§ Order for consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
I beg to move, to leave out the words "now considered" and to add instead thereof the word "re-committed." 2701 I am not moving, of course, the final rejection of this Bill, because it has been subjected to consideration by Committees of both Houses. But I do respectfully submit that when these Committees considered the Bill they did not appear to remember what had been for long, save in very exceptional circumstances, the rule in dealing with the amalgamation of adjacent boroughs. That rule has been given effect to over a long series of years. It is this: that there has to be substantial agreement between the parties with the larger borough which proposes to incorporate the smaller district, unless it can be shown that the smaller district is really an offshoot of the larger borough, or that its inhabitants are composed of those who work in the larger borough, and who have gone out into the county district for the purpose either of greater salubriety or perhaps—of course, this is not said in this case—for the purpose of avoiding the heavy burdens of municipal life while they are really to all intents and purposes a part of the larger borough. Except in cases of that kind, I know of no case in past days of any borough being compulsorily seized, held by the larger borough, and incorporated with it, where there has been almost practical unanimity on the part of the smaller borough in opposition to the proposed incorporation. There is no doubt that that is the case in Leith. The opposition in Leith is of a very strong and grave character. There is almost complete unanimity on the part of the inhabitants of Leith. Therefore a question of principle is involved that goes to affect all future legislation in regard to municipal boroughs. The questtion is one of principle with which it is necessary the whole House should deal. That principle has not been fully considered or given full effect to by these two Committees.
There was quite recently a principle laid down which was merely the enunciation of an old and well-tried principle in these amalgamations of boroughs. It was a Committee appointed at the instance of His Majesty's Government composed of Members of great experience drawn from both Houses of Parliament, and they laid down that, subject to special considerations of public advantage, no Provisional Order or other extension should be brought before Parliament for confirmation which had not previously received the 2702 substantial support of the ratepayers in the areas proposed to be incorporated. That is a very wise principle which has not been given effect to in this case. That is a principle which applies to Imperial affairs, and it has been applied in Ireland, where we refused to incorporate districts which did not wish to be specificially incorporated one with the other. The principle of self-determination can be rightly and properly applied in municipal areas as well as in areas of greater extension.
Any Scotsman who knows the history of Edinburgh and Leith knows that each has its own municipal history and patriotism, and has grown up justly proud of its own corporate life. Each has its own ideals and its own notions of what is the efficient conduct of municipal life and what is not, and there are fundamental differences of opinion between them. Edinburgh is a city of learning, academic and ancient, while Leith is a commercial, busy mercantile town. The two are totally different, and the mere juxtaposition in geographical position has no real bearing on the necessity or the desirability of incorporating or amalgamating these two boroughs, one of which is intensely hostile to the proposal. There is no particular charm in adding a large block of a city to one municipal control. The City of London itself is divided into innumerable boroughs and corporations, all of which are well-conducted, and there is considerable advantage in this arrangement. The Leith people believe in the smaller borough, where they can get the cream of the business men of Leith to take an interest in municipal affairs. They believe that they reach a higher standard of efficiency and get greater consideration for municipal affairs than they would get if they were a small section of a very much larger town.
The cry has been made against the Leith people that this is purely a matter of sentiment. I have heard mankind described as being a creature of sentiment who used his reason to justify his sentiment. Sentiment is the basis of all patriotism, local as well as Imperial, and if this free Parliament forces this amalgamation upon Leith and drives them into the arms of their neighbour, you are doing a very grave injury to the cause of municipal life in all parts of these islands, and you are killing the free growth of municipal patriotism of which Leith is one of 2703 the most shining examples in Scotland. This has been tested over and over again. This is not the first time that the great municipality of Edinburgh has endeavoured to incorporate Leith. This matter goes back to early in last century, when Leith first got full liberty from the hands of Edinburgh, and again in the forties a similar attempt was tried, and once more as recently as 1896.
Practically all the evidence which was placed before this Committee was brought forward again, and it was the same evidence that was given prior to 1896 before a Committee just as wise and competent, and they took the old-fashioned view which has been enunciated that if Leith did not want to be incorporated she should not be forced. It is a fundamental principle in municipal life that if a municipality expresses its desire to be left alone, that desire shall be given effect to if their views have been clearly and unmistakably expressed. There has been a plébiscite in Leith on this question to which nobody can take exception as to the way in which it was taken, or the fact that it represented the views of the people of Leith, because there was an overwhelming majority, something like 87 per cent., against the proposal. After the Committee of another place had expressed the view in favour of this Bill, a second plébiscite was taken, and that was even more decisive against this proposed incorporation.
I know that we have technically the legal right, but what moral right has this House or a Committee of this House to force the people of Leith into a position of this kind, and compel them against their practically unanimous wish to be driven into a corporate life which they clearly and unmistakably express their desire not to be associated with? If Edinburgh wishes this municipal match to take place, she must woo the borough and get her consent, and the thing must be done in decency and order. That has not been done, and it is proposed to do this against her wishes. The argument has been used that there are Joint Commissions for various public services, and that these are municipal enterprises over large areas. It is true that they go well into the counties, but may I point out that that is the way these matters work in London where they are worked by separate Commissions, and they are 2704 worked admirably? Edinburgh in these matters is the predominant partner, and she has nothing to lose by that arrangement. In this controversy we have treated one another with the utmost respect and courtesy. Each municipality has expressed the highest opinion of the other's municipal activities; in fact, it has been the politest municipal controversy that was ever conducted. Notwithstanding this, however, one side said, "We do not wish to come into your municipality," but the other side insisted upon it, and I say that that is going against the principle upon which these matters have been conducted in the past. I think that that principle has been temporarily forgotten. At any rate, it has not been given effect to, and the motion which I make is a very moderate and proper one. It is merely that in the light of the finding of Lord Kintore's Committee, which is a very authoritative Committee on matters of this kind, this Bill should be recommitted and considered again, and unless it can be shown, which I submit it has not been in the evidence, that some new and startling doctrine has come to life proving that Edinburgh and Leith will perish if not joined together—unless something of that kind can be shown, then these two parties must remain municipally separate, however close they are geographically, until Edinburgh has succeeded in overcoming the objection, sentimental it may be, of the Leith people to amalgamation. Until that is done we have no right to force amalgamation on them.
