HC Deb 26 March 1923 vol 162 cc81-137

Order for Second Reading read.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

4.0 P.M.

The Bill, the second Reading of which I am going to ask the House to pass this afternoon, is one of the minor Measures of the Session. It is, nevertheless, one of some urgency, as I shall expect to show. It is a very short Bill. On the other hand, it makes up for its want of length by its extraordinary dullness. It does not raise any profound question of principle, because it is an extension of previous measures. I doubt, therefore, whether I shall be able to arouse any particular enthusiasm for it, unless it comes from those parts of Scotland which have a taste for dry subjects. There are three operative Clauses in the Bill. The first one has to do with London, the last one has to do with Scotland only, and the middle one has to do with local authorities generally in England and Wales. It will be necessary for me, in order to explain the first Clause, to explain, very briefly, the purpose of Section 1 of the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, 1921, which is extended by the present Bill. That Section deals with the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, and, for the benefit of any hon. Member who may not be familiar with that Fund, I think I had, perhaps, better show what is the purpose of the Fund and how it works.

The Fund was established in 1867 with the object of spreading the burden of certain items of Poor Rate expenditure over the metropolitan area, thus relieving the poorer unions by getting contributions from the richer unions. It works in this way. After any half-year the guardians in each union prepare a statement of their expenditure under the different headings which are chargeable to the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund. That statement is audited by the district auditor, and it is then passed on through the Ministry of Health to the Receiver of the Fund. He again examines the statement, and, when he has got all the statements in and he is satisfied that they are correct, he adds them together, and, dividing them by the total rateable value of the whole metropolitan area, he obtains the: rate in the £ of that rateable value which would be necessary in order to raise the sum required to meet the whole of these charges. The next thing he has to do is to take the rateable value of each union in turn, and, multiplying that by the rate in the £ already arrived at, he finds out what contribution will be necessary from each particular union in order that it shall bear its proper proportion of the expenses. Hon. Members will see, therefore, that in respect of each union there is a claim made by the union upon the Fund, and there is also a claim made by the Fund upon the union. The difference between those two figures represents the amount which each union has either to pay or to receive from the Fund.

Among the various items included in those chargeable to the Fund was that of indoor relief, but it was limited up to this Act of 1921 to an amount of 5d. per person in the various institutions. Owing to the great increased cost it was found necessary to increase that amount of 5d., and it was so increased in this Act of 1921 to 1s. 3d. per person. That provision only extended up to the end of last year, and the first Clause of the Bill which is now before the House extends it again until the 1st April, 1924. Perhaps I may just interpolate here an explanation of the fact which may probably have puzzled some lion. Members. The old Act expired on 31st December, 1922, and hon. Members might therefore think that; there will be a sort of gap between the time when that Act expired and the time when the present Bill can become an Act. I may say that no gap will occur, because this process of formulation of claim, of examination, of auditing, and, finally, of payment takes a very considerable time, so that in respect of the half-year which ends the 31st of this month it is probable that no payment in any case could be made until the end of this year, and, if this Bill becomes an Act, no interruption will take place in the ordinary process. Under this first Clause, hon. Members will see paragraph (a) which makes a slight modification in the arrangement under the 1921 Act. The object. of this modification is to bring into the items chargeable to the Fund institutions like the Hollesley Bay farm colony which are not themselves workhouses, but in which the central unemployed body maintains a number of unemployed whose expenses are chargeable to the guardians. That is now brought into, and I think should properly be brought into, the items which are chargeable to the Fund, and it will probably increase the amount by something like £3,000.

Paragraph (b) of the same Clause deals with out-relief. Previous to 1921 out-relief was not one of the items which was included in those chargeable to the fund, but, in view of the enormous amount of money which at that time was being spent in out-relief to unemployed persons, it was found necessary to bring it in. The Act of 1921 did bring it in, subject to this condition and limitation, namely, that no repayment should take place in respect of any relief which had been given in excess of a certain prescribed scale, which was prescribed by my predecessor, and which is now known as the "Mond Scale." The object was obvious. If you are going to have certain unions contributing towards the expenditure of other unions, you must have some provision to see that there is no undue extravagance or liberality; in short, if you have equalisation of rates you must also have some sort of equalisation of method and standard of relief. Before drafting the present Bill extending the provision in relation to outdoor relief, there was a conference of the boards of guardians concerned, and, among other things, they considered whether this method of prescribing a scale was the most convenient method which could be employed for the purpose in view. They came to the conclusion that it was a somewhat cumbersome and costly arrangement and that a better arrangement and one which would be much more easily worked would he something in the shape of a flat rate per person relieved. Up to that point there was agreement among the various boards which were present at the conference, hut not unnaturally, when they came actually to fix the figure which should form the basis of the flat rate, there was some disagreement.

The unions which would have to pay thought that a figure of 8d. would be quite enough, whereas those who were going to receive thought that it ought to be something in the neighbourhood of 10½d. I am not going to argue the point this afternoon. The figure actually in the Bill is 9d., which comes between the two. It has all the advantages and disadvantages of a compromise. It probably satisfies neither side, but, quite apart from the fact that it is between these two figures, it seems to me, from the information that I have been able to get, a very fair figure in the circumstances. I suggest, however, that. this is a matter which is essentially a Committee point. If it be challenged in Committee, I shall be able to put forward figures to show why we have selected 9d. In the meantime, there is nothing in the actual figure itself which need delay us in the discussion upon the Second Reading. There is just one other point in connection with the figure to which I should like to draw the attention of hon. Members. It will he seen that the way the Clause is drafted the rate of 9d. per person is not what you may call a true flat rate. It is not 9d. in every case, but 9d. or the actual expenditure per person, whichever is the less. That is one way of doing it. Another way would be to make it. 9d. in any case, and I think there is something to be said for the view that, if you say it is to be 9d. or the actual expenditure, whichever is the less, you do not give a union any particular incentive to keep down its expenditure, because the only result of reducing its expenditure below 9d. will be that it will receive less from the Common Poor Fund. Therefore, if that arrangement he challenged, and if Amendments he suggested in Committee which would make it a true flat rate, I shall he quite prepared to consider any suggestion of the kind with an open mind.

I now come to the second Clause, which, as I say, is applicable to local authorities all over the country. There, again we are merely extending certain provisions which were introduced in the Financial Provisions Act of 1921. with the object of easing the burden generally for local authorities who are having to make very large inroads upon their resources in order to relieve the persons who are unemployed. This Clause extends certain provisions of two Sections—Sections 3 and 6—of the 1921 Act. Section 3 of that Act enables the Minister in certain cir- cumstances to extend the time within which sums borrowed by local authorities for current expenses have to be repaid. Instead of having to be repaid within the year, if borrowed before the 1st April, 1923, they may be repaid within a period extended by the Minister of Health, if he thinks the circumstances warrant it, to as much as 10 years. The effect of Paragraph (a) of Clause 2 is to extend that provision to money borrowed before 1st April, 1924. Section 6 of the same Act allowed certain loans borrowed by local authorities not to count in the total amount of money which they are allowed to borrow under certain circumstances. As a rule, that is twice the assessable value of the authority. That limit is temporarily removed under the 1921 Act up to 1st. April, 1923, and the limit is again extended by this Clause to 1st April, 1924. The last paragraph, Paragraph (c), dispenses with the necessity of a local inquiry by a Ministry of Health inspector, which was necessary before when the amount of money borrowed by a local authority exceeded the amount of the assessable value of the authority.


Is that a new provision?


No, this is merely an extension again of the provision contained in the 1921 Act, really extending it for another year. Now I come to the last operative Clause—Clause 3—which deals with Scotland. I do not know that I have the language or that I am so familiar with Scottish practice as to be entirely competent to make this clear, but fortunately I shall have the co-operation of my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Elliot), and if there be anything which I omit or fail to make clear, he will be able later on to remedy the omission.

Up to the year 1921 parish councils in Scotland, which correspond with our boards of guardians, had no power whatever to give relief to able-bodied unemployed persons, but the amount of distress which was rife and the number of persons who were unable to obtain work, and who were suffering distress, made the question so urgent and made the existing methods of dealing with unemployment so inadequate that a provision was introduced into the 1921 Act enabling these parish councils to give relief to the able-bodied unemployed. That again was only a temporary provision. It expires on 15th May next, and the effect of Clause 3 is to further extend that period from 15th May this year to 15th May, 1924. It is, however, accompanied by two new provisions. The burden which has been thrown on parish councils is very severe, and it is felt that it is only reasonable that there should be some ease in carrying that burden and that it should not be thrown entirely upon the present ratepayers. We all agree, I suppose, that the present incidence of unemployment is a more or less temporary phase. It will last a shorter rather than a longer time. If that be so, clearly the entirely abnormal charges which are laid upon these parish councils during a temporary period ought not to be borne during the whole of that period, but ought to be spread over a longer period, so the 1921 Act provided that the period within which the repayment of loans borrowed for this purpose had to be made might go up to a. maximum of five years, and even in exceptional cases might be extended by the Minister to as much as 10 years. Now in view of the fact that unemployment is still continuing, and is still very severe, we are prepared to increase the maximum to 10 years and the period to which the Minister may go in exceptional cases to 15 years. That forms the subject of paragraph (b)) of the Clause.

The other provision, which is also designed to meet objections and representations which have been made to us by parish councils, is that they have complained in the past that they have been obliged to give all this money away without being able to exact any work in return for it. They have said that is not only unfair to them: it is unfair to the men themselves, who ought to be given an opportunity of getting work, and would be only too glad if they could get it Paragraph (a) of this Clause is designed to meet that objection so far as it is possible to do it. It authorises a parish council to make arrangements with a local authority, or with a public body approved by the Minister of Health, under which these unemployed able-bodied persons to whom relief is to be given may be employed by that local authority or public body, and the council is empowered to contribute to the wages paid to these people such amount as they may think fit, provided it does not exceed the amount which they themselves would be able to give by way of relief. There is one special body, the Leith Dock Commission, which is in the mind of the Secretary for Scotland. I very cordially endorse this provision, which I think will enable the money, which is to he spent in any ease, to bring back some useful turn, which I believe will be heartily welcomed by those who have to receive it. I think I have described shortly as I could the purpose and the meaning of all the Clauses in the Bill, and I trust the House will not feel it necessary to delay very long in passing the Second Reading.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what he means in the difference between a public body and a local authority? Do I understand that the local authority, in this case the parish council, will contribute towards the wages paid to a man employed, say, by a railway company or a dock company or something of that kind?


Yes, if approved by the Minister.


I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to acid the words "upon this clay six months."

We have given notice of a formal Amendment to reject the Bill, not because we are opposed to it as a whole, but because many of us who represent Scottish constituencies are very anxious regarding the Scottish provisions that it contains. The position in Scotland is that Prior to the Act of 1921 it was quite impossible for any parish council or Poor Law authority to give relief to t he able bodied, but owing to the very great extension of unemployment, and the widespread distress, it was found necessary to go back on that long standing practice and to authorise the parish councils of Scotland to give relief to able-bodied people out of work. The first point to which I wish to draw attention is that Clause 3 of this Bill continues a system which is working out with very great injustice to a comparatively small number of parish councils. There are in all very nearly 900 parishes, but hundreds of them have come under no obligation or burden whatever in this matter of special provision for unemployment. The burden has fallen upon a limited number of parish councils lying mainly in the industrial belt between the Forth and the Clyde, with one or two parish councils north and south of that area, and on that comparativeley small number of Scottish Poor Law authorities at present there has fallen a burden in the relief of unemployment which many of them are not able to carry, and which is going to mortgage their resources for many years to come. When this proposal was first considered by the House in 1921, some of us drew attention to two problems, first of all the problem of the necessitous area, and in the second place, the problem which arises from the fact that in this scheme of relieving the able bodied, there is no recourse whatever to the recognised practice of settlement, which is part of the Scottish Poor Law system.

