§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, after the word "shall," to insert the wordsas soon as may be after the passing of this Act appoint a board of overseers consisting of such number of persons as may be determined by the council, but not less than six such persons in the case of rural district councils shall, to the extent of two-thirds of the total number appointed, be persons nominated by the parish councils and parish meetings in the district, and such board of overseers shall.Although this Amendment raises a question of principle as to the machinery of the Bill it does not affect the principle of the Bill. I am entirely with the Government in so far as the intention of the Bill is to procure uniformity and economy in our rating system, but personally I have not the slightest doubt that the Measure as it stands will have the result of increasing expenditure and increasing the assessments. The framework of the Bill is that it provides that every county borough shall be the rating authority and that in the country and urban districts the urban district council and the rural district council shall be the rating authority. In so far as the rating authority's work is to draw up demand notes and collect the money, that would not make much difference, because it is more or less an administrative act, but the point is that by this Bill the rating authority is entrusted with the preparation of valuation lists. The vice of the Bill is that it leaves to the spending authority, that is, the local authority— whether it be a county borough, an urban council, or a rural district council—the making and collection of the rate, and the assessment on which the rate is founded, which to my mind is a new departure in this country, and a very serious departure which places the ordinary ratepayer absolutely under the control of the local authority and makes his position, so far as he has any injustice being done to him, almost intolerable.
The House, or at least those hon. Members who are interested in our rating system. will remember that from the earliest times when we had a Poor Law, that is 1601, the overseers of the poor not only made the assessment but also collected the rate, and they were the spending authority as well, but when the great reform of the 992 Poor Law took place in 1834, after the experience we had of that system Parliament decided that it was essential in the interests of fair, equal, and economic administration that the spending department should be separated from the assessment authority and the overseers were continued as the rating authority. That Act took away from them all powers of spending, and set up the boards of guardians that we have to-day. So important was it considered to be that the overseers should act independently with the assistance of the assistant overseer upon whom this duty fell, that it was declared by the Law Courts that the assistant overseer was not the servant of the local authority but was in an independent position. I want to know what useful purpose is going to be served by departing from the precedent.
I wish to point out that the result of making the spending department the assessing department will be that, whenever any assessment is questioned, the spending authority will be made judge in its own cause, because it would be interested in keeping the assessment as high as possible. The persons who drafted this Bill evidently knew that this proposal would not stand a test in the Law Courts, because under Clause 71 of this Bill they have taken special care that the principle which has been laid down from time immemorial by the Law Courts shall not apply. What is it I am proposing? I am proposing that a board of overseers shall be appointed by the council of not less than six persons. I may say at once that my scheme is not one to which I am particularly wedded, but I regard it as vital to stick to the old principle and keep the rating authority independent of the spending authority and keep the assessment committee to which the appeal from the rating authority goes independent of the spending authority.
This Bill proposes to abolish the overseers. My Amendment proposes that the local authority shall, in the case of a county borough, appoint a board of overseers with statutory powers to prepare valuation lists and to collect the rates, a system in operation in Liverpool and Manchester, and I believe in Norwich at the present time, and I believe it has worked very well. I should like to see that done in this Bill so far as local authorities are concerned in our rural 993 districts. I propose that the parish council should appoint for each council in their area a member of the rating authority. All hon. Members know that at the present time every parish is a unit for rating. We have two overseers appointed and an assistant overseer. The assistant overseer does the work, and he is paid a small sum for doing it. The only real local government we have now in regard to our parish councils—I happen to be the chairman of one of these councils—is the appointment of our overseers and our assistant overseers, and by that means we do secure that the best people are appointed with the best knowledge of the value of lands and houses in our area, with which they are fully acquainted, and in that way we get as fair a valuation as it is possible for us to do.
We are going to lose all that under this Bill, although I am glad to know that the Minister has appreciated somewhat that point of view, and has met us some little way by allowing us the appointment of one overseer to the rating-authority and only giving him power to act in matters relating to his particular parish. What are the dangers of this change? I said in Committee, and I repeat, that if we lived in a perfect world it would not matter very much whether we had high assessments and low poundage or low assessments and high poundage, but in practice it works out quite differently. If you have a high assessment and low poundage there is every temptation to the local authorities to spend money more carelessly, and you get the rating authorities in different areas comparing their poundage, and they make no mention of the fact that the assessments are much higher in one area than in another.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I am glad the Eon. Member has mentioned Poplar, because I am going to deal with that in the next point on which I am going to address the House. There is, and has been, a great growth in municipal trading in recent years, and the party to which the hon. Member who just interrupted me belongs have, as I understand, made it part of their creed that they are going to do away with all private enterprise and have nothing but municipal trading. It has been openly stated, I will not say by 994 the hon. Member, but my many of his party, that, in order to carry out this process of doing away with private enterprise, they are going, by peaceful penetration or permeation, to secure control of our local authorities, and, by the encouragement—as I think, unfair encouragement—of municipal enterprise to drive out the private trader.
This Bill as it stands provides the very weapon that the hon. Member and his friends desire. Sub-section (3) of Clause 1 enables a local authority to act by committees. You will then have this state of affairs, and I ask whether it does not make any thinking person pause. You will have the local authority appointing its finance committee. Its finance committee, which incurs the expense, will be appointed to be the rating authority, and the finance committee as such will have to raise the money, to make the assessments, and to alter the assessments. The only appeal from the valuation list, made by this committee of the council, was originally to the assessment committee composed of the same council, but in committee that was altered to this extent, that one-fourth of the assessment committee must be members of the board of guardians—which the right hon. Gentleman tells us is going to be abolished at once—and one-fifth of the committee still remaining is to be appointed by the local authority from outside the council. Therefore, the only appeal from the finance committee, who have fixed the assessment, is to another or probably the same committee of the council, with one-fifth of its members added from outside, leaving the council complete control. There is no other remedy for the ratepayer who may be oppressed by such action, except the very expensive process of appeal to Quarter Sessions—a most difficult and really not practical measure for anyone except the richer people.
I do ask the House carefully to consider this scheme, and whether it is wise and prudent to entrust such powers to our local authorities throughout the country. I know the Minister has had some trouble in dealing with the West Ham Borough Council within the last few weeks, and has had to strain his powers to the very fullest. The same use has been made by local authorities all over the country of this power to outrun the 995 constable, and the Minister has no control. I know that he is at his wits' end to find some method of controlling local authorities that have deliberately set themselves to make local government impossible. Having had that experience, I am at a loss to understand how he can ask the House of Commons to give to local authorities still further and enlarged powers which will tempt them to set him at defiance and to become still more extravagant and aggressive. Even in the case of Income Tax assessment, where the assessment is fixed by a different body altogether, namely, the Inland Revenue Department, care is always taken that, in arriving at an assessment under Schedule A or Schedule D, justice may be done to the taxpayer, and, under the Act of 1918, if the taxpayer thinks the assessment unfair, an arbitrator can be called in to hold the scales equally between the taxpayer and the Inland Revenue in order that justice may be done.
Why cannot we have some such provision in this Bill? The assessment committee ought to be as independent as it can be made, because it is the assessment committee that really does the work of rating. If you have an independent assessment committee, in whom the ratepayers have confidence, it will guard against any injustice, and people will have the knowledge that the matter will be settled by an impartial tribunal. What justification does the right hon. Gentleman put forward for his Bill? His department has spread far and wide the statement that the number of rating authorities is going to be reduced from 13,000 to 600. He is counting each little parish overseer as a rating authority, but he says at the same time that the parish overseer will be taken on to do the work under this new body. He has forgotten, however, to tell us that the assessment committees are increased from 750 to about 1,750—
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I understand that it comes from the Ministry itself. If I am wrong in that, I must withdraw it.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I did not say the Minister had said so. Of course, if I am 996 wrong in that, I accept his statement that I am wrong, but I wish he had told me, while he was correcting me, what the increase in the number of assessment authorities may be. I understand that in Lancashire to-day there are some 25 Poor Law unions and 25 assessment committees. Under the Bill, these 25 carefully arranged districts will all come to an end; there will be 17 separate assessment committees for the 17 county boroughs, and there will be the 83 urban districts, the 19 rural districts and the 19 non-county boroughs, all of them having rating authorities, and many, if not nearly all, separate assessment committees. I am sorry if I am wrong in the figure that I gave for the increase in the actual number of assessment committees under this Bill, but I have not the least doubt that they will be very largely increased. Moreover, I would point out that at present the clerk to the guardians acts, for a moderate increase of salary, as clerk to the assessment committee. Under the new Act, every assessment committee will require a highly paid skilled man as clerk, probably a solicitor, to advise them on the law of rating, which is very complicated. He will require assistance, and will require a number of officers. I only mention this to show that there is no saving in doing away with our old and tried friend, the overseer. The main point, however, is that it is unsafe to hand over to our local authorities—the people who spend the money, the people who vote for schemes for spending money —the power of assessing the ratepayers who have to pay the money. It is unsafe that the same body should appoint the assessment committee, which deals with appeals. This lays thorn open to great pressure to make unduly high assessments, and provides no system in which the ratepayer will have confidence.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I beg to second the Amendment. The point of the Amendment is to preserve the overseers, but the point of the Clause is to abolish them. By Clauses 1, 25 and 63, all the functions now exercised by the overseers will in future be exercised by the borough councils or the district councils. In order that the House may appreciate what are the real objections to substituting the new method for the old, it is necessary to form a clear idea of the position and functions of the overseer at the present 997 time. The overseer came into existence as far back as 1601; he must have taken thyroid gland, for he is now 3¼ centuries old. From 1601 to 1836, the overseer discharged the threefold function of making the rate, of valuing the premises upon which the rate was struck, and of spending the rate—the only spending then being for Poor Law relief. Prior to 1836, it was found that this union of the three functions was leading to great extravagance. When men who were the spending authorities found that in their hands lay the power of collecting the money that they desired to spend, their sense of responsibility was found to be somewhat weakened, and it was because of that, among other things, that the Act of 1836 was passed. That Act, in effect, said this: "We will take away from you, the overseers, the powers you now have of spending the money that you raise. You will continue to do the raising, but a new body, called the board of guardians, will do the spending." That state of things continued until 1862, and then assessment committees were formed and to them was given the second of two functions which were still left to the overseer, namely, assessing. So therefore from 1862 to the present moment you have had three bodies mutually independent—the overseer, making the rates, the assessment committees, fixing the valuation of the property on which the rate is to be struck, and the various precepting bodies doing the spending of the money. That has been found to operate as an invaluable check upon extravagance, generally speaking.
