§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
Before I move the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper, I wish to refer to a matter included incidentally in the Amendment of my hon. friend the Member for Stepney. The 924 words I desire to introduce after the words, "other than a rural district council," are these, "and including a London borough council." This is only to make the intention clear, because it is obvious from the statement in the Amendment that he does mean to give powers to a London borough council to establish lodging - houses outside the district. I quite agree that it may seem at first sight that the words I propose are unnecessary; but on consideration I think there is a doubt, and that the safe course would be to put them in, and for this reason: a London borough council stands in a totally different position from any other council. The power which is now given to a London borough council is not included in any of the series of Acts which are called the Housing of the Working Classes Acts. The position of a London borough council is also exceptional in this respect: that in the Act of last session there is an express provision that the powers with regard to housing so far as a London borough council is concerned shall not be exercised outside the district of the borough council, whereas as regards all the others it is merely an implication drawn from general words. For these reasons, in order at all events to call the attention of the Attorney General to the point, I beg to move the insertion of these words.
In page 1, line 5, after the word 'Council,' to insert the words 'and including a London Borough Council.'"—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. CHAPLIN,) Lincolnshire, Sleaford
I quite understand the object of the hon. Member in calling attention to this matter, but I believe the Amendment is altogether unnecessary. The words of the clause are: "Where any council other than a rural district council." Those words would include a London borough council. I understand that powers to acquire land were given to the London borough councils in the London Government Act.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
If that be so, that express limitation is overridden by the words in the Bill which I have pointed out.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
I cannot see any harm in inserting the words; but if the right hon. Gentleman is advised by the legal advisers that the words are unnecessary, I will not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I think it is very desirable, and, indeed, necessary, that the words I now propose, or words of a similar character, should be introduced into the first clause. The first clause really provides that the councils shall have power to establish and acquire lodging-houses outside their districts. The words "establish or acquire" only occur once in the principal Act—namely, in Section 61, where they are introduced incidentally, and do not throw much light on the meaning which is to be attached to them. In the principal Act there is no allusion to or explanation of the words "establish or acquire." As regards the part of my Amendment which relates to the acquiring of land, it is true that Section 57 of the principal Act empowers a local authority to acquire land for the purposes of Part III. of that Act, but according to the accepted construction of the statute the land there is limited within the district. Therefore, we are really thrown back on the question I raised first of all as to what the words "establish or acquire lodging houses" really include. With regard to the second part of my Amendment, which proposes to introduce the words "hold land," I think those words very important. We are for the first time giving to urban authorities the opportunity of going outside their own districts to provide housing accommodation for the teeming populations. It seems to me an almost necessary corollary from that proposition that you should also give to those urban communities power to acquire land outside their own districts before that land has attained a prohibitive price. If that is not done it seems to me perfectly clear that the full advantage which might be expected from this new departure we are about to make will certainly not be realised. I have now explained both heads of my Amendment.
In page 1, line 7, after the word 'district,' to insert the words 'acquire and hold land and."'—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ Question proposed "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am still not quite clear as to what the hon. Member means precisely by "holding land." It seems to me in any case to be unnecessary for the purposes of this Bill, because it must be obvious that a local authority cannot "establish" lodging-houses for the working classes without acquiring land upon which those lodging-houses would be built. It seems to me, therefore, if that is what it means, that the Amendment is unnecessary. If, on the other hand, it means something more than this—powers to acquire and hold land irrespective of the houses altogether—that is another and a different question, which should form an Amendment to the Public Health Act, under which powers are provided if needed, but they are not needed. If the hon. Member will turn to Section 175 of the Public Health Act, 1875, he will find that "any local authority may for the purposes and subject to the provisions of this Act purchase or take on lease, sell or exchange, any land whether situated within or without their district." Then there is a provision that any land acquired by a local authority in pursuance of any of the powers of that Act, and not required for the purposes for which they were acquired, unless the Local Government Board otherwise direct, "shall be sold at the best price that can be gotten for the same." In such a case as the hon. Gentleman suggests they might buy land at some time for the purpose of providing houses, and afterwards come before the Local Government Board for a dispensation, and the dispensation having been given, provision is made in another clause of the Act of 1875 as to the disposal of that kind of land until it is needed for houses. So far as I am able to form an opinion, everything the hon. Member desires is already provided for.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has quite appreciated the Amendment now before the Committee. In the existing Act there is power to acquire land for the purpose of erecting houses for the working classes. In the Bill 927 which is before us there is added the power of acquiring land for the purpose of erecting lodging houses on areas outside the jurisdiction of the authority concerned. But what I imagine my hon. friend has in view is that we have in London an enormous and almost incalculable increment of population going on week by week and month by month. It almost defies the London County Council to master that question at any one moment. The effect of my hon. friend's Amendment would be that a broad and comprehensive scheme might be devised for taking over by the municipality of any great town, a suitable area of land for prospective development of working-class dwellings in the years to come. I ask the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members who have considered the gravity of this problem if they do not think that that is a proposal of enormous importance, which would go a very long way to make this Bill really useful in the near future. It seems to be absolutely imperative that you should deal with this question in such a way that a local authority shall not be stopped and crushed out of its undertaking to provide for the dwellings of the poor by enormous enhancements of those land values in the immediate districts to the large towns. Undoubtedly, the result of the first clause of this Bill as it now stands would be to throw an enormous and rapidly-increasing unearned increment into the hands of the owners of the suburban land which may be employed for this purpose. It is only reasonable, having regard to the future wants of a great community like London, that you should extend the right to acquire suitable land which may be required for building in the districts surrounding great towns, when by buying at the present value the land can be got for a reasonable amount, in order that there should be a great economy effected in the interests of the ratepayers, and in the interest still more of those inhabiting the crowded parts of London and other great towns. I sincerely hope that my hon. friend will persevere in this Amendment. The issues at stake are of such vast importance with respect to the future of those who dwell in great towns that I hope Her Majesty's Government, before the discussion closes, will meet the Amendment in some more favourable way than the right hon. Gentleman has done.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
The law upon this subject is somewhat difficult and complicated, but it depends upon Acts of Parliament, and what I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General is this. Supposing the London County Council were able to get at a proper price a considerable area of land under favourable conditions outside their own district and were willing to buy it with a view of erecting workmen's dwellings, but not at once— if they wished to keep it in their own hands, and not lease it to any person— under the law as it now stands, and under the Bill as it now stands, would it be possible for the County Council to do so? if it would, then the Amendment of my hon. friend is superfluous and unnecessary; but if the clause as it now stands does not empower a thing of that kind to be done, then an Amendment ought to be incorporated in the Bill to make it possible. It might possibly be brought in in a more convenient form later on, but that is not the question.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
In answer to the question of my hon. and learned friend, it appears to me that Section 175 of the Public Health Act of 1875—under which the London County Council could acquire any land which is, really wanted for the purpose of erecting lodging-houses, and hold it for a reasonable time subject to the discretion of the Local Government Board—would cover it. I apprehend that discretion would be exercised in this sense: that if there was a reasonable prospect in the near future of the land being actually wanted for the purpose, the Council would be allowed to retain it. Only it is not intended that the Council should be allowed to enter into land speculation.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
said the Amendment of the hon. Member for South-west Bethnal Green had not been met by the answer of the hon. and learned Gentleman. If this Bill, or any Bill of this kind, was going to touch the great problem of the housing of the people, it would not have to be determined in a narrow spirit by the reading of another Act which might or might not apply to this particular purpose. The housing question was neither more nor less than the land question. Therefore, 929 when the hon. Member for South-west Bethnal Green sought to give to these local authorities power to acquire and hold land, he (Mr. Maddison) ventured to submit that he would give to this clause a value which it did not possess as it stood. After all, what was the danger in this matter? The Attorney General used some words about local authorities acquiring land for speculation purposes. He (Mr. Maddison) regretted very much that at this early stage of the discussion the bogey of municipal trading should be dragged in. For his part he had no great desire to extend municipal trading except where it was absolutely necessary; and all that he could say was that if hon. Members were going to approach this question in a niggardly spirit, if they were going to define the action of local bodies in the matter of land, they were not going to touch the problem at its roots. The Bill itself, in all truth, was something less than a moderate attempt to deal with the question, and if the question was to be dealt with in the manner he had suggested, he confessed that he had very little hope that this Bill would do any good at all. He hoped the hon. Member would press this most important Amendment to a division, because, although the Amendment might be defeated by the legions of the Government, the supporters of the Amendment would at least have registered their protest against the attempt to narrow down this new policy.
§ *MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
expressed a desire to say one word upon the Amendment. He thought if it were carried it would prevent proper advantage being taken of the Act. Up to the present year the London County Council had been afraid to put into force Part III. of the Housing Act to some extent, because of the opposition of private companies. This Amendment would certainly increase that kind of opposition. He deplored the inactivity of the County Council in not going farther than they did; he wished them to put into force Clause 3. According to the statement of the Attorney General the Amendment was not really necessary if the County Council only desired to hold land for a short time, and therefore, if passed, it might tempt the County Council to acquire land prematurely in the hope that at some future time it might be required. The great object of 930 the Bill was to meet a definite demand. It was not desired to meet demands which might be made ten years hence, and therefore he hoped the Amendment would not be accepted.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
thought there was a very wide difference between what might be termed a speculative desire to acquire land by the local authority and a reasonable desire to anticipate requirements in any part of a county. The question was important, having regard to the great problem which had arisen. Owing to the local authority de-siring to anticipate its requirements, a few years ago there was a Bill passed whereby the Government undertook to spend £5,000,000, extended over a period of years, in Devonport. It was obvious that such an expenditure would bring into Devonport several thousands of working men, and the question arose as to how to house them. Supposing that had been taken into consideration before the question of land speculation set in on the part of private speculators, the local authority could have fixed on land in many districts and solved the problem. The Attorney General had pointed out that these powers already existed, but the corporations were ignorant of these powers, and had no knowledge of the powers they had. He could see no reason why the matter should not be made clear, definite, and specific in this Bill, and he could see no objection to the Amendment.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I do not think there is any real difference between us. I am sure we all have the same object in view, and I will go into the matter again, and if there is the slightest doubt as to the effect of the existing law, I will have it made absolutely clear. Personally, I think the statement of my hon. friend the Attorney General is a most convincing one.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
This is rather a serious point, because, if you buy the land retail, it will cost you about twice as much as buying it wholesale. It might be a case where ten acres only is wanted immediately, but within seven or eight years you might want fifty acres. If you bought the fifty acres at once you would then get the ten acres you want immediately at about half the price, and you would get the 931 other forty acres very much cheaper. Not only this, but you would get a discount for taking a larger quantity. That being so, I think there is very good reason for this Amendment.
§ SIR BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)
In connection with this question, there is one point which has not been touched upon, and that is the question of the rates. Suppose the London County Council decided to take a large piece of ground outside the London area in Middlesex, would the London County Council be required to pay the full rates upon all the houses built by them just as if they were built by a private individual?
§ SIR BLUNDELL MAPLE
There is no doubt that in London it is advisable to buy land in large blocks, and as some of it would stand idle it would be liable to be rated. The question is whether, in such a case as I have mentioned, the county of Middlesex should receive the full rates on the land as if houses were built upon it. When you build within the area of the London County Council in the county of London, then the rates go to the benefit of the county, but when you build property outside that area that particular county gains the benefit. If the London County Council were to obtain a large piece of land near London outside the London County Council area, and lay out £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 upon buildings and in developing it, that would mean under present conditions that the rates would go into the pockets of the Middlesex County Council and not the London County Council. This is a very serious question, because we want, above all things, to encourage municipalities to build these houses for the working classes. I think some arrangement might be made whereby counties outside the area should make some allowance upon such buildings. I submit this proposal to the President of the Local Government Board as a means of encouraging the building of these houses, for it would be cheapening them if the rates were reduced.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
As far as I can see, the President of the Local Government Board has given away his 932 case. He says that in principle he agrees with hon. Members on this side, and the only question is whether there is not power to buy this land under some existing statute. If there is this power, surely the insertion of these words will do no-harm but will do a great deal of good. The clause says—Establish or acquire lodging-houses for the working classes under that part outside their district.But you cannot establish these houses unless you have the land. I wish to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Chelsea. The hon. Member says that when ten acres are required we can go and buy them, but that is just what we have grave doubts about. It is not so easy to buy land just where and when you want it, and what we want is power to acquire the land when a favourable opportunity arises. I must say that I do not think the Government have made out any case for resisting the Amendment. If we pass the clause in its present form without the word "land" in it, which is the foundation of the whole matter, we shall not be discharging the duty which is expected of us in this matter. If the right hon. Gentleman does not make this concession, I hope we shall go to a division on this question.
§ MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
I am correct, I think, in stating that when this Bill was first introduced the Housing Committee of the London County Council had some correspondence with the Local Government Board, and one of the chief things which the London County Council recommended and asked the Local Government Board to do was to allow them when once acquiring land to hold that land in larger quantities in the interests of the ratepayers. I know that they brought up a recommendation on the lines upon which the hon. Member for South-west Bethnal Green is now moving his Amendment. I must congratulate the hon. Member for Chelsea upon being a new convert to the principle of housing the working classes in London. I find from my eight years experience as a member of the London County Council that the hon. Member for Chelsea and his friends have been some of the most reactionary members of that body in opposing this principle, and when the recommendation of the Housing 933 Committee was before the full Council neither the hon. Member for Chelsea nor the hon. Member for East Islington rose in their places and protested against the recommendation of that Committee, and yet to-day in the House, when we have an opportunity of putting on the Statute-book the very recommendation of the Council of which the hon. Gentleman is a member, he rises in his place and opposes it. But the hon. Member for Chelsea cannot blow hot at Spring Gardens and cold in the House of Commons.
§ MR. STEADMAN
If the hon. Member did not blow at all at Spring Gardens, he did not rise in his place and protest by his voice against that recommendation the same as he has done now in the House of Commons. The hon. Member must either have agreed or disagreed with it; and if he disagreed with it as he disagrees with the Amendment of the hon. Member for South-west Bethnal Green, he should have said so, and not have waited until he had an opportunity of speaking where he knows he has got a majority of the Government supporters behind him. Assuming that the London County Council were anxious to purchase fifty acres away in Essex, Kent, Surrey, or in any other county, and for the time being they only wanted to build on ten acres, if they can get the sanction of the Local Government Board they can purchase the land. They have to tell the Local Government Board upon how many acres they are going to build for the time being, and then the Local Government Board may say, "We shall not grant you permission to purchase fifty acres, because you only intend building on ten. We will allow you to purchase ten." What will follow? In consequence of the buildings erected on that ten acres the value of the other forty acres goes up double and treble, and the ratepayers will have to pay later on for the unearned increment upon that land to the landowner. As a member of the municipality of London I have no hesitation in saying that I am in favour of purchasing all the land which that municipality can purchase, and holding it instead of allowing the increased value to go into the pockets of the landowner. In the case of land near Covent Garden, the Duke of Bedford is com- 934 pelling the London County Council to pay the full commercial value, although the housing value is not more than £7,000. If the ratepayers had purchased that land in the first instance they would have got the benefit of it.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
pointed out that when this Bill became an Act of Parliament it could only be put into operation after the Council had adopted Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said that throughout the twelve years he had been connected with the London County Council he had not blown hot and cold upon this question, but he had strenuously advocated the acquisition of land for houses for the working classes, and strenuously opposed it for any other purpose. If the London County Council, or any other county council, required land with the intention of putting working-class dwellings upon it, then they had it on the authority of the Attorney General and the President of the Local Government Board that the power would be granted. To insert this Amendment would frustrate the object hon. Members opposite desired to secure, because it would make people believe what they would not otherwise have supposed—that the object of the Amendment was to enable the London County Council, as was hinted by the hon. Member for Stepney, to indulge not merely in land speculation, but in land operations which wore foreign to their purpose and entirely outside their province.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I think there is some misapprehension as to the effect of this clause, and also as to the Amendment. There can be no doubt that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Local Government Board was perfectly right in saying that there is ample power under this clause to acquire land. In regard to that there need be no fear whatever in the mind of any hon. Member; but the Amendment raises another point which I think is well worthy of the consideration of the House and the Government. The hon. Member for Chelsea asked why should we now be called upon to provide 935 lodging-houses for a longer period than ten years? Simply for the very reason that at the end of ten years the land will cost twice as much as it will now. That is the true reason for making this proposal. The Government say that if you take this clause as it now stands the law will be that the London County Council have the power to go outside their district to buy land for the purpose of erecting these lodging - houses upon it. They would not be empowered by this Amendment to do what my hon. friend the Member for Stepney wishes them to do, and they would have no power to speculate and acquire large tracts of country for anything approaching land nationalisation. They would, however, be able to get what they thought was necessary for supplying the needs of their district for housing the working-classes either now or ten years hence. With all due respect to my hon. friend behind me, I think the words of the Amendment are not the best that could be put in, but I mean to support this Amendment, because what I desire is that the London County Council, or any other county council not necessarily confined to London, shall not be compelled by the Local Government Board to sell land if they are not able to use it immediately for the purpose of erecting lodging-houses. I am not going to underrate the Local Government Board in this matter, but I do think that the municipality in London or elsewhere would be better able to judge as to what were the future needs of its district with regard to the erection of dwellings for the working classes than a central department. I see no possible danger likely to arise, and I do think that it would be a very great gain if this Amendment were adopted, certainly to the London County Council and the county councils of all our large towns, if they could buy a sufficient quantity of land in order to prevent that land being put up in price against them when they want to buy it at a future time, when its value will have increased in consequence of the very purchase they have made.
