§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.
§ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session Do make provision as to poor relief to dependants of persons involved in a trade dispute in Scotland, to enable relief to be given by way of loan, and to extend further the duration of the Poor Law Emergency Provisions (Scotland) Act, 1021, as amended by subsequent Acts; it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of sums not exceeding forty per centum of the amounts expended by parish councils in Scotland between the thirtieth day of April and the sixth day of December, 1926, on the provision of relief to the destitute dependants of destitute able-bodied persons out of employment owing to being directly involved in a trade dispute, in so far as such amounts shall be approved by the Scottish Board of Health."—[King's Recommendation signified.]
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
Perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words in explanation of this Resolution. We had yesterday a fairly exhaustive Debate upon this problem, and Members who have had in their hands the White Paper will realise the amount of money with which we are dealing. The total amount expended on the relief of dependants, with which we are dealing, is as nearly as we can estimate £650,000. Forty per cent. of that, which is the amount that the Government propose to give, will amount to £260,000. The Committee will remember, particularly those who have been intimately concerned with this problem in Scotland, that a considerable proportion of this money, apart from what was advanced to the parish councils by banks, was advanced through the Scottish Board of Health by the Goschen Committee, and the amount advanced from the Goschen Committee is, in round figures, £500,000. The estimated amount of grant which will be applied in reduction of such loans from that source will be £200,000. I shall, of course, be ready to answer, to the best 1786 of my ability, any questions which may be raised on this Resolution, and I would now only repeat that the Government, in giving this grant, are doing so in recognition of such moral obligations as may lie upon them, part of this expenditure having been declared by the Courts to be illegal. The proposal must not be taken in any quarter of the Committee as in any way an attempt to deal with the relief of necessitous areas.
That this 40 per cent. will afford considerable relief to some of the parish councils concerned is quite clear. Yesterday I gave a certain number of figures dealing with the particular cases of such parishes as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen mentioned in the Debate Perhaps I might be permitted to give one car two further instances dealing with that side of the question. If you take the county of Fife, in addition to those parishes which I mentioned yesterday in Debate, Auchterderran and Ballingry, in the parish of Beath, which I think was mentioned, the expenditure amounted to £27,900, and under this scheme they will be relieved to the amount of £11,100. If you go to the county of Lanark, you find Bothwell, spending £73,000, will be relieved to the amount of £29,200, and Hamilton, spending £55,900, will be relieved to the extent of £22,300. I only cite these figures as showing that this contribution by the Government not only meets the moral obligation, but meets in a reasonable and fair manner the burden which has fallen upon the parishes. There are upon the paper certain Amendments to be moved by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, when we reach them, I shall, of course, deal with them, but I would like to say, in conclusion, that I hope the Committee will realise that the Government have gone a long way towards meeting this very difficult problem, and, indeed, have done so in a generous manner.
§ Mr. WILLIAM GRAHAM
As the Secretary of State for Scotland has indicated, we had a prolonged Debate in the House yesterday on this matter, which is of undeniable importance to the Scottish Poor Law system, and also to the treatment of the problem of distress arising from the industrial dislocation of last year. But, if you approve, I 1787 do not propose at the moment formally to move the first Amendment standing in my name and in the names of other hon. Members on this side of the Committee, because I think it is of some importance to have a further discussion on the general financial Resolution, particularly in the light of certain of the statements which were made in yesterday's Debate. As the Secretary of State for Scotland has indicated, this is a comparatively new point. We had for many years the Act of 1845, under which it was impossible to assist able-bodied applicants for Poor Law relief in Scotland. Then we had the Emergency Provisions Act of 1921, recognising the industrial distress of recent years, and introducing a modification of that rule. Finally, we had this very difficult situation in 1926, under which relief was given to the dependants of men who were engaged in the industrial dispute in the coalfields, hut which relief, of course, was denied to the men immediately concerned in the dispute; and, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, the figures are quite clear and simple. The aggregate cost of meeting that narrow problem has been £650,000, towards which the Government propose to give a 40 per cent. contribution, at all events that is their maximum under this Resolution.
