cassells, T.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D.||Lathan, G.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, J. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F.||Stephen, C.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R,||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Day, H.||Lunn, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||McGhee, H. G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Maclean, N.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gallacher, W.||Montague, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Windsor, W. (Hull. C.)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Oliver, G. H.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Owen, Major G.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Parker, J.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. John.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Cross, R. H.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hunter, T.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Dawson, Sir P.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Denville, Alfred||Kimball, L.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Leckie, J. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Duggan, H. J.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Levy, T.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Eastwood, J. F.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Eckersley, P. T.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Lumley, Capt, L. R.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Fildes, Sir H.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Fleming, E. L.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Furness, S. N.||M'Connell, Sir J.|
|Bull, B. B.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Goldie, N. B.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Channon, H.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||McKie, J. H.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Guy, J. C. M.||Magnay, T.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Maitland, A.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hanbury, Sir C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D J.||Haslam, H. C. (Hornoastle)||Markham, S. F.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Hepworth, J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Herbert, Major J, A. (Monmouth)||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Holdsworth, H.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Critchley, A.||Holmes, J. S.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Munro, P.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Rowlands, G.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Turton, R. H.|
|Peake, O.||Salt, E. W.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Petherick, M.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Pilkington, R.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Porritt, R. W.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Procter, Major H. A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Wells, S. R.|
|Radford, E. A.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Ramsden, Sir E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Somerset, T.||Wise, A. R.|
|Rayner, Major R. H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Spens, W. P.|
|Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Remer, J. R.||Storey, S.||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-|
|Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
§ Original Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £153,000, be granted for the said Service."354
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 116.355
|Division No. 77.]||AYES.||[10.48 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Eckersley, P. T.||Magnay, T.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Maitland, A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Markham, S. F.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Fildes, Sir H.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Fleming, E. L.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Furness, S. N.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir J.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Goldie, N. B.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Grotton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Munro, P.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Nall, Sir J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Guy, J. C. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Peake, O.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Petherick, M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Pilkington, R.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Hepburn, P. G, T. Buchan-||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hepworth, J.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Campbell Sir E. T.||Holdsworth, H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Holmes, J. S.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Channon, H.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Chapman, A (Rutherglen)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E.Grinstead)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hunter, T.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Kimball, L||Remer, J. R.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Leckie, J. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Levy, T.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Critchley, A.||Liddall, W. S.||Rowlands, G.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lloyd, G. W.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Cross, R. H.||Loftus, P. C.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Salt, E. W.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Denville, Alfred||M'Connell, Sir J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Duggan, H. J.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||McKie, J. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Somerset, T.|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Tree, A. R. L. F.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Spens, W. P.||Turton, R. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Wakefield, W. W.||Wise, A. R.|
|Storey, S.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wells, S. R.||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)||Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Acland, Rt, Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Groves, T. E.||Potts, J.|
|Adamson, W. H.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, G. D.||Ridley, G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon, C. R.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Riley, B.|
|Batey, J.||Hayday, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hollins, A.||Rowson, G.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hopkin, D.||Scely, Sir H. M.|
|Brooke, W.||Jagger, J.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Short, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Silkin, L.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cassells, T.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lathan, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, J. J.||Stephen, C.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leslie, J. R.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Day, H.||Logan, D. G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||McEntee, V. La T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||MacLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Maclean, N.||Welsh, J. C|
|Foot, D. M.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||Marshall, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Montague, F.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Naylor, T. E.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Owen, Major G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Paling, W.||Mr. John and Mr. Mathers.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Parker, J.|