§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a, Second time."
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
I had no intention of speaking in this Debate, nor had I any intention of opposing this Bill, but as it has been set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means for consideration to-day I think it necessary that the point involved should be stated to the House. Shortly it is that a certain Section 46 of one of the Housing Acts inflicts on property owners a most gross and unfair system which can only be described as sheer robbery, and which the Minister of Health has indicated his intention of adjusting in due course. So long as the present law exists so long will certain injustice be done to people who in many cases in areas which are classified for clearance have done their duty. As I understand it the objection that has been raised in connection with this Bill is that the promoters propose to make use of this very unfair section of the general law in a scheme for which I believe it is alleged the general law was never intended to provide. As to whether the allegations of the objectors is right or wrong it is quite clearly impossible to decide that point in a general Debate in the House on Second Reading. It is essentially one of those points which ought to be considered in Committee upstairs, where the particular merits of particular proposals can be considered.
Having said that, I would like to add that I do think my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health ought to take the very earliest opportunity of amending the general law, which is in question in this 1806 particular case. In my own particular constituency an instance of the gross interference of this particular Section arose, and an act of sheer robbery was perpetrated in a clearance scheme, which, on its merits, was long overdue, and which was quite properly carried out. All over the country these things are going on under this particular Section of the general law. I do hope that my right hon. Friend will indicate now that he will at the very earliest, date introduce a short Measure to carry out what I think he will allow me to say is a quite distinct pledge on his part that this thing ought to be cleared up and that owners who have in fact kept their property in good order ought not to be penalised when their neighbourhood is located within an area which, for other reasons, has been condemned. I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to inform the House on that particular point. But beyond that, on the merits of this Bill, it is quite clear that the point involved in this particular local Bill ought to be considered in the usual way upstairs.
§ Sir LESLIE SCOTT
The Liverpool Corporation, in proposing this Clause, have asked that they should remain under the general provisions of the housing legislation of this country. That request is a reasonable request, having regard to the fact that the road which they propose to make under the provisions of this Bill is a road that goes through districts where housing conditions are bad, where housing schemes under the housing legislation of the country have been in contemplation and preparation for a considerable time, and where—I know myself, as the district is within my own constituency and I knew the housing conditions well—it is vital that housing reform should be proceeded with at the very earliest possible date. At the same time, it is the fact, I believe, that the majority of the people in this country who are familiar with the working of Section 46 of the Housing Act, 1925—which is the same in terms as a similar Section in the Housing Act, 1919, then repealed—believe that it is a Section which does not work fairly in practice.
1807 I entirely agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken that the time is over-ripe for dealing with that Section, because its injustice in operation is one of the causes which are deterring many housing authorities from proceeding with reforms. It is because they will not do that which they know so often results in injustice that they are loth to proceed as rapidly as they ought to do. Therefore, as a housing reformer, anxious to see housing schemes carried out at the least possible cost, I still say that that Clause requires alteration in order that we may get reforms through immediately. I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken, that the subject of this Clause is not one to be dealt with on Second Reading but in Committee upstairs, and in saying that I want to add one or two points of some importance. I do not speak on behalf of the Liverpool Corporation, though the senior Member for the city of Liverpool, yet I have the honour of supporting the Bill and hope the House will give it a Second Reading, which it deserves.
I want to point out that under Clause 72 of the Bill, which authorises the taking of land compulsory for the purposes of the Bill, authority is conferred to take land not only to make the arterial road but for the purpose of reselling that land by way of recoupment afterwards in order to reduce the cost of making the road as a whole. That power extends to the full limits of deviation under the Bill and, consequently, if land were obtained under the provisions of Clause 94, through Section 46 of the Housing Act, at a price which was unfairly low there would be a double injury to the owners of property there who have maintained their property in a thoroughly sanitary state and in good order. The unfair working of Section 46 of the Housing Act would mean that they would get their property taken at an unduly low price. That is a matter on which it is quite impossible for this House on Second Reading to express its judgment, but I ask the Minister and the Committee upstairs in considering this matter to give particular attention to that aspect of it. I am informed by the Corporation that, if they do proceed with their housing scheme so as to make Clause 94 of the Bill come into operation before they give notice to 1808 treat for the acquisition of land for the purposes of the road under Clause 72, it is their intention to make sure that no house which is not in itself insanitary shall come under the provisions of Section 46 of the Housing Act and be coloured red so as to get the reduced scale of compensation.
