HC Deb 02 March 1926 vol 192 cc1340-87

I beg to move, That, in the opinion of this House, the extra expenditure imposed upon local authorities in Necessitous Areas in consequence of bad trade and unemployment is an intolerable and unjust burden upon the ratepayers in these areas and ought to be made a national charge. There have been many arguments on the Floor of the House on different occasions, and there has been special pleading for particular necessitous areas that have been outstanding in their distress and trouble, but I venture to suggest that there is scarcely an industrial centre in Great Britain that has not now become what one might well term a necessitous area. Since 1921, when we felt the effect of the trade slump and the general depression and distress that followed in its trail, there has been an ever-increasing handicap for those areas, which are almost exclusively industrial in character. They are in the position now of being crippled and begging of the nation, through one of the Government Departments, for permission to borrow from the nation's resources, in the creation of which, I venture to suggest, they themselves took a hand during the period of prosperity. The very people who are now suffering in the necessitous areas are those who helped to build up the great individual fortunes, and also to amass the national wealth. Adversity has come their way, and, in all the talk about the spirit of kindliness and about equality of suffering, quite a one-sided view has been taken of their trouble.

On the one hand, many areas, like Kensington, are free from this handicap, but the industrialists of the East End of London and other centres in the country, which are merely the dormitories of those who toil and spin in factory and workshop and in the busy centres of prosperous cities, have become more and more enslaved, and their future has been mortgaged for such a period and to such an extent that the next two or three generations will be severely handicapped in their struggle to bring back the equipoise of those centres, which are now suffering so much distress through no fault of their own. To-day we find, where figures are available, that there is an increasing number of applicants for some form of parish relief from boards of guardians, and we are confronted with statistics and facts which go to show that these very boards of guardians, owing to the long period during which they have had to meet these emergencies, are to-day almost without funds to enable them to sustain the physique of their people. We constantly hear of their having to plead with the Ministry of Health for power to borrow money, and we find that, even where permission is given, the full toll of interest is chargeable on the money raised, and those interest charges add still further to the handicap.

I am going to suggest that we cannot get a full perspective of the stark tragedy of poverty that lies behind this call for national help to the necessitous areas, even from a figure of so many thousands being relieved through the Poor Law guardians. That does not reflect the full extent of the poverty, the suffering, and the needs of the locality; it just represents to what extent that locality is able to meet the demands that are made upon it. One may get figures for payments by Poor Law guardians ranging as high, in the case of Poplar, as £6 per head of the population per annum for the purpose of relieving distress, or one may get other figures of 60s., 50s., 40s., or 30s. per head of the population in the area; but I venture to suggest that these resources and possibilities will diminish as time goes on, and that the amount of relief the local authority will be capable of giving must diminish, from very lack of resources. Indeed, I have heard of one Welsh area where they have actually had to reduce the Poor Rate in order to get any return at all from a rate levy. That will sound rather curious, at any rate to the outside world. It might seem to show that they are so prosperous that they can afford to reduce their rate levy, but quite the reverse is the case; they are too poor to pay the rate that it is necessary to levy, and, consequently, the rate has to be eased in order to get something in. That represents a greater demand for that area, even though it has been compelled, in order to get in some sort of rate, to reduce its levy upon the ratepayers.

I have to ask the House to be a little patient while I make one or two comparisons, because, while these figures will convey some meaning to those who thoroughly appreciate the position, I am afraid that to the outside world they will convey but very little unless a deeper study is made of them. We find that in September, 1924, over all England, excluding Monmouthshire, Poor Law relief was given to 266 per 10,000 of population, while at the corresponding date in 1925, the number had increased to 301. Taking Wales, including Monmouthshire, in September, 1924, the figure was 360 per 10,000 of population, and at the corresponding date in 1925 it had risen to 503 per 10,000 of population. Those are average figures for the whole country, and, that being the case, I would ask hon. Members of this House to note how particular districts are hit. If the figure for all England is 301 per 10,000 of population, what shall we say of a hard-hit area like Poplar, where, on the 27th September, 1924, 1,628 in every 10,000 of the population were being relieved, while on the 26th September, 1925, that number had increased to 1,767 per 10,000? The figures for Bermondsey for the corresponding period were 1,156 and 1,316, and in the case of West Ham, 936 and 846.

Those are three typical working-class necessitous areas of London, one in the South East and two in the East—one an extra-metropolitan and one a metropolitan borough. The same story you will find in most other industrial centres. If I take South Shields, in September, 1924. 480 per 10,000 were in receipt of relief. In the corresponding period of 1925 it had risen to 1,166. These are periods when it was said trade was lifting. This Poor Law barometer demonstrates that we have it, attempt to hide it as much as we will, more stark in our midst than it has yet been, for if one traces the figures back we are hardly likely to reach figures of this magnitude. At Newcastle-on-Tyne for the same two periods the figures are 774 and 852, Middlesbrough 472 and 542, Merthyr Tydvil 619 and 1,037, Pontypridd 551 and 865, Monmouth Unions, excepting Newport, 434 and 642. I am leaving out towns like Lincoln, Nottingham, Sheffield and Barrow-in-Furness, many of which come up to the mark of 400 per 10,000 population. In some of those cases you get three persons out of every 20 receiving poor relief. You can go to one or two other areas and you will find the proportion worked out in some cases as low as 50 per 10,000 in one Poor Law area and 1,700 per 10,000 in another.

If one examines the matter of loans to guardians, here again it brings out a few of the very poorest areas. I am quoting now from the Minister of Health's Report for 1924–25 in which it states that on 1st April, 1925, the number of Poor Law authorities authorised to borrow under the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, 1921, and subsequent Acts extending the operation of that Act was 24, the figure for 1st April, 1924, being 23. The total amount represented by the sanctions held by the 24 unions was £6,907,500, as compared with £6,676,500 on 1st April, 1924, and £5,714,000 on 1st April, 1923, sanctioning 35 and 54 unions, respectively. On 1st April, 1925, more than £6,000,000 of the total amount of £6,970,500 was attributable to the eight unions of Barrow-in-Furness, Bedwelty, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Poplar, Sheffield, West Derby and West Ham. Six-sevenths of the total loans of that year were advanced to eight areas, which were then in a state of keen distress. That does not represent the full picture, but it draws out from the welter of poverty and distress in necessitous areas the fact that eight of them convinced the Government Department that their necessity called for an amount of not less than £6,000,000 in relief. What would have happened had all the necessitous areas petitioned for advances under these circumstances one, of course, hesitates to try to guess.

The figures I have given have been comparative of September, 1924, with September, 1925, because the last available figures are for September, 1925. That does not represent the full volume of the troubles in necessitous areas. Since that date the position has become infinitely worse, because we had the Unemployment Act just prior to September, 1925, and its operations for clearing off, under the discretion of the Ministry of Labour, many thousands of persons then drawing extended benefit and the increased rapidity with which others were disqualified from drawing unemployment benefit means that, bad as were the cases represented up to September, 1925, it is worse since 1925. A little while ago I was able to get some statements in answer to a questionnaire, not sent by the Government, to certain boards of guardians desiring to know what was the effect of the operation of the 1925 Unemployment Act.


Will the hon. Member say what this questionnaire is and where it comes from?


I said it was not from a Government Department.


Where does it come from?


It is one used by me for the purpose of securing information for comparative purposes. This carries us to December. I am now quoting the number of persons remaining on the live register from June, 1925, to 21st December. I mention Birmingham first because of the particular interest of the Minister of Health. Birmingham on 29th June had on the live register 25,459 unemployed persons. On 21st December, with the operation of the Minister's discretion and other restrictive provisions in the Act, that number was reduced to 21,074. That is a reduction of 4,400. Turning to the number in receipt of Poor Law relief for the same periods, one finds that in Birmingham in June, 1925, 7,839 persons who were unemployed and insured under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, whether in receipt of benefit or not, were being relieved, whereas in December when the live register was down by 4,400, leading to the country to believe that 4,400 more persons had found situations in Birmingham, there were drawing Poor Law relief, 9,039. The number in receipt of out-door relief had increased by 1,200, while the live register had decreased by 4,400. I challenge any contradiction of these figures.

The Bristol figures show, on the live register in June, 1925, 15,134 persons signing, and in December the number had been reduced to 13,049, while of those in receipt of Poor Law relief, there were 5,691 in June and 7,190 in December. Therefore, the figures which indicated greater prosperity by showing that fewer had signed on at the Exchange, are belied by the statement that there were more in receipt of Poor Law relief.


The hon. Member will understand the difficulty I am in. I do not know who has addressed the questionnaire, and who has replied to it. As far as the figures for Birmingham are concerned, I have checked them with the numbers I have got, and they do not agree. The hon. Member ought to inform the House who has addressed the questionnaire and who has supplied the figures.


The questionnaire was sent out by the joint research department of the British Trade Union Congress and the Labour party, and was sent to clerks of boards of guardians. It is presumed that they have been replied to by those clerks.


Am I to understand that the clerk to the Birmingham Union gave the figures relating to Birmingham?


I am led to believe so, and I have no reason to disbelieve it. The figures there are, for the four weeks ending 30th June, 1925, 7,839, and for the same period ending 31st December, 1925, 9037. Perhaps one of the worst cases is that of Gateshead. On the 30th June, 1925, Gateshead showed an increase on the live register of 9,854, and that had increased to 11,902 in December. Here is a strange fact, that while there is an increase of 2,000 on the live register, there are actually 11,000 more in receipt of Poor Law relief, the figures being, for the four weeks ending 30th June, 1925, 10,381, and for the four weeks ending 31st December, 1925, 21,536. The Middlesbrough figures bear pretty well the same ratio. In the case of Middlesbrough, there is a reduction of 700 on the live register and an increase of 2,300 shown as receiving some form of Poor Law relief.

