HC Deb 06 December 1926 vol 200 cc1773-97

The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE:

In page 9, line 19, to leave out the words, "the council of the county or the council of the county borough," and to insert instead thereof the words in the case of a borough, urban or rural district the council of the borough or district.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

This Amendment raises a very important question as to what local authorities are to work the Bill and before moving it I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to a further Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hurd) proposing to insert the words, "on application to' him by the council of any county district." Perhaps the Minister may see his way to concede us something on these lines and it may save time if we get some indication from the Minister as to what he proposes to do.


A manuscript Amendment has been handed in from the other side of the House which may possibly, lead to agreement on this point, and perhaps it would be most convenient if, we discuss all the proposals before us at the same time.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

I suggest it would be convenient that the discussion on the whole matter should take place on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Devizes.


On a point of Order. The Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) raises the question of urban and rural district councils being local authorities for the purposes of the Bill. I am anxious that this point should be argued in so far as it concerns rural district authorities, and, if the discussion is to take place on the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth, I should like to second that Amendment in order that I may have the opportunity of saying something on the point, because if this Amendment were to go past without discussion I might be shut out.


I think the Amendment which has been handed in by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) will raise the whole question, and all points can be discussed upon it.


I beg to move, in page 9, line 19, after the word "shall," to insert the words in the case of a borough, urban, or rural district with a population of not less than five thousand, be the council of the borough or district and elsewhere shall. This Amendment raises the whole question as to the authorities who are to administer this Measure, and, in moving it, I am fortified by the support of the Association of Municipal Corporations and the Urban District Councils Association. Moreover, rural district councils have communicated with me asking for an Amendment of this description. They argue, not without some point, that the local authorities, who have been doing something tangible in regard to the housing problem in their areas, are clearly the authorities to deal with a matter of this kind. Further, they say that local authorities must of necessity have a greater knowledge of local property owners and of the general health services in a particular district than it is possible for the county council or its officials to have, however much these desire to do the best they can under the terms of the Bill. Notwithstanding the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman in Committee, that it is easier to deal with 61 county councils than with 1,700 local authorities, I think the Amendment ought to be accepted. The county council can still be made a go-between, connecting the Ministry and the local authorities, so long as the local authorities, who understand their own districts and the requirements of their own people, are given the power to operate the Measure to the advantage of the individual tenant and of the district. I understand the right hon. Gentleman has expressed his willingness to go some distance towards meeting the case made by the Association of Municipal Corporations and the urban and rural district councils. If he will be good enough to let us know his intentions early in the Debate, it may avoid waste of time. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to satisfy those Members who are supporting the urban and rural and borough councils in their plea for the acceptance of this Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I am in the position of having had a fairly long experience both on a county council and on an urban district council, and I am the last person in the world to play one off against the other. I have never looked upon the county council and the local councils as being rivals, but allies. I welcome this Bill because, for the first time, it places in the hands of the county councils at least some opportunity of dealing with the housing accommodation of the people. On the other hand, whilst I should resent any proposal to exclude county councils entirely, I think it is equally drastic to try to exclude local authorities who are quite competent to deal with the question for themselves. I think in the circumstances the suggested compromise fixing a limit of a 5,000 population should be acceptable. It will enable the county council to do the work for those authorities which are perhaps not competent to do it for themselves, while it will leave those authorities who are quite competent, free to do it for themselves.

8.0 P.M.


I hope the Minister will be able to give favourable consideration to this Amendment. I lay the greatest stress on e having the rural district councils as authorities for carrying out the purpose of this Bill, to which I attach the greatest value. I think the limitation of 5,000 population should meet the objection that in some parts of the country the rural district councils are too small and have too low a rateable valuation. Although I do not know exactly how far it will limit the rural district councils, I gladly accept, for this purpose, the limitation to 5,000 population. I desire the House to remember that in the recent three housing Measures the urban and rural district councils have been housing authorities. Under the Addison scheme, where there was a liability of something like £40 for each house for 60 years, the rural district council was the authority for putting that immense charge on the Exchequer. When the Addison scheme came to an end and we had the Minister's Act of 1923, the urban and rural district councils were entrusted with the power of arranging all about the building of these houses involving a subsidy of £75 per house and a further grant from the rates in the case of hundreds of thousands of houses. In the same way, under the Housing Act, 1924, when a much larger amount of money was allowed to be spent than under the Act of 1923, the urban and the rural district councils were the authorities for spending the money. I for my part can see no reason, when we have given power to rural district and urban district councils to build houses, why in the minor matter of making improvements to houses and bringing them up to modern sanitary requirements, we should say, "Oh, you urban and rural district authorities, that have done so well in building houses and in the expenditure of very much larger sums of money, you are not able to do this. We dare not trust you with this, and we must hand it over to the county councils." There is no reason whatever that I have ever heard why this should be done. It is within the recollection of the House that the utmost subsidy that can be given under this Bill in respect to any one house is £100. The total expenditure would be a mere bagatelle compared to the money that has been granted and spent under the Addison and other housing schemes. There are various reasons why the county council are not likely to be able to do this work. There is the considerable size of the county council areas, the considerable size of the counties in which the county councils have administration. We never see a county councillor in my parish. When we live 25 miles or so away from where they sit, what can they know of the requirements of cottages which are hidden away often from the main road? And what do they know of the requirements of a village—one out of hundreds in the county?

