§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [18th November], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."—[Mr. A. Bevan.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead there of:
this House while recognising the necessity of a measure for revising the current system of Exchequer grants so as equitably to relieve and adjust the burdens of ratepayers, declines to give a second reading to a Bill which fails to achieve those objects, inasmuch as it provides no adequate means to deal with the continued rise of rates due to the ever-increasing expenditure which local authorities are required to undertake; establishes no direct relation between local expenditure and Exchequer assistance, and by the inadequacy of the proposed equalisation grants deprives many authorities of this type of Exchequer assistance altogether; presupposes uniformity of valuation which, owing to the unsuitable machinery provided, cannot be achieved for at least four years; and, in its proposals for valuation of dwelling-houses discriminates unfairly between ratepayers in similar economic circumstances."—[Lieut.-Colonel Elliot.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
The history and character of British democracy are bound up with the development of our local government. In government, as in industry, there is a continual temptation to seek mere size of unit under the delusion that bigness is necessarily the same as efficiency. Nowhere would this tendency be more dangerous than in the temptation to centralise all administration in the State and to allow local government to wither away. Yet the natural tendency of geographical, economic and other differences within our country creates such great and unfair anomalies that the State for many years has had to redress this balance. It has been done by various methods of compensating grants by the State to local authorities. In this way we have combined the fairness of the incidence of our taxation with the preservation of the intimacy of our local government. It would be a tragedy if, in our efforts to secure a fair distribution of well being, we allowed the machinery of government necessary to accomplish this to impose upon us a uniformity which obliterated the varieties of character 1162 which together constitute the greatness of our nation.
On this ground, Scottish Members naturally will scrutinise any Measures affecting local government in Scotland with a healthy vigilance to ensure that there are no encroachments on their right to preserve their own culture which, they are proud to believe, has a special contribution to make to civilisation in our own and other countries. However, there are economic matters, such as taxation and its spending, which are United Kingdom affairs. In some cases, it is an economy in Parliamentary time and in overhead costs of administration to make one bite at the cherry. The present Kill is such a Bill. Of course, there are valid arguments why, even in this case, there should have been separate legislation and purely English and Scottish aspects thus presented free from the complications arising from mixing them as different parts of a United Kingdom Bill. The first question I put to myself, therefore, is, "Why this Bill? "The reasons why one Bill has been decided upon in this case—
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the Secretary of State for Scotland to read the whole of his speech? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not? "] Because it is not in Order.
§ Mr. Speaker
When these rather careful statements have to be made, one makes extensive use of notes. One does not know that the Secretary of State for Scotland is going to stick word for word to everything that has been written.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
Would it not assist the work of this House if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would read his speeches instead of speaking extempore?
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am sorry to disappoint the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I have no particular speech to read on this page of my notes.
As I was saying, the question is, therefore, "Why one Bill in this case? "First, the principles in this Bill apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. There is no point in having two Bills to apply one principle. In the case of the railways, canals, and electricity undertakings, 1163 these are organised on a United Kingdom basis. Therefore, the application of the law to these bodies must be done on a United Kingdom basis. The third reason which, perhaps, is an urgent one, is the existing pressure of Parliamentary time. It would have been rather difficult to carry two Bills through the House in the time available in order to bring this business into operation. I would remind the House of the form of the Bill. Part I deals with grant provisions in England and Wales. Part II deals with grant provisions in Scotland. Parts III and IV deal with the new valuation procedure which is to apply to England and Wales. In the case of Scotland we do not need this new procedure as our own procedure is considered to be quite satisfactory, or at least relatively satisfactory. In Part V the Bill deals with railway and electricity authorities, which covers the United Kingdom. In Parts VI, VII and VIII there are a few special Scottish points. Therefore, quite legitimately the Bill covers the United Kingdom.
The main part of this Bill has for its purpose the bringing about of a more equitable share of the rate burden for the population as a whole. The Bill makes a complete change in the financial relationship between the State and the local authorities. It has been necessary in reorganising grants to local authorities to take into account the fact that the State is now relieving local authorities of the costs of hospital and poor relief. At the same time, the Government are discontinuing the existing block grant system which was introduced in the 1929 Act. We are also revising the basis of distributing education grants, but this does not appear in the Bill as it requires no legislation. Scotland will continue to receive its share of the education grants on the same principles as formerly. The new equalisation grants will come into force for Scotland on 16th May next year, and the old block grants will be brought to an end on 5th July. During this overlapping period both grants will be payable. The new grants are to be paid to counties and large burghs in Scotland. This new system will provide sufficient assistance to level out the rating resources as between the more fortunate and the less fortunate local authorities.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Gentleman is one of the fortunate people—I am one of the less fortunate. In this connection it has been necessary to establish an average rateable value per head of the weighted population. It would have been difficult to make a precise United Kingdom average because of the differences arising from the differing standards of valuation in England and Scotland. I have, therefore, taken the average of England and Wales in order that the standard should be the most favourable in the allocation of the grants. To equate this rateable value it has been necessary to add to the English average 25 per cent. in order to allow for the generally higher level of valuation in Scotland.
The effect of these arrangements is to ensure that the rate resources of local authorities in Scotland, and in England and Wales, are brought up to the same level. Grants to small burghs and on behalf of the landward areas of counties are provided for on exactly the same lines as now. Under the National Health Service Act grants to local authorities are in future to be paid at the flat rate of 50 per cent. of the relevant expenditure, instead of on a basis of a formula designed to reflect local needs. The reasons for this change, and in part for the change in the methods of distributing the education grant are that the local authorities' rate resources are to be ironed out by the new equalisation grant, and therefore there is no point in having several methods of ironing out inequalities as between different counties throughout Scotland.
Provision will be made in Clause 29 for an investigation to be carried out into the workings of the new arrangements not later than 1955–56, and thereafter in every fifth year. A report of the results of any such investigation must, under the Bill, be laid before Parliament. It will require some little time for local authorities to readjust themselves to the new arrangements, and in the few cases where no relief to rates is to accrue, transitional grants will be paid in such a way as to ensure that no authority in Scotland will get less than a relief to rates of 4⅘ pence in the £ This, of course, with our higher valuation is roughly equivalent to 6d. in 1165 the £ in the England and Wales part of the Bill. This transitional grant is to be tapered off over a period of five years, at the end of which it will disappear. One great improvement in the new scheme is that the equalisation grants are to be determined every year. They will in this way be more closely related to the actual financial position of the local authorities, than the block grants were under the existing law which provided for a review only at five-year intervals.
This, however, means that it is impossible to say precisely what the effect of the new arrangement will be in any future year as this depends entirely on the expenditure of the local authorities for that year. It is for this reason that we are quite unable to give any reliable estimates for the year 1948–49 and the figures which we have offered in the White Paper are of a very provisional kind, showing how the new arrangements would have affected local authorities in Scotland if they had been in operation during the 1946–47 period. On this rough estimate the figures show that local authorities in Scotland would have received in 1946–47, by way of equalisation grants, about £5.18 million, and be relieved of an expenditure of £9.7 million, giving a total of £14.88 million to the good, in place of the present grants, which are being withdrawn, of £8.44 million. Subject to any additional expenditure which local authorities have incurred in respect of their own health services, the net saving to rates would have been about £6.44 million per year. This is equivalent to a rate relief of about 3s. in the £ over the whole of Scotland against 2s. in the £ for England and Wales on the same basis.
It will be seen from the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill that the corresponding relief to local authorities in England and Wales would have been about £39 million, which is equivalent to a rate of 2s. 5d. This rate of 2s. 5d. in the £ in England corresponds to a Scottish rate of approximately 2s. in the £, which means that the Scottish ratepayer, on the average of England and Wales, needs this greater relief to bring him up to the weighted average. By this showing, Scotland has been in a deficiency position up to now, and this Bill will rectify that by bringing it on to the same weighted average. In this 1166 way Scotland is for the first time obtaining equality in rate burden. Again, taking the 1946–47 figures, 29 out of the 31 counties in Scotland, and 22 out of the 24 large burghs, would have benefited from the Exchequer equalisation grants.
The hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) yesterday quoted some of the figures given in the Press about Glasgow which I think show no contradiction to the figures given in the White Paper. There has been some misunderstanding. If, for instance, a local authority Would normally have been putting up its rates by 2s., and it saves 4s., the obvious saving to the rates is 2s., but the real' saving to the rates is still 4s., because the local authority has an extra 2s. to spend, which would have had to be raised by extra rates. The fact that Glasgow spends more on certain health services for which it has to raise extra rates, does not detract from the fact that there would still be a saving of 4s. on what the rates would have been under the present system.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
I was not referring to a statement in the Press. I was quoting official figures given by the City Chamberlain of Glasgow, and the right hon. Gentleman will hear a great deal more about it before we finish.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The City Chamberlain's statement did appear in the Press—the "Glasgow Herald," I believe; I read it, and therefore it did appear in the Press. The fact still remains that Glasgow or any other town which has incurred expenditure in a way which would normally increase its rates gets the relief. Even though the whole of that relief does not appear in the new rate, the relief is still there.
Part V of the Bill has only one special feature to which I need call attention, that is Clause 93 which deals with payments to be made by the Hydro-Electric Board. It is proposed that the Board should contribute to the local revenue in the North of Scotland district a sum calculated on the same principles as the contribution to be made by other bodies to whom this Part of the Bill applies; that is, other bodies in England and Scotland. The amount of this contribution will then be spread on the basis 1167 of the rateable valuation for the whole of the Board's district. Separate provision on these lines has been made deliberately in order that the benefits to local revenues which would be expected to accrue from the development of new hydro-electric projects in the Highlands might be preserved to ratepayers of that area, but, of course, the benefit will go to the ratepayers of the whole area, and not to a particular section where the construction takes place.
For the rest, the Bill provides that, in the case of railways and canals, a contribution will be made by the British Transport Commission in respect of the whole of Scotland, and will be distributed evenly among all the local authorities in Scotland. In the case of electricity, the contribution to be made by the British Electricity Authority will similarly be distributed evenly over the whole of Scotland.
Part VI of the Bill provides for the payment of allowances for financial loss to members of local authorities and other bodies. This principle is new to England and Wales, but, of course, has been in operation in Scotland since the Education Act of 1918. It was applied to county councils in the Local Government (Scot-land) Act, 1929, and has worked satisfactorily ever since. It has made possible public service without grave hardship throughout Scotland, and, taking the country as a whole, has not been abused in any way. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) yesterday made some reflections on the standard of public service in Scotland. The hon. Member evidently measured public service in this way by whether or not a councillor required compensation for lost time, but, I think, he looks at this matter from the point of view of a person of independent means who is prepared to sacrifice some of his time for public service, and, indeed, in the past, the public service rested upon such people, and they have great accomplishments to their credit.
Their sacrifice, however, is really as nothing compared with that of the men who have sacrificed their jobs, promotion, their family life and even their health to carry their ideals into the public service. In order to give public service, men have shortened their lives by working on night shifts so as to be able to act as councillors. 1168 Others have sacrificed wages and promotion which might have come to them in the normal way, and it is impossible to give too much honour to the public services rendered to this country in this and other innumerable ways. While service on public bodies must always call for work and sacrifice, there is no justification nowadays for it being designed to create hardship. Broadly, therefore, we have accepted the recommendations of the Lindsay Committee, and Clause 104 provides for the removal of this hardship in the case of nearly all public bodies.
A further improvement for Scotland, which in this case lagged behind England, is the provision that local authorities may provide allowances to conveners or provosts to facilitate the successful carrying out of their public duties. Every one of us in Scotland has personal knowledge of conveners of county councils who have had enormous work given to them and have had to do it at great personal sacrifice, and it would be wrong in principle that a convenership of a county council should be limited to the person who has private means to enable him to carry out his office in an appropriate way. In a number of case's, Scottish burghs have been able to make some provision by means of the common good funds, but the Bill now gives statutory authority to provide such allowances, and, I may say for the benefit of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malfon, no more than such allowances, as part of the normal expenditure of the council.
This Bill may be said to be another step forward in abolishing poverty in our country. In this sense, it abolishes the poor local authority whose income has been quite insufficient to provide all the amenities and services which a modern civilisation demands. We are one nation, and all citizens are essentially members of this community. Some of them, to do their duties, must live and work in isolated communities, while others have the financial advantage of large aggregations of population supported by industry and commerce. So far as possible, we should enable every citizen, wherever he may live and work, to enjoy all possible advantages which the nation can afford. This Bill, by equalising the costs to the rates of public services, removes the anomaly of the fortunate and unfortunate areas where accident either penalises or benefits the ratepayer merely according to 1169 his geographical boundaries. Just as all are equal in the eyes of the law, so each citizen playing a part in the community will be able to obtain, as far as practicable, equality of service from the community, and, for that purpose, this Bill has been brought before the House.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
On this, the first occasion which the right hon. Gentleman has addressed the House from that Box since he assumed the responsibilities of his high office of Secretary of State for Scotland, I think it would be the desire of the House, and also in accordance with its traditions, if I were to offer my congratulations to him, and that I do most sincerely. I can assure him that he has the good will of those who sit upon these Benches, and that he can look for our support at any time when he brings forward Measures which are to increase either the welfare or the prosperity of Scotland. I think I should warn him of one thing, however, and that is that we look upon the Secretary of State as the guardian of Scottish interests, and that, if he falls from that, he will naturally anticipate that we will be among the most severe of his critics.
