HC Deb 28 July 1926 vol 198 cc2138-239

23. "That a sum, not exceeding £2,650,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for Expenditure in respect of the Air Force Services."—[For Services included herein, see OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1926; col. 1878.]


I beg to move, to leave out "£102,609," and to insert instead thereof "£102,509."

I want, in the first place, to congratulate my right hon. Friend on the restoration of the office which he holds to the status of a Secretary of State. I think that is a change which meets with the approval of all sections of the people of Scotland. I also want to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his decision to visit the islands of Orkney and Shetland in the autumn of this year. It is a very good thing for one holding the position which the right hon. Gentleman holds to make himself acquainted with as many of the problems facing the people he represents as he possibly can. In my first word I congratulated the Secretary of state for Scotland upon the raising of his office to the status of a Secretary of State. The abolition of that office in the far-off days which we have been hearing about during the discussion of this matter, was the first link in the chain of events which has led to a condition of affairs in a, large part of Scotland which I want to discuss with the Secretary of State and his colleagues in the Government for a brief time this afternoon. The struggle which culminated in the abolition of the office of Secretary of State for Scotland in those violent days not only meant the loss of the Crown to the ancient line of Scottish kings, but it also involved the breaking-up of a system of government under which a considerable section of our people lived, and which gave to people in that part of our country, which was purely pastoral, the same indefeasible right to the ownership of the land on which they lived and worked as was possessed by the chieftains under whom they lived.

4.0 P.M.

The next link in that chain of events was that that large section of people to whom I have already referred were deprived of their lawful inheritance and were driven off the land. Their place, in the first instance, was taken by sheep, and, later on, the sheep were largely displaced by deer. The result was that a portion of our people were driven off the land into the industrial centres, and in many cases bad to emigrate. To-day we have millions of acres of land lying idle, or at least converted into deer forests and kept in what I would describe as an idle condition for the sport of a few million- aires who, in many instances, do not belong to our country at all, but are foreigners. Not only had we a considerable section of our people in those days driven off the land, but those who were left have been compelled to live under conditions which are a discredit not only to this Government but to every Government that has been in office during the period with which I am dealing. This remnant of our people have been compelled to eke out a miserable existence on a few acres of land, while millions of acres have been reserved for the pleasure and the sport of a few wealthy men and women. That is a condition of affairs which not only places a heavy responsibility on the Secretary of State for Scotland, but also on every Member of this House who represents a Scottish constituency. It calls upon every one of us not to miss a single opportunity of discussing ways and means by which that condition of affairs can be changed and the land of our country restored for the use of our people.

I do not mind confessing to my right hon. Friend and to the House that when I, for a brief period of time, occupied the office which he now fills, I saw visions and dreamed dreams which compelled me to take this very problem into consideration. During that very brief period of office I had under consideration the best method of changing our system of land tenure with a view, if possible, of re storing the land to our people for their use under easier conditions than has been the case for many years past. Not only had I under consideration the best method of changing our system of land tenure for making the land of the country available for our people, but at the same time I had under consideration the question of transport, because I recognised that, not only did we require to change the system of land tenure, but that, if our people were to develop agriculture and fishing in that part of the country to which I am referring, they would have to have the necessary facilities for doing so.

I discussed with my colleague the Minister of Transport the ways and means for putting at the disposal of our people a better system of transport than exists to-day, and jointly we approached the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that Government and got from him a promise of £2,000,000 to enable us to make new roads right up to the western parts of the Highlands, beginning in the district of Tyndrum and going by Kings House, Glencoe, Balachulish and Far Lochaber to Inverness. Not only did we get our colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer to agree to a sum of £2,000,000 being spent for the making of this necessary main avenue of transport, but we surveyed the ground beyond Inverness right through to the coast. In addition, we surveyed the ground between the nearest point on the railway going on to Caithness from Lairg to Lochinver on the coast with a view either to putting down an appropriate highway or to laying down a light railway. Not only did we do that, but, as my right hon. Friend knows, we also pushed on as rapidly as we possibly could with the resurfacing of the road in the eastern part of the Highlands from Perth through the Vale of Atholl to Inverness.

These steps were being taken with a view of making it possible for us to restore our people to the land in that part of the country, and, having restored them to the land, placing them in a position to be able to bring their agricultural produce and their fishing produce from the harbours more easily to the industrial centres, where they would find a ready market, and so bringing them as near as possible under the same conditions as agriculture in the South of Scotland. Not only had I under consideration the system of land tenure and the question of transport, but I had also under consideration a scheme of co-operation that would enable our agricultural and fishing population in that part of the country to get the full fruits of their labours. We had under weigh a scheme of co-operation that would have banded together the fishing and agricultural populations and have placed them in the position of being able to get the full fruits of their labours.

These were some of the schemes that we had under consideration during that brief period of office, and, had we been fortunate enough to have remained in office as long as some other Governments have done—I do not refer to my right hon. Friend, because he has not had a very long period of office—I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and my fellow Members who represent Scottish constituencies that everything possible would have been done to have carried out that programme. I can assure my right hon. Friend—it may be an encouragement to him to go and do likewise—that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that Government would have had no peace until he had provided the money necessary to enable us to redeem the position in that part of Scotland. I think it is the duty of every Member who represents a Scottish constituency, and particularly the man who fills the position of my right hon. Friend, to see that every step possible is taken to place the land in that part of the country at the disposal of our people to a far greater extent than has been the case up to now.

My last word is to ask the right hon. Gentleman what his intentions are with regard to the problem in that part of the country. He has now an opportunity of doing good work on behalf of our people and our country, and I want to know what is his attitude towards this matter. I want to ask him if he knows what has become of that scheme for spending £2,000,000. I want to ask him also what has become of our ideas of a system of co-operation for the agricultural and fishing population—the people who are there now and the people who could he placed there if we had the Highland problem tackled in a proper way. I want, further, to ask what his intentions are with regard to making the necessary changes in our system of land tenure to place a far larger number of our people in the Highlands of Scotland on the land than has been possible for so many years. On his answers will depend whether I insist on trying to carry the Amendment to reduce his salary. I have no special desire to see his salary reduced. If we are going to make reductions in the salaries of Ministers, I think we require to begin somewhere else. But on his answers to the questions I have put to him depend the question whether I press my Amendment for a reduction of his salary.


I want to depart from the question which has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the reduction. I would rather have followed on the same lines, and tried to get from the Secretary of State for Scotland a statement on his general policy with regard to the improvement of the conditions in Scotland:, particularly in the Highland areas, but there is a point on which I have been at variance with the Secretary of State for Scotland for over a year, and, as this is practically the only opportunity one gets of expressing one's disappointment at the attitude he has taken up on the question, I am devoting the time at my disposal to the discussion of that particular point. The question to which I desire to refer is that of the Kilmarnock constables, which arose at about this time last year. I was able to get the Secretary of State for Scotland, after repeated refusals, to give a conditional consent to an inquiry being held. That inquiry has been held, and, to my mind, the Report that has been issued on that inquiry, and the subsequent action taken by the Secretary of State for Scotland, is a great disappointment, not only to myself but to a large number of people who are interested in this matter.

The Report of the learned Sheriff who presided over the inquiry is a most contradictory and unsatisfactory document in the effect that it has brought about, and I have been doing my best for some time past to get the Secretary of State for Scotland to issue the shorthand notes of the inquiry, so that we can get actually what transpired set out in cold letterpress. The statements that have been made in the Sheriff's Report are most astounding when one considers what has transpired. The dismissal of the two constables is held to be in fact justified by the evidence, but I want to submit that the Report, which has been issued from the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, makes it perfectly clear that, if the two constables were justifiably dismissed from the Force, there is an equal justification for dismissing the Chief Constable as well. I am going to quote the Sheriff's Report in order to justify my assertion. In that Report the Sheriff, among the very startling statements that he makes referring to the Chief Constable's conduct, makes this statement in the last paragraph on page 35: The distrust and suspicion of the Chief Constable having hostility towards the Constables' Branch Board—proved to have existed among the constables."— that was proved in the mind of the Sheriff— had its inception in his arbitrary and high-handed conduct in dealing with the rest day grievance when legitimately submitted to him on 3rd March, 1925, and was aggravated by his lack of tact and judgment in dealing with subsequent events. I submit that that statement, coming from the chairman of the tribunal—the Sheriff of Ayrshire—regarding the Chief Constable's conduct, that the whole trouble had its inception in his arbitrary and high-handed conduct and lack of judgment, and the want of tact that he displayed in subsequent matters, is in itself a condemnation of the Chief Constable, and is in one way a slight justification of the attitude adopted by the two constables who were dismissed later.

There is another point in the Report, at the top of page 34. The Chief Constable all through the inquiry denied the accusations, made against him by various constables, that not only was he tactless but that he was most abusive in language towards them when they were summoned to appear before him in his office. The Chief Constable denied that statement, and the Sheriff said: The relations were manifestly strained, and I do not doubt that on that occasion the Chief Constable, in spite of his assertion to the contrary, expressed himself in somewhat strong language. On the occasion when he instructed his subordinates to take down certain statements from two constables, the Sheriff finds that the Chief Constable was actually responsible for getting his subordinate, the Inspector, to dictate those letters to the two constables, and that those letters, dictated by the Inspector, contained two most inaccurate statements, to which the two constables subsequently said they did not wish to put their names. The Sheriff, with regard to that, makes this statement. The Chief Constable made an effort to show that he was innocent of any attempt at dictation to these constables, and the Sheriff says: The admission by the Chief Constable that when requesting the reports he reminded Constable Macdonald that he was not 'coercing' him, clearly shows that some sort of undue pressure was being used. This is confirmed by the part taken by Inspector McPhee in the drawing of Constable Anderson's report, for which the Chief Constable, must take full responsibility, as McPhee was presumably acting on his instructions. I submit to the Secretary of State for Scotland that these very references themselves prove that this Chief Constable is not the man for his position, that he has been responsible for all the trouble that has ensued in the Kilmarnock Police Force during the past two years, and that the Sheriff's report, in spite of the Chief Constable's statement on oath, is one of the most damning judgments that was aver delivered, not against the two constables who have been dismissed, but against the Chief Constable himself. The very first statement that the Sheriff makes with regard to the Chief Constable is on page 10, where he says: I have formed the opinion that the action of the Chief Constable in failing to acknowledge Constable Hill's letter of the 2nd"— which was the first letter sent to him dealing with the original grievance of the rest day, and which was not acknowledged by the chief constable— and at once, without attempting to discuss the matter with the Constables' Branch Board, issuing such a far-reaching Order as that of 3rd March, 1925, was both discourteous and arbitrary, and calculated, not only to convey the impression that he had prejudged the case, but also to cause strained relations between him and the force. I have read these points from the Report, and I could read others equally strong in their denunciation by the Sheriff of the conduct of the Chief Constable, but I do not want to weary the House by doing so, because hon. Members who are interested in the matter, or desire further confirmation, can find the document in the Library and can read the whole Report there for themselves. If the Chief Constable, according to the Sheriff, was by his conduct the inception of the whole trouble, why should these two individuals be singled out and made to hear the whole punishment? It is very curious that four of the five members of the Constables' Branch Board were all placed under some kind of disciplinary judgment, and these four individuals were looked upon as being against the Chief Constable's attitude. The fifth member of the Board has, I understand, since been promoted. Four of these men, who are looked upon as being opposed to the Chief Constable, have discipline imposed upon them, and a fifth receives promotion. It is very curious that two of them are dismissed—


Many are called, but few are. chosen.


This does not interest the hon. Member. He is an English Member—


Oh, yes, it does.


Then, if the hon. Member will support me, I shall be quite willing to provide him with a copy of the Report. I have been trying to get these men reinstated, but the Secretary of State for Scotland says it cannot be done. He says it is against the Regulations. I have quoted cases where constables have been dismissed before and have been reinstated, and I want to read the Regulation upon which the Secretary of State for Scotland bases his claim that it is illegal to reinstate these two men. The Regulation says: A candidate for appointment to a Police Force must produce satisfactory references as to character, and, if he has served in any branch of His Majesty's Naval, Military or Air Forces, or in the Civil Service or in any Police Force, must produce satisfactory proof of his good conduct while in such Service or Force. A person dismissed from any such Service or Force shall not be eligible for appointment. This particular Regulation deals with a new appointment, not a reinstatement. It deals with a candidate seeking an appointment. These two men are not seeking appointments; they arc asking to be reinstated, and this Regulation does no; cover their case in one iota.

I want the House to observe what has followed from the Secretary of State for Scotland's interpretation of this Regulation. The Watching and Lighting Committee of Kilmarnock, by ten votes to two, decided to recommend to the Town Council of Kilmarnock the reinstatement of these two men, and the matter was to come up at a subsequent council meeting on the minutes of the Watching and Lighting Committee. In the interval, the town clerk of Kilmarnock had to come to London on some business, and was asked by the Provost of Kilmarnock to visit the Scottish Office and find out, if he could, the position with regard to reinstatement. He came back with an official pronouncement from the Scottish Office, and stated, not to the Watching and Lighting Committee but to the town council itself, that to reinstate these two men would be illegal, and no request by the town council to the Secretary of State for Scotland to have these men reinstated could be acceded to, as it would be illegal to reappoint them. Following upon that statement of the town clerk, repeating the pronouncement of the Scottish Office, the town council decided, as it would be illegal, not to go any further in the matter, not —as the Secretary of State for Scotland stated in reply to a question, and backed it up in a subsequent reply to a question I put to him yesterday—because they had fully considered the Report, but because the Scottish Office had made a pronouncement that it would be illegal. Purely, on this ground, the Town Council of Kilmarnock decided not to proceed any further in the matter. I want the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Lord Advocate to prove to this House that it will be illegal to reinstate these men, and, if they can prove that it is illegal, to justify the reinstatement of other members of the Police Force in Scotland who had been asked to resign or who had been dismissed. If the Lord Advocate declares that this is illegal, and that the Regulation I have read out makes it illegal on the part of the Scottish Office to reinstate them—

The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. William Watson)

indicated dissent.


The right lion. Gentleman seems to think it is not illegal.


The Scottish Office has nothing to do with the appointment or re-appointment of constables.


Then why does the Scottish Office interfere and give advice which is not correct to the Kilmarnock Town Council? Why do they take upon themselves to set up a tribunal if they have no control over the Police Force in Scotland? Why do they reply to questions in this House dealing with the administration of the Police Force? It seems to me difficult to find what the Scottish Office do or can do. This incorrect interpretation of the Scottish Office of this Regulation forces the Town Council of Kilmarnock to do nothing else but follow their advice. I contend that that advice was wrong, and I want the Secretary of State for Scotland to justify it or to admit that it was incorrect, and give the Town Council of Kilmarnock a right to go back upon the decision, and agree that these two constables will be reinstated in the Police Force of Kilmarnock.


I want to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman as to the exercise of his powers under the Housing (Financial Provision) Act, 1924. Under Section 5 of that Act he is required to consider, on 1st October of this year, the amount of the subsidy, and he is required then, if he varies it, to make an Order. The Order under Section 6 cannot become operative until it has been confirmed by a Resolution of the House. The House in all probability will not be sitting on 1st October, and the first question I put is, will he say in advance what he proposes to do to cover the interim period between 1st October, when the subsidies are susceptible of revision, and such date as the Order can be laid before the House? Secondly, is it convenient to give any information as to what his intentions are in regard to the amount of the subsidy, because the matter has been engaging the earnest attention of the larger local authorities in Scotland.


That question should he raised on a subsequent Vote. The third Vote deals with the Scottish Board of Health, and housing can be raised thereon.


Following on the lines laid down by my hon. Friend, I want to put to the Secretary of State for Scotland that in Lanark, or at least in the industrial parts of the county, there is considerable feeling—and some justification for that feeling—that the administration of the law is not as it should be. When my right hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson) was Secretary for Scotland, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Rutherglen had occasion to ask that an inquiry should be held into the conduct of the police in Blantyre, and after some considerable trouble he was able to convince my right hon. Friend that there was a case for inquiry. An inquiry was practically agreed upon immediately before the Labour Government left office. After the change of Government he was induced by the present Secretary for Scotland to drop the matter and he did so hoping that some improvement would be made in the administration. Unfortunately I cannot see that there has been any great improvement, and on the last occasion the Scottish Estimates were discussed I raised the question of the prosecution of a man in the Hamilton Sheriff Court, where it is alleged that the constables who arrested him committed perjury That seems a strong statement but I make it quite emphatically. There has been apparently some sort of inquiry held into the matter and there has been a desire to hush the whole matter up. It may be that the case will not go any further, but that will depend largely upon the attitude of the Scottish Office. If the Secretary of State for Scotland is unwilling to do what I hope he will do, that will not remove the sense of injustice on the part of the man nor will it make us any more likely to believe that the course of justice runs as smoothly and fairly as it ought. The facts, as far as I am informed, are that the man was accused of being a bookmaker, that it was proved that he was not a bookmaker, and had never had anything to do with bookmaking. It is alleged that the policemen went into a particular house and, I understand, swore that they witnessed the act or acts that constituted the illegality. Evidence can be brought forward to show that they were never in the house at all. They went into the box and swore they were there, for the purpose of getting this man convicted and sent to prison. I do not think there is any other word in the language to describe their conduct than that of perjury. If constables in Lanark or anywhere else are encouraged to go into the witness box and swear that sort of evidence which will secure a conviction, it is time something was done by the House. I am very pleased that the Secretary for Scotland has been raised to the position of Secretary of State. It is not a question of personal feeling so far as the right hon. Gentleman is concerned, but I think there is a case for public inquiry and satisfaction being given to the people in that county that the Scottish Office will see that no such con- duct will be tolerated. I am making no charge against the present Chief Constable of Lanarkshire.

In the case I am now going to put before the House, the late occupant of the position of Chief Constable was something of an arbitrary gentleman. He was a military man, and there are too many military men occupying the position of Chief Constable. He imagined he was of greater importance than the Sheriff of the county. I do not think he or anyone else occupying that position is entitled to arrogate to himself powers which render the decisions of the Sheriff of no effect. The case I want to bring is that of a constable who was accused of having committed a certain crime. He was brought before the Court, again the Sheriff Court of Hamilton, and after a very lengthy trial the case was found not proven. The man had been, for 14 years in the service, and had borne a good character as a constable, and as an efficient, competent and reliable man who had been in charge of stations in different parts of the county. After the case he was called before the Chief Constable, who demanded his resignation. The man refused on the ground that he was not guilty of the charge and that it had not been proven, and that his previous 14 years of good service should have shown that he was still competent to act as a constable. The Chief Constable was determined that he should go, and the man had to go. I understand there is some question of pension rights or payments that are made by constables that they are entitled to have returned in the event of their resigning. The man was warned that if he would not resign he would be deprived of this money. He acted as I think most hon. Members in the House would act. Being conscious of his own innocence, and being equally conscious that he was competent for his work, he refused to resign. I think everybody here will agree that the man was justified in doing so. I am sure that any hon. Member on the other side, if he felt that he was being unfairly and unjustly accused of a particular crime, would not admit that he was guilty. The late Chief Constable was guilty of arbitrary conduct by depriving this man of his position. I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider the advis- ability of reinstating the man, or, if he is not prepared to do that, to see that the man receives the money to which he is entitled. The man went through a lengthy trial before the Sheriff, he was not found guilty of the charge levelled against him, and I think the treatment that has been meted out to him is unfair.

