§ DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
It is with profound disappointment I view the fact that there is no promise made in the King's Speech of any intention to attempt to deal this session with the appalling problem of the housing of the working classes. I never have dealt, and do not propose now to deal, with this question in a partisan spirit. I do not forget that twenty years ago the Prime Minister then a private Member—moved a Resolution which led to the appointment of a Royal Commission in whose deliberations the King took part, neither do I forget that the late Prime Minister brought a similar motion before the House of Lords, which also helped in the setting up of the Royal Commission. But I do want to say this, that in my opinion the present Administration has lost a golden opportunity of dealing with this problem. It has been in office for seven years; it has had unparalleled power in both Houses of Parliament, and certainly it might, without proposing any great heroic measure, have, year by year and step by step, done something to mitigate the evils arising from the lack of proper housing accommodation. I go back to the General Election of 1895. There was no war issue before the people at that time, and the present Administration unquestionably secured office by their bold and comprehensive scheme of social reform. What lias resulted from that programme? In 1899 the Colonial Secretary took over a private Member's Bill to enable local authorities to lend money to working people with which to buy their own houses. No doubt the Government expected a great deal from that measure, for on the Motion for the Third Reading on 4th July, 1899, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said—I do not like to be optimistic so I will content myself by saying that here is a Bill which carries out one of the most important pledges the Unionist Party gave at the General Election. We believe that it will be successful and that it will be a great advantage to the working-class population.But what has been the result? After four years administration we were told by the President of the Local Government Board in the fall of last year that of all the millions of people in England† See (4) Debates, lxxiii, 1478.143 and Wales there had been the microscopic number of forty-four individual loans under the Act. There had been one application in London from the Hammersmith County Council, but it was of such a character that the authority did not think it would be legal to acquiesce in it, and the individual eventually got his loan through a private agency. That is the sole result of the measure from which such big things were expected. But that is not all. In 1900 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford passed a Bill through the House enabling municipalities to purchase land outside their own areas for the purposes of housing. There has not been much result from that Act. The London County Council have undoubtedly taken up two great schemes by means of its agency, but I am very doubtful indeed whether the Government can show any substantial participation in the great privileges which were to spring from it, in any part of the country except London. I have made careful inquiry and I cannot find that that Act has been anything more than rather barren of results. It should have been accompanied by provisions for the cheap and effective transit of the people from their places of occupation to the new municipal dwellings which were to be set up five, ten, or even fifteen miles away. And that exhausts the record of their harvest of five years of unparalleled power.
Then came the General Election of 1900. That was obscured by the war issue. But it is remarkable, even under these circumstances, the extent to which the housing of the working classes was made a prominent question in the election speeches and addresses of Members of all parties at that time; and there are now forty Members on the other side of the House who not only made it a matter of speechifying, but put into their election addresses a specific promise that they would treat it as and urgent and pressing question. No doubt, when we come to a division, we shall find them giving effect to that pledge. In January, 1901, the then Home Secretary, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, received a deputation of temperance reformers asking him to bring forward temperance legislation. To that the right hon. Gentleman gave and extremely commonsense reply. He said that many things 144 might be done, apart from direct temperance legislation, which would do more for temperance than direct licensing reform. The right hon. Gentleman addes—They wanted more comfort for the people in their own houses; and those of them who knew something about the squalid character of the houses in which large masses of our people dwelt, could not wonder if the comfort which they could not get in their squalid dwellings, they endeavoured to find elsewhere in brighter surroundings. He believed the public conscience was aroused to a degree never before reached by this question of the housing of our people, and, to his mind, it was of immensely more importance that this evil should be remedied than even that the number of public house licences should be reduced.I remember the President of the Local government Board received a deputation from the Workmen's National Housing Council in February, 1901, urging housing reform, and at the very outset of his reply the right hon. Gentleman made this statement—I admit that the question of the housing of the working classes is more pressing and more important than most of the social problems with which we are confronted.That was two years ago, and I should like to know what has since been done to carry out the pledges which that statement seems to imply.
Certainly the whole of the session of 1901 was absolutely barren, and nothing was done in that year with regard to this problem. What about 1902? There was no promise in the King's Speech of any endeavour to deal with the matter, and I therefore ventured to move and Amendment, with the result, in the first place, that the Select Committee which had been appointed the year before, but had not been called together, was immediately summoned; and, in the second place, and independent Joint Committee of both Houses was appointed. I very well remember that the impression left on my mind at that time was that it was the sincere and honest purpose of the Government to deal promptly with the recommendations of those two Select Committees when they came into their hands. The first Select Committee dealt with the advisability of extending the period for the repayment of housing loans contracted by municipal authorities. The present limit is sixty years, and there was a general agreement that it might be extended to eighty. The Member for South Islington, indeed 145 moved in the Select Committee that it should be 100 years, and he was only beaten by eight votes to six. Still, as I said, there was general agreement that the term might be made eighty years, as such an extension of the period of repayment would enable local authorities by a few pence per week to reduce the rents they are compelled to charge for these tenements. I desire to know why we cannot this session have legislation to carry out that recommendation. There were other matters in the Report of the Committee to which I am referring, but they were of an administrative character, and I am prepared to hear from the President of the Local Government Board that they are receiving the close attention of, and will be dealt with, by his Department. The Second Select Committee was a Joint Committee of both Houses, and of it I had the honour to be a member. It was called together to consider whether the Standing Orders of this House incorporated in Model Clauses, in Railway Bills and Provisional Orders imposing rehousing obligations on companies and authorities, might not be stiffened and rendered less easy of evasion. The evidence showed that there had been evasions, and we therefore proposed a series of clanses making them less possible. Why cannot we this year have the Orders of this House stiffened, if necessary by legislation on the lines suggested by this Select Committee? These are two extremely moderate requests, but even if granted they would barely touch the fringe of this question of the housing of the working classes.
There are many more things which require to be done, and to be done promptly. We want a drastic reform of the Land Laws. I cannot ask the Government to undertake that this session. I wish it success in its endeavour to solve the Irish land problem, and I hope that, when it has done that, we may be able to apply certain precedents thus created to other parts of the United Kingdom. But this question of the land, and of urban land in particular, on account of the enormous cost of it, is the main obstacle in the way of municipal housing in great cities. Take the familiar case of the Boundary Street area. It was an area described as filthy and verminous. This was the official description of it given by the London County Council: 146In a majority of instances the houses were so constructed that the ground floors were from twelve to eighteen inches below the street level. No house possessed such a thing as a front door, no repairs were ever done, what backyards there ever were had been covered in to make new tenements, and thus we have a bare idea of the state of things which caused the death rate in that particular neighbourhood to mount up to over forty per 1000 in 1889, although at the same time the death rate at Hampstead was only thirteen per 1000 and at St. George's, Hanover Square, fifteen per 1000.I remember the First Lord said on that occasion that if every slum owner was hung on his own door lintel he would not shed many tears over them. But nothing of that kind happened to these slum owners. Instead of that they got £333,000 from the London County Council, or £300 for every family that was about to be re housed by the County Council, merely for clearing the property. I confess I have never been able to understand why the municipal authorities should be compelled at once to repay the loan for the land. The land is not likely to diminish in value, and why should not the payment for it be allowed to stand over until the cost of the building has been paid off. That, at any rate, would mitigate the rent which has at present to be fixed so high as to make the new tenements prohibitive for the very class of people for whom they are intended. I have another proposition not of a very drastic character. I do not know why local authorities should not be permitted to borrow cheap money for the purposes of this Act. Why cannot they borrow at 2½ per cent? The Treasury could make up the difference between that and the current rate of interest. Still, as that may be deemed to be a big order I will not press it on the Government.
I think the Board of Trade does not do its duty in compelling the great railway companies to carry out the obligations into which they entered under the Act of 1883. They then obtained a remission of the Passenger Duty, and I know that the companies having termini in London have received many millions of money in order that they should run a sufficient number of workmen's trains. Now the greatest diversity is permitted by the Board of Trade in regard to that Cheap Trains Act. The Great Eastern Railway runs over 100 workmen's trains into its London ter- 147 minus daily, whereas the Midland only runs five a day, and one result of the diversity of practice is that you create a new housing problem along the line which runs the greatest number of trains. Again, diversity obtains with regard to the cost of workmen's tickets. The Great Eastern take a man ten miles each way daily for a charge of 1s. per week: for a like distance on the Great Western the charge is 4s. weekly, a big sum if you add it to the rent which a man has to pay out of his small wages. I think the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade should brisk up the companies and make them carry out their obligations. I am convinced that we want a new Cheap Trains Act altogether. The present Act is twenty years old. Today hundreds of thousands of young people, especially girls, come into London to work. They do not commence their duties till 9 or 9.30, but if they desire to take advantage of the cheap train service they have to reach St. Pancras by twelve minutes past seven in the morning, or Liverpool Street before eight o'clock. That means early rising on their part, and then hanging about the railway stations until they can go to work. So grave is this scandal that a number of clergymen in the neighbourhood of St. Pancras have opened their churches in order to provide these unhappy people with warm shelter during the time they are compelled to hand about. We want, then, a Cheap Trains Act brought up-to-date. I daresay the answer will be that the railway companies cannot do more than they are doing now. My rejoinder to that is that they should be as enterprising as they possibly can in meeting the needs of the working classes; otherwise they will be left high and dry by the electrification of municipal tram ways, and by the extension of all forms of locomotion by municipalities. It is to their own interest to give a more generous interpretation to the provisions of the Cheap Trains Act.
I have not said a single word about the precise nature of this problem, and I do not know that I need do so. Hon. Members must have often seen the census returns, which show the extent to which these unhappy people are compelled to live in overcrowded dwellings. They are of all 148 ages and of all sexes, and very frequently eight, ten, and even twelve, have to live in one room. Do hon. Gentlemen think that chastity of thought and of action are possible under such circumstances? The returns of the Medical Officers of Health show in a most relentless way how disease and death, with the fiendish accompaniment of crime, mark this overcrowding, and some of us must be aware, from experience in our own constituencies, that drunkenness and immorality are equally concomitants of this deplorable evil of overcrowding. At a meeting at Bermondsey Town Hall recently the Rev. Henry Pitt, the Vicar of St. Mary's, Southwark, gave some startling figures with regard to over crowding in that parish. He stated that there were 9,896 tenements of only one room; while 12,480 consisted of only two rooms. Then he went on to point out that in each of two of the one room tenements ten persons lived; in one, nine; in one, eight; in each of ten, seven; in each of thirty-five, six; in each of 201, five; and in each of 727, four. In the parish of St. Mary's, in the old Kent Road, in one particular area there lived under these circumstances at the time 1,200 people, and it was pitiable to think of human beings thus herded together. Was it any wonder that with their starvation rate of wages, and with the exorbitant rents for miserable accommodation men and women were driven into the public-house? The rev. gentleman on that occasion made a significant statement. He said that the patience of the poor often surprised him, and that the absence of serious crime and disorder was most honourable to those whose social life was nothing less than slavery. The rev. gentleman spoke of this state of things as being a menace to our Imperial greatness. I say it is even more than that. It is a challenge to our claim to be considered a Christian community.
The Colonial Secretary recently made a speech at Kimberley, in which he referred, in very expansive tones, to the glories and privileges of our Empire. He said—You are invited to share the privileges and glories of Empire. The Empire is a great and priceless possession which we cannot weigh in the balances. It is the greatest in extent that 149 the world has ever known before. What a heritage! You are co-heirs with us in its privileges and glories.Now there are within a four-mile radius of this particular spot, in which we are assembled, tens of thousands, of our fellow citizens to whom this talk of the privileges, glories, and priceless possessions of Empire is a hideous mockery. I say this in no partisan spirit. They sit in a never-lifting shadow of misery and distress, and at the same time we sit in an Imperial fool's paradise, lulled into indifference by their stolid and uncomplaining patience. So long as these things remain as they are our Imperial greatness cannot be stable, and it will be the business of many of us, on this side of the House as well as on the other, to insist, unceasingly and unremittingly, on some effort being made to deal with this terrible problem, which is the canker of our Imperial well-being. It is on that ground that I move my Amendment.
*MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
I think the House owes a debt of gratitude to my hon. friend for bringing this important question forward. We are sorry that it should be necessary to move this Amendment to the Address. But it refers to a subject which, I think, may be fairly described as the most important social question of the day, and we are driven to take this step because the Government, in spite of the fact that they profess to have the subject deeply at heart, give no sign of taking any action to provide for some amelioration of this evil of over-crowding. In order to solve the problem it is necessary that we should have legislation of far-reaching and drastic kind. My hon. friend has thrown out some hope that some measure may be produced based on the Reports of the two Committees which sat last year. But while I agree with him that we should be thankful for anything we can get, I am bound to say that if any political Party in this country is desirous of curing the evil it will not be able to do it by piece-meal legislation. We have been passing Acts of Parliament in connection with the subject for the last fifty years, and if any evidence is wanted of the inefficiency of those Acts, we have only to point to the present deplorable condition of the 150 question. My hon. friend has given the House some figures, and it would be easy for anybody to produce the most harrowing accounts of the present state of affairs. Undoubtedly it is generally accepted by the country at large that this question is both urgent and pressing. Within the last two or three years we have had instalments of legislation intended to deal with this matter. One has been referred to by my hon. friend. It was the Act of Parliament passed purporting to give working men and opportunity of buying their dwellings. I know from the circumstances of my own constituency, where there is a peculiar desire for residences of this description, that this Act has not been of the slightest benefit whatsoever. There has not been one single application under it, because it is well known that it would be useless. Two years ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford, then President of the Local Government Board, passed through this House an Act which gave a local authority power to acquire land outside its own area. At that time we urged the necessity of extending the Cheap Trains Act, so that proper facilities might be provided for people to get to and from their dwellings. But that extension was denied to us, and consequently the Act has proved to be a dead letter.
I propose now in a few words to endeavour to put before the House what are the problems to be faced. I think I may say there are three of them. In the first place there is the great question of overcrowded area sin urban centres. An overcrowded area is necessarily an insanitary area, and I suppose that existing Acts of Parliament, if properly enforced, ought to be able to deal effectively with such areas. But they are not, and I will tell the House the reason for it. First there is the question of compensation to the owners of the insanitary areas. It should be a dangerous possession for a man to either hold or to be possessed of an insanitary area, but, in reality, the more insanitary it is the greater is the amount of compensation which he obtains. This is the first great block we have to deal with. We want to get rid of the over-crowded areas of this country, and I suggest that we must, by legislative means, impose upon the owners some sort of penalty or punishment so that they will be glad 151 enough to get rid of them. At the present time, undoubtedly, and insanitary area comprises a sort of gilt edged security to those who understand how to deal with that sort of investment. Therefore we must give local authorities power to acquire these sites on such terms as will enable them to re-erect healthy homes which can be let at reasonable rents, or else impose upon the owner the responsibility of clearing his own site, and of replacing upon it houses that can be utilised by the present class of tenants. The only way to do that is to base the compensation on the value of the site when re-occupied by buildings suitable for the same class of people as lived on it before that clearance. Of course, this would involve legislation, and I think that my hon. friend is entitled to insist that it is the duty of the Government to provide a remedy for the evils to which he has called attention.
The next problem is of a rather different character. It is one involving the hoarding of land. Now, this is not merely a London question. It affects other great urban centres, and it applies to districts where there is land in abundance surrounding a town. I will take the case of the constituency which I represent— Devonport. There we have a splendid country surrounding the town. We have thousands of acres available, but, inasmuch as the land is in the possession, practically, of only one owner, the takes advantage of his monopoly to lease it out in retail quantities, and the result is that in that district you have the same hideous over-crowding as prevails in other great centres. The suggestion I would make, in order to compel the landlord to loose his land, is to see that it is taxed as its proper value. At the present moment, the land I am referring to is rated only on it agricultural value, yet the landlord has the power, when it comes into the market, to ask a capital price for it, representing many thousands of pounds per acre. This very landlord, when the Rating Act was passed, received the full benefit of the Act because the land, and worth as such many thousand pounds per acre, was let as agricultural land. Therefore, I say, not only has the overcrowding in the big cities to be dealt with, but also the system whereby men are allowed to hoard land 152 and re-lease it in such quantities that an altogether fictitious value is obtained.
There is a third problem to which I refer, because of the Act passed two years ago giving local authorities power to acquire land outside their own borders. That power is no good at all unless facilities are placed in the hands of local authorities to secure cheap transport from the overcrowded areas to the rural districts. If the Government would only apply themselves to the extension of the Cheap Transport Act, 1883, that point might easily be dealt with.
Consider for a moment the penalty we as a nation pay for the toleration of this hideous evil. Two-thirds and more of our population is in the towns, and the percentage is increasing, and the death-rate rises in almost exact proportion to the amount of overcrowding, while infant mortality increases in an even greater ratio. Can it be beneficial to the interests of the country that every year we should be rally killing off a large proportion of the population? Then there is the immorality, intemperance, disease, and lunacy—all largely due to overcrowding. If these things are not sufficient to awaken the Government on this question, goodness only knows what will stir them to action. Overcrowding is supposed by some to be the inevitable fate of the very poor and destitute. That really is not the case, as I know of hundreds of instances of honest, respectable, hard-working artisans who are compelled to live in these disgraceful surroundings and circumstances because there is no other accommodation available for them. this is a question that cannot be hung up. The Party opposite, individually and collectively, are pledged to do something. The country will not allow them to burk their responsibility. They may have plenty of legislation on hand, but this is one of the most pressing questions of the day, and it is amazing that no reference whatever should be made to it in the King's Speech. The Government have an unrivalled opportunity, and one such as the Liberals will probably never have. They hold the House of Lords in the hollow of their hand. When they come to deal with this question they will have to make inroads on vested interests, and if we were to attempt that our measure would probably fail to pass 153 another place. The Government have not that impediment; they have everything in their favour, and if they sincerely wish to remedy this evil they ought to take advantage of their opportunity. If they fail to deal with the question we should be justified in saying that it is because they fear those vested interests, and that rather than impinge upon them they prefer to tolerate this awful loss of life and health. The real object of the Amendment is to afford the Government the earliest opportunity of stating clearly and frankly where they stand on this most important question. I beg to second the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "At the end of the Question to add the words 'And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the greatest hardships are inflicted upon many of your working-class subjects by reason of the lack of proper housing accommodation, and that immediate Parliamentary attention to this evil is one of the most pressing of the necessities of domestic policy.' "—(Dr. Macnamara.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I think we have reason to complain of the Government in respect of this housing question, in regard not only to the lack of promise of legislation, but also to the administration of the existing law. The Local Government Board does not appear to act sympathetically towards the local authorities or other parties concerned, nor is the experience gained in one quarter utilised in another. Above all, the Government does not seem to realise that the first business in the matter of housing, especially in London, is to ascertain the deficiency of housing accommodation. To get that information no fresh legislation is necessary; it simply requires the existing machinery to be put in motion, either from Whitehall or through the local authorities. Those of us who are doing what we can through private enterprise to meet this great deficiency of accommodation find ourselves bound hand and foot by all sorts of regulations; if we go to the local authority we get the invariable reply that they are equally bound by more or less obsolete regulations; while we are told by the Local Government Board that they have no 154 power to interfere with the local authorities so long as they conform to certain rules. The Government, however, appears to have realised in some measure that the building regulations have a very great bearing on the activities of private individuals, because recently a Departmental Committee has been examining into the question. But if the deliberations and decisions of the Joint Committees to which reference has been made are any criterion, I fear we cannot hope for much practical result from these Committees, so far as the Government is concerned, by legislation. I would remind hon. Members that as far as the Committee appointed to deal with the housing of the working classes is concerned, that body did make recommendations. I need not weary the House with details, but I will confine myself to one of its recommendations, namely, that the Committee came to the conclusion that the regulations laid down under the Model Clauses should be established by a public Act of Parliament. I think if His Majesty's Ministers thought fit to announce their intention of putting into operation the recommendations of that Committee they would be taking a step in the direction of valuable, because effective, reform relating to the housing problem. I wish to point out, however, that one of the most important questions to be dealt with in London is locomotion, a question which is being dealt with by the Royal Commission on Locomotion. If hon. Members will consider the composition of that body they will see that it is composed of gentlemen most of whom would be admirable witnesses but ought not to be judges because of their connection with vested interests.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! To discuss the composition of the Commission on London Traffic would be out of order on this Motion.
*MR. CLAUDE HAY
I was merely referring to the fact that locomotion was intimately associated with this question, and I wish to ask in reference to that side of the subject whether my right hon. friend the Home Secretary can give us any information as to how the difficulties between the North-Western Railway and the Home Department stand in respect of 155 the housing of the people in London. I should like to join with my hon. friend in pressing upon the Government the necessity for some definite legislation upon these matters. The Government have no doubt had pressed upon them by various associations demands for the institution of a central authority which should co-ordinate all the working of the Housing Acts throughout London, and I agree that if His Majesty's Government were inclined to entertain their request favourably it would be necessary to pass a Bill to authorise the appointment of two or three permanent commissioners. No doubt hon. Members are so familiar with all the advantages which would accrue from the appointment of permanent commissioners that it is not necessary for me to dilate upon them. At present the problem seems to be partially dealt with by the London County Council in the first place, in the second place by the Borough Councils, and in the third place by the Local Government Board, and in respect of private Bills by the Home Office.
Surely in that state of the law and administration it is absolutely necessary that there should be some strong body which should be permanently able to advise and co-ordinate the various schemes which may be on foot for the treatment of this great national question.
There is one other respect in which we all desire to see some improvement in the law, and that is as regards the Small Dwellings Act. Hon. Members have been reminded by the hon. Member for Camberwell that practically this Act has been a dead letter, and the reason for this is that the financial arrangements connected with it do not bring it within the range of practical business, or within reach of the persons whom it is intended should be benefited. If the Government were to facilitate the advance of public money upon what undoubtedly is good security on more favourable terms, a great many of those private semi-philanthropic companies would be largely brought into play instead of remaining more or less dormant. At present the sanitary laws are not properly enforced. You have in Lord Shaftesbury's Acts very ample powers within the definition of the law to deal with what are known as common lodging houses, but if you desire to enforce any useful provision which applies to such dwellings, you are practically excluded from putting it into 156 force in the houses of the poor who have separate occupation of one or more rooms in what are generally known as tenements. The hon. Member for Battersea is conversant with this part of the subject, and no doubt he will be able to say something which will bring that side of the housing question very vividly to mind of the House. I do most earnestly hope, as a supporter of the Government, that the omission from His Majesty's Speech of any reference to the housing problem does not mean any lack of intention on the part of the Ministry of passing some of those sound practical measures to establish machinery which ought to be in full swing to remedy the terrible evils which are not only saddening to every one of us who cares for the welfare of our country, but which must inflict a lasting injury not only upon the physique, but upon the morals and the greatness of our country.
*MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, N.R., Cleveland)
I wish more particularly to refer to the rural aspect of the housing problem. There is no doubt at all that there are many farm labourers' cottages in Gloucestershire or Wiltshire which are just as insanitary and over crowded as the houses in Camberwell or Devonport, and there are many picturesque villages in the Midlands which could show slums almost as bad as any of those in our great cities. There is no doubt that in the rural districts there are thousands of cases where the cottages are defective in structural repair, and in regard to their sanitary condition, and which are most dangerous to the health of the occupiers. This unquestionably is due to the fact that taking the country as a whole, the number of cottages is insufficient for the population which desires to live in the villages, and the people are compelled to remain in unsuitable houses simply because there are no others. I know of one village with a population of about 430 where there are no fewer than thirty cottages with only one bedroom. In one instance there is a man and his wife and eight children sleeping in one room, and this cottage has never been visited or inspected either by the medical officer or by the sanitary inspector. I have frequently been in cottages in Oxfordshire in which the conditions 157 under which the people live are gravely injurious to health, and I have heard the bitterest complaints from those who inhabit them against the conditions under which the people are compelled to live. There was a most careful inquiry made into the rural housing problem by the Royal Commission on Labour. This inquiry covered a large number of districts in all parts of England and Wales, and the reports of the Assistant Commissioners give abundant evidence that the housing problem in the rural districts urgently demands attention.