Let us take, first of all, the point regarding the necessitous area. This may be a convenient opportunity for asking the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether any decision has been reached as to the definition of necessitous area, or whether we are still going on very largely defining "necessitous area" on the basis of the high rate, which in turn throws us back upon the underlying system of valuation. In Scotland there can be no more misleading basis on that point than just that basis of valuation. There are certain communities in which the valuation is very high, and accordingly the rate is comparatively low, but if the figures for Poor Law relief are analysed, it will be found that those communities of high valuation are paying enormous sums in the relief of the able-bodied poor and those, unemployed, although according to the ordinary definition of "necessitous area" they would not be entitled to the same consideration as districts with a lower valuation and a higher rate, and therefore on that basis presumed to be dying more, or understood to be doing more, at the expense of the ratepayers affected. I think the Parliamentary Secretary should tell us whether any decision has been reached on that point, and, if so, whether we are going to get the benefit of a better definition of "necessitous area.' The second point—and this is raised very directly and sharp by the present Bill—is that for the purpose of relieving the able-bodied unemployed under this measure there is no recourse whatever to settlement. By "settlement" of course we mean that each applicant for Poor Law relief had some parish of settlement or a parish to which recourse may be had by the relieving parish, for any expenditure or allowance which was granted. It is expressly provided in the Act of 1921, that there is no inroad whatever upon the ordinary principles and practice of the law of settlement in Poor Law relief in Scotland. That is not interfered with in any way, but, in practice the Scottish Poor Law authorities at present have found it absolutely impossible to work any system of settlement at all in this matter and the result is that we are denied even that modified method of distributing the burden of providing for the able-bodied poor over a large part of Scotland, such as would be accomplished if this law of settlement, were in operation. I think that can hardly be regarded as a satisfactory system, especially when this is not a problem of the next three, four or five years, or even for a comparatively short time ahead.

The right hon. Gentleman himself, in this Bill which is now being unfortunately rendered necessary, has entended the time for the, repayment of loans from five to 10, and if necessary to 15, years, so that many of the Poor Law authorities between the Forth and the Clyde are promised a burden spread over the next 15 years of their experience. We have always urged that this problem of unemployment was national in character, and we have said over and over again that the Poor Law authorities, certainly in Scotland, have no business whatever to be saddled with enormous burdens in the relief of distress which they had no power to control and in which they had practically no influence in any shape or form. We feel that that is a very reasonable contention that we are now putting forward, but if the Government will not meet us in the proposal that it should he regarded as a national burden and provided for accordingly, they should at least meet us to the extent of putting the burden fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of the whole of the ratepayers of Scotland and not of ratepayers in districts which, curiously enough, are the districts most penalised by the distress through which the country is passing, and in many cases the least able to shoulder and carry the burden. When this matter was investigated a year and a half ago, it is true replies were not received, or merely formal replies were received, from a large number of parish councils. Only a hundred or two out of 900 replied that they were affected. That is true. A large number of the parish councils have practically no burden in this case whatever. There can be no doubt that if it is to be a matter for the ratepayers —and that is the contention of the Government—it should he a matter for the ratepayers of the country as a whole. In any case, it should not fall exclusively, as it does now, upon ratepayers of a narrow district in Scotland, and that district most affected by distress. We have urged this over and over again, and this is an opportunity of pressing the consideration once more upon the Government. I hope that we may get some information from the Scottish Office on two points, (1) whether even yet they cannot reconsider their position and make this a matter of national obligation, and whether there is any grant from public funds which these distressed parish councils could receive; (2) if they cannot do that, are they going to allow the system of settlement in Scotland to go by the board, with this form of relief, and do nothing to spread the burden equitably over the country as a whole?

These are a few of our leading objections to the Bill. I am bound to point out that in Clause 3 there is introduced, in regard to Scotland, a very dangerous principle in the proposal to enable the Poor Law authorities to subsidise wages given for relief work. The right hon. Gentleman defends that proposal on the ground that it will be better to give the men the idea that they are doing some work for the allowance which they are receiving. I entirely agree on that point. We, on these benches, have always been stubbornly opposed to this method of dole or allowance without service of any kind. It is absolutely demoralising in character, and there is not the slightest doubt that it has led to a certain amount of demoralisation in Scotland which, I am afraid, will take many years to overcome. We are entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in that connection; but we are, I think, entirely against him in the proposal which he makes in the Bill, because in effect the proposal comes to this, that where these relief schemes are undertaken the parish council may come along and subsidise out of Poor Law funds the wages that are paid. We believe that principle to be thoroughly unsound. It would be a thousand times better to pay-proper remuneration for the relief schemes. If money is going to he raised for these relief schemes in order to give these men work, or part payment for work, it is clearly the duty of the Government to raise the rates which are paid for relief work, or to make some other provision, since, obviously, provision must be made; but it is bad practice and contrary to all that is best in the Poor Law system to subsidise wages out of Poor Law money. When this matter is understood in Scotland I am satisfied that there will be hostility on the part of Scottish Members who do not sit on these benches, but who are familiar with the practice of Scottish Poor Law for many years.

I enter the strongest protest against this provision of the Bill. If I had my way, I would divide against it this afternoon. We shall certainly oppose it in Committee. Of course the Measure, is temporary in character, but let me remind the House that in extending the period of repayment, five, ten and, if necessary, fifteen years, we are imposing a very heavy burden upon a limited number of Scottish Poor Law authorities. Already their rates are very high. In some cases they have found it very difficult to levy a rate at all, and they are entitled to better consideration at the hands of the Government than this Bill gives them.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I agree with all that has been said by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) in regard to Scotland in general. I want to deal with the position of Glasgow in particular. Glasgow has protested all the time against its being made a vehicle for dealing with a problem with which it is unfitted and unconstituted to deal. Scotland does not know the able-bodied pauper. It has not dealt with that problem, and it is having cast upon it a thing with which it is entirely unfitted to deal. The rates in Glasgow at the moment are something like 15s. in the £ not based on the valuation but levied on the actual rental, which makes it a very much higher rate than would appear to the ordinary English Member, seeing that rating in England is on quite a different basis. We are spending in Poor Law relief in the two great parishes of Govan and Glasgow, 4s. in the pound. That figure is going to increase very rapidly at a time when difficulties are very great. Govan has incurred an expenditure of over £360,000. Govan is a locality particularly hit with unemployment. Never at any time in its history was it less able to bear the increased burden. It is a centre of shipbulding. The yards are empty, and yet these rates arc coming on to the industry at a time when the industry is in the very worst condition that has occurred since the inception of shipbuilding on the River Clyde. A rate of one penny in the pound in Govan only yields about £7,000, and at the moment they are spending more than one halfpenny in the pound in a. week on actual relief.

In the parish of Glasgow this year they will have spent a sum of £460,000 for unemployed able-bodied relief. That means a great increase in the rates, and even if the period is carried over 15 years it will amount to a tremendous burden. Glasgow, I think, is more affected by unemployment than any other industrial centre in the country, and at a moment like this, when wages are falling, when everything is conspiring against our recovery, the Government comes along with a Bill that is going to make heavy burdens much heavier. The gap period will add very materially to the difficulties under which they are labouring. These parish councils have protested individually and collectively to the Secretary for Scotland. Deputations have waited upon him on several occasions and have pointed out their difficulties, but all they have got is the statement: "If it does not go on the rates, it will have to go on the taxpayer, and they are one and the same person." Is that true? It is not true. The people who have to pay the taxes are the people who are in the best position to bear the burden. Take Glasgow, with nearly 100,000 unemployed, and with wages a little over 30s. a week in the shipbuilding yards, and in the great industries. These people, who are the least able to bear it, are called upon to shoulder a burden which is heavier than they can bear.

The parish councils cannot go on indefinitely dealing with this matter. We suggest to the Government that they should face the difficulty as it was intended to be faced, and to give these great communities where distress is greatest some relief, instead of further adding to their burdens, and making the poison a little easier to take by saying that instead of having it spread over a period of 10 years the period is to be increased to 15 years. In Glasgow, as throughout Scotland, we have the same differentiation between people who are able to bear the burden and those who are not able to bear the burden. Those who are able to bear the burden are not called upon to bear it. The two parishes to which I have referred are parishes where the industrial population live, but we have a residential parish called Cathcart where the well-to-do people reside. That parish could easily bear an increase in its rates if it is essential that this burden should he met by the rates; but they are entirely relieved. Although they are part and parcel of the great community of Glasgow, and draw their income, in the main, from the City of Glasgow, they have not to bear their share of the burden that is falling increasingly heavily on the poorest localities in the city.

I appeal to the Secretary for Scotland and the Minister of Health to consider this matter and to see whether they cannot find relief from this particular burden which they are throwing upon us. I agree absolutely with the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, and that is, that none of this money that is being gathered together for relief should be utilised for subsidising wages. There is at the present time, in connection with the Clyde Trust, a great contract going on for the enlargement of the docks. That has been given out to a contractor. That contractor might apply to the parish councils to get a subsidy to help to pay wages, on the ground that he is giving employment. That would mean that a private contractor, with a private contract, carried out for profit through a public body, might have his labour subsidised and thereby help to lower the standard of wages. Instead of helping to cure, it would accentuate the disease which the Government are trying to remedy. I hope we shall get an assurance, clear and well defined, that no such position as that will arise. I do sincerely trust that the parish councils in Glasgow and surrounding neighbourhoods are not to be completely overburdened by the rates going up and up to meet a duty which is the duty of the State and not the duty of any particular locality.


It is rather unfortunate that this Bill deals with—if I may use the expression—two separate countries. It shows the great advantage of Scottish Home Rule. I suggest that the Government, in dealing with these important and interesting local Government questions, would do well to divide the Scottish from the English problem. I have considerable sympathy with the point of view of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, but from the standpoint of London, I can say, without fear of contradiction from any part of the House, that would be nothing short of disastrous. This is not a Bill that is attractive, on the contrary, it embodies a principle which is fundamentally bad, it is emergency legislation. If the previous Government had shown foresight, if it had been prepared to tackle this problem when it arose, it would not have been necessary to deal with this problem—which must sooner or later be dealt with scientifically—on these emergency lines. There it is; the question has to be dealt with. It was dealt with two years ago, largely through the courage, tenacity and pluck or the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). If the hon. Member will forgive me for saying so, I do not like that kind of action being necessary. He will be the first to support me when I say that it is bad to have to bring about results, however good, by direct action.


Look at us; we do not look so bad!


I know my hon. Friend would be the last to express approval of the necessity for such action. What I say, and I think I have the House with me, is that the business of a Government is to deal with problems as they arise, with reasonable foresight, and as far as possible on permanent lines. Then the necessity for direct action and strong measures will be avoided.

This is, of course, a continuation of emergency legislation. Here, again, I am sorry that the Ministry of Health, of which the right hon. Gentleman is so distinguished an ornament as its head, and which has had two years to think over this question, has thought out no better scheme. It yielded under pressure. There were hastily-called meetings of the interested parties, and this was originally brought forward, not as a solution of the problem, but as an emergency measure. These two years have not been fruitful, and we are practically where we were. I cannot blame the right hon. Gentleman. He was fortunate enough not to be a member of the late Government, therefore he cannot be made responsible for their action. He has only been a very few weeks at the head of his Department, and he has to be parent of a Bill for the creation of which he really is not responsible. He will bear me out when I say, as a man who has devoted many years to local government, that these problems, if they are going to be satisfactorily solved, must be dealt with on sound local government lines, and it possible on such a basis that they are likely to be permanent.

