§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
One cannot but admit that an interval of the kind that we have just enjoyed has its advantages in enabling one to refresh one's recollection of certain points which are germane to the argument. I was dealing with one or two features of any alternative scheme which did not provide a clear-cut demarcation between productive and non-productive industries, and, from the murmurs that proceeded from the Liberal benches, I gathered that I was misrepresenting their proposals. The unfortunate feature of the Liberal party's programme is that it is impossible to gather what their alternative proposal is. If you are not going to divide industry into productive and nonproductive industry, I would like to know upon what footing it should be divided. At large in the country the argument is freely used, and used with some force, that this advantage is to be given to industries which do not need it. That is an argument which, at any rate, appeals to prejudice, and the case of the brewery is very often used. I pointed out various reasons why no other demarcation between the branches of industry is in my opinion possible, and I was going on to mention, as an example, the case of a steel works which is prosperous in one area, and a similar factory which is unprosperous in another area.
Are you going only to subsidise the unprosperous one, and, if you are going to subsidise only the unprosperous one, I presume that hon. Gentlemen opposite, steeped in the Yellow Book, will at any rate pause to ascertain whether its lack of prosperity is or is not due to lack of 478 efficiency. If that is going to be done, it will be necessary to set up yet another Government Department to determine whether industries are being conducted efficiently or not, and it will have to pry into matters concerning their capital, their reserves, and so on, all the matters which determine whether an industry is being conducted on an efficient basis or not. That kind of thing is quite impossible. The case for some general form of rating relief is overwhelming. Anything else produces the most ridiculous anomalies and puts a premium on failure and inefficiency. We saw, a few years ago, the case, for instance, of Messrs. Dunlop, who lost in one year a sum of approximately £8,000,000. Who could have prognosticated that a few years after that disastrous failure they would be making the profits that they are making to-day? It is impossible to delimit industries according to their comparative success or failure. What is prosperous to-day may be unprosperous to-morrow, and I rather imagine that some gentlemen engaged in industry who are magniloquently and beneficently saying that they did not ask for the relief and do not want it will be the very first who will be only too glad to find that their overhead charges are reduced in four or five years' time. But, whether they do or not, the question of whether you want to relieve prosperous or unprosperous industries is accidental to the principle of the Bill. The principle is that you should relieve those overhead charges to the extent of 75 per cent., and it may be said to be no more than a fortunate accident that the 75 per cent. of rate reduction occurs to the industries that are most hardly hit by foreign competition. That is a fortunate accident, but it is not inherent in the principle which subdivides industry according to its productivity.
Are hon. Members opposite justified in the view that they take about the disastrous effects of comparatively disrating an industry that is prosperous? I remember a short time ago what was, in my opinion, a very well-deserved rebuke administered to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) when he was told that the leaders of the political Labour party were constantly under-estimating the value of the 479 work done by the trade unions, and I agree with him. Is not this a similar case? Are they not under-estimating the bargaining power of the trade unions? Are they not under-estimating the power of the trade unions to secure that, if an increase of profit accrues to an industry on account of dis-rating, that profit shall be equitably divided between all those engaged in the industry? In my opinion, the bargaining power of the trade unions is amply sufficient to ensure that an industry which by reason of its prosperity increases its profits under this dis-rating scheme shall have to disgorge, for the combined benefit of those engaged in the industry, any increased profits which accrue to it, and, if that is so, are we not doing exactly what hon. Members opposite are always requiring us to do? Are we not increasing the consuming power of the people engaged in industry?
In the case of a prosperous industry, the benefit can only go in one of two ways. It can go either as an increased benefit to the industry as a whole, in which the workers will share equally with capital, or it can go in a diminution of prices, and the competition that exists in industry to-day is so intense that unless the amount is distributed generally in the industry, competition will insure that prices fall as the result of any reduction in overhead charges such as this Bill will bring about. I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham pointed out, what has not been sufficiently emphasized in the past, that in any case the benefit that would go to a prosperous industry is reduced automatically by the operation of Income and Super-tax by from 25 to 50 per cent., so that the Exchequer gets back a very considerable contribution out of the amount gained by industry in a case where industry is already prosperous.
Hon. Members opposite are always facetiously solicitous about our comfort on this side of the House. They see divisions where none exist. They see intrigues, which, while popular in their party, do not exist to anything like the same extent on this side of the House. They are looking for a mare's nest if they imagine that there is any real division on this side of the House on the 480 Bill. It has been described as a Bill which comprises the whole work of the Government for this Session, and we are not ashamed of it. At any rate, it takes 112 Clauses and 12 Schedules to comprise our programme for the future of the country to be carried out in this Session. I rather imagine, from the constructive proposals we have heard from the benches opposite, that half-a-sheet of notepaper would serve in the case of either of them. However that may be, it is admitted that, this is not a sensational, spectacular electoral asset. No Government which looks only to popular enthusiasm, to popular uninstructed opinion, would have dared to present in its last Session a Bill of the magnitude and complexity of this. It has requited a considerable amount of courage, for which we congratulate the Government. More is at issue than merely the principle of reforming local government and altering rating and the method by which the national contribution to local authorities is to be distributed. No less is involved in the passage of the Bill than the question of whether prejudice can triumph over the difficulties of expounding a subject, the expounding of which is in the interest of the people as a whole. It is a convenient target for prejudice. Prejudice is being poured out all round, and I cannot express sufficiently strongly my admiration of the confidence and courage of the Government in determining to carry through a Measure of widespread reform which I think will have effects on the history of local government for many years to come.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
It is about three or four years since one heard rumours of what was going to take place in the form of some great novel scheme of de-rating. I remember how I, with others, looked forward to some great scheme which was going to rejuvenate the countryside. I gather from what has happened that for two or three years the Ministers of the Crown have assiduously and furtively gone on building storey upon storey of this wonderful structure, and all the time they have carried on behind high walls and closed doors so that the profane eyes of man might not be cast upon the process of construction. Suddenly, these barriers have been removed, and the great masterpiece stands naked before the eyes of men to 481 see. It is a perplexing production, not merely to those of us who wish honestly to criticise it; it is even perplexing those who support the Government. They remind me very much of the Scottish clergyman who, in offering up a prayer, said, "Oh, divine Providence, paradoxical as it may seem to you, it is quite clear to us." The whole thing seems to be paradoxical to the supporters of the Government, and yet they are telling us that, none the less, they are going into the country to advocate this Measure, and therefore they will have to make it quite evident that they themselves understand its intricacies. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) last night in an outburst crystallised the attitude of mind of many hon. Members opposite. She shouted to us not to be too inquisitive, not to make too many inquiries. "Step inside, have faith. That is all that is wanted. Step inside and come to the consideration of this great noble endeavour, known as the new rating policy." It was interesting to notice that after she had said she knew nothing about it but still pinned her faith to it, she herself was going to go through the country and support the policy of the Government. I suppose that will be the attitude of many more besides the Noble Lady.
I want to come to grips with one feature of the Measure. I would not presume to follow the very able analysis of the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence), nor indeed would I attempt to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb). I would attempt to converge in my own way on one special feature. It has been said that this is a rating reform Bill. In his opening speech, the Minister of Health reviewed the origin of the rating law. He spoke about it existing in the early days and said that as a ready and rough calculation it was efficient for the purpose in hand. Then, he said, there came the growth of factories. Then he used the novel word "hereditament," which is bandied about in the Bill and which has no legal definition. "New hereditaments appeared on the horizon in the form of factories. These factories come within the ambit of rating subjects." He seems to attribute the bad consequences of the rating 482 system to the incoming of factories. Instead of attacking the rating system itself, he seems to think the trouble arose when factories appeared. Further down in his speech he makes this remark:To-day we are faced with this startling fact, that by the effect of this inequitable rating system, carried on under the circumstances of modern competition, we have actually involved in ruin some of our greatest industries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1928; col. 87, Vol. 223.]That phrase in itself, and the remarks that led up to it, clearly point to the fact that the main trouble facing the Ministry to-day is not new hereditaments coming under the rating law in the past, or even at present. The main difficulty is the operation of the rating law itself.
The Minister began his historical review with the Act of 1834. I should like to take him a little further back, to the Act of Elizabeth of 1601, and substantially the rating law of that Act stands unaltered in the Statute Book to-day. This Bill, which is put forward as a Rating Reform Bill, is nothing of the kind. I challenge the Minister to say it changes the rating law one iota. I hope he has listened. I will put it again, so that he will hear me. I say that this Bill does not change the rating law one iota. The right hon. Gentleman will agree? He will not? I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say "yes" or "no." If this Bill does not change the rating law, will he kindly tell me why he calls it a rating reform Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I think the hon. Member might address me and not the Minister.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I quite agree, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but, through you, I am addressing the Minister. When I see that the Minister is purposely trying to ignore what I am asking him, surely I have to do something. It is very important. It is the major proposal of this massive, abortive and intricate Measure. Ostensibly, it is a rating reform. It is that position which I want to attack. It is not a rating reform Bill; it reforms at no point the rating law, which on the Minister's own confession, in his opening speech in this House, is the thing that has brought the country to the impasse in which we 483 find ourselves to-day. What is the rating law? I hope the Minister will listen to me when I make an appeal through you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The rating law empowers local authorities to levy rates upon a subject according to what that subject may procure from year to year by way of rental. That is the law. I see, I think, one of the Law Officers of the Crown shaking his head. I will give him the definition in distinct language if he wants it. I am paraphrasing it so that it will, perhaps, be clear to the House. The basis of rating is the net annual value, which is equivalent to the rental value, that a subject may procure in the open market from year to year. That law still stands, and it is the operation of that vicious law that has brought us to the position in which we find rates climbing up step by step with the growth and development of industries in this country. It is also interesting to hear Members on the other side of the House tell us on this side of the House how much destruction has been wrought by the operation of the present rating law. They have told us how it has decimated industry and how by a depression of trade in a district it comes hack like a boomerang on to the local authorities. The rating authority must consider what the "subjects" bring in during their present condition. The rates must be levied. The rates climb up side by side with depression in industry. We could have told them that long ago.
I stood at these benches shortly after the national strike in this country and, I think, I was the only person who went back on to that very question as to how rates inflate the costs of production, how the manufacturers and the mine-owners merge their rates into prices, and how those prices go on to the foreign market to undercut foreign competition. It is interesting to hear that we are being criticised by advocates of this Measure on the other side of the House. Yesterday, many speeches were made from those benches trying to prove, or at least trying to disprove the point that we, or at least some hon. Members on this side, had made that this rating relief, even if it had the effect which the Minister and his supporters thought it would have—suppose we grant them 484 everything and said "Yes, this rating relief will lead to a revival in industry, this revival in industry will lead also, as it must if it does revive industry, to an enormous demand for raw material, to a fresh demand for new sites for factories, to a fresh demand for coal, iron and other raw materials to keep the factories going" if we concede all that—is it not self-evident that if these results come to pass the net result will be an enormous demand for land? We have stated that the net result of this de-rating scheme, even if we grant that it has all the virtues that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite say it has, will be an enormous increase in rent. Indeed, it is not a rating relief bill for industry; it is the provision of an enormous subsidy for the owners of raw material in this country. When we tried to make that point at the opening of this Debate hon. gentlemen got up persistently on that side of the House and stated that it was not true that by virtue of de-rating agricultural land the landowners would stand to benefit.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I want to put this point again, because I think I heard some sign of approval on the other side. We stated that the landowners would gain to the extent that we de-rated agricultural land in the countryside. Hon. Members opposite yesterday denied that that would be so. In order to enforce the truth of this, let me quote, not from Labour men, not from men who have not gone into the pros and cons of this very question, but from Lord Goschen, who was formerly a Member of this House. During the time when he was a Member of this House he made this statement:It has been correctly held as an axiom that rates on land constitute a kind of rent charge upon those lands for the benefit of the people. As Mr. Mill says of local taxation on landed property: 'As much of these burdens as is of old standing ought to be regarded as a prescriptive deduction or reservation for public purposes of a portion of the rent.' You, however (referring to Sir Julian Goldsmid), ignore these hereditary burdens altogether. … Your plan includes the relief of the owners from burdens which they have borne for centuries, which they have entered into the selling value of those lands and have been taken into account in every transaction connected with them.485 Let me take the late Lord Chaplin, who was a Conservative landowner of wide experience in agriculture. The late Lord Chaplin said:The occupier paid a certain sum for the use of land, and in that sum was always considered the rates. But what was the effect upon the owner? If more rates were paid he received less rent. Ultimately the whole burden of the rates fell upon the land.I could give many more quotations from well-known landowners who have had experience in the land market. All of them are united in agreeing that rates are a deduction from the rent received by the agricultural landowners, and that where heavy relief is given in respect of these rates it will be to the advantage of the landowner when he comes to call for the rent. I cannot in this Debate give his name, but the other day I was speaking to one of the largest landowners in my own county, and I asked him what benefit he hoped to enjoy from the de-rating scheme proposed by the Government. This is what he said:I do not hope to gain any immediate benefit, but benefits will come to me when I come to the drawing-up of new leases with my farmers.It is an unanswerable case that can be advanced by those who are antagonistic to the Conservative party, namely, that relief given in the form of rating relief is bound to appear in the rent. Not only is it true in regard to agricultural land, but it is equally true in regard to urban land. Before I leave the question of urban land, I would like to draw the attention of the representative of the Minister on the bench opposite, when he has ended his little confidential conversation with the Leader of the Liberal party at the moment—no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is giving him a tip as to what course to take after I have sat down—to this little item.
We are told that by de-rating agricultural land they are going to give agriculture a new lease of life. Frankly, it would be a miracle which would give new life to agriculture. New brains are wanted. Let me give this illustration. I have just received the prospectus of a company which is going to be formed. It is the prospectus of the Buckingham Brick and Tile Company. They are calling for a share capital of £175,000. Of this sum, £60,000 is to be spent in buying 486 the farm of Roddimore, Winslow, Buckinghamshire. The vendor is a Mr. Bishop, and he is to receive £35,000 in cash and £25,000 of stock in the Company. There is a valuable clay deposit lying under the land, and it rises to within eight inches of the surface. This valuable land, worth £60,000, is now rated as agricultural land, and the annual amount of rates is £26. Here is a remarkable asset deemed to be agricultural land at the moment paying £26 to the local rates, and this good, beneficent Government come along and say to this gentleman, Mr. V. G. Bishop: "In order to induce you to be enthusiastic in your support for our Measure, we will absolve you from the payment of the £26 entirely, while at the same time you are holding an asset which has a value of £60,000 and gives you power to demand from the company which you are now promoting £25,000 worth of shares." I would like to know from the Minister how the Government are going to deal with an example of that kind. There are many potentialities in this country immediately under the soil which is deemed to be agricultural land which could be sold in the market for enormous fortunes if they were exploited and where, instead of the owners paying their tribute to the rates on the market) value of their assets, they would be absolved from paying rates. The owners of these assets would have the use of public services paid for out of the rates levied upon the houses of the working people of this country while they would be absolved entirely from paying rates.
I do not know whether, in a House that has been dissipated with long speeches already and also with the representative of the Government apparently not entirely disposed to listen to arguments, it is worth while giving illustrations of this kind. However, I should like to give another. This time it is one which I should like the respresentative of the Government to face, because it is urban in character. The Government are proposing to give 75 per cent. relief to productive industries. In order to see how the 75 per cent. relief on productive industries would operate with the present rating law in force, I take an example from my own constituency. We have a pottery in the very heart of Stoke-on-Trent abutting on to one of the main 487 streets of the city. The Corporation of Stoke-on-Trent are desirous of carrying out a widening of the street upon which this "pot bank" as we call it—the pottery—stands. The street itself has become a veritable death trap owing to the congestion of traffic. The Corporation of Stoke-on-Trent opened negotiations with the owners of this pottery with a view to widening the street. The pottery in question is the property of Mr. Copeland of Copelands the famous potters. The owners of the pottery have intimated to the Corporation that they will sell the land to them at £10 per square yard. There are over 40,000 square yards of land there which they now hold and on which they have their factory erected. One might say, seeing that they have a great area of land which they value at £10 per square yard, that they have a capital value asset in that land of £400,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the square yard frontage?"] I hear a remark about the square yard frontage. I will deal with that point. In order to meet that interjection, suppose I say that it is only a charge for the frontage. We will cut the amount by one-half and say that they will hand over to the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation their area of land for something like £200,000. I made inquiries at the rating office as to the amount at which this pottery was rated and I find that it is rated at £1,471. I asked the valuer if these people had appealed for relief under the Government's forthcoming rating relief scheme, and he said, "Oh, yes. They have appealed." I asked what they would pay in rates then, and he replied that they would pay £390. A sum of £390 in rates for a capital asset which, putting it at a conservative figure, is of the value of £200,000. They will get the relief on the understanding that that is going to help industry.