A summary of those reports on rural districts was made by Mr. Little, one of the Assistant Commissioners of the Royal Commission, and his report states that "there is abundant evidence to show that a large proportion of the cottages inhabited by labourers are of a lower standard than is required for decency and comfort," and he states that "the agricultural labourer too frequently lives under conditions which, both physically and morally, are unwholesome and offensive." The Royal Commission itself, in its majority report, states that "the chief evil to which it appears possible administrative remedies should be applied, is the defective structure and insanitary condition of the dwellings of agricultural labourers." The Royal Commission on Welsh Land reported with regard to Wales in very similar terms. I quote these to show that these are not imaginary grievances, because after very careful inquiry these authorities have declared that the problem is one which requires the attention of the Government and of this House. The effects of these conditions to the health, happiness, comfort and morality of those who have to live under them cannot fail to be grave, and the defects in our housing system in the villages is in no small degree responsible for the rural depopulation, which we all deplore. It is because the people cannot get comfortable houses in which to live that many of them are tempted to come into the towns where they may be able to secure proper housing accommodation.
The Chambers of Agriculture throughout the country are now beginning to pass resolutions to the effect that the housing question in country districts is closely connected with the question of rural 158 depopulation, and the last meeting of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, of which I have the honour to be a member, also passed a similar resolution. This House would surely be rendering a great service to the country as a whole if it dealt with this side of the rural depopulation question, and so helped to put a check on that migration from the country to the town which is one of the most sinister features of the social life of our country at the present moment. The city may breed active minds, but the country breeds healthy bodies, and if the city breeds wealth, the country breeds men. The nation would not be in a healthy state if it became more and more a people of city dwellers, and if the country people gradually dwindled more and more in their numbers. This question of housing is one of the most important in connection with the rural depopulation question, and if only for that reason it should have the attention of the Government. The question of course arises: What definite, practical remedies can be proposed for dealing with the state of things that exists in a large number of our villages? The remedies may be divided into those which require legislation and those which require administrative action. Legislation is required to enable local authorities to build cottages in places where they are most needed. In Ireland, under the Irish Labourers Acts, there are no fewer than 17,000 authorised to be built by Boards of Guardians, and 15,000 have already been built at the cost of £2,000,000.
The present Government adopted the policy, and made it their own, to authorise the building of cottages in villages by local authorities. By the Acts of 1890 and 1900 it gave powers to the District Councils to carry out work of this character. The efforts of the Government have not yet been crowned with success, and so far only in two parishes in the whole of England—Ixworth in Suffolk, and Penshurst in Kent—have cottages been built under the Act. These figures come down to the end of 1901, but perhaps the President of the Local Government Board can tell me if any more have been built since then. Only fourteen cottages have been built since 1890, throughout the whole length and breadth of England and Wales, under the Housing of the Working Classes Act in the villages—one cottage to every 1,000 parishes in England and Wales.
159 The reason why this Act has been a dead letter is not only financial. It is not only the fact that it is difficult to make cottages pay. I myself built a couple of cottages in Oxfordshire, as an experiment to see whether they could be built on terms that would produce a remunerative return, and I found, as the result of this experiment, that if a cottage is built and has attached to it a quarter of an acre of land, at a cost of about £200, and if the rent is 3s. a week, the investment would pay 3 per cent. on the capital, and the money will be repaid by a sinking fund within eighty years, the rates will be paid out of the rents, and a small margin will be left for repairs. It may be that 3s. is a rent above what the majority of agricultural labourers are accustomed, or can afford, to pay. No doubt that is true. But on the contrary, every group of cottages built in a village raises the standard of the whole of the cottages in the village. The sanitary authority can close the worst cottages, the artisans can take the new cottages, and the labourers can take the houses vacated by the artisans. That has been found to be the result in various villages where cottages have been built. The reason why the Act of 1890 has not been put into force more frequently, is the extreme cumbersomeness and costliness of the Act. Before a single cottage can be built in a village you have to set in motion first, the District Council; second, the County Council; and third, the Local Government Board, and all have to make their own inquiries; all have to decide in favour of the scheme, after careful inquiry, before a single cottage can be built at the cost of, say, £200. It is like using a Nasmyth hammer to crack an egg. The second reason why the Act has proved a failure is that the method adopted for taking land compulsorily is the most costly and intricate known to the law. The third reason is that loans are not granted by the Local Government Board except on the condition that they are to be repaid, both for land and buildings, within a period of forty years.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. WALTER LONG,) Bristol, S.
Can you give me the 160 name of a parish where a loan has been obtained for cottages?
*MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
I can give you Ixworth, in Suffolk, where the whole loan was £1,800. It was granted by the Local Government Board, on condition that it would be repaid in the way I have indicated. That was, I think, in 1899. The measures proposed by those who have taken an interest in this question for a long time are these. In the first place, that the District Council should be permitted to build without needing the assent of any authority except the Local Government Board. You should eliminate altogether the County Council, except to retain the concurrent powers they already possess to build if the other Council refuses to do so. That would reduce in a great degree the costliness and cumbersomeness of the proceedings. In the second place, the loans for building ought to be permitted to be repaid during a period extending over eighty years. These cottages have to be built substantially, and they will produce a revenue long after the expiration of that period. The land should be treated as an asset, and the loan for its purchase should not be repayable. In the third place, County Councils should be allowed to obtain land compulsorily, where that was necessary, by the same method as allotments are now obtainable compulsorily. It is a method far simpler and cheaper, and entailing less expense and less delay. In the fourth place, the limit of half-an-acre of land, which may be attached to a cottage under the Acts of 1890 and 1900, should be extended to three acres. District Councils will not embark on these schemes if they consider that there is likely to be a loss, nor will the Local Government Board sanction them. If the amount of land were extended from a half to three acres, they would be far more likely to build cottages on terms that would prove remunerative.
Then, with regard to administrative reforms, the defects in the sanitary conditions and the overcrowding of houses are largely due in very many districts to the unsuitability of the persons who are appointed as sanitary inspectors. They have frequently no knowledge, not even the most elementary knowledge, of the very principles of sanitary science, and a very vague knowledge of the require- 161 ments and possibilities of the law. The Local Government Board might perhaps insist that all sanitary inspectors should be certificated persons, as is already done, I believe, in London and other parts of the country, and not permit the appointment of individuals as sanitary inspectors who do not possess a proper certificate of competence. Further there is the question of the building bye-laws on which a deputation went to the Secretary of the Local Government Board from the Royal Institute of British architects, I think last year or the year before. There was great complaint in many quarters that the bye-laws were too stringent, and made building unnecessarily expensive.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Is the hon. Member referring to the new bye-laws recently issued, because I have received no complaints in regard to these? They have been entirely remodelled in the last six months.
*MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think the local authorities should have some pressure placed on them to adopt the new bye-laws, for there are many places where the old bye-laws are still in force, and put considerable difficulty in the way of building. The Government might use powers wherever possible to impress on sanitary authorities their responsibilities in regard to the housing of the people in the various districts. Where cases are brought to the notice of the Local Government Board more stringent and more stern action should be taken against the District Councils in default. In the next place, the Local Government Board might at once, and without any need of legislation, extend the period of loans from forty to sixty years, which is the statutory limit under the Act. These are measures which all seem practical, and would do much to remove the grievances of which complaint is made. To many on this ide of the House, and I think to many also on the other side, it 162 is deeply disappointing to find in the King's Speech this session practically no reference made to measures of social reform. Many of us hold that a prime and constant duty should be to press forward uninterruptedly measures for the improvement of the physical, moral, and intellectual condition of the great masses of the population. This year we are to have apparently only one small measure, dealing with the employment of children out of school hours. I earnestly trust that, although not mentioned in the King's Speech, the Government deal will with the housing question both urban and rural, as well as take such administrative action as is in their power in order to, remove the grievances of which complaint is made. By so doing they will do much to improve the condition of large sections of the population whose interests are committed to our care.
*MR. TRITTON (Lambeth, Norwood)
The hon. Member who has just spoken has referred to this subject as it affects the rural population. I will refer to it for a few moments from the point of view of a London Member. I am spared the necessity of going into harrowing statistics as to the need of legislation on this subject, because the speakers who have already addressed the House have given us ample food for thought in the statistics they read to us, but at the same time I believe myself as one who knows something of this topic that it is perfectly impossible for any speaker to rise in this House and exaggerate the condition of things now existing. If you were to go to any clergyman, any city missionary, any district visitor, any Bible woman, any volunteer man or woman who is going about seeking to relieve the spiritual and temporal necessities of the dwellers in the crowded cities, they will tell you that there is no greater difficulty which meets them at every turn than the ghastly way in which the people are herded together. It is almost impossible to convince people, living under these circumstances, of the doctrine of the love of God. It seems almost idle to speak to these people living in such wretched hovels of the many mansions promised in the better land beyond the grave. I believe that deep down in our inmost 163 hearts there is not any Member of this House but feels, at times, an almost overpowering sadness at the contrasts of existence in this great city, and as he thinks of the awful condition and circumstances under which so many of the poor people live. As a loyal supporter of the Government I desire to express, as has already been expressed, my concern that there is no allusion to this sad subject in the gracious Speech from the Throne.
I believe myself, that the hon. Member for Camberwell was perfectly justified in his statement when, he said that it is the most pressing of all necessities in domestic policy. As the House knows, I am interested in other kindred subjects. I have often thought whether the wretched housing has much to account for the drink, or whether the drink had much to account for the wretched housing. At anyrate, they are kindred subjects which deserve the earnest attention of the House. I have been glad to see that the domestic policy of the Government I have the honour to support has taken an improving turn of late. No better measure has been carried through the House lately than the Licensing Act of last session. We all hope, and I most earnestly believe, that that good start is going to be followed up, and we are looking today—all of us—for a sympathetic answer from my right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board. It is not for me to point out to him, as has already been pointed out at length and so ably by previous speakers, what measures he is to adopt. I know the difficulties of the problem, but it has a considerable attraction for a great Statesman, and the Government which I support can, I believe, well cope with that problem. I hope, therefore, that before long, they will give us no uncertain sound and make some statement that they, as an Executive, recognise that there are tens of thousands of men and women who live in this country in a state which is a disgrace to our national fame, and that they will do something to take away that reproach.
§ MR.JOHN BURNS(Battersea)
Not for the first time has the House of Commons listened to a kindly, non-political and creditable speech from the hon. Member for Norwood. Apart from his innate 164 virtues as a politician, I can attribute much of the sympathy in his speech to the fact that he was born in the parish which I have the honour to represent, and that he possesses that instinctive goodness which characterises all people who come from my bailiwick. He has the deepest sympathy with the struggles of the poor in London, and for many years the hon. Gentleman has earned the reputation which he so well deserves. He has told the House of Commons what his view—which is entirely different form mine—is in regard to this pressing problem in London. I am delighted that the hon. Member should by his speech have put himself in direct opposition to those in his own Parliamentary district who tried yesterday to prevent the London County Council from erecting artisan dwellings in the area of Norwood. I prefer to listen on this subject to the Member for Norwood than to genteel villadom in their petition to the County Council. The hon. Member has told us that some of the drink, much of the vice, and the wretched condition of the houses of the working classes in London are due to overcrowding, Well, from another point of view I wish to add to that testimony. As a County Councillor I have, during the past three weeks, visited eight of those lunatic asylums for which the London County Council is responsible. On eight consecutive days I have had the sad duty imposed upon me—pleasant in some respects, but wholly sad—of seeing 16,000 pauper lunatics, which this city is responsible for maintaining, and going through ward after ward with the sympathetic doctors and the kindly nurses; going from bed to bed, and from ground to ground, and from asylum to asylum. You say to the doctor in such a ward, "What is this?" and he replies, "Drink." And when you ask him if he wants to qualify that, he will add, "Drink, begun by slum life, low wages, and by poverty, which is preventable in the circumference of the Empire." These are facts which some of us are determined shall be brought home to those who care for the life and happiness of the people of this country. Drink, syphilis, and over-crowding—these are the rough causes given by the doctors for the enormous number of lunatics which London, and other cities as well, have to maintain 165 out of the public funds. I venture to say that if the whole of London was housed, not even quite so well, but like the workmen of Messrs. Cadbury at Bourneville, or of Messrs. Lever at Port Sunlight, and of the employees of hon. Members of this House who make no pretence to benevolence or philanthropy in doing it, the average reduction in the ratio of lunatics to the population which would follow would astonish everybody interested in this question.