§ MR. GOULDING (Wiltshire, Devizes)
thought the clause as it stood enabled county councils to acquire and hold land for the purpose of erecting workmen's dwellings upon it.
§ MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
said he had had some experience upon this ques- 936 tion, and he had seen the co-operative system in practice. He thought municipalities would be wise in buying land in larger quantities, and the Bill would be inoperative unless municipalities had the power of holding the land for some term of years. If this Bill was to be a success they should allow this idea to be carried out.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
May I add one word upon the views which have been expressed. The Attorney General has told us what he understands the law to be. If the London County Council desires to buy land it may buy for immediate purposes, and it may buy land with a view to future wants. It may hold the land with the consent of the Local Government Board, but as the Attorney General told us, no doubt perfectly truly, what the Local Government Board would be likely to do would be to allow the land to be bought for immediate requirements, but if you want it for some more or less remote period you may not hold it. That is the substance of the law as stated by the Attorney General, and that is the law which my right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton wishes to see amended. That is the object of this Amendment, and I do press this point upon the Government for consideration. Why should we not authorise the local authorities to acquire land to meet the needs that will arise in view of the future expansion of their districts? We do not wish to see land speculations entered upon by the local authorities, but there is a very long way between acquiring land for immediate expansions, and future expansions which may not take place for the next five or ten years; and there is a very wide difference between providing for that and providing for anything in the nature of land speculation. There is a very important principle underlying this Amendment, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will not be inflexible, but will consider whether some such proposal as my hon. friend has made may not be entertained.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I think the hon. Gentleman has rather misrepresented what fell from the Attorney General. The powers of local authorities to buy land and hold it for the purpose of establishing lodging-houses are absolutely unfettered, and there is no restriction 937 upon them whatever. Then comes the question as to what is to be done with that land if it is not required for the purpose for which it was bought. It is only under those circumstances that the land must be sold, and I am fortified in this view by the opinion of the Attorney General. The Amendment is absolutely unnecessary, for all the powers exist at the present moment under the present law to do what hon. Gentlemen opposite desire, and which we on this side desire no less than they do. It is perfectly clear that there is no substantial difference of opinion between us. I said that I would reconsider this matter if my hon. friend desired it, and in consultation with the Attorney General I will satisfy myself as to whether or not the statement I made in the earlier part of the debate was absolutely correct, and if the present law does not provide for the view which I have expressed, we will make it perfectly clear in the Bill. I agree very largely with my right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton, but I believe that the views of the hon. Gentleman opposite are fully met by the existing law.
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
said it was of the utmost importance that the old definition of surplus land should be varied for the purposes of this Act.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very fair offer if it includes all that we on this side of the House are asking for, but that is a point on which we are not quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman says that the law as it stands will do all that is asked for on this side of the House, but does the right hon. Gentleman understand that the powers we ask for include the holding of land for the prospective wants of a district? If that is so, and if the right hon. Gentleman and the Attorney General agree to look into the words to see if they really carry that out, then I think that most of us will be satisfied with that undertaking. But our point is that it should include the prospective wants, and not merely immediate requirements at the time the acquisition of the land is made, and that is the whole matter.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The local authority can acquire land for prospective use at any future period whatever, subject to the 938 condition—"unless the Local Government Board otherwise direct."
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I do not quite accept the statement that there is no doubt as to what the meaning of this provision is. The Attorney General made it clear that unless this land was wanted for immediate use within a reasonable time the Local Government Board would be bound to direct its sale. I will make this suggestion, which I think my hon. friend behind me will accept. My suggestion is to add the words "for supplying the present and future needs of the district." I think those words would make the meaning perfectly clear. There would not be very much of a concession in this case, because the right hon. Gentleman says he is satisfied that the power is there already; but what we want is to introduce something about which there will be no misconception, either on the one side or the other, as to what the meaning really is. We do not want any land speculations, but we do want power in order that the county council may hold land for a period of ten years or more if necessary. They should have power to buy a certain quantity of land to supply the future needs of their districts.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I understand the right hon. Gentleman not to differ from me as to the law on the subject, but he has made it clear that what he wants is some alteration of the law as contained in Section 157 of the Public Health Act, 1875. The aspirations expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite were in some respects of a rather vague character, and before saying that we are disposed to favourably consider any proposal for the alteration of the law I should like to know precisely what is the nature of the alteration we are asked to consider. The view of the Government at present is that the law as stated in Section 157 of the Public Health Act is perfectly adequate. It checks abuses, and it gives every reasonable facility for carrying out the object in view. That section states that if the land is not required for the purposes for which it was bought it shall be sold unless the Local Government Board otherwise orders. If it is proposed to alter the law in this particular case I should certainly desire to know with some precision what the proposed alteration is.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I agree with my hon. and learned friend that we ought to know what we are driving at in this matter, and that it would be well if the Amendment assumed a more definite shape. We are, after all, searching for some amendment of the law, or, at least, the practice of the law, and I would wish to make a definite suggestion on the matter. Before I come to that, I may say that I have remarked that the discussion has been mainly confined to the operations of the London County Council, but any alteration of the law will, of course, extend to every county council in the country, and we should bear that in mind. I understand it is common ground as between the Attorney General and my right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton that the law as it at present stands gives a council the fullest power to acquire land. That is agreed on, and the only difference is as to retaining land not immediately wanted for the purpose for which it was acquired. As the Attorney General has stated, that depends on Section 157 of the Act of 1875, which gives the Local Government Board discretion in the matter. The Local Government Board, of course, acts on some principle in exercising its discretion, but I think the practice has been that the land should be sold if there is not a speedy prospect of its being employed for the purpose for which it was acquired. The suggestion I would make is that we should introduce into this Bill words to the effect that the Local Government Board, in determining whether land should be sold, should consider the early future as well as the immediate future. If the duty is thrown upon the Local Government Board they can satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the London County Council and other county councils without running the danger of the London County Council, for instance, buying up a whole county. We might give the Local Government Board a lead in the matter by directing that in exercising their discretion they should consider the probable early use as well as the immediate use of the land, and should not order land to be sold because it was not required for a period of five years or thereabouts. I do not want any immediate reply to my suggestion. I merely throw it out for consideration.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
In reply to my right hon. friend I may say that that is the practice of the Local Government Board now.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
All these cases have to be considered from a practical point of view as well as from a legal point of view. When a local authority desires to acquire land it usually asks the sanction of the Local Government Board to raise a loan, and in giving that sanction the Local Government Board, as a rule, considers the purpose for which the land is to be acquired, as well as the immediate needs of the locality. The consequence is that the tendency in all such cases is to limit the amount of land purchased to what is necessary to meet the immediate requirements of the locality concerned. If Birmingham wishes to buy land in Worcestershire for the purpose of housing its working-class population, and if it wishes to house a thousand people, the Local Government Board would look at the proposal with a view to the amount of land required for the housing of that particular number. It would be infinitely better, however, if Birmingham were able to acquire twenty or thirty, or even fifty acres of land, because then it would be in a position to meet future requirements. But under the existing practice, when future requirements arise Birmingham would be compelled to purchase additional land at an enhanced value, which its previous improvements had produced. If Birmingham had originally purchased a small plot of ten acres, and wished to add another ten acres, it would have to pay an undue price, because of the very money it had previously spent in the locality. The Amendment would avoid that. We wish that the local authorities should be able to purchase land, not only for immediate wants, but also for future wants. There is no danger of speculations in land or anything of that kind. The central authority will always refuse its sanction, and I have known such cases within my own knowledge. If a local authority wishes to purchase an estate of 1,500 acres, unless, possibly, it was the London County Council, power would be refused; but if it wanted to purchase 100 acres in view of the future wants of the community it represents, I think it ought to have the necessary power. There is not the 941 slightest danger in adding the Amendment to the Bill. It will encourage local authorities to proceed in the useful work of housing their poor by municipalities outside their own areas. There would not be the least danger in carrying it out, and it would add to the efficiency of the Act.
§ MR. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
The County Council of London has no power whatever to purchase land for future requirements, although it has ample powers to purchase land for present requirements. The real point, however, is to provide for future requirements, more especially in London, though also in some other places. I refer to London because it is the local authority with which I am best acquainted. In London, and no doubt in many other places, a very great deal is lost in dealing with this question through want of prescience, foresight, and provision for the future. Where ten acres only may be needed for immediate pressing requirements it would sometimes be wise to purchase forty or fifty acres. The preparation for the housing of the working classes is quite as important as the actual housing. One of our greatest difficulties in clearing away slums in order to substitute better houses is that the old houses have to be pulled down before the new houses can be built. Under these circumstances a great many of the people are permanently displaced—many of them may be rightly displaced—and they make still greater the pressure of housing elsewhere. If we had the power to look forward in this matter we might in many instances be able to erect the now houses in time to receive the occupants of the slums who would be dispossessed. This is one of the most important features of the whole question. I am not pressing the Government to adopt this Amendment, but I would press them to adopt its principle in some form or other, in order that power should be given to the local authorities to purchase land, not only for the present, but the prospective needs of their localities.
§ MR. CHANNING
I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that we are trying to carry out such recommendations of the Housing of the Working Classes Commission as are advisable, and that, with a view to cheapening land in towns, the Commission went so far as 942 to propose to impose a special tax on all unoccupied land in the neighbourhood of towns in order to increase the inducements to the owner to part with it on reasonable terms. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the proposal now before the Committee is more moderate and more conciliatory to the landed interest than the very stringent recommendation of the Commission. The whole object of this Amendment is to forestall the enormous prospective value of land, and to prevent ratepayers in urban communities being compelled to pay needlessly heavy rates in the future.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
With reference to the suggestion of my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin, my impression is that the power he proposes already exists. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman opposite rightly, he suggests that the powers should be extended to enable municipal councils to acquire land, even though they do not want to build lodging-houses at present. That is a very different matter from the proposal in the Bill. While no one would desire to restrict unduly the power of the local authority to acquire land if there was some reasonable probability that in the near future it would be wanted for the building of lodging-houses, very great care would be needed to see that we do not authorise the local authority to acquire land merely on the ground that at some time or another it might be utilised for this purpose. The whole subject will be carefully considered by the Government between this and the Report stage, and I can assure the right hon. and hon. Members on the other side of the House that while the Government are anxious not to do anything which might lead to what has been called land speculation in acquiring land under these powers with the mere idea that in the future it might come in useful, there is every desire on their part to see that the local authorities should have power which may be beneficial for enabling them to acquire laud when it may be secured advantageously for the community, without waiting to the last moment when they are pressed for the immediate use of it.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said that the discretionary powers vested in the London County Council were limited. Before the London County 943 Council could acquire any land for the purposes of any improvement they had, first of all, to pass a resolution in favour of that improvement. However eligible a piece of land might be for some contemplated improvement, they had no statutory power to purchase that land before the improvement was actually resolved upon. The object of the Amendment involved, in that view, an alteration of the law, which the experience of the London County Council had shown to be extremely desirable. He might say that proposals had been made from time to time for the acquisition of extremely desirable property for municipal improvements, and which could then have been obtained at a low figure; but when the resolution to acquire that property was proposed the price immediately went up. Having regard to that experience, he i trusted the Attorney General would receive this Amendment favourably.
§ CAPTAIN PRETYMAN (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said he did not know anything more calculated to rush up the price of land than that local bodies should be allowed to enter the noble army of land speculators. When anyone bought land cheap it was not with the object of cheapening the price of adjoining land, and if local bodies were to be allowed to acquire land in this distinctly speculative manner, it would be their interest that the adjoining land should go up in value, and not in the direction of cheapening it. He questioned whether it would be in the interest of the ratepayers that their representatives should be allowed to enter the army of land speculators and buy land in this manner in the open market, because they thought that they might want that land at some future time. Land did not always rise, it sometimes fell in value; and it was quite possible, if the land was not wanted for some years, that the prosperous times then existing might rapidly become less prosperous, that the large prospective influx of workmen to the district might never come, that the land might never be required for workmen's houses, and that great loss would fall on the municipality. That was the experience of those who had had to do with the buying and selling of land. The acceptance of the Amendment would not tend at all to cheapen the price of land, but would rather have an opposite effect.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said that the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Wolverhampton proposed as an alternative to his Amendment, to insert after the words, "for supplying, "the words, "the present and future needs of their district." He might point out, in answer to the picture of the municipality engaging in land speculation which the Attorney General had drawn before the Committee, that the word "needs" seemed to sufficiently safeguard against their embarking on land speculation. If the Government were prepared to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman he would be very glad to withdraw his Amendment, but failing that, he proposed to take a division.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Gloucestershire, Stroud)
said that the point raised was a very important one, especially in connection with what had been said by the Attorney General. What the hon. and learned Member for South Leeds had said was perfectly accurate—that land could only be taken by municipalities for statutory purposes which could be defined. He thought that that restriction should be preserved; and he did not agree that the proposal suggested by the hon. Member on the other side of the House would at all cheapen the acquisition of land. It would have exactly the opposite effect. If they allowed corporations to join, he would not say land speculators, but other purchasers of land, the value of the land would be enhanced. For, as regarded those plots of land, the very fact of there being a new purchaser in the market would enhance their value. That was not only the case in London, but in other localities. But, on the other hand, land had not always gone up in value; it had sometimes gone down. His experience was that the latter result occurred as often as the former. But the reason why he rose was to say that he hoped the Government, in considering the matter before the Report stage was reached, would not give up what was the true principle in all these cases, which was, not to allow corporate bodies to purchase land at their mere will, but only in respect of statutory duties or obligations thrown upon them. So far as the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton was concerned, if they used the words "present or future needs," they would take away all present safe- 945 guards. He was not, at the present moment, considering the question from the ratepayers' point of view; but as a mere matter of business he thought it was a mistake to take away the restriction of the existing law, the absence
§ of which might lead to confusion in land values.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 132; Noes, 204. (Division List No. 154.)947
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Gold, Charles||O'Dowd, John|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Gourley, Sir E. Temperley||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Asher, Alexander||Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||O'Malley, William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Harrington, Timothy||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Hanwood, George||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Pilkington Sir. G. A. (Lancs, S.W.)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Hazell, Walter||Price, Robert John|
|Baker, Sir John||Hedderwick, T. Charles H.||Provand, Andrew Dry burgh|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Billson, Alfred||Holden, Sir Angus||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Birrell, Augustine||Holland, William Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Horniman, Frederick John||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brigg, John||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jacoby, James Alfred||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.||Runciman, Walter|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kearley, Hudson, E.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burns, John||Keswick, William||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kinloch, Sir. John George Smyth||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Caldwell, James||Kitson, Sir James||Souttar, Robinson|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)||Labouchere, Henry||Spicer, Albert|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Langley, Batty||Steadman, William Charles|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lewis, John Herbert||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Lough, Thomas||Strachey, Edward|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Macaleese, Daniel||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Colville, John||M'Ewan, William||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Crombie, John William||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dewar, Arthur||Maddison, Fred.||Ure, Alexander|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Wallace, Robert|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morris, Samuel||Wason, Eugene|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Emmott, Alfred||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, Charles Henry (Hull)|
|Evans, Sir Francis H. (South'ton)||Murnaghan, George||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Flawin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Mr. Pickersgill and Mr.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W)||Fenwick.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt, Sir A. F.||Beach, Rt. Hn. W. W. B. (Hants.)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Aird, John||Bethell, Commander||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Biddulph, Michael||Cavendish V. C. W. (Derby)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bill, Charles||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Blakiston-Houston, John||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Boulnois, Edmund||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Bousfield, William Robert||Charrington, Spencer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Coddington, Sir William|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Brassey, Albert||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Barry, Sir F. T. (Windsor)||Brown Alexander H.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgw)||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Colomb, Sir John Charles R.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Howard, Joseph||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Howell, William Tudor||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Curzon, Viscount||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Denny, Colonel||Kennaway, Rt. Hon Sir J. H.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Doughty, George||Keswick, William||Round, James|
|Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-||Kimber, Henry||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Doxford Sir William Theodore||Knowles, Lees||Russell, Gen. F. S.(Cheltenham)|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Lafone, Alfred||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Elliot, Hn. A. Ralph Douglas||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William E. H.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Faber, George Denison||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Long, Rt. Hon. W.(Liverpool)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Man.)||Lonsdale, Jon Brownlee||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Finch, George H.||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lowles, John||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Spencer, Ernest|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Macdona, John Cumming||Stanley, Sir Henry M (Lambeth)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Flower, Ernest||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edin. W.)||Stirling- Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Garfit, William||Malcolm, Ian||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Gedge, Sydney||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Talbot, Rt Hn J. G. (Oxfd Univ.)|
|Gibbs, Hn A. G. H (City of Lond.)||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Milward, Colonel Victor||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Monckton, Edward Philip||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Monk, Charles James||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, C. J. (Coventry)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Myers, William Henry||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Gunter, Colonel||Nicholson, William Graham||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Hardy, Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B, Stuart-|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Heath, James||Percy, Earl||Wyndham, George|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Helder, Augustus||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Younger, William|
|Henderson, Alexander||Plunket, Rt. Hn. Horace Curz'n|
|Hoare, E. Brodie(Hampstead)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||TELLERS FOE THE NOES—|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Sir William Walrond and|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Clause 2:—
The next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member is unnecessary, because the section which he proposes to make inapplicable is so already by the Act. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire might be brought up more conveniently as a new clause.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
Upon a point of order, Sir, I think the Amend merit standing in my name should precede 948 that standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire. In Clause 2 I propose to leave out "with the consent of the county council," in order to insert the words, "shall on an order being made by the Local Government Board." The object of this Amendment is to bring about some compulsion with regard to the local authority. We had to-day an extraordinarily interesting document issued by the Local Government Board, calling attention to the powers which local authorities had under the Act of 1890, and also under the powers of the Public Health Act, which 949 might well have been issued some time ago. Under those Acts there are large powers vested in the local authorities which, unfortunately, the local authorities seldom avail themselves of, the result being that local authorities do not do their duty with regard to the housing of the people, I believe that state of things will go on until there is some radical alteration in the law, and for that reason I move the Amendment which I have just read. In the opinion of many the county council should be the authority which should compel these bodies to act, and the Bill itself proposes that the county council should supervise the action of the district council in the housing of the poor. But there is one objection to that. In all these matters we require some effective central body to carry out the law. We have now in villages in this country, and in large centres of population many thousands of people housed in houses injurious to the health and the morality of those who inhabit them. I want that altered, and if my Amendment is carried I believe it will be, because it will become the imperative duty of the district councils to inquire into the housing of these people. When I was a member of the Local Government Board certain reports were sent up by our inspectors as to the colliery villages in the north of England which were absolutely heartrending, but the Local Government Board was unable to remedy that state of things, and the local authority unwilling to exercise its powers. I desire, when representations are made, that the Local Government Board should hold an inquiry into the housing of the people in the district complained of, and if they find the condition of things injurious to the health or morals of the people they should have power to issue an order compelling the local authority to enter into a scheme for rehousing the people. Under this Bill, if passed in its present form, there will be the usual process, extending over many months, before any attempt is made to grapple with the evil. In nearly all rural districts the Act is a dead letter, and where it is not it takes many weary months before anything can be done to solve the problem. In one case, before eight cottages could be built, it took two inquiries and nearly two years. That system is one which I do not think will commend itself to the House. Therefore I beg to move.