I wish to point out one fundamental fault in this scheme for dealing with relief of poverty in London. There was an enormous increase in the number of unemployed, an unprecedented and very rapid increase, that pushed enormous burdens on to the ratepayers. The late Minister of Health had a very simple remedy. He did not bring assistance out of the National Exchequer from the revenues at the disposal of the Government, but pushed it on to the ratepayers. He merely readjusted the incidence. I think, on the whole, the readjustment of incidence in London was fair, at any rate so far as a compromise Measure can go, but it did not bring in national hinds to relieve the exceptionally heavy burdens of London. One cannot get, over the fact that London, as a capital city, does tend to attract people from all parts of the country when there are exceptional periods of unemployment. After a desperate attempt to get work locally, the tendency is to drift to London as a last resort. The incidence of rating in London is merely readjusted between different parts of the town. Those readjustments do make a material difference, and bring very considerable relief to the poorer parts of London. So far as I have considered the figures—London finance is very complex, no one knows that better than the right hon. Gentleman, who was for many months a member of the Royal Commission—it brings relief to Bethnal Green to the amount, of 2s. 1d. in the £ and to Poplar to an amount of no less than 4s. 2d. in the £. Curiously enough, the two richest districts in London are only involved in an extra burden of, in the case of Westminster, 1s. ld., and the City of London, 1s. 3d.

Though this is a small measure of justice to poor districts, it only touches the fringe of the question. It really leaves the whole of our Pour Law absolutely unreformed, although, for the last 40 years, we have had requests from every political point of view, from every party in London, and from every section of the community interested in this problem, that the London Poor Law should be reformed. A Royal Commission, as long ago as 1904, was unanimous as to the need, t hey merely differed as to the method. The last Government, through the Reconstruction Minister, appointed a Special Committee to deal with Poor Law, and its Report—known as the Maclean Report, the Committee being presided over by Sir Donald Maclean—put forward a scheme which, if it had been adopted, would have avoided the necessity for the last Act of 1921 and this special Bill now before the House. It suggested that all the Poor Law institutions, which are a very heavy charge on the localities, should be centralised. That would have meant considerable economy in administration: it would have made specialisation possible in treatment, and would have meant general economy to the ratepayers of London. It. was also suggested that the Poor Law guardians themselves should be abolished, and their duties transferred to the borough councils. That would have been a great economy from more than one point of view. It would have saved the duplication of officials, and perhaps, what is more serious, would have put the responsibility for dealing with Poor Law and all its phases in the hands of a body that really interested the electors, instead of in the hands of an authority that cannot get the electors even to go to the poll to vote for them when their election comes round every three years.

If it were important that there should be reform when the Maclean Committee reported, still more is it important now, when the Insurance Act is in working, with all its complex machinery of Unemployment Exchanges and relief through insurance. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion for the rejection of the Bill referred to the gap. He referred to the period when the Poor Law is to come to the assistance of the insurance scheme. Does it not seem an unfortunate thing that we should now, after all our experience, have these two parallel systems working side by side, one giving relief as a right through the insurance scheme, and the other giving relief through the Poor Law, with all its taint of traditions and associations with pauperism? That shows that it is the duty and the responsibility of the Government to take in hand this problem with courage and with imagination, and not to allow it to be side-tracked by emergency legislation of this character, which does not really touch the problem or cure the evil.

I should like to deal with the London point of view. I am sorry there are not more London Members present on this important occasion. They might well take a leaf out of the book of Scotland, and show a greater interest in London questions when they come before the House. Then, I think, London would at least get common justice. Although this is an attempt to relieve some of the anomalies in rating, and to get the rich districts to help the poor districts, inequalities of rates still remain on a large scale. London, unfortunately—I suppose like most great towns, perhaps more in London than anywhere else in the world—is divided into cities of the rich and the poor. There are cities where most of the wealth is concentrated, with great banks, great insurance offices, and high assessable value; and cities of the poor, where the bulk of the working classes live and the poor arc concentrated, and where most of the poverty exists. It is not confined to the East End. You have it in the South-Fast of London, in many poor districts, and even in the North of London. That question is still unsolved by this particular Bill.

In spite of all these attempts at equalisation—this Common Poor Fund referred to by the Minister of Health is not tie only attempt at equalisation, and there are many services unified, like the education service, etc.—the rates of the City of London are 11s. 11d. in the pound; of Westminster, 11s. 3d.; of Bethnal Green, 18s. 2d.; and of Poplar, 18s. 3d. The burdens are therefore still enormous. What is the reason? The reason is simple. The assessable value per head of the population in Bethnal Green is £5—very small. In the City of London—which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Banbury) represents so ably, and whose cause he champions so well—the assessable value is not £5, but £456 per head of the population, and the acreage they have to administer is almost the same. The produce of a ld. rate in Bethnal Green is £2,400. In the City of London it is £26,000. They can afford to be extravagant and to indulge in all sorts of luxuries, and the ratepayer does not have to foot the bill.

5.0 p.m.

In Poplar the discrepancy is just as great. The assessable value conies out to a little over £5. In Westminster, where this Parliament is located, the assessable value is eleven times as high per head of the population, namely £55. Or to take it on the basis of the produce of a penny rate, in Poplar the figure is £4,000, and in Westminster eight times as much, namely, £32,000. Taking it on the basis of each property, in Bethnal Green the value of each property is £27, and in Westminster £230. It is a mistake to think, as I know my right hon. Friend opposite thinks, that it is all because of the extravagance of the East End of London. They may be a bit generous on some matters, and they may be overanxious to put right some anomalies, but, as a matter of fact, Westminster spends per head of the population, which is the only sound basis, far more than even Bethnal Green, with its progressive ideas. In Westminster the sum is £4 7s. 6d. per head of population and in Bethnal Green £ 5s. 4d. per head of the population. They spend more in almost every service. Take the ordinary utility service of the collection and disposal of dust: in Bethnal Green the figure is 3s. 11d. per head of the population, and in Westminster 10s. 8d. per head of the population. The only thing, so far as I can see, in which Bethnal Green is more extravagant is in maternity and child welfare, on which they spend 5d. per head, Westminster spending 2d. per head.

The House will see, therefore, that this Bill, emergency Measure as it is, only touches the fringe of the question, and I do hope that, if we give it a Second Reading this afternoon, it will not be made an excuse for avoiding this problem and not dealing with it on large and generous lines. I know there are hon. Members anxious to put points from other parts of the country, and I will not take up the time of the House any longer except to say that this London problem is a large one. It is overdue for solution, and this House has a special responsibility to solve it. We have had Royal Commission after Royal Commission, but I am afraid that most of those Royal Commissions were only an excuse for the Government of the day to avoid their responsibility. I hope this Parliament will not be put off by any excuses. We have a special responsibility because, as the capital city, we have Parliament situated in our midst. It cannot plead ignorance. It has full knowledge of the facts, and, therefore, as I have said, while supporting this Bill as an emergency Measure, I hope it will not be made an excuse, and that very soon the Minister of Health, who is such an enthusiast for local government, and has such knowledge and experience, will tackle it with imagination and wisdom.


The questions of Scotland and of London have been dealt with, and I should like to put in a plea on behalf of that even larger part of the community called England, because surely what is good for London and what is good as a reward for the direct action of my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is also good for that more peaceful section of the community which up to the present has not resorted to that method. I remember that, when the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) was introducing the original Bill in 1921, he gave as one of the telling reasons why this equalisation of the poor rate should be attempted in London the differentiation between the rates. He quoted the 10s. 6d ruling in the City, and compared it with the 22s. 10d. in Poplar. If that was a sound reason for this measure of equalisation in the Metropolitan area, I submit that the table the Minister of Health presented three days ago dealing with the different rating in the provinces is a much stronger argument in favour of the same or a similar measure of justice being granted to the provinces. He gave a return of the various Poor Law unions who had to borrow money on account of their inability out of their revenues to meet abnormal charges for relief due to unemployment. By a curious circumstance, I see the maximum and the minimum rates in these particular areas happen to come next to each other. Whereas in the union of Crickhowell the figure is 28s. 6d. in the £ in the union of Darlington it is only 10s. in the £ There is a disparity between 28s. 6d.—that is total rates and not Poor Law rates alone—and the 10s. which makes the difference between the City of London and the borough of Poplar look small in comparison.

Therefore, I submit that what was sound in principle when the right hon. Member for West Swansea in 1921 was seeking to equalise the burden is equally sound to-day for that larger area in the provinces which is groaning under burdens even greater than those in London. I am quite aware that you cannot charge the present Minister with the present position of affairs, and in criticising the matter I dissociate the Measure from his own personal responsibility, because I believe in this matter he is with us in the provinces in urging that the same measure of justice should he done to us as is being clone in London. It has been impossible during the short time we have been pleased to see him in his office for him to remodel the Bill. I believe that his Department is going further than has been done up to the present to try to find a solution of this vexed problem, and I am only putting in a plea now so that the House and Government should realise the seriousness of the position in the provinces. Whereas in sonic districts rates are coining down, in others they are going up. In the town I have the honour to represent the rates, through heavy borrowings of some £300,000 have hitherto been kept down to 20s. in the £ but in the coming financial year they are not going down, but are going lip to more than 23s. in the £.


Is that the general rate, or is the poor rate mainly responsible for that?


Mainly the poor rate. On the general rate there is an attempt to do without the conveniences we ought to have in order to help to counteract the abnormal claims on the poor rate. As the House will see, that only intensifies the argument, because, if the poor rate is going up on account of the burden of unemployment to a, greater extent than last year, that is the reason why assistance should be given. The right hon. Member for West Swansea, in dealing with this plea in 1921, raised the difficulty of the geographical situation. He suggested that, whereas it, was possible to bring the City and Poplar into one common fund, it was not so easy to bring in the scattered parts of England north and south.


Unless we manage Poplar.


We will never leave you.


Although the machinery may be different the principle is the same, and I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to devise some machinery whereby the same relief may be given to the necessitous areas in the provinces as this Measure is giving to the necessitous areas in the Metropolitan district. It has been urged that the Government out of national funds are providing liberally by the Unemployment Insurance Act and are making loans and substantial grants out of the Unemployment Grants Fund. That is true but those reliefs are equally applicable to the Metropolitan boroughs and in to way mitigate the plea for the provinces. We ask for the equivalent of what you are doing for London, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will find time, even in the present year, to devise means whereby in the coming financial year relief may be given to those industrial areas which are literally being crushed and whose tirade recovery is being crippled because of the burdens which are keeping down that, revival of trade which would otherwise come, Whilst this Bill may be good for London and relief may be giver, to Scotland, there is nothing for the provinces except an extension of the loan period, and that extension is merely putting forward your burden until a later time and is no real relief. I hope the Minister may yet give us that which he is giving to the London area.


