§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 3rd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. YEO
Some two days ago I drew the attention of the House to the question of the raising of rents. At the request of the Minister of Munitions we put off the discussion until this evening. I desire to express my regret at the cause of the right hon. Gentleman's absence to-night, and I am sure we all hope that he will soon be restored to health and strength. I know there are in every part of this country good and bad landlords. Whilst I say that, I should welcome with joy the privilege of signing an order to-night to commit one or two of those that I know to the Tower of London. I warn the landlords in this House that their action in raising rents at a time when this country is engaged in a life and death struggle, when the noblest and best of her sons are giving their life's blood to defend hearth and home from German horrors, to defend their wives and children, and also the wives and children of the landlords, is wrong. Many of the landlords, in order to show their appreciation of the excellent work that the soldiers are doing in the trenches, have sent notices saying, in effect, "We are proud of you. You are fighting to keep us from the German invasion. To show our appreciation of what you are doing at the front, we have decided in your absence to raise your rent 1s. a week, or to turn your dependants into the street." I suggest to-night to the Government that not only should a strong word come from the Front Bench, but that a small measure should be brought in to make it less possible during the War that our gallant men and their wives and children should be worried and harassed by the landlord at this stage whilst the men are away from home. I also want to warn the House and the landlords that, in my opinion, this kind of thing is going to sow industrial discontent and unrest. It will not end whilst the War is on. I do not desire to defend those tenants who do not want to pay the rent for the houses in which they live. I am not here to champion their cause. But I am here to say that it is unpatriotic for the landlord to increase the rent of houses in order, as 1567 he says, to pay the Budget taxes. That is what he is doing. It would, I think, be a good thing if in this country we could start an anti-rent campaign, similar to the one they had in Ireland some years ago.
§ Mr. YEO
I know it would take some doing—a lot of doing in London. London is the most apathetic part of the kingdom when the Londoner has to consider his own interests. There are many things in which he is not interested, and this matter of rent appears to be one of those things, and one of which the Londoner has to be reminded. The men and women of this country are being urged to economise, to save. They are paying more for their tea and tobacco, and various kinds of things to help the Government, and the country, to carry the War to a successful conclusion. I have scores of letters in my hand showing how many landlords appreciate what Tommy and Jack are doing—whilst they are sticking their "bobs" on the rent. If this House does not consider it a duty to utter some protest I think the people themselves ought to take the matter into their own hands and show the landlords the way they should behave. Apart from that, look at the trouble already existing in the munitions areas—in Glasgow, Partick, Tooting—
§ Mr. YEO
Well, the man who desires, as much as any one of us in this House, to have his property protected and his wife and children kept from injury by German bullets. I ask the House: Do hon. Members think that what they are doing is "playing the game"? I know hon. Members snigger and laugh, and even on my own side ridicule the matter when one gets up to talk on a subject like this. Let me remind them I care not for them or any one else. I shall do what I think right in this House so long as the Speaker does not call me to order. I hope they understand that? I am not going to get up here 1568 and be laughed at and made a fool of. Seeing there is no increase in the rates of many of the districts, and that many of the boroughs have reduced their rates, and have taken off 2d., 3d., and even 4d. in the pound, what justification can the landlord show at this time for putting up the rent of these women whose husbands, fathers, or boys are at the front, saving from the German invasion the lives and property of those who are now asking them to pay 1s. and 1s. 6d. a week extra rent? I have read it in a book in this House that "modern oppression is mostly financial." That is perfectly true. Let me quote John Bright:—We should be careful lest we put upon the people that which they will be unable to bear, and which will cause them one day to break out in a revolution against the Authorities of this country.We ought to have Fair Rent Courts in this country to prevent the arbitrary raising of rents and the capricious eviction of the workers or weekly tenants. I have protests from tenants from all over the Kingdom, who have been warned in this fashion:—We beg to give you notice to quit, and to deliver up possession of the house and premises, No. so and so, you occupy, on or before Monday next, if you are not prepared to pay 1s. a week increase.There are also notices like the following served upon the tenants:—In consequence of the extraordinary demand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to meet the enormous expense of the War, we are reluctantly compelled to revise the rent of our houses.In one of the streets to which