§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. THURTLE
My name is on the Order Paper to move the rejection of this Bill, but as I am only desirous of raising the issue contained in the street trading Clause I do not propose to move that Amendment, but hope to have an opportunity to speak later in the Debate.
§ Mr. RHYS
This Bill contains, among other things, a provision for the possible abolition of the market in Whitechapel, and I think the occasion ought not to be allowed to pass without some comment. This market has occupied its present position for a great many centuries, and if the Bill obtains a Second Reading to-night the House be abolishing an historic London institution. I think it is a very good thing that this market should eventually be removed, because with the growth of London, the increase of its traffic and the development of the Essex side of London, this great artery through Whitechapel ought no longer to be choked with the great hay-carts and straw-carts which now stand there. I also observe that in the Bill the parish of Stepney is referred to under the title of the "Lord of the Manor of Stebun-heath." I sincerely hope the promoters of the Bill have got the name right, because I have consulted authorities on this name, and I find no fewer than six variations in its spelling, and not one of them is that which appears in the Bill. The Manor goes back as far as Domesday Book, in which it appears as Stibenhede; but no doubt that is a small point.
This market has a great history, and up to comparatively recent times had a great justification. In 1794 there were no fewer than 1,530 acres of agricultural land in the parish of Stepney. A little 1829 later than that the market became a very important institution, but it was not a very peaceful or salubrious spot. It was inhabited by a number of people who were known as "the Whitechapel birds." A Whitechapel bird was one who was very well versed in the accomplishments of bull-baiting, dog-fighting and dog-stealing. They were often assisted by a contingent of Spitalfields weavers, and their method of procedure was to look out for a drove of cattle coming along the road, to cut out the most likely looking bullock and hunt it through the streets. When the unfortunate animal had been sufficiently chivied, it was knocked on the head, and, as the historian has it, "was restored to its owner if they could find him." That procedure went on until the new police were instituted, when the sport of bull-hanking came to an end. I fear the only diversion which may be seen at Aldgate to-day is a procession such as I saw the other day headed by a band and followed by banners saying, "Hands off China." That is another form of amusement. I think the House will take a wise step in making provision for the removal of this market, because we must look a great many years ahead, and although I do not wish to indulge in prophecy I do not think I shall be overstating the case when I say that in 20 years from now there will be a population of nearly 200,000 people living between the East End of London and Southend, and it is of the utmost importance that the means of ingress to and egress from London should be kept as clear as possible of these out-of-date institutions.
Then I observe in the Bill a provision to give the London County Council power to flood any part of the open spaces under their control in frosty weather, for the purpose of skating, and they are to be allowed to charge admission to those flooded spaces. I am not an expert on the by-laws of the London County Council, but I hope that no public right of free access to open spaces is being infringed by this provision. No doubt if the Bill goes to Committee that point will be dealt with, but it is one that might possibly be overlooked, and I am very anxious that there should be no infringement of the rights of free access to land at present enjoyed by the people.
1830 Then I notice that there are provisions for reducing the number of pigeons. I would like to see a provision inserted for reducing the number of other birds, if that be necessary. Not very long ago there was a great invasion of St. Paul's Cathedral by starlings, whose noise bereft people living near by of their sleep. I believe it was only a passing invasion, but if powers are to be taken for pigeons, let us see that other common nuisances are reduced. At the same time, I hope there will be no drastic exercise of these powers, because the London pigeons are one of the sights of the Metropolis. When I was in New York and elsewhere in America people frequently said to me that when they went to St. Paul's Cathedral one of the things with which they were struck was the way in which the pigeons came down and fed out of the hands of the people, and they remarked that they were one of the sights of London. I hope that this feature of London life will not be entirely done away with. I know that the county council are going to take on a large task, but they must be satisfied that none of these pigeons have a private owner. I do not know what provision is made to compensate them should one pigeon be killed with a ring on it which can be proved to belong to a private owner. I know that is a small point.
Taking the Bill as a whole, I think it is a good one, and I agree that the vast interests of London must be brought under some sort of central control. I do not think this is the proper time to refer to London traffic, although I notice that Clause 15 of the Bill refers to the Metropolitan District Railway. If this means that it is going to be made easier to come to some arrangement with the railway companies which serve the east side of the Metropolis, that will indeed be a step in the right direction. It will be the first step towards implementing the recommendation of the London Traffic Advisory Committee, which is advocating one combine for all London traffic. In a fortnight's time there will be a further opportunity for discussing this matter, and therefore I will not go into this subject very deeply at the present time except to say that I know the county council are only too anxious to do all they possibly can for the people whom they are placing on the outskirts of 1831 London. The London County Council have been compelled to place a vast population on the outskirts of the city, and up to now no provision has been made for transporting these people to and from their work. This is a, matter of deep concern to those who represent the constituencies of Greater London, and immediate steps should be taken to remedy the great scandal which exists at the present time. I do not mean to go into the question of street trading, because I am not sufficiently acquainted with the subject. I thoroughly believe in the liberty of the subject, but there also arises in this connection the grave question of public health and of the streets not being allowed to be blocked. I understand that there is no question of doing away with the street trader at all; indeed many of them will be better protected under the provisions of this Bill. On this point I would rather hear further arguments on the subject before coming to a definite conclusion. I hope the Bill will obtain a Second Reading.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I desire to call the attention of the House to the very drastic provisions contained in Clause 56, which makes the owners of tenement property in the county of London liable to summary conviction and heavy penalty in the case of every staircase which in the opinion of the local authority or any officer of that authority is not sufficiently lighted.
§ Sir CYRIL COBB
On a point of Order. I wish to ask if this matter should not be raised on the Instruction and not on the Motion for the Second Reading.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
It is proposed that this matter should be dealt with on the Instruction, hut there is no reason why it should not be raised on the Second Reading.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
It is desirable that the attention of the House should be called to these very drastic provisions, especially having regard to the fact that they have been petitioned against by some 20 authorities which for many years past have been instrumental in providing sanitary dwellings for the working people of London. I am chairman of the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company, and we provide accommodation 1832 for between 19,000 and 20,000 people in 5,500 tenements. We have petitioned against this Clause, which we think is detrimental, not only to the management of the company, but also to the interests of our own tenants. Other organisations which have petitioned against this Clause are the Peabody Donation Trust, the Guinness Trust, the Samuel Lewis Trust, the Metropolitan Industrial Dwellings Company, the Sutton Trust,, the Artisans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company, the National Model Dwellings Company, the Metropolitan Association, the Victoria Dwellings Association and many others. I think this shows that the opposition to this Bill is not merely the idea of a single Member of Parliament, but of many associations concerned in the past in providing efficient accommodation at very reasonable rentals for the working people of the Metropolis, and they are gravely concerned at their management of their own buildings being interfered with. In the ease of the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company, we have had no complaint from our tenants that the lighting has not been carried out to their satisfaction, and I have no knowledge of any complaints from these tenants that the lighting is insufficient. We have the lamps lighted on all the staircases every evening up to 10.30 and after that hour the lights on the upper staircases are put out, but the lamps on the ground floor are kept lighted all night. I have made inquiries from the police and others as to the need for this Clause, and we have been unable to find out why these drastic provisions have been put in by the London County Council. I am informed that the Clause was inserted on account of some resolution passed by the Metropolitan Boroughs Joint Committee.
I was told by a member of the London County Council that my own borough of Kensington had expressed the opinion that something of the kind referred to in this Clause were needed. I immediately communicated with the Town Clerk of Kensington over the telephone and asked whether that was so, and he informed me that the borough of Kensington on inquiry were if the opinion that there was no evidence in their possession of any requirements of that kind and that they had received no complaints. The matter came before the Metropolitan Joint Committee I understand with re- 1833 Bard to the need of lighting staircases in old houses which had been converted into flats, and there may be some need for these provisions in that direction, but it was never intended that such Regulations should apply to buildings like those controlled by my company and the Peabody Trust. I am informed that the Metropolitan Joint Committee wrote to 28 Metropolitan boroughs asking for evidence showing that provisions like those contained in Clause 56 were required, and the result of this inquiry was that of the 28 Metropolitan boroughs four boroughs said they could supply evidence of the need of some such provision; 15 stated that they were unable to supply any evidence, and one borough replied that they had received no complaints. Another borough resolved to take no action, and seven did not reply. That is the result of an inquiry made from 28 Metropolitan boroughs. In the face of all this evidence, I do not think the House is entitled to insert any such drastic provisions as those contained in Clause 56, and I submit those facts to bon. Members for their consideration. I would only say that the Peabody Trust makes, I think, no profit, while, as regards my own company, Sir Sidney Waterlow used to say of it, many years ago, that it was a company which showed "philanthropy and 5 per cent," We have always paid a 5 per cent. dividend, but when I tell the House that the average rental of our rooms is 3s. 4d. a week, including rates, and that the average rental of a flat is 11s. 2d., including rates, I think it will be seen that the rentals are not exorbitant. The death-rate among our 19,000 or 20,000 people is eight per thousand, as against 11 per thousand in the Metropolitan area, so I do not think it can be said that the health of our people is not well looked after.
I give these figures to show that we are deeply conscious of our responsibility towards the people who occupy our tenements. If we thought that lighting was required for a longer period than at present, we should unquestionably keep the lights going longer. So far, however, from the amenities of our flats being improved by having the lights on all night, or after 10.30, we are advised, and a great many of our tenants are of 1834 the same opinion, that the effect would be exactly the opposite. Where you have lights on on the upper floors, it is a temptation to vagrant people, to people who play cards and commit nuisances of various kinds, which are a trouble to the residents in the dwellings, who, for the greater part, retire to rest at about 10.30 in the evening, when the lights on the upper floors are put out. The point I wish to make is that it is for the management of these flats to put in what lights they think are necessary. Some flats require lights on the upper floors, because there are certain classes of people occupying particular flats who come in late, and in these cases it is desirable that the lights should be kept on a little later; but the owners of those dwellings have a far better knowledge of the requirements of their tenants than an official of some local authority, who must look at these things from a fixed, stereotyped point of view.