Difficulty arises because of the failure in the previous Rating Apportionment Bill. That Bill takes no account whatever of the public factors there. There is no segregation between the improvement value and the value of the site upon which the improvement stands. The Government have gone on the mad principle of accepting the improvement of 'the site as the composite subject. They have made their valuation thereon, and the company whose case I have quoted are 488 now going to the rating office at Stoke-on-Trent and demanding relief on a composite subject which has a capital value of £400,000, and under the rating scheme, and on the understanding that the Government are helping them, they will only have to pay £390 in rates instead of paying, as they would be paying under any sane scheme of rating to the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation, rates on £200,000 per annum. The rate would be levied upon £200,000 if we were sane people dealing with rating law scientifically, instead of allowing these people and others whom I could mention in the same area to stand there in great congested areas holding up the community for blackmail until they get these exorbitant prices from the local authority. I am merely hinting at what any government would have done if they were really determined to reform the rating law.
It is argued that this is a rating reform, I deny that it is a rating reform, and I ask Ministers to prove that it is a reform of rating law. It means nothing more or less than this, that the rates have gathered like a huge snowball, and they gather, according to the administration of the rating law most heavily, upon the industries of the country, and now this Government, in order to avoid the dire consequences which will be bound to come to the industries of this country if this incubus of rates increases much more, especially the heavy rates upon the depressed industries, are reducing the rates by 75 per cent. and surcharging the taxpayers for the difference. Rating reform, indeed! There is no reform in it. It does not give even the faintest evidence that anyone who had anything to do with this Measure had the faintest idea of rating reform in any respect. It is a subterfuge. It is created in order to carry out the old game of the politicians. Rather than face those great reforms which social justice itself would demand, the Government are seizing upon approximate causes, and attempting an expedient of this kind. This expedient will not carry them very far.
The right hon. Member for Seaham has analysed the benefits that will be received. Some hon. Members opposite think that his challenge was too sweeping in saying that the scheme will not revive industry, and that it will not do one-half that is claimed for it, but I suggest that 489 those hon. Members will find if they are in this House or even outside it at the end of 15 years, that much that the right hon. Gentleman prophesied to-day will come true. I know that the House resents being reminded of economics, and rightly so, but one may be forgiven if on occasions like this economics are brought in to show where we stand on a proposal of this kind. It is true that if you heavily rate and tax industry, sooner or later it will bring depression upon the industry. It is also true that if you untax and unrate industry, and the houses of the people—we are faced with a housing problem which the Government are trying to solve by subsidising houses, costing millions a year, and yet not solving the problem—it is true that that should give to the industries you unrate and untax an impetus and should give them a chance of meeting their competitors; but if you unrate and untax industries and improvements you must in proportion at the same time to do something to check the haemorrhage of rent which, otherwise, is bound to detract from anything you have attempted to gain by the unrating of industry. That is self-evident in this case.
I am not going to make the sweeping charge that the giving of certain measures of relief will not seem for some time to give opportunities for industries to step forward, but I do assert that it will not be long until the line of rent rises and takes the advantage of the relief that has been given. It will assert itself immediately in agriculture, when leases are renewed, and it will assert itself when rent fixing takes place. It has been said, and perhaps with some truth, that in their blundering to do something with the rating law the Government have, unconsciously, done something which 'may redound to their credit as a political manoeuvre. They will be able to go into the agricultural districts and say to the agriculturist: "Your arterial roads, for which we pay something like £60,000,000 a year, will cost you nothing. You can have all the public services and they will cost you nothing in rates." That is a way of buying off the agricultural vote at the expense of the taxpayers of the country. It may be that that immoral and indecent practice will solidify the agricultural vote for the Tory party, but it will only he a question of time before the results of this monstrosity—I can find no other word for it—becomes self-evident.
490 I say to the Government that they have not cured poverty by this Bill. They speak glibly about abolishing the Poor Law. There is only one way to abolish the Poor Law, and that is to abolish poverty. They are accepting poverty as a providential imposition, and taking the relief of it from the boards of guardians and placing it under the control of the county and county borough councils. But poverty remains there, and the chill hand of public charity is still there. On that line, the Government are accomplishing nothing. The whole scheme has been devised to placate the growing unrest in the industrial areas against the increase of rates, and the Government and their supporters are going out to tell the people that this is a rating reform. I deny that it is a rating reform, and I challenge any right hon. or hon. Member opposite to prove that it is a rating reform. There is no rating reform in the Bill from one end to the other. It is a perpetuation of the old vicious rating system, devised as a subvention to the manufacturers of this country and as a subvention to the agricultural areas at the expense of the taxpayers. What is being taken out of the rates is being put on to the taxes. As the Irishman did on one occasion, the Government have cut a piece off the top of a blanket and have stitched it on at the bottom of the blanket in the hope that by so doing they have lengthened it to cover their nakedness.
§ Sir ROBERT SANDERS
We have heard the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) on similar subjects before, but we have never heard him more emphatic and, if I may say so, never more misleading. I should like to reply to one of the last statements he made, when he said that the supporters of this Bill will be able to tell the agriculturist that he can have the roads and the schools and other things without paying any rates. That is untrue. He will pay as much as the hon. Member himself. He will have to pay on the rateable value of his house. This scheme simply puts the agriculturist on the same footing as every other producer and every other inhabitant in the country. It is simply taking off a burden that was put upon him which was riot put upon any other class.
I did not expect to find that this Bill would be opposed on Second Reading, because I have been in this House a con- 491 siderable time and ever since I first came here Members of all parties have been clamouring to get the burden of rates reduced. That was the one thing which impressed me more forcibly than anything else when I first came to this House. I found that Members of all parties asked that the burden of rates should be dealt with almost before anything else, and that they ought to be reduced. We actually had a promise from the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) just before the War broke out, that rate reduction was one of the first subjects with which he intended to deal. That promise was given at a time when the Labour party was supporting him and keeping the Liberal Government in power. Therefore, I am surprised that the Second Reading of this Bill is opposed. I must, however, except from that remark the hon. Member who has just sat down and the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) who have always opposed anything that removed the burden of rates from land.
In previous debates, I have pointed out to the hon. Member for Burslem that, however good in theory what he says about the incidence of rates may be, the history of what has happened in regard to agricultural land is that every time a portion of the rates has been taken off the pecuniary advantage has gone, not to the landlord but to the agricultural labourer in an increase of wages. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Whatever hon. Members may say, that is historically true. In the case of land and factories we are removing a burden on production. We all agree that everything else depends on production, every other occupation is ancillary—I do not want to say parasitical—to our great productive industries. Every other country recognises this and does something to help production. Most of them do it by protection; occasionally it is done by subsidies. Rightly or wrongly we in this country refuse to do that, but there is no reason why we should do exactly the opposite, and by our local taxation we put more than his fair share on the producer. It is not far from the truth to say that the more a man produces the greater is the share he has 492 to pay towards local taxation; and he has to pay it whether he is making a profit or not.
§ Sir R. SANDERS
By making this reduction to agriculturists and producers. The one conspicuous exception is, of course, the railways. They have to bear a heavy share of local taxation, but they have to pass it on, and I do not suppose there is any heavier burden upon production than the cost of carriage. Ever since I have been in the House all parties have agreed that the present system is wrong and various alleviations have been made. Already part of the rates have been taken off agricultural land. That was passed by a Conservative Government. Then there is the Road Fund instituted by a Liberal Government, and we have had pensions and insurance. They have all put charges on the State which formerly were borne by local authorities. Beyond that we have had direct subsidies to the rates made with the approval of all parties, and in making these subsidies Parliament has acknowledged that the incidence of taxation is much fairer than the incidence of rates. This Bill does on a big scale what has hitherto been done on a small scale. For the first time Parliament is asked to deal with the matter on a large scale, and I look upon it as the most helpful Measure that has been brought in during my experience. However hon. Members opposite may vote, I make bold enough to say that no Government in the future is going to alter the main principles of the Bill.
Next to de-rating, the biggest change which the Bill makes is to substitute the block grant for the percentage grant. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico) seemed to think that this would mean that some local authorities would lag behind in a progressive administration of local affairs. Surely that is a reflection on local authorities. It implies that local authorities will not go in for progressive administration unless the State bribes them to do so. That is not paying a very high compliment to elected bodies. I do not want to labour that point. I have been a member of a county 493 council for a great many years, I cannot speak as to the towns, and in the county I have always found that there has been opposition to expenditure from the agricultural interest. That has not been without its advantages. It has made for economy, and nowadays economy is not altogether to be condemned. This force for economy will not be quite so strong in the future as it has been in the past. The agricultural interest on county councils has hitherto always opposed expenditure because they thought they had to bear an unnecessary part of the burden. That is taken away now, and I do not think this opposition will be quite so strong in the future. The question of the maternity and child welfare services has been mentioned during the course of this Debate. I am the last person to wish to see anything done that would disturb the progress and the larger adoption of these services, and if by any amendment of the Bill it can be made easier for them to be adopted to a greater extent in the future I hope the Government will give it the most favourable consideration. Clause 48 does something to help in this direction.
A word now as to boards of guardians. My experience of them has only been in the country, and I do not wish anything I say to be taken as applying to any but the country districts. So far as the country districts are concerned, I regret that their abolition is proposed. Of all local authorities in the country districts there is much less complaint about the administration of boards of guardians than there is of any other council. On the whole they are popular, and are not extravagant. One thing has been pressed home on me and that is that on boards of guardians great importance is attached to parish representation. Those who live in towns perhaps do not realise what a very big thing parish feeling is in country districts. A man is elected for a particular parish and he can speak about any individual in the parish. I live in a small country village and if I wanted to know the circumstances of any particular man in that village I could find out in a few hours. I could not do that in the case of the next parish, and that is a strong reason I think why the Minister of Health, within reasonable limits, should do all he can to get every parish represented upon these new guardians com- 494 mittees. That is largely matter of sentiment, but, after all, I hope sentiment will not be left out altogether in dealing with questions of this sort. Another matter of sentiment which has been brought to my notice is concerned with Part 4 of the Bill, where provisions are laid down as to the future of various districts in the county. Owing to these provisions some of the old boroughs are a little alarmed. They have considerable traditions and would not give up their identity for worlds. I hope the Minister will be able to give us an assurance that if there is any question of altering their boundaries their views will meet with great respect by the Department.
Now as to finance and its distribution. There is no doubt that this is causing a great deal of disquietude in the country side. I do not want to quarrel with what the formula contains. I do not look upon it as being like the law of the Medes and Persians. But most of the reasons set out in the formula for the partition of the grant are reasons which will hold water. It is not with the contents of the formula I quarrel so much as with what the formula leaves out. I do not know whether the Minister of Health realises that a country with a light soil will gain more under the formula than a county with good soil. That is one of the ways in which the formula works out. I take two counties next to each other, my own county of Somerset and the county of Hampshire. The population distribution between urban and rural land, the weighted population as to young children and the present poundage in the rates, is almost exactly similar in both counties, yet the gain that is reckoned for Somersetshire is 15.7d., while the gain reckoned for Hampshire is 58.5d. As far as I can see Hampshire gets the larger gain because its land is worse, and consequently there is not nearly such a large sum to be met on account of the de-rating of agricultural land. The Minister of Health may say, "Friend, I do thee no wrong. Every county is guaranteed against loss." But these are questions which will be asked all over the country, and I must say that I do not see what logical explanation can be given.
There is another question not between county and county but within the county itself, and that is the apportionment of 495 the grant especially with regard to non-county boroughs and urban district councils. It seems that it presses exceedingly hard upon urban district councils which are the one authority that has no guarantee that its rates are not going to be raised. They are finding it out. I do not speak as one who has a personal grievance in any way, I do not live in an urban area, and I have no sort of interest in an urban area. But I want to see fair play. Here again a White Paper has been issued. It is rightly said that the figures are only tentative and must not be absolutetly relied upon. They are issued because much less trustworthy figures would have been issued in all directions. But these figures, such as they are, will attract attention and will be quoted all over the country, and you find some very startling examples as to how badly certain urban districts come off. If you look down the list in Cornwall, you find one urban district council after another which will eventually have a rise in rates. Rugby, Warwickshire, is another conspicuous instance. There you get a large increase of 1s. 6d., whereas the rural district council gets a decrease of between 3s. and 4s. It is very difficult to explain all these things. I shall have them brought up against me in my own Division. The borough loses 9d. on eventual apportionment, but its rural district all round it gains 2s. 4d. I cannot explain why this is so; it is not because of the formula, as that does not apply in this case. It is because of Part IV, the Fourth Schedule, which is a different proposition altogether, and which seems to me an arbitrary proposition too. I want to know what explanation I can give if I am asked by the blacksmith in the town why his rates should go up 9d., while the blacksmith living in a village two miles off finds his rates going down 2s. 4d. I am afraid the difficulty will be rather increased by something the Minister is reported to have said the other day. As it was at a Committee meeting upstairs, I do not want to say what I heard, because those meetings are understood to be private. I will simply quote from the "Times newspaper, which says:He asserted that, during the first five years, seven out of every 10 ratepayers 496 would gain, while the other three could lose nothing.
§ Sir R. SANDERS
Not in his speech. In his speech, he said the first year, but, according to this report in the "Times," he said the first five years. I do not think it is correct, but it is being quoted, and speeches are being made upon it all over the country. That is bound to do harm when it is found out; it is bound to give rise to false impressions. I am sure it is quite possible to get some re-arrangement. I do not want to back the urban districts against the rural districts, but I am quite sure it is possible to get some re-arrangements within the counties. You cannot get equality—no one expects that—but I do not think inequalities ought to be too glaring. What is wanted is more elasticity within the counties. I cannot give a cut-and-dried remedy, because I do not know exactly what is the cause of these inequalities. I fancy it is largely clue to particular districts having an abnormal amount of third class or unclassified roads. No account of that is taken in the terms, not of the formula, but of the formula which applies to this particular case.
The situation would be eased a great deal if we could have what has been asked for from more than one quarter, namely, a moratorium. I would like to see a moratorium for the next three years on the lines of the first year of the first quinquennium. That would give the boroughs and counties time to see how this thing was working out. If any re-arrangements were necessary, it would give them time and would also give the Government time to consider what rearrangements should be made, and how they should be made. It would also bring us over the next census which will take place before those three years are up. That is a big factor which will have to be taken into consideration in any new arrangements that may be made. I do not throw out this suggestion in any spirit of hostility. I am only putting the real difficulties under the Bill as they appear to me, speaking as a county Member. I believe it is a very big Bill and will do a great deal of good. I believe it will be a very popular Bill, and I 497 hope the Minister will not allow it to become unpopular on account of grievances such as I have mentioned.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The hon. and gallant Member for Luton (Captain O'Connor) ended his speech by saying that he could see no electoral value in this Measure and commending the Government for having brought forward a very dry and complex Bill solely out of a sense of public duty. I am not so sure about that. The sense of public duty only manifested itself a few months ago. We heard nothing about it before the last election, and it has now taken the form of asking a dying Parliament within its last few months to pass a Measure which the Minister himself describes as perhaps the greatest since 1834, which contains 116 Clauses and 12 Schedules, and which cannot get through unless the Closure is so ruthlessly applied that there can only be the faintest possible discussion upon only a fraction of its provisions. The hon. Member for Luton says that it has no electoral value, but I will put forward a guess as to what happened. In the early part of this year, the Liberal Yellow Book was published and set forth very clearly, through well-known world experts, the grievances of the necessitous areas, and it is quite possible that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very much impressed, and that what he wanted to do was to bring in a Measure that would remove the grievances in reference to these necessitous areas. But the Minister of Health has for long been obsessed with the idea of great local government reform. He circulated proposals very similar to those that are embodied in this Bill among the local authorities and the local authorities turned them down, mainly at the instigation of Conservatives. The Minister of Health thought that, if he could not get through his local government reform by itself, he would link it up with the electorally alluring de-rating proposals, and that it might thus get through. What has been the result? Though there are good points in the local government reform and in the de-rating proposals, yet in their union they neutralise each other. Perhaps I may apply to them a couplet I read in Tennyson a little while ago:Thou art mated to a clown,And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.One is damning the other.