This Bill proposes to reunite what was severed in the way I have said in 1836 and in 1862, and if those functions were found to operate badly in unions, in my submission they would operate infinitely worse in the future, because in 1836, if there was extravagance, the only direction in which it could go was in public relief. Now the councils which are to be given the three-fold function, which was found to be a bad thing when it was exercised by the overseers, who are now to assess and to spend, have temptations infinitely greater than the guardians ever had to become extravagant. To start with, their motives for expenditure are very much enlarged. Secondly, councils now are trading concerns. They are 998 houseowners. They build houses and they do a great number of other matters of that kind, and I know my friends on my right will not take it at all as offensive if I say this. There is, we know, a large preponderance in the country of persons dominating councils whose policy is that of Socialism, and a half-way house or a step towards Socialism is municipalisation. I am not saying anything against it. As far as my argument is concerned I need not say a word against the policy, although of course I do not agree with it. That is the best argument that those who favour Socialism will put forward: "There is the municipal concern. See how well that is paying. There is the private enterprise concern. See how badly that is paying. Three cheers for municipalisation!"
This union of the three functions puts an instrument directly into their hands to make that argument and to make it most effectively. I will tell you now. Since they are the rating body they can, of course, discriminate. They can say "high rates private enterprise, low rates municipal enterprise," and they have done so in London, and they can go further. They know that a soaring rate creates a public protest. They must aid the municipal concern and must extract the money from the rich ratepayers without making evident what they are doing. What is the method that this Bill puts into their hand? "You," the Bill says, "have the power not only to rate, but to assess, assess high and rate low." People will say, "But the rates are low." It is not public property. That is individual knowledge. That is kept in the dark, and the people will be drained and drained and drained in order to let off municipal concerns, and the rates will not appear to be so very high because it will all be done by the method of assessment. Is not that a most dangerous weapon to put into anyone's hands? I make no reflection on the character of gentlemen who have a socialistic policy at all, but it is a dangerous thing to put into anyone's hands—a body of barristers or any body of men. To say, "We know it is your interest to rate one class of things high and another low, and we will give you the power of doing that without exposing what you are doing to the public," is a temptation that ought not to be presented to anyone. Experience prompted the severing of these three functions, and to unite them again at a 999 time when the temptation to extravagance is infinitely greater is a very-wrong policy.
I do not want the right hon. Gentleman, whom nothing escapes, to say I am not justified in my statement as to the three functions being now united; therefore I want to make quite clear what I mean by that. By Clause 1 the county brough councils are made the rating authorities. That is clear. They are also made the persons to prepare the valuation lists. They are also made the spending authorities, which they are already. Are they made the assessing authorities? In my submission they are. As the Bill originally stood, they actually were. An Amendment made in Committee brings it about that the assessment committees are to be composed in this way. Half of them are to be members of the council, not less than a quarter of them would be representatives of the guardians, and would be appointees of the council, and not less than one-fifth would be an outside body who would be the appointees of the council. Therefore the council which is to make the assessment is made up directly of half themselves, and the balance are their nominees. Under these circumstances the assessment is done by the council, the same body that rates and the same body that spends. As regards rural districts, so far the position is that that idea is to run through the appointment of the assessment committees, but it is to be subject in detail to a scheme to be promulgated under the Act.
The right hon. Gentleman, who I am bound to say treated everyone in Committee with the utmost courtesy and did his best, in so far as he thought he was justified, to meet their objections, has gone so far as to put down an Amendment which recognises that it would not be quite fair really to blot nut of existence this old historic parish system of England. He recognises that the overseer is really the pivot of parish life, and that if he were to go, a great deal of that public spirit in local areas, which has been the. pride and the cause of a good deal of the solid advancement of England, would tend to go, and accordingly he has an Amendment on the Paper which admits of the parish being represented. That is something, but I would appeal to him to go a bit further, because even though 1000 that is done, you still keep in existence that union of functions about which I have spoken. The Amendment proposed here seems to me to be a very reasonable compromise between two extremes between those who would like the overseers and the parishes to vanish for ever, and those who, like myself, would like to see the position of the overseers continued and strengthened. It does not do all that I wish nor, of course, all that the right hon. Gentleman would wish, but it is a fair compromise because all it asks is this. You still can do away with your small area and have the whole thing done in the big area, where the district or town council will still be the responsible rating authority, but they shall appoint a subsidiary and subordinate board of overseers who will be independent, and who, under the responsibility of the council, will themselves do the work. I submit that that is a fair compromise, and it will show that there has been an honest effort made not at all to wreck the Bill, but to preserve its structure.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley), in moving his Amendment, seemed to think that it is not one which in any way interferes with the main principles of the Bill. At any rate, it does serve to bring out the expression of certain fears which are held, perhaps not alone, by my hon. and learned Friends who have moved and seconded the Amendment, as to the possible working of the provisions of the Bill. I am not sorry, therefore, to have an early opportunity of saying one or two words about it. I think the general basis of these fears is to be found in an expression which has been used a good many times by my hon. and learned Friends, that it is a dangerous thing to put into the same hands the power of spending and the power of rating. Are we sure that that is so?
To begin with, is it a new departure, as was stated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead. What is this House? Is not this House a spending authority? Does this House set up an independent board in order to deal with the question of taxation, lest it should be led away to abuse its powers of spending, because it does not itself have the duty of raising the money? What greater check is there upon the 1001 extravagance of this House, if it desires to be extravagant, than the knowledge that it has to take the responsibility of raising the money? Precisely the same thing applies when you come to the raising of local taxation. I have been told that those who have been present when overseers have been seeing ratepayers, and have been listening to their tales of the difficulties they experience in finding the ready cash to pay their rates, have frequently heard statements made by these people, in their difficulties, that they only wished the members of the Council who spent the money would hear what they had to say, instead of only the; overseers, and that, if that were so, they were quite certain that the councillors would not have rushed into the expenditure which had put the ratepayers in such straits.
I think the right principle is that those who spend the money should also have to collect it, and that they should be brought into close touch with the ratepayers, in order that they may see directly what is the effect of their expenditure upon those for whom they are responsible, and that they should have those difficulties in their minds when they are considering new schemes which are going to lead to large demands upon the ratepayers. That is the first fallacy that is to be found in the expression of the fear which is in the minds of my hon. and learned Friends; but there is another one which is a good deal more specious. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead made it a good deal clearer on this occasion than in Committee, and I hope I may take to myself some credit for that, because in the course of the Committee proceedings I end savoured to bring him down to a definite statement exactly as to the circumstances which he feared might take place under the Bill.
We have had this afternoon a fresh statement from my hon. and learned Friends of what they think is going to be done by certain town councils or district councils, on which I think they anticipate there is going to be a highly immoral majority, under the powers that are to be entrusted to them by this Bill. My hon. and learned Friends say that these people are not merely the rating authority but also the assessing authority. They are not the assessing autho- 1002 rity. It is part of their duty to prepare the draft valuation list, but I would recall what my hon. and learned Friend said, very truly, that it is not the draft valuation list which finally determines the valuation. It is the assessment committee which, in his opinion, is far more important than the body which prepares the draft valuation list. Take the draft valuation list. What is it exactly that these people, these immoral councillors, are going to do, under the presumption that they get the power that is given to them by the Bill? It is very puzzling to make out what is anticipated, because sometimes we are told that they are going to put the assessment too low, and at other times we are told that they are going to put the assessment too high. I do not want to make any sort of debating score over this matter by attempting to point out the inconsistencies, which I do not think really exist, in the minds of my hon. Friends, but it is necessary that we should be clear as to what are the cases which are imagined are going to arise. Let us take the question of putting the assessment too low. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead stated that they would differentiate between property belonging to the local authority and property belonging to private persons.
My hon. and learned Friend does not imagine that they will stop at the temptation. Let us see whether they will have the temptation. I think my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) was mistaken in one statement he made. He said that these people are now houseowners, that they build houses, and I understood the inference to be that they would put the assessment upon the houses owned by the Council lower than the assessment on houses owned by private people. That is impossible under the existing law. They cannot make any distinction between one house and another, and it is well to wipe that out at once. I think my hon. and learned Friend rather spoils his own case by bringing in suggestions of that kind, which really have no foundation at all in fact.