Mr. C. PALMER
If I may, as an ordinary Englishman, interfere in a matter which is purely Scottish, I claim to second this proposal to refer back this Bill. We are, I assume, in favour of self-determination. A plebiscite has been taken of the Leith people, and we know they are against this attempt of the municipal maw of Edinburgh to eat up Leith. I am, in municipal as in other matters, with the small man and the under dog, and I think no sufficient case has been made out why, even though Leith may be represented here in a way, it is, and that I understand is the main thing said against it, by the hon. and gallant Member on the Front Opposition Bench (Captain Benn) it has a right to claim that justice shall be done, and we should support them if they desire not to be forced into this unholy marriage with 2705 Edinburgh. I am old enough to remember when the late Mr. Ritchie brought up his great scheme of London local government, the object of which was to create local pride in local affairs, to interest the people of the locality in the government of the locality and in the local matters which concern them. But this is a new attempt at municipal trusts. It lets in a principle of working which, I think, will be found vicious and unsatisfactory. Some of us believe that these little municipalities should be left still to work out their own salvation. Leith having been asked what its wishes are has determined that it desires to remain separate, in spite of grandiloquent and grandiose Edinburgh wishing to absorb the locality. We have a right to ask the protection of Parliament, so that these little burghs may be allowed to carry on their own affairs in their own way. I have received, as no doubt many hon. Members have received, two very remarkable documents, one of them sent by an hon. and gallant Member of this House. As to that I will not inquire too closely into either its ethics or its grammar. The other has been sent by the promoters of this Bill. The latter has convinced me that my hon. and gallant Friend and the hon. and learned Member opposite are right in their opposition to this Bill. Nothing has more convinced me of that than reading the opinion of the promoters of the Bill in the special circular with which I have been honoured. Those who oppose this Bill have been somewhat disingenuous in the quotations they have made from the expression of opinion of the Chairman of the Joint Committee. I think we have a right to assume that the attitude taken up is one we ought to adopt and one which justifies us in voting for the recommital of this Bill. The whole principle at stake in this matter is whether we should absorb these small local authorities and merge them into the greater corporations. If we do that we are going to kill local life and local interest; we are going to start a series of municipal trusts which will be bad for this country, and which affords no opportunity for economy and no opportunity for greater efficiency.
§ Mr. REMER
As a member of the Committee which dealt with the Birkenhead Corporation case, referred to in the motion for recommital, I think that perhaps a word of explanation might be necessary as to what influenced our mem 2706 bers in coming to the decision they did. We all thought of the expense which attaches to these enquiries. The expense of having eight or nine K.C.'s, as in the case of the Birkenhead Corporation inquiry lasting for seven days, with very large retaining fees payable to counsel. That case was of such a nature that we felt we ought to make a strong recommendation that there should be some instruction which would guide Committees in future in coming to a decision in these cases. We were unanimous in our decision, except perhaps that one member of the Committee wanted to make the recommendation even stronger than it is at present, that no Provisional Order should be made for these extensions except under very exceptional circumstances—and the exceptional circumstances we had in our mind were of a type where it was obviously the case of a small place on the borders of a burgh which it was to the interest of everyone should be incorporated—but, except for very strong reasons of that kind, local opinion should be the guide as to what the Committee should do in regard to granting the Provisional Order. I have spoken to three members of the Committee on the point, and they agree that was what influenced them in making the order.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Do I understand that the promoters of this Bill are not going to put up any defence against this Motion to recommit? It seems to be rather a pity we should not have the case for the Bill stated, as it is rather difficult to reply when a Bill is passed sub silentio. What I conceive underlies this Bill is really the great principle whether we ought to allow amalgamation to take place on the ground that the larger units are better and more efficiently administered, or are we, on the other hand, to decide that small units should continue as representing truer democracy than you can get in the larger units.
This case is typical of one that affects us in North Staffordshire on rather similar lines. There, Stoke-on-Trent proposed to absorb Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the Ministry of Health, I think rightly, prevented that absorption from taking place. You can always make out a case for greater efficiency by absorbing these outlying boroughs, but I want the House really to understand that that is not 2707 moving in the direction of true democracy. If these small boroughs remain independent, every individual elector in them has a far larger voice in the way in which he is governed than he can have if he is merely an item in a much larger electorate. Everyone knows that, at the present time, the individual elector has very little voice in the government of the country as a whole; he is only one of some 30,000 electors who elect a Member of Parliament. Therefore, he is divorced, and feels himself to be divorced, from the government of the country. His responsibility is very small, because he is only one of 30,000 who can cast a vote for one of 700 Members of Parliament. If you go to the other extreme, and consider the government of the parish—the parish of, perhaps, 500 inhabitants—there every elector who votes for the parish council has a much greater influence in the government of that parish. He counts, not as one in 30,000, but as one in some 500, or even a smaller number, and, therefore, his influence in the election and upon the government of that parish is infinitely greater than it is upon the government of the country as a whole.
Those are the two extreme cases. In the case of the absorption of a small borough by a larger one, the same principles hold good. In this new corporation of Leith-cum-Edinburgh, the Leith voter will have one-fifth of the influence that he had before on the government of his town. The electorate will be increased five times, and, although that electorate will, no doubt, elect a larger number of town councillors, yet the direct influence of the elector upon the government of the greater Edinburgh would, if he was previously an elector in Leith, be one-fifth of what it was in the past. That raises the question of how far we ought to go in for people governing themselves, and how far we ought to set efficiency as being our aim and object. I, for one, believe that all of us on these Benches here must put democracy first, and not efficiency. If they are opposed to one another, we have, of course, to weigh the degree of sacrifice involved in going in either direction. You cannot go down to complete anarchy, with every man governing himself independently of the rest of the community; nor, on the other hand, does anyone wish 2708 to go to extreme autocracy, with a Czar, all-wise, governing the whole of the community in what he believes to be, and what may, indeed, be, their best interests. You have to strike a happy mean between the two. Every step towards democracy, towards self-government, towards self-determination, is a step in the right direction however strong an opportunist case may be made out for it. We always have to decide whether efficiency or self-government comes first. In this instance I have no doubt whatever, seeing that no case at all has really been made out for efficiency, that we ought to plump in favour of democracy, in favour of self-government, and allow Leith to continue to rule itself, and allow the old Edinburgh to continue to rule itself, rather than merge them in one unit, where no greater efficiency can be expected, but where a loss in democracy must inevitably follow. I beg the House to think twice before it sanctions these great amalgamations under the impression that everything has to give way to some imagined efficiency.