I venture to say that this matter has not been sufficiently inquired into, have given the figures which I am told to-day were the result of inquiries of the boroughs, and I may add that, in the case of my own company, if the local authority required us to keep the lights on all night, as they would be entitled to do under this Clause, it would cost us another £5,000 a year. That figure has been most carefully checked by several people, and I am told it is absolutely correct. If we had £5,000 a year, I think we should do very much better to spend it, as we should, in increasing the accommodation afforded by working-class dwellings, rather than frittering it away in burning gas on staircases where neither our tenants nor we think it is necessary. I think that this is a retrograde step. There is no suggestion on the part of our tenants or anyone else that it is really needed. The more burdens you put upon property, the less inclined will either companies or individuals be to spend money in the erection of working-class property. It, is difficult enough to make working-class property pay as it is; in fact, it is very nearly impossible in London, where you have to buy sites, and all these unnecessary additional burdens only cut at the bottom of what we all have at heart, namely, the provision of additional houses in an efficient and satisfactory 1835 state. I hope very much that later on, when this Instruction is moved, the House will see fit, if it passes the Bill, at any rate to remove this Clause for further consideration.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I desire to ask your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have an Instruction which I should propose to move after the passing of the Second Reading of this Bill, and I desire to ask you whether you think it will be more convenient to have a discussion on that Instruction than a general discussion on the Second Reading. If it would be for the general convenience of the House, I would postpone what I have to say until after the Second Reading.
That is hardly a point for me to decide. I cannot say whether the Bill will be given a Second Reading.
§ Mr. HARRIS
In those circumstances, I will say what I have to say on the Motion for Second Reading. I should first like to reply to some of the remarks of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). For something like 20 years I have been a member of the Housing Committee of the London County Council, and, although I recognise the important position which the hon. Member holds, as chairman of a dwellings company which stands very high in regard to its administration and the character of its buildings, I can say, as an administrator of a great number of buildings through the Housing Committee, that we have found this lighting of staircases to be essential for the protection of the public and of the residents in those dwellings. The London, County Council has the same difficulty to make ends meet as the company which the hon. Member represents. In the early days, we did not light these staircases, but from our experience we find, from the point of view of the people who use the stairs, that lighting is essential. It is only because we have found from our experience that it is essential, and because of representations from the police and others, that we are promoting this particular power to require that in dwellings of this character the stairs should be lighted.
In reference to the other part of the Bill, I am afraid I cannot find myself in 1836 support of it. Squeezed into this Bill are some revolutionary proposals that are going to interfere with a very old-established industry in London; which has been the pride of the people of London, namely, that of the street traders. It is peculiar to London; in the Provinces there is nothing really of the same character. Provincial towns have retail markets. In almost every big provincial town there are large retail markets, supplied by the community, well lit, well built, well controlled, where the public can get the advantage of cheap supplies of produce. In Paris, also, dotted over the whole of the city, are large retail markets such as, except in one or two corners of London, do not exist at all here. There are, of course, the big wholesale markets like Covent Garden, but the only opportunity for poor people, who have very little larder space and cannot store food, to get cheap supplies, are these old-established street markets dating back very many years. I am afraid that that is inevitable. London is so large that it would be impossible to supply large retail markets except at great expense. If the whole of London were to have these it would mean the starting of 30 or 40 retail markets, often buying the sites at great expense, and the tolls would have to be so heavy as to be prohibitive. As a result the street trader has come into existence.
I have no doubt in the course of the Debate reference will be made to a small Committee on Street Trading which reported in 1922. They were not too friendly to the street traders, but they give them an excellent character. They say:It is our opinion that, generally speaking, the street trader is an industrious worker, and that it is only by means of hard work that he is able to earn a livelihood.There is no more industrious and hard working person in the whole of London than the street traders and they have the confidence and respect of the people of London. I think it will be agreed that they fulfil a very useful purpose. They give the small buyer the advantage of getting cheap supplies. Our food supplies are a constant subject of articles in the Press. Vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs and butter are on the whole more expensive in London than in any 1837 other part of the country. These small street markets scattered about help to bring prices down. That is also testified to by the Report of the Street Trading Committee. They say:We have received almost unanimous evidence to the effect that the street trader supplies a felt want to the public, especially to the inhabitants of poor neighbourhoods. The street trader is readily accessible to the local residents and the competition between traders helps to keep the prices of the goods sold to the lowest possible level. The costermonger is very frequently in a better position to take advantage of gluts of fruit, fish, etc., than is the shopkeeper.In other words the street trader fulfils a useful purpose and we must be very careful that we do nothing to make it more impossible for him to carry on and ultimately drive him off the streets. We shall hear a lot about Bermondsey tonight but we have not had much experience of Bermondsey having powers of this kind. We have some experience of similar powers in the City of London, and they have been proved to be disastrous to the street trader, who is now conspicuous by his absence. There are very few street traders supplying the City of London. You have to hunt to find them. They have been driven off the streets. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right!"] Now we know where we are. I understood the hon. Member stood as the champion of the street, traders. Now we understand that he approves of the City of London driving these men off the streets. We thought there was something behind it and now he has let the cat out of the bag.
It may be argued that a supporter of the principle of local government would be naturally sympathetic to the idea that these are the kind of powers that ought to be in the hands of a borough council. I have a great respect for borough councils. Many of them are very efficient. They do their work very well and I have not a word to say against them, but in many cases a very large number of their members are shopkeepers. I have the greatest respect for shopkeepers. I believe if they were given these powers they would do their beet to discharge them impartially in the interests of all concerned, but is it fair, is it just, is it right, is it sound to put these powers in the bands of trade rivals? However anxious the shopkeepers might be to be impartial they will be under suspicion, 1838 in the mind of the street trader at any rate and in the mind of many of the public of being biased against the street trader. How would the shopkeeper like to have his right to carry on his business in the hands of trade rivals? In the desire for supervision and licensing von may put these powers into the hands of local bodies who may be composed of possible trade competitors. Many of the retail trade organisations are opposed to the street trader. There was an article the other day in the official newspaper that represents the grocers' trade welcoming these powers. They say:We are glad to see that the London County Council are proceeding on the lines set out in their General Powers Bill, and we hope that they will not be deterred from going forward by the opposition which seems to be foreshadowed.They are welcoming these proposals, because I assume they want to sweep off the street these inconvenient trade rivals, who help to keep down prices.
From the administrative point of view there are very serious objections to these proposals. I recognise that the Committee in 1922 recommended some form of licensing, but they say if you are to have licensing it ought to be in the hands of a central authority, and the reasons for that are obvious. Most of these street markets only take place one or two days a week. In one borough it may be on Monday and Tuesday; in another Wednesday and Thursday; in another Friday and Saturday and some boroughs it may be a surprise to the House to know, have these street markets on Sunday. The street traders only make a living by going from market to market. Under this scheme, if a street trader trades two days in Shoreditch, two days in Bethnal Green and two days in Stepney he will have to have three licences. Is that a practicable proposal Imagine a scheme for licensing taxicabs under which the driver has to get a licence from each borough in London. I do not say the analogy is complete but in a place like London it does not seem a practical proposal that a street trader should have to get three or four licences in order to carry on his trade. If our experience is to count for anything there is really not the difficulty suggested by the London County Council in the circular it sent to Members. In the Report 1839 of 1922 it is pointed out that where they have the men organised as in Stepney and Bethnal Green no such machinery is necessary. The Council say:The Stepney and Bethnal Green Unions have made and enforced rules and regulate the general conduct of business by their members which appear to have given satisfaction to all concerned.I should say a far simpler way of getting order in other parts of London is to follow the example of Bethnal Green and Stepney and encourage the street traders to organise themselves on their own account, form their unions and regulate their industry in the same way as other trades do for other purposes.
I see the County Council makes the point that it is necessary in the interests of health that stalls should be inspected. It is pointed out in the same Report of 1922:While strongly of opinion that all goods intended for human consumption should have adequate protection from dust and contamination when exposed for sale from stalls, we would point out that the same considerations also apply in the case of shops having open fronts.If something of this kind is considered necessary, it should be generally applied; it should be applied not only to street traders but to shopkeepers. If a shopkeeper exposes meat, fruit, fish or vegetables without having a shop window, he should be subject to the same control and inspection as is now proposed for the street trader. It is a very curious thing that although these powers are sought by the County Council, nothing is to be done in regard to the itinerant street trader—the street trader who does not take up a permanent stand but moves his stall from place to place. In their Report, the Committee point out particularly that it is just as necessary to control the itinerant street trader as it is to control the man who takes up his stall in a well-established street market. If we are to have legislation of this character, it should apply not only to the street trader who goes to an established street market but also to the street trader who takes his barrow to different parts of London.
Street traders are not confined to the County of London; they are spread over the whole of the Metropolitan Police area, The Committee point out that 1840 legislation of this kind should apply to the whole of the Metropolitan police area; not simply to the County of London but to greater London. That seems reasonable and fair. Before we pass legislation of this kind there should be a complete and impartial inquiry into the whole question of street trading. The street traders would welcome an inquiry; they are not afraid of it. They would give evidence before any Committee, and they would like the evidence to be given in public. A Committee dealt with this matter in 1922, but owing to the death of a Member of this House who was connected with the Committee the Report of the Committee was only signed by four Members, three of whom represented the legal profession and the police, while the fourth represented the multiple shopkeepers.