I have had some correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman on this matter. I trust that he will now consider the question with a view either to reinstatement or to the man being paid the money to which he would have been entitled had he been willing to resign instead of preferring to accept dismissal. He was put in a very difficult and unfortunate position. The Sheriff had found that he was not guilty and, naturally, the man felt that the Sheriff was a greater authority, or that he ought to be looked upon as a greater authority, on the matter than the Chief Constable. To have resigned on the ground that he was guilty would have put the administration of the law in a peculiar position, and would have implied that the Sheriff is not a superior law officer as compared with the Chief Constable. In this case the Chief Constable acted arbitrarily and unfairly, and to a very considerable extent the man has suffered. I trust that what. I have said will influence the right hon. Gentleman in the direction either of reinstating the man or of paying him the money to which he is entitled.


I should like to draw attention to the reduction from £150,000 to £120,000 in respect of unemployment schemes. I wish particularly to direct attention to a matter which we have had under consideration with the right hon. Gentleman, respecting Dundee. The Housing Committee there had promoted a scheme whereby they would produce a supply of concrete blocks which would have been available for the various housing schemes which the corporation have had in hand, and with which they have dealt so well for several years. The proposal was that by means of a grant towards that scheme they would be able to obtain the required plant, which was to cost not more than £3,000. If that plan had been adopted, it would have meant the withdrawal of a considerable number of men from receiving the unemployment benefit. The argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is that owing to the subsidy given under the original housing scheme, it was not considered advisable to give this supplementary subsidy.

The special phase which we emphasised on behalf of the corporation, which we thought would be of very great importance to the unemployed, was that a grant of this nature, or something approaching that figure, would enable the initiative to be taken by the Corporation for the production of the blocks, and substantial business could have been done. The figures regarding relief are significant in this connection. On the 21st June, 1925, the adults and dependents in Dundee amounted to 718. For the same month of this year the total was 2,396. Since then the expenditure has been steadily rising. The figures for those periods show that the relief given amounted to £168 and £510 respectively, which means that quite recently the parish council have had to face a very substantial increase of about 6d. per £ on the rates. A very little foresight in the direction I have suggested would have meant good business for the housing schemes which the Scottish Office themselves are anxious to expedite, and at the same time there would have been a reduction in the number of the unemployed. I hope that it will be possible to give the desired grants in order to help the Corporation.


The aspect of the House to-day reminds me of a remark which was made a few days ago by a distinguished ruling Prince of India when, after listening to the Indian Debate, he said: "The House was thin, even for an Indian day." I was able to reply to him that he ought to wait and see the condition of the House when Scottish Estimates were being taken.


So much more reason for Home Rule.


I do not propose to discuss that question, but I am willing to go so far as to say that it is upon this day of the year that the House reaches its highest average of intelligence. Perhaps it will confirm the interpolation of the hon. Member opposite if I tell a remark of a Scotsman, who was not very well acquainted with England, and who came here in the course of the War. He was asked what he thought of the English. His reply was that they were the most extraordinary people he had ever come across; "They think that Scotland begins at Perth and that it is only open for three months in the year." In these circumstances, perhaps, we may be able to congratulate ourselves that we are allowed to discuss our domestic affairs, more or less, without the aid of the legislators from other parts of the Kingdom.

I have listened to four speeches to-day dealing with the affairs of Scotland in the past year, and I confess that one is able to felicitate the new Secretary of State for Scotland upon the moderation of the speeches which have been made, and the lack of any attack upon the course of his administration. There have been three speeches dealing with matters entirely local. The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) raised a question in regard to the Kilmarnock police, and presented what seemed to me, from his statement of it, a very cogent argument: but I have no doubt that the Secretary of State has a reply to it. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) raised a question from Hamilton, and also made a case to which I have no doubt there is a sufficient reply. Then we had a case put by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) about a stone contract. I am entirely incapable of making any reply to any of these speeches, but I have no doubt the Secretary of State has sufficient information at his command to give a completely satisfactory answer.

There was however a speech by the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson) which dealt with a somewhat bigger matter. It interested me, and in some respects it enchanted me. He gave an account of a journey from Glasgow to Balachulish, from Balachulish to Inverness, from Inverness to Lairg, and from Lairg to Lochinver, until one felt that one was taking part in the itinerary of Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell. The thought of one's native country at this time of the year excites many fancies in one's mind. As the right hon. Gentleman proceeded, one could almost see the lights dancing upon the hills of Scotland, and smell the bog myrtle coming up from the meadows.


And see the landlord coming for his rent!


His main theme, as far as I could gather his purpose, was that very much more cultivation was required in Scotland than at present was being devoted to the great spaces of our native land. That is a question in which every Scotsman is intensely interested. We have exactly the same problem there as is experienced not merely in other parts of Great Britain, but throughout the world, that there has been a great move towards the towns, that many of our country places are to-day becoming more or less depopulated, and that many people who form, the most virile section of our race have disappeared from the countryside in which they were reared. That is a matter which everyone deplores. All of us would be in favour of a policy which would bring more people to remain upon the land and to cultivate it. Once that has been said, it is also true to say that every effort has been made in recent years by all Governments which have been dealing with this problem to restore the people to the land and, wherever it has been possible, to create a rural population, thrifty, prosperous and virile.

5.0 P.M.

On the other hand, I would enter a caveat. The right hon. Gentleman, with enthusiasm, talked about millions of uncultivated acres, which he said were devoted to the pleasure of the rich in the way of deer forests and grouse moors. I have travelled over a good many of these. acres, and it is outside the region of common sense to talk of these places as being districts in which one can produce any ordinary form of cultivation. The Forestry Commission has been dealing with places in which timber can be grown, and they are developing the timber-growing districts in Scotland as fast as money can be provided, but to say that all the places in which there are deer forests and grouse moors are places on which one can grow wheat and corn and other things by which the life of the community is sustained is, as my hon. Friends know, a wild exaggeration of language.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Royal Commission has certified and scheduled the acreage which could be profitably used for crops which is at present used as deer forests?


I am perfectly aware of what the Royal Commission said, but for anybody to talk about the millions of acres of deer forests as places where corn can be grown is completely refuted by the Royal Commission to which the hon. Member referred.




It is absurd to say that these deer forests and grouse moors can all be used for raising crops, as some hon. Gentlemen appear to think. On the contrary, I am perfectly certain that everyone who knows the conditions of Scotland will agree that the amount of land which is devoted to sport at present is a very great source of revenue to the country, without which our resources would not be developed and without which it would be necessary to raise the rates in the country districts far beyond their present figure. One must realise the enormous amount of money brought to these sporting districts of Scotland by the shooting tenants. The amount which they contribute to the upkeep of local administration is something with which Scotland to-day could not dispense, and I only venture to put in this caveat against the assumption that it is possible suddenly to make the hill-tops of Scotland and its slopes and grouse moors blossom like the rose, or to grow crops of wheat and corn such as people can ordinarily grow on fertile land. That is a fallacy. It is one of the dreams which the right hon. Member talked about, but it is a dream that never can be realised. I only want to say, in a final sentence, that the right hon. Gentleman was rather unwilling to contemplate a reduction in the salary of the Secretary of State for Scotland. That was very natural, because he has been Secretary for Scotland, and there is every possibility that he may be Secretary of State for Scotland in due time again. I, on the other hand, having no hopes of that kind, nevertheless am entirely against any Motion to reduce my right hon. Friend's salary.


But you were Chancellor of the Exchequer and you had a higher salary.


I do not think my salary then was any higher than the salary which my right hon. Friend is going to get now. If I am wrong I am still more disappointed, because I had hoped that at last the salary was going to be commensurate with the dignity of the post. If the Scottish Members will now take this matter in hand as assiduously as they take many other matters in hand we can easily see this matter put right. I do not know whether I shall get the support of my hon. Friends opposite, but if the opinion of the men of Scotland is firmly expressed on the matter we shall carry it through. I only wish to add that the work of the present Secretary of State for Scotland—as I am sure, all hon. Members will agree—has commended itself to the Scottish Members. He has shown patience and courtesy with regard to every complaint made to him and he has gained the esteem and admiration of us all. I would like to add also my tribute to the great services and help which his colleagues have rendered to all the Members for Scotland who have sought their aid. So far from seeking to reduce the salary in view of what has been said I should feel inclined to make a Motion for its increase.


I did not expect to intervene at this moment, because I had somewhat larger fish to fry, but I cannot allow all the statements of the right hon. Member to pass unchallenged. He surely is not right regarding depopulation. It is true that there is a great movement to the towns and to the great centres, but I think that every Scotsman knows that the depopulation of the Highlands was not due to the desire to go to the towns at all. Generally speaking, to-day the men and the women who leave the countryside for the towns do so in order to find employment, but it is not so regarding the depopulation of the Highlands. One of the saddest tales in the whole of the sad annals of our country is the depopulation of the Highlands. I am not going into, these matters very intimately, although I think I know something about them, having some little Highland blood in me. Consequently I am angry and disgusted not only at the depopulation, but at what has been done in order to repopulate the Highlands. I sat hours and hours in 1919–20 when we were trying to frame schemes for Scotland in order to place our people upon the land again. We thought there was something which we could do, but we had to sit hours and hours again in order to get rid of that something which we had clone previously. I do not think my right hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson) thought that it was possible to make the hilltops blossom as the rose. We know perfectly well that there are large tracts where it will be humanly impossible to grown corn of almost any kind. But that is not what is wanted. What we want is that the valleys should be repopulated. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) knows that in his own constituency there are hundreds of homesteads that used to shelter virile men and women who were worthy of their country and who gave to their country something that ought to have been given to them in return when the time came when help was necessary. We want a reasonable view taken of this matter. I do, not know about the rents and the rates levied on these lands, but I do not think they come to anything like as much as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) says. I think Scotland can manage to stand for its own people, and I think if we could get rid of these other people who come in we could work together quite reasonably and Scotland would stand where she did. I cannot let this pass unchallenged. We know that the Highlands and the Islands have been depopulated, we know that there must have been migration. The very nature of the circumstances would have compelled that, but nothing like the wholesale migration that had to take place and did take place. We have thousands of Scotsmen throughout our Colonies whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers had to leave their country because they could not get a foothold in the country by reason of the land which was taken for the plutocrats of other nations and other districts who came in and took our land and used it for sport instead of for the raising of crops.

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)

I should like at the outset to acknowledge most gratefully the very kindly remarks which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- ber for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson), when he conveyed congratulations to me upon the raising of the status of my office.

I recognise that this is in no sense a personal matter, and that it is the restoration of an honourable office which has been long desired by Scotland, and I appreciate very much the many congratulations that I have received. I trust that I shall be able, apart from any increase of dignity accruing to the office, still to continue those happy relations with individual Members, which have been my lot hitherto. The right hon. Gentleman, who opened this Debate, spoke with a real understanding and a real knowledge of possible developments in our country. While it may be true to say that many of the points upon which he and other hon. Members have touched would be more appropriately discussed on the Vote for the Board of Agriculture for Scotland or on the Vote of the. Minister of Transport, I recognise that on the Vote for the salary of anyone holding my office in Scotland the policy which the holder of that office may adopt can properly be dealt with in the discussion on that Vote.

I can only say that I have been anxious to familiarise myself with the actual conditions that exist in the various parts of the country. Reference has been made to the visit which I propose to make to Orkney and Shetland. Last year I had the pleasure of going round the Island of Skye and various other parts of the West Coast to familiarise myself with some of the difficulties and the problems which exist in that district. This year I shall go, as the House knows, to another part of the country. The right, hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife said that he had seen visions and dreamed dreams. I suppose every one of us who takes up the reins of office visualises what he may be able to do to improve and to better matters, and I have no objection to hon. Members dreaming dreams and seeing visions, but I do ask, as I think the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) has done, that we should at the same time remember what is possible and practical. Since taking office, I have consistently pressed for the development of the roads and the improvement of communications in Scotland, and we are making material advance. I have spent many years of my life in the vicinity of Ballachulish and Glencoe, and therefore I know the conditions of the communications in those parts of the country, and we are pressing forward with that development, it may not be quite so rapidly as the right hon. Gentleman hoped to do when he was in office, but at least material progress is being made, and we have this year given Government assistance.

During recent years those who have taken an interest in agriculture have supported co-operation in development in connection with agriculture and small holdings. Long before I had anything to do with this House or before I had any official position, I was working in that direction, but the House must remember that it is a slow process and that education is required to convince the larger number of those who are working on the land that it is a desirable development. At the same time I should not like the House to think that any efforts are being neglected or that we are not pressing on with these developments.

The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) raised a question with regard to the police at Kilmarnock. He affected to be disappointed with my action, but I must remind him that when this matter was first raised I expressed the opinion that I saw no reason to differ from the view and the action taken by the chief constable in dismissing the two constables concerned. In view of the request which came to me subsequently from the police authority, that is the Town Council of Kilmarnock, I directed an inquiry to be held. I am sure any hon. Member who has read the report, which has been printed and submitted to the House, will agree that the inquiry was conducted in the fullest and most impartial manner. It is clear from the report that the inquiry sustained the action of the chief constable in dismissing these two men, and let me say at once that the sole control of appointments and dismissals lies in the hands of the chief constable of the burgh. It is not a matter within the jurisdiction of the Scottish Office or the town council.


May I ask this question? If the town council of any town recommends to the chief constable that a certain individual who has been dismissed should be reinstated, and the chief constable refuses, has not the town council certain powers in the matter?


No, Sir. It is not a question of reinstatement. These two men have been dismissed, and the jurisdiction of appointment and dismissal is in the hands of the chief constable.


I think we are misunderstanding each other. Has it not been the case in other towns where a constable has been dismissed that he has been reinstated? That is what is being asked in this case.


No, Sir; I am not aware of any case where a charge has been proved against an individual and he has been dismissed from the force, in which reappointment has taken place subsequently.


Did you not send in the name of one yourself?


No, Sir. If the hon. Member is referring to the case of the constable in Argyllshire, he will remember that dismissal never took place. It is true that an arrangement was subsequently made that he should remain in the force—


After his resignation was asked?


He was never dismissed, and the cases are not similar.


He was asked to resign if he did not give up his membership of the policemen's union, and he handed in his resignation.


He was not dismissed, and the arrangement was subsequently made that he should continue in the force.




Not at all. He never left the force. The resignation which was asked for never took effect; the circumstances are totally different. The procedure which has been followed in this case has given the fullest and most impartial inquiry. It is perfectly true that the Sheriff, in addition to dealing with the case of the dismissal of these two constables, made certain remarks which the hon. Member has quoted regarding the action of the Chief Constable. When that report was submitted to me, I naturally drew the attention of the town council, which is the police authority, to its terms, and it remained in their hands to deal with a question of that kind. I find that, having considered this report, and the remarks made by the Sheriff, the town council came to the conclusion that there was no necessity to take any action with regard to the Chief Constable.


I am certain the right hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the House. I have the report here—and that is not the case at all. The town council came to their decision purely upon the interpretation of the Regulation given by the Scottish Office to the town clerk.


The hon. Member must realise that he is now referring to another point. I was referring to the, position of the Chief Constable. I drew the attention of the police authority of Kilmarnock to the terms of the Sheriff's report. The police authority considered that report and decided—I will read the letter: I have now to inform you that the Town Council at Kilmarnock, having carefully considered the report on the inquiry by the Sheriff of Ayr into the allegations made against the chief constable, in connection with the dismissal of Constables Hill and Moore, in the employ of the Burgh Police, authority, agreed by a majority at their meeting held yesterday to take no further action in the matter. That is with regard to the Chief Constable. Let me turn to the other point, the action taken by the town council with regard to the two men who were dismissed; and I must again point out that the town council has no jurisdiction to dismiss or reinstate, or take any other action whatever in regard to these two men.


They can recommend.


Yes, and their recommendation must be taken into consideration by the Chief Constable. There is nothing which the Scottish Office have said to the town clerk, or to anybody else, which does not bear out the clear facts as laid down in the Rules and Regulations. I would remind the hon. Member that these Rules and Regulations, which govern the dealings with the police force, have been arrived at after consultation with the representatives of the police. They are now Statutory Rules and Regulations, and are laid on the Table of this House. They cannot be departed from.


Did the representatives of the police agree that the Regulations cover reinstatement?


This is not reinstatement. The men have been dismissed, and the Rule is perfectly clear, that a person dismissed from any such service or force shall not be eligible for appointment.


Read the first line of the Regulation. It says "a candidate for appointmen"—that is a new appointment.


These men have been dismissed. They are not members of the force. The hon. Member must realise that this is governed by distinct Rules, and any deviation from them would be contrary to the Regulations. It is our duty so to advise anybody who asks our opinion on such a subject, and it is impossible for the Scottish Office to give any other advice than that which was given.


If these two constables receive a position in the police force again, would you call it reinstatement or a fresh appointment?


I should call it an illegal appointment. I can only say in conclusion that the hon. Member will, I believe, agree that I have given careful consideration to the whole of this case, and after such an exhaustive and highly impartial inquiry and Report, the findings of which are quite clear, I cannot say anything further upon it.

With regard to what the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) has said, I am sorry to think that any impression should go abroad that the general administration of the law in Lanarkshire is other than fair, just and reasonable, and I regret that any hon. Member should make use of his opportunities in this House to cast reflections upon the late Chief Constable who has served his country through a very long period of years to the general acceptance of the community, and certainly without a blemish on his record, so far as the police administration is concerned.


This Chief Constable was something of a king in Lanarkshire, he apparently did what he pleased. This is the only opportunity we have of drawing attention to what we consider, and what the general public considers, arbitrary acts on the part of this more or less uncrowned king. I know the late Chief Constable well, and have done as much for the Country as he has done.


I do not know that that alters the position. Whatever the feelings of any hon. Member may be as to an individual case, it is very unfortunate that advantage should be taken to cast general reflections of that nature. On the other hand, the hon. Member has raised one or two cases in which he asserts that irregularities have taken place. When the matter was referred to the Crown Counsel, and investigated by the proper authorities, it was found that in their judgment there was not sufficient evidence to take further action. My duty, where there is any doubt in the cases brought to me either in this House or outside this House, is to submit them through the ordinary channels for consideration by the proper authorities, and I am hound, of course, to take their advice.


What is this Committee that come to this conclusion? Is it outside the functions of an hon. Member of this House to ask that an inquiry should be made into the definite charges I have made and made on the authority of men who are prepared to substantiate them?


I understand that this case is a case of alleged perjury. It was submitted to the Crown authorities, who are the prosecuting authority and who have to investigate such cases and to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with an action which may have any chance of success.


I quite understand the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and I do not want to appear to be persistent, but I would like to put one question to him. Did this inquiry include the man who was charged? Did it include anyone who was able to bring forward evidence that perjury was committed? Is it simply the ex parte opinion of the Crown Counsel? Here was a definite charge made. If it be true then no amount of argument from the right hon. Gentleman or anyone else can convince us that the administration of justice is fair or sound. If it be false the character of the police administrator ought to be cleared.


It is rather unsatisfactory to discuss the details of a case like this across the Floor of the House, but I am quite willing to discuss the whole of the details with toe hon. Member afterwards. All I can say now is that the Scottish Office took the correct procedure of submitting this case to the Crown Authorities for their inquiry, and abided by their decision. Neither in this ease and in the other case where reference was made to a constable—the case in which a verdict was returned of "Not proven"—is it for me to express any opinion upon such a verdict. The verdict in the opinion of many people is a very unsatisfactory one, because it leaves a great doubt that the man is not fully acquitted of the charge when such a finding is taken. In these circumstances, as we want to have purity of administration and proper handling in connection with law and justice, it is absolutely essential that when the least doubt is cast upon the character of any of these individuals, those who are responsible should take steps to free the force from anyone who has the slightest doubt cast upon his character.


