HC Deb 09 July 1926 vol 197 cc2421-71

Further considered in Committee [Progress, 8th July].

Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.

CLAUSE 1.—(Proceedings on default by board of guardians.)


I beg to move, in page 2, line 12, to leave out from the word "made," to the end of Sub-section (2), and to insert instead thereof the words but shall not come into operation unless and until it has been approved either with or without modification by resolution passed by each House of Parliament. We move this Amendment because we consider that this Bill, if put into operation on the volition of the Minister, will transgress the commonly accepted application of the Constitution of this country. I do not view this as a trifling matter. Although I am not an expert in putting forward points on the Constitution, I feel that it is an interference with the old traditions of local government, and that, if the House of Commons gives its consent to the future imposition of the will of any Minister—I make no particular reflection upon the present Minister, but any Minister—it is an indirect and undue interference with the rights of local authorities. I should have liked to dilate upon this from my own point of view, because I feel that the development of local life in this country for many centuries past has been the centre from which the great theory of freedom and democracy has been built up. I believe that the old shire life in this country was the centre from which all that we understand to be the expression of democratic thought and life has grown up, and interference by the central authority in the way which this Bill is going to permit will in my opinion be very inimical to freedom and to the expression of thought in this country. That is why I view it, not as a trifling thing, but as a great constitutional matter.

If I wanted support in this direction, I should go to the speech of the right hon.

Gentleman himself, delivered, I think, last Monday or Tuesday at Birmingham. I have not the report of that speech here, but, speaking from memory, the right hon. Gentleman gave very glowing praise to the theory of the value and development of local government in this country, and I think he hinted, if he did not categorically state, that any interference with local government would tend in the direction of bringing down the value of the expression of thought. If those are not literally the correct words, that is the impression, that is the feeling, and I thoroughly agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The development of local life in this country is in my opinion one of the best safety valves for the expression of thought, and I believe that in nearly every quarter of the House we should get support for the view that any change such as is contemplated in this Bill should not become operative until it has been agreed to by both Houses of Parliament.

My second point is that the application of the present Bill is in a sense an intimidation of local authorities. A learned Judge, in dealing with intimidation in the Courts yesterday, said that it would "strangle the normal life and growth of freedom." I believe that this Bill will strangle the normal life of local government, and, therefore, I press this Amendment, because it will be a deterrent to the imposition by any Minister of his power and his departmental will upon local authorities. The history of our country proves that the life of which we are all proud, whatever may be our politics—the social life and development of our country—has grown up through the ages, and even William the Conqueror, when he came here in 1066, while he did make an attack upon the central Government, took good care to leave local life in the shires as he found it, because he realised that, through the functions of local life, we do get a development which makes for the strength of the country. Some people may think that they have nothing to do with this particular Bill, but they have. These are vital points, because the experiences of local life in the past century have been very important in their impressions upon the great growth of the social conscience and social fabric of our country. I feel that anything done here which is going to bring that down is against the expression of the thought and liberty of our people.

The application of this Bill to the West Ham Union is going to repress, and the act of repression is a constitutional error. Even if the West Ham Guardians were wrong, there must be other ways whereby Parliament can, so to speak, put a check upon Guardians with whose action they do not agree, and check any extravagance; but I think this way of doing it is a constitutional error. I hope that the Minister will accept my remarks as being made in perfect sincerity, and will try to mould, shall I say, the working of this Bill in accordance with the views which this Amendment seeks to express. I wonder, Mr. Hope, whether you would just permit me, in order to avoid the necessity for my rising again, to amplify and extend a statement that I made yesterday. If so, I need not trouble the Committee again. I made a statement which in a sense put the Minister in a position in which I did not desire to place him.


I think the proper place to raise that would be on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I will bring my remarks to a close, and hope they will be considered.


I wish to ask the Minister if he has had a communication from the Association of Poor Law Unions. I understand a communication has been sent to him asking him not to use his authority without getting the consent of Parliament. This matter is too vital altogether for any Minister of the Crown to have full power to do what he likes. It is so serious that this House should determine what course should be adopted in a case like that. I should like to know what answer he has given to the questions put to him by the Association.


I want to support the Amendment, which is to try to bring the operations of the Minister more closely under the review of the House, because I believe we are embarking here on an exceedingly dangerous experiment. I do not think the House is taking this Bill sufficiently seriously. There is an extraordinary habit among Conservative Ministers, who are supporters of the Constitution, to brush aside all constitutional practices and constitutional theory when they find they cannot get something exactly as they wish it. We had an example a few Parliaments ago in the action of the present First Lord of the Admiralty, which cost the country a good deal of money, and in the same way we had action by the Minister of Health which has certainly been contrary to the spirit of the statutes laid down by the House in his constant interference under one pretext or another with the actions of boards of guardians. I regard this Bill as an attack on the whole fabric of local government. I want to warn the Minister that this has been done before, and the person who did it came to a very bad end. Students of history will remember that there was an occasion when this country fell under despotic rule in which the charters of all our towns went down one after another under the assault of no less a person than Judge Jeffreys. The Minister is going to take various boards of guardians. I warn him how he deals with Stepney, because Judge Jeffreys came to a very bad end in Wapping, and when he comes to deal with Stepney let him think what happened to his predecessor.


The right hon. Gentleman is not Lord Chief Justice.


I quite agree that the right hon. Gentleman is not Lord Chief Justice but he holds a very analogous position to that which Judge Jeffreys held under James I as apparently a most forcible instrument, for inflicting the sort of treatment that the Government of the day thinks should be meted out to the people of this country. It has been pointed out that this matter is not going to stop at boards of guardians. What we are going to have is an intrusion into the whole fabric of local government. We are going to have the Ministers of the central government taking over local government functions, and they are going to demand that money should be raised for the actions of what is really part of the central government by the raising of rates by local authorities, and the result of that will be that the town councils will also refuse to act, and whenever this matter comes before the House you are going to find that some particular area is going to pass from the hands of the local authorities into the hands of the central government. I have for long been an admirer and a supporter of our method of local self-government as compared with the method on the Continent, and I do not want to see our local government swept away by nominees of the Government being sent to do local work instead of the people of the locality. It is a very dangerous precedent. The right hon. Gentleman does not know what use may not be made of this by some of his successors. I believe he is a great believer in local government. He must remember that Ministers come arid Ministers go, and he may be succeeded by someone of an extreme red tint, or an extreme white tint. He has Napoleonic colleagues who might at some time come into power, and he might find Birmingham itself put under the heel of the central government.

It would be melancholy if a man of his position in local government were found to have been the instrument of killing local government throughout the country. We want to put every impediment in the way of the unrestrained use of power by the Minister of Health under this Bill. Certainly if any such order is to be made we want to have a very clear case made before the House. There should be an affirmative Resolution in order to provide full opportunities for discussion, because the great mass of the people believe this Bill is not primarily directed towards the defects of boards of guardians. There have been defective boards of guardians ever since boards of guardians existed. There are many boards of guardians who do not do their duty. If you study the list of questions put by Members in the House from all sides you will find cases raised of guardians who have been in default. But the general opinion on these benches, and I think in the country, is that this Bill is brought in, not because certain boards of guardians have been in default, not because of their defaults, but because they are of a certain political complexion. They regard it as merely an extension of the class war into the field of local government. That is a very dangerous thing. I myself should protect the rights of a local governing authority, even though it was not a Labour majority, even though it was a Conservative one, because we have built up in this country the principle that the people of a locality have the right to decide how they should he governed. This Bill is one of a large number of steps which have been adopted of recent years to crib, cabin and confine our local governing authorities. It is a very dangerous precedent, and I hope the House will accept the Amendment.


I think this Amendment deserves the general support of the Committee. It seeks to give Parliament the opportunity of considering whether or not the drastic step of issuing an order by the Minister of Health is justified. I think Parliament ought at least to reserve that power to itself. The Clause as it stands does provide that any prolongation of the Order may be considered by Parliament. Parliament is to have an opportunity of considering whether the Order should be extended for a further period of six months. There is an even stronger case for arguing that Parliament should be entitled to say whether or not the Order should originally be allowed to come into effect. In conferring this power upon the Minister, Parliament is indulging in something of the nature of a constitutional innovation, and a very dangerous constitutional innovation, because it is giving the Minister power to take away from the electors their right to elect their local authorities. This Parliament is only going to consent to this Measure because it believes that it is a last desperate kind of expedient, and that the Minister of Health cannot deal with the situation without something of this sort. If it is that kind of last desperate expedient, Parliament ought certainly to reserve to itself the right to consider whether the Minister is wisely or unwisely exercising the very grave power which is being conferred upon him.

Ministers of Health may differ. It may be that the present Minister of Health will exercise this power judiciously and well, and it may he that other Ministers of Health will do exactly the same thing. They will realise that this power has only been conferred upon them as a last desperate expedient, and will use it in that sense. But it is quite conceivable that we may have some Minister of Health, a jack in office, who because he has this power feels that it is his duty to use it, and he may take advantage of the power and issue an Order, although there may be no justification for the Order being issued. It is because of that kind of danger that Parliament should reserve the power to see whether or not the Minister is exercising his discretion wisely or not. It is on that account that we wish this Amendment to be inserted in the Clause.

It is the habit of the British Constitution to introduce checks and balances. We do not believe in unrestricted power. The Constitution as it stands at present does not believe in unrestricted power. This House, sovereign though it ought to be, is restricted to some extent by certain restraints and vetoes. If there is a case for restraint upon the power of the sovereign House of Parliament, there ought to be some restraint upon the power of the Minister, and especially when that power will enable the Minister to take away from districts rights of self-government which they have exercised for a very long time. The Minister ought to recognise that there is no hardship involved in this proposal. If any Order which he issue commands the support of Parliament; if Parliament believes that it is a wise Order and an Order justified by the conditions which obtain in the particular locality, Parliament will certainly approve of it; but if Parliament does not think it is a wide Order, if Paliament thinks the Minister is making a serious mistake and ought not to have gone to the length of resorting to this drastic step, then Parliament, if they are given this right, will say to the Minister, "You are not justified in issuing this Order, and we do not intend to allow you to proceed with it." If the general view of Parliament in a case of that sort is that the Minister ought not to be allowed to issue the Order, then Parliament ought to have an opportunity of saying so.


