HC Deb 12 June 1913 vol 53 cc1905-28

Postponed proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question, "That, a sum, not exceeding £189,988, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board."

Which Amendment was to reduce Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) by £100.

Question again proposed. Debate resumed.


On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. You informed us just now that you desired that the Instructions on the Bill should be sent upstairs. Will they be sent upstairs? Why were they not put?


The House has now gone into Committee of Supply.


I was drawing attention, when the discussion was interrupted, to the expenditure of money within workhouse grounds to accommodate children. There is the case of a Surrey board of guardians, the Hambledon Board of Guardians, who propose to expend £1,885 in housing twenty-four children within the workhouse precincts. A couple of cottage houses, each accommodating twelve children, could probably be built for the same sum, and the children would be removed from direct workhouse influences. I wish to pass on to the question of the Boarding-out Order. I think that we may congratulate ourselves that the new Boarding-out Order is working well. The number of children boarded out has now, to use a common phrase, got into the same street with the number of children in the workhouse. There are over 10,000 children boarded-out, and 13,000 children in the workhouse. It will be a great pleasure to me when the boarded-out figure passes the other. I regard to the two sections of boarded-out children, those boarded out within the union, and those without the union, I should like to emphasise the value of the boarding-out beyond the union. I have no desire whatever that the President of the Local Government Board should decrease the number boarded out within the union, but I do desire that he should take every means of increasing those children who are boarded out beyond the union, and in connection with the boarding out beyond the union I would specially emphasise the value of the influence of the voluntary committees of women of leisure and capacity who take an interest in the children and assist them in their after career, dissociating them from all connection with the Poor Law. This is specially valuable in the case of very unfortunate children brought up in surroundings which have the most degrading influence upon them. The only redemption for those children is frequently to remove them and to let them be taken miles away, so that their undesirable relatives and acquaintances may have no influence on them. It is most valuable in the case of that class of children that they should come into the hands of the voluntary committee outside. I should like it be remembered that Poor Law boarding out in this country received its first official recognition through the efforts of voluntary women workers. They obtained step by step the existing official recognition of the system. It is probable that there is now only one survival, Miss Davenport of the original deputation of women, the very first which ever waited on a Government Department, and which in 1870 secured Mr. Goschen's promise to issue an Order regulating the boarding out of Poor Law children beyond the union to which they were chargeable. It must be a pleasure to her to see now that there are 10,000 children who, under other circumstances, would be within the workhouses, but who are now boarded out.

In regard to this matter I should like to press on the right hon. Gentleman the desirability of having an adequate number of women inspectors devoted entirely to children, although not entirely perhaps to boarded-out children. There are at the present time two ladies attending to this work who give very good service. Other ladies who also take part in the work are, I believe, required to inspect workhouses, infirmaries, schools, and other places where the conditions and requirements are quite different from those which would be admirable in a boarded-out child's home. I would press him to consider the work of these women inspectors, who are I believe, in certain circumstances even more useful than most inspectors in finding out some of the weak places in our workhouses. Boarding out requires a thoroughly specialised inspection, and if there is divided attention the woman inspector cannot adequately perform her work. What is required is an increased staff of women inspectors, that they should be in smaller districts, and that the woman inspector of each district shall inspect all the Poor Law children within her area. Let her attention be entirely directed to the best method of dealing with the children in that area. There are boarded out children, there are institutional children, and there is that most miserable class of all, the class of out-relief children. In regard to them I think it is a wise step to encourage Voluntary Care Committees. Out-relief children are under the worst conditions of privation and neglect. They are in the very least satisfactory section of Poor Law work, and they would more repay the attention of the Department than any other section of Poor Law work.

You have one especial class, the class of widows and neglected wives, with their children. I am very much afraid that they are relieved insufficiently. They require to be looked upon in a way entirely different from any other section of Poor Law work. Take the case of the mother of five or six children, a widow or deserted wife. It is not infrequent to find a board of guardians encouraging, I might almost say, insisting, on such a mother going out to work. If her children are young, she has to pay someone to look after them while she is at work. She might have to pay a woman 9s. a week in order that she may go out to earn 13s, or 14s. It would be money well spent to give that mother 3s. or 4s. extra, and let her stay at home and look after the children. I hope that this portion of the work of the guardians will receive greater attention from the right hon. Gentleman. As time is somewhat short, I will not further enlarge upon the matter, but I sincerely ask him to give it his attention.