I have that undertaking direct from the Town Clerk, and I trust the Minister of Health, in confirming any scheme for housing in that area, will take great care to see that Clause 94 of this Bill is not used in any way so as to treat any of the owners within that district with injustice. [Interruption.] I say that because to my own knowledge there are a number of owners in that district whose whole fortune is invested in the houses they own there. [Interruption.] Many of them are small people, not rich people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Widows!"] I say this distinctly to hon. Members opposite, that to my own knowledge they are hard working people who have saved a bit in life, whose families are dependent upon it and who have spent annually a great deal of money in keeping their property in a first-class condition so that nobody can possibly suggest it is insanitary. I know that is a kind of case you do not want to penalise by giving them compensation under Section 46, which is only given in cases where people have allowed their property to become insanitary. All I say is—and I speak knowing that the corporation intends this—that I hope that no such injustice will be done.
There are two further points. I ask that the Committee shall consider the matter upstairs, and make certain that every protection possible is given, and, secondly, I urge on the Minister at the earliest possible date to introduce legislation to amend Section 46 so as to make it clear in accordance with the statement which he has already made in public, and in accordance with the wishes of the Association of Municipal Corporations, of which the Corporation of Liverpool is a member.
§ Sir HARRY FOSTER
I thought it would meet the convenience of the House that any observations which I wish to submit to its consideration should be made now rather than upon the Motion of which I have given notice, and which appears on the Order Paper, but after 1809 the statement of my right hon. Friend the senior Member for Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) the point which I had intended to raise after the Second Reading of this Bill has, I think, been largely met. I agree with him and with the hon. Gentleman who preceded him that there is the gravest dissatisfaction and injustice at present, not as regards the owners of slum property—with whom I have not the smallest sympathy and to whom I would give but short shrift, although even they are entitled to bare justice, and I would give them nothing more than the barest justice—but as regards the victims of the present system of administration, of which I have had painful experience in Central Portsmouth. It is in cases where those whose properties are perfectly sanitary and against whose conditions nobody has breathed a word, have yet, under the system which has been adopted, been treated as though they were offenders against the law. A plan appears, of which they have had no knowledge, with the whole area painted pink, which is the condemnatory colour with regard to this matter, and they have never known anything about it. There has been no attempt at discrimination and too late they have found because their property was coloured pink in the plan—which was never submitted to them and of which they know nothing—there was no remedy in law, and they were entitled to get, and only got, the bare site value. I will give two examples within my own knowledge in Portsmouth, examples which, I am sure, will enlist the sympathy of every hon. Gentleman opposite, and to which they would not have been a party.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
I am not talking of Liverpool at all. If the hon. Member had done me the honour of listening to me, he would have heard me say I was giving two instances in my own personal experience in Central Portsmouth, which I have the honour to represent in this House. In giving these two instances I appeal to the high sense of justice of hon. Gentlemen opposite. In the one case a part of the scheduled area consisted of an open space, a green field, and another part consisted of four houses in perfect condition of repair and perfect sanitary condition. I had the observation 1810 of the Corporation official of Portsmouth that nobody could suggest that in either case did they come under the description of insanitary property, but when the scheme was submitted to the Minister of Health, and when a public inquiry was held, without any attempt at discrimination the whole area was coloured pink on the plan at the town hall by those responsible for the scheme. I do not know whether it was the corporation or the Minister of Health, but the whole thing was coloured pink, and then a notice of the most misleading character, which I have in my hand, was sent to each owner. The effect of that notice was merely this:A scheme has been submitted, and the Minister will conduct an inquiry at the Town Hall. If you have any objections to the scheme, the Minister would like to know your reasons before the inquiry is held.The man who has perfectly sanitary property in a scheduled area does not fear, and he says: "I have no objection to the scheme, as a scheme. I think it is a very good one." The notice went on to say, that in the event of the scheme being sanctioned but failing any agreement as to price there would be arbitration, and the amount under the arbitration would be received. No suggestion was made in the notice that: "Your property is scheduled as insanitary." No breath ever reaches the owner. There is no complaint from the corporation or from anybody, and the man naturally says: "I am not against the scheme. I am going to get proper compensation under the arbitration. If the Ministry or the corporation are going to conduct the arbitration, I shall be honestly treated." Therefore, he does not go and state his objection.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. I know that it is customary on the Second Reading of a Bill to allow a very wide latitude, but it is generally assumed that the subject under discussion is relative in some particular way to the Bill under discussion. I submit that we are not now discussing anything relating to the Liverpool Bill, but that we are discussing what concerns an Act which in 1925 was discussed in this House. We are discussing the carrying out of the Act, but not in so far as the Liverpool Bill is concerned. We are now discussing a matter which ought not to be discussed except on the Minister's salary.
