§ (1) Every council in England and Wales exercising powers under this Act Or under Section two of the Notification of Births (Extension) Act, 1915, shall establish a maternity and child welfare committee, and all matters relating to the exercise of the powers of the council under this Act or under the Notification of Births (Extension) Act, 1915 (except the power of raising a rate or of borrowing money), shall stand referred to such committee, and the council, before exercising any such powers, shall, unless in their opinion the matter is urgent, receive and consider the report of the maternity and child welfare committee with respect to the matter in question, and the council may also delegate to the maternity and child welfare committee, with or without restrictions or conditions as they think fit, any of their powers under that Act or this Act, except the power of raising a rate or of borrowing money.
§ (2) Not less than two-thirds of the members of every maternity and child welfare committee shall consist of members of the council, but the council shall also appoint as members of the committee persons specially qualified by training or experience in subjects relating to health and maternity who are not members of the council. Maternity and child welfare committees shall include women and members of the insurance committees concerned.
§ (3) The committee established under this Section shall take the place of any committee appointed under Sub-section (2) of Section two of the Notification of Births (Extension) Act, 1915, and the provisions of that Sub-section relating to the exercise of powers by a committee shall cease to have effect.
§ Major HILLS
On a point of Order, Sir. I have upon the Paper later a proviso to the Clause. It is a long Amendment, and I would rather move that than the one which stands earlier in my name. Therefore I do not move.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "or under" ["Act or under Section two"], and to insert instead thereof the words "may direct those powers to be exercised in the manner provided by the second paragraph of Sub-section (2) of."
The Clause, by the omission of these words, will read, "Every council in England and Wales exercising powers under this Act may direct those powers to be exercised in the manner," and so on. By this Amendment we want to have the powers under the Bill given to the district authorities, plainly, freely, and in a friendly way. We do not want to hamper 226 them at all; we simply give them the powers under the Act, and they then exercise those powers in accordance with the second paragraph of Sub-section (2) of the Notification of Births (Extension) Act of 1915. There is a further Amendment, which comes next, to leave out, from "1915" all the words to the end of the Clause; and one of the chief reasons why we are anxious that the Amendment, in the form I have suggested, should be carried is that we desire to get rid of the co-opted member. We do not want the principle of co-option if we can possibly help it. A member who is co-opted is one who does not face the electors or the turmoil of an election. He becomes a member of the authority under the principle of co-option, and is entitled to exercise the full powers of an elected member. As I said earlier this afternoon, I want to make the men who exercise these powers directly responsible to the electors, and I want the elector to be in a position to know who is responsible for any particular order that may be given or line of action that may be adopted. If you had a certain number of members co-opted, they would not be so responsible for their action as would be elected members, who have to satisfy the electors in regard to any course they may have taken. For that reason I strongly urge that in connection with this particular Sub-section the co-option of members should be omitted. If we give these powers to the rural district councils, the borough councils, and the urban district councils, then we should trust them to carry them out in what they consider to be the best way, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board.
§ Major HILLS
May I ask whether it would be convenient to take a general discussion of this Amendment and that which I have on the Paper later on? There are several Amendments providing for different schemes whereby the local authorities may carry out the duties of this Act. May I suggest that it perhaps might save time if there was a single discussion of the whole matter raised by the various Members?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think this Amendment, and that which strikes out the words from "1915" to the end of the Clause, leaves it open for alternative methods to be proposed, and therefore they could be debated.
§ Major HILLS
I think there ought to be a good deal of elasticity in connection with the powers that are to be exercised, and I agree that they should be left free to carry out the powers in the way they think proper; but I do not think that the Amendment which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has moved will exactly meet the object we have in view. I suggest that the larger authorities would be the proper bodies to carry out the provisions of this measure, and, in the case of the county council, I think the health and housing committee already established by the Act of 1909 should be the authority to carry out this Bill when it becomes an Act. As I have stated, I have an Amendment upon the Paper which provides that the public health and housing committee may co-opt members especially interested in the maternity question, and also at least one certified midwife, one member of the nursing association, and one member of the insurance committee concerned. The reason why I make that proposal is that, if we are to have fresh powers, it is not advisable to start a fresh special authority, because health administration in this country is already extremely elaborate. You have got the local sanitary authority, you have got the notification of births authority, and you have, in the case of the county council, the public health and housing committee. What I wish is to bring all those authorities and their powers under one roof. In the case if the county council, the obvious body to exercise these powers is the public health and housing committee, because it is the nucleus of all the health activities of the larger authority—namely, the county councils—and it is just for such cases as those with which this Bill deals that an authority of that kind should be set up. I think it is rather absurd to pass it by and to start a new kind of authority. The importance of the health and housing committee of the county council will, I believe, grow—I hope it will—and now is a very good chance for doing away with some of the confusion and multiplication of authorities which exist. What I would suggest to my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board is that he should transfer to the health and housing committee of the county council all the maternity powers under this Bill, and also, if he sees well, power under the Notification of Births (Extension) Act.