In page 1, lines 10 and 11, to leave out 'with consent of the County Council,' in order to insert, 'Shall on an order being made by the Local Government Board.'" — (Sir Walter Foster.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
If you put it in that way will not you shut out the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire, which raises a different point?
The hon. Member may not be aware that the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire has a manuscript Amendment which differs from that put down on the Paper, and which raises exactly the same point.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
But other Members may have Amendments; personally I am against this Amendment, but I shall vote for the other, and if you put the first word "only" it would not shut out that Amendment.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The hon. Member commenced his observation by a reference to a circular issued by the Local Government Board which he said might have been advantageously issued some time ago. That being so, why did he not issue it?
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I foresaw that point and expected the right hon. Gentleman to make it, but when the late Liberal Government was in office it was not in my power, and my chief was occupied in changing the whole constitution of the local authorities in rural districts, and was not prepared to do so.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I should have said, why did not the Local Government Board do so. But as a matter of fact a similar circular was issued some time ago. I am not precisely aware of the date. The Amendment of the hon. Member, 951 like that which is proposed to be moved by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire, is not upon the Paper, but I think I understand the object both hon. Members have in view. It is intended to do two things. First it is proposed to make it compulsory for all district councils to enforce the Act whether they desire to or not, and it is proposed to do away with any necessity for the county council. The first question which occurs to me is, who is to enforce it if the district council thinks it undesirable or unnecessary? I am. I am aware of no power by which it could be enforced, except by issue of a mandamus by the Local Government Board. Is that a course which the hon. Gentleman thinks desirable or right? Are we to issue mandamuses against all the district councils in the country for the purpose of compelling them to enforce this Act? It would be interfering with one of the most sacred privileges of self-government, of which the hon. Gentleman is one of the most able exponents, and I further believe it would be impossible. Then, as to the second proposition—that the county council should be dispensed with. There are several good reasons to be advanced for keeping the law as it is; and there were good reasons, when the Working Classes Housing Act was originally debated, for making the county council the governing power of the Act. They must have a better opportunity of acquiring local knowledge and ascertaining the views, wishes, desires, and necessities of the people in a particular district than the Local Government Board, which if it increased its inspectors by an army would be unable to obtain such information. One of the great reasons why the consent of the county council was required on this part of the Act was that the county council at all events would be free from any kind of pressure which might possibly be brought to bear on members of a district council, and I think that such a supposition is only reasonable. I think it would be very undesirable that it should be made compulsory for district councils to enforce this Act, and very undesirable that these local authorities should become the universal landlord of the cottages of the people under these circumstances. Moreover, all incentive in private enterprise would be lost. At the present moment, although many landlords are grievously poor, and are not able to carry out the same amount of improve- 952 ments, much good has been done even in districts where it is even now very uncertain whether great quantities of land will remain in cultivation or not. We have some experience of this. Take the case of Ireland, where there are numerous powers vested in local authorities for the provision of the people. Notwithstanding all these powers we find, if hon. Members refer to the Report of the Labour Commission, that the accommodation for labourers in Ireland is worse than in either England or Scotland. Nothing is done by private enterprise, the landlords having long given up building cottages, because the control of their property has been taken from them. All these powers which the hon. Gentleman desires to give by his Amendment have been given to the local authorities, and that is the result. I think it is undesirable that these powers should be given to the local authorities, and that being so, I regret that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ *MR. CHANNING
As I shall not be in order in bringing my Amendment forward after what you have said, Sir, I should just like to say what the object of that Amendment was. It will be in the recollection of some of those who followed the discussion of the Act of 1890 through the Committee stage upstairs that the right of appeal to the County Council in rural districts by ratepayers and local authorities was expressly given on an. Amendment of my own. The appeal was then extended from London to the rural districts. I should argue, by analogy, that it would be desirable to extend the power of appeal to the county council in the present Act in respect to Part 3. Therefore I cannot see my way to support the Amendment of my hon. friend.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
I wish to make one or two observations on this, as I think, most dangerous proposal from the other side of the House. My experience has certainly taught mo that the occasions are few indeed where any benefit arises from putting the power to enforce the execution of an Act of Parliament in a central authority. The only method of procedure is by mandamus, which is a cumbrous, expensive, and ineffective process. We have had experience of this in dealing with the execution of the Vaccination Act. There are many stories 953 told of persons who have gone to prison, but the result of the action taken has been to show the inefficiency of that method of procedure. I certainly, being anxious for the success of this Bill, do not desire to put into it any provisions which are ineffectual and likely to be attended with harmful results. I think we ought to remember that if there is the ultimate power of mandamus the moral authority of the local council is greater than any other. There is another reason which I have in my mind when I speak of my surprise on hearing this Amendment from the other side. I confess I have more confidence in the local authorities than hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to have. The local authorities were largely constituted by the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton. I myself have faith in the authorities which he created. I do not wish to impair the exercise of their discretion. I do not wish to discourage them from good works. Holding those opinions with regard to the local authorities, I entirely deprecate this proposal, and I hope it will not receive the sanction of the Committee.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
I rather hoped that some compromise would be found in regard to this question, and that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill might have indicated what would have seemed to other Members of the House the groundwork of concession on his part. What I think my hon. friend the Member for Ilkeston means, is that the great weakness of the machinery of the Housing of the Working Classes Act in the rural districts is the want of any real power anywhere to bring pressure to bear upon, and in the last resort to compel, an unwilling rural authority—and there are a great number of slow-moving local authorities—to do their duty in cases where the provision for the housing of the working classes is insufficient. My hon. friend has moved an Amendment which I am bound to say does seem to me to strike rather severely at the ideas of local government which, I think, are held on both sides of the House. I am not saying that the day may not come when the strong interference of a central authority may be necessary, but only a few years have elapsed since any effective 954 machinery was given at all for dealing with those in the rural districts. The rural authorities are young in years. They came into existence in 1894, and a great many duties were imposed upon them for the first time. I am the very first to side with my hon. friend the Member for Ilkeston that there are great and urgent problems in the rural districts as in some of our large towns, but if this Amendment of his were carried I am afraid it would act rather as a discouragement than an encouragement to the local authorities in the matter. I have put down an Amendment to insert after the word "council" some words taken directly from the sixteenth section of the Local Government Act of 1894, which I venture to think was one of the most useful clauses of the great measure we owe to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton. That is a clause under which a county council could, under certain circumstances, set the law in motion against a rural council not doing its duty. The words which describe the preliminary state of things which has to exist before the county council can act are "if satisfied after due inquiry." I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept of these words in place of the long proviso in Section 2. Although the words in the second section may be harmless, my fear is that they will be a great temptation to the county councils to take a narrow and limited view of their duties instead of a wide and general view. I figure to myself a county council going into this matter. Of course there has to be a local inquiry. A county council would not think of issuing an order about the housing of the working classes without sending one of its officials or a committee of its own body to the spot to inquire into the matter. I have also placed on the Paper an Amendment which I think is closely connected with the first one—that is, to introduce the second sub-section of the Local Government Act of 1894, and enact that if a county council is satisfied, after the lapse of a certain period of time, that a rural council either cannot or will not do its duty, it should have the same power which is provided in the sixteenth section of the Local Government Act of 1894, to substitute itself for the local council, and exercise all the powers of the local council in regard to all the matters which are specifically enumerated in the sixteenth section, 955 such as sanitation and the making of roads. My right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton will explain to the House what that clause relates to, and I hope I may be allowed to say, as having had some experience of county council administration, that there is no section in the Local Government Act of 1894 which is working a more gradual improvement in the position of things in the rural districts than the sixteenth section. I wish to apply the principle that underlies that clause to the present state of things. We shall do more by that means than if we try to bring pressure to bear through any great central department in London. My right hon. friend who is in charge of the Bill would find, even with an army of inspectors, a difficulty in examining into affairs and issuing orders in regard to little parishes in remote parts of counties. Therefore, I trust the suggestion I have made will be considered by the right hon. Gentleman. I shall in the next Amendment move the insertion of the words I wish introduced.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I do not know whether it may save the noble Lord the trouble of moving the Amendment if I state that the Committee is placed in a very peculiar position. I think it is almost unprecedented. We have had one hon. Gentleman opposite moving an Amendment to do away altogether with the consent of the county councils and to allow the rural councils to be untrammelled by any body except the Local Government Board. Another distinguished member of the Front Opposition Bench, however, tells us that he disapproves entirely of the proposal, and that he is going himself to move an Amendment, the effect of which will be to enable the county councils to override the rural district councils. This a most remarkable exhibition of the unanimity which prevails on the Front Opposition Bench, and in these circumstances I feel sure that I shall act far more wisely if I adhere to my own proposal until the members of the Front Opposition Bench are able to make up their mind and submit a proposal they are agreed upon.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
If we are not in complete agreement, at all events we have the virtue of originality in proposing Amendments. The Amendment I propose has scarcely been understood 956 either by the Committee or by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not propose anything like some swooping down on the local authorities unless these authorities should absolutely neglect their duty to their constituencies; and when a local authority does neglect its duty, I think it is high time that we should put in operation some power to compel them to discharge their duty. If they discharge their duties so inefficiently that they add to the miseries of human life, I think some central authority should have the power to compel them to mitigate those miseries. We have only three or four instances in which cottages have been built under the Act since 1890. There was in one case a war going on in the eastern counties for eighteen months with respect to the building of eight cottages. I want to provide a stimulus by legislation which will force the local authorities to do their work. The right hon. Gentleman says my Amendment would interfere with the private efforts of landowners in the way of building cottages for the people. I am glad to say that there are many landowners who look after the housing of the people, and no attempt will be made to interfere with them; but I say that where a scandal has grown up, and the medical officer has made a special report on the subject to his local authority, showing that the condition of the housing of the people is so bad that it is dangerous to the whole community, the ratepayers should have an opportunity of applying not to a local authority, but to the Local Government Board, asking them to remedy the state of affairs. The Local Government Board is not a body that swoops down next day with a mandamus. That Board moves with deliberation and generally with wisdom. The Board, under these circumstances, would immediately communicate with the local authority complained of. They would send down a statement and say that such and such things were complained of as regards the housing of the people. The local authorities would have their attention called to this, and would send back a statement in justification of their position, or they would more likely send back a statement that they were about to take steps. If so, the whole matter would end and the evil would be cured. If they wrote back justifying their position, and stating that there was no occasion for 957 putting the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890 into force, the Local Government Board would say, "The statements sent to us are so and so, and you have not controverted them. You have declined to move, and we must send down an inspector." By inquiry on the spot that inspector would see with his own eyes whether there was any necessity for putting the Act into force, and having done that, he would report to the President of the Local Government Board, who would take the whole matter into consideration, and then only, if the body still remained recalcitrant, would he think of enforcing the law. If they did not carry out the Act he would be able to threaten them with proceedings to compel them to do so. The right hon. Gentleman has shown his courage in connection with the Vaccination Act, and there are matters with respect to the housing of the people where there is as great necessity in the interest of public health and well-being that the law should be enforced. I do not think you would require to proceed by mandamus against any large number of local authorities. I believe the local authorities would rise to the occasion without any recourse to the courts of law. I know from my own personal knowledge that there are hundreds of local authorities doing their duty in this country. There are others that are neglecting the well-being of the localities, and I think we ought to have a stronger power than is possessed at present to compel those bodies, sometimes ignorant and slothful, and sometimes too much afraid of increasing the rates, to do what is necessary for the well-being of the people over whom they rule. As I think my Amendment would shut out some others, and as there is a feeling against the central authority dealing in the way I suggest, I am willing to withdraw the Amendment. I have moved this Amendment not in any spirit of hostility to Local Government, but because I believe such powers in the background would cause local authorities to attend more efficiently to the well-being of the people.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE moved an Amendment providing that the council of any rural district might, with the consent of the county council, 958 "if satisfied after due inquiry," adopt Part 3 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, either for the whole of their district or places therein.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said the Amendment was unnecessary, because inquiries would be held as a matter of course.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
stated that a similar precedent had been followed in the Act of 1894. The Amendment now proposed was one which would strengthen and not weaken the Bill. It would prevent inquiries from being of such a protracted nature as they otherwise would be.