But, passing from lunatic asylums, only last week, with two Members of the House of Lords who are Members of the London County Council, I gave three days to the inspection of London's Common Lodging-Houses, where the wastrels and unemployables, who, unfortunately, compose those processions we have seen in the streets, in many cases find shelter. If these men are wastrels and loafers and unemployables, it is because too many of them have been born in slums, and reared on gin or grog, with no one to encourage them to face towards the right. When I see wrecks of life-guardsmen and exmilitiamen; when I note that the physique of the poor is getting worse and worse—mainly through their low wages and monotonous toil—and, above all, their bad house accommodation, I am more sympathetic to the renewal of their dwellings than to Mr. Beit's halfmillion or three-quarters of a million, spent on his house in Park Lane. I say it is the primary duty of this House to insist on this and every Government taking this question of improving the housing accommodation of the poor seriously in hand. At this moment, within three hundred yards of the House of Commons, the King is doing, what? why, inaugurating a County Council housing scheme, accompanied by his wife. At this moment His Majesty and the Queen are driving round what was once the site of one of the worst prisons in the country, and on which 5000 people are now housed. I venture to say that if there is one man in England who would have been better pleased than another to have seen a paragraph on the improved housing of the poorer inhabitants of London, it is the King himself. I can assure the President of the Local Government Board that if 166 he will accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Camberwell there is at least one loyal personage who would be delighted to have the King's Speech so supplemented.
What is it that makes the Government timid? Public opinion on this question isripe—over-ripe; and the time has arrived when the fruit should beigathered. Let the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board take heart of grace from the speeches he has heard behind him. Public opinion will support any legislation on the subject. Incidentally I may say that all the results of improved housing are profitable. If we were asking for a burden on the taxes, or an increase in the rates by what we are demanding, I can understand hon. Members objecting; but within the last ten years the London County Council has either housed, is housing, or projecting plans for housing nearly 100,000 of the population of this city—a Population of the size of a city like Chester. And if there had been easier facilities and less red-tape there would have been accommodation for 200,000 people. I do not believe in charity rents. On the contrary, I believe in the people paying fair rents. It does them good and stimulates them to keep their houses in a healthy condition. In fact, the poor would be only too pleased to pay for housing ameliorations. There are, of course, here and there bright patches in the gloom of this picture which has been painted not too darkly as a whole. In the last ten years, even with all the hampering and obstruction, there are 81,000 fewer people living in one-roomed tenements in London than before. But we ought not to have one person with a wife and family living in a one-roomed tenement and the fact that we have still 304,000 living in one-roomed houses is the measure of our work, the standard of our duty, and the gauge of our responsibility. I ask the President of the Local Government Board to read the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, and, indeed, all the medical journals, which always say the right thing on this matter, and he will find that 124,000 people in London are sadly overcrowded, and that nearly all the large towns in the United Kingdom are nearly as bad, whether we go to Belfast, 167 Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester. I have recently been in some of the Midland towns, and the thing which struck me most was how bad was the condition of many of the working-class areas in those towns; and the villages are as bad as the towns. In the villages we expect something like Arcadia with clematis-covered cottages, but within them typhus and other diseases are lurking, and very frequently there is a shocking water supply.
I walked ten miles in a country district the other day to see a very fine country residence occasionally occupied by a Member of this House, and the sad thing to me about that walk was that I only counted seven people. The scarcity of cottages was simply shocking, and when I went into one or two of the villages I was surprised at the scarcity of the houses and at the overcrowding which, under apparently idyllic conditions, prevailed. The cities are as bad as the towns, the towns are as bad as some of the villages, and the rural areas are worse than they should be. Then I, an advocate of private enterprise, may say, "Oh, leave it to private enterprise." I wish I could.
For forms of Government let fools contest; That which is best administered, is best.When private enterprise does not do its duty, it is time that sympathetic public bodies came in. The public authorities have certainly done well under difficult circumstances, but they want to do more. I would appeal to the President of the Local Government Board that, if he wants to stop the rush of men to the towns—which is the most serious problem this country is at present confronted with—he ought to see that in future local authorities should be able to move in the matter of housing quicker, cheaper, and better than they can at present.
Another advocate of private enterprise may say, "We hope to do something by small measures." Four years ago in this House I was told that I was Knocking the bottom out of the Small Houses Acquisition Bill. In four years forty-four houses have been purchased in the United Kingdom by designing owners, under that Act, and it is simply ridiculous to talk about it, because the thrifty workman who buys a house, then adds another, and wants to live out of three or four is the very worst class of landlord. Spare 168 me from the thrifty teetotal deacon who wants to give up work by living on three or four tenants. We are a manufacturing and industrial nation, and our workmen must follow their work. What is the use in giving a workman a brick and mortar anchorage when he cannot pay off the instalments before he dies, and has to leave the house heavily mortgaged. We have got to recognise that the workman must follow his work. Out of 220,000 members in the Hearts of Oak Friendly Society no less than 156,000—thrifty, honest, and able workmen—moved in one year. It is no good telling such men that they can buy their houses, because their work will shift and they will have to follow their employment. Therefore, some public authority has got to step in where private enterprise fails. What we want is, not more house owners, but more houses, better houses, and cleaner houses with cheaper rents. I believe that in London, especially in the East End, we shall have to apply to the rent question some form of judicial rent such as is provided in Ireland in order to prevent 5s., 6s., 7s., and 8s., being paid in Mile. End and Stepney, as rent, by men whose average wage is not more than from 16s. to 18s. a week.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
Would the hon. Gentleman give us his view as to the reason for such an increase of rent?
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I will leave it to the hon. Member who represents the district. I will not repeat what has been already so ably said, but I believe there are a few practical remedies which might be applied. The period of repayment might be extended from thirty or forty years to sixty or seventy years; certainly with regard to, for instance, the Millbank site, eighty or a hundred years would be a proper period when substantial houses are built. Again, there is no reason why we should not have cheaper money for housing than we now have. The London County Council, being a wealthy body, can get money as low as 2 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no!"] Well, I know one occasion on which the County Council borrowed £1,000,000 at 17/8ths per cent., though probably that was because I myself was associated with the promotion 169 of the loan. I believe that the smaller struggling districts should be able to get money cheaply from the Government, just as private owners and corporations are able to get it under the Lands Loans Act. I think, moreover, that if a city like Glasgow or Birmingham makes a large surplus out of its gas, water, and tramways, it ought not to be hampered by the Local Government Board as to how that surplus should be spent. In my opinion, tramway profits generally should be used to cheapen traction, and gas profits to cheapen gas; but the City should be allowed to spend it surplus in its own way, and certainly it ought to be able to spend at least a certain percentage on slum clearances, and so forth.
Another suggestion is that empty houses, deliberately withheld from occupation with a view to enhancing the rental of another portion of the property, should be rated much more heavily than they are at present. Further, I believe that with regard to housing we want the assistance of the Allotments Act. I believe in equal rights for all white men, and I should be delighted to see English Parish councils given the same power of building cottages that has been given to District Councils in Ireland. Again, if a railway wants to dishouse a lot of people it has compulsory power to do it. Why should not Parish and District Councils have the same power in regard to housing? The President of the Local government Board will say that they have that power, but the law only applies where houses are insanitary. I know some houses which are apparently sanitary according to all the tests of the Local Government Board, but they are over-crowded to an extent that is disgraceful.
My last practical suggestion is that local authorities, such as the authorities of Birmingham, Glasgow, and London, should have their traction areas extended in the interests of the better housing of the people, and that they should either give facilities to private companies for traction, or, better still, own their own tramways. It is not much good for the London County Council to take people from Westminster to Tooting, and then be prevented from carrying them four miles further, simply because the British Electric Traction Company have spun a steel web of monopoly all round. Every 170 great city ought to have it transit jurisdiction considerably enlarged. Another point is that the County Council ought to have power to buy houses that are not insanitary. They ought to be allowed to buy property with a rental of £40, £50, or £60 a year, and having three or four storeys, which could be converted into artisans' dwellings almost at once, and at very little expenditure. If time permitted, I could give a few more practical suggestions, but I will only say that we have too much of the warehousing of the women and children, the public-housing of the men, and the workhousing of the aged, which is disastrous both to the men, women, and children, as well as to the nation, and demoralising to the community.
Coming as I do from a Scottish family of rather sturdy stock, nursed as I was upon porridge and mutton broth, never having tasted liquor, and doing my best to preserve my physique under great difficulties, I sympathise most intensely with the occupants of the slums, who are very frequently as they are through no fault of their own. They come to you to ask for a sympathetic hand to help them out of this pit of Tophet, and it is the duty of the President of the Local Government Board to act up to the best traditions of his Department. My advice to him is to insert a paragraph in the King's Speech with regard to this matter. It will meet with approval in high quarters, and will follow up the excellent work done by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in his admirable Licensing Act of last year. If our industrial efficiency is to be maintained, and our commercial supremacy is to be assured, it can only be done in the homes of the working classes. Let us see that strong healthy women produce strong and healthy children, and that when these children are produced they shall be reared not in palaces and surrounded with oriental luxury, but on the simple common fare out of which we were able to produce the men who stood the brunt of Cressy and Agincourt. Let the poor of our big cities have the opportunity for which they crave and we ask; if we give them that opportunity, the man to show them the way is the President of the Local 171 Government Board, on whose shoulders the responsibility rests, and I hope he will rise to the level of his duties.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said he thought his hon. friend, the Member of Camberwell, was well advised to submit this Amendment, and that the hon. Member for Battersea was not far wrong in what he had said, because the position of the agricultural districts was little less than alarming. He was perfectly certain that the want of houses for agricultural labourers was causing the depopulation of the country districts. It was on that account that there was such a derth of labour in the Eastern Counties; and on that account that the villages were full of boys and old men. If such things went on, he was at a loss to see how we were going to man the Navy, to find men for the six Army Corps, or to find men to guard the frontiers of our Empire. The reason of the depopulation of the country districts was obvious. The agricultural labourers of today would not put up with the pigsties which their forbears put up with, with rotten walls and thatches. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and one ounce of practice was worth a pound of theory. He had been putting up a cottage or two himself, and he had found it impossible to put up a pair of cottages under £600. That was the cost, and he could not get more than £4 a year rent. So that his return for an outlay of £600 was £8 a year, of which £2 must be knocked off for insurance, repairs, rates, taxes, etc., so that really all the return for this outlay was one percent. He could not expect poor farmers to lay out their capital for such a return. No man unless he was a fool or a philanthropist who wanted a title would lay out his money for a return of one per cent. interest. He was perfectly well aware that the Local Government Board had lately modified their conditions, and he only hoped they would carry out the modified regulations they had suggested. If the hon. Member for Camberwell was really in earnest, as he (Major Rasch) believed he was, this was the line he ought to adopt, and it was on this line, which was the line of least resistance, that they would derive some effect from this particular Motion.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
thought one or two of the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down were a little exaggerated. For instance, a rental of £4 was, so far as the neighbouring county of Suffolk was concerned, inaccurate. It was also inaccurate so far as the districts to which the remarks of the hon. Member for Cleveland applied, although the housing question in these places was just as bad.