There is another principle involved, and every case, while it must be judged upon its merits, must take into account the degree of interest which each individual has in the government of his own locality. The recent decision of the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on all these amalgamations does really mark a milestone in the whole of our local government. It lays down a principle which I believe to be fundamentally sound, namely, that there must be a certain degree of consent before union can take place. Everyone knows the extraordinary local patriotism that there is in these small boroughs; in fact, the smaller the borough the more the local patriotism. Just as we are, probably, more patriotic about our families than we are about the country, so the local borough conceives itself as the hub of the universe, and all the individuals in that small locality believe that their prosperity and their fame is wrapped up in that spot. I know quite well that, when it was proposed to amalgamate Newcastle-under-Lyme with Stoke-on-Trent, the inhabitants of Newcastle-under-Lyme definitely decided that, even if the Act was passed, they would not consent to be absorbed, but would rather refuse to pay rates, and have, in fact, a citizens' strike, than be absorbed in that larger borough. It happens, of 2709 course, that Newcastle-under-Lyme is a much more ancient borough than Stoke-on-Trent. It has returned Members to Parliament since Parliament began, and, therefore, it had a good case for perpetual independence. But that feeling must be just as live in Leith, because, after all, Leith has a history only second to that of Edinburgh, and I should imagine that what the citizens of Newcastle-under-Lyme felt so strongly as to persuade the Ministry of Health to turn down the idea of amalgamation, must be felt just as strongly by the citizens of Leith. Therefore, I welcome the decision of the Joint Committee, not only on general grounds, but because I think that democracy and self-determination are rather apt to be turned down by this House in favour of efficiency, and also because it does lay down the dictum that at any rate some form of consent must precede amalgamation. That decision is a new one. It was come to after this Bill had gone upstairs. If it had been come to before the Bill was sent upstairs, I think that inevitably the decision arrived at would have been very different from what it was. I do maintain that the strongest possible case has been made out for sending this Bill back to another Committee, so that the new principle which has been laid down may at any rate be considered, and it may possibly modify the conclusions of the Committee.
There is another thing that makes one welcome that decision. Everyone knows what the costs are of these amalgamations. It was estimated to me that the amalgamation of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent would have cost the ratepayers of those towns over £50,000. There was the Health Ministry inquiry, with special lawyers and special witnesses, costing an inordinate amount of money. Every single local authority involved, even the smallest urban districts, had to employ their own Counsel and to call their own special witnesses. After that the Bill, if it had not been turned down by the Health Ministry, would have come before the House of Commons. It would immediately have been opposed. It would have gone upstairs to a House of Commons Committee. A large number of the councillors of all these various councils would have spent months in London hotels awaiting that Committee's decision, at the expense of the ratepayers.
2710 Again, special Counsel and special expert witnesses—and we know what they are—would have been called to give evidence. Finally, the Bill would have got through the House of Commons Committee. It would then have gone to the House of Lords, and the whole thing would have been repeated over again. Councillors, town clerks and surveyors living in London at the expense of the ratepayers, Counsel being brought in at enormous fees, and expert witnesses as well. That is what results from these amalgamations when you do not get consent, and it is a very strong argument, if not the strongest, in favour of the decision of the Committee, that if that decision is carried out, at any rate, in future there will be far fewer of these contested amalgamations brought forward, and it will be the duty of the larger unit to persuade the smaller one, not only by concessions in temporary rates, but also by showing what specific advantages are to be got from these amalgamations. It will teach the larger unit to use suasion rather than force—force which inevitably stirs up the smaller community to more concentrated resistance than it would otherwise show. Many of these amalgamations are justified. In that case, let the unit which wants to absorb another show its justification, first, in the country, in the local Press, before they come before the House, before these Counsel are feed, and before enormous expense is gone to. That will not only save the ratepayers a great deal of expense, but it will save this House a great many abuses and futile arguments, such as we are having to-night.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I wish to say a word or two on the matter illustrating what seems to me to be, if not an important principle, at any rate a method of almost universal application. Here is a case in which the great City of Edinburgh is seeking to annex and absorb a town of over 80,000 inhabitants, a town which in England would undoubtedly be described as a county borough; and when you come to schemes for amalgamating county boroughs, surely those that always count are the ones that most demand mutual consent. The idea and method of local government with which we are familiar is that a county borough is like a county administration, the highest and most powerful form of local government. In 2711 an administrative county you have something a little analogous to the application of the Federal system. You have districts, you have small boroughs possessing a certain amount of autonomy, but with the county authority having authority in certain matters of common interest. When a borough becomes large enough to be a county borough it is an entirely independent autonomous unit of local government, and when it has got as big as that, and particularly when it has been that for a considerable period, the whole burden of proof is put upon those who seek to extinguish this example of the highest form of local government and absorb it in another one of the same type. There are not the pros and cons that arise when a county borough is trying to take in some area of a different kind. There is much less ground for that than is generally supposed, for the areas outside county boroughs unite personal self-government in many particulars with application of the Federal principle in county government, and the particular case in another place which has been quoted, the decision of the Joint Committee, of course, prevented Birkenhead from annexing an important part of the county of Cheshire. But here the argument is even stronger, because you have side by side two critics which, translated into English surroundings, could be described technically as two great county boroughs, one no doubt larger than the other. When a local community has got to that point that it is big enough to be a county borough, surely the principle is that it should never be annexed by any other place against its will unless there is some special and overriding reason, clear on the face of it and obvious in Parliamentary discussion. Therefore the whole of my sympathy is with those who would like to preserve the historic autonomy of Leith, and I hope the House in all legitimate ways will refuse to facilitate the extension of any one county borough in order to make a neighbouring county borough so large that in practice local government passes into the hands of a bureaucracy.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
The hon. Member (Mr. Macquisten) has put down a Motion to secure the recommittal of the Bill in view of the opinion expressed in connection with the Birkenhead Extension Provisional Order Bill. Before coming 2712 to that part of our case in defending the Edinburgh Order, I desire to recall one or two important and outstanding events in connection with this promotion. In the first place, we have promoted in this country a very large number of schemes of amalgamation, and most hon. Members will agree that many of those schemes have been promoted in circumstances which were nothing like so compelling and so overwhelming as the circumstances which obtain in this case. This Bill has been the subject of anxious and careful inquiry by a Committee in another place and by a Committee of this House, and that Committee in another place devoted nine days to a review of the whole of the circumstances affecting Edinburgh and Leith, and affecting a very large part of the area surrounding these communities, and a Committee of this House devoted eight days of similar patient and careful inquiry into the Order promoted, and in both cases there was a unanimous decision in favour of the Bill. I want, as a representative of Edinburgh, to pay the highest possible tribute, not only to the hon. Member opposite and his colleagues of this House, but to the Committee of the other House for the extreme care with which they went into every detail connected with this promotion.
