HC Deb 08 December 1920 vol 135 cc2371-83

1. Where a local authority propose to hire a house compulsorily under this Act they may make an Order for the purpose in the prescribed form.

2. The Order shall be published, and twenty-one days' notice thereof shall be

In Sub-section (2), after the word "Wales" ["England and Wales"], insert the words "and Ireland."

After the word "if" ["as if had been"], insert the word "it.' —[Dr. Addison.]

given to the owner of the house, in the prescribed manner.

3. The Order shall be submitted to the Minister and shall be of no effect until it has been confirmed by him, and confirmation by the Minister shall be conclusive evidence that the requirements of this Act have been complied with, and that the Order has been duly published and made and is within the powers of this Act.

4. No compensation otherwise than by way of rent shall be payable in respect of the house compulsorily hired and in determining the amount of the rent no additional allowance shall be made on account of the hiring being compulsory.

5. The local authority shall be entitled to enter into possession of the house as soon as the Order has been confirmed by the Minister, notwithstanding that the amount of the rent has not been determined.

6. In default of agreement as to the amount of rent to be paid by the local authority, or as to the other terms of the tenancy (including the delivery up of the house in proper condition), the amount of the rent or the other terms shall be fixed by an official arbitrator appointed under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919 and the provisions of that Act shall apply for the purpose subject to such necessary adaptation as may be prescribed.

7. In fixing the amount of rent to be paid regard shall be had to any sums which may have been or may require to be spent by the local authority in putting the house into a condition reasonably fit for human habitation.

8. Where the amount which was originally estimated as sufficient to put the house into a state reasonably fit for human habitation subsequently appears to the local authority not to be sufficient for that purpose the local authority may with the consent of the Minister apply to have the rent payable reassessed by the official arbitrator.

9. In this Schedule the expression "prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister and the expression "owner" means any person who would at any time during the term for which the house is compulsorily hired have been entitled to the possession thereof if the house had not been so hired.

Amendment made: At the end of paragraph 2 add the words "and the owner shall have an opportunity of giving evidence before the Minister in opposition to the confirmation of such Order."—[Sir B. Newman.]

Session and Chapter Short Title. Extent of Repeal.
18 & 19 Vict., c. 120. The Metropolis Management Act 1855. In Section two hundred and sixteen the words "together with interest thereon after a rate not exceeding five pounds for the hundred by the year."
38 & 39 Vict. c. 55. The Public Health Act1875. In Section one hundred and forty-three the words "or at a mortuary"; in paragraph (2) of Section one hundred "and seventy-four the words" and shall "specify some pecuniary penalty to be "paid in case the terms of the contract "are not duly performed"; paragraph (3) of Section two hundred and thirty- four: in Section two hundred and fifty- seven the words" at a rate not exceeding five pounds per centum per "annum" wherever those words occur.
45 & 46 Vict. c. 50. The Municipal Corporations Act 1882. Section thirty.
46 & 47 Vict. c. 11. The Poor Law Conferences Act 1883. The whole Act.
48 & 49 Vict. c. 22. The Public Health and Local Government Conferences Act 1885 The whole Act.
54 & 55 Vict. c. 76. The Public Health (London) Act 1891. In Sub-section (2) of Section ninety the words from "but this enactment" to the end of the Sub-section.
55 & 56 Vict. c. 57. The Private Street Works Act 1892. In Section fourteen the words "at a rate" not exceeding four pounds per centum" per annum."
56 & 57 Vict. c. 9. The Municipal Corporations Act 1893. The whole Act.

I beg to move to leave out paragraph 3.

This paragraph appears to be unnecessary. It gives the Minister the right to upset the decision of local authorities when hiring houses. According to the Bill they have to hire houses and we think the Minister should not have the right to veto those powers by withholding his consent to the powers that they seek.


I beg to second the Amendment. I think this provision may create a great deal of delay and irritation as between local authorities and the Minister.


This Amendment is quite impossible. Some Department must be charged with seeing that the law is administered. The law prescribes certain safeguards in respect of property that may be compulsorily hired and it is the duty of someone to see that they are carried out. If you removed this paragraph there would be no one to see that the provisions were complied with.

Amendment negatived.

