HC Deb 21 July 1924 vol 176 cc1072-82

I beg to move, in page 9, to leave out lines 12 and 13.

This Amendment is designed with the view of relieving the local authority of the obligation to provide a separate room for a bath. The reason for it is that we have found by experience that it adds very materially to the cost of the housing if you have to provide a separate room for a bath. We have found that it is very much cheaper and more convenient to have a bath combined with the water closet or scullery. We have found it is so much more convenient to the tenant in a cottage for a bath to be combined in one room, and in that way you save something like 16 per cent on the cost of the house. When you have a flat, it has been found by experience, it is very much better that the bath should be in the same room and all matters connected with washing done in one part of the house. Another reason is that by this arrangement, you get your hot water on the spot in the same room where you get your bath. After all, the tenants want as few rooms as possible. I suggest that it should be left to the discretion of the local authority whether there should be a separate room for the bath.


The arguments of the hon. Member are arguments that have been heard in this House on many occasions, but in a matter of this kind I submit that it would not be in the public interest, in a large scheme of this kind, that we should take the opportunity of making a separate bathroom in a front room, and I hope the Committee will support the scheme.


The adoption of the Schedule in its present form will not make a separate bathroom a compulsory condition in all houses, for the Minister would still retain the dispensing power that a fixed bath is not necessary or desirable. There might be some argument for the Minister taking this line if it were a question, as it was a question last year, of stimulating private enterprise and having builders building all over the country, but the people on whom you are imposing this condition now are the local authorities themselves, and I do not believe that the standard of housing existing in Whitehall is higher than the standard existing in other localities. If local authorities cannot find the accommodation demanded, certain local authorities are not to be trusted with the administration of the, Act. I think the local authorities should be trusted.


I rise to speak on the question of baths. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment was trying to leave things where they were. If he was speaking of 30 years ago, there was hardly any bathrooms at all. I am not in agreement with having bathrooms in the scullery. I can see the disadvantage of such a proposal. The bath is countersunk in the floor anti wood is put over the top of the bath so that when people want to have a bath they have to pull up the floor. I want to see all these houses with a bathroom, but am in favour of having a bathroom in a separate room. I oppose this Amendment because I think, under the scheme which is very expensive, we can easily afford a bathroom.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

The Parliamentary Secretary, to my mind, has made a most startling suggestion in this proposal of a separate bathroom. There is no question of public health involved, and I defy him to prove his point. As regards the question of decency, that is a matter that ought to be left to the local authority as the hon. Member for Hastings has already said. As regards whether the bath should be upstairs or downstairs is a question of vital importance to the kind and class of family to be provided for. In our London County Council schemes we find that in certain districts or areas and according to certain needs a separate bathroom is required upstairs and in other circumstances you requite a bathroom downstairs.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)

I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to go into the, question of whether the bathroom should be upstairs or downstairs.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

I wanted to show the Parliamentary Secretary that there is no question of health involved. The public health is brought in as a matter of fact as claptrap. If anybody ought to know about public health it should be myself. Anything that goes to increase the cost of the house unnecessarily should be left to the latitude of authorities and not definitely ruled in.


I want to make a protest against the reactionary doctrine expressed by the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken. Where it is a question of a higher standard of decency and comfort, there should be a, separate bathroom. In the North there is a great desire to have this higher standard of decency and comfort. I only regret that this higher standard was not regarded in the matter of the size of the house and other conveniences which have been sacrificed for other reasons.


From the experience I gained as chairman of the housing committee in my area, I can say that the tenants do not require separate baths, because the special bath area has to be deducted from the 950 feet which is the superficial area of the house. If you ask the tenants if they would prefer a separate bathroom and smaller bedrooms, or whether they would have a bath in the scullery or in some other place, they would prefer to have the extra room in the bedrooms. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether it would not he reasonable to leave the decision in this matter to the local authorities, who are well advised as to the public desire. There is no reason for forcing a local authority which knows the desires of the citizens of its area along a particular path. I do not see why we here should say to every local authority "whether you want it or not," and to the tenant "whether you want it or not, we insist on you having a separate bathroom." I would appeal to the Minister to leave the discretion in the hands of the local authorities.

Viscount CURZON

I rise to protest against the attitude of the Under-Secretary in dealing with this question of baths. He has accused my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham of wishing to stabilise bad housing conditions. What are he and the Government doing by this Bill—stabilising rabbit hutches and pill boxes. How can the hon. Gentleman say, merely because we think that under certain conditions it might be preferable to have a bath room combined with a w.c., that it is evidence that we want bad houses. If he knew more he would know that some of the most valuable rated property has a bathroom and w.c. combined. The hon. Gentleman is much more interested in scoring debating points than in coming down to the facts of the question. The fact is that you must leave a question of this sort to the local authorities who know much more about it than any little jumped up Jack in office in Whitehall.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)

If the Noble Lord applies that expression to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, he would not be in order, and he ought to withdraw.