498 The hon. and gallant Member for Luton says that he cannot understand why the Liberals are going to vote against the Bill, and he expended a great deal of time and ingenuity in trying to show it was impossible to draw a distinction between a prosperous and a non-prosperous concern. One of the real objections which we have had to these de-rating proposals since the beginning is that they are based upon a false distinction. There is no line which can be drawn between productive and distributive industries, for they are continuous processes. There is no line which can be drawn either on the basis of production between one needy concern and another. You have in one area producers and distributors both hard hit; you have in another area producers and distributors both doing well. What is the whole point about this de-rating agitation? It is this. You find areas in England containing three-fourths of our manual workers accounting for nine-tenths of our unemployment, and you find the rates soaring there. You have to recognise that the very soaring of the rates there had the effect of so raising the cost of production of articles which we exported that they lost their foreign market. The whole cry was: "Get us back our foreign markets by lightening the cost of production in these areas where we are catering for the foreign markets." The Liberal scheme says that the bad thing is not rates, hut high rates. It says that you can draw a line quite practicably all over the country. Below that line you will find the rates that are properly appropriated to local functions; the rates which go to pay for police, drainage, parks and everything else that is purely local. Above that line you will find in heaps and mounds throughout England immense pillars of those rates which are due entirely to national purposes. In these necessitous areas you have masses of the people rapidly coming together as they came under the joint influence of the industrial revolution and Free Trade in past years. They group together quickly. Houses are built. People have to be near their work. In these areas you naturally have congestion of population, high education charges, roads to be built and streets to be made, slums to be cleared and so on. 499 Even before the War these particular areas that sprang up in this way had a grievance. When the War came our foreign markets shrank through a variety of causes. Where was the shrinkage felt? In just those parts of England that supplied the foreign markets. What are those parts? Are they the places where there are breweries or where gramophones are made? No; the shrinkage was felt in the necessitous areas, and only there. As the markets shrank unemployment increased. The unemployment was thrown on the rates and up went the rates, and as the rates went up, up went the cost of production. So the vicious circle went round. The Chancellor of the Exchequer: in a glowing passage in his speech on the Budget, said: "These areas are a pestilence. Feeble industries die in them; vigorous industries fly from them; new industries shun them." Those were his own words.
The Liberal scheme, plain, with no variety of Acts of Parliament, no complexities and no formula, is simple. It is to go through the country and to say, "Show me the rates that are properly appropriate to local work, those that go to meet the requirements of something that is locally ordered, and show me the rates that are piled upon the residents of a locality by reason of an order that comes from Parliament." This House orders that the unemployed must be looked after, that the population must be educated and that there must be roads kept. These areas have to obey such orders. Liberals say that the cost of paying them is a national and not a local cost.
§ Captain FRASER
Is it not the case that the central Government definitely directs that a minimum police force shall be kept?
§ Mr. HARNEY
I dare say it does, and I should be very happy on another occasion to answer my hon. Friend, who is always very courteous, but really the interjection is not for the moment relevant. I am giving the things I have mentioned only as illustrations, and I am not tying myself to any hard-and-fast list of what is a truly local requirement and what is a truly national requirement. 500 What I say is that it is very easy to draw a line between them and to let the locality pay out of its finance for what is properly local and the nation to pay out of its finance for what is properly national. There is another big defect in regulating de-rating according to productive industry. You have to shut out of it, by so doing, all the shops and all the households. My own experience, I am sure, is the experience of many hon. Members. Take a distressed area. It is not only the producers that are hard hit. The shopkeepers live upon the wages that the men collect at the factories, and if the factories do not employ the men, or employ them half time, or employ them at small wages, the poor shopkeeper feels the pinch as much as anyone. I ask the Minister, who is going to benefit by this de-rating of productive industry? Let us look at it from every point of view that is possible. Certainly the wage earner will not benefit. The idea, of course, is to reduce costs by reducing one of the items that go into costs. It would be rather an absurd thing to say "We will reduce the item of rates in the cost, and increase the item of wages in the cost." It is not suggested that wages can be raised by the scheme.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I would like to hear it defended by argument. The next question, which was dealt with in the analytical and brilliant speech of the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) is, Will this de-rating absorb some of the unemployed men who now disfigure our streets? Let us see. Take the home market. There is a great deal of truth in what the right hon. Member for Seaham said jokingly about the coffins. The coffin makers unquestionably will get a portion of this subsidy, but nobody is going to say that that will increase the demand for coffins. What is true of the dead is equally true of the staff of life. I do not think that all the thousands that will go to the big machine bakeries will cause a demand for an additional loaf of bread. The one person that alone can benefit by a de-rating scheme is the exporter, and it was the view that it would help the exporter that suggested this idea at all. I agree that if your rate reduction enables you to sell at a lower cost and the fellow 501 at the other side of the waters keeps his price as it is now, you have an advantage. But there are two things to be considered. The first is, is the amount of relief that will go to these exporting areas sufficient to bridge the gap that now exists between the foreign buyer and the home seller? I do not believe it is. It certainly is not in coal or in shipbuilding or in ship repairing. So I am told by persons on the spot. The effect, in this case, of the subsidy you give will be exactly the same as it will be in the case of the coffin maker—it will go straight into his pocket and do good to no one else.
The question has been asked, Is it possible to give £25,000,000 and to get no benefit? It really is. I have recalled the attention of the House to the coal subsidy, and one cannot too strongly keep reminding the House of it. That was a subsidy originally intended to be limited to £10,000,000. It was given to owners in order that they could afford to pay their men a minimum wage and at the same time sell at a reduced price and keep the markets abroad. The people abroad said, "We are not going to be humbugged by a legislative trick of that kind. If our competitors, who are now seeking to filch from us the markets we have won, are enabled by virtue of a subsidy from Parliament to reduce their prices, we shall reduce ours." Down went their prices and down again went ours, until we had to cry a halt to the folly, after paying £24,000,000. In my district the price went down by 4s. 6d. a ton, fewer men were employed after the subsidy than before, and wages were pressed down. I say that the subsidy to be given under this Bill is futile. Of course it is a subsidy, and as such it will be challenged just as the coal subsidy was. There will be no more exporting done as a result of it. There is another question I wish to ask. The Chancellor of the Exchequer held forth, as one of the charms of the scheme, that it would stop the trek of industries from the necessitous areas. Take a necessitous area like mine, where the rates are 20s. in the £. Then take necessitous areas like Brentford, Slough, Hayes and Southall where the rates are less than 10s. in the £.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I apologise; I am now referring to prosperous areas. An article appeared in one of the big papers the other day by a special correspondent who went round England and studied this question. He mentions these particular towns in the South and Midlands, and he comes to this conclusion:I have noticed there hundreds of now factories springing up—not luxury factories either, but factories doing the very work that was the monopoly of Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire before the War.Why is that the case? It is because to pay 10s. is better than to pay the 20s. which is imposed on them in the other areas. Then the Minister says that the Government are reducing that 20s. down to 4s. 6d. That is true but they are also reducing the 10s. to 2s. 3d.; and the person about to start a new industry who would shy at 20s. to go to 10s. equally will shy at 4s. 6d. to go to 2s. 3d. and thus relatively the position is untouched. Contrast that with the Liberal scheme. The Liberal scheme would reduce the 20s. to 10s. and would leave the 10s. untouched. The reason the rate is 20s. on the North East coast and in the woollen and cotton centres and such districts, is because these are exporting districts and they suffer from unemployment and it is unemployment that puts up the rates. So much for de-rating.
Let me come to the local government part of the Measure. We must all recognise that the Minister is an expert on this subject and that he applies to it, not only an exceedingly brilliant intellect but also great sympathies. I have not the slightest doubt that if the right hon. Gentleman had his way many of the defects of the Measure would not be there, but the Bill as it stands is a compromise. The Minister had to give way in order to get it linked with its alluring—or thought to he alluring—sister. The Minister says the purpose is to break up the Poor Law. But you are not breaking up the Poor Law. You are leaving the internal administration of the Poor Law pretty well as it always has been, but you are changing the administrator and changing him for the worse. In my 503 own view destitution ought to be dealt with scientifically. Already, what somebody has described as that morass is drained to some extent by the various pension schemes. The pensions system takes a great deal away and if thoroughly developed would take away a great deal more. You have also health insurance which takes away a certain amount and which, when thoroughly developed, will do still more in that respect. The one thing you have never scientifically handled at all is the biggest problem of the lot, namely, the problem of able-bodied unemployment.
I do not know whether it has been done by design or not but it is a very remarkable thing that the able-bodied unemployed, the very class that ought never to be branded with the stigma of pauperism at all, are the very men on whom you are leaving that stigma. These are not "down-and-outs"; they are fine fellows, thrown out of work because of a policy or policies over which they have no control, and they are the class left under the Poor Law. How is unemployment dealt with to-day? You have, so to speak, two doors. Behind one door there is insurance benefit; behind the other there is Poor Law relief. Whatever the Government may say now about relieving the ratepayers, the whole of their policy during this Parliament has been to drive these unfortunate men from the door of honour, the unemployment benefit door, to the door of humiliation—to the guardians. It may be said that they have reduced by £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 the Government contribution towards unemployment but did the men do without that money? Of course they did not, but they got shamefacedly from the guardians what they ought to have been able to get proudly from the unemployment insurance scheme. Does the cutting down of extended benefit cut down the amount which the men are entitled to receive and which they will receive. Of course it does not. But it alters the door to which they go.
What is the result? Both the insurance scheme and Poor Law relief have been broken down by the process. You have guardians burdened with debts which they have no chance of paying, amounting to £6,000,000, and you have the insurance scheme only saved from solvency by a Government grant of £30,000,000. What is the remedy? I am sorry to have to men- 504 tion the Liberal party so often, because it may be thought that I am taking purely a party view, though I am not doing so. The remedy is the one put forward by the experts who have studied this question and published their conclusions in the Yellow Book. The remedy is to lift the whole of able-bodied unemployment off local finance altogether and put it straight away on the Exchequer. You have now the machinery in the Employment Exchanges whereby 1,000,000 men receive money throughout the year. What is the use of saying that you cannot administer Government money through the Employment Exchanges, when you have only to add a few hundreds of thousands to the million you are already paying through that channel. That is the simple way to do it.
Then with your pensions scheme further developed, with health insurance further developed, with unemployment co-ordinated and brought into one simple scheme and financed from the Exchequer, what is left? There is the residue of the poor, the halt and the blind and, in regard to them, what is the use of talking about enlarging areas? The persons to deal with that poor residuum are men and women with intimate knowledge, who can bring to bear the human touch and you want no enlarging of units and no elaborate machinery for the appointment of committees to take the place of guardians. With all the heavy weight taken off, and only these poor dregs left, believe me the small localities would be the best areas from which to select people, popularly, by some form of vote, to look after the kind of work that would then be necessary. I agree that to a mind like the right hon. Gentleman's, orderly and mathematical, there is a great deal to be said for having the large area. But England has evolved itself into counties. It is not like Australia. It is not like a new country which is divided up at a desk according to size and population. The counties of England have evolved themselves through all sorts of accidents and you cannot lay down a general rule for the counties. Take the case of Durham for example. It is said that if we enlarge, we shall spread the distress of one locality over the whole; but in Durham you are spreading the distress among the distressed.
§ Mr. HARNEY
In Glamorgan it is the same. Instead of having one distressful area you get a whole distressful county. What is more, you withdraw from contributing towards the relief of that distress the very richest and strongest contributors, namely, the big producers. The result in a place like Durham is that your plan will add new and intolerable burdens to village shopkeepers, to householders and to farmers who have to pay on their buildings. As regards county boroughs like South Shields what is the use of talking about enlarging them when the borough is a unit in itself like South Shields? If the unit is bigger than the county borough then, instead of enlarging, you narrow the unit.
Is the Minister really serious in saying that he is substituting block grants for percentage grants? Is that really what the Government are doing. You still have percentage grants in connection with education and the police. You have also block grants already. What you are doing is this. You are converting the health services from the present percentage grant system to the block grant system and the effect will be to compel the councils either to stint health services or raise the rates. Where there are hard-hit areas they will riot have the courage to raise the rates and, in the result, the health services will suffer. The President of the Board of Education tried this method in reference to education and the local authorities would not have it. Though education is important I would ask the Minister with all earnestness, is not preserving infant life and warding off the ravages of terrible diseases even more important?
I wish to say a few words on the effect of the combined operation of these Measures. We must look at this scheme not as it is at the start-off, but, at its completed form, as it will be 15 years hence. I have a shrewd suspicion that the Government at first intended to introduce it in its completed form, but found that this would create too much uproar throughout the country. What will it be in its completed form? The Minister of Health, so to speak, withdraws certain grants amounting on estimate to £16,000,000 throughout the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer deprives the local authorities of £24,000,000 on estimate. That is to say the local authorities are deprived of £40,000,000 between 506 the two. The local authorities are entitled to get that back and it was promised to them that they would get it back. The whole scheme adumbrated in the Budget was this: What we are depriving you local authorities of, you will get back, not out of the taxpayers' pocket, but out of the petrol users' pocket, but you will get it back. Now what happens? They add £5,000,000 to the £40,000,000, and £3,000,000 of that £5,000,000 comes out of the Road Fund, and if it did not the local authorities would have it. This £45,000,000 is distributed, not as taken, but as needed, and the need is found out by a formula that was analysed yesterday.
Does not it necessarily follow that if you take £45,000,000 from all ratepayers throughout the country and redistribute it, not to the rating authorities from which you took it, but over the whole country, giving more to the needy than to the prosperous, the prosperous areas must get higher rates? There is no answer to that, and it is because there was no answer to it that the Minister found it impossible to bring in the scheme originally in its completed form. He knew at once. Why, nine out of 10 of the constituencies that vote Conservative are in prosperous areas, and Conservatives are not returned by necessitous areas; they are in prosperous areas.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The first thing I want the House to appreciate is this. Is not that really a breach of what was promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? If you had told the people in the first instance, "We are going to take £45,000,000 that now would be collected by the local authorities, 16,000,000 coming from London and £24,000,000 from the areas, but we will not give it back to you; we will use what we have taken from you as a. fund with which to water the dry places throughout the country," I think you would have had a very strong feeling indeed expressed throughout the country. It seems to me to be very nearly a breach of faith not to give that money back to the people from whom you take it. The whole trumpet-call that heralded in this scheme was that the taxpayer was generously coming to the relief of hard-hit industries. Is he? Who is coming to their relief? 507 His brother ratepayer. Who make up £40,000,000 of the £45,000,000 that is to be redistributed to the needy ratepayers? The other ratepayers. It is they who make up 43,000,000 of it, because again I say that the £3,000,000 of the Road Fund is taken from the local authorities, because it would have reached them if it were not raided from the Fund; and so the whole provision of the British Government, after all this loud trumpeting of their generosity, is 2,000,000—no more.
Since the Government had not the audacity to put it forth in its completed form at first, they administered it by instalments. The first instalment is made up in this way. You put the £40,000,000 into a pool, you give back 75 per cent. of it as taken, and that leaves £10,000,000 in the pool. You add to that £10,000,000, the Government £5,000,000, and that puts £15,000,000 in the pool. You ladle out the £15,000,000 under your formula. I could, if I had time—and I will on the Committee stage—have a good deal to say about the many absurdities of that formula, but I do not believe there was a man, not even the Minister himself, with all his clearness of head, who was able to tell how that second ladling would fill up the gap of 25 per cent. that was left after the first 75 per cent. was filled. They got someone in the Department, some of the senior wranglers, to work out in reference to each constituency how they would fare under the 75 per cent. plus the formula, and then they found startling results. They found Rochdale, with a cotton industry, full of workers hard-hit, useful, getting back £38,000 less than it parted with, and Brighton, a pleasure loving city, with no industry, inhabited by persons who are not making but spending money, getting a present of £38,000 1 Seaside towns, residential towns, cathedral towns, all the towns of those who wear silk hats and patent boots—these get the money; but go to your textile towns in Lancashire, and they are all hard-hit. By accident, my poor town of South Shields does fairly well at the start, because miners are fond of children, though in most cases where persons are hard up they cut down their families.