I venture to revert to a question raised earlier in the afternoon, to which I wish to draw the special attention of the President of the Local Government Board, and that is the question of the water supply in rural districts. Replying to an hon. Member recently the Under-Secretary endeavoured to give us who are interested in the health of rural districts some comfort by saying that certain schemes were in process of gestation, and that valuable information would be forthcoming. But I submit we want something practical to be done in the course of next year. It would be out of order to refer to legislation, but I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, in the work of his Department, he might bring more pressure to bear on the local authorities in order to get practical schemes carried through, because it must be admitted that typhoid fever is a scourge, danger and pest to rural districts. For certain specific reasons it is particularly a danger; many people grow immune from typhoid in infancy; secondly, it lies dormant in certain districts; and, thirdly, to grapple with typhoid by providing a sound water supply inflicts great expense upon certain bodies which are ill able to bear it. For that reason people will to a certain extent grow careless. It is very difficult indeed to work up interest or feeling on such a question as the danger of typhoid until an actual calamity comes upon a district. This is not a case, however, in which the Local Government Board should wait for a calamity. Its duty should be to take time by the forelock and bring pressure now to bear on the local authorities, by every means it can, in order to avoid those dangers and calamities which overtake with crushing force certain small rural districts.

The right hon. Gentleman's usual answer, which is to give the names of districts which show that typhoid is on the decrease, is not sufficient. I submit that typhoid ought to be as dead in England as is typhus fever. That has been exterminated, and there is no reason why typhoid should not be exterminated also. I have seen in South Africa places where a typhoid epidemic prevails, and other places alongside them where troops are under identically the same conditions, and yet 17 per cent. have been attacked in the one place, and in the other, where they have proper supplies, there have only been 1 per cent. attacked. I have seen in South Africa how you can grapple with such an epidemic as that, and, although I happen to be chairman of the Health and Housing Committee of the East Riding County Council, I say we are absolutely helpless in the division, and far less able to grapple with the disease than was the case in South Africa. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a case in East Riding. In Howdenshire there are many towns. In 1875 the Local Government Board stated that the time had come for something to be done and that they had been collecting valuable information and getting good advice. In 1895 it was decided by the county council that the time had come when really something must be done, and in 1910 something was done, because there was a drought, and people had to be provided with drinking water in foot-warmers obtained from the railways. That shows the extraordinary speed with which the Local Government Board has worked in the past. I submit the time has come when it should bring pressure, to bear on the local bodies. They can help the county councils to get their schemes carried through. As it is, every year lives are being uselessly sacrificed, and it is a scandal to this country that people should be dying of a disease that they need never have caught, and which, if proper sanitary arrangements were made, they would never catch. This tax upon blood and life is falling upon the agricultural population, which itself is very healthy and very prolific, and which is really the fountain head of the English race. Every year a number of these useful people are subject to die, and of those who do not die any medical man will say that their lives are not so good after they have had typhoid fever. Therefore I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman from the Imperial point of view, the humanitarian point of view, and the common-sense point of view in the ensuing year to try to "ginger up" that part of his Department which deals with these questions, and to grapple with a problem which it is not too strong a thing to say—it affects both parties equally—through the long record of the Local Government Beard has suffered from criminal neglect.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down probably heard the speech of the Secretary to the Local Government Board, in which my right hon. Friend gave an outline of what the Department is doing with regard to the general water supplies, and particularly water supplies relating to small townships and outlying villages. I have very little to add to that except this: We felt so strongly the representations which were made by the hon. Member himself a year ago and by my hon. Friend (Mr. Leif Jones) some two years ago, that to give expression to the Board's view of one aspect of rural water supplies we prepared a Bill, which we presented last year, which is on the Paper this year, and if the hon. Member will persist in his worthy endeavours to abate the opposition upon his own side of the House, and if my hon. Friend behind me will help him to do it—I have done all I can to remove the objections of only two or three Members on both sides of the House—there is no reason why the immediately critical aspect of rural water supplies should not be immediately solved if that Bill is passed into law. I can only say that I will do anything I can do to help rural water supplies, and, at the same time, to safeguard them from being unnecessarily raided by large companies or by large towns. I believe it is possible to secure good water supplies for the rural areas, and at the same time supply the large towns and cities. Through lack of a general survey of our water supply, both above and underground, the waste of water that now goes on, if it were diverted to better rural and town supplies, would be more than sufficient to adequately supply both rural and urban areas. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I will do everything in my power to get that Bill passed this year.

10.0 P.M.

The Committee has been, if I may so, unusually kind to myself and to the Department in the discussion we have had upon the Local Government Board Vote. I do not propose to deal with every one of the points, because time would not permit of that, but I propose to deal with the most salient points raised by hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee. I will commence with what was said about Poor Law children. Hon. Friends of mine on this side of the Committee who have taken a special interest in this subject know that a great deal has been done in the last three or four years to secure the exodus of Poor Law children from all workhouses and institutional treatment where that institutional treatment is not, so good as can be secured in cottage, scattered or other homes, and by circulars, by Orders, by visits of inspectors, by encouraging voluntary committees of ladies and in many other ways, I am glad to say that the disappearance of children between the ages of three and sixteen from the workhouses is being rapidly accomplished. That is demonstrated by this fact: Since June, 1910, when the first circular was issued, I find that one hundred boards of guardians have provided separate accommodation for Poor Law children away from the workhouses, and thirty-six boards of guardians did this last year. That is an indication of the rapidity with which this movement is being carried out. I am glad to say that at this moment there are not more than 8,000 children in or about workhouse premises, and these 8,000 have been still further reduced, because nearly one-half, or 3,500, are in separate buildings for children apart from the main buildings, which leaves us with only 4,600 children in other wards of the workhouses, but with separate day rooms and dormitories, and they are only in the workhouses for temporary purposes where wards are being used as receiving wards while the children are being looked to as a preliminary to being transferred to cottage or scattered homes. I can best illustrate the rapidity with which this is being done by taking the case of London. In 1912 there were only 221 children between the ages of three and sixteen in the workhouses. In 1913 there are only 165, and of these 165, seventy-four were in separate buildings, and the remainder only in workhouses temporarily, being on there way to other places.