I make no apology for bringing the house back again to the situation in Scotland. The hardship which arises under this Bill will be much more noticeable in that part of the country than in any other, and although my hon. Friends may welcome the Measure as it affects England, I think it is only right that we in Scotland should make our special case, as it is one deserving consideration. When the original Act of 1921 was passed as an emergency Measure, there were considerable protests made even at that time as to the possible effect upon the rating authorities and ratepayers in the various rating areas in Scotland, and I observe that the Solicitor-General for Scotland, when introducing the Bill, made it perfectly clear on the 27th October, 1921, that he "could not concur in the view that" in a Measure intended to be of brief "duration we should contemplate a longer" period than that set forth in the Bill." It is quite evident from the, provisions of this Bill that it is expected that it may be carried over a very considerable period in front of us if the emergency continues, and for that reason all the greater attention must be paid to the effect of this Measure upon the rating areas in Scotland.

The purpose of this Bill in extending the duration of the period which was provided in the original Act is to continuo also the change in the law of Scotland to which reference has been made by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) as affecting poor relief. That was regarded at the time as a very important change, as one which might bring with it very serious results, and as a Scottish Member I desire to protest against the continuation of this change in the law where the onus ought to be thrown on the Government to deal with the situation by other means. The principle which has been adopted here is to make the parish council responsible, to raise a poor rate in relief of the able-bodied unemployed. We maintain that that duty, the relief of the unemployed, is one which the Government ought to have dealt with in a way so as to throw the burden equally on all concerned, and that it should have been made a national burden as distinct from a local burden. My hon. Friend has put very clearly indeed the unfairness of the incidence of the rate. There are many instances which could be taken of those who reside outside the area where the works, or factories, or shipbuilding yards are situated, and who, when unemployed, will have to be maintained by a rate levied within the parish which does not get the advantage of the higher valuation placed on the works and factories where the employment is actually given. There are many parishes affected in Scotland where those who are being maintained live without the area of their immediate employment. And the burden has been thrown upon those parishes which are least able to bear it. One important factor in the situation is that we have had this question of the over-taxation of Scotland considered in the interval between the passing of the Act of 1921 and the present Bill. As my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Elliot) is aware, we had a Committee which sat to consider the question of local taxation in Scotland, and they considered this very rate which is raised by the Act of 1921

Notice is taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being present


I am glad to see that the Front Bench has been reinforced by the legal representative for Scotland (Mr. F. C. Thompson), who, I hope. will be able to deputise for the Lord Advocate, while he is not n his place. The Committee to which I have referred considered this particular rate which is now extended to cover the relief of unemployed. On page 21 of their report they point out that the law in Scotland for Poor Law relief was not available for able-bodied men, but that Parliament had recently passed an Act which had imposed on the rates the payment of relief to able-bodied persons, and that it was an enhancement of the grievances of ratepayers to extend the liability for relief to the poor to include the relief of unemployment. In Conclusion 6 of their finding they state: The recent duty placed till parish councils to grant Poor Law relief to able-bodied unemployed is particularly inequitable, in that it places a fresh service of Imperial concern on a local rate of which the incidence infringes the accepted canons of equitable taxation. It is not surprising to find that that has been the opinion of those who have been unfortunate enough to have tom, pay this rate. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman may be able to give us some details as to the various parish councils in Scotland who are in this position. Many representations have been received during the past year or two from parish councils who are in this position. Many parish councils were inclined to refuse point-blank to raise this rate and say it would be impossible to do so, that they had reached breaking point. I would like to know what are the views of the parishes which are particularly affected to-day. There are many parishes to-day in Scotland where there is little hope of raising any additional rate for the relief of unemployed without reaching the breaking point, and considerable distress will be caused by the extension of the provisions of this Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has referred to the difficulty of tracing the domicile of origin of those who may have to move from one district to another, and from whose parish of origin or domicile the money paid in respect of these persons ought to be recovered. That is a real difficulty, but it does not solve the whole question, even if it were dealt with, because though we might spread the burden, where there has been movement from one district to another, we shall not spread the burden equitably unless we spread it on what I submit is the proper basis of purely national lines. But the gravity of the situation has been accentuated very much by the centralisation of unemployment in certain particular areas. It comes to this, that you are going to penalise a certain number of areas in the country, many of them with low valuations, in which the unemployed live to-day, while other districts are to go free. It is. firstly on account of the very unfair incidence of the burden that I think that a protest ought to be made and secondly, in regard to the actual amount of the rate which has to be levied.

In Scotland we have no fewer than 46 different rates at present in operation. Eight of them are parish council rates, 22 borough rates, and 16 county rates. When you extend one of these parish council rates, the poor rate, which is along with the education rate a very heavy burden on the ratepayers, you have reached the breaking point. I think that hon. Members will agree with the opinion of the Departmental Committee on local taxation in Scotland that One lesson to-day is that Parliament should recognise that the present system of rates is near its breaking point. The breaking point consists in this, that any enhancement of burden will be fatal to housebuilding problem and will also be very inimical to the development of commercial and agricultural enterprise. We all recognise the earnestness with which the Minister of Health has grappled with this difficult housing problem since he has entered on his new office, and hope that he will be able to achieve a large measure of success. The Committee go on say: Recognising these facts, Parliament ought to be chary of imposing new burdens on rile rates by legislation, especially when the burdens are to provide for something which is rather a national than a local interest. I cannot imagine any words which are more opportune to-day when the Government are introducing a Bill of this kind. I hope sincerely that something will be done to reconsider the provisions of this Bill. In answer to a question which I put the other day, it was stated that up to the 3rd of March, since the Act of 1921 was passed, the amount expended by local authorities in. Scotland is roughly £2,000,000, for the relief of able-bodied destitute persons, involving loans by parish councils, on the security of their assessments, of something like £1,500,000. When we consider that that sum is not borne by the whole of Scotland, but by a certain number of parishes which have got to raise the entire of that very large amount, then we realise what a very serious burden it is.

I support my hon. Friend also in his remarks as to the undesirability of subsidising wages out of the poor rate. That is a new principle and a very undesirable one. The Government ought to shoulder their burdens, and provide any necessary funds for relief work without involving the ratepayer in this additional burden. It is true that we all desire to see relief given in an adequate form. Those of us who criticise the Bill are all desirous of seeing something done to meet, the situation which has arisen, but we do urge upon the Government that in such a matter they ought to see that the burden is borne impartially upon the shoulders of all, and is not thrown in this unfair fashion upon a limited number of people. I have received many representations on this question. I am sure that in many parts of Scotland the feeling against this Bill will be very strong. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, and the hon. and gallant Member who represents the Scottish Office here, will be able to give us some assurance that they will amend the Bill in Committee, or ascertain whether it is possible to secure larger Imperial grants to meet the situation which has arisen.


I would like to say a few words as to the position in Scotland in connection with this Bill. Prior to September, 1921, under the Scottish Poor Law we had no power to give relief to able-bodied men and women. At that date the Scottish Board brought the parish councils together and not only told them to pay but told them the sums they had to pay, and in November this House passed the Scottish Poor Law Emergency Act. I think that it was one of the worst things that they have ever done in connection with Scotland. There is a feeling in Scotland against pauperisation. I have known families that boasted that for generations not even in the greatest need would they ever apply to the Poor Law authorities, but under the Poor Law Emergency Act, the Government are making pauperisation popular, and are teaching a new generation to go to the parish council when their fathers refused to go. This new Act is extending this very vicious principle, and I want to show you how it was felt even in a small area such as the county of Lanark.

In the County of Lanark we have paid out £220,000 to able-bodied persons. The rate per pound ranges from nothing in a number of parishes to a very high figure in other parishes. It is utterly impossible for many parishes to continue to raise money to meet this abnormal demand. In one place that I know, people on one side of the road pay 4s. in the, £for unemployment, and people on the other side pay 4d. or 5d., and in some eases even less. I hope that the representative of the Government has listened to the remarks of the last speaker. There is such a thing as the equalisation of rates in the London area. I often wonder why Scottish Ministers do not recognise that they represent Scotland in this House and do not take up the position that we are compelled to take up. These payments because of unemployment were made originally in viola- tion of the Scottish law. Since then such payment has been legalised, and now you are to extend it. I hope that the House will refuse the extension. The Bill means practically nothing to us except that it would put us deeper in the mire. I notice that an hon. Gentleman opposite made a strong point about the extension of time. There are parishes in Lanarkshire that have already borrowed the money and, have arranged a payment over five years. The money is spent, and now an extension of time is proposed for getting new loans spread over a longer period. Suppose that the unemployment problem was ended tomorrow. We shall be paying for five years or 15 years to make up that money.

We believe that the Government has acted most unfairly with the parish councils in the matter. They were led to believe that they were to get something. Then the Government: refused to pay them. The parish councils in Scotland were never constituted to deal with unemployment. They dealt only with what they termed the legitimate poor, and the rest of the system was built up on that foundation. Then this additional burden was put on them. In connection with the subsidising of labour, it is quite true that the public authorities in Scotland have stated time and again that if money had to be paid it would he much better to get some return for it. But the money was being paid from the Employment Exchanges, and was being added to by the parish councils. We suggest to the Government that they should continue the process of building houses and get some return for the money in the form of useful work. I hope that the House will reject this Measure, for I see no good in it.


I do not suppose for a moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who so admirably moved the rejection of this Measure, intends to press it to a Division. We have had a great deal said about the Scottish part of the Bill. I think it is a great pity that the two Measures, the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, 1921, and the Poor Law Emergency Provisions (Scotland) Act, 7921, should be drafted into one Bill for extension in this way. I would suggest that it would be wiser to divide the Bills at a later stage. The extension proposed is the extension of a piece of emergency legislation passed in rather a hurry about 18 months ago. In common with other hon. Members, I would like to emphasise the peril that lies before us in dealing with very important national measures in the piecemeal way of the past few years. During the passage of the Act of 1921 there were many arguments advanced for dealing with the subject at the earliest possible moment upon a proper basis. It was generally agreed that the necessity for the Measure to which we are now giving a longer life was urgent. At the same time, it was suggested that the Government should consider dealing with the subject as a whole and with the country as a whole rather than with part of the subject and part of the country, namely London, as it was under the original Bill.

I would remind the House that the then Minister of Health said, on Second Reading, that he hoped that when the Ullswater Commission reported, the time would have arrived when the old standing question could be finally settled. The Ullswater Commission has reported, and the House would now like to hear whether it is intended that the Report is to be given effect to by the Government, or what steps the Government propose to take in the matter. The Minister of Health 18 months ago stated that, although the Government realised that the whole problem must be dealt with at the earliest possible moment, no Government would like to tackle the job, because it was much too big. That difficulty is emphasised by the fact that the water Commission has given us three distinct reports. It will be very interesting if we could be told to-day whether the Government propose in the near future to act upon one or other of those reports or to deal with the matter at all; in any event we might be told why it is that this Measure is being extended merely for 12 months or a little more. It. is emergency legislation originally brought in at a time when the problem could not be dealt with as a whole. I wish to emphasise what has been said with reference to areas other than London and Scotland. It seems obvious that Glasgow has very good ground for claiming to be dealt with on similar lines to London.

The country should be dealt with as a, whole. There is no doubt unemployment is a national question. We are not suffer- ing from ordinary trade depression; our trouble is not seasonal or local. The reason for it is to be found in causes which are world-wide. When you come to what, is known as nationalising the Poor Law system of the country, and the rating of the country, you are up against a problem which seems to be incapable of a reasonable solution. But. something must be done. In one particular part of the country in which I am interested the problem has been accentuated very largely, as it has in other parts of the country, by a very large influx of labour during the War. Possibly when the Minister of Health attempts to define a necessitous area, the influx of labour from other parts of the country to various localities might be found to have some effect on that definition. I would suggest that when this general question of the Poor Law system and of rating is considered by the Government, as it must be at a very early date, the question of general management, which was referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), should be taken into consideration also.