Before I deal with the Bill, I feel it only right, as I am speaking for Scottish hon. Members today, that I should add to the protest which my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) made yesterday against the very hurried manner in which this Bill has been brought before this House for its Second Reading. After all, here we have a Bill which affects very deeply the finances of the local authorities, but, so far as I can find out, they have had no opportunity whatsoever to discuss, either in private or in public, with all the information made available to them, the vast repercussions and implications of the Bill. I have been informed that discussions took place between the Secretary of State and the three Scottish local authority associations in June, but that those who attended that meeting were enjoined to treat the papers issued to them as strictly confidential, and, as a result, local authorities were unable to ascertain how they would be affected or to make any real representations on a matter which is absolutely vital to them.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me? This is the second occasion upon which this has been said. Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that Ministers of the Crown should now discuss legislation and negotiate legislation with everybody in the country who may be concerned? It is the normal practice, and always has been, for Ministers to discuss these matters confidentially with representatives in order to get their advice.
§ Commander Galbraith
I think my right hon. and gallant Friend made it clear yesterday that it was certainly not adopted when the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, 1929, was being discussed—
§ Commander Galbraith
I think that was made abundantly clear by my right hon. and gallant Friend. Anyway, from our point of view, we do not consider that it is right that a Bill of this nature, which vitally affects the local authorities, should have been brought forward until they had been given a full opportunity of discussing the proposals of the Secretary of State. The Bill was only ordered to be printed on 24th October. When it was available to the Scottish local authorities I do not know, but, even assuming that it was made available to them on that very day, that was far too short a time, in my submission, for a Bill of this importance to be properly considered. The effects of this Bill could not be appreciated without an authoritative statement from the Government, and that statement, Command Paper 7256, should have been issued with the Bill. It was not available on Monday afternoon when I was in Glasgow, at a time when the Corporation's Parliamentary Bills Committee was actually considering this Bill. No official of the Corporation had a copy of that Command Paper made available to him, and the consequence is that we in this House who represent Glasgow constituencies have not got the considered views of our local authorities.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not wish to do my predecessor an injustice. No Bill of this kind is ever framed without going along, step by step, in a certain measure of agreement with the local authorities on the principles involved. While it is true that the White Paper was not published, I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that, as soon as the Bill was published, we at least made available to those interested our estimates of what the benefits were going to be. They were not presented to the House, I agree, but I think he will acknowledge that there was an estimate made available almost immediately as to what the consequences would be.
§ Commander Galbraith
I still consider that the time allowed to local authorities was far too short, and I am quite certain that if I and other hon. Members who represent Glasgow constituencies have been unable to obtain the views of our local authorities, hon. Members who come from more distant parts of Scotland do not know at all what their local authorities think concerning this Bill. I think that for the Government to ask, in the circumstances I have described, for the Second Reading of this Measure, is an affront to Scottish Members, and also to Scottish local authorities. I cannot help thinking that it is rather a bad opening to the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office, and that, in the future, he must endeavour to curb the indecent haste of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and must endeavour to teach the right hon. Gentleman that neither Scottish Members nor the Scottish people will stand for matters in which they are so intimately concerned being treated in what I would consider to be a thoroughly unbusinesslike, undemocratic and offhand manner.
This Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman has reminded us, brings to an end the old Exchequer, or block, grant, and, in its place, it puts an equalisation grant. But, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I have been quite unable to discover what it is that has actually been equalised. It certainly does not equalise the rating burden to be borne by the individual ratepayer, and, after all, it was the effect on the individual ratepayer on which the Minister yesterday asked this House to concentrate its attention. The Secretary of State has 1172 not mentioned that aspect. He dealt more with the position of authorities and not with the position of individuals, whereas his right hon. Friend yesterday stressed the position of the individual ratepayer as against the individual local authority. With respect, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that I agree with his right hon. Friend that it is the individual whom we have to consider in this matter.
The disparity of the rate burden per head of the population is every bit as great under the system proposed by this Bill as it has ever been. It ranges from over £5 per head of the population in Peebles to 12s. per head in Orkney. Is it really suggested that the people who live in the remote part of Peebles, where conditions approximate to those of the Western Highlands, are able to bear a rating burden eight times as great as the people in Orkney, and more than three times as great as the ratepayers in Wigtown are asked to bear?
§ Mr. Woodburn
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that Peebles has some of the wealthiest industries in this country, whereas Orkney, while a prosperous community, cannot compare with Peebles as an industrial centre.
§ Commander Galbraith
That, from my point of view, is just where the right hon. Gentleman falls into the trap. I am not concerned with whether it is a wealthy authority or not, but with what the individual ratepayer has to pay. The burden is far heavier per head of the population in Peebles than it is in Orkney. One of the troubles, I think, is the very one which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned just now, that the basis adopted in this Bill—a valuation per head of the population—does not take sufficiently into account the conditions which arise in sparsely populated areas where there are commercial undertakings of high rateable value. The effect of the Bill in the case of Peebles, apart from the transitional grant, would be to raise the rates by no less than 2s. 1d. in the £. The House must remember that the transitional grant is going to expire altogether in five years' time. What, then, is going to be the position of such areas as I have mentioned?
If my memory serves me aright, I have always understood from the statements which were made by the right hon. 1173 Gentleman, who was until recently Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Government's intention was to introduce a Bill which would provide a new source of income for the local authorities, and assist the development areas and the highly-rated areas. This Bill really does very little indeed for one development area—the city of Glasgow. There we have an area which is to receive no equalisation grant and no transitional grant, and that in spite of the fact that it is one of the most highly rated areas in the country. Of course, the rates are going to be reduced for a period of uncertain length, but I maintain that that result—in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said—is achieved because they handed over to the Regional Hospital Board their hospital service for which they did not receive adequate payment. The result is that it can now be argued that, through the reduction of their rates, they are only getting some measure of compensation for the moneys which they previously paid away.
I am very disappointed with the Bill in that it provides no new general source of income for the local authorities, no permanent relief to the development areas, and fails to bring their burden into line with those of other authorities. How very obvious that is if one looks at the figures in Command Paper 7256. There we discover that Edinburgh is to receive a transitional grant, that Birmingham is to receive an equalisation grant of £600,000, and that a development area—Glasgow—which suffered so badly in the years between the wars, is to receive nothing at all. The purpose of the Bill may well be to make things more equal, but I think it falls very far short of the levelling up which we hoped for and anticipated.
Now I want to deal with the matter of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, and on which, seemingly, I take a very different view from him. It may be that his calculations are right and that mine are wrong; but in any case, I am going to put my point of view before the House. If certain of our Scottish local authorities feel that they have been treated inequitably, I think it is proper for us to examine whether Scotland is receiving treatment equal to that being meted out to England. The Bill lays down that the standard rateable value for Scotland shall be based on the average for England and 1174 Wales plus 25 per cent. I am not quarrelling with that basis, but I am very definitely quarrelling with the 25 per cent. because I consider it is far too low. After all, in England valuation is based, in the first instance, on some figure which is below the rent, and from that deductions are then made, whereas in Scotland the rent is the assessed rent or the rateable value of the property; and on that count alone it is obvious that valuations in Scotland are higher than in England. Then we have the complication of the division of the rates between the owner and the occupier, as a result of which naturally the owner of the property, if he is to be adequately remunerated, has to add to the rent the owner's rates which he pays.
I will give a brief example for the benefit of hon. Members who are not acquainted with the Scottish rating system. It seems that if we take two houses, one in England and the other in Scotland, each valued at a rent of £30 a year, and in Scotland we have an owner's rate of 6s. 8d., which is a very common thing, then the rateable value of the English house will be below £30 and the rateable value of the Scottish house will be very close to £45. That is a difference not of 25 per cent., but of 50 per cent., and that is the figure at which the most competent authorities in Scotland have arrived after investigating and comparing the rateable value of various properties in the two countries. They have definitely come to the conclusion that to give justice to Scotland in this Measure, the figure should not be 25 per cent. but 50 per cent. It appears to me that in choosing the figure of 25 per cent. the Government are going back to the old days. So far as I remember this figure of 25 per cent. was adopted as long ago as 1919, and appears in the Housing Act of that year. It is now completely out of date. I will give one other example to prove my point. In Edinburgh the rateable value of a temporary house is £26. My information is that in some parts of England the rateable value of a similar house is £10.
There is another matter to which the Minister referred yesterday. It is that this Bill fails entirely to take any account of the matter which the block grant took most fully into account; that is, it compensated for the rates lost as a result of 1175 derating. In those areas where no grant is to be received, such as Glasgow, the whole loss as a result of derating will now fall on the remaining rateable value of the area, and that loss will represent a very serious burden to several local authorities. In Glasgow it is calculated at £950,000 a year. In spite of what the Minister said yesterday, I think this Bill should have taken that matter into account. The equalisation grant is based on rateable value. It takes no account either of rate or grant-borne expenditure, and, as a result of Measures which we are passing and have passed in this House, that expenditure is going to increase very materially over the next 10 years. Rateable value will not increase in anything like the same proportion, and, in consequence, the burden on the ratepayers is going to rise and will continue to rise.
As I see it, rates are nothing more nor less than a tax, and they are a tax which takes no account of ability to pay. Therefore, some relief should be granted by the central Government, and it should bear some relation to the increased expenditure which the central Government forces on the local authorities. I think it was for that, and perhaps for other reasons as well, that, so far as Scotland was concerned, the 1929 Act laid down that the block grant was not to fall below 25 per cent., afterwards reduced to 24.6 per cent., of the net rate and grant-borne expenditure. I think that proportion should be maintained. If it were, the result, so far as Scotland is concerned, would be that instead of receiving £5 million of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, it would receive £7 million, which is a matter of considerable importance. Did the right hon. Gentleman consider that, or make any representations on the maintenance of that percentage of expenditure? If not, he has not fully kept in mind Scottish interests.
I turn to Part V of the Bill, which abolishes the payment of rates by both the Transport Commission and the Electricity Authority, and substitutes in the place of rates the payment of an annual lump sum which is to be pooled and distributed among the rating authorities in proportion to rateable value. I really do not know why these authorities should be absolved from the payment of 1176 rates. I find it very difficult to understand. Yesterday the Minister suggested that it was one of the advantages of the Bill that it got rid of the complicated methods of valuation of these undertakings for rating purposes. I doubt if that is the real reason for the change. I think it is much more likely that the Government are rather fearful of the results which these nationalised undertakings are going to produce, and feel that they must be given every possible help. In that connection, I think it is a little significant, in so far as the railways are concerned, that the valuation for the quinquennium 1948–53, which forms the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's estimation, is considered by the local authorities to be far too low. I am told that it was only agreed to under protest, that it is a compromise figure, and that compromise figure which the local authorities consider to be far too low is now to be the standard for all time.
Perhaps there is another reason. If the Government alter the charges which have to be met by these nationalised undertakings, they would make it very difficult for comparisons as to their relative efficiency to be made in the future. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we shall insist on comparative figures being produced. I maintain that the whole principle in Part V of the Bill is wrong. I think it is wrong to exclude these undertakings from rating. It is wrong that the sums they are called upon to pay in lieu of rates should be pooled and distributed in proportion to rateable value. I cannot understand by what process of logic, payment out of that pool is going to be made to the Orkneys and Shetlands, where no railways exist. As long as local authorities are dependent upon rates from property as the main source of their income, it is wrong to deprive them of part of that source and distribute it to other local authorities. What is happening is that some of our great centres are going to subsidise areas which are perhaps even better off than they are themselves.
There is another matter which I would like cleared up by whoever is to reply to this Debate. It will be quite possible for the Transport Commission in the future to acquire additional property. They might acquire some large locomotive 1177 works which are now in private ownership. On their acquiring those works, presumably rates would no longer be payable on that property. Yet I cannot find that there is any way by which the standard payment from the railways can be increased under the terms of the Bill. Of course, that might apply to properties of all kinds. It might apply to properties which the transport and electricity authorities require for the extension of their undertakings. I remember hearing—I have often heard—how much it was to the detriment of the local authorities when the telephones were transferred to the Post Office and they ceased to be subject to rates. I think the same thing may happen here. Such acquisitions of property by these authorities may well have most serious results on the finances of the local authorities. I hope the hon. Gentleman will clear up that point.
There is one other question to which I would like an answer. How much do the provisions of this Bill affect the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Undertaking? After all, we are very interested in that. On the success of that undertaking depends the regeneration of the Highlands and Islands. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that certain benefits were given to the hydroelectric undertakings by the Hydro-Electric Undertakings (Valuation for Rating) (Scotland) Act, 1945. It appears that these now disappear. Perhaps I can have a full reply later on, because under the terms of the Bill it would appear that these now disappear.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I think I explained that, but perhaps I did not make it quite clear. The whole of the North of Scotland scheme was isolated from the rest, and the contribution it made was distributed among the areas in the regions of the hydro-electric schemes.