The housing question, next to the Poor Law, is brought home most intimately to the working population. For that reason, we want persons in charge of this Bill who know the state of the local houses and local requirements, and who knows that better than the district councillors? In my division there is an area of something like 330 or 340 square miles, and we have only three rural district councils in the whole of that area. But the district councillors, coming from the various parts of this area, meeting in the evening, know all their districts thoroughly well. They are acceptable to the people who live in the houses, and who want these alterations. They are by far the most likely to work this Bill successfully, because they have local knowledge and they have the time to do the work. I say nothing against the county councils, because I like and admire their administration, but in my opinion they ought to administer the larger services, such as education, roads, the Diseases of Animals Acts, and matters which are common to the whole area of the county, and not those more personal and local matters such as I have mentioned. The county councils, as we know now, are already overwhelmed with work. One of the complaints I hear against the county councils is that they have so much to do that everything is being left to the permanent officials, and they are becoming most bureaucratic institutions. I hear this on all sides from county councillors. I hear further that there is the greatest difficulty in getting suitable men to take up the work on the county councils, because the claims upon their time, the number of committee meetings they have to attend, the distances they have to go, and the difficulty in getting to the meeting places are such that very few people can take office as county councillors.

We hear complaints that village life is not sufficiently interesting. The one fault I have to find with the present Minister of Health, although I admire much of the work he is doing, is that he does not show real sympathy with our country life, with our country villages, and our country aspirations. He has destroyed our one little bit of local government which we had in the control of the overseers by parish councils. He has, by his recent Resolution, destroyed in great measure the provision of new houses under the Housing Act by the limitations that he has brought about in the subsidy. He is proposing, and he is likely to carry out a Measure to take away from our district councils the administration of the Poor Law, which he himself admits has been admirably done in our country districts, and I can see not the Minister but his colleagues coming forward when the administration of our rural roads is raised in this House and saying, "This can be very much better done by the county councils, and we will take this away."

The Minister has no real sympathy for district councils, and I ask hon. Members opposite and my hon. Friends here whether they really think that it is going to be a good thing to leave our rural district councils stranded, to concentrate everything in a body of officials in the capital town of the county, to destroy that interest which we have in local life, and to destroy the efficient and active rural district councils which, along with the parish councils, are most useful local bodies? He has left the parish councils with really nothing to do, and I am the chairman of a parish council. I would give the parish councils rather more to do. There is this danger that I can see, that the rural district councils are going to be left high and dry with little to do. This is the one body, as our rural local government is constituted at present, which is open to any man, whether he be a working man, a small farmer, a small shopkeeper or anybody, who lives in the county and who has any aspiration for public life. For these reasons, I do urge the House to put as much pressure as they can upon the Minister to reconsider this decision of handing this Bill over to the county councils, which I assure him, in my opinion, and I give it with confidence, will not be worked by them in the same efficient way as the district councils could work it. The district councils have the time, the opportunity, and the necessary local knowledge which will enable them to carry it out efficiently.


I hope at this eleventh hour the right hon. Gentleman will not make a complete change in the Bill and take from the county councils this power which they are so eminently qualified to hold. I do not propose to follow my hon. and learned Friend the Member far East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) into the discussion on the merits of the county councils, but, speaking as one who has been a life-long county councillor, I can heartily agree with the view taken by an hon. Member who, I believe, has never had the privilege of serving on any county council in England. This Bill for the first time places rural housing powers in the hands of the county councils. Speaking as chairman of the County Councils Association, I say deliberately that we feel that we can play a very large part in the provision of housing accommodation. My hon. and learned Friend has suggested that we have not got the time, that we do not find the proper people to attend county councils, and that this administration would be entirely a matter for officials. I would remind him, however, that county councils have already had, under the Small Holdings Act., to provide houses and buildings. Under the Standing Joint Committees, we have had to provide houses far our policemen. We have skilled architects, and all the proper officials to assist those members of the county councils who are prepared to give the whole of their time to inspect houses in different villages when they have received the requisitions from these places.