Viscount CURZON

I feel that I have a perfect right to make a descriptive statement of that sort, but if you order that the statement should be withdrawn, I withdraw it.


It is an expression which has been frequently used in former times in reference to people in the Government, irrespective of the Government of the day. I do not see why the Noble Lord should withdraw it.


I think if the hon. Gentleman will look at the

records, he will find that the words have been held to be out of order on some occasions, and not on others. I hope he will not try to incite the Noble Lord.

Viscount CURZON

I will not repeat the statement, but I would like to ask the Minister whether the question of cost is the really important factor? If by insisting on a separate bathroom you are going to increase the cost of the house the question conies to be, can you afford it? There is a great point in the argument of the hon. Member opposite that if you are to have a separate bathroom at the expense of the superficial area of the house, it ought to be left to the local authority.


The Committee seems very largely of one mind on this subject, and I would ask my hon. friend whether he really means to press this question to a Division. On the whole, I think, the opinion of the Committee is largely in favour of a separate bathroom, and I would vote in favour of it.

Question put "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 54.

Division No. 181.] AYES. [2.0 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Gibbins, Joseph Kirkwood, D.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gillett, George M. Laverack, F. J.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Gosling, Harry Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)
Alstead, R. Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome) Leach, W.
Aske, Sir Robert William Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lessing, E.
Ayles, W. H. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Loverseed, J. F.
Banton, G. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lunn, William
Becker, Harry Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M. McEntee, V. L.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Grundy, T. W. Macfadyen, E.
Bonwick, A. Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Mackinder, W.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Maden, H.
Briant, Frank Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Marley, James
Broad, F. A. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)
Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby) Hastings, Somerville (Reading) Maxton, James
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Haycock, A. W. Millar, J. D.
Brunner, Sir J. Hayday, Arthur Mitchell, R. M. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Buckle, J. Hayes, John Henry Mond, H.
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South) Montague, Frederick
Church, Major A. G. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Morris, R. H.
Clarke, A. Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Cluse, W. S. Hirst, G. H. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Costello, L. W. J. Hobhouse, A. L. Murray, Robert
Crittall, V. G. Hoffman, P. C. Murrell, Frank
Darbishire, C. W. Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton) Naylor, T. E.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hudson, J. H. Oliver, George Harold
Dickie, Captain J. P. Isaacs, G. A. Paling, W.
Dickson, T. Jackson, R. F, (Ipswich) Perry, S. F.
Dodds, S. R. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Jewson, Dorothea Phillipps, Vivian
Dukes, C. John, William (Rhondda, West) Potts, John S.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Pringle, W. M. R.
Egan, W. H. Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East) Purcell, A. A.
Finney, V. H. Jones, C, Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby) Raffan, P. W.
Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford
Gavan-Duffy, Thomas Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.) Rathbone, Hugh R.
George, Major G. L. (Pembroke) Kedward, R. M. Rea, W. Russell
Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Rees, Sir Beddoe Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees) White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Stranger, Innes Harold Whiteley, W.
Ritson, J. Sullivan, J. Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell) Sunlight, J. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Romeril, H. G. Terrington, Lady Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern) Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W) Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Thornton, Maxwell R. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Sherwood, George Henry Tinker, John Joseph Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Toole, J. Windsor, Walter
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Tout, W. J. Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Smith, T. (Pontefract) Varley, Frank B. Wright, W.
Snell, Harry Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)
Spence, R. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Spero, Dr. G. E. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Starmer, Sir Charles Welsh, J. C. Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Warne.
Stephen, Campbell Westwood, J.
Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James Harland, A. Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Atholl, Duchess of Hartington, Marquess of Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Richardson, Lt.-Cot. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Hindle, F. Ropner, Major L.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Huntingfield, Lord Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Black, J. W. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bourne, Robert Croft Kay, Sir R. Newbald Shepperson, E. W.
Briscoe, Captain Richard George Kedward, R. M. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Bullock, Captain M. King, Captain Henry Douglas Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)
Chapman, Sir S. Lamb, J. Q. Steel, Samuel Strang
Clayton, G. C. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Lumley, L. R. Warrender, Sir Victor
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) McLean, Major A. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Martin, F. (Aberdeen & Kinc'dine. E.) Wells, S. R.
Ferguson, H. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Wise, Sir Fredric
Gates, Percy Moulton, Major Fletcher Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Greene, W. P. Crawford Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Owen, Major G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Pattinson, S. (Horncastle) Sir Cyril Cobb and Lieut.-Colonel

Question put, and agreed to.

The following Amendment stood on the Paper in, the name of Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR:

In page 9, line 12, at the, end, insert

Section 1 (2) After the words "five hundred superficial feet" there shall be inserted the words "and provided further that in any area prescribed by the Minister in which the population is engaged in the fishing industry any garret space required by the occupier of a house for the storage of fishing nets and gear, and not used as habitable accommodation shall be excluded from the measurements in computing the maximum of nine hundred and fifty feet."