§ Commander Galbraith
The right hon. Gentleman has not got my point. Perhaps I can put it another way. The real question is whether the sum to be paid by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board for the benefit of local authorities is to be more or less than the payment based on the revenue principle as modified by the Act of 1945? If it is to be more, then the development of the Highlands will suffer, because the moneys which they pay away will be devoted to 1178 local authority purposes and not to the purpose of the Hydro-Electric Board, which is the development of the Highlands—and they may not be one and the same thing.
In general, it seems to me that the provisions of Part V of the Bill strike at the heart of the whole rating system. I have no doubt at all of the good intentions of the Government, but I cannot but say that the Bill is a bad Bill which fails to achieve any real purpose other than the temporary reduction of the rates. It is not equalising any burdens; it is not removing disparities that exist at present in different areas; it takes no account of future expenditure; and it does not even fulfil the promises of the Government. From my point of view, the worst feature of all is that it does not seem to give equality or justice to Scotland. For that and other reasons my right hon. and hon. Friends who represent Scottish constituencies will support the Amendment and go into the Lobby against the Bill tonight.
§ 443 p.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I want at the outset to associate myself with much that has been said in connection with the depositing of this Bill and the Memorandum. That is not a party question at all. I am not quite satisfied that I yet understand all the implications of the Bill, and I think that that goes even for right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench.
§ Mr. McKinlay
It is a complicated Bill, and the time in which to study it has been short. Members of local authorities more than ever depend upon the advice of their legal assistants and their financial officers. I do not believe that even the Secretary of State, or hon. Members who are concerned with local government, can dispense with officials to give them expert advice. There has been no time for any specialists to give any of us advice on the matter. I am not satisfied that we have learned much from our experience of what happened over the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929. Things did not pan out, on the rating aspect, according to the rosy picture painted at that time of how they would befall, and how Ministers wished us to believe they would befall. I am in a difficulty about the position of places such 1179 as the city of Glasgow. Glasgow has a very valuable transport undertaking and a very valuable electricity undertaking. I hope that my right hon. Friend will excuse me if I cast some very grave doubts on the purpose of derating those undertakings.
All the things I am saying reinforce the attitude which, I think, nearly every Scottish Member, without consideration of party, feels towards the Measure that we are discussing, or towards the particular portion we are discussing at the moment. That portion ought to have been contained in a Bill drafted specially for Scotland. I will give one or two reasons why. This is a United Kingdom Bill. The Secretary of State for Scotland has opened the Debate today. I am thankful to those hon. Members representing English and Welsh constituencies who are gracing the Chamber with their presence now, on what is, to all intents and purposes, a Scottish occasion. The fact remains, however, that today's Debate is on something with which the whole of the Scottish rating system is tied up. I have a very high opinion of the capacity of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health in England. I think he is a very able young man. I understand that the reply to this Scottish argument is to be made by him. I do not envy him his task. I should like to give him my sympathy and my blessing beforehand. But I think I ought to ask why an English Minister will reply to this Debate.
There is no reason that I can see why the Scottish rating system could not have been overhauled while we were dealing with the proposals in this Measure. Interim grants could have been made to the Scottish local authorities until a satisfactory Measure was found. I never see my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) sitting complacently in the Opposition but my sense of humour is tickled. He knows the anomalies and stupidities of the Scottish rating system, and when he was Secretary of State for Scotland he had the opportunity of taking this thing and giving it a shake. It is so bristling with difficulties, however, and it has been permitted to grow to such appalling proportions, that no party opposite—nor, if I may say so without offence, no 1180 party on this side—seems to be enthusiastic about tackling those problems. It would have very grave political implications.
All the propaganda for the revision of the Scottish rating system comes from hon. Gentlemen opposite and their supporters. It is said that we should transfer the burden of rating in Scotland from the owner and the occupier to the shoulders of the occupier alone. It is an awfully simple thing, is it not?—so simple that every Secretary of State for Scotland we have had has hesitated to do it, although this has been a burning problem since I was a laddie in my teens, which is a good while ago. Despite all the eloquence of Murray McGregor, the secretary of the Glasgow Property Owners' Association, despite the volume of evidence submitted on why the poor people were paying rates on rates instead of rates on rent only, political associates of hon. Members opposite when they had the opportunity, could not find a way of unscrambling this ungodly mess, and I do not propose to suggest that I know the way.
It has always appeared to me that the rating system in Scotland is a tax on people's respectability and not a tax on their ability to pay. If an artisan takes a house in a reasonably well-planned area and pays a reasonable rent, while a man who works across the bench from him, earning the same wages, prefers to live in a place which is not so well-planned and to pay a considerably lower rent, the fellow who moves to the better environment for the sake of his children is promptly taxed up to the hilt for doing so. I wish to focus some attention on this problem, because it hits every section of the community. I understand that a part of the Conservative Party platform is to give every person a stake in the country, and to let them become their own householders. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I agree; I think it is a very desirable thing that people should own their own homes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We all agree, but I hope I shall not be accused of trying to form a Coalition Government, in view of the applause from hon. Members opposite. The moment the man about whom I have been speaking—who is no better off financially than the person occupying a fairly decent rented house—assumes that 1181 responsibility, up go his rates, and in some cases he has a combined rate which is within £4 or £5 of the rateable value of the place he inhabits. That is a ludicrous situation.
It has always been suggested—at least in local government in Scotland—that we on this side of the House are opposed to an alteration in the rating system. We are simply opposed to an alteration at the moment because no one has yet submitted a system which would safeguard the interests of the occupiers carrying an accumulation of debt created by people who lived generations ago. I must, therefore, express my regret that this was not made the occasion for tackling the whole rating system. I do not know that the English system is a very desirable one either. In the building industry they speak about the "rule of thumb," but judging from some of the valuations I have seen in England I have the impression that the valuers do not even take the trouble to apply their thumbs. It is a hocus-pocus which has no real basis, and it has been further complicated by that "phoney" Measure of 1929 which derated industrial subjects.
Hon. and right hon. Members opposite say that if ever we were flapping our wings towards industrial success, it was when the burden of rates was removed from the Clydeside industries and relief given to shipbuilders. The shipyards remained empty, of course, but even when they were full, the cumulative gift to shipbuilders was a very considerable sum of money, amounting to one-sixteenth part of 1d. per ton on the ships they were building. Apparently, they were able to estimate the cost of building a ship with such accuracy that one-sixteenth part of 1d. per ton made all the difference between a ship being built and a ship not being built. Here, if I read the Bill aright, in derating the electricity and transport undertakings which are taken over we are falling into the same error. I am satisfied in my own mind that Scottish cities which have such valuable undertakings will not, ultimately, get a square deal in this respect.
I should like to say a few words about a statement made yesterday by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). He seems to have been on a Government delegation to Scotland, and in three days has apparently gathered 1182 more information than I could gather with 13 years' membership of the Glasgow Town Council. By some peculiar mode of measurement, he makes the amazing assertion that the standard of honesty—because that is what it amounts to—of members of local authorities in England is considerably higher than it is in Scotland. I ask the hon. Member to bear in mind that when talking about men and women who serve on local authorities he is not talking of something like a particular brand of whisky.
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton goes even further in advertising his ignorance by calling in question the expenditure of the Common Good Fund in Scotland. I know that if men of the same mental attitude as the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton had their way, any surplus from the trading departments of municipalities would be used to reduce the rates. In Glasgow, the place I know best, we never made any profit from the gas undertaking; we supplied gas to the people on the basis of what it cost to produce, and met all the capital charges—and the same applied to the electricity department. If the accountancy methods of the transport department had been those of the Scottish Motor Traction Company they would have shown a very handsome profit, but when we had a surplus it went, into the Common Good. The source of the Common Good at the moment is, in the main, Kelvin Hall. Indeed, there were more enlightened Tories on the Glasgow Town Council than found their way to the Palace of Westminster, because it was a Tory council which built the Kelvin Hall; it was a Tory council which municipalised the trams, the water supply, and the gas and electricity supplies.
§ Mr. McKinlay
They would do far more good if, by some happy chance, they could take away the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) from the representation of his constituency.
§ Mr. McKinlay
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton spoke of the free luncheons and the afternoon tea bill. If I recollect aright, when in Glasgow that delegation, of which he was a member, accepted the hospitality of the Glasgow Corporation. Do not let us get this thing mixed up.
§ Mr. McKinlay
The hon. Member has been so mixed up and confused since he was in short pants, that heaven knows where he will be before he is finished. It is proposed that because there is an allowance for loss of time, this "corruption" of the midday meal should cease. I would point out that the active members of the Glasgow Corporation usually start their committee work not later than 12 noon, and are fortunate if they finish by 4.30 p.m. That happens every day of the week, except Saturdays. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton will say, "Let them pay for their lunch "; but these men and women have in some cases been giving 16 hours a day service for nothing. I hope that the same thing will not happen in the case of Glasgow as happened in the case of one English city, which an official deputation of four had been appointed to visit. They were told by the city architect that he could not offer them hospitality because his council had passed an economy resolution. Glasgow has always been famous for its generosity, and I hope that that will continue. The money does not come from the rates, but from the Common Good Fund. I can only assume that the hon. Member was talking out of his turn, and that he knew absolutely nothing about the subject. It is suggested that an allowance should be given to provosts. The Glasgow Provost expenditure is paid out of the Common Good—I do not know whether it is a rating charge in the case of Edinburgh. Why should it not be a rating charge? If it is the intention of the Bill to make an allowance for the expenses of provosts and conveners, I can see no objections.
I conclude by expressing my regret that there is not a separate Bill to deal with the separate and different problems of Scotland. I have heard many times the claim being made by hon. Members opposite that Scotland is being neglected. It is all part and parcel of a very well organised campaign, but I think that there is some justification for the claim on this 1184 occasion. It is unfair to England, and to us, not to have separate Bills. This is a very difficult subject, and no Member can claim to have grasped fully all its implications. Just as in the case of the Town and Country Planning Act, which came before the Scottish Grand Committee and received a very thorough examination, so this Bill would have received a more thorough examination from the point of view of Scotland had it been dealt with in the Scottish Grand Committee as a separate Measure. Without regard to party, Scottish Members regard the Scottish Grand Committee as the place to meet and hammer out to the best of their ability all Bills affecting the country north of the Tweed. I can assure the representatives of Scotland who sit on the Front Bench that they have the sympathy of Scottish Members, and that we shall not be too tough about it if they make a good job of it. As I say, it is unfair to the Secretary of State for Scotland and to the two Under-Secretaries that we should not have a separate Bill for Scotland. I am satisfied that this mistake will not be repeated in the future.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
I would endorse the wisdom and practical commonsense of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). I should like to say that his views regarding the importance of this Bill, and of having a separate Scottish Bill are shared by a great number of people. I look at the Bill, and I find that it applies to England, Wales, Scotland and to the Scilly Isles. It seems to me that such a comprehensive range is quite unwarranted. This attempt to embody Scotland, England, Wales and the Scilly Isles into one Bill is an outrage—I use the word advisedly—to public sentiment in Scotland. It is a matter of great disappointment to us. Stress has been laid during many years—and I noticed that the chairman of the Scottish Convention was present a few moments ago—on the importance of Scottish devolution. Those views have been shared on all sides of the House. If ever there was a case for Scottish devolution, I think it is here.
We have not only a different race, different people and even a different language, but we have a different system of valuation, and that is not met by the 1185 25 per cent. advance upon the English figures. I noticed that there are four very short Clauses, Clauses 16, 31, 68 and 79, all of which say:This part of this Act shall not extend to Scotland.I do not think Scotland will like this presentation of what is a very important matter. I look at this Bill from the point of view of one who has been associated with local authority work and has had much pleasure in that association. I ask myself: What have we lost, and what have we gained? I ask myself what this Bill is taking away, and I find that we lose three things. Under the 1929 Act, we had compensation for derating. I do not agree with the disparaging remarks made by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire about that Act. It was not for shipbuilding, but for the community who conducted shipbuilding. They had the advantages of derating—[Laughter.] Unquestionably the rates would have been higher had no derating been made possible. If hon. Members are uninformed on the matter, there are many short, lucid handbooks on the subject of local authorities which I can commend to them. As I was saying, we have lost three things. We lose compensation for derating. I take it that the Minister is aware of the amount the local authorities will lose each year. The compensation for derating works out at £3¼ million. Scotland will also lose the minimum grant, which was equal to loss in rates, plus 1s. per head, and the States obligation, as local authority expenditure rose or fell, to increase or decrease by approximately 25 per cent. from the national pool from which block grants are made.
I have had some discussion by telephone and some correspondence on this Bill. I would endorse what has been said, that the time for consultation has been very limited—and I enjoin the Minister to remember that the complexion of local authorities at the last election has been changed in Scotland as well as in England. The local authorities have all objected to the shortness of time and to the consultations, which have been in the nature of a minister preaching to a congregation, rather than the sort of consultation one expects with freely elected and independent authorities and a Minister consulting them regarding a Measure greatly affecting the interests of their communities.