§ Sir C. WARNER
May I again say something on behalf of the local authorities under this Bill? Both the previous speakers have claimed that they want to give the local authority greater freedom, and apparently it is thought that greater freedom will be given them by taking away one set of Orders and putting in another set of Orders. I do not think that is much freedom. What I think would really meet the case is not the freedom of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment or the later Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Durham, but, as I suggest, the freedom which would follow from the word "shall" in the Clause being omitted and the word "may" substituted. In many cases a great advantage would be obtained by co-opting people, but It does not follow that making it necessary to co-opt people will give an advantage in carrying out the work. Surely the local authorities should judge for themselves whether or not there would be any great benefit in having people co-opted, and I think the simple method of giving freedom to the local authorities and encouraging them to do as much as possible is to give them the power to co-opt, but not to compel them to co-opt.
§ Sir W. MIDDLEBROOK
The system of co-opting, which is one of quite modern growth with regard to the administration of public health measures, has certain advantages as well as serious disadvantages. The great disadvantages are that you have people taking part in certain sections of a public authority who have neither the responsibility nor the authority of a popular election. They are selected for a particular purpose and for that only; but a more serious disadvantage is that whilst they are members of a committee for one particular purpose, they have no seat on the body of which that committee forms part, and though their work may be done in committee, when it comes up for consideration by the superior authority they are not there either to defend or to support it. On the other hand, it is advisable to have the opportunity of occasionally bringing into particular committees certain individuals of special experience and knowledge, and whilst I came this afternoon with the object of opposing the principle of co-option, I think the suggestion made by the last speaker would cover the whole ground, by giving to the local authority the power to co-opt where they thought fit, but not to make it compulsory upon them.
§ Sir H. HARRIS
I think we want to understand what is exactly the effect of this Amendment. As I read it, the authority is to exercise its powers in the manner provided by the second paragraph of Sub-section (2) of the Notification of Births Act of 1915. I have a copy of that Section here, and it says thatany such powers may be exercised in such manner as the authority directs by a committee or committees, which shall include women, and may comprise, if it is thought fit, persons who are not members of the authority.Therefore, the suggestion made by the last speaker, it seems to me, would be carried out by the Amendment, because there would be power to co-opt if it is desired. If that is the proposal, I am disposed to agree with it, and I do not understand why the President of the Local Government Board has proposed to constitute a Statutory Committee for the sole purpose of infant welfare. It is inconsistent with what the Local Government Board said in a circular which they issued in 1915 in regard to the Notification of Births (Extension) Act of that year, because in that Memorandum they sayThe Board are anxious to insist on the importance of linking up this work with the other medical and sanitary services provided by local authorities under the Public Health and other Acts.If that is their desire, why propose to put infant welfare into a separate compartment? It seems to me to be inconsistent with their own policy, and the Amendment which is now proposed seems to me to carry out that policy, and I am therefore disposed to support it.
§ Mr. RENDALL
I think it would be to the advantage of the Government in this matter if the existing committees were made use of, and I look forward to the possibility of there being no co-option with absolute dismay, because, in spite of the fact that we have millions of women who have now got the suffrage, it is still the fact that there are very few women on the local authorities throughout the country. Here we are dealing with a subject which is more peculiarly a women's subject than any other, and if there is no co-option it may be impossible to have one woman on a committee dealing with this matter. It seems to me, therefore, absurd if we are to pass this Bill and actually find the little rural district councils throughout the country debarred from having any woman at all on a committee dealing with child 230 welfare. That would seem to me to be the last word in absurdity, and I think that now the President of the Local Government Board has chosen to accept all these small bodies, the essential duty is thrown upon him of seeing that these small bodies are compelled to co-opt in order to get women on the committee. Personally, I hope the majority on these committees will be women.
§ Mr. ALDEN
All I am anxious for the Committee to see is that if they accept this Amendment they are not going to get their maternity committees established. I have spoken against compulsion so far as this Bill is concerned because I thought the time was not quite ripe for it and because I think an experiment ought to be made by the local authorities themselves. But I am in favour of compulsion so far as the formation of maternity committees is concerned. When women get the vote I think they are going to take this question largely into their own hands, and I am not very much concerned whether the public health committee or the maternity committee is set up, as long as some committee is necessarily set up by this Act. I trust the President will see his way to resist the Amendment and to keep his words very much as they stand in Clause 2, because I am sure that if you get your compulsory maternity committees you are going to get an immense improvement in the health of this country. Give the women the vote, as you have done, and give them the chance of being co-opted on to these maternity committees, and you are going to see a great change, a perfect revolution, so far as the health of these little children is concerned. It is from that point of view that I look at it—the fresh interest that will be thrown into this question by the fact that women now have the vote. Although hon. Members may object to the principle of co-option, I hope they will allow it in this case, because there are a good number of people in each district who are competent to be on these committees, but who would never be elected on them and who yet have the special and the requisite knowledge for dealing with these questions. I have no fear whatever about the future if you will only get these maternity committees compulsorily established.