This Amendment is out of Order.


May I speak to the Amendment that is in my name? I venture to submit to you, Mr. Entwistle, that surely I am entitled to ask why the Amendment is out of Order. The purpose of the Amendment is to include a certain amount of garret space for storing fishing nets. It is provided under the Act of 1923, in Section 1 (2), that the measurements shall be calculated in accordance with the rules made by the Minister. Now the Minister has made rules in regard to the calculations which exclude a number of spaces in the houses which are being built; for instance, outbuildings. I submit it is perfectly competent within the resolution that the Minister shall exercise his powers to provide sufficient accommodation for the storage of nets in garrets or outbuildings in places where there is a fishing population. I may also draw attention to the fact that this question was debated on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, when the Chairman drew attention to the fact that there was an Amendment standing in my name which he said would come up at a later stage. The Debate then switched off to another subject. This is not a question of going outside the Financial Resolution. It only asks the Minister to exercise the power he already has to provide the necessary space for the fishing districts and thus enable them to secure the houses they would not otherwise get.


May I reinforce what the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) has said? If something of this sort were not allowed, it would practically mean that no fishing houses would be built on any of the coasts of Scotland.


The hon Member is in order to submit his point of Order, to which I have given very careful attention. With regard o to the other point as to what the other Chairman said on the previous Amendment, that is out of the present discussion. The proper time to have discussed it would have been at the later stage mentioned, provided it had been in order. But because an Amendment is on the Order Paper, it does not mean it is in order. I think, after careful consideration, that the Amendment is not in order. The point raised does not affect the Amendment of the hon. Member, which must be in the terms of the Financial Resolution, and that is clearly limited to the size and type of houses in the other Act. I am sorry, but I must confirm my ruling that the hon. Member's Amendment is out of order.


We are to take it that, on account of the Financial Resolution, the fishermen are to suffer throughout the country?


I beg to move, in page 9, line 13, at the end, to insert the words and such houses shall not be built at the rate of more than twelve to the acre unless otherwise sanctioned by the Minister on the recommendation of the local authority.


It certainly was the intention that this should be accepted, though not in this form. It shall be raised on Report, and the question of the number of houses per acre shall be incorporated.


I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider this position. In the city from which I come (Leicester) there is a considerable quantity of land which cannot be bought for less than eight shillings to ten shillings a square yard. If you are going to have 12 houses to the acre, that will mean 403 square yards will he required, and if the land is going to cost 10 shillings to the square yard, that will be £202 for the land alone on which the houses are going to be built. I can inform the Committee that within my absolute knowledge there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of houses built where the land has cost 18 shillings a square yard. What applies to Leicester will also obtain with regard to a large number of cities throughout the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] The land is very near to the centre of the city, and in many cases streets have been laid out and houses put on the streets which have been made. If you are going to lay down as a sine qua non that a house must have at least 403 square yards, you are going to make these houses cost so much that you will drive people out beyond the outskirts of the town. (Hear, hear.)


I would—[Interruption.]


Shut up!


On a point of Order. I wish to ask if any hon. Member is in Order in asking another Member to "shut up"? I was only going to call attention to the fact that there is a proviso in the Amendment dealing with this point.


I am sorry that I used an expression which I should not use in ordinary circumstances, but the interruption just interfered with my argument with regard to the statement that there is going to be a very general exception made by the Minister, I would say that if it is going to be very general, and not in a very rare case, I do not think it ought to be put in the Bill. My firm conviction about the matter is that up and down the country you will find scores and scores of cases where the Bill will work to the disadvantage of the housing question, to the disadvantage of the people who want to live in these houses, to the disadvantage of the people who own the land and to the disadvantage of the local authorities.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: In page 9, line 13, at the end, insert

"Section 2 (5) The words 'house will be completed before the said first day of October, and that the other' shall be omitted."

In page 9, line 14, column 1, leave out "(a)."

In page 9, column 2, leave out lines 23, 24 and 25, and insert instead thereof the words: After the words 'the same house' there shall be inserted the following words, 'In the case of an advance for the construction of one or more structurally separate and self-contained flats the estimated value for the purposes of the foregoing limitation shall, as respects any flat, be the estimated value of the flat.'"—[Mr. A. Greenwood.]

Second Schedule, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House."


The Minister has been good enough to promise on Report to meet points raised from this and other quarters of the Committee. It is extremely important that these Amendments should be put on the Order Paper at the earliest possible moment. I want to ask whether we may expect them to be placed on the Paper on Wednesday morning?


I can promise the Committee that what my hon. and gallant Friend asks will be done, if possible. Whether it can be done by Wednesday morning, I am not sure. If it can be, the Committee can rest assured that it will be.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday, and to be printed. [Bill 218].

The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.

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