I come, in the second place, to the argument which has been adopted by my hon. Friend opposite, which is contained in this Motion and which turns upon the Birkenhead case. The Chairman in the Birkenhead case used these words:The Joint Committee have given their very careful attention to the facts and issues raised by this proposed Order. They are unanimously of opinion that the promoters have not established the case they sought to make.That is the first thing we must keep clearly in mind. This is a decision on the merits of the case. The promoters have not established the case they sought to make, and no hon. Member who applies his mind to the facts of the Birkenhead case and the merits of that case, and contrasts the merits with the facts under discussion in connection with this Bill, will fail to agree that there is a wide gulf between the two problems. In the Birkenhead case, according to the view expressed to me by one member of that Committee, there was practically no such thing as community of 2713 interest. In the case now under discussion there is the strongest possible community of interest. Here is one community, 320,000 people in Edinburgh and 80,000 people in Leith; Leith entirely surrounded geographically by Edinburgh, possessing power of extension only into the sea, and nobody proposes to use, or could use such a power; one community for all practical purposes, recognised by the establishment of joint trusts for water, gas, and sewers, these joint trusts operating for the joint or combined area. This is a substantial recognition of community of interest, which is acknowledged by every impartial observer in the two communities. Is there any hon. Member who can suggest that a similar state of affairs obtained in the Birkenhead promotion? That is not pleaded by any hon. Member. There was a wide gulf on the question of rating; a great difference in one area as compared with the other. In the present case the rates in Leith are actually higher than the rates in Edinburgh.
What was the other part of the joint committee's decision in regard to the Birkenhead case? It was this, and it is the beginning and the end of the case now under discussion:They desire to add an expression of their opinion that subject to special considerations of public advantage no Provisional Order for further extension should be brought before Parliament for confirmation which has not previously received the substantial support of the ratepayers in the areas proposes to be incorporated.We recognise and we value, particularly in Scotland, local sentiment. We appreciate exactly what was done in building up national sentiment, but the Committee expressly used the words "subject to special considerations of public advantage."
They were bound to make a statement of that kind; otherwise it might be true that we could never achieve amalgamation. We have only to look at the history of municipal amalgamations to see the tremendous advantage which has flowed from them and the very great gain that has accrued to the ratepayers in the areas involved. According to some hon. Members it would appear that we were promoting something new, some quite unheard-of scheme, whereas we are simply taking our place, in compelling circumstances, in the long line of most successful administrative experiments in the 2714 country. If we apply the merits of the Birkenhead resolution to this case the fact stands out that a Committee of this House which considered for eight days the Edinburgh promotion unanimously gave its verdict in favour of the Bill on the ground of public advantage. That was precisely the ground emphasised in the Birkenhead Resolution. "Grounds of public advantage" were unanimously indicated by the Committee of this House which passed the Bill as by a committee in another place as being calculated to minister to the best needs of the locality. We never have regard to any municipal proposal in this country without seeking to ascertain what it is going to do, not only for the area involved, but for the great district roundabout. Economists, public men, experts, impartial people who have applied their minds to this problem have said that this Bill is not only necessary to Edinburgh and to Leith, but absolutely necessary to Scotland, and more particularly to the east of Scotland, and to the success of our export trade. That is an argument widely used and widely held and supported by substantial facts.
We are urged to pursue economy in national affairs, and we want to see that economy, not merely in national affairs, but in municipal administration. This Bill proposes to reduce fifteen separate administrative bodies to three. That is the first substantial gain which flows from the adoption of this measure. Ten separate rating authorities in the district will be reduced to two, and, what is more important still, thirty-three separate rating areas will be reduced to one. On the Second Reading of the Bill, I suggested that it would be almost impossible to recall any scheme of municipal advance or progress which has been, advocated in recent years which showed at once such a striking gain, not merely from the national point of view, but from the point of view of the locality affected. If the measure were delayed, if anything, happened to its passage, it would involve in Edinburgh and Leith the continuation of the joint trust system for water, for gas, for sewers; for water and gas particularly. These joint trusts are representative of the town councils of Edinburgh and Leith, but they are responsible to neither one nor the other. They are not defended by any student of adminis- 2715 trative efficiency. We make no complaint regarding the manner in which they have discharged their duty, but we do say that the continuation of a system of that kind is undesirable in these times of democratic progress, and in view of the great importance of getting direct connection between the representatives and the ratepayers over whose destinies and interests they preside. Some opponents of this measure have suggested that they would be prepared to go to the extent of some greater trust system. That is precisely an argument in favour of amalgamation. Amalgamation in this district has been found so far beneficial that we seek to press it without any predatory desire to its logical conclusion. in the interests of the two communities and for the benefit of the country to which we belong.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
I hoped to have the advantage of hearing some remarks from my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) before I spoke, but as he shows no disposition to give the House the advantage of his opinion, I must make a prefatory remark to what I should say in more serious vein regarding the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Graham). The hon. Member for East Edinburgh is in this difficulty. When the Bill was originally promoted, seeking to amalgamate one part of the city which he represents, he did not display the same activity in its favour.
§ Captain BENN
I did not observe it. He is in the difficulty that the part of the city he represents sought to escape from that Bill, and successfully did so, and he is now free to exercise his energy in supporting the Bill from which his own borough has sought to escape, and has done so successfully. I mention this in order that hon. Members may have the advantage of knowing this when he does speak. It is quite evident that there are two distinct lines of argument which may be taken on this Bill. We may discuss the Bill on its merits, and that is what the hon. Member who has just spoken has done to some extent, or it might be discussed from the very narrow standpoint of the Motion which has been put down by the Member for Springburn (Mr. Mac- 2716 quisten) and which stands on the Order Paper. So far as the hon. Member has dealt with the merits, I will try to follow him. The first point he made was that Leith is entirely surrounded by Edinburgh. It comes to this House now, having step by step obtained the land around Leith, and then that is used as an argument for amalgamation, but I do not think that that should justify the inclusion of Leith, because Edinburgh has not developed the land which it has obtained and which surrounds Leith. It comes here having obtained that land, if I may say so, stealthily, and uses the possession of that land as an argument for another measure. I do not think that is fair. His second argument was that there are joint trusts. That is so. We have joint trusts in London and in other parts of the country, and their basis is the particular work that has to be done. The people who compose them are supposed to be specially expert in that work, but the hon. Member is not entitled to put that point forward as an argument for merging into one all these multifarious authorities as is proposed in this scheme. We must consider the advantages to local administration as well as the getting rid of these numerous bodies.