§ Sir W. COLLINS
I do not wish to impede the progress of the Bill. I desire to support it, and I do not wish to see it sacrificed in the hope of securing another 231 and larger measure, which is apparently still in a problematical condition. However, I think the right hon. Gentleman might pay some attention to the Amendment before the Committee with a view to limiting the power of co-option. As one who served for fifteen years on the London County Council and was its chairman, I have watched with apprehension the growth of co-option in matters of local government. I remember that in 1902, when the Education Bill of that year was introduced by the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he urged the hope that in making education a municipal function it would induce some persons who had not hitherto taken an interest in civic affairs to offer themselves at municipal elections. That result might have been achieved but for the fact that at the same time, by the process of co-option, something like a backdoor was opened, so that persons interested in education could get on to the local education committee without going through the process of election, and so the desire of the right hon. Gentleman was defeated. I am afraid the tendency in so many health matters at the present time to introduce compulsorily co-opted members on statutory committees does confuse local government and does not tend to strengthen the sense of local responsibility. Many of these members are elected rather because they are enthusiasts for a particular subject than interested in municipal matters as a whole; they are apt to initiate matters which may result in large expenditure, and they never have to give an account of their responsibility to the ratepayers, who find themselves playing a game of "hunt the slipper" when they wish to discover where the responsibility for the large expenditure rests. The principle of co-option has gone too far, and the Amendment will leave it permissive but not compulsory on the local authority. As one who believes in local government and in this Bill, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will limit this power and, if possible, remove the requirement for compulsory co-option.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
There are two or three points involved in this Amendment. In respect to the form of the Amendment itself, I think if my right hon. Friend had drafted his Bill as proposed by this Amendment we should have had indignant criticisms on the ground that the Government were again indulging in the vicious practice of legislation by reference, and 232 from all quarters of the House Members-would have risen and protested that really they ought not to say that powers shall be exercised "in the manner provided in Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 of the Notification of Births (Extension) Act, 1915," but that the Bill ought to set out on the face of it quite clearly what its purpose and what its machinery are. For that reason I think my right hon. Friend ought rather to be commended than discouraged in setting out in this Bill what authorities are to act, particularly since the work of these committees under this Bill will be far larger in scope than the work under the Notification of Births Act. You ought rather, if anything is done to repeal that Act, to bring it into this Bill than to treat this Bill as if it were a mere amendment of the Notification of Births Act.
With regard to the substance of the Amendment there are two points involved, and the first is whether the local authorities are to be compelled to appoint a maternity and child welfare committee. I certainly think there ought to be a maternity and child welfare committee. What should be the relation of those committees to the existing health committees of the local authorities I am not quite so clear upon. It may be that we should inconvenience the local authorities if we insist upon their having another committee which has the same status as the existing health committee, and they might find it much more convenient to have one important health committee which should have as one of its main sub-committees a maternity and child welfare sub-committee, and I am not sure that this committee would be wise in making the machinery too rigid at the start. Would it not be better to allow the local authorities to feel their way and to adopt whatever methods they think may be most convenient for their purpose? At the same time, it may be that an indication should be put in the Bill that there ought to be a special committee or sub-committee dealing with maternity and child-welfare questions, leaving it open to the local authority to work them in with their existing machinery, and perhaps my right hon. Friend, if he favours that idea at all, will consider it between now and the Report stage.
The other point that has been raised is whether there should be co-option, and, if so, whether it compulsory. Co-option is a comparatively new experiment 233 in our local government system. I believe in many cases it has worked well with regard to education, and that people have been brought in to share in the work of education whose assistance would not otherwise have been forthcoming, and who have rendered very useful service. On the other hand, as has been said, it has its dangers. One danger is that it may deter candidates from coming forward. They may be told by their friends on the council, "You need not trouble to stand because of your interest in education, or health, or whatever it may be. We will see that you are co-opted on to the committee," and so you may weaken the personnel of the local authorities for the bulk of the work they have to do. I confess I should like to see co-option tested a good deal more before being made compulsory. I should not like to stop it altogether. It seems a useful experiment, but the proposal of the Government seems to me to be going too far. I quite agree that these committees dealing with maternity and child welfare will certainly be ineffective unless they have women upon them, and perhaps the Local Government Board by circular might impress upon the local authorities, if they have the power of co-option, where they have not elected women members to serve on these special committees and sub-committees, that they should co-opt women, but it is far better that women should be elected as members of the council themselves for all purposes, and should serve on these particular sub-committees as one part of their function.
§ Colonel W. THORNE
I myself have always set my face against co-option, but I think on this occasion I shall have to give way and support Sub-section (2) of Clause 2, because it does appear to me that, unless there is some form of co-option, it will mean that there will be no possibility of women being selected to sit on these committees at all. If there were a number of women elected to sit on these local bodies in different parts of the country, certainly I should vote against this particular co-option. The council I represent, fortunately, have one woman on it, but if you take all the local authorities in the country, I do not think you will find at the outside more than half a dozen where women sit on them, and as this Bill affects women and children, it seems to me women should be compulsorily co-opted, because it has been 234 my experience that there is a great deal of antipathy to women sitting on committees of any kind by some of the local authorities. Some of them seem to think they have all the brains in the world, and that women have no brains at all, but in my experience I have found that women have as much brains, and, in some cases, a great deal more than the men, and, therefore, I hope the President will stick to this particular principle for the time being, and make it compulsory for women to be co-opted on these maternity committees.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I think it ought to be made perfectly clear what our position is. If the effect of the Amendment before the Committee were to do away altogether with the power of co-opting members, I should be opposed to it, but I do not think that would be the effect of the Amendment. It only throws us back on the provisions of the Act of 1915, under which the appointment to the committee of persons who are not members of the council is optional, and, if I understand this discussion rightly, it is that the provision to co-opting members shall be optional, rather than compulsory, and that is the whole question. The Amendment before the Committee is one supported by the Association of Municipal Corporations, which represent a large proportion of the local authorities in the country. I understand from them that, while they quite accept the principle of authorising co-option where it is desired by the local authorities, they certainly object to it being compulsorily thrust upon them, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to meet us, at any rate, to some extent. I quite appreciate the point of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) that possibly it would he better in the Bill to indicate the kind of committee, but that is a matter of form and not of substance. The real matter of substance is whether co-opted members shall be compulsory or optional, and, as I strongly support the view of the local authorities that it should be optional rather than compulsory, I support the Amendment in the way suggested by my right hon. Friend so as to meet the objections raised.