Session and Chapter. Short Title. Extent of Repeal.
62 & 63 Viet. c. 44. The Small Dwellings Acquieition Act 1899. Sub-section (3) of Section one.
9 Edw. 7, c. 44. The Housing Town Planning, & Act 1909. In Sub-section (5) of Section fifteen the words "at a rate not exceeding five pounds per centum per annum."
8 & 9 Geo. 5. c. 39. The Education Act 1918. Section thirty-eight.
9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 35. The Housing Town Planning, & Act 1919. In Sub-sections (3) and (4) of Section twenty- eight the words "at a rate not exceeding" five pounds per centum per annum."

Amendments made: At beginning of Schedule insert

6 & 7 Will IV. c. 116 (as adapted by the Local Government(Adaptation of Irish Enactments) Order 1899). The Grand Jury (Ireland) Act 1836. In Section eighty-six the words "not exceeding ninety-four pounds."
—[Mr. D. M. Wilson.]

In paragraph beginning "38 & 39 Vict. c. 55" leave out the words "in paragraph (2) of Section one hundred and seventy-four the words ' and shall specify some pecuniary penalty to be paid in case the terms of the contract are not duly performed.' "—[Dr. Addison.]


I beg to move in the paragraph beginning "38 & 39 Vict. c. 55 after the word "performed" ["not duly performed"] to insert the words in Sub-section (2) of Section one hundred and seventy-six the words ' once at the least in each of three consecutive weeks in the month of November' and the words ' in the month of December' and in Sub-section (3) of the last-cited Section the words ' and the purposes for which they are required. We proposed this Amendment upstairs but there was a slight error in the way it was presented and we propose to ask for its insertion again. Section 176 of the Public Health Act to which reference is here made makes it necessary in the regulations for the purchase of land that notice is to be given in a local newspaper once at least in three consecutive weeks in the month of November. It further makes provision for notice to be given in the month of December every year. If the local authority requires to embark on any transaction it must comply with these provisions and it might be that it would have to wait until the period came round. We propose that this should be inserted in the Schedule and should be among the enactments of the Bill in order to give local authorities their freedom to effect transactions which are embodied in that Clause.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Colonel WILSON

I do not understand the situation. This Amendment is quite in order but it is consequential to the proposed new Clause which the hon. Member put on the Paper and that new Clause has not been put in the Bill so that the Amendment cannot be inserted.


In Section 176 of the Public Health Act referred to in this Schedule there is a condition imposed on a local authority desirous of purchasing land that it shall put a notice in a newspaper in the month of November and give notice to the owner of the land in December. Unless it gives notice at that time it cannot effect the purchase that year. We desire to repeal this in order to give local authorities freedom all the year round.


As there are two Law Officers here is this not done may I ask by the Acquisition of Land Act. Is it at all necessary for a local authority to still carry out these advertisements in the paper in November and the old fashioned procedure? I rather think that subsequent Statutes have been passed by both Houses which abolish the need for this.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Ernest Pollock)

It would be very inconvenient to make the alteration proposed. The reasons for the notices which are issued in November and December is in order that due and sufficient notice may be given in respect of Provisional Orders and other matters concerning Bills which are submitted to Parliament and of which the season of November and December is suitable because in the ordinary course Bills are submitted to the House then for the Session which always begins at some time like February. In due course the Bills and Provisional Orders pass before a Committee of this House. Otherwise the business of the House might be considerably interfered with. That is way provision is made that the notices shall take place at that time so that these persons who have got to receive notice shall have an adequate opportunity of preparing their cases which they have to bring to the Committees of the House.

"41 & 42 Vict. c. 52. The Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878. In Section one hundred and fifty-nine the words 'or at a mortuary '; paragraph(3) of Section two hundred and thirty-eight; in Section two hundred and fifty-five the words 'at a rate not exceeding five pounds per centum per annum ' wherever those words occur."— [Mr. D. M Wilson.]

Leave out the paragraphs beginning "45 & 46 Vict. c. 50" "46 & 47 Vict. c. 11" "48 & 49 Vict. c. 22."