I cannot help thinking that it might be a little unfortunate if these powers were given to the rural district councils, and to urban councils with the proportion of population that has been suggested. I think in many cases it may be rather difficult for owners of dilapidated cottages to come before the rural district councils. This does not affect me in the least. Thank goodness, I am able to keep two masons and three masons' labourers all the year round, and there is no question of me under any circumstances whatsoever applying to the county councils in regard to this grant, so I can speak with complete impartiality on this point. I think there is a certain danger in having the minor local authority as the authority before whom the people have to come when they apply for grants under this Bill. Then what are you to do with regard to the charge If this Amendment is carried, are you going to place the charge upon the district area? Obviously, of course. Then that will upset the whole of the financial pro- visions of the Bill. Surely it is much fairer that you should do the work under the authority of the county council, and I hope that the Minister will not give way in this matter. This matter was considered very carefully by the County Councils Association. They undertook to carry out these powers. They passed a Resolution that they would carry them into effect, and I ask the House not to be carried away by the statements of an hon. and learned Member who, following the instincts of his profession, cannot do other than abuse the county councils and, indeed, abuse the Minister himself, and that is all the argument that he can adduce.


I did not abuse anybody.


The hon. and learned Member spoke in a very derogatory manner, both of the county councils and of the Minister. At any rate, I ask the House not to change the Bill, but to leave it to the county councils, who, I can assure the House, will carry out the provisions of the Bill in the most impartial and fair manner possible, and can properly be trusted with the duties which are about to be placed upon them.


The last two speeches that we have heard show what angry passions may be aroused in attempting to deal with the limits of jurisdiction between county and district councils. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico) who seconded the Amendment, described it as a compromise, but it is a curious sort of compromise which is going exactly to reverse the proposal in the Bill and make the minor authorities the authorities which are to work the provisions of the Bill, instead of the county councils. I cannot help thinking that a great deal of the misapprehension which is shown upon this matter arises from the fact that hon. Members, not in one part of the House only, cannot get out of their heads the idea that it is the local authority which is going to do the work under the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) argued as if that was so, and said: "We have done this work; we know the requirements of the locality." All that is on the assumption that it is "we," the district councils, who are to do the work. But it is not for the district councils, or even for the county councils, to find out what are the requirements of a locality.


The Amendment calls for the local councils to approve the plans.


My hon. and learned Friend has not got clear in his mind what the local authorities have to do. It is the owners who will put their proposals forward. What the local authority has to do is to consider whether those proposals are going to make a satisfactory dwelling, but they do not need to inquire into the circumstances of the district to find that out. The architect of the county council can tell that at once. Then they have to consider whether the improvements proposed are the best that can be made, or whether there is something else that ought to be there and is not there, and they have to consider whether the improvements are such as they ought to approve, and whether the estimates that are given in connection with the proposals are such as can be accepted by them. Those are matters which do not require special local knowledge. They are matters which can be carried out perfectly well by the county council, more especially as there is only a limited number of houses which are ever going to be touched by this Bill, and as there is a period of five years during which the Bill is to be carried out. Therefore, I do not accept the point of view that you require special local knowledge, and that because the county councillors meet, when they do meet, a long way away from the place where the operations are to be carried out, they are incapable of supervising the work.

But there is another point, which is certainly a very important one, and it was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir E. Turton). There is the question of the charge, and if one of these smaller local authorities is to be the authority under the Bill, then the cost of any work undertaken in its area must fall entirely upon that local authority. I should regard that as a very dangerous feature. I think the result of that would be that in many localities you would get nothing done, and I must say, too, that I have heard with some concern the argument on the part of certain boroughs that, as they have practically no buildings in their areas which are capable of being improved in this way, therefore they ought to be exempted from bearing any of the cost. I should be very sorry to hear that argument pressed by the councils of boroughs, and I do not think they would, on consideration, because, apart from the question as to whether the boroughs have not themselves an indirect, if not a direct, interest in seeing that the conditions are improved in the country, and that people are, therefore, induced rather to remain in the country than to come and compete in the towns—quite apart from that—I would draw attention again to what I mentioned in Committee, namely, that this is not the only case that will ever arise as to the spreading of charges over a large area like that of a county, and that it might very conceivably happen that in the future a precedent might be set for the separation of a particular case which might work out very much more to the disadvantage of the boroughs than this would work out to their advantage now.