1186 We object to this Bill because in Scotland it discontinues the existing block grant, and gives nothing to compensate for the loss through derating. We object because it eliminates the guarantee of the minimum grant to the local authorities, and also because it takes away the road maintenance grant—a point which has not been mentioned yet, I believe, and which is very important. Among the local authorities from which this grant is taken away are the great second city of the Empire, Glasgow, and the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. Edinburgh and Glasgow are to get no grant at all for their roads, yet in 1947 Edinburgh collected motor licence revenues to the total of £433,408—almost half a million pounds. Not one penny of that reaches Edinburgh for the maintenance of her roads. I should think that the figure for Glasgow was much higher, probably in the neighbourhood of £650,000. All that money is collected in Glasgow, is passed out, and not one penny goes back to that city. The roads in both these great cities are maintained entirely from the rates. That is what we are losing by this Bill.
§ Sir W. Darling
It does not go back in any way in the form of road grants. That is a deprivation in the neighbourhood of £500,000 for the City of Edinburgh. The Government's case is that they are transferring health and poor services from the responsibility of the local authorities. Edinburgh gets 4d. extra for education, and Glasgow gets 4s. I mention this to show how the Government's arithmetic works. They are removing from us responsibility for health and poor services, and giving us 4d. extra for education in Edinburgh and 4s. for Glasgow. What do we lose? A very great deal. Thrown back to the local authorities are the fire services. The fire service, when it left Edinburgh, was simple, effective, economic, useful, and well organised. Now it comes back bloated, costly, and almost beyond our means—
§ Mr. Woodburn
Where does the hon. Gentleman get his figures of 4d. for Edinburgh and 4s. for Glasgow, for education? Does he get those figures from the Bill?
§ Sir W. Darling
The transfer grant is 4d. for Edinburgh and 4s. for Glasgow. 1187 I will give the right hon. Gentleman my authority privately; the figure was worked out for me by someone interested in this business, and if it is not right I ask the right hon. Gentleman to contradict it. It is your business to defend the Bill against the misapprehensions, errors, blasphemies, and faults of its critics—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. Member is now blaming me for something which has nothing to do with me.
§ Sir W. Darling
It is an unfortunate case of wrong identification, Sir. I confused the bland urbanity of the Secretary of State with your own distinguished attitude.
What do we get from this Bill? We get a costlier fire service. That is bad enough, but what about our administrative losses? The Government are removing from local authorities their health and poor services and, soon, their transport, gas, and electricity services. Local authorities are not hypothetical ratepayers, as the Minister of Health said humorously yesterday. They are large business entities, and if the Government take away from them these important aspects of their activity, they will throw upon them much costlier overheads for those things which remain. They bear part of the cost of the central administration. In Scotland, they bear part of the heavy cost of the town clerk's department, the secretarial side, and the engineer's and architect's departments. Now these are to be borne entirely by the ratepayers' truncated revenues. That is a loss which, in these days, when staffs cannot be easily dispensed with, will grow during the time in which this Bill will operate.
I now come to Clause 19, which defines the standard rateable value per head of the weighted population. What does this mean? It means that in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Peeblesshire, and the Isle of Bute they will get nothing. I do not think the Secretary of State for Scotland will challenge that. It means that 31.7 per cent. of the population of Scotland will get no grant, that 1,635,688 hypothetical ratepayers will pay for a grant for others and get nothing for themselves—
§ Sir W. Darling
Is this the "fair shares for all," in regard to which I was given a very serious promise by the Government at the General Election? This Clause is based on a fallacy. Rateable value, it is claimed, is the sole criterion of wealth. Areas may be poor, but all the people in those areas are not themselves necessarily poor. I will give two examples. I have in mind a dog track in the constituency of the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann), and another one in Airdrie. The owners of these tracks make equal profits with the Edinburgh or Glasgow tracks, but they get infinitely better treatment as ratepayers. They get a more advantageous grant from the Bill than Edinburgh or Glasgow. It is the poor area, so-called, which has the advantages. There is another glaring example. A bank in a poor area costs less to run than it does if situated in a wealthier area—
§ Mr. Woodburn
When the hon. Member says that the Coatbridge dog track gets the benefit of a cheaper rate than the one in Edinburgh, would he give us the rates in these two places? Surely, the track in Edinburgh gets the cheapest rates in the whole of Scotland?
§ Sir W. Darling
The effect of the grant will be that there will be nothing for the benefit of the dog track proprietors in Edinburgh, but that there will be advantages for those in Coatbridge. That is the arithmetic of this Bill. If that statement is contradicted, then the whole theory of the Bill, which says that it is to help the poorer areas, is destroyed. There is a further point. There are public employees on nation-wide salaries and wages. Police and teachers' wages are subsidised when they are in the so-called poorer areas. They have the advantage of the lower rating which comes to them, while enjoying a national scale of wages and salaries which obtains throughout the whole country.
But there is more in Clause 19. The Airdrie Town Council owns 50 per cent. of its houses, Clydebank 30 per cent. and Hamilton 47 per cent. The present proposals seem to mean that the local authority which lets houses at a low rate will benefit by having more rating subsidy. In other words, the valuation is in the hands of those who will benefit at the expense of others who get no block grant 1189 at all. There is a lot of misunderstanding about this question of rates. I would like to quote in this connection something which I think is very pertinent. Mr. D. J. Parry, the retiring President of the National Association of Local Government Officers' states:The incidence of local rates is not so heavy as may be thought. Last year, as the Government have told us, the aggregate income of the people of Britain was £8,444,000,000, an increase of 74 per cent. on the figure for 1938, and personal expenditure on goods and services totalled £6,584,000, an increase of 55 per cent. above the 1938 figure. But in the same period the amount collected in rates increased by only 22 per cent. to £259 million—considerably less than half the amount we spent on beer and spirits, less than half what we spent on tobacco, and not a great deal more than we spent on entertainment.So, much of the argument against the burden of rates is baseless. The incidence of rates is not so heavy as the primary luxuries of the people of this country—entertainment, wines and spirits and tobacco. It seems to me that there has been exaggeration of the importance of this rating question.
§ Clause 21 deals with transitional grants for the first five years. I made a balance sheet, and on one side I find what we got in block grants the grant received for education and the product of a 4⅘ pence rate. On the other side, I find savings through hospitals and poor law, the sum payable under the new education grant 1948–49, and the Exchequer equalisation grant. If the balance sheet shows a loss in five years that loss will have to be met by the local authorities entirely and the transitional grant does not seem to help in any way. Let us look at the effect. In Westminster—the figures which I am about to give may be challenged, but I understand that they are correct—the rateable value is £134 per head. In Edinburgh it is £14. Westminster under this Bill will save 1s. 6d. in the pound, the City of London 1s. 10d., Marylebone 1s. 5d. and Holborn 1s. 7d. But there may be some readjustment, so we were told, with regard to London. Bournemouth get 1s. 7d. relief, Brighton, 1s. 5d. and Eastbourne 1s. 5d. I think that that kind of arithmetic disposes of the theory put forward by the promoters of this Bill that it is going to do anything towards equalising and adjusting the anomalies existing in our rating system.1190
§ I oppose this Bill because it aims at equalising the rate burden. What causes the inequality in rates? There are many causes, but there is one which is never mentioned. The inequality of rates of this country is as much caused by extravagant and incompetent local administration as by any other cause. It is not caused by poverty. To quote Edinburgh again, in Cmd. Paper 7256 it will be seen that the rates of the City of Edinburgh—and this is my point that the inequality in rates is not due to poverty but due to extravagant and incompetent administration—for the last 15 years have ranged from 7s. 11d. to 8s. 3d. There have been wars and changes of Government during those last 15 years, but the City of Edinburgh has maintained, because of careful and competent administration, a rate burden of 7s. 11d. to 8s. 3d. Few other cities have done the same. I submit that most other cities and many other counties could have done the same.
§ Mr. Scollan
Will the hon. Gentleman explain how the administration of the City of Glasgow in the Govan area has had rates in the past 2s. to 3s. higher than the rates in the Pollok area administered by the same authority?
§ Sir W. Darling
I will not go into that differentiation because it is not relevant to this argument.
§ Mr. Scollan
I am trying to understand the hon. Gentleman's point that bad administration is responsible for higher rates in one locality than in another. How does he account for the same administration having higher rates in one part of the city and lower rates in another part?
§ Sir W. Darling
If the hon. Gentleman is anxious for enlightenment on this subject, I would advise him to examine the accounts of the City of Edinburgh for the last 15 years, and ask himself how it is possible for the City of Edinburgh to hold its rate burden at 7s. 11d. to 8s. 3d. when the men of Glasgow—of a different political complexion for the most part—have not been able to achieve anything like that. Then he will arrive at my conclusion that this inequality of rates is not due to the much trumpeted argument of poverty, but to the quality of the administration of the local authority. The long record of the successful business 1191 administration of the City of Edinburgh is now being penalised under this Bill. Economy has been declared to be a crime and good administration has been made a mockery. These views are reinforced by a number of messages which I have received. I have a telegram from the City Treasurer of Edinburgh, which states:Financial proposals in the Local Government Bill do not commend themselves to Edinburgh. The transitional grants shown will be cut each year and will disappear altogether at the end of five years—Miller, City Treasurer.This is a blow at local government. The Minister of Health does not like local government. He is by temperament a centraliser, and I can imagine that he would want to leave Wales and never go back to it and manage Wales from afar. He prefers to govern Wales, not in Wales, but from Whitehall. The Minister of Food has much the same view. He is also an instrument of central government policy. The elections, however, have shown that this view is not held by the ratepayers generally, either in Dundee or Wales. The idea used to be "Trust the people." I think that the Government fear the people because they desire to get as far away from them as possible.
I conclude by asking: What do we want? We want compensation for derating; we want a minimum grant for all local authorities; we want the benefits of the Bill extended to all local authorities, and a grant which takes into account the burden as well as the rateable value of all local authorities; we want a new source of revenue promised by the Chancellor as an accompaniment to these new proposals, we want a proper estimate made of savings—not only health and Poor Law—over the whole field of savings; and we want no reduction of the transitional grant at the expiry of five years. These are the minimum demands. If they are not granted, in the opinion of many who are in local government in Scotland and elsewhere this Socialist Government will go down to history as having struck a blow against that local government system which is the pride of our country.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
So far from this Bill being a blow to local government as the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) ha3 suggested 1192 in that extravagant and irresponsible language in which we are accustomed to hear him indulge in this House, this Bill is a bold, generous and imaginative gesture to the local authorities on the part of the Minister of Health and of His Majesty's Government. In the very short space of time available to me, I do not propose to allow myself to digress to deal with the arguments raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh. I prefer, as the Minister advised us in his most eloquent Second Reading speech dealing with this most complicated matter, to confine myself to the principles of the Bill. I agree with what "The Times" says in its leading article this morning:The Bill prepares the way for a new and perhaps lasting financial partnership between central and local authorities.If I may say a word about the essential principles of the Bill, it abolishes the old block grants system which was full of anomalies and inconsistencies and which was based on assumptions and calculations which are out of date.
§ Mr. Scollan
On a point of Order. Are we to understand that Part II of the Bill, which is the Scottish part, is now finished and we are back again on to the Bill proper?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) is in Order. We are now dealing with the Bill as a whole.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am dealing with the principles of the Bill which have common application to England, Scotland and Wales.
§ Mr. Scollan
That is a mistake on the part of my hon. Friend. The problem in England and Wales is entirely different from that in Scotland, and that was the Part of the Bill we were discussing before my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington came in.
§ Mr. Fletcher
My hon. Friends who represent Scottish constituencies will no doubt have ample opportunities when this Bill is considered in Committee to raise a great many Committee points. I think one criticism that might be made of this Second Reading Debate is that we have 1193 rather lost sight of the principles of the Bill in dealing with questions of detail and Committee points.
§ Mr. Scollan
On a point of Order. Are we to understand from that remark that the Scottish Part is going to be remitted to the Scottish Grand Committee?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear the remark of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Islington, but he alone is responsible for it.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I was saying that there are undoubtedly a great many points in a complicated Bill of this kind which can be raised and will be raised in the Committee stage. We are now nearing the conclusion of the Second Reading stage, and I want to address myself to the Amendment which has been put down by hon. Members of the Opposition. I am sorry to see that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Col. Elliot) is not in his place, but I understand he is coming back. The burden of the criticism of the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) was that he had not time to study it, but I observe that hon. Members opposite thought fit to put down on the Order Paper several days ago what is politely described as a reasoned Amendment. I have not heard many arguments in this Debate in support of that so-called reasoned Amendment. I doubt if many hon. Members who will go into the Lobby to vote for it have studied it, but it is full of contradictions and has not been supported by argument.