Let me put a simple and straight question. The Sheriff found the charge against this man "not proven." The Chief Constable asked the man to declare himself guilty, and on the ground that he was guilty he was told that he had to resign. I submit that that is not a fair decision. I would press the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the whole matter, and I ask that the man should be reinstated.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

We are not in Committee, and I would remind the hon. Gentleman that he has exhausted his right of speaking.


The most satisfactory way would be for me to discuss this matter with the hon. Member outside the House. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) asked a question which would more properly come on the Housing Vote; but I would say that I took a great personal interest in the problem put before me by the City of Dundee, and that I was debarred from following the wishes of Dundee by the fact that it was outside my power to give a grant owing to the conditions attaching to the housing subsidy.


Did not the Edinburgh Office support this proposal?


Of course, I cannot go into all the details now. It is sufficient to say that we looked at the matter with every sympathy, and I regret that we were unable to find a solution of the problem. In conclusion, let me say that I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) for what he said this afternoon.


Before we leave this Vote, I would like the Secretary of State for Scotland or someone in his Department to say something with regard to the reduction in the amount voted this year for relief of unemployment. The reduction is something like £30,000. My experience is that to-day the local authorities who are promoting schemes of a local character for the relief of unemployment are finding the greatest difficulty in convincing those who are responsible that the scheme should rank for grant. Up to the end of last year the general principle upon which the grants were given was much more elastic than it appears to be now. The principle operating almost to the end of last year was that works promoted by local authorities were eligible for grant, not merely in the specific district where unemployment was severe, but in districts not seriously affected by unemployment, if the work promoted was likely to stimulate employment in the industries connected with the special scheme under consideration. I understand that now an instruction has been given by the Government that that wider provision for the relief of unemployment should lapse, and that authorities are being called upon to prove exceptional distress in their districts before any grant is given. I understand that, in addition to that restriction, there is another restriction of a more serious character; that is to say, that if a scheme is promoted by a local authority the Unemployment Grants Committee, acting on the specific instructions of the Government, is now saying, "Before any grant can be sanctioned or assistance given to this scheme, you must prove that this work would not have been undertaken normally within a period of five years from the date of the application for the grant." That is a most unreasonable restriction, and one which did not apply before this year. Would the right hon. Gentleman explain the reason for it?


The actual reduction in this case is not very material, and, indeed, a part of it is due to closer estimating. But, on the rather wider subject which the hon. Gentleman has raised, it is quite true that the Government feel that more and more we must get back into the ordinary channels of working, and that it is imperative, from the point of view of the finance of the country as a whole, that there should be some limit upon the development of schemes. As the hon. Gentleman has said, this money cannot in future be given as freely for the development of some of these local schemes, unless we can be assured that they are schemes which would not be proceeded with in the ordinary conditions by the authorities. I think that that is a reasonable and wise arrangement, particularly when one has to take into account the general financial position of the country.


I rise only to make a reference to the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne)—a speech which I understood the Secretary for Scotland to endorse; I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was pleased with the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Hillhead, and that he agreed with them. I have taken the trouble to go to the Library, and I have here three Reports made by Government Committees and by Royal Commissions, and those Reports prove that the pleasing picture drawn by the right hon. Member for Hillhead is scarcely accurate. For example, the Royal Commission of 1844, on page 87 of the Report, declares that 395,000 sheep could be grazed upon land that was then solely occupied by deer. Then we have the Royal Commission of 1892, which on pages 8 and 9 of its Report specifically refers to land in the deer forest area of Scotland which it has scheduled as suitable for profitable cultivation or for advantageous cultivation.

I was the more amazed at the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead as it is perfectly well known to everyone who is following the operations of the Forestry Commission that that body is busy—not to a very great extent, unfortunately—in carving out small holdings and profitable small holdings from lands that until a year or two ago were solely under deer. I see the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) in his place. My remark applies to the big scheme being carried out in his constituency. It is simply bunkum for the right hon. Member for Hillhead to declare that the land presently covered by deer in Scotland is fit for nothing else. That statement is known by hon. Members on all sides of the House to be rubbish, and it can be disproved by Royal Commission after Royal Commission and by Committee after Committee. I simply rose for the purpose of taking the strongest possible exception to the statement of the right hon. Member for Hillhead.


I wish to concur in much that has been said in admiration of the work which the Secretary of State for Scotland has done in the past year; but there are one or two matters in which I wish that we could have seen greater activity. We have heard from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. J. Brown) and the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) about the possibilities of small holdings in the Highlands. All the work that could be done in the way of settling people on the land or assisting the crofter and the crofter fishermen will be of no avail in the Highlands until the question of transport is settled. The present system of transport, as I have stated on more than one occasion, is perfectly hopeless. The Government distribute a considerable subsidy, in the shape of a postal subsidy so called, which is supposed to be a subsidy in support of transport. One hears rumours that of three steamboat companies only one gets any subsidy, and there is a suspicion that part of that subsidy is used to prevent the other companies from getting into serious competition with their rival.

The result is that steamer transport in the Western Islands is perfectly hopeless. It may be that the fares and freights now charged are necessary because the amount that is to be conveyed is so small, but the business is getting into a vicious circle. If the freights and fares were lowered substantially there would be a heavy loss and it would be a long time before there was a reconstitution of the community sufficient to give adequate supplies of cargo and make the transport a reasonable commercial proposition again. That is the result of long years of the present vicious system. It has reached such a point that I am informed by the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. Livingstone) that in his constituency, in the outer islands, commodities can come at much less cost in steamers from the North of Ireland which have no subsidy at all. Questions which I have put in the House on this matter have been met by statements which I do not think have received sufficient investigation. I raised a question about a little boat called the "Cygnet" which sails to the Island of Tiree and I pointed out that the third-class passengers, who have little or no accommodation provided for them, when they are driven back into the cabin are immediately told that they had to pay cabin fares. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is no cabin!"] There is practically no cabin but when I put this question I was met with a description by the then Solicitor-General for Scotland of a very suitable steamboat which nobody who had ever travelled in the "Cygnet" could recognise at all.

I do not wish to be severe on the steamboat companies. They are, perhaps, doing their best in the situation in which they are placed. They have an annual subsidy, not a permament contract, and the position which they ought to take up is that they cannot afford to enter into long-term commitments unless they get long-term contracts. We have no right to give a Government subsidy to a private enterprise, unless that private enterprise submits itself to the Railway and Canal Commission or some body which is able to review the way the money is being spent and the charges which are being made. The roads are free to all—as far as they are roads, and a great many are not roads at all. The ordinary crofter, however, can get on to the roads, but these unfortunate people on the islands are simply stranded. Yet, if the question of transport were properly dealt with, there is a fairly comfortable living to be made there. I know a man in Coll, and I have a latter from him in my pocket asking me if I can dispose for him of some very fine lobsters. He can supply any customer with whom I put him in touch with over half a ton a week; but in such a case transport delays prevent business, because it is essential that the lobsters should arrive alive. That is the reason why people are crying out for transport facilities. It is impossible for a man such as I have described to get his lobsters into the market where there is a demand for them. All round the coast of Argyllshire there is fishing for these valuable commodities, and many crofters and fishermen could make a satisfactory living if they were able to place the stuff in the market quickly and at a reasonable charge.

The Secretary of State for Scotland has appointed a Departmental Committee—which means that a number of officials have gone up there and had a look at some of the boats. I believe they looked at the "Cygnet" when it was lying comfortably in harbour, instead of going out on it during a wet and stormy day. I do not know whether we are entitled to their Report. At all events, we have never got it, but I wish we could have the information it contains as to the state of affairs. I think the correct procedure would have been to have appointed some outside parties who have knowledge and sympathy with the Highlands to carry out this investigation. There are plenty of men acquainted with the Highlands and with shipping, both in Glasgow and London, who have come from these parts, who have suffered under the present regime, who know the struggle which those they have left behind have to carry on, and who know that if prosperity were to come to these particular people, it would inevitably be absorbed in the cost of transport. I thought the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. J. Brown) spoke rather disparagingly about the possibilities of the tourist traffic. If sufficient enterprise and skill were shown to make this steamboat service attractive to the tourists, I believe visitors would go there in great numbers and it would be possible to get sufficient summer tourist traffic to make a better service possible.


I did not mention tourists at all. I was speaking about rents and about those who take the deer forests.


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, but I thought it was he who made some reference to tourists. If the steamboat companies would develop this particular enterprise it would be an advantage. Why should people go away every year in large numbers to see those rocky and barren places which they call the fjords in Norway, when you have more beautiful places in the Highlands? There is enormous scope for development in the Highlands in regard to this particular matter, if it were taken up, but it cannot be done, because one steamboat company is getting from £36,000 to £50,000 a year of subsidy. If anybody tries to cut in, this company has got the piers and the ferry boats and it can choke them off. It is not worth the while of anyone to compete with them on the ordinary commercial plane. Private enterprise does not get a chance there. We are under an autocratic despotism which makes it impossible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Capitalism!"] No, it is not capital, it is the want of capital. At all events it is the backing of capital by Government subsidy which is wrong in that particular place.


The boats are bad.


Some of them look as if they had been tenders for the Ark. With regard to forestry settlement, there is no doubt that is what is wanted in the Highlands. There is an abysmal difference between consumption farming and industrial farming. The man who is growing for his own consumption can hardly lose, because it is his own work and he has the whole profit. The man who is going to sell is in a different position. The Highlander very largely grows for his own consumption and not much for sale. You will never get a man south of the Highland line who wants to be industrialised—and you will not get a man who is not a Highlander to understand that attitude. Lord Leverhulme found that as David Neal found it long ago. The Highlander will serve and follow a chief, but he will not serve a master. He is an individualist who wants to live his own life, and to be interfered with by nobody, and he is able to do that if he is only given some reasonable facilities. In the old days the main portion of the population of Scotland lived very close to the hunger line, and in the early part of the 17th century, after three bad harvests, one-fifth of the population of the most fertile county in Scotland lay down by the roadside and died of sheer starvation. That was because there was no proper capital, no export, no import, no industry, no means of keeping the people alive. It is no use, in the remote parts, trying to effect anything unless you give the people proper transport for such commodities as they produce. The Highlander, given a little instruction in the use of silo and in one or two agricultural matters, with fishing and forestry, and with the small holdings which are springing up in many parts, could make a reasonable living.

I say at the end as I said at the beginning that if this question of transport were developed as it has been developed in Norway much could be done. In Norway ever pier has its own steamer with proper supervision and reasonable charges, and so reasonable is it that if a man is travelling with his wife, she can go at half fare and children can go at quarter fare. Unless an adequate transport service is provided, all the efforts that have been made for the Highlands will have been made in vain. All the Acts of former Liberal Governments, land courts, and so forth, have simply had the effect of planting the Highlands with officials, but if you can give him reasonably cheap transport, the Highlander is quite capable of saving himself and of making a good living in his own country.


I desire add a few words to what the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) has said on the question of transport. I spoke last year on the want of transport in the Highlands, and I wish to emphasise the necessity for improvement in this respect. I would remind the hon. and learned Member for Argyll, however, that in regard to the places which have been mentioned in connection with the "Cygnet," it is not possible for a larger vessel to do that run. I suppose I know the West coast of Argyll just as well as the hon. and learned Member—perhaps better—and I do not think any ship larger than the "Cygnet" to go into Arinagour, the landing place in Coll, or Scarinish, the landing place in Tiree, or Bunessan, the landing place at Ross of Mull. These places are very difficult to navigate. At the same time, I hope something will be done to improve the type of vessel rather than allow these ancient tenders to the Ark, as the hon. and learned Member has termed them, to continue to float about the West Coast of Scotland. Reference has been made to Ballachulish, and I would draw attention to one difficulty which exists in that district as regards transport. It is an agricultural district, but transport by road has to use the bridge at Connel Ferry, which cannot be done except at a large payment. A motor car costs 10s. a time, unless you purchase a book of 20 tickets, when it costs at the rate of 7s. 6d. a time. Something might be done by the Scottish Office to force the railway companies to reduce that charge, which is very injurious to transport by motor car. If I remember aright, a farmer taking a bull by road down to Oban has to pay a cost of something like 5s. to walk it across the bridge. That is ridiculous, and places great difficulties in the way of the farming industry and in the conveyance of farm produce from Ballachulish to the markets at Oban.


What about sheep?


I believe there is a charge of so much a score of sheep. I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland will help in some way in this matter and thus do something for the resuscitation of rural life which we all want so much to see on the West Coast of Scotland.

6.0 P.M.


I am going to say only a few words and I would not have said them, except to back up what has been, in my opinion, so admirably said by the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten). This is not the time to go into such a subject in great detail, but I would like to suggest that, if one looks round modern Scotland and takes a general survey, he will see no rural problem of so urgent and large a scope as the whole question of that huge district called the West Highlands. I have myself the strongest belief that, if that question were tackled, first of all, on the lines suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Argyll, on the question of the water transport, and, secondly, on the lines on which the most kindred country in Europe has already tackled her problem, namely, the question of encouraging and developing in every possible way the fishing industry, I believe there is, in the West Highlands, a very considerable untapped source of possible wealth, and the possibility of maintaining either a larger population, which I believe to be possible, or at all events the existing population under far more satisfactory conditions. What I would plead for in very general terms is that the question should be approached by the Scottish Office, not as a series of small, detailed questions, but as one large, general, national question, deserving most careful and scientific study and inquiry, deserving a large and general policy, and deserving, above all things, treatment as a large national problem. That it is a large national problem I do not think anyone can doubt.

The only matter of detail to which I wish to refer is the reference which the hon. and learned Member for Argyll made to Norway. There is, I suppose, in the Northern latitudes no contrast more extraordinary than that of travelling along the West Coast of Scotland and travelling along the West Coast of Norway. Geographically they are singularly similar, but where it is a question of the organisation of transport, of modern appliances, or of the application of modern thought and science, they are totally and utterly different. Go to the smallest village in Norway, and you feel at once that the State is dealing with the problems there. Go to the West Highlands, and you transport yourself back immediately to the 13th or the 14th century. The contrast is due to this cause, that in Norway it is a matter of necessity to face up to their problems, whereas in Scotland it is only a matter of choice, and there is no people, I suppose, like the British for neglecting things until they become matters of necessity.


How does the hon. Member account for the Orkneys?


I account for the Orkneys because you have there a very fertile soil, a population that has always worked that soil carefully, and a population too that has far better communications than the West Coast of Scotland. Nobody who knows the great bulk of the Orkney Islands can doubt that the questions there are not nearly so complicated as they are in the West Highlands. I want to press upon the Scottish Office the view that here is a national problem which is worth consideration, that it must be approached in no Departmental way, but in the way, for instance, in which Stein approached the German problem in the early part of the 19th century, as a big national problem. If you will do that, and do it by means of transport, by means of the closer cultivation of the fishing industry, and so on, you will find in the West of Scotland to some extent an untapped source of wealth. If I may say this in conclusion, you will find that a Unionist Government under the present Secretary of State for Scotland will have shown the people of Scotland that the Unionist party does understand Scotland and its larger problems, and want, in a bold, determined, vigorous, constructive way, to apply its force and imagination to those problems.


The Secretary of State for Scotland has exhausted his right to speak, but he has asked me, out of courtesy to the hon. Members who have spoken subsequently, to say that the problem of transport in the Western Highlands and Islands is engaging his attention, and that he is going into it with the Postmaster-General. In regard to the report asked for by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten), he has not yet himself received it, but he has had several conferences on the subject, and he hopes that developments will result.


I beg to move, to leave out "£3,680,342" and to insert instead thereof "£3,680,242."

I move this Amendment in the same spirit as that which animated the Amendment which has just been disposed of. I do not do so, of course, with any desire to reduce the money available for education in Scotland, but with an earnest desire to submit to the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is responsible to this House for education in Scotland, several things which I believe ought to receive his attention. As he knows, we have power in Scotland to-day, without any new Act of Parliament, to increase the age for children attending school to 15 years. We have the power to raise the age by Order in Council under the 1918 Education Act, and I desire to know what action the right hon. Gentleman is taking towards that end. I am not foolish enough to believe that, without making any necessary preparations, but merely by passing an Order or fixing an appointed date, you could raise the school age. New school buildings would have to be built, you would require a bigger number of teachers, and, because of the advanced division courses which we have now got in Scotland, you would require even to train a special class of teachers. I recognise the difficulties in raising the school age, but I believe it would be a wise policy definitely to fix a date at which the school age would be raised to 15. It might be five years hence, or it might be 10. My own view is that three years hence would be sufficient, but, whatever the period, I believe that we ought now to decide the date on which we are going to raise the age to 15. That will allow the education authorities to make the necessary arrangements so far as providing accommodation is concerned, and it will allow the training authorities the requisite time in which to train the additional teachers required for the purpose of teaching the additional number of pupils that would be retained in our schools. As I have said, there is the need for special training of teachers whom we require for our advanced division courses. What inducements are the Department going to offer to males for coming into the teaching profession? I believe we require teachers with special aptitude so far as the training of the advanced division courses are concerned, and also so far as the special classes, which must be set up for the purpose of dealing with over age pupils in our schools, are concerned.

I wish also to draw attention to the need for calling upon education autho- rities in Scotland to take special advantage of that footnote put to the Code in 1924. The Secretary of State for Scotland will remember that in that Code there is a footnote which gives the opportunity to pupils who have not completed the whole of their education in the day school to complete the course in the evening continuation classes. Then, if they have reached the same standard of education that they would have reached through being in the day school, they are now allowed, under that footnote, to sit for an examination, and, if they pass it, to be awarded the higher day school certificate, on the same lines as if they had completed their education in the day school. I may here and now give a word of thanks to the Education Department for having approved of the Fife Education Authority's scheme. That scheme has been very successful, although merely in its beginning, so far as the first year is concerned. Out of four pupils submitted for examination for the purpose of being awarded higher day school certificates, three have succeeded in passing and have been awarded the certificates, who never could have been awarded them, but for that footnote to the 1924 Code. Therefore, the scheme having been a success, even on its inception, in Fife, I want to know what action the Department will take to get other authorities, that are not nearly so progressive as that of the County of Fife, to adopt such schemes. I think the Secretary of State for Scotland will agree about Fife being progressive, because we have given Scotland three Secretaries for Scotland in succession, which is greatly to the credit of Fife, and I am hopeful that we shall get still more progress in Fife as a result of this Debate to-day.

The other point to which I wish to draw attention is the question of the feeding of the children during this great industrial dispute. There are several education authorities in Scotland that refuse to feed the children during the holidays, and it is rather regrettable that in some instances the lead in the education authorities to refuse feeding the children during the holidays has been taken by ministers of the Gospel. There has been some doubt in the minds of the education authorities as to their power to feed children during the holidays. I under- stand that at least one education authority and certain parish councils asked for the opinion of the Dean of Faculty. The Dean of Faculty gave the opinion, which is very definite, that the power to feed children is there for the education authorities, and not only is it in their power, but it is their duty to feed children during the holidays. I want to draw the attention of the Secretary of State to a letter which has been sent from the Scottish Education Department to the Fifeshire Education Authority. It is dated 15th July, and I will quote the following from it: It has been represented to the Board of Health, on behalf of certain parish councils which are acting loyally on the Board's advice, that those councils which have hitherto declined to do so are adopting this attitude (the attitude of refusing to pay allowances for children of school age) largely because they are convinced of your authority's readiness to accept responsibility for the relief of destitution, so far as the children of school age are concerned, a responsibility which the law, as it stands, precludes an education authority from assuming. May I say the Fifeshire Education Authority do not accept the responsibility for relieving destitution? We claim that we know what our powers are, and we submit that they are exactly what the Dean of Faculty suggests. We do not inquire, as far as the child is concerned, whether relief is or is not being granted by the parish council. Our concern is with the ability of the child to benefit by the education. We have made an arrangement with one parish council to provide one good meal a day, because, according to the Circular, the education authorities can settle in their own mind what is best. If we are too extravagant in any allowance we make, then recourse can be had to the Sheriff by individual ratepayers to put the authority right, but the Fifeshire Education Authority claim that 3d. ought to provide a meal for a necessitous child. We are able to provide three meals a day for seven days a week, and on holidays, and we have decided that the cost is, approximately, 5s. 3d. a week. In one case where our attention was drawn to the fact that the child could not benefit by the education because of the mere payment of 4s. by the parish council, we came to an agreement with the parish council that we would provide one good mid-day meal over and above the allowance made by the parish council.