Therefore, I feel myself that the desirable course is to spread these charges over as wide an area as possible. I think we are much more likely to get the work done, and, again, there is the argument, which has appealed to me, that if a particular district in a county finds that another district in the county is doing a good deal of work under the Bill, and that it, therefore, is contributing to the expenses of that other district, it will be inclined to say: "Well, at any rate we have to pay for somebody else's work, so let that somebody else pay for ours," and it will be tempted, in order that it may not be entirely on the debit side, to start work in its own district too. I could not accept the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member opposite, but I would point out to the House that the first three lines of this Sub-section are followed by a proviso, which enables the Minister in certain cases to substitute the council of a county district for the council of the county. Before doing so, it is provided that the Minister must be convinced that it is a proper thing to do, and that he must consult the county council. It has been suggested to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hurd) and others that it would go some way to meet their views if I could make some further extension in that proviso, and I have informed my hon. Friend that, if he cared to expand his Amendment in the way which I have suggested to him, I should be prepared to accept the Amendment in that altered form. What I have proposed to him is that the first words of the proviso should read as follows: Provided that, if the Minister, either owing to special circumstances or on application to him by the council of any county district made before the thirty-first day of March, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven"— Then it goes on, as in the Bill, with the words "thinks lit so to do." It will be seen that that alteration would allow this delegation, or rather the transference of powers from the county council to the county district to be brought about by the Minister on the application of the district, but there would he a time limit, and I think the House will see that it is necessary to have a time limit, because, if you did not, there would be serious delay on the part of the county council itself in making any scheme. It must know whether or not it is to be the authority before it can make its scheme, and, therefore, I have put in a time limit to enable us to save the next building season and to give the county councils some certainty as to where they stood within that time.

I think I need only add this. The alterations which I have suggested to my hon. Friend, of course, still leave the Minister certain discretion, because these words "if the Minister … thinks fit so to do" still remain in, and I want to make it quite clear that. I should feel it open to me to use that discretion, and I should not be disposed to think that if a council of a county district asked to be made the authority, knowing that had but few houses which could be improved under the Bill, and asked it therefore, in order to be relieved of a county charge, I could not accept that in itself as sufficient reason for making the alteration. I hope the concession that I have made will be satisfactory not only to my hon. Friends behind me, but to hon. Members opposite who have themselves suggested that this might be a case for compromise.


I am afraid the compromise amounts to nothing, and I do not think my hon. Friend would be prepared to accept it. If I may say so, I do not think the Minister has been quite fair to our Amendment. It is in a. real sense a compromise. He says it is no compromise, but if hon. Members look at the two Amendments on the Order Paper, one in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) and the other in the name of the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers), both those Amendments, in effect, rule out the county council entirely. That is their purpose. The first Amendment would read: The local authority for the purposes of this Act shall he in the case of a borough, urban, or rural district the council of the borough or district. It says nothing whatever about the county council. The next one says: in the case of a borough, urban, or rural district the council of the borough or district, and elsewhere the county council. In the Amendment elsewhere would be nowhere, because quite clearly the county area would be covered.


I am sorry to interrupt, but the Amendment on the Order Paper is not in the form of words that I handed in. There is, obviously, a mistake in printing. Of course, "rural" should never have been in my Amendment.


That certainly does make it rather different, but the first Amendment as it stands rules out the county council entirely, and the second Amendment rules out every county council area except the rural district council area. There are many people, including the Minister, who want to give undisputed authority to the county council. That was his first intention. That is really what he means to do now. In Committee, he drew attention very ominously to the words "special circumstances," which led me to believe he would never recognise special circumstances, and that the county council would be the administrative body under the Bill, and that is all in keeping with his general policy. This Amendment, of course, is a serious attempt to come between those two positions taken by hon. Members opposite, to say that in the case of the large local authorities, they should, if they wish, be the authorities, and that as regards the others, they should be left to the county council. That seems to us a fair and reasonable compromise between the two, because it is perfectly true that the County Councils do provide houses for policemen, but it is true, on the other hand, that the other local authorities have been in all respects housing authorities, and I must say that it is unfair in a Bill of this character to make a substantial constitutional change in the relationship between local authorities, which this Bill, in effect, does, and gets in the thin end of the wedge of the county council as a new housing authority.