a notice of this kind applied twenty-nine men have gone to the Front. They have forfeited the enjoyment of home and the fellowship of their wives, children and friends, and are sacrificing all. What for? The house does not belong to them. They have gone to protect the wives and children, and the landlords are so short-sighted that they cannot see what they are losing by endeavouring to turn out and put into the street the dependants of these men. There are, I know, in this country many kind and generous landlords. But I think that those landlords who have decided to put on these increases are short-sighted, narrow-minded, have not the best interests of the country at heart, and are not going about in the best way to show the men at the Front their appreciation of what they are doing. I ask these people that they will not agitate and worry the tenants by increasing their rent, if they do not want to see a scene of discord and discontent, and if they want to show their appreciation of the men of all classes who have united and are doing their part to 1569 bring the War to a successful conclusion. It is "up to" the landlords to show their patriotism by at once withdrawing the notices to the tenants. Failing that, I appeal to the Government to see whether it would not be possible to at once bring in a short measure, if only for the time of the War, to prevent landlords putting on these extra rents.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
I endorse all that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said about the men who have gone to the front, but I want to draw the attention of the Government to a case in which they are personally interested. Those of us who represent areas where munition works are being carried on know that at this moment we have huge influxes of population that have to be housed. I hope when we get a reply that we shall have—and I believe we shall—a statement of some of the things which the Government is doing to meet the difficulty. In many cases, however, the landlords—I do not say all—are serving notices upon the tenants to get them out of the houses. The hon. Member who has just spoken mentioned the fact of rent being raised a 1s. per week. I hold in my hand official notices that have been served by a man—and this man represents a whole district—in Erith. The first notice served was on 3rd December, 1913, which said:—I have received instructions to give you notice to determine your tenancy of the house you occupy, and which you now hold at a rental of 9s. 6d. a week, and to inform you that as from that date the weekly rental will be 10s. 6d. if you decide to remain on.That was the notice served in December. One might possibly think that that would have met all the requirements of the landlord, but I hold in my hand another notice served upon the same tenant. These are the munition workers—men who must reside in the areas if the Government is to have the work they desire turned out. This notice is dated 19th September, and stated that the agent has received instructions from the landlords—I suppress the names, but I can give them if they are desired—that as from Monday, 27th September, the rent of the house occupied will be 12s. weekly, if the tenant desires to remain, etc. Therefore the House will note the rent has been raised from 9s. 6d. to 10s. 6d. and within comparatively a few months further put up to 12s. If the tenant pays, as he is paying at the present that 12s. per week, unless something is done, there is no reason, having been successful in the case of the two previous notices, that before very 1570 long another notice will be served putting the rent up still higher. Ejectments are being moved for in that district, and in the neighbouring places of Dartford and Crayford. I am glad to say the magistrates and the County Court judge have declined to turn out the tenants on the ejectment order. In some cases they have postponed it, and I wish to mention the action of County Court Judge Parry in particular. I have here a letter sent me a couple of days ago from one of these cases where ejectments had been moved for and the County Court judge had declined to eject. Of course the man was a munition worker and had been in the house some time and paid his rent. The landlord cannot get the ejectment order and he serves a notice on the man to raise his rent, not 1s. a week—that is too modest: a bagatelle—but to raise it from 8s. to 12s. per week, so that as he cannot get possession of the house to raise the rent one way, he will, by a heavy increase in the rental, get it in another way. I think these cases are of a most striking character.
There is no need to labour the question and to give an innumerable number of cases as one might do. What the House and the Government have to see is that these people, already overcrowded, unable in many cases to get houses, should not be treated in the manner they are being treated. Many of them have come into the localities at the demand of the Government. We have in places along the Thames, where the demand for munition work is great, tens of thousands of extra persons coming into those localities. I therefore most earnestly press upon the Government to take this question in hand, and I feel confident that if they will do what is necessary, even resorting to legislation, if it is requisite, they will be doing a great thing in order to get the work that they desire turned out, and they will be relieving a large number of people from the stress that they are now put under by these notices that have been served upon them.