The gentleman in question was a very distinguished Member of this House, and I have not a word to say against him. According to his lights, he did his best to be fair and to hold the balance evenly between the various interests; but the street traders, naturally, do not feel that it is just that the cot elusions of a. Committee of this kind should be taken when the shopkeeping interest was represented and the street trading interest was conspicuous by its absence. If we are to have a Committee to guide this House, let it be a Committee of the various interests concerned, or let it be quite impartial, otherwise it would be like having a Committee to inquire into trade union law, with a director of a railway company on it and no representative of the National Union of Railwaymen on it. No doubt the director of the railway company would try to be fair and impartial, but the conclusions of the Committee would, naturally, not be above suspicion in the eyes of the interests interfered with.
I am asking, and we have a right to ask, before such great changes are made in the street trading customs of London, that, in the interests of the street traders, we should have a full and complete inquiry, and a special Bill. This particular subject has been hidden amongst a great number of other proposals such as that referring to staircases in dwelling houses, and it has been hidden from the general public. It has escaped the vigilant eye of the street traders and, unfortunately, 1841 they have missed their opportunity of petitioning, so that they cannot be heard by the Local Legislation Committee. That Committee has the confidence of this House, but, unfortunately, owing to the fact that the street traders have not petitioned, they have no right to ask to be heard before that Committee. For these reasons, I appeal to the House to reject this Clause, and when I move my Instruction, I hope that it will be carried.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Colonel VAUGHAN-MORGAN
I have listened with considerable interest to the speech of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) and I would like, while taking an entirely impartial attitude on this question to correct an impression which may have been derived from the speech of the hon. Member. There is no evidence in that part of London with which I am familiar that street traders are objected to by the retail trade. I do not regard this proposal as constituting an attack upon the street traders as a body, nor would such an attack be either supported or approved by the great body of London citizens. The street traders, as a representative community, serve the public in circumstances which are familiar to all of us. We know that they offer a convenient means, for the benefit of the poorer classes, of distributing food, and perishable articles in particular, in the event of a glut. That position is well known, and it has been particularly referred to in the Report of the Committee. They perform a service to the public and in return for that service they have been in the habit of exercising certain privileges. For example, the street markets are often held in busy thoroughfares, and there is risk of the convenience of the public being interfered with to a certain extent. Undoubtedly, rows of stalls down a busy thoroughfare interfere with the progress of traffic.
I think any impartial observer or student of this question will recognise the necessity for the observance, shall we say, of four stipulations—regulation, supervision, contribution and uniformity. Uniformity appears to be an essential. If each local authority in London were to be left to deal with this question according to its own lights or according to the particular circumstances of the locality, 1842 we should have a lack of uniformity in regulation towards an important body of traders. It will be admitted also that there is a strong case for a contribution on the part of street traders towards the clearing and cleansing of the streets which they occupy. At any rate, they occupy a portion of the streets. Regulation is surely to be desired in the interests of the rights to which an individual street trader, by the regular occupation of a stall in a certain district, might think himself entitled and to which he would be prepared to contend that he had greater justification than, possibly, a trade rival who had been less constant in his service to the public and had been a less regular attendant at a certain street market. There is, therefore, a case for regulation as well as contribution and uniformity. With respect to the question of supervision there, again, in the interests of public health and other considerations there must be a case for a certain measure of supervision and control. There must also be a case for supervision in regard to the space occupied by stalls and their possible encroachment on the minimum space necessary to allow for traffic.
Regulation, supervision, uniformity and control are generally admitted requirements; they are in themselves non-contentious. So far as I am personally concerned there is no attack on street traders, no desire to interfere with the carrying on of their business, which is admittedly a service to the public. But surely the time has come when in the interests of the traders themselves, as well as those of the public, some regulation and uniformity are desirable. When we consider the streets and areas and the great congestion of traffic the case becomes acute. Surely some other alternative method may be adopted? We can consider an alternative method, and we may if in the course of our researches we follow the line taken by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green. Looking at the circumstances in which street trading exists in London I am inclined to ascribe its existence to the practical absence of retail markets. There are some retail markets, but the circumstances in which the market control of London exists at the moment probably accounts for the fact that we have not a larger supply of local retail markets.
1843 The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green seemed to think that the establishment of retail markets is out of the question. I disagree. I cannot see that the cost would be too great. I see no reason why there should be any necessity to charge an exorbitant or over whelming toll. In the part of London with which I am familiar I am afraid the street traders in the near future will have to find another site, as the traffic in the streets can only be carried on with great difficulty at certain busy times If the street traders are to remain there the street must be widened, at a very heavy cost, or else the market will have to be moved elsewhere. But why should it not be possible in the different boroughs of London to establish an open-air market where those who have been accustomed to use the streets might resort in order to carry on their trade? It would not involve any excessive expenditure, and it would relieve the streets. There surely lies a solution of the problem. So far as the cost is concerned the borough would gain an advantage from the less congested condition of the streets and may easily allow a purely nominal charge, or one which is not in excess of the charges at present made.
I do not agree that an objection to the proposal is that the tolls would be too heavy. The present circumstances are peculiar to London. A remedy is necessary. The question will have to be dealt with, and I offer this as a possible solution not to be readily condemned but one which is worthy of careful consideration. I am no enemy of the street trader, quite the contrary, but I think the House will agree that certain measures of regulation on a basis of uniformity are necessary in the interests of the public and the street traders themselves. It is with that object that the Clause in the Bill has been introduced, at the wish and at the suggestion of the borough councils of London. The London County Council are only acting in the interests of the London boroughs, and they do not much mind whether the Instruction which is proposed be adopted or not.
§ Dr. SALTER
I rise to support the Second Reading of the Bill, and propose to confine my remarks exclusively to the Clause which deals with the regularisation of street trading. I understand that 1844 the opposition to the Bill is almost exclusively due to the inclusion of this particular Clause, and the attendance this evening of a considerable number of London Members arises from the fact that there is among the street traders of London a grave fear that the operation of this Clause may deprive them of their livelihood. As a result, they have been putting no inconsiderable pressure on my hon. Friends during the last few weeks, and if they have not intimidated them, I will not say that—they have at any rate induced them in some cases to sacrifice their principles in order to oppose this particular Measure, happen to be the only Member of the House who has had practical experience of the administration of the powers which this Bill proposes to confer on the rest of London, and I desire to say a few words as to the operation of the Act which the Bermondsey Borough Council obtained last year, which is word for word with the Clause in the Bill now before the House. The experience we have gained in Bermondsey dispels completely the fears of the street traders and their friends, that this Bill will in any way destroy their living or unduly hamper them in their efforts to gain a livelihood. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If I can give the House a few facts—not mere theories or abstract dissertations on the subject, but a few concrete facts as to what has happened in one Metropolitan area—where this Clause has been in operation, then hon. Members will realise that the fears which are entertained are not really justified.
The Bermondsey Act has been working with the most complete satisfaction to everybody concerned since last year. There have been no complaints from any quarter. It has been received with general acclamation and given satisfaction to the street traders, to shopkeepers, the general public, the local authorities, and the police. As far as I can gather there has been neither individual nor collective remonstrance or complaint against the operation of the Act, and this extraordinary result has accrued. Prior to the passing of the Act there were in the Borough of Bermondsey from 340 to 350 known street traders, people who attended at their various pitches regularly on certain days of the week. At the present time the Borough of Ber- 1845 mondsey has issued 600 licences; the number of street traders has been nearly doubled. I have no complaint to make on that score, because we look on the street trader as a friend of the poor. We realise that he is providing a very necessary service. All we ask is that his operations shall be properly regularised.
That is all that this Bill proposes to do. In the first place, the street trader has not been turned out or deprived of his livelihood, because actually there are nearly twice as many in the area as there were before the Act came into force. In the second place, there is no doubt that the fact that any given trader has now a guaranteed pitch of which he cannot be deprived by anyone, has given almost capital value to his particular stand. This is illustrated very well by an incident which happened a few weeks ago. There died a street trader who had had control of two stalls, one of which he worked himself, the other being worked by his son. In his will, after leaving the rest of his property to his widow and daughters, he left the two stalls to his son. He estimated the capital value of those stalls at £150 each, and I understand that probate has actually been paid on that amount. Obviously, the man had no power to devise the right to trade in that particular spot, but the incident shows what value a guaranteed pitch now possesses to the street trader who is lucky enough to obtain one. I know that throughout the street trading fraternity generally a fixed pitch is now regarded as having a saleable value.
To show the support which the street traders who have had experience of the Act give to that Act now that they know how it safeguards their interests, I might mention that the opponents of this Bill have attempted to hold meetings amongst the traders in Bermondsey, and in every case they have had a very rough house and have been heckled severely, and the attempt to continue the meetings has had to be abandoned. Some rumour was spread among the street traders that this Bill would have the effect of removing their present guaranteed protection, and as a result petitions have been addressed to the borough council and to the local Members imploring them to do everything in their power to retain the present Bermondsey Act, and if possible to extend its beneficent effects over the rest of London to their brethren, Two other 1846 very valuable effects which the Act has had in my own area are, first, that the local ratepayer has been relieved of what was a very serious and very unjust impost. Members will understand that in street markets where mainly vegetables or fruit are sold, there must necessarily be a large amount of refuse. Prior to the operation of the Act the borough council was obliged to keep a special staff of street cleansers for the purpose of clearing up after and during the progress of the markets. A night staff and a Sunday staff had to be engaged and a market inspector had to be appointed, and in addition there was the cost of the removal of the refuse, together with its ultimate destruction. The total cost of all those operations was just over £2,000 a year, or practically a halfpenny rate.