These figures show that the position has become worse. There is a progressive increase in the rate per 10,000 of the population who are compelled to seek relief from the Poor Law guardians; then there are the operations of the Employment Act, 1925, which clear people off the live register and mislead the public into the belief that trade is improving, whereas bad trade is reflected by adding to the volume of applications for relief from the boards of guardians.

Take the case of Birmingham again. In reply to a question in this House by the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Compton) certain figures were given in regard to Birmingham. The final part of the answer states: Of the total number of persons in receipt of domiciliary relief on the 1st January, 1925, 51 per cent. were under 16 years of age, 46 per cent. between 16 and 70 years of age, and 3 per cent. were over 70 years of age. The corresponding percentages for those in receipt of institutional relief are 29, 15, and 16. Ex-servicemen and their dependants constituted 47 per cent. of the persons in receipt of domiciliary relief on the 3rd May, 1924, and 17 per cent. of the persons in receipt of institutional relief."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1925; cols. 955–956, Vol. 182.] This is the way the wreckage piles up. Let us be careful lest the wreckage piles up in such volume as to obstruct permanently the full and free development of British trade and commerce. We cannot afford a perpetuation of the fact that in Birmingham, one of the busiest hives of industry, and one of the greatest contributors to the nation's well-being, when it has its opportunity, there should be 46 per cent. of the persons in receipt of out-door relief who are ex-service men—men who fought for homes fit for heroes to live in, who have come down with the general crash and have become merged in the whirlpool of despair until they are like so many pieces of flotsam and jetsam, to drift here and there. We ask the nation to fulfil her obligations no less in peace time than she promised to do in war time, at a time when things were fresh and people were busy, some of them counting up their banking accounts, which were the results of the sacrifices made by the men who are now allowed to drift.

Let the House realise what has been happening. The longer we go on, the greater the hardship for these necessitous localities. The longer we go on, the less able will they be to make contributions towards the relief of distress. The greater they pile up debt, the more will they be landed into bankruptcy up to the second or third generation of their citizens to work themselves out of bankruptcy, and we are allowing them to drift into it.

Surely some national effort is worth making in this respect. Places like Poplar, West Ham, Newcastle, Merthyr Tydvil have been great contributors to the wealth of the nation in the years gone by, they have contributed to the utmost of their limits, and now, when they are in the position they are at the moment, they are, I think, worthy of some consideration.

Let me put two or three questions to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, who represents the Government at the moment. If he can reply his answers will show the great sacrifices which these industrial centres have made in the past. I am afraid the extent of their sacrifices since 1920 is not appreciated, and if we can have the figures I am sure the amount would startle many people in this country. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us the total amount spent by local authorities on anticipated work. We asked them some time ago to anticipate work and put in hand as much as they could in order to absorb the unemployed. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what amount has been expended in anticipatory work and special work schemes by local authorities. Will he tell us how much has been spent in Poor Law relief by boards of guardians, and the amount of money that has been spent under the Necessitous Children Act; in the feeding of school children since January, 1921, to January, 1926, which is the period of our deepest depression and when great numbers of men and women were thrown out of work and came on the unemployment list. I hope we shall get a promise that some easement will be provided for these dark and desolate places, which at the present moment resemble a burial ground rather than busy industrial hives. It is sad to contemplate that there are men, women and children who are anxious and willing to work, but who have to live without the necessities of life. Let us not criticise them, but rather see if we cannot hold out the helping hand in a much more generous measure than we have ever done beforehand give some help to these necessitous areas.


I beg to second the Motion.

There are between 50 and 60 Members in the House who represent what is known as necessitous areas, and I take it for granted that every one of them would like the opportunity of placing their position before the House. I am very sorry that the Minister of Health himself is not present to-night, because I feel convinced that the arguments which will be advanced would have made a lasting impression on his mind. About two years ago Poplar was a very notorious place. They had an awful row there, several of the members went to prison, and the Government, in consequence, had to bring in a Bill for the purpose of relieving Poplar and other necessitous centres in the Metropolitan area. Poplar received considerable assistance from that Act, and has passed out of the picture for the time being. Now it is West Ham that is notorious. There have been some very wicked things said about West Ham by people who do not know that West Ham is in the County of Essex and do not know the class of people who live in West Ham.

Let me remind the House that there is a great deal of difference between the Poor Law Union of West Ham and the Borough of West Ham. The Poor Law Union is made up of seven or eight local authorities, and represents a population of about 800,000, while the Borough of West Ham has a population of little over 300,000. I expect the Parliamentary Secretary will be asking us to define a necessitous area. I think I can anticipate what he is going to say in reply to this Debate. I know it is somewhat difficult to define a necessitous area, but we say that there should be no difficulty at all about it. Hon. Members on this side of the House have said on more than one occasion that all the money that is being paid by Poor Law authorities throughout the country as a consequence of the great depression through which we are passing and the many men and women out of employment, who are compelled to go to the Poor Law authorities for relief, should foe paid by the National Exchequer. And I want to tell the Government that until that time arrives there will be no settlement of this question.

Even if trade revives, if it does revive—I am one of those who believe that you will never get the volume of trade we had in the days gone by—you will always have at least 500,000 men out of work who will be compelled to receive Poor Law relief from time to time. I have been the chairman of a Poor Law necessitous Areas Committee since 1921, and the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thompson) has been vice-chairman during the whole of that period. We have done our level best to try and persuade all Governments to deal with this very important question. A deputation waited upon the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health on 6th December, 1921. The position in 1921 was not nearly as bad as it is now. Deputations have waited upon various Governments from that day to the present time. I remember that on one occasion—I think it was in 1922—when the present right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was the Prime Minister of the Coalition Government, one of the largest deputations that ever waited upon a Prime Minister went from all the Poor Law necessitous areas and from the municipalities, and the present Minister of Health was on that occasion one of the chief spokesmen. I do not know whether there was a verbatim report taken of the interview, but I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health to peruse the statements made to the then Prime Minister by the present Minister of Health, and I am convinced that he would have no hesitation in saying that the Government would accept this Motion.

9.0 P.M.

In July of last year there was another deputation which waited upon the present Prime Minister. He was so impressed with the statements made that he promised to set up a Committee for the purpose of inquiring into various schemes that might be presented to the? Committee. The Committee was set up. I think Sir Harry Goschen is the Chairman of the Committee. Evidence was given by various people. I was the first witness called. I am not sure whether the Parliamentary Secretary has read that statement of mine. If he has, I am sure that it is convincing enough for anything. Then the present Borough Treasurer of West Ham and my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough and the chairman of the Sheffield Board of Guardians gave evidence. I am hoping that the Committee will present their Report before the coming Budget is framed. I am sure that the Committee have received all the evidence that they want and that the Parliamentary Secretary has in the Ministry of Health all the information that is wanted on this particular question. I do not say that there has been any collusion between the Minister of Health and the Committee, and that the Committee do not want to present a Report-to the Government, so that the Government can persuade the Treasury and the Treasury can persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make provisions in his Budget, in which case I am very much afraid that we shall be in the same position as we are in now. On Monday, 6th July, I put the following question to the Minister of Health: To ask the Minister of Health if he is prepared to issue a statement showing the amount of loans lent to the various boards of guardians by the negotiating committee in all parts of the country; the rate of interest charged for each loan; and the amount of principal and interest payable for each year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1925; col. 60, Vol. 186.] The right hon. Gentleman presented me with a return relating to Barrow-in-Furness, Bedwelty, Crickhowell, Neath, Poplar, Redruth, Sheffield and West Ham. I want Members of the House to take particular notice of the deplorable position in which the Borough of West Ham finds itself. You may say that I am dwelling too much on the Borough of West Ham. But it is only a matter of degree between West Ham and many other local authorities. West Ham borrowed £300,000 at 6 per cent., £200,000 at 5 per cent., £1,300,000 at 4¾ per cent., and within the last two months they were compelled to borrow another £300,000 at 5 per cent. West Ham is called upon to do what? To pay in the shape of principal and interest: For the year 1924–25, £223,520; 1925–26, £239,844; 1926–27, £328,563; 1927–28, £354,266; 1928–29, £275,160; and then it gradually dwindles away until the year 1932–33, when they will be called upon to pay £5,119. Just imagine when this gets to the peak! That will be in 1927–28, when the payment will be £354,256. The money that they are borrowing now is money borrowed for the purpose of paying the Government back again.

It is quite impossible for West Ham and similar Poor Law authorities to go on in the direction in which they are now travelling. If I had my way—I have the will but not the power—I would give a clean sheet to all these local authorities. I am not quite sure whether the Government will ever get all that money back from West Ham. I can tell the Parliamentary Secretary the stage at which many of the boards of guardians are arriving now. They have found out, after pleading like a cripple at a cross, that they are getting no relief from the Government in any shape or form; and unless the Government are prepared to come forward in some direction they will find that the position will be more serious than it is already. There are one or two members of the West Ham Board of Guardians who, on more than one occasion, have urged the board of guardians to refuse absolutely to pay any relief to men and women who are out of employment. If all the boards of guardians in the country took up that attitude the Government would find themselves in a very tight corner.