I can only say that these figures demonstrate facts, and are an earnest of the promise I gave to the House that I would accelerate the disappearance of children altogether from all our workhouses. The Departmental Committee that is considering a number of other Poor Law questions at this moment is going to deal specially with this, so that we can still further accelerate the final removal of all children from workhouses and similar institutions. Another point with regard to the Poor Law was raised by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Thomas Richardson), who said he would like to see the day when the words "destitute" and "destitution" were eliminated from our Poor Law terminology. If the hon. Member will look at the dictionary he will find that the word "destitute" is defined as "necessitous," and if he will look up the word "necessitous" he will find, in other dictionaries, that it is defined as "destitute." The fact is, that whether it is "destitution" or "necessitous," the interpretation of it from the humanitarian point of view, depends upon the spirit as well as the letter with which "necessitous" and "destitute" is applied, both by guardians and relieving officers. I care less for the words than I do for what hon. Members very sincerely desire, namely, that in the relief of every necessitous or destitute person the greatest consideration and the utmost kindness should be shown to people who are in one or other of those two conditions.

The other point raised in connection with the Poor Law was that raised by the hon. Member (Mr. T. Richardson). He very properly referred to the very sad and almost tragic fact that in this country, which notwithstanding suggestions to the contrary, is by far the richest country in the world, we should have ninety-eight people die of starvation, and that in London, the richest city in the world, forty people should have been declared at coroners' inquests to have died through lack of food. That is a condition of things which all of us ought to take every step within our power to remove, and if we could anticipate this sad condition of even forty people, we ought to leave no stone unturned by means of which this thing can be obviated and prevented altogether. But I would ask hon. Members to realise that out of these forty cases only two or three applied for Poor Law relief to the guardians, and they were brought by the kindly police for the first time either to the workhouse or the infirmary, and when they got there they were treated, as they ought to be treated, with the utmost mercy and consideration. This type of unfortunate person is not only destitute apparently of means, but is also very frequently destitute of his proper faculties. That is demonstrated by the fact that out of forty people in 1911, in whose case a verdict of death by starvation was given, three had at the moment of their death, in the workhouse or at the police station, sums of over £100 in their possession, whilst a not inconsiderable number had sums varying from a sovereign to £8 or £10. It is very difficult to devise a means by which you can prevent a person with £100 in his possession, who is determined not to spend any of that money on food, from dying of starvation or having death accelerated by lack of proper food, but it is our duty to devise means by which the police shall be able to render first aid and the relieving officers shall do everything in their power, to prevent this condition of things, and I can assure the House that that is being done with the co-operation of the police and the guardians.

The hon. Member raised another point, which was that children under the Poor Law should be taught rural craftsmanship more than they now are. I do not know whether he has given much attention to the education and training of Poor Law children generally, but so far as the education of Poor Law children is concerned in towns and cities, there really is very little to be done in the way of improving either the care, clothing, the accommodation, the education, or the training of these children. It is very difficult to suggest a means by which Poor Law children can have their condition improved so far as money and care and accommodation and clothing are concerned, but in regard to rural craftsmanship all the rural boards of guardians fortunately are in possession of large gardens, many of them of a considerable amount of land, and it is the business as it is the duty of the inspectors to see that in rural areas, wherever there is an opportunity for agricultural education, these lads are equipped with those qualities which would enable them, either in this country or in one of the Colonies, to take to rural craftsmanship and agricultural labour in preference to other town industries for which, both in body and mind, the lads are not so well equipped.

Another point raised was the scale of out-relief for children. On that matter great progress has been made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin), when he was President of the Local Government Board, and his successor—and in continuity of that policy I followed their footsteps—always insisted particularly that children who were living either with deserted or widowed mothers should have an adequate amount of out-relief, and I am very glad to say, as figures prove, that the out-relief given to widows and their children has risen considerably in recent years, and when it is remembered that 40 per cent. of our total pauperism is due either to widowhood, desertion, or orphanhood, it shows what a large claim the widowed and the deserted mother and the deserted children and the orphans have upon both public rates and taxes. My view is that it is a mistake to deny to widows with growing children, especially where the family is large in number, an opportunity of rearing her children under good conditions as to food and shelter, subject, of course, to that not being abused, and people for whom out-relief is not intended taking advantage of the public generosity which, given to the widow and the children, is sometimes diverted to the wrong people.