On a point of Order. Would it not make matters rather more rapid if I were to withdraw my Amendment, which is to leave out the whole of 235 the Clause, after the first "1915"? What we are actually discussing, I think, is whether we shall have "may" or "shall" in Sub-section (2). Would it not be better for me to withdraw my Amendment, which I shall be pleased to do, and for the Committee to take the discussion on "may" or "shall"?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that would bring the discussion more to a definite point. I was anxious to give an opportunity in the first instance to consider the various schemes. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will ask leave to withdraw?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir C. WARNER
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the word "shall" ["the council shall also appoint"], and to insert instead thereof the word "may."
I have said what I wish to say, and this Amendment is to bring up the question as to whether or not the local authorities shall be obliged to co-opt. Some of my hon. Friends think they ought to be obliged to co-opt, but I think in country places that would be very awkward. I think if they have the option in every case, they will co-opt women.
§ Mr. J. W. WILSON
Would it not be possible to combine the two? In many local bodies where there are already suitable women members, it is unnecessary, but in other cases, where there are no women already represented on the council, then it might be a case of compulsory co-option. I think we are all agreed that anything that would tend to increase the representation of women on these local authorities would be all to the good from a health point of view, but where a council has been progressive enough to have suitable members within its own body, both male and female, for these committees, the need for co-option would disappear.
§ Sir R. NEWMAN
May I point out that it is almost unnecessary to put in the word "shall"? Although county councils in our counties—I do not know about large cities such as London—have the power of co-opting women, I hardly know a case where they have done it. I think ladies now can serve on the district 236 councils, but I do not know of a single lady district councillor. Therefore, I think all this points to the fact that we ought to have some compulsion ma matter of this sort.
We have been discussing two points. We appear to have decided one. Whether we knew we had decided it or not, I am not sure, but my right hon. Friend opposite pointed out there were two questions we had to discuss and decide. The first was whether local authorities ought to be compelled to create these committees for carrying out the maternity and child-welfare policy. That question has been decided, and we have got by that point. It might have been possible to have followed the Scottish measure, and to have left it perfectly optional to the local authority whether or not to appoint a committee. The Scottish system is that the local authorities are not obliged to appoint any committee to carry out these duties, but, if they do appoint a committee, then they must co-opt women on that committee. It is a case of "shall." We have decided as to that part of the Clause which compels local authorities to appoint a committee to carry out these duties. What we are now discussing is whether or not the local authority, in appointing a committee, shall or shall not co-opt women and others who are not members of the authority on that committee to carry out these duties.
The policy of the Local Government Board as regards these committees generally is laid down in the Local Government Board booklet, entitled "Maternity and Child Welfare," and there we commend to the authorities the desirability of appointing a separate committee to carry out these duties, and that this committee should contain a majority of direct representatives of the local authority. We say that to meet the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir W. Collins), who lays it down very strongly—and I entirely agree with him—so that the elected members should have control over all expenditure, and, unless you have a strong majority on these bodies to carry out the maternity and child-welfare policy, you are not assured that the electors control their own policy and the expenditure of their own rates. Then we go on to say it should contain adequate representation of working women, and we point out how to obtain 237 working women on these committees. I am no opponent of a reasonable system of co-option on one or two committees—certainly on the education committee—and I am now a very warm advocate, indeed, of a certain reasonable amount of co-option, especially of women, on the public health committees of our local authorities.
I admit there is a danger that if you have a very large process of co-option people will say, "I think I am pretty sure to be co-opted, and, there fore, I will not face an election." There is real danger of that. But, on the other hand, you have to remember that many of the most devoted women I have met recently in connection with this work never will face all the turmoil and unpleasantness of an election, and, therefore, you will not obtain their services to the fullest extent. They may work as volunteers on a committee, but you will not obtain their services to the fullest extent unless local authorities have power to co-opt them for public health purposes, and there never were duties more peculiarly suited for women than those dealt with under this Bill. Take, for instance, the power to set up homes in which unmarried women and their children can be kept together. If you are to have any success for a policy of that kind you must have women to carry it out. I need not go through the whole string of powers to show that unless you have women on your committees who are by nature and experience accustomed to deal with the work you cannot hope to be successful. Then comes me question, Shall it be "shall" or "may"? Are you to leave it to the option of the local authorities whether or not they shall appoint women on these committees? It must be borne in mind that the great majority of these authorities have refused to appoint these committees at all, and I am afraid that one of the reasons which induced them not to appoint the committees was that if they did so they would be bound to put women upon them. There is a disinclination at the present time to make full use of the feminine quality in local government. I thnk that feeling is likely to disappear after the next election, as women will have something to say upon it in all probability.