§ Sir J. NALL
On a point of Order. This is a very important matter on this Bill, because it is entirely a precedent whether this Section 46 should be applied in the circumstances craved under this Bill. Therefore, it is important that the House should have full information as to what Section 46 of the Housing Act does.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think there is something in the point raised by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). It is true that this Bill contains a reference to Section 46 of the general Act, and asks to save the right of the Liverpool Corporation under that general Act, but that does not seem to me to give occasion for debating the merits of the general Act. What it does allow is a statement of facts as given by the hon. Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nall) in opening the Debate, but I cannot allow a general discussion on the merits or demerits of that general Act.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
I shall certainly respect in the spirit as well as the letter the limitation which you have suggested. It would be most inconvenient and almost impossible at this time and upon a private Bill, as to which no exception is taken except on one particular provision, to embark upon a general discussion of the Act which is craved in support of this Bill for a particular purpose. All that I was suggesting was whether this provision, which I am glad to know will be the subject of special examination upstairs by the Committee, having regard to the admitted defects of the 1925 Act and the injustices which at the present time are being perpetrated under it, should be called in aid of this Bill, and whether it would not be better as it is not part of the general scheme that Clause 94 should be modified or should be excised upstairs. In support of that, and in support of what the right hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool said, I was calling attention to certain serious provisions, and I quoted the experience we have had in Portsmouth, which resulted in two grave injustices. In one case, a man whose property was worth £850, a poor man, was tendered the sum of £90 by the corporation. In another case, a man whose open field was admittedly worth a substantial sum—[An HON. MEMBER: 1812 "An open field?"] It was a large area in the heart of Portsmouth. I call it an open field to show there were no buildings on it——
§ 11 p.m.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
was entitled under the system adopted to only one-tenth of its value. There are some men who would gladly see any man robbed of his property. The last point I wish to stress to the House—and I am aware of the inconvenience of the hour—is that the Minister of Health has, as has already been said, stated publicly his view that the Act, as worked, does result in grave injustice; and in this House on the 8th July, 1926, in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-West Hull (Mr. Grotrian), who called his attention to a recent case, my right hon. Friend said:My attention has been called to this case. The question of legislation to amend in some respects Section 46 of the Act of 1925 has been receiving my attention, but I am unable to make a statement in regard to the matter at the present time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1926; col. 2237, Vol. 197.]That, of course, is a full year ago, and all I want to do is to reinforce the appeal made by my two Friends on this side of the House, that the time is ripe, and over-ripe, for the legislation which my right hon. Friend desires to bring in. I am content, as a result of this discussion and of the information given to the House by ray right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) as to the attitude of the corporation if they get these powers to take this opportunity of again calling the attention of the Minister of Health to the urgent need of new legislation.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)
After what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Foster), it is obvious that it is not necessary for me to say more than a very few words upon the question which has arisen. There are two points which have been raised in the speeches that have been made. The first is the question as to the merits of Section 46 of the Housing Act. As to that Section, I was rash enough to express my opinion of the fairness of its provisions 1813 and of the effect of these provisions before the Act had actually become operative. I think it was in the year 1919, or thereabouts. I said I thought they were unfair and that they were so unfair that local authorities would find difficulty in putting them into practice. What has been said by my right hon. and learned Friend bears out the correctness of my prophecy. But whilst I had expressed that opinion, and whilst I had said in this House—and I take the opportunity of repeating it here—that an Amendment of that Clause would certainly form part of another Measure that I might introduce—a further Measure I might introduce in connection with slum clearance or improvement; and I hope I may have the opportunity of introducing such legislation before this Parliament comes to an end—whilst I say that an Amendment of this kind should and would form part of the Measure, I do not think the Measure is in question on this Bill, because, if the Act is to be amended, it must be amended by a general and not a private Bill.