In paragraph beginning "55 & 56 Vict. c. 57" after the word "In" ["In" Section fourteen"] insert the words "Section thirteen the words 'at the

"9 & 10 Geo. V., c.45 The Housing (Ireland) Act,1919. In Sub-sections (3) and (4) of Section twenty-three the words ' at a rate not exceeding five per cent per annum.' "— [Mr. D. M. Wilson.]

Motion made and Question proposed "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I am surprised that the Government intend to take the Third Reading of this very long Bill at this hour of the morning. We did not understand that they were going to take the Third Reading as well as the Report stage. We understood that they were going to proceed with the next six Orders. If you are going to take the Third Reading now I think it rather a scandal that the only time the Government ever give to

It would be quite an unfortunate practice if in a Schedule of a Bill relating to public health we were to alter the practice and procedure which has obtained for a long time and which is convenient to Members of this House.


It is not convenient to local authorities who want to buy land.


We must have some regard to regulations and to the convenience of the Members of this House. Members could not be asked to sit on a Committee at any time that the local authorities might think fit to bring forward a Bill and put in their notice. I think it is better these words should be retained.

Amendment negatived.

Further Amendments made: After the paragraph beginning "38 & 39 Vict. c. 55" insert:

rate of four pounds per centum per annum' and in."

Leave out paragraphs beginning "56& 57 Vict. c/" and "8 & 9 Geo.5 c. 39."—[Dr. Addison.]

At the end of paragraph beginning 9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 35" insert:the Ministry of Health for their Bills are these hours in the middle of the night. I hope that other Members of the House will protest on that ground. There are many points which ought to be examined on this Bill. It will probably receive very rough treatment in another place because it has not been properly discussed in this House. We have been continually passing legislation in these Ministry of Health Bills in a most imperfect form because we have to legislate in this way. We took the Second Reading the Report stage and the Third Reading of the new Insurance Act abolishing sanatorium benefit all in the middle of the night. What happened? I have in my constituency to-day clerks who administered sanatorium benefit who are now to be thrown out.


That statement is entirely incorrect. The sanatorium benefit is going to be continued to 30th April. I say that in order that he may disillusion the clerks.


I am very glad to have that explanation. A couple of months ago the right hon. Gentleman could not give me that assurance. We ought to have inserted the provision then. That is just the sort of thing that happens and is forgotten when we are legislating under these conditions. I rise now to protest most vigorously to the Leader of the House and to those responsible for arranging the business of the House for taking this Health Bill with these complicated matters of local administration under these conditions with less than 100 Members in the House.


I want to join in the protest which has just been made. It is the second or third experience we have had of sitting through the night and discussing questions of public health. We are entitled to ask that some more reasonable sense of proportion in the importance of public Departments should be recognised in this House. The Ministry of Health is entitled to just as much consideration as the War Office and if we come to a close analysis it is entitled to a good deal more because the one is endeavouring to preserve the health and life of the community and the other is engaged in a destructive policy. My protest is more directed against the Bill as it stands. The Bill when it was introduced into the House did not go very far and it met with a tornado of hostile criticism on the lines of economy. In response the Minister had to run away from his own supporters and throw over one-half of the cargo of the Bill. It went upstairs and when it came down here there were four provisions of the Bill which might be of some value—the housing Clause the hospital Clause the Clause for treating mental disorders and the Clause which effects expenses of members of local authorities. What virtue there was in the housing Clause has been taken away by the rateable limitation that actually no houses which are required will come inside that provision. The Clause for mental disorders is not worth anything. It is of no more value than the paper it is printed upon. The hospital Clause is altogether unsatisfactory and the Clause relating to payment of members of local authorities has been swept off altogether. When the Bill was introduced it could have been made something in the nature of a useful and ameliorative measure but any virtue it had has very largely gone out of it. If the electors of the country are willing to criticise Bills wholly and solely on the expenditure involved—and I agree it was very largely magnified and the House was scared although there was no great measure of expenditure in the Bill; I think it is safe to say that the whole volume of expenditure under this Bill has been spent in one month in military operations—if the electors of this country are satisfied to have economy practiced at the expense and neglect of education and public health they will have to pay for it in the future.


