§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I rise, on a point of Order, with regard to this Bill, to call attention to Clause 4. I submit that Clause 4 is not within the title of the Bill or the sub-title. Clause 4, I think it is clear, does not deal with the housing of the working classes at all. It deals with diverting land originally taken for the purpose to some other purpose, the provision of a more expensive type of house. The importance of the Clause is considerable, as was shown last year when the Bill was in Committee. By attending that Committee I realised that this was really one of the most important parts of the Bill and was considered to be so by the promoters. I submit that this Clause deals with houses of a more expensive type and is really antagonistic to the title of the Bill, because it would enable local authorities to divert land which had been obtained for the purpose of housing the working classes in order to house people of the professional and middle classes. In these circumstances, I submit that the title of the Bill is not correct.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
May I submit that Clause 4 is intended to amend the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, and the powers given in this Clause would, in the opinion of the promoters, make it more easy to enforce the Housing of the Working Classes Acts than it is at the present moment. I submit that would bring it within the title which says it is "a Bill to provide for the better application and enforcement of the Housing of the Working Classes Acts, etc." I submit, therefore, that it is in order. There was a similar Clause in last year's Bill, and it was considered to be within the title and the Bill was in order last year.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
As one who was present on the Committee last year, may I point out that the main argument in favour of Clause 4 used by the promoters of the Bill was that it would facilitate the housing of the working classes.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
And thereby make the Bill benefit all classes as well as the working classes. I submit that in the 2236 circumstances the title of the Bill, as confined to the working classes, is inapplicable to that particular Clause.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think it is doubtful whether Clause 4 comes within the title of the Bill. I do not know whether it can be said to come within the Housing of the Working Classes Acts or to deal with their better application and enforcement. It is certainly not an amendment of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. On the other hand, it does not go so far outside the general subject of the Bill as to render the whole Bill invalid. Therefore, I think it may be allowed. I may perhaps take this opportunity of pointing out that if hon. Members introducing Bills would only be careful to put into the title some general words, such as "anti for other cognate purposes," or something of that sort, they would cover these provisions which are on the border lines.
§ Mr. KING
As one who has attempted to put in those or similar words, may I say that objection has been taken to that practice in certain quarters. I think I was told on inquiry that recently there had been authority given or some direction on the question, restricting the practice of putting general words in the titles of Bills. Perhaps, Sir, you could give us some enlightenment on that point?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I cannot throw any light upon it now. It seems to me, provided the other provisions are ejusdem generis with the main provisions of the Bill, there cannot be any objections to putting in some words to cover them. However, I will confer with the authorities of the Public Bill Office and see what their rule is in regard to the matter. I am sure it is not the intention of any of the authorities of the House to lay traps for hon. Members who introduce Bills or to find technical reasons for objecting to their Bills. It is the last thing in the world they would wish to do.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
In rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill, I should like to say a few words about the general housing problem before going more into details of the Bill. I think it is common ground on all sides of the House that there is no more pressing social problem before us to-day than the problem of housing. I do not think there is any need for me to give a long series of quotations in order to point out the need 2237 of housing, both in the urban and rural areas, because I think the very fact that hon. Members have been returned to this House from all parts of the country has given them practical experience of that need, both urban and rural, and also the need of slum clearing and kindred work in the urban areas, that has come to a head at the present time through one general reason and two or three particular reasons. The general reason is that the whole policy of this country during the last part of the last century was changed. In the early part of the last century agriculture was exceedingly prosperous, owing to protective duties and other things, and a large amount of housing was done in rural districts. In the latter part of the century the country deliberately adopted the policy of encouraging manufactures, took off the duties, and ceased giving assistance to agriculture. That brought about a large migration from the rural districts into the towns. At the same time farmers were losing a large part of their profits from agriculture and of the value of their holdings. During the last quarter of last century, when agricultural depression was at its height, little or nothing was done in rural districts in the way of cottage building, and the least possible amount of repairs was done, because cottage property was the most unprofitable form of investment. With the migration into the towns there was a large amount of jerry-building, and a great number of houses unsuitable for the working classes were converted into working-class dwellings. The cottages which were built when agriculture was prospering are now rapidly falling into a state which makes them unfit for human habitation. In the towns, too, the houses which were built and adapted for the increased population which came into them are in need of repair and even of demolition. That is the particular reason which makes it so necessary at the present time to deal with this problem.
There are three of four additional causes which have operated in the last three or four year as a result of action by the State in one way or another. There was first the Budget of 1910. I do not want to be controversial in this matter, but I think it is generally accepted in most quarters that, as a result of either the attacks by hon. Members of this House on the landlords or the actual taxes themselves, there has been a large decrease in the last year or two in building operations 2238 in this country. There has been a big slump in building, especially in the smaller class of houses. The second reason is one which affects rural districts much more—that is, old age pensions. There is a large number of the class of people who formerly went to live with their children or to the workhouse who continue to live in cottages they have been inhabiting. I do not complain of that for one moment, but it makes it much more difficult to provide cottages for young married people who are corning on and who wish for houses. In practically every village in the country you will find people waiting to be married because they cannot get houses, and at the same time the old people are living on in the best cottages, from which no one likes to turn them out. I have on my own property at the present moment a man earning very little indeed beyond the old age pension. He has lived in a cottage for thirty or forty years. One cannot turn him out, but at the same time there is a desire for houses among those who want to get married. The third special reason is the increase in rates, which has been driving large factories out of the towns into the rural districts. Every time a big factory or works is set up in a rural area there has been the same effect upon the surrounding district as if a stone were thrown into the river, the circles widen, and men are driven out by artisans who are receiving better wages, while agricultural and rural labourers are driven further away from the factory and into worse houses. Every time a big factory is set up in the country the rural housing problem, in which I am particularly interested, is rendered more acute.
There is another cause which has been operating in this matter very much during the last few years—the growing tendency of the upper and middle classes to go out of towns for the week-end. They take cottages in the villages and take their servants with them. By doing so they drive out a certain number of agricultural labourers, who cannot afford to pay the rents which are paid for the servants of the upper and middle classes. All these reasons operate at the same time, and are making the housing question one of the most difficult problems we have to face at the present time. After food and clothing, there is nothing so essential to the working classes for the upbringing of their children, who are the future men and women of our race, as good 2239 housing, and there is nothing so bad for them as the overcrowding which is prevalent in every town and parish in the country. There are only three methods of dealing with this problem. First, there is private enterprise. Private enterprise seems to be failing at the present time. Building operations have become more and more expensive. Last year, through the operation of the National Insurance Act, another act done by the nation as a whole, a shilling a week was added to the cost of every working man in the building trade. That is bound to make it harder for private enterprise to provide housing for the poorer classes at economic rents. The President of the Local Government Board is fond of talking about "charity" rents, and I have no doubt he will do so to-day, but the greater part of the houses let to poor people at the present time are let at "charity" rents. Private enterprise which is providing them with suitable houses, is doing so at "charity" rents. The only way to make them economic is an increase in wages. That will take a long time to bring about. It is not going to be brought about at once by the proposal for a minimum wage or by Tariff Reform. The minimum wage would be quite useless in many cases. We are bound to face this problem, because until economic conditions obtain we shall not get a sufficient increase in wages to enable the working classes in rural districts to pay economic rents. If private enterprise is not successful, there are two alternatives. I would remind hon. Members opposite who are fond of attacking landlords, as a great many of them are…
§ Sir R. BAKER
The hon. Member himself is not immune. The more they attack landlords the less probable it is that they will encourage landlords, by private enterprise, to solve this problem, for they will not put their money into the least remunerative form of enterprise connected with land. We have two remaining methods of dealing with this problem. There is the method, which I think the right hon. Gentleman prefers, of leaving it solely to the local authorities; and there is the method of assisting those local authorities by State aid. It is the latter method which most hon. Members on this side of the House regard as absolutely essential. It is causes brought about by the State which have very largely succeeded in 2240 bringing this question to a head. It is, therefore, in our belief, necessary for the State to undertake the solving of this problem. If you leave it purely to the local authorities you are faced with this: Every one of the local authorities at present, and every individual man, is frightened of the Frankenstein of the increase of rates. They have been growing and growing, and there is scarcely a member of a local authority of any sort who fights an election who does not put as his first plank economy and reduction of the rates, if possible. Nearly every Member, on whatever side, endeavours to get the electors to return him on the ground of ecenomy. As the rates are such a serious question, you are not going to get district councils and other local bodies, as far as I can see, to undertake the solution of the housing problem on a very large scale, when they know that the difference between the rents that they are able to charge and the rate which they have to pay on the money borrowed is bound to leave a loss which falls on the rates. If that is so, you have the district councils unwilling to solve the problem, and you have to fall back on State aid.
One more point about district councils. If a certain locality takes up housing schemes they have to face two problems. Are they to put the cost of the housing scheme on a particular village or portion of the locality in which they are doing it or to spread it over the whole of the locality, because it is obvious that members of district councils representing other parts of the locality will be very unwilling indeed to accept a part of the cost, on their well-housed localities if they have them, of carrying out a housing scheme in a particular village where the houses are very bad. Therefore, in almost every case, you get the rural councils, if they take up a housing scheme, faced with the necessity of putting the cost of it almost entirely on the immediate village or the immediate locality in which the scheme is being carried out. That being so, you find that the farmers or the labourers of that village are paying in reality to provide those "charity" rents against which the right hon. Gentleman is always inveighing. So you are not likely to get this problem solved to any great extent by the action of the district councils. Of course, this country has admitted in the case of Ireland the principle of assisting by State aid the building of cottages. If it is economic to do it in 2241 Ireland it is equally economic to do it in this country. If it is uneconomic in Ireland why did the House agree to do it? Therefore, we might fairly ask that what has been done in that country may be done to a certain extent here also. This Bill, of course, does not pretend to deal with the whole of this question. You have such a multiplicity of Housing Acts that it is impossible for any private Member's Bill to attempt to deal with the question as a whole. It is also impossible for any Bill to deal with it except by reference, and I am afraid this Bill contains a good deal of legislation by reference, which most hon. Members dislike. At the same time unless it is undertaken by a Government Department and unless a general consolidating Housing Bill is undertaken it is almost impossible to make any attempt to bring in any Bill which does not deal with the subject largely by reference.
This measure is not on a very large scale, and I do not think for a moment it will solve the whole problem or go anywhere near it, but we shall welcome any Amendments which are meant to improve it. We think the Bill will do something to assist the housing question. It is substantially the same Bill as was brought in by the hon. Member (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) last year. I am only in the position of a stepfather, and he is the real father of the Bill. Last year the House gave it a Second Reading, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns) tried to keep it downstairs, but was defeated, and it was sent to a Committee upstairs. I only wish to deal with the rural side of the question. There are three Clauses in particular which deal with the rural problem. The first is the Clause which deals with the amendment of by-laws, which is almost the same as was passed through Committee last year—Clause 6. The right hon. Gentleman denied most explicitly last year that there was any real need of amendment of by-laws, and he said there was no real outcry against them, but since then I think he has learnt a certain amount, because he issued an Order in August, which we all welcomed, advising district councils and others to allow the amendment of by-laws. We are merely asking again that this should be put in the Act because we believe it will help to solve the problem to a certain extent. Most of the other Clauses which will, I think, assist rural housing are the same as were passed 2242 through Committee last year. The next Clause, which deals more particularly with rural housing, is Clause 11, which I presume affords the only reason hon. Member's opposite can find for raising the old cry of doles to landlords. I do not think there is anything else which they can adequately call a dole to a landlord in any way, and it does not really give a dole in any way. It merely asks that loans paid by the Public Works Commissioners to local authorities shall be made applicable to any loan made under Section 67 of the principal Act. That Section says, that if recommended by the Local Government Board, the period of a loan may exceed the period allowed under the principal Act or any other Act, but not to exceed eighty years; but the duration of the loan must not be a reason for fixing a higher rate of interest. All we are asking is that you shall allow private enterprise loans on the same terms as to district councils, provided they can satisfy the Commissioners that they are giving adequate security. You will in that way assist private enterprise to a certain extent, and I do not think anyone can say this will be in reality any dole to landlords at all.
Finally, dealing with rural housing, there is a most important Clause from our point of view—Clause 13—which provides for the money. We are asking this year for a sum not exceeding £500,000 for the urban side of the problem, and we are asking for such annual sum, not exceeding £500,000, as the Local Government Board may require for the purpose of giving aid in the provision of housing accommodation in rural areas. Such a Motion must come from the Treasury Bench, but I hope sincerely, seeing how attention has been called in the country to the problem, that the Government may think fit to recommend this. We are asking that the Government shall give up to four-fifths, in a district where it is necessary, of the deficiency which there is in a housing scheme where the rents in respect of the accommodation provided by the scheme are more than could reasonably be expected to be paid, because we say that if district councils know that four-fifths of the loss that may arise would be met by a Grant, you will find an enormous increase of building throughout all the rural districts. If, on the other hand, from economic causes there should be a rise in rents on account of increased wages, you would find that the councils could charge 2243 higher rents for their houses, and that the cost to the country would actually drop, just as the rate of wages in the various districts rose. It is more suitable to provide for housing by that means than by giving a fixed amount. We ask that part of the loss should be met by the Local Government Board Grant.
There is only one other point to which I wish to refer, and that is the proposal to appoint Housing Commissioners. I am sure the proposal to appoint Commissioners will be attacked again, because hon. Members think that that is an easy way of raising a certain amount of prejudice against the Bill. I have no doubt that the President of the Local Government Board will tell us that only over his dead body will the appointment of Commissioners be allowed. I do not by any means like the multiplication of Government officials. No one could be more opposed than I am to that, but I think that in connection with this particular Bill, which makes provision for better housing, instead of having additional inspectors, it would be better to appoint three Commissioners. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has appointed six instead of three inspectors in connection with the housing scheme, but in my opinion it would be better to appoint Commissioners, whose business it would be to go into the problem, and who would go round and see what is necessary in the country as a whole. They would be men of wide experience in housing and they would issue an annual report which the House might see and study each year. I think that in this way you would go much farther towards solving the problem than by merely having inspectors under the Local Government Board, whose doings do not get known so well outside and in this House as the doings of the Commissioners appointed for the purpose would. That is a matter which we hope will to a certain extent help the solution of the Housing question.
This Bill will be attacked in three different quarters. It will be attacked by hon. Members opposite as offering doles to landlords, though I think they will find it very hard to make out that charge in the case of this particular Bill. I do not think the House should refuse a Second Reading to the Bill on that ground. It is, of course, a very old cry on the part of hon. Members. We have heard it often in this House, and I think we will hear the same old arguments brought out again. We 2244 shall be opposed by the hon. Baronet, the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). I do not see him in his place now. He is rather like a political Robinson Crusoe who sits on his island of pure individualism, attended by his man Friday, the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth). I hope the House will not care to follow these two hon. Members when they wave their flag against what they regard as Socialism. I am not in the slightest afraid of Socialism in connection with this Bill. Almost any action the State has taken in the last ten years, or even in a much longer period, might be attacked on the same ground as being Socialistic. When you have a problem like this, created largely by the action of the State, it is for the State to solve it rather than private individuals or local authorities. Then the Bill will be attacked by the President of the Local Government Board who will be anxious to add the scalp of another Housing Bill to those which already adorn his belt. I hope the House will agree to give the Bill a Second Reading, because the promoters have brought it forward in no party spirit, and with no desire to make party capital, but simply because they believe that the housing problem is almost the most pressing which requires to be dealt with by this House at the present time. If it is sent upstairs to a Committee, we will welcome any Amendments which may be proposed. We are only anxious to do a little amount—we do not imagine it will solve the whole problem—towards the solution of a question on which much of the future welfare, happiness, and prosperity of the people of this country rests.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I beg to second the Motion which has been so ably proposed by my hon. Friend. In doing so I must say that I have rather a feeling of hopelessness, not that I am afraid that we shall not carry the Second Reading, for I feel certain that the main principles of the Bill are approved by a majority of Members on both sides of the House, and also by public opinion, but because we do not know how far we will get afterwards. We know how the President of the Local Government Board tried to stop the Second Reading of the Bill I introduced last year, and how he tried to smother it by sending it to a Committee of the Whole House to take its chance with the Government of Ireland Bill and the Welsh Disestablishment Bill. 2245 We know, also, how the Committee emasculated it by taking out the principal proposals, and, even after that, how the Clauses which remained were amended. The right hon. Gentleman never secured us any opportunity of proceeding any further, and I am afraid, therefore, that once again, especially having regard to his speech the other day on the Rural Cottages Bill, which was directed not merely against that Bill, but against housing reform generally, whatever we do we cannot hope to carry even a fragment of this Bill into law this Session. The fact seems to be that the right hon. Gentleman is determined to have no reform in housing legislation as long as he is at the Local Government Board. He has been perfectly frank in the matter. He told the Association of Municipal Corporations that not another Housing Act was necessary. It is remarkable that at the time he made that statement his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made a speech, in which he used these words:—We must clear out the slums, whether in city, or in village, or in mining urban district. We cannot tolerate the slums any longer.A week later, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at Swansea, said a great proportion of the people of this country were housed—in miserable dens, the crevices of which are seething with disease and death.If that statement be true, there is not much to be said for the assertion of the President of the Local Government Board that no other measure dealing with the housing question is necessary. Not only did the Chancellor of the Exchequer use the words I have quoted, but the "Daily News," a Liberal authority, dealing with this question on 14th March, wrote as follows:—The improvement in rural housing cannot wait. The cost we pay in discomfort, debility, disease, and depopulation, is incalculable Nor is the question one that concerns particular parishes or districts alone. It concerns the nation, and the nation must take it in hand.That is the main principle of our Bill. The Bill is so drawn that the nation must take it in hand. We say that we can no longer leave it merely to local authorities and local expenditure. We want something bigger. That is why year after year we present a National Housing Bill. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that everything is going on for the best. He will not hear of a National Housing Bill because, he says, so much is being done by private enterprise. My hon. Friend has already pointed out that since 2246 the Budget—I do not want to make a party speech—the housing question should be above party: it may not be propter hoc, but it is certainly post hoc—there has been a tremendous diminution in the provision of workmen's dwellings by private enterprise. As Dr. Freemantle, medical officer of health for Herefordshire, writes in the "Times" to-day, the speculative builder is not building workmen's cottages. He is building houses at 5s. a week in the country and 10s. a week in the towns. All over the country private enterprise is at a standstill, and for that reason the State has got to intervene. Do not let it be supposed that any of us are opposed to private enterprise. I would far sooner see the matter dealt with by private enterprise. But where private enterprise is non-existent and the landowner cannot build and let at rents which people can pay, except at an enormous loss, and where local authorities cannot build without a heavy loss going on the rates, then it seems to be absolutely necessary that the State should step in and assist. That is the case for the rural part of the Bill. We only step in in those cases where private enterprise is ex hypothesi non-existent. We say that something must be done to house the people. If neither private enterprise nor the landowner can afford to do it, and the local authority can only do it at a huge cost to the rates, then the State must come in to meet a great national evil.