Therefore, I come to the other point made as to whether the Liverpool Corporation, in Clause 94 of this present Bill, are taking some unfair advantage of Section 46, and whether they are really acting in good faith in the Clause. If the House will read the Clause carefully, they will see that it does not provide that properties which are situated within the limits of deviation of this road are to be paid for on the basis of Section 46. What it says is something different. It says that if the area, of which it forms part, is made part of a scheme for improvements, then the fact that it has been contemplated to drive a road through this area shall not mean that the properties on the side of that road can be paid for at a higher rate than the other property in other respects similar are paid for under Section 46 of the Act. It would be very unfair as between various owners of property in the suggested improvement scheme that some of them, because they happen to be on the side of the road, should receive for their slum property higher prices. My own impression is that even if this Clause were not to be repealed there would be nothing to prevent the corporation from purchasing all the slum property in any scheme under Section 46, provided that they had 1814 not first entered into negotiations for the acquisition of property on a different basis.
One other point has been raised in connection with Clause 72. This Clause will no doubt be carefully considered in the light of what has been said by the Select Committee, but I would like to suggest to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) if he looks at the terms of Clause 72 he will see that the power to sell or exchange this land is a power which under Clause 72 only applies to lands acquired for the purposes of the Bill, that is to say, for the purposes of this road. If therefore the Corporation go into negotiations for the purchase of this property, if they have decided instead to make this into a housing improvement scheme, they may pay a smaller price, but they cannot otherwise turn round and by virtue of Clause 72 sell that land and make a profit.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Because I suggest that under Clause 72 the powers to sell or exchange only apply to lands acquired for the purposes of the Bill. The purposes of the Bill are the widening of the street, not for the purpose of making houses.
§ Mr. GARDNER
I am quite sure that many schemes have been sanctioned and that in the course of development changes have taken place. Do I understand that local authorities are not acting within their rights in doing so?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I never said anything of the kind. The hon. Member must be aware that there are powers under the Housing Acts which enable local authorities to deal with lands or to let them under certain conditions; I am simply speaking of the Clause of this particular Bill. I am not saying what the Corporation may not do under general Clauses of general Acts, but under Clause 72 of this Bill, it appears to me—and I speak subject to more competent authority—that there is no danger of that happening, namely, that the Corporation may use that Clause to make a profit out of a transaction in land which they have been able to carry through at exceptionally low prices.
§ Sir J. NALL
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there are not ample precedents for this to be done and that it has been done by the Leicester and Wolverhampton and other Corporation Acts?
§ Mr. HAYES
The hon. Member for Central Portsmouth (Sir H. Foster) has put down an Amendment that it be an instruction to the Committee upstairs to delete Clause 94, but what he has said to the House to-night would justify the local Legislation Committee in deleting this Clause. The objection to this Clause, made at any rate to the House, does not emanate from Liverpool at all. A statement has been printed and circulated in the name of the Liverpool and District Property Owners' Protection Association, yet the body responsible for the objection is the National Federation of Property Owners, and when one bears in mind that that body represents something like £1,000,000,000 worth of private property, I suggest that the body that should be suspect arising from this discussion is not the Liverpool Corporation but the people objecting to the Clause.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
The people I personally refer to as being in fear lest they should suffer an injustice in this particular area are individuals known to me personally, who approached me personally, and they represent no association whatsoever.