In one part of the Amendment hon. Gentlemen opposite object to this Bill because it establishes no direct relation between local expenditure and Exchequer assistance. But that is the very thing it does do. Under the new basis of equalisation grants, instead of there being a fixed and maximum limit to be calculated every five years and then divided amongst the local authorities, there will in future be no maximum to the contribution to be made by the Exchequer to local authorities. The Exchequer contribution will vary in direct ratio to the amount of the rates levied by every local authority that 1194 is eligible for an Exchequer grant. Therefore, there will be a very direct relationship, and there will be this additional advantage that, instead of the calculation being anything up to five years out of date, it will be freshly calculated year by year.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities criticised the new equalisation grant on the ground that it was not based on known factors. That is the very thing it is. It is flexible in its operation and will be adjusted yearly. Another noteworthy merit of the new equalisation grant system is that although it provides more generous treatment for local authorities, it does not increase in any way the measure of control exercised by any central Government over local authorities. Hon. Members opposite, and indeed some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, have in their criticisms found themselves in a dilemma. I am not referring to those hon. Members representing constituencies with particular interests, who complain that for some special reason their constituency does not come off as well under the new proposals as they think it should. If there are real anomalies they can be dealt with in Committee. But the dilemma is this. Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot ask both for greater financial assistance from the Exchequer and also, at the same time, greater freedom from central control.
§ Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)
Does the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) mean to infer that in this Bill the local authorities are not interfered with?
§ Mr. Fletcher
The powers, independence and discretion of local authorities are not interfered with in any way by this Bill.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Subject, of course, to the fact that the duty of preparing valuation lists is in future transferred to valuation officers.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That is not a social service; it is a purely technical function. The right to fix the value on which rates are paid is not a social service. It is a 1195 measure of taxation, and if we are going to have, as this Bill confers, a much greater measure of equality in rate burdens—if we are going to iron out the discrepancies between richer and poorer areas and have greater equality and justice in local government rate's as a result of increased Exchequer grants, then it follows as an inevitable corollary that we must have a national system of valuation. Otherwise every local authority would be tempted to under-value property in its area in order to attract greater benefits from the Exchequer. Therefore, I do not think anybody who is seriously interested in the provision of social services would complain that this Bill detracts from the essential rights and powers of local authorities. On the contrary, it establishes the principle whereby they get more grants with no additional interference.
On that subject may I say that the real problem in local government today—and it is a matter not touched by this Bill or by any Bill, because it is a matter of administration—is to strike the right balance between the control which must necessarily be exercised by the Exchequer, living as we do in a society which regards social service as a national obligation and which imposes national standards or at any rate national minimum standards to be adopted by local authorities, and the powers, independence, enterprise and discretion of the local authority. I hope that under this or any other Bill this essential feature of the problem will receive continuous attention from His Majesty's Government and all local authority members and their executives. And it cuts both ways. Whitehall interference, which is quite rightly exercised when Government grants are involved, may make for economy and restrain extravagance. At other times, by reason of unnecessarily high standards being prescribed, it actually threatens or prevents desirable economies which local authorities would wish.
Perhaps I might sum up my remarks by saying that I regard the Bill as a further stage in the advance of local government in this country. After all, the success of local government in this country depends on its ability continually to adapt itself to changing requirements of our social and economic conditions. I would not regard rating as we know it as the ideal 1196 basis of local revenue or adjustment of local tax burdens. I hope that when the central valuation procedure gets going and when we have nationally operating valuation machinery, the valuation officers will be encouraged to consider the proposals which have been put forward from time to time for a more equitable basis of raising local revenue. I hope that the Government will not lose sight, for example, of the promise which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a year ago that local authorities would be given discretionary powers for the rating of site values. I know that that is something which cannot be introduced at this stage by means of the provisions of the Bill. Finally, the Bill marks another stage in the advance of local government, and I believe that it will provide a further stimulus for fruitful local effort and the exercise of local discretion and imagination. I do not believe that it will stem the springs of municipal enterprise. I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Government upon having introduced it.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
The hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) observed that nobody on this side of the House had addressed himself to the subject matter of the Amendment which we have tabled. It is my hope and possibly even my anticipation to substantiate the Amendment in detail. Perhaps he will forgive me if I do not deal with the point which he raised in regard to the direct relationship existing between the Exchequer and the local authorities until I come to that point in my argument as a whole.
I should like to point out—if indeed it needs any pointing out because, from the speeches of my hon. Friends in the Debate, I think it is clear—that we criticise the Bill not in any spirit of complacent acquiescence with things as they are, and not in any diehard aversion to reform as such. Quite the contrary is clearly the case from the speeches to which we have listened. We are prepared to agree that there is need for a Bill, but it does not follow that the Bill before us is the Bill for which there is need. I recall the analogous case of the Measure which is now the Town and Country Planning Act, towards which our attitude was almost exactly the same. We then appreciated 1197 the necessity for a comprehensive code of town and country planning, but we did not think that such a code was embodied in the Bill then presented to us.
In regard to rating, we recognise the necessity of a Measure for revising the current system, but we place on record our view that the Bill as it stands is not the Measure which is required. Both the Measures to which I have referred were long and complex. The right hon. Gentleman said that he hoped we could approach the Bill in a spirit of constructive co-operation. I am sure we can, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that co-operation must be a two-way traffic. It follows from that that the unhappy precedent of the Town and Country Planning Bill must not be invoked and £he proceedings repeatedly guillotined, because that is destructive of the best forms of co-operation.
The right hon. Gentleman expressed himself with characteristically scathing contempt in regard to our Amendment. Speaking yesterday afternoon he said that the Opposition had not been able to find any good reasons for opposing the Bill. If he listened to the speeches made by his own hon. Friends behind him in the Debate it will now be clear to him that every criticism put forward in our Amendment has been reinforced by their criticism on precisely the same points. I do not suggest that any hon. Member made all the points contained in the Opposition Amendment, but that every point made in the Amendment was made in one speech or another from the Benches opposite. We can therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who is not usually given to listening to us, may perhaps listen more to the counsel of those who sit behind him. It is true that a large number of hon. Members opposite gave a general blessing to the Bill, although certain provisions of it came in for their strong criticism. Listening carefully to their speeches it seemed to me that the general blessing was given by way of perfunctory party ritual whereas the passages of criticism obviously came from heart and head. Those are therefore the passages to which the House should pay most attention. Some of those passages I propose to quote to the House in a minute or two.
The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that, upon the Second Reading, we should 1198 confine our arguments, as in propriety we should, to the general principles of the Bill. I consider that there are two main basic requirements for any radical revision of rating law. The first of them is that a right relation should be established, not only between one local authority area and another, which is what the right hon. Gentleman believes, but, still more important, that a right relationship should be established between the central government and the local authorities. That is the first basic, inescapable requirement of any satisfactory Measure of rating reform today. The second main requirement is that it should improve the existing rating and valuation machinery, particularly in regard to the attainment of a degree of uniformity in valuation. Those two main requirements should be met by the Bill.
It is said that these two requirements cannot be achieved simultaneously. It may well be that that is so. If it is so, it is clear that the second of those requirements, of machinery giving uniformity in valuation, must precede the first. Whether or not that is true in general principle, it is certainly true in the case of the method which the right hon. Gentleman has chosen and which for convenience I shall call the sheep-and-goats method. It is a method of dividing the non-receiving areas from the receiving areas by the criterion of whether they come above or below the national average of rateable value per head of the weighted population. This "sheep and goats "method which has commended itself to the right hon. Gentleman can only be scientifically planned and equitably applied on a basis of uniform valuation. I hope I have taken the House with me thus far in my argument.
What, in effect, the Minister has done in the framing of his proposals is to put the cart of the equalisation grant before the horse of uniform valuation. The results of that cannot be exaggerated when we are considering this Bill because it is that inversion of the logical and proper process which has vitiated these proposals. That is the central, vital, inescapable defect of this Bill, and attention is drawn to it in the Amendment which we have tabled and which the right hon. Gentleman has criticised as being irrelevant and misconceived. It says: 1199… presupposes uniformity of valuation which, owing to the unsuitable machinery provided, cannot be achieved for at least four years.There is that central defect of the Bill pricked and pinpointed in the Amendment we have tabled. What are the effects of this inversion of the logical and proper processes in regard to the attack on this great problem of rating? The main effects are two. First of all, there is the obvious effect that, with the Bill as it now is, equalisation grants may, and in fact will be, paid to some of the less deserving authorities. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Mr. Medland) in his place, because he put this point with becoming clarity and blunt-ness as one who sits for a constituency with such naval associations. The hon. Member said:I mean that some districts are under-assessed, and deliberately under-assessed, and under this equalisation the under-assessed areas are going to get the biggest amount of equalising grant. Because of the deliberate under-assessment, there are all these variations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1096.]There, in very blunt language, is his point. Therefore, we come to this conclusion: that the authorities receiving the equalisation grants who are listed in. Table II of the White Paper may, in some cases, be the wrong authorities to receive those grants, and those who are listed in the White Paper as not receiving the grant may, in some cases, be penalised because they have practised virtue in their methods of assessment and valuation. That is a clear and obvious defect of these proposals which has arisen from the inversion of the logical order in securing uniformity of valuation and applying the principles of rating reform.
The second defect is this: that because these proposals are founded on a method of valuation which has not yet come into operation, the Minister has been planning in the dark, and this has had the effect of complicating the bargain which he has had to strike with the Treasury. We who sit in this House are not children, and we know that when a long, complex Bill of this sort comes to the House it has behind it a long history of departmental bargaining between the Department concerned and the Treasury. In this case the Minister has obviously not been able to give to the Treasury the 1200 precise financial implications of basing an Exchequer grant on rateable value. He has been unable to give them that information because the machinery for assessing that rateable value is not yet in operation. So he can give them no long-term indication; and because he has put himself in that tactically disadvantageous position, the Treasury have driven a very hard bargain with him. He pretends to this House that it is not so, but it is so. The Treasury have driven a hard bargain with him, and as a result of that hard bargain instead of the local authorities receiving Exchequer grants, as was the case under the old block grant scheme, only some authorities will now receive any Exchequer grant at all.
We can measure the effect of this hard bargain, and we can measure it in hard cash. We can compare the sum that will be received in Exchequer grants on the basis of the figures under the new system and under the old. Under the new system £33 million will be received and under the old system £43 million. Here again the point has not escaped the attention and vigilance of some hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for West Woolwich (Mr. Berry), who has a long experience of local government affairs, took this point in his speech yesterday when he said:I am bound to say, there is every likelihood of there being a deficiency of £10 million on what local authorities would have got over what they will get, and I hope the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will give this matter very careful consideration."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1084.]We get a similar result if we view the matter from the angle of savings to the ratepayers. We are told that these are to be £39 million; but as against that we have to put the known increases in expenditure and the presently undefined, but inevitable, increases in expenditure as well. So far as the known increases in expenditure are concerned the figures were given yesterday by my right hon. Friend: £12 million in respect of the Fire Service and £30 million in respect of the Education Act. That in itself is over £39 million: it amounts to £42 million. But to that figure has to be added the increase in unknown and undefined expenditure, because the costs of local administration are rising owing to the inflationary trend which this Government has not yet had the courage to check. That must be 1201 added before we can see the actual effect which this arrangement will have on local authority finances.
The inversion of what I called "the logical processes in attacking this problem" has involved inequity as between different areas and it has involved a bad bargain for local authorities generally as against the Treasury. It follows that the much trumpeted financial advantages are illusory. That brings me to the question of expenditure and rates. Here again, our criticised Amendment deals with this vital aspect of the problem. It says:… declines to give a second reading to a Bill which fails to achieve those objects, inasmuch as it provides no adequate means to deal with the continued rise of rates due to the ever-increasing expenditure which local authorities are required to undertake; establishes no direct relation between local expenditure and Exchequer assistance, and by the inadequacy of the proposed equalisation grants deprives many authorities of this type of Exchequer assistance altogether.I should make it clear which parts of this Amendment apply to all areas and which parts of it apply only to those areas above the national average of rateable value per head. It is unfortunately a complication that it should be so, but that is due to the discriminatory policy of His Majesty's Government. That passage of our Amendment which deals with the rise of rates and there being no adequate means to restrain them, applies to all local authorities.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
Is the hon. Member arguing that he is opposed to an increase in rates, and would he say whether he is opposed to the proposed provisions for education and fire services?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The hon. Member does himself less than justice. Quite obviously he must know from his experience in other places that my argument did not tend in that direction at all. What I am saying is that this Measure has been commended, not only to this House but to the people of the country, because it will involve a fall in rates. What else is the significance of the colmun in Table 2 of the White Paper if that is not it? And how true is it? That is the question which we in this House must ask ourselves and for which were are answerable to those whom we represent in this place.
Surely the case is this: expenditure will obviously arise for the reasons I gave a 1202 minute or two ago, both in known and in unknown dimensions. So far as those authorities are concerned which will get nothing by way of Exchequer grant under the new proposals, it is quite clear that the only way they can meet the expenditure is by raising their rates. That argument is crystal clear even to the hon. Member for East Islington in his more disingenuous moments. What about those who will receive the grants? It is true in a sense of course—and the right hon. Gentleman made as much as he could of this point yesterday—that these grants are related to expenditure because the Exchequer becomes a deficit ratepayer in respect of the amount by which these areas fall below the national average. But these grants are based on rateable values. Therefore their effect will only be to see that the rates in those cases do not rise more proportionately than the rates in the areas above the national average.