The proviso which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to amend will not really meet our point. Provided the Minister is satisfied that there are special circumstances, and that the local authority can make a case, he will he prepared, after consultation with the county council, to permit that local authority to act for the purpose of this Act. I venture to say that that case will never arise, because the Minister himself has already hinted, as strongly as it was possible to hint, that these words "special circumstances" were going to he used by him to prevent small local authorities operating the Act, and this appeal means nothing, because we know his views on the subject, and, therefore, if I may use a vulgarism, he is trying to lead his supporters "up the garden." It does nothing whatever to meet their ease; it does nothing whatever to meet ours, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether, even now, the Minister is prepared to go a little further and do something to help the larger authorities, who feel very strongly on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the boroughs, and said they urged that they had cottages of this kind and, there fore, ought not to be called upon to pay. If I understand the case of the boroughs, that was not their argument. I know many municipal boroughs where there are cottages of this kind within their boundaries, but they are perfectly competent to deal with this Bill themselves, and being large housing authorities, as many of these municipal authorities are, they ought not to come within the grip of the county councils in this matter. I sincerely hope the Government will be prepared to go a little further, and, if not, I hope that those on the other side of the House, who are opposed to the Government proposal, will follow us into the Lobby.


As I have already pointed out, there is an error in the Amendment as it appears on the Order Paper. I only think that in fairness to myself it should be pointed out, because the Amendment as it appears there is nonsense. I think, if I may say so, I have a better opinion of the Minister of Health than the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I do not think the present Minister would willingly lead anyone "up the garden." Since hearing the words he proposes to move presently, I have tried to think out how they would work, and I am of opinion that he has gone a long way to meet us in our request, the point being now, that whereas before the county council had the complete control, now a local authority has got the right to ask that it he made the authority for operating this Bill. I, therefore, will not press any of my Amendments, and I thank the Minister for having met us in this way.


I cannot help expressing disappointment at the statement we have heard from the Minister. I do not think he has, to any extent, met the case of the larger boroughs. The larger borough is, and has been, the housing authority under many different Acts, and it does feel under a sense of grievance at finding that the administration of this Act is to rest with the county councils and not with the larger boroughs. The case for the larger boroughs has become all the stronger now that a borough cannot become a county borough unless it has a population of 75,000 persons. The whole question of what duties are to be assigned to non-county boroughs will have to be reviewed in the light of the new legislation upon which this House has recently embarked. In a borough with which I am closely associated, more than half the county rates are paid by the borough, and less than half the representatives on the county council come from the borough. That is the sort of case that ought to be met, and yet when that difficulty is put up it is brushed aside as though it did not exist, and the bogey is trotted out—a bogey which does not frighten me—"Perhaps a precedent will be established which will act injuriously to the boroughs on some future occasion." I suggest that each case must be dealt with on its merits, and on the merits of this case the claim of the boroughs has not been properly met.


Any one who studies the discussions which took place on the Second Reading and in Committee upstairs on the question whether the functions which are entrusted to authorities under this Act should be exercised by county councils or by district authorities must have been struck by the fact that there is a great deal to be said for both sides. After giving the subject rather prolonged study, I have come to the conclusion that if the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hurd) could be accepted it would go a long way to meet the point that in proper cases these functions should be carried out by the district authorities. Personally I can assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite that after giving great consideration to the subject, I am under no delusions as to exactly what will be the effect of the Amendment which the Minister said he would accept, and I believe it will effect all that is necessary in the desired direction. All these district authorities view with great alarm a tendency which has grown up, in the last year or so particularly, to vest in county councils functions of a similar nature to those which have to a large extent in the past been discharged by district authorities. There seems to be a growing tendency to centralise these functions in the coanty councils, and, correspondingly, to take them away frown the district councils. To my mind that would be a very great mistake, and would constitute a great danger in our local administration, if for no other reason than that it would mend to deprive the community of the services of the people it is most desirable they should have. I hope that in all future questions of this description this tendency to centralise local administration in a county council, and to make into a sort of Ministry of Health, will be borne in mind.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 101; Noes, 194.