I hope the Minister will give very careful consideration to this Amendment. Like many of my colleagues, I have been a member of a Board of Guardians. I shall be very glad to see hoards of guardians abolished, but not in this way. I think the whole system of poor law is bad. I differ from the Minister when he stated the other day that people who are in receipt of relief take a very great interest in elections for boards of guardians, and that they vote for those who will give the largest scale of relief. That is contrary to all the facts of my experience. One of the reasons why I want to see boards of guardians abolished, is because people do not vote. People who have, unfortunately, to go to the guardians have reached a point when they have lost all hope in the world and have no interest in politicsor anything else. It is such a soul destroying business going for relief that I want to see some system which will enable people to retain their self-respect andcontinue to take an interest in politics and to vote at elections.

The last people in the world to vote at a guardians election are the people in receipt of relief. In my own constituency last year, to show the utter apathy of the class of people more directly concerned, the Newcastle Corporation proposed to appeal to this House for power to construct some very important streets, which would find work for thousands of people for a long period. Certain vested interests took exception to the corporation corning to this House, and a plebescite of the citizens was taken, and although there are many thousands of unemployed in Newcastle, they did not even trouble to go to vote themselves a job. Wherever we look, I maintain that the statement that people will vote for those who will give them a higher scale of relief is not true, because they do not vote at all.

I would not hesitate to give the Minister power as far as his own record in local government is concerned. Like his respected father, he has a good record in municipal life, but I am sorry to say that that good record is rapidly being dispersed by his administration at the Ministry of Health. When he came here he had a good character, but he is losing it very rapidly. I should be very sorry to think that, with his democratic associations, he should be one of the first to revert to that system of dictatorship which is now applying in one or two countries across the channel. We must be very careful how we start the descent of the slippery slope towards a dictatorship. It is only a petty dictatorship this power to disestablish Boards of Guardians, but I am afraid that his friends behind him, who have less experience than he has, will seize upon this precedent, until we find ourselves with a Mussolini installed in the Ministry of Health. That is a prospect that we cannot contemplate with any degree of serenity. Therefore, I trust that this Amendment will be considered very carefully by the right hon. Gentleman.


I desire to add my appeal to the Government that they should seriously consider the effect of this Amendment. It would relieve the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House of some apprehension. Although the discussion has been concerning one locality, the problem is not really a local one; it affects a wider area, and may affect additional areas in this country in the future. What really troubles us on this side is that the Measure implies a censure on British local government; it expresses a distrust of those who have been elected to fulfil very important and solemn services. I agree that the record of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health in local government is one which we cannot seriously criticise up to recent times. There is no name which stands higher in the annals of local government than the name he bears and some of us remember, when we were boys how we were inspired by what his distinguished father did in the city of Birmingham. I cannot think what his suppressed fury would be like in attacking any Minister who would dare to apply to any town in Warwickshire the principles which the Minister of Health is seeking to apply to West Ham to-day. West Ham is a locality in which there are extraordinary difficulties. If the hoard of guardians had been as wise as the right hon. Gentleman would have them, as parsimonious as they might have been, there would still have been a vast expenditure in that area. I regret that the West Ham guardians have been reviled on account of their shortcomings without taking account of the great difficulties they have to meet. This measure is a reflection on the honour of people who have been doing their best in quite extraordinary circumstances. When I have visited other countries it has been a great pride to me to be able to say that our local government is pure, that there is no sort of corruption, but I feel, if the House of Commons gives support to this Measure, that I shall have to hesitate.


This is rather wide of the Amendment.


I will bring myself nearer to it by saying that the House of Commons should have the power to decide whether the Order should be put into operation or not. We are not asking the Government to do any great thing. The Amendment will preserve the authority of this House, and if the Minister of Health will only trust the honour of this House he will not be disappointed.


I should not intervene in this debate to-day but for the fact that this Amendment is one to which I referred yesterday. My criticism is that there are no safeguards in the Bill; at least the safeguards are not sufficient. I suggested yesterday that if the Minister of Health could accept this Amendment, I should be quite satisfied, because we on this side are not opposed to the principle of the Bill. We want, however, to see it amended in such a way as will give Parliament the right to say whether an Order shall be put in force or not. If it was merely a question of the West Ham Union, a Bill dealing with one circumstance, it would receive the support of the majority of our party, but, as the Amendment I moved yesterday was not accepted, I think this is the best thing we can do. All it asks is that when an Order is made, it shall be laid on the Table of the House, and the House asked to approve it. That is merely a reversion of the order as suggested in the Bill. The Bill says that an Order shall be laid on the Table of the House, and if there is a Resolution of either House against it, then the Order shall not apply. We want to turn that the other way round; that an Order shall be laid on the Table and the House should approve it by a definite Resolution. That will be much more satisfactory. I see nothing in the Amendment to which the Government can object. I wonder what would have happened if this Bill had been introduced by the Labour Party. I am sure hon. Members opposite would have been very loud in their condemnation of an attempt to suppress the administration of the Poor Law. This Bill is interfering with what we under- stand as democratic control. We ask that the powers of the Minister should be limited, and I hope the Government will accept it.


I desire to support the Amendment, and I am at a loss to understand why the Minister is not prepared to accept it. The Bill gives him very wide powers, quite unprecedented powers as far as local government of this country is concerned. Hitherto it has been our boast that democratic government is one of the best safeguards in this country, but it now appears we have arrived at a stage when democratic government is to be set aside. Those who support this Amendment feel that these powers ought not to be conferred upon any Minister whatever. Public opinion is not behind this Bill, and local authorities are not behind this Bill. Those who are responsible for local government work in this country view the Measure with considerable apprehension. They feel that there is far more behind this Bill than appears on the surface, and that no Minister of the Crown ought to ask for power of this kind without being prepared to accept the democratic safeguard for which we are asking in the Amendment. The Association of Poor Law Unions yesterday passed a resolution in support of the principle of this Amendment, and I am given to understand that a copy was sent to the Minister of Health. I hope that in his reply he will give the House some reason for his not being prepared to accept the principles embodied in the Amendment. We are not asking for anything extraordinary.

I believe it is the constitutional practice of this House, when setting up a semi-public or semi-democratic authority responsible to a Minister of this House, for provisions to he inserted in the Bill embodying precisely the same principle as we have embodied in this Amendment, so that the House is not compelled to wait until the Vote of the Minister's Office or Department is under discussion, but Members of the House can take the initiative in discussing the conduct of the Minister in question. This Amendment would be as much a safeguard for the Minister as for the local government authorities throughout the country, in so far as it would enable him to feel at least that, when he was about to issue an order, by virtue of the fact that he had the sanction of the House before the order was put into operation, he had the backing of both Houses of Parliament. In that way he would be keeping in touch with the public opinion of the country. Most of us feel that if this Bill is put into operation, it will violate the constitutional practice of the country.

In the public press and by hon. Gentlemen opposite, we on this side of the House have been accused from time to time of being prepared to adopt unconstitutional methods, but here you have a classic instance of the so-called constitutional party, when certain things have not met with their favour, being prepared to go to unconstitutional lengths for the purpose of getting their own way. This innovation will not be for the good of the country. I believe that we stand to gain most by the use of constitutional methods, and if the so-called constitutional party are going to set up a precedent of this kind. I am rather inclined to fear that the day is not far off when other people will be prepared to use the precedent for adopting unconstitutional methods also. I would appeal not to the Minister but rather to the House, to back this Amendment in order that the necessary safeguard might be placed in the Bill and that those who are responsible for local government throughout the country may have the assurance that both Houses of Parliament will consider whatever orders may be issued under the Bill before they come into operation.


I support the Amendment. I cannot understand why the Government are not accepting this opportunity of consulting the House of Commons before putting into operation any of the ideas which they have in their mind. It appears that it is the intention of the Ministry of Health to do something upon which it fears to face the House before putting an Order into operation. How can the Government justify to the country the change that is suggested, and at the same time refuse to allow the House of Commons to have a voice regarding the Orders which dispense with the democratic method of dealing with the Poor Law? We find the Government and the friends of the Government asking, on other Measures, that where their interests are affected the House shall have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on an Order before it comes into operation. Now that the interests of the poor people only are affected, the Minister of Health is to issue an Order which will be put on the Table, and after 21 days of its operation the Order can be annulled. What has happened in the meantime seems to be of little concern to the Minister. I hope that, even if the Minister is not prepared to accept the Amendment, hon. Members opposite, who have been so strong where their interests are concerned in seeing that the House of Commons expresses itself in the first instance, will support the Amendment.


I want to call the mind of the Committee to what this Bill is, as defined by the Minister himself, in order to prove how necessary it is that there should be Parliamentary control. I shall quote the speech of the Minister in this House. He said: The basis of this Bill is that, if the authority lends Boards of Guardians money, it is necessary that the authority should lay down the condition on which the money should he spent. Earlier in his speech he said that the loan was obtained from the taxpayer, and the taxpayer had no control over the money and the present system. That appears to me to be a sort of distorted reflection of the correct theory of grants, which the Minister knows as well as anyone else. If the taxpayers' money goes to local authorities, Parliament votes the money, and the money is administered under conditions of which Parliament approves. The idea that a Minister should be able to prescribe conditions with regard to public money without communicating with Parliament and without any reference to Parliament, is a. thing alien to the whole principle of local government. The boards of guardians which are involved are some 40 to 60 in number. They rule the greatest and most important industrial centres in the country. The Bill sets the Minister free to do something which no Minister has ever had power to do with regard to the poor, that is to lay down conditions with regard to relief. Invariably when public money is given to any local authority the condition on which that money is given is something on which Parliament has always asserted control. In particular, where the Minister is adventuring into it new field, where he is laying down correct principles of relief, a thing which Parliament itself has never touched, it surely becomes all the more desirable that Parliament should know what is going on, and should have the conditions laid on the Table and should know about the Regulations.