The solution, hon. Members opposite will say, is high wages. I agree. But how are you going to raise wages? How long are you going to take? Are these people to be without houses until wages are raised? We have got to deal with a great and urgent evil, and must deal with it in the manner proposed in this Bill. Let me look at some of the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman in opposition to this Bill last year and to the Housing Bill a fortnight ago. He tells us that he will have nothing to do with "charity" rents. He talks about sponging on the taxpayers and outdoor relief in bricks and mortar, and be always trots out the Lambeth charwoman who will have to pay more in order that other people, and the wrong people, should have "charity" rents. I do not think that anyone would pay more, but if a small charge were put on the community generally for the better housing of the working classes the community would get it all back many times over by the increased health and 2247 comfort of the people. After all, is the right hon. Gentleman the person to talk about "charity" rents? He is the principal author of "charity" rents. Feeling that the housing difficulty is great he has been lately permitting "charity" rents all over the country, and authorising them. There is the Swaffham case. In answer to the Noble Lord the Member for Nottingham the other day the right hon. Gentleman said that one swallow does not make a summer. I could give him many swallows. At Swaffham it was pointed out that there was a great housing deficiency that could only be supplied by the local authority, and that if the houses were built to be occupied by the people for whom they were intended there must be an annual deficiency, which must fall on the rates, and the right hon. Gentleman specifically authorised them to go on with their scheme and said that a small annual deficiency must not stand in the way of such a great improvement in the locality. Take the case of Edgefield, in the Uppington rural district. There the right hon. Gentleman has just authorised the local authority to build cottages to let at a loss of 2s. 9d. per week or £7 a year. That loss is going to place a charge of 2d. in the £ on the rural district, which is a very serious charge. Therefore, what on earth does the right hon. Gentleman mean by saying that he is opposed to "charity" rents?
The only question between us is, Who should pay the deficiency? Should it all fall on the locality or should some portion fall on the nation? We say that, having regard to the awful poverty of some of these districts, if housing reforni were to be carried out by the local authority at its own cost, the burden would be intolerable, and that in those cases, and judging each upon its merits as this Bill will do, the State ought to step in and assist the localities to provide these dwellings at once. The right hon. Gentleman is always very angry if we venture to suggest that his Act of 1909, although I believe that it has done much good in many ways, has also added to the house famine in country districts, because it has caused the closing of many insanitary houses, and there are no other houses there to take their places. The right hon. Gentleman was greatly annoyed the other day because we referred to this. I can give some examples of that. Here is one from a Liberal newspaper. Mr. Hugh Aronson, a well known 2248 housing reformer, writing in the "Westminster Gazette" on this very matter on the 15th July last, referred to this very matter. In his own village a notice was served upon the owner of two old cottages, which were let at 1s. 8d. a week, to undertake certain repairs or a closing order would issue against him. He was ordered, among other things, to supply damp courses and to enlarge the windows. An estimate was prepared, and the estimate showed that the cost of the repairs would exceed fourteen years' rental, while the builder declared that he could not be responsible for the success of the work, as it was more than likely that the cottages would collapse while the damp courses were being inserted, and the walls would fall in if the windows were removed. There was, of course, no option for the owner but to close the cottages. He adds:—Thus it is that the result of the Act in that one village has already been to augment the congestion, increase the famine, and perpetuate the rise in rents, and this incident is but typical of what is happening in many villages throughout the country.Having regard to that, the necessity of closing insanitary houses and the greater necessity of providing other houses where they are closed, it is perfectly obvious that something more is wanted than the powers already possessed by the right hon. Gentleman.
My hon. Friend did not touch the urban side of the Bill. The urban difficulty is the continuance, notwithstanding all that has been done, of great slum areas in nearly all our large towns—these slum areas where practically no sun or fresh air can penetrate. These miserable closed courts and alleys, where the terribly high death rate is a scandal to our civilisation, have got to be got rid of somehow. To give an instance of the evil effect of these slums as exemplified in the high infantile mortality, I will quote another Liberal authority. Mr. A. G. Gardiner, Editor of the "Daily News," at a meeting of the National Council of Public Morals last summer, stated that in back-to-back houses the infantile mortality was 300 per 1,000 per annum, while, as a contrast, he mentioned that in Hampstead it was only seven per 1,000 per annum.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Burns)
Seventy per thousand.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I must say that I was surprised at the figure "7" given in the "Westminster Gazette." We are dealing with infantile mortality and 2249 not with the general death rate, and, taking even the figure of seventy, we see what a tremendous preventable waste of life there is in those slums, and how it is high time that we should adopt some drastic remedies to remove the evil. Take tubercular disease. We passed a Clause in the Insurance Act setting up sanatoria at a cost of £1,000,000, with £1,000,000 a year by way of upkeep. I am not in the least opposed to sanatoria, but I do say that it is far better to stamp out the breeding places of the disease than merely to spend money on the endeavour to cure it. What is the good of sending a man from a filthy slum to a sanatorium, and then, after treating him there, bringing him back to the slum, where his first condition will be worse than the first, and the money that has been spent upon him will have been wasted? There is an area in London, which the county council are now clearing, where the death rate from tubercular disease was 10 per 1,000, whereas in the whole of London it was only 1.44 per 1,000. In that one London slum area the death rate from this disease is five times that of the whole of London. According to a great and eminent medical authority, Sir James Crichton Browne, it would be far better to spend the million a year in clearing away the slums and building for the displaced people sanitary dwellings. In regard to clearing away slums, especially in London, my hon. Friend the Member for the Kirkdale Division (Colonel Kyffin-Taylor) will, I hope, say something about what has been done in Liverpool. I will quote another Liberal authority—"The Lost Homes of England," the title of an inquiry instituted by the "Daily Chronicle." Reference is made to the work done in Liverpool, and the writer says:—Elsewhere the question is being played with. Little is being done to destroy and still less to rehouse. Important as we believe the minimum wage question to be in the town, we are convinced that the housing question is for the poorest an even more vital one. The provision of decent homes with adequate space for sunlight and fresh air is a fundamental necessity, and until these are forthcoming it will be in vain to hope for what Ruskin described as a quite leading, lucrative, national manufacture,' namely, 'souls of a good quality.'1.0 P.M.
Not only in the country is this housing proceeding slowly, but in the towns also, the work of clearing these terrible slums is proceeding so slowly that I ask the right hon. Gentleman how he can be satisfied with the present state of the housing law or housing accommodation, and why is it that he is opposed to every suggestion made from any quarter of the House to 2250 amend the law and bring it up to date. We do try in this Bill to deal with the slum difficulty. We are aware that the cost of schemes under Part I is so great as to be largely prohibitive, and that is why the process of clearing slums has gone on so slowly. The first thirty-one schemes undertaken in London by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the London County Council cost London over £2,000,000 for clearance alone. That was a dead-weight debt, which did not include the rehousing. The rehousing should pay, and, as a matter of fact, it does pay a little at the present time. But taking the cost of clearance of works, such as new roads and so forth, to make an area habitable in future, and the cost of extinguishing and compensating trade interests that are taken away, the dead-weight debt is £2,000,000, and the consequence is that the process is so costly that neither London nor any other place can undertake these schemes without putting enormous burdens upon the ratepayers. We suggest in connection with schemes like that to which I have referred, and which are of such huge importance to the moral and physical well-being of the people, that there should be Grants in aid of the local rates. We try also to reduce the expense. The cost to the local authority is great, because if they propose to clear an area they have to first advertise the fact. They have to get the scheme through, they have to get the area condemned, and they have to go through various processes before they can purchase. We suggest by one of the Clauses in the Bill that the local authority should be able to purchase land in advance for the purpose of these schemes, thereby enabling them to get hold of these slums quietly, and by degrees swallowing them up without the enormous expense involved at the present time. The slum owner undoubtedly gets more than he ought in many cases. I am no attacker of property, but I do say that the owner ought not to get more than the fair value of his property, and in many instances he undoubtedly gets too much now. The price paid is largely based on rental, and the rent is often increased by reason of overcrowding, and consequently the owner gets too much. It is, however, practically impossible to prevent overcrowding, unless one goes every night to these slums to ascertain the condition of things; and if one goes through the day, and finds a number of people in the house, 2251 the explanation is given that it is a birthday party, or something of the sort, and that the persons are only visitors. We propose, by Clause 10, that in future, where an area is condemned as insanitary by the county council and by the medical officer, and where the question of compensation goes to arbitration, proof shall lie upon the owner claiming compensation to show that his house is hot overcrowded, instead of the local authority having to do that. We think that by the adoption of that course a perfectly equitable system would be established, and the owner would get no more than he was entitled to receive. Clause 7 is a London Clause, which will enable London to do what other towns can do now, namely, to rehouse the people turned out under a clearance scheme, not only on the site or in the vicinity, but anywhere thought to be convenient. Nothing is more extravagant, in view of the enormous cost of these schemes, than to use these central sites for rehousing the people. Centrally situated land has a high commercial value, and in these days of cheap tramway journey and workmen's fares, it is not necessary that the value of the land should be written down, causing the public authority great loss, and it is very much better to give them greater freedom. We know, of course, that in addition to Part I., which is more expensive, a great deal can be done under Part II. I would merely point out that on questions of demolition, properties unfit for human habitation may be bought with a view to improving the sanitary condition of a neighbourhood at a reasonable amount. The plan has been successfully carried out in Birmingham. I do not say it is the best plan, but it will do in the case of small sums.
By Clause 9 we give greatly extended powers for clearing sites. We enable the local authority to go to the man whose house is to be demolished and offer him a certain sum in compensation, provided he undertakes never to build again on the site without their permission. In that way the powers under Part II. will be more readily available than at present. Again, we have a Clause dealing with what is now, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a great difficulty in London. Part II. belongs to the Metropolitan boroughs, who are the sanitary authority, and Part I. is done by the London County Council. The cost of Part II. falls on the local boroughs and of Part I. on the 2252 county. The local borough naturally goes to the county, to have the clearance scheme spread over the county, and very often effective action under Part II. would have been all that was necessary. We propose that an arrangement by agreement may be made as between the London County Council and the Metropolitan boroughs whereby on such terms as may be arranged the London County Council shall undertake any of the duties of the Metropolitan boroughs under Part II., thus avoiding in many cases I hope extreme expense on the Part I. scheme. I apologise for having gone into the question in such detail, but my excuse is that I feel very strongly as to the necessity for drastic reform. These Clauses have been very carefully thought out to meet the slum difficulty. I will only mention one other Clause and I do so almost with trepidation in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman, and that is Clause 18, the Clause which for some reason best known to himself he misdescribed last year as a "wooden nutmeg." It is a very harmless little Clause which merely deals with this question. There are a certain number of working men who would like to buy their own houses. It is not a big matter, and not going to solve the housing question, but a certain number among the best class artisans wish to buy their houses, and I do not see why they should not have the opportunity to do so. An Act, the Small Dwellings Asquisition Act, was passed to enable him to borrow 80 per cent. of the money, while 20 per cent. had to be found by the individual. That often came to a large sum, perhaps £40 or £60, and with legal expenses very few men can find that amount of cash, and the Act to a large extent has been a dead letter.
Because we believe the Act contains the germs of a useful reform of a smaller character we propose to amend it chiefly by extending the amount allowed to be loaned, or, in other words, reducing the amount of cash the working man requires to have when he wishes to buy a house. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman took such violent objection to the Clause last year. It is to be honed he may allow it to be passed this year. We do not rely in this measure so much on the minor Clauses. We put this Bill forward on its main principle. We hold that the housing question is a matter of national importance, and that no real social reform can ever be carried out, unless the home is good. We 2253 say it must begin in the home, and so long as the people are living in filthy surroundings as they are and as long as there is a house famine in the country it is idle to talk about every other kind of social reform. We are determined, as far as we can, to try to mend that state of affairs. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will oppose this, but I regret his opposition. I have for the right hon. Gentleman, personally, the greatest admiration, but I think in this matter he is entirely wrong, and that he is hopelessly behind the times, and I think the progressive movement is to be found chiefly on this side of the House. I know there are many Liberals who are opposed to the right hon. Gentleman in this and who would really support this Bill. We put it forward in no party spirit, believing it to be a great step in advance, and, notwithstanding the opposition of the right hon. Gentleman, we shall persist with it until we have placed on the Statute Book a measure which will really enable us to rid the country of what I regard as the greatest reproach to our civilisation.
§ Mr. FRANCIS NEILSON
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and add instead thereof the words "this House declines to proceed further with a Bill which attempts to stimulate the building of houses by granting a bounty to landlords."
I am not going to question the sincerity of anyone who speaks for the other side on this question. I have followed for some years now the utterances and the articles written by hon. Members opposite on this question. I know that the hon. Member for North Dorset (Sir R. Baker), who with such great good humour spoke earlier in the day, must know this question as well as any man in this House. I know the Division he represents very well, and that many of the cottages in that Division are not like Milton Abbas. The hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) also represents a Division which to a great extent indeed is very familiar to me, and in which to-day I have many relatives who are living under conditions which are perhaps more terrible than any that have ever been spoken of in this House. I know that in the district round about Dudley, not only in Tipton and the Wednesbury district, but even such villages which were only a few years ago of a rural kind, such as Wood Sutton and Sedgley, where really to-day the conditions under which the people live are not only 2254 abominable—they are filthy. Even in the main streets of some of the districts near the hon. Member's Division those things that are usually hidden away from the sight of men and done at the back of the house are usually done in the front. I know this question. This matter of the housing of the people entered like iron into my heart long before I went away to the United States—a good many years ago, so that I impress on the House that it is in no capricious manner that I move this Amendment. I remember when I was a little lad in the Wellington district of Shropshire, where my father's people came from, being taken by my grandmother to a company's cottage. When I came back from America, and was chosen for the Newport Division of Shropshire, I went again to that company's cottage. Many changes had taken place since I was a lad, but I saw the inmates, young and old, seared by the furnaces, marked where the coal fell in the pit; I saw them bent and decrepit; and I saw the child with what was called a weak chest and the hack, hack cough. I examined the rooms and the back and front of the company's cottage and I thought that still there is a lot of work to do in the Commons House of Parliament for the housing of the working classes. It is only a few months ago I went to the same cottage to stand by the bedside of a man who died, a relative of mine. I do not want to harrow your feelings, but his son said to me, "Do you know he never stood upright in his bedroom from the time he was eighteen years of age?" As I say, I do not move this Amendment in any way capriciously, and I want, if I can, to state why I do not think that this Bill would do much to solve this terrible problem. In the first place, it is a particularly complicated measure. The Mover and Seconder made out an exceedingly good case for the housing of the working classes, but they did not show that they had a good case for this particular Bill. The Bill is so complicated that it would take a man much better versed than I am in the methods of understanding legislation by reference to understand where the machinery and the detail of this Bill lie. I confess at once that I have only looked at what is called the principal Act—the Act of 1890. Let me for a moment remind hon. Members how long these questions have been before the House, and how over and over again they have been brought up—indeed, it was only the other 2255 day that I was considering the clearance in that district now called Shaftesbury Avenue. When you think of the clearance that was made there, and you go down the side streets making towards Oxford Street, and see the new slums that are being made in the Greek Street area and round about Soho Square, where at the time that the Shaftesbury clearances were made some of the best of the middle classes were in residence, but where you find the very cellars of the district now overcrowded at night, you are forced to the conclusion that the method must be wrong, because when you clear in one place you only raise a slum in another. Even the hon. Member for Dudley does not tell us how the clearance of a slum is going directly to affect the housing of the people who leave it. Those, indeed, who suffer all the terrible disabilities of the housing problem to-day are certainly the ones who in any scheme put forward in measures of this kind will not benefit one iota. In reference to the Shaftesbury Avenue clearance, may I quote at some length a speech that was made some years ago by one who understood perhaps as well as anybody who ever spoke in this House how these clearances benefit landlords:—It was in the second Session in which I attended Parliament that my late friend Mr. Fawcett called the attention of the House of Commons to the Bill … to carry a big street from Charing Cross to Tottenham Court Road, which was to go through a very densely populated and miserable neighbourhood. … The Metropolitan Board of Works proposed to take the land on either side of the street according to the usual practice, and to lessen the cost of improvements by the increased value which the new street would give to the thoroughfare. But when the Bill came before the Committee of the Commons, one great landowner on the line of route, by his agents, opposed the Bill, and claimed the insertion of a Clause for his special protection, which provided that the Board of Works should not take one inch more of his land than was necessary for the formation of the street, and that he should have the frontage along the whole line of his property. Just consider what that meant. It meant that this landowner was to have the fullest possible price for his land—it was to be bought from him at its prospective value; he was to have compensation for severance: then he was to have 10 per cent. for compulsory sale and heaped upon all this be was to have the enormous advantage and profit which the turning of his property into the front land of a great thoroughfare would add to its value. Well, the Committee of the House of Commons, finding that this proposal was altogether exceptional, that there was only one single precedent for it, and that in the case of a Tory peer, Lord Cadogan, rejected the Clause. But when the Bill got up to the House of Lords, this great landowner was one of their number, a peer of great influence in the Upper Chamber, and the Committee of the Lords inserted this Clause for his protection alone. … Mr. Fawcett … moved that the House of Commons disagree with the Lords Amendment, and so strong was the feeling in the Commons, that the Resolution was carried without a Division. … Who do you think was the landowner? … It was the Marquis of Salisbury, the Prime Minister of England.2256 That is from a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in 1881. The reason I bring that forward is to point out that you can scarcely bring into operation any of the Acts for the housing of the working classes, or indeed the extra powers proposed to be given by this Bill, without benefiting the landlords in the neighbourhood where the improvement takes place. We have had other clearances. There was the extraordinary clearance a few years ago within a stone's-throw of this House—the Millbank clearance. Everybody must be proud of that clearance, if only because we have the Tate Gallery, to say nothing of the amenities round about the Tate Gallery. But in clearing Millbank you merely sent the slum dwellers into other parts of Westminster to create other slums. So far as Ruskin buildings and the other flats and tenements are concerned, they do not house any of the people who lived in the slums of the district before the clearance. Where are they gone? I have followed them. Only a few years ago Tufton Street was a place where the class of people who live in. North Street and Little College Street then dwelt. To-day it is one of the most evil slums in Westminster. I wonder if hon. Members know Chadwick Street and Peabody Buildings. I live in the neighbourhood, and therefore have special facilities for visiting these people at all hours of the night. It is very often two or three o'clock in the morning when I have to turn out to see what is wrong. It is a terrible neighbourhood. There are churches all over the place, and the Houses of Parliament are very near. You have Church, State, and Law close by, but still you would really think that you were not living in a civilised country at all, judging by what very often takes place between midnight and four o'clock in the morning about Chadwick Street and Strutton Ground. The slum dwellers that were in the Millbank area have gone into these places, which, in the old days, were occupied by fairly well-to-do people of the middle class. There they have raised up slums, and there they are breeding their slum progeny—the most terrible progeny you can possibly have.