It was always felt that persons who deposited trade refuse should themselves be responsible for the cost of removing it. Prior to the Act the borough had to bear the cost of these special markets and of clearing the refuse deposited by the trader. Now, under the Act, we are enabled legally to make a maximum charge of twos shillings a week for those who have a stand for more than one day a week, or of one shilling a week for those who take up their stand on only one day of the week, and the revenue so derived, which is paid willingly by all and even joyfully by many of the costermongers concerned, just covers the total cost of the special cleansing and the removal of the refuse. Moreover, the ratepayers have been relieved to the extent of a halfpenny rate, no one has been penalised, and everybody is satisfied. A secondary, but exceedingly beneficial result has been this: Prior to the Act, many costermongers, in order to get rid of their refuse, deposited it in side streets or under railway arches and so on, when they imagined that no one was looking, and a great deal of nuisance and trouble was caused thereby. Since the operation of the Act all those difficulties have ceased. The costermonger now hand's over his refuse to an accredited officer, who parades up and down the market with a specially constructed barrow, and the side streets are no longer encumbered with debris that has been deposited surreptitiously. Since the Act there has been no complaint of the unlawful deposit of refuse under arches or in side streets.
1847 With regard to the question of health and the objections which have been raised on the score that a local authority should have no right to interfere with the particular class of goods that the costermonger can sell, or decide whether he should sell them, I have to say that we have experienced great advantage from being able to segregate different classes and types of goods. It is, obviously, undesirable that next door, or in immediate proximity, to a stall upon which margarine and various comestibles are sold there should be a heap of filthy textile refuse, old clothes and similar insanitary material. What has happened has been that the borough council has been able to set aside certain areas for the sale of second-hand clothing and similar goods and another part of the market for the sale of such things as foodstuffs. I suggest that the circular—which I think all Members of the House have received from the Street Traders' Association—is incorrect in almost every one of its assertions. It suggests that the only scheme of licensing and registration so far tried is that of the City of London. That is obviously incorrect because it has been in operation in the borough of Bermondsey. Then it suggests that the scheme has resulted in the practical elimination of the street trader. That is obviously incorrect, because, as far as my own borough is concerned, the numbers have been nearly doubled. Then it suggests that only one or two borough councils have expressed any desire for the Bill. As a matter of fact, the Bill is brought in by the London County Council at the instance of the Standing Joint Committee of all the Metropolitan Borough Councils, and at least 18 of them—I have the names here—have expressed themselves in favour of the Bill.
§ Dr. SALTER
It has been reiterated since. The names of the 18 borough councils are: Battersea, Camberwell, Deptford, Fulham, Hackney, Hammersmith, Holborn, Islington, Kensington, Lambeth, Poplar, Shoreditch, South- 1848 wark, St. Marylebone, Stoke Newington, Westminister, and Woolwich. That is the list of boroughs which I understand are supporting the Bill.
Another objection raised is that licensing and regulations tend to restrict the operations of the traders who operate in more than one market. That is obviously not the case, because I have ascertained that more than 50 per cent. of the traders, who are registered in the Metropolitan borough of Bermondsey, trade in at least one other borough, while 30 per cent. of them trade in at least two other boroughs, which are not controlled. As a matter of fact, they happen to trade in other boroughs where the licensing scheme is in operation which will be legalised if this Bill passes, and, therefore, their position is not in the least degree interfered with.
Then the next point they state is that licensing and Regulations do not as a matter of practice give the security and tenure which is claimed for them. That obviously is incorrect. The one thing the licensed street traders say is that they will at long last get the protection and security for which they have asked for many years. I take it that Members know that the ordinary street trader, in order to secure his pitch, except in licensed areas, has to take up his stand somewhere between 3 a.m. and and 5 a.m. winter and summer. Unless he is there to hold his pitch, it does not matter for how many years he may have been trading in that particular spot; if he happens to be ill or happens to meet with some accident, or his barrow is upset and he is a few minutes late, he may arrive to find the pitch on which he has sold his goods for so many years has been taken by someone else. Now at long last he is secured and guaranteed a pitch which no one can take away from him, and the street trader who has once experienced that will never desire to go back to the chaos and anarchy which existed prior to the passing of the Bill, as far as it affects my particular area. I am perfectly certain, when this Bill has been not merely read a Second time but has passed its Third Reading and when once we get it into operation, that the street traders will bless the County Council and all those who have supported it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I gather that what the House really wishes to discuss is the Instruction on the Paper. The hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) has, I understand, a point on the Bill itself. I suggest that we should dispose of that, and then come to the Instruction, which, I gather, is the matter that the House really wishes to discuss.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
May I submit that, in spite of the length of the discussion so far, not a single Member on these Benches has had an opportunity of speaking against this Clause of the Bill on the Second Reading, and I think in justice that should be permitted on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am only anxious to meet the views of the House. If the House does not grant the Second Reading, the Instruction will disappear, and the House will not get the Division which it appears to desire. I was proposing to call the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), who is seconding the Instruction. I think that is the best course.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
As I am not a London Member, I do not propose to stand in the way of the House discussing the Instructions more than one minute, but as an old Member of the House I do feel it desirable to draw attention to Clause 24, which seems to me to contain nearly all the evils of which we have complained in Committee upstairs. In the first place, it sanctions an extension of two tramway schemes which are not described at all except as 2a and 10a, and tramway No. 10D. They were first sanctioned 17 and 18 years ago and since then we have renewed them three times, so that the House is now being asked to renew these powers for the fourth time of asking. I do submit that these proposals ought to be brought forward as practical proposals. If we were in Committee upstairs and we were discussing a Private Bill, we most certainly should say, after they have been given 17 and 18 years to carry out their projects, that it is not the time to come and ask for an extension of time. There is also the evil of legislation by reference. I do not propose to argue it, but I did wish to direct the attention of the House to this particular Clause.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time, and committed.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move,That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out Clause 29 (Licensing of Street Traders).I have already expressed my views and my reasons for this action and I only intend to move formally.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I beg to second the Motion.
The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) opened his speech with a rather scornful reference to certain of his fellow London Members because he said that they had yielded to political pressure from the street traders in this matter. He did not exactly say so, but left the. House to understand by implication that he was quite superior to any kind of political pressure whatsoever. When I was thinking over that and remembering the incident which took place in this House some months ago, I came to the conclusion that there was no righteousness save in the hon. Member for West Bermondsey. I come from a very poor area of London, where there are a very great number of costermongers, and also a great mass of poor people who find the costermongers of great service in providing them with cheap necessaries of life. For that reason I wish to do my utmost to prevent this particular Clause of the Bill from becoming law. I am going to oppose it on two grounds. I am going to assume, as I think I am entitled to, that whatever the promoters of the Clause may say this Bill is designed to do away in the end with the street traders An hon. Member who spoke from the opposite Benches professed sympathy for the street traders, but yet he said he wanted to see this Bill passed into law. When I heard him saying that, I was reminded of some lines which are familiar to most of us in this House:I weep for you, the Walrus said,I deeply sympathise,With sobs and tears he sorted outThose of the largest size.It seems to me that although Members, like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey and others who are supporting this Clause, profess their sympathy for the street traders and say they desire to see the street traders given a fair 1851 chance, yet what they are really doing by promoting this Clause is to do something which will bring the street traders existence to an end in a very short space of time. If one wanted some idea as to whether the street traders really wanted this or not surely the people one should go and ask are the street traders themselves. What do the street traders of London say? I except the street traders of Bermondsey, but taking the great mass of street traders in London, and the organisations representing them, they are opposed to this Bill. As I say, there are many street traders in my own constituency and I have not come across a single one who is in favour of this Bill.
It is said by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey and others that the Bill will confer considerable advantages on the street trader. They tell us, for instance, that it will obviate the necessity on the part of the street trader of getting up at half-past five or six o'clock in the morning in order to ensure his place in the street; that it will prevent fights as to where a particular stall should stand in street, and that it will give the street trader security of tenure. If there were any real soundness or validity in those arguments, I submit the street traders of London would support this Clause. If they were to have benefits conferred upon them, surely they would support the Clause, but, as a matter of fact, apart from Bermondsey, the great mass of these traders are opposed to the Clause and they ought to be the best judges of their own cause. That ought to be sufficient evidence to Members of this House who do not fully understand the issue, and it should help them to realise on which side they ought to vote.
I think it is admitted that the street trader is performing a service to the community by providing cheap food for the poor people. In my constituency there is one street which has a long row of these stalls, and every morning that street is packed with poor men and women who do their shopping there. Why do they shop there instead of at the ordinary shops? Because every penny is a matter of importance to them, and they know they can get better value for their money from the street traders than from the shopkeepers. There is, I know, an objection to street trading on 1852 the part of the shopkeepers, and there is a, certain amount of substance in it. They say that the street traders carry on their business without having to pay rent and rates, and that it is unfair that the shopkeepers should be subjected to competition of that kind. As I say, there is substance in that objection, but the House has to choose between two evils. We have to decide which is the more important—to relieve the shopkeepers of a certain amount of unfair competition, or to see that the poor people are allowed to purchase common necessaries at the lowest possible price We who represent poor constituencies and all Members who desire to stand up for the poor, ought to come down on the side of seeing that the poor people are still able to buy at the lowest possible price and let the unfair competition to the shopkeepers continue.