I can just anticipate what the Parliamentary Secretary will say in reply. He is going to tell us, I am sure, that a Committee has been considering the matter, and that until it is in a position to make a report the Government are not prepared to do anything. I know it is not usual to read in the House letters which have been sent to Members, but in consequence of the deplorable condition in which West Ham, in common with many other boroughs, finds itself in this respect I will, with permission, read a letter from the Clerk of the West Ham Poor Law Guardians: In spite of the official figures quoted from time to time in the daily Press, the position in regard to unemployment in necessitous areas has steadily grown worse. In January last increases were shown in the number of persons on the registers of the Employment Exchanges in such districts as Newcastle, Tees Side, Sunderland and Sheffield, and this was reflected in the number of persons in receipt of Poor Law relief in the same month. The rate per 10,000 of the estimated population of persons in receipt of Poor Law relief in Newcastle was 791—ran increase of 275—in the Tees district the rate was 637, an increase of 134; in Glasgow it was 972, an increase of 173, and in this district"— that is the district which I represent— it was 946, the increases being as compared with a year ago. A further factor which governs the position is that by reason of the stringency with which the Ministry of Labour Regulations are now being administered by the Employment Exchanges a very large number of individuals have been refused standard and extended benefit and compelled to resort to the Poor Law for their needs. Of course, the argument used is that the Unemployment Insurance Acts are based upon a system of insurance and are not benefit schemes, but the bald fact remains that the cost of a very large volume of public assistance afforded to unemployed persons has been transferred from the National Exchequer to local rates. Taking this area "— the area which I represent— in one Employment Exchange alone the numbers on the live registers in the month of June, 1925, as compared with October, 1925, had increased from 10,100 to 11,500, but the amount of unemployment benefit distributed in the period had been reduced from £35,000 to £20,000, and, I repeat, local rates had to a large extent to make up the deficiency. This method of economising on the part of the Exchequer cannot go on indefinitely. It is perfectly true that the Prime Minister after considerable delay set up a Committee to consider and report on any scheme which might be submitted to them for special assistance from the Exchequer to local authorities in necessitous urban and quasi-urban areas. This was so long ago as November last, but up to the present no Report has been received, and the areas concerned are anxious and impatient to learn whether there is any prospect or hope of their being granted help to meet their needs. In this union the board of guardians have been compelled quite recently again to resort to the Minister of Health for a further loan of £300,000 to enable them to meet their current expenses entirely due to unemployment. Their total indebtedness to the Minister is now over £2,050,000. Allowing for repayments made in respect of principal and as these loans carry interest varying from 6 per cent. to 4¾ per cent., the seriousness of the situation will be realised. In actual practice, to enable the guardians to pay the interest and instalments of principal when due, the vicious system has been resorted to of borrowing from the Minister to repay him. This surely is heading for sheer bankruptcy, and the Minister must realise it. It is idle to urge that the local ratepayers should meet their own liabilities; they are doing more than this. For some years past now they have levied for Poor Law purposes the enormous rate of 9s. in the £ in each year, and they rightly claim that this is the highest poor rate throughout England and Wales, and unless industry in their locality is to be completely and entirely crippled, a heavier call on the ratepayers cannot be made. The Minister of Health knows full well the gravity of the position to which I am alluding, and that from the returns supplied to his Department for the last week, the guardians were called upon to disburse in outdoor relief the stupendous sum of £28,000. That state of affairs cannot go on for all time and I make an energetic and earnest appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to help these areas for I think perhaps he has some heart though I expect he has received instructions what to do in this matter. I am convinced, however, that it will be necessary to do something. It is no good telling the House about the difficulty of defining a necessitous area. We have taken the Poor Kate throughout England and Wales and endeavoured to strike an average. I think at the present time the average is 2s. 7½d. and while I contend that all the money now paid by guardians to the unemployed, should be paid from the National Exchequer, here is a suggested compromise—namely, that all money paid by Poor Law authorities over 2s. 7Jd. should be met from the National Exchequer. I am not in the position to state what amount that proposal would involve. It might cost £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, but I think it would pay, because if the boards of guardians take it upon themselves to refuse to administer relief to the unemployed, the Government will find themselves in an even worse position than that which they are in at present. I apologise for taking up so much time, but this is a question of great importance not only to West Ham but to industrial centres throughout the length and breadth of the land.


I am certain I voice the feelings of all who represent areas which cannot be described as necessitous, when I say that we sympathise with the difficulties of Members of Parliament and municipal representatives in those areas. The constituency which I represent is relatively fortunate, but I was on two occasions candidate for another area which was very much a necessitous area. Some two years ago it was placed among the 12 worst districts of the country. Therefore I have seen both sides of the picture. I have listened with close attention to the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. W. Thorne) and to most of the speech of the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Hayday). Both referred to certain areas in particular. The hon. Member for West Ham referred to the borough which he represents and which, curiously enough, has recently shown an improving position. I notice the proportion per 10,000 of the population in receipt of relief is 31 less than It was a year ago, taking a selected day in January, and 12 less than it was in the month of December.

The other area which was selected is very different in character, namely, Birmingham, where there has been a decrease of 51 as compared with a year ago. If you contrast these two areas you find some very remarkable things. In West Ham, out of every 10,000 of the population, no fewer than 946 are in receipt of Poor Law assistance, whereas in Birmingham the number is only 277. If you take an area like North Staffordshire, where the pottery industry has had a peculiarly difficult time, though I think it is rather better now, the total is only 201. If you travel not quite so far East as West Ham, and stop short in the Eastern district of London, you get a total of 1,153 out of every 10,000 in receipt of Poor Law relief. The range of variation is so great—and very much greater than the range of variation of unemployment in those areas—that I think we are compelled to ask ourselves whether the proportion of Poor Law relief borne by the different districts is entirely the result of the economic conditions prevailing in those districts, or whether it is not in part the result of the deliberate policy pursued by the boards of guardians in some of those areas.


We thought that was coming.


In answer to my hon. Friend, if I may be privileged to call him so, the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), I would say that one is entitled to make the comment that if hon. Members come here and demand that this burden shall be made a national charge, those who represent other areas which will be compelled to contribute towards that national charge are entitled to examine the local circumstances which afflict at least some of the necessitous areas. I still remember, some two or three years ago, when I was a candidate for Wednesbury, a deputation, consisting of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. F. O. Roberts), the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Short), and the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. Sitch), all Members of the party opposite, waiting upon the Dudley Board of Guardians. The Chairman of that board happened to be a member of the Labour party, and when the three Members of Parliament, who were accompanied by a large number of friends, had stated their case, the Labour Chairman of the board of guardians remarked, somewhat sarcastically, that it was not often the privilege of a chairman of a board of guardians to receive three Members of Parliament, but he wanted to make it quite clear—I paraphrase his words—that if they expected him to impose such charges upon the local rates that the local industry would never revive, he was not going to do it. I am going to suggest to hon. Members opposite that if they possessed as much political courage as was possessed by that Chairman, some of the necessitous areas would not be suffering from the difficulties from which they suffer to-day. None of us like to say "No." The most difficult word in the English language to say is "No," but if you never say "No," you will debauch the people, and you will restore them to the conditions which prevailed prior to the Poor Law Commission of 1834, and you will force a big reform, which may in the long run, I imagine, be disadvantageous to the party opposite. In the long run there comes from the general public a reaction against any attempt to debauch the electorate by the too free granting of any kind of relief, Poor Law or other.

The hon. Gentleman who proposed the Resolution has not, I think, devoted as much time to the study of the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" as he might have done. On at least three occasions in this House I have drawn attention to an error which prevails, I am afraid, to the effect that the number of persons on the live register and the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit are the same thing. The people who are on the live register are those who have signed on in the hope of getting a job, and they are not necessarily the same as those who are in receipt of unemployment benefit. The hon. Member for South Nottingham said that by the end of last year we had pushed people off the live register and forced them on to the Poor Law, but I want to point out that the disallowance of benefit does not force anybody off the live register.


What is the use of signing it when there is no benefit to draw?


I have drawn from the hon. Member precisely what I wanted, but my opinion of my fellow countrymen is that they sign the register in the hope of getting a job, because that, and not benefit, is what they are really looking for.


If they cannot get a job, they have to starve. Do not insult us.


A considerable number of those are knocked off because there is no prospect, so they are told by the Employment Exchanges, of ever finding work again.


I am fully aware of what the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) says, but may I also point out that, if he will study the detailed statement which is issued month by month in the "Labour Gazette," he will find the grounds on which people have been disqualified? For example, if he will take the period which ended on the 11th January, 1926, he will find that there were 34,449 persons disallowed in that period, of whom 11,559 were disallowed on the ground that they had not had a reasonable period of insurable employment during the preceding two years, but the number who were not normally insurable and not seeking to obtain a livelihood by means of insurable employment was 3,952, or about one-eighth of the total. The other seven-eighths did not suffer from the disqualification, as the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley suggested. I quoted the figure of 3,952 because that was the total number coming into the class quoted by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley.


Figures cannot lie, but lies can figure.