§ Mr. HAYES
I quite appreciate that there would be individuals only who would represent their case to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I am dealing with the circulated terms of the opposition to this Bill. The Liverpool property owners are quite satisfied with availing themselves of the very excellent opportunities allowed to them in both Houses. In another place that association have not only put their case before the local Legislation Committee, but there was a discussion in the whole House, and they have availed themselves of the opportunity of lodging a petition with the local Legislation Committee. I am sure the House will do nothing to hamper the great city of Liverpool in endeavouring to get to grips, however late they may be, with the great question of slum clearance. It also ought to be remembered that there are other reasons than those stated for the granting of 1816 Clause 94, one of which is very important. In the reconstruction of the city, as covered by the plans deposited with this Bill, there is a question of a tramway undertaking. The corporation could not proceed with any tramway undertaking through the thoroughfares that are to be created under this Bill, unless the properties and lands to be acquired are scheduled in plans that have been deposited. For that, if for no other reason, we ask that Clause 94 shall not be interfered with, but that it shall be treated as a Clause which is safeguarding the corporation so that they shall not be denied the right of existing legislation. Whatever quarrel there may be with Section 46 of the Housing Act of 1925, the objection to it should not be grounded upon this very important Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division has on many occasions expressed his concern at the conditions of the people who live in this tremendous area of slum property. I know that he, with every regard for the property-owners' welfare, has been determined that the interests of the great mass of the people whose conditions it is intended to improve by this Bill, must come first on this occasion. It is evidence that the property owners have not been so very thoughtful of the lives of our people that we have in Liverpool something like 3,000 or 4,000 empty houses. The property owners' associations and the ratepayers' protection societies should bear in mind that ratepayers are not confined to property owners. So far as the tax on their resources are concerned, the most important ratepayers are the poorest people in the city and these people are denied adequate housing which might be available if the property owners would let these 3,000 or 4,000 houses instead of holding them up for sale. The note struck by the property owners in their opposition to Clause 94 is a note of compensation. Whatever may be the merits or otherwise of the arguments against Section 46 of the Housing Act of 1925, I should have thought any question of compensation arising would have been a question of compensating the people compelled to live in these slums. The people who claim that their fortunes have been invested in this property must have taken 1817 out of that property sufficient to compensate them for any subsequent loss sustained by them.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
Is the hon. Member dealing with properties, concerning which there can be no allegation that they are insanitary?
§ Mr. HAYES
I intend to deal with them. In the first place, the reason why I think it is the Property Owners' Association that should be suspect is because the owners of property which is not insanitary have full protection under the existing law. They lose none of their rights under the Bill. Before any property can be dealt with as insanitary, it must be scheduled. The corporation is compelled to submit the whole scheme to the Ministry of Health, who order an inquiry, and the property owners would then have full opportunity of arguing their case and of arguing against their property being included in the plain marked red as insanitary. They will have an opportunity of showing that their property should not be entered as insanitary and of getting their property removed from the red plan to the blue plan if they can justify their case. Further, under a certificate of the Minister any expenses involved in trying to get that done can be recovered.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
Not under the existing law, but under the assurance which the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division (Sir L. Scott) has given us.
§ Mr. HAYES
As a matter of fact, the probability is that the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division has merely restated the law in order to assure the hon. Member that his objection is not well founded. I suggest that the Property Owners' Association are objecting to this Bill because they are anxious to secure the maximum compensation for their property whether it is insanitary or not.
§ Mr. HAYES
That is the suspicion we are entitled to have against the property owners. When the Liverpool Corporation have a progressive scheme of development certain property owners in the city see an opportunity of getting more by way of compensation than they would get under the law if the Bill had not been 1818 brought forward. That is the opinion many people hold, and I think suspicion lies not so much against the corporation as against the people objecting to the Bill. The conditions under which a large number of people have to live in Liverpool make the passage of this Bill an urgent matter. There are 83,000 people, constituting 23,000 families, living in one or two rooms per family. That ought to inspire every Member, whether he be sympathetic to the claims of the property owners or not, to see that this Bill gets a speedy passage. I hope they will not allow their views on any question concerning the general law to interfere with the legislation which the people of Liverpool are so anxious to get.
For the benefit of the Committee who may have to deal with the Bill I would like to draw their attention to one fact, as chairman of St. Ann's Citizens Institute, the premises of which are scheduled as property whereof portions only may be taken compulsorily. Last year the institute erected a new hostel for boys on those premises, the plans of which must have been passed by the corporation. I think there is something equivocal in these premises having been scheduled. Although to-night I shall not oppose the Bill, I devoutly hope the Committee will pay considerable attention to the fact that it has been mentioned in the House here. Another Clause to which my attention has been drawn is Clause 166 which deals with the question of carriages and police inspection. What my constituents object to is that vehicles standing or plying for hire, notwithstanding that they are on private premises, will be subject to inspection. I only raise that point in order that the Committee upstairs may take note of it.