Only the other day I went to a very hard-working woman with whom we have got acquainted in one of these districts. I thought I would talk the housing question with her. I very seldom speak in these Debates, and I think a lot before I 2257 oppose anything in this House. I wanted to be quite sure how she would look at the question, because I looked upon her as one who was in dire need of better housing. "Housing!" she said, "why that is for the steadies." There you have it in a sentence. By any such Bill the great mass of people in the slum districts will not be reached at all—the "unsteadies," the people who only get work on perhaps alternate days or for a few hours at a time. The history of legislation on the question is the best criticism of the Bill. Act after Act has proved futile, and Amendment after Amendment abortive. Are the promoters more sanguine to-day of their efforts in this direction than was Lord Salisbury or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? Let me quote Lord Salisbury again. He said:—If you observe that the villas outside London are the principal seed plots of Conservatism, I am afraid that if you look carefully you will find that such Radicalism as still remains attaches to those districts of London, unfortunately still too large, where what is called the great question of the housing of the poor is living and binning.That was addressed to the National Union of Conservative Associations in December, 1900. If that be true, then it seems to me that the promoters of this Bill are altogether too modest if there be any party idea at the back of it in bringing this Bill forward. They should have made it large and comprehensive if they wanted to touch the hot-beds of Radicalism referred to by Lord Salisbury. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division knows how burning a question this is. I remember the time when he met a deputation of workmen on this question. The right hon. Gentleman said then that this question of the housing of the working classesis more pressing and more important than most of the social problems with which we are confronted.But even the right hon. Gentleman availed very little indeed—I am not going to question his sincerity—he could not fail, when meeting that deputation of workmen, being impressed at the dire need they were in. I am certain he did all he possibly could when his party was in power, and he had opportunities of bringing Housing Bills to—what shall I say—a better result, than they had had. One more quotation to drive home the point about how all these operations must benefit the landlords. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, not speaking in 1885, but in recent times, on 11th October, 1894, which was at 2258 the time that legislation was promised to better the Act of 1890, and when, indeed, legislation was introduced by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, said:We want to clear away those nests of disease and crime which exist in all our large cities, where the people are herded together under conditions which make comfort and health, and even proper living, entirely impossible; and for that purpose I think it to be necessary to extend the principle of the Artisans Dwellings Act. However good was the principle of that Act it has not been largely availed of, and the reason is the excessive cost of carrying it into effect. That is due to the fact that it is confined to so limited an area that where it is adopted the cost falls upon the community, but the profit goes to neighbouring landlords and occupiers.There was no doubt in the right hon. Gentleman's mind at that time! I can also remember—I am open to correction, if necessary, for I am speaking from memory—that it was in that same speech where the right hon. Gentleman laid it down in regard to such matters as the housing of the working classes that the authorities, with such improvement in view, ought to go to work with the idea of buying large tracts—larger tracts indeed than they require for mere housing purposes—so that the enhanced value which will come from the improvement of the neighbourhood will belong to the local authority and not to private landlords, and would go to pay for the whole cost of the scheme. I have pretty good authority at the back of the Amendment which I have put forward to-day.
To touch the Bill for a moment or two, there are only two Clauses in it which require particular attention, that is the new department with three Commissinoers, and the question of the money. In regard to the Commissioners it is very difficult for me to believe that the promoters of this. Bill have any idea of the magnitude of this question when they think that three Commissioners are going to deal with it. The difficulties of dealing with the matter can best be understood by turning to the original Act and reading Clauses 4 and 5. Let me give the House some idea of the magnitude of this matter. I am referring now particularly to the rural part of the question. Take an average of 500 villages to each county, and with fifty-three counties in England and Wales, it will be seen that there are about 25,000 villages to be dealt with. I believe there are something like 14,000 parishes. Mine is a very low estimate indeed of the number of villages. Is it too much to say that on an average four cottages are needed in each village in this country? It is, to my mind, a very low estimate; but what is required even 2259 on these figures? What is the immediate need. Something like 100,000 cottages at the very least. What about the cost—which was that which was always in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? Take the cost of each cottage at £200—because in the scheme of the promoters of this Bill the idea is not merely to build the smallest type of cottage, is it? As my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract, in putting his point of Order to Mr. Speaker earlier in the day, pointed out, there is one Clause that may even benefit people very much better off than agricultural labourers; and indeed, in one part of the scheme, there is the matter of shop and house.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The hon. Member really is mistaken. There is no provision in the Bill whatever enabling local authorities to build shops and houses. It only enables workmen to buy them. In the same way Clause 4 deals with a larger type of house. If the hon. Member will look at it he will see that the Bill only allows it to be let.
§ Mr. NEILSON
I was not referring particularly to Clause 4, but there is nothing in any Clause of the Bill that places a limit upon the size or the expense of a house to be built by the local authorities. I say £200 may be taken as an average. That means that the immediate need in the way of expenditure is something like £20,000,000. Half a million has to be subscribed by the Government; at least that is the limit of the Grant.
§ Sir R. BAKER
May I point out what we are asking for is that four-fifths of the annual loss, or deficit, between the rent and the cost of the scheme shall be paid by the Government. Therefore, being four-fifths of the cost of the difference between the two £500,000 would provide an enormous number of houses. It is not an annual sum to meet the capital charges.
§ Mr. NEILSON
I quite understand. On the basis of the four-fifths you will get 5,000 houses per annum in the rural districts, and the need is something like 100,000 cottages. I say I wonder at the moderation of the promoters of the Bill in asking for so little if they believe that this is the only way they can bring about the better housing of the working classes. Then there is the wage question. The hon. Member for Dudley knows quite well that there is another way to deal with this 2260 matter, and that is by raising the wages of the people. He will not agree as to how that should be done. It is a very extraordinary thing that after waiting for so many years, and trying to make the housing of the people better, and after so many failures, that to-day those who will support this Amendment will do so on the principle that the matter is urgent, and that they can wait no longer—even if they said they agreed with our economic manner of bringing about a rise in wages. Time, they say, is so urgent! Now it does not take long. Wonderful things have been done in Canada so far as this question is concerned. It only seems like a few days ago since representatives of the New York journals were sent to Canada to look into this question. They found the Winnipeg people taking to their heels. Trade union leaders passing to and fro were investigating the question. At that time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long), whom I see opposite, was out there. I remember reading his speeches, but a wonderful change has taken place there now, and I dare say the right hon. Gentleman heard in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Calgary of the house famine, and that is not because wages are low. Wages are high, but it is because people take plots of land and are content to live in any kind of shanty until they can find the labour to build for them. So there is a difference in the cause of the house famine out there and the cause of it here. In recent years the North-West Provinces adopted a system of taxation. They had an old system under which they suffered for years, and under which they suffer in the United States. I have in my hand a leaflet published not by a political association but by the Board of Trade, and there are some fifty or sixty questions asked and answered as to the conditions out there; and when it comes to the matter of taxation they say they have only one system, and that is to tax land value. They do not tax incomes, Personal property, or business. There is no tax upon any property, only upon land values. In Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, Medicine Hat, and Edmonton, in all their towns where they have adopted this system, and its working shows what a terrible effect the taxing of improvements had upon the housing question. Let me give one instance.
There was a census taken in Canada last year of fifty-two principal towns. One 2261 town had only adopted the new system for twelve months, yet while it was in operation building rose in value 402 per cent. That gives an idea of what restrictions there were so long as the taxes came upon improvements. The adoption of such a system does not need a great change in this country. No doubt you have to think of vested interests, but if you think of all the complications in the land system and of all the difficulties of the leasehold system it looks very easy indeed. But, after all, it is a question of the housing of the people, and in the ill-effects from bad housing, you have to take into consideration the enormous cost to the nation not only in money, but in something money cannot buy. I think when you have to choose you had better choose while you have time, and to choose the better way, though it may cause inconvenience to many people, but not inconvenience for a great many years. You cannot have it both ways, and the House is beginning to realise that. I met a man the other day has got an estate. He is a poor man. It is only over 4,000 acres. He told me of the way in which his estate is mortgaged and how he was tied hand and foot; he wished, he said to me, he could get rid of this thing. "I am driven away from it," he said, "by what I see and cannot remedy." A woman came to him who had been waiting three years for an opportunity to marry. She was heartbroken and so was her mother. He wanted to get away from things like that. As he could not meet the demand for land, not only for housing but for purchase, he thought it better to be away. You could gradually bring about this change by taxing land values, and the result would be there would be greater demand for labour and wages would rapidly rise, and you would lift great burdens from off the people and you would raise the purchasing power of the community, and the people will then be able to do for themselves what they get very little chance of doing under a system of monopoly.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
I beg to second the Amendment, and in doing so I beg to assure hon. Members opposite that we who are opposed to this style of legislation feel quite as much as they do the difficulties of housing which beset our population in town and country. There can be no question whatever that the housing problem is one of the greatest. There can be no question that the present state of housing is responsible for 2262 ill-health, for the progress of consumption, for immorality, and any of, those other problems with which we are constantly faced and have to deal. The question which the House has now to consider is not the nature of these problems, but does this Bill give any remedy, does it go to the root of the evil, and would the passing of this measure in any way assist in their solution? It is my firm conviction that the passing of a measure like this and similar measures would not go to the root of the evil. Some people refer to this as a palliative. I do not think that it is even a palliative. These kind of measures simply divert our attention from the real point at issue, and it is to the real point at issue that I should like to come. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading said all the evils were due to the action of the State. To some extent I agree. But I think it would be more accurate to say they are due to the inaction of the State and the stupidity of the State in not giving the fundamental security that ought to exist. The hon. Member who seconded the Bill told us how private enterprises failed, and how, as private enterprise has failed, the State must step in. When we are told that private enterprise has failed, and I agree it has failed, we want to know why it has failed, and with that the hon. Member did not attempt to deal.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
Is that the only possible cause in the hon. Gentleman's view? Does he not recognise that years before we had the Budget we had this housing problem. I maintain that recent legislation, far from aggravating the problem, has tended to relieve it. It is not so many years ago that we reduced the Income Tax under Schedule A in cases where improvements had been made in cottages. No, the cause is far deeper, and I propose to direct the attention of the House to some of those causes. In the first place, I would like to remind the hon. Member that, Budget or no Budget, he has first to get the land, and the difficulty in very many cases in both country and town is to get a suitable site. In various cases in Scotland as well as in England, it is difficult to get a site at all, and even when you can get a site, land, which may have been very low for rating, when you come to purchase or take a long lease the 2263 price is so high as to make building commercially unremunerative, because when interest has to be paid on that as well as on the cost of building the house, you get to a rent which the people cannot possibly afford to pay. The first thing we have to do if we want to enable private enterprise or municipal enterprise 'to succeed is to get the site to build upon on satisfactory terms, and we shall never succeed in doing that until we have throughout the country a general valuation of the land on the basis of its market value, and until we have established some kind of equality between the valuation on which the landlord pays to the community, and the price which the community will have to pay to the landlord. It is notorious that many of our large towns are faced with this problem. They are faced with it to such an extent that private enterprise has simply to stand out, although the people are overcrowded because the land cannot be acquired except at a prohibitive price. The result is an increase in the rents, and the people who have just been keeping their heads above water are in danger of being submerged. Therefore, the more this system of housing is extended the more impossible and burdensome it becomes. In the meantime it has been rendered quite impossible for private enterprise to do anything in the way of housing in competition with endowed schemes of this kind which dip deep into the ratepayer's pocket.
That is no solution of the problem, in fact it rather aggravates the evil. I would ask the hon. Member opposite to look beyond the Budget and note the fundamental conditions which existed before the Budget. Supposing you had the land yourself and you set out to build upon it. You put up cottages for labourers or for people living in the towns. When those cottages are up and occupied up go the rates, and you are thus penalised in the cottages you have built. If you build better cottages and more expensive houses, with better accommodation, the more you do the more heavily you are penalised. Take the average town in the country. There are a great many towns in which the rates are something like 4s. in the £, and that means that for every sovereign invested in building enterprise there is a tax equivalent to 25 per cent. on the return you get. No wonder that private capital is not being invested in building houses. There is no trade in the country 2264 so heavily taxed and rated as the building trade. This is not because there is no private capital available, because there is quite an abundance of private capital seeking other investments, and this will continue until we give it a chance in the building trade. We want to give better employment in the building trade, not only to labour, but to capital as well, and we never shall do it until we cease the system of rating and taxing houses and have free trade in building. That is the second thing we require if we are going to deal successfully with the housing problem.
Some reference has been made to slum property. I know this is a very difficult question. You issue a closing order for a certain district. The people are turned out, and they have to go into overcrowded districts elsewhere, and what happens in the slum districts? It may he a very valuable site, although the houses are unsuitable, and the idea is that you should buy that property and rebuild. Instances have been given again and again showing that for such slum property as that famine prices have been paid. I ask hon. Members to follow what has happened. In these slum areas, after a closing order has been issued, and the people turned out, that property is very often held up against the community without the landlord having to do anything to it until sheer necessity compels the community to pay the owner an exorbitant price. I agree that that is a thing which ought to be dealt with, and I should like to deal with it in a very drastic manner. I would say to the gentleman who owns that slum property, "We have to condemn these houses, but so long as you hold up that property and do not let it be used so long you will be rated according to its market value, whether you use it or not." Apply that principle to slum areas and they will soon be made available and sold upon fair terms.
Reference has been made to the question of building restrictions. I agree that in many country districts the building restrictions are far too severe. During the last Recess I was out in an outlying country district in Scotland, and I was shocked to find the state of overcrowding there, and the explanation of it was that the landlord of that estate was opposed, in the interests of the estate, to having any houses built except of stone or limestone. Regulations of that sort may be necessary in towns where comparatively fire-proof houses are necessary, but in country districts, where 2265 housing is badly wanted, reasonable houses ought to be allowed to be put up if they can be built with due regard to the general safety of the neighbourhood. I am certain our building restrictions in many ways are too oppressive. I know they have been brought in with the best of intentions to secure good housing, but the requirements are so stringent that they make building unremunerative and aggravate the very injury they have been intending to remove. If any measure were brought in dealing with any of these evils it would have my sincere support, and I would not go out of my way to quarrel with any details. Here, however, we have a measure which does not even attempt to deal with one of these fundamental causes of the evil which we all deplore.
I do urge the House not to give time to a measure like this. Instead of dealing with any of the causes, it simply goes on the old principle of a fresh dole from the taxpayer. The taxpayer is the ratepayer, and the tax ultimately comes from those who are living under these very conditions. I would like to know how much of the tax will go in rent for the land. I am convinced that it will be a very considerable amount. There is no proper and adequate machinery in the measure for obtaining land on fair terms. This Bill does not go to the root of the evil. It is simply a fresh dole with fresh Commissioners and further salaries. We do not want to move in the direction of further restrictions and further officials, and, as I have put in a plea for a relaxation of building restrictions in country districts, so I would put in a plea for greater freedom for the people themselves to be able to use the land of the country and to apply their own industry and their own money to making better homes for themselves. We want not only to do that directly, but in doing it to give better openings for the British working man and for British capital. I am convinced that the proper way of dealing with the problem will never be clear until we have a system under which people are rated according to the market value of the land they hold, whether they use it or not, and until we have a system under which the present plan of penalising building is abolished and all buildings and houses and a great many other results of industry are rate and tax free. These I believe are the fundamental causes of the evil, and any measure which tries a remedy of the kind now proposed will be illusory and only lead to disappointment.