That takes me from the Poor Law to the question of the provision of sanatoria in London and elsewhere. I do not intend to deal other than with the facts in dispute in this particular matter. The hon. Member (Mr. Astor) has detracted considerably from the sympathetic position that he was gradually assuming in this House both by the matter and the tone of his observations. He has made up in rudeness what he lacked in argument, and I should be giving undue prominence to an undignified performance if I were to take any notice at all of his personalities. I have only one reflection to make. As the speech was being made I thought of a quotation from Francis Bacon, which public men of the present time always ought to have in their mind— The more noble a soul is, the greater it compassion hath. That is how I felt towards the hon. Member. But he did answer much that he said by certain portions of his own speech. He said the condition of sanatoria in London and elsewhere was chaotic, and that insured persons did not get the sort of treatment they are paying for, and he said that his charge against the Local Government Board was that they had given no strong had to local authorities, but he did admit that the Local Government Board had to contend with enormous difficulties in the duties that they had to undertake. That is perfectly true, and if the hon. Member had remembered that, the rest of his speech need not have been made. I can only say that the Department and the staff, who have had sanatoria, under their jurisdiction have attended to this matter with signal success. The hon. Gentleman himself did not produce to this House a case in which people entitled to sanatoria accommodation were without it. He said he could, but he did not. The Order was issued as a matter of fact only ten days after the date when it should have been issued. That was due to no fault of the Local Government Board, but because of the fact that, at the last moment necessary negotiations had to be undertaken between the Local Government Board, the Insurance Commissioners, and the committees. Months before 26th July, and during the time the hon. Member's own committee was sitting, the Local Government Board, the London County Council, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and all the other authorities, had made arrangements in anticipation for sanatoria being provided as from 15th July onwards. They had really done a great, deal of devoted and able work in trying to provide sanatoria. I can only say that, so far as the Local Government Board are concerned, these figures, which are facts, are an answer to much of the idle criticism and factious talk with reference to sanatoria of which we have heard too It is no small thing to have provided since July last 208 sanatoria with 7,500 beds. It is no small achievement to have secured 192 dispensaries, which, like the sanatoria, are attending to many thousands of people. It is no small achievement that the local authorities, which in this matter I wish to defend, should in forty-nine councils out of sixty-two, in sixty-six county boroughs out of seventy-five, and in twenty-five Metropolitan councils, have submitted and got into working provisional schemes for tuberculosis, sanatoria, and dispensaries, and that, generally speaking, at this moment there is a margin of beds for those who require them. When the hon. Member twits the Local Government Board with dilatoriness and with doing this, that, and the other, all I can say is that the Board have got ample justification for everything they have done. They have only to quote paragraphs 24 and 34 of the hon. Member's own Report to plead, not an excuse, but an ample defence for all that has been done. Paragraph 24 says;— As regards London, it seems desirable to the Committee that it should be considered whether some of the sanatoria hospitals required should not be provided by the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and whether dispensaries should not be provided by the Metropolitan borough councils. In the light of that report, instead of wasting my time and that of my officers in needless circulars, letters, and reports, I knew, what every Londoner knew, that on 15th July there were in London anything from 800 to 1,500 empty beds in the possession of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, one of the best infectious hospital authorities in the world, to which men from France, America, and Canada have come to gather experience and knowledge of how to organise the protection of the people from infectious diseases. It would have been the grossest folly and the greatest extravagance with the ratepayers' money for me, with that knowledge which I had, to have thrown upon the rates and taxes the provision of surplus beds and surplus sanatoria, when all these beds were vacant and the institutions were almost derelict for lack of patients. The result was that long before the hon. Member's report or the other was issued I went to the Metropolitan Asylums Board. The county was agreeable, the Local Government Board assented, and I am glad to say that at Downe and Winchmore Hill Sanatoria hundreds of men and women are receiving the best sanatorium treatment which it is possible to give them. I have been with my officers to see them. I have not received one single complaint about the method of treatment, and I am delighted to say that tuberculous insured persons in the London sanatoria, thanks to the public spirit of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, who did early what the London County Council should probably have done earlier, have been provided with sanatorium treatment of which not a single complaint has been made, and to which no criticism can be wisely or fairly directed. If hon. Members doubt me, let them go and see for themselves. I should be delighted to accompany some of them, and I am certain that their inspection will bear out what I say.