His third argument had a rather grim humour. He said that there was a community of interests between Edinburgh and Leith, and I have no doubt that there is sympathy on both sides, but it is rather strange that he should plead this community of interests when, at the present moment. Leith is fighting against this proposal of amalgamation. The only other point I will make on the merits is this. There is no question of inefficiency of municipal management. That has not been urged by any witness for the promoters of the Bill. They have not said that there is inefficiency in the arrangements for public health or education. I would urge that there is a real difference of character between the two places. One is the capital of Scotland, the centre of law, literature, science, and learning, and the other is the struggling port of Leith. Surely their character is entirely different. That is shown, I think, by the mottoes of the two places. The motto of Edinburgh is Nisi Dominus frustra. The motto of Leith, which is more suitable to a business community, is "persevere." The fact of the matter is that, on the merits, all the experts are 2717 with Leith. We have with us the Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), one of the most experienced men in the House in these matters. It is not enough to set out to make a symmetrical municipality. To move a wheel here—to put in an official here or another staff there—all that is only part of the machine, but the real driving power must be civic faith. That is the best means of making the machine work efficiently. Now I come to a more germane and proper consideration, and that is the argument that the hon. Gentleman has put forward when he says that this Bill has passed through two Committees, one a Committeee of the other House. But, on the other hand, the same proposal has been turned down on three occasions in the House. I would ask him whether we are to go entirely upon what is done by these Committees or whether it is not always intended that these matters should come up on the floor of the House. If he will study the procedure of the House, the provision of a Report stage, and a Second Reading and Third Reading, he will see that that is so. The reason for that is that it is intended that the House should lay down general principles upon which these things should be done, and that then such proposals should be sent up to the judicial atmosphere which permeates the Private Bill Committee. There is no principle laid down which says that you shall forcibly drive one small community into amalgamation with another against its will. The principle is that these things should be decided on their merits. It is desired that these things should be done properly and in order, and with that object the Government set up a Joint Committee of both Houses. This Committee, it is true, dealt with one Bill and dismissed the preamble, and laid down a general principle which was to be observed in dealing with the Bill. They said no Bill should be brought forward which had not substantial support from the ratepayers in the areas affected and unless it was shown that it would be to the public advantage. In this case that has not been done. It is a very significant thing that the hon. Member does not object to this general principle. He thinks that this principle does not, in the least, invalidate the claims of the promoters. If the principle will not 2718 destroy this Bill, why does he object to the Bill being re-committed?
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
The hon. Member is asking for a re-committal on a point which was considered by the Committee of both Houses.
§ Captain W. BENN
The Kintore Committee after this Bill had been disposed of laid down this general principle. If the hon. Gentleman says that the principle was before the Committee, what harm can there be in having the Bill reconsidered in the light of that principle? There is no argument on the ground of expense as no evidence is required and there is no argument on the ground of time. It merely means that before you obliterate an ancient community and before you go in the face of what you may call the unanimous and urgent desire of the citizens of that community, you should at least make perfectly certain that you are not doing so in defiance of the principles laid down. Even on the merits I should not have the least hesitation in asking for the support of hon. Members. I do not believe that the House is desirous of seeing an ancient and honourable tradition of centuries snuffed out. I do not believe the House of Commons desires to see a thrifty and efficient stewardship determined. I do not believe that the House desires to see civic sacrifice and civic patriotism rewarded by municipal extinction. All we ask is that the Bill shall be once more remitted to the Committee in order that they may be perfectly certain before we are extinguished and before the burgh passes from the history of Scotland that it is not being done in flagrant violation of a principle which has been unanimously agreed to.
§ Sir PARK GOFF
I had the honour of being Chairman of this Committee. I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) for his kind and generous remarks about the Committee, and am glad to know that all parties are agreed that the Committee gave a most exhaustive, fair and impartial hearing. In our House the Committee lasted eight days and in the other House nine days. We were perfectly satisfied that the evidence on behalf of Leith did not in any way either weaken or break down the Edinburgh evidence. We considered that the Leith evidence, if I may most respectfully say so, was to a great degree sentimental 2719 and naturally so, and to a certain degree prejudiced, and naturally so. While Leith had the sympathy of every single member of the Committee, we considered that you could not have a stronger case for administrative amalgamation from whatever point of view we regarded it. The evidence for Edinburgh in this case in our Committee was to our mind overwhelming. Allusion has been made to the Birkenhead case. There was not the slightest analogy between the Birkenhead and Edinburgh cases. They are as different as two poles apart. Allusion has also been made to the dictum of the Lord Chairman.
§ Sir P. GOFF
It would be a rather strange thing if a dictum which came after this Bill was through both Committees were to overrule the unanimous decision of the House of Lords Committee and the House of Commons Committee. Let me go a little further and see exactly what that was. The Whip that went out this morning omitted these words, "They desire to add the expression of their opinion that subject to special consideration of public advantage no provisional order, etc." I entirely agree that we carried it out in our decision on this Bill. We state in our Report:The Committee have given most careful consideration to this Bill in all aspects. They much appreciate the great care with which the case has been presented on both sides. They are of opinion as a matter of public policy that in the public interests the preamble is proved to subject to two conditions.That was the decision in our House. I do not wish to detain the House by going through the detailed evidence. We went very carefully through it and we took the greatest pains to give Leith every justice we could. I understand that there is some difference of opinion as regards the Dock Commission. That, I think, can be a matter of adjustment in the future. If I may, with all due respect and humility, let me say that during my four months' experience this year on Parliamentary Committees and Private Bill Committees as a member of Committee and Chairman, and after my fifteen years' experience at the Parliamentary Bar, I am honestly and 2720 conscientiously convinced that if any single Member of this House were to take the trouble to wade through the seventeen days' evidence, or if any four Members were again to become a Committee on a Private Bill, I do not think they could possibly come to any other conclusion that that which the Committees of the two Houses have come to.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
My hon. Friend (Sir P. Goff) made the speech one would naturally expect from the Chairman of the Committee, and it was interesting from that point of view. But I think the point on which the House has to decide to-night is one upon which the opinion of the Committee is really not of overwheming value. The opinion of the Committee that examined the Bill would no doubt be of immense value on questions of detail and on any question as to the terms and conditions on which the amalgamation was to take place, and if that were the point the House, I am sure, would be willingly guided by the Committee. But what we are called upon to decide is a perfectly plain matter of principle on which we do not require 17 days of evidence. It is a question to be decided by the House just as a matter of Second or Third Reading, and there would be no use bringing it before the House at all if the House were to feel itself under any obligation to be dictated to by the findings of the Committee and we might just as well abolish all the other stages in the House. Therefore I do not think the House ought to feel itself in any way pressed by the mere fact emphasised by the hon. Gentleman and also by the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) that this decision has been arrived at by a Committee of this House and the other House. I felt some surprise at the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Wedgwood Benn). He rather seemed to me to charge my hon. Friend sitting beside him (Mr. Hogge) with showing less zeal on some former occasion than in this case. In any case my hon. and gallant Friend is himself guilty of a somewhat similar inconsistency.