§ MAJOR RASCH
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. I get less than £3 a year rent in many cases.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said it was quite possible that in many cases the rents would not pay interest on the cost of the cottages, but there were other districts where the rent would pay some sort of interest, and where, if the sanction of the Government were obtained, it could be done. He had been doing the same thing in Suffolk, and there he could build a cottage for less than £200. It might not be a very large cottage, but it would contain two or three bedrooms and two living rooms, and, when erected, would let at £5 a year to agricultural labourers earning 13s. or 14s. a week, although of course they did not pay the rent out of that. They depended on their harvest money, £8, which they earned during the harvest, to pay their rent and keep them in clothes. So it was quite possible in many districts, if people were only encouraged—if there was a law passed enabling district or parish councils to carry out the work as they are allowed to do in Ireland, without any of the difficulties or hindrances of present law—a great deal might be done in the country districts.
He had had great experience also in the London housing question, and he might say there were two great evils to contend against. Of course, in a city like Devonport, where the land was all held by one man, that man could name his own price, but where there were many owners the price of the land was not the difficulty; the difficulty was that where land was cheap the communications were not sufficient and they could not get proper communications. The Government did not assist in any way in increasing the communications with the suburbs and less crowded country districts. Outside our great 173 towns there was any quantity of room or housing many millions of people, but the communications was not sufficient. It was enough to watch the trains at some of our stations in the morning to see how overcrowded they were, and what a lack of facilities there was. There should be new lines of communication to country districts not built over, and the trains we have should extend and make fresh routes to bring the people up to their work. The reason this was not done was because they could not do so without coming to this House and spending thousands of pounds and fighting opposition and competition on all sides, all of which hindrances should be swept away.
In spite of the fact that there were fewer one room tenements to be found in London itself, he feared that one room tenements were beginning to grow up in places which were not now called London. In West Ham there were many one room tenements, so that the evil that afflicted London was only moving a little farther out. There was one great remedy for that, which would have to be faced some day or other. However much they respected the old laws of property, and however sacred might be their regard for vested interests, the Government would have to face the question in this way. They would have to say that when a house was reduced to one room tenements the rent must be proportionately reduced, and that it should not be in the power of the landlords to get a greater rent from such houses than they would obtain if the houses were inhabited by one family. It should be left to the local authorities to make an order, not that the house should be pulled down, but that a house should pay no rent until it was put into proper order. Until that was done, these large spots of vice, misery, poverty, and dirt, and these centres of disease, would remain in our great towns. He hoped it would not be long before the Government did something in that regard. He congratulated his hon. friend on having moved this Amendment, and he hoped the Government would so far give way as to promise to do something in regard to this great question. If not, and the debate was pressed to a division, he hoped that hon. Members opposite would stand by their consciences, even to the extent of voting in favour of the Amendment against the Government.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
Like all other resident squires, I have had much personal experience in this matter, and my last experience in this matter, and my last experience is, perhaps, worth putting before the House. From a great deal that has been said, one would imagine that if the local authorities had more power there would be the increase of accommodation which, in some cases, is badly needed. I am as interested as any owner of land can be in the effort to provide good dwellings for the rural labourers, and I retain in my own hands all the cottages on my property. Recently I built one or two pairs of cottages which cost me between £450 and £500 a pair. Last year, when the agricultural depression was very severe, I thought I might assist the farmers in my neighbourhood by reducing the rent of the cottages from £4 to £3 to any labourers who, for twelve consecutive months, had served any one master. I thought that would be an inducement to labourers to stay, but no sooner had I done it than a Local Assessment Committee met and raised the assessment of the cottages very considerably. I asked the reason, and was told that in as much as I had chosen to build cottages for labourers which were worth a great deal more than the rent charged, they would add to the assessment an amount which would show what they thought those cottages ought to be let at. Is that an inducement to the country landlord to try to carry out such work? I do not think the Assessment Committee were going outside their powers, but I think I am right in saying that if that line is taken by public bodies, we must remember that it will not be private owners who are failing in their duty, but public bodies who are really stifling the effort of the private owner.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
I hope the President of the Local Government Board will assent to the two very moderate demands for legislation made by the hon. Member for Camberwell. The first demand was that the Government should carry out the extremely definite recommendations of the Joint Committee last year, in order to prevent railway companies and similar bodies evading their obligations in regard to re-housing. The necessary 175 Bill would not be contentious, and I should think there could be no objection on the part of the part of the Government to promise legislation on that point. The second demand was a proposal, not of the hon. Member for Camberwell himself, but of the Secretary of the Local Government Board. A Select Committee, of which my hon. friend was Chairman, last year considered the allegation of a number of local authorities that the short period over which loans could be spread rendered it difficult to exercise their powers under the Housing Acts. The Committee unanimously declared that allegation to be established, and a proposal was made by the Secretary of the Local Government Board that the period should be extended to eighty years. I cannot believe the Government will fail to carry out that recommendation. It was with those two demands the debate began, and I thought it would be possible for the Government immediately to promise to promote the necessary legislation. But they desire to hear the views of the House on the general question. The Government must be convinced by what has already been said that in all quarters of the country, among all sections of the community, and among all political parties, there is a feeling that this question is one of great urgency, demanding prompt and efficient attention, which attention I have no doubt it will receive.
The two measures referred to by the hon. Member for Camberwell have not been very effective, though doubtless they were promoted and carried out with the best of motives. There must be experimental legislation in these matters, and, provided they proceed to try again, it is in no way derogatory to a Government to admit that they have made a trial which has not been a success. Although not mentioned in the King's Speech, I hope we shall have an assurance that during the present session this matter shall be dealt with. Such a promise, so far from impeding the Government, would greatly strengthen their position, and a further attempt to deal with this difficult and most important question would be generously met and supported in every quarter of the House. It is clear that such a proposal 176 must practically consist in conferring increased powers on local authorities. It has been shown in this debate that local authorities require additional powers, and that existing powers have not been fully exercised because of the existence of certain obstacles. A Bill conferring those additional powers and removing those obstacles would probably be read a second time without opposition; it could be referred to a Grand Committee upstairs, where it would be discussed in a business-like spirit, and afterwards passed through the House with the expenditure of very little time. At the end of the session the Government would then have the credit, which friend and foe alike would gladly give them, of having placed on the Statute-book a measure which would do a great deal towards dealing with this most important question.
§ MR MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
The subject we are now discussing is one which affects not London, or the south of England alone, but the great mass of the urban population of the country. I should like to bring before the right hon. Gentleman the bearing which the incidence of local taxation has on the subject. Last year there was a discussion on a Bill embodying some of the recommendations of the separate Report on Urban Rating and Site Values, issued by Lord Balfour's Commission. In that separate Report we read that—Anything which aggravates the appalling evils of overcrowding does not need to be condemned, and it seems clear to us that the heavy rates on buildings do tend to aggravate these evils, and that the rating of site values would tend to mitigate them.The hon. Member for Thirsk, in that discussion, rather threw over that separate Report, and it would be interesting to know whether that subject is likely to be dealt with in connection with housing. The question of local taxation has been thoroughly threshed out, while the question of housing is still to a large extent a matter of experiment, and we have it here, on the highest authority, that the reform of local taxation in the way they advocate would tend to mitigate the burdens on buildings and to provide 177 more housing accommodation in the larger towns. I hope the subject will not escape the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in his reply. In the country districts the question is comparatively small as compared with the towns. The town question is made plain in this Report, and whilst the inquiries were going on there was no want of speed in dealing with a measure for the relief of the rates on agricultural land. Now, however, there appears to be less celerity in applying some of the most moderate and admirable provisions to meet the evils which we are now discussing.
*MR. BUTCHER (York)
I would like to join with those hon. Members who have urged upon the Government the necessity of bringing forward some legislation upon these vital questions. I will assume that the Government are as keenly alive as any hon. Member to the necessity of making the Housing Acts practical and efficient for the purposes for which they were intended. I think anyone who has listened to this debate will agree that no heroic legislation is necessary in order to make the existing legislation effective. It is rather a question of dealing with defects which at present greatly hamper local authorities. There are no party controversies likely to be aroused by this question, and this debate shows sufficiently that both sides of the House are equally anxious to remedy these defects, and that, if the Government will bring in a Bill, they will receive support from both sides of the House. There are two points I will mention upon which I think the Government ought to do something. The first is that there ought to be some extension in regard to the period allowed for the repayment of loans. Upon this point we have had the recommendation of a Royal Commission, and I hope the Government will give effect to the recommendation. My second point is that power ought to be given to the local authorities to meet the case of a house unfit for habitation, and which is incapable of being rendered fit for human habitation. There is with existing Acts a power for the Local Authority to call upon the owner to make an insanitary dwelling fit for habitation, but the provisions on the subject are difficult of application and cause immense delay. I would suggest that the President of the Local Govern- 178 ment Board should consider the necessity of bringing in legislation giving power to the Local Authority to obtain a summary order for the closing and demolition of the insanitary house. Those are two points upon which, I think, legislation is urgently needed.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I wish to say something with regard to the general principle of the question we are now discussing. I think both sides of the House will agree that we have had a most valuable debate, and I congratulate my hon. friend, not only also upon bringing this question forward, but also upon having received so much support from both sides of the House. Hon. Members seem to have exhausted the subject from a practical point of view, and I rise merely in consequence of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, which, I think, has had great effect on both sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman's speech shows that he would welcome such a proposal on the part of the Government if they introduced a measure to deal with this question during the present session of Parliament. The matter has not been dealt with in the King's Speech; but, nevertheless, this is one of the most pressing questions which require to be dealt with.
There are two points upon which I do not believe there is much difference of opinion, and upon which two Committees have already reported. Firstly, there is the question of the extension of the period for the repayment of loans, which would enable the local authorities to a certain extent to reduce the rents of the houses which they erect. My other point is in regard to an alternation of the Standing Orders of this House, which will place an obligation on railway companies and other public companies to properly house the working classes when they are displaced by railway schemes. These are the two points upon which I do not think there would be any difficulty in carrying through a Bill. I am not speaking of any great radical reform such as the Land Question, because to ask now for such a measure would be hopeless, but I think we are all agreed that the local authorities ought to be given greater 179 power to deal with the owners. Where it is thought now that rehousing is required there are often technical and administrative difficulties in the way, and while I do not wish to dispossess anyone of his rightful possessions, for which a fair price ought to be given, I think the owners of insanitary areas and slum property ought not to receive a single sixpence above the proper value. That is the point upon which I think a reform could be effected by giving greater powers to the locality to deal with these areas. In conclusion I wish to endorse the sentiment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, and to say that we on this side of the House shall welcome any attempt to deal with this question during the present session of Parliament.
*MR. WALTER LONG
No one can deny that the debate we have listened to this evening has, as the hon. Gentleman opposite just said, indicated practically unanimity of opinion in all quarters of the House in respect of what I may call small reforms as opposed to drastic or great measures. But the hon. Gentleman for Camberwell, in the interesting speech he made, did not confine himself to small suggestions. The hon. Member suggested some reforms of a heroic character, but he also said that he felt satisfied that these suggestions would not be adopted by the Government, and he only threw them out to indicate what his own policy would be. Putting aside those drastic proposals which have been made by hon. Members rather as an expression of their own views than as a forecast of anything they hope to see carried out, we reach, as the outcome of this debate, some minor suggestions, in reference to which I hope I shall be able to give the House assurances which will not be altogether unsatisfactory.
The debate has been of a very wide character, because almost of necessity hon. Gentlemen have addressed themselves to questions not only connected with the Acts of Parliament relating to the housing of the working classes, but also to the administration of the sanitary laws. After listening to the debate, and after hearing hon. Gentlemen on both sides wax eloquent about the apathy of the Local Government Board 180 and the failure of my Department to put pressure upon local authorities, and the indifferent performance of their duties by medical officers of health and sanitary inspectors, I desire to say that I only wish those sentiments prevailed in the breasts of those same hon. Members when the Local Government Board do take action in such matters. Almost invariably it happens that the moment pressure is put by my Department upon a medical officer, or upon an inspector of nuisances, the result is that the hon. Member in whose constituency this occurs will communicate with me telling me that grave injustice is being done. When I tell District Councils that they ought to employ properly qualified men; when I maintain this position and decline to sanction any other appointments, hon. Members generally bring pressure to bear upon me, either by cajolery or threats. These hon. Members are generally those who are the first to tell the Local Government Board that they do not do their work properly. I hope that, in future, the hon. Members who ask me to put pressure upon local authorities and ask me to take action, will preserve the same demeanour when they address their constituents, and decline to be induced by them to put pressure upon us, and thereby make it more difficult for my Department to carry out their suggestions.