This letter which was sent by the Department, however, seriously suggests that we are considering the question of the relief of destitution. That is not our business. It is our business to see that children are in a fit state to benefit by the education. It is only the Education Authority who have the right to come to the conclusion to which we have come. Not even the Secretary of State for Scotland has the right to challenge us as far as that is concerned. If we are satisfied that the child cannot benefit by the education given, because of lack of food, and that voluntary agencies cannot meet the situation, we are bound by Act of Parliament to provide food necessary for those children. The letter from the Department goes on to say: The Department are satisfied that this conviction must rest upon a misapprehension—it is certainly quite inconsistent with the impression left upon their own minds at the interview—and they are confident that, as soon as your authority are apprised of the misunderstanding, they will take whatever steps may be necessary to ensure its immediate removal. While we are engaged in this Debate today, the Fifeshire Education Authority are considering this letter, and I am sure that they will have decided to continue to feed the children as long as the industrial dispute lasts, because the children have no responsibility in the matter of this dispute. We are only seeking to apply the law. But what is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about other local authorities who are not exercising their powers and duties with regard to necessitous children? I have seen communications sent by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, and as far as those communications are concerned, I at least, have no objection to offer. I believe there is an earnest desire on the part of the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary to see that there is no unnecessary suffering to our people during this great industrial struggle in which we are involved at the present time. But I do appeal to the Secretary of State to see that his Department do not only send letters to those who believe they are doing their duty, but that letters are sent to those, who, some of us believe, are not doing their duty—such as the East Lothian Authority and the Midlothian Authority, which have refused to feed the children during the holidays. We believe that they are not carrying out the Act of Parliament or doing their duty to the children, and are sacrificing what is the best interest of the children by refusing to feed them during the struggle in which we are engaged. I hope, if there be any difficulty with these authorities, we shall have the whole-hearted support of hon. Members opposite.

I am reminded of an incident which took place in 1912, when I was on strike —if you like to put it that way. We were fighting for a minimum wage. I played in a strike band which went round, and which reached a place called Strathvithie, where we saw what was a real, manly action. The hon. and gallant Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot) emptied his pockets, placing the money in the box which some of our colleagues were carrying, and I can remember a real colonel's ejaculation coming from him when he wished us "God speed" in our fight against the coalowners at that time. I trust we shall have the same support as far as this question is concerned, because the coalowners do not, come into this Lebate at all. It is a question of children requiring sustenance, because their parents are locked out, and it is for the Secretary of State to see that no barriers are placed in the way of these children being supplied with food. If we can get behind the mass of Toryism and Liberalism, and get to the heart of mankind, even as far as this House is concerned, I believe we shall have unanimity upon this question.


I desire to support the Amendment for the reduction, and I welcome the opportunity to say something uopn the subject of public education in the past year and the year to come. I have gone pretty carefully through the Report of the Committee of the Council of Education in Scotland, and I notice at the outset the Report states that public administration has again been dominated by the urgent need of national economy. It is a pity with regard to education that the circumstances of the nation as to economy are possibly carrying greater weight than they ought to have. I notice that the total amount for education for Scotland will be, approximately, the same as for the preceding year, plus the estimated amount for a full year for additional pensions and contributions under the Superannuation Act of 1925. In this connection, we have arrived at what is a stationary position with regard to the educational opportunities to the children of Scotland.

I know that our grant is determined by the amount of money which is spent in England, and, along with some of my colleagues, I have always felt it is a pity that we have not been able to take the Debate as a whole, and have the two Departments answering. To my mind, education in Scotland is one of the few things in which Scottish people have an advantage over people south of the border. If you take housing, or almost anything else, when one comes to England one has the feeling that the standard of life here is higher than the standard of life in Scotland. Education, on the other hand, is one of the few things where Scotland can be put alongside England, and take comfort in the comparison

I want, however, to draw attention to certain matters mentioned in the Report. First of all, I want to deal with the accommodation in Scottish schools. The capital expenditure for the six years to May, 1914, amounted to £2,793,445. For the six years to May, 1920, the capital expenditure amounted to £935,260, and the Report states that the arrears of capital expenditure amounted to some £4,000,000. If we take the five years to 1925, we find that the capital expenditure has been £1,780,000, and the Report estimates that there are arrears amounting to about £2,250,000. I would put it to the Secretary of State for Scotland that he should signalise the advancement of the office he holds by trying to get some additional grant, in order that these arrears may be made up. We have got classes far too large for one teacher to control. The other day a teacher told me of 63 scholars being in a qualifying class, and anyone who has had experience of teaching knows that in a qualifying class to manage 63 pupils is to put too great a strain upon the teacher, and is also taking from the children the opportunities which they should have. The buildings also require a great deal of attention. The fact that we used to have annual elections gave candidates an opportunity of knowing something about the kind of schools which were in existence. It would be wise expenditure to meet the need for better accommodation and for a reduction in the size of classes. There is one other small matter, which will not cost very much, and which I would like to bring to the notice of the Secretary of State. Although in many schools there are a large number of pupils, sometimes as many as 1,000, no accommodation is provided for a child who may be taken ill in class, fainting, perhaps, and is not able to go home for an hour or two. I think the Secretary of State might make a note of that, and see whether we could not have a couch in the headmaster's room, or something of that kind, for use on such occasions.

I wish to say a word on the subject of the advanced divisions. The Report rightly devotes a good deal of attention to this subject. I think the advanced divisions will not work out successfully in Scotland, unless the Board of Education impresses on the authorities that as large an allowance for expenditure should be made in the case of advanced divisions as was made for the intermediate course in secondary schools in former times. The Report states that the success of the advanced divisions must depend very largely on the quality and sufficiency of the teaching staff, and also points out that in this respect the advanced divisions are not getting what they ought to have. One of His Majesty's Chief Inspectors doubts whether the teachers in the two-year courses all possess that wide knowledge of their subjects which is needed to interest boys and girls of 14 years of age. I think the replacement of the intermediate department by the advanced divisions was a retrograde step. Making inquiries among teacher colleagues of mine, I find that the advanced divisions are tending to be simply the old supplementary divisions under another name.

It has been pointed out in the Report that secondary schools contain too many pupils who never finish the secondary course, but desist after two or three years, if not earlier, and that there can be no question that the interests of such pupils would be far better served in an advanced division, where the courses are designed expressly for such pupils. From my own experience, I would question that contention. I have had experience as a pupil. I passed through the elementary school system in Glasgow, and through the secondary school system, and I have also had experience as a teacher in an elementary school and in a secondary school and in the intermediate department, and I am confident, from my experience both as a pupil and a teacher, that in the secondary school the child gets something in the way of educational training that is not supplied lit the advanced divisions. This is a very serious matter, because it will react upon the children of the working class. The children of the middle class go to secondary schools in large numbers, and I hope there will be no limitation in this respect on the expenditure on education for working-class children. When they went to secondary schools they had the advantage of the most highly qualified teachers, teachers with the Chapter 5 qualifications, and it would comfort me greatly if the Board of Education laid down a rule that the teachers in these advanced divisions should have the Chapter 5 qualifications.

I want to say a word regarding children who are allowed to drift out of school. I see that 94,921 pupils left the primary schools after having passed the qualifying examination, and 77,768 qualified for the advanced divisions. Of these 77,768, 12,590 left before completing one full year in an advanced division, and I suggest to the Secretary of State that he must take steps to see that these numbers are reduced. I believe a way to reduce the numbers would be to increase the amount of money spent on bursaries in connection with the advanced courses. In the Report we are told that £238,000 was spent on bursaries, as compared with £225,000 in the previous year. I would like to see the amount multiplied by four, and the number of children in receipt of bursaries increased, the amount received by each child gaining a bursary being doubled.

In future this country will have to depend upon its citizens being well educated, and if we spend money upon giving children an efficient education it will bring in a good return. I hope the Secretary of State will use his influence to encourage the authorities to increase the amount per child and also to increase the number of bursaries. Ever so many children would stay longer at school if the amounts were larger. When speaking in different part of the country I have noticed that there is still a passion in the hearts of the mothers in Scotland for educational opportunities for their children, but the circumstances of people have become so difficult that in many cases they cannot afford to keep their children at school; and I want to see every child encouraged to remain at school until 16 or 17 years of age, and provided with more opportunities for training at a university than occur at the present time. On the subject of adult education, I would point out that the education authority of Glasgow have refused to let a room to the Scottish Labour College for their classes, and, although that college has a distinct partisan basis, I think that educational effort is all to the good. Believing in working-class education, I hope the Secretary of State will use his influence to see that rooms which are not being used should be let to this educational institution, in order that there may be a development of adult education.


I think it will be convenient if, at this stage, I deal with the legal points raised by the hon. Member for South Midlothian (Mr. Westwood) as to the opinion recently given by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, a report of which appeared in the Scottish newspapers a few days ago. That opinion deals with two important points, the first of which is whether the parish council or the education authority has the primary liability for feeding what are called necessitous school children, and the second point relating to the obligation or power of the education authority to feed these necessitous school children during holiday times. May I say at once that I agree entirely with the opinion on the latter point expressed by the learned Dean, but I regret that I find myself quite unable to agree with the conclusion at which he arrived on the former point. It will be borne in mind that the relief which it is the duty of parish councils to provide in respect of a child may not necessarily be the same as the relief in the shape, of meals which an education authority is to provide under the Act of 1908; that is to say, circumstances which apply to both cases are not necessarily existent. The education authority's, duty arises where they find a child is not in a condition, owing to lack of food or clothing, to take full advantage of the educational course; then, after certain inquiries and after providing temporary feeding if they choose, they may have a duty to feed the child. It will be seen at once by those who are familiar with the Poor Law that there might be cases in which there was a duty on the parish council to provide relief in respect of a child although the child would still be perfectly capable of receiving and taking in proper education, and therefore the two cases do not necessarily meet.

Let me assume, for convenience and simplicity, the case of a child in respect, of which it is the duty of the parish council to provide relief; it being also a case which provides the circumstances demanded by the Education Act of 1908. In my opinion, it seems clear that the duty of the parish council to provide that relief arises while the child is at home, so to speak, and before it ever gets near the school, and that if the parish council discharges its duty to it, that child will arrive at school to take its educational course in a condition in which it is perfectly fit to receive education, and therefore the duty of the education authority will not and cannot arise.


May I submit exactly what has taken place. The parish councils have not done what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested.


I think it would be better if I were allowed to make my statement. It seems to me clear that the stage at which the discharge of the parish councils' duty arises is really antecedent and prior to the stage at which the consideration of the education authority can arise, and if the parish council discharges its duty then the occasion for the exercise of those obligations by the education authority cannot and should not arise. In that view, I find myself unable to agree with the opinion expressed on that general point by the learned Dean of Faculty. That is the line throughout adopted by the Scottish Office and the Department over which my right hon. Friend presides.

There is another point that I would like to deal with. It may be that parish councils have not carried out their duty, and then, of course, the education authorities may have discovered a case arriving at school where the parish council has not discharged its duty, but neglect of administration does not alter the construction of the Statute and legal opinion, and I am still of opinion that the parish council was neglecting its duty which it ought to carry out under its statutory obligation. Of course, circumstances may arise which would alter cases.

I would demur, from the legal point of view, to this habit of educational authorities passing general resolutions that they are not going to deal with a certain class of case with regard to school feeding. It is the duty of the education authority to deal with each case individually, and not to say that they are going to grant relief in this or that class of case. That is a misapprehension of their duty. The duty of the education authority under the Act of 1908 is to deal with the individual case, whether it is brought to their notice or discovered by them, and treat it as an individual case throughout. It may well be the inquiry shows that it belongs to a class which may be identical with cases with which they have already dealt, but it is wrong to anticipate what is going to happen during the holidays by passing any general resolution of that kind. That is not a correct discharge of their statutory duties, which are clearly laid down under the 1908 Act.


In the event of a parish council refusing to do what the right hon. Gentleman has stated, is its statutory duty to relieve destitution, is it suggested under those circumstances that the education authority should stop feeding the children until the Scottish Board of Health brings pressure to bear on the parish councils to carry out their statutory duty?


When you find a particular person in charge you may find that he is not carrying out his statutory duty through some misapprehension, and consequently you get these awkward intervals. If that did happen you would find perhaps a case arriving at the school where in effect the child was not in a fit condition.


With regard to what has been said about Scottish education I have not much to add that is new, but there are certain points which I think might very well be emphasised. It would be a mistake and it would be unfair to enter into any captious criticism of the action of the Scottish Education Department during the past year. Those who remember the bad old days know well that there is now a new spirit of co-operation in the conduct of Scottish educational affairs. We find the education committees, the education authorities, and the teachers working together for one common object. At the same time that does not mean that we are all of the same opinion. Even the most humble person has the right to think for himself.

I do not intend to survey the whole field, but I will call attention to one or two points. My first point deals with a matter which I am quite well aware the Scottish Education Department has very little control over—I refer to the question of the teachers' salaries. I know that it is only within a very limited range indeed that the Scottish Education Department has any power whatever in regard to this question. At the same time I must say that I have noticed with great regret that many authorities are cutting down the salaries of teachers in a way that will certainly not encourage the recruitment of the proper class of teachers in Scotland. While it is not possible for the Education Department to take any direct action in this matter, I think they should emphasise the necessity of something being done in this direction in order to provide for the national needs of Scotland.

The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) hats referred to what is being done in connection with school buildings, and what preparation is being made in those buildings for instituting the kind of classes which we have been promised. I trust that when the year 1928 comes we shall not be told that the matter has again been postponed. I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to inform us that this matter is receiving the careful attention of his Department. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie to a large extent in what he said in regard to advanced opinion, but I am afraid that the parents of this advanced Committee are praising up rather too early the quality of their offspring. It will take some years before you can form any definite opinion as to the value of this new division of the school.

I hope everything that is possible will be done to encourage higher education throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. With regard to advanced education, and as to the teachers who are to be qualified or recognised as having qualifications for teaching, while it is only proper that every care should be taken that suitable people only are to be placed in charge of the classes, we must not have hard and fast regulations which will cut out teachers who have given proper service, and they should be allowed to continue those services. So far as I have been able to gather there is a difficulty in this respect, and the matter has been discussed between the Department, the technical Committees and the representatives of the teachers. I hope there will be a generous recognition of the claims of the teachers, so that no person will feel that they have been unduly cut off from any prospect of promotion. There is nothing checks enthusiasm in education so much as the thought that you are prevented for a time from being able to advance from one position in the school to the very highest position.

There is another matter which I should have brought up under agriculture. It is a question which does not really require legislation, and it refers to the County Advisory Committees which have been set up in connection with the teaching of agriculture in the schools. Those Committees are composed of the representatives of the education authorities and representatives from the agricultural colleges. In this respect there has been a very grave omission on those advisory Committees, and I think there ought to be some direct representation of the teaching staff of the schools. You have such direct representation in the training colleges which deal with the training of teachers, and every one admits that that representation has been a very valuable element on those Committees.

I know, of course, that that is not a matter with which the Scottish Education Department can deal, but if the Secretary of State, as the head of the agricultural colleges and the Board of Agriculture, would confer with the Scottish Education Department they might be able to come to some arrangement whereby this suggestion of mine could be given effect to. There is not, in my view, any very serious charge to bring against the Scottish Education Department—rather, I think we have to congratulate them on the smoothness and harmony which has characterised Scottish education administration during the past year. I trust that there will be no apathy in these matters, and that we shall have some assurance with regard to school accommodation, the training of teachers, the size of the classes and the maintenance of children from the spokesman for the Government that these things are being kept in mind, and that there is no intention of standing still with regard to any of them.

7.0 P.M.


The subject we are discussing is one in which I have always taken a deep interest, and with regard to which I find myself very largely in agreement with my hon. Colleague in the representation of the Universities, although on certain important points, I am compelled to differ from him, and from many of my Scottish colleagues. We all attach importance to the subject, but as soon as we get the word "education" into our mouths we occupy ourselves is talking upon something in regard to which we do not agree, and I make bold to say that it is a subject which I can confidently say that not one single Member of this House will be ready at this moment to stand up and attempt to define. But the moment you speak of this mysterious and indefinable word "education," the next step is that you insist upon spending more and more money and you consider any attempt to check that expenditure to be a sort of sacrilege.

Having spent the larger part of my life in the work of education, I would not like to decry what lies behind. So far as education means anything, it merely means the training that one generation will try, blindfolded, mistakenly, haphazardly to give to its second generation to help it to carry on better than it has done itself. Do you think that all children are sure to get the best training inside the four walls of a school? Is it not likely that if you took them earlier into contact with nature they would learn a great deal and develop forces which lie dormant? I myself took part in drafting the Bill to which reference has been made. I am perfectly well conversant with what took place about the establishment of com- pulsory education then. I remember talking to Mr. Forster. We all thought then that, if compulsory education was really to do its work, it would become, after a certain time, useless. It has not become useless. It has done, on the contrary, a great deal of harm. It has killed out the real impulse, the real determination, the real inner individual energy, which; after all, is 10 parts out of a dozen of the advantages of education. People are not so zealous, so keen, or so enthusiastic about a thing when you take it out of their hands and tell them every step that the children are to take, tell them the Regulations they are to follow, and every period through which their life is to pass.

7.0 P.M.

If other people's experience is like mine, there is growing up in this country a great deal of distrust of this over-built and over-elaborated scheme of education. Extravagance does not mean success. Extravagance is very often a real accompaniment of inefficiency. Do let us be careful that every penny spent is spent wisely and well. The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) said, I think, that a quarter of a million was all that was spent on bursaries, and he insisted that it should be increased to one million. There are about 600,000 children in all in attendance at schools.


There are, according to this Report, issued by the Committee of the Council of Education in Scotland, nearly 820,000 children on the registers.


On the registers, but not in average attendance. The numbers have fallen off. Is it proposed that £1,000,000 should be spent on bursaries for some 600,000 children? Where is your expenditure on education going to end if you do not check it, and watch the growth of its over-elaboration, and if you do not soothe people's anxieties? You may arouse— I think I see signs of people being already roused— distrust and suspicion for education. I am absolutely against the hon. Member opposite in wishing that there should be an increase of the school age. I think it would be an evil. Just now there are not very many boys who leave at 14. There are many temptations, including the £1,000,000 of bursaries to attract them. Remember, every six months and every year that they spend after 14 years of age in school on their own initiative by their own choice is worth half-a-dozen years spent under compulsion.