§ .Mr. GARDNER
My only excuse for taking part in this discussion is that I read the circular sent to Members of Parliament from the Property Owners' Association in Liverpool. I am very much in favour of the general question of slum clearances, more particularly in one part of my own district. I agree with the Minister of Health that the 1819 Section quoted does not prevent schemes from going ahead. The agitation against this Bill as centred in the people mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division is illusory, the theory being that the man who has kept his property in a proper state of repair is not being properly treated. I am in favour of treating people who have continually kept their property in good condition on an equitable basis. The Liverpool Corporation have given that undertaking already, but I hope they will not lose sight of the fact that in smaller areas the only class of property kept in a good state of repair is that attached to public houses, doctors' premises and multiple shop property.
§ Mr. GARDNER
I was going to deal with that later. I suggest that the position is the other way round. The slum owner wants to create a precedent, so that if a new arterial road is made, and if the corporation is able to sell the property, they want to come in and claim some of the profit. Lord Balfour, many years ago, said there was enough legislation to hang all the slum owners in the British Isles, but I have not heard of any of them being hanged yet. Slum property is created by deliberate neglect, and I will go even further and say that some of the people who keep their property in this condition must realise quite clearly that the district has deteriorated and that the property owners in the ordinary sense of the word, if they are astute, will dispose of it before it is too late.
It is a real hardship in the case of these private individuals. It reminds me of the brewers and the widows' and orphans' shares; and it is a real hardship which must be met. Coming back to the arterial road, I was astonished to learn that a Bill promoted on these lines gives powers under certain conditions, by implication, to compel them to keep to those conditions. The Minister of Health must be aware of the fact that conditions change. In my own borough we have an Order to clear a slum area. We do not know at the moment, officially, whether the arterial road will go through or not. It was part of a scheme by the 1820 Ministry of Transport. Am I to understand that, assuming we construct a 30-foot roadway, not, a 100-foot roadway, and that we reserve the land, and that in subsequent years the Road Ministry, or some other Department, is going to take control of it. Suppose we try to develop it for other purposes and reserve spaces on each side, it means if the Minister's interpretation of the position is correct, that the property-owner would make some claim for the added value of the rent. I think that is preposterous.
§ Mr. GARDNER
It is not what the right hon. Gentleman said; it is the implications that may be involved. After an order is given or after a Bill is passed for a specific object, what is going to happen if the land is exchanged? You would not commit yourselves in the earlier part of your remarks, but you did commit yourselves to the extent that they must confine themselves to the powers conferred upon them by Parliament. If a vehicle breaks down in the roadway the owner has to remove it at his own expense. If a slum landlord allows property to deteriorate and become an added cost to the Public Health Department, when the time comes he grumbles because he is only awarded something less than the site value. If I had my way I would not only give him less than the site value but would compel him to remove the debris from the site and clear it for building purposes.
§ Sir JOHN PENNEFATHER
As one of the Members for Liverpool. I should like to express my satisfaction that this bulky Bill has met, on the whole, with so much support from every quarter of the House. It is true that suggestions have been made that certain points in the Bill might be considered by the Committee upstairs, I am surprised to find that the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Hayes) has spoken to-night of the urgency of this Measure, in view of the fact that, unless I am mistaken, it was he who blocked the Bill.
§ Mr. HAYES
I blocked the Bill because a number of small ex-service men who were in business had been denied an opportunity, by financial reasons, of 1821 stating their case upstairs. This was the only place where they could get their claims stated. The property owners have finances, and also a petition upstairs, and there is no need for me to block it.
§ Sir J. PENNEFATHER
The hon. Member, in order that some points might be considered, blocked the Bill. None of us on our side have gone so far as that. Our object is that the Bill should be passed, and it is suggested that certain points might be considered. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I do not see much sign of a Division; we seem to be 1822 all agreed that the Bill is a most excellent one.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after Half-past Eleven o'Clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Twenty-Six Minutes before Twelve o'Clock.