1003 There is a possibility in another case that I would like to explore. The case I have in mind is the case where there is a municipal trading concern, let us say an electricity supply. There will not he another electricity supply in the area, but there may be a gas supply, and that gas supply may be owned by a private undertaking. The suggestion is that the local authority will be able to lower the assessment upon its electricity supply property in order that it may the more easily compete with the undertaking of the gas company. Let me point out that the chances are that that gas company is not only supplying that one area. As a rule in the large towns the gas concern is owned by the Corporation: but in the country districts no doubt you would get private gas companies supplying the area, and other areas, and where that is the case the valuation of that company will not lie with the local authority. It will lie with the joint local authorities, who will have to come together, and I do not think we need assume that all the areas in that neighbourhood will be dominated by a majority which would be led to advertise and to push its own ideas of municipal ownership to the extent of swindling in the assessment. In the majority of cases that cannot arise.
It is only where the undertaking is coincident in area with a competing undertaking of the local authority that there can be any chance of this possible discrepancy and differentiation. But even if swindling is done on the draft valuation list, that draft valuation list does not become operative until it has been confirmed by the assessment committee and, of course, the gas company can go before the assessment committee and put its case and show that the competing undertaking is undervalued, if that be the case. In a country district, the assessment committee is not an assessment committee which is dominated by the particular local authority which, by hypothesis, owns the electricity supply of the district. The assessment committee there is a joint affair, drawn from a very much larger area. Even if the assessment committee went wrong by any possibility, and if it were in league with a particular local authority to make an unfair difference between these two concerns, then again 1004 the gas company has an appeal to Quarter Sessions, and, whatever may be the differences of opinion about the expense of the appeals by individuals to Quarter Sessions, it cannot be said that that would prevent a gas company from appealing. I cannot figure to myself that a danger of this sort, of differentiation between competing concerns, is any more than a figment of the imagination.
I come now to the further class of case, which lies in the suggestion that the local authority will deliberately raise the assessment, not merely on its own property, but on the whole of the property in its area for the purpose of making the poundage of the rates appear low. It is solemnly suggested to us by my hon. and learned Friends that this policy is going to deceive the ratepayer who, although he is going to pay more out of his pocket, is going to be led to think that he is paying less.
Unless that is my hon. and learned Friend's argument, there is nothing in the argument.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I do not think my right hon. Friend has put the argument that I made. What I said was, that the difference between taking the same amount on a low assessment and a high rate and taking it on a high assessment and a low rate was, that a high rate and a low assessment would create a public protest whereas a high assessment and a low rate would not create a public protest. The amount has nothing whatever to do with it.
I cannot see the slightest difference. The real fact is that the public does not judge by what it sees of the rate, but by what it pays out of its own pocket. It is absurd to suggest that the public is going to be so easily gulled as my hon. and learned Friends seem to think. We are not dealing with academic abstractions, but with actual facts. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grin stead said that this Bill introduces an entirely new departure into our practice. He has forgotten London. This has actually been in operation in London since 1899. Have these feared results followed? It is a fact that in London there are certain boroughs upon the council of which there 1005 is a Socialist majority. Are their rates lower than the rates of other boroughs? Has the fact that their rates are so much higher prevented them from going on spending the money of the ratepayers? Take Poplar as an instance. In Poplar the borough council is the rating authority. It is the authority which prepares the draft valuation list. No hon. Member on this side of the House would hold up Poplar as? an angel of light, or as a model of what a local authority should be in all respects. I do not think that he would suggest that they have bean able to use the powers which have been given to them, to wangle the valuation list in such a way as to make the rates appear low. What is the particular proposal which was made by my hon. and learned Friend? It is the appointment of what was called by the hon. and learned Member opposite a subsidiary and subordinate board.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I said subsidiary and subordinate board as regards responsibility, but they were to be independent as regards the striking of the rates.
Let us see who is to appoint this Board. It is to come back again to the Council, who are ex hypothesi an abandoned set of people, who have no scruples. The Council are going to appoint a Board of Overseers for the purpose of doing all that the hon. Member thinks that the Council might do if they were so inclined. Why he should imagine that by the appointment of such a Board he is protecting himself or the ratepayers against the dangers which he fears I cannot for the life of me imagine.
My hon. and learned Friend seems to forget that by his assumption the Council is a Socialist Council. It can appoint Socialists, and, if the Socialists are independent, that means that nobody can stop them from doing what they like. I have tried by the Amendment which I have put on the Paper, to give effect to a concession which I promised in Committee 1006 to meet the case made by those who said, "You are going to make it difficult to maintain this special local knowledge and experience of overseers in particular parishes." I have tried to meet that by the Amendment which follows on the Paper. The rural council is a representative body whose members are drawn from all parts of the district, and when it is assisted by the special representative of the parish in connection with the rating or valuation of property in the parish it is really a more satisfactory body from the point of view of the parish than such a body as is suggested by my hon. and learned Friend. A rural district includes about, say, 20 parishes in the country, and even if, as my hon. and learned Friend said, the number on the board of overseers is to be limited by the council, it is probable that you may well have over the whole 20 parishes six persons who are representing the parishes. My hon. and learned Friend does not in any way suggest how those six shall be selected. The proposal which I make, which gives not only general representation to all parishes which are involved, and special representation, with a special committee, is a more democratic, and, from the point of view of the parish, more satisfactory representation than that which my hon. and learned Friend's proposal suggests.
I submit, therefore, that the proposals in the Bill have stood the test of experience in London, and not only in London but in a number of boroughs outside London, which have, by means of Private Bill legislation, involving, no doubt, considerable expense to themselves, obtained the very arrangement which we are now proposing to adopt throughout the country. My hon. and learned Friend's proposal would mean that he is going back again to the old state of things, with two sets of rating authorities in the same district. He is going to force those towns and boroughs who want to get the advantage of consolidation once more to resort to this extravagant and wasteful process, whereas our proposal is that all should get the advantages which have been already obtained by the few who used both their time and their money in promoting private legislation. In these circumstances, I cannot accept the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, and, having heard the arguments, I hope that he will agree with them and decide not to press the matter.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I would like to say a word or two against the Amendment. We have had two very interesting speeches which would have been more interesting if they had been rather different. As I happen to have seen the Land Union's remarks on this proposal before, they were not quite so fresh as might have been expected. I do not see any Liberal or any Conservative view, but in their review of history from 1601 to 1836 just the same train of thought by the two hon. Members. There is one remarkable coincidence in their remarks. Both the hon. and learned Gentlemen are afraid of anybody becoming a judge in his own case, but anyone who reads Clause 48 of the Bill will see how the lawyers look after themselves. There, there is ample provision made, without any protest from either of the hon. and learned Gentlemen, that in the case of the Inner Temple the rating authorities shall be the Masters of the Bench of the Hon. Society of the Inner Temple, and in the case of the Middle Temple the Masters of the Bench of the Hon. Society of the Middle Temple—the very people who own the property. No wonder the hon. Member below the gangway was afraid of a Committee of Lawyers.
The hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) is in terrible fear of what may be done by Socialist councils. I did not know that we had made such great strides in the rural districts as we seem to have done. Evidently our backward areas campaign has been a great success and the red light has been seen rising down in Rye. The hon. and learned Member is afraid that the councils will, to use the expression of the Minister of Health, wangle the case as between private and public ownership. It seems to me to be an innocent position to take up—that there is great danger that local authorities owning electricity undertakings will wangle the matter of rating their own property. Has the hon. and learned Member never heard of people with gas shares getting on to public bodies? Has he never heard of people owning private property trying to wangle things? Has he never heard of particular societies getting on to the assessment authorities? The only danger is the danger of too much public spirit on the part of, say, the kind of people who run the municipal undertakings in Birming- 1008 ham. There is great danger, the hon. and learned Member is very much afraid, that such wicked Socialists may say, "We are anxious to put up magnificent electricity undertakings like those in Birmingham." He cannot trust the Minister of Health and his family in the reputation which they have of looking after the public interests in Birmingham. The hon. and learned Member is concerned mainly with rural areas in which the Socialists have not been able so far to provide public undertakings.
This proposal is a thoroughly reactionary proposal. It has not been thought out at all. You would have a board of overseers consisting of a number of persons to be determined by the council, but not less than six, and not less than two-thirds shall be persons nominated by parish councils and parish meetings in the district. I have had some experience of endeavouring to get local authorities to agree together in the appointment of a representative, and if they cannot agree you are going to have an enormous body if each parish is to have its representative. I would remind the hon. and learned Member of the difference between nomination and election. You have people elected to the rural district councils because they have certain sympathies. On the other hand you may have a number of people who are nominated because of private enterprise or some private interest. The real reason why parish councils are dominated by certain interests is that the parish councils are put into power by certain interests. I think that this Amendment, like the Amendment that follows by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, is one which is going to end really by killing the whole purpose of this Bill. The whole purpose of this Bill is to get a fair valuation and a fair assessment, and I think that it was realised by the Ministry in introducing it that it was necessary to have a wider area than the parish. You are now going back to the parish. You are getting your parish pump put in everywhere, and you are going to have the old parties to dominate rural areas. I do not profess to know very much about what goes on in rural areas. The information which I have comes mainly from highly respectable Conservative Socialists, but it suggests that when it comes to wangling they do not need any backward areas campaign.