Division No. 538.] AYES. [8.41 p.m.
Adamson, Bt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Potts, John S.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Ammon, Charles George Groves, T. Riley, Ben
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, T. W. Rose, Frank H.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Guest, Kaden (Southwark, N.) Sexton, James
Baker, Walter Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barnes, A. Hardie, George D Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Barr, J. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Batey, Joseph Hayes, John Henry Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Bondfield, Margaret Hirst, G. H. Stamford, T. W.
Bromfield, William Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Stephen, Campbell
Bromley, J. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Taylor, R. A.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hurd, Percy A. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Cape, Thomas John, William (Rhondda, West) Thurtle, Ernest
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Townend, A. E.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Viant, S. P.
Clowes, S. Kelly, W. T. Wallhead Richard C.
Close, W. S. Kennedy, T. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Connolly, M. Lawson, John James Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Cove, W. G. Lee, F. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Dalton, Hugh Lindley F. W. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lowth, T. Welsh, J. C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J
Day, Colonel Harry MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Whiteley, W.
Dennison, R. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Duncan, C, March, S. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Dunnico, H. Montague, Frederick Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
forestier-Walker, Sir L. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wright, W.
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Murnin, H. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Gardner, J. P. Naylor, T. E.
Gosling, Harry Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Oliver, George Harold Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Greenall, T. Paling, W. Allen Parkinson.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Heneagc, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.
Albery, Irving James Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hennessy, Major J. R. G.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Apsley, Lord Davies, Dr. Vernon Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Dean, Arthur Wellesley Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Dixey, A. C. Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)
Atholl, Duchess of Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)
Atkinson, C. Drewe, C. Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Duckworth, John Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Edmondsan, Major A. J. Hudson, Capt. A. u. M. (Hackney, N.)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Elliot, Major Walter E. Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)
Barnett, Major sir Richard Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Hume, Sir G. H.
Berry, Sir George Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis
Bethel, A. Everard, W. Lindsay Huntingfield, Lord
Betterton, Henry B. Fanshawe, Commander G. D. Hurst, Gerald B.
Boothby, R. J. G. Fenby, T. D. Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Forrest, W. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Brass, Captain W. Foster, Sir Harry S. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Briggs, J. Harold Fraser, Captain Ian James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Frece, Sir Walter de Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Ganzoni, Sir John Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
Bullock, Captain M. Gates, Percy King, Captain Henry Douglas
Burman, J. B. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Knox, Sir Alfred
Burton, Colonel H. W. Goff, Sir Park Little, Dr. E. Graham
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Greene, W. P. Crawford Looker, Herbert William
Christie, J. A. Grotrian, H. Brent Lord, Walter Greaves.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Gunston, Captain D. W. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere
Clayton, G. C. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hall, Lieut. Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A D. Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cope, Major William Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) McLean, Major A.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hammersley, S. S. McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish universities) Hanbury, C. Macquisten, F. A.
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Harrison, G. J. C. MacRobert, Alexander M.
Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Haslam, Henry C. Malone, Major P. B.
Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Margesson, Captain D. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Meller, R. J. Rice, Sir Frederick Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Richardson, Sir p. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Wallace, Captain D. E.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford) Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Moore, Sir Newton J. Ropner, Major L. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Moreing, Captain A. H. Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Watts, Dr. T.
Neville, R. J. Rye, F. G. Wells, S. R.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Nuttall, Ellis Sandeman, A. Stewart Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Oakley, T. Sanderson, Sir Frank Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Savery, S. S. Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Pennefather, Sir John Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Penny, Frederick George Shepperson, E. W. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Percy, Led Eustace (Hastings) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Wise, Sir Fredric
Perkins, Colonel E. K. Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Womersley, W. J.
Perring, Sir William George Smithers, Waidron Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Sprot, Sir Alexander Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. Westm'eland) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Raine, W. Storry-Deans, R. Wragg, Herbert
Ramsden, E. Streatfield, Captain S. R. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington) Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Remer, J. R. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdren, South) Captain Lord Stanley and Captain
Rentoul G. S. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Viscount Curzon.

I beg to move, in page 9, line 21, after the word "Minister" to insert the word "either."

I propose also to move a further Amendment in line 22, after the word "circumstances," to insert the words or on application to him by the council of any county district made before the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven. The idea is to allow the Minister to delegate this power to the district council where he thinks the district council can best help in providing cottages at rents which agricultural labourers can pay.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In line 22, after the word "circumstances," insert the words or on application to him by the council of any county district before the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and twentyseven."—[Mr. Hurd.] In page 10, line 1, leave out the words "any other case as part of the expenses of the," and insert instead thereof the words the ease of any other council as part of the expenses of that."—[Sir K. Wood.]