I ask anyone to look at the analogy of education. When we started education grants, did anyone imagine that the Minister of Education should lay down what conditions he pleased? Not at all. The Code has to be laid on the Table. The Regulations have to be approved by Parliament. The idea of letting a Minister loose to dispose of as much public money as he likes, without any necessity to consult the taxpayer, without any necessity to place his regulations before Parliament; to let him loose to make unlimited loans, if he likes, without consulting anybody, to allow him, if he likes, to lay down conditions such as would be unbearable—cannot anyone see what a negation that is of all the sound principles which up to now have governed the relations between Parliament and the municipalities? The Minister spoke affectionately, almost, of the taxpayer. What protection has the taxpayer, if the Minister is to sanction loans, as he says himself, from the taxpayers' money, and is to do so without any reference to Parliament? What protection has Parliament against a wholesale reduction or a wholesale rise in the scales of relief, when Parliament is kept in utter and purposed ignorance of the conditions which the Minister may lay down?

It is a very bad thing to have a local administration which can be entirely reversed by a change in the political colour of this House? Hon. Members opposite have asked what would happen if we got in? I hope if we got in we should repeal this Measure, but, if we did not, if we were so infected by the contagion of despotism as to administer this Measure what would happen? In my more frivolous moments I sometimes picture to myself how very interesting it would be to take the people who are experienced in sound principles of local administration and local finance in Poplar and put them to administer some of the other boards

of guardians which refuse out-relief. It is not a thing we should ever do, but the possibilities are excessively interesting and excessively amusing. Surely it is a pity to put powers in the hands of the Executive which might be misused. Under this power it would be possible to upset the whole tradition of local administration and to send down to these local bodies people who are, in their whole spirit and outlook upon life utterly different from the persons whose fortunes they would have to administer. This could all be done, not under any code of regulations laid upon the Table of the House of Commons, but at the will of the Minister sitting in his office or ostensibly at his will. We all know how these things are done in practice and we know it would not even be at the will of the Parliamentary Secretary, but at the will of some official. It is idle to suppose that all these regulations and conditions will even go before the Minister. In fact, we are handing over to the bureaucracy of Whitehall powers which Parliament had never conferred even on any Minister.

Captain W. BENN

There is a governing consideration in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite in reference to this and other Amendments. It is a growing practice to avoid an ordinary parliamentary stage of a Measure of this kind by refusing any Amendments whatever in the Committee stage, however reasonable they may be. This is done with the idea of avoiding a Report stage, which would be necessary if Amendments were made to the Bill. So far as I am concerned, this is not essentially a West Ham Bill. I know very little about the West Ham situation. I have read about it in the newspapers, and I observe that Amendments have been moved from this side of the House asking that a Select Committee should be appointed, which of course would investigate West Ham or any other union. I am not particularly concerned however to defend West Ham and I profess ignorance of that particular subject, but this is a general Bill. This is what I would call an Italian Bill. It is the Italian spirit which is infecting the family. When the brother of the right hon. Gentleman went to Rapallo he was received with joy, quite naturally, by the local Fascisti and took from their hands a floral trophy to which compliment he suitably replied. No doubt, in family conclaves when he returned, the excellent methods employed in Italy were spread and took root in the more receptive minds of the family.


If I allowed this argument to proceed. I should have to admit a speech from some enthusiastic friend of Signor Mussolini.

12 N.

Captain BENN

I submit there is a certain relevance in it. This system is in existence in Italy, and only two days ago an interesting announcement was made by the Italian Government. They had brought in a system of central commissions to carry on local government as a temporary measure, and they gave out a few clays ago that they were going to dispense with local elections and allow these central commissions to continue. That is relevant because it is exactly the same thing as that which the right hon. Gentleman proposes in this Measure. We have to bear in mind, as I say, that this is not really a West Ham Bill, but is a Bill to effect a great change in the whole system of local government. One cannot forget that there are influences at work in the Conservative party which are anxious to change the scale of relief given by boards of guardians. It is impossible to overlook that fact. At a meeting of one of the most important Conservative Associations in this country only a few days ago, at which both the hon. Members for the City of London were present, Lord Hunsdon said in his judgment it was a crime to relieve the destitution of people with whose industrial views he did not agree. That is his view, and it is not to be supposed that that opinion is not shared by some of the Members of the party opposite. It sheds a flood of light upon proposals such as this when we know that in their judgment the merits of an industrial dispute should be taken into account by guardians in the granting of relief.

This Amendment asks that the Parliamentary machine should have an opportunity of working. I cannot understand hon. Gentlemen who profess to be in favour of the power of the House of Commons refusing the House an opportunity, and particularly refusing to the Opposition in the House an opportunity of ventilating grievances. It is the great safeguard which we have at this moment. This ought to be the place where, the moment any section of the public feels aggrieved, the matter may be raised, even though it may be raised without effectiveness or success. That is an essential principle, and it is more than ever necessary to-day when the power of Parliament is held by some to be in jeopardy. All that the Amendment proposes is that a Resolution should be passed giving the Minister the necessary authority. Is there anything revolutionary about that? If a Minister wants to put into force 31 emergency Regulations he cannot do so for a single month without corning to the House and getting a Resolution. Yet it is proposed here to take the power to abolish hundreds of locally-elected bodies without giving Parliament the opportunity of confirming that Act by Resolution.

What has the Minister to fear? Whatever Government be in power has a majority, and with a majority it can carry its way. Even this Government have a majority of sorts. What is the fear in the mind of the Minister when he resists this Amendment? It cannot be that he fears the result of the Division, because the results of all Divisions in this House are foregone conclusions. What he is afraid of is Debate. He says we can move a humble Address. Anyone who has ever tried to move a humble Address knows what the fate of it is. I have had most unfortunate experiences in that way in the early hours of the morning, and that is exactly what happens to the unfortunate individual who tries to move a humble Address in this House. It is exempted business, certainly, and a Member does not have to ask for time. He puts his Address on the Paper, and rises to move it, and naturally hon. Members who are put to great inconvenience by being kept at that hour of the night cry out "Divide, divide!" the Government Whips mysteriously appear on the back benches, Members opposite find business outside and within a short time 40 Members are not present, or there is such a state of hurry that no one can put the merits of the case effectively. It is because the Minister knows that that is the only safeguard that is being provided, this weak, ineffective, unsatisfactory method of criticism, that he wants the Bill in its present form. All that is asked in this Amendment is a reasonable and Parliamentary demand, which should be supported by any friend of Parliament on any side of the House, without reference to West Ham or anywhere else. It merely asks the Government to put down their own Motion and submit it to Parliament at the proper time, and that it should require, after proper discussion, the assent of Parliament to the action which the Minister proposes to take.


I wish to support the Amendment. I am not going to say a word in favour of the Bill, but I know that a very serious state of things in local government has been created, not so much by the action of any guardians, as by the failure of hon. and right hon. Members opposite to carry out, in regard to unemployment and poverty, the promises they have been making these many years past. I pass from that to deal with the more specific constitutional issue with which this Amendment confronts the Government. When we, on these benches, have been talking about constitutional issues, there has been a disposition on the part of hon. Members opposite to smile, but their smiles are not as broad as ours at their contributions in regard to the Constitution. There is a fine passage, that I cannot quote from memory, in Carlyle[...]'s "French Revolution," in which he says, somewhat in this style, that Constitutions, whether they are made by men or fall from Heaven with fire, will not in the long run survive unless they minister to the needs of the people. In this case the Constitution has not survived the needs of a particular Government. It is not so much the needs of the people on this occasion, and it is certainly not the needs of the people of West Ham, that have been considered in this Bill.

The Government are in a particular difficulty, and in order to get out of it, irrespective of many other difficulties in which they will put themselves with regard to other local authorities, they have rushed wildly into this Bill, and they will create by it a constitutional precedent for which possibly they and other Governments will be extremely sorry at no very distant date. It was said last night that the Government are not merely interfering with a board of guardians, not merely threatening to set up a new authority to take the place of a board of guardians, but that they will be driven step by step—even when they have brought in their new legislation, to set up municipal authorities to do the work of the present boards of guardians —first to interfere with the rating authorities, and ultimately with many other types of public authority, before they have done with this business. The Government are not getting rid of the difficulties with which they are confronted by setting up special Commissioners to carry on the work in West Ham.


This is rather far from the Amendment before the Com mittee, and would be more suitable for the Third Reading.


I was suggesting that difficulties are being created of such a serious nature that it will be necessary, step by step, as the Government proceed on their course, for Parliament to be consulted, and unless Parliament is brought into these questions, we shall find this country driven into an impu6st, and we shall find a breakdown of constitutional procedure so serious that we shall regret that power has not been given to Parliament to deal with these issues when they have been created. The right hon. Gentleman himself has said that he believes that when the new legislation is brought in—I suppose he believes it may be brought in so quickly—there will be only one or two occasions, or perhaps no occasion at all, in addition to this particular West irani incident, to deal with this matter. I see that he nods assent. Then why not, if there be only one ease that is likely to be dealt with, consent to give to Parliament this right of control when there is so little possibility of Parliament being brought in I suggest that, as we look at the matter differently from the right hon. Gentleman, and see many occasions when action of this sort will have to be aken, it would be an extremely wise step on this occasion to give Parliament the right of control and supervision.