1009 In the history which we have got from 1601 to 1836 we had two proposals given, one on the other side by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead and the other by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney). I could recognise the original document from which they have been derived. It is a very simple history. Neither of the hon. and learned Gentlemen seems to realise that at present boroughs can make their own valuation. As regards safeguards against extravagance, I am satisfied, but I gathered that the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead is dissatisfied. Therefore, West Ham, in which the old system exists, with overseers and the rest of it, comes unscathed through the contest, and it is only Poplar that is condemned. I hope that the House will reject both this Amendment and the Amendment in the name of the Minister of Health which appears later on the Paper. We on this side in the Standing Committee saved the right hon. Gentleman from his friends on many occasions. I wish he had managed to stand a little firmer, because this Bill, introduced on lines which were generally approved by us, has been marked by surrender after surrender to the backwoods interest. This Amendment, and that which comes later, really knock the bottom out of the Bill. The principle of the Bill is fair valuation and fair treatment of all property, but the raids that have been made on that principle seem to make it extremely doubtful whether the Bill will be so much an advance as we had hoped. This Amendment would substitute something quite as reactionary as the present system and something less efficient.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
The speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken has certainly been refreshing to the Minister of Health. As one who had some connection with this matter as Minister of Health, and with the Committee that sat for a long time over a Bill that was being prepared, it is somewhat gratifying to me to find such an out-and-out supporter of the conclusions originally reached by the Committee on which the Bill has finally been drafted. I have no doubt that the hon. Member, like my right hon. Friend, found that in the passage of a Bill of this character, however logical the scheme may be at the beginning, you have to make 1010 concessions to various—not interests, but to various customs, feelings and sentiments. There is no doubt at all that a great deal of feeling, some of it perhaps not very well founded, has been created by the machinery of the Bill, and that there is a fear on the part of those living in the remoter districts that their position will not be realised by rating authorities which are drawn from a more centralised body. It is that feeling very largely which has led to this Amendment being proposed.
I cannot accept the arguments adduced in favour of the Amendment. The purpose of the Amendment is met to a very large extent, and better met, by a Government Amendment, which is to be moved later. Everyone who has seriously examined the question realised that to have an enormous number of small assessment authorities is both extravagant in administration and unfair in incidence. You do not get a uniform system of assessment at the present time. You get a tendency to under-assessment in some areas, and that is unfair to all the people living in the area. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman recognised that there is a very strong feeling, particularly among the farming community, that the parish council and the smaller areas were being excluded entirely. As far as I am personally concerned, I would advise withdrawal of this Amendment and support of that which stands in the name of the Minister.
§ Mr. E. ROY BIRD
I wish to support the Amendment. My hon. and learned Friend (Sir H. Cautley) who moved it said that that he did not think it was fundamental to the Bill. I regard the Amendment as a fundamental Amendment, and I believe that, if carried, it would mean the end of the scheme For that reason I support it. If the overseers are reinserted in this Clause the Amendment is a. fundamental Amendment. Nothing has been said in the Debate which has been in any way derogatory to the overseers, a body of men who have been in existence for some 300 years. They are men who do their work for honour and not profit, and no one has suggested in this House that they do not carry out their duties without fear or favour. I have heard it suuggested outside this House that in rural districts such as that which I have the honour to 1011 represent — the largest district in England, or one of the largest, being 60 miles by 40 miles—the overseer, who has friends among the farmers, can give them a low assessment. I would remind the House that the valuation list is prepared in draft by the overseer. It then has to go to the assessment committee, who can send it back with revisions to the overseer if they are not satisfied with the valuation made. Further than that, if the assessment committee is not satisfied in the end, it has the power already to appoint a valuer for the purpose of getting a valuation of the whole of the union.
One union in my division has an acreage of 151,000, with 33 townships. It has recently been valued at an expense of £3,000, so as to get uniformity of rating throughout. It is a union which is almost as big as some counties. Every assessment committee has already the power to appoint valuers so as to get uniformity of assessment. To me it is significant that the party opposite, the official Opposition, support the Minister. The reason is that they regard this Bill as a Socialist Bill. It is a Bill which would have been introduced by a Labour Government, and it is a Bill that would have been torn to ribbons by my hon. Friend the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, if it had been introduced by the party opposite. The object is to get rid of a great many small authorities, and it is what I would call the first step in the nationalisation of local government. I take it that this is only the first step, because we have been warned by the Minister that boards of guardians are to be abolished by a Bill to be introduced next year. If there be one Bill that I would regard with more disfavour than this Bill, it would be a Bill to abolish boards of guardians. West Ham has been mentioned. If among 640 there is one black sheep, why should the 639 have to suffer? It is to the interest of the poor that they should have their own neighbours as guardians, so as to—
§ Mr. BIRD
I do not wish to detain the House longer, but I desire at this early stage to cancel the two or three times I have been into the Division Lobby. I 1012 went there for the purpose of having this Bill thrashed out on the floor now, instead of being recommitted to a Committee. It is a Bill that ought to be tackled on the floor of the House, and for that reason I apparently voted in favour of the Bill. In taking the step that I am taking it is against my party, I know, but I regard my duty as this: Having been returned for a division which is essentially rural, where we have, I am thankful to say, not one tram, where we have practically no municipal undertakings, where we have very few drains— we are absolutely rural up the dales—I express the view of the parish councils, the overseers and the district councils in my division, who are opposed to this Bill chiefly on the ground of economy. That is a point which has not been touched upon sufficiently.
I understood that the object of this legislation was to make economies in rating possible. I am informed from one union in my own division that, whereas the work in the past has been done by overseers who are not paid, and by assistant overseers who are paid on an average about £20 to £25 a year each, and where there are 13 of them employed, that their work in future will be done by a new department which will be set up under the district council. They will not be transferred officers under the Bill. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the facts from clerks of councils in my division, and they say that it will be impossible in areas of great size to transfer the overseers, who live a long way from what one might call the centre of the assessment area of the district. In the union already mentioned it will be necessary to employ some five or six new clerks for the purpose of carrying out the duties of these assistant overseers. That will be an expense which, the clerk tells me, he does not think he will be able to meet at a less salary than £300 a year each, which will far exceed the present cost of paying assistant overseers the paltry sum of £25 a year each. I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ Mr. GEOFFREY PETO
So many very kind things have been said to-day about overseers that I feel most diffident in rising to address the House, because I cannot put before the House a view of the 1013 Bill from the Olympian heights of the Front Bench or even from the more modest elevation of the county council, but only from the humble hillock of an overseer of a very rural parish. I should like to take the opportunity of replying to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) in regard to backward areas. I do not see why he talks of the rural constituencies as backward areas, nor should I think that that is the best way for the Socialist party to woo others to their cause. I would remind him of what appears in Mr. Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book" and of the Bandarlog, or monkeys, who live in the tree tops, and spend their time saying, "What the Bandarlog say to-day, the rest of the world will say to-morrow!" That represents the attitude of the Socialists to rural constituencies.
We have been told that the overseers have the best knowledge of conditions in their districts. When I was overseer I must admit that I was not returned by the overwhelming vote of an enthusiastic parish, but I was appointed to the post of overseer for one reason only, that nobody else could be found to take it, and equally when I tried to give it up I found it extremely difficult to get anybody to relieve me of it. I am glad to say that I have now resigned.
There are three classes of overseers so far as I can make out. There is a small class which wants to value his own property as low as possible and wants to value other people's property at a more reasonable rate. There is another class which wants to value all the property in the parish at a low rate, so that the parish shall not have an undue share of the county rates: and there is a third to which I strove to belong which tries to value all the property in the parish, including his own, at what it ought to be. I was put to the test, for soon after I was appointed overseer, a decree went forth from the district council that we should have a revaluation of the whole district. It was very necessary. There were fields there of equal quality with just a hedge between them, and one side of the hedge would be valued at 12s. 6d. and the other might be valued at 23s. an acre, simply according to what parish it happened to be in, if the hedge was a parish boundary. My co-overseer and I set to work on the valuation. We 1014 bought maps and went over every field, and we found land which had never been on the list at all. We returned the valuation to the best of our ability, decreasing some and increasing a good many more, and among the ones we increased I much regret to say were my own property and the property of my co-overseer. And then what happened? Other parishes made their valuation, and they were all sent in to the assessment committee, and a flood of appeals came in from all over the district. The assessment committee were seized with panic and allowed most of the claims and reduced the valuations. What happened to us? We, as overseers, could hardly appeal against our own valuation, so we were left high and dry above the rest of the parish. That is what you get for trying to be an honest overseer.
An overseer has a thankless task, and it is not a right post to thrust upon people in the way it has to be done today in many parishes. It also involves a great deal of travelling to the local towns at the beck and call of the assessment committee, and Government auditors call the overseer constantly before them. They are everybody's servants, and they get no remuneration whatever. I think personally the Amendment the Minister is going to move, which will give a representative of the parish some voice in the valuation of his own parish, will meet the case admirably. We want somebody with local knowledge on the assessment committee when it is considering the particular parish, but the general valuation must be done on a wider area so that those who are doing it know the valuation in the neighbouring parishes. We will thus get some uniformity, and not get the friction which results from the present methods.