In other words, the effect of these proposals is to see, for example, that the rates will not rise more in Durham than in Surrey, but the effects of the proposals are not to see that the rates will not rise both in Durham and in Surrey, which they very probably will. It is because this Bill is based on the principle of the equalisation of burdens and not on their alleviation. Let me put it like this: the lift of rates is going up; it is likely to go up all over the country. The Bill is designed to see that the lift does not go up for some and not for others; but it is poor consolation to know that you are all in the same lift going up, when where you want to be is in a lift going down. That is the position we have under these much vaunted proposals.
I see the Parliamentary Secretary wearing a worried, or is it merely a furrowed expression? Let me put this in clear language. I challenge him, when he replies, to say whether or not in his view rates are likely to rise. I challenge him to say whether or not this Bill provides adequate means to restrain any such rise in rates. I challenge him to deny that the rate reliefs proudly proclaimed in the White Paper and by his right hon. Friend yesterday—whose absence from the House at the moment I deplore—are unreal because they refer to a period which is past. I challenge him to deny that these rate reliefs are transitory and fortuitious, arising as they do, in so far 1203 as they do arise, out of the provisions of other legislation not connected with this Bill at all.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. John Edwards)
Will the hon. Member tell us how he would deal with the problem of rising rates unless he proposes a 100 per cent. grant of additional expenditure? How would he do it?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am coming on to that. I am obliged to the hon. Member, but I am quite capable of pursuing a logical argument in a logical form, and I will continue, if I may, so to do. First, I will redeem my promise of substantiating my propositions by quotations from the speeches made by hon. Members opposite. Here again the hon. Member for West Woolwich said yesterday:While there may be an immediate benefit with regard to rates, we must take a long view and consider certain expanding duties which are cast upon local authorities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1084.]Then he goes on to agree with the general observations which I have directed to the House under this head. I want to say a word about that part of the Amendment which was criticised by the hon. Member for East Islington dealing with the relationship between the Exchequer and the local authorities. By a fortunate coincidence, I think this was the very point on to which the hon. Member was attempting to lure me just now. The relationship between local authorities and the Exchequer assistance has certain clear points in spite of the skill with which the right hon. Gentleman yesterday tried to obscure it. For a great many areas in this country the essential fact is that whereas formerly they were receiving an Exchequer grant by way of what is called free money—which, as hon. Members know, means money received from the Exchequer without the obligation of detailed central supervision—now they are receiving none. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, that, at any rate to the people who live in those parts of the country, is a matter of great and insurmountable importance.
All that they are now to get is a contemptuous consolation prize in some cases, by way of a transitional grant for a period of five years only. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that these areas have not 1204 suffered, and he suggests that those who say that they have suffered are guilty of displaced terminology. Well, there are certain hon. Members sitting on the benches opposite who represent these places and they will have to go down to their constituencies and explain that whereas under the existing law they receive Exchequer grants, under the new law they will not. When they are told, "But this hurts us," hon. Members will say, "No," and when they are asked, "Why not?", they will reply, "Because it is a question of displaced terminology." The constituents of hon. Members opposite are likely to tell them, "These idiosyncrasies of ministerial speech may go over well in the selective circles of Westminster, but down in Plymouth, or Cardiff or Leeds we are plain, blunt men and we know that we have suffered under the provisions of these proposals. If you do not assist us in these matters, not only shall we have displaced terminology, but displaced Members of Parliament."
On the direct relationships, to which the hon. Member referred, it is clear that under these proposals there will be no such relationships between non-grant receiving local authorities and the central Exchequer. As between the other authorities and the central Exchequer there will be a modified and indirect relationship, because payment of the grant will be based on the rateable value, although it will have regard to the expenditure. I differ from the hon. Member in his contention, because I say that this form of relationship in the Bill which he praises, is defective. The hon. Member quoted from the leading article in "The Times," which had some words of praise about the general principles of the Bill. But, if he had looked at the letter from Mr. Chester, which is given pride of place in "The Times," he would have seen the words:Whatever the immediate intention, will the central authority be able to refrain for long from the detailed scrutiny which must go along with this power, and are not they likely to be pressed on this point by the Public Accounts Committee, and the Comptroller and Auditor-General?As the House realises, under the old law, as the hon. Member frankly put before the House, there is a direct relationship based on the total of the aggregate rate borne and grant expenditure over the country as a whole, and the 1205 Act of 1937 fixes the block grant at 22½ per cent. of that. The only relationship in the Bill is between expenditure of individual local authorities. I differ from the hon. Member who thinks that this is a good thing. No Measure can be considered satisfactory when it excludes some areas from Exchequer assistance, while the central Government still have power to impose obligations upon them by expanding their duties. That is a violation of the constitutional principle of "No power without responsibility." This part of the Bill is incurably vitiated by being based on an average rateable value, which is' at present computed according to admittedly imprecise and inexact principles. It should not arbitrarily and in accordance with a defective standard have excluded authorities from receipt of grant, nor abandoned the principle of a proper and direct relationship between total grant and total expenditure.
In regard to the part which deals with the valuation machinery, I believe the onus is on the Minister to show that this change is democratic, necessary, and practicable. Will these proposals work, and how long will it take them to work? If they are going to work, are all their provisions as efficient and democratic as may be? Can uniformity be achieved without centralisation of the valuation machinery? I do not need to say much on practicability, because my hon. Friend the Member for Woodbridge (Mr. Hare) made this part of the case very clear last night. The difficulties of the transference of the personnel, and the difficulties of accommodation, are enormous, but were very lightly treated in the speech made by the Minister yesterday. By Clause 33 of his Bill he admits that in certain circumstances there may be a time lag of six years before this machinery may come into effect. That is only a target, and there is nothing in our experience of the targets of the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that they err on the side of pessimism, or caution. It is, therefore, only a minimum, not a maximum, time before this machinery can come into operation.
I have many points to put in regard to the actual valuation machinery, but, perhaps, in the main they are Committee points. Therefore, I need not list them this afternoon. Here again I refer to a speech by an hon. Member opposite, the 1206 hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden), who speaks with such authority on these matters. He pointed out yesterday the great power given to the valuation officer, himself an official of the Inland Revenue. I endorse what he said, also his advice to the Minister not to ride roughshod over local authorities, and what he said in regard to the transfer and compensation of local government officers.
As to whether uniformity could have been achieved without centralisation, I am not prepared to be dogmatic. It is a very big question, but the difficulties of the present system have been aggravated by the postponement of the third valuation, and also by the inadequate powers given to county valuation committees, and the central valuation committee, and, perhaps, also by the inadequate exercise by them of such powers as they have. The House are entitled to know what evidence there is that the Minister has given full consideration to the possibility of achieving uniformity at less expense, without centralisation, by the means of an improvement of the existing machinery. In this respect it is rather striking to note that the Minister is more Communist than the Communists; more of a centraliser in this regard than the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) himself, who denounced the principle the Minister proposes to follow in this Bill.
In the part of the Bill which deals with the valuation of dwellinghouses, the Minister, no doubt unintentionally, was, I thought, rather misleading to the House yesterday when he suggested that there were four groups of houses dealt with differently. As the House knows, that is not so. There are in fact three groups, the post-1918 council houses and council flats, post-1918 rent-restricted private enterprise houses, and then all the rest, which fall to be dealt with under Clause 77. The rest include these categories, all pre-1918 houses, post-1918 non-rent-restricted houses, and all flats. The Minister made much play about granges and manors and the like, but what he was reluctant to explain was that pre-1918 small houses, except in such cases where they are rent-restricted, are dealt with on the same principles as the granges and manors. The Minister, in answer to me, said that all these houses were 1207 rent-restricted, although earlier on he made a much truer observation, that as a rule these houses are rent-restricted. I prefer the remark made in the text of his speech, which was scrutinised by his officials—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
Surely, the Minister is not going to suggest that he did not have the benefit of consultation and advice?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman must be very hard pressed for arguments if he is going to make—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
If he does not like the word "scrutinised" let us drop the word. I will make the point perfectly fairly and clearly. My point is this, and I regret that the intervention makes me occupy a moment or two longer than was my intention. The Minister, in fact, in the course of his speech made two contradictory statements, one of which he made in the body of his speech and the other in answer to an intervention made by myself. They are to be found in HANSARD, and they are these. The Minister said:They are fairly easily valued because, as a general rule, they are controlled, and, as a general rule, they are rented.A little later on I put a point, and the Minister said this:Yes, they are, but with this difference that, when we come to the pre-1914 houses, they are invariably rented, and come within the Rent Control Act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1001–5.]That is the difference to which I am referring. The only point I am making is that, of those two statements by the Minister, I prefer the first contained in 1208 the speech, which, I suppose, he had considered with some care; but he relied on the promptings of his own rather way ward genius for the second.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I did not catch the last words of the right hon. Gentleman. I am sorry to have to say this in regard to a Minister, but if the right hon. Gentleman would listen to the whole of the speeches which are made—[Interruption.] I have a very definite recollection that when I was 30 seconds late in taking my place to hear his reply on the housing Debate in July last, he attacked me in a most vicious way. That is on record in HANSARD. I say this to the right hon. Gentleman: If he would treat this House with less arrogance and listen to the speeches which are made, he would not be put to it to take this partial and partisan point. I genuinely regret that what I had tried to make as a connected, coherent and serious argument should, to this extent, have been interrupted by what I think is a very regrettable and quite unnecessary exchange between the Minister and myself which was not at all of my choosing. I am not going to prolong this, because the intervention by the Minister has already cost his hon. Friend some minutes of the time in which he is going to reply to the Debate.
The Parliamentary Secretary was anxious to know what principle we should adopt. I think it right, even at the risk of extending my speech for a moment or two, as I am the last speaker from the Opposition benches, to attempt to give an answer to that. The point has been made, quite rightly, that the 1938 Act postponed the proper application of the existing rating law to this type of house, because, strictly, the element of rent restriction should not be take into account in rating. Therefore, the 1938 Act was, as has been said, a postponement of the full operation of the present law. We on these benches do not want to take any action today which would have the effect of increasing the rates upon small houses. 1209 I assure the Parliamentary Secretary of that. But we do not agree that his method is necessarily the right method to deal with the situation. It is quite possible to work out a derating formula if the Government wish to give rate relief to these houses, and to apply that derating formula. That, I think, is the right thing to do at the present in what are emergency conditions.
If the Parliamentary Secretary thinks that this is only a temporary expedient, I would remind him that this Measure in itself is only temporary, because it looks back to 1939 rents and 1938 costs and, therefore, presumably it is not the final word that the Government have to say on this matter of rating. There are many other points which will arise in the Committee stage, and I conclude by saying that I hope that those hon. Members who criticised this Bill, and whose speeches I have quoted, will back their voices with their votes. I ask them with hope, and my hon. Friends with the confidence that comes of their political sagacity and courage, to vote for our Amendment in the Division Lobby tonight.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. John Edwards)
I think it a great pity that the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) should have spoiled what was otherwise a seriously argued speech by a suggestion that can only have been regarded on this side of the House as offensive. Everyone here knows perfectly well that" my right hon. Friend never reads a speech at all. The suggestion made must have meant either that he had in fact read the speech, when everybody knew that he had not, or that after the event somebody had got hold of the speech and put it right.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
I did not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but let there be no mistake about it. Nobody on this side of the House suggested, intended to suggest, or will be found in HANSARD to have suggested, that the right hon. Gentleman had in any way altered a speech of his in HANSARD. I do not think that the remark of my hon. Friend could possibly bear out that suggestion. I am sure that hon. Members, when they see it in HANSARD, will realise that it does not. I wish to 1210 make that perfectly clear. The point my hon. Friend was making was quite another one which, I think, was a legitimate point of criticism.
§ Mr. Edwards
I am glad to have the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation and assurance. Perhaps we can leave it there.
A number of points have been raised which are really Committee points. Hon. Members referred to them at the time as Committee points. Our job tonight is to decide whether or not the Bill should be given a Second Reading; whether in general it meets with the approval of the House and whether it can now be sent to a Committee for detailed examination. I, therefore, take it to be my main job to rebut the general arguments used against the Bill as embodied in the Opposition Amendment and as expounded by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and his supporters. Perhaps I might be permitted to say that as I listened to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman I could not but recall the occasion when I first met him. It was in the early 'thirties when I was young and a member of the Yorkshire Ouse Catchment Board and he was already hard-boiled and Minister of Agriculture. The occasions, though different, have one point in common, namely, a marked scarcity of positive proposals from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. Then, he could not bring himself to make a grant of more than £10,000, or something under 1 per cent. of the cost of preventing floods in the Bentley district. Now, he thinks that £39 million are not enough and wants an advance on 22½ per cent.