But I have come to the conclusion that on the whole it will be better for the Government to adhere to their Bill. If 238 these powers are to be enforced it is necessary that local authorities shall appoint committees to carry them out. On those committees the local authority will be represented to the extent of two-thirds, while women and others specially qualified for this work will constitute the remaining third. I think that is a plan well worth trying. I do not think any of these policies we are discussing now are likely to be of a very permanent nature. I hope the day will come when this House will establish a Ministry of Health and when it will consider the whole of its health policy. By that time we shall have obtained a good deal of experience as to how these powers have been working, how they have operated, and whether co-option has turned out to be as successful as I think it will prove or as lamentable a failure as the hon. Member for Derby seems to fear it may be. We shall have gained a great deal of experience which will be of value when Parliament comes to reconsider the whole question; and, guided by that experience, Parliament will be able to frame an Act which will deal suitably with the whole question of the public health of the country. I must adhere to the Bill as it stands. So far as I can gather the opinion of this Committee, I think that in doing so I am probably adopting the views of the majority. I certainly prefer the scheme of the Bill to that embodied in the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Durham, which only applies to county councils, the sole bodies compelled by Statute to set up public health committees. Quite clearly that Amendment would not cover the ground at all.
The Amendment applies to county councils only. We have to deal with all the local authorities which are intended to use the powers conferred by this Bill. I hope they will use them, and I suggest that the machinery set up must be adequate to enable them all to do so.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Then are we to understand that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Durham will be considered later?
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I was going to say a word about "shall" or "may." I am glad my right hon. Friend has decided to adhere to the words of the Bill. I think we are all agreed that the principle of co-option is an exceedingly valuable one in connection with these local authorities. There are large numbers of persons with expert knowledge, on matters such as education and maternity who, for one reason or another, do not care to go upon local authorities. It may be that they are not specially fitted to fulfil all the duties cast upon them as members of a local authority. But they are eminently fitted to help local authorities on certain special matters on which they are experts. I believe that state of things will go on permanently, notwithstanding the addidition of women to the election lists. It seems reasonable to my mind that women with special knowledge and special qualifications should be called in to help the members of local authorities on matters on which they are specially qualified. Therefore, I regard the principle of co-option as most valuable. No doubt my right hon. Friend has good reason for holding that the co-option principle should be made compulsory, but, as he said, there are many cases where the local authorities will not bring in these people from outside.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Then the principle of co-option is desirable I am glad, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman sticks to the word "shall" as against "may," and that he is going to adhere to the words of the Bill and to insist that women who are specially qualified to deal with these particular subjects shall be brought in to assist the committees.
§ Sir C. WARNER
In view of the expression of opinion by the President of the Local Government Board, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Leave to withdraw refused.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
There is one point I wish to suggest for the consideration of the Committee. It is one thing to say that women must be on these committees. 240 There are very strong arguments in favour of that. But it is another thing to say there must be co-option in all cases. Supposing there are a number of women already on the council. They may be willing to serve on the committee and yet it will still be compulsory to co-opt women from outside. My hon. Friend must remember we are now legislating for a series of years, and it is not therefore sufficient to suggest that there are very few councils at the present time on which women have been elected. This Bill may be in operation for ten or fifteen years. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Worcestershire (Mr. J. W. Wilson) threw out a suggestion which I think deserves more consideration. If the word "may" were inserted here, and if the latter part of the Sub-section were to remain as it stands, his idea would be carried into effect. You would then have a Clause which would read, "The council may also appoint as members of the committee persons specially qualified by training or experience who are not members of the council, and the maternity and child welfare committees shall include women members." You would therefore make it compulsory on the local authorities to have women on their committees, and if they were not able to put on women from among their own members they would be obliged to co-opt. That is really what a good many of us desire, and I would suggest to the President of the Local Government Board whether that is not the best course to pursue. A good many members of the Committee do not wish to compel local authorities to co-opt where they have among their own members suitable women quite willing to serve on these committees. With respect to the other point, we passed the word "shall" earlier in the Clause because of the somewhat sudden withdrawal without much consideration of the Amendment then before the Committee, but when we come to the Report stage perhaps my right hon. Friend will be willing to consider the desirability of inserting words compelling the local authorities to establish these committees.
§ Mr. ROWNTREE
I hope the President will carefully consider the suggestion. We are all agreed that in the present position it is very important indeed there shall not be any jarring notes on this question. I have had a communication from the York Council, in which they say they prefer the 241 Amendment suggested by my right hon. Friend, and I hope the President will carefully consider it before the Report stage.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I too would like to support the suggestion. I have had the same sort of communication from the Burnley Council, which is moat interested in matters of this kind. They strongly feel it may be unnecessary to co-opt members if they have women members on the council. I think we should be going too far in declaring that whatever may be the composition of a council in every case women must be co-opted from outside to serve on these committees.
I have given most careful consideration to the suggestion, but I would remind my right hon. Friend there are still a good many of these authorities that have not properly constituted public health committees. They have some kind of sanitary committees, and that is all. However, that is a matter we will look into between now and the Report stage. I cannot think there is much in the suggestion as regards "may" and "shall." After all, the proposal is that the council shall be compelled to appoint a certain number of persons, specially qualified by training and experience, on committees dealing with health and maternity, and if they already have women upon their boards they can be put on these committees. The great thing is that the council will be obliged where they have no women members to co-opt women on these committees.
Supposing there are women already on the council whom the council could appoint and put upon the committee; then the matter will be in accordance with the Act of Parliament, which says that qualified women shall be so appointed.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have not made myself clear, I think. Supposing there are such women, then the Bill nevertheless would compel the authority to co-opt other outsiders. Am I right in understanding that?