§ Sir JOHN MARRIOTT
I want to say a very few words from a point of view rather different from that of those who have hitherto spoken on the Amendment. The Amendment has been almost entirely supported from the point of view of the rural areas, very naturally and very properly, but it seems to have escaped notice that the particular proposal which is in view in this Amendment is drawn from two of the most important urban districts in the whole of England, not Birmingham, but Manchester and Liverpool, and every- 1015 thing I have to say will be said from a town point of view. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) described this Amendment as a reactionary Amendment. It seems to me that the Bill itself is really essentially reactionary in that it is going back on certain principles which have been affirmed, and affirmed with great success, in the history of our local administration. The whole essence of this Bill is to concentrate functions in the hands of a single authority—to concentrate the functions of rating, of assessment and of spending. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health made, as it seems to me, a most extraordinary statement in regard to the analogy between this House and the local spending authority. It seems to me that the analogy was one of the most extraordinary which was ever attempted to be imposed on the credulity of this House. This House is not the spending authority at all. This House has got to find the money, but it is His Majesty, it is the Crown, which is the spending authority. It is His Majesty, acting of course through the Government Departments, for it is one of the best recognised rules of this House that it is not within the competence of any Private Member of this House to propose the expenditure of one single farthing. How, under those circumstances, can the Minister of Health come down to the House and seriously suggest that this House is not only concerned to find the money, but it is also concerned to spend it? I frankly admit that the efforts of this House in the direction of economy are not so successful as they might be, and that as a matter of fact the disposition in the mind of a good many Members of this House is towards an extravagance which unfortunately they cannot as Members of this House indulge. It is for the Ministers of the Crown, on behalf of the Crown, to ask this House for money and for this House to find it. Therefore, the analogy which my right hon. Friend attempts if establish between the body which he is proposing to set up under this Bill, and this House of Commons seems to me to break down entirely.
I have only one or two words to say in supporting the Amendment which has been moved by my two hon. and learned Friends, but moved as I have said rather 1016 from the point of view of the rural than from that of the urban districts. I cannot feel at all comfortable in regard to what is after all the central feature of this Bill. This Amendment really goes to the heart of the whole matter. Those who are opposed to this Amendment are strong advocates of the Bill as a whole, but the point on which I confess I have not yet been satisfied is that it is desirable, as I said earlier in my remarks, to concentrate in a single authority the three functions which under this Bill are attempted to be imposed, as both my hon. and learned Friends in their very interesting historical retrospect made clear. As a matter of fact, the history of local administration and the history of rating in this country has been a history of the disjunction and the differentiation of functions. Of course, as everybody knows these functions were combined, and it was discovered about 1834 that concentration of these functions was tending to the grossest extravagance in administration, and the Act of 1836 was passed in order to disjoin the functions which it is the purpose and the main object of this Bill once more to unite, and that is why I cannot feel in a position to vote against the Amendment.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
May I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment? The Minister informs me that he is prepared to accept an Amendment which is to be moved later by the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon (Major Ruggles-Brise). As my interest in the matter is mainly the agricultural interest, and as no borough Member has risen to support me, I desire, in view of the Minister's undertaking, to withdraw my Amendment
§ Several MEMBERS rose—1017
I beg to move, in page 2, line 13, at the end, to insert the words(4) In the case of a rating area being a rural district the parish council of every parish or group of parishes, and the parish mooting of every parish not under a parish council, shall be entitled to appoint one person, being a local government elector, to act as a member of the rating authority, or of any committee appointed by that authority in pursuance of this Section, so far as regards the exercise or performance in connection with property in that parish or group of parishes of any powers or duties of the rating authority under Part 11 of this Act, and the person so appointed shall, for that purpose, but not for any other purpose, be deemed to he a member of the rating authority or committee, as the case may be.I do not think it necessary to say anything more about this matter which has been discussed in connection with the last Amendment. I only wish to confirm what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) has just said. If my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maldon (Major Ruggles-Brise) cares to move an Amendment to my Amendment, to have the effect of making the parish representatives two in number instead of one, I shall be quite prepared to accept it?
§ Mr. HARNEY
I only wished to say, as Seconder of the previous Amendment, that if the Minister accepts this proposal, I do not oppose.
§ Major RUGGLES-BRISE
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in lines 3 and 4 to leave out the words "one person, being a local government elector "and to insert instead thereof the words" two persons, being local government electors."
There are three small Amendments which, if this Amendment be accepted, will follow consequentially. As the Minister considered it unnecessary to make any remarks in moving his Amendment, I do not propose to take up the time of the House any further. I think the Minister is to be congratulated on having made the gesture which he has made towards those who feel very strongly on these matters as the representatives of rural areas. The House may also congratulate itself that a principle, of which, I think, all Members are rightly jealous, will now be preserved. In matters of taxation, whether local or on the wider scale, we should preserve as far 1018 as possible the well-established principle that in the assessment of that taxation we should be assesed by our own peers in our own parishes. The Amendment which the right hon. Gentlemen has accepted will preserve something at least of that principle, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that in taking this step to meet the representatives of the rural areas, he has gone a long way towards killing part of the opposition to the Bill. That opposition, as lie knows, in other respects still exists and perhaps before the Bill passes he may see his way still further to meet the representatives of rural constituencies, but I assure him we welcome warmly the step he has taken in this particular respect and we hope it augurs well for further concessions.
§ Mr. RILEY
I desire to oppose the Amendment. I prefer the Clause as it stands. The hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. E. Bird) earlier in the Debate questioned the motives of those on this side of the House who were supporting this Bill as against the Amendment which had then been moved and he suggested that the reason was that the Bill was of a Socialistic character. Perhaps a more-pertinent guess at the reason—though not a true one—would be to suggest that we were influenced by the alliance which we-have seen made between the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) as a Radical and other hon. Members. The simple truth is that some of us on these benches support the Bill because we accept it as an instalment of democratic government and as the reform of an old system which has outlived its purpose. The argument is put forward that we ought not to disturb the old system and this Amendment is aimed at avoiding a disturbance of the old system, on the ground that we have had experience for many years of that system. In taking that view, hon. Members overlook the fact that all the great municipal authorities have come into this system since it was established.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should point out to the hon. Member that I must dispose first of the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. The hon. Member is now speaking against the main Amendment. We should take the Amendment to the 1019 proposed Amendment in the first place and then go back to the Minister's Amendment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment before the House is that which proposes to substitute "two persons" for "one person." I propose to put that Amendment and then take the discussion on the main Amendment.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I think we Ought not to allow the Amendment to the Amendment to go without further discussion. Some of my Friends, who do not happen to be in the House at the moment when this manuscript Amendment is being considered, view an extension of this kind with some dubiety. I have a little experience of parish councils, not enough to enable me to speak with great authority, but from such experience as I have had in connection with parish councils in Cambridgeshire, I think it is undesirable—if the Minister is to maintain the main purpose of this Bill—that there should be a larger representation of parish councils than that proposed in the original Amendment. We think the right hon. Gentleman has made too many concessions already, and we hope he will not, for the sake of making further concessions, press this proposal upon the House. I do not wish to make a violent attack on parish councils, but I am not persuaded from my knowledge of them that we want to enlarge their representation beyond that suggested by the Minister in his own Amendment.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made to the proposed Amendment:
§ In line 4, leave out the words "a member" and insert instead thereof the word "members."
§ In line 7, leave out the word "person'' and insert instead thereof the word "persons."1020
§ In line 9, leave out the words "a member" and insert the word "members." —[Major Ruggles-Brise.]
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. RILEY
I desire to oppose the Amendment as it now stands. I do so on the ground that instead of being an improvement of the Clause it is a reactionary addition. When this Clause was originally introduced the Bill visualised every rural urban and municipal authority as both a rating authority and an assessing authority. The proposal now before the House is to allow each parish council to elect two representatives to serve upon the rating authority. I notice the Minister in his preliminary statement said that a rural district area might contain as many as 20 parishes, and he objected to the parishes being represented directly on the ground that the rating authority would be too large. Now the right hon. Gentleman accepts this Amendment which enables parish councils each to elect two and which may bring the parish councils membership for a rural area up to 40.
These representatives do not sit permanently on the rating authority. They only sit for the purpose of the particular parish which they represent. Therefore, there are only two at a time.
§ Mr. RILEY
Surely there are 40 on the authority for rating purposes? However, I accept the Minister's statement and I come to my main objection to the Amendment. Only one reason has been put forward for a departure from the Clause as it stands and for bringing the representatives of parish councils into the new rating authorities. Hon. Members who take this view have in mind that they are going to obtain for rural districts some prospect of lower assessments than those which would be obtainable under the properly elected urban and rural district councils. As a matter of fact, under the existing law, parishes are already entitled to representation upon the rural district councils, and if this Amendment were not carried, each parish would still be in direct touch with the rating authority through its representative on the rural district council. I submit that is a much more democratic method than recreating 1021 in another form the old system of overseers.
The argument has been used to-day that it is necessary to bring in the overseers as representing the parish, in order especially to have some voice in the assessments, on the ground that the urban authorities, both urban in the ordinary sense and municipal, would be biassed with regard to the proper assessment of public property under their jurisdiction. The Minister himself has already given reasons why there is no validity in that argument, and may I suggest another reason to those who put it forward? Surely the members of an urban or rural district council or a municipal authority who have public property under their control are also themselves ratepayers in the locality, and, therefore, in assessing property, they have their own interests at stake, and they will also be accountable to their ratepayers. Prom every point of view, and especially from the point of view of a democratic administration by rating authorities, it is far sounder to allow the councils as publicly elected to be the authority than to have other persons put On who are not directly responsible to the electors.