§ Colonel KYFFIN-TAYLOR
I have listened with very great interest to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and it is because I honestly believe that this Bill will go a long way towards remedying the very evils of which they have spoken that I have gladly come here to support it. My experience teaches me that many local authorities are unable to clear away slums because of the heavy cost, and many of them, having cleared away insanitary property, have failed to provide fresh accommodation. I support this Bill, and especially that part of it which would call in State aid, principally because all the municipalities, except probably Liverpool, which have gone in for clearing slums have failed to house the actual people turned out, and these people, because of their poverty and inability to pay an economic rent, have not been rehoused at all. They have been thrown into the streets with results disastrous not merely to themselves, but also to the rest of the community. I think the very best way I can support tins Bill is to inform the House of the experience of Liverpool, and my reason for saying that is that, whereas all the evils so ably described by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment used to exist in Liverpool, after a certain time they ceased to exist. The policy there cannot possibly be described as one which favours the landlord, and it is calculated not to create or to increase slums. I have had personal experience of this matter, because I have been on the Housing Committee of Liverpool for nine years, and I have the honour of being chairman of the committee. The whole of the city, Liberals, Nationalists, Labour representatives, and Conservatives, are all absolutely united in this policy, a policy whereby they have pledged themselves to go forward with their housing schemes, to rehouse exclusively only the persons who have been turned out from their homes, and to rehouse them at rents which approximately they paid when they were in the old insanitary property. I want to draw the attention of the House to this, because it does away with all the objections to which the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment have referred.
We began operations in Liverpool in 1864, and we have had very long experience. We had at that time 22,000 insanitary houses in probably the vilest slums imaginable. Out of a population of 100,000 people, no less than 30,000 lived in cellars. 2267 Liverpool's first housing experience was in 1869, when a block of buildings were erected accommodating about 600 people. At that time it was complained that the buildings were occupied by persons of a superior class and not by the persons unhoused by the corporation. In 1885 they cleared a rather larger space and built some very fine buildings for those days, five storeys high, giving accommodation for 1,200 people. Estate agents who remember that time have assured me, and their statements are confirmed by the officials of the corporation, that clearance resulted in the persons dispossessed being turned into the surrounding neighbourhood. They went into other insanitary houses, causing considerable overcrowding. It is a fact that the new buildings were occupied by persons of a superior class. Again, they had a third experience, and one which does not often fall to a municipality. From 1864 to 1896 Liverpool sold its surplus land, land which the corporation had acquired in order to demolish insanitary property, and they sold it at about 10s. or 12s. per square yard, on the express condition that the builders should build houses for the people. No less than 800 or 900 houses were erected in that way, and again it is quite safe to say that not one of them was occupied by any person unhoused by the corporation. On one occasion they sold a piece of land at 2s. 6d. per yard, but the result was exactly the same. It may be asked: Why do not these people go into empty houses?
The answer is this, and is a perfectly clear one, that in Liverpool, at that time, as to-day, none of the persons unhoused in Liverpool could have afforded to pay anything like the rent for a sanitary house. Then Liverpool adopted the policy which has been described as that of patching up the neighbourhood. They purchased individual houses and they pulled them down, in the hope of admitting light, air, and ventilation into a certain neighbourhood. The result was that increased pressure took place, matters were made worse, and in the end the corporation had to clear away the whole slum. Then they had five years' experience of patching up individual houses, but they realised, what has been realised in some other towns, that it was very doubtful whether the persons who were turned out before the patching was carried through ever returned, because as a rule, the moment the house was 2268 patched up, the landlord raised his rent. This is a significant fact, and you have here forty years' experience of the corporation which, outside London, has done more for housing than any other large town, probably excepting Glasgow. Liverpool cleared away insanitary property for building, it built houses, it sold to others the land for building upon, it embarked on schemes for the patching up of neighbourhoods and the patching up of houses, and it absolutely failed during all that time to rehouse the people. In Liverpool they began to realise that in the year 1896, and there was then a great outcry. Not less than 40,000 people had been turned out; some estimated the number as high as 60,000. They had been turned out and had gone into cellars, many of them, and into other insanitary houses and into overcrowded sub-let houses. At that time the mortality in some of these districts was 60 per cent. of the population, in others 50 per cent., and in all 40 per cent. or over, and diseases, such as typhoid, typhus, and consumption, were abnormal and excessive. Whilst some slums were being emptied, certain neighbourhoods were being absolutely destroyed. I think that is important, because it shows how in a perfectly innocent way municipalities may be spending enormous sums but failing to rehouse the people. One of the first experiences I had on the Housing Committee was when a deputation came to say, "Your persistent policy of failing to rehouse the people is destroying this whole neighbourhood, and, unless some rehousing is done, our shops, our places of worship, and our schools, which would cost you a great deal to build again, will all be destroyed." Liverpool realised that that was a rather expensive policy, and that it would probably cost less money if they rehoused the people, and it was decided after some resistance to go forward with housing schemes on the condition that no one should go into these houses at all except the people who had been turned out. This was the policy which united the whole city. It did not interfere with private enterprise, and I urge this upon the attention of those who think that private enterprise can deal with it; private enterprise cannot deal with it. These poor persons who live now in these large towns in insanitary houses are not paying a rent of more than 3s. or 4s. a week. It is not a question of land reform. In Liverpool, for example, if they presented the land free of charge, and if there were no rates or taxes at all, the mere cost of the 2269 building would prevent these people being housed at an economic rent.
I will tell the House the results of this policy in Liverpool, because they have been very extraordinary, but I should like before doing so to point out that my experience is that other towns also complain that the tendency of housing schemes has been to throw persons actually out into the street when they were unhoused. There is an increasing tendency to hope that other municipalities will follow the example of Liverpool and rehouse the actual people who have been unhoused. I have made some inquiries, especially from the National Housing Council, and they tell me that their experience is that certainly not 15 per cent. of the persons who have been uprooted from their homes by housing schemes throughout the whole country have been rehoused. I took the trouble to get from the London County Council what their experience was. I find that they provided accommodation for 54,000 people up to the end of March last, that in their clearances they have actually disturbed 30,000 people and of these 30,000 they have put back only 1,756. So that London has not rehoused 6 per cent., and while 28,000 strangers must have come in under these new schemes, 28,000 have been turned into the street to overcrowd what were probably overcrowded neighbourhoods. The worst feature about this is that overcrowding in sublet houses is probably the most fruitful cause of consumption. Whilst the country is pledged to spend an enormous sum in the endeavour to fight the battle against consumption, the failure to house the people who were unhoused under the Housing Acts is probably more than maintaining the supply of consumption. In order then to encourage the municipalities to embark on these schemes and to rehouse more of the actual people who are turned out, I support this Bill, because I think the only way in which it can be carried out is by asking the State to share the burden with the municipality. To-day, in Liverpool, we are spending £22,000 a year in the special policy of rehousing the same people, and the House will be interested to know that in pursuance of that policy to-day we have got 2,174 dwellings, with a population of 8,000 people, every one of whom had been turned out—
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and, forty Members being found present—
§ Colonel KYFFIN-TAYLOR
Liverpool has this unique experience—and I desire to impress upon the House the fact that it is unique—that it has actually housed the persons, who are not in a position to help themselves, and with whom we all sympathise, who were turned out of their homes, to the tune of 8,000. I may describe the result as a social transformation. Years ago, when a Scotch deputation came to see these people, they went back and described them as persons whose wages would not exceed 15s. a week, and they said that the whole belongings of each family would not amount to more than a sovereign. What we see to-day is that these people have added gradually to their stock of furniture, they take an immense pride in their homes, they pay attention to ventilation and keep, the places clean. It is a most difficult thing to describe, and cannot be realised except by persons who have seen the dreadful surroundings of Liverpool and then see these people in their homes. In every possible way these people are healthier, happier, and stronger, the new environment giving them an altogether new outlook and, I am certain, a new hope. The transformation in these people is so extraordinary that some people have said, "You cannot have housed the same people." I have been able to get exact statistics on the matter. Although I have not been able yet to obtain the statistics as to the older schemes, I have got them perfect as to those schemes whereby we turned out 5,866 people. Of those we have actually housed 4,597, or 77 per cent. One of the best schemes was that in connection with which the President of the Local. Government Board came down to Liverpool to lay the foundation stone. Under that scheme we housed 94 per cent., and in one, called Burlington Street, the House will be glad to know that we housed 99½ per cent., so that practically we put back in new homes all the people we turned out.
That I think disposes of the statement that work of this kind is creating other slums. It is impossible that work of that kind should create slums, because you get the whole of the people back under the control of the corporations, and when they come under the control of the corporation you find that marvellous results ensue in every department of life. These figures are very interesting from the police point of view. The head constable of Liverpool has supplied me with a table showing what the offences were before demolition and after demolition under some of these 2271 schemes. The figures arimportant when you consider that we have shepherded all the people back into their new homes. In regard to Adlington Street, the offences of persons actually residing in the area of that scheme fell from 202 in 1894 to four in 1912. In Hornby Street they fell from 117 in 1901 to thirty-two in 1912; and in Burlington Street from forty-six in 1905 to fourteen last year. These figures are extraordinary, and what the head constable of Liverpool says about them is this:—The figures of offences committed by persons living in the areas are of real value, because the housing department takes pains to secure as tenants those who have been dispossessed through its operations.The figures, therefore, indicate real personal regeneration.
§ Colonel KYFFIN-TAYLOR
No, I am sorry I have not got them. I felt that the House would be much more interested in trying to find out what happened when you actually get the whole of these people back. I have been endeavouring to study the housing question for ten years, and the assertion is constantly made that it is impossible to redeem these people. It is said, "Slummers they are, and slummers they will remain." I absolutely and totally deny that. It is because we on this side of the House believe that these people can be saved by giving them new homes that we feel this is the right way to do it. As to sickness, typhus has disappeared, and typhoid falls just as the buildings come down. The most interesting result is in relation to the diminution of sub-let houses, and the consequent diminution of consumption. I have the honour to be chairman of the insurance committee in Liverpool, therefore I am able to look at this matter from the point of view of the insurance committee and the point of view of the housing committee. We have found in Liverpool that one of the direct results of housing the same people is that it has caused less overcrowding in sublet houses. It has also reduced the number of sub-letting houses themselves, therefore it has materially led to the prevention of consumption, and consequently 2272 to the prevention of the increase of consumption. In Liverpool in 1904, before we got into full swing with these housing schemes, we had actually 22,000 sub-let houses. To-day we have 16,475. That would have been absolutely impossible had it not been for the fact that the corporation has got these very people back into their new homes. It is a rather significant fact that up to a certain time, before the city was able to embark largely in housing schemes, all that the city had done was to transfer the people from 22,000 insanitary homes to 22,000 sub-let houses. I can imagine no policy more insane up to that time because, from the point of view of insurance, the enormous sum we have got to pay under the Insurance Act is saved, to a very large extent, by the action of the municipal authority in housing the people. Liverpool has accomplished a great work of social amelioration, and that work would have been absolutely impossible if the burden of it had not been borne by the community, and, therefore, if the nation is in earnest in desiring to do away with the enormous slums which still remain, both in the country and in the town, the only way that can be done is by the State coming to the aid of the local authority to enable the local authority to provide the poorest people with decent homes so that they may lead respectable and decent lives.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
I cannot claim to be speaking officially on this occasion on behalf of those with whom I am usually associated, though I believe I shall succeed in carrying the majority of my colleagues with me to the Lobby in support of the Second Reading of this measure. I naturally listened with great interest to the speeches of the two hon. Members who moved and seconded the rejection of the measure and never have I listened to more unsatisfying speeches in this House. It is always easy to make a destructive speech. One can set up one's own premises and show that everyone else must necessarily be wrong. A fortnight ago we discussed a kindred phase of this subject, but business elsewhere prevented me being present. There were certain features of that Bill which would have made it very difficult for me to give my support to it. The only fact which would have induced me to go into the Lobby would have been this. We are confronted with an urgent problem and at least we have here some proposals for dealing with it. If the Government declare that they are dangerous proposals 2273 and are not likely to carry out the purpose desired I respectfully submit that it is their duty to lay their counter proposals before us in order that something shall be done to relieve this great evil in our midst. The primary objection which the hon. Member (Mr. Dundas White) advanced need not deter him from supporting the Second Reading of this measure. I have often stated in this House that I hope subsequently that the valuation of land which is now taking place shall be the basis of the subsequent acquisition of land for public purposes. But like the two hon. Members who moved and seconded the Second Reading, I am trying to avoid as far as I can, controversial subjects in my consideration of this problem. A fortnight ago my right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns) reproved my hon. Friend (Mr. Jowett) for his appeal to doctrinaire principles. I have always inclined to the view that that was a charge which very often lay against my right hon. Friend himself. He has certain doctrinaire obsessions, and he cannot get away from them, and everything which does not conform to them naturally is suspect and receives his violent opposition. Nevertheless I felt, as I read the speech of my hon. Friend, that the charge certainly did not lie against him, because the gravamen of the charge against the promoter of that measure then was that it was a real subsidy to local landlords, and anyone who knows my hon. Friend will realise that that is the very last thing that he would do, but his support was simply animated by a desire to do something for and to facilitate the housing of the working classes.
I am less inclined as the years go by to dogmatise. I have been associated myself with a school of politicians who aver that all palliatives are valueless, and that after all we have to await the time when the working classes are of one mind, and then we are going to declare a social revolution and superimpose a perfect State on the present imperfect order. I am one of those who have come to the conclusion that if I can do something of immediate avail, I do not care from what quarter it originates, it is going to have my hearty co-operation. I do not think I need waste time in relating the urgency and the extent of the problem. I think every one of the speeches so far has acknowledged the existence of the evil, and, if that be so, I think we may reasonably assume that all parties in the House will co-operate in finding a solution for an acknowledged evil. I deny, too, that the 2274 question has been contemplated in two categories—urban and rural. They are distinct in fact, and I think they will have to be so regarded. I support the principle of this measure in relation to both aspects of this housing question. I think the interesting experiences narrated to us by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Kyffin-Taylor) of what has happened in Liverpool go to prove that, after all, this is a national problem, and that the public health is not one that can be confined in watertight local compartments, and if Liverpool is improving its housing conditions, and thereby alleviating the health of its own populace, it is directly conferring a benefit upon the nation as a whole, and if we tolerate any town having a large insanitary area and thereby a hotbed of disease, if you cannot circumscribe that disease to that particular locality, it will necessarily be conveyed to other parts of the land, thereby proving perfectly, to my satisfaction, that this housing problem is not merely one of a local character, but must be contemplated from a broad, national point of view.
I am tempted, perhaps, to approach the topic more from the rural standpoint. I have spoken on previous occasions from the point of view of the agricultural labourer, because I am of him and I know the circumstances of his life. I have to recognise this. The agricultural labourer at the moment is unable to pay an economic rent. You may tell me that the raising of wages is the real solution. I do not attempt to deny it. The whole of our social legislation is due to the fact that some of our people do not get a fair share of wealth, and are unable to meet the responsibilities of life with the wage that they are able to win. The same argument which is advanced against State aid in this respect is equally applicable to all forms of social reform. So long as wages are regarded as simply sufficing for immediate need, you will have occasion for social reform. I constantly attempt to preach the principle in this way The reward of labour should be regarded as sufficient to cover the whole liabilities of life, but nevertheless we have not yet reached that stage, and I cannot see any immediate prospect of that standard being established. Under the existing order, the daily wage simply suffices for the daily need, or the weekly wage for the weekly need, as the case may be. There must necessarily be a number of contingencies 2275 in life which cannot be properly met out of a wage fixed according to that standard. The Government reply may be that you must raise wages. Granted, but when are you going to do it, and how are you going to do it? I am hoping that we may interpret the speeches of some Members of the Cabinet as indicating the intention to shortly tackle the question of wages. We are talking a great deal about a minimum wage standard, but you cannot fix a minimum wage and bring it into operation by Act of Parliament in six or twelve months.
Some weeks ago I stated the figures respecting the rate of agricultural wages in the part of the country where I live. I know that these figures have been questioned. I never stated that they applied to all agricultural labour in that part of the country. I never went further than to state that the figures I gave approximated to the wages paid. I said the wages were 12s. or 13s. a week. I am pleased to acknowledge that there are some employers who pay more than that. But even 14s., 16s., or 17s. is not a living wage. Supposing Parliament determined that £1 a week should be fixed, you cannot declare that that will come into operation on 1st January next. You can only reach that by gradation, and under the provisions of this Bill, even with a minimum wage provided for by legislation, you would require State aid for a time; but just in proportion as the minimum wage proposals worked out their true economic effect, and the ability of the individual to pay the higher rate accrued, the State liability would diminish, and we would get rid of the objection which has been advanced. I spend some time among agricultural labourers, particularly in East Anglia, at different parts of the year. When the weather improves, I presume I will be using my week-ends addressing agricultural labourers. I find that a keen interest is being taken in this question. It is a vital matter. I know relatives who would have preferred to live in this country, but, being unable to get houses or to get married, they have been driven across the seas. I want to see our country entering into active competition with the Colonies. I view with grave apprehension the figures as to emigration which are placed before us now, and I believe that in the question of rural housing you have one of the most fruitful causes whereby people are driven away. When we have the startling 2276 fact that our emigration statistics reveal that we are sending out of the country year by year a number approximating to our natural increase of population, that seems to me to prove that, unless we are able to grapple with this subject, early stagnation must ensue, and an unfortunate state of deterioration enter into the life of our nation.