It is quite easy. With these qualified women on the council the council can place them upon the committee. 242 Undoubtedly the Bill empowers the council to appoint as members of the committee other persons not on the council specially qualified by training, and so on, for these peculiar duties. There are citizens whom it might be very desirable indeed to have upon these committees, whom up to the present the local authorities have not shown any desire to appoint on these committees. They have not shown themselves very desirous of availing themselves of the great experience and zeal of persons who are particularly qualified for this class of work, but who, for one reason or other, which perhaps we all understand, have not cared to face an election. They will possibly be less likely to face an election in the future with the largely increased duties put upon local authorities.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am sorry to hear what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman—and I think many Members will agree with me—because we have not hitherto in this country had compulsion to co-opt men on bodies dealing with such questions as maternity questions. The position will be that, supposing there are a number of women and you are obliged to co-opt some men, you will give as a reason for doing so that they are specially qualified in maternity and child welfare; the result will be that you will compel the local authority to co-opt people that it does not want to co-opt, or, after it has got the leading men and the leading women of the district who are really very diligent in these matters you will still compel the local authority, whether they like it or not, to go outside and find somebody else to put upon the committee. Representations have been made to me on this subject, and I feel sure that if it were optional it would be better. I quite understand my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham. We shall certainly get women on. I think the electorate will see to that. There is a case for making it compulsory that there shall be some women on a committee of this kind; but I cannot but think that the working will be very unfortunate of a Clause which compels you to go outside and elect some men. Can you say that any man is specially qualified to put on a committee because of his special experience? You can say that about every married man. There is nothing in the work that tells against that suggestion. It is quite clear that you are selecting certain women. We know exactly what the 243 paragraph means in relation to them, and it will be loyally observed. These women will be most welcome. If the authority had to co-opt women we all know some women who would be put on the committee, but if it has to co-opt men, where would it find them? I support the middle suggestion put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland.
§ Sir W. MIDDLEBROOK
We have heard what the President of the Local Government Board has said and also the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland. I am sure the suggestion will receive the support of municipal corporations, urban district councils, and others, that the word "shall," in the second line of the Subsection, shall be altered into "may," and that "shall," in the penultimate line of the Sub-section, shall be retained. The effect of that will be that there must be women upon these committees, and that if there are women members of the council appointed to the committee it is then not essential to select other women from outside to add to the body.
I do not know about the words making it obligatory on the council to appoint as members of the committee persons specially qualified by training unless the Local Government Board is satisfied that the committee already has appointed persons specially qualified to do this kind of work. I will consider the position from that point of view between now and the Report Stage. I believe that, after all, we all want the same thing. We want to be absolutely satisfied that this committee will appoint persons specially qualified to carry out this very work. You do not want to make that obligatory if the council will do it of its own accord.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman is going to consider the matter again. It would be throwing a very invidious duty upon the Local Government Board to go into the qualifications of members of a committee of this kind. I rather suspect the local authorities would not like it that someone in Whitehall should have the power to say that Mr. So-and-so is specially qualified for co-optation, and also that the local authority must co-opt somebody from outside. Perhaps he will confine his reconsideration to requiring them to appoint women in all cases, and will make the 244 co-option at the discretion of the local authorities. However, the matter cam well be left over until the Report stage.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The following Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of Major HILLS: In Sub-section. (2) to leave out the words "and members of the insurance committees concerned."
§ Mr. BOOTH
I think the Amendment should be moved, and I desire to move it unless the hon. and gallant Member is prepared to do so himself. Insurance committees are county committees, and when you say "the insurance committees concerned," what is the insurance committee for a given urban district or even a given borough? In London the case is different to the country. Take the West Riding of Yorkshire. I represent Pontefract, and included in my Constituency is the urban district of Knottingley. The latter would be the authority under this Bill. The insurance committee for the West Riding sits at Wakefield. It includes our district. I submit that you could not elect members of the county committees to these smaller authorities.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), after the word "committees" ["the insurance committees concerned"], to insert the words "and public assistance authorities."
I do this because it is the fact that Poor Law authorities, in the fulfilment of the duties as guardians of the poor, have the care of and the providing for many women and children such as this Bill is intended to benefit. That being so, it is appropriate and necessary, as proposed by the Amendment, that these bodies should be represented on the committee of management. The fact that guardians are directly intended for the care of the poor altogether, and the experience and personal knowledge of the feelings and wishes of the poor of the members, in my opinion, specially qualifies such men and women for work on these committees. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment. I need hardly say that Poor Law guardians have, especially of recent years, shown 245 great solicitude for the welfare of the children. Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman gave figures to the House which showed that a very large number of children have been put into cottage homes and boarded out by Poor Law authorities. The progressive spirit shown by these bodies in recent years in their care of the children and their knowledge of the poorest women and children who have to be dealt with under this Bill eminently qualifies them for the work. It may be said that boards of guardians as bodies are quite separate from the council that will administer the Bill. I still, however, think it is necessary that on the committee elected by the council representatives of the Poor Law authorities should be able to deal closely with matters connected with the children designed to be benefited by this Bill. It is most important that their help and their opinion should be forthcoming in any of the decisions of the committee. By the acceptance of the Amendment I believe the right hon. Gentleman will secure a better provision and more suitable treatment for the very poorest mothers and children whom he, and we all, wish to benefit.