Let me draw attention to a very remarkable decrease in the rates in one area of the Division which. I have the honour to represent. The general rate in the particular district of Frith has gone down to 7s. 4d. in the £ per annum, but the Poor Rate is up to 10s. in the £. The decrease of 11s in the £ on the general rate in the course of three years is due entirely to the more efficient management that has been brought to bear on the problem by a recently elected council. The fact that the Poor Rate is up is mainly due to the enormous increase of the population during the war, that increased population being now unemployed. Possibly the Poor Law system provided the hest machinery that could be used in the national emergency of unemployment, but none the less unemployment is a national question. The Minister is considering at the moment how a grant-in-aid can be made to so-called necessitous areas. I would urge that in dealing with the whole question, the question of the management and the way in which an area is organised should he taken into consideration.


I know very well the genuine sympathy which my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health for Scotland has with the plight of those poor local authorities in Scotland. I know my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has a similar sympathy with the local authorities of England, but I wish to confine myself on this occasion entirely to the Scottish case. Their sympathy makes it all the more remarkable that a preposterous proposal such as is contained in Clause 3 of the Bill should be brought forward for the consideration of the House of Commons. I do not know whether there are any English Members present at the moment, but they have been conspicuous by their absence from this Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no! "] I am glad to note from the symptoms of indignation in certain quarters of the House that I am not entirely correct in that statement. Will hon. Members for English constituencies consider for one moment the very-short story of this Scottish point? Up to the year 1921 there was no obligation on the parish councils of Scotland to pay relief to any able-bodied man. In 1921 it was made an obligation upon them to pay relief to able-bodied persons, and the provision was accompanied by all sorts of promises made from the Government Front Bench. There were premises or statements of the nature of promises, which have not been fulfilled, and these led the parish councils in Scotland to believe that, a very serious burden having been placed upon their shoulders, the strong arm of the Government was going to help them to bear it. There has been absolutely no Government assistance to these overrated, overworked and poor parish authorities in Scotland. In 1921 the parish councils found themselves with this terrible burden, and, as has been pointed out, they have not the staff, and they have not the funds to deal with it. There have been continual complaints and continual demands that the public Exchequer should assist in bearing what is really a general public charge.

What do we find under this Bill? I do not know what definition my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. F. C. Thomson), who sits on the Front Bench—whether in a legal, quasi-legal or illegal capacity I know not, but hope he will soon be here in a fully legal capacity—I do not know what definition he gives of a "public authority." It does seem to me, however, that we are in danger of this serious anomaly—that a poor little parish council in Scotland, staggering under this great burden placed on it for the first time two years ago, may be called upon to subsidise a great central Government Department which refuses to pay a living wage to the men it employs on works of public utility. I challenge my hon. Friends to deny that such a state of affairs might easily arise under this Clause What is the history of this provision? The first, stage is that no parish council pays to a destitute able-bodied person. The second stage is that the parish council must pay relief to destitute able-bodied men. The third stage is one unknown in all the history of Scotland, although there have been a number of queer things in that long history. The third stage is that the parish councils for the first time in their history are to be called upon to go far beyond the payment of relief to destitute persons, and are to be called upon to pay relief to persons who are not destitute at all. At present, without this Bill, if a destitute man obtains work—honest work—and earns proper wages, the parish council has nothing to do with him. He is not in receipt of poor relief, but under this Bill, in hundreds and thousands of cases, a man who is doing his duty, engaged in honest work on a great public scheme, will have placed upon him the stigma of poor relief.

Captain ELLIOT (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland)

indicated dissent.


My hon. and gallant Friend knowingly shakes his head. We shall be glad to learn from him how he interprets the Bill and in what way the state of affairs which I prognosticate will not come about, but he must have some patience. If a destitute man, a. man who is now destitute, is employed to-morrow by a great Government Department or local authority on a scheme of public utility, that man will have part of his wages made up by the parish council if the arrangement is to be in accordance with this Bill. You have this situation, then—the parish council is being called upon to enlarge the scope of its activities and subsidise the wages paid by local authorities and public authorities, which may include Government Departments. In spite of my hon. and gallant and erudite Friend's shaking of his head, I contend that is most unfair to the parish councils of Scotland. It is a new burden and it is the introduction of an entirely new and vicious principle into our legislation. As I have already said, it is also unfair that an individual working on a great scheme of public utility, and doing a. fair day's work for what ought to be a fair days wage, should have placed upon him the stigma of poor relief. Therefore, though I have every desire to assist in the solution of the problem of unemployment and to alleviate the sufferings of the unemployed, I regard this Clause as short-sighted, as a Clause which is vicious to the core, and if the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) goes into the Division Lobby I shall feel bound to follow him and vote against the Bill.


I wish to join with my colleagues from Scotland in protesting against Clause 3 of the Bill. I regret that this Clause has been tacked on to, the Bill. It places Scottish Members in a particularly difficult position. So far as we are concerned if the first two Clauses are acceptable to English Members we are prepared to support them, but the Scottish Members, so far as I can discover, are absolutely opposed to Clause 3, and if the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) goes into the Division Lobby we shall follow him. It is the only way of protesting against the inclusion of this Clause in the Bill. The Measure which this Bill proposes to extend was introduced in an emergency. There was a very serious unemployment, crisis in Scotland and this Act was originally introduced to deal with that emergency. Even at the present moment there is no particular reason for this Clause. If the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health for Scotland cares to do so, he can before the expiration of the present Act, introduce a separate amending Bill to deal with this matter in a more thorough fashion. That Act placed upon the parish councils burdens which they never contemplated and the late Secretary for Scotland had more difficulty in trying to persuade the parish councils to operate that Act than was experienced in connection with any other Act dealing with local administration in Scotland. The parish councils had been dead against dealing with this particular problem. They always maintained it was a national question which should have been dealt with nationally and they resented having this particular duty imposed upon them. Now the Minister of Health comes forward with this further proposal which he introduces to us in an apologetic tone. It must have struck the House that the right hon. Gentleman used an apologetic tone especially in connection with Clause 3. He did not seem at all happy when he came to that Clause and seemed to have some doubt as to whether Scottish Members were prepared to support it or not.

Not only the Scottish Members of this House but the members of parish councils throughout Scotland and the people of Scotland generally are entirely opposed to Clause 3, and I hope the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health for Scotland will seriously consider having the Clause amended. As a matter of fact local authorities in Scotland have had enough to do up to the present to keep the local administrative machinery moving without having this additional burden thrust upon them. Hon. Members have already dealt with the position of affairs in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and other districts. In the county from which I come—Fife—we have had the very same difficulties to meet and the very same burdens to bear. Some of our parish councils have been struggling from bygone days with ever-increasing burdens and with overtaxation and now on top of these has come the problem of unemployment. So far as opinion in Scotland has been vocal it has been in favour of having this question dealt with as a national problem and not left to particular districts which are adversely affected. I had intended to draw attention to the comments and decisions of the Departmental Committee on Local Taxation in Scotland, but that has already been done. I am glad attention has been drawn to the recommendations of this Committee which was largely representative of local authorities in Scotland and which went very fully into the question of local taxation. The opinion of a Committee of that description ought to have had some weight with the hon. and gallant Gentleman when he was considering this particular Clause. I hope the matter will be pressed to a Division and the Scottish Members given an opportunity of demonstrating to the Government that this Measure is not acceptable or satisfactory to the people of Scotland. Scottish opinion is against the proposal and the Scottish Members of this House will not be doing their duty unless they register their protest against it.

6.0 P.M.


I rise to support the postponement of the Second Reading of this Bill, because I think it is about time that the Government under took to handle this question in a thorough-going manner, and no longer continued pushing off an urgent question by these temporary devices. They are inadequate to meet a situation which is at present doing a great deal of harm to the industry of the country and imposing intolerable burdens on those least able to bear them. What is the emergency with which these powers are sought to deal? We are told that largely it is a question of unemployment having decreased the assessable value of many districts and largely increased the charges on those districts. I submit that the provision for unemployment is not a local responsibility and should not be locally imposed. It is a national responsibility, and the present acute state of unemployment is largely due to the policy of the Government--if not the present Government, the late Government, and in the main, although they threw the old captain overboard and put a new captain over us, it is the same crew, and they cannot absolve themselves from responsibility. The Prime Minister, speaking in this House in the present Session, on 13th February, said: I think that there is very little doubt that if we had effected our deflation at a slower rate, we should not have had this unemployment." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1923; col. 43, Vol. 160.] I dare say some hon. Members will recollect those words, in which the Prime Minister took some credit to himself for having been instrumental in bringing about that policy of deflation. If, for the purposes of national policy, unemployment has been created or accentuated, it is a national responsibility, and the Government should take it back and look at it from that point of view. But, from a wider point of view, the whole system of imposing national responsibilities as a charge on local authorities is a wrong and vicious principle. No longer is the parish the economic unit. The nation is the economic unit, and these national responsibilities should be national charges, for the charges imposed on the citizen, whether as taxes or rates, should have relationship either to his ability to pay or else to the value of the services received. While, as far as services received are concerned, they may be roughly measured by the value of the property occupied for business purposes, it is no indication of ability to pay a share of the national responsibility, and we find that, because of the heavy incidence of rating, many a struggling business concern is being crushed down, running at a loss, and yet having to bear too big a proportion of their share of the national responsibility.

I will give one particular instance. We have, in my own district of Edmonton, a firm interested in making motor vehicles, particularly omnibuses, namely, Messrs. Straker-Squire. They took over a Government factory, paying a lot of money for it, and they considered that they would be able to employ 2,000 workpeople. The Government's policy of deflation intervened, credits were restricted, and Messrs. Straker-Squire were not able to carry on their business, the consequence being that they had to reduce their employee from something like 1,200 people to just over 100, but the rating of their premises amounted to over £9,000 a year. At the present time they are trying to reconstruct the business. They have about 450 employés there, and the charges for local rates on those premises amount to 8s. per week per man. What possibility is there for a business to recover, handicapped by circumstances like that? They have done something else. To try and meet the situation, they have gone to tremendous expense. They have had to rearrange the organisation of the whole of their factory, in order to concentrate their work in a section, and they have declared the rest of their factory void. As it is declared void, we do not get the rates from that part of the district, but as the value of that property is included in the whole assessment of the district, we have to pay from our local rates in Edmonton for the county rates and for the poor rate of the union as though that property were occupied. That will give some idea of the anomalies of the present system.

If you go to the more heavily rated poorer districts, the shopkeepers are getting in arrears with their rates, and many of them are talking about shutting up. Nobody dares open a busi- ness or alter a house to make a decent shop, but we find instead houses with their forecourts containing a little wooden structure, on little vacant pieces of ground stalls being put up, all over the place, the gutters being crowded with street traders, and the shopkeeper is unable to compete with them because of the heavy burden of rating. The present system of rating is driving the shopkeeper out of his shop, and trade into the gutter, and we are going back and back, simply because the rating in a great many places is heavier than the rental charges, in spite of the fact that those rental charges are so very heavy.

There is another feature of this question. As one of the engineers, I know too many of my men who have been unemployed for anything up to two years —thrifty people, who have cultivated the vice of thrift, as I had to cultivate it. I call it a vice because the ordinary working man, if he spends all his wages on his family, and spends the money well, cannot spend enough, and, therefore, that vice of thrift has to be exercised to try and make some little provision for the future, at the expense of the children in their growing years. I have seen those men exhausting their unemployment benefit from the Exchange, and their own private little resources, and their funds from their union, and at the end of two years living a. miserable existence, finding that week by week, with their little houses, they have got to spend 10s. in rates to relieve the unemployed men who have been even worse off and are on poor relief. It seems to me that a system that robs the unemployed man of the resources of his little thrift in order to maintain the unemployed who have gone past him and are on Poor Law relief is an iniquitous system which ought to be handled right away.