§ Mr. BARNES
It is somewhat of a sad, melancholy reflection to my mind that the Government have only just begun to take a serious view of this question of the rents, when rents have begun to take some effect upon recruiting. They have been urged time and time again, I should say right away, from almost a year back, to deal with this question upon its merits but hitherto they have followed a policy of 1571 masterly inactivity. I remember, on the 10th February last, I called the attention of the Prime Minister to a declaration made by the president of an association—I think it is called the Householders' Association of Glasgow, or someting of that sort—which had been made on 14th January. The declaration was to the effect that now was the time to raise rents, since people were getting accustomed to the rise in prices. I called the attention of the Prime Minister to the statement, and he did not agree with me as to the full significance of it, but he said that if it were borne out by events, or if I could bring forward any concrete illustration, showing that that policy was to be given effect to, then the matter would have the serious consideration of the Government. In consequence of that statement by the Prime Minister, a week or two later, I put a question down to the Secretary for Scotland. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman here. I ventured to give to him privately a concrete example of that policy having been given effect to. It was in the form of a letter which will stand repetition. The letter is from a factor, and is as follows:—Dear Madam:—The Government having increased the tax on property by 1s. 3d. in the £ for the present year. I beg to give notice that I am obliged to increase the rent of the house occupied by you to £21 per annum.The rent hitherto had been £19 per annum. I know it has been said recently, in extenuation of the rise of rent, that there have been increases in the cost of material and in wages, and generally speaking in the cost of building houses, more now than a year ago. That is perfectly true. But here is a glaring case, before there was any large increase, at all events in wages or cost of material, where, on the admission of the man himself, he intends turning over the burdens placed on him and his class in common with other classes of the community, on to the already overburdened tenant, and, probably, as my hon. Friend said, make a profit even upon the increased burdens that have been put upon him and thrown by him on to other people. I returned to the charge later. I have been putting questions from time to time, and so far there has been nothing except the Prime Minister's reply to me less than a fortnight ago that they were still watching and awaiting events. I congratulate the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo) in having more success than I have in inducing at last the Government, through 1572 the instrumentality, I believe, of the Minister of Munitions, to take the view of these cases which ought to have been taken long ago.
I want to call attention to one or two glaring cases. I have in my hand a sheaf of notices issued to a number of tenants occupying one block of houses in Glasgow. The rents of these houses had been at the rate of £13 16s. per year. There are forty-two of them. Here are the identical notices served on each one of these tenants in one of the poorest districts of Glasgow, and the tenants are given notice that on and after 28th August the rent is to be raised to £3 14s. 9d. per quarter, which I find comes to £14 19s. per year, and I would not be at all surprised to find that the fact of it being 1s. under £15 had some significance so far as the landlord's pocket was concerned—probably the assessment. But the refinement of cruelty comes in the last paragraph of these notices. It says:—Notices of removal should reach us not later than 30th July, 1915.Observe, these notices are dated 27th July, 1915. Probably they would be posted on the night of the 27th July, and therefore they would reach these tenants on the 28th, and these tenants are given notice that if they are not willing to pay this increased rent they are to give notice that they are to clear out, if you please, and this is to be given by the 30th, which is two days later. Just imagine the plight of these poor people! This block of houses is situated in Hillfoot Street, in the east end of Glasgow, and therefore in a poor residential district. But I know that many of the men living in this block of houses are travelling away to the lower reaches of the Clyde, are travelling six or eight miles the other way, are travelling to Paisley and various other places outside, and only get home at the week-end. I am putting the case of the husband and father who is still at home and in a position to maintain his family. For him it is bad enough, and the probability is that his poor wife will get the notice when he is away, and probably before he comes home at the week-end his wife, by actual default, not being in a position to say whether they are going to leave, only two days' notice having been given, from the very fact of her still being there at the week-end, would be liable to pay this increased rent exacted by the landlord. I say that is a scandalous state of things—a state of things which this House should not in any way encourage, 1573 but, on the other hand, ought to do something to discourage. But how about the case of the poor woman whose husband is away at the Front? I have been told to-night of a demonstration in Glasgow—there have been a good many demonstrations—but there was a demonstration, I am told, in which some thousands of poor women trudged from Partick, in Glasgow, to the Town Hall with the inscription on their banner:—Our husbands are fighting Prussianism in France, and we are fighting the Prussians of Partick.Nothing, I think, could more convincingly illustrate the position in Glasgow during the last twelve months than that inscription on their banner. Their husbands and their sons have been pouring out their life-blood to defend this country, to defend the property of the property owners of this country as well as the homes of the people, and while they have been doing that, and laying down their lives, these unscrupulous landlords come along and take advantage of their necessity.