Therefore I do beg that we shall approach this question apart from all doctrinaire obsessions. I ask my Socialist friends to realise that a Socialist State is not going to be attained this Session, or for several Sessions to come. To my friends who advocate the single tax I would say that that prospect is even more forlorn, and personally I am convinced that even their principle would not afford a panacea for all those problems. I know that when we are advocating any particular thing in which we believe we are inclined to become enthusiastic in our advocacy and to exaggerate our own views of the problems.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
If time permitted, I would have to controvert my hon. Friend's claim. It has not solved the question of working-class housing. But for the interpolation of the hon. Gentleman I do not think I would have uttered that controversial sentence. The point I am making is that it is too late simply to advance the objection that these proposals are mere subsidies of wages. All social reform, in my opinion, is open to that objection, and, therefore, I think we will have to get away from that to-day, and some other reasons will have to be offered as to why this Bill should not be carried out. We are told that provision of this character will arrest private enterprise. Everybody knows that housing in our rural parts is entirely at a standstill at the present time. If that be admitted—and I do not think it can be denied—we are entitled to ask—if you are not prepared to afford aid in the manner indicated by this Bill, what is the proposal of an immediately practicable character that you can submit to the House and the country in this particular? I agree with those who have spoken as to the effect of better housing on the morality of the people. I think that when some people approach the subject in a mere abstract economic way, they lose sight of the great moral factor which ensues from better housing and 2277 general improvement of environment. In my speech on the Address I made some reference to the Irish scheme. I know that the President of the Local Government Board does not admit that there is any analogy between Irish conditions and those in our rural parts. From my own point of view I say that there is a considerable analogy. I find that rural life in this country is stagnant. I see the agricultural labourer housed under wretched conditions. I do not want to exaggerate at all. I know whole villages where the houses have not more than two bed-rooms, and the second one is a lean-to shanty. I say it would be almost impossible to exaggerate the evil effects of this condition of things. It is true that we have not the mud huts which prevailed in Ireland prior to the legislation to which I was referring, but all the preconceived notions of economists have been falsified by the Irish conditions.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
I always listen with great respect to the speeches of the hon. Gentleman, although I do not agree with them. In Ireland we find that State aid has not had the effect of reducing wages. It has not even stereotyped wages, but simultaneously there have been advances in wages. I do not say that this is exclusively attributabe to the State aid, but my opinion is that it has had the effect of giving these people a sense of security in life, that it has placed them in a clean and healthy environment, and that it has at least made intellectuality possible of development. It has produced great moral elevation, and, so far as I can gather, there has been practically a new race created under these conditions. I am certain that if we can adopt a similar principle in relation to our own agricultural population, if we can give the agricultural labourer a free home in place of the tied house, which, I think, is now an admitted evil in rural parts, we will thereby give him that same sense of freedom to induce him to enter into combination with his fellows, and trade unionism would spring up among the agricultural labourers, and you will get them then not satisfied with the present low standard of life, and will have given them a stimulus to demand what is undoubtedly their right—a fair reward for their labour.
I know that there are certain objections that could be advanced to this Bill. I have never known a Bill introduced into 2278 this House to which everybody could subscribe in every particular. There are one or two Clauses in this Bill to which, if it went to Committee, I should feel myself compelled to offer some objection. For instance, Clause 11, which enables loans to be made to private persons, from my own point of view is objectionable in itself, but does not constitute a sufficiently strong reason for me to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. Clause 18, again, is one that is not at all attractive to me. I am not very much convinced that public money should be placed at the disposal even of a working man to enable him to buy his own house. I am not opposed to a working man having his own house. I only wish I was fortunate enough to have one for myself, and I always rejoice when I knew that members of my own class have houses of their own, but I have been a member of a number of voluntary working-class organisations, and I believe that there are ample facilities already in existence to carry out the express purpose of that particular part of the Bill, while this has the effect of over-weighting the measure and allowing some who object to this particular provision to offer this as the reason why the whole Bill should encounter hostility. With those reservations it is my intention to vote for the Second Reading of the measure. I know full well that it cannot go far unless the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board can induce the Government to introduce a Treasury Resolution to give operative effect to the Financial Clauses of this Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman needs no assurance from me that I am not animated by any complaint of or personal ill-will towards him in the position which I have taken here. I am simply approaching this Bill in a dispassionate spirit. I would have preferred that the right hon. Gentleman himself had made himself responsible for it, simply because I want the Bill to become law. I want something to be done immediately in this matter, and I feel that we can do something with the aid of this measure to solve the housing problem in its urban aspect, and particularly, I am pleading, in its rural aspect. In this I believe that you will have contributed something substantial to the welfare of our nation. I have always subscribed most profoundly to that old principle that the best of our character is centred round the noble sentiment of Home, sweet Home. I have known the meaning of it myself, and 2279 I know the hovels in our rural parts that have to do duty now for homes, and therefore I say that I am not prepared to stand on mere party considerations or even on economic obstructions, because I want something to be done. I say to right hon. Gentlemen, give this Bill a fair chance, correct it where it may be wrong, but above all let something be done immediately which can be put into practical operation, and then do not rest there, but carefully elaborate the permanent remedies which are suggested in various quarters for the purpose of dealing with what, after all, is the root of this and all social evils and inequalities in the distribution of the wealth created by the industries of our people.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
So many Members wish to address the House that I shall not occupy time dealing with the evils of the housing question. They are very well known, particularly as regards rural areas. No doubt there has been a great quickening of the conscience of the nation on this point, and I cannot help thinking that the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) introduced last year, though not successful in being placed on the. Statute Book, had a great effect in arousing public opinion. It is only when we come to remedies that there are various kinds of opinion. But I would like to remind the House that the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Hemmerde) was obliged by the agricultural labourers, who thought that they might have two strings to their bow, to pledge himself to the principle of this Bill, and I hope that before the Debate is over we may have some support from the hon. Member. Again, it is perfectly true to say that there cannot be any great improvement in the housing conditions until the labourers are enabled to get higher wages, and the interference of the State in order to enable the labourers to get higher wages has no great terrors for me. Experience of the Trade Boards Act in those trades in which it has been applied has been wholly beneficial. It has been proved that there is a standard in each trade to which wages can be levelled up without interference with the trade, and that, on the contrary, it has been a great benefit not only to the trade but to the workers generally, and what is true of those trades will also be true of agriculture.
2280 But I do not advocate State interference with the agricultural labourer's wages in order to solve the housing problem, because I cannot help thinking as the result of the Debates that we should be leaning on a broken reed. I think that we should find that the labourer would demand that the increased wages should go to an improved condition of his own living, and he would spend those increased wages on feeding himself and his family better, and he would no doubt be justified in making that claim, because up to the present a very large proportion of agricultural labourers are not earning a subsistence wage, and, as the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk said, the operation of the Trade Boards Act would be very slow, whereas we claim that the remedy which we propose would be not only unaffected but an immediate remedy and solve a very disgraceful and dangerous state of things, for it is disgraceful that so many labourers families should be living in insanitary houses, and the local authorities should not be able to remove them because they cannot find any place for these people to live in. It is a dangerous state of things, because it is so bad for the health and welfare of the people. I hope, notwithstanding the opposition hitherto of the President of the Local Government Board to our proposals, that this measure may be sent upstairs and there treated as a non-party measure; that we may set aside our party objections and prejudices, and really combine to knock this Bill into a more acceptable state to hon. Members opposite; and that we may have Grants-in-Aid in order to begin at all events in those areas where housing is more pressing and where private enterprise is most lacking. There are three objections to this Bill which ought to be dealt with, and, inasmuch as they have already been referred to, I will do so briefly. The first is that we are making a proposal which tends to stereotype the rates. I believe it will do exactly the opposite.
What has happened in the agricultural districts? The reason why wages are so low is that a large proportion of the labourers are living in tied cottages, which are the property of their employers, and it is perfectly useless to ask them to use the weapon which has been so effective in the hands of the town worker, while they are in that position. I believe if we could, by means of this Bill, create a nucleus of independent labourers in each village we should very soon have 2281 a different state of things. It had that effect in Ireland, and I do not see why it should not have the same effect in England. The second objection is as to private enterprise. There is no fear of our killing private enterprise in the agricultural districts, because it is already as dead as Queen Anne. I could take the right hon. Gentleman to villages where no houses have been built for the last hundred years and none are likely to be built. The right hon. Gentleman in the recent debate on this subject said the proper solution of this problem was for public utility societies to take the matter up. I agree that it is a very useful sphere of work for public utility societies, but can they deal with the bedrock of the problem? How can they build cottages for labourers who are accustomed to pay 1s. 6d. a week, when they would have to pay 3¾ per cent. to the Public Works Loans Commissioners for the money they use? That, of course, is impossible. The third objection is that we are told we ought to be content with the Housing Act of 1909, but that is a one-man policy, and as far as I am able to gather from the last Debate, and also from this Debate, there is no Member, save the right hon. Gentleman, who is found to say that the Act of 1909 has succeeded, and the right hon. Gentleman, like a modern Rupert of Debate, is the only one who rises to defend that Act, and when he returns to his camp he finds that it has been occupied by the enemy. I saw in "The Nation" an article which I cannot help thinking emanated from some inquiry office, and which, after pointing oust that the President of the Local Government Board is as far from realising the magnitude of the problem as ever, goes on to say that it is not a question of providing thousands but tens of thousands of cottages, that private enterprise is dead, and that local authorities have not acted for fear of the burden on the rates. It goes on:—The central authority has neither supplied adequate pressure nor found the financial inducement. The Local Government Board has no adequate powers for such work and is not likely to acquire them. It lacks the will, the staff, and the organisation.3.0 P.M
That is stronger than anything we have yet said, and I should like to deal with the adequacy of the Act of 1909. I have been at some trouble to find out how many rural district areas are in need of houses, and in how many of those areas action has been taken. I have as the source of my information the report of an inquiry by the 2282 National Land and Homes League, which circularised the rural local authorities, and I have also information from the reports of medical officers of health. I do not say that my information is complete, but at all events it represents an honest attempt to get at the bottom of the subject and to obtain the latest up-to-date information. I find that there are no less than 216 rural district councils who admit that there is a scarcity of houses in their areas, and in only forty-five of the areas has some action been taken, while in 143 of those 216 areas no action has been taken at all. Take Cambridgeshire. There are six rural district councils who admit a dearth of houses. Four out of the six have taken no action at all. In Devonshire, thirteen admit scarcity of houses, and seven have taken no action at all. In Dorset, seven admit scarcity of houses, and six have taken no action at all. Lincolnshire is the only county which has made any great use of the Act of 1909, for there ten admit a dearth of houses, and five have taken action. In Norfolk, nineteen admit a scarcity of houses, and fifteen have taken no action at all. I need not go on through the whole of the counties; I think it perfectly clear that the Housing Act is not doing the work as fast and as completely as it should do. There is no doubt about it that the right hon. Gentleman is faced by the fact that he has not got the power to act. Potterne is one of the most insanitary villages in England, as far as I can make out. Anyhow, more than half the houses in that village contain less than two rooms.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I have seen the fact that the right hon. Gentleman sent a public Commissioner down to inquire, and the Commissioner was so impressed with the scarcity of houses that he recommended that the council should be ordered to build twelve houses. The parish council took no notice of the order, and they were again ordered to build the houses, but they continued to take no notice of it whatever. As far as I can make out, the right hon. Gentleman is quite powerless to deal with the situation. I do think that, in view of the manifest failure of the Housing Act of 1909 to deal with the situation, we who support this Bill ought to get a little more sympathy from the right hon. Gentleman than a 2283 speech stock-full of early Victorian economics. What have early Victorian economics done for the agricultural labourer? It was probably very good political economy in the sixteenth century to graze as many sheep and grow as much wool as possible, but the peasants were swept off the face of the land. It was possibly good political economy in the eighteenth century to grow as much corn as possible, but it was bad for humanity to deprive the agricultural labourers of the little independence they had. The right hon. Member would subsidise and help everything except human beings. He subsidises horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs, but when he is asked to do a little for human beings in our villages he turns a deaf ear. All we ask is that the claims of humanity should have some little recognition at their hands, and that every man should have the right, which ought to be his in a Christian State, to live in a healthy, clean home.
§ Sir HARRY VERNEY
I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will be grateful to the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Baker) for having given us the opportunity of discussing this question, and I think those who have listened to the Debate will agree that it has been kept to a high level all the time, and, if he will allow me to say so, no speech has been more interesting than that to which we have just listened from the Noble Lord, whose knowledge of the question and whose genuine desire for reform in housing matters is recognised by all. I desire to deal purely with the rural side of this problem, which seems to me quite simple to state. It is that landlords do not build cottages. Some do not because they will not, and some landlords object because they do not wish to have their land in cottages, and there are some landlords who do not because they cannot. In a case I know of best the estate is so heavily mortgaged that the landlord, with the best will in the world, is not able to build houses. The problem remains that the landlords do not build houses, and therefore someone else is called on to do what the landlord either will not or cannot do. To me the proper remedy is, in the first place, that the wages of the agricultural labourer must be raised, and that is, I believe, the ultimate and true solution of the problem. With that personally I would couple the simplification of the selling of land, so that it might be sold as 2284 conveniently as other things. Also, I agree with the hon. Member who moved the Amendment (Mr. F. Neilson), that the taxation of land values will help as nothing else will help to solve the housing problem. I do not mean by that the exaggerated caricature of that policy which sometimes hon. Members opposite give to us according to which everything is to be put on agricultural land. I merely mean that the value of the land is to be taken as a basis of rating and taxes. I have always maintained, instead of putting taxes on improvements, that the way to get cheap houses is not to have the house taxed, just as the way to get cheap food is not to have food taxes.
The remedies, therefore, are better wages, the simplification of the sale of land, and the taxation of land values. How does this Bill deal with those remedies? The Bill is divided into two parts, the second part of which was dealt with by the hon. Baronet who moved the Second Reading. Clause 13 is one to which he seems to attach great importance. It seems to me to be entirely unsound. I cannot be persuaded that uneconomic rents are, in the end, going to benefit the people or the rural labourer. I was delighted to hear the Noble Lord who spoke last inveighing against tied houses. I was not surprised to find that the cheers were rather moderate from the opposite side. If the Noble Lord could persuade me that this Bill was going to do away with, or help to do away with, tied houses, he would get my enthusiastic support for that Clause. So far from that being the case, it seems to me to be more likely to perpetuate the existing evil. Then, of course, we have the analogy of Ireland, which is always referred to on the housing question. Just let me mention one or two things about Ireland. There is no private building in Ireland. When I say that I am speaking broadly.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt reply later on, and may refer to that statement, but that is my opinion for what it is worth. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite will forgive me for saying the more I see or know about Ireland the more convinced I am that Ireland is not a precedent for anything in the world, and that we cannot draw any analogy from Ireland which will be of the slightest use in any other part of the Empire. The first part of the Bill 2285 proposes to speed up the existing authorities. I was interested in what he said about officials. Sometimes you say to Lave more officials means Socialism, and at other times hon. Members feel at liberty to point to hordes of officials, but surely we are not to be told that one official for all England is going to settle the housing question. I think that is extremely doubtful. You have still in the first three Clauses of the Bill an attempt to do something to encourage my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board and the existing local authority. You have got one Clause which is almost worth voting for, if there was nothing else, and that is the Clause which provides for the relaxation of the by-laws. I think anyone who knows anything about by-laws will rejoice in a Clause of that sort. There are two general observations which I desire to make. In the first place, let me say one word as to the landlord. It is surely time that landlords should stop the hypocrisy of pretending that this Bill will not benefit landlords. Of course it will. Anyone who knows anything about rural life must know that if you put up houses on land, that the landlord is going to benefit. That is an obvious truth. Incidentally, the farmers may benefit, and directly it will also benefit a few labourers who here and there will have better houses. Of the three, the landlord is certain to benefit, the farmer will probably benefit, and it is hoped that a few labourers will benefit.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
I was only venturing to say that hon. Members who do happen to own land should not pretend that they will not get benefit out of the Bill. Of course they will. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was not present when the hon. Baronet moved the Second Reading.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
The hon. Baronet was so very anxious to show us that this Bill was entirely without any sort of benefit to the landlord that I merely ventured…
§ Sir R. BAKER
What I said was that there were no doles to the landlords. I did not say it would not benefit the whole countryside, which would of course be a benefit to all classes. That is a very different thing from what hon. Members talk about, namely, giving direct money doles. There is no attempt to do so in 2286 this Bill, but there is an attempt to benefit the whole countryside.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
If the whole community benefit, of course the landlord does, and I am sorry some hon. Gentlemen should think it is possible to benefit the countryside without benefiting the landlords. That, however, is merely by the way. I am anxious not to be too controversial, but we were told the other day by a newspaper that this was the last word in housing, and that it was left to the Unionist party to arrive at the solution. I think it was in the "Morning Post." I hope anyhow that that claim will not be made this afternoon. No one could pretend that this Bill, with such use as it may be, which I think will be small, though I think it will be of some use, is the solution of the housing problem. It is a mere miserable palliative. Still, for my part, although it is a palliative, I think that with Amendments this Bill could eventually be made of some use in the rural housing problem, without prejudicing what I believe to be the true remedies, and because I believe that I propose, with some hesitation, to give my vote for the Second Reading.