The argument of my hon. Friends on this side of the House yesterday was designed to establish a case for the payment in full of that liability of £650,000, under this specific, and narrow problem lying between May and December, 1926. Both the Lord Advocate and the Secretary of State for Scotland were eloquent—in one case almost strenuous in language—in denunciation of this suggestion, I think the Secretary of State for Scotland said that it was humbug on our part to make a plea of that kind. Accordingly, my duty this afternoon on the narrow financial question is to show that there is a very sound case for such an application. Before we come to the broader question, which is before us in this proposal, may I make another appeal to the Government not to embark upon an important alteration of the Scottish Poor Law system in this measure. I refer to the introduction of the device of loan That is one of the Clauses—
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I was just about to add that "by way of loan" is a particular part of this Resolution, and I have no doubt that the Chairman of the Committee will observe—
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is mere recital of the title of the Bill. Those words have no binding force and no effect whatever.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I at once bow to that ruling. If you regard a discussion of the question of the loan as being outside the scope of the Resolution—
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, I think it clearly is. It would have been in order yesterday, and it will be in order in Committee on the Bill, but it is not in order on the Financial Resolution.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
In that case, I will proceed at once to our plea for not merely 40 per cent. but for something more; indeed, for the whole charge in this connection. As the Committee recognises, we are obliged, of course, to put down a technical Amendment which stipulates for the 40 per cent. of the Resolution rather than to regard that as a maximum; but, frankly, what we mean, and certainly what will be involved in our voting against the Resolution this afternoon, is an application for the whole of the amount. On that point, may I recall, first of all, that this was a very special case? Here you were dealing with the destitute dependants of people who themselves had to be destitute, and engaged in an industrial dispute; in other words, something altogether exceptional in Scottish Poor Law experience. In Scotland a great deal of argument has been employed to the effect that, under this Bill, and, of course, under the Resolution you are, in fact, making the ratepayers a party to 1789 all industrial disputes, and that by the relief of their dependants you are bringing in other masses of people, and, so to speak, subsidising the continuation of the conflict itself. Let me say at once that that particular phase of the problem does not make a very strong appeal on this side of the House. The reply was afforded by the Lord Advocate himself, because he indicated that, quite apart from this altogether, if you had had distress, due, it might be, to an industrial dispute, you would have been obliged to make provision under some head or other for people in that position, and I think he rather indicated that you might have had to do so under your ordinary public health or other administration, in which case, of course, you would at least have got 50 per cent. of the approved expenditure from Government funds.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
It so far meets the controversy of assisting these people if we take the view that under any conditions something from public funds would have been required. I do not think we need worry very much about the argument as to the ratepayers having been called in to subsidise an industrial dispute, because, in any case, this part of it appears to be confined within the limits of the Emergency Provisions Act of 1921 which the Government propose to continue for a period of three years, during which there are, unfortunately, very few of us who believe that there will be such an industrial recovery as will make it unnecessary to give relief to able-bodied people in this position. But may I mention, in passing, that, if in point of fact you had to give assistance, the local authorities would be entitled to 50 per cent. out of the Government funds, and you are not giving to that extent under this Financial Resolution, because you are offering only 40 per cent. of the outlay of these parish councils. While I do not want to make too much of a comparatively small point, 10 per cent. even in Scotland is not an unimportant consideration.
What is the other part of the case for asking for the whole of this contribution? I said, first of all, that it was a very special case; secondly, that beyond all 1790 doubt it rested upon the specific direction or, at all events, memorandum of the Scottish Board of Health to the Scottish parish councils; and, thirdly, that the Government themselves recognised that because of that direction they were under some kind of obligation to the local authorities. If that be the case, I do not know how on earth they draw the line at 40 per cent., and say that is a kind of contribution in respect of what we may call their misdirection, although I am making no complaint of the results because, in any event, these people had to be assisted. If there was a misdirection under the law as it stood, and if an amendment of the law was necessary, then it is a very fair thing on that narrow point, to put it no higher at the moment, to say that the Government should stand in, especially when the aggregate sum does not amount to more than £650,000. But I should like to rest it very much more upon the position of 'the local authorities themselves. Nobody, in the whole course of yesterday's Debate, doubted for a moment that this was a great national problem. The collieries in their ownership were often common to the two countries, and in reality, if anything was to be done, it should be done on a national scale and from national funds. What actually happens in this case is that you have a set of local authorities in Scotland which, before this problem arose at all, had very heavy liabilities because of industrial and other disputes, and, even if we give the whole £650,000 this afternoon, these authorities will continue to carry a burden of debt for many years.