When this astonishing result was found by experimentally working out 508 the formula, what did the Department do? I cannot fancy the present Minister of Health, because he is too straightforward, but I can fancy that somebody there might say to the Department, "Well, well, well, this is shocking. A big mound of wealth for Brighton, a huge hole for Rochdale, and so on all over the country." I can fancy him saying, "Look here, work out how much golden cement is necessary to fill up all the holes"; and I can imagine the Department saying, "I would not be surprised if a couple of millions would do that." Then I can imagine him saying, "It is coming near election time and we want a little bit of electoral isinglass on the top. Tell me how much more is wanted to give them a shilling a head all through the country." A shilling a head, mark you. Why was not it straightforwardly said, "A shilling a head translated in terms of reduction of rate is a farthing or a halfpenny" I But it looks so well saying "A shilling a head," and they said, "About £2,500,000 will do this job of filling up the holes." So you have another pool of £2,500,000 formed, which is used to right the faults of the formula—taxpayers' money brought over for no purpose that I can see, other than making a scheme that is proved to be defective apparently flawless when it is put before the electorate. That is your second pool. At each quinquennium all the effects that I have mentioned are accentuated.
Is it right, at this eleventh hour, to foist upon a huge electorate, enlarged recently by 5,000,000, a scheme of this kind, with a few months to discuss it, to rush it headlong through, when only men like myself and others in this House whose duty it is to analyse and dissect and read the literature about it are capable of grasping it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I have tried to understand it, and I think I do, and I give every other hon. Member credit for having done the same. The contrast I am drawing is between Members of the House and the unfortunate public outside, without these advantages, who are to be affected. I have no hesitation in saying that I shall vote against the Bill. I believe that the Liberal suggestion is plain, simple, and far more effective, and the alternative has already been worked out and can be read; but since the Bill, I suppose, will be carried on Second 509 Reading, we will do our beat to shape their material into some sort of decent clothes. It is not our Bill, it is theirs; it is not, what we would do, but we will do our best to make theirs presentable.
§ Sir DOUGLAS NEWTON
As one of those who has had the privilege of hearing the whole of the Debate, I will not take up much of the time of the House by making a long speech, because I realise how many other hon. Members there are who wish to say a few words on the Bill. I think the Debate has made one point clear to the House. That is that in every quarter Members are dissatisfied with the present position of the Poor Law in this country. If we start with that assumption, it enables us to realise and appreciate the great efforts which are being made by the Minister of Health and the courage which he has shown in bringing forward such a comprehensive and far-reaching Measure. The fundamental essence of this Bill is to spread the burden of community services over, as wide an area as practicable, and to make fuller use of the institutions in the country which have been erected for the public benefit and out of public funds. I desire, however, to ask for the indulgence of the House to offer a caveat as to the necessity for making adequate provision in this Bill to safeguard the special interests of certain non-county boroughs.
So far as the area which I have the honour to represent is concerned, the Bill places my borough in a most unsatisfactory position, and I respectfully desire to draw the attention of the Minister to it and to ask him for some assurance that he will take steps to meet the special difficulties which have arisen. I believe that this case is uncommon, although probably there may be some other areas which are affected in the same way, though to a somewhat lesser degree. In the administrative area of the Cambridgeshire County Council, there is only one town, namely, Cambridge. The population of the town and that of the county area are almost evenly balanced. The town of Cambridge, as has been done long ago in the case of Oxford, would in ordinary circumstances have been made a county borough, and have obtained the advantages which accrue from that status, 510 had A not been that its creation as a county borough would have entailed paralysing local county government. As a result, Cambridge has had to suffer, and, although it is a large and important urban area, it still remains under the control of the county council, a body which is almost entirely rural in character.
Under the new assessment, the rateable value of the county will materially fall, and the rateable value of the borough will increase and become much in excess of that of the county. Under the old assessment the rateable value of the county was £319,000. In future, as far as one can gather from the figures of the new assessment at present available, it will be £227,300, a reduction of 29 per cent. On the other side of the picture, the old rateable value of the borough was £442,000, and under the new valuation the figure will rise to £568,000 or an increase of 2S per cent. While the change in assessment has nothing to do with the Bill, yet under the proposals of this Measure the borough will find in the future some 69 to 70 per cent. of any rate which is levied. I was accordingly much interested to hear the Minister say in his speech that it was essential that the body which provides the money should retain financial control. That is exactly what the borough of Cambridge does not get, for the county council is composed of 20 representatives from the borough and 28 from county areas, so the control of expenditure rests with the county and not with the borough representatives. It rests, in short, with those who are resident outside the borough boundary.
I suggest that under the altered circumstances this will prove an unsatisfactory, and in fact an intolerable position in which to place the borough, and hope that a remedy will be found to meet the difficulty. If it he impossible for Cambridge to become a. county borough, surely it is possible to see that it is given control of the expenditure of the money which it raises This is an important matter, for it is only natural that urban and rural interests do not see eye to eye in regard to various services. In the question of the development of higher education, although a grant is given by the county council, of which the borough finds some 60 per cent., so keen is the borough to see the further development of higher educa- 511 tion, that it raises a special borough rate and adds another £400 per annum out of its own pocket to add to that grant. I instance this to show the different points of view which exist in an important question like education between urban and rural localities. I have carefully considered various steps which might be taken to ameliorate the unsatisfactory position which arises in such an acute form under this Bill. I regret that the borough is debarred from obtaining the only real solution that would prove wholly satisfactory to it, namely, to be made a county borough; but as it is prevented from having that remedy until it reaches the statutory limit of population of 75,000, other methods must be adopted if the difficulty is to be overcome.
In the Act of 1888 provision is made, although I believe that the power has never been exercised, to readjust the representation of local government areas, and 1 would ask the Minister if he could see his way to give me some assurance that he will be willing to exercise these powers, so as to ensure justice and fair play under this Bill to Cambridge. In doing this, I particularly ask him to consider the possibility and advantage of giving some special representation to the University on the county council, in the same way and in the same proportionate degree as the University now has special representation upon the borough council. If I am mistaken and the Minister has not this special power under the Act of 1888, I hope that he will be able to give me some assurance that he will obtain special powers to enable him to deal with this hardship.
Speaking from the general point of view, I hope that we shall not look at this great question of the reform of the Poor Law from the point of view of how it affects each parish and each hamlet, because, just as in 1888 the foundations were laid upon which the Poor Law and great public services were built, foundations which have stood the test of time in a most wonderful way and to a remarkable degree, so I hope that under this Bill we are now laying foundations for the continued advancement of the Poor Law and other public services, 512 which will remain long after we ourselves have gone.
§ Mr. J. PALIN
I am not going to follow the previous speaker into the realm of finance, because that part of the question has been particularly well covered from this side. When the full effect of the Measure is realised, particularly in business circles, there will be a much bigger outcry against it than there is at the present time. When the relief to industry is worked out in the amount that it will mean on a yard of cloth, I fancy that the textile industry will be in revolt, because it will bring it down to what my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Longbottom) described as an infinitesimal atom. It is doubtful whether it will amount even to that, because when they take into consideration the extra rates which they will have to pay on their warehouses and distributing machinery, which are not de-rated, and the extra rates which they will have to pay on their private residences, it is questionable whether even that atom will be left.
I would like to address myself to the changes that will be made in local government. Having had some experience in local administration, what has struck me is the hurried and altogether slipshod way in which the powers of the boards of guardians are to be transferred to another authority without any change being made in some of the worst laws that disgrace our Statute Book. One would have thought that such a Measure as the Act of Settlement would have been swept away. Thousands of pounds of public money have been wasted by local authorities fighting each other to determine who was responsible for the maintenance of some poor person. This Act, which was passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth of blessed memory, is responsible for more vagrancy than any other factor in the country. While the Minister may complain that there is very little interest taken in the election of boards of guardians, I doubt whether there will be much change in that direction in the election of the county councils. As a matter of fact, the boards of guardians elections in many districts were so arranged as to make them of very little interest. Great reliance is being placed upon the fact that some of the guardians may be co-opted on the new bodies, but the very few people who take an active part in the work of the 513 boards of guardians will be still fewer when the work is transferred to the county councils. In fact, I am afraid that in the administration of the Poor Law it will be as though appointed guardians had been placed in command of the administration in a great many districts, for it will devolve very largely upon the relieving officers, who are responsible to no one except the Minister.
I feel that there will be general support from all local authorities for the plea put forward by the hon. Member for the Sutton Divison of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), that the percentage grant should be continued for the maternity and child welfare services. I am satisfied, as a. result of experience gained in the administration of these services, that the block grant will slow up, if not entirely stop, development even in the most progressive places, and in the backward places no start will be made. The percentage grant has done a great deal to foster these institutions. They should be continued, because we are beginning to feel the great benefit which these medical services are bringing, particularly with regard to the care of infants. In the city of Bradford, where I have the honour of a seat on the city council, we have just closed a school for the instruction of blind children. About six years ago we had some hundred or more children in that school. To-day we have had to close it, because there were only six requiring special instruction. As a result of the infant welfare work in eliminating ophthalmia neonatorum there is very little blindness now. We have reaped the benefit of this very beneficent work, and to carry it on will mean a very real economy in other directions. Money spent on preventing blindness is put to far better use than all the charitable contributions which the public pour out for the care of blind people. Clause 13, if it goes into the Bill, will also have a detrimental effect upon all the health services coming under the supervision of the Minister. I feel that the local authorities ought to have power to recover money, but that it should not be made obligatory upon them to try to recover it. In his explanatory statement the Minister says:Under the Poor Law there is an obligation on boards of guardians where possible to recover the whole or part of the cost of relief from the recipients or from persons 514 liable to maintain them. Public authorities, while they have the power to secure recovery in this way, are under no obligation to recover the cost of assistance given by them under their tuberculosis, maternity and child welfare schemes, and the practice differs in different parts of the country.I do not see the need for the uniformity to which the Minister refers. As a matter of fact, powers similar to those given under Section 132 of the Public Health Act, 1875, and Section 58 of the Bradford Corporation Act, 1925, would give the local authorities all that is necessary to prevent imposition. The Public Health Act, 1875, says:Any expense incurred by a local authority in maintaining in a hospital or in a temporary place for the reception of the sick, whether or not belonging to such authority, a patient who is not a pauper, shall he deemed to be a debt due from such person to the local authority, and may be recovered from him at any time within six months after his discharge from such hospital or place of reception, or from his estate in the event of his dying in such hospital or place.Section 58 of the Bradford Corporation Act, 1925, extends the period for the recovery of the money to 12 months. As a matter of fact, Clause 13 of this Bill is worse than the Poor Law Act of 1927, because under that the recovery of relief by way of loan is given as a power and not as a duty, and Section 47 of that Act gives the power to recover from a friendly society annuity or periodical payment, while Section 13 here gives no such power. It is a matter for consideration whether at a future stage such power ought not to be included in Clause 13, because I find by my experience that a great deal of money is recovered in that way.
It is undesirable to have in one institution two classes of patients, the Poor Law sick and the public health sick. They are all citizens and they are all sick. The same argument would apply to blind persons and people requiring treatment for tuberculosis. Even if this Clause were deleted altogether, would it matter very much? There is nothing free. It is all nonsense to talk about people getting free treatment; they have to pay for it through their rates and taxes. It is a question whether it should not be equally distributed, each one paying his share. There are, of course, mean and greedy people who would take more out of the public funds than they are entitled to, 515 and I suppose we ought to have power to prevent such people imposing on the community, but I cannot agree with the Minister that uniformity is at all desirable. It has taken a great deal of time to work out a satisfactory scheme for the recovery of money for these services, and elasticity is desirable to allow each local authority to have the system which would secure what is necessary without a lot of hardship. While the amount recovered in individual cases is large, the total does not amount to a great deal in the aggregate. The municipal hospital of Bradford cost £100,000 last year. The total recovered from patients was £6,391 9s. 1d., and the cost of recovering it amounted to£450,000. It will be seen that not quite 6 per cent. was recovered from patients. It seems to me that under the present law the Ministry have more power for good, so far as these services are concerned, than they will have under this Bill. At the present time any local authority preparing a scheme which is to carry a grant from the Exchequer has to lay the whole scheme before the Ministry and secure their approval. On the Poor Law side the Ministry have in their employ some very curious people, some very reactionary people; but, so far as I can judge of their public health work, I am bound to pay my tribute to the excellent advice we have received from time to time from the medical men in the service of the Ministry. The Ministry can now do more to mould these schemes on the best and most economical lines than they will be able to do under this Bill. I do not think Clause 86 gives them power equivalent to that which they have now. At present the Minister has to be satisfied with the scale of charges before approving the scheme. I think the Bill ought to be severely amended if the work is to be undertaken enthusiastically by local authorities and if the country is to get the best out of the Measure.
I am inclined to the opinion that the Minister of Health, instead of settling the whole question of local government and rating reform, is starting a whole series of Measures which will have to come before this House, and it will be a great many years before a final solution of this problem is arrived at. I believe for the moment the right hon. Gentleman is disturbing the whole system 516 of local government in such a way that it is going to be very difficult in the future to get a really efficient system which will have the enthusiastic support of those public-spirited people who are now doing very valuable work in carrying out the work of local authorities. For these reasons, I hope the Minister of Health will seriously consider what has been advanced from the point of view of local authorities although I fear, if he meets all the objections which has been raised by his own supporters, there will be very little left of this Bill.
§ Mr. HURD
I wish to put before the House the point of view of the smaller local authorities who will be very seriously affected by this Bill. There is no doubt whatever that no fundamental change in the local government of this country, and certainly no fundamental change of this sort, can be successful without the goodwill and hearty cooperation of those who have given such devoted services on the smaller local authorities. It is vital that they should not be asked to enter upon any new scheme unless they have a desire to make it a success from the point of view of efficient local government. As the representative of a rural constituency, I am naturally deeply concerned, and I am very grateful that this Bill is going to lift the rates from agricultural land. From the agricultural point of view, it is also gratifying to know that there will be some relief in the industrial areas. We believe that this benefit to agriculture and to industry might be knit up with a really helpful reform of the whole system of local administration.
May I speak first of one point that goes to the root of the finance of the Bill. We have had from the Minister of Health a distinct statement which has been published in the Press and broadcast throughout the country, to the effect that out of every 10 ratepayers seven will gain during the first five years, and as to the other three they will not lose. That security is very much desired and welcomed. I want to ask if that security will be put into the Bill. If the Parliamentary Secretary is not prepared to give me an answer now, I hope, when he replies to the Debate, he will say quite definitely that this assurance which was given so freely by the Minister of Health is to be made a part of 517 this Measure. This assurance has been broadcast throughout the country. I hold in my hand a statement which has been issued from the head office of the Conservative party, in which they say:Mr. Neville Chamberlain has already declared that during the first five years of the scheme seven out of every 10 ratepayers will gain, while the other three out of the ten will lose nothing.I cannot find that in the Bill, and I am anxious to know that it will be there.
I have been engaged all day in conferences with representatives of the smaller authorities from various parts of England and Wales dealing with the details of this Bill which they find extremely difficult to appreciate. One of the most difficult points is the question of the special rates. They are afraid that under the Bill as it stands the smaller authorities will be in an impossible position in regard to sewage schemes and other matters of that sort, where the burden will fall more and more upon the smaller authorities. I shall be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will deal with that point, which is very much in the minds of the smaller authorities. They want an assurance on that point corresponding to that which the Minister has given in regard to the general rate position.
With regard to the question of the roads, we have heard from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Transport that the roads provision in this Bill implement the recommendations of the Onslow Commission. That is not the fact. It is a misunderstanding to say that the road provisions in this Bill carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. There is a great difference between the recommendations of the Commission and the proposals of this Bill. In the report of the Executive of the Rural District Councils Association, they say:The important difference between the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the proposals in the Bill is that, under the former, delegation would be compulsory and general, the only exception being where the county council could prove that it would be undesirable in the case of an individual council, whilst under the latter delegation would have to be fought for by every district council and might be denied, not on the grounds stated by the Royal Commission, but on a mere theory as to the possible economic effect in the county as a whole.518 That is a point to which the executive gave their assent to-day. The rural district councils feel that if they are to be no longer highway authorities they should retain their powers of maintaining sold improving roads on the lines of the proposals which had the assent of the Royal Commission.