There is no doubt that, without any resort to heroic legislation, a great deal can be done in connection with sanitary administration. There is a great deal that can easily be improved, and at very little cost. One proposal which is made repeatedly to the Local Government Board is that an individual, holding a public health appointment of prime importance, might be allowed to hold other posts at the same time. I have so far refused, and so long as I am responsible for the Department I shall continue to refuse, to accede to that proposal. I shall insist that there shall be no merging in one individual of two or three appointments, to all of which it is impossible that he can do justice, even if he could do it to one. In a recent case I have suggested that a separate appointment should be made to the post of inspector of nuisances. I have called the attention of the local 181 authority to the fact that, at the current rate of inspection, it will take twelve or fourteen years before all the houses in their district will have been inspected. When I make these comments the reply that is made to me is that I am interfering with the discretion of the local authority, and interfering with gentlemen who are doing good work. Then the next step is for the Member for the Division to come to me to try to convince me. When he fails he falls back upon the old story of red-tape, and he threatens to raise the question on the Vote for my salary when the Estimates come before the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, can you wonder that Ministers are necessarily exposed to the criticisms we have heard today? If hon. Gentlemen will give us their support in the districts which they themselves represent, they will, I venture to say, be doing more practical work in connection with these problems than by making speeches, however effective and eloquent these speeches may be.
I recognise entirely the non-Party character of the debate that has taken place today, and I rejoice at it. I am bound to say, at the same time, that I do not think the hon. Member for Camberwell and hon. Members on the other side of the House today have been altogether fair to His Majesty's Government in reference to what has been done in connection with this question. We had a debate on the Address last year on the same subject initiated by the hon. Member for Camberwell, and then there were four points to which he made special allusion, and they are the four points around which the debate today has mainly centred. I need not refer further, to the proposals for what is called a drastic reform of the land question, because they are not regarded by those who make them as within the domain of practical politics at present. Then there are the question of the extension of the time of loans, the question of transit, and the question of administration. Now I do not think the hon. Gentleman has been quite fair to the Government, nor has he done himself justice, because he was responsible for the Amendment last year, and he might have taken some credit to himself for the result of the promises which were then made on behalf of the Government. On the contrary, he and those who supported him have almost 182 continuously condemned the Government. We have heard of the gross indifference, inaction, and neglect of the Government on this great question, and similar statements had been made this afternoon for every one of which I venture to say there is not a shadow of foundation.
In regard to the question of loans, the Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the matter was in my hands in the middle of last year, and if we had not had an autumn session, which threw a great deal of additional work on my Department, I should have been able to give fuller time to the consideration of the Report. It was my duty to secure not only that the recommendations of the Report should be considered by my Department, the Treasury, and the other Departments concerned, but that, in arriving at a decision, we should adopt some practice with regard to the loans which would put the whole question on a permanent and satisfactory basis. I do not want to make any improper excuses for my Department, but I doubt whether the House realises how heavy were the demands made upon it and other Departments during the whole of the last autumn session, and how very little in the way of holidays some of those in the Departments have had. Therefore it was impossible to hasten the final consideration of these recommendations, and the final solution of the question, but I am now, I hope, within measure able distance of the end. I think it will be my duty during the session to ask Parliament to pass a Measure dealing with the loan question, and some other difficulties which have arisen. But when I am asked why it is not referred to in the King's Speech, I venture to say that there has been no session in which Measures have not been passed which were not included in the King's Speech. I confess it did not occur to me that in connection with the smaller Bills pertaining to my Department, it was either necessary or desirable to enumerate them in the long list of Measures already to be found in the King's Speech. Some of them may be found on the Statute-book before the end of the session, and though they may be probably be quite as useful to the local authorities as some larger Measures.
183 It is no use talking of this question of the housing of the working classes as if it could be remedied by one or two of the suggestions made today. It is not by facilitating the powers of demolition and rebuilding, or by the building of new houses altogether, that it can be done. It is a much larger question than that, and it includes that very important subject to which greater reference was made last year than this year, namely the question of transit. We are told that we do not make the railway companies do their duty in regard to the Cheap Trains Act. The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment told us that there had been a considerable increase in the provision of these trains in recent years. There are many more workmen's trains now than five or six years ago, and everybody who has studied the problem knows perfectly well that it is not merely a question of profit and loss to the railway companies. Whether they want, or do not want, to put on workmen's trains, it is a question of the possibilities of the case, having regard to the traffic they have to carry. That is the most important part of the problem in London itself. My right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade has obtained sanction to the appointment of a Royal Commission which will inquire into the whole question of transit within the metropolis. Therefore, two of the most important points raised in this Amendment last year have been attended to between the debate of last year and the present time.
Now I come to administration. I have certainly no desire to claim any undue credit for the Department with which I am connected, but I venture to say that, during the whole of the past year and the preceding year, as the local authorities themselves would, I am sure, testify, we have been unremitting in our endeavours to ascertain at first hand in the localities what are the difficulties in the way that ought to be removed. I do not think enough justice has been done to the legislation already passed through the House dealing with the housing question. It has been said, with perfect truth, in many eloquent speeches which have been delivered on both sides of the House, that there are festering sores in the shape of slams to be found in all our large communities, and that they are a disgrace to our civilisation. At the same time it is due 184 to the local authorities to state that in all our great municipalities, enormous strides have been made in the last ten or fifteen years in dealing with the housing question. A great deal of most excellent work has been done, and mayors and members of corporations will admit that the Acts already in existence had provided machinery sufficient for the purpose they had in view. I think it is only fair when so much criticism is forthcoming that there should, at all events, be some few points advanced on behalf of the local authorities, and also on behalf of the legislation which, from time to time, we have carried in dealing with this question. There is difficulty in dealing sometimes with what, for the sake of brevity, are called "condemned buildings." Most certainly in no quarter of the House will you find any sympathy for the owners of property who fail to recognise that property carries with it responsibilities, and who allow their property to become a positive curse to the community. Provision was made to meet these cases in the Act of 1980, passed by my right hon. friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will not trespass on the time of the House by reading the whole of Section 21 of that Act, but if any one will read it carefully he will find that it is almost impossible to conceive language better calculated to give effect to the views which my right hon. friend enunciated then, and which I endorse now. There is a financial difficulty arising under Section 21 which has hither to met local authorities in their attempt to bring the Act into force. The suggestion has been made today that we ought to enable them to obtain these sites and buildings easily and cheaply. Well, I venture to say that that section is as strong and full as it is possible for anything to be. Only one practical suggestion has been made to me on the subject. That was by a Corporation which has had great experience in connection with this matter. They told me that there is nothing wrong in the section; its provisions should make it impossible for property to be sold beyond its fair value, regard being had to its condition. They said that that was all satisfactory and sufficient; but it is the practice of submitting the price to arbitration which has, for some unex- 185 plained reason, led to the financial difficulty to which I have referred. It has been suggested to me by that Corporation that the law should be altered to make it the same as that which obtains in the City of London, where it is possible to refer a case of the kind to a jury. The power to refer such cases to a jury is so effective that practically it is not exercised. The very fact that it it there is sufficient to hold the owners of such property in check. That is a suggestion which I am considering; it is one of the smaller proposals to which I have referred, such as the hon. Member for Cambridge had in his mind when he spoke of small Amendments which we might make in the general law.
Then there is the question raised by the hon. Member for York—the difficulty of getting possession of the condemned buildings. There is no doubt that that is a practical difficulty. The powers are quite sufficient for the condemnation of the building if it is overcrowded or in an insanitary condition. The local authority can either close the building or call upon the owner to put it in a sanitary condition, but no power seems to exist enabling the local authority to deal with the property between the time of its condemnation and their getting possession of it. And here, I think, the law might with advantage be altered. This again is only a small proposal, but one which might be of use. All I have said applies to these difficulties as they exist in urban districts. I have listened with the greatest interest to the speech made by the hon. Member for Lichfield in which he gave us a most interesting account of his experience in the rural districts. When he came to tell us about the rents he was getting for his cottages, and the cost of building them, I felt my mouth water as a landlord who has had considerable experience for twenty-five years in building and letting cottages in a rural district. I do not think we could get 3s., or even 2s. 6d., a week as rent for such cottages in my district. The hon. Member talked of building a cottage for £200, but he will pardon me for saying that these figures are illusory, because £200 in one district means £250, or even £300, in another district. And it must be remembered that 3s. a week, taken as a return for the money spent would be prohibitive 186 as applied to the majority of rural districts. The hon. Gentleman gave an instance of a village where he saw twenty-one cottages unfit for human habitation, and we were told that the legislature ought to deal with such cases, and that the local authority ought to be compelled to act more promptly in shutting up old houses. But what are the difficulties we have to deal with? Let us say that there are twenty cottages in that condition. The owners are, in nine cases out of ten, non-resident; they have bought the cottages as a speculation, and have probably never seen them. Are you to build new cottages out of the rates? In such a case any one who had made a suitable provision of cottages on his own estate would have to bear an additional burden on his rates because his neighbours had not done their duty. Is it any wonder that local authorities hesitate to act in dealing with this problem, which is altogether different from that to be dealt with in urban districts? It is not because they do not appreciate the evil effects which arise from overcrowding. There is not a monopoly of desire for reform in any one set of individuals. Everybody realises that if we could deal as effectually as we could wish with this matter, we should do much to promote sobriety in the classes who meet with the terrible temptations engendered by squalid surroundings, and should also add to the muscle of the nation. It is idle to ignore the fact that, apart from the small questions to which I have referred, there are, in the opinion of many, other and larger difficulties which can only be approached in the drastic manner suggested by some hon. Members for dealing with the land problem; but I venture to say that, whatever advantage there may be thought to be in that suggestion, it will be many a long day before proposals of such a kind will be given effect to by any Government. Small amendments of the law are possible and desirable; and I hope it will be my fortune, after this debate and the assurances made to us, to find every desire in all quarters of the House to welcome small non-controversial proposals which will have the effect of altering the law in the directions I have indicated. If we shall not have any heroic legislation, at any 187 rate proposals of that kind will be welcomed in all quarters and will be regarded as helpful. I hope, therefore, that it will be possible for me to make some such small alterations in the law as I have suggested. I hope it will also be possible to deal with the question of loans, and put that matter on a satisfactory basis, not only in regard to sums required for buildings, but other expenditure, so that there shall not be the variety that at present exists and results in the imposition on the rate-payers of different burdens for the same class of work.
*MR. WALTER LONG
That is, of course, included in the statement I have made. I take the Report of the Committee as it stands. Naturally, I do not commit myself to adherence to every part of the Report, but in regard to rehousing, the proposal is that the period should be extended to eighty years, with certain provisions in regard to the mode of repayment. My object is to secure cooperation in the different Departments, so that we may have a common policy and get rid of uncertainty and variation. I am not possessed of the eloquence of some hon. Members, and I, therefore, cannot put my views in the same attractive shape, but I hope I have said enough to show that the Government are not behind the House and the country in their desire to deal in a practical and efficient manner with the housing problem. We certainly are not wanting in sympathy with those who are condemned to such conditions of life as we know to exist in too many towns, and in some even of the country villages, and I hope that if the House remains in its present frame of mind we shall avail ourselves of the opportunity to make some modest proposals for legislation which will not be regarded as unworthy., though they are not large and searching measures of reform.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
This debate, in my opinion, is perhaps the most important in which we shall be engaged this session. It will encourage the right hon. Gentleman to bring forward a measure in the 188 direction which my hon. friend the Member for Camberwell has indicated. The right hon. Gentleman seems to consider that he has been ill-used by Members of constituencies who always come forward to attack the Local Government Board for their action to these constituencies. Well, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember, and I think he is encouraged by this debate to remember, that these Members are only one, or at most two, and that he will have the support of all the remaining 668 in the measure which he is proposing to bring forward. I gather from the right Hon. Gentleman—and I am very happy to hear it—that he holds out the prospect—that he makes a promise, of a Bill this session. This my hon. friend the Member for Camberwell has achieved by bringing forward his Amendment; and a most valuable gift it is. That being so, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman not to be too modest in his proposals. He has got behind him the House of Commons, and he has got, as one hon. Member said, the power of the House of Lords. These are circumstances which do not often unite themselves. Therefore I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that small Bills on great questions often postpone a real remedy, as has happened in this very case. When the housing of the poorer classes was brought forward, two or three years age, we were told, "We have passed a couple of Bills; wait until we see how they work.' We have waited to see how they would work, and we have found that they did not work at all. Therefore, to bring in a measure, or measures, which do not really meet the case is actually doing no good at all, and may do some harm.