The next point is with regard to vaccination officers. Of these, 100 only are all-imers—that is, devote all their time to vaccination work. Of the 1,300 who remain, 930 give all their time to the guardians, either as vaccination officers, registrars, or relieving officers, and of these 365 hold private and other outside appointments, such as clerks, collectors, attendance officers, and so on. Out of the 1,400, grievances have been alleged only in connection with 658. Out of that 658 over whom there has been correspondence between the Local Government Board and the boards of guardians, the employers of the vaccination officers, 594 have received gratuities, increased fees, salaries, postages, and other forms of compensation, so that the alleged grievance is diminished considerably by the fact that out of 658, some 594 have received gratuities in the shape of fees, postage, and so forth.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any single case in the 594 where the gratuities or rewards are sufficient to make up the amount of the salaries they received, between the years 1903 and 1907 or are they not still out of pocket?


In the cases where other forms of employment have not been found, in the opinion of the guardians, who are qualified to know, the diminished compensation fairly meets the case. As to the remaining cases, I am still in correspondence with the guardians, and in so far as it is possible for me to persuade the guardians to diminish any hardships that may arise with regard to the difference between 658 and 594, the House can rely on my doing it. Of the one hundred all-timers who devote their time to vaccination, ninety were in office before the Act of 1907. A correspondence has ensued in regard to seventy, and sixty-eight have received compensation. One receives more than he did at the period mentioned by the hon. Member, who has just intervened, and in the only other case out of the seventy, the guardians for the moment still decline to give the compensation demanded. It is not fair to compare the diminished work of these vaccination officers with what had to be done in the boom period, or the epidemic period between 1903 and 1907. We believe that it is wiser, instead of issuing a General Order to give increased remuneration to all the vaccination officers whether they deserve it or not, to take each individual case on its merits, and give compensation adequate to the grievance of the particular officers. For that particular course I am glad to say that we have the support of the Poor Law Officers' Association and the approval of those who know most about this particular question. The next and most important question is that raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long). The right hon. Gentleman will pardon me if I pass over his purely personal and Departmental criticisms on myself and some of my officers. I can only say that he was entirely wrong when he suggested that if I were to have less of my own way at the Local Government Board and allow my officers to have more of theirs, it would give satisfaction to a wider public than the present system now does. My answer to that is that we are not built that way. But what is more the right hon. Gentleman is the very first man I have known during the time I have been President of the Local Government Board who takes that view. It has been generally the other way that we allow our officers to manufacture the shots and we simply fire them. That is not so. By a judicious combination of business principles and by them having their way when they are right, and by the President having his way under similar conditions the result is that we go through six or seven hours of Parliamentary criticism of a great Department, and I put it to the House fairly has there been except on small points any serious criticism. [An HON. MEMBER "Housing."] I will come to that. I refer to points with regard to Poor Law and public health administration, and nothing illuminates the truth of what I now say more than the fact that you had to have four or five speeches on small points of vaccination officers' remuneration occupying the time of the Imperial Parliament through lack of matter and of serious grounds for serious criticism of the Local Government Board.

The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walter Long) opened by saying that one of the chief questions before the House was the question of whether the Central authority should be or not in favour of subventions or doles for housing, and, though he did not say it, he implied, I believe, other aspects of public health, with which housing is intimately connected. My short answer to the right hon. Gentleman is this, that when he was President of the Local Government Board, and he worthily filled that office for many years, he never suggested to the House of Commons subventions either to local authorities or to rural landlords, or to urban authorities in the way of subsidies or doles for either urban housing, for slum clearances, or for the provision of cottages in rural areas. He will pardon me if I refuse to believe otherwise than that he did not do this because he thought that, speaking generally, the local authorities, in the absence of private enterprise, given that they had the power conferred upon them, which in the main they now have, of providing houses in default of private enterprise do that; and that they have the power of building, and securing public money by acquiring loans, and building houses and cottages at the cost of erection, maintenance and repair at economic rents without subsidy, and without subvention or dole.


I should not intervene were it not that the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to express what he believes to be the reason which led to the policy which I adopted as President of the Local Government Board. He has quite inaccurately described the causes that led to my action at that time. I thought I had explained before to-night that I hold, and I think I established in the House this afternoon, that since I left the Local Government Board there has been a complete change in the conditions of rural life. As I said the other day, having followed this problem very closely, I have within the last year become convinced you will never solve it unless by State aid.


The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to explain and qualify his previous opposition to or lack of sympathy with subventions, subsidies, and doles—


When did I oppose anything of the kind?


My answer is that the right hon. Gentleman, when he was President of the Local Government Board, never favoured either subsidies or doles.


Nobody ever proposed them.


That is just my point. And if nobody proposed them, especially seeing the responsible position the right hon. Gentleman occupied, I cannot be judged too severely if I look rather closely at suggestions for the taxation of the towns for the benefit of the country; for providing certain privileged people and tenants with doles, often from poorer people; sometimes for the relief of rural landowners, landlords, farmers, and local authorities from their proper obligations to house their people by means of public loans—


Who proposes that?