I will not weary the House by reading a lengthy table of figures, but I have chosen the particular figure which came into the category mentioned by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, and I have shown that it only represented one-eighth of the total. I hold that my fellow-countrymen have a very much higher standard than that attributed to them by the hon. Member for South Nottingham, because I find that on the 25th January there were 79,422 persons who, though they were disqualified, yet maintained registration, and in addition to that there were on what is known as the two months' list, that is to say, persons in receipt of benefit but of whom no record has been received for two months, no fewer than 109,000, so you see, as a matter of fact, that in practice the live register tends to be, with some error, but only a small error, a reasonable record of the total number of persons who are in fact unemployed. That there should have been an increase in Poor Law relief during a period when there has been some decline of unemployment is not altogether strange. The Act of last year did definitely deprive certain people of benefit. Some of those people sought relief from the guardians, and if their circumstances were such as to justify it, they got relief.

Therefore, it is perfectly evident that you may, as a result of a change in legislation, find at one and the same time a real decrease in unemployment coupled with some temporary increase in the number receiving Poor Law relief, but if you will follow these statistics month by month in the "Labour Gazette," you will discover that there is an amazing variety of practice among the Poor Law guardians up and down the country. Some of them interpret their duties in a spirit of broad sympathy, but yet with a rigid determination that there shall be no exploitation of the ratepayers. In those areas destitution is effectively relieved, while, on the other hand, there is no encouragement to pauperisation and no demoralisation of the people. I can assure hon. and right hon. Members opposite that there is nothing which more irritates the ordinary man and woman, irrespective of rank, class or wealth, than the idea that certain persons are being encouraged to sponge on the general public. It is one's constant experience in conversation with people, whether rich or poor, and after all there is in this country a tradition even too strong against "going on the parish." It is carried to the point of folly. So deep is the pride of our people in regard to receiving Poor Law relief, that many who should take advantage of the splendid infirmaries will not do so because of the taint of pauperism. I admire them, but I think it is carried to the extent of folly. I think that spirit is better than the spirit which is not advantaging in the long run those who live in the area of West Ham.


Do not talk about West Ham. It is better than Reading any day.


It may be, but we make better biscuits. I did not introduce West Ham into this discussion; it was, introduced by the hon. and gallant Member for Plaistow (Mr. W. Thorne). He raised arguments about the area he represents. He demands that the expenditure in that area shall be made a national charge, and, therefore, borne in part by my constituency. I in self-defence am entitled to examine critically the conditions under which Poor Law relief is carried out in West Ham.


The last speaker will pardon me if I do not attempt to follow his arguments. I do not attempt to follow them because I believe the subject is rather more important than the scoring of mere debating points, and references to boards of guardians with a deliberate policy of putting people on the rates are, I think, arguments that one can leave on one side. The Resolution declares that the position as it exists now is intolerable and unjust. Is that a correct statement of the position of affairs? There need be no party bias on this matter. Are those words true in substance and in fact, is the question each Member on whatever side of the House he sits ought to ask himself. I argue that they are intolerable because precisely the people who are suffering most have the double burden upon them. There is no family would say that if one of its members was suffering, that member should have a double dose of suffering, and there should; be no nation which would see one section of its population suffering more than the other, and allow the state of things to exist by which a double burden is thrown on the suffering part. The burdens are intolerable. The figures which have been given are the clearest possible proof of the fact that in many areas the burden is absolutely and without question crushing. In one part of the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, he contrasted an eastern borough with West Ham in order to show that things are not as bad as in West Ham. He proved himself that one person out of every 10 in that borough was actually a recipient of poor law relief That is a perfectly terrible state of affairs which nobody can look upon with equanimity. To make debating points on a statement of that kind is unworthy of the House.

We ought really to try to face this question in a different spirit. We declare in this Resolution that not only are the burdens intolerable and unjust, but that there ought to be steps taken to make this burden a national, rather than a local responsibility. Ought the burden to be made, as far as it can be made, national, or ought it, as far as it can, to be made local? That is the question that the House has to ask itself. It must be remembered—and every Member of the House knows it—that every year of this unemployment means an addition to the dejection, disintegration and deterioration of our people. The question is how best can we face the problems that exist. Ought this burden to be local or national? If there is one thing more than another that has caused this state of affairs it is the War. The War is directly responsible for this extraordinarily high level of unemployment. It is directly responsible for the sufferings of the people. Hundreds of thousands of these people who are suffering were men who fought in the War. Surely they ought to be, as far as they can be, made a national and not a local responsibility. Surely money should not have a higher claim than humanity. We have never attempted to get out of the responsibility to people who lent money during the War, but the State has tried to get out of a large part of its responsibility to men who fought during the War.

The question is, Are the Government willing to try to deal with it on the lines of a national responsibility, and to make it as much a national responsibility as they can? Lenders of money get a full and overflowing measure of repayment which is based on the whole of the nation. The whole of the nation must contribute to the payment of interest on money lent during the War. Why should not the whole nation contribute in accordance with their means towards the upkeep of those people who are out of work and suffering directly as the result of the War? It is not economy to keep tightening the holes in belts. No sensible family would do it, and why should sensible nations? Does anybody doubt that these things exist, or that the double burden exists in certain parts. That is the point we ought to face with the desire, not to score party points but mutually to help to bring about a state of affairs in which one section of the population should not bear a burden absolutely crushing, while another section is getting off far more easily. We tried in 1924 to share out the burden a little bit better. We did try, by raising benefits and bringing more people into insurance, and various other methods to shard the burden more over industry. All the time we knew that this burden really ought to be a national burden, but the more we get it towards a national burden, the more we attain to a fair state of affairs. The nation ought to be proud to carry the responsibility of these men and women. If it had not been for many of them, there might not have been a nation in the sense we know it to-day.

That is a fact we ought always carefully to bear in mind. Not the town as a town, not the locality as a locality, but the nation as a nation ought to bear this burden, and ought to take the best steps it can to see that that burden is equally distributed over the nation, strictly in accordance with the capacity of its inhabitants to pay. When that is done, I think we shall get a little nearer to a settlement of the difficulties that exist. I am going to ask the hon. Gentleman if he will say a word about future policy, because those of us who are very uneasy at the present trend of affairs, think the policy is getting worse, and that instead of an attempt being made to put the burden on more shoulders, the attempt is being made to put the burden on fewer shoulders, and to make the already deplorable condition of some of the big centres of industry still worse. We ought to know whether it is the intention of the Government to take any steps at all in order to make this burden more a national charge than it is now.

I have only one word to say in conclusion, and it is that the sufferings in some of our large towns have been sufferings which have been terribly bad to bear, and there is a great deal at stake during the next five or six years. It may be easy, after a course of years of unemployment and privation, of unemployment pay and Poor Law relief, to deteriorate vast masses of people, but it may take generations to bring them back to the standpoint of sterling independence which our people occupied before the deterioration took place. Because I believe that the burden is unjust and intolerable, and that unemployment ought to be made as much as it possibly can be made a national responsibility, I support the Resolution that has been moved to-night.


I have been very interested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat, because he has told us in so many words that his view of this Resolution is that the necessitous areas should be more of a national than a local charge. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has not read the Resolution, because the Resolution proposes that the whole of the charge which is imposed upon necessitous areas shall become a national charge. That is not the speech which he has delivered. He repeated time after time that it should be more a national charge.

Lieut-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

If the hon Gentleman reads the second line of the Resolution he will see the words "extra expenditure."


It says that expenditure should be a national charge.


Extra expenditure!


He has not read the Resolution!


It means that the extra expenditure caused in these necessitous areas should all be a national charge. That is the one point upon which I join issue with hon. Members opposite. It strikes at the whole root of our local Government. I am a firm believer in the principle that those people who spend the money should be the people to find the money. It is the greatest check we have in the interest of economy. If you are going to have a local government spending money, and somebody else having to find that money, the effect will be to strike right at the root of our whole local government, and surely that must mean that the whole of our local government will be abolished, and the affairs of local government brought into this House, in order that this House shall keep a check upon the expenditure it is called upon to meet. For these reasons, I am a great believer in the principle of local government. Local government in the form in which it stands may need improvement, but I think there is no finer thing than the principle of local government. This Resolution strikes at the whole root of it, and would mean its eventual destruction. There is a further point in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I must refer. He said that the whole cause of the trouble in these necessitous areas was the War. I might say that part of the cause is the Free Trade system which we have in this country at the present time.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

I think that is rather wide of the subject.


I was not intending to pursue that at any length


You might have a little pity on him; he has got badly mixed.


I thought if we were to discuss the question of the War being the cause of the position in the necessitous areas, it would also be wide of the subject of Debate. People in business, probably more than most people, realise the heavy charge of local rates. We see the effect upon local industries in various directions, and know the heavy burden of local rates. I feel very strongly that if we are to leave to every Socialist local authority the right to spend whatever money they like, and to present their bill to this House and expect us to foot it and pay for their extravagances, that is an absolutely monstrous stats of affairs, and I, for one, will not for a moment assent to it. We on this side feel very strongly that there must be a check upon the extravagance of those gentlemen who belong to some of those local authorities, whether boards of guardians or councils. We have to vote Supply for their spending, and the logical conclusion of this Resolution is that these extravagant bodies can spend whatever they like, and we in this House have got to foot whatever bill is presented for them. That is a monstrous position, and I, for my part, will have no hesitation in going into the Lobby against the Resolution.