§ Mr. WEIGALL
I had not intended to intervene in this Debate if it had not been for the speech just delivered. I desire to approach the subject purely from the rural aspect. The hon. Baronet admits that this Bill will benefit all those engaged in the largest industry in the country, namely, agriculture; because it will improve the conditions directly of those who provide the muscle and sinew of the industry, and indirectly of those who hold the fixed capital, the landlords, and those who hold the moving capital, the tenants. I should have thought that if he was in earnest in desiring to improve this industry that would have been sufficient reason for his supporting the Bill.
§ Mr. WEIGALL
"A miserable palliative" is not an unqualified support. I wish to amplify the argument used by the Mover of the Second Reading. It seems to me that the chief reason why the private stream of capital for housing in rural districts has dried up is the land policy of the present Government. I say that not only from my own experience as an agent of large agricultural estates, but also because last year I sat on a Departmental Committee appointed, and, I think, 2287 rightly appointed, by the Government, to inquire into the breaking up of large agricultural estates. I was the only Member from this side of the House on that Committee. After hearing evidence from those who represented the landlords and tenant farmers and, to a limited extent, the agricultural labourers, that Committee was compelled to state in their report that they were of opinion that the legislation instituted by this Government and still more the fear of future legislation on the same lines was militating against the best interests of agriculture. For that reason it is no good for the President of the Local Government Board to say now, when the private stream of capital has dried up, which, after all, is the main reason why we are faced with the pressing need for rural housing, "Leave everything to the Local Government Board in general and to the President in particular, and all will be well." He cannot shift the responsibility on to other Departments of the Government. The bedrock reason for the whole of this need for rural housing lies at the door of the Government, of which he is a prominent Member. It is no use telling us to leave everything to Departmental action. That will not meet the need or let loose the stream of private capital. I hate the setting up of a new Government Department. I think that in recent years we have had far too little of what I may term the social sympathy in carrying out these reforms, and far too much of the grinding machinery of the State. Therefore I do not want permanently to set up a new Government Department, but I feel that in our rural areas there is no way of meeting the present need without some form of help from the State. Local authorities cannot meet the need on account of the very high rate of local taxation.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to give me an answer to a concrete case of which he knows the details. I am very grateful for the accessibility which a private Member always finds in dealing with the President of the Local Government Board. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the energy and determination that he has exercised on local authorities. But he has not at present sufficient power to meet this need. Here is the concrete case. It is in a small parish in my Division, with 300 inhabitants and an assessable value of £1,000, where there is a local authority which is only too 2288 anxious to meet the need, which everybody agrees exists. A scheme has been approved by the Local Government Board. I need not go into details. It is sufficient to say that, after keeping the cost of the houses as low as possible, and charging a rent of 2s. 6d. per week, which is the highest an agricultural labourer in that part of the country can afford, there is a loss of £3 per annum per house. To meet that loss means a four-penny rate. Obviously, if the local authority imposed that four-penny rate, any further housing scheme in that union would be doomed to failure. It would go round the whole of the union like wildfire, "They charged us a four-penny rate; have nothing to do with it. What solution has the right hon. Gentleman for such a case? The need is there; the local authority is anxious to meet the need; the inhabitants ant the need met. The only solution, so far as I can see, is some form of State aid. I do not like it, but it seems to me that it is the only solution. What other solution has the right hon. Gentleman? You cannot reduce the cost of the houses, and I should be out of order in discussing the alternative of raising the wage of the agricultural labourer. The hon. Member for Norwich has answered that aspect of the question. I support the Second Reading of this Bill chiefly because. I feel that, after all, homes make people just as much as people make homes, and that the improvement of the housing of our rural population will do as much as, if not more than, anything else to improve the whole conditions of the agricultural community.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
As a Member of the Committee which considered this subject last year, I desire to deal with the urban aspect of the housing question. The speeches which we have listened to show, I think, that we all are genuinely interested in the housing problem. I very much struck by the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for one of the Divisions of Nottingham, whom I met on that Committee, and whom I know to be a very genuine reformer in this respect. The complaint that I have to make of this Bill is that it does not touch the real problem that we have to consider in our large towns. I am not going to deal with the rural aspect of the question, as that has already been dealt with; but, so far as I can see, the only thing that the Bill does in relation to the rural areas is to make this Grant of £500,000 from the State to 2289 assist the building of cottages. From what we have heard, the point raised by the last speaker would not be touched, because, if £500,000 is going to save a four-penny, threepenny, or a penny rate in every parish in the country, with a view of paying the difference between the proper rent that ought to be paid and the rent that is paid, that half-million, I am afraid, would go only a very small way. I have several objections to this Bill—the principal is this: The Memorandum of the Bill says:—That the Bill adopts the principle of the existing Acts, especially those of the principal Act of 1890.It is here where this Bill fails, for this reason: Every local authority that has had to deal with the housing problem with regard to slum areas under the Act of 1890, Part I., without an exception—or with the exception of a few large authorities—I shall deal with that later—has failed to deal with this problem as it should be dealt with on account of the very conditions laid down in the Act of 1890. I was very much struck, and very much surprised, at the eulogiums passed upon the housing scheme of Liverpool by an hon. Member, who, I think, said he was chairman of the Housing Committee of the Liverpool Corporation. The housing scheme of the Liverpool Corporation, according to Mr. Thompson, who is a great authority upon this subject, is a permanent charge of £30,000 a year upon the rates to meet the deficiency under the scheme. That is really the problem which we have in other towns.
It is that owing to the conditions laid down in the Act of 1890, and the vast compensation that must be paid to the owners of property when you deal with these slum areas, that the local authorities cannot and will not touch slum property. Let me give a few instances. I have here a book which I would advise every hon. Member to read if he desires to study and understand this housing problem. It is written by Mr. Nettlefold, chairman of the Birmingham Housing Committee. No man has studied this problem more than Mr. Nettlefold. He has studied it in practice. He and Mr. Thompson are authorities Mr. Nettlefold states in his book that to carry out a scheme to remove the slum property in every slum area in this country—and if you are going to do it by a Grant from Parliament given impartially for the assistance of every local authority—you must not forget that there are 5,000,000 of people—and we regret it—who live 2290 in slum areas—would cost millions. Up to the present time, taking London, Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, the average cost of removing each person from a slum area has been £77 15s. Mr. Nettlefold works it out that if it were to cost £50 per person the total cost would work out to £250,000,000. I ask any hon. Member: Is it not tampering and tinkering with the problem to bring in a Bill like this to deal with this great question of housing when you consider that, owing to the cost of dispossessing the owners of slum property, you have the authority that I have quoted and others stating that the thing is unworkable, and that Acts cannot be put into operation? You ask for a paltry £500,000 a year without touching the main principles of the thing Mr. Thompson points out that in London the removal of persons out of slum areas has worked out at £32,600 per acre. I say that no local authority can stand the excessive cost which under the existing law they have to sustain to carry out the clearances of slum property.
The remedy proposed in this Bill consists principally of two things, which we discussed very fully upstairs. The first remedy is to create three Commissioners, one for the urban districts and one for the rural districts, while the third is to be a medical man. I ask any hon. Member who is connected with a local authority what is the use of these Commissioners? Is not every local authority to-day fully acquainted with its slum property and with all the difficulties in connection with it? Every local authority is certainly better qualified to deal with this problem than Commissioners sent from London. Let me give the case of the town that I represent, Stockton-on-Tees. I sat on the Housing Committee of the Corporation for two years after the Act of 1890 was passed. The members of the committee visited every slum in the town—and it is a very old town and we have a large number of slums. We were as desirous as any Member of this House to remove that slum property, but after considering the matter in all its details, and the vast cost of the scheme we would have to undertake, the council came to the conclusion that they could not under any circumstances undertake the great responsibility. They had in view the great amount which they would have to pay to the landlords in making these clearances. I want to deal with this matter in a practical way, and I would ask what is the use of 2291 sending Commissioners down to the town I represent, or to Liverpool, or Manchester, or Glasgow, to ask those in authority to do the thing they are anxious to do themselves, but which they cannot afford to do? Therefore I say that the proper and only thing we can do before we can touch this problem is to fundamentally alter the Act of 1890.
Let me point out what the council will have to do if they act. First of all, they have to declare the area insanitary, then they have to give plans and specifications, to serve notice, to prepare the scheme and estimates, to advertise, to have a Local Government Board inquiry and a Provisional Order, and then the whole scheme may have to come before a Committee upstairs, and the cost of all this falls upon the local authority. How can any local authority carry out schemes of that nature? Let me give an instance. In Birmingham to-day you have between 30,000 and 40,000 back-to-back houses. How can you deal with that great problem of back-to-back houses under a scheme of this kind? You have to confer greater power upon the local authorities to mitigate the case. I put that to the hon. Member for Dudley, and suggested to him that he should agree to alter the basis of the cost of payment to the property owners. But he is not agreeable to do that, because he knows well, if he did, the property owners would be bound to object to such a scheme.
The other objection which I have to this Bill is a very serious one. Mr. Nettlefold, in his book, states that the reason why we have slum property in all our towns is because of the want of by-laws in the past. You could not have slum property in any town under the existing condition of by-laws. We are asked now under Clause 6 of this Bill to give power to any society, company, or any persons to override the by-laws of the local authority. I consider that to be absolutely fatal to any good Housing Bill, because I believe the stricter the local authorities are as to the class of houses to be erected the better for the future generations of our people. I believe another reason why we have this dreadful state of things in slum property is this: You have this slum property in all our large towns; you have it in London and in the provinces, and if you refer to Mr. Booth and Mr. Sims, who studied the problem in all its details in Birmingham and other large towns with regard to the 2292 children, you will find that you can never settle this problem unless you give power to remove the drink dens from the midst of the people. You plank down public-houses right in the midst of where these poor people live, and you ask them to live in a state which you cannot expect from them in face of this great temptation. I know places, I am glad to say, to-day, where there are thousands of workmen living, earning only the same money as men living in the slums, but living in districts without any public-houses in their midst in comfort and in a state of comparative affluence, and it is due entirely to the fact that these men utilise and spend their earnings upon their families and their homes. I say in connection with this slum problem you have also the drink problem, and you ought to deal with the two.
There is only one other Clause in the Bill, Clause 18, to which I should like to refer. I put this to the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir Frederick Banbury). You propose here to charge only 3 per cent. to the man who buys his house. I do not believe in that. I believe if a workman buys a piece of property under a municipal authority he is quite prepared to pay a fair interest on the loan. When considering this question upstairs we had a petition from the local authority of Ilford, which has advanced large sums; they petitioned against this proposal on the ground that they were making a very great loss under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act of 1889. The great reason why the Act was not a success and never will be is this: Every man who buys a house under that Act is bound to live in it. He cannot let it, and that is a fatal objection to the Act. If he leaves the house he is bound to sell his property. I ask any man, is there any workman in this country whose position is worth a month's purchase? Not a single one. I remember when we debated the Bill in 1899 the President of the Local Government Board cited the great migration that takes place in London, and he showed that it amounted to 30 per cent. every year, and the reason why this Act never will become a success is because a man who purchases a house under a corporation has no right to let it if he leaves it. The fact is the house becomes a prison to that man, and that is why the Act is such a failure. A workman now can go to a co-operative society or a building society, or to his solicitor, and he 2293 can obtain a loan with freedom to do what he likes with his property, and he can sublet or live in it. I looked through the speeches of the hon. Member for Dudley on this question, I know he takes a great interest in this matter, he served upon the London County Council housing committee. I read his speech of last year in which he said, "We cannot get our people to grow up as an Imperial race in slums." I quite agree. There is no man in this House who would do more for the removal of this slum property than I would be prepared to do, and it is because from my practical experience in serving upon municipal bodies that I have come to the conclusion that you can never touch this problem unless you fundamentally alter the Act of 1890, and for that reason I am going to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The speech to which we have just listened is the most unsatisfactory of the speeches we have heard in the course of this Debate. The hon. Member for Stockton speaks with great authority on the subject because he has studied it both in theory and in practice, and knows what he is talking about. I am sure, however, that anybody reading his speech would expect him to conclude with the statement that he was in favour of the Bill, although he would endeavour most drastically to amend it. Nearly all the objections the hon. Gentleman has raised are objections of detail to parts of the Act of 1890 or the amending Act, and any of those objections could easily be dealt with by Amendments to this Bill. The hon. Member's final conclusion was the most unsatisfactory of all. He declared that until you drastically amend the Act of 1890 he is not prepared to vote for any proposals which may be made to deal with this question. What a hopeless attitude for any hon. Member of this House to take up. I share to the full the views which have been expressed on both sides as to the high standard this Debate has assumed and its non-controversial character. I should be the last to wish to introduce anything controversial or of an unpleasant character. Is it not rather extraordinary that we have to-day common agreement upon one central fact, namely, that this housing question urgently calls for treatment, and lies at the very foundation of the happiness of the country and the very existence of our people. And yet when a proposal is made against which the only real objection that has been urged is that it does not go far enough, 2294 and will deal with only a portion of the difficulty, hon. Members who belong to the party opposite, who claim to be in favour of progress, are the very people who refuse to entertain this proposal, and they will tell us that they take this course because we cannot by the machinery of this Bill remove the whole difficulty, and therefore they will not consent that any effort should be made to deal with a portion of it. That is an illogical and extraordinary attitude to take up, especially on the part of hon. Members opposite, who tell us that they want to go forward and that we want to go backward.
I am one of the few Members of this House who has taken part in almost every debate which has taken place since 1886 upon this extremely difficult question of housing. As an Under-Secretary I assisted in the carrying of the parent Act, which, although it may not have removed all the evils or dealt with this terrible trouble completely, yet I venture to say there is abundant evidence throughout the country of the material advance which has been effected under the powers of that Act. I have never yet voted for a Bill which proposed to use public money for this purpose, but I am here to say for myself that I have been converted by the facts of the case as they stare me in the face every day. I am converted to a proposal of this kind, and I am here to say that my right hon. Friend with whom I act—I hope the House and my political opponents will believe that we are actuated by no sort of political feeling, or by any desire to obtain a party advantage in making an announcement which has been forced upon us by the facts with which we are daily confronted—that if we were in the position of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, while I do not commit myself to the details of the Bill, we would undertake, as a Government, to take some definite action in this matter, because we believe that it is only if some public funds are devoted to this purpose that any practical progress can be made, and if we were responsible we would undertake that some portion of the public funds should be placed at the disposal of local authorities for the performance of this most difficult and pressing work.
I am to be followed by the President of the Local Government Board. I have listened to many speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman on many subjects. When I have been unfortunate enough not to be present when he has spoken I have 2295 made it my business to read his speeches afterwards. I yield to no man in my respect to the right hon. Gentleman and my admiration for much of the admirable work that he has done since he has been head of the Local Government Board, but may I, with great respect, suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that we have had almost enough of the personal and the Departmental retrospect. May I also suggest that good times will not last for ever, and that a bad time may come when the right hon. Gentleman may no longer be President of the Local Government Board. We know from the speeches he has made that so long as he is President, everything is for the best in the best of Departments, under the best of Presidents, but that good time for the House of Commons and the country must, I suppose, be limited, and even if the present Government is to last for ever, I do not presume that the right hon. Gentleman will be content to confine his energies to one Department. We have to face this grave fact, that some day or other there may be somebody else there. And in that time everything will not probably be for the best. Therefore I hope we shall hear something ad rem and to the point, instead of giving us some more of those assurances that if we will only trust to him everything will be all right. This Debate has been extremely interesting, and we have had some most valuable contributions to the Debate on this question. The Member for North Dorset (Sir R. Baker) moved the Second Reading of this Bill in a speech of singular interest, which was evidently the sincere expression of well-considered views, and he put the case before the House in as attractive a form as it is possible to put it. He was well supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen), to whom enormous credit is due for the untiring work he has done in connection with the housing problem, and for the opportunities which, thanks to his efforts, we have had in this House of regulating and discussing this question, and endeavouring to get nearer to a solution.
Naturally the speakers have divided their remarks between the two main aspects of the question, namely, the urban and the rural. It will be my business to say a word or two about both. I confess that it did seem to me to be a matter of regret that a certain number of hon. Members opposite could not get away from the landlord question. Are we ever going to 2296 get any reform in this House carried, without it being said that we are conferring some benefit upon the landlords? The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in a remarkable speech, said, with a great appearance of virtuous indignation, "Why do you landlords on the other side of the House pretend that this is not going to benefit the landlords?" The hon. Member misunderstood my interruption. I thought it was unnecessary to assume that we were pretending, because we happen to differ from him. We are not prepared to accept his view of the position as accurate. Is it to be a hopeless objection to any legislation or progress that fair play is to be done to all classes affected by legislation of this kind. That is a true description, and I contest the statement of the hon. Member that the great mass of agricultural landowners or urban landowners will benefit by a change of this kind. In other directions we have heard—we heard in the Debate the other day—that legislation of this kind means doles to landlords. One hon. Member in a speech the other day made the remarkable statement that any Bill which confers these powers with Grants out of the Exchequer upon rural authorities does for the landlords in the country what has not been done for the landlords in the town. That is a statement which was either intended to hoodwink people or is one which displays the most amazing and colossal ignorance, because precisely the reverse is the case. We have on our Statute Book Act of Parliament after Act of Parliament which enables within certain limits this work to be done in urban districts, but hitherto there has been no legislation which has had any practical effect in the rural districts.