1 desire to deal with one or two Clauses in this Bill in order to show that it is more dangerous than some hon. Members have pointed out. Clause 30 deals with the right of the Secretary of State to consult with the borough council as to whether stalls are to be permitted or not in any given street. I regard this Clause as being most sinister. It says that the Secretary of State, after consultation with the borough council, may issue a ruling to the effect that no stall shall be permitted in a given street. It does not say how much consultation is to take place. It does not say that the Secretary of State is to get the agreement of the borough council. So far as I can see he may even act in opposition to the wishes of the borough council. It might easily happen under this Clause that the Secretary of State, on the pretext that the needs of traffic demanded it, would wipe out a whole streetful of these stalls where trading had been carried on for generations. I should like here to put in a little plea in this House for some consideration for the ordinary people, as against the rights of the developing motor traffic. Time after time in this House it is suggested that pedestrians and ordinary people ought to give up rights which they have long enjoyed in order to meet the necessities of traffic. There is another side to that question and even the needs of traffic should, if 1853 necessary, be curbed in order that the poor people may get their supplies at the cheapest rate.
Another Clause in the Bill provides that the costermonger who has enjoyed the use of a stall for a considerable time and has that stall taken away from him, may have a right of appeal, but the Clause goes on to say that the Court, in giving its decision, may award costs. That is an illusory protection to the street trader. If the judgment of the borough council is against him—and where there is a majority of shopkeepers and people of that sort, the judgment of the borough council is going to be against him—and if he takes an appeal in what a hopeless position he will be. The borough council will be able to obtain the roost costly legal assistance, whereas the poor costermonger will not be able to do anything of the kind. If he is so daring as to take the case to Court and if the decision of the Court is also against him, not only will he lose his licence, but he will probably have to pay a very heavy bill of legal charges. Most of the points which I intended to make have already been covered by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) and T have little to say in conclusion except to hope that hon. Members who do not know this issue very clearly will think carefully before recording a vote in favour of a proposal which, in its ultimate effect, is going to destroy the costermonger in London. The costermonger is a very worthy law-abiding citizen. He has existed in the life of London for something like four centuries and in all that time has been doing good service to the community as a whole. I hope that the House, before agreeing to this particular Clause, will consider those facts and will also consider what I regard as the fundamental point, namely, that the poor people, because they are poor, should be allowed to get their ordinary necessaries at the lowest price. If you take away the street trader and remove his competition from the shopkeeper the inevitable effect will be to raise the prices of common necessaries. On all these grounds I hope the House will support the Members representing the poorer 1854 districts of London and will reject this Clause.
§ Sir WALTER GREAVES-LORD
Last year, when there was before the House a Bill promoted by the Bermondsey Borough Council dealing with this question of street trading, I opposed that Bill, not because I thought there was anything wrong in regulating the street trader or because I thought that regulating the street trader would do any harm to him, but because I thought it was extremely inconvenient that there should be piecemeal legislation in a big area like London on a matter of this kind. I called the attention of the House on that occasion to the fact that on the motion of the borough, part of which I have the honour to represent, the Standing Joint Committee of the Metropolitan Borough Councils had themselves suggested that there should be legislation by some authority on behalf of the whole area, so that there might be unformity throughout the area. For that reason, I am glad to find that there has been no great lapse of time between the passing of the Bermondsey Act and the bringing forward of a Bill which would bring about, if passed, uniformity throughout the whole of this area in connection with street trading.
I do not propose to repeat the various arguments which have been adduced in favour of Clauses which are now included in this Bill. They have been so admirably brought forward, particularly, if I may say so, by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), that it would be impertinent to attempt to repeat them, and I cannot help thinking that those who say there is anything in this Bill, except one portion of it, to which I will refer in a moment, which is likely to do the street trader any harm are undoubtedly proceeding on a wrong basis. At present the street trader is a person who has to fight for his pitch, who has to go through great difficulties to keep it, and who never knows when a stronger man than he is may supplant him in it. If this Bill is passed, the street trader, subject to one portion of a particular Clause, gets a vested right, which can only be taken from him upon cause being shown, and to go back into the history of this country and realise the position which existed not very long ago in connection with licensing, to realise what a long struggle there was to get rid of 1855 licences because of the fact that you could only get rid of them when cause was duly shown, is to realise what a vested interest is given to the costermonger who comes under the provisions of this Bill. Before his pitch can be taken from him, a, notice must be given to him by the borough council. People seem to think that the borough councils will act harshly and unjustly, but before they can act at all they must give the man the right to come before them, and a full opportunity of putting his case before them. It is only after a consideration of that case, and then only for cause, that they can act.
If the borough council take away the man's pitch, he has the right of appeal, and an absolutely unencumbered right of appeal, to the local justices. What an indictment of the local justices it is to suggest that they will be overwhelmed by the tremendous funds of the local council and, therefore, will not give the man who appears before them justice. I cannot help thinking that that is an indictment of the justices of this country which will not bear examination for one moment.
§ Sir W. GREAVES-LORD
I do not think the hon. Member can have heard what the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) has just said. The hon. Member for Shoreditch pointed out that one of the difficulties the coster would be in would be that the borough council, with their enormous funds, would be able to bring down some member of the legal profession, who would overweight any argument that the poor coster, who was there without funds and utterly unable to protect himself, could bring forward.
§ Mr. THURTLE
Does the hon. and learned Member suggest that the legal luminaries would not overweight any argument the poor coster might bring forward?
§ Sir W. GREAVES-LORD
I do suggest that the position of a man who is not represented against counsel is very often an advantage to the man who is not represented. [Laughter] The laugh may be on the other side when I have finished, because if there is one man who gets the sympathetic attention of a court, 1856 it is the man who happens to be unrepresented, and if any court does its duty, from the moment a man is unrepresented the practice is for the court to take up the cudgels on his behalf and to see that every possible point is put in his favour. The hon. Member for Shoreditch seems to think that the power to award costs would be a serious matter for the costermonger, but I think it is very much more likely to be a deterrent to the local council in taking action. If one looks back again into history, and realises haw local authorities have struggled in the past against the power of courts to award costs against them, because where costs are so awarded the local authority have to justify their action to the ratepayers, one realises that the local authority think that the power to award costs against them is a deterrent to act; and in fact it does prevent them from taking arbitrary action, because they know very well that they may go before a court and expend the ratepayers money, only to find that an impartial tribunal will not only quash the order that they have made, but will make an order for costs against them.
There is one aspect of this matter which I do not quite understand, and that is the general power, to which the hon. Member for Shoreditch referred—and, I think, quite rightly referred—which is given to the Secretary of State, after consultation with the borough council, to limit very closely indeed the power of the council to grant licences. I cannot help thinking that those who are keenly interested in this matter would be well advised, when it comes before Committee, to try to get inserted in the Bill something which would ensure that the Secretary of State should not act under this Clause without not only consulting the borough councils, but without some sort of public inquiry such as is necessary before certain other orders are made. It seems to me that by some suggestion of that kind you may very well safeguard the traders, and that you will do it very much better than by trying to put out all the other Clauses, which, in my opinion, would be of inestimable benefit to the costermongers themselves.
One other argument which is put forward is the suggestion that there is a great desire on the part of the retail shopkeeper to get rid of the street trader 1857 altogether. I think that argument is based upon a misapprehension. I have discussed this matter time after time with shopkeepers, and what I have found is this, that while they object to an unregulated condition of affairs, they agree that if you have a well-regulated system of street trading, so far from being a hindrance to shopkeepers, it is merely a means of bringing people to the street to shop, and then they can justify their own existence by attracting those people into the shops. So far from decreasing trade in the retail shops, to the retail shopkeeper who knows his business, and makes his shop attractive, it very often results in bringing customers to the shop. There was one other matter to which the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) referred. He said, why not a central authority?
§ Mr. HARRIS
I did not say that. I said the Committee which reported recommended a central authority. I did not express any view.
§ Sir W. GREAVES-LORD
I should have thought the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green would not have brought it forward unless he considered it might be an argument against borough councils individually granting the licences, and I was going to point out that surely the right authority to grant the licence and to charge the fee, which is a means of getting back payment for services which the council has to render, is the council which has to render those services. He said, why should a man, for example, have to pay a fee to two or three borough councils? In the first place, he does not pay a fee to three or four borough councils unless he has a separate pitch in each one of them, and I do not see why a man should not pay for each pitch in the same way as a shopkeeper has to pay for each shop. But when he says this does not propose to interfere with the hawker, he has entirely missed the point. He gave an illustration a few moments before this illustration, and said, "Why not license them exactly like taxi-drivers?" The true analogy would be between taxi-drivers and hawkers. The taxi-driver goes from one district to another, and the hawker in one day may go to half a dozen districts. It would be impossible for that man to be licensed in each of the districts through which he passed, 1858 and, therefore, he is licensed by the police through the central authority, and very largely for the purpose of ensuring that, going as he does from time to time to houses, and so forth, he shall be a person of reasonable respectability and honesty. On general grounds, I venture to think this Bill, with its Clauses, will be of very great advantage to the whole area in which it operates, and, in these circumstances, I hope the House, having passed the Second Reading, will delete this Instruction, and allow the Bill to go to a Committee without any Instruction.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
I would like, first of all, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on the admirable manner in which he discharged the functions of father to this Bermondsey baby of his. If I have any complaint to make at all, it is that he should so persistently have praised its virtues to the House. He not only said what a fine baby it is, but he tickled it under the chin, held it up for the admiration of the House, and asked us to believe there was no baby in the world like this big, fat, Bermondsey baby of his. May I remind him that his infant is only a few months old, and may very shortly develop some of those infantile complaints, in which all the skill of my hon. Friend will be required if he wants to save that baby's life. The useful functions of the street trader do not need to be stressed any further in this Debate: but there is one special point to which I would call the attention of the House, and it has relation to the question of whether or not this Bill is restrictive in character. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey assured us that the Bill had the support of a certain number of borough councils in London, and he gave us the names of 18 councils. What about the other 10? Let me point out just how this Bill is going to restrict the opportunities of the street trader. Clause 29, which is the main Clause of the Bill, says:It shall not he lawful for any person to sell or expose or offer for sale any article or thing from or upon any barrow, cart, stall, or other receptacle.What is going to happen in the case of these borough councils which, apparently, are not in favour of this Bill? In these 10 boroughs there is a large num- 1859 ber of street traders earning their living to-day.