The Secretary of State for Scotland makes it perfectly plain that it is no part of his business in this Financial Resolution to do anything to affect or mitigate the difficulties of the necessitous areas. I entirely agree that if they are to be assisted at all we cannot deal with them in a narrow Measure of this description, but what I am going to suggest is that, quite apart from this consideration, you will have a most acute problem in the necessitous areas in Scotland. Moreover, we may anticipate that even if the Government assistance were far more generous than anyone for a moment imagines it will be, it will touch only a corner of the needs and difficulties of the areas we have in mind. So, the 1791 specific, narrow, and special burden remains and I suggest that, on those grounds, there is a very strong case for the payment of the whole sum.
There is another consideration. If that is the state of affairs regarding these areas, what we have to consider, even in a Bill of this kind, is how to apportion the burden in such a way as to minister most effectively to industrial recovery. I believe if the calculation were worked out we should find that it would almost pay the Government to respond to the appeal which we are now making. All the facts from those areas show, firstly, that there are undoubted difficulties in the way an which poor rates in Scotland fall upon certain classes of ratepayers and, secondly, that with this burden thrown in, even though it is mitigated to the extent which this Bill proposes, you have a situation which will make it almost impossible for many of the industries and employments in those districts to recover, certainly in the near future. It comes to this, that because of the financial step which you are taking and which does not meet the whole burden, you are simply exposing yourself to liabilities in other directions. On all those grounds and many others which could be stated, if they were strictly relevant to the Debate, I think there is a case for the payment of the full £650,000, and I hope, even yet, the Government will be disposed to reconsider their decision.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I rise to support the appeal which has just been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). I think it is well to rid our minds at once of the prejudice that we are dealing now with the general question of necessitous areas. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland yesterday accused us of merely humbugging the public in our appeal. I am sure he knows Scottish opinion well enough to know that we are doing nothing of the kind. There is at the moment in Scotland very strong indignation, firstly, as expressed in yesterday's Debate, against the manner in which the Government are dealing with this matter, and, secondly, because the Government have not come up to scratch and offered to pay the whole amount. We are dealing here to-day with a specific question, and the Lord Advocate put that 1792 question very clearly and correctly. The problem is a national one and in the course of an attempt at solving that problem in Scotland, specific directions were given by the Scottish Board of Health—in other words the Government—to certain local authorities to do certain acts which turned out to be, in the eyes of the Courts, illegal. Surely the cost of carrying out those directions which the Government through the Board of Health compelled the local authorities to carry out, must fall upon the Government as a matter of duty. All we ask the Government to do is to fulfil a moral obligation.
Let me take the other point which was adumbrated in yesterday's Debate. Not only is this a specific obligation on the part of the Government because of the specific instruction which they gave through the Board of Health, but other obligations had already been imposed upon the local authorities. Their liabilities, long before this specific instruction was issued to them by the Board of Health, were enormous. You are asking them now to shoulder the whole of this national responsibility in addition to their other liabilities. In view of the heavy rates which have to be paid in these poor localities I think my right hon. Friend should once again consider the problem. It is not yet too late and I think we have the support of all local authorities in Scotland and of all ratepayers and indeed of taxpayers in our appeal. I ask my right hon. Friend therefore to accept the Amendment which is on the Paper. I assure him that, by so doing, he will be meeting the just wishes of the people of Scotland.