Let it be remembered that, happily for us, individuals have stepped in and done the work this House has failed to do. Happily for us, wealthy men, benefactors of their race, have started great schemes. I need only refer to a few: The Peabody Trust, the Guinness Trust, the Rowton Trust, and schemes like the Industrial Houses. Under these schemes in our great towns, and especially in London, wonderful work has been done in providing decent housing accommodation for the working classes. If similar work in the country is to be an aid and a dole to landlords, how are landlords in the towns to escape from the same charge? Are we to hear it always urged as an argument against legislation of this kind that you cannot do anything to improve the housing conditions of 2297 the working classes without in some direct or infinitesimal manner benefiting those who happen to own the land. It is an argument which always comes from hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side. It is, like King Charles's head, always cropping up. They seem unable to consider any practical proposal for legislation without their vision being blurred by this prospect of some owner of land here or there deriving some small benefit from the application of the legislation in question. I think I have summed up now the main objections which we have heard from that side of the House to this legislation: The benefit that will be done to the landlord and the fact that this legislation does not go far enough. [An HON. MEMBER: "And officials."] I am coming to that in one minute. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well from what has been said by my two hon. Friends who are responsible for this Bill that if it passes, and I hope and believe it will, and goes upstairs they will be prepared to accept Amendments. I will say something upon this question of officials in a moment, but may I congratulate the hon. Member on his death-bed repentance? It would have been more genuine if, with regard to increasing officials and the power of the bureaucracy, his conscience had been pricked at an earlier period.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LONG
Those are, I think, the main objections. There is one other. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that this is not the remedy, and two other remedies have been suggested. There is our old familiar friend, the tax on land, whose advocates, led by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) are always courageous and straightforward, and, I am bound to say, are always extremely kind to those whom they are opposing although they are very determined in their desire to carry their reform They will admit that they are in a small minority on their own side. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] If it pleases them I will omit the word "small" and say they are in a minority. They have been unable even to convert their own Government, and the conversion of Ministers opposite by their followers has not hitherto been a very difficult task. They have been 2298 unable to convert even their own Ministers, and they must therefore admit that for the present they can hardly regard their proposals as coming within the range of practical politics. There is, therefore, only one other remedy left. We have been told that this is not the right way to deal with the housing question, and that the right way is to improve the wages of the agricultural labourer. When you improve their wages, we are told, they will be able to pay better rents. I wish those who advocate that form of remedy had heard the speech made by the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. H. Roberts). He dealt with that question in a way which commanded respect and sympathy from both sides of the House, and he disposed of it altogether as in any degree or in any form a remedy for the difficulty with which we are confronted and with which this Bill seeks to deal. This Debate has taken a very wide range. We have discussed a variety of questions, and, amongst others, the question of the improvement of the agricultural labourer.
I have never heard or read of any proposal for the establishment of a minimum wage in agricultural districts which has seemed to me in any sense practicable, and I believe hon. Gentlemen opposite who advocate it have not the faintest idea of the practical difficulties with which they would be confronted if they attempted to put any such scheme in force. They will admit that, like the single tax, it is a remedy which finds only very few advocates at present, and must therefore be put right in the background. I will not say that we have disposed of those two objections, because I do not want to hurt the hon. Gentleman's feelings. He is one of those who thinks that he and his policy are always in the very forefront and in the limelight, and I do not want to hurt him by saying that we have disposed in a few sentences of his pet scheme, but I think he will admit that he has been unable to convince those on his own Front Bench, and that therefore his policy is in the background. Then surely we are entitled to claim that a Bill of this kind, even if it can fairly be criticised because it does not go far enough, and if it can be described as only a partial measure, is, at all events, a genuine and practical attempt to deal with a very serious and very grave problem. Those who oppose this Bill have also said that there is no analogy to be drawn between the case in England and the case in Ireland. I think I may claim, 2299 from personal experience extending now over very nearly fifty years, to know something of Ireland from residence there, and also having been for a short time responsible for its Government. I would be the last to claim that you can draw a complete analogy between the conditions in Ireland, or the legislation which has been useful in Ireland, and the conditions and the legislation required in England; but, on the other hand, I think it would be equally wrong to put the Irish precedent entirely out of the case and to say that legislation which has succeeded so well there will not, in all probability, succeed here. There can be no doubt—I do not want to use the language of exaggeration—that of all the money which has been so well spent in the development of Ireland, in giving to Ireland a new life, a new form of existence, all of which I believe, or the greater amount of which, has been well and wisely spent, probably none of it has been spent with so much advantage to the community, and especially the poor section of the community, as has been spent in the election of labourers' cottages. If these results have followed from the application of those principles in Ireland, why should it be stated that similar results may not follow in this country? At all events, we are face to face with the fact. I do not think that the case has been overstated this afternoon. We had—I am sorry to say I was not in the House—an admirable speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen), who has practical knowledge of the urban side of this question. He put the facts before the House in a manner in which I know obtained the attention of the House. We have had the rural case. They are, of course, quite difficult, but they both call for treatment. I confess I was surprised at the conclusion of the very powerful and eloquent speech which we heard from the hon. Member for Hyde (Mr. Neilson). He led the opposition to this Bill, and yet nobody put the need of urgency for this Bill more powerfully before the House than the hon. Gentleman himself did. He told us of his own experience in London and in the country, and the whole House was impressed by his tale, and his eloquence must have deeply impressed everyone who heard it, and it must have satisfied everyone of us that there is urgent need for some fresh legislation in dealing with this question. And yet this Bill, which I think 2300 I can say offers an opportunity of a certain advance being made, is to be rejected. We are to do nothing; we are to wait until some of these new-fangled notions, which have at present got very little support, have matured and developed and have got supporters, until we can proceed to reform our legislation dealing with the housing of the poor. We are to do nothing because we are told this Bill does not go far enough and would only aid one portion of the community.
That is a policy of despair. It is a policy to which we, at all events, cannot give our support. We have always believed—I am speaking now for my own Friends—in that kind of progress which is gradual, which is slow, and which is sure. Is our answer to our request for favourable consideration of these proposals to-day to be that because they do not go far enough, because they touch only the fringe of the question, you will have nothing to do with it? One hon. Member who preceded me on the other side spoke with great knowledge of this question. He went into figures and calculations which he had made to show that 100,000 cottages ought to be built in this country, and then he said, "The most you will get under this Bill will be 5,000 cottages per year." He thought that was a good point, but surely if the need is for 100,000 cottages, and you are able to add an additional 5,000 a year, that is the most potent argument that could be used, and its effect should be to urge every man in this House to support this Bill so that the reform may be brought into operation at the earliest possible date and in order that the period may be accelerated when these 5,000 cottages per year shall be built. I have said that there is a necessarily wide difference between the urban and the rural question. I will take the rural question first. As usual we hear attacks being made on landowners. I state deliberately that I believe that no charge can be maintained against the great bulk of the agricultural landowners in this country in regard to cottage accommodation or the condition of their cottages. Speaking as one who represents this class of agricultural landowners, especially the smaller ones, I would welcome an inquiry into our history and behaviour in this matter, to be conducted entirely by a Committee composed of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and for my part I should be content to see it presided over by the hon. Member for the Hyde Division (Mr. Neilson) or the hon. Member 2301 for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood), in whose fairness I have the most absolute confidence. I am satisfied that an inquiry of that kind would result in showing that against the bulk of our agricultural landowners no charge of this character can be maintained.
I said at the beginning of my remarks that I had been converted to the support of this Bill, subject to certain limitations in which I will deal in a moment, because I am convinced that without the provision of public funds we are not going to solve this question. What is the difficulty in the agricultural districts? I do not take any credit to the class to which I belong, the country landowners, for the fact that on all our estates it will be found that these cottages are sufficient and in a satisfactory condition. We have always looked upon them as part of the equipment of our estates, and as being as essential to the estate as the farm houses or buildings. The hon. Member for North Bucks (Sir Harry Verney) talks about the tied cottage as the real cause of this difficulty, but is he not dealing with the matter in language of exaggeration, and is he not forgetting that, in addition to the agricultural labourer, there is the agriculturist who occupies a farm, tills the land, and is responsible for the cultivation of that farm. In agricultural districts, in connection with farms upon which there are a certain number of cottages available for those farmers who house their men, how on earth are you to carry on the dairy industry, for instance, supposing a half-dozen of the milkers give notice to leave at the end of the week, as they frequently do? Are you going to tell the farmer that he is not to have the houses in which they live in order to replace the milkers, if the farm is to be properly managed and if the cows are not to die? The thing is ludicrous.
It is no good talking of the problem of the agricultural labourer as if it were to be separated from all other questions of agricultural life. It is a part of the whole, and it is no good, if you are going to carry useful reforms, treating it separately. Why I believe that in the agricultural districts the State must intervene, is that for the great majority of the men regularly employed on the farms there is accommodation now, and the great bulk of the owners take care that these cottages are good and decent, but in every village there is what is called a floating population, the men who do not work 2302 regularly for any of the farms, men who work sometimes onside the village altogether. In these days when the bicycle has become so common as a means of locomotion it is becoming more and more usual for men who work in towns six or eight miles off to live in the surrounding villages. That is a very admirable arrangement, but does anybody here want to terminate it? Why do you attack the unfortunate owner of the estate in the village if he is unable to provide housing accommodation at the local rates for the men who work elsewhere, and have nothing to do with him except that they live in the village on the land of which he is the owner. It is carrying these attacks on landowners so far as to make them ridiculous, not to say unjust. It is this floating population for whom you have to provide, and it is because you have every year, and I believe will have—and a very healthy thing too—an increasing number of these men that you must get the State to help if local authorities are really to make provision for them.
Let me say, with great respect to hon. Members opposite, that they should really be a little cautious in the attacks they are making upon agricultural owners in regard to this question. The other day I was talking to a tenant farmer, and he told me he was short of four or five cottages for the men on his farm, and he said, "I do not know whether you realise it, but out of the twelve or fourteen cottages that you can see from this farm no fewer than nine are in the occupation of pensioners on the estate." If these attacks against agricultural owners are to be pushed to their final conclusion you will hit, not the owners of estates, but these pensioners, whom it will be necessary to remove into other houses, into some form of almshouses probably, in order to provide the cottages which are required for the workers. If this matter is dealt with not from the party political point of view, but as a great social evil which all ought to unite in order to try and remove, and to remove by methods which are just and fair to all, none of these evil consequences need follow to the wage-earning classes, and something useful and practical may be done in the interests of the State. It is for this particular class of the rural population that legislation of this kind is needed and I wondered, after listening to the powerful speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Neilson) that he did not realise, imperfect though he may regard 2303 this Bill as being, yet that it is proceeding in the right direction and if it passed would do something of a practical character to-morrow to remove these difficulties which are to be found in the rural districts. Then what about our towns? I hope the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burns) is not going to indulge to-day in any of those jibes and sneers against Gentlemen in or out of this House who visit our slums in motor cars. Surely it would be more for him to welcome everybody who is anxious to study this question and give the benefit of his experience to the House. I have been through all the Debates, I have followed the legislation, and although I claim that the Act of 1890 has done a very great deal to remove those very difficulties that the hon. Member (Mr. Neilson) referred to, although I claim that there is to be found throughout the country undoubted evidence of the progress which has been the result of the passing of that Act, yet I frankly admit there is immense room for improvement and that there are districts where without some further legislation and without the intervention of the State you will not get the amount of work done that lies to your hand and which it is necessary to do.
Then hon. Gentlemen say this Bill will not do the work. No, it will not cover the whole ground, I frankly admit. They say there are objections to it. Yes, but because it will not cover the whole ground I am not here to oppose it. I am here to support it, because I believe it will do something real and practical, and if I cannot have a whole loaf I am content with half, rather than that there should be no bread at all. This is not a case of bread for us. It is a case of something practical being done for hundreds of thousands of workmen throughout the country who to-day are suffering under grave disabilities because of the absence of those cottages which would be provided if this Bill were passed. In Hull, Leeds, and many great cities of this country I have myself seen the work that has been done in clearing slum areas. Let the House realise that when a local authority is called upon to do the first work of acquisition and clearance there is a dead-weight burden laid upon it, which deters local authorities from undertaking this necessary work. When hon. Members criticise this Bill they do so in ignorance of the fact that all that my hon. Friend proposes in regard to the urban case is that this money shall be used to enable them to 2304 meet, first, the dead-weight burden, and not for any purpose of providing new houses necessary to take the place of those which are removed; and, therefore, the criticism which has been addressed to this part of the Bill is without foundation. But whether it be rural districts or urban districts, legislation is needed. I am going to support this Bill, although I frankly tell my hon. Friends that there are two parts of it to which I am not friendly. I do not know whether it is owing to my own past association with the Local Government Board or to my experience of the present Government—I think it is the latter—I have considerable suspicion of the creation of a large number of officials. I am afraid that, although the right hon. Gentleman will wax very eloquent in his denunciation of these officials…
§ Mr. LONG
Then I have converted the right hon. Gentleman, because if he does that he is going to say the reverse of what he said last year. Whatever course he takes, I have considerable dislike of increasing officials. I doubt whether they are necessary, and further than that, we ought not here by implication to condemn local authorities by setting people over their heads when we must admit that in the majority of cases it is not the fault of the local authorities, but rather their misfortune that they have not been able to deal with many of the areas in their own districts. If Parliament passes this Bill and enables the Local Government Board to do their share of the work, and if it would make a grant of money, then I believe the local authorities would not require that continual interference which is contemplated by the proposal to appoint new officials. I am convinced that my hon. Friends who are responsible for the Bill would be thankful to accept Amendments if they thought they were getting the main principle of the measure.
As to the contribution itself, here again they would welcome a proposal by which the State would recognise its share of responsibility in this great work. I would urge that, if Grants are to be made, they should be made on a somewhat different principle from that contemplated by the Bill. One district does its duty and does it well, while another district fails to do its duty. The main object of the Bill is to compel and to drive those that are slow 2305 and reluctant to do their duty, but it may be going, at the same time, to punish those who have done their duty at the expense of those who have failed. I wish the distribution of the Grants to be on a plan which would reach all concerned, so that those who have done their duty should have an inducement to go on in the path of progress, and should not be called upon to pay for those who have failed. These are changes which can easily be effected in Committee. For my part, I welcome the Bill, if only for the fact that it has given an opportunity for discussing one of the most interesting and difficult problems with which this House could be confronted. Although an Amendment has been moved and some opposition has been offered, I hope the House will pass the Second Reading, and that the Bill will go to a Committee upstairs. And I would earnestly appeal to the President of the Local Government Board, in his reply, to tell us not merely that he will assent to the Second Reading, and that he will see that proper steps are taken to consider the Bill in a friendly way upstairs, but that he will tell us that he realises, as he must do, the urgency and the gravity of the case, that he recognises the need for the active interference of Parliament, and that, if this Bill passes to-day he will not merely give it benevolent attention upstairs, but that he and his officials will do their best by the introduction of Amendments, howsoever numerous or far-reaching I care not, which will have the object of making this Bill a better Bill, because it is only by the co-operation of the Government and the Opposition and of all parties in the State that we can hope to deal effectively, even though it may be only in a limited degree, with one of the greatest problems with which this House can ever be confronted, and one of those questions that so vitally affect the life and comfort of the wage-earning classes of this country.
§ Mr. BURNS
This Bill, which the right hon. Gentleman has not supported strongly, and some details of which he has criticised, is practically the Bill that was before the House last year. That Bill was referred to a Committee upstairs, and with the assent of the Committee and the support of the Local Government Board a Bill was passed that embodied, with the exception of the Grant, which is new in this particular form in this Bill, almost all the sensible and practical changes that are contained in this Bill. Only 2306 in a few small matters does this Bill go beyond the Bill of last year, and in one or two cases there is no improvement. For instance, I should have liked to see the four complainants of the 1909 Act reduced to one so that one complainant would do as much as is now required by four. But when we discuss how much better or worse this Bill is than the Bill of last year, there is one fact that emerges from this Debate. That is the extraordinary compliment which this Bill pays in the meagreness of its Amendments to the Acts of 1890 and 1909. Apart from the Commissioners and the grant of money there really is not any Amendment on this Bill worth the time and the trouble which the Committee took last year, and which this House has discussed this afternoon. I hoped last year that the Bill would have passed this House, and if the Prime Minister's assurance that the Bill, if no attempt were made to amend it, would be passed as it left the Committee had been accepted I really do believe that we might have got that Bill even last year. Last year the Grant was £500,000. This year it is £1,000,000. The appetite grows by what it feeds on, and it will be £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year or two hence. But, apart from the Grant and the Commissioners, and in reference to the sportive allusion which I made to the wooden nutmeg, may I point out that the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act is not a Bill to build houses or cottages for workers who are poor. It is a Bill to enable people who have £300 or £400 a year not to build a house, but to buy a house if someone else has built it. That is why I applied to it the very appropriate and summarised description of "wooden nutmeg."
The Bill before us repeats, first, the Grant in an altered form, and, secondly, the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act. This Bill is vitiated, in the Government's opinion, by two cardinal defects, and those defects have been recognised very clearly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long). If the right hon. Gentleman were to succeed me—and I know no man in the House better qualified to do it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—Yes, for this reason, that on all matters that were not peculiarly factious and partly political, but were essential in the long and honourable term of office of the right hon. Gentleman, I have consistently done all I possibly could to continue them to the best of my ability—I say that if he were to succeed me, and 2307 I were to yield to-day either to the £500,000 or the £1,000,000, and the young bloods behind him were to press him for more, he would be sincerely sorry that this afternoon he had not stood by my side in resisting one of the most pernicious of demands, that of applying the system of Grants and doles, which would not secure the object they have in view, but would, like other doles and Grants which are ostensibly in the interests of the poor rural and town labourer, be secured either by the landowner or by the farmer, but particularly by the landowner, who never has done his duty, and who would use this Bill as a medium of doing less of his duty in the future than he has done in the past. I am going to save the right hon. Gentleman that misfortune, which would probably occur to me, if I were to yield to the sentimental Thomases who sit on the back benches opposite, and who are trying to induce me to sell the economic pass through which more objectionable proposals would undoubtedly come if I were to give way on this particular point.