§ Dr. SALTER
May I submit that my hon. Friend has no right to suggest at all that these 10 boroughs are opposed to the Bill? There is no evidence. It is merely that they have not replied to the question.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
I think I am right in assuming that some at least of these 10 borough councils will not be in favour of operating this particular Clause. Supposing only one council is not prepared to operate this Clause, it means that not a single street trader can ply his calling in that locality. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] Yes; it says in Clause 29 that no trading shall take place unless the trader has a licence. If the borough council has to issue the licence, and is not prepared to carry out this Clause—and there is nothing in the Bill to say that the borough councils shall operate the Clause —then the Clause operates against the trader, and not against the council. It says the trader shall not trade unless he has a licence, and if the borough council is not prepared to consider the question of administering this Clause, the street traders in that locality are at once doing an illegal act, because they are trading without a licence. I say that is clearly a case of restricting a street trader's opportunity of earning his living.
Then, again, one would suppose that the framers of this Bill would have made the issuing of licences a question not for the local borough council, but for the London County Council. [An HON. MEMBER: "What have they got to do with it?"] I am speaking on this matter from the point of view of effective administration. The Bill is permissive as far as the borough councils are concerned, but it is not permissive in regard to the street trader's right to carry on his calling—another instance of how those who draft Bills of this character have ignored the interest of the men who have not the opportunity of defending their own interests. I think it is fairly proved 1860 by that one fact alone that the opportunities of the street trader are to be restricted by the operation of this Bill. It is admitted that they can operate only by the use of licences. There is no doubt that, through freedom of trade in London, the prices on the stalls are kept below those in the shops. The secret of success in this matter is that the street trader can bring his produce from the market, keep it on the stalls and sell it in one day, and he sells it at a low price. But, human nature being what it is, give him a monopoly—and that is what the Bill seeks to do—and there will be no further reason why street traders should keep their prices low. I hope the House will bear that point in mind. The hon. and learned Member for Norbury (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) has suggested that this Bill gives the trader a vested interest in his business; but that interest is only given at the whim of the borough council, who decide as to whether the licence is, in the first place granted, and in the second place renewed.
§ Sir W. GREAVES-LORD
May I call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the borough council can only, in toe first place, refuse to grant the licence for cause, and can only refuse to renew it for cause.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
I can quite understand the hon. Member approaching this question from the legal point of view. Here you have another opportunity for litigation. You will have learned counsel engaged by the local authority, but who is to say that the poor street trader will have an opportunity of briefing counsel in his own behalf? Members of this House know that that is a practical impossibility. The people who are to be injured by this Bill are the least fortunate of the street traders not the man with two or three stalls, but the street trader who is living from hand to mouth and living badly at that. Only yesterday, I was in my own Division trying to find out what my own constituents think about these provisions, and in every case they were angry at the thought of their liberty being interfered with in this way. I found one poor woman, who was a widow and she was packing up all her goods—I quote this case because it is typical of the poorer class of street trader who has to scratch 1861 a living from the pavement—and all her goods were being compressed into a railway travelling trunk. She was a street trader. She said she was trying to do her little best to keep off the Poor Law and that, if these licences were issued, she thought it would be extremely doubtful as to whether she, with her few old dresses and suits of clothes, would be able to get a licence for the purpose of selling these things. The hon. Member for Norwood seemed to justify the charge for a licence in the case of the street trader who travels from borough to borough. Surely he forgot that, when a street trader goes from one district to another, he is not trading in each of those districts for the full week. The nature of his commodity may be such that he cannot afford, from the trading point of view, to remain in one district more than one or two days. That means that he spends his time possibly in four or five or six separate districts every week, or otherwise he could not get a living.
Under the terms of this Bill, in all probability, he will be charged, first of all, a licence of certainly not less than have shillings a year in each of these districts. That arises out of the fact that the borough councils will administer this Bill and not the London County Council. The difficulty would not arise if the London County Council were the centre of administration. In addition to the charge for the licence, these poor people will have to pay for what is called clearance. The street trader will be charged clearance whether he makes a mess or whether he leaves the place where his goods were displayed as spick and span as when he started. Even if he is charged one shilling a week for clearance, that comes to £2 12s. per annum, and in every district he will have to pay a possible charge for clearance as well as other charges. How can the small street trader be expected to afford this money year after year 1 It is little short of blackmail for London borough councils to insist that these poor men and women should be made to pay these charges. These people are carrying on their calling under the supervision of the police, and there is no question of interference with the traffic, because the police have power to deal with that whenever they please. I think these facts should be 1862 borne in mind, and I ask the House not to desert the interests of these men because they have not been able to make their opposition felt. The trade organisations representing the men and women engaged in street trading are opposed to this Bill, and I ask you to pay the same respect to the organisations of the street traders as you would be inclined to pay to the larger unions of trading interests.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Captain Hacking)
I did not intend to enter into the history of this subject, but I fear I must go back to the year 1921 for the purposes of my argument. In 1921, the then Home Secretary (Mr. Edward Shortt) set up a Committee to deal with this vexed problem. The Committee reported in 1922, and in the following year, 1923, the Government of the day introduced a Bill, which was known as Lord Onslow's Bill, and which was purely a means of getting the opinion of the various persons who were concerned. The Bill was eventually dropped. Then West Ham reopened this subject in 1925. The Home Office reported somewhat adversely about the West Ham Bill because, as explained by the hon. and learned Member for Norwood (Sir W. Greaves-Lord) it was piecemeal legislation. The Private Bills Committee, however, declined to take the view which was expressed by the Home Office, and they allowed the Bill to go forward, subject to considerable modifications. On that occasion—and I wish to emphasise this point—there was no opposition from the street traders to that Bill; on the contrary, a number of local street traders appeared as witnesses in favour of the Bill, which they regarded as a measure of protection. The provisions of that Bill were practically the same, they are almost identical with the provisions of this Bill. In 1926, when Bermondsey promoted a Bill containing similar powers, the Home Office took no action in the matter. There was no petition against that Bill on behalf of the street traders, and local street traders came forward as witnesses for the promoters. Those two illustrations of the attitude taken up by the local street traders are worthy of the careful attention of this House. In April 1926 the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint-Committee expressed approval of the 1863 Bermondsey Act, and it was at their suggestion that the London County County Council decided to place Clause 29 and the following Clauses in this Bill.
The point I want to make is that the three most interested parties, namely, the street traders, the shopkeepers and the Metropolitan Boroughs Joint Standing Committee were all presumably in favour of those two Acts. The street traders made no opposition at all to the Acts when they were going through Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "They could not afford it!"] They had every opportunity of corning to the House, every opportunity of lobbying. [An HON. MEMBER: "They had not the money!"] I do not want to be drawn aside by arguments of that kind. There was no opposition from the local street, traders in connection with those Acts, and, as has already been pointed out by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr Salter), the number of licences in Bermondsey has been doubled and there axe now, I am told, 600. So far as I know, and I am certain hon. Members will correct me if I am wrong, there was no opposition to this Bill or the two previous Acts by shopkeepers. An hon. and learned Member behind me has given a very valid reason why shopkeepers might well object if street traders were crippled. In fact, I could give an illustration of an instance when the street traders were taken away from a certain street and the shopkeepers demanded that they should be restored.
§ Captain HACKING
The Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee on its own initiative asked for these powers. Every Metropolitan borough except Poplar has representation on that Committee. Although it has been stated to-night that there are only 18 boroughs in favour of it, the other 10 had the same opportunity. It is a democratic body. So much for the views of the three most directly interested bodies.
What I am particularly interested in to-night is' the view of the Home Office. It is the view of the Home Office that some form of regulation of street markets is desirable, and the provisions of the West Ham Act, 1925, and the Bermond 1864 sey Act, 1926, appear to be a good solution of this vexed question. The principle of those Acts, which were based on the recommendations of the Street Trading Committee, is that the regulation of street markets must be primarily a matter for the local authority, which should be in a position to know the opinion of the area. Certainly, no proposal of this kind should be left in the hands of the police. There are many conflicting interests to consider. There are the interests of the shopkeepers. Sometimes we are told, at any rate from the other side of the House, that they conflict with the interests of the street traders.
Is it right that the police should decide an issue of that kind? The local need for street markets and the effect of markets on surrounding property is not a question which the police should be asked to decide. These are not police matters, nor are the police specially qualified to deal with them. The regulation of traffic is safeguarded under this Bill. As is invariably the custom on occasions of this kind the Whips will not be put on. I ask the House however to allow the Bill to go upstairs as it is at present, and I may say that the Minister of Transport agrees with tint suggestion. The Bill has received the unanimous support of the London Traffic Advisory Committee, which is a very important body. The advice I am giving to the House is not based on any form of hostility to the street traders. I know very well that many ex-service men are amongst the street traders, and it is my great anxiety not to prevent those people from earning a living. The street traders are an important feature in the public life of the Metropolitan boroughs, and their trading has the effect of keeping the price of articles of food at a low level.