§ *MR. CHANNING
said he understood that one of the objects of the Bill was to shorten the number of stages which would lead up to the consummation they wished —namely, the provision of houses for the working classes. He distinctly objected to his noble friend's Amendment, because it would compel a county council to initiate on every occasion a full local inquiry into all the circumstances, and would thus bring in again the stages of procedure of Section 53, which it was the chief merit of the Bill to combine. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not accept the Amendment.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)
The hon. Member is quite mistaken in thinking the county council will inquire again into the matter if the evidence is brought before them by the persons interested. I think it is much better that it should be left open whether they should inquire by means of their own agents or be satisfied with the evidence brought before them, and I recommend my right hon. friend not to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I think there is some misconception in reference to this inquiry. One of the merits of the Bill at first sight was that the inquiries would disappear, but anyone who reads the second sub-section of this clause must see that the number of particulars to which the county council should have regard are such that hardly any county council will be able to comply with the provision without having an inquiry. By raising all these points in Sub-section 2 959 we suggest difficulties which will cause delay and have the same effect as the clause in the old Act. Under the words proposed by the noble Lord there would not be a necessity for an inquiry in every case. The county council, as a rule, is a body of very good business men, and in a case where the matter was so simple that the whole thing could be done in an hour's conversation, that would be all the inquiry necessary. In some cases a visit by one of the members of the county council would be all the inquiry necessary. In all simple cases the inquiry would be a very brief matter, and in every difficult case, whether you put it in the Bill or not, there will have to be an inquiry before the council gives its consent. I therefore do not think the words proposed by my noble friend are likely to have the effect of increasing the number of inquiries.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
My hon. friend now admits that the county councils are bodies of very good business men as a rule, and that admission fully justifies the action of the Committee in rejecting the Amendment he moved just now. In regard to the Amendment of the noble Lord, it seems to me, on the whole, to be undesirable to insert the words. There is no doubt that in most cases a prudent county council would have a local inquiry before it gave its sanction to any big scheme, and that local inquiry would, as a rule, be conducted without delay, without any serious amount of cost, and probably to the perfect satisfaction of the inhabitants of the locality. But there might be cases in which the facts were so well brought before the county council by its committee or by members of its own body that a local inquiry would be unnecessary. These words, I think, would unduly fetter the discretion of the county council. The question whether Sub-section 2 should be omitted may be a question for subsequent consideration. That subsection, in the view of the Government, I understand, merely indicates certain points upon which the county council must be satisfied, and I think, if looked at in that light, it will cease to be so objectionable to some hon. Members opposite. It may very likely admit of amendment, but it is far better that we should not on the present Amendment discuss whether 960 or not Sub-section 2 shall stand. In view of the great division of opinion on the matter and in view of the fact that the hands of the county council may possibly be fettered by this proposal, I would suggest to my noble friend that he should withdraw the Amendment.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS - OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
I should like to add a. word to the appeal to the noble Lord not to press this Amendment. My experience of county council work is that it is very undesirable to impose upon that body any work which it is not absolutely necessary it should undertake. Many of the members are men of not very ample means, and with long distances to travel. Anything which imposes unnecessary burdens upon them will incline them rather to get rid of the burdens altogether, and in such a matter as this to reject the proposals at once rather than hold an inquiry.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
My hope in moving to insert these words at this particular point was that the right hon. Gentleman might be inclined to withdraw the second sub-section. The Bill, as brought in, no doubt to a certain extent removed the formality and waste of time which now hangs around the action of the county council; but the second subsection reserves so much of it that I was naturally anxious to get rid of that portion of the measure, and as an inducement to the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the second sub-section I offered these words, leaving the county council the power and the right and the duty of holding some inquiry of however informal a character. I quite agree with the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire that the real point of difference is the second sub-section, and if the Committee prefer to take the division on the question of the omission of that sub-section, I am perfectly willing to withdraw my Amendment, as the right hon. Gentleman has not met me in the spirit in which I had hoped he would do.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire has already been disposed of by a decision arrived at by the Committee.
§ MR. CHANNING
On a question of order, Sir. The Amendment of which have given notice may have given an impression different from that which wished. Will it now be in order for me to move the Amendment as printed on the Paper, with the insertion of the words "on the representation of" for the words "or any"? If it would be in order, I should like to move that.
The point disposed of by the Committee is this: the alternative offered to the Committee was whether the county council or the Local Government Board should be the authority to decide. The Amendment of the hon. Member is to the effect that the mandate should be referred to the Local Government Board, which is thereupon to hold a local inquiry, and after considering the report of such inquiry, to make the Order. The Committee have negatived the proposal that the Local Government Board should make the Order, and have left the decision with the county council. This Amendment, therefore, appears to raise—though not in precisely the same terms—a question which has been already disposed of.
§ MR. CHANNING
With all respect, may I say that the question I put is whether the Amendment standing on the Paper as printed would be admissible.
The Amendment standing on the Paper is also to the same effect—Thereupon the Local Government Board may hold a local inquiry, and, after considering the report of such inquiry, may either issue or withhold a certificate.That would still leave the decision to the Local Government Board, a proposition which has already been negatived by the Committee. The next Amendment is a repealing Amendment, which ought to come with the repealing section—namely, Section 3. The next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire ought to be raised as a new clause.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I beg to move the omission of Sub-section 2. I do so with a view to facilitating progress under this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. If we put on the face of this Bill all these conditions sug- 962 gesting subjects of inquiry by the county council, we should raise difficulties which otherwise might be avoided. We should trust the county council to look into these matters without having them put on the face of the Bill. Under the old Act, when we tried to push the local authorities into action with regard to the housing of the poor, we had all these difficulties in the clause then, and every one of them was a suggestion for delay and obstruction. If we put them on the face of this Bill again we shall have similar obstructions raised against putting the Act into force, and therefore I beg to move the omission of Sub-section 2.
In page 1, line 14, to leave out Sub-section 2."—(Sir Walter Foster.)
§ Question proposed, "That Sub-section 2 stand part of the clause."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The hon. Member objects to the retention of these words because, he says, the effect of them will be to suggest a number of difficulties which in the future will cause delay in the same way as delay has been caused in the past. He says that this sub-section raises all the old points which caused difficulties in connection with the old Act. No, Sir, it was not these old points which caused the difficulties or delay; it was the cumbrous machinery by which these points when they were raised were decided, and were obliged to be decided, by the county council. In the Bill as it now stands I have removed all that cumbrous machinery, and there would be no necessity, in my mind, for any long period of delay in settling any one of these points. I believe there is a general agreement between the two front benches —and I should hope between the majority of Members on both sides of the House— that the three points here specified are all matters which ought to be considered by the county council. One is the necessity for action on the part of the rural council in regard to the erection of houses; another is the probability of houses being erected in the district by other means; and the third point is the question of whether or not it is prudent, having regard to the rates, for the district council to take such action. Surely these are three points which not only ought to be considered by the county council, but 963 which might be considered and dealt with without any great delay or difficulty. The hon. Member must remember that on the county council there are one or more representatives of each district in the area who will possess local knowledge, and sometimes, no doubt, will be able to satisfy the other members of the council on these points without any formal inquiry whatever. Where that is not the case the county council can hold an inquiry of any kind they may think fit and appropriate, and I cannot see that there is the slightest danger or apprehension of the result the hon. Member fears. I honestly confess I prefer the Bill in its present form; I do not believe such delays will arise; and I do not think the hon. Member has given the real reason why the Act hitherto has failed to so large an extent in country disticts. I think the real reason more use has not been made of the Act is that the rural councils themselves have not been anxious to put the Act into operation.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON
I gather that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman is that the county council should have the widest and most unfettered discretion in taking into consideration every topic which bears on the question before them. But the result of specifying in this sub-section certain topics which they are to consider operates as a very considerable restriction of the area in which their discretion must operate. They must no doubt consider all these topics, but any court of law construing this section would hold that their consideration must be confined to these topics. There is apparently no power to take into their cognisance any matter which is not specified either explicitly or implicitly by the language of this section, and therefore what is intended to be an entirely unrestricted consideration will in practical operation be restricted to a consideration of these three points.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
In supporting this Amendment I wish to call the President's attention to Sub-section (c), which reads—To the probability of such accommodation being provided without the adoption of the said part.What frequently happens at such an inquiry is that the possibility of an in- 964 crease of the rates being involved leads large property owners to send their agents to give evidence against the proposal to adopt the Act. The agent gives evidence and goes on to show to his own satisfaction that ample provision will be made by private enterprise. The inspector listens to this, as he is bound to do—
§ MR. BROADHURST
I am speaking of a case which came under my own personal experience in regard to a Local Government Board inspector, and an application for a loan to build houses by a local authority. It is exactly the same principle, and it will work out in the same way. The agent assures the inquiring authority that private enterprise will provide the necessary accommodation, the inquiring authority is satisfied with the assurance, and the application is refused. But the person giving this evidence is under no obligation to redeem what appeared to be like a promise to provide the accommodation, and the result is that the people are left in precisely the same position as before.
§ MR. STUART
A very important point has been raised, which I think requires some explanation from the Attorney General. It is quite clear from the words of the President of the Local Government Board that it is desired to give the widest powers of inquiry to the county council, and if possible to encourage that body to inquire into matters, and more particularly those which are; specified, but as the hon. and learned Member has pointed out, as the clause is worded, the subjects mentioned become the exclusive subjects of inquiry. Before the clause is put it seems to me that in line 15, after the word "shall," there should be inserted the words "among other considerations."
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I do not think these words are at all exclusive. Because it says the council should have regard to the things there specified, it does not follow they should regard those only. The very general nature of the 965 considerations is sufficient to show that the danger apprehended is not a real one, and I do not think the words suggested are necessary.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided—Ayes, 165;. Noes, 105. (Division List No. 155.)967
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Percy, Earl|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon|
|Balcarres, Lord||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George||Purvis, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Hamond, Sir Chas. (Newcastle)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Hardy, Laurence||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Heaton, John Henniker||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Henderson, Alexander||Richardson, Sir Thos. (Hartlepl.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir. M. H. (Bristol)||Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampste'd)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. W. W. B (Hants.)||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Hobhouse, Henry||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Houston, R. P.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Bowles, T. Gibson King's Lynn||Howard, Joseph||Round, James|
|Brassey, Albert||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Butcher, John George||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Keswick, William||Stanley, Sir Henry M (Lambeth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J (Birm.)||Knowles, Lees||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Lafone, Alfred||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Edw. H.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Usborne, Thomas|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Lowe, Francis William||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunt)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lowles, John||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-|
|Curzon, Viscount||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Denny, Colonel||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Monk, Charles James||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wyndham, George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Mon'mthsh)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Gra'm (Bute)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sir William Walrond and|
|Flower, Ernest||Parkes, Ebenezer||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Garfit, William||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Peel, Hn. Wm. Rbt. Wellesley|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Baker, Sir John||Broadhurst, Henry|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Billson, Alfred||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James|
|Asher, Alexander||Birrell, Augustine||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Burns, John|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Buxton, Sydney Charles|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Brigg, John||Caldwell, James|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Kinloch, Sir John G. Smyth||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Kitson, Sir James||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Colville, John||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Crombie, John William||Lewis, John Herbert||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Macaleese, Daniel||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Dilke, Rt, Hon. Sir Charles||M'Crae, George||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Maddison, Fred.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Souttar, Robinson|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Spicer, Albert|
|Duckworth, James||Morley, Rt. Hon. J. (Montrose)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morris, Samuel||Steadman, William Charles|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Strachey, Edward|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Moulton, John Fletcher||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murnaghan, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wallace, Robert|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Harrington, Timothy||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wason, Eugene|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Hazell, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Oldroyd, Mark||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||O'Malley, William||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Holden, Sir Angus||Paulton, James Mellor||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Holland, William Henry||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Price, Robert John||Sir Walter Foster and Lord|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Edmond Fitzmaurice.|
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
The Amendment I now have to move— and having already stated the case I shall not take up the time of the Committee— is to insert at the end of this clause words which are modelled on Section 2 of the Local Government Act to enable the county council to be substituted for the rural district council. I beg to move.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
This Amendment, of course, is not on the Paper, and, as far as I can gather from hearing it read, it is that when the county council becomes aware of the fact that the rural district council has not performed its duty, it may, by passing a resolution, take over all the powers of the rural council to itself, and do the work which ought to have been done by the rural district council. In the first place, I do not know how this knowledge is to be in the possession of the county council, or by what means they are to arrive at it. There is no provision in the Bill enabling them to make inquiries as to whether or not the rural district council do their duty, and, under all the circumstances, I am not prepared to agree to this new departure without having any time to consider it.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that this 968 is not a new departure? This is a clause which was, I believe, very thoroughly considered and put into the Act of 1894. It was seen that there was a danger, and everybody knows there is a danger of certain rural authorities being—to use the mildest word—indisposed to discharge the duties which in the public interest ought to be performed. In the Act of 1894 there was a provision inserted that upon representations being made that the district council would not attend to such matters as sewage, water, and so on, the county council should have the right— not the compulsion—to interfere.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
The parish council. I quite appreciate the difficulty of assenting to an Amendment which has not been on the Paper, but what I would press the right hon. Gentleman to do is to promise that this question shall be considered before the Report stage. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out one defect. The representation will have to be made by somebody, or some body of ratepayers, or some body of men. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this matter of supplying an alternative when a local duty is neglected by the local 969 authority. I have had, and still have, the greatest confidence in the county councils. I think they discharge their duties in a very admirable manner, and in my opinion they are just the authority to perform this duty if it is neglected by the local authority. I do not want to labour the point, but I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider the precedent deliberately adopted by the House of Commons and by Parliament in 1894 under precisely | similar circumstances to meet a precisely similar difficulty.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I should at all times consider anything coming from the right hon. Gentleman, especially on questions of this sort, as the right hon. Gentleman was the author of the difficult and complicated Act of 1894, which he piloted with such remarkable success through the House. The Amendment rather took me by surprise, because all the Amendments which had appeared on the Paper were Amendments for the purpose of abolishing and getting rid of the interference of the county council altogether. But now we have a totally different proposal. It is suggested that under certain circumstances the county council should be put into a position of greater power in regard to the rural district councils, that they should be able to take over the duties which the rural district council had failed to discharge, and, I suppose, to charge the rates of the district for the purpose, although I do not understand that that is in the Amendment. Of course I will consider the matter carefully before the Report stage. I cannot make any definite answer with regard to it now, as there are several important points which will have to be taken into consideration. There is the question as to by whom the representations should be made. The representation of the parish council is one thing, but the representation of only twenty ratepayers is another. Then there is the question of the charges which will have to be borne, and so on. In any case I content myself with saying this: I readily accede to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman that before the Report stage we will consider this question.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
The only reason this Amendment appeared on the Paper was that there had 970 been a misunderstanding. I understood that an hon. friend of mine had placed a similar proposal on the Paper, and I did not desire to appear to forestall his right to bring the matter forward. I was not aware that the Amendment was not on the Paper until I studied the Amendments which reached me this morning. This proposal is one which I have very often advocated both in the press and on the platform; but I quite think—both because it is a very important matter and one upon which we should greatly value any concession the right hon. Gentleman would make, and also because, through an inadvertence, the Amendment did not appear on the Paper—that in view of the very courteous and considerate manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has met me in the matter, I should ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. I should, however, like to say that the question of the persons from whom the representations should come has been considered. It is quite true that in Section 16 of the Local Government Act that right is limited to the parish council, but what I wish to remind the Committee of is that you may have an obstructive rural council and you may also have an obstructive parish council. What is very much desired is that there should be the right for a certain number of persons to approach the county council, so that they should not be in the power of the parish council. I know a particular case where a parish council have actually-stood in the way of an application being made for a good water supply in their parish, although certainly one-half of the inhabitants most ardently desire it. I trust this aspect of the question will not be lost sight of, because if the power is limited to the parish council you go only half the road towards reform. Naturally, I should very much prefer to have the Amendment limited to the parish council than not have it at all, but I cannot help thinking that any limitation to the parish council in all these matters is rather a misfortune, because there are cases in which the parish councils have not yet risen to the heights of wisdom and reforming energy to which, no doubt, in course of time they will rise.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I hope my right hon. friend will give the most careful and favourable consideration to this question, because I think he will thereby make this 971 clause of the Bill much more useful. It is not that in many cases the county council would actually put the power into operation; the great value of the power is mainly that the county council has it in terrorem, and may use it in the last resort. The knowledge of the existence of such a weapon as this very often brings to reason a rural council which does not wish to carry out the law. I wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman that this is not a new matter. There is a similar provision already applied to three most important classes of local government administration. The question of sewage, the question of water, and the question of roads are all subject to a similar provision, and we shall not be going very much further if we bring the housing of the working classes into line with those matters.