I have in quite a different connection in this House taken up an attitude very similar to that which my hon. and gallant Friend takes to-night. I have ventured to appear as the opponent of compulsory union of two different parts 2721 of the country, both of which were not anxious for that union, and I am afraid that I must sometimes have incurred very strong disapprobation from my hon. and gallant Friend. Not very long ago in relation to this Bill I, and I dare say many other hon. Members, received a newspaper bearing the Leith postmark. I know nothing about the paper, but I studied it diligently, and I had not gone very far before I found that it was a strong supporter of my hon. and gallant Friend. It was praising him as strongly as any newspaper could praise its Member for the gallant attitude he was taking up on this question, and in a leading article in the paper I was interested to find that Leith was compared with Ulster, and that the action which Ulster for some time has taken on a somewhat similar question was held up as a model for the guidance of the people of Leith. That being so—I have no interest in this matter at all—I want to do a little log rolling with my hon. and gallant Friend. My vote upon this question is up for sale, and if my hon. and gallant Friend will promise me that on the other matter to which I have alluded, which I think he understands, he will give me reciprocity and support on all future occasions in relation to that, I will follow him into the Lobby to-night
But I do not know if I should be acting rightly if I left the matter quite there, and I do not think that I am altogether so venal as I try to make out. I will not exact a bargain. I will vote with my hon. and gallant Friend to-night, and will rely on his gratitude. I am going to give him my vote for the simple reason that whether in the case of Ulster, which the Leith paper held out for guidance, or in the matter of Leith and Edinburgh, I am entirely opposed on principle to compelling one unit, municipal, county, national, whatever you call it, to submit to compulsory union with another against its desire.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I do not suppose that my hon. and gallant Friend, if he were cross-examined on the figures of particular wards in Leith, would know. I am talking about a clear-cut unit. Leith is one. The six counties in Ulster may be another. However, I do not want to go into that. I am opposed on principle to 2722 compulsory union. Therefore, I am going to support my hon. and gallant Friend because I understand from what I have heard from the other Members, and the overwhelming expression of opinion that has been given by Leith, that they are opposed to this union, and nothing bears that out more remarkably than the small piece of information that fell from the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, when he told us that the rates in Leith are actually higher than in Edinburgh, and the fact that notwithstanding that, although on pooling the rates people in Leith might conceivably look to the advantage of some reduction, they are overwhelmingly against this union, shows the strength of their view.
No one has alluded to a reason which I suspect very strongly has something to do with the desire of Edinburgh in this matter. We have been told that it is very largely a matter of sentiment. I have no doubt that it is. My hon. Friend behind in opening the Debate said that there is no more powerful motive than sentiment, and none to which, I think, we are more bound to give effect. Possibly the sentiment at work here may be a little jealousy between the two chief cities of Scotland. I am not at all sure that there may not be a desire on the part of Edinburgh to show a growth of population and rateable value, and all the rest of it, which will leave Glasgow far behind. That may have had something to do with it, but I do base the action which I am going to take upon the principle which has been laid down by the Kintore Committee. I go further. Some discussion has taken place as to whether the principle laid down by that Committee is one of general application. What I submit to the House is, that it was a sound principle, and though this House is not necessarily bound by it, this House ought to lay it down, whether the Committee laid it down or not, and I do think that in those circumstances the Bill should be re-committed in order that the Committee should give due effect, as manifestly they have not done, to the principle laid down by the Kintore Committee.
§ The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)
It is not often that the Chairman of Committees intervenes in a Debate so interesting, but the House is accustomed in connection with Private Bill matters to expect a few 2723 words from the Chairman of Committees, and for that reason I rise. Perhaps it is the more necessary, because I think that in the Debate there has been some little misconception. The hon. and gallant Member opposite put down the Motion to re-commit, and only after some little delay spoke in favour of his Motion. He told us that the motto of his burgh, and no doubt his own "Perseverance," and he put that much higher than the motto of the neighbouring city. He has certainly shown a most remarkable perseverance in this matter, for not only did he give us the speech, which I recollect now, of an hour on the Second Reading of this question, but he has returned to the charge to-night. Nay, more, I understand that he sent you, Mr. Speaker, a telegram requiring your attendance at 8.15 to hear his speech and follow him into the Lobby. I do not know, of course, whether you will obey that command or not, but it does make it desirable that the House, before voting, should be seized of the fact of the matter. I am not rising in the least to challenge the right of the hon. and gallant Member to raise this matter on the Floor of the House. It is undoubtedly not one of those minor matters in which I could advise the House to accept without question the decision of the Committee upstairs. Having had a long Debate upon the subject on another and recent occasion, I think we might, without occupying much more time, be ready to come to a conclusion. The considerations that I wish to put before the House are not, in the main, those that have been placed before us by the hon. Member. Reference has been mad to pronouncement made by the Chairman of a Joint Committee a few days ago, after this Bill had been considered in both Houses by the two Committees of those Houses, and without the least relation to this case. They were dealing with a case distant and different in every respect.
This Bill is not a Provisional Order Bill, and that statement of the Chairman referred to Provisional Order Bills. This is not a Provisional Order Bill, for the very reason that I, as Chairman of Committees, along with the Chairman in the House of Lords, decided that it ought not to be a Provisional Order Bill, but ought to go to Parliament, so that it should 2724 have the double inquiry in the two Houses, it being a question of importance and magnitude, and one that should not be dealt with by the Provisional Order method. Therefore we, in pursuance of our duties according to the Statute, took that deliberate step in order that there might be the double inquiry before the Committees of these two Houses. Those two inquiries have been held, and in each case the conclusion was the same. In one case for nine days, and in the other for eight days, all the authorities were heard, and the evidence was put completely before those Committees. I ask the House to weigh well that fact in comparison with what has been stated from another point of view, that a Committee with a different Bill in front of it made the pronouncement which has been referred to. Even in what was said by the Chairman of that Committee there is nothing to conflict with this decision. It was said that the presumption ought to be against any amalgamation without the consent of the people in the area affected. I agree entirely with that. That is the way that our Bills proceed; every private Bill proceeds on the assumption that until the preamble is proved the Bill goes no further. The promoters are obliged to prove their case, not the opponents. Only then is it possible to proceed with the details of the Bill. That is a thing which the House requires to keep in mind in maintaining a proper balance in its view between the decision of its own Committee upstairs, an ad hoc Committee, and the other inquiry in the other House. I hope the House will give proper weight to that consideration when it comes to a decision upon the matter. The motion to recommit the Bill it is proposed to follow by an instruction to the same Gentlemen who represent us upstairs to review the decision with regard to what was said by that other Committee. I do not know whether anything will be gained by a procedure of that kind.