§ Mr. RYE
Although I welcome any proposal which will result in the parish councils having representation on these valuation committees, I suggest that this Amendment scarcely does justice to those in the rural areas. It is perfectly true that there will be a representation, but it is to be very limited, and instead of the parish council being entitled to appoint any person to attend on the valuation committee in the ordinary sense of a full committee man, whoever are appointed as the representatives of a parish council -can only go there with strictly limited powers, and can only have a say with regard to the hereditaments within the actual parish which they represent. That is a retrograde step, because, in effect, you will have partisans coming forward. If you send representatives who are not at liberty to express their opinions—and the House must remember that in nine cases out of 10 the representatives who will come forward will be the old overseers—if these gentlemen, when they arrive at these valuation committee meetings, are not at liberty to give the benefit of their experience, except in regard to their own particular parishes, they must 1022 of necessity, whatever their qualifications may be, ultimately develop into mere partisan representatives.
I do not know whether it will be said that they are invited to these committees because they have expert knowledge, and that they go there in an advisory capacity, but, if that be so, then it appears to be fairly obvious that anyone who goes there in the capacity of an expert should have his views accepted by the general committee, and if that is not to be the case, you might just as well leave matters as they are at present and leave the valuation for the rural areas in the hands of the overseers. I cannot see why the parish councils should not be at liberty to appoint their representatives in the full sense of the word, to sit upon the committees, and to act, not merely within the four corners of their own parish, but generally throughout that particular rating area. It seems to me a somewhat extraordinary state of affairs to suggest that, where you have an expert, with full knowledge of one parish, he is not to be at liberty to open his mouth or express any opinion whatever as to the hereditaments in a parish immediately adjoining his own, yet, on the other hand, although that person, having special knowledge, intimate and expert, cannot express the slightest opinion as to the value of a hereditament within a few yards of his own parish, you are going to have the real members of the committee, those who are appointed by the rating authority, interfering with, expressing views upon, and deciding as to the valuation of the very hereditaments in the parish which this representative represents. It seems rather a curious state of affairs.
I cannot help thinking that this proposal, good though it is in the sense that the parish councils and the rural areas are to have representation, is somewhat humiliating to those engaged in local life in the rural areas. You are saying to them, "We do not pay any attention to your expert knowledge or your views. except in regard to your particular parish, and when you come before us we, who have not anything like the knowledge that you possess, reserve to ourselves the right to outvote you and fix a valuation which may not accord with your views." There is another point of view, which is perhaps a minor one, and that is the posi- 1023 tion of these representatives of the parishes when they are to go to meetings. I have no doubt it will be said that the meetings of the valuation committees will be so arranged as to avoid any delay and inconvenience to those special representatives, but who is to say when they are to be present? If you are going to take the valuation which presumably will be done in the parishes, who is to say how long is to be taken in deciding and fixing the values for any particular parish? You will have the rather humiliating spectacle, apart from inconvenience, of the representatives of all the parishes within a rating area standing, so to speak, on the mat outside the door, waiting like good boys to be called in by the schoolmaster, and, when they have got inside the door, and have had their say, they are to be told, having done their work like good boys, to run away. I suggest that the Amendment which stands next on the Paper in my name might be considered by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. That would give full representation on these committees for the parish councils. They would then represent one-half of the committees, and they would be in a proper position, and not merely in the nature of partisans coming forward to fight their own battles for their own particular parishes.
§ Mr. SCURR
When I was a humble Member of the public outside of this House, before securing the honour of membership in it, I always watched with considerable interest the career of the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Health, and I always had the impression that he was one of the strongest of our modern statesmen. To-day, unfortunately, I have to revise that opinion completely. Instead of the strong statesman, able to stand up for the Measure which he introduced and placed before the country, right the way through we have found him making a series of surrenders at every point. This Bill to-day, and particularly if this Clause is carried, will be something like the Irishman's knife, which the Irishman said had belonged to his grandfather. It was true that his father had put on a new handle, and that he himself had put in a new blade, but it was still his grandfather's knife, and this Rill is the right hon. 1024 Gentleman's in the same sense as that knife was the grandfather's. When I look at this Clause, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he would save a considerable amount of the Government's time for other business if he were to withdraw the Bill altogether, for, by accepting this Amendment, he has practically left the present position unaltered.
It was proposed that we should have a system similar to that obtaining in London since 1869, which was held up to us by the Memorandum issued with the Bill, yet now we find the Minister coming along and creating this particular authority, on which we are to have two persons from every parish, coming up simply all the time to procure the underassessment of their own particular area. There, can be no reason whatever for them being there, except that. Why are they afraid of having a system of rating such as has obtained in London, which has been such an undoubted success? The reason is that all the various interests which are at stake, and particularly the landowning and farming interests, are anxious that they shall not pay what is their rightful share of the rates for local services. I protest against this helpless surrender on the part of the Minister to his backwoodsmen, who have been fighting him all the way through. During the discussion of the Bill in Committee upstairs, the Minister secured most loyal support from Members of the Labour party in regard to carrying the Bill in its original form. We did our best to help him, but our reward, which, of course, we deserve —because, after all, the Labour party has no business to support anything put forward by a Conservative Government— is that he treats us with the contempt which we deserve. That is about the only thing on which we ought to congratulate him, and it will be a lesson to a good many on this side in the future, in regard to any action we may take. We now recognise that the attitude of the Government is simply to surrender to all the reactionary interests, and in so doing not to accept any help which may be given to it by those who may differ from the Government politically. Therefore, so far as we are concerned, in regard to this Clause and all these other Clauses which will render the Bill absolutely useless,, they will have our stringent opposition.
§ Captain BOWYER
The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) seemed uncertain why the parish councils wanted representation. It has always seemed to me in the past that hon. Members opposite, if I may say so with great respect, do not take human nature into consideration. I should have thought it was as obvious as anything could be that, if any man thinks he knows a little bit more about a subject than another man, as people who live in the parishes rightly think they do concerning the property and other things in the parishes, it is only consonant and in harmony with human nature that they should wish to be present when the future and the prosperity of that parish is to be discussed. I mainly rose to congratulate the Minister of Health on having given way on this matter, and to thank him on behalf of a very great number of parish councils in the Northern parts of Buckinghamshire, because I know how much importance is attached to the concession which he has made to-day, and I feel sure that a great deal of the opposition of the parish councils, an opposition which has struck me as being curious, in that it was directed against the whole Bill, in toto, would have disappeared or would have become very much less well defined if they had known of the agreeable attitude that the right hon. Gentleman would take towards this matter to-day. I thank him most heartily.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. I found) twitted my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) with his approval of the speech made on the preceding Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. I am inclined to think that nearly everyone on these benches approved heartily, and was convinced by, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to that Amendment. It was a most convincing speech, and when he made an exactly similar speech in Committee upstairs how heartily we approved of it! How we felt that at last we had a strong man at the Ministry of Health who understood what was wanted! The only difficulty we have is that the right hon. Gentleman's convincing speeches do not seem to have convinced himself, and all of us who were inclined to think that the case could not be put better, must now regretfully 1026 observe that there is one case which could be put better even than his logical and convincing argument, and that is the pressure from the representatives of the Land Union behind him. He has run away on every possible occasion. This particular Amendment now is to enable the various parish councils to send two representatives of each parish to the valuation committee in order to see that their own parish is not over-assessed.
The first thing I have to say about this Amendment is that it is thoroughly undemocratic and thoroughly reactionary. In the rating authority as it stood you had a directly elected body, who, if they were unjust in their valuation, could be called to account by losing their seats on the rating authority. Now the right hon. Gentleman introduces this indirectly elected body, the representatives of the parish councils, elected by the parish councils and sent to this assessment committee with the object of keeping down their own valuation. I prefer to have on these valuation committees people who can be called to account by the public, and not people who can be, called to account by their vested interests. But that is not the only objection to the innumerable surrenders of the right hon. Gentleman. The, argument that has been used throughout by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) has been that if you had a full assessment, if property were assessed up to its full value, then you would have a low poundage, and that was undesirable, because people would not appreciate the charges made by a local authority, or the expenditure of a local authority, unless the poundage wore high.
There may, or there may not be anything in that argument, but what T want the House, to follow is, that unless you have a full assessment, you must necessarily have an unjust assessment. If your assessment is low and your poundage is high, then what can the particular property owner do who is selected from among his neighbours to be assessed at full value? If he appeals, it can be shown that his property is not undervalued, and he cannot point out that the vast mass of the property in that area is undervalued. We all know—and the speech of the hon. Member for the Frome Division (Mr. G. Peto), I think, made it absolutely clear—that, wherever 1027 possible, property is undervalued. The amount of under-valuation, particularly in these rural areas, has been notorious, and if any hon. Member happens to have the courage and honesty of the lion. Member for Frome, he will know that if his property is valued at its full value, he has no redress as against the undervaluing of all surrounding properties. In fact, the object of having a full assessment is to see that everybody is treated alike, and the farm is do not secure lower valuation than the cottagers and people who own houses, but that all are assessed in accordance with the principles of our rating law, that they shall be assessed at the annual value of their property at what it would let in its present position. The argument used throughout by the Land Union is, "Preserve for us our old system under which farm property and landed property can be under-as6essed, and in which house property and cottage property can be assessed up to the full limit."