The reason why I am going to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill is because I believe it will prove to be for the benefit of the street traders themselves, because it means that their pitches will be equitably allotted, and they will be a great deal more secure than in the past. This Bill will benefit street traders because they will not have to waste hours during the daytime by getting up very early in order to endeavour to secure their pitches. They will benefit in this way because there will not be those early 1865 morning scrambles for pitches which are still very frequent in many parts of London. I believe the genuine street trader will be encouraged and protected by this Bill as has proved to be the case in Bermondsey, where it has been shown that the small trader has every opportunity of stating his case and he invariably gets his pitch. This Bill will help the genuine street trader against the combined street traders, who are very often wealthy people, and are able to get pitches very easily. It is because I believe this Bill will benefit street traders that I ask hon. Members to allow it to go forward as it is.
With regard to the benefit to the general public so far as health services are concerned, it will be of great benefit to the country to have street trading regularised, and for that reason I hope I shall have the support of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. For all these reasons because the Bill is in the interests of street traders and uniformity of a principle already accepted by this House; because pubic opinion, as expressed through democratically elected public bodies, is in favour of it; because it is in the interests of transport and regulation of traffic as a whole; and because it is in the interests of the police who, but for this Measure, might be called upon to perform duties which they should not be asked to perform, I ask the House to send this Bill to a Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. SCURR
As the representative of a poor constituency in the East End of London, and as one who has for some time taken an interest in this matter, I think it would be cowardly on my part to give a silent vote. I hope I have as much sympathy with the poorer section of the people as my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), who has attempted this evening to draw for us a convincing picture of people whom he saw in a street in Shoreditch down which he walked, and who were buying things from the street traders. The inference he would draw from that was that, if this Bill were passed, that would not occur in future. But, if this Bill passes, the people who go down that street will still be able to purchase as they have done in the past. Another point is that this matter has been going 1866 on in London for a good many years. The Under-Secretary has referred to the Departmental Committee of 1921. In that year, the Metropolitan Boroughs Joint Committee carefully considered this matter. On that occasion the borough of Poplar was a member of the Committee, and I had the honour of being Chairman of the Standing Committee, and on their behalf I appeared before that Committee to give evidence in favour of this Regulation.
The last point that I want to make is that my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor), in referring to Clause 29, put forward the idea that, according to Clause 29, on and after a certain day it would not be lawful for any person to sell, or expose for sale, and so on. The inference he drew from that was that, if any of the 10 borough councils who have not replied to the Circular of the Clerk to the Standing Joint Committee did not put this Act into force, the consequence would be that the whole of the street traders would he swept out of those 10 boroughs. My hon. Friend could not have read the following Clause, Clause 30, which, in Sub-section (1), says:A person requiring a licence or the renewal of a licence……shall make application in wriitng,It goes on, in Sub-section (2), to say that:The Borough Council shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after the receipt of an application……grant or renew a licence.That completely disposes, I think, of my hon. Friend's proposal. After all, a lot of false sentiment has been attempted to be raised in this House to-night. When we consider this question, we have to consider it from the point of view of the public interest, and I want to ask the House, who is to be the responsible authority that is to look after the streets on behalf of the public? I submit that it is the public authority who are elected by the ratepayers; they and they alone are the persons who should say who should be in control of their streets.
Under this proposal, there is absolutely no idea of getting rid, and I have not met any member of any borough council with whom I have discussed the terms of this Bill who has the slightest conception of getting rid, of street trading at all. I know there was a time when 1867 shopkeepers used to imagine that street traders were their enemies, but to-day the shopkeepers recognise that the stre traders are not their enemies. I know many streets where, by reason of the fact that the street traders are there, business has been attracted to those streets, and it has been very good business indeed for the shopkeepers. I should say that any borough council that attempted to get rid of the street traders in its district would find arrayed against it many of the shopkeepers themselves, as they find that these people bring trade to their district. From the point of view of the public interest it is right that the municipal authority should be able to regulate the conduct of its streets, and there is no desire in any circumstances to limit any of the privileges or rights of the poor. On the contrary, by giving security to the street trader we are doing the best for him and for the community. Therefore, I am opposed to the Instruction.
§ Mr. TASKER
I want to support the Instruction, and to lift the Debate out of the realm of unreality into which it has fallen. Those who are supporting the Bill are confessing that the Metropolitan Borough Councils have neglected their duty. They are alleging that no powers exist to control the streets and to clear away the rubbish. The Metropolitan Police Act gives the borough councils power to supervise the clearing away of rubbish. Prosecutions have taken place under the Act and fines have been inflicted and collected. There is, therefore, no reason why the London County Councils should seek powers except to satisfy the Standing Joint Committee of the borough councils of London. There are two other Acts under which men can be prosecuted if they put their rubbish in the street and do not remove it. The Metropolitan Borough Councils have not troubled to make themselves acquainted with the law, but have gone out of their way to encourage the London County Council to promote this legislation which I hold is entirely unnecessary. If the borough councils had chosen to adopt the same policy as that which obtains in Paddington, Bethnal Green, Camberwell, Poplar, Holborn, Stepney, Lambeth and Marylebone they could have come to an agreement with the street 1868 traders and there would be no trouble and no friction. It has been suggested that the street trader pays no rates. He does. He pays the rates on his house, but he pays something more than that. I have here a receipt not only for a pitch of 1s. a week, but for 1s. 8d. a week for clearing away rubbish. He, therefore, pays for clearing away the debris that is occasioned by the trade he follows.
Why did the County Council take this matter up? The Standing Joint Committee of the borough councils consists mainly of the town clerks of the various Metropolitan Borough Councils. They sent forward a recommendation. The London County Council did not take the trouble to make any investigation and they really did not realise that there was opposition. Their appropriate committee consented to receive a deputation of street traders a fortnight ago. They represented amongst other things that the licensing regulations would prevent them varying their goods without the specific approval of the various councils that licensed them. That must be true because certain articles are unobtainable at certain times of the year, and therefore a man must necessarily change the goods that he offers in the summer from those he offers in the winter. They alleged that the licensing regulations do not as a matter of practice give the they sought to prove that, and in support of their contention cited the City of London. In 1911 there were about 900 street traders in the City. There are about 80 to-day. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) quoted figures for last year in Bermondsey, and said that they were then 350 in number, and that they are 600 to-day. How are those figures arrived at? What is the process obtaining in Bermondsey? They license by the day. I can give cases where a man is licensed for one day, and his licence starts from the Monday. The House will recollect that Boxing Day last year fell on a Monday. The shilling was demanded from the man, and he had to pay, although he was not going to do any trade on Boxing Day, nor was the inspector going there to see whether any stalls were open on Boxing Day. Therefore, I submit that it is misleading to suggest that, because of the benevolent intentions of the Metropolitan borough 1869 of Bermondsey, these traders have doubled in number. As a matter of fact, if the hon. Member for West Bermondsey chooses to inquire, he will find that mere is very great discontent in Bermondsey.
§ Mr. TASKER
I fully realise that, in the course of time, the hon. Member for West Bermondsey will be canonised. I would direct his attention to one butcher's shop, and ask him to ascertain whether that butcher has put a stall in the street in older to drive a Bermondsey borough council licence-holder from the pitch that the council gave.
§ Captain HACKING
The Bermondsey Act says, in Section 6, that every licence granted under the Act shall, unless revoked, be valid for a period of one year.
§ Mr. TASKER
I am perfectly familiar with the Act, but I am more concerned with how that Act is administered. I am informed that these men are licensed, not for one year, but by the week and the day.
§ Mr. TASKER
The traders allege, that they have never been consulted. That is true. They have not been consulted. Had the ordinary procedure been adopted, had they been called together in conference with the county council and the borough councils, an amicable arrangement would have been arrived at, just as has been the case in the Metropolitan boroughs which I have enumerated, where voluntary agreements have been reached. Since the London County Council Committee received the deputation, a fortnight ago, the street traders of London have been terrified and scared. In about ten days, 64,000 signatures had been obtained to a petition against the Bill, and there will be another 64,000 in a few more days. Not only the street traders, but the poor people, their customers, are concerned.
I would like to call attention to an observation which was made by the Under-Secretary. He informed the House that there had been no petitions against the Bermondsey Bill and the West Ham Bill. Of course, there were not. He knows, and we all know, that if you are going to petition in Committee upstairs you must employ a Parliamentary Agent, 1870 and you must also employ learned counsel. When the London County Council employ two learned gentlemen in silk, with their two juniors, and you are confronted with this array of counsel, where are street traders to find the money with which to fight the London County Council and the legal luminaries, when they do not know where to find five shillings with which to pay for their wares for a week I It is not quite fair to suggest that there has been no opposition to the Bill. There have been protests, but there is a far more effective way of opposing this Bill than protesting, as the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) will probably find out at the next General Election.
§ Sir C. COBB
There is very little more that can be said on either side of this question, but one of the most significant facts about the Debate on the Bermondsey Act last year was that this House was so determined in the view that street traders ought to be regulated that, although only one borough council in London applied for the right, yet by a large majority it passed that Bill. That is very significant. It shows that what was in the mind of this House was not any question as to whether this was the right thing to do or not. They were very clear about that. All that this House discussed during the whole of that Debate was whether or not one borough council only in London should get this privilege and the other borough councils given the option of applying for it year after year, as one after another came forward and asked for the privilege. It shows that this House thought it right that the borough councils should take up the question of regulating street trading. A somewhat curious point has been made in the Debate this evening. It has been alleged that there is some idea of getting rid of street traders altogether from London. What possible justification is there for that assertion?