These are some of the considerations that should be understood by the Minister of Health, and I hope he will take them fully into his cognisance. We have had some hon. Members speaking from Scotland, some from the Metropolitan area, and some from outside, and it is unfortunate that we cannot concentrate on one of these points, but have to jump about from one question to another like cats on hot bricks, simply because of the way in which this Measure is presented. I think the thing ought to be taken back and re-drafted, so that the Scottish question, if it be distinct, could be argued as a distinct question, and we should not all get up in this manner. In regard to the London area, we have the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund for the centre of London, for the London County Council area, but that area does not comprehend London to-day. We have Greater London over the borders, and the people in the City of London and inner London, in their offices and workshops, are employing people who have to live and sleep and go for I heir Poor Law relief, when in need, outside the London County Council area, and therefore get no assistance from the Common Poor Fund of London. In the Edmonton area, which is the centre of our Poor Law union, we have our workhouse and a large infirmary, and during the 20 years I have lived in Edmonton that place has been continually enlarged and the Poor Law responsibilities have grown. But we are fortunate in having two workhouses.

The Strand Union built their workhouse down at Edmonton because it was cheaper. They built a. very big workhouse and big Poor Law schools there, but, as time went on and property became old, that property was pulled down, and the people in the Strand area were forced out into places like Edmonton. The Strand Union workhouse became less and less occupied, until they came to the decision to do away with it Three of the well-to-do unions in London, the Strand. Westminster and, I believe, Bayswater, were able to find that: one workhouse would contain all the poor of the three unions. The Strand Union workhouse is derelict to-day, and standing idle, and has gone out of rating, whereas we in the outer suburbs have had to pay for the cost of the poor who are poor because they have worked in inner London and have not received wages enough to maintain them and to make provision for slack times. I want to suggest to the Minister of Health that when he takes this matter fully into consideration, he should recognise how the rates are made up to-day and where the responsibility for meeting them lies.

The rates are made up, first of all, by the cost of national responsibilities. The maintenance of the floor, of the unemployed, of the insane, is the result of a system which embraces the nation as a single entity, and it should be distributed all over the nation. There are other national responsibilities, such as education, because, after all, education is not given to the children for the sake of the children themselves. It was never recognised from the first, in 1870, from that point of view, nor was it for the sake of the parents, but it was that the children of this country should receive a certain amount of training and information to make them useful in industry and commerce. Therefore, it is a national responsibility. All these charges of national responsibility should be imposed on the people in proportion to their ability to pay, whether they live in the City of London, or have their business there, or in Bayswater, or anywhere else where they like to segregate themselves away from the mass of the poor people. Secondly, ability to pay cannot be ascertained by the value of the premises which anyone occupies for business purposes or domestic life. The third thing is that those services which are immediately personal, and services such as public libraries, parks, etc., might well be placed on the locality which desires them, but even in them the proportion which each individual should pay should be ascertained on the basis of his income and not on the size of the premises which he occupies.

How often do we find that well-to-do people, in quite comfortable circumstances, say, a man and wife, earning or having a good income, not requiring or desiring a family, who will accommodate themselves in a very small flat, and, therefore, the assessable value of their holding is very low. Next door to them we may find a married couple requiring all the accommodation which is desirable for the decency and health and comfort of their children, having, perhaps, five or six children, and having to pay twice as much, without a quarter of their neighbours' ability to pay. This occurs time after time, and I do think that the Minister of Health should now tackle this question in a whole-hearted manner, for the health, the comfort, the advancement, aye, even the retention of our present position as a nation depends upon these local services being efficiently carried out. The imposition of the cost should be on the basis of ability to pay, and not on the basis of necessity. To tinker with this question any longer will be very detrimental. If our new Minister of Health desires to make his name, as I hope he will, in the administration of his office, he will tackle this question in a thorough, whole-hearted manner, and see that the inequalities of the present rating system are not continued, recognising that times have changed since Elizabeth reigned in this Realm, and that the circumstances of our social organisation should he changed to meet them.


I want to put the Scottish case from a Scotsman's point of view. It seems to me that there has been a design on the part of the Government in attaching this Scottish Clause to the two English Clauses. They may have known that we are very desirous of helping our comrades in England, but it looks very much like putting the children in the firing line to try to save themselves as a Government from the guns of the Scotsmen. That seems to be the position of the Government so far as the drafting of this Bill is concerned. In Clause 3 are the words, "any work of public utility instituted." Having had something to do with works, I want to put this question to those in charge of this Bill. Is this class of work something that is not worth doing? If it be not worth doing, why do it? It it be worth doing, why cannot you pay full wages for that class of work? In the second place, every local authority carrying on so-called utility work due, not to local, but to national disorganisation of industry, is going to be called upon to increase its rates. No provision is made in the Bill dealing with any revenue or profit coming from this public utility—and it must be a poor utility that does not bring revenue or profit in some way. No provision is made in the Bill, that since the local authorities a-re not to be allowed to have a clean bill at the end of the work, any revenue or profit following from that utility is to come back in the form of relief to that part of the country which is called upon to pay or subsidise—

Captain ELLIOT

The hon. Member, I am sure, does not wish to misrepresent the Bill. Let me point out it is impossible that any profit should be made under any scheme under the Bill. There is no provision for the parish council supporting any scheme which is going to make profit.


On a point of Order. Did the Minister of Health not say it was possible to give subsidies to private firms?


I am glad to have had that from the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I can give instances that have happened in Scotland of huge profits being made by contractors employed upon unemployed relief work started in 1905 and in 1895, and now we are getting a revenue on the one hand and profit on the other. Therefore I do not see where the interjection applies. It is a very stupid thing indeed to carry out any utility that does not in some way give a return. Even the making of a road is something from which you get a return. If it is to be something from which nothing is to come, why have private contractors at all? Why not start blowing soap bubbles? You might as well call that a. public utility on the basis just given, namely, that nothing is to come from it. In Glasgow, with that kind of labour we changed morass into good ground, where we are now growing corn. Is that not something from which we got a return, and are we not entitled to claim that there ought to he a provision in this Bill, whereby parish councils will recover in the case of any such thing taking place? This means that the parish council have got to take upon their shoulders the additional responsibility of the loans that are outside what is called the Government subsidy. This is a most unfair Clause. It simply means, that in order to guarantee security to the moneylender, the Government go so far, but only so far, to give a security, and then leave a great burden upon the local communities. There are local communities in Scotland to-day suffering intensely from this unemployment, so much so that they see nothing but absolute bankruptcy facing them. I would appeal, therefore, to the Government to take this Bill back, and divide it into English and Scottish sections. It is not good enough to try to hide something wrong which you are going to do to Scotland behind two Clauses which we would like to vote for England. If the Government do not see their way to separate these Clauses in Committee, and give Scottish Members a chance to stand by their people, then the Government will have some real opposition in the later stages.


I want to refer again to the case of one of the necessitous areas, to which attention has been previously called, namely, Sheffield. The proposal in the Bill with regard to Scotland is a proposal which might very well he extended to all the necessitous areas in England. With regard to Sheffield, it has already contributed out of rates £1,500,000 purely for unemployment. That is to be repaid over a period of five years, being a rate of something like 2s. 9d. in the pound. If extended over 10 years, it means 1s. 4d., and if over 15 years, 11d. In any case, these burdens, whether for a shorter or a longer period, are sufficiently heavy to justify our asking for some extended period of repayment. The other point I want to make is this: In the London area there is an attempt to equalise the rates of the various authorities. There is need for something of the same sort in regard to some of the necessitous areas, more particularly where you find contiguous areas suffering differently. We have in Sheffield two unions—the Sheffield and the Ecclesall Unions. Taking the cost per head of the population for unemployment relief in the four last half-years up to Michaelmas, 1922, there was a contribution from the Sheffield Union of 63s., whereas in the adjoining Ecclesall Union the cost was 35s. 1d. There is surely something wrong with a system which permits two unions within the same city to he treated in such a different way as that. It is very largely a question whether the Sheffield area is suffering from unemployment somewhat more severely than the Ecclesall area. What is true of them applies, to a more or less extent, all over the necessitous areas in the country. Surely it ought not to be beyond the capacity of the Minister of Health to devise some scheme whereby, without making an additional charge to the Exchequer, something in the way of equalisation of the cost of unemployment relief, brought about by national causes, could be effected.


It is not the first time that hon. Members on these benches, and, indeed, hon. Members elsewhere, have taken exception to the objectionable practice of this Government in submitting Bills of an omnibus character, for that is exactly what they arc doing this afternoon. We have before us a Bill which attempts to deal with a special and an exceptional difficulty which has arisen with regard to London boroughs in relation to the question of unemployment relief, and, at the same time, makes a very feeble attempt—a mistaken attempt, in my judgment, and in the judgment of hon. Members on these benches—to deal with the special difficulty affecting Scotland. I submit that the Government, in introducing Bills in this erratic and vacillating fashion, apparently without having given the matter careful consideration, are demonstrating what hon. Members on these benches have thought for some time, and that is that they are incapable of making up their mind as to the right kind of legislation which ought to be introduced. I want to say that, so far as the Scottish section of this House is concerned—and I am very glad to know that hon. Members below the Gangway arc with us in this matter—we are going to offer a most emphatic and determined, and, if necessary, a Lobby protest against conduct of this kind. An indication of the knowledge possessed by Gentlemen who, for the time being, sit on the Treasury Bench, has been indicated by the interjection of the hon. and gallant Member the Under-Secretary for the Scottish Board of Health. I am extremely sorry that the Government cannot be fortified on the Treasury Bench by a person who has the requisite legal knowledge.

If we have on the Treasury Bench a person with such capacity as I suggest, in all probability interjections of that kind would not take place. What have we been told with regard to the schemes which are undertaken by the public authorities in Scotland? That there can be no question of profit-making. To us that is a misunderstanding of the question altogether. Obviously, local authorities in Scotland that have to undertake schemes of public utility, that have to arrange for the provision of work particularly for the unemployed, are compelled—and the Minister of Health on this occasion will endorse my point of view—to employ private contractors to undertake the work. That is one of the conditions which have been laid down. Obviously, if private contractors are to he employed by either the parish councils or by the other local authorities to under- take work of a public character, then profit-making must enter into the transaction.

Captain ELLIOT

indicated dissent.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I observe, shakes his head. I must confess that if he disapproves of that point of view his knowledge of local authority transactions in Scotland is far from complete. I happen to have been a representative on the largest local authority in Scotland. I know the Glasgow Corporation were compelled by the Scottish Board of Health—that is by the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own Department, and he ought to know something of the affairs of his own Department, though I confess I have very grave doubts of that, having regard to some of the things said by hon. and right hon. Gentleman 'recently on -the Treasury Bench—to employ private contractors when it was proved conclusively that if we had undertaken the work by direct labour we would have saved large sums of money to the ratepayers. That being so, I contend that profit-making does enter into transactions of this kind.