I beg to move, in page 10, line 26, at the end, to insert the words (6) Every local authority shall publish annually a report of their proceedings under this Act, and such report shall contain, among other things, the following particulars, namely:

  1. (a) The names and addresses of the owners to whom assistance has been given under this Act;
  2. (b) The houses in respect of which such assistance has been given and the works to be carried out in respect thereof;
  3. (c) The amount and nature of the assistance.
A copy of such report shall be supplied to any local government elector within the area of the local authority applying there for upon payment of such sum, not exceeding sixpence, as the authority may fix. I think hon. Members will be agreed as to the reasonableness of this Amendment. After all, a considerable amount of public money may be used in this connection which may be for the benefit of private individuals by improving the value of their property, and therefore, it is a perfectly reasonable request that there should be very full information regarding the names of those who have been beneficiaries under the various provisions of this Act. I lay emphasis upon the provision that we should have the names and addresses of the owners to whom assistance will be given under this Bill if it is carried. Furthermore, I think the public in respect of such assistance should have a very full statement. I do not think that most public authorities need be pressed to do this kind of thing, but there is a suspicion abroad in this respect, and indeed from these benches we are aware that there are certain backward authorities in regard to whom we require an assurance on this point. It is with the idea of getting full public light on those authorities that I move this Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I ask the House to reject this Amendment. I would like to point out that there is no provision requiring the publication of the names of those receiving assistance in other Acts of Parliament, and I see no reason why it should be done in this case. The Amendment would impose an unnecessary duty on local authorities, and, therefore, I ask the House to reject this proposal.


Surely, if the Government want to be plain and open in connection with their transactions they ought not to object to this information being given by the local authorities to the Minister as to what work they have been doing. If we are unable to get any particulars at any time of what firms, companies, employers or householders have been receiving assistance for putting their houses in order by State money or by local money, the Minister of Health will not be able to give us the record which in the past he has been able to give us in regard to new houses. The Minister must at some time or other get particulars as to what houses are being built and he must get the names of those people who receive the subsidy.

If the Government are so much concerned as they profess to be about helping the agricultural workers or the rural workers, surely they will not mind the public knowing what employers and agricultural employers have been assisted to put their dilapidated dwellings in order. Seeing that the Parliamentary Secretary has already said that the Government cannot accept this proposal because of the trouble it is going to give, surely when an employer is asking for a subsidy from the local authority he will state how much he wants, and the local authority will know the amount of the money they have to ask the Minister for in order to make up the amount allowed in accordance with this Bill. It cannot cause a good deal of work to get out the information after it has been recorded. I am rather surprised to hear that the Government are not going to accept this Amendment, when they have been stating that they want to be open and plain and clear, so that everyone may understand exactly what they are doing. Here, when they are given the chance, they start covering things up, as though they did not want people to know their deeds or misdeeds.


I should like to say a word or two on this Amendment. We have put forward a series of reasonable Amendments, which, however, have not been received in a spirit of generosity by the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary. The Parliamentary Secretary tells us that there is no precedent for what we are now proposing. I may inform him that there is no precedent for this Bill. So far as I know, there has never been a Bill similar to this put on the Statute Book of this country, and, if the Bill itself is without a precedent, the Parliamentary Secretary has no argument in the fact that no precedent has been found for such publication of particulars as we propose The position under the Housing Acts is not a parallel position in the least. It is because this Bill differs in many important respects from the old Housing Acts that we feel that these particulars ought to be forthcoming.

There is one precedent to which I would like to draw the attention of the House. If a member of an urban district council falls on hard times, and happens to be driven to the Poor Law, then, in the following March, when the urban district council elections are held, it is advertised to the world that that man is not eligible to stand as a councillor. Under this Bill, a person who receives assistance would be protected, but I am pointing out that, while the Government are not prepared to give publicity in the case of the landlords, they are prepared, presumably, to defend publicity in the case of unfortunate people who can no longer serve on district councils because their poverty has driven them to the board of guardians. It does seem that, where such substantial assistance is being given to private owners of houses for the purpose of putting them into a moderately habitable state, these particulars ought to be available to the mass of the ratepayers, whose money has gone towards the improvement of those houses.

The Ministry of Health will, no doubt, year by year include in its Annual Report the relevant particulars regarding the administration of this Measure. Local authorities will require to have in their possession all the information for which we ask. That information will be summarised and sent to the Ministry of Health, and will find its way into the Annual Report of the Department. That is quite right; it is no business of this House to worry about the individuals who have received this assistance; but the fact that we shall be required to vote money certainly entitles us to know how and in what amount it, is being spent, and it entitles us to the Report on the administration of the Bill that will be forthcoming. Is it not equally reasonable to ask that the local authorities them-

selves should have their local reports presented for their various members and constituents? I think that, so far from this being unreasonable, it is an eminently reasonable Amendment, and I should have thought that the Government would, after due consideration, have been prepared to accept it. If they cannot, I am afraid we have no alternative but to press the matter to a Division.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes, 203.