This need of consulting Parliament is all the greater because the right hon. Gentleman has decided not only to do without the local help of the party that he does not like in West Ham, but he has rejected every Amendment by which any type of local interest could be considered and included in the arrangements that are now being made. We brought in an Amendment yesterday to lay it down that those whom the Minister will call upon in this particular case shall be qualified by residence or by appearance on the registers at West Ham, but that was rejected, and what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do in this legislation is to put a million people in West Ham under the control of personages who have no knowledge of, and very probably no connection whatever with, West Ham interests, and who in the long run will be spending money, part of which at least—all of it, indeed—will have to be raised out of West Ham's rates.

This is such a serious constitutional issue from a financial point of view that I suggest there is an added reason why Parliament should he brought in stage by stage, and I am certain that, unless the Government can find it in their heart to accede to this request, they will bitterly regret. the day, for they a ill find. as the Constitution proceeds on its way, that there will be many other cases arise in which the interests of hon. Members opposite will be gravely imperilled by the action they are now taking. Not that we on these benches tray be concerned with imperilling their interests, for there are other people in the community who press a view regarding constitutional changes and whose views will be more readily listened to as the poverty of the people increases, as it seems to he likely to increase under the rule of the present Government. if that day should come, I suggest that the Government would have been glad of the protection of a Constitution which they are now scrapping by the action they are taking.

The MINISTER OF HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain)

We have had twelve speeches on this Amendment and I think, perhaps, it is time that I put one or two considerations from the point of view of the Government. One would hardly have imagined, listening to the last speaker, for instance, that the Amendment was merely one to substitute for a proceeding under which the Houses of Parliament have to pass a Resolution against an Order of the Minister, a proceeding under which Parliament has to pass a Resolution in favour of an Order. His speech, like so many others, was really a Secon Reading speech. It was directed against the main principles of the Bill, and whatever may be said for that point of view, it does not appear to me that this Amendment is one on which you can properly discuss that point. Hon. Members have taken the view that the powers given by the Bill to the Minister of Health might, perhaps, be exercised reasonably by the present occupant of the office, but not reasonably by a successor. I think that is a great compliment. One hon. Member has likened me to Judge Jeffreys.

Captain BENN

I understood, Mr. Hope, that it was a Standing Order of this House that no word should be spoken in criticism of one of the Judges of His Majesty.


I do not think that applies to deceased members of the Bench.


Subsequent investigation shows that injustice has been done to Judge Jeffreys, and he is now considered to have been exceedingly humane, broad-minded and courageous. I propose to address myself more particularly to the Amendment which is being nominally discussed, and I would draw attention to the speech of the hon. Member for South Bristol (Sir B. Rees), who made very light of the Amendment. He said it was only just turning round the procedure, that it was so slight a change he could not understand why I should object to it, and, at the same time, I understood, that if I refused to accept the Amendment, it would make all the difference to his voting for this Bill. But that is very inconsistent on his part, although it might not be quite so inconsistent as it appears, because the change proposed by this Amendment is one which would render the Bill practically unworkable. That is one of the reasons, no doubt, why it is pressed so much in some quarters. I have been referred to a resolution passed by the Parliamentary Committee of the Association of Poor Law Unions in England and Wales, and it is stated that the resolution is one in favour of the principle of this Amedment. Nobody has defined what the principle of the Amendment is. If I take the definition of the hon. Member for South Bristol, the principle is merely turning round the procedure; while the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) says that this is merely a method of allowing the House of Commons to debate an Order.

There are two points in the Amendment to which I should like to draw attention. The first is one which, perhaps, the hon. Member had in mind when he said the resolution of the Poor Law Unions was in favour of the principle of the Amendment. Under the Amendment an Order is not to come into operation unless and until it has been approved by a Resolution passed in each House. That is to say it is not to become operative until an affirmative Resolution has been passed. Under the Bill, of course, the Order becomes operative as soon as it is made, and although it is true the House, if it chooses, can rescind the. Order for extending the time, nevertheless that is without prejudice to anything which may have been done under the Order as long as it had been in force. It is a very big change to say that the Order shall not come into force until actually approved by each House. Suppose, for example, there has been an Order, and it is proposed to extend it. The extension cannot come into operation untilit has been approved by Parliament. There is going to be a gap. [HON. MEMBEERS: "No!"] What is going to happen? There will be no provision for anything to happen in the way of giving relief after the expiration of the first period. There is another contingency which, apparently, no hon. Member has foreseen. This House does not sit continuously all the year round.


It is a pity.


I doubt very much, if a serious proposal were made for the House to sit all the year round, that the bon. Member would support it.




At any rate, we have to deal with the facts as we find them. We art; not sitting all she year round, and supposing the emergency for an Order arises when the House is not sitting, it would be impossible to do anything, and you might get a complete stoppage.


That happened last year.


Yes. Of course, the hon. Member wants to make this impossible. I understand his point of view. The hon. Member, who professes that he wishes to support the Bill, must see that by supporting an Amendment of this kind, he is doing exactly the opposite from what he desires to do, as this would tender the working of the Bill impossible. There is another point. After all, the method in the Bill is the common form. It is the usual procedure for the approval of Orders made. The procedure in the Amendment, however, suggests that unless and until it has been approved either with or without modification by a Resolution passed by each House of Parliament. I do not know whether the Committee remembers, but I recall an occasion when one House of Parliament, in trying to follow out this procedure, modified a Resolution in the opposite direction, and it was found upon that occasion that procedure in this form was not workable. I do not think, so far as I remember, that since that particular occasion, when this absurd deadlock took place—because there was not unanimity between the two Houses—we have ever adopted this procedure again.

Captain BENN

Exactly the same Clause is to be found in the German Reparation (Recovery) Act, which was put in by the Government in 1921.


I am referring to a inter occasion, while I myself was in office. Of course, I was not in office in 1921. This is a more recent occasion than that. What I submit to the Committee is, that really they are not going to get such a difference by an operation of this kind as sonic Members think. Hon. Members are not coming down to the House at great inconvenience to thems[...]ves, after 11 o'clock, in order to debate an Order when there is no necessity for it. Hon. Members are not coming down here even to be entertained by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leith with one of his sprightly speches. There will be no difference whatever made to the discussion that will be allowed under the Bill.


Except that the right hon. Gentleman will have taken his powers.


That may be.


And there is a great deal of difference between debate taking place after you have taken your decision, and debate, when the decision depends upon he good will of the House.


That may be, but the hon. Gentleman is now taking another point. I was answering the statement of the hon. Member opposite on a different point, when he said I was afraid of debate. I say that the Amendment here is not one that will make the slightest difference in the amount of debate which may take place under the Bill. In consideration of the various points that I have put before the House as to the difficulty working the procedure proposed, I ask hon. Members to reject the Amendment.


This Bill, as I understand it, is a sort of prelude to the abolition of boards of guardians and the relegation of the fonetions of Poor Law relief to other local duthorities. Meantime, might I ask why has this Bill been brought in at all? The Bill has been brought in, we believe, to deal with the milling position—


If the hon. Gentleman will look it the Amendment, he will see that it; proposes that the Order shall not come into operation until after a Besolntion has been passed by each House of Parliament. He is getting away from that point.


I think it is very important that the House should not give the Minister this power to put the law into force when tile House is not sitting. The Bill is one to leave without check or control the policy order Minister, who by every possible means usurps the right of Parliament to protect the ratepayers and the taxpayers. It will be too late to endeavour to check him when the Order, rightly or wrongly, has been put into operation. It will be, I say, too late to put the matter right. I want to say frankly that, in my opinion, the Minister is simply carrying out the policy of the Government in this business, and proposes to use this Bill, when it becomes law, as a threat over the heads of the Poor Law authorities throughout the country and particularly certain of them in the mining areas—


The hon. Member is out of order in pursuing that line of argument.


With all respect, Mr. Hoff, I am speaking the opinion of my OWN constituents in this matter. I am entitled to do so. The whole object and issue of the Bill is to "down the miners." [Interruption.] Yes it is.


The hon. Member is completely out of order.


I desire, Mr. Hope, to put forward—


rose in his place, and claimed' to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question he now put,"

The Committee proceeded to a Division.


[seated and covered]. On a point of Order, Mr. Hope. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taylor) was on his feet before you put the Question. He was raising a point of Order. Is it in order to aceept the Question when a Member is putting a point of Order?


I asked the hon. Member for Lincoln whether he was raising a point of Order, and he did not reply. He appeared to be about to makes a speech.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 152; Noes, 77.