I must say a word in endorsement of what has been said from these Benches, and from the Benches below the Gangway, with regard to the pitiable plight of the parish councils in Scotland. With very great respect to the Metropolitan boards of guardians who, I know, are in very grave difficulties, and who have been placed in those difficulties because of the refusal of the late Government—and the present Government—to undertake full and complete responsibility for this national problem and difficulty—with very great respect, the position of the parish councils in Scotland is even more serious. It has been aggravated to a considerable degree, because we in Scotland have never held the right to provide relief for able-bodied destitute persons. It has been the other way about on this side of the border. That responsibility, however, was placed upon the shoulders of the parish councils by the late Government, and, I presume, that has been retained by the existing Government. If that be so, the Government ought to come to the assistance of the Scottish parish councils, not in this mean, miserable, pettifogging manner but in a constructive way. What I submit you ought to have done in this particular instance, knowing what I do of the almost bankrupt position of the Scottish parish councils, knowing many of the men associated with the parish councils who have accepted the responsibility to administer the affairs of such bodies, and now are threatening to send in their resignations and refusing to undertake responsibility in face of the serious difficulties which confront them—knowing, I say, these facts, I ask this House to reject a Bill of this character which neither deals with one question or the other in a proper rational constructive fashion.

Lastly, I submit that we from Scotland have a real grievance on this occasion. I give place to no one—and I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House who represent- Scottish constituencies will agree with this—in my desire to maintain the union as between England and Scotland, perhaps with this exception, that we ought to have autonomous powers vested in us in Scotland to make it unnecessary to come down here and submit to the kind of things thrust upon us. After all, this question of unemployment is perhaps the most serious question we in Scotland have to face, because it enters into all our discussions, on almost every question, whether in parish council, town council, education authorities or other local bodies. At some time or other the question of unemployment comes in. We are faced with it on all hands.

When I was a member of the Glasgow Corporation we could not discuss the question of the extension of the tramway without knowing that we had to come up to this House and ask for powers. The question of unemployment entered into that. We wanted to construct new sewers, new houses, and other things that were absolutely essential in the interests of the people of our great city. We had to consider the whole question of unemployment. That being so, I say that in Bills of a specific character affecting Scotland and Scottish interests, we ought to have them submitted in a complete and isolated form without regard to the questions which affect London or any other part of the country. Have not London Members made a somewhat similar complaint on their side? I hope the hint will not be lost on hon. Members in this House. At all events, we in Scotland are not going to take this kind of thing lying down. I tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman representing the Government on the Treasury Bench—and I ask him to convey that information to his right hon. Friend the Member of the Central Division of Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), whose patriotism has for the moment apparently been lost, because there is little, very little, real interest taken in Scottish affairs even in Glasgow—that so far as Scotland is concerned we expect much more from this Assembly than we have got up to the present time; much more from him if our criticism is to be stilled.

Captain ELLIOT

I thank the House for the genial and kindly way hon. Members have deal with the Bill under discussion. This includes the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell), whose repeated incursions into Debate we all admire, even if we are not in a position to parallel them. Let me first take the proposal in Clause 3, which has raised a certain amount of discussion, the proposal whereby a parish council may make a contribution towards the cost- of some work of public utility which another local authority may be carrying out. Hon. Members in many parts of the House have joined in heaping denunciation upon this innocent proviso, and have explained that it was likely to place a perfectly unwanted burden upon the parish councils. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw) grew quite lyrical in his pity for the poor bale parish councils, which, he said repeatedly, with a break in his voice, might have to subsidise some great and wealthy local authority. One would scarcely believe that this proposal wits inserted at the direct request of one of the strongest deputations of parish councils which over came to this City of London. That deputation met the Secretary for Scotland no longer ago than 1st March. It included the chairman of the Glasgow Parish Council, the chairman of the Govan Parish Council the chairman of the Aberdeen Parish Council, and representatives of nearly all the principal authorities of that kind in Scotland. One of their specific points was that parish councils should be afforded these facilities, and this proviso was inserted, I think, largely at their special request, and they have expressed themselves as satisfied with it. To take the general idea which has been brought forward in Debate, it would appear that this was some dark scheme for subsidising wages whereby the local authority in the case of carrying out schemes may be enabled to pay under the proper rate. There is no such intention. I do not believe that there is any power to do this under the Bill. If there be, I certainly undertake here and now that that shall be put right in Committee, and I would call upon hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite with their utmost ingenuity to help me in framing the words which will make the intention of the Government perfectly clear in regard to this Bill.

The third point put to me on this same question was that, even supposing these two questions were both settled—that the desires of the parish councils have been considered, that there was no question of paying a lower rate than the trade union rate of wages—still, it was said, some miserable fellow might have that curious thing, some profit in some shape or other, out of this proposal, and that that must be guarded against at all costs. I have guarded against it so far as was in my power, but I shall be willing to guard against it still further if hon. Members will show me how. Power has been specifically taken in this Bill that a scheme must be approved by the Scottish Board of Health, and, what is more, it is not our intention in any way to give such subsidies to any scheme without it is being carried out by direct labour employed by the local authorities themselves. These three points can be cleared up by the assistance of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. If there is any further point which they would wish explained I shall be very happy here and now to deal with it. I gather, there being no response, that my explanation has satisfied lion. Gentlemen opposite.


What bas the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say respecting the case in the Maryhill Ward of Glasgow where, in connection with the roads on a housing scheme, we in the locality wanted it to be done by direct labour, and the Board insisted on a contract being taken?

Captain ELLIOT

Any scheme put forward under the provisions of this Act will be a scheme to be carried out directly by the local authorities themselves and not carried out by the intermediary of a contractor. I hope that will satisfy the hon. Member.


Do I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to mean that as a definite condition of the provision of work that no contractors will be allowed to quote for the work itself?

Captain ELLIOT

That is the present intention of the Government. But hon. Members will realise that we have to meet the most minute criticism made against what might be considered a perilous proposal. There was the further point put by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. I think it was a complaint that the parish council might be compelled to pay towards helping some great local authority. I would reply to that by merely pointing out that you have the right whereby a parish council may make arrangements with any local authority or any public authority, and the power is entirely in the hands of the parish council. It may be that some of the smaller towns having a parish council think that the sum which it, is expending in relief of distress had better be expended on a joint scheme with some local authority. If it sees advantage to itself in carrying that scheme or such joint scheme, then it shall have the power to do so. I do not think, considering that the parish councils which have repeatedly asked for that and, so far as we know, have expressed themselves satisfied with the nature of the provision we have made in this Bill, that hon. Members in any part, of the House can undertake to take exception to that power under the conditions I have explained.

There is one further matter which is, perhaps, of especial interest to Scottish Members, and it brings me to my third and last point. A complaint has been made that it is impossible for Scottish Members to give their opinion on particular Sections of this Bill. I would point out, however, that it will he perfectly possible for them, by opposing any particular Clauses of the Bill, to state clearly and emphatically their opinion with regard to any particular Section of it, and I hope that the suggestion which was made by the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, that lie was unwilling to press his Amendment to a Division, may be implemented in practice, and that he will find it possible to allow the Second Reading of the Bill to pass without a Division, taking exception, if he desires to do so, to any particular Section of it by opposing when we come to that particular point in the Bill. That can be done both in Committee and on the Floor of this House, because during the Report stage also there will be an opportunity for expressing such opinion on particular Clauses of the Bill. The point has been frequently made that this is a matter which should not have been dealt with by local charges, but is a matter of Imperial concern, and that the burden should be placed upon Imperial funds. May I point out, however, particularly to my Scottish colleagues, that this is exactly one of the cases in which we find that we are associated with the senior partner in a way from which it is very difficult for us to escape, and from which we certainly cannot escape in any such hasty fashion as would be necessary at this moment?


Not the senior partner.

Captain ELLIOT

Let me say the Government. Perhaps, however, my hon. Friend and myself had better discuss that outside. I think that members of the Scottish Home Rule Parliament which meets at Westminster to discuss its affairs should not occupy all their time in discussing them on the Floor of this House, but should also discuss them in the usual channels for such discussions, such as the Smoking Room and other places.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree to the part of this Bill which affects Scotland being discussed in that way?

Captain ELLIOT

I was trying to point out one of the difficulties of that when I was interrupted by the hon. Gentleman. It has been said that they would see what they could get out of me, but I would point out that it is not what they can get out of me, but what I can get out of the Treasury, and that will show what I meant by referring to the senior or the Government partner. It is all very well for us to discuss whether any particular Clauses would be most suitable for Scotland, and whether the burden should be Imperial and not local, but the English system has been for many years that distress due to unemployment should he relieved out of local rates, and it would be very difficult for us to claim that the whole English system should suddenly be upset because of some emergency which had suddenly arisen in Scotland. We should find it impossible to have the unemployed maintained out of Imperial funds North of the Cheviots, and out of local funds South of the Cheviots, and that is a condition of things which we must face. It is no use talking about the matter in the abstract. The fact remains that this burden is a local burden in England and has been a local burden in England, and, as far as we can at present see, it will be. It is impossible, therefore, for us to suggest that England should both bear its own local burdens and then, in addition, make a subvention in aid of us in Scotland. It is useless for me to pretend to my colleagues that I should have the slightest chance of carrying in this or any other House of Commons a proposal of that nature.

Finally, let me say that this burden is undoubtedly a new and very severe one upon the Scottish parish councils, and I cannot withhold from them my admiration for the way in which they have shouldered it, novel, and in many ways unexpected as it is. They have grappled with it in a way which deserves the utmost admiration, and in a way which has shown their great financial solvency and great willingness to do whatever could be done for the relief of the unemployed. They have protested, and have shown how, in a great many cases, they were bearing a very heavy burden, and one which, at times, they complained was beyond their power to bear. In some cases hon. Members from England, when commiserating with us, have not realised that many of the suggestions which they put forward have already been put into practice—that, for instance, Glasgow is divided into only two parishes, the parish of Glasgow and the parish of Govan—


No, there are about six.

Captain ELLIOT

There is at the present moment, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, a proposal before the Scottish Office to bring Cathcart into the area of Glasgow Parish, and upon a proposal such as that, on which my Noble Friend will have to adjudicate, it would obviously be very injudicious of me to make a pronouncement as to the merits. But no doubt, whatever steps are taken to amalgamate areas, difficulties and troubles will arise. It has been suggested that we might arrive at some spreading of the burdens, but the parish councils have considered that themselves and dismissed the problem of probing into the parish of origin as one that would not yield any financial results commensurate with the labour involved. As I have said, we recognise that the parish councils have shouldered the burden which has been placed upon them in this emergency in a way deserving of our utmost admiration, and their efforts have had this result, that at any rate we have got so far as we have got through our third winter of unemployment in a way which no Member of this House would have ventured to predict in envisaging the question in 1919 and 1920. The public health has been maintained in a most extraordinarily efficient fashion, and the work that has been done has had its reward.

I am speaking from the Floor of this House, not only to hon. Members, but to the parish councils, and I would beg of them to continue to assist us with their help in this grave national crisis. To grapple with it we must use every possible means at our disposal. This burden is not one that we have placed on their shoulders; it is an emergency provision. We are extending the Bill for one year only, and in a year's time hon. Members will have the opportunity again to review the situation and discuss it in the light of the further experience that we shall have had. If it is necessary to make further provision in any particular way, then we shall have, in only 12 months' time, a chance of bringing forward those things which we say will have to be done. Let me point out once again, however, that any scheme of reorganisation which involves a local charge in England and an Imperial charge in respect of Scotland will not work. These things must be dealt with for the Kingdom as a whole. In the provisions which have been made in the Unemployment Insurance Bill a very great help has been given in regard to the burden which would otherwise be cast on the local authorities. The gap periods have been shortened, the benefits have been extended to dependants, and in this machinery we have a device by which it will be possible to adjust more equitably the differences between the central and the local authorities. To set up a third kind of machinery for dealing with this problem is not, I believe, a matter of practical politics now, and I do not think it will come into the ambit of practical politics in the years immediately before us. I desire, as I have said, to thank hon. Members for their courtesy in dealing with this provision, and for the practical criticisms which they have offered. We have had a full and, I think, a very instructive Debate, and I hope that now the House will find it possible to come to a decision.