Division No. 539.] AYES. [9.2 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (fife, West) Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Greenall, D.R. (Glamorgan) Potts, John S.
Ammon, Charles George Groves, T. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, T. W. Riley, Ben
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.) Sexton, James
Baker, Walter Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Barnes, A. Hardie, George D. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barr, J. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Smith, H. B. Lees. (Keighley)
Batey, Joseph Hayes, John Henry Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Bondfield, Margaret Hirst, G. H. Stamford, T. W.
Bromfield, William Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Stephen, Campbell
Bromley, J. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Taylor, R. A.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) John, William (Rhondda, West) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Cape, Thomas Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Thurtle, Ernest
Charleton, H. C. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Townend, A. E.
Clowes, S. Kelly, W. T. Viant, S. P.
Cluse, W. s. Kennedy, T. Wallhead, Richard C.
Connolly, M. Lawson, John James Watson, W.M. (Dumfermline)
Cove, W. G. Lee, F. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Dalton, Hugh Lindley, F. W. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Livingstone, A. M. Welsh, J. C.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lowth, T. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Whiteley, W.
Day, Colonel Harry MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Ab'ravon) Wiggins, William Martin
Dennison, R. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Duncan, C. March, S. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Dunnico, H. Montague, Frederick Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Fenby, T. D. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wright, W.
Gardner, J. P. Murnin, H. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Gosling, Harry Naylor, T. E.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Oliver, George Harold TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Greenall, T. Paling, W. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Albery, Irving James Bullock, Captain M. Dixey, A. C.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Burman, J. B. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert
Apsley, Lord Burton, Colonel H. W. Drewe, C.
Astbury, Lieut-Commander F. W. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Duckworth, John
Atholl, Duchess of Cautley, Sir Henry S. Eden, Captain Anthony
Atkinson, C. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Edmondson, Major A. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Elliot, Major Walter E.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Christie, J. A. Elveden, Viscount
Barclay-Harvey C. M. Clayton, G. c. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Cobb, Sir Cyril Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cochrane, Commander Hon, A. D. Everard, W. Lindsay
Berry, Sir George Cope, Major William Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Bethel, A. Courtauld, Major J. S. Fanshawe, Commander G. D.
Betterton, Henry B. Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Fielden, E. B.
Boothby, R. J. G. Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Forestier Walker, Sir L.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Forrest, W.
Brass, Captain W. Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Foster, Sir Harry S.
Briggs, J. Harold Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Briscoe, Richard George Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Fraser, Captain Ian
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Frece, Sir Walter de
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Davies, Dr. Vernon Fremantle, Lt. Col. Francis E.
Galbraith, J. F. W. McLean, Major A. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Ganzoni, Sir John McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Gates, Percy Macquisten, F. A. Savery, S. S.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Mac Robert, Alexander M. Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)
Goff, Sir Park Makins, Brigadier-General E. Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y)
Gower, Sir Robert Malone, Major P. B. Shepperson, E. W.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Grant, Sir J. A. Margesson, Captain D. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Greene, w. P. Crawford Meller, R. J. Smithers, Waldron
Grotrian, H. Brent Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Sprot, Sir Alexander
Gunston, Captain D. W. Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Moore, Sir Newton J. Storry-Deans, R.
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Moreing, Captain A. H. Streatfield, Captain S. R.
Hammersley, S. S. Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hanbury, C. Neville, R. J. Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Harrison, G. J. C. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Templeton, W. P.
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Newton, sir O. G. C. (Cambridge) Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Haslam, Henry C. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Tinne, J. A.
Henderson, Capt R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Nuttall, Ellis Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Oakley, T. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hennessy, Major J. R. G. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Pennefather, Sir John Wallace, Captain D. E.
Herbert, S. (York. N. R., Scar. & Wh'by) Penny, Frederick George Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Perkins, Colonel E. K. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Ferring, Sir William George Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Watts, Dr. T.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, [...].) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Wells, S. R.
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Raine, W. Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Ramsden, E. Williams, A M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Huntingfield, Lord Rawson, Sir Cooper Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Hurd, Percy A. Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington) Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's) Remer, J. R. Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Rentoul, G. S. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Rice, Sir Frederick Wise, sir Fredric
Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Womersley, W. J.
King, Captain Henry Doublas Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Little, Dr. E. Graham Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford) Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dunley) Ropner, Major L. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Looker, Herbert William Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Wragg, Herbert
Lord, Walter Greaves. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Rye, F. G.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, putney) Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Sandeman, A. Stewart Viscount Curzon.