This is a highly complicated Measure and is exciting the greatest interest in every part of England and Wales. Most unfortunately, for reasons which I do not understand, it has not been found possible to give local authorities and individuals throughout the country adequate time to consider the implications of a great Measure of this sort. The Bill was only placed in our hands a few days ago, but since that time various authorities have been sending hurried deputations up to London to confer and try to reach some conclusions. To-day the Rural District Councils Association Executive have been in conference all day. The county councils up and down the country have been discussing this Measure. The Non-County Boroughs Association will consider the Bill tomorrow. The point I want to put is whether it is fair to these people who devote their lives to the public service on local bodies that in regard to a scheme of this sort they should not be given ample time to consider it in its fullest implications. It is because of that that the executive council of the Rural District Councils Association of England and Wales drew up this letter which has been sent to the Minister of Health:The executive council of my association have given such careful consideration to the above Bill as the short time at their disposal permits, and they have prepared a report which will he published in a few days. Without discussing here the strong objections which the executive council take to many of the provisions of the Bill the executive council are of opinion that in view of the magnitude of the changes proposed it will be extremely difficult between the passing of the Bill and the 1st April, 1930, to bring all its provisions into operation by that date, and suggest that the parts of the Bill, other than de-rating, should not come into operation till the 1st April, 1931. This will give authorities the benefit of considering the practical effects of de-rating, and thus enable a better view of the situation to be taken in considering the revision of areas of county districts. The amount of work involved will absorb the energies of local authorities to such an extent that they 519 and their officers will be severely hampered in carrying on the ordinary administration.That is a statement made by men who are most anxious that the municipal life of England should be efficient. They are most anxious that nothing should be done which afterwards may be regretted, and I commend to the Minister the suggestions contained in that letter.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I have sat in this House now for some time, and have heard many Bills introduced. This Bill is not a Bill in the ordinary sense of the term; it is a revolution in the local administrative life of the country and in local finance. I once remember hearing the Minister's father speak on the subject of local government, and he said that, the greater the responsibility that was placed upon people in local areas, with full power to deal with their own problems, the better statesmanship and the better government there would be. What do we find now? After a couple of generations, the successor of that great man comes along and reverses the doctrine, and practically informs us, all and sundry, that we do not know our own business, and that clever people who never did any of this kind of business are going to tell us all about it.
I come from a district that has often been pilloried in this House, on the theories held by people opposed to us. West Ham has always been a kind of scapegoat for the clever people who do not know anything whatever about the conditions under which people in places like West Ham have to live. What is our position going to be? We are specially singled out. Here is a Bill which is supposed to treat everybody alike, which is supposed to deal out evenhanded justice to all parties concerned, whether ratepayers or local representatives; and how are we being treated? West Ham is the seventh largest borough in Great Britain, and it is being insulted by this Bill. We are being told that we are not going to have the right to elect our own local representatives under the scheme laid down in the Bill. We are told that for a period we are going to be kept in penal servitude under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary—or rather, not under his guidance, because he is not the boss; he is only the mouthpiece, the loud speaker.
520 This is our position under the Bill. Although every other county borough in the country will have the right, after this Bill becomes an Act, to elect people to represent it from the standpoint of local administration when all these services are supposed to be co-ordinated, we are going to be kept in durance vile; we are told that we have not brains enough to run our own place, and that it is to be run for us. By whom? By retired civil servants with big pensions—people who know as much about the poor as a Connemara pig knows about astronomy. They are going to remain practially in perpetual office. The guardians of the poor! The robbers of the poor! They are treating the poor as though they were dirt, and I suppose that is the idea of giving them the right to continue in office until 1935, God willing—I hope the people will not.
Again, there is the great scheme of de-rating. My constituency, generally speaking, from an administrative point of view, is a poor constituency. But if hon. Members opposite, who look upon West Ham as a sort of plague-spot, will refer to the Stock Exchange returns, they will find that West Ham, poor as it is, has a lower debt per head than the great metropolitan area of London. The London County Council's stock stands lower in the Stock Exchange list than that of poor old West Ham. That is because we have tried as far as possible to keep away from borrowing, and, in trying to deal with local administration, have spent money out of revenue, and have not been always going cap in hand to the bank. The result is that, relatively speaking, our rates are high, but our debt per head is low. What is this scheme going to do for us?
I do not want to mention names—"No names, no pack drill!"—but the facts are well known. You can go from the Iron Bridge at Canning Town, right down to North Woolwich, all along the northern side of the river, and you will not find a factory along that riverside that is not paying a dividend now. We have gone through a bad period of trade, and some of them are not doing as well as they used to do, but they are doing fairly well now. To prove that they are doing well, one of them has appointed Lord Birkenhead a director. If they want ornaments, they will have to buy them. Right along 521 the riverside there, all the firms are doing fairly well. Some of them are doing exceptionally well. One paid a dividend this year of 35 per cent. That is nothing to grumble about, is it? Although, however, they are doing fairly well, all of them are going to have 75 per cent. of their rates knocked off. But what is going to happen to the small shopkeeper in the back street? We do not trouble our heads much about him except for political purposes, but I would remind the House that he is closely related to, and often is one of, the very people who work in the docks or in the factory. His wife looks after the shop while he goes stevedoring or docking. He will have to pay the full rates, and no relief will come his way; and so will the ordinary workman. If the assessments are increased, as they are being increased under the new Act, it means that rents will go up, and even one of our principal opponents in West Ham has admitted that the average increase in rents in West Ham, as a consequence of the new scheme of assessment, will range anywhere between ½d. and 1s. 6d. per week. What is the good of telling these people that the factories are going to have 75 per cent. of their rates knocked off, when a man who works in the docks or gets a precarious living by keeping a small shop in a back street has to pay up to 1s. 6d. extra in rent in order to make up the deficiency?
Then I should like to refer to the case of West Ham in another respect. Under this scheme, as I understand it, the county borough will become the board of guardians, and will be responsible for Poor Law administration in the future. The situation of West Ham is peculiar. The union used to consist of eight parishes. In addition to West Ham, the largest parish and the largest industrial centre, we had East Ham, Leyton, Walthamstow, Leytonstone, Woodford and Wanstead. Now seven of the eight parishes are going to be cut away from West Ham. West Ham is a city of the poor. Up to the present time there has been a fairly good understanding between the various parishes, but now automatically they are going to be cut off, and in West Ham, again, the poor will have to keep the poor. Our rateable value will be cut down, because the great manufacturers will not have to pay in the future 522 what they have paid in the past. Who is going to make up the difference?
Another question that I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary, who is going to reply—if he will condescend to reply to anything that I may say—is, what about the institutions? We have only one institution in our own area that was in existence before the introduction of this Bill. When this Bill becomes an Act, most of the institutions will be automatically placed outside our area. Where do we stand in connection with those institutions? Shall we have to build a new workhouse because the old workhouse is not within our own area, but goes into the area of another authority? Will they have to take charge of the institution, and how do we stand in regard to getting a new one? Our infirmary, also, is outside our own boundary; what is going to happen as regards the responsibility for its maintenance? It is one of the finest in the country. Poor as we are, we have done our best to see to it that, so far as our powers will allow, the best treatment is given to the sick poor, and our institutions will compare favourably with any hospital in the country. What will happen to us there? Shall we be called upon to build a new infirmary because the old one is outside our purview and not under our control? What will be our financial relationship to these authorities outside our own localities? These questions will not be answered in detail. We do not expect them to be, but we hope before the Bill is placed on the Statute Book that we shah get an understanding as to where local authorities stand in connection with these great responsibilities.
Then there is the question of the unemployed. Automatically now, without regard to what may happen in the future, every day hundreds of men are being disqualified from benefit at the Employment Exchanges. I am getting sick and tired of sending in complaints, because I get almost always the same stereotyped reply. They come to my house, and they see my wife when I am not at home. She was a member of the old guardians. Automatically, people are being disqualified even from receiving Poor Law relief. They have been told, "You can have an order to the house," and the people who give that instruction know 523 very well that there is no room in the house. It is already full up. But, banking on the possibility of refusal, they say "We have no responsibility in the matter. The applicant has refused an order to the house." They have been disqualified from unemployment benefit, and they are refused outdoor relief. What is to happen to them? The poor have to help the poor. The able-bodied son or daughter has to go and plant himself on the father, who is earning very scanty money. It is all part of a system, a calculated system of brutality, and this Bill is introduced for the purpose of maintaining and developing it. If they think that they are going to carry it through without a fight, I hope it keeps fine for them. We are not going to stand for this sort of thing. It is not reform of the Poor Law, it is not reform of local admininstration; it is simply an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the people before they begin to understand exactly its implications. It is not peculiar. It is part of a policy. If the Bill were really necessary, it should have been the first Measure that the Government introduced.
I have been a member of a board of guardians for a period and an inmate of a workhouse before that, and. I have been in other institutions kept by His Majesty as well. I know them all, both from the standpoint of being an inmate and an administrator. The people who drew up this Bill have never had any experience of administration either from outside or inside. We shall amend the Bill if possible, though I think it is really beyond the possibility of Amendment. In places like the East End of London, we have faced the burden until now. Relief is not going where it is wanted. It is going where it is not needed, and it is no wonder that they are throwing bouquets at the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for bringing it in. They can always get what they want. They can always put the screw on; we cannot. When we do anything to help our own people we are charged in West Ham by hon. Members opposite with giving relief indiscriminately to people who do not want it. What are you doing here? To give 1s. or 2s. a week to a man with a family was looked on as corruption, and our guardians were defaulters and 524 treated as criminals. What are you doing? You are giving away millions of public money to people who are not in need of it. We are told in places like West Ham that if we give a job to a non-unionist we are guilty of an act against the public interest. What are you doing? You give them pensions and jobs on top of it, and we are not supposed to ask any question about it. We are going to fight this Bill every inch of the way. We know before we start that we are beaten by the strength of the votes in the House.
§ Mr. JONES
I am not certain, but I have my ideas. I am confident that when the people of the country know all that the Bill means they will be on our side against those who have brought it in. I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney). I agree with almost everything that he said, but I would remind him that, even before the days of the Liberal party taking such a great interest in these social problems, some of us—I have been at it for 37 years—were advocating the same thing that he has suggested to-night, that national responsibilities should be nationally borne. Such questions as Poor Law, education, and things that could be described as national should be borne as national responsibilities, and no longer placed on the shoulders of the local authorities. At that time, we were in the wilderness. All the big towns were against us, and, when we went to meetings of the Poor Law Association and the Municipal Corporations Association and other authorities with which we were connected, and moved those resolutions asking the Government to make national responsibilities really national, and leave to the local people only those things that could properly be described as local, we were sneered at by some people who to-day have come round to our side, because they find themselves in the cart now, as we were in the cart then. Eighty of the large cities and towns are in the same position as West Ham was in 30 years ago. We had to fight the battle on our own. Even the most reactionary politicians sometimes learn sense.
We in West Ham have been pilloried long enough. We resent this perpetual attack on us. Here we are singled out 525 again in this Bill. Are you not satisfied with the punishment you have already meted out to some of our people? You have told them practically that they are unfit to administer the law, and now in this Bill you want to perpetuate the scandal. We challenge you, if you have any charge to make against our people, to take them into Court and prove where they have done wrong, where they have committed any offence against public decency and national order. They have not done anything. Their only crime is that they have been sympathetic to the poor. They helped the poor, because they understood their needs. These people come along now, and we get stereotyped replies, and we are referred to the officials. I am not going to trust these people. I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts. All the actions of the Government up to the present have been in the direction of reaction. We may not be able to alter the Bill, but we will show the people outside, who are the masters of the situation, that the Government are not dealing seriously with the problem. It is simply creating a barrier against those who may succeed them—salting the earth against their successors, whoever they may be. We do not know what may happen at the next election, but we have hopes. I am an optimist, but I do not spell it always with an "h."
I ask the House to realise that this Bill, big as it is, is very small in reality. It is an attempt to restore pariah pump politics in opposition to the great mass of the workers of this country. It is an attempt to make reaction more powerful in the future than it has been in the past. But I think that it is being introduced at the wrong time. The people are just beginning to awaken to a sense of their power and responsibility, and, when the opportunity presents itself, I am absolutely confident that the overwhelming mass of the people of this country will reject the legislation for which this Bill is responsible, and also reject the legislators who are responsible for it.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I am sure the House always listens with great pleasure to the speeches of the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), but I cannot help thinking that, although we all admire and like him very much, he was a little ungrateful to-night, because, if he will look in the White Paper, he will find that 526 West Ham stands to gain not only by having its industries de-rated, but stands to gain not less than 31 pennies per head of the population. I do not think that the hon. Member will refuse. I think that West Ham will be very pleased with what it can get. I would like to turn for a few moments to some of the very interesting remarks which were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb). As far as I can understand, he criticised the financial part of the Bill, but appeared to be very disappointed that the coffin industry will not have enough. I am afraid he must have overlooked the words of the Amendment moved by the Labour party, because it says:A proposal calculated to increase the already high mortality amongst mothers.I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham cannot agree with that part of their Amendment. I want for a few minutes to turn to health services. I think that one of the most interesting parts of our discussion on this Bill has been in regard to block grants as opposed to percentage grants. As far as I can make out, the argument appears to be that by percentage grants local authorities are encouraged to spend money, and rightly, because they will get so much of it back from the Treasury. As a matter of fact, though you may get 75 per cent. or 50 per cent. from the Treasury, the amount that the local authority in a distressed area may have to find may be a very onerous burden. If hon. Members will look at the figures for Gateshead, for instance, they will find that Gateshead, which has a population of 14,000 children, actually received for maternity and child welfare the sum of only. £1,600 under the present percentage grant, while Bournemouth with 5,000 children received £2,900. Can anybody possibly defend the present system in relation to these figures?
If we turn to the White Paper, I think it will be recognised that Gateshead show a very good example. Under the new proposals Gateshead will get 117 pennies per head of the population, and this works out to something over £50,000 a year. Surely, Gateshead, which is getting an extra £50,000 a year, will be able to spend more on infant welfare. I think the mere fact that Members on all sides of the House have brought up this very question of 527 infant welfare shows that, when local authorities get more money to spend, public opinion will insist that part of it, at any rate, is spent on maternity and child welfare. I notice that many of our opponents evidently think that it is wrong that we should ask local authorities to recover some of the money spent on maternity welfare or on the various institutions which the county council or the county borough are going to take over. I personally believe that the recovery of money according to the ability of a patient to pay will largely be the factor which is going to break down the old idea of pauperism.
I should like to give an instance of what happens in that part of the country where I live. I live in an old village in Gloucester, and very often persons will ask me if I can get their husbands or their wives, as the case may be, into hospital. What do we find when we are asked to do that? We invariably find that the hospitals are full and that there is a long waiting period—very often, it is a very urgent case—before a person can get into the hospital. At the same time, we find that in many Poor Law infirmaries in different parts of the country there are beds available. I am sure that Members in all parts of the House will agree that the right thing to do is to make these institutions available, and, if necessary, to turn them into specialised hospitals. In maternity cases, the ambulance can come along and take the patient to a specialised maternity hospital, and by this means perhaps save the lives of both mother and child. In place of using these institutions to-day under the Poor Law, we are going to get an amalgamation and an improvement. But one of the difficulties ahead of us is going to be to get the people to use these institutions, because it does not matter to which part of England one may go there is a horror of the idea of the workhouse. I respectfully suggest to hon. Members that we have to get away from the idea of pauperism, and we have to get the people to look upon these infirmaries and institutions as the proper hospitals of the poor of this country. I suggest that making a small charge, making a person pay according to his needs, will be one way of getting rid of the taint of pauperism.
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman expect the rich to go into these hospitals as well?
§ Captain GUNSTON
The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Seaham, seems to object that the rich should be made to pay.
I want to turn for a minute to a noncontroversial part of this Bill, and that is Part II. Part II deals with the registration of births, deaths and marriages. I had the honour of introducing the Bill dealing with this subject in the House of Commons last Session, and everybody on all sides of the House was very kind in supporting the main principle of that Bill. It is true that many hon. Members thought that some of our details were not quite right. If I remember rightly, the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) said that I was trying to do the right thing in the wrong way. However, he and other hon. Members thought that it was very necessary to try to remedy the injustices of the present service, and we co-operated in getting the Bill through the House of Commons. I am sorry to say that our little ewe lamb suffered a painless and expeditious death in another place. I like to think that, perhaps, the executioners, in the hurry of their errand of mercy, did not make too good a use of the humane killer and that, consequently, a spark of life was left. We are all grateful that the Minister of Health, among his many other faculties, has discovered the faculty of restoring our little ewe lamb to life, and I, as the Parliamentary foster mother, desire to thank him.