There was some talk of dealing with the railways, but that would be only touching a particular point apart from the main question altogether. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned what is really the point of the case: How are you to deal with insanitary houses? In my opinion you ought to deal with them as a public nuisance. You ought not to deal with a large insanitary area at great expenditure, but you ought to have power to deal with individual houses as you deal with other nuisances. If you do that you get rid of what you desire to get rid of. When the right hon. Gentleman introduces his measure—which I 189 hope he will do before long—I trust he will deal with that aspect of it as well as with the smaller difficulties he mentioned.
There are two points to which I wish to direct attention—one is the shutting up of insanitary houses and the other the getting possession of them. I hope that these will appear in his Bill. I am not going to detain the House by discussing the details which have been dealt with so fully and practically in this debate. I feel myself very strongly the absolute necessity of dealing with the rural districts. I live in a rural district myself, where the housing of the labouring people is detestable, and something ought to be done regarding it. I was very sorry to hear the manner in which my hon. and gallant friend opposite the Member for the Newport Division was treated by his Assessment Committee, but I would suggest to him that he should reform his Assessment Committee in order that they should deal as liberally with the matter as I am sure he wishes. I was glad to hear my hon. and gallant friend put the cost of building cottages at a lower figure than that given by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Chelmsford Division, who said that they would cost £600. I am quite sure that very good cottages indeed can be built for a great deal less. Therefore, the difficulty is not a great as has been stated.
I will only sat to the right hon. Gentleman I am quite sure, from the language which has been used on both sides of the House, that if he goes forward on this matter boldly and strongly, he will have the support—I was going to say the unanimous support—of the House of Commons in legislating in this direction, and in the administration which is so urgently necessary for the curing of one of the greatest social evils in this country. We talk of pecuniary difficulties in this matter. When we think nothing of spending millions upon objects which are, in my opinion, far less necessary and far less useful. I think we might do something, at all events, for our country at home, in the direction of developing its resources, of which the greatest of all is the health and well-being of the labouring population. If 190 you would only spend, I will not say a tithe, but a quarter per cent. of the money you are spending upon objects which, in my opinion, are far less valuable, you would be doing that which I believe would redound to the greatest advantage of the Empire of which we are all so proud.
*SIR JOHN DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
I think that every hon. Member on the other side will be satisfied with the reply which has been given by my right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board, as far as the question is connected with his Department. I think we have had an assurance from his that he will take up the subject as far as to deals with the extension of loans in the course of the present session. I have been more fortunate during the autumn than my right hon. friend, in not having so much labour on my hands. I therefore amused myself during the past few months by going carefully into the report of the Committee which inquired into that subject last year, and I have drafted a Bill dealing with the recommendations of the Committee. If I am fortunate in the ballot tomorrow, I trust the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will see their way to giving facilities for the passing of that Bill, as by doing that they will economise time, and the subject will be dealt with. Although I think the House is fully satisfied with the reply of my right hon. friend, we have not yet had a reply to another side of the housing question, which in my judgment is much more important. A Committee sat last session to inquire into the Standing Orders of Parliament, and I should be glad to know from my right hon. friend the Home Secretary whether he will be prepared to introduce a measure embodying the proposals made by that Committee with reference to the displacement of persons by companies and public authorities. I have also drafted a Bill on that matter, and will try my luck with it in the ballot tomorrow. The extension of the period of loans is a very useful but a small part of the question; a much more important problem is the evasion by companies and public authorities of their obligations 191 when they displace large bodies of the population under compulsory powers. I have given the figures in this House on a former occasion, and they show that this is one of the most important points in the housing problem. I, therefore, sincerely ask my right hon. friend to take up the recommendations of this Committee and introduce a Bill dealing with the subject this session.
§ MR.WALTER LONG
May I explain to my hon. friend? I regret I omitted in my reply to refer to this question. As my hon. friend knows, the amendment of the Standing Orders is a matter for the Chairmen of Committees rather than for the Government. I am entirely in favour of the suggestions made, but whether they should be embodied in a Bill is a question I cannot answer until I have had some further conference with the Chairmen of Committees. I believe I shall be able to know what their views are in a few days.
*SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER
Then we shall be able to hear from the Government whether legislation is required or not, and, if so, whether it will be introduced.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
said he thought an Irish Member was entitled to speak on this question, because during the debate, it appeared to be imagined that it did not touch Ireland at all. As one of the Members for Dublin, he could assure the House that this was a burning question in Dublin, and also in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and other places. The housing problem really touched Dublin in a more extraordinary way than any other city in the Empire. Its death rate was higher than that of any other city in the three Kingdoms, and that arose principally from the want of proper accommodation for its artisan and working classes. At present, they were only touching the fringe of the subject. Twenty years ago, when the present King was Prince of Wales, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the question. How far had they progressed since? Apparently every Govern- 192 ment was afraid to go to the root of the question, which was the land question. He knew he would not be in order in discussing the question of land values, but it was at the root of the housing problem.
There could be no doubt that this was a question upon which all sections of the House were more or less agreed. It was one of the most important subjects that the House could discuss, because all over the three Kingdoms the natural trend of population was towards the cities, and the municipal authorities had not the requisite power to enable them to provide the necessary accommodation for the influx of population. The extension of loans, and the giving of increased powers to muncipalities, would not solve the problem. They wanted a much more drastic remedy. He was a member of an Urban District Council that was at present engaged in endeavouring to solve this question, and they found that the expense of obtaining the ground upon which the slum dwellings were situated was enormous, the legal expenses were enormous, and the delay was notorious. The system of transferring titles to property in this country really demanded attention in this regard, as it often happened that an Urban District Council had to pay more for obtaining the site than the building would be worth when erected. He did not at all agree with the President of the Local Government Board when he thought the House would be satisfied with what he called his modest proposals. This difficulty was not going to be met by a moderate proposal; it was going to be met by the consideration by this House of all the questions involved. They involved the principle of the welfare of the working classes of the three Kingdoms.
Everybody who had studied the social evolution of the times must be aware that in all our great cities, and, for the matter of that, in many of our small towns and villages, the housing of the working classes was the crux of the question at the present moment. The effect of this system was most serious to the community at large. The health of the working classes was stunted; they were placed in positions not favourable to moral growth, and the result, generally, was that in the three Kingdoms an inferior class of people 193 was being produced by the environments by which they were surrounded. Therefore, as an Irish Member representing a city constituency, he was of opinion that there was no question more deserving of the attention of the House than this. He saw many other measures put down in His Majesty's Speech, as being of prime importance, which could not compare with this question. What was the fact? Almost every Member had appealed to his constituents to vote on this question of the housing of the working classes, and yet, when it came to be discussed seriously in this House, on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Camberwell, they found on both sides of the House, except among a few earnest men, a desire to shelve it with a moderate proposal. A moderate proposal never yet met the crux of a great question in the affairs of a nation. They wanted to solve this question, and unless it was solved something more serious than hon. Members expected might happen. In the past, civilisation had been overturned by the incursions of barbarians into a country, and it is possible that our civilisation might be overturned; if it were, it would be by our slums—by the rebellion against the land system, and the capitalist system, which condemned the workers to live in a state of barbarism. When this Motion went to a division, as he trusted it would, he should have great pleasure in voting for it, and no matter who adorned the Government Benches, he trusted there would always be a certain amount of opposition on that side until this question was satisfactorily settled, so that the workers might have that to which they were legitimately entitled—a decent home at a reasonable rate.
*SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said as a Member of the Committee which carefully considered the question of the terms of the repayment of loans, which underlay so much of the present discussion, he desired to say a few words. He hoped when the right hon. Gentleman came to consider the Report of the Committee, he would not simply adhere to the term of eighty years, but that he would remember that there was a division, on his (Sir Albert Rollit's) Motion as to whether that term should not be 100 years considering the permanent nature of the land as an asset, and also the 194 public policy which underlay the question of the housing of the working classes; the majority in that division was only a majority of one against the substitution of the term of 100 for eighty years, and but for the accident of one of the Members for Ireland, whose representatives had rendered great assistance to those Members of the Committee who, like himself, favoured the greatest facilities for housing, had had to leave the Committee to attend to his duty as Whip in this House, the voting would have been equal. The length of the term of repayment might be most material. It had been truly said it would make only a marginal difference in the rent, but that difference was sometimes all the difference. On the one hand, they had cheap houses run up by a jerry builder; on the other, those erected by the municipality under conditions, resulting in good and permanent houses. The hon. Member for Plymouth on that point quite convinced the Committee that there might be a difference of 1s. a week in these terms, and that was a difference which was all material. The effect of that difference was that if the municipalities and other local authorities had to put up houses on a short term of repayment the result might be that they would have to raise the rent and let them to an entirely different class of tenant to that which was contemplated by Parliament. On the other hand, if they had to reduce the rent, then they served one class, and one only, at the expense of the general body of ratepayers.
This question was not a political question, and it was not a class question, because the object of these Acts of Parliament was to benefit the whole community. The principle which in it underlay the protection of health was the same as that which underlay Acts for the equalisation of rates which he had always strongly supported. But, while he was determined to press this housing question, he thought the House might reasonably accept the promises and assurances given by his right hon. friend, who had, as he thought, very properly complained that there had been some disposition to overlook what had already been accomplished. He hoped his right hon. friend would 195 allow him, on behalf of the municipalities, to say that his right hon. friend had set an example, in going down to the districts where these problems were being solved, and getting technical information on the spot, second only to that of the Colonial Secretary in his visit to South Africa. Housing was the most pressing social problem of the day, second only to national pensions, and it must be kept in the forefront of social legislation.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this matter had not, he thought, given a grain of comfort to those Members who sat on the Opposition side of the House, and who certainly represented a large body of public opinion. They were not satisfied with his modesty on this occasion, however much they might admire it on others. They represented diverse interests in diverse parts of the country, which was a good education for discussing matters in this House. It had been intensely gratifying to him to listen to the speeches made by the hon. Members for Shropshire and Essex with reference to the cottages they were building on their estates, but this was not a matter of the policy of any one man, it was a question of the policy of the country. In his constituency it was not a question of the landlords building houses, but of the people being able to get land on which to build their own houses. There was plenty of land if the people could only get it, and they could get it but for the restrictions placed on them. He was sorry to see the modesty of the right hon. Gentleman and his disinclination to deal with the question.
One reform they desired was that properly constituted authorities should have power to acquire land where they wanted it. Lerwick, the principal town of Shetland, was an object lesson; there the Borough Council had no power; the County Council had no power; neither could move hand or foot; and just at the very edge of this important town were a number of slums which were a disgrace to the town and the nation. There was an enormous danger threatening any town which allowed abominable dwellings of this character to be erected at its very gates. There they had no sanitary inspector, and nothing could be done 196 except through legislation in this house; if such things were allowed to go on, it was not difficult to forecast the result. The duty of hon. Members in the House was not to be modest but to speak their minds. These places to which he alluded had no back gardens, no sanitary arrangements, no water, no lighting; nothing but an open sewer, only occasionally flushed, running in front of the houses. That was surely enough to point out that such Boards as they had in Scotland, like the Congested Districts Board or the Crofters Commission, should have big and extensive powers for dealing with this question. They should have power to acquire land. It was only a question there of getting the land, and that was not a very extravagant demand. It was the duty of the House to get to the bottom of these difficulties, and this proposal would not meet the requirements of the country in the matter. It was a matter of urgent and pressing necessity, and he was convinced that no question of greater importance could come before the House this session. Their duty here was to find out who were the responsible parties, and to saddle them with the responsibility.