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I have nothing whatever to do with the Land Union, and I do not believe the hon. Member who seconded has.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. and learned Member is not the only Member on those benches who, throughout the 24 days in Committee, persistently used the argument that what they wanted was low assessment and high poundage, instead of high assessment and low poundage.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member was by no means the first person to put it forward. The first was the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). This is not the first Amendment on this subject. I should say there were at least a couple of dozen to reduce the assessment and keep up the poundage, and if the two hon. Members are not members of the Land Union, that does not alter the fact that the Land Union circularised members of the Committee in this direction. In Committee it was hardly denied that the bulk of the opposition to the principles of the Bill 1028 came from those people who wished to have their assessments in rural areas lower than that of other people.
What I want to point out is that a low assessment must be an unjust assessment. If you insured that everybody had an equally low assessment, I should not complain, but when it is, as it has been hitherto always, a question of certain interests getting a lower assessment, and other people being assessed up to the top, then you get that injustice which this Bill as originally introduced was meant to stop. Originally this Bill had in it a scheme whereby the assessment for Schedule A and the Schedule for Rates should be co-ordinated. That was wiped out. Then you had a scheme as in the Bill we have before us, where the rating authorities, an elected body at any rate, were the people who prepared the valuation list. I do not think there was much hope for that scheme in the sense that it provided a juster valuation, but now even that has gone, and the right hon. Gentleman has made the final surrender. I agree with the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) that this Bill now, so far as valuation is concerned, is absolutely no improvement whatever upon the existing practice, and that so far as the rest of the Bill is concerned, I do not believe that we have got one single step forward in solving the problem which has faced every Minister of Health during my time in the House of Commons. I hope that we may yet see a Minister of Health who is prepared to stand up in the interests of justice against the biggest vested interest in this country.
§ Mr. HURD
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has really taken this matter sufficiently into consideration with the representatives of the Rural District Councils' Association? No opportunity has been given for canvassing opinion. We know nothing of the probable effects upon those who work this matter, and the Rural District Councils' Association are very doubtful indeed whether this will work at all. They believe it will be extremely difficult to work Take, for instance, a scattered rural union. There are sometimes 60 parishes, and each man will be concerned with the affairs of his own parish. How will it be possible to make a system of this sort work? I wish the right hon. Gentleman would tell 1029 us whether he has really gone into it from the point of view of actual day to day work of local administration. It seems to me a great pity that a matter of this sort should be rushed through the House, and we should really know that those who have to handle these matters believe it will be a workable and desirable change.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
This Clause as proposed now seems to me entirely to upset the whole purpose of this Bill. This Bill was designed to get rid of the parish and substitute a larger area. What, in effect, this Amendment does is to set up separate committees for each parish, because you have a valuation committee set up in a district council. That committee may be sub-divided, with power to make committees of all sorts, and then that committee is to have two co-opted members in respect of each parish. It is quite clear that these two members will be there as advocates for that parish, and everyone who is on a public authority knows the trouble there is with the ad hoc co-opted member, because, being put on some committee specially, he is only interested in that, and in this case you have a valuation committee diluted with the representatives of local interests. It is quite clear that, instead of having some definite line of principle running at least through the whole of the rural district, it is going to be qualified in each parish by the representatives of that parish. Who are those representatives going to be?
One might have hoped, as the working men are waking up, and getting on to the various councils, that they might have been representatives. The Amendment I put forward at an earlier stage was not passed, but rejected, so the workmen will not be able to be representatives because of the expense. The result will simply be the representation of the landed interest. I believe that over a large portion of the rural district area there was a decent chance that you would get some sort of uniformity, and people who would be serious in dealing with property, and would hold the scales fairly even. How-is that possible when you are going to have the people chosen in the way that has been described? I put it to the hon. Member who got the support of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who is always talking about the danger of the 1030 people being judges in their own case— here we have it that you are going to get people whose cases are going to be judged, or their friends' cases, in this manner. It is all very well to say that the working men cannot be judges in their own cause. I think probably, if not certainly, in his heart of hearts the Minister is very unhappy about this Clause. I do not think he can be very happy either about the Bill. The Bill is one which started out with high hopes. The Minister, instead of being firm as he was earlier, is now simply surrendering again and again so that he is not even secure in the support of the rural district councils. I do not undervalue the work done by the parish councils, but the one thing with which they ought not to deal is the valuation of property. It is not the small but the large unit you want in the valuation of property. I hope the House will vote against this Amendment. The Bill was introduced and discussed in Committee. We spent 24 laborious days trying to knock it into shape. When it comes down to the House on Report we find that the main principle of the whole Bill is thrown over by the Minister and absolutely surrendered to the reactionary forces of his own party.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
It seems to me that the party opposite are not going to improve their position on the countryside by this attitude towards the Bill.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I suggest to the hon. Member for Limehouee (Mr. Attlee) that he might be a little more accurate. He has used the word "co-opted" several times. As a matter of fact the representative of a parish council will be elected by the parish council. The attitude of the Socialist party—
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Member has not quite grasped my point. My point is that they are co-opted from the standpoint of the Committee by outside bodies. [compare them with the co-opted member of a committee of a local authority.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
The phrase used by the hon. and gallant Member was "co-opted." My point is that they are directly sent to the rating authority by the parish council. It seems a pity that 1031 the party opposite should take the attitude they do towards the parish councils which, after all, represent the life of the countryside. They have a full voice upon the rating authority. Speeches made by hon. Members opposite might lead one to suppose that these two representatives of the parish council were going to decide what the valuation of their parish is to be. As a matter of fact, they will be there merely to afford full information about the affairs of the parish. The hon. Gentleman and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) can never get away from the iniquities of the landowner. As a matter of fact, I dare say I have had as much, if not more experience of parish councils than the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lime-house, and the representatives that will be sent to the rating authority are very unlikely in most cases to be landlords—
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
They are not chief landlords. I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has accepted this Amendment. It will be most acceptable to a. large number of parishes, at any rate in Berkshire. I am suggesting to the party opposite that they will not help themselves on the countryside by saying what they do against those who desire to have a say in the discussion of their own affairs.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
I cannot take a part in this discussion as an expert in the sense of having been a representative on a parish council, but, at any rate, I have at least this much experience, that I got to know much of the attitude of the parish councils in what are called "backward areas" by the fact that I was a defeated candidate for a parish council on more than one occasion. It is a very valuable experience. I would remind the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. G. Peto) who made such an interesting speech from the other point of view this evening, that while he found it difficult to find an overseer to take his place, that the overseers in the parish where I tried to get on the parish council never thought for a moment about suggesting that I should become an overseer in the parish. They realised, as I expect it was realised in the 1032 parish that the hon. Member for Frome spoke about, that on the whole it would be better to confine the selection of overseers to that class that were representative of the majority on the parish councils in the so-called backward areas. I would also suggest to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) in relation to the term "backward areas," and the thought that we are making a mistake by so referring to the people who live in those areas, that I fancy, he does not fully apprehend the situation.
What is going to happen is this: In the rural areas, in those areas where the parish councils exist at the present time, there is a growing consciousness among the farm labourers, the workers, and the professional people that for years past their interest has been neglected by the overseers representing the landed classes. The new system proposed in connection with the Amendment now placed before us is not going to help them, for, after all, that new system, as the House has been reminded in an interjection, is nothing more than an extension of the Soviet system. It is not a democratic system at all in the sense in which democracy is usually accepted in this House. It is a system whereby you propose that parish councillors shall hide their responsibility behind the bigger authority which they are going to advise regarding the rating of the area which they represent. They will never be able to be called to account-by the area which they represent because that area will never be able to bring home to them their responsibility for their actions or for the action that ultimately is taken by the rating authority to which they will give their evidence. If we could be sure that the authority that is going to be responsible for rating and all its members could ultimately come to election where the people who are rating would have a chance of giving their opinions thereon, then we might be in a situation ultimately to get the right sort of rating authority. I insist, as other hon. Members have insisted, that you have in the yielding of the Minister to the importunity of the demands that have been made to him another example of legislation designed in the interests of a class. All they are thinking of in this Measure, as in most Measures, is to back up the wealth of those who already possess it, while you will continue to place other burdens upon the shoulders of the com- 1033 munity, upon those who are less able to bear them. I can assure the hon. Gentleman, who has just spoken, that the growing intelligence of the farm labourers, the professional people in these areas called backward, in a little while will bring us to the point where they, too, will be supporting the stand that the Labour party has made upon this issue.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I rise for the purpose of asking a question or two. I want to know whether these co-opted gentlemen are going to have votes on the rating authority?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood) indicated assent.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
That makes it worse then. That makes it more reactionary than it was supposed the Government dare suggest, after having spoken about democracy and an election system bringing the matter upon a more equitable basis. Persons, it would appear, are to be co-opted and placed in a position whereby they cannot be called to account, yet they have to cast votes upon questions which affect the economic welfare of the whole parish. That, to my mind, is something which one would not have thought that even this Government would dare to do. The description given by my hon. Friends who have just spoken as the defenders and protectors of property seems to meet the case. Hon. Members have been telling us that it is seditious to take about the class war. They are proving that there is a class war. We shall continue to say what we feel on this matter outside as well as inside the House. I want to say to the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, the Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville), that he need not worry about the appeal which we shall make to the countryside. We shall go in the countryside and exactly to that type of person whose interests will not be protected under the new proposal made by this Conservative Government.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have not been able to listen to the whole of this Debate since four o'clock, but I have listened intermittently to various of the speakers on this important question of what shall be the authority to determine the manner in which property shall be valued and rates levied. I happen to be a person who 1034 served on one of the old assessment committees in the county of London before the borough councils were instituted. My experience on that assessment committee drives me to the conclusion that if this Amendment is carried we will have the same kind of business that one got on the old assessment committees. The procedure that was followed ended up with making as complete a hash of the business as possible. The big property owners in those days took part in the work of administering the Poor Law. You would find them always taking care that they had the qualification. If they could get elected, the one committee on which any of them ever served was the assessment committee.