I am entitled to look closely at every proposal that seeks to secure subventions, doles, and subsidies, for housing which has hitherto been left to local authorities and private enterprise without any State assistance at all. Particularly am I entitled to say that, because the right hon. Gentleman said that, whilst being in favour of some form of subsidy or subvention he was strongly opposed to a minimum wage in rural areas, on the ground that it would do enormous harm to the working class. If it is uneconomic, dangerous, and perhaps immoral to raise wages by law—I only put out the suggestion, I give no final word upon it—the same objection might equally be taken to subventions to landowners and farmers which might have the effect of preventing existing wages from being increased, and of stereotyping an inferior and lowly condition of life. My own view is this. I have heard with pleasure of Cambridgeshire agricultural labourers receiving increases of wages of from 1s. to 2s. a week during the past few months. I have heard with greater pleasure of the Lancashire agricultural labourers demanding a six days week, Saturday afternoons, the minimum of Sunday labour, and an increase of from 3s. to 4s. a week on their present wages. If you really want to help the agricultural labourer, it is much better, either by trade union effort or, as the last resort, by a minimum wage by law, to raise his wages by 3s. or 4s. a week, so that he can command an independent cottage of his own, not tied either to the farm or the land which he tills, than that you should waste the time of Parliament and of the agricultural labourer by talking about a system of subsidies and doles that will never amount to more than 4d. or 5d. per week per cottage. By concentrating your 4d. or 5d. per week per cottage by a dole or subsidy, you are taking the best steps to prevent the agricultural labourer from getting a reduction of hours, a six days week, and the 3s. or 4s. added to the wage that his miserable low-paid condition demands.


Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to suggest—I only wish it made perfectly clear—that the proper remedy is to increase the labourers' wages by 3s. or 4s. per week, and increase their rent by the same amount? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]


That question answers itself. If a rise in wages of 3s. or 4s. per week by trade union effort or otherwise is going to raise the rent of the cottage of the labourer, the same thing will happen if the landlords and farmers get a dole of 4d. or 6d. per week per cottage: the rent will be raised to the men to the same extent. Therefore, that argument applies both ways. The right hon. Gentleman took the case of a few good landlords. I do not believe that all landlords are tyrants, or all farmers are fools. Certainly I do not believe that all labourers are going to be too often the subjected creatures that they have been under the low wages that they have received too long. It is not fair for the right hon. Gentleman, who himself has been generous in this respect, to cite the special case of a few landlords, and give their conduct general application. He knows very well that there are thousands, certainly hundreds, of landlords who do not live up to the standard of the best in providing their labourers with good cottages. That is my chief criticism against a dole or subsidy given indiscriminately to the individual. [HON. MEMBER: "No, the local authorities."] I must put my case. My criticism against doles is that if you give them from the State or from the rates the landlords who have not done their duty get them, and you are penalising the good landlords who without a subsidy have done their duty and will continue to do so. The other point raised was: Is it fair that roadmenders, postmen and policemen should live in cottages that we intended for agricultural labourers? My answer to that is that the Government Departments and the local authorities, who employ these men have the power of making this provision; and I am glad to say that they are increasingly doing it. The right Gentleman mocked the power of mandamus. I can only say that the power of mandamus is more valuable than he thinks, because to hold a mandamus over the head of a local 'authority has the result of compelling them to act. I listened in vain to the right hon. Gentleman for any alternative suggestion as to what he would do if he had the power to provide cottages in rural areas. Is he going to supersede the local authorities now charged with that particular duty? If so, it would take a long time to set up the machinery necessary to supersede those authorities. Is he going to take the place of private enterprise, that builds 97 per cent. of the cottages, both rural and urban? If so, it would take a long time indeed. I prefer to use our existing powers to screw up the local authorities to do their duty, and I am glad to say they are increasingly responding, as I shall be able to show by a Return that we are preparing and which will shortly be before the public. The hon. and gallant Member for Dudley made great use, and that is typical of the hon. and gallant Member's method of dealing with this, of a letter he had received from a North-country parson. He said this North-country parson had written a letter to the Local Government Board from Felton with regard to housing, and he wanted to know what had come of it, and said nothing had come of it; and immediately that an hon. Member on the Labour Benches who comes from the district contradicted the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and said that the small urban council of Felton was building rural houses at a cost of £29,000, then the hon. and gallant Member wanted to know what was done at Sudley Bay. Well, the same as at Felton. There 113 cottages are being built at a cost of £30,000 under a scheme put forward by the local authority, and that scheme, adequate to meet the grievances of the locality, has been sanctioned and passed by the Local Government Board. Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked what about London? London at this moment has only got one large housing scheme, namely, that at Tabard Street. No one knows better than the hon. and gallant Member that the difficulty of London is less the provision of houses for the working classes than the low wages of many of the working classes, which does not afford them the means of paying the rent for empty houses existing in London to the tune of 50,000 or 60,000, and the only occasion on which I had to co-operate with the hon. and gallant Gentleman with regard to housing was to let off the London County Council because there were so many empty houses in the vicinity of Tabard Street and other streets, and it is hardly fair for the hon. Member to taunt me with doing nothing for housing in London in these circumstances.