That responsibility rested with the Government in the first place, and with the individual property owner in the second. Property had great duties as well as rights, and if those duties were neglected, the Legislature would soon have to take into account the question of how far the rights of property should be permitted to control and interfere with the well-being of the nation. Why should not the owners of slum property be made responsible? Why should they be paid extragavant prices for their abominable, festering dens of iniquity? Why should not such property be condemned, so that the owners would be glad to sell it for anything they could get? But, after all, what was the use of spending thousands of pounds in building beautiful workmen's dwellings, if the places of our work-people, the backbone of the country, were to be taken by the refuse and scum of foreign nations? In the interests of the health and well-being of the nation at large, the standard of civilisation, prosperity, and comfort should be raised to as high a level as possible. But, as the lower organism would always kill the higher, it was the duty of every section of the community to endeavour to protect 197 and foster the highest civilisation we could possibly have in the country. He cordially supported the Amendment.
*MR. FORDE RIDLEY (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
We are all in sympathy with the wording of the Amendment, but I am surprised that the aspect of the question just referred to, viz., the unrestricted influx into this country of pauper aliens, has not been more generally discussed. It is the key to the housing question, especially in the East End of London; it is the cause of all the overcrowding and the insanitary dwellings that there exist. I agree that heroic measures are not required to deal with this question. To talk of the extension of the period for the repayment of loans, or of any other aspect of the case, is like pouring water into a barrel and leaving the bung out, unless some measure is introduced by which this influx of foreign paupers is stopped. I know of cases in the East End where new buildings have been very quickly made as insanitary as any in the district. The "Boundary Street area," a great slum district in East London, was cleared, and, at enormous cost, the County Council erected magnificent blocks of model dwellings, which are already nearly half full of aliens, who live under conditions such as we would not like to see our working classes subjected to. I hope something will soon be done to remedy this evil. It is growing by leaps and bounds. Nobody can be blind to the great increase in the number of foreign criminals constantly being brought before the Courts. The question is pressing itself to the fore, and the evil will soon become so rampant that measures will have to be taken to cure it. I am sorry hon. Members intend to press the Amendment to a division, because the Government have already appointed a Commission on the question of the immigration of foreign paupers, and while that Commission is sitting, legislation is impossible. I hope, however, the Government will see that there is no undue delay in the presentation of the Report of that Commission, which has now been sitting long enough and has collected sufficient evidence to arrive at a conclusion. I, for one, gratefully accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that he will do what is necessary 198 to introduce a Bill shortly dealing with the question, and I hope the Government will also take steps to mitigate the national curse of this country—namely, that of being made the dumping-ground of foreign criminals, from whatever country they may come.
*MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
So far as the practical aspect of this question is concerned, I think the declaration of my right hon. friend will give great satisfaction to municipal authorities throughout the country. The point which those, who have been endeavouring to bring the Housing Acts into successful operation, have of late years been pressing on the Local Government Board, it that some steps should be taken to render it possible to provide houses at such a price that they can be occupied by the poorest classes of the community. At present that is impossible, and the chief blot on the existing system is that the excellent dwellings erected by local authorities are occupied by people considerably higher in the social scale than those for whom the dwellings were intended. Local authorities find it impossible to provide houses at a rent which people earning 20s. or 25s. a week are able to pay, and consequently this class, when driven from their old insanitary dwellings are simply compelled to create insanitary areas elsewhere. I do not know that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would remedy that, but it would be a step in the right direction. His suggested change in the rate of interest will make a difference of about ½ per cent. on the cost of the loan. I think my right hon. friend might increase that to 1 per cent., and so secure an abatement of about 1s. per week on the rentals of cottages which at present are 4s. or 5s. I hope the Local Government Board will not insist on the adoption of the instalment system, as a condition for the extension of the period of repayment, because the result of such insistence will be to maintain the difficulty which is at present a barrier with many local authorities in the way of providing dwellings.
If the right hon. Gentleman will give the local authorities the option of paying upon either of the systems at present in force, that will be some measure of relief.
199 Owing to the burden thrown upon them for sewage work and sanitary undertakings, many corporations have reached very near the limit of their borrowing powers. In the borough I represent, this problem remains just as much unsolved as it has at any time during the last twenty years. Dwellings have been erected, and they have been readily occupied by persons who ought to be provided for by private enterprise. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to introduce Clauses which will do something to deal with the present difficulty of getting possession of insanitary buildings, and which will reform such matters as those which deputations from local authorities have drawn his attention to.
I should like this question of housing put into the hands of inspectors of the Local Government Board dealing separately with this matter, who would be able to give practical advice to corporations as to the easiest and cheapest methods of bringing housing schemes into operation. These schemes are often stifled on account of the expense put upon them. There is the expense of numerous inquiries, costly plans, and delay; one obstacle after another interposes itself, with the result that the scheme does not get carried out. The right hon. Gentleman has at any rate one gentleman who has been engaged with conspicuous success in carrying out housing schemes, and who is probably the author of the most successful housing scheme for the poor which is in operation. If the right hon. Gentleman could create a sub-department, where local authorities would find a consistent course followed, to render assistance from time to time in dealing with these practical difficulties, he would give a most valuable token of his sympathy with the desires of local authorities for reform of the housing of the populations over whom they have charge, Last year, in the debate which took place upon this subject, I said that the requirements of the Local Government Board as to housing sometimes threw a burden of 50 per cent. additional upon the cost of the scheme. I have had the opportunity of looking into the information which was then supplied to me, and 200 I am satisfied that I did an injustice to the Local Government Board. I have attended the deputations which waited upon the right hon. Gentleman, and I have seen that, at any rate under the direction of the right hon. Gentleman, a sympathetic attention is given to the requirements of local authorities, which gives general satisfaction to the representatives of those local authorities in the country. I have no difficulty as to what I shall do on this Amendment. I regard it as a mere attack for political purposes upon His Majesty's Government, and therefore I shall vote against it.
§ MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)
, I think a great many of us sitting on this side of the House must have felt relieved to know that the omission of this question from His Majesty's Speech was not intentional or deliberate. This proposal puts some of us in the position of being called upon to vote against an Amendment with the terms of which we thoroughly sympathise. I know that the reasons for voting against this Amendment are difficult to explain to those who do not understand the position. I am rather afraid, from the course which was pursued on a similar Amendment last year, that this question will be pressed to a division in spite of the satisfactory assurance which has been given by the Minister in charge. I think that it is a regrettable situation. There is one matter upon which I think there has been a decided omission. There is a provision for demolition and reconstruction, but what we want is some provision for adaptation. I quite agree that we do not want heroic measures, for what we require is legislation on minor points.
*MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)
I do not think that, by altering the law as regards the erection of workmen's dwellings or by creating better means of transit to crowded centres, you will ever be able to remedy the congestion of the population in big towns. The only remedy which will be effective is one which lies with private enterprise, and that remedy is the removal of factories from the centre of towns more or less to 201 the outside and to districts where houses can be built cheaper. That is the only observation which I desire to make.
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Mara, James|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Guthrie, Walter Murray||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||O'Shee, James John|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tyd.)||Palmer, SirCharles M (Durham|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hay. Hon. Claude George||Perks, Robert William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Hayden. John Patrick||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Price, Robert John|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Helme, Norval Watson||Reckitt, Harold Jam s|
|Bell, Richard||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Reddy, M.|
|Black, Alexander William||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristl, E||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Blake, Edward||Holland, Sir William Henry||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Boland, John||Hope John Deans (Fife. West||Reid. Sir R. Threshie (Dumfrics|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Horniman, Frederick John||Roberts, John H. (Denbighsh.)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Humphreys-Owen. Arthur C.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundce)|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Hutton. Alfred E. (Morley)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burns, John||Jacoby, James Alfred||Roche, John|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jones, David B. (Siransea)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Caldwell, James||Jordan, Jeremiah||Rose, Charles Day|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Joyce, Michael||Russell, T. W.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lambert, George||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Levy, Maurice||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Crean, Eugene||Lewis, John Herbert||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Crombie, John William||Lloyd-George, David||Spencer, Rt Hn.C.R. (Northants|
|Cullinan, J.||Lough, Thomas||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lundon, W.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||M'Arthur, William (Cronacall)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Govern, T.||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Dillon, John||M'Kean. John||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Tomkinson, James|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Toulmin, George|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duffy, William J.||Mooney, John J.||Tully, Jasper|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Walton, John Lawson, (Leeds, S.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Murnaghan, George||Walton, Joseph (Barusley)|
|Edwards, Frank||Murphy, John||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Ellis, John Edward||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||Wason, John Catherart (Orkney)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan)||Norman, Henry||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Farquharson. Dr. Robert||Norton, Capt. ecil William||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nussey, Thomas Willians||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Ferguson. R. C. Munro (Leith)||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Ffrench. Peter||O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk, Mid.)|
|Field, William||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Connor, James (Wicklow W.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Licerpool)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Dowd, John|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Dr. Macnamara and Mr. Kearley.|
|Grant Corrie||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Malley, William|
|Aird, Sir John||Arrol, Sir William||Baird, John George Alexander|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Balfour. Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bagot, Capt. Joseeline FitzRoy||Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bailey, James (Walworth)||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bartley, Sir George C. T.|
§ Question put.
§ House divided:—Ayes, 166; Noes, 205. (Division List No. 2).203
|Beckett, Ernest William||Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld. G. (Mudx||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bignold, Arthur||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Randles, John S.|
|Bigwood, James||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Helder, Augustus||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Brown, Sir Alx. H. (Shropsh.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hn. H. (Sm'rs't, E)||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Bull. William James||Hogg, Lindsay||Renwick, George|
|Butcher, John George||Hope, J. F. (Sheff., B'tside)||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasg.)||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hoult, Joseph||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.)||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jeffreys. Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Ropner Colonel Sir Robert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J A (Worc)||Johnstone, Heywood||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Chapman, Edward||Kemp, George||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Slaop)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Keswick, William||Seely, Maj. J. E. B.(IslcofWight)|
|Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Kimber, Henry||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Knowles, Lees||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Corbett. A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cox. Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Craig, Chas, Curtis(Antrim, S.)||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)||Smith, H. C(North'mb. Tyneside)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Smith, JamesParker(Lanarks.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Spear, John Ward|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stanley, Hn. Arthur(Ormskirk)|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Jos. C.||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Stanley, EdwardJas. (Somerset|
|Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Doughty, George||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Stock, James Henry|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Macdona, John Cumming||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Faber, E. B. (Hants, W.)||M 'Arthur, Charles(Liverpool)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||M 'Killop, James (Stirtingshire)||Talbot, RtHn. JG. (Oxf'd. Univ.)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Majendie, James A. H.||Thornton, Percy, M.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||Malcolm, Ian||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Maxwell, WJH. (Dumfriesshire)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Vincent, Col. Sir C. EH(sheffield)|
|Fison, Frederick William||Mitchell, William||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Flower, Ernest||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Forster, Henry William||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. CE(Taunton)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Gibbs, Hn A. G. H(City of Lond)||Morrell, George Herbert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Morrison, James Archibald||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn)||Mount, William Arthur||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Gordon, Maj Evans-(Tr. Hmlts)||Murray, RtHn. A. Graham(Bute)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby(Salop)||Myers, William Henry||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Greene, Sir E. W. (Bury St. Ed.)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs)||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gretton. John||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Percy, Earl|
|Groves, James Grimble||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Hain, Edward||Pretyman, Ernest George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Sir Alexander Acland- Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Purvis, Robert|
§ Main Question again proposed.