The old London dock authority put their chief constable on the board of guardians at one time, for no other reason than that his friends—undertakers, parsons and doctors—Freemasons most of them were—should take good care that this representative of what was called the bigger ratepayers should be the chairman of that committee. Nothing more corrupt has ever been seen in public life than the manner in which the old assessment committees elected in that fashion did their work. We heard speeches in the early part of the evening about the dangers of allowing people like myself to become, through the borough councils, the assessment committees of the districts. We were supposed to have some particular interest in doing some particularly dastardly thing or the other. Now the same people come forward to plead that the people in each village shall determine, or have a voice in determining, how their village shall be valued. In the discussions on one of the old Home Rule Bills there was great controversy over whether certain Members should remain in this House or not, and we heard arguments as to the absurdity of having Members in to vote on Irish questions and out when it was a question of voting on affairs concerning Britain. These committees are now to be made to put on the committee people who will come there to represent various interests, and there will be a majority deciding one scale of valuation one day, and next day the committee will reverse it for another valuation. There will be nothing like equal valuation over the whole countryside. It is about the most reactionary thing that could be done.
1035 All of us ought to want to get the best, fairest and most equitable system of valuation. Speaking for myself, and not for my colleagues here, and certainly not for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I say I am not in favour of the Soviet system. I, personally, would prefer that national men should be appointed to do this job. I would like to see the country split up into a dozen districts, and properly-paid officials, responsible to this House, doing this job of valuing the country. It would be infinitely better and cheaper than having all this multitude of people. I do not think the House realises the cost in public money of carrying out the valuation in the piece-meal fashion in which it is now done, and I cannot understand the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) talking, as he has done to-night, about the importance of the people in a particular village having a say in the matter. I personally do not want to have a say in trying to get the house I live in valued at less than my neighbour's, and if I possessed property I hope I should have public spirit enough not to want that valued at less than the value of my neighbour's property. I should not want to do that job myself, but to see the valuation made by independent people appointed by the nation. The idea now is that everybody is to have a voice in it, but earlier in the evening hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were advancing an entirely opposite argument, and therefore I hope my friends on these benches will oppose this to the bitter end.
Hon. and right hon. Members opposite tell us what will happen to us in the country side, but I have more faith in the ordinary agricultural worker than I have in them. I am perfectly certain that any gathering of labourers in a village would desire that the business of assessment should not be done by persons who own property themselves, but by some independent people. I do not understand why the hon. and learned Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill just now, or his leader, having taken a sound and sensible step in the right direction, propose now to go back on it. They must know that this proposition will create confusion. There will be some villages, joined together, which will be assessed tinder one scheme 1036 of valuation, and in the same county another group of villages will be assessed in an entirely different manner, simply because of the in-and-out members. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health looks very puzzled.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Oh. you are not. I am glad to hear it. You look worried, anyhow. I am quite sure that if this were submitted to your undefiled judgment you would be on our side in this matter, because both you and your leader do know, you have had experience, and you know that the business of assessment and valuation in London is done infinitely better than it ever was done before. You also know that if this Amendment be carried we shall have confusion worse confounded in all counties. Therefore, even at this late hour, I think you ought to throw the reactionaries over, and come over on this side and help us to defeat these people who are leading you back into the paths of mediæval Toryism.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Are we not to have any reply at all from the Government? We have been discussing this Amendment since 20 minutes past seven, and, except when the Minister of Health stood at that box and proposed this Amendment in about 50 words, we have had no statement at all from the Government, although members of their own party below the Gangway have been putting specific points, not only their own points, but those advanced by the Rural District Councils Association, who say they have not been consulted. I think it is an insult to the intelligence of the House that we should be asked to go to a Division on this Clause without a reply from the Government.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I will gladly make such observations as I can on this matter, because Members will agree that I have no intention of doing anything but consult their convenience, but I must confess that I am anxious that we should make such progress as we can, because we have a good deal to do to-night if we are to get away at a reasonable hour. With the best wish in the world to appreciate the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I must say that the sole reason for accepting this Amendment 1037 is to have the benefit of the experience of men who have been engaged in this work for many years. I have no wish to make a provocative speech in any sense of the word, but I venture to say to hon. Gentlemen opposite that they need not feel that any of those principles which they have been enunciating for some time this evening are in any way threatened by this Amendment. Where men have been engaged in this work for many years and desire to go upon these particular committees for the parish in which they are concerned it is not unreasonable that we should have the benefit of their experience and knowledge. There is no fear whatever, in my judgment, that any of these adverse influences of which we have heard will affect these particular committees, because if hon. Members will look at the Bill they will see that the function is to rest with the authorities set out in Clause 1, Sub-section (1), and the mere fact that we co-opt-if you like to put it so-two men who have had experience in the particular parish for many years ought not to lead hon. Members to fear any of the consequences of which they have spoken. I think it will be a decided advantage to add two men who have had actual experience. That is all this Amendment means and I think what is suggested will undoubtedly turn out for the benefit of all concerned. In this matter we are endeavouring to bring in on this question everybody concerned who can give assistance. We say that two overseers from each particular parish should be members of the Commission when particular matters come up affecting their parish.
§ Member in charge of the Bill. The hon. Member stated that it would be an advantage if they could have one or two of those members on the Committee who had had experience. May I point out that there is nothing in this Amendment to indicate that the people co-opted will be people who have had experience either as councillors or overseers. This proposal suggests putting on to the Committee two persons who may not have had the slightest experience and who may be added to the Committee, as we know from experience, because they are friends of those already on the councils. Often enough the people co-opted are persons who overturn much of the work the other councillors have done and they have not then to face the public, because they are not responsible to anybody and immediately they have clone all the harm it is possible for them to do, they can leave those who are elected to face the music before the electors. Everything which has been said by the hon. Member in charge of the Bill indicates clearly that we must oppose this proposal because it is one which we are surprised to find the Government accepting at this time of day.
§ Mr. CECIL WILSON
I do not understand how it is possible to expect all these people to come together from enormous areas, and I do not see how there will be any possible advantage in what is now proposed. This Amendment will cause an immense amount of confusion, and for that reason we shall oppose it.
§ Question put, "That the proposed words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 119.1041
|Division No. 387.]||AYES.||[8.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Caine, Gordon Hall|
|Albery, Irving James||Blundell, F. N.||Campbell, E. T.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cassels, J. D.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon Leopold C. M. S.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Apsley, Lord||Brass, Captain W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Briscoe, Richard George||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. J.||Christie, J. A.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Buckingham, Sir H.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Bullock, Captain M.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Berry, Sir George||Burman, J. B.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Cope, Major William|
|Couper, J. B.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Radford, E. A.|
|Crook, C. W.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Raine, W.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Jacob, A. E.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Drewe, C.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Duckworth, John||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Rye, F. G.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Salmon, Major I.|
|Edwards, John H (Accrington)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Knex, Sir Alfred||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|England, Colonel A.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-V.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Sandon, Lord|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Loder, J. de V.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Looker, Herbert William||Skelton, A. N.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Lord. Walter Greaves-||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Finburgh, S.||Lougher, L.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Fleming, D. P.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Smithers, Waldron|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Forrest, W.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macintyre, Ian||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||McLean, Major A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Macmillan, Captain H.||Steel. Major Samuel Strang|
|Ganzoni, Sir John.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Storry Deans. R.|
|Gates, Percy.||Macquisten, F. A.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Gee, Captain R.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Meller, R. J.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Merriman, F. B.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Soff, Sir Park||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Grace, John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Grotrian, H, Brent.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Waddington, R.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Murchison, C. K.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Neville, R. J.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hanbury, C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Harland, A.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Nuttall, Ellis||Wells, S. R.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Oakley, T.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth Kennington)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Haslen., Henry C.||Owen, Major G.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Pease, William Edwin||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Pennefather, Sir John||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Penny, Frederick George||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perring, William George||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pilcher, G.|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Pilditch, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Captain Viscount Curzon and|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Preston, William||Captain Margesson.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Barr, J.||Clowes, S.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Batey, Joseph||Cluse, W. S.|
|Alexander, A. v. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Broad, F. A.||Compton, Joseph|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Connolly, M.|
|Baker, Walter||Buchanan, G.||Cove, W. G.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cape, Thomas||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Barnes, A.||Charleton, W. C.||Crawfurd, H. E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Kennedy, T.||Snell, Hairy|
|Dennison, R.||Lansbury, George||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Duncan, C.||Lee, F.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Dunnico, H.||Lindley, F. W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lowth, T.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Lunn, William||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Mackinder, W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Thurtle, E.|
|Gosling, Harry||March, S.||Townend, A. E.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Montague, Frederick||Trevelyan, Ht. Hon. C. P.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Greenall, T.||Naylor, T. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Oliver, George Harold||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Potts, John S.||Warne, G. H.|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Watson. W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Riley, Ben||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Ritson, J.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Westwood, J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Hardie, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Scrymgeour, E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scurr, John||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Windson, Walter|
|Hirst, G. H.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smillie, Robert||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Hayes.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)|