The hon. Member who has just spoken seems to me strangely to have misread the Resolution. If he reads it he will there see that it refers to the extra expenditure imposed upon local authorities in consequence of trade and unemployment being abnormal at the present time. That is an entirely different thing to what he has suggested. As a matter of fact the question which we are discussing this evening is the larger problem of the adjustment between national and local burdens, a problem which has been discussed in this House, and outside, off and on for the last 25 years. There have been various inquiries, commissions, and departmental committees that have sat to investigate it. They have made reports. We have to go no further back than the year 1901 when there was a Royal Commission on Local Taxation, and that Commission recommended that there should be an increased grant from the Treasury to the local authorities. They pointed out—hon. Members opposite may not agree—that certain Services, the Poor Law, asylums, police, main roads and education, were in a large measure national and not a local charge.

We had a Departmental Committee on Local Taxation in 1914. They made some very strong and drastic recommendations which I am sorry to say have not yet been carried out. They pointed to a considerable increase in the amount of the State subventions to local authorities as being justifiable and necessary; if that was so then how much more true are those findings to-day? It was recommended in 1914 that education, Poor Law relief, police, main roads, public health, and mental deficiency should all be regarded as semi-national services. They recommended an increase of subventions to four and three-quarter million pounds. That £4,750,000 represents something like £9,000,000 to-day. If you were getting a sum like that it would be more than the necessitous areas would ask for; yet this is what the Departmental Committee recommended so far back as 1914. It is rather significant that the terms of reference to this Committee were: To make recommendations with a view to legislation at an early date. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health whether he cannot expedite that early date with a view to carrying out some of the recommendations of this Departmental Committee on Local Taxation. It is true that last year the Government, in their Rating and Valuation Bill, carried out in large measure the recommendations of that Departmental Committee. I submit that now, or next year, the Government might follow up and complete that work by making these extra subventions from the State to the local authorities where the burden of these semi-national charges is heavy. If the advice was sound in 1914, how much more so is it to-day with the abnormal unemployment—the aftermath of the War? The hon. Member who last spoke got somewhat sarcastic in speaking on some aspects of the necessitous areas. Surely, however, it must be within the recollection of hon. Members during the War in all the munition centres men ran to do the work that was necessary, and in the heavy iron and steel districts the population increased considerably. These people came to make munitions. In many cases they have been unable since to get away owing to the shortage of houses. Wherever you have the heavy iron and steel industries the burden of the excess population continues, and is a large abnormal increase.

What I say in this respect is borne out by the percentage figures of unemployment. We know that the average for the whole of the country is 11 per cent. Yet on the North-East coast in the shipbuilding centres—I have mentioned this before, and I shall have to go on mentioning it—on the North-East coast the unemployment in the shipbuilding industry is 50 per cent. In marine engineering it is 35 per cent. These are not merely transient figures and not only for some months, but for several years. Where you have 10 per cent. of unemploy- ment it may, it is obvious, be a manageable proposition, but the problem becomes altogether an impossible one when you get anything like 35 or 50 per cent. in a district. If you take the matter by districts you will find the most startling variation between districts. Take the average of England and Wales you find that the unemployment last month was 9.9 per cent. In Durham county it was 19 per cent., whereas in other counties of a less industrial character than Durham it was less. In Leicestershire it was 1.1; in Warwickshire it was 1.5; and in Derbyshire it was 1.6. It was quite a manageable proposition in these various localities, but when you get to 19 per cent. over a whole county, it is a question whether or not national aid should come in!

Again, there is the variations between one district and another. In the industrial areas themselves you have very big variations. I can quote figures as to the relief per 10,000 given in some of these cases. The average for England and Wales for the last month was 356 per 10,000 persons. On Tees Side and Tyneside the number was 716 per 10,000 persons. You have that discrepancy reflected in the local rates. In the heavy industrial areas, the iron and steel districts, you have in Rotherham 17s. 3d. on the £, in Middlesbrough 18s. 8d. on the £, and in Merthyr Tydvil 26s. on the £. That is compared with, respectively, areas such as the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite represents, Bournemouth, where it is 8s. 2d. on the £, Blackpool 7s. 4d., and Southport 8s. 3d.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

I have a good many industrialists in my constituency.


There you see the various inequalities of this burden. I submit that because the profits of limited liability companies earned in a district are not of necessity devoted to a district but are spent broadcast throughout the world, that the residential areas where the money is spent have a right to contribute towards the cost of unemployment. Not only is this heavy burden in the industrial areas crippling individuals and tradesmen, but it naturally has its effect upon industry and retards the industrial recovery for which we all look and hope. It is essential that we should deal with this problem of unemployment. I have quoted figures, and I have fresh figures which hon. Members opposite may be interested in. Take the north-east coast for example. Where the local rates in 1913 represented 8d. per ton on the steel made, last year the same rates had increased to 10s. per ton. Talk about Protection! The protection we need is from the heavy rates which are crippling our trade in competition with the rest of the world.


The hon. Gentleman wants to see more imports. How is that going to improve unemployment? What about the increase of imports during the last four years?


The hon. Gentleman should study the Board of Trade returns, and he would find that the more imports went up the more the rate of unemployment goes down, and more imports go down the more unemployment goes up. In regard, however, to the question of the heavy burden of rates on industry, may I quote what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health said in 1923: I think it is generally understood that in some of the areas the burden of rates upon local industries is a burden which is not like the Income Tax, dependent upon profits made, but which has to be borne by the industries whether they make profits or not, and at present this burden is so heavy that it really forms a serious handicap to the industries and prevents them even from getting upon their legs. In view of that, it would be sound policy economically to transfer some of the burdens from the rates to the National Exchequer. Then we should get some of the burden on the profits, instead of its being a first charge on production, as it is when the whole of it is left to he borne by the local authorities of those areas. We might appeal to the Prime Minister to support us in that contention, because in the Debate in June of last year he referred in sympathetic terms to the "black spots" of these areas, and invited the House to consider, as he said the Government were doing, whether by any form of subsidy it may be possible to give, as I said, that stimulus and lift in the region of those industries which seem at the moment to be beaten down into a position of helplessness … by subsidies in specially distressed districts in aid of rates, to take that burden off those who manufacture in that district."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1925; col. 2085, Vol. 185.] That was the suggestion of the Prime Minister himself eight months ago. How far have the Government got in considering that matter? It seems to me that instead of relieving industry by giving additional subventions to reduce the rates their policy has been exactly the opposite. Let me give four instances of this policy. The Road Fund raid; Education Circular 1371 and Memorandum 44; the Unemployment Grants Circular of the 15th December; the tightening up of the Insurance Act administration. Those four have the direct result of reducing the contributions from the Treasury and increasing the burdens on the local rates. It is somewhat extraordinary that whilst unemployment is increasing in certain parts of the country, less money is voted by the Unemployment Grants Committee to those local authorities there. Could not the Parliamentary Secretary bring influence to bear upon the Unemployment Grants Committee to be more generous to these local authorities, who are doing their utmost to carry the heat and burden of the day? In my own particular district, with a population of only 130,000, we have spent over £1,000,000 in unemployment relief works, a very considerable contribution for a place where the rates are 18s. 8d. in the pound.

10.0 P.M.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will make representations to the Minister and the Government that work is better than unemployment benefit or parish relief. During the five or six years since the Armistice we have, as the right hon. Gentleman for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), told us earlier in the day, spent £250,000,000 to £300,000,000; that is, cash paid away in out-of-work donation, unemployment benefit and Poor Law relief without any service whatever rendered in return. It is not a sound policy to go on spending these hundreds of millions, almost £100,000,000 a year for no services in return. Work is preferable to benefit or Poor Law relief, and if the Parliamentary Secretary cannot persuade the Government to forge out national schemes of a productive character, he should at any rate encourage local authorities to go on with work which they are prepared to put in hand but which they cannot undertake without an increased grant. Although the present formula of assistance, 75 per cent. for half the period of the loan, may sound a large figure, yet in actual practice it works out at something like 25 or 30 per cent., and where the rates are 20s. in the £ it is impossible for local authorities to add to their burdens.

I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to see whether he cannot persuade the Government to give more generous assistance to local authorities who are prepared to carry on the work. The relief work to which we allude is not work of a non-useful character, but includes road-making, harbours, docks, sewage schemes, afforestation and reclamation of foreshore—all things which tend to produce valuable assets in years to come. In conclusion, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will say something as to the Committee dealing with necessitous areas. I have shown how unequal are the burdens borne by different parts of the country and provided adequate safeguards can be devised, as I think they can, there is a very sound case for further assistance from the Treasury.


I feel that on a Motion of this kind it is impossible to give a silent vote. I know many hon. Members on the other side of the House are extremely devoted to their local government duties. Many of them have spent their lives in that work. Reading this Motion, I would like to issue a word of warning to them—that the more the State is brought into local affairs the greater will be the control of the State over them. To those of us who desire to see local government affairs carried on with as great a degree of independence as possible; to those of us who are opposed to the French Prefet system under which the central government gets its finger deeply into local government affairs, it is a matter of extreme anxiety to see demands being made for wholesale assistance from the State for local purposes. No one sympathises more than I do with the needs of the necessitous areas, but I venture to say to my friends on the other side that the country would feel much more concerned about the difficulties they have to face if they would show a little more responsibility in the way in which they face them. In areas such as those we are dealing with, where the weight of local taxation is crushing in the extreme, and is driving out industries, great care should be taken to see that the relief given is not higher than the wages which can be earned. I venture to say these few words, and to explain in that way why I cannot support the Motion.