When we discussed this private Member's Bill last Session, we discovered that the officers of this registration service were paid on a sort of piecework basis, but piecework which was quite different from any in our experience. It. was piecework which had no resemblance to the work performed or the responsibilities undertaken. For instance, a registrar of births and deaths receives 1s. 3d. for every death he registers, and for that purpose he has to have a very complete knowledge of the law, because on his action depends the making up of the registration system of the coroner's courts. At the same time, if he should give a certificated copy of an entry in his 529 books, he gets 2s. 6d. for the certificate. We also found that among his other duties is that of attesting marriage notices, and for that he has to have a complete knowledge of the marriage law, but he is not paid for doing it. We found that the only guarantee he had of getting a living was a fee monopoly of his own earnings. We found that those fees have varied very much in the last few years and that when a man was appointed he never knew what fees he was going to get. There might be a great housing scheme coming up in one area which might bring a certain amount of good remuneration to the registrar, but on the other hand there might be a slum clearance scheme which would take most of his profits away.
Everybody, on all sides of the House, agreed that the best thing to do was to put this service on a salaried basis. Our Bill would to a certain extent have remedied the grievance; but it would only have done so gradually. In Part 2 of the present Bill the Government are going much further in advance, and when a vacancy occurs, the county council will automatically make the office a salaried office. The guardians who used to appoint these officers had no discretion once they were appointed. True, they were responsible through the rates for paying certain statutory fees. In future if the county council is to be responsible for paying salaries, I do not think it can be resisted that the county council must have a good deal of say in the arrangement of the area. It is proposed by Part 2 of the Bill, as I understand it, to make the clerk of the county council the head officer of registration in that area, or the clerk of the county borough council or borough council as the case may be. If I remember rightly the speeches of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, I think that proposal will very largely meet his views. I think the hon. Member has kindly said that he will support this part of the Bill.
The question was also raised during last Session that we ought to amalgamate this registration service with various other services, so that a man could, more fir less, get a full-time job. In Part 2 of this Bill it will be found that the clerk of the county council can amalgamate the registration service with various other services. I believe the most suitable amalgamation would be with the electoral 530 officers. To get a satisfactory service it will be necessary to have an alteration of the present boundaries and to abolish the watertight compartments; but it is not possible to do that at present because the officers of this service will carry out the Census. Therefore, the reorganisation of these services has been postponed until 1932. As was pointed out on the last occasion, these officers have for nearly 100 years been getting more or less the same scale of remuneration, and many of them are to-day getting less than they received before the War. It is proposed that the Ministry of Health shall have power to raise the fees by 50 per cent. The Registrar-General will collect the fees and the fees will be paid back to the counties in which they are earned. Although the county council get considerably more powers under Part 2 of the Bill, it is necessary that the service should remain under the Registrar-General for the purpose of administration. It is very necessary that he should be in control and see that the registrars carry out their duties exactly in the way that he prescribes, and for this reason, that an entry in the registration book is evidence in a Court of law for all time. Therefore, we have to see that the entries are entered just as the central authorities require.
On behalf of the registrars, may I say how grateful we are to the various political parties in this House for having said that they will do their best to see that this part of the Bill becomes law. It is quite uncontroversial, and I believe that when this part of the Bill becomes law, the people of this country, through their representatives in the House of Commons, will at long last be able to do justice to a service which for many years has done good work in the country, whose officers have worked under great disadvantages but have never complained and have always carried out their duties in the way required.
§ Mr. TOMLINSON
The speech with which the Minister of Health proposed the Second Reading of the Bill revealed an unrivalled knowledge of the subject with which he dealt, and also revealed a great desire to improve our system of local government. Whether the effects will be such as he anticipated, is another matter, and it is there that we join issue, because there are many of us who have had experience in local government work, 531 especially on the small authorities, who are very much afraid that the effect of this Bill will not work out as satisfactorily to those small authorities as the Minister seems to imagine. I wish I had time to put the case for the local authorities from the financial standpoint. Obviously, the time at my disposal makes it quite impossible, but I shall look forward with great pleasure to an opportunity during the Committee stage to deal with this aspect of the proposal.
I listened with great interest to the Minister when he was dealing with the defects in our local government system. He divided them into five different sections, and he put first the continuance of Poor Law administration. He used words which in my judgment could not have been more unfortunately chosen. He said that a continuance of the present system would lead to confusion, waste and inefficiency. As one who has had an intimate knowledge of the work done by Poor Law guardians in the North-West district of Lancashire I say that the work done has not been characterised by "confusion, waste and inefficiency," but by orderliness of administration, rigid economy and efficiency of the services that have been rendered. I wish I had time to pay my humble tribute to the work that is being done by the men and women in that particular area with sympathy and discernment, and with great satisfaction to all those who are influenced by the work. I quite agree with the suggestion that has been made on more than one occasion during the Debate that the problem of dealing with the relief of the able-bodied poor ought to be taken out of the hands of the Poor Law guardians and made a national charge. A very strong case can be made out for such a proposal, and if the Government had only brought in a scheme making some such provision for the able-bodied poor the work that is now being done by boards of guardians, which it. is proposed to hand over to an already overburdened authority, might have been carried out much better by them than by the bodies to whom it is proposed to entrust it.
I wish hon. Members had had the privilege as I have had during the last few 532 weeks of seeing boards of guardians in Lancaster and Garstang and the Fylde at work. As I sat in a relief committee and house committee and a finance committee I was greatly impressed with the skill and ability with which these questions were dealt with and the sympathy and evident desire to do what was in the best interests of those who, unfortunately, had to receive help from these authorities. I can conceive of nothing more sympathetic than the way in which the master of one of these unions reported cases that had come in during the week. In that particular union the house committee meets every Tuesday afternoon, and when a case was referred to one of the members, would say, "What has this person come in for," and the master replied, "She needs rest and a little comfort." I felt certain that that is just what she would get; and I maintain that these services have been carried out sympathetically and with great discernment, and with a personal knowledge which will be quite impossible if the work is in the hands of the county council. A suggestion has been made that the Public Assistance Committees should appoint a guardians committee, and the Minister of Health attaches the utmost importance to the name guardians committee. He said that we ought not to flout sentiment, but the right hon. Gentleman is flouting boards of guardians, and I am wondering whether it is not the misdoings of just a few boards of guardians which has brought under suspicion the actions of the many. I contrast the change: if 10 righteous men could have been found the city would have been saved, and this case, that because 10 unrighteous unions have been found the dictum of the Minister has gone forth that the 636 other unions shall perish.
I want to appeal to the Minister to consider during the Committee stage whether it would not be in the best interests of those who will have to be helped in some way that they should be brought under the care of these guardians who have had such a long experience in their work and who have done their work so well rather than under the care of committees set up by the county authority. I ask him to consider whether under this new system he is likely to 533 attract the services of men and women of the same calibre as those who have been engaged in it if they know that the county council will take charge of institutions, direct policy, deal with all questions of finance and appoint all officials, and only leave to the guardians committees the work that is being done by relief committees. If such a proposal had been brought forward by the Front Opposition Bench, a proposal to abolish boards of guardians, what an outcry we should have heard from hon. Members opposite who represent the county authorities. I am filled with admiration at their loyalty to their party, but I am wondering whether they have not received, as I have, strong resolutions from boards of guardians urging that they should be continued. In my judgment the work they are doing is of sufficient importance to be carried out by an ad hoc authority directly responsible to the ratepayers who provide the money.
It is impossible for me to deal with the other great question of highway administration. That was the point on which I intended to speak to-night, but I shall have to defer it until some other opportunity. I want to remind hon. Members, and I can do this as I have been called by you. Mr. Speaker. I want to remind hon. Members, and also those who have spoken in this Debate, that it is difficult for all hon. Members who want to speak, when those who are called take such a long time. I have an opportunity of showing that I recognise the claims of others, and although there are many other points I should like to have raised, I realise that it would be very unfair to other speakers for me to take a minute more than the time allotted to me. In conclusion, may I make an appeal to the Minister of Health to give this question his consideration. I have not said too much about boards of guardians because I have not come to bury them; I have come to try and save them. When these matters are considered I hope the Poor Law administration will continue to be in the hands of those who have dealt with these difficult questions so efficiently in the days gone by.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I should like publicly to congratulate the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) on being able to be present on the occasion of a Debate of this kind and to take part in 534 it as he has done to-day. Anything that is of any worth in this Bill—and, as he says and we all say, there are parts of it with which we entirely agree—the House and the country owes to the genius of my right hon. Friend and his brilliant wife. I think the unselfish work that these two fine public-spirited people have done merits some word of congratulations from this House. As I am one who has received from both of them unbounded help and assistance in the work in which I have been trying to take part for nearly 40 years I feel particularly proud that I was present to hear his speech and to be able now to say these words of public thanks to him for all the work that he has done in this direction.
This Debate has been notable for the fact that every speaker on the Government side has criticised the Bill—some of them more and some of them less—with the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Thornbury. (Captain Gunston) and he apparently rose to tell us about that part of the Bill dealing with the registrars, about which there is no controversy. There is no controversy about it, because the Government have accepted what they violently denounced upstairs when I advocated it last Session. I was very glad to-night to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman make the speech which he did on that part of the Bill. I wish further to call attention to the quotation about which there was some dispute when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham was speaking. He quoted, as the House will remember, from the report on the state of public health by the Chief Medical Officer, and the part that he wanted to quote and which at the moment he was unable to find because the book had disappeared was this:There can, I think, be no doubt that the percentage Exchequer grants-in-aid of health services, tuberculosis, maternity and child welfare, welfare of the blind, venereal disease, mental deficiency, and the school medical services, have been of the highest possible value and incentive during the last 15 years in getting special medical services into operation and in guiding their direction.The part that my right hon. Friend could not for the moment find was as follows:These two advantages would not necessarily be lost by a system of quinquennial 535 block grants, though some definite adjustment of administration would be necessary to secure them.The right hon. Gentleman will not contend that under this precious scheme there is going to be any definite allotment for maternity and child welfare services. Therefore, his interruption of my right hon. Friend was quite unwarranted. I repeat that there is no such proposal in this Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman, when he comes to reply, instead of riding off on some side issue, will very kindly tell us where it is laid down in the financial scheme that there shall be a special part of the money paid to the local authorities devoted to this particular work.
The other thing I want to say is that the House and hon. Members who are interested in maternity and child welfare have no need to wait to know what the policy of the right hon. Gentleman is on this subject. He makes grand speeches outside this House about his interest in this question of child welfare and conditions of motherhood. What has he done this year? He has cut down the Exchequer assistance to the local authorities who administer this work. He knows perfectly well that in London and elsewhere the Government give grants of just 50 per cent. of what the local authorities are spending. He has been appealed to again and again by deputations from borough councils and mayors against any reduction and yet he has reduced the grant, this is what he has done: An authority wanted to spend £6,033; that would have meant that the Ministry would have given a grant of £3,000. He has cut down the grant so that he will only pay on a gross sum of £2,800, and children and mothers will get not £6,000 worth of milk but only £2,800. I say that for the right hon. Gentleman to stand at that Box and pose as someone interested in the welfare of little children and mothers is something of a scandal when he is responsible for a circular such as that. He has already cut down the assistance to Maternity and Child Welfare Centres, because, as he told a deputation, he had to economise somewhere, and so he economised on the life and welfare of very little children.
I want to say one or two words upon the rates question. With regard to the 536 formula, I am in the same boat as other people; I do not know very much about it. The formula is one thing, but, when it comes to practice, that is another. You are going to take away from Poplar one-quarter of our rates. We contend that the only fair, logical and just thing to do is to give us back that money and just simply to say: "We are relieving these people, and we are relieving them from a national point of view and to the national advantage, but here is the money that we are taking away from you and which we are relieving them from paying." The right hon. Gentleman or his colleague cannot get away from this fact, that were it not for the centralisation of the Poor Law in London, Poplar, and other districts like Poplar, would lose very considerably on this transaction.
There has been a great deal of argument as to why you should give money to the failures in business? Who is asking you to give money to failures in business? You are doing it anyway. Under your scheme, you are subsidising those whom you are calling failures. If you take our district, there is one big firm, apart from the dock authorities and the railway companies. They will get relief under this scheme, and, when you come to consider what the rate charge is on their business, it is so infinitesimal that there is no chance at all of seeing that it can be applied in any sort of way to the assistance of industry. The facts are that here is a firm, which is one of our biggest ratepayers, and it is paying at present £2,634 a year in rates. The firm's turnover is hundreds of thousands of pounds, and they employ thousands of people. Next year, in April, when the de-rating of machinery comes in, they will save £500 a year on that. That will bring them down to £2,113. When the de-rating scheme under this Bill comes into operation the firm will pay only £528. I want to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) in asking the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, to tell us what is the difference between giving Messrs. Bryant and May that relatively huge sum when they do not want it, and giving a poor out-of-work man with a large family 2s. or 3s. a week extra relief? There is absolutely no answer to that, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman, if he thinks he has an 537 answer, to stand up and give it to the House when he replies.
We have always heard in Poplar, and in the country, this cry of high rates. I am one of those who, in spite of everything that has been said, stand by the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). The incidence of rates on occasion is very heavy and very bad in certain districts, but I stand here and say to any ordinary business man that in the average business the rates are not the terrible burden that some people contend that they are to-day. [Interruption.] I am speaking about Poplar. I have lived there for nearly 50 years. Hon. Members may have a theory, but I know the practice, and I say that in Poplar to-day, whatever there is of bad trade, whatever there is of empty property, is due not to high rates at all, but to conditions connected with trade and industry with which rates have nothing whatever to do. For instance, there is a big brewery, one of the biggest breweries in the East End of London, that has just closed down. It has closed down because of a big amalgamation with another firm, by which it can save considerable money. Then we have the Port of London Authority. We lost last year £60,000 of rateable value. What for? Not at all because the Port of London Authority was driven out of business by high rates, but because of a change in shipping, because bigger ships come up the Thames and the docks are not big enough to take them in. Proof of that lies in the fact that the dock is being extended and widened, and I understand that when it is finished every single berth in the new dock will be taken up.
We have lost that rateable value; men are not at work in the docks; our rates have gone up. But those rates have not caused the docks to be in the condition in which they are to-day. We have not driven anyone away. Poplar used to be a very considerable shipbuilding centre, but the building of ships has changed. It used to be a ship repairing centre, but owing to the fact that bigger ships are used and that they could not get into our docks, the repairing docks have been slack and some of them completely idle. The docks were not adapted to modern conditions. Therefore, when you consider the problem in connection with places 538 like Poplar, you have to face the fact that it, is not the high rates that produce the evil, but that economic changes and cause, produce conditions that result in high rates. Therefore, unless we are going to deal with this side of the question it seems to me that we are only playing the fool, as it were, with the whole business.
In the time at my disposal I want to deal mainly with the Poor Law side of this business. I am not one of those who, like an hon. Member who has just spoken, wants to perpetuate boards of guardians. I may be told that 1 have stood in this House and asked that the Poor Law administration as such should be centralised, so far as London is concerned. If that were my only choice to-night, I should still stand for it, because I believe that the County of London is a better unit for dealing with the Poor Law than the individual unions have proved to be. From my point of view it is not a question of corruption or inefficiency on the part of guardians. The ordinary guardian as a rule occupies other public offices as well as that of a guardian—on borough councils and county councils. When the Minister of Health talked of this part of the business as being the result of years of work since 1834, he seemed to have forgotten that the new Poor Law at its inception was based on the principle of deterrence. He seemed to have forgotten that all through the nearly 100 years that have passed since 1834 every principle laid down in the 1834 Report has been broken over and over again, because it was proved by experience that they did not work.