Division No. 353.] AYES. [12.34 p.m.]
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Edwards,.J. Hugh (Accrington) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir lames T. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Monsell, Eyres, Cont. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Allen, J Sandeman (L pool, W. Derby) Everard, W. Lindsay Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R, (Ayr)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Morrison. H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Falls, Sir Charles F. Morrisom-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Atkinson, C. Fleiden, E. B. Murchison, C. K.
Balniei, Lord Finburgh, S. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Frece, Sir Walter de Nicholson, Col.Rt.Hn.W, G. Ptrsf'l d.)
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Ganzoni, Sir John Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbed
Been, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. Pennelather, Sir John
Bennett, A. J. George Abraham Grant, Sir J. A. Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendlsh Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Peto, G. (Somerset, Promo)
Berry, sir George Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Ramsden, E.
Betterton, Henry B. Grotrian, H. Brent Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Remnant, Sir James
Blundell, F. N. Gunston, Captain D. W. Rhys, Hon, C. A. U.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain W. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Savory, S. S.
Briscoe, Richard George Hawke, John Anthony Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf[...]'d, Henley) Shapperson, E. W.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Brown, Cal. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Skelton, A. N.
Brown, Brig.- G en. H.C. (Barks, Newby) Hills, Major John Waller Smithers, wa[...]dron
Burton, Colonel H. W. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Holland, Sir Arthur Stanley, Co!. Hon. G. F. (Will[...]'sden, E.)
Campbell, E. T. Holt, Capt. H. P. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Howard, Captain Hon. Donald steel, Major Samuel Strang
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Lady wood) Hume, Sir G. H. Stuart. Hon. J. (moray and Nairn)
Christie, J. A. Hurst, Gerald B. Sueter, Rear.Admiral Murray Fraser
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Hutehison,G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl[...]'s) Sunder.Sir Wilfrid
Clayton, G. C. I liffe., Sir Edward M. Thomsen, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell'
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jacob, A. E. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Cope, Major William Kinclersley, Major G. M Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
cooper, J. B. King, Captain Henry Douglas Warrnnder, Sir Victor
Crane, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Waterhouse. Captain Charles
Crooke, J. Smedley (DerBend) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainshro) McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Wells, S. R.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Mr Lean, Major A. Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Dalkeith, Earl of Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Davidson,J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Macquisten, F. A. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Davies, Dr. Vernon MacRobert, Alexander M. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Dawson, Sir Philip Makins, Brigadier- General E. Wilson. M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Dixey, A. C. Malone, Major P. B. Windsor-Clive, Lleut.-Colonel George
Eden, Captain Anthony Maroesson, Captain D. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Edmondson, Major A. J. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Wise, Sir Fredric
Wolmer,Viscount Woodcock,ColonelH. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Woofersley, W. J. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L. M r. F. C. Thomson and Captain
Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T. Bowyer.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hilisbro[...]') Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Ammon, Charles George Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Heath) Stesser, Sir Henry H.
Attlee, Clement Richard John, William (Rhondda, West) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Barr, J. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Snell, Harry
Batey, Joseph Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Kelly, W. T. Stamford, T. W.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kennedy, T. Stephen, Campbell
Broad, F. A. Lansbury, George Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lawrence, Susan Sutton, J. E.
Cape, Thomas Lee, F. Taylor, R. A.
Charteton, H. C. Lunn William Thurtle, E.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) MacDonald, Rt. Hon.J. R.(Aberavon) Tinker, John Joseph
Cove, W. G. Mackinder, W. Trevelyan. Rt. Hon. C. P.
Dalton, Hugh MacLaren, Andrew Varley, Frank B.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Montague, Frederick Viant, S. P.
Day, Colonel Harry Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Gosling, Harry Oliver, George Harold Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coine) Palin, John Henry Westwood. J.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Paling, W. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Groves, T. Potts, John S. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hail, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Purcell, A. A. Williams. J. (York, Don Valley)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Rees, Sir Beddoe Windsor, Wailer
Hardie, George D. Saklatvaia, Shapurli Wright, W.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon, Vernon Scryrngeour, E.
Hayes,John Henry Scurr, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Sexton, James Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) A. Barnes.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The, Committee divided: Ayes, 159; words proposed Noes, 80.


; I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, to leave out Sub section (4).

In view of the unanimous desire of those representatives of the districts affected to speak in this Debate, I only propose to occupy the time of the Committee a few moments. This is the Sub-section which provides for the payment to the appointed guardians of such remuneration and travelling expenses as the Minister may approve. In my opinion, if civil servants are sent down to these districts it is very unfair that the ratepayers in those very poor areas should have to bear all this expense, because the Minister of Health has power to send as many officials as he likes, and that is the reason why I move to leave out Sub-section (4) of this Clause which confers these exceptional powers.


Obviously it is necessary to have a provision of this kind in the Bill in order that we shall be able to

appoint people who will act on behalf of the guardians and who will administer affairs with a due regard to the position prevailing at the present moment. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to pay them. I think hon. Members will agree that it is very necessary to have an Advisory Committee in a case of this kind constituted of people who have, had experience in Poor Law administration, so that in this very difficult piece of work the appointed guardians will have the advice and the assistance of those who have had a long experience in Poor Law administration. Therefore, I think it is only right that provision should be made for their remuneration and a payment of their expenses. With regard to what has been said on this point, my view is that, instead of the district suffering financial loss as a result of the introduction of the substituted boards of guardians and the Advisory Committee, I believe that, without inflicting any hardship on a single deserving person, in a very short time there will be an improved state of affairs both financially and in many other respects. The hon. Lady who moved this Amendment was very anxious about the cost to the ratepayers, but I think she will find there will be a very considerable saving without doing any harm to a single individual.

Captain BENN:

On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. I wish to point out to you that there is a very ancient rule in this House that no Bill may be passed which lays a charge on the subject unless it has been preceded by a Money Resolution. This Sub-section undoubtedly lays a charge on the subject because the Minister of Health can appoint officers who may he paid out of moneys provided by the subject through the local rates. I do not know that anything of this kind has even been proposed before, and as this Sub-section clearly levies a charge on the subject I do not think it ought to be passed until a Money Resolution has been adopted.


That -Rule applies to moneys provided by Parliament and Bills which involve an increase of the rates are admissible. Even hon. Members can move, during the Committee stage, Amendments involving a charge on the rates.

Captain BENN

May I point out, Mr. Chairman, that in the ease of the Bills which impose a charge upon the rates it is always provided that the local authority shall have power to do certain things at the expense of the rates. This is a totally new principle. It is giving the Minister power to levy a charge upon the people by means of local rates, and I submit that, inasmuch as this is the first example of the kind, some ruling from the Chair should be, given.


I am quite clear that this is not one of the precedents which requires a Money Resolution to be passed, and I may remark that Sub-section (4) provides that the remuneration and expenses may be paid out of moneys in the hands of the appointed guardians. So it is to be assumed that it is there.


I have a material and pertinent question to put to the hon. Gentleman. I want to know whether, in the opinion of the hon. Member, these appointed guardians will have their accounts and payments to themselves audited by the Local Government auditor, and, if so, whether they will be liable to surcharge if they improperly remunerate themselves or pay excessive moneys out in any way.


As I understand it, these appointed guardians will occupy exactly the same place, and have exactly the same status, as if they had been elected guardians, and they therefore, be subject to the same rules and regulations under the same law.


I desire to support the deletion of this disgraceful Sub-section in a disgraceful Bill. Having heard the explanation of the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to the people who are to be nominated to go down and act on behalf of the guardians, it seems probable that they will have to give their whole time. As a matter of fact, at the present time some of the guardians, owing to the abnormal quantity of relief which has to be distributed, and the abnormal number who apply for relief, are giving four days of their time and getting no pay whatever. When West Ham a little time ago asked the Ministry of Health whether they could see their way clear to allow tile guardians to have travelling expenses as they had a very big area to cover, the Ministry said, "Oh no, we cannot grant any travelling expenses." But the hon. Gentleman says that the people whom the Ministry are going to nominate will, of course, he entitled to travelling expenses. They could not expect them to go down anti administer relief without they had their travellingexpenses and subsistence allowance. There is no subsistence allowance for the present guardians. They dare not have a cup of tea on the premises without they pay for it. But here the Minister is upsetting all that and bringing in administrators of his own, and, when it comes to their remuneration, either they are to be their own judges or else the Minister is going to fix it.

We are told that there is a possibility that the rates will be reduced and not increased by this administration without any of the genuine cases not getting their proper quantity of relief. That depends who is going to be the judge what the amount of relief is to be. These people who are to be nominated by the Ministry are to have special instructions to cut down relief, and out of the amount that, they are able to cut off the poor people they are to pay themselves a decent salary and provide themselves with subsistence allowance. It is not a laughing matter, and 1 am quite certain, if you send them to Poplar, we shall not consider it a laughing matter. Our people are not going to be dished off quite so simply and easily as you may think. They wil1 want the proper amount of assistance and relief. You cannot show that thers hoer any exorbitant amount of relief given in West Ham or Poplar or any of these other places where you are contemplating taking over the administration and, if this Sub-section goes through. the people generally will resent and resist it and do all they possibly can to see that it does not do what you say that it is going to do, namely, relieve the rates.

1.0 p. m.


I want to support the Amendment, because I think it is very ironical on the part of the Government that, having turned down a private Member's Bill for the payment of members of local authorities, they should propose to pay their own people whom they are going to send down to West Ham. I am believer in the payment of members of local authorities, and am amazed that there should have been so much condemnation of members of boards of guardians who have been engaged, assiduously engaged, nearly the whole of their time on this work. I am interested to know whether these payments are to come out of the local rates. If so, are the people who are going to authorise the payment of these new guardians to be surcharged, because the Minister of Health is going to assist? He is going to authorise these payments out of local rates contributed by people who object to the arrival of these people. This House will be surprised to know that the district auditor refused members of the West Ham Board of Guardians, who used to spend six or seven hours a day on the premises, an ordinary luncheon, which would not have cost more than 1s. each, and surcharged them. That being so, I think it is very wrong to say that your highly-paid civil servants who are going down to West Ham to administer this new Act should be paid out of the local rates. If they are to be paid at all, they should be paid out of the national Exchequer. I submit that that is the reasonable view.


Might I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health if any rate of subsistence allowance has been laid down for those who are going to discharge the duties of guardians under this Bill?


I understand that the hen. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lanshury) proposes to move the rejection of the Bill on Third Beading, and, obviously, we cannot fix the rate of remuneration until the Bill becomes law.