I am quite sure hon. Members in all parts of the House will fee in general agreement with at least one principle enunciated by the last speaker, which is that we are all anxious to preserve the independence of our local administration, but there is another independence which is perhaps even more important, and that is independence of the curse of poverty. If the hon. Gentleman could only assure us that he has some method whereby we can be relieved of this awful burden otherwise than through Government help, we should be heartily glad to accept any suggestions he made. The problem we have before us to-night has been one which has provided a pretty constant challenge to successive Ministers of Health and Labour in all parties. It has been indicated that it may be that the hon. Gentleman who replies to this Debate may invite us to define in somewhat specific terms what precisely we mean by the phrase "necessitous areas." I confess it is not easy to give a precise legal definition of that term, but although it is not easy to define, I think I may say it is not a difficult thing to describe its accompanying phenomena. There are in all these areas overcrowding which is rampant, numerous insanitary buildings; they are burdened with debts and harassed by disease, and their economic resources are diminishing while civic and municipal responsibilities are increasing. I think those characteristics apply to all the areas which you might call necessitous areas. So obvious are these phenomena in connection with necessitous areas that we have put down on the Order Paper this Motion. I will paraphrase a famous dictum which says: The burdens of necessitous areas have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished. There are three types of local authorities with which we are all familiar, judged of course by their economic conditions. First of all, there is the type like Bournemouth and places of that sort, where the rates are extremely low compared with other areas, where they are entirely unacquainted with the problem of unemployment as other areas are acquainted with it, where they do not know poverty as cities and towns of other parts of the country know it, and where the local and administrative problems are fundamentally different from other authorities.

The second type of local authority is one where the burdens are increasing, but where they are still within measurable control by those in charge of local government work. The third type is that with which we are concerned here to-night, and we suggest that the condition of this third type of local authority is such as to merit the special consideration of the Government, on account of their exceptional difficulties. May I take, by way of illustration and not by way of suggestion, one particular area. I do not take it because it is exceptional and distinct from other areas which might be equally well cited with this one, but I take it in order to examine the incidence of local taxation and its effect upon local government. The area I mean is the South Wales coalfield. There you have an area, an economic area, which is homogeneous in character for all practical purposes. There are those who discuss this coalfield who suggest that industrially it has reached its zenith in the way of development. There are on every hand evidences of pits closing with consequences which I would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider very carefuly. The consequences of closing pits is a tremendous reduction in the assessable value of the areas in which they are to be found. The consequence of that great reduction in assessable value is that the local authorities are unable to secure for themselves adequate rates for their own immediate purposes, and they are forced to fall back upon the expedient of borrowing, an expedient which I think the representative of the Government will agree is pernicious in its effect, grave in its consequences, and which in fact loads succeeding generations with a burden which they ought not to be called upon to bear.

In order to illustrate my point I will take an area well known to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. I mean the Bedwellty area. I will give two figures which show precisely what we mean by a necessitous area. In Bedwellty in the year 1914 the outdoor relief trade was £351 per week or £18,250 per annum. In the year 1925 that figure of £351 per week had amounted up to the colossal sum of £3,200 per week or £166,400 per annum as against £18,000 in 1914. In 1921 there were 39,868 persons receiving outdoor relief at the cost of £11,029 and that meant that the total population was roughly 140,000. Since 1st October last year the outdoor relief has amounted to £4,494 per week or £223,000 per annum. Those figures are eloquent on the distressing condition in which some of these South Wales areas now find themselves. Perhaps I can put it in another way. For the half-year ended March, 1924, the poor rate in this particular union stood at the figure of 3s. in the £; but for the half-year ended March, 1925, the same poor rate stood at 5s. 4d. in the £, and I think I can show to the House that a good deal of that extra figure, that is the difference between the two rates, is made up exclusively, or almost exclusively, by the added burdens which have fallen upon the shoulders of the local authority by reason of the unemployment prevalent in that area. It is an exceptional burden, and not the normal burden with which all local authorities had to cope in the days preceding the War.

I could carry on that examination a little more particularly, and, if the House will allow me, I should like to take one section of the Bedwellty urban area in order to show the effect upon all types of the population. Taking, first of all, the closing of pits in that area, and the coming of unemployment, on the 31st March, 1921, the total assessable value of the collieries in that area was £183,000 odd. In this union there is a parish called Aberystruth, which includes the Blaina and Nantyglo area, and the figures in connection with this parish are, indeed, staggering. The total population is 16,000, and, of those 16,000, 13,175 persons were receiving relief during the year 1921–22, at a weekly cost of £3,612. Let us examine what that burden means to this area. Before the collieries were closed, that is to say, when employment was still normal, the collieries were assessed at £20,000 odd. That was in September, 1920. In September, 1922, the assessable value of those collieries had been reduced to only £4,818, and that area carried upon its local poor rate, for outdoor relief, 13,175 persons out of a total population of 16,453.

May I show how it affects the local authorities in another way? Poverty, obviously, enters into this area, and not only are the ordinary people hit who themselves receive relief, but the business man is also hit. Let me give a few figures. The percentage of rates collected in this area in 1920 was 90 per cent. In April, 1924, the percentage of rates collected had declined to the extraordinary figure of 23 per cent. The local authority, therefore, is crippled in every way. It loses its assessable value, pits are closed, railways appeal for a reduction of their assessment; the business people become poor, and the ordinary people are on the poor rate. The result is that, because of the abnormal and exceptional condition of poverty prevailing in the area, they simply cannot get in the rates demanded. I want to put this further point. If the local authorities could only feel that this condition of affairs was static, there would be some sort of satisfaction, poor though it is; but that is not so. The fact is that these areas are getting into a worse and worse condition.

Let me give this figure to the hon. Gentleman, to show what has been the effect upon the local area of the withdrawal of unemployment benefit. The out-relief—this is on the statement of an official of the local union—has been increased by £30,000 per annum in consequence of the discontinuance of payment of unemployment benefit. That is exclusive of the cost of maintenance of a large number of men who entered the workhouse in consequence of the discontinuance of unemployment benefit. Therefore, I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that, if it is going to be the policy of the Government not merely not to help these authorities by way of a grant, but, worse, to depress their condition further by adding to the burdens they were previously called upon to bear, then, obviously, we cannot be very far from a condition of affairs in which local government in these areas must necessarily break down. I want to quote a phrase from an introductory letter written by the Minister of Health to the Municipal Year Book of 1925. He says: Not only have new services been added to the duties of local authorities, but old services have been vastly extended, and the end is not yet. The work which local authorities will be called upon to perform is likely to be increased, not reduced. I ask the hon. entleman, if the end is not yet, if we are still to expect these local authorities to have new burdens cast upon them as is foreshadowed in this quotation—


New services.


New services involve new burdens surely. You cannot have services without burdens, at least I have never seen them up to now. Still the hon. Gentleman may be able to give us a revelation in that manner. If we are to understand that these new services are to be foisted upon the local authorities, involving new burdens, obviously some aid must come from somewhere other than the aid which we now are familiar with.

I have quoted at some length figures indicating the condition of affairs in one particular area, but that condition of affairs applies to a large number of areas throughout the country. May I give one or two figures in this way? I believe it is calculated that there are something round about 90 authorities which might with fairness be regarded as necessitous areas. If we take those 90 authorities, exclusive of the London unions, we discover that their total aggregate population amounts to about 33 per cent. of the population of England and Wales. The area in which that third of the population lives has a total aggregate rateable value equivalent to about 27.8 per cent. of the whole of England and Wales, but their net expenditure amounts to about 42.7 per cent. of the whole of the authorities of England and Wales. It is obvious that a population which is one-third of the whole of the country which has resources not equivalent to one-third, but less than one-third, and which bears a burden which is more than four-tenths of the total burden is in a condition which entitles it to receive special consideration and treatment. Put the comparison in another way. The aggregate expenditure in the 90 areas amounts to about 4s. 1d. in the £ covering the whole lot, but if you take up the average for the whole of the country it only amounts to 2s. 7¾d., so that these areas are in fact carrying a burden which is quite exceptional and which makes them in fact necessitous areas.

Take another test if you like. The average expenditure per unit of the population in these areas amounts to £1 1s. 5d. per head, as against 16s. 7d. spread over the whole of the country. The machinery of local government surely was never devised nor intended to bear this undue and unusual strain. It was only intended to bear a normal strain and a normal expenditure. This is abnormal, and therefore it has a peculiar and well ascertainable case in favour of exceptional treatment along some line or another.

Time will not permit me to examine the various suggestions that have been made for dealing with this problem. There are four or five suggestions. One suggestion favours a grant to the necessitous areas on the basis of necessity in connection with employment, something like the necessitous areas grant given in connection with the education department. A second suggestion is that there might be something approximating to equalisation of rates. I am not prepared to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health to declare that he is in favour of equalisation of rates at this juncture. I know that is a very big problem, that it is complicated and that it must involve a tremendous amount of time and attention being given to it before it can be adumbrated. But could we not advance a claim at the same time for treatment of this problem on the lines of some sort of makeshift, as is applied in the case of the London Poor Law areas, and bring forward some form of equalisation in that direction?

There has recently been put before the local authorities what is called the West Ham scheme. That scheme has the merit that it does not take from these necessitous areas entirely the burdens which they are called upon to bear, even though they are exceptional, but it has the merit of seeking to take away a certain proportion of the unusual and extraordinary burden. It has the further merit of casting that burden upon the shoulders of all rather than upon the shoulders of the few. There is a last suggestion, namely, the creation of some sort of common fund to which the authorities throughout the country would contribute and upon which the necessitous areas would be able to make calls from time to time. I am not defending one suggestion against any other of these suggestions.