§ MR. LOUGH
As the Amendment is to be withdrawn I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take counsel with the hon. Member for South Tyrone as to the principle involved in this Amendment. We have had a great experiment in Ireland with regard to the building of workman's houses, and I think the hon. Member will agree with me in saying there were hundreds of districts, or at any rate scores, in which nothing whatever was done until compulsion from some outside authority was brought to bear on the defaulting councils. I do not know whether it would not be better, if we could trust them to exercise their discretion, that the Local Government Board should be the authority to compel the defaulting councils to do their duty. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman may be convinced of this that the cause of the defect in the carrying out of this law is that the councils are reluctant to do their duty, and our efforts in regard to this Bill will be completely thrown away if some effective clause is not moved on the Report stage by which some authority will be enabled to compel these bodies to do what they are now reluctant to do.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
said that Section 53 limited the amount of land attached to these cottages to half an acre. That amount of land was in same cases too small. In many rural districts they 972 would not only confer a benefit on the population, but would make the housing of the working classes easier by giving an acre of land to each cottage. Cottages with such an allotment attached would attract men from the towns, and the extra amount of land in possession of the local authority would provide for more housing as the need arose, and the limit-was reduced to half an acre. Moreover, a cottage with an acre of ground could be let to pay the local authority more in proportion. It would be a popular improvement in the Act, and he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
In page 1, line 25, after '1890,' to insert the words 'in Section 53 the word" half."'"— (Sir Walter Foster.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
This raises one of those questions which in the past have been the subject of complete discussion in this House, and I am loth to depart from the existing arrangement, which has been settled after such a long discussion within my own recollection and within a very few years. I quite agree that nothing is more desirable than that there should be a good garden in connection with every cottage, and to ensure that I will do as much as any person in this House. My own experience undoubtedly leads me to the conclusion that for the use of the owner of a cottage and his family half an acre of land is amply sufficient. If you provide more than half an acre, a man and his family cannot deal with it themselves, and they have to call in paid labour for the purpose, it really is no use and no benefit to them. If you want more than half an acre it becomes more than a garden, for it becomes an allotment, and there is every provision under the sun at the present moment for the provision of allotments and small holdings in the country. I am convinced myself that it would be a mistake to. depart from the existing law, because half an acre is the best a man can have, and you do not do him any kindness by making it into an acre, for then he must employ labour to keep it going. Under these circumstances, I think I must adhere to the present arrangement.
§ *MR. CHANNING
The Amendment of my hon. friend the Member for likes-ton refers to the whole scope of section 53 of the Act of 1890, but the right hon. Gentleman is aware that that section refers both to the urban and the rural districts. I should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would not be prepared to accept the Amendment of my hon. friend if it were confined in its operation to purely rural districts. It might be desirable to enlarge the land which is to be used for the purpose of a garden in rural districts, although it might be unreasonable to enlarge those gardens in the immediate vicinity of large towns. In such a case it might be an unreasonable proposal, but where this Bill operates in purely rural districts I confess that I think the case of my hon. friend is unanswerable, and I do not see why there should not be this opportunity given to the local authorities to charge the rates for the purpose of providing one acre of land, although myself I should prefer two acres, in the rural districts. If my hon. friend would move his Amendment in that form it would be entirely free from any objection. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is prepared to accept this Amendment if it is restricted to rural districts.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS - OWEN
agreed that it would be more valuable to provide an acre than half an acre. Of course, in the country the produce could only be used by the family themselves, but surely they could trust the rural authorities to say in their own neighbourhood what was a right and reasonable quantity of land which a man should have. Circumstances varied, and his belief was that half an acre for a mere garden was rather large; on the other hand, he could conceive circumstances under which half an acre would be too small.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I should just like to put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. In districts where the district councils understand the wants of the people they will be able, under this Amendment, to give a small plot of land which may not be more than a quarter of an acre, and if they see the necessity of giving a larger quantity of land they can do so. At all events you would be 974 making the chance of the local authority getting its money back for the undertaking all the better by providing an acre of land, because the rent would be proportionately higher, because the occupiers of the cottages will be able to make money out of the land by cultivation, which would add to the prosperity of the local council as well as to the prosperity of the people occupying those cottages. This Amendment does not force an acre of land on everybody, but it simply gives the local authorities the power of adding an acre in cases where they think it is necessary. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this question, and see if he can give us this little extension of the quantity of land for cottages in rural districts.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
My hon. friend must bear in mind that if these people want an acre they can get it as an allotment. There are gardens, allotments, and small holdings, and they are very well known under those three separate heads. Therefore, the inhabitants of cottages have every facility for getting what they want. I think the proposal of the hon. Member would throw difficulties in the way of the provision of cottages in rural districts, and it is a provision which is quite unnecessary. As the object of this Bill is to promote the erection of cottages, I am sure it will be more advantageous to stick to half an acre instead of making it an acre.
§ MR. BROADHURST
The Amend merit allows it to be a quarter of an acre if it is deemed sufficient. Where it would be to the advantage of the cottagers to have an acre they would be able to get it by this Amendment. I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman wishes to tie the hands of the local authorities. I do think that the right hon. Gentleman has entirely misunderstood this Amendment, and when he has had his attention called to the flexibility of this proposal I think that, on reconsideration, he will accept it. I do not like compulsory legislation myself, for I like local authorities to have freedom of action in these matters, and they should not be left without any option.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 130. (Division List No. 156.)977
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Asher, Alexander||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Harrington, Timothy||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Baker, Sir John||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hazell, Walter||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Billson, Alfred||Holland, William Henry||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Horniman, Frederick John||Samuel, J. (Stockton on-Tees)|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kearley, Hudson E.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Burns, John||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Souttar, Robinson|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kitson, Sir James||Steadman, William Charles|
|Caldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||M'Crae, George||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Channing. Francis Allston||M'Kenna, Reginald||Ure, Alexander|
|Colville, John||Maddison, Fred.||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dewar, Arthur||Morris, Samuel||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Moulton, -John Fletcher||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murnaghan, George|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Duckworth, James||O'Brien, Jas. F. X. (Cork)||Sir Walter Foster and Lord|
|Dunn, Sir William||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Edmond Fitzmaurice.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Drage, Geoffrey||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Lowles, John|
|Balcarres, Lord||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Fisher, William Hayes||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hartley, George C. T.||Garfit, William||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Monk, Charles James|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh.)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)|
|Butcher, John George||Hardy, Laurence||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Heaton, John Henniker||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire)||Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Hobhouse, Henry||Pender, Sir James|
|Chamberlain J. A. (Worc'r)||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Houston, R. P.||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Howard, Joseph||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Howarth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. Horace C.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Purvis, Robert|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Kenyon, James||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Curzon, Viscount||Knowles, Lees||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lafone, Alfred||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Denny, Colonel||Lawson John Grant (Yorks.)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Doughty, George||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swans'a)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Round, James|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Warr, Augustus Frederick||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wharton, lit. Hn. John Lloyd||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.||Younger, William|
|Thorburn, Sir Walter||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Sir William Walrond and|
|Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wrightson, Thomas||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Usborne, Thomas||Wyndham, George|
*MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
I rise to propose an Amendment which I regret is not on the Paper. It is to omit the word "special" in line 26. The word "special" refers to what is called the special expenses rate, and the effect of the words as they stand would be to take the expenses of the Act off the special expenses rate, and levy them on the general expenses rate. There is a very great difference between the two. I believe the Local Government Board has power under the Act of 1875 to declare these expenses to be special expenses, but I see no reason why by those words we should transfer the expenses from the special to the general rate in order that the Local Government Board may exercise its power of transferring them back. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment, and that the expenses will be divided as they always have been divided.
In line 26 to leave out the word 'special.'" —(Mr. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'special' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I would rather wish that the Amendment had been on the Paper, because then I would have been able to give my hon. friend a more complete answer than I can at the present moment. I am not quite certain what the effect would be of omitting these words, because several clauses in two or three Acts of Parliament are concerned. We have no intention of putting any now burden whatever on the local authorities, but my own impression is that the Amendment has reference to a state of things which will not exist when this Bill comes into operation. If my hon. friend will postpone the matter I will consider it.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
I think I ought to be satisfied with what my right 978 hon. friend has said. I will withdraw the Amendment and bring it up again on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3—
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Cork)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will have no objection to extending the benefits of this Bill to Ireland. We have already in Ireland legislation for providing labourers' cottages, but it does not apply to cities and towns. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will consent to accept my Amendment.
In page 2, line 7, to leave out the words 'or Ireland.'"—(Mr. J. F. X. O'Brien.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment. My impression is—although, of course, I do not speak with authority—that this extension of the Bill is really not needed in Ireland. I believe there is hardly a town in Ireland where congestion of the population can be said to exist, and in the country districts there are already Acts of Parliament for providing cottages for labourers. The Amendment would considerably alter the Bill and its machinery, and having had no application of any sort or kind, except the hon. Member's Amendment, I cannot see that there is any demand for the Bill in Ireland.
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN
I put the Amendment down at the request of my constituents in Cork, which is one of the places where the Bill is very much needed. I feel I must press it to a division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 120; Noes, 69. (Division List No. 157.)
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Pender, Sir James|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Hardy, Laurence||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Heaton, John Henniker||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. Horace C.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Hobhouse, Henry||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Houston, R. P.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Brassey, Albert||Howard, Joseph||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Butcher, John George||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worcs.)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Kenyon, James||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lafone, Alfred||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Swnsea)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Denny, Colonel||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Lowe, Francis William||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Doughty, George||Lowles, John||Usborne, Thomas|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Macdona, John Gumming||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Drage, Geoffrey||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'gh, W)||Williams, Joseph Powell- (Birm)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Milward, Colonel Victor||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Monk, Charles James||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Garfit, William||More, Rbt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Younger, William|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Nicholson, William Graham||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Harrington, Timothy||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hazell, Walter||Price, Robert John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Chas. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Holland, William Henry||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Billson, Alfred||Horniman, Frederick John||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Brigg, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burns, John||Kitson, Sir James||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Lough, Thomas||Steadman, William Charles|
|Caldwell, James||Macaleese, Daniel||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Maddison, Fred||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Colville, John||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthn)||Ure, Alexander|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Morris, Samuel||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Doogan, P. C.||Moulton, John Fletcher||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Duckworth, James||Murnaghan, George||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Captain Donelan and Mr.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Patrick O'Brien.|
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The clause which stands in my name proposes to give to the new Metropolitan Borough Councils the same borrowing powers under Part 3 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, as they will possess under Part 2 of that Act. It appears to me desirable that this power thould be conferred by legislation, and that all difficulties and delays in adopting schemes should be removed.
New clause—1. Any expenses incurred by the Council of a metropolitan borough under Part 3 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, whether within or without the borough, shall be defrayed as part of the ordinary expenses of the Council, and in that Act the expressions 'district,' 'local authority,' and 'local rate' shall for the purposes of Part 3 of the Act include a metropolitan borough, the Council of the borough, and the general rate of the borough.2. Where the Council of a metropolitan borough adopt Part 3 of the said Act the power of the Council to borrow for the purposes of that part shall he exerciseable in the like manner and subject to the like conditions as the power of the Council to borrow for the purposes of Part 2 of that Act."—(Mr. Chaplin.)—brought up, and read the first and second time, and added.
*MR. ITAZELL (Leicester)
said as the first Amendment standing in his name had been dealt with, he need not move it, but he proposed now to move to insert a new clause to extend the time fixed for repayment of loans by local authorities. He did not agree with the proposition that the land purchased should be held as a permanent asset, because it was not given to man to see into the dim and distant future, even as regards the value of land in great towns—but 100 years was a moderate time in which to pay for the land, and a sinking fund of three shillings and fourpence annually invested at 3 per-cent, with compound interest would pay off £100 at the end of a century. As to the buildings, though they might last for two hundred years or more, he proposed to extend the repayments to only seventy years, because it was not impossible that in the future the working classes would be living in buildings of a very different character to the barracks which were at present being erected. He hoped that the Government would see its way to 982 accept his Amendment, which was a reasonable one. New clause—Section 06 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, shall be qualilied by the following proviso added at the end of the section, namely:—Provided that loans raised by local authorities for the purposes of this part of this Act shall be exempt from the provisions as to period of repayment contained in Subsection 4 of Section 234 of the Public Health Act, 1875, and instead thereof the period of repayment of such loans shall be—(1) not exceeding 100 years for that part of the loan required for the purchase of land; and (2) not exceeding seventy years for that part of the land required for the erection of buildings."— (Mr. Hazell.)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I stated on the Second Heading of the Bill, in considerable detail, my objection to any extension of the period for repayment of loans for the buildings, and I thought then, and have the presumption to think now, that the arguments which I advanced on that occasion were arguments of weight which at least required some reply. The hon. Gentleman has made no attempt to reply to them, or remove the objections which I stated and then felt with regard to this proposal. Moreover his proposal with regard to the buildings is that the term of repayment should only be extended from sixty to seventy years. I bad several calculations made as to what would be the effect of an extension, but I must admit I never took the term of seventy years. I never considered if an alteration had been made that it would be made from sixty to seventy years.
§ *MR. HAZELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman consent to a longer period? If so, I shall be delighted.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
And the relief which would be derived from such an extension would be so small as to be of no use whatever. I am sorry therefore that I cannot entertain it at all. With regard to the extension of the time for the repayment of loans borrowed for the purchase of land, I have always admitted that that to a certain extent stands on a different footing. Whether I agree to any concession on the point or not, I think it is clear that 983 the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman does not provide any fitting opportunity on which to make a concession of that kind, and I make no promise whatever in regard to what I may be induced to do in the future. I say this because, if such an Amendment is accepted, it ought to apply in all cases, and this Amendment would exclude some local authorities from any benefit. Under the circumstances, I have no alternative but to decline to accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. STEADMAN
I should like to ask your ruling, Sir, as to whether my new clause, page 26 on the Paper, would be in order?
It is unusual to determine future questions in the middle of a discussion: but if it is any satisfaction to the hon. Member to know, I may say that when it is reached I propose to rule it out of order.
§ MR. STEADMAN
said had his Amendment been in order he would not have detained the Committee by speaking on that then before them. As, however, it apparently would not be in order, he would like to say a few words in support of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leicester. It did not go so far as he could have wished, but at the same time it contained a principle which was in his opinion of the most vital importance. He drew attention to the fact that the district council of Sevenoaks applied to the Local Government Board for powers to build, and that the Local Government Board fixed the term for the repayment of the loan at forty-two years. As the result of the calculations made, the district council found that the total cost of the acquisition of the land and the building of thirty-four six-roomed cottages upon it would be £10,000, and that if they charged a rental of 9s. a week the result would be a loss to the ratepayers of the district. Nine shillings a week was a very high rental for a working-man, twenty miles out of London, and the district council had no option but to abandon their scheme. Had the time for repayment been extended to another twelve years, the cottages could have been built and lot at a less rental without loss to the ratepayers. The London County Council wore going at the present time to build cottages at Tooting, and 984 would have to charge a rental of 7s. 6d. a week for two-roomed cottages, and there was not a working-man at the present time who could afford out of his wages to pay such a rental. Having regard to the sympathetic attitude of the right hon. Gentleman, he had had hopes that he would have made one or two small concessions in this direction, especially having regard to the fact that, having been approached by the London County Council, he was conversant with their views, which were in favour of the extension of the term from sixty to 100 years. If the Government had been in earnest in their attempt to grapple with this problem, they would have approached it in a statesmanlike manner, instead of bringing in a paltry Bill of two clauses, from which all Amendments of a practical character were shut out. The "sacred rights of property" would have to be attacked before the solution was found.
§ MR. STUART
The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that, even if this Amendment were accepted, the gain to the tenant would not be very large, but the connection in which the argument in its favour was used was not in regard to any question of the length of the period for which local authorities would be allowed to borrow, on which the reduction of the cost of the building scheme was to be reckoned, but that the real method of reducing the cost of the building scheme to the municipality and of reducing the rents to the tenants was to be found in a much more drastic dealing with Parts 1 and 2 of the Act. And here I merely reiterate the argument used by my hon. friend behind me that this present Bill does not afford us any adequate means of reducing the rents which are charged to the tenants under this scheme. The facts are that if we were to extend the period of borrowing to one hundred years on the land and on the building we should not make a very great reduction, although it would be a substantial one, in the tenant's rent. If you take the Boundary Street area and Mill-bank, and reckon the cost on the rebuilding scheme, upon which the interest is in one instance three per cent., and in the other two and three-quarters on periods of fifty years and fifty-eight years respectively—if those periods were extended to one hundred years, I find that for a house of three rooms for which we have at 985 present to charge 9s. a week, which is a terrible rent to have to charge—
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. Boundary Street was one, what was the other?