I am going to give more cases. Hitherto I have dealt with Glasgow only, but my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland has been good enough to ask me to put the cases of some others of more general moment, and the first is from Wolverhampton. It is that of a woman named Mrs. McLoughlin, the wife of Lance-Corporal McLoughlin. She has seven children, and rents a house at 66, Granville Street, Wolverhampton. She is now threatened by ejectment by the landlord's agent, who has the suggestive name of Mr. Fibosh. Mr. Fibosh has given this poor woman, whose husband is now fighting for his country at the front, notice that she is to clear out of the house unless she agrees to pay an increase of 1s. per week on a weekly rental of 5s.—that is, unless she pays 20 per cent, increase on the present rate she is going to be evicted. The woman says she is willing to pay 6d. a week more, in spite of the fact she has had some illness in the family, during which she went back with her rent, and she has not recovered from that illness yet. She knows that moving from her cottage will incur expense, and in order to avoid that expense she has offered to pay another 6d. per week to Mr. Fibosh. I made a little calculation in regard to the Glasgow case with its block of forty-two tenants, and I find that if all these poor people pay the increased rent the rental from that block of houses will rise from £578 to £630—that is to say, the landlord of that property 1574 nets out of the needs of these forty-two poor tenants an additional £52 a year, which is probably enough to cover all his increased taxes, although he is not subjected to a single halfpenny more expense for increase of wages or cost of material. I think I have now said enough about the Wolverhampton case, which I think is quite strong enough. In this case the poor woman was willing to pay another 10 per cent., which is probably enough to pay the increased charges put upon the landlord, but nevertheless she is threatened with eviction if she does not pay another 10 per cent. Let me now read an extract from a letter which has been received from Plymouth by the hon. Member for Sunderland. Of all places Plymouth ought to be saved from anything of this sort. I have had experience of Plymouth, and so have many of my hon. Friends. We know it is a town filled with good, loyal trade unionists, which has sent thousands of men to the front, and has always sent the best of its sons. The letter says:—There seems to be a general movement in this direction as though by agreement. I have enclosed a copy of a notice which has been served on a tenant from which it would appear that there is a systematic movement on the part of landlords to avail themselves of the present dearth of houses in order to force up rents. Inquiries in the slum area of Vauxhall Street, reveal the fact that an additional 6d. per room is being charged to the persons residing there, who are mainly persons employed on the quays in a district where labour is mostly casual.In Bristol there has been an increase of between 6d. and 1s. 6d. In Chatham, a place similar to Plymouth where there is a general scarcity of houses, there has been a general increase in rents. Coventry, which is full of munition workers, with an increased population of 30,000 or 40,000, has experienced an alarming increase in rents, and even the rents of municipal houses have risen to 6s. 6d. per week. In East Ham the present considerable rents are being put up 1s. per week to all new tenants. In all these places the poverty of the people does not protect them. There is a general tendency to raise rents and there are no empty houses. I will read a letter which I have received from the Rothwell Urban District Council:—Referring to your circular upon the housing of the working classes, my council made closing orders for two houses which were beyond repair. The occupants replied that they could not find any empty houses in the district to which they could move. My council had an inspection made, and the inspector reported that there was practically no such thing as an unoccupied house in the district, consequently the rents had been increased from 4s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. a week.I conclude by supporting the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo) that something should be done 1575 and done speedily in this matter, because this condition of things is having a bad effect upon recruiting all over the country. People are sick and tired of being asked to make sacrifices and being talked to about equality of sacrifice when all the sacrifice is being put upon their shoulders and others are getting off scot free. Unless something is done there will be trouble. We want men to come forward in sufficient numbers to fight and win this War, and I warn the Government that if something is not done to stop this scandalous abuse there will be a still further slackening of recruiting.