§ Mr. WRIGHT
I wish to add my appeal to those which have already been made to the Government to reconsider their decision and to undertake the whole burden of this cost. After all, it is not a very large amount when we consider that it is really a national burden. This cost was imposed on these suffering areas owing to matters which were beyond individual control and were due entirely to the existence of a national crisis. I put in a special plea for the industrial districts of Lanarkshire, and particularly two parishes in my own division, namely, Cambuslang and Blantyre. So far as one can see, there is no prospect of a revival of trade 1793 in the mining areas, and in some parts of these two parishes the mining industry is a declining industry. Many of these mines have been worked for a long time; in some eases they are well-nigh exhausted and in some cases mines have been closed quite recently. This cost involves a heavy burden on those particular parish councils. The parish councils in the industrial areas of the West of Scotland have considered this question over and over again, and some of my hon. Friends and myself have attended at least four special conferences on these problems. All the authorities are looking for substantially larger relief than is being conceded by this proposal.
May I put a special point which ought to appeal to the Government. In days gale by workmen have often been urged to build their own houses and to carry out the principles of thrift by doing the best possible thing for themselves and for their families. What is the position of a man in a mining area who has built his own house and who has been suffering during the last six or seven years from the most prolonged period of trade depression which this country has known in modern times? He is not merely the tenant but the owner of the property. Be has had very little employment. He has a burden placed upon him which it is almost impossible for him to bear. From that point of view I think the Government ought to consider whether a further concession could not be made in this matter. In the very severe industrial depression which has lasted so long, the workmen themselves have done everything they could to overcome those difficulties. Efforts were made, however, to discourage the giving of relief even to people who were in absolute distress, and some of us know that in certain cases people would have been actually starving but for the relief which was forthcoming. While there were efforts to discourage relief, steps were taken to help these people in Scotland, just as was being done in other parts, but it seems to me unless the Government undertake a larger proportion of the burden, grave disappointment will be caused to every parish council in an industrial area in Scotland. I trust the Secretary of State will not regard this appeal as in any sense mere by-play on our part. We received long 1794 and numerous telegrams yesterday from various bodies in Scotland urging delay, and we are very much disappointed that the question is being rushed through in this manner. I hope, even now, we are not appealing in vain. I am sure the parish councils, with which I have been in close contact for four years, would have made strong representation had the opportunity occurred, and I trust the Government will yet listen favourably to their claim.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) said the parish councils were to get 40 per cent. of the cost under the proposal of the Government. The Resolution on the Paper does not show that to be, the case. The 40, per cent. is there shown only as a maximum. The parish councils of Scotland who imagine that the worst that is going to happen to them is that they are only going to get 40 per cent., may be seriously disillusioned before they are finished with this matter. The proportion is to be at the discretion of a Board which has "diddled" them already—a Board which sent out recommendations to them to go ahead and spend money on the implicit understanding that the money would be refunded. Now that same Board is to have the right to say whether the proportion to be refunded is to be 40 per cent., 35 per cent., 30 per cent., 20 per cent., 10 per cent. or 5 per cent. It may be anything. I suppose they must get something. They may get a composition of about 6d. in the pound, but as this Resolution is now framed it is not 40 per cent., and I would like Conservative Members from Scotland to observe that fact.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
We will deal with that afterwards. The money has been spent, and the point is that these parish councils are not, by this Resolution, to get 40 per cent. back, but only up to a maximum of 40 per cent. at the discretion of the Scottish Board of Health. The words are:In so far as such amounts shall be approved by the Scottish Board of Health.The Board have to fix the Regulations. Certain hon. Members opposite yesterday; expressed themselves jocularly to the 1795 effect that Scotland was "getting away-with it" again. But when appeals were heard in this House and decisions were made to relieve distress in parochial areas in England; when it was decided to forgive part of their burden to West Ham, Poplar, Bedwellty or any of the other districts in England and Wales, there never was any complaint by a Scottish Member as to differential treatment.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