§ MR. STUART
The Millbank scheme. The extension of the period to 100 years from fifty three, in regard to the Boundary Street scheme, would have reduced the rents of these houses—9s. a week—by 7½d., which is a substantial reduction. I want to see it reduced by that amount. But it is not in that direction that we look for any reduction of rents to any large extent in London. If the period were extended to seventy years, as proposed, the reduction on the rental of 9s. a week would be 3d.
§ MR. STUART
Of that I am aware, but I am pretty much in the lists as regards London, and I have put down a clause which would bring London under the Bill, and therefore I am treating these Amendments as if London were within the scope of the Bill. I would like the House to remember what the elements of rent in London are. Every 20s. of rent we take in the Boundary Street area consists of two equal portions; one half is for outgoings and the general maintenance and insurance of the buildings, and the other half is allocated to interest and the sinking fund, so that out of every 20s. 2s. goes to the sinking fund. Therefore it is only 10 per cent. of the whole rental which is affected by the sinking fund at all. Now, I have been extremely anxious that we should not try to draw too big conclusions and anticipate too great results. I want to reduce this Amendment to its just proportions, although I support it; and the figures I have given to the House were given for the purpose of pointing out that this Amendment is not altogether for the purpose of keeping down the rents. I have placed before the Committee perfectly clearly, I hope, what are the limits of the Amendment before us. Although at the most, even if the sinking fund were carried on for 100 years, it would not reduce the rental of a 9s. house more them by about 7½d. a week, yet I 986 say that from my point of view that is well worth doing, and I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to make this concession. I feel that there is something in what my right hon. friend says in regard to not extending the period of the sinking fund for buildings to so long as one hundred years, because the nature of the houses required may change before that time, but I think it may be distinctly extended beyond the sixty years at present allowed. In undertakings of a similar kind with which in a private capacity I have to do I would put the period of the sinking fund required for such houses at a longer period than sixty years. The period might well be extended to seventy years. I think that might be taken as a reasonable compromise in the matter. As to land, I do not see any particular reason for limiting that to one hundred years at all. Land might always be regarded as an asset if it was valued as land applicable to workmen's houses. I think it might be regarded as a perpetual asset. Any private firm in building houses for their own employees, as many members of this House have done, would be perfectly justified by the auditors in valuing the land as applicable to the purpose to which it was devoted, and as an asset which did not require writing down. I would suggest that we might adopt the plan of writing down the value of the land—the right hon. Gentleman perfectly understands what I mean—as a perpetual asset which did not want depreciation or sinking fund. I know that in many private instances as regards buildings the period is considerably beyond sixty years. The Amendment proposed by my hon. friend is reasonable, and may be regarded as a reasonable compromise between the larger proposals and the present position of things.
§ MR. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I entirely disagree with those who describe this as an insignificant and incomplete measure. The effect in the constituency I have the honour to represent of giving the local authority power to go outside their own area would be to induce them to acquire land out of London to build houses at, I believe, such an expenditure as would enable them to let four and five room houses at 5s. or 6s. a week. The railway company convey workmen at the ridiculously small 987 sum of 2d. per day. At Shoreditch the demand for warehouses is increasing every day, and if the occupiers of the small houses removed from the congested centres to the suburbs a much larger sum would come into the coffers of the local authority in the way of rates for warehouses which would be built there. I am thoroughly in favour of the principle underlying this Amendment and the extension of the period of repayment. My hon. friend and myself had a conference with the local authority, and one of the points we were asked to urge if possible was the extension of the period of repayment.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
I have had considerable experience in matters of this kind, and I believe it is impossible to lay down a figure which will be strictly and scientifically accurate with respect to the repayment of loans. We ought to have some regard to leading principles. We must cast our eyes beyond London, and look at the country, and most certainly it is not safe with reference to the provinces to say that any given piece of land will keep its value one hundred years. On the contrary, I know from my own experience in the mining districts in Yorkshire, that when the mineral wealth passes away the value of the land immediately diminishes, and therefore any calculation made on the basis of the value of such properties when the mines were in full operation would prove wholly inaccurate when the minerals ceased to exist. I think the same remark applies to property in other districts. Mineral wealth is not the only wealth that becomes exhausted, and I am perfectly sure if you value purely landed property at the rate existing when a community is prosperous, you will find the calculation extremely wrong at the end of a number of years when that prosperity has ceased, or when the industry has changed into a new district. As regards the time during which the value may prevail in the matter of buildings, two conditions have to be satisfied. First of all, the buildings must be well planned and suited to the wants of the people. If they are not so planned and so adapted they will become out of fashion and difficult to let, and the value will depreciate. The other consideration is the character of the building as a structure. We know that if a building is constructed of sound 988 materials, put together by skilful workmen, and of such a character as may suit a severe climate, it may be expected to last many years; but if, on the contrary, your building is frail, and if the weather begins to operate upon it, of course, in a few years it has almost ceased to exist, and has become almost a heap of ruins. The authorities who deal with this matter will, no doubt, take care that the buildings are reasonably well constructed, but they cannot see into the future, and they cannot be too minute in their restrictions, because they may be attacked by unpopularity, which no department, whether a Government Department or a local authority, is willing to submit to. We ought to take care that the number of years is so extended that oppression may not exist, but at the same time we must also take care that the term is not so long as to leave to posterity, who will have their own wants in their own day, a burden possibly heavier than they can bear.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I wish to refresh the memory of the right hon. Gentleman in connection with this matter. He spoke on the Second Reading in very conciliatory terms as to the period of the repayment of the loans.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
In that case I have on a former occasion thanked the right hon. Gentleman for nothing.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the matter as favourably as he can, and to point out also to the Committee that in any new clause of this kind discretion is left to the Local Government Board, the period of one hundred years or seventy years being the maximum. In a colliery district the Local Government Board would be quite aware of the limitations, and they would make the loan for a shorter period. All cases would be treated on their merits.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
In this Amendment all that is asked for with regard to buildings is a difference between sixty and 989 seventy years. I am opposed to granting any concession with reference to buildings for the reasons which I stated on the Second Reading of the Bill. The relief as between sixty and seventy years with regard to buildings, according to the best calculation I can make, would create a less difference than a halfpenny a week for the rooms inhabited.
§ *MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
I hope that the Government will take a firm attitude on this question of repayment of loans. The great permanent danger which every Government, which represents self-government by the people, is exposed to is the temptation of letting its finances go wrong because of the immediate pressure of the representatives of the people, who cannot be expected to be statesmen, having a view of the distant future as well as of the immediate future. Therefore there is a perpetual tendency to spend money and to raise money on terms that are light to the people who vote but will be heavy to their posterity. Now the great reason why we should insist on loans being repaid in short periods is this, that the advantages of spending public money on objects that we are desirous to obtain is plain to us, because it is an advantage of the moment. The question of the permanency of that advantage, as to whether after fifty or sixty years the way in which we have spent the money with our present knowledge will be advantageous to the people of that time, is a thing we can only guess at, and the consequence is that we are certain to give too much weight to these motives that spring from present convenience and too little thought as to how valuable this thing will be after fifty or sixty years. Let me just take an
§ example. We build a building which we feel we want at present; we buy land which we feel is exceedingly convenient under present circumstances; but who can feel that he can speak with anything like certainty as to whether a building of that kind will be suited to the wants of the people after sixty years, or whether that land will not have lost greatly in value and greatly in convenience after so long a time has passed? We ought therefore to start with the principle that we will repay the money in a far shorter period than would be necessary if the need and the convenience of to-day were going to be the need and convenience of another hundred years. What are the periods we attribute to the repayment of the loans? Why, here is a request that it should be seventy and one hundred years. But who in the world can foresee whether posterity in seventy years and one hundred years will be reaping the same advantage from the spending of money that we are reaping to-day from it? And as we are going to give them an equal share in repaying these loans, we ought to be sure at least that they will produce as much advantage to them as they are producing to us. Seeing the great danger of the pressure of the people to-day upon us, and the much greater force that the circumstances of the day have in influencing us as compared with the circumstances of the dim and distant future, we ought always to err on the safe side. I think we have gone much too far already, and I trust the Government will not go any further.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 69; Noes, 141. (Division List No. 158.)991
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Donelan, Captain A.||Lough, Thomas|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Doogan, P. C.||Lowles, John|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Duckworth, James||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Dunn, Sir William||M'Crae, George|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Evans, Samuel T.||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Billson, Alfred||Fenwick, Charles||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Maddison, Fred.|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Brigg, John||Gedge, Sydney||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert Jn.||Morris, Samuel|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Harrington, Timothy||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Campbell-Bannermann, Sir H.||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Murnaghan, George|
|Charming, Francis Alston||Horniman, Frederick John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Colville, John||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Kinloch, Sir Jn. Geo. Smyth||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Kitson, Sir James||O'Dowd, John|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Ure, Alexander|
|Perks, Robert William||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Price, Robert John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Reid, Sir Robert Threshie||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Mr. Hazell and Mr. Stead-|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Trevelyan, Charles Phillips||man.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. Horace C.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balcarres, Lord||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Purvis, Robert|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Hardy, Laurence||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Helder, Augustus||Richardson, Sir Thos. (Hartlep'I)|
|Bond, Edward||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hobhouse, Henry||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Robinson, Brooke|
|Brassey, Albert||Houston, R. P.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Butcher, John George||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Caldwell, James||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Ceyzer, Sir Charles William||Kenyon, James||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor'r)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Stock, James Henry|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lafone, Alfred||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swansea)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lockwood, Lt.- Col. A. R.||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Loder, Gerald W. Erskine||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Usborne, Thomas|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. D. T.||Lowe, Francis William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Macdona, John Gumming||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)|
|Denny, Colonel||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Milward, Colonel Victor||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Doughty, George||Monckton, Edward Philip||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Monk, Charles James||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||More, Robt. J. (Shropshire)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Moulton, John Fletcher||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Faber, George Denison||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Wilson, Hy. J. (York, W. R)|
|Finch, George H.||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Pender, Sir James||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Penn, John||Younger, William|
|Garfit, William||Philipps, John Wynford||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Sir William Walrond and|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)||Mr. Anstruther.|
The next clause, in the name of the hon. Member for Ilkeston, seems to raise the same question. The first clause standing in the name of the hon. Member for Southwest Bethnal Green has been disposed of by the last division.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
The object of the Amendment I am about to move is to empower local authorities, if necessary, to hire land instead of purchasing for the 992 purposes of this Bill. My contention is that it should be possible for the local authority to take a perpetual lease of land at a rent which would be equivalent to its present not annual value. This may seem to be rather an advanced proposal, but it is really only carrying a little further a principle which has already been adopted into the legislation of this country. It is a principle which is recognised in regard to allotments, and the history of the allotments question 993 with reference to this matter is most significant and instructive. When the Allotments Act of 1887 was under consideration it was recognised that there might be a necessity for applying compulsory powers, and those compulsory powers were to he applied to the purchase of land. No one at that time suggested that they should he applied to the hiring of land. Time wont on, and in 1893–4, when the Local Government Bill was before the House, public opinion on this point had made considerable advances. I remember perfectly well how bitterly at that time this very principle of giving compulsory powers to hire land as compared with the previously existing powers to purchase land was opposed. It was opposed, in particular, very bitterly and strongly—I will not say violently—by the present President of the Local Government Board, who said, I believe, that no civilised Government in the world, except that of Mr. Gladstone, would have brought forward such a proposal. Notwithstanding the violence with which the principle was attacked it was accepted by the House, and has now been for some years on the Statute-book. In the same way I propose to extend the principle to the acquisition of land for the purpose we are considering to-night. This is a question which is very much agitated outside this House. It is recognised that we are in need of very drastic reforms in regard to the principles upon which land may be acquired, and that being so it does not seem desirable or expedient that in all cases the local authority should prejudice the event by being required to purchase land instead of leasing it. I dare say this proposal will be defeated to-night, but having regard to the interest which the matter excites outside I think one ought to have the courage to take the opinion of the House of Commons upon it, and I beg therefore to move this clause.
New clause—A local authority shall have power to hire land for the purposes of Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, as amended by this Act, and sub-sections two, three, four, and live of section ten of the Local Government Act, 1894, shall apply for the determination of questions arising in connection with such hiring."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)—brought up and read the first time.
§ Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."994
§ MR. CHAPLIN
There is nothing whatever in the clause of the hon. Member to show whether he proposes that the acquisition of land for the purpose of building houses by hire should be compulsory or not.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Quite so; I do not think it has any meaning. But I understand from the speech of the hon. Member that that is the object of the clause, because if it was to be done by agreement the authorities could do it without any assistance from any new clause. It is quite true that when the compulsory hiring proposal with regard to allotments was debated I opposed it, and I adhere to the views I then expressed and supported by my vote. I still think it is a wrong principle, and an abuse of legislation, although it was carried at the time by the majority of that particular Parliament. I would remind the hon. Member that even if Parliament sanctioned the hiring of land compulsorily for the purpose of allotments, that is a totally different thing from sanctioning the hiring of land for the purpose of erecting thereon buildings. In the one case it is necessarily permanent, while in the other case it is only for a period, and when the period of hire for the purpose of allotments comes to an end the land can be restored to its owner in practically the same condition as when it was leased. But the case is wholly different in regard to buildings. I am confident the Committee will agree that it is wrong to hire land by compulsion for a purpose and in a way which precludes the possibility of that land being returned to its owner at the end of the period of hire in the same condition. I think the Amendment of the hon. Member is entirely out of reason; it practically amounts to saying that you are to take away the property of some particular person because you desire it for a great public purpose, but that you are not to pay any capital sum whatever for it.
§ *MR. CHANNING
I am really astonished at the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on this point. After hearing the remarks he has just made one would think that he would pose as the strongest 995 possible opponent of the leasehold system in all our great towns, and that we should have him coming forward as an ardent reformer of the tenure of land in towns.
§ *MR. CHANNING
That is not compulsory, of course. But we need not enter into those details. [Ironical laughter.] Well, if I am obliged to occupy the time of the Committee by entering into this question, the right hon. Gentleman was saying that the property would not be returned to its owner in the same condition as land hired for allotments would be returned. I should imagine if a local authority acquired land as a leasehold for building purposes the value of the reversion would be very much the same at the end of the leasing term as the value which the Duke of Westminster and other ground landlords in London
§ and elsewhere receive from their reversions. It seems to me that the argument is absolutely the same in both cases. What we really wish to do—and it does seem to me that the arguments made against this proposal are somewhat frivolous—is to provide as many means and methods as possible for enabling the local authorities to carry out the desirable purpose of providing healthy homes for the people. The right hon. Gentleman has not shown any cause whatever why the local authorities should not have this power. If they have the power to hire land compulsorily for providing cabbage grounds and things of that kind it seems to me a fortiori they should have the same power in order to meet the greatest evil of the present time.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 81; Noes, 147. (Division List No. 159.)997
|Asher, Alexander||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Perks, Robert William|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Hazell, Walter||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Austin, M (Limerick, W.)||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Price, Robert John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Horniman, Frederick John||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Billson, Alfred||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Brigg, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Shaw, Charles Ed w. (Stafford)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kitson, Sir James||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Caldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Macaleese, Daniel||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Colville, John||M'Crae, George||Strachey, Edward|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Maddison, Fred.||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Ure, Alexander|
|Duckworth, James||Morris, Samuel||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murnaghan, George||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Dowd, John||Mr. Pickersgill and Mr.|
|Harrington, Timothy||Oldroyd, Mark||Channing.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bond, Edward||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bousfield, William Robert||Charrington, Spencer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Clare, Octavius Leigh|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Brassey, Albert||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Butcher, John George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Cotton- Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D.||Lafone, Alfred||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Denny, Colonel||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Round, James|
|Doughty, George||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Faber, George Denison||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks)|
|Finch, George H.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D.(Strand)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stock, James Henry|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lowe, Francis William||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescae||Lowles, John||Strauss, Arthur|
|Flower, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Garfit, William||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'gh, W.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Gedge, Sydney||Milward, Colonel Victor||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Monckton, Edward Philip||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Monk, Charles James||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Usborne, Thomas|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Nicholson, William Graham||Welby, Lt.- Col. ACE (Taunton)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts-)|
|Hamond, Sir Chas. (Newcastle)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Hardy, Laurence||Penn, John||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset),|
|Helder, Augustus||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Williams, Joseph Powell- (Birm)|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter||Pilkington, R. (Lanes Newton)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh, N)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon||Wodehouse, Rt Hon. E. R.(Bath)|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wyndham, George|
|Houston, R. P.||Purvis, Robert||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Remnant, James Farquharson||Younger, William|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Renshav, Charles Bine|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Richards, Henry Charles||TELLERS FOE THE NOES—|
|Kenyon, James||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Mr. Ansrtuther|
The first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Hoxton has been disposed of. The second is in order.