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. McKinnon Wood)
I propose to deal with this matter more especially as it affects Scotland, and in view of the cases put forward on this and other occasions by my hon. Friends who are my colleagues in the representation of Scotland. The question raised specifically in connection with munitions will be dealt with by my hon. Friend who represents the Munitions Department. I think it will be agreed that the circumstances are not altogether ordinary circumstances, and that gives justification for the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes) that this matter should be considered carefully, and that it ought to be treated rather as a temporary and emergency matter. In this view I am very much disposed to agree with him. No doubt an emergency has occurred on this question, because the men engaged upon munitions have been aggregated in certain districts. In Scotland one of the districts most affected is Glasgow and its adjacent towns, where undoubtedly you are creating an artificial condition of affairs which rather justifiy the Government in treating the matter as one of emergency, and dealing with it for the period of the War. I have had a number of applications and letters. I have some here which raise this question from the other point of view and which put cases of hardship also from the other point of view, and they must be considered. The landlord, if he is a person with a very small margin, is undoubtedly in a position of difficulty at the present moment in many cases like Glasgow. He may, for example, have to pay an extra half per cent, interest on his bonds, and possibly the interest has been raised by 1 per cent. His cost on repairs is undoubtedly higher, and I think the House 1576 will agree that the matter is one of some complexity. Therefore I propose to appoint a small and impartial Committee to inquire into this matter promptly and rapidly. The House will probably agree with me when I say that my own inclination is to make the Committee very small, and not to attempt to represent any interests upon it. I wish to appoint impartial men who are not interested in this matter one way or the other who will furnish me with accurate and impartial information. I think I may be able to get them to deal first of all with the district of the Clyde in Scotland. For that reason I propose that this Committee shall apply to Scotland only as the most rapid way of dealing with the matter.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I am sure my hon. Friend will not be at all surprised if I reply that I find Scotland quite enough to occupy my energies, and England, the predominant partner, I am sure, will be able to speak for herself. I am stating what we are prepared to do in Scotland, where this agitation first arose, and where it is very acute.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
If the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin says that is so, I at once accept his statement. I hope that the factors and owners in Scotland, after what has been said, will withhold their hand. I know that the sheriffs of Scotland have postponed a number of cases in the Clyde district, and I think they have acted very reasonably. At the same time I should like to say that I am glad to see that a decision has been come to that in Glasgow, at any rate, rents will not be raised in the case of soldiers' wives, and I hope that view will extend further south. We all feel that this must be dealt with as an emergency matter. At the present time provisions which might be very unacceptable in ordinary times of peace may be accepted now by the House generally. I hope that we shall have a cessation of this trouble for a short time, and that there will be a satisfactory settlement. I am not altogether without hope that the result of this action on the part of the 1577 Government may be that the house owners will take a reasonable view of the situation and see the unwisdom of raising rent during this time of national emergency.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of MUNITIONS (Dr. Addison)
The House will understand that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lloyd George) is more acutely interested in this matter where it affects munition areas, and it is for that reason particularly that he welcomes the appointment of the Committee of Inquiry by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. McKinnon Wood) into matters on the Clyde, because from the information at our disposal, whatever other causes of unrest there may be in that district, we are satisfied at all events that this is a contributory cause and should be cleared up as quickly as possible. My right hon. Friend also hopes that the invitation which has been extended to householders generally to defer action in this matter until the Government's policy is more clearly denned in this country will be acted upon, because we recognise the difficulties with which householders are faced in munition areas, and we are doing our best by a scheme which would be quite undreamed of in times of peace to deal with those cases which are of the most pressing kind in munition areas. We have now instructed the officers of the Ministry throughout munition districts to collect complaints of the nature mentioned here to-day. Those complaints are now being collected, they will be returned to the Ministry, and when we have a clearer vision of what they actually amount to and how extensive they are we shall be better able to determine what is the right thing to do. My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo), if I may say so, would have rendered us a little more assistance if he had given us or forwarded to us rather more of the evidence on which his complaint is based.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am dealing with the steps the Ministry of Munitions is taking to deal generally with this question, and I think the House will recognise that we are not lacking in zeal in dealing with it as far as we are able to do so. In the first place, as far as possible, we put our new factories in districts where there is an existing population which will be able to supply both the skilled and unskilled labour without requiring additional accommodation. I could make a statement on the size and the extent of the different factories and the population of workers which we expect will be required, but the figures might be somewhat misleading, because if you were to say, for example, that the extensions in Sheffield required so many thousands of workers, it would not follow that all those would be brought in from somewhere else. As a matter of fact, the scarcity of skilled labour is such that it is quite impossible to expect that we shall be able to bring in from other places all this mass of workers. We must, to a great extent, obtain the workers by spreading those who are already there. The total number of workers required in any particular factory does not necessarily indicate the total of those who will require to be housed.