We have had discussions over and over again on this question of necessitous areas. A Committee have been sitting on the matter, and I understand that very valuable evidence has been adduced before that Committee. I would ask my hon. Friend, therefore, one or two specific questions. First, do the Government admit the existence of a case for the necessitous areas as we have tried to argue here to-night? Do they admit that there is such a case, or are we to assume that they regard these burdens as burdens which fall upon these areas in the natural evolution of things and do not call for exceptional treatment. If the Government accord to us that principle, have the Government any scheme to propound whereby these exceptional burdens shall be shared amongst the local authorities of the country?

There are four suggestions in the field, and I am not championing one against another, but there is a fifth alternative, and that is the policy of drift. The policy of drift is dangerous, it is full of menace to the wellbeing of the local authorities, and it is full of danger to the State as a whole. The local authorities have borne burdens for long years with courage, with remarkable devotion and with a self-sacrifice in the public service which entitles them to ask the Government to consider their position seriously and sympathetically and with no long delay. I ask my hon. Friend, therefore, to give me an answer on the lines of another quotation which his right hon. Friend indicated in the letter to which I have referred: That is the problem. It is not only the comforts and amenities of life that depend upon the services rendered by local authorities, but also in no small measure life itself. That is the opinion of his old chief. It is life itself, and because it involves human values we invite the right hon. Gentleman to give us a full and sympathetic answer to the Motion.




On a point of Order. May I ask if there is a country known as Scotland, which is interested in this question? Is there to be no speech from any Member from Scotland, and no one on the Front Bench opposite representing Scotland? I think it a shocking thing that on a question such as this a place like the Clyde should have no say, and that there should be no Scottish Member of the Government on the Front Bench.


The hon. Member must settle that with his own Front Bench.


I will shorten my remarks in order to allow hon. Members for Scotland to have a word in this Debate. We have heard a familiar case to-night put with a considerable amount of force, and I have not the least doubt with sincerity by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) and the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. W. Thorne). It is well that we should have regard to the terms of the Motion which the House is being asked to pass. It is to give special consideration and special assistance to necessitous areas in consequence, as it says, of bad trade and unemployment. In other words, it asks the House by way of Resolution to pick out certain authorities up and down the country and afford them special treatment. I am very glad indeed to see on the Front Opposition bench this evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour in the last Labour Government. They will agree with me when I say that the claims of necessitous areas have Feen considered by every Government since 1920, and none of them have been satisfied either that special assistance would be justified in principle or, even if assistance could be justified, that a fair and equitable distribution could be devised.

This is no new matter. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) to-night, his speech seemed to me to have a very familiar ring about it. He talked about the dreadful conditions of these areas and the special consideration that should be paid to them. Sentiments of that kind we all agree with. I wonder if he recalled a speech made himself on a similar occasion in 1924, when the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) made an appeal and the Minister of Labour said very much to him what the Minister of Health has to say to him to-night. He made a reply on that occasion which I might very well make to the House to-night. He said that as regards the statement made by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough He has submitted one or two points that I think carry further than he gives them credit for. If the Government once accept the principle of paying for ordinary municipal work out of the taxpayers' money, I am afraid that, though we may have an almost bottomless purse, the bottom of that purse will be found. It is impossible for any Government to look with equanimity at a proposal for paying for the ordinary work of the corporations out of the taxes. The position that confronts the Government is rather a difficult and delicate one. After three or four years of acceleration of work, the time has come when it is getting more and more difficult to find work to accelerate. The special schemes which might have been postponed for five or ten years have nearly all been carried out, but in spite of that the work at present going on is work that normally would not have been done had there been no Government grant at all. Then there is the difficulty when one tries to discriminate between one authority or another. Discrimination, in the view of the Government, after careful consideration, would in practice be most difficult, and we have come to the conclusion that whatever terms probably are offered, those terms must apply to approved schemes from all the municipalities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th August, 1924; col. 2572, Vol. 176.] Therefore, so far as the Minister of Labour in the Labour Government was concerned on that occasion, he was not prepared to discriminate between necessitous and other areas.


Will the hon. Gentleman tell me, for the sake of clarity, what that has to do with the Motion?


I am trying to explain. The right hon. Gentleman was requested to do what I am requested to do, to advise the House to make a distinction between necessitous areas and others, and, as he justly replied on that occasion, there is a difficulty when one tries to discriminate between one authority and another—"discrimination in the view of the Government, after careful consideration, would, in practice, be most difficult," and he had come to the conclusion that, "whatever terms probably are offered, those terms must apply to approved schemes from all the municipalities."


Would the hon. Gentleman read out the Resolution that was moved during the Debate that evening?


There was no Resolution. This was the reply of the then Minister of Labour to a request by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough. The only point which I desire to make is that it is certainly most difficult to make a discrimination between one authority, which we might call necessitous, and another authority. What is the other difficulty that we have to avoid? It is that, in assisting these necessitous areas and giving them the relief referred to, we may very well be taking away from trade and industry that capital which is so necessary at the present time, and which, if properly applied, might give the very remedy to those very necessitous areas that is so necessary. The right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition pointed that out in the very first speech which he made in the House of Commons as Prime Minister. He said, on 12th Febuary, 1924: I wish to make it perfectly clear that the Government have no intention of drawing off from the normal channels of trade large sums for extemporised measures which can only be palliatives."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1924; col. 760, Vol. 169.] That is a very sound doctrine, and when we are requested to make special grants to necessitous areas we must have regard to that consideration. The hon. Member who so ably moved the Resolution asked me certain questions, particularly in relation to what had been done and what had already been spent. I can say without fear of contradiction that, taking the country as a whole, no other country in the world has made such an effort to deal with the difficulties which have been put forward to-night. Taking the amounts spent in schemes of post-War settlement, such as the out-of-work donation, the grants for resettlement in civil life, and the training of demobilised officers and men, I find the approximate Exchequer contribution between the Armistice and 31st March next amounts to no less than £104,250,000. I find that, in respect of unemployment insurance, the Exchequer contribution alone for the same period will have amounted to £66,250,000. I was asked about the Unemployment Grants Committee. I find that £7,500,000 is the contribution of the Exchequer in respect of schemes already approved by the Committee.


Between what dates?


From the inauguration of the scheme to 31st March next. If we add together all these items and also expenditure such as that for land settlement and schemes under the Ministry of Transport, there is a total approximate Exchequer contribution of no less than £212,750,000, and the total approximate value of the schemes since the Armistice—which of course these necessitous areas share—amounts to the colossal figure of £550,750,000.


What I ask for was, not alone the Exchequer grant, but the amount spent by the local authorities without aid out of the rates.


The contribution of the Exchequer was £212,750,000, and if the hon. Member deducts that sum from the total of £550,750,000, I think he will get the figure he wants.


Does that include loans?


I will deal with loans in a moment. As between the National Exchequer and the local authorities I submit the figures I have quoted show that the arrangement has not been unfair. My point is that if, as the Mover said, we want to have a true picture of the state of affairs all over the country, we must have regard to the considerable sacrifices made on behalf of the great mass of the people in the contributions which have already been made. The hon. Member in this Resolution says that the extra expenditure in regard to these areas should be a national charge. The first answer I would make is that at any rate the bulk of the considerable expenditure on public assistance and social services is spread over the country as a whole. Exclusive of War pensions and the expenditure on unemployment works, the cost of public social services, including education, is over £230,000,000 a year in England and Wales, and of that sum all but £75,000,000 is charged on the country as a whole.

In other words, out of £230,000,000, £75,000,000 only is contributed by the rates, and the balance is charged on the country as a whole, either by taxation or through contributions paid by employed persons or their employers. In addition to that, there is another burden which is now taken by the country as a whole in connection with widows' pensions, which will add in 1926 another £10,000,000 to the total, the whole of which is to be charged on the country as a whole. Not only so, but the expenditure will undoubtedly give considerable relief to the rates in the industrial areas. Therefore, I think it is only fair, as I am sure hon. Members opposite will agree, that we should have regard to the very considerable portion of the cost of the social services which is borne by the National Exchequer, and it is a right and fair thing, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Government knew full well, that when we are asked to shoulder still further national burdens in respect of particular localities, we should have regard to what has been done.

I want the House to visualise the position from the point of view of the Minister of Health in regard to the particular areas to which the hon. Gentleman has referred—I will take three of them, which have recently made applications to the Minister for further facilities—and to have regard, if they will, to the duties and responsibilities of my right hon. Friend in dealing with such applications. East Ham recently applied to the Minister for a scheme for the purchase of land for the purpose of a recreation ground. They wanted £8,160. Why did we refuse it? We refused it on the ground of the high rates, which are, I may say, 23s. 5d. in the £. I venture to say to hon. Members opposite that, if they were in office, they would have very great difficulty in sanctioning an expenditure of that kind. Take the position of Maesteg. They have asked only a small amount, for the alteration of the town hall, but we have refused it, because the rates there are 22s. in the £, and they have great difficulty in meeting expenditure out of revenue. I will weary the House with one further example. Take Merthyr Tydvil. They have recently asked for the sum of £14,000 for the erection of a central library, and we again have had to decline it. The rates in that area are 26s. in the £, and there are large arrears of rates, I am sorry to say, while I also regret that the industrial position of the district makes the financial position of the local authority most unsatisfactory.