Let me agree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman when he said that so far as a local authority gives up its power of raising revenue, it will diminish its authority. Authorities must be assured of a firm and stable income and they must, I think, in any event raise a substantial part of it from local resources. So far as we can see, that must in the main, continue to be done by the rate, the most venerable tax we have in Britain. It was suggested by several of my hon. Friends during the Debate that income could be derived from the rating of site values. I shall not argue that tonight, for it is the intention of my right hon. 1211 Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland to appoint a committee to inquire into this whole subject. The terms of reference and the membership of the committee will be announced shortly.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman took us very much to task because he alleged that not enough time had been given for proper consideration of this Bill. The first thing I want to say about that is that even if the financial details were not known until the Bill was published, the principles on which we were working, in every part of this field, were known months and months ago, and the only things that were not publicly known until the Bill was published were the actual financial terms. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said there had not been time for him and his friends to consider the Bill, no time to get proper consultation with local authorities. What surprised me was that he was so indiscreet as to follow up that statement by reading a letter from the City Chamberlain of Glasgow, dated 29th October. That is to say that two days after the Bill was available to the public, the City Chamberlain was briefing the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman in trying to deal with Scottish affairs of which, I am afraid, he is woefully ignorant. He really should read his brief from his permanent officials a little better than that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The hon. Gentleman suggested that the Chamberlain of the City of Glasgow was briefing me, but as any Scottish Member will know very well, the letter was written by the City Chamberlain, not in response to me, but was, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland himself has said, published in the Press in Scotland.
§ Mr. Edwards
I am sorry if I misjudged the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I was only using the word "briefing" in the sense of the provision of information and documents. I did not think at the time, although I know now from his explanation, that he was referring to a letter which had been generally published. In any event, it does not alter my argument at all, because the fact is that the 1212 City of Glasgow was in a position to provide all the relevant material and pass judgment on the scheme two days after the Bill had been published, and moreover, the same is true of all authorities. Judging from the correspondence and the number of deputations I have already received, and the people I have seen, I would say that any financial officer of any authority was in a position to work this out fairly precisely within a day or two of having had the Bill in his possession. In any event, is his argument to be that we have to discuss these matters in public with all and sundry before we bring them on to the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Edwards
Then the right hon. and gallant Gentleman really says that the House is presumably to be the last place where these important financial and other changes are to be discussed. It might be a pity to go on with that argument, from the point of view of the Opposition. I shall be expected to deal with other parts of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech. I did not think that anyone would be likely to argue that, at a time when local authorities were being relieved of expenditure estimated at £63 million, no change should be made in the financial relationship between the Exchequer and the local authority, but the clear implication of what the hon. Member for Hertford said was that there should have been a Measure for the promotion of uniformity in valuation, and then, at some other time, there should be a Measure for the alteration of the grant system.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
Not quite that. What I said was that these particular alterations ought to follow, and not precede the alteration in valuation.
§ Mr. Edwards
The hon. Member said we were putting things the wrong way round, and that certain things ought to be done before others followed. What he and his friends have not said, is how they would have dealt with the situation created by relieving local authorities of the cost of a certain number of services. Of course, if one ignores, as did the right hon. Gentleman the savings on hospital services and public assistance, then one can say that the new grant is less in amount and in percentage of the total local expenditure, than previously, 1213 but that is completely to misrepresent the position.
The fact is that local authorities, as a whole, will be £39 million a year better off than they would have been under the old arrangement, and however much the Opposition may belittle this, it is true that never before has so much been done for so many ratepayers at one time. It must be remembered, too, that other grants have not been terminated, and that the amount of the equalisation grant will go up as the rate in the £ in various areas goes up. It must also be remembered that the percentage of total credited rateable value in relation to total rateable value, will not be allowed to fall. For all those reasons it is clear there is a connection between the expenditure and the amount of the grant. It has been suggested by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that nothing resulted from the negotiations with the Associations. I, knowing the facts, cannot accept that view at all, because quite apart from the great help we received in the matter of the methods to be used in the assessing of dwelling houses, the transitional grants were conceded during these discussions, and there were arrangements by which all major authorities gained at least 6d. at once, whereas otherwise some of them would have lost. So, something did emerge from our discussions.
The hon. Member for Hertford challenged me about the reduction in rates. Certainly my right hon. Friend has not said, and I will not say, that the effect of what we have done will everywhere prevent rates rising. All that one says is that there will be £39 million which may in part meet the cost of improved services, and in part may be shown in the reduction of rates. I was interested in the fact that although the hon. Member delivered quite a crushing retort to me, and told me to wait for him to continue his argument, he sat down without answering the question I had put to him. I do not propose to give way in order to enable the hon. Member to do now what he failed to do when I invited him to say how hon. Members opposite would ensure that the rates would never go up, unless they were prepared to support a Measure for 100 per cent. grants.
I come back to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities. He argued that, 1214 whereas the 1929 block grant dealt with known factors, the proposed equalisation grant deals with unknown factors. Whether it was because he did not know, or because it did not suit his argument, the fact is that, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman examined the factors in the 1929 block grant formula, he left one factor out, and the factor which he left out was that of rateable value per head of the population. The omission was significant, because it happens to be fundamentally the same factor as we propose to use in our formula. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said there was no average rateable value, and that we were starting up a machine to provide it and that the machine would not bear fruit—the metaphor was his, not mine—until 1952. There is so much confusion about this that, as I listened, I could only suppose that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had inadvertently turned over two pages of his notes, because he is clearly confusing—if one can confuse anything clearly—average rateable value on the one hand, and uniform methods of assessment on the other, and he put in his argument one part of the Bill which is concerned with uniform levels of assessment, and seemed to talk on it as if it were exactly the same as the average level of rateable value. The two things, I assure him, are quite different, and we do not get anywhere unless we keep them quite separate. There will, of course, be a time-lag, but the time-lag is nothing like the time-lag that we have now.
What have we under the present scheme? In the fourth year of every quinquennium, calculations are made, on the basis of which grants are payable in the next quinquennium. If we make arrangements this year, they will apply at the end of next year and will then go on for five years. When we come to the fifth year, we are thus six years behind. Instead of that, we are proposing to take each year separately, and to deal with it at the time, with the result that, although there may be a little time-lag and there may be a little tidying-up to be done in the month or two following the end of the financial year, we shall, for all practical purposes, settle the account year by year. It is a very slight time-lag of a month or two, by comparison with the time-lag of as much as six years under the old arrangement.
1215 It has also been suggested that rateable value per head of weighted population is not the best way of testing the needs of an area. I would not claim that, as things are, rateable value per head of the population is absolutely ideal. I think it obviously could be a good deal better if we had greater uniformity in valuation, but I do think that it is the best test that is available to us at the present time, and, although it might be modified in one way or another by systems of weighting, I do not think anyone has yet suggested a fairer and better way of running an equalisation grant than this business based on the rateable value per head of weighted population.
Now I come to the question of the blitzed areas, on which matter so many hon. Members are concerned. I hope they will agree with me that the badly blitzed areas present a special problem, and not one suitable to be dealt with in this Measure, which I think we must regard as a permanent Measure. Generally speaking, the loss of rateable properties will tend to diminish the rateable value per head of the weighted population, and will increase the Exchequer equalisation grant in the areas affected. It is appreciated, however, that in some cases, there may be countervailing circumstances, such as a temporary loss of population, while, in others, the rateable value per head of weighted population will still be in excess of the average, and, therefore, no Exchequer equalisation grant will be paid. The scheme under which certain local authorities have been receiving special financial assistance from the Exchequer has, therefore, not been terminated, and I may say that, in cases where the product of a penny rate is still substantially below that existing immediately before the war, the Minister will be prepared to consider applications for a renewal of such special assistance after the new exchange equalisation grants have been notified.
§ Mr. Edwards
Now I turn to other parts of the Bill, and, first of all, to the machinery for valuation. I hope I do not need to argue the case in favour of national uniformity in levels of valuation. In the beginning, it was all right if assessments were uniform within the parish. In 1216 more modern times, it became important that there should be uniformity in the county because of the growth of the precept. With the adoption of the principle contained in a modest sort of way in the 1929 block grants, and more pronounced in our own equalisation grants, it becomes absolutely essential to aim at national uniformity. This is a serious problem. There is no denying the general under-valuation throughout the whole country. There is no denying the widespread lack of uniformity, and I will say to the hon. Member for Hertford that, while he is theoretically right about the under-valued areas in relation to the rate in the £ no one in the House should assume that a high rate in the £ is a sign of comparative under-valuation, for, on such evidence as I have examined, generally speaking, I would say that the reverse is true.
In this Bill, we propose to centralise the work of valuation for weighting purposes. We propose, very belatedly, to take the advice of the Kemp Committee of 1914, and to do in a full-bodied way what the Minister of Health of that time began to do in 1925, when the advice of the Minister, then Mr. Neville Chamberlain, was rejected by his Conservative supporters. We propose to try to get uniformity by using one valuation instrument for our purpose. I do not think there is any need to complain of taking away powers from the local authorities. It is only since 1925 that local authorities have had the power both to levy rates and value property for rating purposes, and it is, after all, a technical matter. I have served on a rating committee, and I am not aware of any contribution which any ordinary layman could make in the initial stage of valuation, and I am certain that there are dangers if we leave the business of valuation in the hands of the people who are levying the rate.
Complaint has been made about the autocratic powers of valuation officers. What are their powers, and what are the limitations of their powers? They are subject to very much the same control as existing valuation officers. Their findings are subject to objections and hearings before the local valuation courts, and, on appeal, to the county courts, and, on points of law, to the High Court. That does not seem to me to be anything very autocratic. It is subject to limits and checks at every point, certainly as great as we have now. It has been argued— 1217 I think more substantially—that it will take longer under our scheme to get a new valuation. Let me concede at once that if we were to use the present machine as it is, we could get new valuation lists out earlier, but the valuation would be made on the same basis as hitherto, would be subject to all the shortcomings of the old method, and would, indeed, not correct anything.
It has been argued that in place of the present system we should reinforce the county valuation committees and the Central Valuation Committee for this purpose. I am absolutely certain that, what with the transfer of staff that would be involved and the inherent difficulties of any such arrangement, the new valuation lists would be got out no earlier by this alternative scheme than by the scheme which we have devised. After all, we cannot control valuation in this way; we cannot intervene effectively unless we do the valuation, and unless we are prepared to stand up for what we have done, and, if need be, prove our case before either the local court or the county court. I do not believe that, however the machine was strengthened, it could really do the job in the way we want it done. After all, the job will be done, for the most part, by those who do it now. We shall need to recruit people who are experienced in rating valuation. We are not in a position to have a general transfer, and that is why there is no general transfer provision in the Bill. However, we shall look to the local authorities to provide us with large numbers of the staffs we need for this purpose. I pay my tribute to the work done by the assessment committees, county valuation committees, and the Central Valuation Committee, but, however much one may praise them for the work they have done in the past, and however much we may learn from their experience, their continued existence must not stand in the way of progress in this vital matter of uniform standards of rating valuation.
I will now turn to the valuation of dwelling houses. I think that here a good deal of the argument would have been avoided if hon. Members opposite had confined themselves to talking about the principles involved. Value, for rating purposes, is a matter of what is defined, as valued by law, and how it is interpreted by the courts. If we are to have 1218 proper standards, they must be objective and ascertainable, and they must, as far as possible, be fair as between all the interested parties. That is what we have tried to do in our proposals. When I asked two hon. Members what they would put in place of our proposals, one of them, in a rather halfhearted way, said the hypothetical tenant, and, the other, the hypothetical tenant mitigated or qualified by the number of children of the actual tenant. The hypothetical tenant, I know, is an elusive person, and I am absolutely certain that it would be quite impossible to enforce the law as it now stands in this matter. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite probably know that better than we do on this side, because it was their Government that ran away from the immediate prewar valuation. I do not think that the law, as it is at the moment, could be enforced.
Therefore, some new basis has had to be found, and what we have sought to do has been to use methods which conform to the canons which I laid down—objectivity, easy ascertainability, and fairness. We have tried to find methods in the various categories that conform to those standards. I believe that if hon. Members will study this matter closely, they will come to the conclusion that, while there are differences in the ways of arriving at gross value, those differences are conditioned by the actual circumstances, and that there is no discrimination involved. The only reason we are not taking the 1938 site values for the owner-occupier house is that we think it would be difficult to get them. That is the point. Therefore, throughout this business, where there are rents to which we can refer, we have used them. Where scarcity elements arise, which would involve very great injustice and unfairness, then we have used a new standard.
I was asked one or two specific questions on railways and electricity undertakings, but before I answer them, may I repudiate emphatically one suggestion made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in his opening speech. He said, for instance:The Minister of Transport might find it a great advantage at some time that rates for the railways should be settled in the recesses of the Cabinet room rather than discussed in the open."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1014.]1219 That was a flight of fancy, or, perhaps, a handful of mud, because no one who read the Bill could produce such a complete travesty of what is proposed. The amounts to be paid are fixed in relation to realities. It is all in the Bill, and if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will read it carefully he will find out what he should have known before he talked like that, that the Minister of Transport cannot affect in any way whatever the amounts to be paid under the Bill.