No hon. Member who has made that assertion has brought forward evidence in support of it except this Bill, and the very object of this Bill is to help the street traders to have a much more comfortable time in their pitches than they had before. I cannot conceive why the borough councils, who are the prime movers in this matter, should desire to get rid of an extremely useful and worthy set of people, who do a great deal 1871 to keep down the prices of very necessary articles of food. The charge has been made that this matter has been hidden away in the London County Council (General Powers) Bill, so that nobody should know anything about it. May I point out that as long ago as April last the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee was considering this matter, having in view the Bermondsey Act which this House had just passed. This matter had not been hidden. It was known to the County Councils, and to the street traders themselves, and they had an opportunity of appearing before the Committee of the London County County and making their case. They have had every opporunity of making any case they could against this particular Clause, and I maintain that so far from the London County Council having powers to lay down all these rules and Regulations they will have very little to say if it is decided, as the County Council desire, that all street traders should be licensed; secondly, that rules should he laid down for the granting or withholding of licences under this particular Bill, and that then the whole of the rest of the machinery, even the granting of the licences themselves or the by-laws regulating street trading, should be done by borough councils. I maintain that they will have ample opportunity, when these by-laws are drawn up by the respective borough councils, of making their wishes known to the various borough councils. Of course, there will be no objection to a petition against any of the by-laws.
A point raised by an hon. Member opposite was that a borough council might be so blind and foolish as not to grant a licence to one of these traders if he applied for it. It has been suggested that only those borough councils which actually signed a petition to the county council desiring a change of this character would be in a position to grant the licences, and that the others might decline to do so. I think it is clear from the wording of the Bill that that would not be the case.The Borough Council shall as soon as reasonably practicable after the receipt of an application under the provisions of this Section grant or renew a licence to the applicant under and for the purposes of this part of the Act.1872 Nothing could be clearer than that. The licence can be refused under certain conditions, but the general Clause is that every borough council must grant a licence unless some cause can be shown against that licence being granted. I maintain then that all the objections that have been raised to this particular Clause of the Bill have been satisfactorily met, and met best by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), who gave us such an excellent account of the actual effect of the Bermondsey Act, which was the precursor of this particular Bill and which contains practically the same Clause. He showed how admirable has been the effect of the Bill in Bermondsey, how the numbers of street traders have increased from 300 to 600. There must have been some very obscure and unfortunate influence at work in Bermondsey when the number was confined to 300. That alone is sufficient answer to the charge that we wish to do anything to check this street trading. All we want to do is to regulate it, and in the best manner possible. Joined with that is the desire to improve the public health and to facilitate traffic. Those three reasons seem sufficient to give us our Bill without the instruction.
§ Captain FRASER
It is necessary at this hour to be very brief, and I shall not in any sense traverse the arguments that have been made so eloquently from all sides of the House against these Clauses. I hope earnestly that the views expressed by many Members in all parts of the House—that the Clauses seek to hamper street traders in their work—will be supported, so that the instruction before the House may go to the Committee and may prevent these Clauses being included in the Bill. As I see them, there are three principal arguments for these Clauses. One is that which the last speaker began by mentioning, namely, that this House, when it had the Bermondsey Bill before it, had made up its mind to regulate street trading, and that it ought not now to change its mind. I suggest that there is a difference. Many Members, I believe, voted for the Bermondsey Bill because Bermondsey asked for it, and there are many Members who take the view that when a municipality asks for something, Parliament should not lightly refuse it. A number of boroughs have not asked for it and do not want it. The 1873 other argument which I understand has been made for this Clause is that the street traders themselves will benefit. I hesitate to disagree with the hon. Gentleman who affirmed that so emphatically, but it is difficult to believe that they want it when they come and say they do not. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) drew a delightful picture of the coster who paid his shilling, not merely willingly but gladly and joyfully. I have the honour to know many costers, and have been present at their meetings when they deal with various business matters, and while their language is unparliamentary, their business acumen is extraordinarily sound. I am unwilling to believe that they joy-fuly pay a shilling to borough councils.
§ Captain FRASER
I am unable to visualise that picture and I am also unable to visualise the picture, also drawn by the same hon. Member, of the extremely successful way in which this Act is operating in Bermondsey. The House will remember that the Bermondsey Act only received the Royal Assent in December.
§ Captain FRASER
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. The period is longer, than I had thought, but I yet feel it is not a long enough period in which the views of the costers and the traders themselves could have been adequately formed as to the result of the Act, nor time—and I would urge this point of the House—for their views, if indeed the Act does benefit them, to have penetrated through London. I submit it is bad to regulate unless there is good cause for regulating. Regulating always costs money. There is enough regulation done in other spheres, without encroaching on this one in which, as far as my experience goes, the public and the traders themselves get on very well together and are entirely happy. As far as my constituency is concerned—and there are a good many traders there—I do not hear the dreadful stories of public inconvenience which have been told in this House. It may exist in other parts, but it does not exist there, so I am informed. I submit there is little excuse, if any, for imposing these regulations on loyal, 1874 sound and sensible people who serve the community very well in the poorer districts of London.
The last argument which was made for this Clause was that, far from getting rid of street traders, it would aid them to become more settled and more firmly established. That, perhaps, that was one reason why they themselves were alleged to want it. I frankly find myself unable to believe that. I find myself in the position of thinking that the ultimate effect of this type of regulation will be to remove street traders, or at any rate to restrict them. As I believe that they render a substantial service in the poorer districts—and one which is not understood by hon. Members who do not represent those districts—I plead for action, more especially on the part of those Members of the House who are not essentially, vitally and vocally interested and who want to do the right thing to the two parties. I plead with them to realise that though the great London County Council—for which there is no Member in this House has more respect than I—is the promoter of this Bill, it is not by its initiative that these Clauses appear in the Bill. It has been landed with an unpleasant task, with regard to which I sympathise with the County Council. I earnestly hope that Members will vote for this Instruction in the interests of a section of the community which has not the same advantages as the richer corporations and trade unions of employers have, of presenting their case and who cannot write to Members the same splendidly convincing letters that we all received this morning, who particularly ought to appeal to the House from the point of view of their peculiar difficulty in putting forward their case, who include a very large number of ex-service men, as the Under-Secretary testified. On these grounds I ask the House to support this Instruction and thereby delete the Clause from the Bill.
§ Mr. HARRIS
rose in, his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. MARCH
Our experience in Poplar is vastly different from that which we have heard described to-night in con- 1875 nection with Shoreditch and other places. Some five years ago the street traders themselves sent a deputation to our council to ask us to put into operation the regulation of the stalls in our street markets. We had not only the stall holders, but the shopkeepers and the Chamber of Commerce, and the whole matter was gone into and we set up a voluntary street markets committee, which has been working admirably up to now. There are only 30 out of 500 who are registered on the books of the council who have not paid and submitted to the regulations. The inconvenience and trouble which these 30 cause is beyond description. For some years we had costermongers in the High Street of Poplar. They were asked by the shopkeepers to move, but they had not been
§ but of the place for more than a month before the shopkeepers were crying and asking them to come back and also offering money to them to come back. Now the consequence is that that street is thoroughly cleared of all traffic, with the exception of that which supplies the shops in that street, and therefore people are asking that it should he properly regulated by Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. HARRIS rose in place, and, claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out Clause 29."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 106; Noes, 154.1877
|Division No. 20.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gibbins, Joseph||Potts, John S.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Gillett, George M.||Renter, J. R.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Gower, Sir Robert||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Baker, Walter||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Sandeman, A, Stewart|
|Bantinck, Lord Henry Cavendish.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Bethel, A.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hall, F. (York, W. R. Normanton)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Briant, Frank||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Snell, Harry|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hanbury, C.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Bromley, J.||Harland, A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Harris, Percy A.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hayes, John Henry||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Styles, Captain H. W.|
|Cautley, sir Henry S.||Holder, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Jacob, A. E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Clayton, G. c.||Kelly, W. T.||Ward, Lt.-Col. S. L (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Wedgwood Rt. Hon, Josiah|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lawrence, Susan||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Compton, Joseph||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lumley, L. R.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Wilson, H. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Dennison, R.||Margesson, Captain D.||Windsor, Walter|
|Dunnico, H.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Montague, Frederick||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mosley, Oswald|
|Finburgh, S.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsl'ld.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Forestier-Waiker, Sir L.||Oliver, George Harold||Mr. Naylor and Mr. Tasker.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Pennefather Sir John|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Broad, F. A.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Buckingham, Sir H.||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Barnes, A.||Bullock, Captain M||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Butt, Sir Alfred||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Barnton, Major Sir Harry||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Day, Colonel Harry|
|Barr, J.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Duncan, C.|
|Batey, Joseph||Dalton, Hugh||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Forrest, W.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||MacIntyre, Ian||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Mackinder, W.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Gates, Percy||McLean, Major A.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||March, S.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H|
|Greenall, T.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Meller, R. J.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Greniell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Groves, T.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nuttall, Ellis||Tinne, J. A.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Oakley, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Townend, A. E.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L, (Bootle)||Palin, John Henry||Varley, Frank B.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Paling, W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Pennes Frederick George||Waddington, R.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J, N.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Raine, W.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Rentoul, G. S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Westwood, J.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Riley, Ben||Whiteley, W.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Kennedy, T.||Salmon, Major I.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Salter, Or, Alfred||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lawson, John James||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lee, F.||Scurr, John||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Lindley, F. W.||Sexton, James||Withers, John James|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Renfrew, W)||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Lougher, L.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lowth, T.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Shiels, Or. Drummond||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lunn, William||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Sir Cyril Cobb and Mr. Ammon.|
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Bellst)|
|MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Smillie, Robert|
§ The remaining Orders were read and postponed.