§ MR. STUART
The new clause I have to move is one with regard to the keeping of accounts. It deals with a very important matter in which we in London, and, I take it, those in most large towns, are greatly interested. The state of things - and I will as briefly as possible explain to the Committee a rather complicated situation-is this. When you have a street improvement or the clearance of an in sanitary area under Part I. or Part II., when you have purchased the property, cleared the land, and begun to erect workmen's dwellings thereon, you have first of all to reduce the value of the land to a very much lower figure than you could obtain for it if you were to erect shops and warehouses and ordinary houses. You, therefore, drop a certain amount of money in that scheme. That money has clearly to be found somewhere or other in con- 998 nection with the improvement scheme-generally to which I have referred. In a good many cases it is found that it is better to erect the working-class dwellings not upon the same area, but upon another area, and to erect upon the first area shops or warehouses or something else which bring in a considerably larger sum to the municipality than the dwellings would. If the whole of this undertaking is done at once, and if under the same scheme you lay hold of land compulsorily or by agreement outside that area upon which to erect these houses, you erect them altogether under Part I. or Part II., the whole thing can be treated, as one transaction, and the saving made by not erecting the houses on the original area is transferred to or is part of the rest of the scheme, and goes in reduction of the cost of the building scheme which is undertaken outside the original area. But this cannot be done as a matter of account if the outside area is acquired under Part III. If the outside area is acquired under a different scheme from that under 999 which the other area is acquired, you cannot fuse the accounts. It is very desirable, in London at any rate, that you should be able to acquire land under Part III., and then, when you have got a clearence scheme under Part I., to use the land you have already acquired under Part III. to erect thereon the houses which you do not erect on the land acquired under Part I. You are able to take up a piece of land under Part III., when you have in contemplation an improvement under Part I. or Part II., much more cheaply than if you have to wait and do it in conjunction with the Part I. scheme. It is therefore a very practical matter in London that we should be able to proceed in the following manner—to take a piece of ground under Part III. for the erection of working-class dwellings, allocate it to that purpose, then to secure the Part I. scheme, and then to have a transference of the houses from the Part I. scheme to the piece of ground we have purchased under Part III. We have done that in several instances with very great advantage and saving to the public purse. But it will be observed that, because of the complete isolation necessarily of the one set of accounts from the other, the improvement scheme under Part. I. or Part II. gets the benefit of the profit that is made by not erecting workmen's dwellings there, and the scheme of workmen's dwellings erected under Part III. is punished by having to bear the whole expense of the site under Part III. I could give several instances, but I will give only one very important instance at present under consideration. In a great street improvement that we are making just now, we bought a large brewery at a cost of £200,000. Unless we get leave, as we should do, to erect the workmen's dwellings upon our piece of land, that site will have to be written down in value to about £35,000. There is, therefore, a dead loss to the public, if the land is devoted to workmen's dwellings, of £165,000 on that part of the transaction. But if we devote the site of the brewery to warehouses, shops, and the like, we shall get back about the same amount as we gave for the brewery, and there will be a profit on that particular street improvement scheme of £165,000 by erecting the workmen's dwellings outside. Now we go to a piece of land secured by us under Part III., and erect the workmen's 1000 dwellings there, but we have to charge the new scheme with the whole value of the site which we have purchased under Part III. What we desire to do is to make the profit made upon the first scheme follow the workmen's dwellings into the new scheme. I hope I have made that clear. It makes no difference to the general public, but it throws a charge upon the improvement which ought properly to bear that charge. It will make a very great difference to the cost of the scheme regarded as a mere building scheme of working-class dwellings. I have already pointed out the kind of difference in the facts with respect to the brewery, but, speaking generally, I think I can let the House understand what it would mean in the following way. The cost of the land for a set of working-class houses runs roughly to about one-sixth of the cost of the whole undertaking, the remainder being the cost of the erection of the buildings. As a rule, the land would cost us if unreduced in value about double the amount—and that is a very reasonable estimate —that it costs us when bought for workmen's dwellings. If we were allowed to charge it upon the original improvement, one-twelfth part of the undertaking would be saved. That would be the result in the case of the transfers I have just described. Of course it would not take place in every instance, because only a certain number are dealt with in this way. But the number is considerable, and it would be capable of being made a still greater saving. On a previous Amendment I pointed out that the provision made beforehand before the creation of working class dwellings was a very important matter. It is by purchasing under Part III. beforehand that we are able to provide beforehand the houses to which the displaced persons can go. Under Part III. we are able to make the rehousing proceed pari passu with the pulling down of the houses purchased under Part I. or Part II. The Amendment I have on the Paper is intended to carry out that transfer. I believe the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is not opposed to the general idea that I have now placed before the Committee, and I have in my hand a slightly altered form of the clause which may meet with his acceptance. In its altered form two transactions are fused into one instead of carrying over the profits made 1001 in the one case to the other account, although the portions of that account are kept separate. In this altered form I beg leave to propose the Amendment which stands in my name.
New clause —Where land acquired by a council under Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, is appropriated for the purpose of rehousing persons displaced by the council under the powers of any other Part of that Act or of any other enactment, the receipts and expenditure in respect of that land (including all costs in respect of the acquisition and laying out of the land), and of any building's erected thereon, may be treated as receipts and expenditure under that Part or enactment, but shall be accounted for under a separate head."— (Mr. Stuart.)—brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The hon. Member on more than one occasion has discussed this proposal with me outside these walls, and I have had the advantage of hearing a deputation from the London County Council explaining their views upon this particular subject, f am, therefore, able to follow without difficulty the views which the hon. Member has put before the Committee this evening, which I think will not be perfectly simple to those who are not initiated in the subject. The position is this. Under the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890 the authorities are bound to keep separate accounts of the works which are transacted. The Council buy a alum somewhere in London for the purposes of clearing the houses, and they have to purchase land elsewhere in order to re-house the same number of people they displace. If the Council re-house these people on laud in the centre of London, it will be extremely difficult and costly, because the land is very expensive, and might be put to a much more profitable purpose. The Council desire to undertake these clearing operations, and for the purpose of rehousing the displaced population they seek power to buy land elsewhere at a cheaper rate as part of the whole transaction. I hope that trill occur to a greater extent than it does at present, for under the provisions of the Bill they will be enabled to go beyond the metropolitan area. The Council say that if 1002 they can make a profit on one part of the transaction, it is rather hard on them that they should not be able to take credit for that profit in carrying out the other part of the transaction. At present they contend that this is impossible because of the provision laid down in the Act of 1890, that totally separate accounts should be kept for each part of the Act. I understand that the County Council have a standing order by which they are precluded from carrying out any scheme which will not pay for the whole transaction without making any additional charge. That, I believe, is the position in which they are placed at present, and it is to relieve them from that position that this proposal is made. There is no apprehension of any muddling or mixing of accounts, because the Amendment states very clearly that—The receipts and expenditure in respect of that land (including all costs in respect of the acquisition and laying out of the land), and of any building erected thereon, may be treated as receipts and expenditure under that Part or enactment, but shall be accounted for under a separate head.Under those circumstances, I am quite ready to accept the Amendment, and I am all the more pleased to do it because I understand the hon. Member to say that it will be a real and substantial assistance to the County Council.
§ Question put, and agreed to; clause added.
§ MR. LOUGH
The object of the clause I now have to move is to increase the borrowing powers of the Council in carrying out this Act. It is based upon a clause in the Public Health Act of 1875, under which Act the Council have, in addition to the borrowing powers they possess, the power of acquiring property for the purposes of disposal of sewage. The object of this Amendment is to give the same facilities with regard to any land or buildings which they may require under this Act. I think it is a most reasonable Amendment, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept it.
Now clause—Any council shall, in respect of land, buildings, and other property acquired under part III. of The Housing of the Working Classes Act. 1890, as amended by this Act 1003 have the same powers of borrowing money on mortgage as are, by sections 235 to 239, in-elusive, of The Public Health Act, 1875, conferred upon any local authority in respect of land, works, or other property acquired for the purposes of disposal of sewage."—(Mr. Lough.)—brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and QuestioS4V0084P0I0663n proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
I do not quite understand what is the real object of this clause, and I do not see how it is going to improve the position of the local authorities. What the hon. Member proposes is to give the local authorities everywhere the power to mortgage their property, but they borrow their money at present upon the security of the rates. The only effect f the Amendment would be that in case the revenue was insufficient the mortgagee would be able to take possession of public property and seize it at once. I do not see that there is anything to gain in the case of sewage works, for in that case there is no available revenue whatever to place as security for the loan. But, however that may he, it is an entirely new proposal with regard to sewage, and I am not prepared to accept it.
§ MR. LOUGH
It seems to me that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman might be made a little more clear. He has put forward two objections to the acceptance of this Amendment. He says he does not see what advantage it confers, and he explained that it increases the borrowing powers of the Council. I may say that that is the main object of my proposal.
§ MR. LOUGH
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that. The second objection raised was that the mortgagee might seize the property, but as long as he was paid his interest he could not seize it. If circumstances arose under which this money could not be paid the work would cease to be remunerative.
§ *SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I think the right hon. Gentleman might give consideration to this Amendment. I understand one of his objections to be that the security of the rates would in- 1004 clude the property or land belonging to the local authority, but that does not follow. There may be two forms of security, upon the rates payable by the inhabitants as occupiers, and security upon the land possessed by the local authority. In the latter case there would be an increase in the borrowing power if it had powers similar to those under the Public Health Act of raising money upon mortgage. Under the Public Health Act there need be no sinking fund, and therefore this would be a perfectly safe loan, because a margin of one-fourth under the Public Health Act is required as between the amount advanced and the purchase price of the property, and, there being no sinking fund, it might be a loan in perpetuity on security, not of the rates, but only of the particular property. I think this proposal would be a material and beneficial advantage if applied to this Bill.
§ Question put and negatived.
I beg to move the clause standing in my name. The object of this clause is to enable the local authority to lease out the land to some party or individual, who will be obliged to use that land strictly in accordance with the purposes of the Act. This clause is supported by many hon. Members on this side of the House who have had a good deal of experience in regard to the working of this class of property. We all wish as many local authorities as possible to avail themselves of the powers of this Act, but many people are rather doubtful how far the local authorities will avail themselves of this power without such a provision as I have proposed. Surely it would be better that a local authority should have the power to lease the land to a competent authority. I propose this new clause as an enlarging clause, and not as a restricting clause at all. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that it will be very hard to put upon some local authorities the erection and the subsequent management of these large buildings. Surely it will be better if they have the power to lease the land to somebody who understands the question. That is the view which many hon. Members of the London County Council hold on both sides, and it is with this object that I propose this clause.
1005 New clause—(1) The local authority, if not a rural district council, with the consent of the Local Government Board, and if a rural district council with the consent of the county council, may lease any land acquired by them under and for the purposes of Part 3 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') to any lessee for the purpose and under the condition that the. lessee will carry the Act into execution by building and maintaining on the land lodging-houses within the meaning of the Act; and the local authority may insert in any lease all such provisions as they may think fit for insuring the user of the land and buildings for lodging-houses within the meaning of the Act, and in particular the local authority may insert in any lease provisions binding the lessee to build on the land as in the lease prescribed, and to maintain and repair the buildings, and securing the use of the buildings exclusively as lodging-houses within the meaning of the Act, and prohibiting any addition to or alteration of the character of the buildings without the consent of the local authority; and also a provision for the re-entry of the local authority on the land on the breach of any of the terms of the lease; and every deed or instrument of demise of the land or buildings shall be endorsed with notice of this subsection. (2) sections 61 and 62 of the Act shall not extend to any lodging-house to which this Act applies."—(Mr. Whit more.)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. STUART
I do not like this clause much, for you are going to use the compulsory power of the municipality to take people's land from them, and let it out for the benefit of private individuals or private companies. I think we should leave private companies to purchase their own land, and this seems to me to be a very dangerous clause.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I do not see the difficulty which the hon. Gentleman has pointed out. The clause is purely permissive, and it only proposes to confer upon the local authority under Part III. of the Act of 1890 the same powers that they possess at present under Part I. of the Act for purposes of a precisely similar character. It seems to me that there are some advantages in this proposition, and I do not see anything in it to justify the hon. Member's apprehension. It is quite true that the land is acquired compulsorily by the local authority, but I do not see why the local authority should be precluded, if it chooses, from 1006 letting the land to other people instead of carrying out the work themselves. That is all this new clause proposes, and it provides the most ample safeguards for seeing that the work is done and properly carried out according to their instructions, and the local authority retain powers of re-entry. I should be disposed to accept the clause, but I should like to suggest one or two small drafting Amendments.
§ MR. STUART
I might point out that there is a difference between the application of this principle to Part I. and Part III. In Part 1. you have to deal with a state of things where there has been some real and practical breach of the public interest on the part of the possessors of the land, and you are obliged to come in there to preserve public health. In Part III. you are dealing with land, and with persons guilty of no breach of public trust. They have done no damage to the land, and you are going to take their land compulsorily for the purpose of handing it over to be dealt with by a private company. I think there is a very distinct difference between leaving this clause to be applied to Part I. and extending it to Part III.
I think my hon. friend has not quite apprehended the object of this clause. The county council is not acquiring the land for the purpose of handing it over to a private company, but for the pur-pose of erecting working-class dwellings, and this clause will enable the council, after it has acquired the land, to confide the duty of erecting houses to a third party if it thinks it would be advantageous to do so. I think my hon. friend will recollect that on the London County Council we have found sometimes that we have not been able to erect these working-class dwellings on such terms as would enable us to let them upon the low terms which we desire to give to the tenants. In this proposal we have the facility, and that is all we propose.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
The hon. Member who has just sat down seems to be under a misapprehension. This proposal is not for the London County Council alone, but it applies to any local authority, urban or rural. Therefore, we cannot discuss this measure as a purely London Bill, and we have to look at it from the point of view of 1007 other municipalities in the country, who have just as much claim as the powerful body to which the hon. Member belongs. My objection to this clause is that it holds out an enormous temptation to the smaller rural councils of the country to give way to arrangements with local builders instead of doing their own business. Although no such idea may have entered the minds of those who support this proposal, in practice it might lead to a system of local jobbery, and if my hon. friend goes to a division I shall oppose this proposition.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
One of the greatest difficulties we have always felt in the application of public funds for the purpose of housing the people has been that it has a tendency to drive away private capital. The clause proposed by my hon. friend invites the co-operation of private capital, and I am perfectly sure that under the Act the erection of these dwellings will become far more extensive if this co-operation is made possible. As regards the dangers suggested by the noble Lord as to arrangements with jerry builders and so forth, if the local authority is fit to be trusted with this Act it is also fit to be trusted to avoid the meshes and entanglements of the jerry builders. I think myself that this is a clause of more value than any other clause in the Bill, for I believe it will greatly extend the operations of this measure, and multiply the buildings erected under it. I do not think that it is liable to the suggestion which the noble Lord has made.