I think that what we have just heard will justify the carrying of this Amendment. We are being asked in this Bill to give the Minister the opportunity of deciding upon the remuneration and the amount of subsistence allowance that he will grant to those whom he is sending to do the work for which other people were elected; and yet we find the Ministry of Health so anxious that nothing shall be spent by boards of guardians that they even go to the extent of spending more on legal expenses to recover 2d. than any amount which has been spent by a board of guardians. They are opposed to any expenditure at all by those engaged in the administration of Poor Law relief, and yet, when they call upon their friends in order to try and reduce the amount, to try and administer badly the Poor Law relief in this country, they are quite prepared to pay them, not only in West Ham, but in those other districts on which the Ministry of Health has its eye in the determination to displace boards of guardians and put in other people. I Lope that, this newly found love for displacing voluntary service, this idea On the part of the Ministry of health that it is better to pay people for engaging upon the work of guardians, will he carried into operation on a better occasion and for a better work than is the case at the present time. I hope the Committee will not give tile Minister this power, but will support this Amendment, and will refuse to allow these people to be paid the remuneration and subsistence allowance asked for in this Bill.


I support this Amendment. On the previous Amendment, which sought to provide that before the Minister received these powers the sanction of Parliament should be given, we were defeated, and now the Minister is asking for power to make boards of guardians not only accept other officers to carry on their work, but pay them for it by a charge upon the rates. I claim that the Minister has no right to impose officers on a board of guardians and ask them to pay the expense of that. I consider that, if Parliament gives the Minister this power, Parliament at least ought to find the money to pay the people whom he sends down.


I do not want to make a speech, but only to ask a question. Will the Parliamentary Eecretary tell the Committee whether it is the intention of the Department to pay these men salaries, if so, what salaries they are to have and how they are to be paid? Surely the Department know now what they intend to do, and I think the Committee should be told quite frankly.


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can have been present when I spoke a little time ago. I will repeat what I said then, because I am always happy to give such information as I can. The intention is, as I stated a little while ago, so far as the substituted board of guardians is concerned, that they should be engaged in whole-time service, and they will be paid the necessary remuneration, which will be settled as soon as we can get them. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, when he has regard to the position of West Ham, that West Hain cannot. carry on for more than a few days without financial assistance by way of loan, which my right hon. Friend will have to sanction, and the substituted board will be in exactly the same position as the present board so far as finance is concerned. Therefore, when we lay down the conditions of the loan, the remuneration—because they will not be allowed, of course, to fix their own remuneration, or anything of that kind—must be fixed as one of the conditions when the new substituted board of guardians is appointed.


I am apparently right in thinking that the West Ham Guardians will be substituted by a paid body who will receive salaries, but the Minister does not know how much they are going to get?


The remuneration of the substituted board of guardians will have to be fixed by my right hon. Friend. When the Bill is passed we shall take steps to invite various people to take up these duties, and, after due consultation with them, and by an ordinary businesslike apportionment, we shall arrive at what the value of their services will be.


Is the hon. Gentleman's idea of what is business-like to ask us to buy a pig in a poke, without telling us anything about what he intends to do and how he intends to do it?


In view of the arrangement that has been made, I do not want to take up much time, but I should like the hon. Gentleman to explain what he meant when he was talking about the possibility of the new arrangement costing less to the taxpayers than the present arrangement. He seemed to indicate that the costs of administration were going to be less, but apparently he is going to send down a host of officials who are going to be paid in place of people who now do the whole thing voluntarily. Does he expect, by this new arrangement, to save anything on cost s of administration? It appears that at present there is no satisfactory arrangement as to what the salaries of these officials are going to be, or how many of them there are going to be. I think the Committee ought to have had some information as to what is likely to be the cost of administration under the new conditions which the Government are trying to impose, and also as to the present cost. If they are riot going to save on the cost of administration, how is there going to be any saving? Is the whole object of the Bill to save money at the expense of the people who are receiving relief at present? I am rather interested in this, not only from the point of view of West Ham, but from the point of view of the miners in mining districts. There is a disposition in mining districts to send Labour representatives to serve on boards of guardians, and apparently we become suspect also in this matter. Is this another subtle attempt, either in this stoppage or in some other stoppage which may occur, to deprive the miners of the sustenance which they are getting at present?

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain FitzRoy)

That is a speech against the whole Bill.


I will leave that, in the circumstances, but I would Iike to ask if the Parliamentary Secretary can give us any information as to whether, if the administration costs of any board of guardians anywhere in the country are of such a character as to warrant his sending down paid officials, the cost in that case is likely to be less than under the present administration?


The Parliamentary Secretary let fall some very illuminating remarks. He had been asked what remuneration is going to be paid to the substituted boards of guardians, and he said he could not tell because they did not know whom they would be able to get it appears likely, therefore, that the Ministry will appoint persons for this job who will receive varying amounts of remuneration. I suppose that if they can only get a few Generals their remuneration will be pretty high. If, on the other hand, he is driven to get a railway guard, the remuneration will be based on a railway guard's wages. It is a very good principle to import into local government. Hon. Members opposite have had a good deal to say about the dictatorship of Moscow. I hope to God we shall hear no more about dictatorship! This is the worst form of dictatorship that exists outside Italy. There is nothing like it outside the dictatorship of the Fascist party of Italy, where local authorities are appointed at the whim and will of the powers that be. The Conservative Government here, I suppose with the Carlton Club behind them—


I must remind the hon. Member that this Subsection deals with remuneration.


I suppose members of the Carlton Club may be appointed to the job, and I want to know what remuneration is going to be paid—whether it is £200 a year or £20 a week. Evidently it will depend entirely upon the type of person who will be obtained, and I suppose their social standing. We have a right to press very definitely for what is in the mind of the Government in regard to remuneration. Is it going to he based upon the value of the service or the assumed social value of the person to be appointed?It is positively scandalous. The hon. Gentleman has given the whole show away. This is, I suppose, a business for finding jobs of a somewhat temporary kind for younger sons. There may be an extension of the principle, and the opening of a whole lot of semi-Government jobs to pensioners, younger sons, ex-Tory agents and persons of that description. We have a right to be suspicious of the proposals that are being made by the Minister. I hope if there is any sense of honour left, any sense of amour-propre whatever, any idea as to common decency, we, shall protest against this outrageous infliction on local areas of the proposals of the Minister.


I think hon. Members above the Gangway must accept this. If the Bill is to become law, and if the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. colleague cannot get people to work it for them voluntarily, they will have to pay someone to do it. The hon. Member who has just spoken left out one little detail. As far as I understood the hon. Gentleman, the position is that the salary is not known, and it will not be known until he has consulted with the people who are to receive it. I do not know if any significance is to he attached to that or not. In passing legislation of this sort, which obviously was unknown before, the Government is creating a precedent to meet an exceptional situation, and even if we admit that the inhabitants of West Ham, or any of the neighbouring districts, are to be divided into goats and sheep, it is necessary to try to make your legislation commendable to the sheep, even if you cannot make it commendable to the goats, and they ought to consider the effect on public opinion in these- districts of the particular form in which they are passing the Bill. 1 am not so much concerned with how much is paid to these people. That, after all, is a detail which concerns them more than me. But I am concerned about this. Here is the Government under exceptional circumstances altering the form of local government in a particular locality, and one of the alterations is that whereas before the people in that locality got voluntary service, under the Government plan they are to he compelled to pay for the service that is imposed upon them and I do not think that is really going to commend this system to the mass of the people in these localities. This is Government action taken, I presume, not so much with regard to West Ham as with regard to the interest of the country as a whole. Since that is the view, the country as a whole should pay for these services. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman expresses facially some surprise at the argument I am advancing. I commend to him this line of argument, that he has got to try to make this legislation acceptable in the districts where it is going to operate.


I wish to put one point which is of some importance. Will the salaries and remuneration it is proposed to pay to those who take the place of the present guardians he subjected to the same, power of scrutiny by the auditor as the expenses incurred by existing boards of guardians, and if not, why not?


They will receive, of course, no other payment than what is fixed by the Minister.


At present, as I understand it, the power of the auditors is restricted to taking exception to improper and illegal expenditure and, as I understand the hon. Gentleman's reply, in this case the Minister of Health is to fix the salaries and expenses and the auditor will have no power to question the legality or the propriety of those salaries and expenses because they have been fixed by the Minister. Had they been fixed by the board of guardians the auditor would be entitled to say a certain salary was excessive having regard to the duties, or a certain rate of expenses was excessive having regard to the needs of the people.


In the ordinary way hoards of guardians are not paid for their services. When this new board is appointed the duty of the auditors will be to see that the guardians are in receipt of no more than the amount which is fixed by the Minister under the authority of this Clause. It undoubtedly gives authority to the Minister to fix the amount of remuneration.


Do I understand that a subsistence allowance, with expensive lunches and so on, may be ordered, and that the auditor will have no power to surcharge anyone for this unnecessary expense They are to be dumped upon the ratepayers, who will have to pay, whether they like it or not, salaries over which the auditor has no control.


The Parliamentary Secretary has shown quite clearly that, under the new arrangement, the auditor will only be able to deal with the simple point, whether the amount paid in salary is exactly what the Minister has agreed upon. That is not a handling of the situation as it operates at present. It is a complete infringement upon the law as it stands to-day and a gross injustice on all concerned with public administration. This Sub-section raises the main question that in reality the whole of the administration of Poor relief is one of national expenditure. The Government are now altering the system whereby the people who now give voluntary service are to be superseded, and the Minister is admitting that he cannot get people to.do this kind of work voluntarily. He is to select the men and settle the salaries to be paid. Under such conditions, the main question as to the sufferings of the poor is not to be dealt with as a whole by national expenditure. Under this Bill the Government is to operate upon the basis of class legislation and to establish a system which is contrary to all the best principles of local government.


Has any estimate been formed as to the possible cost of administration under the new system as against the system operating at the present time?




Why not?

Several hon. Members having risen—


rose in his place, and claimed to move, [...]"That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 159; Noes, 80.