Every Member of the House listens with pleasure to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), especially when he speaks on educational matters, because we know that he, was for many years engaged in the administration of education in Scotland. Therefore, he is an authority on that aspect of the subject. At the same time, some of us cannot follow him in his description of what ought to be the position of education among the working classes in Scotland. It is rather a habit of people who are themselves well educated to pooh-pooh the advantages of school and college training, to say that real education is more than. book learning, that attendance at educational institutions is not important, and that true education means something bigger and wider, back to nature, and all that sort of thing; and that, therefore, it is not necessary to spend a great deal of money on working-class education when, after all, these things are not ultimately important. We would be more impressed by these statements if we saw those who make them sending their own sons and daughters out to nature and failing to give them every advantage of an educational kind which they are able to give. We in this party simply claim that any education and any opportunity at all which will help boys and girls on in life should be available to every class of the community. We have no doubt that, whether because of the system of education that we have just now or in spite of it, the character of our Scottish people will be best maintained if that education is free to every class of the community. Therefore, we welcome the bursary system; we welcome the raising of the school age to 15. We do not believe, because a child is of working-class parents, that, whenever it reaches the age of 14, it should be let loose upon the world without the further opportunities of enlarging its mind which are available for others.

There is another consideration. While we realise that in the present state of the country the raising of the school age to 15 is not likely, and perhaps not possible, it is, as the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Westwood) said, very desirable to keep it in mind. Apart from the educational aspect, there is the matter of unemployment. It is one of the tragedies of the present day that we have boys and girls up to 16 and 18 years of age who have never worked at all. Undoubtedly, the raising of the school age or allowing the Act, already passed, to come into operation in that connection, would be of very great advantage. Nothing can be more demoralising than that boys and girls should be running about with no occupation and no prospect of getting a situation. While that is quite an interesting theme to develop, I want rather to say a practical word in regard to the Lord Advocate's observations about the feeding of school children. The Lord Advocate seemed to indicate that the legal position was that parish councils were responsible for feeding the necessitous child, and only in the event of their failing to do so should education authorities take action. While that may be the position from the legal point of view, I think we ought to reflect that here we have two public bodies, each having the power of feeding children of school age. That being the case, I would much prefer that the education authority should feed the child of school age. I would like the Poor Law kept out of this altogether if possible, and certainly, as regards the child of school age, I think the education authority would be very much the better one to take charge. It is one of the present tragedies in Scotland that the legislation and administration of recent years have compelled so many people to take advantage of the Poor Law whose parents and grandparents and themselves would formerly have done anything rather than submit to the necessity for parish relief, and we ought to keep the children out of that atmosphere as much as possible. I would also point out that the feeding of school children by the education authority is normally much more economical than the handing out of individual tickets by a parish council. Where communal feeding in the school is given, the actual expense to the ratepayers—and that, after all, is the real test—is very much less. I trust, therefore, that, whatever be the legal position, the education authorities will continue to be empowered to feed the children of school age, and that the hint which the Lord Advocate gave in regard to holiday feeding will be observed by the authorities.

My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian and Peebles made a slight mistake in regard to the East Lothian authority, which is feeding the school children in the holidays. It is the Midlothian and West Lothian authorities which were not going to carry that out, but I am glad that in the case of Midlothian there has been a reconsideration of the position, and I understand that they will now carry on. I do not intend to say any more on this subject, as I hope to speak on a later Vote, but I trust that the Government will do everything in their power to maintain our educational system in Scotland, and will increasingly ensure to the "lad o'pairts" the chance which he used to have, and which I am afraid he has not now so much as he had, to develop his talents and abilities, which he can then ultimately put, as so many sons of Scotland have done, at the service of the community.


At the outset I would like to say that, on a question like education, I speak with some hesitation. I realise that there are many points of view in dealing with a problem of this magnitude, and, indeed, it is clear, from the remarks to which we have listened, that there are different points of view even on one side of the House. The Lord Advocate has dealt with the legal aspect of the problem of feeding the school children, and I would only like to, say, in addition to what he has said on that subject, that I understand that Midlothian, to which reference has been made, have decided to continue feeding during the holidays. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh {Dr. Shiels) said lust now that he preferred the Education authority to feed the children of school age. As I understand it, there is nothing to prevent close co-operation between the two authorities, and arrangements can very often be made more economically, after consultation with the parish council, so that the actual feeding shall take place at the school. There ought, however, to be no alteration in the carrying out of the law in the terms in which the Lord Advocate has explained it, and the responsibilities of the parish council ought to be fully accepted.

I have been asked to say what the attitude of the Department is with regard to the raising of the school age. All that I think I can usefully say about that at the moment is that, as, indeed, more than one hon. Member has indicated, the present time is not one from a financial point of view, or, indeed, from the point of view of finding the necessary accommodation, at which anyone could make a definite statement on that matter. In addition to that, I am awaiting the Report of the Committee on the question of juvenile unemployment, to which reference has been made, and that has a bearing on this question. I would only say that, as everyone knows, this is a problem which anyone concerned with this Department must always keep before him, but I think it would be, to say the least of it, foolish to make any statement which would prejudge a question of this kind in the position in which the country finds itself at present.

Various references have been made to the experiment which has been made in the advanced division. This experiment —because, after all, it is an experiment—is being very carefully considered by the authorities concerned. Like all other fresh departures, it requires, no doubt, careful watching, and I am in agreement with those who think we must be sure that we have the right class of teacher to deal with these classes. I am not going to express any opinion myself at this moment as to the quality of the teachers. I am satisfied that we get very loyal service from these men and women. If, in course of time, we can improve the class and raise the standard, so much the better, but I must also put in a plea, as a very plain and humble individual, for some recognition of the fact that, in all these matters of education, in addition to and running concurrently with the raising of the standard of education, we should not forget the necessity of turning attention towards teaching children to use their hands in a manipulative capacity in our schools. I am satisfied that that is one of the problems which face the Department. Then, with regard to the question of the County Advisory Committee—


Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that subject, may I point out that we are giving manual instruction in the schools?


I am aware that that is being done. I am only taking this opportunity of drawing the attention of those who are interested in educational matters to the fact that that side of education should not be forgotten, as I think it is desirable that it should be emphasised. Reference was made to the county advisory committees and to their composition. That is a matter which will be watched very carefully. I think it is at any rate a matter for congratulation that this step forward has been made, and, although these committees are only in their initial stages, those of us who are interested in these matters hope that this co-operation between the agricultural side and the school side may lead to very satisfactory results. With regard to school buildings, the Department, of course, are doing what they can to see that deficient buildings are improved and replaced. This, again, is a problem which is governed, as the House will know, by financial considerations. On the other hand, I would like to emphasise this, that I believe considerable progress may be made in the provision of these new buildings, particularly where the authorities are wise enough to adopt a system of building which cuts out a great deal of what I would call the question of external appearance, and concentrate their efforts upon producing a building which will give light and air and plenty of space. I think that in these buildings, as in many others, a great deal of the ratepayers' money, and, possibly, of public money, may be unduly sunk owing to extravagance in external buildings. Indeed, we ought to build more for the temporary period in which we live, and, as the time passes, buildings can be scrapped which fall out of step with the new period and the new requirements. I think I have dealt with the main questions that have been raised. I would only say, in conclusion, that one is very sensible of the difficulties, and I can well realise that the remark made by the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) is one which we should do well to remember. It does not follow that extravagance in expenditure always gives the best results. I agree—


Surely, no one suggests that I would stand for extravagance in expenditure. What is the good of the Secretary of State for Scotland suggesting that anyone stands for ex- travagance in expenditure? We want efficient economic expenditure, but plenty of it.


Of course, what extravagance may be is a matter of opinion, but I think the hon. Gentleman himself wished to increase the bursaries four-fold, or even eight-fold. That, in my view, is extravagance. I am very anxious to see the development and progress of education, and, indeed, I think the action of the Department within this last year has shown that that progress is being made. Indeed, I am in agreement with one hon. Member who said that our system of education in Scotland was superior to those of our neighbours across the Border. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] If that be true, then I think we are right to say that the Department has been alive to the future, and is making progress.


There are one or two further points that I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I want to know what progress has been made in connection with housing—


That is the next Vote.


Then I will deal with the second point, and get that information later. I also want to know what is being done with regard to the treatment of defective children or adults. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, there is not the accommodation in Scotland that we require for cases of that kind. There is the child that is mentally weak, but not to such an extent that it requires to be sent to a lunatic asylum, and, if it is properly treated and cared for, the probability is that much can be done. I know that efforts have been made in some cases, but it is very slow, and the danger is that it will take so long that quite a number of these children will be outwith our authority by that time. With regard to adults, there was—


If I may say so, that would come in the discussion on the next Vote—the Health Vote. We are on education now, and, at the moment, to discuss the treatment of adults would be out of order.


I am sorry if I was out of order. I am pressing that point in connection with children, and I hope attention will be paid to it by the authorities.

I have not much to say in connection with education on our side of the Border. I believe the present administration is doing very well within limits. Every system can be improved, but we are living in a very difficult time, and I know the difficulty that education authorities have in trying to get through their work. I think, on the whole, the Education Department has been assisting them as far as it can. There is the problem lying in front of us of more schools if we raise the age. I do not see why we should have any difficulty in a time like this in raising it, because I take the view that it is a tragedy that we have so many boys and girls who have left school and have never done any work, and have no chance of any work. We are simply bringing them up to be a danger to a future generation, and I would much rather see an effort being made to educate them and guide them along some lines where in the future they would have an opportunity of helping themselves.

I know an attempt was made some time ago to form classes in the County of Lanark for boys who have left school and were idle, but the centre was fixed too far away and the boys themselves had to pay their travelling expenses to that centre. I made some inquiries as to the sort of education they were getting and I regret to say I was not satisfied at all. My idea of education for boys of that kind is that they should advance from the point at which they were when they left school. They should get some of that manual instruction or training that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, but they were only going over what they had previously had at school. They were simply marking time. That is not what we are out for, and it will not make any improvement in the long run.

In connection with school buildings, I have great sympathy with the statement made by the Secretary of State. I believe in the past we built too strong buildings. We put up a mass of buildings and we did not always look to the accommodation side. A building was there. It would last hundreds of years. One of the faults we had was that we built too strongly, and it would be much better if our buildings had not lasted so long, because we could have the advantage of changed ideas in connection with school erection. The system adopted now, while it might not be suitable for very populous areas or for a big city. I think is eminently suitable for country districts. We are getting the maximum amount of accommodation for a minimum amount, of expense and some of the schools I have seen have shown a great improvement in lay-out as compared with some of the schools they superseded. If we carry on in that way there is no doubt at all that our people will get the advantage, and if it is possible to get the advantage and at the same time to keep down the cost it is something that should satisfy everyone.


I beg to move to leave out "£1,858,345" and to insert instead thereof "£1,858,245."

Before I offer a few observations on housing I should like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that in future years, when he is issuing his annual Report on the Board of Health, it would be highly advantageous if there were an index. As it stands now, with this bulky document of over 300 pages, it is exceedingly difficult to lay one's finger upon the exact point one wants, particularly when we get the Report handed to us a day or two before the Debate takes place. The position of housing in Scotland is rendered doubly unsatisfactory because of the hesitancy of His Majesty's Government in informing the municipalities exactly what form of subsidy they are likely to have in October next. Everything is being held up. No sane municipality is going to make continuous preparations for house building unless it can be assured of the subsidy it is going to get from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman and the Minister in England have been repeatedly appealed to. Yesterday they were met, by representatives of all the housing bodies of the country and they declined to state what was going to be the policy of the Government when the present subsidy period expired in October next. We are not making up on the housing shortage in Scotland. We require 20,000 houses per annum. We are getting less than 8,000, and in face of a situation like that it is simply an impossible position for the Government, by hesitancy and delay, to prevent the municipalities putting forward their utmost efforts to cope with the situation.

The city I represent is in this position. We have 11.3 of our population living more than three to one room. We have 4,000 houses where the people are living more than three to one room. We have 4,000 persons living in houses which have been officially scheduled as unfit for human habitation, and we have 1,000 families living in a share of a room—two or more families for one room—and, indeed. the condition of affairs is such that the Prime Minister himself, when he last visited Dundee, expressed himself as horrified with the conditions he saw there, and wondered what kind of consciences the people had who owned these buildings and took rent for them. Our sanitary inspector puts the matter in this way. He says: There are hundreds of properties within the city occupied as human dwelling-places which had not the slightest right to be thus named, but they are tolerated. The inmates suffer in health and comfort, the young generation is reared in squalor, filth and conditions leading towards immorality which should make the authorities charged with the welfare of the community blush. The medical officer of health repeats this in other words, and urges a great development in house building. If the Government withdraw the subsidy and throw us back on what is called, falsely, an economic rent, that means, according to figures worked out by the sanitary inspector in Dundee, that this alleged economic rent will be £1 per week for a working-class house. Who is to pay this £1 a week? I have here a schedule of the wages rates in Dundee. I take the shipyard labourer at £1 17s. 10d. for a full week's work when he gets it, and he is not getting it. He cannot pay £1 rent. The foundry labourer for a full week's work gets £1 17s. 3d. He cannot pay £1 rent. Jute workers and workers engaged in the textile industry get £2 0s. 7½d. for a full week's work. They cannot pay £1. I take the widow woman bringing up a family. Her wage in a jute factory works out at £1 6s. a week. She cannot pay an economic rent of £1. I find from the Report of the Scottish Board of Health that the cost for food alone, on the poor-house basis, buying in bulk, comes to 3s. 11d. per head, clothing 1s. 3¼d., fuel 1s. 8¼d., and light 5d., making 7s. 11¼d. per head per week for the barest necessities of life. Take a family of five and you have £2 per week on a poor-house basis, buying in bulk, as the minimum amount required to keep a family on the barest, meanest, skimpiest level. They cannot pay £1 a week in rent out of £l 17s. 10d. of wages when it costs £2 a week, apart from house rent, on a poor-house basis. That is the dilemma with which the right hon. Gentleman and we are faced if they withdraw the subsidy.

It is no use baying at the moon. I will make three definite suggestions to the Secretary of State for Scotland, by which he can reduce the cost of housing in Scotland, and do it now. Why is it that he does not take steps to get cheap money for the municipalities? Why cannot we have municipal banks? Our people are putting their money into the Post Office Savings Bank and getting 2½ per cent. for it from the Government; per cent. is allowed for working expenses, so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gets that money at 2¾ per cent., and he loans it back to us, back to the same people, at 5 per cent., and makes a profit of 2¼ per cent. on the deal. Why cannot we be allowed to start municipal banks? In some places we do it, without statutory powers. We have done it in defiance of the Government, and we are saving 2 per cent. or 11½ per cent, on our money, reducing the local rates and cheapening local administration. I offer that suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. If he is beaten and baffled by the housing situation, let him consider how municipal banks could be used to promote an adequate supply of cheap money in order to cheapen house building in Scotland.

A further offer was made to the right hon. Gentleman by the City of Dundee, but he turned it down. The local town council offered to take 200 men, as a minimum, off the employment exchange and to set them to work making cement blocks for house building. They asked the Government to give them the money that was actually being given to these men through the employment exchanges for doing nothing. They asked that that money should be given to the town council, and they would set these men to work making cement blocks for the purpose of cheapening building material. It is simply because His Majesty's present Government stands committed to the building rings and—the right hon. Gentleman need not laugh. He cannot give me any other reason why he goes on with this wasteful method of dealing with unemployment and house building. It is because he is afraid to face up to the manufacturers of building material, that he will not give a chance to a, municipal experiment such as that suggested by the Dundee Town Council—a council not composed of Labour men with a majority, but with Liberals and Conservatives. The council pleaded with the Government to give them some little financial grant towards the cost of taking these 200 men off the dole and setting them to manufacture something which would cheapen houses and enable us to go on with house-building on a bigger scale.

There is one further suggestion which I will make to the right hon. Gentleman, and he will find it in his own Report, on pages 48 and 49, in the story of experiments in guild building. The most remarkable thing is that an anti-Socialist Government, the defenders of private enterprise, should say what they do in this Report about guild building. They have had three experiments. They have permitted the guilds to go ahead building houses without the intervention of the exploiter of labour called the boss. What has been the result? In Dunfermline on the Brucefield site, 160 houses have been built at an estimated tender cost, after deduction for reduced wages and prices, of £68,000. The actual ascertained cost, including the 10 per cent. paid to the Guild, amounted to £56,341, showing a saving of £12,127, or £76 per house, in two trades only. A net saving to the local authority, after the allocation of the gross saving between themselves and the Guild, of £8,700. The Report goes on to say: The quality of the work has been the subject of much praise and compares very favourably with the average produced by other contractors on similar schemes throughout the country. A better job, better workmanship, a cheaper job and a saving to the community! That has not happened merely at Dunfermline. We also read in the Report of schemes at Renton and Alex- andria, in respect of which the Report says: From the above figures it will be seen that the cost of the work to the local authority under the Guild form of contract worked out at no less than 41 per cent. under the estimate in the case of Renton, and 34 per cent. in the case of Alexandria, results which are rather remarkable, especcially having in view the fact that a scarcity of labour was experienced in the locality, and labour at additional cost had to be imported. Within this Report of the Scottish Board of Health we get. a clue as to one method by which the cost of house building could be brought down and rents brought down within the ambit of the working-class purse. Abolish the exploiter, abolish the profiteer, abolish the money-maker contractor, set up guilds, allow the workers to do the job, and on the admission of the Scottish Board of Health, which is a Conservative, anti-Socialist administration, you will get a better job, a cheaper job, and you will save 41 per cent. If the Secretary of State for Scotland will only put his anti-Socialist prejudices in his pocket for a week and allow the municipalities to go ahead producing building material, to take off the Employment Exchange men who are at present eating out their hearts because they can get nothing to do, he will go some way towards solving the problem. The Dundee Town Council offered these men a decent wage, but the Secretary of State for Scotland refused to give the council a monetary grant towards the necessary expenditure.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman: Give us municipal banks, encourage us to set up municipal banks, let us have cheap money, let us have cheap materials by abolishing the exploiter in building materials, let us have cheaper production by abolishing the exploiter in production. By these three methods the Secretary of State could stimulate and double the output of houses in Scotland. He cannot do it by stopping the subsidy. By stopping the subsidy he simply sentences hundreds of thousands of our people to an early death.


I was interested by the suggestion of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) as to obtaining cheap money for housing by the foundation of municipal banks. I have been turning the suggestion over in my mind and wondering whether it would provide that assistance. I very much fear, after considering the suggestion, that it does not, and I would like to suggest the reason to the hon. Member. He has referred to the fact that the Government takes money on deposit through the Savings Bank at 2¾ per cent. and lends it out for house building at 5 per cent., or whatever the higher rate may be. The hon. Member suggests that this profit might be avoided and that the money might thus be made more cheaply available for housing. I fear that that must be an illusion, because when one comes to consider it the money that is taken on deposit through the Post Office Savings Bank is money which is practically at call and which commands, naturally, the lower rate of interest. On the other hand, the money which is lent out for housing is lent out for long terms and commands, therefore, in the market the higher rate of interest. The State, as I understand it, is only able to afford any rate of interest at all on the money which it receives practically at call from the Savings Bank depositors, because it has behind it the tremendous asset of the credit of the State. Any similar institution which has not that tremendous asset cannot afford the same rate of interest. It is the common experience of commercial banking that a commercial bank can afford no rate of interest at all upon money at call. The commercial bank that tries to give a rate of interest on money at call comes to a bad end. The municipal bank, which the hon. Member suggests, would not command the same overwhelming credit that the State commands.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the results of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, founded by the present Minister of Health? Is he not aware that we have 11 banks in Scotland which are highly flourishing and getting money?


Birmingham is the single instance.


I am well aware of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, but I am not as well aware of the experience of the Scottish municipal banks as is the hon. Member. I am aware of no instance that is contrary to the facts, because I believe they are facts, which have mentioned. If I may complete the argument which I was making when the hon. Member interrupted, I would say that the municipal banks to which he refers cannot possibly command the same overwhelming credit as the State. They could not, therefore, possibly afford in accordance with the principles of sound finance, the same rate of interest upon deposits of savings bank depositors. To make their banks safe, I do not think they could afford any rate of interest upon the deposits at call. I am afraid, therefore, that the hope of cheaper money for housing from that source is a delusion. The trouble at the bottom of these suggestions is that you cannot get cheaper money for any capital purpose at less than the market rate, without some form or other of concealed subsidy.