The old Poor Law Commissioners of 1834, if they could rise from their graves, would be horrified to think that this Parliament to-day was discussing how to deal with maternity and child welfare, the blind and the sick. For they laid it down that the one thing that society should do was to leave the poor alone, and, if the poor did come, to treat them in such a manner that they were just kept alive. It was that policy that your great leader Disraeli, and Kingsley, and men like them, fought against and denounced over and over again throughout the country, with the result that that deterrent policy had to be modified again and again. It is an extraordinary 539 coincidence that it was after a great war, about 20 years after Waterloo, that the new Poor Law came in, having been brought about by the horrible conditions the war left behind. Here, again, within 10 years of the last great war, we are settling down to consider mainly what we can do for the unemployed and for the trade and industry of the country.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, who poses as a progressive statesman, in his dealing with the unemployed falls back on all these deterrent measures of the old Poor Law. This right hon. Gentleman will be remembered—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Those who shout "Hear, hear!" are only robbing the right hon. Gentleman of time. I repeat that he will go down to history as the man who betrayed every pledge, every promise made to the ex-service men, to whom many of those behind him also made promises; who drove the ex-service disabled and able-bodied men on to the roads and lanes of this country; who filled the casual wards with the sons of ex-service men; who, to-night, has got nearly 150 ex-service men housed in a foul, mixed workhouse, at Hollesley Bay; who has forced ex-service men and women who get little bits of pensions to use their pensions for the maintenance of able-bodied sons who are not allowed to go to work. The right hon. Gentleman will be known as the man who, through his auditors and inspectors, compels boards of guardians to break the law in regard to the 7s. 6d. health insurance money which is granted apart altogether from Poor Law relief. The right hon. Gentleman will be known as the Minister who has compelled young people illegally to maintain fathers, mothers and younger children out of their miserable wages, at the peril of the starvation of those fathers, mothers and younger children.
540 At a period when there are masses of unemployed in the coalfields of this country, the right hon. Gentleman's inspectors can report that they have reduced the number of paupers—that they have reduced the numbers in receipt of relief. As the number of unemployed rises he can boast that by the use of the brutal power he has got under the Poor Law he has reduced the number of persons in receipt of Poor Law relief. [HON. MEMBERS: "Stick to the Bill."] This is what the right hon. Gentleman wants to perpetuate in this Bill. Hon. Members ask me to stick to the Bill. I am sticking to the Bill. It is by the Bill you are going to perpetuate that system. The perpetuation of the Poor Law is in this Bill. The provisions of the Audit Act which compel boards of guardians to obey the dictates of the right hon. Gentleman's inspectors, are contained in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman knows, and the House ought to know that in all this business, he has been able for last four years to tell us that wherever he has interfered in South Wales, in Durham, and elsewhere, no man who is single can get outdoor relief. He has brought South Wales to such a position that even the Tory candidate for Merthyr has had to write an appeal for a public fund in order to save people from starvation.
In the time of the cotton famine, when there was a Tory Ministry on those Benches, this kind of thing did not happen. The great trunk roads throughout Lancashire were made during the cotton famine and the work was organised by inspectors of the Local Government Board of that time. To-day, with a refinement of cruelty, the right hon. Gentleman boasts in public that he wants the public to subscribe charity for these people while he denies them their legal rights. He denies them that which the law says they should have, and he knows and his right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary knows, that this could not happen if it were not for the provisions of the Audit Act and the further fact that he uses the power given him in regard to money in order to prevent guardians doing the work which they were legally elected to do. I believe there has never been so much preventable privation and misery in this country as there is at the present time. Remembering the million of unemployed and remembering further how the 541 Minister of Labour deals with the unemployed, what do we find? What happens to the men? Crowds of them are pushed off. They are told, "You are not likely to get insurable employment."
Men are being pushed off in tens of thousands in that way and, in addition, men are being told that they are not genuinely seeking work. Others are told that there is no work available for them and in the end they are pushed off. Then come forward the right hon. Gentleman's inspectors and auditors and they say, "You must not do anything for these people; they will not try to get work." But they have been told by the Employment Exchange that they never will get work. Still they are told, "Go and look for work." There never was a more contradictory and merciless policy pursued against the unemployed in this country. It is because this Bill contains provisions for enabling the right hon. Gentleman to carry on that policy that we have put in our Amendment the words that this Bill does nothing to deal effectively with destitution. The right hon. Gentleman gave us his picture of the history of the Poor Law from 1834. Let me run over it briefly. First, no able-bodied man was to be relieved outside the workhouse. That broke down. The system of stoneyards and oakum-picking and corn mills was introduced. That broke down. The right hon. Gentleman's father, as he was told to-day, has the honour and credit of being the first man to write from a public department and demand that these decent, honest men should be assisted apart altogether from the Poor Law. After that came a series of modern reforms in regard to the Poor Law, in the treatment of able-bodied men, culminating in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) passing the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Those of us who pleaded in this House in 1911–1912 for a national scheme to deal with unemployment in a national manner were told by the Liberals and by the Tories: "No, it is all right. This is the system; this will cure it." Well, we have had 20 odd years of it, and now again the right hon. Gentleman, with his fanciful rating scheme, is to give us another pill to cure an earthquake. He is going to try one more ridiculous scheme for deal- 542 ing with something that is fundamental to our society. Right back at the beginning, it was unemployment that caused the Poor Law to be brought into being, and all down through the period poverty, destitution, penury, want, can be traced back to unemployment and to intermittent, casual labour. The Minister of Labour once wrote one of the most damning indictments of casual labour, proving that the casuals in this country were not people guilty of original sin, but victims of a vicious system. We have pleaded here and elsewhere again and again that this business should be dealt with in a fundamental manner. We believe that industry in this country has broken in the hands of those who believe in private enterprise. The great basic industries of the land are in ruin.
If Socialism had been in vogue for 100 years, and at the end all that you could prove was that thousands of people lived in slums, that other hundreds of thousands could not earn their daily bread, and that still others were living on the verge of starvation, you would say that Socialism had failed. I say that capitalism has failed. I say further that you may attempt to patch up this business, but you have got in some way to take industry in hand, not from the point of view of subsidies, not from the point of view of pouring in money—that is as bad and as vicious as giving individual men and women money—but you have got to take this point of view, that this country of ours was given us for the use and service of the whole of the community. At present, because you use it merely for moneymaking, because you sacrifice human life and human happiness merely for the purpose of a great profit-making institution, you have the poor, you have poverty, and you have all the misery that there is in the land. Therefore, we say to you: "Give us a national scheme, a scheme which will see to it that industry is organised on a rational basis, that men and women are put to work, not in order that a few people may enjoy tremendous luxury, not in order that there may be millionaires and paupers, but in order that what is produced may be used for the service of the people."
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Sir K. WOOD
We have just heard a characteristic speech from the hon. Member for. Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), and I at once confess that I never 543 expected that the proud parent of Poplarism would welcome this Bill. I remember very well that when we last discussed the Poor Law at any length in this House, on the Motion of the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley offered this observation upon the Poor Law proposals which were then being circulated by my right hon. Friend. He said this: "We, in the East End of London, have captured the boards of guardians practically, and we are very suspicious of the zeal that is being shown to reform us and to give us some better system. We do not want to be reformed except on our own lines." I at once admit that, so far as the proposals in this Bill are concerned, they are certainly not on Poplar lines. We have had a very useful and interesting Debate, with notable contributions from all quarters of the House. I think the whole House will agree with me when I say that there would have been a great deal lacking from this Debate if, for instance, the right hon. Member for Seaham had not been able to take part in it. We all heard with satisfaction and great pleasure the considerable contribution which he made to our Debate this afternoon, and we shall certainly miss him on this subject. I understand that he contemplates retiring from this House. There is one gift, at any rate, which my right hon. Friend will be giving him, and that is that no doubt, when this Measure comes upon the Statute Book, the right hon. Member for Seaham will be able to spend many years in writing an additional volume to those which he has already penned. I hope it may occupy him very many years.
We have also had in many respects a very brilliant and entertaining speech from the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence), though I say that without prejudice to any question of the accuracy of her statements. There is no doubt about it that it was certainly a very notable achievement. I should also like to say a word about the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood), who had, under very difficult circumstances, to move the rejection of the Bill after the House had been so very long occupied. I often think the hon. Member for Nelson and Come deserves very well of the Labour party. 544 He has had to move the rejection of more first-class beneficent Measures than any other Member. I remember well that he has moved the rejection of the Widows' Pensions Act, the Housing Acts, and others, and it is quite fit that he should have fulfilled the role of Mover of the rejection of this Bill. I should like to say a word to the hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, who felt the absence, no doubt, of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) and the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) will, I feel sure, be able to go back and report to their right hon. Friend that in their hands this Debate has suffered nothing in respect of accuracy or consistency.
Having said that, I know the House will also allow me to say that I think this Debate has, to any unprejudiced observer, been notable for the very great contribution to it of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, and the proceedings have been distinguished by the many contributions that have come from my colleagues on this side of the House, which, in my judgment, have destroyed and demolished the somewhat confused contributions from the Opposition. The Government are well satisfied with the result of this Debate. They always believed that if this Bill was brought to the Floor of the House, there was everything to be gained from a free and full discussion, honest scrutiny, and informed examination. A very severe critic of this Bill, a man who used to be a Member of this House and has given a good deal of time and attention to this Measure, has described the Bill as unquestionably the biggest enterprise yet undertaken by the Government. I will venture to add that it is certainly the most important contribution to local government reform which has been made in our time. I recognise at once that a Measure of this magnitude is particularly liable to be temporarily obscured and misrepresented by narrow vision, petty parochialism and local jealousies, and the ordinary party political game.
The Government are undertaking this Bill—and a very big one it is—at the close of their term of office, because they believe that it represents a practical and powerful plan to restore trade and in- 545 dustry, to reduce unemployment, and to remove some of those inequalities and injustices from which the ratepayers of this country have suffered so long. Both the Labour and the Liberal parties in this House are asking us to reject this Bill. I suppose that they have found in this Measure what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs described as common territory upon which men of progressive thought could agree to cultivate together. It is true, as many speakers have emphasised in this Debate, that there is a certain element of surprise in that attitude being adopted. I read, when these proposals were first put to the House in broad outline by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, an article by a well-known member of the Labour party, Mr. Brailsford, who severely criticised the scheme, but expressed sympathy with the bigness, the rightness and the importance of the proposals. He said:I think with all these limitations the Labour party should recognise a certain sagacity and sureness of direction of the Government plan…Our answer ought not to be to ignore what is big and right in the Government's scheme, and our cue,… it seems to me, should he rather to expand than to thwart the scheme.Instead of that, we have had an Opposition busily and fussily engaged in endeavouring to pick out the minor discrepancies of a great plan, neglecting the national interest, and not scrupling to foment local jealousies and petty parochialism. I thought of a motto when I heard some of the speeches from Members of the Opposition, when they criticised the position which would occur in certain towns, as they thought, under these proposals, and were actually urging upon the House the injustice by which the contributions were being made by comparatively well-to-do towns to help those which were not so well circumstanced. I thought that that was a petty selfish way of looking at it, and there is a motto which is applicable to that way of looking at the scheme—Self first, me next, and if there is anything left I will take it.That characterises a good deal of the attitude that has been taken up with regard to these proposals. In other words, the Socialist Opposition, joined by the Liberals, have failed to rise to what, I suggest, was a great opportunity. They have preferred to ask the House to reject these proposals, to seek to deprive 546 agriculture, industry and the necessitous areas of the benefits of the scheme, rather than to help to improve and adjust them.
I want to say only a word or two about the Liberal Amendment. It is rather a confused jumble, and certainly shows a good deal less courage than that of the Labour party. After reciting the various objections to this Bill, instead of, as in the Labour Amendment, suggesting that the proper way of dealing with this matter was to place the able-bodied unemployed upon the State, they simply content themselves with saying that all these matters "call for vigorous measures of direct and immediate application." I suppose the idea was to reconcile the various elements in the Liberal party, and to secure what has not hitherto been possible, as far as a common platform in the constituencies is concerned, and that is to get the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in the same Lobby together. At the beginning of last Session, when we had concluded the Debates on the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Bill, the National Liberal Federation, speaking of the Labour opposition to this Bill, described it as wholly impotent and the worst in recent Parliamentary history. I was not surprised to see that next day the "Daily Herald" stated that anyone who had followed the Debates in the House of Commons knew perfectly well how well the Labour party had fought, and that all the Liberal party had done was to puff and to pant behind the Labour party in this House. I suggest that the "Daily Herald" was right, and would be right again so far as these proceedings are concerned.
A large number of points have been raised in connection with this Measure, some relating to finance and some to the Poor Law, and to-morrow in relation to finance and on many other days, we shall, no doubt, be discussing a good many of these points and objections; but I will deal with one or two of them tonight, so far as time permits. The first objection taken by many speakers on the opposite side of the House has been that part of the Bill which gives the final and requisite authority whereby rate relief can be given to agriculture and our other producing industries, and we have 547 had additions to the contribution which the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us as to the question of the burden of rates so far as industry is concerned. The ex-Chancellor will long be remembered for his statement that he believed that rates as such were no burden; and in the course of this Debate the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has gone still better and said that there is no burden where profits are being made; while a great deal of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham this afternoon was devoted to the view that no decrease in the cost of production would be of any assistance at all to industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
So far as the Government are concerned, these proposals for the relief of agriculture and industry have a two-fold object. As I hope in a minute or two to deal with the suggestion that the de-rating side of this Bill should be separated from the other, I want to emphasize that at any rate in the opinion of the Government this is a far-reaching and important rating reform. In our judgment, it relieves agriculture and industry of burdens which cannot be justified if you are to have a fair rating administration scheme in this country; it assesses their contributions to local services more fairly and more in accordance with the benefits they receive. Our other object is this. Hon. Members may disagree with it, although I have met a very large number, including Labour Members, at the Treasury, who apparently hold a different view in the morning from what they do in the afternoon. Our second object is by this method to stimulate and encourage industry at a very critical time.
Under these proposals, agriculture will be relieved of the whole of its rates. I am riot clear what is the attitude of the Liberal party towards these proposals. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs spoke on these proposals last, he denounced them as a dole to landlords, but such is the indiscipline of the Liberal party at the present time that not a single person was prepared to support his contention in the Division Lobby. Under these proposals, no longer will farmers be rated on the raw material of their industry; 548 no longer will they be liable to increased burdens when they improve the condition of their land. We invite the members of the Labour party and the Liberal party to pursue their objections to this part of the Bill in the agricultural constituencies of the country.
We are also relieving productive industry from heavy rating burdens with the object more particularly of enabling them to compete on more equal terms with their foreign competitors Pi the markets of the world—a point which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham overlooked. When people get up and talk as they have done from the Labour Benches of the position of the shopkeepers for whom they have shown a sudden affection; when they talk about the position of shopkeepers and the working people of this country, I say to them that under these proposals we believe that we are assisting the trader, the shopkeeper, and the great mass of the industrial workers of this country in the best way, because, after all, their success and prosperity depends vitally and in the main upon the prosperity of the producers of the nation.
It is suggested that we should divide altogether from the local government side of this Bill the rating relief part. I think anyone who makes that proposition has not given much consideration to what the Bill contains. The hon. Member for East Ham North asked yesterday why we did not follow the example of the Agricultural Rates Act of 1923 by simply paying to the local authorities three-quarters every year of the rates on the productive industries of the area, and the whole of the rates in respect of agricultural land. The hon. Member did not tell the House yesterday that the Agricultural Rates Act of 1923 was a temporary Measure, and that it was expressly stated at the time it was introduced that it was brought forward pending the adjustment of national and local finance. Let us assume that that was a permanent Measure. In the first place, the answer to that argument is that this plan to relieve the rates on productive industry is not a scheme of giving a dole, but a permanent scheme of rating reform, and it is being introduced because we believe that we are now putting agriculture and productive industry on a proper basis so far as rating is concerned.
549 I was surprised that any Member of the Socialist party, particularly, should advocate such proposals, because they are always expressing great concern about the necessitous areas of the country. What will happen to this £24,000,000 which it is suggested should be paid back every year direct to the local authorities of the country? As hon. Members know, that £24,000,000 will go into what we may call the pool, and that pool is ultimately to be distributed on the basis of the formula, which, when its ultimate effect is reached, is based upon needs and upon ability to pay. If that £24,000,000 were removed from the pool, it would not be nearly sufficient to assist necessitous areas in the manner that we are assisting them under these proposals, as I hope presently to show. Again, anyone who has any regard for local government in this country will certainly not press those proposals, because, if it is going to be admitted for a moment that the State is simply to pay to local authorities every year, whatever methods might be adopted in connection with their administration, three-fourths of their local rates, it would be the beginning of the end of local government in this country, because no Exchequer, I do not mind who administers it, could do that without altogether superseding ordinary local government powers. They could not simply give a cheque every year to the local authorities of the country for three-fourths of their rates, without any interference or check on behalf of the State. [Interruption.] I quite understand that some people may not agree with me, but perhaps I may be allowed to state my case. On these grounds I say that such a proposal would be an impossible one for any Government.