My view is just this: This is a matter upon which the House ought to vote upon its own view. If Members have a distinct view that the two Committees were wrong, they have a perfect right to register that view in the Division Lobby. Unless they have a conviction as strong as that, I think that, according to our ordinary procedure, they would consider that those who represented them in Committee upstairs, and heard all the evi- 2725 dence, have acted in accordance with the evidence, and not against it. I hope, therefore, that I may ask the House, if not immediately, before very long, to be ready to come to a conclusion.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I want to refer to one remark of my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain W. Benn), whom I had the pleasure of introducing to Leith at the General Election and who has maintained my recommendation ever since. He raised one point with regard to myself. It was that I was opposed to this Bill so long as the burgh of Musselburgh was included in the desire of the promoters. That is not the case. The one disaster with regard to this Bill has been that Musselburgh is excluded from the Bill. No part of the vicinity of Edinburgh required more to be taken under the efficient administration of an up-to-date municipality than Musselburgh, and Musselburgh, which I represent, along with a large portion of Edinburgh, will regret and now regrets the fact that we were not able to come to terms. I hope Members of the House will resist the kind of invitation to which my hon. Friend (Mr. R. McNeill) refers. He first of all tried to make a bargain with the hon. and gallant Member for Leith, and then receded on a point of gratitude. A certain amount of that kind of debate is all very well, but I beg hon. Members to remember what are the real issues at stake in this large question. This point that has been raised to-night has been raised after the main discussions and after the main expense has been entailed. This an afterthought. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith is entitled to do so, and I give him full credit for having put the case of his municipality in the best possible light before this Committee, but I have this considerable advantage over my hon. and gallant Friend, that I was born in Edinburgh, I have lived in Edinburgh all my days, and I know the local circumstances, I think, presumably better than my hon. and gallant Friend will do, even although he remains the representative of Leith for the rest of his natural life.
§ Mr. HOGGE
In that case, as the most junior member for Edinburgh, he will begin to associate himself with the senti- 2726 ments of a larger municipal area. Members who know Edinburgh and its geographical circumstances must know that Leith is bound on all sides entirely by Edinburgh. My hon. and gallant Friend complained that Edinburgh had done that as a policy of deliberation, that they had from time to time bought up and secured land in the vicinity of Leith, but if my hon. and gallant Friend knew the truth of the matter, he would know that the land was acquired for municipal purposes of the highest consideration. I remember one instance in which Edinburgh, in order to relieve the city of the noxious fumes of the manufacture of gas, went so far as to build great gasometers on the shore of the sea at Granton. It meant a considerable amount of enterprise and of money, but it was the kind of thing that we want to see in our great municipalities, and if Leith is the enterprising burgh that we are asked to believe it is, in all conscience why, during all these years, did not Leith seek to extend its boundaries? Leith to-day could not even give itself a public bath, and the conditions of housing in Leith are such, and the area of ground on which you can build houses is such, that the problem of health in Leith will become one of the most serious considerations in the near future. I do not want to put it on those local grounds; I want to put it that in many respects we ought to view a question of this kind from a larger aspect. Edinburgh, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, has been described as an academic city. It is quite true that Edinburgh is the city of the Law Courts, and contains the King's Palace, the old Castle, and the University, and it has a peculiar life contrasting, say, with a commercial city like Glasgow. That is true, but anybody who believes in the development of municipal life does not want to isolate that kind of thing in any part of Scotland. It is further true that the commercial enterprise of Leith depends altogether upon Edinburgh. The great commercial houses that exist in Leith are run by Edinburgh people.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
It does—by the hon. Member for the Wrekin Division (Mr. C. Palmer). I am talking from my long experience. I know, and there are other 2727 Members of this House who know, individually the men who run the great enterprises of Leith. They live in Edinburgh. I hear an hon. Member say that Leith is not so nice. That is because it is concentrated round a few docks. We want to make it nice. We want to make accessible to the people of Leith areas for better housing. We want to give open spaces to Leith. We want to co-operate with Leith and incorporate the kind of life you have in Edinburgh, with all its academic attractions, and the kind of opportunity you have in Leith for the advancement of commerce. There has been a development in the Firth of Forth as a result of the Great War. You have built on the other side of the Firth of Forth the great naval base of Rosyth. Amalgamation will help the development of commerce on the Forth. It means a vast commercial development for the east of Scotland, and it is wanted badly in Scotland. The concentration of commercial life in the west of Scotland is not good for Scotland. You have concentrated, as the result of that, 1¾ millions of people, or nearly half the entire population of Scotland, round Glasgow. The result is that in Glasgow you have the worst housing conditions of almost any city in the United Kingdom—over half a million people living in one-room tenements. That is because all the commercial enterprise has gone that way. There is not the antagonism between Leith and Edinburgh which my hon. and gallant Friend tries to make out. He tries to talk of the flame of revolt. It is an exaggerated statement. It is perfectly ridiculous. My hon. and gallant Friend, of course, is entitled to put that type of view, but I put against that the experience of men who have spent their lives in that locality and agree with me—and I beg the House will agree—that the amalgamation of those types of interests—the intellectual activity of Edinburgh, with its associations, and the commercial potentiality of Leith—worked in a proper way, means an enormous development to Scotland. It will be doing an injustice, not only to Leith and to Edinburgh, but to the whole of Scotland, if the Committee agree to the suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith.
§ Major-General SEELY
I would not venture to intervene between my two 2728 hon. Friends who represent Leith and Edinburgh, even to abate the civil war, but for the fact that I was Chairman for many years of Private Bill Committee, and it fell to my lot to decide on what is now a test case with regard to what is extension, and, therefore, I would reply to my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means rather than to them. That is a very interesting case, and I venture to appeal to the House to give it special consideration. The function, as I understand it, of a Private Bill Committee, of which, as I say, I have had some knowledge, is to examine all the necessary details as to the best arrangement with regard to gas, water and other arrangements of that kind for the administration of an area; but it is not their function, as I conceive it, to decide upon a historic question as to whether one or the other should be absorbed. My right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means appealed, as he has often appealed before, and once, I remember, on my behalf, to support the views of the Committee. With respect, I would say this is a case where the Committee was not examining the thing which the House is now required to decide. It is beside the point to say it may be convenient for the purposes of the rates to combine Leith and Edinburgh, but the point before the House is whether it is right that the historic entity of Leith should be absorbed in the historic entity of Edinburgh. Lord Kintore's Committee laid down the principle of self-determination. If the principle of self-determination is ever to be respected, it has to be respected here. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith tells me—and has shown me the figures—that by majorities of five to one on two successive occasions the inhabitants of Leith have decided on the principle of self-determination for themselves, and, in view of that fact, and as an old Chairman of Private Bill Committees, I would respectfully appeal to the House to make an exception in this case, and just for once disregard the findings of Committees of both Houses, and say that, on the broad principle of self-determination, they will support Leith in her desire to retain her historic identity.