I desire to speak, first of all, on the very serious situation that is arising in Lanarkshire and elsewhere in Scotland in connection with the parish councils. In my own district we have had an interdict served by all the large employers against continuing aliment to those who are placed in need of relief by the present industrial dispute. It is true that that interdict has not been granted in the case of Hamilton, but there is still pending a case in my own constituency. I would like to mention the action that has been taken by one parish council in my own constituency in regard to the reduction of relief. Formerly, the sum given for the wife of a man in need who sought relief was 12s. This was reduced to 10s., and it is now 7s. 6d. For a child, the amount originally was 4s., which was reduced to 2s. 6d., and last week it was further reduced to 1s. 6d. Therefore, the situation with which we are confronted is that these people who have been struggling along for months are now to have for a wife 7s. and for each child 1s. 6d. From the pronouncement that has been made from the Front Bench opposite, that is a state of things which I should be very much surprised if the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary can approve.

I pass on to the more, general subject of health, in the ordinary sense of the word. In the Report of the Board of Health reference is made to the Report of the Hospital Services (Scotland) Committee, which was presided over, I think, by Lord Mackenzie. That Report reveals a very alarming state of things in regard to public health in Scotland and in regard to the inadequacy of hospital services. We find, for example, that, generally, the hospital accommodation is exceedingly inadequate. That means for all requiring hospital treatment the prolonging of their suffering, for some it means that they are obliged to await admittance until it is much too late for them to have any chance of recovery, and for many it means that they die before admission to the hospital can be secured.

8.0 P.M.

I grant that much has been done in regard to hospital accommodation. I find that in 1841 in the city of Glasgow, 17 per thousand of the population were admitted to hospital, and that in 1924 it had risen to 44.9. But when you come to the waiting list at these hospitals, as revealed in the Report, you find that there are often more people on the list than there are beds in the hospital. If you take the six teaching hospitals, as they are called, in the four principal cities of Scotland, you find that there are beds there to the number of 3,256 and that there is a waiting list of 5,854. It is true that the waiting lists have to be sifted, but there still remains the fact that the Committee calculated that there was need for 3,600 new beds in Scotland to meet the urgent demands of sick people. When you come to hospitals for incurables, they point out that there is the greatest dearth of such institutions. There are only eight in Scotland and only 602 beds. They make reference to the children's hospitals, one in Glasgow, one in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen; but these again they declare to be quite inadequate. Then we have the question of the Poor Law hospitals, in regard to which two remarks may be made; first, that these hospitals are in many cases carried on in buildings that were originally constructed, not as hospitals, but as workhouses or for the housing of the poor. While it is true that we have, as in Glasgow, some splendid hospitals conducted by the parish council authorities, taking it as a whole, they suffer very greatly in equipment and buildings, and they are inferior in every way. In the Minority Report on the Poor Law in 1909, it was asserted that two-thirds of the sick poor were being tended in what were really workhouses, although used as hospitals.

The second point brought out very clearly, and which is very important, is the stigma of the Poor Law that attaches to the sick poor. The idea seems to prevail that you must give them something inferior, that there must be something disciplinary in the treatment of disease for them, I am glad to say that the Report recommends the transfer of these Poor Law hospitals to the general system of hospitals, that that taint should be completely taken away, and that the very best treatment should be given to the poorest in the land. I think that is a most important recommendation to come from the Committee. In regard to the hospitals of local authorities, these are confined to certain specific diseases, but the list of diseases has now been expanded until, I think, it amounts 37. In regard to certain forms of disease, such as pulmonary tuberculosis, they think that, with the schemes that are in view, as well as those that exist, there is, not to say ample, but sufficient to be going on with. In regard to other forms of disease, such as non-pulmonary tuberculosis, they believe and argue that there is a great inadequacy and a great urgency. In regard to these local authorities, I believe that the whole responsibility should be thrown upon them in a new way and the whole system broadened out. As to finance, they calculate, and I should like to know what the intentions of the Scottish Board of Health are in this matter, that to provide 3,600 beds a sum of £1,800,000 would be required, of which they recommend that a half should be a State grant.

I am well aware that I would not be in order in mentioning large questions of policy in regard to the future of the hospitals, but I may be in order in saying that to me it is pathetic that these hospitals should depend on appeals of a varied character, on street collections, and even in some cases on appeals to the gambling instinct. I hope that the Government itself is looking forward, and I think they are, judging from this Report, to a much more comprehensive scheme, in which the very best treatment will be given to all without distinction. We are continually emphasising, in the matter of education, that the humblest and the poorest in the land should have equal access to education; surely they ought to have equal access to the very best treatment that is possible. Considering the inadequacy of our medical equipment. I think it is remarkable what has been done and the progress that has been made. We find, for example, that last year's death-rate for Scotland was 13.4, which is one per cent. less than in 1924. We find that the infantile death rate is 90.5, a figure which has only been twice reached in Scotland, in 1921 and 1923. We find that the death-rate for boys and girls under five years is down to 12, a figure which I think it has only once before touched in Scotland. The pulmonary tuberculosis rate is down to 76, which I believe is a record not only for Scotland but for the United Kingdom, and the non-pulmonary rate is down to 34. I think social reformers can take great heart and hope and courage from a long-stretched consideration of the way in which the death-rate has been brought down. In 1855, a normal year in Glasgow, the annual death-rate was 32 per thousand; now it is down to 13.25, or less than one-half. I find, also, in regard to the infantile death-rate, that in 1860, a normal year in Glasgow, it was 182, and now it is 101, and for the whole of Scotland it is less than one-half of what it was in Glasgow in 1860. But a great deal remains to be done.

It is significant to look at the death rates of other countries, although we have to bear in mind certain considerations, such as differences of climate and the like: but I think it is far more due to advance in sanitary and medical service. We find that the death-rate in Sweden is 11.4, in Norway 11.14, in Canada 9.8, and in New Zealand 8.29. If you take the infantile death-rate. which stands in Scotland at 90.5, you find that in Sweden it is down to 56, in Norway 50.66, and in New Zealand 40.23. We do not need to go so far abroad to get figures of that kind. Taking the City of Glasgow, you find an enormous disparity between one ward and another. You find, for example, a death-rate in Cathcart of 9.33 and in Mile End 17.93. The infantile death-rate is 27 in Langside, 31 in Cathcart, and 137 in Mile End. Last year, in Mile End it was 162. As a temperance reformer, I cannot help but notice that the multitude of public houses in the various wards very largely conforms to the death-rate. But it would be unfair to say that it is all due to that. There are a vast number of other social evils, that are interlaced at every point, and that determine the death- rate. To further the interests of public health, we have to seek to equalise the social conditions in a city, and you will save a multitude from death. If you removed poverty itself, and you could, you would enormously diminish the death-rate for the city and for the whole country.

Housing reform would be a most effective means of improving health and diminishing the death-rate, and in this connection I will give some most significant figures from the Report of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Industrial Classes in Scotland, 1917. The figures are taken from the census of 1917, and we find these staggering statistics. Taking the death-rate among boys under five years, you find that, in the one-roomed houses, it was 40.56, in the two-roomed houses, 30.2; in the three-roomed houses, 17.9; and in the houses of four rooms and upwards 10.27. That means that, for every boy that died in a house of four rooms and upwards there were four boys dying in the single apartment house. The Report goes on to say that when a family passes into the one-roomed house, the children enter the valley of the shadow of death. I think we have to recognise that we are advancing because of a new mental attitude towards disease, a recognition that it is not inevitable in many quarters, that it is not part of the providential system of the world. I have been struck by some of the entries in the town records of Glasgow, where they speak of the plague as being the "pleasure of God." They say they are waiting till it would please God to remove the heavy hand of the pestilence. It was a new landmark in social advance when Charles Kingsley, at Bristol on the 5th of October, 1857, spoke these brave words, referring to large cities: They fasted, they prayed; but in vain. They called the pestilence the judgment of God; and they called it by a true name. But they knew not (and who are we to blame them for not knowing) what it was that God was judging thereby—foul air, foul water, unclean backyards, stifling attics, houses hanging over narrow streets till light and air were alike shut out—that there lay the sin; and that, to amend that, was the repentance which God demanded. This practical repentance is demanded of us to-day. We on this side of the House desire to see the whole health service a public service; the best medical skill available to all persons without distinction. The health of the nation is its greatest asset. Nay, more. We are seeking a better order of things which will strike at the root causes of many of the diseases which afflict the mortal frame. Though "Pain and passion may not die," we have already driven out many forms of foul diseases. We say with Tennyson:— Ring out old shapes of foul disease. We have already done that. When the first bridge was built over the Clyde in 1350, it was in part to establish a leper house on the other side of the river. They said lepers there always would be, it was the Will of God, and now a hundred years have passed without leprosy being known in our country. So other diseases will be driven out, and it will be realised that the prophet's vision is more true of the new Jerusalem we are seeking to build up than of the Jerusalem which he foreshadowed and saw: There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.


My colleague in the representation of the City of Dundee (Mr. Johnston) has presented the figures to the House which we have been urged by the municipal representatives to put before the Government, and it is not necessary, therefore, to go over that ground again. Let me refer to the national situation. The National Housing Council have been very much occupied in recent years in promoting housing schemes all over the country, but they are alarmed as to the possibility of the Government discontinuing the subsidy. They are most anxious that this step should not be taken. The Secretary of the National Housing Council says: While it is realised that economy in both Imperial and local finance is of paramount importance at the present time, it is difficult to believe that any thoughtful student of economics would venture to endorse a policy of retrenchment at the expense of aggravating and prolonging the present housing shortage. That shortage, so far as Scotland is concerned, amounts to something like 12,500 houses annually. We have to make up that number. Dundee is entitled to considerable credit in this respect. They have expedited their housing scheme, and considering the wages paid to the general body of workers in the city, it is proper to reflect that only now is our municipal council getting properly on the lines of dealing with the cases of the poorer people who are less able to pay higher rents. It is only now that we are reaching that stage, and if the Government discontinue the subsidy, it would mean great suffering to this class of the community. The chairman of this housing council, Mr. Elwood, has made this statement, which I consider of the utmost importance at the present time: When the Wheatley Act of 1924 was introduced it was stated that it provided for the erection of 2,500,000 houses in fifteen years. The number so far put up is nowhere near the number required to meet national needs, and if the amount of the subsidy is reduced, many of the authorities will at once be confronted with these alternatives. Either they will be compelled to raise a much larger sum through the local rates, or they must consider an increase in the rents of the working-class type of house. To me it appears that both alternatives are impossible at the present moment, for already the authorities are over-burdened with rates, while comparatively few houses have been built for rents that the working classes can afford to pay. Any increase in the rents will simply stultify the efforts that have been made to get on with this housing problem, and do still more in Scotland than we have done in the past. Any reduction in the subsidy, and particularly if it is dropped altogether, will stop the process of meeting the clamant needs of these people; and any idea of drawing upon the rates for this purpose is also impossible. Already parish councils are so over-burdened that the question of their rates will in itself become a big problem to be faced by the Government. The report of the sanitary inspector for Dundee, which has already been quoted, is worth while considering, because Dundee is well to the front in comparison with any other city in Scotland or in England. In his Report the sanitary inspector says: The wants of the community are in 1926 about as rampant as when the town council started out to solve the problem through the various housing schemes—the houses provided have only in a slight degree eased the situation. Within recent years the call for the demolition of houses unfit for human habitation has been more acute, and it has now reached a crisis that a deaf ear can be no longer turned thereto—the day of ignoring has passed. About 8,000 houses are immediately required in the City of Dundee. Two thousand of the present houses are uninhabited, and that is a rather striking factor in the situation. No less than 3,527 houses have been promoted, 1,334 completed, and there are under construction 2,203. What may be the eventual interpretation of the phrase "substantially begun" has yet to be ascertained. That is so far as Dundee is concerned. On the general question of housing, and the reference made by my colleague in the representation of Dundee on the question of municipal banking, I think there should be recognition of the power already possessed to proceed in that direction. My colleague has been identified with the advocacy of such a scheme in that part of the country which he represented municipally. He alluded to the composition of Dundee Town Council, and I would say that with the Coalition of Labour and other forces in power, they should be able to get a move on with the Municipal Banking scheme.

In considering the areas of industrial constituencies where the poorer people are gathered, the congestion and the intensifying of the social evils undoubtedly are of very great importance; but it is only right to say that the basis upon which that system is sustained is, according to the law, what is meet and convenient—that is the phrase used—for the requirements of the community. The idea seems to be that where there is the larger number of people gathered together there should be all the more facilities for sustaining this particular trouble. I do not recognise the housing question as a root question at all. With all the promotion of better housing by this or any other Government, so long as these social evils exist and produce substantial profits, even at this very hour, with our most important industries down in the dust, you can spend all the money that you choose on one-roomed or four-roomed or 10-roomed houses, and yet you are maintaining one of the most formidable factors for blocking the progress of housing or anything else that is desirable. It is a huge wastage in every sense of the word. With reference to the hon. Member for Motherwell speaking as a temperance reformer I say that so long as that social evil is sustained and protected, there will be no settlement of the housing problem, because as fast as you make good houses you will find them turned into slums. We must face the facts and get down to the heart of the evil.

Brigadier-General CHARTERIS

I wish in a few sentences to direct the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland to a question which is arousing a great deal of interest in Scotland and has not yet been mentioned. We have heard from the other side, particularly from the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr), statistics of progress in meeting the requirements of health. Those statistics are highly satisfactory, but it seems to me that, however greatly we may try to meet the requirements of an ever-growing population, we shall fall short of doing al that is necessary unless we can take some steps to restrict unnecessary immigration from other parts of the Kingdom into Scotland. It is well known to all Scottish Members that for a considerable number of years past there has been a constant stream of immigrants from Ireland into the South-West of Scotland. The result is, of course, that the available housing accommodation is hard pressed, that the demand becomes greater and greater, and that there is an adverse influence on the health of the population. I am aware of the great difficulties in dealing with the case, but I hope that the Secretary of State will give us an assurance that the matter is receiving the close attention which it deserves. The figures are very alarming. Whole areas are, in fact, changing their character. Parts of the South-West of Scotland are becoming more and more Irishised—if I may coin a word—and unless something is done the situation will become more serious.

Even in agricultural areas we find the same thing going on to a certain extent. People from the neighbouring island come over for the harvest and spread over Scotland. A certain number of them go back, but others remain. There is no particular reason why Scotland should be so burdened with what is the surplus population of another portion of the United Kingdom. It is obvious that so long as unemployment exists every unnecessary immigrant makes the situation worse. I ask my right hon. Friend, or whoever replies for the Government, to give us an undertaking that this very serious matter is receiving attention. It is probably well known to Members from Scotland that the matter received the earnest and close attention of the General Assemblies of the Churches in Scotland this year. That is an aspect with which it is unnecessary to deal here; but we can assure the Secretary of State for Scotland that it is a problem which is attracting the earnest attention of all Scottish people at the present time. We hope that it will be dealt with, and that, if possible, steps will be taken to prevent it getting graver than it is at the present time.


I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member in his somewhat anti-Irish attitude. One with his military career must know that we have been greatly indebted to the Irish people, and I know that this country cannot disregard the contribution that the Irish people have made to civilisation. I want to draw attention to two points in the Report of the Scottish Board of Health. The question of housing has been raised, but the question of parish council administration has not yet been mentioned. Before I mention the question of housing I would like to emphasise the suggestion already made of adding to the convenience of Members by including an index in the report next year. Otherwise I would like to pay a compliment to those permanent officials for their very painstaking work in producing such a fine report. It was admitted on all sides at the end of the War that on the question of housing, whilst there was a very considerable difficulty in this country, Scotland particularly was much more in need, and had a greater leeway to make up, than her Southern neighbour. In the last five years I find the total number of houses produced in Great Britain has been 548,286, and of that number the southern half of the island has had 511,282, or 93.25 per cent., whereas the northern half of the island has only had 37,004, or 6.75 per cent. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary if he considers that to be a fair share for Scotland and, if it is not, will he give a fuller explanation of the reasons than that contained in the Report. The suggestion is made that the trade unions are chiefly responsible. I submit that is merely an excuse and not a reason. Coming to the question of housing subsidy, I find that during the last five years the amount expended has been £27,000,000, and of this amount private enterprise has received £10,000,000. A writer in the "Edinburgh Review" in April of this year, dealing with this question, makes the following statement: The stimulus of the subsidy of £75 has been fully justified by the way it has encouraged the speculative builder to undertake the erection of housing once again, and there would be an undoubted outcry among the supporters of private enterprise if Mr. Chamberlain proposed the total abolition of this sum. One can almost hear the writer of that article declaiming against any suggestion that a subsidy should be given to the mining industry which is of paramount importance to this country; but a subsidy can be given to housing, and private enterprise can come in and take £10,000,000 out of £27,000,000 of that subsidy and, he says, a great outcry would be the result if the Minister of Health dared to abolish the subsidy, as is being suggested in some quarters. It is estimated that from 1940 to 1964 the nation will require to find £34,500,000 each year from the Treasury and local rates, if the programme is to be carried out which has been sketched. Private enterprise houses are built mostly for sale and this seems to be another means of burdening the people locally and nationally and also of providing vested interests with something very material out of the national life.

I am much interested in the question of coal, and I should like to deal particularly with the subject of housing in the coal mining areas of Scotland. In the Coal Commission's Report, Vol. III, page 249, we find that in 1913 there was in Scotland only one colliery-owned house paying a rent of over 10s. a week, but in 1924 there were 1,359 such houses. We find that in 1913 there were only 846 colliery-owned houses in Scotland paying over 5s. a week, but in 1924 the number had increased to 16,962, an increase of 1,905. per cent. A great deal has been heard about collieries which are not paying, but here is a side-light on the mining industry, showing one respect in which it has been paying very handsomely. In 1913 the number of colliery-owned houses rented at over 5s. per week was only 3'23 per cent, of the total; but in 1924 it was 55'76 of the total, and yet only 4,000 more colliery-owned houses were erected between 1913 and 1924. There are no arrears of rent in connection with colliery-owned houses because the rents are deducted from the wages of the men. The colliery owners get the rent before the men receive the wages. I should like more attention to be given, not only to the question of the scarcity in Scotland as compared with England, but also to the scarcity in the mining areas and the huge increases of rent which have been piled upon people who are quite unable, even when they are working, to meet the heavy demands ordinarily made on them.

On the question of unemployment I notice on: page 270 of the Report of the Scottish Board of Health the following statement: Parish Councils have continued to bear a heavy burden of expenditure in relieving the destitute able-bodied unemployed. During the financial year ending 15th May, 1925, the total expenditure by parish councils in connection with the relief to the able-bodied amounted to £799,498, of which £638,766 was paid in outdoor relief and £13,815 was expended on indoor relief. The remaining £146,847 was made up of £44,741 for administrative expenses and £102,106 for interest on loans and overdrafts. This means that the banks have got one-eighth of the total amount borrowed, or, roughly 2s. 6d. in the £ If some method of cheapening money to the local administrations could be found, it would mean a considerable reduction in the burden of rates which the people have to bear. The right hon. Gentleman knows that this question of industrial parishes has been a clamant one during the last few years. Since the great depression began in 1921, representations have been made again and again of the unfairness of the burdens which they have had to hear because unemployment has been so rampant. Men whose stamps are exhausted at the Exchange have been turned off, and work cannot be found, and the parish councils have to bear the burden. Yet when they are compelled to borrow money, 2s. 6d. in the £ is taken by the banks for the mere loan of the money which is to relieve the poor people in areas suffering from depression.