I turn now to the two specific questions asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). He was interested in what would happen if the British Transport Commission acquired other property. All I need say, I think, is that it is quite impossible to foresee the operations of the British Transport Commission. That, I should have thought, would be true of any business undertaking, and it is precisely because of the changing circumstances to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred that we have inserted Clause 89. The second question he asked was about the Hydro-Electric Board. It is quite impossible to say what the contributions of that Board would have been in future years, but, under this Bill, the initial contribution will be based on the rates paid in the North of Scotland in 1947–48 by all undertakings in that district. This amount will be varied, as elsewhere—it is quite a general provision—according to the variations in the average rates, and the increase in output of units in the North Scotland district.
Before concluding, I wish to deal with two other points that have been raised, and upon which hon. Members may like to have an answer. The first is about Crown property. There is no change at all in the position of Crown property; but I hope, and, indeed, expect, that the centralisation of valuation for rating, for all purposes, might show itself in a closer alignment of valuations of Crown property and valuations of other property.
I was asked about Clause 117 which concerns the information services of local authorities. There is certainly no intention of empowering local authorities to
§ run newspapers, but there is every intention of encouraging local authorities to use the social techniques which are open to them to give information to their citizens about the work which they are doing. Some hon. Members may have seen the Interim Report of the Consultative Committee on Publicity for Local Government, over which I have the honour of presiding. This Interim Report deals with the range of things that we think local authorities might do and, in case there should be any doubt about their powers to do those things, we have inserted Clause 117. I do not think I need comment on the discussion on allowances for councillors, because the only real point of principle which has emerged is whether these provisions should be mandatory or not. My right hon. Friend has already given our reasons for the form in which we put these proposals, and it would only waste time to elaborate on them now.
§ In conclusion, I would say that the reasoned Amendment, so called, which has been put down by the Opposition, falls because, in spite of all our questions and in spite of every invitation, hon. Members opposite have failed to produce any positive proposals of their own and they have also failed to show in what way the Bill is sufficiently deficient, not on some point of detail, but in general—in principle—for the House to reject the Measure. I have no doubt, therefore, that the House will support this Measure and will recognise that, although the last word has not been spoken on the relations between the central Government and local government, this at any rate marks a very great step forward in our Constitution.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Before the hon. Gentleman concludes, is he not going to say even one word about the whole of the Scottish aspect, on which so many questions have been asked?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 286; Noes, 138.1223
|Division No. 25.]||AYES.||[7.3 p.m|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Attewell, H. C.||Ayles, W. H.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Austin, H. Lewis||Bacon, Miss A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Awbery, S. S.||Baird, J.|
|Balfour, A.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Gibbins, J.||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Barton, C.||Gibson, C. W.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Battley, J R.||Gilzean, A.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Noel-Baker, Cap. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Benson, G.||Goodrich, H. E.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Berry, H.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||O'Brien, T.|
|Beswick, F.||Grenfell, D. R||Oliver, G. H.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Grey, C. F.||Paget, R. T.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Grierson, E.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Binns, J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Pearson, A.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Peart, T. F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gunter, R J.||Perrins, W.|
|Boardman, H.||Guy, W. H.||Popplewell, E.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hale, Leslie||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Bowen, R.||Hardy, E. A.||Price, M. Philips|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Proctor, W. T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pryde, D. J|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Herbison, Miss M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Hicks, G.||Randall, H. E.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hobson, C. R.||Ranger, J.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Holman, P.||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Reeves, J.|
|Byers, Frank||House, G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Callaghan, James||Hoy, J.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Carmichael, James||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Robens, A.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool, Edge Hill)||Royle, C.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Sargood, R.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Collick, P.||Janner, B.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Collins, V. J.||Jay, D. P. T.||Sharp, Granville|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Cook, T. F.||John, W||Shurmer, P.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Keenan, W.||Skeffington, A. M|
|Cove, W. G.||Kendall, W. D.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Crawley, A.||Kenyon, C.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Key, C. W.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Daggar, G.||Lang, G.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)|
|Daines, P.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Snow, J. W.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Leonard, W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Leslie, J. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Levy, B. W.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lewis, J (Bolton)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Deer, G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Stamford, W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lipson, D. L.||Steele, T.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Diamond, J.||Longden, F.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)|
|Dobbie, W.||Lyne, A. W.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McAdam, W.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Donovan, T.||McAllister, G.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||McEntee, V. La T||Swingler, S.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||McGhee, H. G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Mack, J. D.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Edelman, M.||McKinlay, A. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, John R (Dover)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Marquand, H. A.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Medland, H. M.||Tiffany, S.|
|Ewart, R.||Mellish, R. J.||Timmons, J.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Messer, F.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Tolley, L.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mitchison, G. R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Follick, M.||Moody, A. S.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Foot, M. M.||Morley, R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Walker, G. H.|
|Gallacher, W.||Murray, J. D.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Nally, W.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Watson, W. M.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||Woodburn, A.|
|Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Woods, G S.|
|Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)||Wyatt, W.|
|White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Williamson, T.|
|Wigg, George||Willis, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wilkes, L||Wills, Mrs. E. A.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Wilkins, W. A||Mr. Hannan.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Gridley, Sir A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Osborne, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Haughton, S. G.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Birch, Nigel||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hollis, M. C.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Boothby, R.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bower, N.||Howard, Hon. A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Renton, D.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jennings, R.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Bullock, Cap. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Carson, E.||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Challen, C.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Channon, H.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Linstead, H. N.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lloyd, Major Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Low, A. R. W.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Crookshank, Cap. Rt. Hon. H. F C||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon O.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|De la Bçre, R.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Touche, G. C.|
|Digby, S. W.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Dower, Col. A. V G. (Penrith)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Marples, A. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||White, Sir O. (Fareham)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Maude, J. C.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fyte, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Molson, A. H. E.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gammans, L. D.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr Drewe and Major Conant.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I beg to move: "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 125; Noes, 275.1227
|Division No. 26.]||AYES.||[7.14 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||De la Bçre, R.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Digby, S. W.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. P.||Bullock, Capt. M||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Astor Hon. M.||Carson, E.||Drewe, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Challen, C.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Channon, H.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Birch, Nigel||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)|
|Boothby, R.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.|
|Bower, N.||Crowder, Capt. John E.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Davidson, Viscountess||Gates, Maj. E. E.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Grant, Lady||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Haughton, S. G.||Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Maude, J. C.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Medlicott, F.||Sludholme, H. G.|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Mellor, Sir J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Molson, A. H. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Touche, G. C.|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Jennings, R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Osborne, C.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Linstead, H. N.||Pickthorn, K.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lloyd, Major Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Low, A. R. W.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)||Ma'or Conant and|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R||Renton, D.||Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Crawley, A.||Gunter, R. J.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Guy, W. H.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Daggar, G.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Daines, P.||Hale, Leslie|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Awbery, S. S.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Baird, J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hicks, G.|
|Balfour, A.||Deer, G.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Barstow, P. G.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Holman, P.|
|Barton, C.||Delargy, H. J.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Battley, J. R.||Diamond, J.||House, G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Dobbie, W.||Hoy, J.|
|Benson, G.||Dodds, N. N.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Berry, H.||Donovan, T.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Beswick, F,||Dumpleton, C. W.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Durbin, E. F. M.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hynd, J. B, (Attercliffe)|
|Binns, J.||Edelman, M.||Irvine, A. J (Liverpool, Edge Hill)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Boardman, H.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Janner, B.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Bowen, R.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||John, W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Ewart, R.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Fairhurst, F.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Farthing, W. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Keenan, W.|
|Byers, Frank||Follick, M.||Kenyon, C.|
|Callaghan, James||Foot, M. M.||Key, C. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Lang, G.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gallacher, W.||Leonard, W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Cobb, F. A.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Levy, B. W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Gibbins, J.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Collick, P.||Gibson, C. W.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Collins, V. J.||Gilzean, A.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Longden, F.|
|Cook, T. F.||Grenfell, D. R.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Grey, C. F.||McAdam, W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Grierson, E.||McAllister, G.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mack, J. D|
|Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Ranger, J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|McKinlay, A. S||Rees-Williams, D. R||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|MacMillan, M. K (Western Isles)||Reeves, J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Robens, A.||Tiffany, S.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Tolley, L.|
|Marquand, H. A.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Medland, H. M.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Royle, C.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Messer, F.||Sargood, R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Scollan, T.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Walker, G. H.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Segal, Dr. S.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Moody, A S.||Sharp, Granville||Warbey, W. N.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Watson, W. M.|
|Morley, R.||Shurmer, P.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Murray, J. D.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Simmons, C. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Skinnard, F. W.||Wigg, George|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wilkes, L.|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|O'Brien, T.||Snow, J. W.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Paget, R. T.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Stamford, W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Pearson, A.||Steele, T.||Williamson, T.|
|Peart, T. F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Willis, E.|
|Perrins, W.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Stross, Dr. B.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Popplewell, E.||Stubbs, A. E.||Woodburn, A.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Woods, G. S.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Swingler, S.||Wyatt, W.|
|Price, M. Philips||Sylvester, G. O.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Proctor, W T.||Symonds, A. L.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Pryde, D. J.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Randall, H. E.||Thomas, D E. (Aberdare)||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Mr. Scollan
On a point of Order. Now that it has been decided to commit the Bill to a Standing Committee, would it be in Order for me to move that Part II of the Bill, which relates to Scotland only, be committed to the Scottish Grand Committee?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am afraid that I could not accept that Motion now. If it had been intended to move it, it would have required notice on the Order Paper so that I might have been able to consider and possibly call it. As it is, such Motions would require Debate and should be put on the Order Paper.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Further to that point of Order. Has it not been found in the case of large Bills that occasionally they have been divided, one part being committed to one Standing Committee, and another part to a second Standing Committee? I would suggest that it is only after the House has decided that the Bill is to be considered in Standing Committee that this point can arise. The House having now decided that the Bill is to go to a Standing Committee, is it not possible to consider the solution—as 1228 has been done in the case of other Bills—of dividing the Bill and sending one part to one Standing Committee and another to a second Standing Committee?
§ Mr. Speaker
I dare say, if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman chooses to put that Motion on the Order Paper, it might be considered, but I do not think it is fair to ask me to decide this question without prior notice.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I simply wish to be assured that we have not lost our rights in this matter. If I may say so, Mr. Speaker, I fully agree that it would be unfair to ask for a hasty decision on such a matter. As long as we have not lost our rights by letting it go on this occasion, naturally we defer in every way to your Ruling.
§ Mr. Bevan
It will be within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, that three weeks elapsed between the placing of this Bill in the Vote Office and the Second Reading. Ample opportunity has been given to put down such a Motion and to have the matter considered. It was raised during the Debate, yesterday or today. There 1229 has been ample opportunity of giving you a chance to consider this matter—
§ Commander Galbraith
Is it not within the right of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to move now that it may be sent to two Committees? I think that is in Order.
§ Mr. Scollan
Might I point out, Mr. Speaker, that it was only in the course of discussion today that many of the points came out which proved that Part II should go before a purely Scottish Committee. On that account I asked about it during the Debate, but there was no reply from the Minister. I do not see why he should object to it now.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
In answer to the contention made by the Minister of Health, I submit, very respectfully, that until the matter had been put to the House it would have been very difficult for us to have tabled such a Motion, because we had hoped that the Bill might be considered in Committee of the Whole House, where, of course, every Scottish Member would have a full opportunity of making his voice heard, in considering questions of vital importance to his constituency.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am well aware of the Government's views on these matters, but the decision is one for the House and it would be quite improper for any hon. Member to anticipate what the decision of the House would be. I am contending that hitherto it would have been out of Order for me to take that course, and that this is the only moment at which it becomes in Order for me to make a recommendation which, I submit, is fully in accord with many precedents.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am in this difficulty. This is a Motion which requires notice on the Order Paper. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not lost his right of putting that Motion down. Whether it will be accepted or not remains to be seen, but he has not lost his right to put it on the Order Paper.
§ Commander Galbraith
With all deference, Mr. Speaker, may I refer to paragraph 2 of Standing Order 46, on page 27, which appears to be applicable?Provided that the House may, on motion made by the member in charge of a bill, commit the bill to a standing committee in respect of some of its provisions, and to a committee of the whole House in respect of other provisions, and that if such a motion is opposed Mr. Speaker, after permitting, if he thinks fit, a brief explanatory statement from the member who makes and from the member who opposes the motion, shall without further debate put the question thereon.
§ Mr. Speaker
The trouble is that we have already voted that this Bill shall go to a Standing Committee. It seems to me that we are in some difficulty. We cannot now reverse that vote.
§ Mr. Scollan
According to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, that we have not relinquished our right to move that part of the Bill shall go to the Scottish Grand Committee, may I give notice that I shall put down an Amendment on the Order Paper to that effect?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member can certainly try to put that down as an Amendment to the Motion we have passed, but he cannot move it now.