The last Amendment struck out the words "and members of the insurance committees concerned"; therefore, they must put women on these committees and women only. Now, my hon. Friend, who is always the champion of Poor Law authorities and Poor Law guardians, seeks to put on representatives of the Poor Law authorities. I think that would be a mistake, just as it would be a mistake to accept the next Amendment, which would compel them to put on a certified midwife and a representative of the district nursing association. I think we should leave them full scope in regard to this matter, and I am afraid the local authority would rather resent this proposal. I do not propose to accept any Amendment which compels the authority to put any representative on these committees except with regard to sex.
§ Sir J. AINSWORTH
I wish to say a word in support of what has been said by the hon. Member for Tavistock, who has paid a great deal of attention to what has been done by local authorities, and who has had enough experience to induce the House to pay serious attention to his suggestion. By far the best authorities 246 for dealing with these cases are the Poor Law authorities, and no public authority throughout the country has done so much as boards of guardians to provide for these very cases. I can speak with regard to boards of guardians in my own district. I dare say that the House is aware that all boards are considerably alarmed at the proposal from another quarter to scrap the boards of guardians and throw the whole of their work——
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I am extremely sorry the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept my Amendment. The Poor Law authorities already have charge of a very large number of child cases, and by this Bill you are really dispossessing them of the work they have hitherto done. I am quite willing that they should co-operate with the local authorities, and help them by giving them the benefit of their experience, which is absolutely necessary in order to secure successful administration of the Bill. With great reluctance, I feel so strongly on this question that I shall have to divide the Committee on it.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I hope my hon. Friend will not do that. I have never given a vote against the guardians, and I want to join with him in making an appeal on their behalf. This Amendment was put down to a rather different Bill to what it is now. The smaller authorities have now been admitted under the Bill, and if the county had been retained as the area, and if the members of insurance committees had been left in, there was a case also for putting some guardians on these committees, but now every urban district is a separate authority. Take my own union of Pontefract, for example, where I sat on the guardians for many years. In that union there may be twenty or thirty authorities dealing with these cases. If a district council, in setting up a certain committee, must co-opt some guardians, what is the answer if the authority says, "You co-opt some of our members on the committee dealing with the workhouse"? Seeing that all the local authorities are brought in, you cannot expect that all the district councils should co-opt guardians on these committees, and this Amendment, I am sure, will not lead to pleasant relations. If the Amendment 247 had been in a certain form I would have supported it, but I appeal to my hon. Friend, owing to the alteration which has created a larger number of authorities, not to press this Amendment.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
The hon. Member who has just sat down has used an argument which holds good in regard to a rural district, but not in the case of an urban district, because there the council and the board of guardians are two separate bodies. Therefore, unless a member of the board of guardians has representation on the committee, the work will be taken away from that body which they have hitherto performed to the great benefit of the poorer classes of the community. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is inclined to consider the matter on Report, and see if he cannot meet the case of guardians having representation in the case of the larger areas. I admit that the rural district is met by the alteration made in the Bill, but that does not touch the position of guardians in the larger towns. Further, the council will have none of the experience which the guardians will have gathered after doing this work for years. Unless my Amendment is accepted, the council will be deprived of the valuable experience of those who have been doing this class of work, which is essential and necessary for the proper carrying out of this measure. Would the right hon. Gentleman keep his mind open on this point until the Report stage?
§ Sir J. AINSWORTH
If the right hon. Gentleman would only undertake to take this into consideration on Report that might meet the difficulty. He might allow the committee to add to their number, and so far as the drafting is concerned, this could be easily done. The Clause reads, "Maternity and child-welfare committees shall include women and members of the insurance committees concerned." Now, if you are going to include the members of the insurance committees——
§ The CHAIRMAN
We have already decided that point, and we have left out of the Clause the words "and members of the insurance committees concerned."
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
As my hon. Friend says he is going to press this Amendment to a Division. I should like to raise a point of Order. He proposes to add the 248 words "and public assistance authorities." There is no definition he has put down as to what public assistance authorities means. It is not a term of art. I would like to ask does it include the education authorities which provide free meals for children, the old age pension committees which have a share in distributing pensions, and, if not, why not? My hon. Friend spoke as though it included boards of guardians. If so, he ought to have used the term boards of guardians. I do not think the Committee can be reasonably asked to vote upon an Amendment the meaning of which has not been defined.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the right hon. Gentleman has taken up a sound point, which I confess had escaped my notice. This term is at present quite hypothetical, and I should like to ask the hon. Member if he can refer me to any Statute which defines public assistance authorities?
§ Sir J. SPEAR
The Poor Law Authorities Association have decided that in future boards of guardians shall be called public assistance authorities.
§ The CHAIRMAN
When that body becomes the House of Commons the hon. Member will be in order, but at present I am afraid the objection is fatal.
§ Major HILLS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words "and also a certified midwife and a representative of the district nursing association."
I gather from what my right hon. Friend has already said that he cannot see his way to accept this Amendment. This measure has been substantially changed in Committee by the inclusion of the smaller local authorities, and I would like to ask if he does not think the smaller authorities would be greatly assisted if they had added to them a certified midwife and a representative of the district nursing association. I am afraid these committees will be deficient in personnel and in persons with special experience of maternity work, and for these reasons I think it is extremely important that they should be strengthened. The case might not be so strong where you are dealing with a county council or a larger authority, but where you are dealing with small local authorities I think it is important that they should be 249 strengthened, and I hope my right hon. Friend will change his mind and accept my Amendment.