§ MR. LOUGH
I do hope that this clause will be looked into very carefully before it is accepted. The object of this Bill is to enable local authorities to step in where private enterprise has failed. If private enterprise can provide these houses, there is no necessity for the local authority to do so, and they do not interfere. But where private enterprise fails, then the local authority comes along and buys the land, and I think it is necessary that the local authority should itself complete the work it has commenced. If the local authority takes the course contemplated by this clause, it will open the door to jobbery in a variety of ways which it is our duty to guard against. My hon. friend suggests that the local authority should acquire a piece of land, and after the land has been acquired difficulties will be suggested. It will be said "we cannot develop this ourselves," and probably it will be suggested that an advantageous piece of the land should be given to some friend, possibly, of a member of the council, to develop. All this is a very dangerous proceeding. I think the local authority should look well into the whole business before it commences, and if it does not see its way to take advantage of the borrowing powers it should not commence the work. This proposal will restore some of those evils in our local bodies, which it has been the object of recent legislation to get rid of. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this clause more fully before adopting it.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 165; Noes, 84. (Division list No. 160.)1009
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Doughty, George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Faber, George Denison|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Charrington, Spencer||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Finch, George H.|
|Bethell, Commander||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bond, Edward||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Flower, Ernest|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D.||Garfit, William|
|Butcher, John George||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Gedge, Sydney|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Godson, Sir A. Frederick|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Denny, Colonel||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo.'s)||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Runciman Walter|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenhm)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Milward, Colonel Victor||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Monckton, Edward Philip||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Hammond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Monk, Charles James||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Hardy, Laurence||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
|Helder, Augustus||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Smith, Hon. F. W. D.(Strand)|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Stock, James Henry|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Houston, R. P.||Nicholson, William Graham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Parkes, Ebenezer||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Kenyon, James||Penn, John||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Keswick, William||Pilkington, R. (Lanes., Newton)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Platt Higgins, Frederick||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E. (Tauntn)|
|Knowles, Lees||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lafone, Alfred||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under L.)|
|Lecky, Rt. Hn. Wm. Edw. H.||Purvis, Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Llewelyn Sir Dillwyn- (Swans'a)||Remnant, James Farqubarson||Williams, Joseph. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Richards, Henry Charles||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartle'pl)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Long, Rt. Hn Walter(Liverpool)||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wyndham, George|
|Lowe, Francis William||Roberts, John Bryn (Eition)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Lowles, John||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Robinson, Brooke|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Sir William Walrond and|
|Malcolm, Ian||Round, James||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Asher, Alexander||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hazell, Walter||Price, Robert John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Barlow, John Emmot||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Bayley Thomas (Derbyshire)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Samuel J.(Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Bolton Thomas Dolling||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Brigg john||Kitson, Sir James||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Caldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Macaleese, Daniel||Steadman, William Charles|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Strachey, Edward|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Colville John||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r)|
|Maddison, Fred.||Ure, Alexander|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Morgan, J. Loyd (Carm'th'n)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Doogan, P.C||Morley, Rt. Hn. J.(Montrose)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Duckworth, James||Morris Samuel||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morton E. J. C (Devonport)||Wilson, Henry J (York W. R)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Moulton John Fletcher||Wilson, John(Govan)|
|Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||Murnaghan, George||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Hudders'd)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Norton, Capt, Cecil William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Dowd, John||TEELERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Oldroyd, Mark||Lord Edmond Fitzmaurie|
|Gibbons, J. Loyd||Paulton, James Mellor||And Mr. James Sturat.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Perks, Robert William|
|Harrington, Timothy||Phillips, John Wynford|
§ Drafting Amendments made.
In line 11 to omit the, word 'may' in order to insert the word 'shall.'"—(Mr. Hobhouse.)
§ MR. MOULTON
May I suggest that it would be rather serious to make the alteration proposed statutable? Surely we can trust the county councils more than that.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *MR. F. S. POWELL
said the object of the Amendment which he now moved was to provide that the lessee should be compelled to insure the buildings. He might not be in a position to replace them if they were destroyed.
In line 13, after the word 'repair,' to insert the words 'and insure.'"—(Sir Francis Powell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. GEDGE (Walsall)
I think it would be much better to let the insurance be effected in the first instance by the local authority, I doubt, if the insurance were thrown on the tenant, whether it would be effected at all. It amounts to the same thing in the long run, because the lessor can add the amount of the insurance premium to the rent.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
It appears to me that we are now entering upon minute details which the local authorities are surely the proper authorities to settle.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
proposed in line 19 after the word "sub-section" to add "provided that in the case of a council in London the consent of a Secretary of State shall be substituted for the consent of the Local Government Board." He moved that because under all the existing 1012 Acts a Secretary of State was the authority, not the Local Government Board.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, added.
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Islington has been already disposed of. The first clause of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stepney has also been disposed of. The second clause is in order.
§ MR. STEADMAN
In moving this clause I have in my mind that if the London County Council at the present time wish to acquire land, and they have to acquire it under the Lands Clauses Act, they have not only to pay the full market value but 10 per cent. in addition. The noble Lord the Member for the Cricklade Division has stated that this is not a London Bill alone. I quite agree, but I think I am on safer ground in dealing with my own practical experience in London than in dealing with rural districts regarding which I have no experience. The present law will entail not only great cost on the ratepayers of London but also great hardship on the tenants who occupy the dwellings built by the London County Council. Reid's brewery was purchased for a sum of £200,000 with the object of rehousing some of the people that will be displaced owing to the improvement scheme which the Council are now carrying through. It is proposed to rehouse 2,000 people on the site of Reid's Brewery, and the cost of purchasing that site works out at no less a sum than £100 for every man, woman, and child that will occupy the buildings. Reid's Brewery paid a certain sum in rates to the parish which was fixed on the assessment value, and it was a case in which there might be a fair claim for goodwill. But when the Council acquire vacant land there is no goodwill attaching to it, and it is not assessed, and therefore pays no rates. The landowner simply holds the land until such time as he thinks he can command a good price for it, and then he sells it. I consider our present system is a very unjust one. When the County Council acquire the land they have to pay through the nose for it, and if they acquire it through the Lands Clauses Act they have to pay even a higher price still. I think myself that 1013 no fairer basis can be taken for purchase than the assessment for rates. It is no argument to say that because land is not assessed it should not be purchased at its assessable value. I think that would be a much better and much cheaper system for the local authorities than the present system. In the clause I now propose I am fair to the landowner, because I am willing to allow him for any increase of the value of his land brought about, not by himself, but by any improvement which the local authority may have carried out in the neighbourhood.
New clause—For the purposes of Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, a local authority may acquire land compulsorily at a price based on the annual value assessed for taxation, and they may schedule any site for acquisition within live years from the date of the notice of their intention to the owner, and may take possession six months after notice has been served upon the said owner. The price to be paid for such land shall not exceed the value of the land when it is scheduled, plus any additional value accruing at the rate' of the average annual increase of value of the site for live years previous to the date of such scheduling."—(Mr. Steadman.)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I have no doubt that the intentions of the hon. Member are admirable, but this clause seems to me one of the most remarkable that was ever drafted. The land is to be taken compulsorily at its value as "assessed for taxation." I suppose the hon. Member means rateable value. He then went on to tell us that vacant land was not assessed at all, and therefore I suppose that the purchase price in that case would be absolutely nothing. At present land can only be taken by compulsion under a Provisional Order or by an Act of Parliament, with safeguards which give the landowner reasonable security that he will receive a fair payment. Apparently this is not to be so under this clause. Laud is to be taken compulsorily, and there is not a word about the machinery to be provided. The land is to be taken by the local authorities at their own sweet will, and i suppose at any number of years purchase they please, because there is not a word about that in the 1014 clause. Then again, land is to be scheduled, though how is not, explained: nor is it explained how notice is to be given to the landowner. The meaning of land being scheduled, so far as I can judge, is that if there, is a rise in the value of the land, the local authority is to have power to take it from the owner five years after being scheduled at, I think the hon. Member said, an increase of 5 per cent., although the land may have increased in value 50 per cent. or 100 per cent. I do not find in the clause any corresponding provision for dealing with land that has been scheduled and that has decreased in value. If there is a fall in the value of the land the local authority is not bound to take it. It appears to me to be a case of "Heads I win, tails you lose." I think it is one of the most harum-scarum proposals ever submitted to the House.
MR. H. C RICHAKDS (Finsbury, E)
May I ask the hon. Member for Stepney if these clauses were drafted by anyone on the London County Council?
§ MR. STEADMAN
The reply to the hon. Member is in the negative, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, he seemed rather to ridicule this clause, but, after all, the question under discussion is no laughing matter to the working classes of London. The landowner to-day can keep his land vacant as long as he likes. Fifty years back it may have been only worth a song, but land is increasing in value year after year, and the landowner knows that. What does it matter to him if the working classes cannot be housed? A man called on me on Saturday afternoon in my own constituency. He had been bundled out of his house with his wife and family, and had not a place to lay his head. He had to go round to some friends seeking accommodation until such time as he could find one or two rooms. The landowner is indifferent to all that. He says, "The land belongs to me "—though I should like to know who gave it to him in the first place—and like Shylock he insists upon having his pound of flesh before he parts with it. If land is not assessed I say it should be assessed, and if vacant land were compelled to pay rates landlords would not be so ready to hold it, and would be prepared to sell it at a reasonable price, 1015 Let the local authority, who assess our buildings and houses at present, assess the land also, and let them have the power to purchase that land on its assessment value.
§ MR. MADDISON
The right hon. Gentleman in his eloquence spoke of this clause as a harum-scarum proposal, and the hon. Member for East Finsbury, with his well-known love for the working-classes, had nothing to contribute to this debate except an unworthy insinuation against my hon. friend the Member for Stepney. It would have been more to the point if the hon. Member for East Finsbury had attempted, in some way or other, to controvert the principle on which this clause is based, and to have helped my hon. friend to improve the clause. Candidly, I cannot support this clause as it is drafted; but I really think it is a little unfair for the hon. Member for East Finsbury to indulge in what is almost ridicule at the expense of my hon. friend. He does not profess to be a statesman. He has no professional draughtsman at his beck and call, and he has to depend, in a very special way, upon facilities which are not of the best. But, after all, the principle of this clause goes to the very root of the real trouble of the housing problem. In the course of the debate it has been repeatedly pointed out that this is not a purely London question, and I venture to say that if hon. Members went to members of corporations throughout the country, who are brought face to face with the housing problem, in its most acute form, and asked them to put their finger on its root difficulty they would say, unless they were Moderates of the London County Council type, that it was the difficulty of getting cheap land. There can be no doubt that my hon. friend sees the difficulty of getting land at all, at any sort of price, having regard on the one hand to the interests of the ratepayers, and on; the other hand to the necessity of getting houses for the working classes. The House will have to face this problem some of these days. We shall have to assort the sound economic and sacred principle that land docs not exist for private convenience and profit, and that wherever that private convenience or profit runs athwart the very necessities of the people in the matter of housing, the landlords will have to sell their land 1016 at a fair price. The purpose of the clause is to preserve the very life of the people. Everybody knows that the landowners are exacting what is really a blood tax on the community. More than that, sometimes the corporations are not prepared to pay the blood tax, and something still worse happens. Therefore, when my hon. friend seeks to secure a more equitable basis for the purchase of land than now exists, he wishes to establish a principle which has had the support of some of the greatest economists of the day, and which cannot at all be called revolutionary. The right hon. the President of the Local Government Board, in his vigorous attack on the hon. Member for Stepney, turned his proposed clause upside down, and the right hon. Gentleman's speech got more confused than the clause itself. The right hon. Gentleman is the champion of the landowners, but, at any rate, he might have been fair even to my hon. friend the Member for Stepney. I regret that my hon. friend has not been able to clothe the great principle contained in this clause in move suitable Parliamentary and legal language; but I am here to say, and I say it sincerely, that instead of the jeers which came from benches opposite, credit might have been given him for the courage, which I am sure elicits our admiration, with which he has endeavoured to put, not a harum-scarum scheme, but a sound, economic, and just proposal, before the House. Its only defect is that he has failed to adopt a form of drafting best fitted to meet the case; but he has done more than the hon. Member for East Finsbury, who poses as the hero of the working classes.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
said he wished to move a clause relating to the powers of medical officers of health in reference to the insanitary conditions of houses; but as the clause was not on the Paper, and \ras rather a lengthy one, he would move it, with permission, on the Report stage.
§ *MR. CHANNING
said that the clause of which he gave notice at an early stage of the Bill would, he understood, come in here. The principle of this clause was contained in Parts I. and II. of the Act 1017 of 1890, and what he proposed was that the same principles should be applied to the acquisition of land under Part III. for the provision of houses for the working classes by local authorities outside their areas, He had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would say that the Government would accept the first part of his clause, hut possibly not the more controversial part, which stated that the arbitrator should not make any allowance in respect of compulsory purchase. They were face to face with a tremendous problem in our great towns, and what he asked the Committee to affirm was that the provision of house accommodation to prevent overcrowding was a question of equally urgent importance with the dealing with insanitary areas, and unhealthy houses. Those who were familiar with the evidence given before the Royal Commission would remember the argument of the Colonial Secretary in reply to questions of Lord Salisbury. The Colonial Secretary then supported the principle of this clause, and urged that the extra compensation in respect of compulsory purchase was withheld from the owners of healthy, as well as unhealthy, houses within the insanitary area in the public interest. The same reasoning held here. This question of overcrowding, and the evil of single-roomed houses, is one of imperative importance in the interests of humanity and of our country.
New clause —The price of any land taken by a rural district council for the purposes of this Act otherwise than by agreement shall be determined by a single arbitrator to be named by the Local Government Board, and the arbitrator in determining the price of such land shall not make any addition in respect of compulsory purchase."—(Mr. Channing.)—brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. CHAPLIN
If the hon. Member had moved the clause limiting his proposal to the rural districts, I should have had no difficulty in accepting the first part of his clause. I quite agree with that part, but as to the second part, while I think it is very desirable to cheapen the price of land for a great national purpose, there is no reason whatever why, in regard to land which is not insanitary, and which is outside the area which is taken for a par- 1018 ticular purpose, for the first time, the owners of that particular property should be subject to a disability from which other owners are free. Why should the owners of such land be debarred from the advantage, if advantage it was, of obtaining a decision by the appointed tribunal?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Cheapen the price of land if you please; but do not let the burden fall on one class of the community.
§ *MR. CHANNING
said that he could not understand the objection to the principle of a single arbitrator in urban districts when it could be accepted as regards rural districts.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said there were a good many Parliamentary precedents for single arbitrators— the Light Railways Act, the Public Health (Scotland) Act, the Local Government (Scotland) Act; and the principle was sanctioned in the single arbitrators appointed by the Local Government Board. It was too late in the day for the President of the Local Government Board to say that there was something novel in it. It was found also in the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. The President of the Local Government Board said that if the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire limited his clause to the first part he would accept it, but he (Mr. Caldwell) objected to all these bargains across the floor of the House. If it was right, why not adopt it at once? But if bargains were to be made they ought to be made behind the Speaker's chair. In regard to the second part of the clause, there was a precedent for it in the Housing of the Working Classes Act and the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1894, and he was astonished that the Government, having sanctioned the principle within the last three or four years in four or five different Acts of Parliament, should now refuse to adopt it in this Act. He was not going to talk the Bill out, but he asked the right hon. Gentleman to agree to the clause as it stood now, and if he wanted any modification in regard to the language they could consider that on the Report stage.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 78; Noes, 161. (Division List No. 161.)1021
|Asher, Alexander||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Price, Robert John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Horniman, Frederick John||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert H.||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Billson, Alfred||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'lnd)||Runciman, Walter|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)|
|Brigg, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||M'Crae, George||Sinclair, Capt. Jno. (Forfars.)|
|Caldwell, James||M'Kenna, Reginald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Colville, John||Maddison, Fred.||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Steadman, William Charles|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Strachey, Edward|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose)||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Duckworth, James||Morris, Samnel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Moulton, John Fletcher||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Murnaghan, George||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Nussey, Thomas Willians||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||Oldroyd, Mark||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Harrington, Timothy||Paulton, James Mellor||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddrsfi'ld)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seal e-||Perks, Robert William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hazell, Walter||Philipps, John Wynford||Mr. Channing and Mr.|
|Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Dewar.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lowles, John|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Fisher, William Hayes||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Flower, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Galloway, William Johnson||Malcolm, Ian|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Garfit, William||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gedge, Sydney||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Brstl)||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Bethell, Commander||Goldsworthy, Major-General||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morgan, Hn. F.(Monmouthsh.)|
|Bond, Edward||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gosehen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. George's)||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Butcher, John George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys)||Hamilton, Rt Hon. Lord George||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Hardy, Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlingtn)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worcr)||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Penn, John|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hobhouse, Henry||Percy, Earl|
|Charrington, Spencer||Houston, R. P.||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Colomb, Sir Jn. Charles Ready||Kenyon, James||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward|
|Corbett, A, Cameron (Glasgow)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Purvis, Robert|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Keswick, William||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Cotton- Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Knowles, Lees||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lafone, Alfred||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Richardson, Sir Thos. Hartlep'l|
|Denny, Colonel||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.||Ridley, Rt Hn Sir Matthew, W.|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swansea)||Robertson, Herbert(Hackney)|
|Doughty George||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Round, James|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Faber, George Denison||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'hm)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (M'nc'r)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Russall, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Finch, George H.||Lowe, Francis William||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Seely, Charles Hilton||Tomlinson. W. K. Murray||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)||Warr, Augustus Frederick||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Smith, Hon. W. F. B.(Strand)||Welby, Lt, -Cl. A. C. E. (Taunt'n)||Wyndham, George|
|Stephens, Henry Charles||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Stock, James Henry||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Strauss, Arthur||Whiteley, H. (Asht'n-under-L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Sir William Walrond and|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)||Mr. Anstruther|
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 268.]