You must do more than congratulate. As we shouldered our share of the burden of these distressed areas and offered no objection to particular districts in England having part of their debt forgiven them, I think it is rather bad taste on the part of any English representative to taunt us on a matter of this kind, particularly when our parish councils have undertaken this obligation on the direct advice and recommendation of the strongest Government of modern times—numerically. I think we ought to have from the Secretary of State for Scotland some indication of what are the sort of Regulations under which he is going to issue the money, what are the statements he is going to put before these parish councils, and under what conditions he is going to cut the 40 per cent, to 35 per cent., and the 35 per cent. to 20 per cent., 15 per cent., or 10 per cent. We are buying a pig in a poke here, and I do not think hon. Members opposite ought to allow this sort of thing to go through, party politics apart, without a clear, explicit understanding of what exactly is meant by this Resolution. We have had too many vague statements on this matter already. The parish councils of Scotland in the industrial areas have already suffered enough, and I do not think the representatives of Scotland in this House should allow this Resolution to go through without a clear, definite, and detailed statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland as to what exactly is meant by the statement that 'she amount to be repaid is a maximum of 40 per cent. Does it mean that three-quarters of the parish councils are to get 20 per cent? I trust that, unless we get an explanation, many of this Committee will divide against the Resolution.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The Lord Advocate yesterday stressed the point that he was anxious to make the Scottish practice and the English practice the same in this matter of relief, but I should like to know whether they are really going to give England the same amount as Scotland.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Government could not answer that on this Vote. The hon. Member may abject to Scotland having too much, but he cannot ask for England to get more.
I do not object to Scotland getting 40 per cent., but I want to suggest that English constituencies should be served the same.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I know by experience that the hon. Member has found many opportunities of making that point, but this is not one of them.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
On a point of Order. The principle of this Bill was discussed yesterday on Second Reading, and while I recognise that our fate is in your hands as Chairman of Ways and Means to-day, yesterday Mr. Speaker ruled that when money was being voted in this way for Scotland, we might discuss the reasons why money should be voted for England also.
§ The CHAIRMAN
What is in order on the Second Reading of a Bill is not necessarily in order on the Financial Resolution on which the Bill is founded.
May I point out the differentiation that will occur if this Resolution goes through, if we have steelworks in Scotland get ting relief on their rates and English steelworks, competing with the Scottish steelworks, getting no relief on their rates? We are in this way merely penalising the English steelworks by—
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is entirely a Scottish matter. The hon. Member may argue that the money should not go to Scotland, but he cannot argue that similar money should go to England.
§ Mr. HARDIE
This really comes to the question of the rating or unrating of industry. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), who has been ruled out of Order, is seeing just exactly what this question leads to. 1797 I would like to know from the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the relation of this national responsibility to the locality. In alt financial matters, especially where it is looked upon as being a sum in assistance, we ought to know the real relation between national responsibility and the local position, but the local financial position has not been dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman at all. He might be able to tell us in his reply whether there is to be discrimination between areas. Suppose, for instance, we take a big industrial area in Scotland covered by one parish council, and in that area there has been an extraordinary amount of distress, and suppose we take another area in Scotland where you have got about the same population bat the greater part of it is residential rather than industrial. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to tell us what is to be the determining factor as to whether an area will get 5 per cent. or 40 per cent.? Is there to be any sliding scale in relation to the local financial position? That seems to be a most important point. If you take the returns of parish councils in Scotland and the question of relief due to purely temporary distress such as that caused by a stoppage, you get at once the real relation of what this would be if worked on a percentage basis.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
May I intervene at once to say that this 40 per cent. will be given to each parish council on proved and vouched expenditure. That is what is the intention of the Government, and there is no question of a sliding scale or of any other scale. It is essential that the accounts of these parish councils should be audited and submitted to the Board of Health, and that the Board of Health should be satisfied that there has been proper expenditure, but, when that has been ascertained, the 40 per cent. will be paid in each and every case.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question which may shorten the discussion? On that basis, the 40 per cent. is to be in effect a flat rate contribution, and if that is the state of affairs, I think I am entitled to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland why he does not accept our Amendment.