Division No. 354.] AYES. [12.42 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hurst, Gerald B.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Hutchison,G.A.Clark (Mifflin & Piblis)
Allen. J. Sanderman (L'pool, W. Derby) Curzon, Captain Viscount [...]lite. Sir Edward M.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K, Dalkeith, Earl of Jacob, A. E.
Ashley, L1.-Col. Rt. Han.W Davidson,J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Atkinson, C. Davies, Dr. Vernon Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Balniel, Lord Dawson, Sir Philip Kindersley, Major G. M.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M, Dixey, A, C. King, Captain Henry Douglas
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Eden, Captain Anthony Knox, Sir Alfred
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Edmondson, Major A. J. Lister, Conlifte. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Bennett, A. J Edwards. J. Hugh (Accrington) Lucas-Tooth. Sir Hugh Vere
Bentirick, Lord Henry Cavendish Elliot, Captain Walter E. McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
Berry. Sir George Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Westoms.-M.) McLean, Major A.
Betterton, Henry B. Everard, W. Lindsay Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.,) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Macguisten, F. A.
Blundell. F. N. Falts, Sir Charles F. Mac Robert, Alexander M.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Fielden, E. B. Makins, Crigadier-General E.
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Finburgh, S. Malone, Major P. B.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Frece,Sir Walter de Maresson. Captain D.
Brass, Captain W. Ganzeni. Sir John Marriott. Sir J. A. R.
Briscoe, Richard George Gibbs. Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Brittaln, Sir Harry Goff, Sir Park Monseil, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Grant, Sir J. A. Moore. Licut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Grattan Doyle, Sir N. Morrison H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Greene, W. P. Crawford Morrison.Rell, Sir Arthur Clive
Brown, Brig.-G en. H.C. (Berks. Newby) Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Murchison, C. K.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Grotrian, H. Brent Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Cadonan, Major Hon. Edward Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsr[...]'ld.)
Campbell, B. T. Gunsion, Captain D. W. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hall,Vice-Admiral Sir R.(Eastbourne) Penneinther. Sir John
Chamberlain, At. He. Sir. I. A. (Birm.,W.) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Christie, J. A. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent). Pete, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Churchill. Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hawke, John Anthony Ramsden, E.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Henderson, Lleut.-Col. V. L, (Bootle) Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Clayton, G. C. Hennessy, Major J. R. G Remnant, Sir James
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hills, Major John Waller Rentoirl, G. S.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Conway. Sir W. Marlin Holland, Sir Arthur Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cope, Major William Holt, Captain H. P. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cooper, J. B. Howard. Captain Hon. Donald Savery, S. S.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Hume, Sir G. H. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Shepperson, E. W. Tryon, Rt. Hon George Clement Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P. Winterton-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Skelton, A. N. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull ) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Slaney, Majar P. Kenyon Warner, Brigadier-General W. W. Wise, Sir Fredric
Smithers, Waldron Warrender, Sir Victor Wolmer, Viscount
Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Waterhouse, Captain Charles Womersiey, W. J
Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(Will'sden,E.) Watson. RI. Hon. W. (Carlisle) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Stanley. Lord (Fylde) Wells, S. R. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Steel, Major Samuel Strang Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay) TELLERS FOR THE AYES —
Thomson. Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell- Williams, Herbert G. (Reading) Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hilisbro[...]') Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Ammon, Charles George Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Attlee, Clement Richard John, William (Rhondda, West) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighiey)
Barnes,A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Snell, Harry
Barr, J. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Batey, Joseph Kelly, W. T. Stamford. T. W.
Bend, Captain Wedgwood (Lelth) Kennedy, T. Stephen, Campbell
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Lansbury, George Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Broad. F A. Lawrence, Susan Sutton, J. E.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lee, F. Taylor, R. A.
Cape, Thomas Lunn, William Thurtle, E
Charleton. H. C. MacDonald, Rt. Hon.J. R.(Aneravon) Tinker, John Joseph
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Mackinder, W. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Cove, W. G. MacLaren, Andrew Varley, Frank B.
Dalton, Hugh March, S. Viant, S. P.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Montague, Frederick Wallhead, Richard C
Day, Colonel Harry Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen.
Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity) Oliver, George Harold Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Gosling. Harry Palin, John Henry Westwood, J.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Paling, W. Wilkinson, Ellen C
Grenfell. D. R. (Glamorgan) Potts, John S. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llaneily)
Griffiths. T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Purcell, A. A. Williams. T. (York. Don Valley)
Groves, T. Rees, Sir Beddoe Windsor, Walter
Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Sakiatvala, Shapurji Wright, W.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Scrymgeour. E.
Hardie, George D. Scurr, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hartshorn. Rt. Hon. Vernon Sexton, James Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. Hayes.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Division No. 355.] AYES. [1.29 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Falle, Sir Bertram G. Murchison, C. K.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T Falls, Sir Charles F. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Fielden, E. B. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Finburgh, S. Nicholson,Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf[...]'ld.)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Foster, Sir Harry S. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Atkinson, C. Frece, Sir Walter de Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Bainiel, Lord Ganzoni, Sir John Pennefather, Sir John
Ba[...]lay-Harvey, C. M. Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Grant, Sir J. A. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton
Bennett, A. J. Greene, W. P. Crawford Ramsden, E.
Berry, Sir George Grotrian, H. Brent Rees, Sir Beddoe
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Gulnness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Gunston, Captain D. W. Remnant, Sir James
Blundell, F. N. Hall, Lieut.-Cal. Sir F. (Dulwich) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hall,Vice-Admiral Sir R.(Eastbourne) Russell. Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Savery, S. S.
Briscoe, Richard George Hawke, John Anthony Shepperson, E. W.
Brittain, Sir Harry Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Brocklebank, C. E, R. Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Hills, Major John Waller Skelton, A. N.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Smithers, Waldron
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Holland, Sir Arthur Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will[...]'sden, E.)
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Holt, Captain H. P. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Howard Captain Hon. Donald Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hume, Sir G. H. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Campbell, E. T. Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hurd, Percy A, Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Chamberlain, Rt: Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hurst, Gerald B. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Christie, J. A. Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl[...]'n & P'bl[...]'s) Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. IIifte, Sir Edward M. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Clayton, G. C. Jacob, A. E. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kinesten-en-Hult,
Cobb, Sir Cyril James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert [...]Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Warrender, Sir Victor
Cookerill, Brig-General Sir G. K. King, Captain Henry Douglas Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Conway, Sir W. Martin Knox, Sir Alfred Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Cope, Major William Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Wells, S. R.
Cooper, J. B. Lister, Cunllffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Locker- Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw[...]'th) White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Lucas-Tooth. Sir Hugh Vere Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I of W.) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Macintyre, I. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) McLean, Major A. Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George
Curzon, Captain Viscount Maequlsten, F. A. Winterion, Rt. Hon, Earl
Davidson, J. (Hertfl'd, Hemel Hempst'd) MacRobert, Alexander M. Wise, Sir Fredric
Davies, Dr. Vernon Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wolmer, Viscount
Dawson, Sir Philip Margesson, Captain D. Womersley, W J.
Eden, Captain Anthony Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) Monsell, Eyres, Conn. Rt. Hon. B. M. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Elliot, Captain Walter E. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. R. C. (Ayr) Yerbursh, Major Robert D. T.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Morden, Col. W. Grant
Everard, W. Lindsay Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbll[...]y) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Major Sir Harry Barnston and Mr. F. C. Thomson.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hilisbro[...]') Groves, T. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Attlee, Clement Richard Hall, G.H.(Merthyr Tyavil) Oliver, George Harold
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hardle, George D Palin, John Henry
Barnes, A. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Paling, W.
Barr, J. Heyday, Arthur Potts, John S.
Batey, Joseph Hayes, John Henry Purcell. A. A.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Hirst W. (Bradford South) Sakiatvala, Shapurji
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hudson, I. H. (Huddersfield) Scrymgeour, E.
Broad, F. A. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) ScUrr, John
Bromley, J. John, William (Rhondda, West) Sexton, James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cape, Thomas Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Shepherd. Arthur Lewis
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, T. Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Crawfurd. H. E. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Snell, Harry
Dalton, Hugh Lansbery, George Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lawrence, Susan Stamford, T. W.
Day, Colonel Harry Lee, F. Stephen, Campbell
Dennison, R. Lowth, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Gardner, J. P. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Aberavon) Taylor, R. A.
Gosling, Harry Mackinder, W. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) MacLaren, Andrew Thurtle, E.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) March, S. Tinker, John Joseph
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Montague, Frederick Varley, Frank B.
Viant, S. P. Westwood, J. Windsor, Walter
Wellhead, Richard C. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney Williams, T. (York, Don Valley) Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. Charles Edwards.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to he left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 165; Noes, 82.

Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Palln, John Henry Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Paling, W. Thurtle, E.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Potts, John S. Tinker, John Joseph
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Purcell, A. A Varley, Frank B.
Kelly, W. T. Saklatvala, Shapurjl Viant, S. P.
Kennedy, T. Scrymgeour, E. Wallhead, Richard C.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Scurr, John Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Lansbury, George Sexton, James Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Lawrence, Susan Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Westwood, J.
Lee, F. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Lowth, T. Slesser, Sir Henry H. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanally)
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Smith, H. B. Lees- (Kelghley) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Mackinder, W. Snell, Harry Windsor, Walter
MacLaren, Andrew Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
March, S. Stamford, T, W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Montague, Frederick Stephen, Campbell Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T.
Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Henderson.
Oliver, George Harold Taylor, R. A.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill?"