§ Mr. J. TAYLOR
I would not have taken up the time of the Committee unless to help to put before the Com- 2729 mittee, so far as I can, the opinion of Scottish Members. I may say that if I had any bias at all when I entered the Committee, it was on behalf of the smaller burgh, for I had been a representative in a small municipality in Scotland for a quarter of a century. When I took my seat in Committee I determined to give my verdict on the evidence placed before me. I have no hesitation in saying that with that evidence before it that Committee, in the public interest, could have come to no other decision than that to which they came. Reference has been made by different speakers to the opposition of the people of Leith. They have said it was not placed before the Committee. That is not so. We had witnesses who put the plebiscite returns before the Committee and spoke of the feeling of Leith. There is no doubt whatever that the language of the hon. Member for Leith is none too strong when he said that some of the language used at the meetings against amalgamation was, to say the least, fiery.
While that was so, the evidence on behalf of Edinburgh was clear that in the public interest the amalgamation should take place, and that not only in regard to the present, but also the future. We have had this system of trusts built up dealing with the public services, such as water, gas, and sewage. I make bold to say that if the Edinburgh Bill that was promoted a long time ago had been passed that this situation would not have arisen, and the water would have been controlled by the Edinburgh Corporation and not by a joint trust. I have had some experience of trusts and of Joint Hospital Boards. I know the difficulties. Some people say still there is no difficulty at all because the Members are drawn from the different municipalities. But you have only a small number of members on these trusts, and their minutes do not go before the parent corporation for confirmation. They may initiate legislation and vast schemes, and they are not called to account as trusts. That is not good for local government. We had a remedy suggested by the hon. Member for Leith. "Why," he asked, "if there was a difficulty in regard to the trust was there not an amalgamated trust?" That would make things far worse. Trusts are for dealing with a specific subject. The water trust with water, the gas with gas, and others with sewage. But one thing that 2730 influenced the Committee was this—the public health. Leith is a seaport town. The ships come in from different countries, and bring in diseases. Unless the Public Health Administration is under one authority then you cannot deal with the thing as effectively as you would like. That was one consideration. Another was, if you want a large development in public health separate systems would be a heavy burden of expense upon the ratepayers. In all public health services, a large portion of the expense is borne by the Treasury, and the consequence would be that the Treasury would have to pay to two local authorities. We are sweeping away in this Bill 15 local authorities and education, the Poor Law, and other municipal work would be under two large authorities. I am confident that in the public interest and the interests of the public purse of Edinburgh, Leith and Midlothian, there is no question whatever that this Bill will effect a very large saving.
§ Sir N. MOORE
I have had the opportunity of listening for two hours to this Debate, and it appears to me that some hon. Members have come in at the last moment to call "Divide." I was anxious to ascertain the views of various representatives in order that I could give a reasoned vote. As far as I can gather, although I was not on the Committee, one of the principal reasons advanced by the Member for East Edinburgh was that they were anxious to co-operate with Leith. It seems to me something like the co-operation which existed between the lion and the lamb, that is the lion would swallow the lamb. The principle adopted here is that a referendum should be taken before any outside municipality should be embodied with another. That principle has long been in existence in Australia, and I hope the result of this Debate will be that the local government authorities will arrange that a referendum may be taken so that smaller constituencies may have the opportunity of deciding such matters as these. I disagree with the hon. Member for East Edinburgh who said that there was a wide gulf between the Birkenhead and the Leith case. I think those who have had the opportunity of listening to this Debate will say that on this occasion the honours are with those who desire to recommit the Bill.
§ Sir MAURICE DOCKRELL
In this House I have often sat here listening to 2731 Scottish Members laying down the law with regard to Ireland. I think I know as much about Scotland as they know about Ireland. My knowledge of Scotland is not very great, but I think it is as great as the knowledge displayed by some hon. Members about Ireland. I have the greatest sympathy with the struggle now being made by Leith, because I represent a small community in the county Dublin. I represent the district of Rathmines which has a very fine waterworks of its own, and my district has been exceedingly forward in the provision of housing for the people. I remember a story told about a traveller approaching Edinburgh in the train, and he fell asleep. Someone thought they would try a practical joke upon him, and they rubbed lamp black all round his nose, and when the traveller woke up he exclaimed:Edinbroo, I smell thee noo. I'm near home.Allusion has been made here to sending telegrams. I remember—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is not the occasion for anecdotes. The hon. Member will perhaps confine himself to the question before the House.
§ Sir M. DOCKRELL
I have great respect for Chairmen of Committees, but it is not certain that their fiat is always infallible. I understand that in the case of a Committee presided over by the hon. Baronet, who represents Cleveland, a decision in reference to the Port and Docks Board was given that Kingstown was to be treated as part of the Docks Board, but afterwards Kingstown was restored to her former place by the House of Lords. The point here is whether Leith is to be regarded as a separate entity, and, personally, I shall, in sympathy with the efforts of that gallant little place to maintain its own position, go into the Division Lobby in its favour.
§ Question put, "That the words 'now considered' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 77; Noes, 107.2733
|Division No. 217.]||AYES.||[10.20 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Grant, James A.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Greig, Colonel James William||Rose, Frank H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Grundy, T. W.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Swan, J. E.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Johnstone, Joseph||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Taylor, J.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Casey, T. W.||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Whitley, Rt. Hon. John Henry|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mitchell, William Lane||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Myers, Thomas||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Neal, Arthur|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Mr. Hogge and Sir Park Goff.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Brittain, Sir Harry||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cape, Thomas||Fildes, Henry|
|Armitage, Robert||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Forrest, Walter|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Coats, Sir Stuart||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgewood (Leith)||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Gould, James C.|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Blair, Reginald||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Dawes, James Arthur||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Briant, Frank||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Hancock, John George|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hinds, John||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Perkins, Walter Frank||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Kiley, James D.||Raper, A. Baldwin||white, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|King, Commander Henry Douglas||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Remer, J. R.||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Renwick, George||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Mills, John Edmund||Spencer, George A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville||Mr. C. Palmer and Mr. Betterton.|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Stevens, Marshall|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Proposed word there added.
§ Bill accordingly re-committed.
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the re-committed Bill to have regard to the findings of the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Birkenhead Extension) Bill [Lords]."—[Captain Wedgwood Benn.]