That all means that the standard of life is still further depressed in meeting the burden of extra rates, and, with the meagre amount of work that is going, the increased burden of rates is bound to lower the standard of health as well The burden gets greater and greater, because we find from the Report that there has been an increasing number of unemployed turned from the Employment Exchanges right over to the parish councils, in an increasing ratio every quarter of the last year. It stands higher at the end of 1925 than it did at the beginning, and, from the statistics we have been able to gather since, even this year shows a still further increase in the burdens that the parish councils are bearing. I should like the Scottish Board of Health and the Secretary of State to take these points into consideration. because the burden which the industrial parishes particularly are bearing is beyond their capacity to carry. We ask that these things will be given more consideration than they have been given hitherto, and we ask that they shall be given at least a semblance of fair play in comparison with that extended to the monied and vested interests that are living on the depression of the people.


I do not wish to raise the general question of the subsidy for houses, but I wish to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, when he is coming to a final decision, that he will not draw an absolutely fast line from which there shall be no deviation. When the Government were anxious to build a large number of steel houses, they asked various corporations to provide them with land. Some corporations cheerfully responded, and others found that it was not convenient. Among the corporations that willingly and cheerfully responded was that of the City of Edinburgh. I will not presume to mention the other cities that did not see their way to respond—


No, but you can hint!


—but I wish the Secretary of State for Scotland to remember that because the city of Edinburgh did give up land, for which they them slaves had a scheme cut and dried, that scheme has been postponed for more than a year; and it is thus possible—nay, it is certain—that if on the 1st October any announcement is made that the subsidy is made that the subsidy is stopped, the corporation of the City of Edinburgh will not have cut a sod and will not, if a hard and fast line is drawn, be entitled, through having made contracts—as we presume all contracts will be recognised for the subsidy—to that subsidy. It will not be their fault; it will be on account of the great generosity of the City of Edinburgh, always marked, on all occasions when the interests of the State are at stake. They will have to suffer, and so, what I wish the Secretary of State to bear in mind is this, that if, on the one hand, the City of Edinburgh have given up a large piece of land—indeed, there were 1,400 houses already planned—which undoubtedly, had they been put in operation to-day, would have been entitled to the subsidy—the city should not be penalised because of their foresight and the cheerfulness with which they responded to the wishes of the Government in order that the steel houses should be proceeded with immediately. I will not do the Secretary of State the injustice to say that he will not consider this question. I rise only to say that I am quite sure it only needs to be mentioned for the Secretary of State to remember the great services which Edinburgh has rendered to him with the steel houses, and that he will, on his side, remember that we in Edinburgh are entitled to the subsidy whenever it ceases.


I wish to refer to something which has not yet been raised in this Debate. It is a matter, I think, of considerable importance, and I believe that the Scottish Office will be able to give an answer to the questions that I wish to address to them. I refer to the future of the health insurance administration in Scotland through the local insurance committees. I think I am right in saying that the whole matter of public health administration on this side is now in the melting pot, or, if that is going too far, I think I am right in saying that in those matters we stand very near to important changes and very far-reaching developments. The Royal Commission, which was appointed in 1924 and which reported this year, makes very definite reference to this matter of the status, work, and future of those committees. The Commission indeed definitely recommends that those local insurance committees should cease to function at an early date, and that their functions should be transferred to some appropriate municipal or county committee. That proposal is made on the ground that there is need for a concentration of local health administration, and with that concentration and unification of administration, of course, the committees will naturally cease to exist. The Commission is very definite in its statements that, so far as this change is concerned, nothing at all can be said in the way of adverse criticism as to the manner in which these committees have done their work up to the present time. Indeed, their work is referred to in warm terms of appreciation. They say that the work has been done with a notable degree of success, and that there is no evidence at all of any failure on the part of those committees to perform the tasks which they have had to undertake. The officials connected with those committees are complimented in the same terms, and if the House will consider the nature of the work that those committees have been doing, I think the reasons for an immediate consideration of this matter will be apparent.

The committees are charged with responsibility for the arrangement of health insurance benefit and for inquiries into complaints by insured persons; they are charged with very serious responsibilities—and they have undertaken those responsibilities—in regard to inquiry into general health affairs in the areas in which they function; that is to say, in cases of abnormal sickness, the insurance committees have had the responsibility of inquiry and action; and they have, also discharged what, I think, is a very important function in health affairs, in that they have organised health lectures and health propaganda generally, which would have been very greatly extended had the committee had the necessary funds at their disposal. All these are important functions, and when to-day we are asked to consent, as the Commission asks us to consent, to their practical abolition, on the grounds that unification is necessary and that the duties they are now called upon to perform are of a merely routine character and have diminished in quantity, I think we should take stock of the situation and seriously consider it before we make up our minds what we are going to do. At the moment, I believe, the matter is being considered, not only by the Scottish Office, but by the Ministry of Health on this side of the Border, but, so far as I have been able to ascertain, no indication has yet been given of what action the Government are to take in this matter.

In this matter of health administration, as in other matters, I should be very sorry to see Scotland simply dragged at the tail of England. There are certain things which I think we can do in Scotland better than they can do them on this side of the Border, and in this matter of health administration, I repeat that I should like to see Scotland adopt its own policy, as it has on many matters relating to insurance administration up to now. I should be sorry to see unification in this matter assume the proportions it has in War pensions' administration. I am convinced that the local element, the personal touch with the insured person, or the person on whose behalf the committee is functioning, is a valuable element, and although I am not prepared on this occasion to dogmatise as far as the future is concerned, I maintain that a very strong case can be made out, for the continuance of these local committees, and the avoidance of that bureaucratic tendency which has not worked out well where it has been tried in the matter of War pensions' administration.

The present committees, I think, are representative of those whose interests in this matter should be regarded as paramount. They are in close touch with the insured person; they are familiar with local conditions, and I beg humbly to submit to anybody who is favourable to the Commission's recommendations in this matter, that the local authorities have already plenty of administrative work to do if only they would do it. Besides, in this matter of insurance administration, we have to remember that the money to be administered is not exactly public money in the came sense that other moneys which are raised for instance, by local rating can be regarded as public moneys. I believe that the approved societies are almost universally opposed to this new recommendation, and I believe I am right in saying that not only is there a deep feeling of unrest in the insurance committees up and down the country, but that the whole of the insurance committees are practically agreed that this step recommended by the Commission should not be taken.

9.0 P.M.

I simply rose to state these questions to the Minister, in order to extract from him, if he is able to tell us at the present time, what exactly the present attitude of the Scottish Office is in this matter, and when we may expect legislation if the recommendations of the Commission are to be adopted. I would like to safeguard my general position in this matter by saying that if the unification pleaded for by this Commission is to be applied on grounds of administrative economy. if it is to lead really to more efficient management of insurance funds, and if that can be proved, I should not be prepared rigidly to oppose a new departure on that line. But if any departure is to be made, I suggest that it should not merely take the form of abolishing the present insurance committees, and vesting their powers and duties in a public committee, but that you should proceed on the lines of making your health service a completely public service, that is to say, that your health service should be completely maintained out of public money so that everyone in the community should benefit freely and openly through it. If the present policy were even a small step towards that, I should not be inclined to criticise it so severely as I do to-day, but I do appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland, not only for the benefit of the House, but for the benefit of those carrying on the work of the insurance committee, to tell us what the attitude of the Government is on this question, and what the future status of the insurance committees, in his opinion, is to be.


I desire to raise one or two questions with regard to Scotland. First of all, as this is the first Scottish Debate which has taken place since the right hon. Gentleman opposite has received his new honour, I think he ought to be all the more ready to please those who are opposed to him politically in Scotland, and to meet their desires more readily than he has hitherto done. Most people when promoted from one position to another usually celebrate it in some form or other. The form which some of us on this occasion would like best, would he that of granting some of the many reforms asked for to-day. I want to-night to raise a two-fold question, namely, the question of venereal disease and the ques- tion of the blind. Venereal disease and the blind usually go hand in hand, or, at least, that is accepted by the medical authorities, and I want to urge on the Scottish Office the need for more rapid expansion in the treatment of venereal disease. One cannot but be shocked at the proportion of the population, especially in large industrial areas, particularly Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, affected by this disease. It used to be this, custom, because it was a filthy thing, not to talk about it, but to allow it to grow up in a hidden fashion. That has been reversed, and the policy of all reformers now is to try to force the disease into treatment as much as possible.

I am quite aware that some steps have been taken in the treatment of this terrible disease, but I do not think the Scottish Office even yet has gone right into this question. I understand that medical attention in Glasgow and Edinburgh, for instance, is not sufficient to give the, sufferers from that disease the attention they ought to get. I understand that in Glasgow it is not uncommon to have 30 and 40 cases in a night, and it is impossible to give each of those sufferers anything like the medical attention necessary. The worst feature now is that because these persons are not given the attention that is possible, very often they will not go back. Therefore, I do hope the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary will spend a little time and money, if possible, in equipping these hospitals, both from the surgical and medical points of view, with nurses, and doctors, and also appliances for the treatment of the disease.

In connection with blind persons in Scotland, I would ask if the Secretary of State could not take action on their behalf. It is true, according to the Annual Report of the Scottish Board of Health, that there has been set up a consultative committee representing the various interests—the blind societies, the local authorities, education and municipal. How often is that consultative body called together? I have had complaints, I do not know how well founded they may be, that it has not met frequently enough during the past year. Another complaint I have is that throughout Scotland, with Dundee as a bright exception, there is a long waiting list of blind persons anxious to receive train- ing which they cannot get at the present time. It is a terrible affliction to be blind, and it is much worse to be blind and not able to get the little encouragement that is given by training. I hope the Secretary of State will take steps to see that more is dune for the care and education of the blind, and especially for the education of those beyond the age of 18, because there are a large number of blind people over 18 for whom the education authorities have no responsibility who are anxious for training in some art and craft. In the West, of Scotland area more than 100 blind persons have had their names on the waiting list for more than two years; and there must be hundreds in Scotland as a whole. The only reason I know of for progress not, being made with this training is this glorious word "economy"—it would cost money to train them. hope the Secretary of State will put the welfare of the blind before the consideration of saving a few hundred pounds.

Reference has been made to the housing question by the two hon. Members for Dundee. At question time to-day the Secretary of State was good enough to supply me with the figures of house building in Glasgow since State aid was first given, following the War. Since 1919, Glasgow has built something like 7,300 houses—those now occupied; 4,300 houses are under construction; and plans are out for 2,200 more. I remember when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and myself were on the Glasgow Town Council that it was estimated by the Medical Officer of Health that Glasgow needed 100,000 new houses at that time, in 1919. Seven years have passed since then, and the total production of houses in the city—occupied houses—is no more than 7,300. The supply of houses is not the only problem; the rent question is equally acute. I know of people in Glasgow who have had their names down for years waiting for houses, though it has been admitted by the local authority that they were in clamant, urgent need of them. What happens? They wait patiently for two, three or four years, and then one morning the local authority sends a letter to say that a new house is available for them. A case from Pollokshaws was sent to me last week. It is a case of a decent hard-working man, who, I am sorry to say, voted for the Secretary of State for Scotland. He has had his name on the Glasgow Corporation's list for more than three years, and the corporation admit that in the interests of his family, and of sanitation, he ought to have a new house. When at last the welcome letter came to say that he could get a house, he went to see it. As a matter of fact it is a few closes away from where I live. He is a man earning £2 14s. a week, and he found that for this two-room-and-kitchen house he would have to pay, rent and rates inclusive, 16s. a week. The man cannot afford to do that and to travel to and from his work; and so we have the callous, cruel position of a man being offered a house and not being able to take it because the rent is too high.

That occurred in Glasgow, but this is a common problem all over Scotland. You can go on building Weir steel houses, you can build 200,000 houses in Scotland, but unless you can find some method of building them so that they can be let at a rent which the tenant can afford to pay you arc not meeting the housing problem. I read in to-day's "Daily News" two articles presenting the contrast of the records of two cities in housing. One records the progress in Birmingham, and the other article, dealing with Glasgow, is headed "Worse than five years ago. One-room houses in Glasgow." It is stated in that article that the medical officer of Glasgow declares that the position in Glasgow to-day is worse than it was five years ago. I hope the Secretary of State will not say it is all the fault of the building trades. Even assuming, which I am not going to admit, that the building trade may have been somewhat to blame—even if we admit that measure of blame and double it and treble it, it cannot account for the grave situation existing in Scotland at the present time. We want a new spirit, a new resolution, in the tackling of this problem. If it had been shells we needed, as was the case in the War, Glasgow would have been adapted to producing shells in three months, or at most in 12 months. But nobody is prepared to tackle the question of providing houses in the same resolute way that we dealt with the production of ammunition.

I hope, also, the Secretary of State will not refer us to what is being done in erecting steel houses. Are steel houses being built more rapidly than brick houses? I understand that in Garngad, where some of these steel houses are being built, the time taken to build them is no less than is taken in the building of a brick house in Glasgow. The question of the subsidy has been raised. It is not a question of whether the subsidy can be stopped, but rather of whether it ought not to be increased. Scotland cannot afford to have the subsidy taken away. I hope the Secretary of State will turn his attention to this problem and will celebrate his new title by seeing that the housing question is handled in a more satisfactory way than during the last two years of his office.


If I do not touch on the question of housing or on the other questions regarding health which have been raised, I must not be considered as not being interested very deeply in them. I have risen to call the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the Under-Secretary, to the fact that we now have parishes refusing to pay a single penny to relieve women and children. Less than a week ago I raised the question of one parish council in my constituency which was refusing to pay anything to the people of that town, and on this matter I got into communication with the Under-Secretary of State, and I confess he gave me a letter which assisted me very materially. The hon. and gallant Gentleman sent a letter to that authority which, if I had dictated it myself, it could not have been more to my own satisfaction, but my point is that we have not had any result from it. Since that letter was sent I have received a telegram that they have reaffirmed their decision and are not going to pay anything to those women and children.

In the neighbouring borough of Prestwick they have done much the same thing, and I know sufficient about this matter to know that before the machinery that has been suggested can be put into motion, the people may be dead from starvation. I do not say that the members of these particular councils are very much worse than the members of other councils, and what they are faced with is the fact that huge deficits are accruing, and they are afraid that ultimately there will be such a Bill to pay that they will be unable to meet it when the time comes. I suggest that the Government should seriously take into consideration doing something to get over this difficulty, because our parish councils in Scotland will not be able to avoid these deficits. There has been issued a document by the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, which is not a reactionary but a very conservative body, and they deprecate the huge amount of money which is being spent for the purposes of relief. They declare quite explicitly that this expense ought to be shared or shouldered by the Treasury itself.

That was the sole purpose for which I got up, and I wish to say that this thing is spreading. We said it would spread and it has done so, and it is going to spread more rapidly in the future. I am informed that there is one council which has already said that they are not going to assist the miners to win this fight, or words to that effect. That, I am afraid, is at the bottom of the action of some of the parish councils, and I trust that the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary will assist us still further, and not only ask these public bodies to do a thing, but order them to do it, and if the law is not powerful enough to compel those parish councils to do their duty, I hope the Government will get further powers as soon as possible, and thus save an amount of misery which is bound to increase if the present situation continues.


In the earlier part of our discussions this afternoon one or two references were made to the desirability of having Scottish Home Rule. If one may judge from this Debate, I am afraid the Scottish forum would be one of the dullest and most monotonous bodies in Christendom, and it would not contain a large number of Conservatives and not a solitary Liberal. I do not intend to make any attempt to raise the House from the lethargy into which it has fallen, but I would like to make one or two remarks, particularly on the general character of the discussion. I wish, as someone speaking from the Government side of the House said, that hon. Members from Scotland could take the opportunity of an occasion such as this to take a large and comprehensive view of the national requirements of that country in order to see how far it is possible by our united efforts to force our views on the majority of the Members of this House.

There are two views we might take of Scotland, and I think our choice determines to a large extent our policy. There are those who regard Scotland as a country that is done for. They say that agriculture has been ruined, that industry, with the exception of the industrial belt from the Clyde to the Forth, has never been properly developed, that there is not an adequate supply of hospitals, that the coal mines are now obsolete, and, therefore, we are not justified in spending all this money on housing, and other things, and in this way wasting the accumulated wealth of the country as a whole. I hope no Scottish Member is going to subscribe to that view. I hope all Scottish Members will take the view that Scotland has a great and a glorious future before it, and that it is the duty of this house, as well as its business, to provide for the people who, by their industry, have contributed to the greatness of the country and to the greatness of the Empire.

A good deal has been said about the question of housing, and I only want to cross the t's and dot the i's in regard to what has been said by my colleagues on this side of the House. If we are to take the view that Scotland has a future, we agree also that Scotland must have a decent standard of housing accommodation. I think it is generally admitted that Scotland at the moment requires 100,000 working-class houses, indeed I think I could find that estimate in a Report issued by the Scottish Board of Health within the past two or three years. I have been informed by the Secretary of State for Scotland this afternoon that the total number of houses approved under the Act of 1924 is approximately 20,000. It is not an unreasonable assumption that the 100,000 houses we require are required by the rent-paying as apart from the house-owning section of the population. There has never been a housing problem for the people who can afford to buy their own houses. The housing problem has always existed for the people who were too poor to buy and consequently had to rent. The houses that are being erected under the Act of 1924 are almost the only houses that are being erected for renting purposes. Therefore I am taking the view that with the total requirements of 100,000 working-class houses for letting purposes we have already approved—not constructed, not completed, not even started—up till now 20,000 houses. That does not indicate that the housing problem has been solved in Scotland. It indicates that we have only touched the fringe of the housing problem, and that if we are going to provide for a healthy and prosperous Scotland we require to put all our energies and resources to the provision of one of the basic necessaries of life.

Something is being done, and a good deal is being made of it, in the way of slum clearances. I put it to the representatives of the Government that it would be utterly wrong to regard a slum clearance policy as being an adequate national policy in housing. It would be wrong to assume that Scotland is a great slum and that you are doing your duty towards it when you remove ananually a certain number of the people firm slum houses to houses of a better quality. Even then if you take into account the rate at which new houses are being provided, and the rate at which houses depreciate, I make bold to say that slums are growing in Scotland at a more rapid rate than they are being removed. Therefore I want to remind the Government that we have something even more important to do than deal with slums. We want to raise the whole standard of housing in Scotland. The standard of housing in Scotland is notoriously lower than the standard of housing in England. The evidence of that is to be found in the vital statistics for Scotland. The death-rate among infants in Scotland is always, or nearly always, higher than it is South of the Border, and if, as is generally argued, there is a close connection between housing and infantile mortality then we require more quickly in Scotland to raise the standard of housing to what it is in England to save the destruction of infants born North of the Tweed

If I had the time and disposition I would ask the Government to, consider this. I wish they would set up a Committee to consider the actual value of the infant males whose lives are lost in Scotland by conditions that could be removed. If these were lives of animals they would be considered very seriously. If we had conditions that were destroying our cattle we would appoint the Royal Commission to see how they could be removed, but they are human beings, and because, for capitalistic purposes we have abundance and a surplus of them, you take no interest in them equivalent to that which is taken in animals of the lower orders of creation. We all admit the greatness of the housing problem. I sympathise with those who, particularly in Scotland, are trying to grapple with it. We have a shortage of building materials, due to the fact that in the old days we erected houses of stone and did not develop brickworks to the extent they were developed in England. There are other reasons, but these accumulate only into one reason, and that is that we should put greater energy into finding a solution in Scotland than is being put into finding a solution South of the Border.