I want to make a short personal explanation of a statement I made yesterday, and I will be brief, bright and brotherly. This Bill has been brought forward by the Minister of Health because of the bankrupt position of the West Ham Union. In his speech the right hon. Gentleman did not make so violent and flagrant attack on the West Ham Guardians as some local people. The right hon. Gentleman has been very temperate in his use of the information that has been pumped into him. According to our political opponents, the people who are on the R.O. in West Ham—the R.O. is the Relief Office—have not only been living on Devonshire cream and cider, but have been doing very well generally in living extravagantly. In the "Evening News" and other ordinary journals one can see such statements about the people. When I spoke yesterday I had no idea that my evidence was so near. There are just four points with which I wish to deal now. I have here an extract from the report of the Auditor appointed by the Minister of Health for the past year. It will be remembered that when the Minister was dealing with the case against West Ham, he said that there were 100 cases of people who got relief and had no right to it—people who got relief by false pretences. I said there were few such cases. This extract from the report of the Auditor gives names and addresses and the precise numbers of the people, under the heading "List of cases in which relief would not appear to be necessary when the whole of the circumstances of the household were taken into consideration." The report is for the year ended 31st March, 1925. It is no fault of mine if the report for the year just ended is not yet published. In this list there are 43 cases mentioned. Yet there are 30,000 people receiving relief in West Ham. Because there are 43 such cases we are presented with a Bill to supersede the West Ham Guardians. I want to read from the report the following: The Guardians have a regulation, as regards permanent cases, that relief should not be granted where the united income of a family is sufficient for the support of its members, whether such relatives are liable in law to support the applicant or not. That statement is publicly printed by the auditor in his report. The West Ham Guardians have adopted that rule, although they are not compelled by law to do so. A second extract from the report is as follows: Old Age Pensions are being augmented to bring them up to the full scale of 15s. for a single person and 25s. for a married couple, and in the majority of cases there is no attempt to record the circumstances of sons who might be able to pay something. That is a point in the contrary direction. We have arrived at an awful state in this country when old age pensioners of 70 years of age and more, who have got just the 10s. per week, have to go to the guardians for an extra 5s. because they cannot live on the 10s. The sons of pensioners in West Ham, like the sons of pensioners throughout the country, are willing and anxious to help their parents, but in West Ham most of them have wives and families of their own, and with wages that are approximately only £2 a week how can they keep their parents?


How many sons of the aristocracy keep their parents?


My third quotation is an admission of the part of the auditor in favour of the West Ham Guardians. It says: Efforts have been made to detect trafficking in relief tickets, but so far have been usually without result "— Why did the District Auditor make these efforts? Because the Ministry of Health had received anonymous letters and statements had been made in the newspapers that people in West Ham were getting food tickets and selling them at a discount. Of course, the Ministry put their man on the job, and here is the result. The quotation goes on: as apparently the sight of a stranger stops any transaction. That is nasty and unwarranted. I live in West Ham. There are people in our Poor Law union who are willing to do the worst thing that you can conceive. There are black sheep in every class. They are willing to live for ever on the relief office. But they are few, and their existence is no reason for condemning the bulk of good citizens. I submit that on this report of the Auditor there is no justification whatever for the introduction of this Bill. I am sorry the Minister of Health is not here. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to hear my reply, and I wanted to be more gracious to him than he was to me. When I suggested that the House of Commons should sit more frequently, I understood him to say that, if it did, I would not be here. Well, I have been a Member of this House for four years, and I have not had a day off yet. I look upon this as my job. I am here as a workman, and I feel that any man who is elected to the House of Commons ought to attend to his duties. I may not be a successful craftsman, but we must all make the best attempt we can. Yesterday I made a statement to the effect that in West Ham I had seen strangers conducting investigations, and I am afraid I conveyed the impression that I was suggesting that the Minister of Health and his assistant had deliberately sent those people surreptitiously. I never used those words. I have carefully read my speech, and I did not say that, but I did say that people were there whom I did not think ought to be there without the knowledge of the Minister. I am sure you know they were there. Before the Minister can put this Bill into operation it will be necessary, as is the case with generals in warfare, to have a preliminary skirmish, and in order to have that skirmish it is necessary to have people who have been conducting investigations for the past year. The Ministry are wise in sending the same group of people, but let me point what has actually taken place according to this Report. In the matter of investigation there has been a change of policy. In the past these investigators used to come in a courteous and friendly way, meeting the officers and interrogating them, and cross-examining them. But a change is now being made, and the new people who went down there took their seats at the table and investigated the cases of the different applicants and also the work of the relieving officer, who is a statutory official. The Report states: It is doubtful whether the investigators attached to each district can efficiently cope with the work of inspecting such a large number of cases. The reports of the [...]'Group Investigation' staff, which makes surprise examinations in the districts, show that several omissions occur as regards number of children, earnings, pension, amount of benefit, rent and other particulars. I understand the local investigator can, usually, only find time for inquiry into new applications.… The Group Investigation staff is undoubtedly a very valuable check and deterrent, more especially as the Accountancy branch of the Clerks' Department, working under heavy pressure, do not exercise any check upon the orders for relief. Originally the Group Investigation staff undertook only the examination of unemployment cases. These are not permanent cases, but people drawing relief from the West Ham Union who are on relief because they have no work to do. That is a national problem. But, says the report, after a fraud in the [...]'permanent' cases"— I ask hon. Members to note that—"a fraud— and later, cases of manipulation of tickets for discretionary relief, the staff has been increased … I have arranged for a complete test of six districts within the next few weeks. I am sure the Minister will exonerate me from any deliberate intention of saying that he was endeavouring to do wrong too early. I feel that the increase of the staff, the sending of these people to West Ham at the psychological moment, was a mistake, and that by it there was created in West Ham an impression which will be inimical to that social and friendly working that you must have, even if your Bill is going to be successful, in order to give relief to our poor people in that borough and prevent social disorder. We do not want social disorder. We speak against this Bill because we feel that a very weak case has been presented for it. I oppose Clause 1 standing part

Division No. 357.] AYES. [2.3 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut..Colonel Finburgh, S. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Foster, Sir Harry S. Pennefather, Sir John
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Anglin, Colonel R. V. K. Frece, Sir Walter de Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Ashley, Lt.-Col, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Ganzonl, Sir John Phillpson, Mabel
Atkinson, C. Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Pliditch, Sir Philip
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Grant, Sir J. A. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Asshetan
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Greene, W. P. Crawford Ramsden, E.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Rees, Sir Beddoe
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Grotrlan, H. Brent Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Bennett, A. J. Guinness, Fit. Hon. Walter E. Remer, J. R.
Berry, Sir George Gunston, Captain D. W. Remnant, Sir James
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Hail, Vice-Admiral Sir R.(Eastbourne) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Blundell, F. N. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Rye, F. G.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hawke, John Anthony Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Sanderson, Sir Frank
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Savery, S. S.
Brittain, Sir Harry Hills, Major John Waller Shepperson, E. W.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. J. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Sinclair, Col.T. (Queen's Univ.,Belfst)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Holland, Sir Arthur Skelton, A. N.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y Holt, Captain H. P. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Smithers, Waldron
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Hume, Sir G. H. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hurd, Percy A. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Campbell, E. T. Hutchison. G. A. Clark (Midl[...]'n & P[...]'bl's) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir.J.A.(Birm.,W.) Jacob, A. E. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Christle, J. A. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Clayton, G. C. Kindersley, Major Guy M. Ward, Lt-Col.A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Cobb, Sir Cyril King, Captain Henry Douglas Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Knox, Sir Alfred Warrender, Sir Victor
Cockerill, Brigadler-General G. K. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Conway, Sir W. Martin Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw[...]'th) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Cope, Major William Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Wells, S. R.
Cooper, J. B. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Macintyre, Ian White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
Craig, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry McLean, Major A. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Macqulsten, F. A. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Curzon, Captain Viscount MacRobert, Alexander M. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Dalkeith, Earl of Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Davicison, J. (Hertrd, Hemel Hempst'd) Margesson, Captain D. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Davies, Dr. Vernon Meller, R. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wise, Sir Fredric
Dawson, Sir Philip Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Wolmer, Viscount
Eden, Captain Anthony Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Womersley, W. J.
Elliot, Captain Walter E. Morden, Col. W. Grant Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s:M.) Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Morrison-Belt, Sir Arthur Clive Yerhurgh, Major Robert D. T.
Everard, W. Lindsay Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Nicholson, O. (Westminster) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fella, Sir Bertram G. Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf[...]'ld.) M r. F. C. Thomson and Lord
Falls, Sir Charles F. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Stanley.
Fielden, E. B. Dman, Sir Charles William C.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield. Hillshro') Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Gardner, J. P.
Attlee, Clement Richard Cape, Thomas Gosling, Harry
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston) Charleton, H. C. Graham, Rt. Han. Wm. (Edln.,Cent.)
Barnes, A. Cove, W. G. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coins)
Barr, J. Crawfurd, H. E. Grentell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Belay, Joseph Dalton, Hugh Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Groves, T.
Bowerman. Rt. Hon. Charles W. Day, Colonel Harry Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)
Broad, F. A. Dennison, R. Hardie, George D.
Bromley, J. Dunnlco, H. Heyday, Arthur

of it, and I hope the Committee will forgive me for my intrusion.

Question put, [...]"That the Clause stand part of the Bill.[...]'

The Committee divided: Ayes, 166; Noes, 81.

Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Morrison. R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Paths, John Henry Taylor, R. A.
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Paling, W. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Potts, John S. Thurtle, E.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Purcell, A. A. Tinker, John Joseph
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Saklatvala, Shapurjl Varley, Frank B.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Scrymgeour, E. Vlant, S. P.
Kelly, W. T. Scurr, John Wallhead, Richard C.
Kennedy, T. Sexton, James Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Webb. Rt. Hon. Sidney
Lansbury, George Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Westwood, J.
Lawrence, Susan Slesser, Sir Henry H. Wilkinson, Ellen C
Lee, F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Maclainder, W. Snell, Harry Windsor, Walter
MacLaren, Andrew Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
March, S. Stamford, T. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Montague, Frederick Stephen, Campbell Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.
  1. CLAUSE 2.—(Short title and application.) 16,701 words, 8 divisions