I do not desire to bind the councils more than I can possibly help, and I think the only obligation that ought to be put upon them is to place some women on these committees. I do not think that they can be bound to put a certified midwife upon the committee, although if there were one likely to give good advice and who could attend and be a source of strength to the committee, I think very likely the council would co-opt her. It is the same with regard to representatives of district nursing associations, though that, again, is not exactly a term of art. There may not be a district nursing association. I do not think it would be wise to tell the council to choose certain numbers of district nursing associations. It would be better to leave those who make their name in connection with district nursing associations, and who show a great deal of tact and zeal, to find their way, as they probably would do, on to these committees. I should not like to make it an obligation upon the council to put them on the committee.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Major HILLS
I beg to move, after Subsection (3), to insert,(4) Provided that, notwithstanding anything contained in this Section, any county council to which this Act applies may, in lieu of establishing a maternity and child welfare committee, resolve that the public health and housing committee of the county council shall act in relation to the powers of the county council under this Act or under Section two of the Notification of Births (Extension) Act, 1915, and in such case the county council shall appoint as members of the public health and housing committee persons (not being members of the county council, and including at least one certified midwife, and one member of a nursing association, and one member of the insurance committee concerned) specially qualified as aforesaid, and the provisions of this Section shall apply as if the committee so constituted were a maternity and child welfare committee established under this Section.This proviso gives the county council the option of performing the duties under the present Bill by means of the health and housing committee which at present exists. All county councils are compelled to establish a health and housing committee. That obligation was laid upon them by the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1909, and since the committee is in existence there is a strong case for giving the county council the option of doing this maternity 250 work by means of such committee. I agree that for this purpose the committee should be strengthened, because under the Act of 1909 it is a committee of the county council and nothing more, and I suggest that there should be added to it co-opted members, including at least one certified midwife, one member of the district nursing association, and one member of the insurance committee. I take it, in view of what my right hon. Friend said on the last Amendment, that he cannot accept these words, but it would meet my case equally well if general co-option were allowed. At the same time, my Amendment suggests that the powers of the Notification of Births Act should also be transferred to this committee. I appeal to the Committee to support this Amendment. We have these committees existing, and if the county councils wish to carry out the present Bill by means of these committees my Amendment gives them power to do so. If they do not, they need not. If they wish to transfer the duties of the Notification of Births Act to these committees they can do so; and if they do not, they need not. If they do, the committee ought to be strengthened by co-opted members. I may perhaps say that this Amendment was sent to me on behalf of one of our important counties, and I am told that it represents the view of a large number of members of county councils.
There is a good deal of weighty argument that might be used, at all events, for the substantial portion of this Amendment. My hon. and gallant Friend heard me just now say that I would consider between now and the Report stage the question of the machinery for carrying out these duties, and particularly the question of forming a sub-committee. If my hon. and gallant Friend will allow me, I will also consider his Amendment at the same time. It may be possible that I may be able to draft some considered Amendment which will set up machinery rather better than that in the Act which applies to Scotland and Ireland. I will consider this Amendment carefully when considering the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Cleveland Division (Mr. H. Samuel).
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The Amendment only deals with county councils. I think it should also apply to councils of county 251 boroughs. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will also consider it in relation to councils of county boroughs.
As my hon. and learned Friend knows, there is no statutory obligation upon the councils of county boroughs, whereas there is upon county councils. That may create a difficulty, but I will look into the whole question between now and the Report stage.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I hope, in doing so, my right hon. Friend will pay considerable attention to that part of the Amendment referring to insurance committees. The county authority, I think, is the suitable place for members of these committees to serve, and I would like to ask for more than one member. There is a neglected provision in the Insurance Act which enables the funds of approved societies to be specially invested in housing for the members. If members of insurance committees are coupled up to the housing committee of the county council, they may be the means of suggesting the investment of insurance funds in some housing schemes, and thus making available a larger amount of money which is at present invested in London and is not used for the purpose designed by the Act. I hope my right hon. Friend will, if possible, strengthen the connection of the insurance committees with this proposal.
§ Major HILLS
I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said, and, in view of his assurance, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I notice that in the Bill as at present drawn, and from what I have heard of the discussion, that great care has been taken to include women upon these maternity and child welfare committees. Is there any provision anywhere in the Bill which makes it compulsory to have men upon them, because I think my right hon. Friend has rather forgotten the present electoral position? I am not at all sure that there will not be a majority of women voters on the next register.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
You mistrust the men to put women upon these committees. Why should you trust women to put men upon them? Are you going to argue that it is not necessary to have men upon maternity and child welfare committees? I can understand that line of argument, but if you do not say that, surely your Bill must have words providing that both men and women shall be members of the committee? If you look at the Bill, you will see that it says, "The maternity and child welfare committees shall include women." If you alter those words and say "shall consist of both men and women," you will provide against this contingency, which is by no means so remote as the present House of Commons seems to consider. I understand that women propose to stand for this House. I am not sure that they are not legally qualified to do so, and it may be that at no distant date my right hon. Friend will be supplanted by a lady as President of the Local Government Board. The question may then arise whether she will be disposed to put men upon these committees in the same accommodating way as my right hon. Friend proposes to compel men to put women upon them. Therefore, with a view of having perfect equality between the sexes which the women have always advocated, I shall upon the Report stage move some such words which I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to accept.
§ Question put, and agreed to.