§ Mr. HARDIE
We want to be quite clear, and, of course, Scotsmen are always clear unless they get mixed up with 1798 Englishmen in legislative business. I think the wording of this Resolution, if it had been left to the Scotsmen on the Front Bench alone, would have been quite clear, because in money matters a Scotsman is always definite and clear. After the statement just made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, I would ask him to take out these words that cause the difference of opinion between us. If it is going to be a Hat rate of 40 per cent., why not let it appear in the Resolution? We in Scotland know a little about finance, and we always try to prevent a needless expenditure of it, and in order to prevent any law cases arising, in which money will be spent uselessly—for money in such cases is always uselessly spent—I think we ought to have an alteration of this wording, so that it will read that a flat rate will be given. It is no use coming along with the phrase "not exceeding," and then having people in the Courts trying to determine that "not exceeding" may nit be 5 per cent., and so on. It is strange that Labour men have been getting telegrams from property owners and other people who generally, in their own politics, belong to the other side of the House, but if we are going to have this Resolution as it ought to be, I think the right hon. Gentleman might now accept the Amendment or give us another form of words showing quite definitely that it is to be a flat rate.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am quite willing to accept the Amendment if the right hon. Gentleman opposite will move it.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I beg to move, in line 6, to leave out the words "not exceeding," and to insert instead thereof the words "equal to."
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Before that Amendment it put, I want to point out to the Committee that this is raising a matter of very great interest in principle. We are now to have, what. I am very pleased to see we are going to have, a precedent set up for making a flat-rate grant-in-aid of the charge upon local rates for the relief of the dependants of those who were engaged in an industrial dispute. It does not matter about the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. The White Paper issued by the Treasury or 1799 by the Scottish Office in explanation of this Vote is perfectly clear that that is the object for which the Committee is asked to pass this Money Resolution. I am sorry to say it is the first time that the Committee has actually voted money for this purpose, and it is apposite, in spite of what the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) so jocularly said to me this afternoon, to point out that this relief is being given to a section of the taxpayers, and that it is not a question of confining the discussion to the position of Scotland. It is a question of debating the principle that, for the first time, we are making a grant direct from the Exchequer to the local rates in aid of the relief of the dependants of those engaged in a trade dispute, and that when that is being done for the first time, it is being done for a section of the taxpayers and not for the whole.
That is the point we want to make, as English Members. We welcome with all the warmth that we can the decision of the Government to make this grant to this section, but we do protest that the relief is not at the same time given to all the other taxpayers who are concerned with areas in which the same relief has had to be given to the dependants of those engaged in an industrial dispute. Therefore, I think it is right for us to point out to the Government that, whether or not they are speaking purely for Scotland to-day, they cannot he immune, as a Government, as a result of the precedent which is now set—which I welcome and which I would even like to see enlarged—from continued pressure now to extend the principle to all the other areas that have suffered similarly.
§ Sir JOHN MARRIOTT
I think the intervention of the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) and the attempted intervention of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) may perhaps justify an English Member, who otherwise perhaps would have been reluctant to do so, to intervene for one moment in this Debate. I was, unfortunately, not in the House when the matter was debated yesterday, but I have heard sufficient of the Debate on the Financial Resolution to make it clear to me, as the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made it abundantly clear, that the matter raises issues which 1800 go very much beyond the issue now before the Committee. Of course, I should not be in order in discussing these larger issues, but I must express my astonishment—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The only question really before the Committee is whether the Scottish Board of Health should be kept down to the 40 per cent, grant, or must pay the whole of it. That is really the only question. The last hon. Member based his argument on the question of the flat rate, and he had developed his argument by the time it came to the exact moment at which he ought to be stopped.