I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not feel aggrieved if I repeat that the House has a certain grievance in the way in which this Measure has been drafted. We must repeat our objections, first of all, to mixing up a Scottish provision with the London provisions. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has a real grievance against the principle of the Scottish Clauses of this Bill, but, in view of the fact that it will be possible, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman has pointed out, to vote against those Clauses in Committee, and again to challenge the decision of the House on Report, I venture to hope that my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division. This Bill is a matter of urgency as regards the Metropolis. Scotland, after all, has got time, and, although the Scottish Members have a grievance against the Government, yet the Act which this Bill proposes to extend actually expired on the 31st December, and it would be a calamity if this Measure were not now given a Second Reading in order that that may be put right.

Nevertheless, I would venture to point out that it will not be sufficient merely to go on with these emergency measures. The hon. and gallant Member seemed to think it was some mitigation of his proposal that we should have it all over again at this time next year. It seems to me that that is taking up the time of the House and the energy of hon. Members quite unnecessarily. This time next year unemployment will not be over, and the difficulties of the parish councils will not be at an end. They will still go on having to bear this huge burden, and surely the hon. and gallant Gentleman might have indicated that, before that time comes, he would have been able to bring forward some Measure which would deal with this matter of local government in Scotland, just as his colleague may be expected to deal with it in regard to England, in order that the matter may be put on a more stable basis. Otherwise we are only aggravating a situation which was bad enough before. I do not wish to prolong the discussion. We have made our protest, and I hope my hon. Friends who speak for Scotland will be content with opposing in Committee these Clauses relating to Scotland, and then, if they are so disposed, challenging the decision of the House on Report. I hope they will be content to let the Second Reading be taken to-night, and I appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh not to press his Amendment.


I rise, not for the purpose of continuing any longer the discussion on the various points which have been raised, but only to say that, so far as I am concerned, and so far as those Members from Scotland are concerned, whose views I know, we cannot possibly accept the kind of explanation which has been offered by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who represents the Scottish Office. He has really given us nothing, and has not given us any hope of anything, except that he would like to have his Bill if we are so obliging as to give it to him. The real cause of the difficulty is much more deeply seated than he seems to be aware of. In the first place, the Poor Law authorities in Scotland have attained their very efficient management, which is a model, I believe, to England and to other countries, by the very fact that they have been confined to their proper business of looking after those who are really poor, and have not had to deal with the altogether different problem of those who are unemployed. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be good enough to ask anyone who has studied and is familiar with the history of the Poor Law, he will find that that is the reason why they have been able to avoid some of the very real perils of Poor Law administration. That is a very powerful reason for not mixing up unemployment with Poor Law business.

7.0 P.M.

There is a second reason, that no justification has been shown for placing upon the shoulders of these parish councils the enormously added burden of dealing with unemployment out of the rates. I have not heard a word which has a bearing upon that. There has been no justification for that, and it is not right in principle. Another reason is that it is grossly inequitable that the parish councils should have to shoulder the burden of the unemployment of people who may not be earning their living in the parishes in which they live. There is not a word, again, to be said in favour of that. All that we are told is that in England—as I venture to think—a very much worse system prevails, and l am surprised not to have heard more from English parishes outside London in regard to that. I suppose the reason is that they have been accustomed, under their less equitable system, to throw the burden on the guardians who administer the Poor Law, but surely that is no reason why an equally inequitable system should be adopted in Scotland, creating the anomalies which have been referred to by hon. Member after hon. Member. Has any reason been given why this question should not he dealt with according to the views expressed by hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies?

We have had a long Debate, and I have been here all the time, with the exception of a few minutes. With one voice all the Scottish Members who have spoken have

been against this Bill so far as the Clause relating to Scotland is concerned. All that we have been told is, as I understand it—I shall be corrected if I am mistaken—that in the Committee to which this Bill is to be referred upstairs, Scotland will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion. Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman send it to the Scottish Standing Committee, or will he send the part of it relating to Scotland to the Scottish Standing Committee; so that, at least, there will be some substance in the suggestion that Scottish Members, on a question which is far more important than the dimensions of the Bill indicate, should have an opportunity of dealing with a purely Scottish question in the manner their constituents desire it to be dealt with? If it were suggested that in one or other of those ways the difficulty might be got over, I should be in favour of adopting the course suggested by the last speaker of not going into the Lobby against the Second Reading. If, however, we have no hope of giving Scottish opinion a determining voice upon this Scottish question, I trust the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) will go to a Division. If he does, I shall be in the same Lobby with him.

Question put, "That the word ' now ' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 303; Noes, 53.

Division No. 63.] AYES. [7.6 p.m.
Adams D, Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Conway, Sir W. Martin
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Brittain, Sir Harry Cope, Major William
Alexander, E. E, (Leyton, East) Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham) Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)
Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark) Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury) Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.
Alexander. A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Bruford, R. Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)
Ammon, Charles George Buckingham, Sir H. Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Buckle, J. Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W. Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge) Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)
Banbury. Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Butcher, Sir John George Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)
Banks, Mitchell Butt, Sir Alfred Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Button, H. S. Dawson, Sir Philip
Barnes, A. Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)
Barnett, Major Richard W. Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Doyle, N. Grattan
Barnston, Major Harry Cadogan, Major Edward Duncan, C.
Batey, Joseph Cairns, John Dunnico, H.
Becker, Harry Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R, Ede, James Chuter
Bellairs. Commander Carlyon W. Cautley, Henry Strother Edge, Captain Sir William
Berry, Sir George Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Edmonds, G.
Betterton, Henry B. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Edmondson, Major A. J.
Blades, Sir George Rowland Charleton, H. C. Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)
Blundell, F. N. Clayton, G. C. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith
Bowdler. W. A. Cobb, Sir Cyril Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W, Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K, Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)
Bowyer. Capt. G. E. W. Cohen, Major J. Brunel Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray
Brass, Captain W. Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Fawkes, Major F. H.
Fermor-Hesketh, Major T. Lansbury, George Roberts, C. H. (Derby)
Ford, Patrick Johnston Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Fremantle, Lieut -Colonel Francis E. Leach, W. Roberts, Rt. Hon.Sir. S. (Ecclesall)
Furness, G. J. Lee, F. Robertson J. D. (Islington, W.)
Galbraith, J. F. W. Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Robinson,' Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
Ganzoni, Sir John Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)
Gates, Percy Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P. Rogerson, Capt. J. E.
Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R. Locker- Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Gilbert, James Daniel Lorden, John William Royce, William Stapleton
Goff, Sir R. Park Lorimer, H. D. Ruggles-Brise, Major E.
Gosling, Harry Lowth, T. Russell, William (Bolton)
Gray, Frank (Oxford) Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Saklatvala, S.
Gray, Harold (Cambridge) Lunn, William Salter, Dr. A.
Greaves-Lord, Walter Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) McLaren, Andrew Sanders, Rt. Hon.Sir Robert A.
Grigg, Sir Edward Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Sanderson, Sir Frank B.
Groves, T. McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury) Sandon, Lord
Grundy, T. W. Maddocks, Henry Shakespeare, G. H.
Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth) Manville, Edward Shepperson, E. W.
Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. March, S. Shipwright, Captain D.
Gwynne, Rupert S. Margesson, H. D. R Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Marks, Sir George Croydon Singleton, J. E.
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford) Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mercer, Colonel H. Smith, T. (Pontefract)
Hall, Rt.-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'i'W.D'by) Middleton, G. Snell, Harry
Halstead, Major D. Milne, J. S. Ward law Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham) Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden) Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Molloy, Major L. G. S. Sparkes, H. W.
Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Stanley, Lord
Harris, Percy A. Morris, Harold Steel, Major S. Strang
Harrison, F. C. Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury) Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Harvey, Major S. E. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Strauss, Edward Anthony
Hawke, John Anthony Murchison, C. K. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South) Murray, John (Leeds, West) Sugden, Sir Wilfred H.
Hayday, Arthur Nesbltt, Robert C. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.) Newman, Colonel J. R. P (Flnchley) Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford. Henley)
Hennessy, Major J. R- G. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L.(Exeter) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Newson, Sir Percy Wilson Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Harriotts, J. Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster) Tillett, Benjamin
Hiley, Sir Ernest Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Trevelyan, C. P.
Hill, A. O'Grady, Captain James Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Oliver, George Harold Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Hodqe, Rt. Hon. John Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Wallace, Captain E.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Paget, T. G. Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Paling, W. Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withigton)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Parker, Owen (Kettering) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hood, Sir Joseph Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Webb, Sidney
Hopkins. John W. W. Pease, William Edwin Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.) Penny, Frederick George Wells, S. R.
Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Perkins, Colonel E, K. Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Hudson, Capt. A. Peto, Basil E. White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Hughes, Collingwood Philipson, H. H. Whiteley, W.
Hume, G. H. Pielou, D. P. Whitla, Sir William
Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)
Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.) Ponsonby. Arthur Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Potts, John S. Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Irving, Dan Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F.S. Pretyman, Rt, Hon. Ernest G. Winterton, Earl
Jarrett, G. W. S. Privett, F. J. Wise, Frederick
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Rankin, Captain James Stuart Wolmer, Viscount
Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C. Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Rees, Sir Beddoe Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Remer, J. R. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Rentoul, G. S. Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Reynolds, W. G. W. Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend) Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Kenyon, Barnet Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
King, Capt. Henry Douglas Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Riley, Ben TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Lamb, J. Q. Ritson, J. Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Clarke, Sir E. C. Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Collins, Pat (Walsall) Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)
Berkeley, Captain Reginald Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell Fairbairn, R. R.
Bonwick, A. Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Falconer, J.
Broad, F. A. Darbishire, C. W. Foot, Isaac
Burnie, Major J. (Bootie) Dudgeon, Major C. R. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Chapple, W. A. Edmonds, G. Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)
Guthrie, Thomas Maule Maxton, James Sullivan, J.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Millar, J. D. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart) Muir, John W. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Hillary, A. E. Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Hinds, John Newbold, J. T. W. Welsh, J. C.
Hoggs, James Myles Phillipps, Vivian Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Sexton, James Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East) Shinwell, Emanuel Wright, W.
Linfield, F. C. Sinclair, Sir A.
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Stephen, Campbell TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Mr. A. Shaw and Mr. Hardle.
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Sturrock, J. Leng

Bill committed to a Standing Committee.


May I ask you, Sir, whether, in view of the fact that Part III on the Bill is exclusively Scottish in character, you would be prepared to direct that that part of the Bill be sent to the Scottish Standing Committee?


The Standing Order with reference to sending Bills to the Scottish Standing Committee deals only with whole Bills relating exclusively to Scotland. That is not the case with this Bill. Therefore, I have no power to send it to the Scottish Standing Committee.

Captain BENN

Is it not competent for this House to give an instruction that the Bill should be divided into two parts—one to go to the Scottish Committee and the other to the Standing Committee?


That point, I think, should be raised before the Second Reading. It is competent for the Government, if they please, to move a Motion sending part of the Bill to one Committee, and part to another.


Is it not possible to raise that point now?

Captain BENN

Inasmuch as the House has the power to keep a Bill downstairs, would not that same Standing Order permit the House to instruct that the Bill be divided in the way suggested?


There is nothing to that effect in the Standing Order.


Is there no remedy at all?