The right hon. Gentleman has entirely misre- presented me. He knows perfectly well that in the particular case he has mentioned the only reason we asked not to rehouse the people in the Tabard Street area was that better provision could be made for them in the suburbs of London.


If the housing problem is so acute as it is represented on the platform, then the provision of cottages at Tooting and Tottenham is not adequate for dock labourers and stevedores living in the neighbourhood of the Borough and Southwark. The fact is, if the wages of the unskilled and casual labourers, as well as the agricultural labourers were adequate to meet their housing and other social needs, nine-tenths of the housing problem would be solved. Why do I say that? Does the hon. Member know that notwithstanding the dearth of housing accommodation in rural areas generally, there are, according to the Census figures of last year 108,000 empty houses in exclusively rural areas in England and Wales. According to the same figures there are 10,000 cottages being built in rural areas, and all over England and Wales at this moment, there are 440,000 uninhabited houses in town and country, and if the unskilled and casual workers could command higher wages, many of those empty houses would be occupied and much of the housing problem would be solved. Many remedies have been suggested by which this difficulty can be met. I have exhausted a great deal of time and attention in speeding up and accelerating housing, both in rural and urban areas, and I have only got one answer, "nothing is being done." Let me quote the figures. In two years ending March, 1912, under the new Act, 66,000 houses have been made fit for immediate occupation, and nearly as many more have been made fit under the Public Health Act of 1891 through the local authorities being screwed up in recent years by the Local Government Board to do this work. No less than 72,000 representations of unfit houses have been made in the same period, and in the last three years £800,000 in loans have been sanctioned to rural and urban authorities by the Public Works Loans Commissioners for housing in recent years. When hon. Members say that nothing is being done with regard to housing, I say that in 1912 there were in existence 180,000 more houses of £15 annual value and under than there were in 1909.

I ask the House to listen to a comparison between what happened before local authorities had the power which they did not have until 1910. What has happened in the last two years? In 1910, through lack of means and power, rural authorities only spent £520 on rural housing; in the last two and a half years I have sanctioned for rural housing three times more loans than were sanctioned by my predecessors in the previous twenty-two years. That fact alone answers a great deal of cheap criticism and uninformed attack upon the Local Government Board. I can only add, with regard to another criticism, that anyone would think that nothing had been done in mining districts, whereas, at this moment there are housing schemes in over thirty mining districts, eighteen of which are in South Wales, to which the hon. Member referred. I noticed that he did not to-day refer to the subject-matter of a question he put to me the day before yesterday. It it not fair for hon. Members to say that nothing has been done, as demonstrated by the Poor Law Commission's Report in 1906. In that very district of Swansea and Merthyr Tydvil, in which it was alleged that nothing was being done in 1906, over 4,000 cottages have been erected, and, as, a result, the infant mortality has been reduced 36 per cent. and the general death rate has been reduced 28 per cent. It is no good for hon. Members to drag up ancient Reports and musty documents and to ignore what is now being done. I can only say that if time permitted I could give even further evidence of the way in which both in new houses, making houses fit for habitation, and town planning schemes that came within the purview of the Local Government Board. Great progress has been made. In conclusion, may I say that the Government has not said, and will not say a final word about how rural or urban housing should be assisted. That matter, as I said in this House a fortnight ago, is now before a committee on the readjustment of local taxation. We object to doles and subventions to individuals that would defeat their object, but we are willing with an open mind to consider Grants-in-Aid for public health by means of which water supplies, drainage, sewerage, and housing can be more reasonably and better assisted in many ways than they are now, and when the public committee appointed to inquire into this matter present their Report the House and the country will find that a Government which has done so much in social reform during the last six years as this Government has done, will not be behind in grappling boldly and seriously with a problem that invites our support, has our sympathy, and will secure our assistance.

Question put, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 178; Noes, 255.