Then, by the aid of the Local Government Board, we have conducted an inquiry into every area where there is an extension of munition work. These cases we find fall into two classes. First, there are those in which, entirely apart from the extension of munitions works, there is congestion at the present time, such as at Woolwich, Dartford, Coventry, and other places. It is quite evident, therefore, if you have a munition factory in a munition district where apart from that factory there is pressure on the existing accommodation, you are more justified in providing additional permanent houses than in a district where there is not likely after the War is over to be any increased pressure on the present available accommodation. It is obvious that in some cases we really need, in order to meet the situation, a considerable increase in the permanent houses. In some cases temporary accommodation will suffice. In other districts, I am glad to say, such as the Dartford district, which my hon. Friend mentioned, we can to a considerable extent meet the present emergency by making use of many existing buildings. We have now taken steps in that district to requisition a considerable number of institutions and other places, 1579 and we shall, I hope, in a satisfactory way thus provide accommodation within a very short time for a very large number of workers without additionl buildings, and do something to remove the present congestion. In places like Coventry and Sheffield, where there is at present pressure upon the existing housing accommodation, we have in every case invited the co-operation of the local authority. I am glad to say that in these places schemes have already been arranged, entirely apart from any temporary accommodation, for the provision of a considerable number of houses by the local authorities. That is the case in those places to which I have alluded, as well as in many others. We have made arrangements with the local authorities in these places on these lines. The Ministry of Munitions recognises that where additional housing is provided for munition workers it is quite a fair thing that the Ministry should make some contribution to the extra cost over and above the pre-war cost. We have come to an arrangement with the local authorities that we will make a contribution towards the extra cost the War has involved, and they will then obtain a loan in the ordinary way.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I would rather not mention the figures. Of course, we do not contribute anything towards the cost which they would have expended, say, in July before the War. We are only concerned with the extra cost.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I would rather not give the figures, and I hope my hon. Friend will not press me to give the details of the arrangements. We are making a satisfactory contribution towards the extra cost. We have to provide a great deal of temporary accommodation. The Ministry is directly responsible for its provision. There is to be in Sheffield, in addition to the permanent scheme, a very large scheme for the provision of temporary houses, and I am glad to say that they appear to be of quite a picturesque and satisfactory kind, whilst at the same time, considering the difficulties of the situation, being fairly cheap. We have 1580 appointed a costs and accounts department, whose sole business will be to see that all the costs are checked, and that the Ministry of Munitions gets what it pays for. I perhaps might give one or two details in the cases mentioned by my hon. Friend. There is at Coventry, for instance, a scheme for the provision of 600 permanent houses, and the reason for that is that Coventry is already congested. Then the Coventry Garden Suburb Society are also providing an additional 120 houses. There is, in the case of Glasgow, one scheme which has been adopted in connection with one of the large firms whereby 6,700 additional houses will be provided, and there is another scheme for the provision of 150 permanent houses at Moss End.
§ Mr. THORNE
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what he is going to do to stop the rents being increased at the present time?
§ Dr. ADDISON
My hon. Friend must see that if we provide additional houses, say in Coventry, for 45,000 workers, it will at all events greatly relieve the pressure.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am only dealing with the matter from the point of view of the munition areas. We have now set up machinery for collecting information throughout the whole of the country, and the legal position is being explored. It remains to be seen whether it results in any practical proposals. I would direct the attention of the House to what my right hon. Friend said yesterday: "The Government would not hesitate, if necessary, to ask Parliament for any powers to deal with the situation." I think that is a fairly complete and extensive commitment, and I am quite sure that he will act up to his promise. You must ascertain the facts and see what they really amount to before you formulate your proposals.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Will the hon. Gentleman take some practical steps where ground rents have been raised from 1,000 per cent. 1581 to 1,800 per cent., and where ejectment orders hang over tenants, to see that evictions do not take place?
§ Mr. THORNE
If it were a question of workers going away from work, you would deal with them pretty soon.
§ Dr. ADDISON
My hon. Friend will see that active steps are being taken to deal with this matter. There is no doubt what- 1582 ever that by these schemes we shall certainly, in the more crowded areas, provide accommodation for the workers required in the factories, and to a great extent relieve the pressure upon the existing accommodation.
It being one hour after the conclusion of Government Business, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd February.
§ Adjourned at Eight o'clock till Tuesday next, 19th October, pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.