I wish to join in the protest against taking the Third Reading of the measure at this time. These measures of the Ministry of Health almost invariably have to take a second-and often a third-rate position in the programme of His Majesty's Government. This particular Bill as I know and as the Minister has said has been demanded by various local authorities for nearly the last twelve months. As far back as last June the Minister himself promised that he would bring in legislation to deal with unoccupied houses. It is to be regretted that realising the necessity of legislation on these lines it should be the end of December that we have to deal with this measure and then in the early hours of the morning. These questions of social well-being to some of us are the things that matter. I protest against a Government which is a Government of reconstruction leaving its reconstruction to the fag end of a Session and in the early hours of the morning when other things which make for waste and which do not matter take pride of place in consideration.


If we take a reasonable view the Minister is perfectly right on insisting on the Third Reading. I have never known a Bill that has been more thoroughly discussed. We sat £or weeks upstairs threshing it out word by word. The discussion was minute and meticulous and we got it threshed out thoroughly. I think it is a very useful Bill. Indeed it is a Bill which is designed to meet one of the most terrible problems of the times and speaking for myself I congratulate the Minister on the conspicuous courage and ability with which he has steered it.

Captain ELLIOT

I cannot agree with all that the hon. Member has just said but I wish to congratulate the Minister for the efforts he has made to deal with the question of waiting lists. Any effort we can make in this House in that direction even at this hour in the morning is sufficient justification for this Bill which has been carried. I join in the protest which has been made against the late hours at which these great measures are taken. It seems to me if they would put them at the front of their programme instead of the way in which they have been taking them in the past few months the Government would be more popular in the country than it is to-day I know the Minister of Health is doing his best and I heartily congratulate him on the courage he has shown in pressing forward this very urgent and necessary matter but I do think that the Government might give time for these great matters affecting in this case some £12000000 or £15000000 per annum of public revenue to be discussed at a time when the whole House could be here instead of at a time such as this when as a previous speaker has said we are only waiting for the tubes to start to take us home.


I have only one protest to make. I am sure that the Minister in charge of the Bill will not take this protest as directed against himself but I was not on the Committee upstairs and I think that it was unfortunate when this Bill came before the House on the Report stage that we were told that the Minister could not possibly accept any of the new Clauses put down because of an undertaking he had given in the Committee upstairs. That strikes a serious blow at the Report stage of a Bill. This Bill has been very much mutilated upstairs. We hoped we might get some Clauses altered when it came downstairs again but the Minister has told us that he was unable to accept any Clause on account of the undertaking given to the Committee upstairs. You Mr. Speaker under those circumstances thought that it would not be worth while considering these new Clauses and they were all withdrawn. This may be all very well on one Bill but I trust that this procedure may not be followed on the Report stage of other Bills. It encroaches on the rights and privileges of the ordinary Members of this House.

Lieut-Colonel FREMANTLE

I beg the House to allow me to say just one word as regards the whole genesis of this Bill and its imposition in the Legislature of the country. We must remember that the Ministry of Health was formed "with a very great pronouncement and with universal approbation. The country was told that it was to be a real Ministry of Health not simply the Local Government Board carried on under another name and that it was to co-ordinate all the health services of the country and to work them altogether and to make them became a far greater force than ever before. This Bill is a very poor vindication of that declaration. It is not the fault of the Minister in charge of this Bill nor of the Government in the mass of legislation before us but I do not think that we who are specially concerned in the public health of the country are bound to point out that this is a Very inadequate instalment of that undertaking. The Government must be asked seriously to consider the question of putting forward some of the proposals in order to vindicate the undertaking. It cannot be vindicated in a miscellaneous Bill of this sort which brings together all the scattered types of opposition on 26 subjects from 26 different points of experience. It may be described as ten different Bills. If so the Government ought to find time for each of those Bills but I do not know how they can. We are bound to point out that there are enormous commitments overdue in view of all the declarations made. Tuberculosis has been shelved time and time again. The Milk and Dairies (Prevention) Bill was past in 1915 after many years as the first instalment of the prevention of tuberculosis. Again that has been shelved this year. Then there is the question of Poor Law organisation. The organisation of the local authorities has again been shelved and we have the whole scheme for the organisation of the medical services waiting for all these things. We have got the Third Reading of this Bill, in an emasculated form.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.