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT
I quite realise the superior adroitness of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and I shall certainly not attempt to transgress your ruling. The point before the Committee has been narrowed down to a very small one. As I understand, the Secretary of State for Scotland has virtually accepted the Amendment which has been moved from the benches opposite. I think he has accepted in terms that Amendment. In other words, it is to be a flat rate, and not a maximum rate. My ingenuity does not extend as far as that of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and, therefore, I cannot pursue the point any further now, but I do desire to say that I think very large issues have been raised by this Resolution.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I beg to support the Amendment, which I am pleased to know has been accepted by the Front Bench opposite. My only reason for rising is to seek to justify the acceptance of the maximum amount which is mentioned in the Resolution. I seek to justify it for this reason, that many English Members in this House, including even one of our own Labour party on the Front Bench, do not seem to realise the burdens which Scotland has compared with those of England. I hope I shall not be out of order in attempting to justify our case for getting the best conditions possible. The authorities in Scotland have had to bear enormous costs, particularly in Fife-shire, in dealing with the great industrial dispute involved in 1926. In England you get the payment for the cost of feeding children in proportion to your total expenditure for feeding children, but the big industrial areas in 1801 Scotland do not get paid in the same way, and, as a matter of fact, the parish councils, being compelled to accept that responsibility as far as children were concerned, I submit that we are justified in claiming the maximum we can possibly get out of the Government for the purpose of meeting the claims met by these parish councils. I sincerely trust that even Front Bench Members of the Labour party will understand that we in Scotland will he delighted to accept the same principle in connection with the feeding of children in England. I have already had telegrams this morning asking me to press that particular point on this House, so that when we get the 40 per cent. —
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I was just coming to that. I was about to say that, as far as my own county authority is concerned, £70,000 has been spent in feeding children, and I hope the Government will also give us another 40 per cent. of that £70,000.
§ Mr. BARR
I want to say a few words in connection with what has fallen in this Debate, and I am at this moment in the position of not criticising the Government, but of supporting their granting the full 40 per cent, as a flat rate. I do not agree with what fell from one of our speakers on the Front Bench, that this is an entirely new precedent, because in the decision that was given by Lord Moncrieff as Lord Ordinary, he referred to the fact that precedents have been given, and we had it from the Minister, and particularly the Lord Advocate, yesterday, that this was an effort so far to bring us into line with the more liberal regime that had prevailed in England. Therefore, if there be any grievance at all, it is that we have had a much larger expenditure in the past, and by bringing this up to 40 per cent. we are so far bringing ourselves into line in that regard. I would point out, also, in regard to Scottish finance, in regard to education, and, I think, other services, there is a division made, and 11–80ths is given to Scotland. If we were to begin analysing in the way that has been done, we should have objected all along, on a hundred occasions, in discussions of a 1802 similar kind in regard to England. I would commend to my hon. Friend on the Front Bench, and to others, that the only reasonable solution of the difficulties he has put forward is to give an enthusiastic support to the Bill for the better Government of Scotland which I have introduced.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I am very glad several protests have been made against the remarks of the hon. Member on the Front Opposition Bench. I only hope the hon. Gentleman will support the Bill for Home Rule for Scotland.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
It is in a comparative sense gratifying so far to know that the Government has accepted an Amendment, seeing that last night we divided on the issue of seeking to obtain the full 100 per cent. Now we know where we are, and it is a credit to those who have spoken, and helped to bring this about. Therefore we are, in a comparative sense, able to congratulate the Government on making some recognition of the efforts on this side.
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
Would it not be possible for the Government to make a further extension, and give something between 40 and 100 per cent.?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment—in line 10, to leave out from the word "dispute" to the end of the Question—is without the King's Recommendation.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision as to poor relief to dependants of persons involved in a trade dispute in Scotland, to enable relief to be given by way of loan, and to extend further the duration of the Poor Law Emergency Provisions (Scotland) Act, 1921, as amended by subsequent Acts, it is expedient to authorise the payment, oat of moneys to be provided by Parlia-
ment, of sums equal to forty per centum of the amounts expended by parish councils in Scotland between the thirtieth day of April and the sixth day of December, 1926, on the provision of relief to the destitute dependants of destitute able-bodied persons out of employment owing to being directly involved in a trade dispute, in so far as such amounts shall be approved by the Scottish Board of Health.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.