Then certain criticisms were made, also in particular from hon. Members opposite, in relation to the Poor Law proposals. They say that this Bill does not deal with the reform of the Poor Law in a proper way. I at once confess, and I hope hon. Members will study the OFFICIAL REPORT and see whether they agree with me, that I do not at this moment understand where either the Labour party or the Liberal party stands in regard to the abolition of boards of guardians in this country. I thought that we were really meeting the general programme and policy of both of those parties. I certainly thought, 550 when this Measure was being prepared, that the proposal to abolish boards of guardians would have received the general approval of all parties in the House. The Government consider that the first essential step in the reform of the Poor Law is the transfer of the functions of the boards of guardians to the larger authorities.
Let me at once say, in answer to what was said in such strong terms this evening in favour of the retention of boards of guardians, that this alteration is in no sense being made by the Government because they condemn the work—the very valuable work and assistance—of the boards of guardians of this country. It is being made because the Government believe, and it is the view of every Committee that has inquired into the matter, including the Maclean Committee, to whose Report I would advise hon. Members to turn their attention, that it is essential to the reform of the Poor Law, the transfer of charges, and the removal of inequalities among the ratepayers at the present time. We propose in our Bill what I think a good many people recognise, and what I know a good many guardians recognise, as a really useful and sincere attempt to keep that valuable personal touch which all of us desire to see retained in connection with local administration in this country. I must say I am surprised at the objections which have been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. What was the resolution that was passed at the Socialist party's conference at Blackpool last year, and actually moved, I believe, by the hon. Lady the Member for East Ham North? This was the resolution:That this Conference, believing that the full development of the social services and their economical administration necessitate a thorough going national and local reorganisation of existing arrangements, calls for the abolition of the boards of guardians as an essential preliminary to such reorganisation.I will read a part of the speech which shows the difficulties of the Government in this matter so far as hon. Members opposite are concerned. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, notwithstanding what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham today, is going about the country making this statement. This is from the "Daily Herald" of 25th October this year. 551Mr. Greenwood, in an interview, expressed the view emphatically that it could not be an accident that the powers hitherto vested in non-county boroughs and urban districts where Labour representation was rapidly growing should be transferred to county authorities, which were in most cases the homes of reaction, and on very few county councils was the Labour movement at all adequately represented.I must confess that I hoped for more valuable and warm assistance from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham, because in the Debate to which I alluded just now, when he proposed this Motion in relation to the Poor Law, he ended up with these words, which lie addressed to the Minister of Health:There is one word of warning which I will address to the right hon. Gentleman. It is quite certain that he will have opposition to any proposal of this kind from practically the whole of the hoards of guardians. That opposition is extremely well organised and it may affect some Members of this House, but I do not think it will affect very many. I will do my best to give him all the help I can.We shall observe what help he gives us in the Division to-night. Why have we taken this course of not completely abolishing the Poor Law and breaking it up, as hon. Members desire? In the first place, anyone who has studied the Maclean Report must be aware of the very strong views held by the local authorities that, after the transfer has been made, the method by which the Poor Law is administered could very well be left to local authorities to decide for themselves.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think there is a good deal to be said for that point of view. After all, we are making, as many hon. Members have said, a very great change in local administration in this country. There will be a very large number of new duties cast upon the local authorities, and I think that it is right to give them an opportunity to turn round and adapt themselves as they think best, at any rate in the first instance, to the new kind of administration which this Bill entails. As a matter fact, it will be impossible for any Government to make it mandatory upon the local authorities of the country to break up the Poor Law. I will give very briefly one illustration in support of that argument. It has been proposed, for in- 552 stance, that if you break up the Poor Law completely in this country those unfortunate people the mental deficients should go to the local authorities and be dealt with in exactly the same way as other people who are similarly circumstanced. Anyone who realises the position of the mental deficients in this country, and, I am sorry to say, the great lack of accommodation that exists at the present time, knows full well that one of the great difficulties which is confronting local authorities, which entails very great capital expenditure, and which, I hope, will be minimised as a result of this Measure, is that there is not sufficient accommodation for the mental deficients in the country. Therefore, if you did make this mandatory it would be impossible in that connection to carry it out.
What I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite is, that we are taking the first step. We are transferring the functions to the larger authorities and, I think, following the progressive alterations of local government in this country, we are perhaps right in taking our steps not too hurriedly, and giving the local authorities an opportunity of turning round and permitting them to adapt themselves properly to their new administration. I have no doubt that in a few years' time we shall find the great majority of the authorities of this country adopting the proposals and suggestions, as far as they come under this scheme, and which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of this House desire. We can then consider the position in connection with our local government in this country. I wish to say to hon. Gentlemen who are whole-hearted supporters of Poor Law reform in this country that, at any rate, this is not a good excuse for refusing to support the Government's proposals to-night.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields, whose speech I am sorry to say I did not have an opportunity of hearing in full, was the only one, I think, who in this House has come forward with any enthusiasm for the suggestions contained in the Liberal scheme that the proper way would be to remove the able-bodied unemployed from the local authorities to the State. That is a singular proposal to come from hon. Gentlemen apparently trying to balance 553 themselves on the Poor Law question, because one inevitable consequence of that proposal would be that the whole of that administration would he taken away not only from the Poor Law guardians but from the local authorities of the country arid be administered as a State service by State officials. I venture to suggest to hon. Gentlemen that the best answer to be found for this proposal is naturally to be found in a speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. There are few proposals before the country at the present time on which the right hon. Gentleman has not expressed himself on various occasions in opposite directions. I have here a speech which he made when he had the responsibility of office and when he also had at his disposal the advice of a good many officials and experts. The hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. W. Thorne) will remember the occasion.
§ Sir K. WOOD
On the 20th June, 1922, the hon. Member for Plaistow led a very large deputation to Downing Street to see the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, when he was Prime Minister. The hon. Member for Plaistow was a great optimist, and he made a speech to the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and said: "We want you to help to relieve the necessitous areas of this country, and we want you to put the able-bodied unemployed upon the national Exchequer." The hon. Member made a very fine speech, as we should expect from him. What did the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs say?
§ Sir K. WOOD
When the hon. Member for South Shields advocates such a proposal again, I hope he will state what his leader said on the occasion to which I have just referred. He said that the hon. Member for Plaistow and the deputation represented the ratepayers, whilst he, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, represented the taxpayers. He stated, further, that the proposals of the deputation would have meant at that time an extra 9d. in the pound on the Income Tax. He said, also, and this is most significant—it is curious 554 how it fits in with the proposals which the Government are making at the present time—that the most important thing was to get trade going. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite must not lose this gem. The right hon. Gentleman said that the real relief for the able-bodied unemployed and for the necessitous areas would come from improved trade. We agree with that.
§ Mr. THORNE
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to quote the speech made by the Minister of Health on that matter?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I will deal now with the criticisms which have been advanced against the block grant system. I do not hesitate to say that the present percentage grant system is illogical, irrational and unjust. I was very interested to hear a speech by the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who was Financial Secretary in the Labour Government, in which he said that he was not prepared to rest upon the present percentage system without adding some extra machinery, but I confess that I did not follow him in his explanation. I have no doubt that he will table it as an Amendment, but the injustice of the present system, especially from the point of view of the health services, is almost impossible to exaggerate. Take the case of two owns having the same population, Merthyr Tydvil and Southport. Merthyr Tydvil has rates of 27s. 2d. in the £ with 105 children under five years per 1,000 of population. Merthyr Tydvil gets £4,500 a year for its grant aided health services, while Southport, with practically the same population and rates of 8s. 4d. in the £ with 62 children under five years of age per 1,000 of population, gets £8,000. I do not know how it is possible to defend a system of that kind; and there is this further fact which I want to put before the House.
555 The great vice of the present percentage system is not so much that its distribution is flagrantly bad, but that it is haphazard and unscientific. Take these facts. Wigan receives one and a third times the amount Blackpool gets for its health services, but Merthyr Tydvil receives not much more than nine-sixteenths the amount which goes to Southport. Surely it is a greater approach towards fairness that under the new formula the gain to Wigan will he six times that of Blackpool, and the gain to Merthyr Tydvil six times that of Southport. I am particularly concerned with the natural anxiety which has been expressed by many good friends of the maternity and child welfare movement. It is an extraordinary thing that under the present percentage system an authority must spend money before it can receive grants. Under the new system it will receive grants in order to be able to spend money. Take the case of two other towns, in order to illustrate the present position of maternity and child welfare services. Those who have given any study to the present arrangements will not desire them to continue. Take the maternity and child welfare services at. Gateshead, with rates of 23s. 9d. in the £ and 14,000 children, and South Shields with rates of 18s. 2d. in the £ and 13,500 children. They each receive an approximate grant under the maternity and child welfare services of £1,600, whilst Bournemouth, with rates of 8s. 2d. in the £ and only 5,300 children, and Eastbourne with rates of 9s. 4d. in the £ and only 2,976 children, receive nearly £2,900 and £2,200 respectively. That is the result of the present system, and hon. Members will allow that there is an improvement under the new arrangements which are perfectly open to the consideration of the House and upon which we are open to receive suggestions for their improvement.
At the present moment, according, at any rate, to the figures which the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) gave to the House yesterday, she does not regard the present maternity and child welfare arrangements in this country as by any means satisfactory, and she gave a series of figures, which I have not been able to check, showing that was so. What is the position of the Minister of Health? Can he go into any 556 one of these areas up and down the country where, according to the Noble Lady, these services are not being properly administered, and say: "You are immediately to do it"? No, the whole system depends, as far as Government aid is concerned, upon some particular sum of money being spent, either by voluntary associations or by some local authority in the area. That is the present position. Really, why the maternity and child welfare services have progressed, as I think they have—and I may say, in answer to the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, that we are spending on maternity and child welfare services—[Interruption.s].
§ Sir K. WOOD
What I want the House to be assured of, at any rate as far as the administration of the maternity service under my right hon. Friend is concerned, is that we are helping the local centres to the extent of £188,000 a year more than was done when the Labour Government were in office.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I want to say to the Noble Lady, under this new system how much better it will be from the point of view of the maternity and child welfare services. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham criticised, from his point of view quite rightly and effectively, the provision which gives my right hon. Friend power to intervene if a local authority is not carrying out these services properly. Under that Clause it is designed to give the Minister power to go to a local authority and say: "Now you have got to get on with your maternity and child welfare services." If they do not, he has got a very effective power indeed, because under this Clause it will be possible for the Minister then to say to that local authority: "Well, if you do not within a reasonable time make adequate provision for these services, then you will have to be penalised as far as 557 your grants are concerned." From a practical point of view, that is a very real and effectual remedy where you have got none at the present time as far as these services are concerned.
Criticism has been made of a suggestion that payment should be made to local authorities in connection with the provisions in regard to which they will give assistance. In the Labour Amendment particular exception is taken to the fact that a charge is to be made in respect of maternity provision. We have had an opportunity of examining the merits of the proposal, and we find that at the present time there are 64 maternity homes maintained by The local authorities of this country, and in all those cases contributions were recovered from the inmates unless the local authority was satisfied that neither the woman nor her relatives were able to pay anything. It will be exactly the same under Clause 13. I have no time to explain the Clause, but if hon. Members will examine it they will see that there need be no apprehension that people under these circumstances would be confronted with heavy bills on that account. As a matter of fact, all that we are doing is to follow out the system of the voluntary hospitals of the country.
§ Sir K. WOOD
There are two or three practical issues which we have to decide by our votes in a minute or two. This
§ Division, I think, will be noted with a certain amount of interest by the agriculturists, by the owners and workers in factories, and by those who live in necessitous areas. We shall have to decide by our votes whether we shall give agriculture and the other productive industries relief to the extent of some £24,000,000 of money. We shall have to decide whether or not we are to proceed to relieve the general ratepayers of the country—[Interruption]—and whether we are also to relieve the necessitous areas of the country by a remission of much of their liabilities, amounting to many millions of money. Individual Members of the House can, of course, choose how they care to vote.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Just as the great charter of local government was first placed on the Statute Book some 40 years ago by a Conservative Administration, so in our time and generation this great Measure of reform and relief will stand as the work of another Conservative Government, and will in its turn be another great landmark in the industrial and social progress of the country.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 344; Noes, 165.561
|Division No. 16.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bevan, S. J.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R Skipton)||Cecil. Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Unlv.)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Boothby, R. J. G.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Apsley, Lord||Braithwaite Major A. N.||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Christie, J. A.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Churchill, Ht. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Astor, Mai. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Briggs, J. Harold||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Briscoe, Richard George||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brittain, Sir Harry||Clayton, G. C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Colfox. Major Wm. Phillips|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Burgoyne, Lieut-Colonel Sir Alan||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Burman, J. B.||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Couper, J. B.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Calne, Gordon Hall||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Carver, Major W. H.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Berry, Sir George||Cassels, J. D.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N)|
|Bethel, A.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Llndsty. Gainsbro)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Preston, William|
|Cuiverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whlteh'n)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hume, Sir G. H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hums-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ramsden, E.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hurd, Percy A.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Iveagh, Countess of||Remer, J. R.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Dlxey, A. C.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Drewe, c.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Duckworth, John||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Kindersley, Major Guy M||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Robinson, sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ropner, Major L.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lamb, J. Q.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|England, Colonel A.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Rye, F. G.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Salmon, Major I.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Loder, J. de V.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Falls, Sir Charles F.||Long, Major Eric||Sandon, Lord|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Looker, Herbert William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Lougher, Lewis||Savery, S. S.|
|Finburgh, S.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R.,
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Lumley, L. R.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mel. (Renfrew, W)|
|Forrest, W.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belf'st.)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Maclntyre, Ian||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||McLean, Major A.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Smithers, Waldron|
|Gates, Percy||Macquisten, F. A.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Gofl, Sir Park||Margesson. Captain D.||Stanley, Lord (Fyide)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Grace, John||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Meller, R. J.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Greaves-Lord. Sir Walter||Meyer, Sir Frank||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Stuart, Crichton-. Lord C.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Grotrlan, H. Brent||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Tasker, R. Inigo|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Templeton, W. P.|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Tltchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Newman. Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Newton. Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Waddington, R.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Nuttall, Eills||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Oakley, T.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Watson, sir F. (Pudsey and Otiey)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Watson. Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hilton, Cecil||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Wells, S. R.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pennefather, Sir John||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fltzroy||Penny, Frederick George||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Holt, Captain H. P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Perring, Sir William George||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks, Richm'd)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Pilcher, G.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Withers, John James|
|Wolmer, viscount||Wood, Sir S. Hill (High Peak)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Womersley, W. J.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.||Major Sir G. Hennessy and Major|
|Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.||Sir W. Cope.|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley||Wright, Brig.-General W. D.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, John|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barnes, A.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barr, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Shinwell, E.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||John, William (Rhondda, Went)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bellamy, A.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Sitch. Charles H.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvurtown)||Siesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Rennle (Penlstone)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, W. N. (Carmarthen)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lansbury, George||Sullivan, J.|
|Cape. Thomas||Lawrence, Susan||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lindley, F. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Longbottom, A. W.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Connolly, M.||Lunn, William||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cove, W. G.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||MacLaren, Andrew||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Townend, A. E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Day, Harry||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Viant, S. P.|
|Dennlson, R.||March, S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Duncan, C.||Maxton, James||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dunnico, H.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Unlver.)||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Morris, R. H.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gardner, J. P.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Murnin, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Owen, Major G.||Whiteley, W.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Palin, John Henry||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams David (Swansea, E.)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Potts, John S.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Purcell, A. A.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.||Wright, W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hardle, George D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks. W. R., Elland)|
|Harney, E. A.||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Percy A.||Saklatvala, Shapurll||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr B.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House for Monday next.—[Mr. Chamberlain.]562
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.