The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) referred to the importance of making an effort to get cheaper money for the local authorities who have to deal with the housing problem, and he referred to what was being done through local saving banks in Birmingham and in several of the small boroughs in Scotland. A great financial authority the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) made little of the suggestion that was thrown out by the hon. Member for Dundee. He said, when you get that money in Scotland at 2¾ per cent. and you hand it over to the Government, who obtain 5 per cent. for it and thereby make a profit of approximately 2¼ per cent., you are doing something which, if stopped, and diverted into another course, would not give you the financial assistance that you contemplate. The reason he gave was rather a peculiar one. He said this money in the savings bank is money on call. You must, therefore, have that money at your disposal, because any morning there may be a run on the bank, and no private barking company would erect its system on a payment of interest for money that was on call. I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman, with all due respect to his authoritative pronouncement, that he is entirely and absolutely wrong. The savings bank in Glasgow alone has always a surplus year after year, month after month, of about £12,000,000. There is frequently a surplus of £14,000,000. The £14,000,000 or the £12,000,000 which that Savings Bank carries is just about equal to the financial liabilities of the Glasgow Corporation. Here then you have Glasgow Corporation borrowing £12,000,000 at 5 per cent., while the Glasgow people are actually lending £12,000,000 at 2¾ per cent.

Lieut.-Colonel GADIE

One is daily and the other a longer period.


No system will conduct its business on averages. The minimum of deposits here is never less than £12,000,000. Any Member on the other side of the House, or anyone outside the House, who has at his disposal week after week and year after year £12,000,000 would find it safe to carry on a business on the security of the utilisation of that. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that Birmingham was a solitary case. I agree that, as far as that is concerned, Birmingham is a solitary case. Why is it solitary? You have a chain of these savings banks, of which Glasgow is one, all over the country, and the Government is getting a flow of money from these institutions. It so happened that there was none in Birmingham, and so Birmingham was granted statutory authority to establish a savings bank in that city, and they are deriving benefits from that savings bank of which all the other cities are deprived. While there may have been good reason, in the days when the corporations and city councils had less financial difficulties and embarrassments than they have today, for supporting a, financial system of that kind, I submit that to-day, when city councils, parish councils, and all the branches of local authorities are being embarrassed, largely because of our national policy in dealing with unemployment and with poverty generally, we should no longer seek to impose upon them a policy that takes their money at 2 per cent., at least, less than they have to pay for that money when they want to use it themselves. That is one aspect of housing which is very important, because anyone who has studied the housing problem at all knows that at the root it is largely a financial problem, and that the burden of interest is one of the very heaviest contributions to the determination of what the rent of a house will be.

I would submit to the Secretary of State for Scotland that the other sugges- tion which was put to him by the hon. Member for Dundee is also a very important one. I think he is justified in going to the local authorities who are obtaining national grants, who are using "We arc not going to allow the money Treasury money, and saying to them, which you get from the Government to be spent in giving unnecessary profits to building contractors or manufacturers of building material." It can be demonstrated, as we have heard this afternoon, that, either by encouraging direct labour in the form of building guilds, or under a corporation department, you can obtain houses for £50, £60 or £70 less per house than you can from the private contractor. I see no reason at all why any political prejudice should be allowed to stand in the way of our getting better value for the money that we are paying out of the taxpayer's pocket. I do not think it is a question of politics at all. In England, the Ministry of Health does not allow it to be a question of politics. The Ministry of Health, even under a Conservative Government, presses much harder the question of direct labour, with more encouragement of the use of direct labour in the erection of houses where it can be shown to be profitable, than is, I fear, done by the Scottish Board of Health. I wish the Secretary of State would use his influence with the local authorities in Scotland to get rid of the idea that political prejudices should be allowed to stand in the way, either of the erection of houses or of their production at the lowest possible price. I think that, acting on these two suggestions, the Secretary of State could do a great deal to stimulate housebuilding in Scotland, and I hope that, as a result of our Debate to-day, a stimulus will he given to it that will place before us better results when we next discuss the Estimates of the Scottish Board of Health.


I understand that the Under-Secretary is to rise at a quarter to ten, so that I have only five minutes in which to deal with a great many intricate matters. I had intended to speak on the Report of the Scottish Board of Health, and I should at least like to say how much I appreciate the quality of that Report. I do not think that there is a finer Government document anywhere than the Report of the Scottish Board of Health; it is a perfect mine of material. As I have said, I have not the time to deal with it at all adequately, but there are one or two points that I should like to put to the Under-Secretary, so that he might, perhaps, mention them when he replies, and I pass over a good many other interesting points. One is in regard to light treatment for tuberculosis and rickets and for child welfare generally. There is a very interesting chapter in the Report on rickets on which I should have liked to speak. I would be glad if the Scottish Board of Health would continue to encourage our local authorities to go in for the installation of artificial sunlight, because, in regard to surgical tuberculosis and rickets and general debility, the results have been very remarkable. I am glad to think that the Scottish Board of Health does encourage local authorities in this connection, and I should be very glad if the Under-Secretary would indicate, perhaps broadly, the attitude of the Board to the subject. I quite agree with the criticism of the Board that light is not to be regarded as a panacea for all ills, but I think we shall find that its scope will be more and more extended, and that it will ultimately become one of our most useful therapeutic agents.

I should also like to ask the Under-Secretary a question associated with the new milk legislation, which we are very glad to have. I should like to ask him what he thinks of the nomenclature of the present graded milk sold under licence from the Board of Health. I have found that a great many people think that Grade A is the best standard of milk, whereas that is not really the case. It is only the third standard, and it is possible for Grade A milk to he actually tuberculous. Certified milk is the first quality, and Grade A, tuberculin-tested, the second quality. I would suggest that simply to describe the qualities as A, B and C, or something of that kind, would be very much simpler for the public, and I should be glad to know the hon. and gallant Gentleman's opinion on that. I was intending to say something about the Scottish Hospitals Report, and to deal with the medical inspection of school children, but the time has almost gone. I would like, however, to point out, in regard to the medical inspection of school children, that we have apparently 50,000 of these school children insufficiently nourished, and about 1,300 who are certi- fled as being very much under-nourished. I think that that is a condition of affairs in Scotland which is very unsatisfactory, and which ought to make us feel ashamed. I would also invite the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to the large number of children who are suffering from enlargement of tonsils, especially in connection with the later chapter in the Report in regard to rheumatic fever. We know that tonsils in a bad condition are a frequent cause of rheumatic fever—one of the most disabling of diseases, and one which is of great economic importance. I would invite the Under-Secretary to make some comment on that, but I cannot go any further or I shall leave him no time to reply. We must have more treatment centres, in the interests of humanity and economy both.


There is some difficulty in reviewing the extensive course the Debate has followed in the short time at my disposal, and the House will excuse me if I do not follow it into some of its more recondite aspects, such as the controversy between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Young) as to the exact position of call money and the exact security which is offered by money invested in housing or other activities of the municipalities. I should be willing to take a lower rate of interest for my money if it were in a savings bank and were not exposed to some of the attacks which it seems to me are launched upon real property from time to time by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston. That may only be my personal prejudice, and I do not wish to stress that aspect of the ease, but I would bring it to his mind that that is, possibly, one of the reasons why people are willing to take a lower rate of interest for money in a bank than money which is invested in some sort of getatable property The Debate has divided itself into three sections, the question of Poor Law administration and parish relief, the question of housing and the general questions of health. As to Poor Law administration, which is, perhaps, one of the most insistent, and which was raised in particular by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. James Brown), we have done our best, as he admitted, to bring to the notice of the local authorities their statutory duty towards the relief of distress in addition to the letter which he said he could not have wished better if he had himself dictated it. There is the letter of the 27th of this month which we wrote to the parish of Carnwath, where a similar difficulty has arisen, where we not only draw the attention of the local authority to its statutory duty to relieve distress, but also point out in the concluding paragraph: I am also to point out that you, as inspector of poor, have a personal responsibility to ensure that there is no acute suffering or destitution in eases in which the facts have been brought to your notice, and that any general resolution by the parish council would probably not protect you in a Court of law if a question arose as to the serious consequences of the refusal of relief in the case of any particular applicant. I am to ask that the parish council should reconsider carefully their attitude on this question in the light of the above remarks at the meeting which the Board understands is being held to-morrow.


Has there been any reply from the parish council?


I could not say at the moment as to the nature of the reply, but I think in that, as in the other letters, we have done our utmost to bring to the notice of the parish council the view the central Government take of the statutory responsibilities of these bodies. We have to remember undoubtedly that we have to regard this against the background of the enormous burden the community is hearing as to part of the situation arising out of the coal stoppage. The part which the community has borne, has met with, perhaps, less recognition than it might have received. I notice that in the parish of Beath the number of persons in receipt of Poor relief per 10,000 of the population has risen from 350 before the stoppage to 3,100 now. In Bathgate the number has gone up from 398 to 1,600. In Torpichen it has gone up from 811 to 3,200, and undoubtedly the strain upon the whole community which these figures represent is meeting a certain reflection in action such as the parish councils have taken. We are doing our utmost to ensure that the parish councils are made aware of their statutory duties and their responsibilities, and in the letter I have quoted I think it will be admitted that we have gone to the utmost in bringing home not merely the general but the personal responsibility of local authorities and their officers in this matter.

The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) spoke of the necessity of pressing on with housing in Scotland. I do not think anyone could deny that the present Secretary has worthily earned his title of Secretary of State if only by the energy he has thrown into the increased campaign for better housing, not merely in his attitude towards the local authorities but in his pressing on of particular schemes. When I hear hon. Members say, "Let nothing interfere with housing, let no prejudice of any kind weigh for a second in the balance against the necessity for an increase of housing," that is a reproach from which no section of the House, I am afraid, can hold itself entirely free. We made special reference to guild housing in the Report. It is from the Report published by the Scottish Office that these figures are drawn. There is no prejudice in the mind of the Board, or of the Secretary, against housing by guild or housing in any way which will produce a better and a cheaper job, but when it comes to saying, "Let nothing be done except by the guild, let us go to the building trade of the country and say, abolish the contractor,'" for that is one of the suggestions brought forward, I must again say the need for expedition is so great that it would not lie in any way in our desire to abolish anyone who is actually delivering the goods or producing houses for us. The difficulties with regard to housing are still great, but I think there is no doubt that progress is being made. The monthly delivery of houses has gone up very greatly in the last three years. In 1924, the delivery of houses in May was 429; in 1925 it was 865, and in 1926 it was 1,175. It rose from 1924 to 1926 from 429 to over 1,100. In June, 1924, the deliveries were 380; in 1925, 940, and in 1926 the last delivery was 1,342—the greatest number of houses ever built in a month.


For sale or for letting?


For all purposes, houses for sale, houses to let under the 1924 Act and the 1923 Act. 1,342 door-keys were delivered over to the housewives of Scotland. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) that the alternative houses were not perhaps being delivered with the expedition the House had been led to expect. In the first year of the Addison scheme, 148 houses only were delivered. In the first year of the Chamberlain scheme, 487 houses only were delivered. In the first year of the Wheatley scheme, only 168 houses were delivered, of which 118 were transfers from the other Act, so that only 50 houses were actually delivered, not in three months but in 12 months from the date of that Act. We have a guarantee, signed and sealed, from the companies that they will deliver 2,000 houses in that time, and we say, on the progress made up to the present time, that there will be no material slowing of the deliveries, according as our contracts lie.

The strict ration which is imposed on all persons speaking in a Scottish Debate is now weighing upon me. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Gorbals that we should celebrate the creation of the Secretary of State's new office in some fitting manner. I consider that it has been celebrated in a fitting and proper Scottish mariner to-night by an attempt to cut down the amount of money which is being paid to him. We must stand fast against that. The Secretary of State for Scotland and myself will resist any attempt of that kind with all the power at our disposal, and we hope that there will be a substantial majority of the House in support of us.

Another subject which has been reviewed was that of health. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. T. Kennedy) raised the question of Insurance Committees. I agree with him that the question of Insurance Committees cannot be settled by the dictum of the Commission, and that a strong case will have to be made out before the Government consents to the abolition which has been outlined in the Royal Commission's Report. With respect to the hospital report, I would call attention to the very specific declaration which was made by my right hon. Friend in the last Debate, that the Board of Health were taking this matter into their closest scrutiny, and that they hoped to be able in the course of time to make considerable developments in the direction of providing an increased number of beds, as suggested in the Commission's Report. The hon. Member for Gorbals also raised the question of venereal disease. He spoke of the situation of the Broomielaw centre. I agree that the situation at that centre is not entirely satisfactory. Further building is going on there, however, and we hope to considerably improve the situation. The International Convention with respect to the treatment of venereal diseased has recently been ratified, and in future the disease among seamen will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the International Convention.

One suggestion which was made by many Members was that, in general, the situation in Scotland demanded that the housing subsidy should not be abolished.

I think I may say on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that the question of the abolition of the subsidy is not one which the Government is considering at the present time. The Secretary of State for Scotland has fought many battles on behalf of housing, even though it involved at times applications for special treatment for Scotland from the Treasury of the United Kingdom, and he will not he backward, if the need comes before him, in fighting another battle for Scotland.

Question put, "That £1,858,345 stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 315; Noes, 129.

Division No. 409.] AYES. [10 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Churchman, Sir Arthur G. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Clarry, Reginald George Greene, W. P. Crawford
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Cobb, Sir Cyril Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Grotrian, H. Brent
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Conway, Sir W. Martin Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cooper, A. Duff Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Cope, Major William Gunston. Captain D. W.
Atkinson, C. Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Balniel, Lord Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hanbury, C.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Harland, A.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Harrison, G. J. C.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Curzon, Captain Viscount Hartington, Marquess of
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Dalkeith, Earl of Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
Bennett. A. J. Dalziel, Sir Davison Haslam, Henry C.
Berry, Sir George Davidson,J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Hawke, John Anthony
Bethel, A. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Headlam, Lieut -Colonel C. M.
Betterton, Henry B. Davies, Dr. Vernon Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Davies, .Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Blades, Sir George Rowland Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Henn, Sir Sydney H.
Blundell, F. N. Dawson, Sir Philip Hennessy, Major J. R. G.
Boothby, R. J. G. Dean, Arthur Wellesley Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Braithwaite, A. N. Drewe, C. Herbert, S. (York,N.R.,Scar. & Wh'by)
Brass, captain W. Eden, Captain Anthony Hills, Major John Waller
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Edmondson, Major A. J. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Briscoe, Richard George Elliot, Major Walter E. Holland, Sir Arthur
Brittain, Sir Harry Ellis, R. G. Hopkins, J. W. W.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Elveden, Viscount Hopkinson. A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Howard, Captain Hon. Donald
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y) Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)
Buckingham, Sir H. Everard, W. Lindsay Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Fairfax, Captain J. G. Hume, Sir G. H.
Bullock, Captain M. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Fanshawe, Commander G. D. Huntingfield, Lord
Burman, J. B. Fermoy, Lord Hurst, Gerald B.
Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Hutchison. G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Foster, Sir Harry S. Hiffe, Sir Edward M.
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Foxcroft. Captain C. T. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Butt, Sir Alfred Fraser, Captain Ian Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Frece, Sir Walter de Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Calne, Gordon Hall Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Jacob, A. E.
Campbell, E. T. Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony Jephcott, A. R.
Cassels, J. D. Galbraith, J. F. W. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City). Ganzoni, Sir John Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Gates, Percy Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Gibbs. Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham King, Captain Henry Douglas
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Chapman, Sir S. Glyn, Major R. G. C. Knox, Sir Alfred
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Gower, Sir Robert Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Chilcott, Sir Warden Grace, John Little, Dr. E. Graham
Christie, J. A. Grant, Sir J. A. Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Perkins, Colonel E. K. Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Locker-Lampson, Com.O.(Handsw'th) Perring, Sir William George Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Loder, J. de V. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Strickland, Sir Gerald
Looker, Herbert William Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Lord, Walter Greaves- Pielou, D. P. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Lougher, L. Plicher, G. Styles, Captain H. Waller
Lowe, Sir Francis William Power, Sir John Cecil Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Pownall, Lieut,-Colonel Sir Assheton Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Preston, William Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Price, Major C. W. M. Tasker, Major R. Inigo
McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Radford, E. A. Templeton, W. P.
Macintyre, Ian Raine, W. Thom, Lt.-Col, J. G. (Dumbarton)
Macmillan, Captain H. Ramsden, E. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Rawson, Sir Cooper Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Rees, Sir Beddoe Tinne, J. A.
Macquisten, F. A. Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
MacRobert, Alexander M. Remer, J. R. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Remnant, Sir James Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Rentoul, G. S. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Malone, Major P. B. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Waddington, R.
Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Rice, Sir Frederick Wallace, Captain D. E.
Margesson, Captain D. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Warrender, Sir Victor
Meller, R. J. Ropner, Major L. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Merriman, F. B. Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Meyer, Sir Frank Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Rye, F. G. Watts, Dr. T.
Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Salmon, Major I. Wells, S. R.
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Sandeman, A. Stewart Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Sanders, Sir Robert A. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Moore, Sir Newton J. Sanderson, Sir Frank Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Sandon, Lord Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Morden, Colonel Walter Grant Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Moreing, Captain A. H. Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley Wise, Sir Fredric
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Wolmer, Viscount
Murchison, C. K. Skelton, A. N. Womersley, W. J.
Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Nelson, Sir Frank Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich. W.)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Newton, Sir D. G C. (Cambridge) Smithers, Waldron Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Nuttall, Ellis Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wragg, Herbert
O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Sprot, Sir Alexander Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.) Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Pennefather, Sir John Storry-Deans, R. Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain Bowyer.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Duncan, C. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Dunnico, H. Kelly, W. T.
Ammon. Charles George Fenby, T. D. Lawrence, Susan
Attlee, Clement Richard Gardner, J. P. Lawson, John James
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Gibbins, Joseph Lee, F.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Gillett, George M. Lindley, F. W.
Barnes, A. Gosling, Harry Lowth, T.
Barr, J. Graham. D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lunn, William
Batey, Joseph Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Greenall, T. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) March, S.
Briant, Frank Grenfell. D. R. (Glamorgan) Montague, Frederick
Broad, F. A. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth. Pontypool) Morris, R. H.
Bromfield, William Groves, T. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Grundy, T. W. Naylor, T. E.
Buchanan, G. Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Oliver, George Harold
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.) Palin, John Henry
Cape, Thomas Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Paling, W.
Charleton, H. C. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Cluse, W. S. Hardie, George D. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Harris, Percy A. Potts, John E.
Compton, Joseph Hayday, Arthur Purcell, A. S
Connolly, M. Hayes, John Henry Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Cove, W. G. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Riley, Ben
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Hirst, G. H. Saklatvala, Shapurji
Dalton, Hugh Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Davies, David (Montgomery) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Scrymgeour, E
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Scurr, John
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) John, William (Rhondda, West) Sexton, James
Day, Colonel Harry Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Dennison, R. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Taylor, R. A. Westwood, J.
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Sitch, Charles H. Thurtle, Ernest Whiteley, W.
Smillie, Robert Tinker, John Joseph Wilkinson. Ellen C.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Townend, A. E. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Trevelyan, At. Hon. C. P. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Varley, Frank B. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Snell, Harry Viant, S. P. Windsor, Walter
Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe) Wallhead, Richard C. Wright. W.
Stamford, T. W. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Stephen, Campbell Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Sullivan, J. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sutton, J. E. Welsh, J. C. Mr. T. Kennedy and Mr. Charles Edwards.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.

It being after Ten of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolution under consideration.

Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No.15, to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with, the Committee in, the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to VII of the Civil Services Estimates, and of the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates, the Air Estimates, the Revenue Departments Estimates, and other outstanding Resolutions severally.