Must we take it from the figures given by the hon. Gentleman that, in addition to the localities carrying national charges, the Government are now proposing to prevent the development of local schemes?


What I am endeavouring to point out are the difficulties in these cases, which are difficulties that were recognised by the late Minister of Labour, who, so far as his term of office was concerned, was unable to do anything specially for necessitous areas. A question was asked about loans, the particular rate of interest charged, and the term of the loan itself. Loans amounting in all to £8,845,000 have been sanctioned in England and Wales since 1921. We have heard a good deal to-night about the difficulties of local authorities and what has been said is perfectly true. But it should be said that they are confined, as my hon. Friend quite fairly said, to a very small number. Slightly over £4,000,000 was outstanding on the 30th September last. Advances by way of loan are made by the Exchequer on the recommendation of the Goschen Committee, who also advise on what terms and conditions the advances should be made. The period of repayment varies from three to ten years, and interest is fixed at the prevailing rate for loans of the same currency. The Committee have power, in exceptional cases, to recommend that repayment of instalments of principal and/or the payment of interest should be postponed for a period not exceeding three years. In all, in Great Britain, £4,982,000 has been advanced by the two Departments concerned upon the recommendation of the Goschen Committee, of which £598,000 has been repaid, leaving £4,000,000 odd still outstanding.

The bulk of the poor law authorities are able to borrow in the ordinary way without recourse to the Goschen Committee, and advances by the Government have only been required in the case of eight authorities in England and Wales and 12 authorities in Scotland. In 12 cases repayment of instalments of principal has been postponed. In seven cases payment of interest as well as repayment of instalments of principal has been postponed as well.


How many in Wales?


I have not got the figures for Wales.


They are always mixed up with England.


I will endeavour to make the distinction on another occasion. That adds to the picture which has been painted by the hon. Member opposite. It is perfectly true they should have regard to what the hon. Gentleman said. I do not for a moment minimise the unfortunate position of many of those districts. We have a great deal of sympathy with them. I think most people would reject—at any rate, if they had to decide this matter for themselves—the question of making all these additional charges in necessitous areas to be borne solely by the National Exchequer. A formula, which would be fair to the State and fair to other local authorities and which would be able to render real assistance to the localities which are suffering so heavily at the present time, is a very difficult one. I felt almost bound to make another quotation when I heard the rather unexpected intervention of the former Minister of Labour to-night.

I could quote to the House a statement which was made almost about the same period with regard to the suggestion of a formula for assisting necessitous areas. The speaker for the Ministry of Labour in the Labour Government said he regretted very much that they could not find a formula which would be fair to the local authorities and would really meet the situation. The conclusion that was come to on that occasion—and I do not know whether it is not still right—was that the best way of assisting these necessitous areas was by promoting good trade and business in the country generally. Since then, as the House knows, a deputation from those areas has waited upon the Prime Minister, and, as a result, an expert Committee has been appointed, under the chairmanship of Sir Harry Goschen, and the reference to that Committee is: To consider and report on any scheme which may be submitted to them for special assistance from the Exchequer to local authorities in necessitous urban and quasi-urban areas. The Committee have sat, and have had several meetings already, and they have had before them four or five of these schemes. There is the scheme known as the West Ham scheme, upon which the hon. Member who seconded this Motion gave evidence. Then there has been a scheme prepared by the Guardians of the City of London Union. There is another scheme submitted by the West Bromwich Board of Guardians, and, finally, there is the scheme submitted to the Minister of Health prior to the setting up of the Committee by the hon. Member opposite who sits for one of the Sheffield Divisions.


Has there been any scheme from Monmouthshire?


In addition, the Committee have received other schemes which are rather indefinite in nature. I do not think it would come from Monmouthshire. At any rate, they are considering all practical suggestions that are put before them. It is not anticipated that there will be any delay in their Report. The main schemes put before the Com-

mittee all deal with assistance to poor law authorities. The Committee are proceeding with their task as rapidly as possible, and hope to be in a position to submit their Report to the Prime Minister at an early date. Whether that Committee will be successful where others have failed, I do not know, but I think, having regard to the steps the Government have taken, there is no necessity to-night to pass this Resolution, to which I certainly would not advise the House to subscribe, and I hope, having regard to the terms of my reply, the hon. Gentleman will not press this Motion.


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

Question put accordingly, That, in the opinion of this House, the extra expenditure imposed upon local authorities in Necessitous Areas in consequence of bad trade and unemployment is an intolerable and unjust burden upon the ratepayers in these areas and ought to be made a national charge.

The House divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 241.

Division No. 59.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Greenall, T. Maxton, James
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Montague, Frederick
Ammon, Charles George Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morrison. R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffiths, T. (Monmouth. Pontypool) Naylor, T. E.
Baker, Walter Groves, T. Palin, John Henry
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Grundy, T. W. Paling, W.
Barr, J. Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)
Batey, Joseph Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Potts, John S.
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Hardie, George D. Radford, E. A.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Broad, F. A. Hastings, Sir Patrick Riley, Ben
Bromfield, William Hayday, Arthur Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)
Bromley, J. Hayes, John Henry Rose, Frank H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Scrymgeour, E.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Sexton, James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hirst, G. H. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cape, Thomas Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Clowes, S. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Clynes, Right Hon. John R. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown) Sitch, Charles H.
Compton, Joseph Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Connolly, M. Jones. T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)
Cove, W. G. Kelly, W. T. Snell, Harry
Crawfurd, H. E. Kennedy, T. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Dalton, Hugh Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Kirkwood, D. Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lansbury, George Stamford, T. W.
Day, Colonel Harry Lawson, John James Stephen, Campbell
Duncan, C. Lindley, F. W. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Dunnico, H. Lowth, T. Taylor, R. A.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Unlver.) Lunn, William Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Fenby, T. D. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Mackinder, W. Thurtie, E.
Gibbins, Joseph MacLaren, Andrew Tinker, John Joseph
Gillett, George M. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Townend, A. E.
Gosling, Harry March, S. Varley, Frank B.
Viant, S. P. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. Wright, W.
Wallhead. Richard C. Whiteley, W. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen Wiggins, William Martin
Warne, G. H. Williams, David (Swansea, East) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. A. Barnes.
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermllne) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Westwood, J. Windsor, Walter
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Everard, W. Lindsay MacAndrew, Charles Glen
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Fairfax, Captain J. G. Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Albery, Irving James Fanshawe, Commander G. D. Macintyre, I.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Fermoy, Lord McLean, Major A.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.Derby) Fielden, E. B. McNeill, Rt. Hon Ronald John
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Ford, Sir P. J. Macqulsten, F. A.
Apsley, Lord Forrest, W. Mac Robert, Alexander M.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Foster, Sir Harry S. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Astor, Viscountess Fraser, Captain Ian Margesson, Captain D.
Atholl, Duchess of Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Merriman, F. B.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Galbraith, J. F. W. Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
Balniel, Lord Ganzonl, Sir John Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Gates, Percy Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Cllve
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Murchison, C. K.
Bethell, A. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Nail, Lleut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Betterton, Henry B. Glyn, Major R. G. C. Neville, R. J.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Goff, Sir Park Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Gower, Sir Robert Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Blundell, F. N. Grace, John Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Boothby, R. J. G. Grant, J. A. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Greene, W. P. Crawford Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Gretton, Colonel John Nuttall, Ellis
Brass, Captain W. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Brassey, Sir Leonard Gunston, Captain D. W. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cllve Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Briscoe, Richard George Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Owen, Major G.
Brittain, Sir Harry Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Penny, Frederick George
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hammersley, S. S. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Hanbury, C. Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Brawn, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Harrison, G. J. C. Power, Sir John Cecil
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Buckingham, Sir H. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Price, Major C. W. M.
Bullock, Captain M. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Raine, W.
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Haslam, Henry C. Ramsden, E.
Burman, J. B. Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Rees, Sir Beddoe
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Remer, J. R.
Gadogan, Major Hon. Edward Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rentoul, G. S.
Campbell, E. T. Henn, Sir Sydney H. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Ropnor, Major L.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by) Salmon, Major 1.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hills, Major John Waller Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chapman, Sir S. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. Q. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Sandeman. A. Stewart
Christie, J. A. Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Clarry, Reginald George Homan, C. W. J. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Corkerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Sandon, Lord
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hopkins, J. W. W. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Cooper, A. Duff Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Savery, S. S.
Cope, Major William Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew W)
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim) Hume, Sir G. H. Shepperson, E. W.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Hurd, Percy A. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Illffe. Sir Edward M. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)
Crookshank, Col C. de W. (Berwick) Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.
crooksnank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Smithers, Waldron
Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Jacob, A. E. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry Jephcott, A. R. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Curzon, Captain Viscount Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Stanley, col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H. Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Stanley. Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovll) Kindersley, Major Guy M. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) King. Caotain Henry Douglas Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Dawson, Sir Philip Knox, Sir Alfred Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Eden, Captain Anthony Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Elliot, Captain Walter E. Looker, Herbert William Tinne, J. A.
Eiveden, Viscount. Lougher, L. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
England, Colonel A. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Turton, Edmund Russborough
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Lumley, L. R. Waddington, R.
Wallace, Captain D. E. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay) Womersley, W. J.
Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull) Williams, Herbert G. (Reading) Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Warrender, Sir Victor Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield) Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Watts, Dr. T. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Wells, S. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H. Wise, Sir Fredric Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple Withers, John James
Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern) Wolmer, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Stanley and Captain Bowyer.

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.