Division No. 112.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Amery, L. C. M. S. Gilmour, Captain John Newman, John R. P.
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. Newton, Harry Kottingham
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Goldman, C. S. Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Ashley, W. W. Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Nield, Herbert
Astor, Waldorf Goulding, Edward Alfred Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Baird, J. L. Grant, J. A. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Greene, W. R. Paget, Almeric Hugh
Baldwind, Stanley Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.) Parkes, Ebenezer
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Perkins, Walter F.
Barnston, Harry Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Peto, Basil Edward
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth) Pretyman, Ernest George
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hamersley, Alfred St. George Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Remnant, James Farquharson
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bigland, Alfred Harris, Henry Percy Rothschild, Lionel de
Bird, Alfred Helmsley, Viscount Royds, Edmund
Blair, Reginald Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Hewins, William Albert Samuel Salter, Arthur Clavell
Boyton, James Hibbert, Sir Henry F. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Hills, John Waller Sanders, Robert A.
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hill-Wood, Samuel Sassoon, Sir Philip
Bull, Sir William James Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)
Burgoyne, A. H. Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Stanier, Beville
Butcher, J. G. Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Campbell, Capt. Duncan, F. (Ayr, N.) Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford) Staveley-Hill, Henry
Campion, W. R. Houston, Robert Paterson Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hunt, Rowland Stewart, Gershom
Cassel, Felix Ingleby, Holcombe Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Cautley, H. S. Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Cave, George Jessel, Captain H. M. Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Jowett, Frederick William Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Kerry, Earl of Thynne, Lord Alexander
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Keswick, Henry Tryon, Captain George Clement
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Valentia, Viscount
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Kyffin-Taylor, G. Walker, Colonel William Hall
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Lane-Fox, G. R. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Larmor, Sir J. Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Weigall, Captain A. G.
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Lee, Arthur H. Weston, Colonel J. W.
Craik, Sir Henry Lewisham, Viscount Wheler, Granville C. H.
Crichton Stuart, Lard Ninian Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Croft, Henry Page Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Dalrymple, Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Wills, Sir Gilbert
Denison-Pender, J. C. Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Winterton, Earl
Denniss, E. R. B. Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Wolmer, Viscount
Duke, Henry Edward Lyttelton, Rt. Han. A. (St. Geo., Han. S.) Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Macmaster, Donald Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Falle, Bertram Godfray M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Worthington-Evans, L.
Fell, Arthur Malcolm, Ian Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Mason, James F. (Windsor) Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Forster, Henry William Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Gardner, Ernest Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord
Gastrell, Major W. H. Newdegate, F. A. Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.
Gibbs, G. A.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Beck, Arthur Cecil
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Bentham, G. J.
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Barnes, George N. Boland, John Pius
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Booth, Frederick Handel
Arnold, Sydney Barton, W. Bowerman, Charles W
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Beale, Sir William Phipson Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Beauchamp, Sir Edward Brace, William
Brady, P. J. Henry, Sir Charles Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Brocklehurst, W. B. Higham, John Sharp Parry, Thomas H.
Brunner, John F. L. Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Bryce, J. Annan Hogg, David C. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Burke, E. Haviland- Hogge, James Myles Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Holmes, Daniel Turner Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Holt, Richard Durning Pringle, William M. R.
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Radford, G. H.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Raffan, Peter Wilson
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Chancellor, H. G. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Reddy, M.
Chapple, Dr. William Alien Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Clancy, John Joseph Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Clough, William Joyce Michael Richards, Thomas
Clynes, John R. Keating, Matthew Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Keilaway, Frederick George Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Kelly, Edward Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Kennedy, Vincent Paul Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Kilbride, Denis Robinson, Sidney
Cotton, William Francis King, J. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Cowan, W. H. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Crooks, William Lardner, James C. R. Roe, Sir Thomas
Crumley, Patrick Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Rowlands, James
Cullinan, John Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Davies, E. William (Elflon) Leach, Charles Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Levy, Sir Maurice Scanlan, Thomas
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Dawes, James Arthur Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.
Delany, William Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Sheehy, David
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Lundon, Thomas Sherwell, Arthur James
Devlin, Joseph Lyell, Charles Henry Shortt, Edward
Dickinson, W. H. Lynch. A. A. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Dillon, John Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Doris, W. McGhee, Richard Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Duffy, William J. Maclean, Donald Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Sutherland, John E.
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sutton, John E.
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) M'Callum, Sir John M. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Elverston, Sir Harold McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding) Tennant, Harold John
Essex, Sir Richard Walter M'Micking, Major Gilbert Thomas, J. H.
Esslemont, George Birnie Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Falconer, James Marks, Sir George Croydon Toulmin, Sir George
Farrell, James Patrick Marshall, Arthur Harold Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Firench, Peter Mason, David M. (Coventry) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Field, William Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Verney, Sir Harry
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Meagher, Michael Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Fitzgibbon, John Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Walters, Sir John Tudor
Flavin, Michael Joseph Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Walton, Sir Joseph
France, G. A. Molloy, M. Wardle, George J.
Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Morgan, George Hay Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Morrell, Philip Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Gill, A. H. Morison, Hector Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Muldoon, John Watt, Henry A.
Goldstone, Frank Murray, Captain Hon. A. C. Webb, H.
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Needham, Christopher T. White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Neilson, Francis White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Greig, Colonel James Wilson Nicholson, Sir C. N. (Doncaster) Whitehouse, John Howard
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Nolan, Joseph Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Norman, Sir Henry Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Norton, Captain Cecil W. Wiles, Thomas
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nuttall, Harry Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Hackett, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Hercourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) O'Doherty, Philip Winfrey, Richard
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) O'Dowd, John Wing, Thomas
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Wood, Rt Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) O'Malley, William Young, William (Perth, East)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Hayden, John Patrick O'Shee, James John
Hayward, Evan O'Sullivan, Timothy TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Hazleton, Richard Outhwaite, R. L. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Henderson. Arthur (Durham)
Original Question put, and agreed to.
Resolution to be reported to-morrow (Friday); Committee to sit again to-morrow.