A separate Department of the Local Government Board to deal with housing is asked for. We have got a separate Department, and that matter is therefore disposed of. The Bill then asks for Commissioners. We do not like Commissioners for the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman advanced, and I am delighted to snatch him at the eleventh hour, like a brand from the burning, on the subject of Commissioners. Local authorities do not like Commissioners or inspectors who, as a rule, cannot know their business. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, oh!"] The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway who comes from Scotland is familiar with a standard of inspector in that country different from what we have in England and Wales; therefore, he ought not to cite the special case of Scotland and give it application in England and Wales. The local authorities are opposed to Commissioners, and it is preposterous to think that three men, one a doctor, one a housing inspector, and one a surveyor, can supersede all the surveyors, architects, and medical officers of 1,800 local authorities, which, for forty or fifty years, have worked in harmonious relationship with the Local Government Board, and have worked infinitely better than three Commissioners could hope to do it. The next point is, what are the practical suggestions 2308 which have been made in the speeches this afternoon for the amendment of the Housing Act. Not a word was said about the period for the loan, namely, eighty years, being too short. It is not, and let us dispose of a lot of nonsense in a sentence. Lots of people say you want a longer loan period for loans for rural housing. If a generous landlord was to give free sites for all the rural cottages that either private enterprise or local authorities could build it would only make a difference of a halfpenny per week on the rent of the cottage. But landlords on the opposite side of the. House must not cheer too much when I dispose of one nostrum because it is no excuse for them to cheer that particular point, and in the next breath start out to cheer a proposal that £500,000 for rural areas and £500,000 in the towns should be put upon the workers in higher taxes on the things they consume. That would come home to the landlord at more than a halfpenny per week in relief of cottages and houses that he himself owns. Then we are told nothing about buildings for which there is a loan period of sixty years. There is not a word about the money which is given for land for eighty years and buildings for sixty years, and the money at the cheapest rate, and possible compulsory power of purchase. And the by-laws have been relaxed, so that there is no grievance there. Inspectors have been appointed instead of Commissioners, plans and designs have been standardised and distributed, and, so far as practical grievances against the Housing Acts are concerned, there has really been no substantial criticism put forward on the administrative side. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Long) himself so disposed of the argument in favour of the Commissioners that personally I do not intend to deal with that branch of the subject at further length. The second defect of this Bill, after that of the Commissioners, is the £1,000,000 Grant from the State to the local authorities. That £1,000,000 is to be broken up into two parts—£500,000 for the urban areas, and £500,000 for the rural areas.
I would ask the attention of hon. Members from rural and urban areas to this fact, that the urban proposal is a new proposal this year. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that neither in the Act of 1890, nor in the Act of 1909, nor by any of the Reports on this subject published by the Housing of the Working Classes Commis- 2309 sioners for the last forty or fifty years has there ever been a suggestion that an urban Grant, as suggested in this Bill, should be I proposed. It is unexampled in the history of housing. There is no demand for it from the local authorities who themselves have done the largest amount of slum clearances. In fact there are very few requests for it except from irresponsible amateurs who think what they want is what every other person desires. The defect which it seeks to remove can be met in another, and a cheaper and a better way by closing orders and by demolition which can now be made at the cost of the owners, or, where not by the owners, jointly by the owner and from the rates of the local authority, who profit best and most from the slum clearances. This proposal of an urban Grant we regard as unfair and unnecesary. It is unfair to the local authorities who have done their work well, and who would, having done so, would have now to pay part of the £500,000 every year for other towns and cities which have neglected their work altogether. In Liverpool what has been so admirably done was done without a State surplus. Liverpool has never asked for a State subsidy, and I do not believe requires it. Liverpool need not have added a very large charge to its credit, which in some respects takes from its rates, if it had not been so anxious to rehouse on the spot the people who were displaced. If Liverpool does not ask for it I see no reason why it should be conceded. We have had in recent months a decision in the Law Courts which enables us to deal with this subject much more easily than we were able to do before. Owing to a decision in 1910, local authorities can now, by closing order, by demolition, by diminishing the compensation, reduce the large burden which was formerly put upon them. It seems to me preposterous that a rich city like London, when it clears, say, the Tabard Street area, which will probably cost £250,000, should tax small places like Kendal, Pontefract, Bath, and Yeovil. It seems ridiculous that large cities, which will have the largest schemes if this subsidy is granted, should go about the country asking for this form of help. The hon. Member for Dudley knows, and his experience of London has taught him, that the best way to clear slum areas is to improve your railways, trams, tubes, and 'bus forms of traction, so that you can take the people from the slum areas in the centre to the new buildings 2310 which are being erected in the suburbs of all towns and cities. The net result is that without paying huge sums to slum owners for diseased property, you compel them, as they are doing in all the big towns, notably in London, to sell the site of their slum property for factories, workshops, and other commercial undertakings. The hon. Member for Dudley knows that the greatest boon ever conferred upon London is, not Bills or subsidies of this kind, but a cheap form of popular traction that will enable the people to seek fresh fields and pastures new.
I now come to the rural Grant. This is more popular than the urban Grant, upon which no one seemed to fasten this afternoon. By means of the rural Grant, £500,000 is to be distributed over 670 rural areas. This works out at £750 per annum for the rural areas scattered over England and Wales. As a contribution towards housing, and as a remedy for the present grievance, it is ridiculous beyond contempt, Hon. Members may say that they will not all want it. But if you give a Grant you will find them all coming. The Grant will be raised from taxes levied mainly on urban areas, because 80 per cent. of the population live in, and more than that percentage of taxes is raised from urban districts. This is what will happen. Urban areas, which now have 500,000 empty houses, and are poorer than many of the rural areas, and the labourers in which, although they earn a higher wage per day, do not earn a larger sum per week, are to pay, partly through their taxes and partly through their rates, a disproportionate share of this Grant, which, after all, is not to encourage the best landlords like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who has done his duty, like hundreds of other landlords, who would never ask for a dole under any circumstances. Therefore we object to this Grant as being economically unsound and morally undesirable, while it is not fair to poor people, who are already overburdened by low wages, casual employment, and dear rents. It seems to me monstrous that you should ask the Liverpool, Glasgow, or London labourer, who pays as much rent for one room—very often twice as much—in a crowded area as the rural labourer pays for a whole cottage, to contribute, through taxes, from his low wages for subsidising the landlords or the rural labourers.
How is this Grant to be distributed? It is to take the form of paying up to four- 2311 fifths of the deficit incurred by the rural district council on the cottages put up where that deficit is due to uneconomic rent. My objection to that is—firstly, that it is not necessary, for I believe it would confirm the low wages in the rural districts and condone the absurdly low rents that invariably accompany low wages; it will not tend to business habits on the part of the local authorities, for they will say. "Oh, it is the State's loss, not ours"; whilst the rural employers will say, "It does not matter; let us ask for a subsidy: our wages are not quite so good as in the next town"—and that is asking the good employer to subsidise the bad employer. This subsidy will go from the State to the rural council; then to the defaulting owners; then to the farmers—who will be tempted to exploit the Grant—and lastly to the labourer. The amount that the latter will get, in my judgment, will be very small. I dismiss this rural Grant on the broad ground that it is bad economics for the landowners. The good ones do not want it; the bad ones ought not to receive it. It is bad business for the farmers. They would be wise if, instead of asking for subsidies that will recoil on them, they would pay the weekly equivalent of the subsidy which they expect to get from the taxes in higher wages to their labourers. Whenever I have had the opportunity of talking to agricultural labourers on this subject I have found them the most indignant section of the community against these doles and against subsidies; and these are the people in whose name this particular Bill is supposed to be introduced! I now deal with the effect of the proposals on building. I look at the matter not from a doctrinaire, but from a practical point of view. It has been said that we want from 50,000 to 100,000 cottages every year.
§ Mr. BURNS
The hon. Gentleman must really make some attempt to know the facts. This is an urban as well as a rural Grant. The hon. Member will find that my facts are right. Last year 80,000 cottages of the annual value of £20 or less were erected in England and Wales alone. If that be so, what is the good of one or two persons being subsidised where so many scores of thousands of houses are required? My chief objection is that immediately these doles are given the mere 2312 fact even of talking about them has the effect of suppressing private enterprise, which now does 95 or 97 per cent. of the total cottage and house building. If the hon. Member for Dudley wants houses and not so-called housing reform—and there is a great deal of difference between the two—if he wants the better housing of the rural labourers and to help the urban dwellers let him drop this Bill and all similar proposals, because it is a remarkable fact that ever since the country has had this kind of legislation before it in which doles and subsidies are outlined, district councils are building up their proposals to build on economic lines, and saying, "We will wait until these subsidies materialise in hard cash. We have only to wait until this Government goes out of office and our friends come in." If that time arrives hon. Gentlemen opposite will find they will be asked not for £500,000, but they will be asked for £5,000,000, or £10,000,000 a year, and nothing short of that will adequately compensate for the damage you would do by legislation of this kind in suppressing private enterprise and preventing local authorities coming forward to do their proper duty on economic lines for the housing of the people. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will pardon me if I only deal with one fact, not in a controversial spirit, in his speech. Seventeen years ago the agriculturists of this country came to this House and asked to have half their agricultural rates remitted and a State Grant to take the place of the rates they previously paid. In the seventeen years since that was done £21,000,000 have been paid to the rural areas under the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896. Much of it went to the farmers, some to the landowners, and to the very worst landowners, who did not do their duty well. Very little went to the labourers for the solution of the housing and cottage problems. You are going to add another dole to the £21,000,000 given to the two out of the three vested interests. If the £21,000,000 given by the State had been used as it was suggested it would be used, this rural housing problem would not exist in its acute stage, because if that money had been used wisely and well all this rural housing might have been carried out. I mention that in order to ask the House to be cautious in dealing with this Grant.
My next point is the Irish parallel. In my judgment there is no comparison 2313 between the Irish problem and the English problem. In Ireland you will soon have over 80 per cent. of the total amount of land owned by the occupying tenants. You have no similar condition of things here. You must give men in Ireland cottages so that they may remain upon the land to till the soil. In this country you have not occupying ownership to the extent that prevails in Ireland and which was absolutely necessary in Ireland if you were to save the country, to prevent the people from emigrating, to stop disease and to put a stop to social conditions of the worst kind. The economic conditions in England and Wales are entirely different to those in Ireland. The last point I have to make before this Debate closes is the one raised by the hon. Member for one of the Lincolnshire Divisions, who said that, in his judgment, the legislation of the Government dealing with land, the Budget, Death Duties, and the Income Tax were responsible for arresting building both in town and country. If that be true, then this Bill will not alter it, and you cannot ride off on these alleged difficulties imposed by the Budget or the Land Taxes by criticising the President of the Local Government Board on microscopic details of housing and administration. You cannot have it both ways. The hon. Baronet who moved the Second Reading of this Bill was nearer the truth when he said that house building has dropped since the Budget. That is true, but now people have got over their fright. The hon. Baronet was courageous enough to say that the taxation imposed by the Budget, imposed mainly by supporters of the Government, might have had the effect of stopping house building. Let us look at the facts. The hon. Baronet was nearer the truth than he thought at the moment when he made that statement. Before the
§ Budget 87,000 houses were built, and after it the number dropped to 10,000. Now the bogey has served its purpose and served its political object and the 10,000 has now gone back to 80,000, or to nearly the number erected before the Budget. That disposes of that argument.
§ My last point is, what does the Government propose to do with this Bill? In a sentence I will tell the House. We propose not to oppose the Second Reading. Upstairs in Committee, what is useful on the administrative side we shall support, but this Bill depends entirely upon money, money, money. We will not move in Committee a Resolution either for a rural or an urban dole; but we do think that as we have a Committee sitting on Local Taxation it is possible that that Committee may revise the means by which in future Grants-in-Aid are to be given to local authorities. That subject, in all its broad details, is before the Committee. My last word is, apart from the money Grant which the Government will not accept, this Bill is not worth the paper it is written on. But if there is in it in Committee anything which we can improve we are willing, as last year, to do it, but we will not subscribe a Grant, on the broad ground that to give a Grant or a subsidy to have Commissioners, and to interfere with the economic development of the housing problem now taking place, instead of improving housing would do a great deal to retard it…
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 190; Noes, 40.2315
|Division No. 57.]||AYES.||[5.0 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cator, John||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cave, George||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Dickinson, W. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Eyres-Monsell Bolton M.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Clyde, J. Avon||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Barnes, George N.||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Fell, Arthur|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Courthope, George Loyd||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Bentinck, Lord M. Cavendish-||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)|
|Bird, Alfred||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Forster, Henry William|
|Boyton, James||Cripps, Sir C. A.||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Crooks, William||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bull, Sir William James||Dalrymple, Viscount||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Cassel, Felix||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Gilhooly, James|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Lewisham, Viscount||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Goldman, C. S.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Goldstone, Frank||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han, S.)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
|Gretton, John||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Snowden, Philip|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Macmaster, Donald||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Macpherson, James Ian||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hancock, J. G.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sutherland, John E.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Malcolm, Ian||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mount, William Arthur||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Nield, Herbert||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Nuttall, Harry||Ward, A. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hinds, John||Parry, Thomas H.||Webb, H.|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Pretyman, Ernest George||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Radford, G. H.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Randles, Sir John S.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Hudson, Walter||Remnant, James Farquharson||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Hume-Williams, W. E.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Jones, Leif Stratton (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Jowett, F. W.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Kerry, Earl of||Rowlands, James||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Royds, Edmund||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Younger, Sir George|
|Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir R. Baker and Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile E)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Higham, John Sharp||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hodge, John||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||King, J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Martin, Joseph||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Millar, James Duncan||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Munro, R.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Young, W. (Perthshire, East)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Duffy, William J.||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Parker, James (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Neilson and Mr. Dundas White.|
|Glanville, H. J.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."2316
§ The House divided: Ayes, 181; Noes, 41.2317
|Division No. 58.]||AYES.||[5.10 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Clyde, J. Avon|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bird, Alfred||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Boyton, James||Cory, Sir Clifford John|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Cassel, Felix||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cater, John||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cave, George||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Crooks, William|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol. S.)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Rowlands, James|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Royds, Edmund|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Jowett, F. W.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Kerry, Earl of||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Fell, Arthur||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Kyffin Taylor, G.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Forster, Henry William||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Smith, Rt. Hon, F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Lewisham, Viscount||Snowden, Philip|
|Gardner, Ernest||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Gilhooly, James||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Stewart, Gershom|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Goldman, C. S.||Macmaster, Donald||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Macpherson, James Ian||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Goldstone, Frank||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Gretton, John||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Guest. Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Malcolm, Ian||Touche, George Alexander|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Ward, A, (Herts, Watford)|
|Hancock, J. G.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mount, William Arthur||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nield, Herbert||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Nuttall, Harry||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Parry, Thomas H.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Randles, Sir John S.||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Hinds, John||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Younger, Sir George|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Robinson, Sidney||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir R. Baker and Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Higham, John Sharp||Radford, G. H.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hodge, John||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Holt, Richard Durning||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Sutherland, John E.|
|Barnes, George N.||King. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Martin, Joseph||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Munro, R.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Young, W. (Perthshire, East)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Neilson and Mr. Dundas White.|
|Glanvilie, H. J.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Pringle, William M. R.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 42; Noes, 206.2319
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[5.17 p.m.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Bowerman, C. W.||Hinds, John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hodge, John|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Chancellor, H. G.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||King, J.|
|Barnes, George N.||Glanville, Harold James||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, S. George)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Higham, John Sharp||Martin, Joseph|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Webb, H.|
|Munro, Robert||Radford, G. H.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Neilson, Francis||Roberts, Sir J. N. (Denbighs)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Sutherland, John E.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Parry, Thomas H.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Watt, Henry A.||Wedgwood and Mr. Pringle.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Muldoon, John|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gilhooly, James||Nicholson, Sir Charles (Doncaster)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gilmour, Captain J.||Nield, Herbert|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Goldman, Charles Sydney||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Goldsmith, Frank||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Goldstone, Frank||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||O'Dowd, John|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Malley, William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Hackett, John||O'Shee, James John|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Haddock, George Bahr||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Harris, Henry Percy||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bird, Alfred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Boland, John Pius||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boyton, James||Hayden, John Patrick||Reddy. M.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Cator, John||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Rowlands, James|
|Cave, George||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Royds, Edmund|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hoare, S. J. G.||Rutherford, John (Lancs.. Darwen)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hudson, Walter||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Joyce, Michael||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kerry, Earl of||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Kilbride, Denis||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Crooks, William||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Delany, William||Lewisham, Viscount||Touche, George Alexander|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Dillon, John||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lyttelton, Rt Hon. A. (St. Geo., Han. S.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Doris, William||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Duffy, William J.||McGhee, Richard||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Macmaster, Donald||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Macpherson, James Ian||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Fell, Arthur||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Malcolm, Ian||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Millar, James Duncan||Younger, Sir George|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Molloy, Michael|
|Forster, Henry William||Money, L. G. Chiozza||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Remnant and Mr. Ronald M'Neill.|
|France, G. A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Mount, William Arthur|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
Adjourned at Twenty-nine minutes after Five o'clock till Monday next (21st April).