HC Deb 25 January 1929 vol 224 cc561-9

Amendment made:

In page 63, line 6, leave out the word "fifteen" and insert instead thereof the word"nineteen."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]


I beg to move, in page 63, line 2(3, after the word "day," to insert the words "and each of the four following years."


I wish that the Minister would make some statement upon this Amendment. I have no desire to detain the Committee or to prevent hon. Members dealing with some of the other matters which may arise on the question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." But I would point out that this Clause dealing with the appointed day, is to be amended here by inserting words which will make it apply to each of the four following years. I think we may congratulate ourselves on the fact that this will destroy the whole effect of the formula and the financial basis of this scheme. I am not complaining about that. I should be delighted if any Amendment produced by the Minister would destroy the whole basis of this scheme, and I feel that we ought to offer our word of thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for having conceded the point that his scheme is such that he must postpone for a few years, not the whole measure of its operation, but a certain portion of it. I do not remember, during the course of this Bill, having congratulated the Minister before. I should wish to have done so earlier, but we have now at least his admission that, as a result of the statements made by the local authorities, as a result of the case put before the right hon. Gentleman by them, and as a result of his recognition that if the operation of the scheme were to be brought forward and made to coincide with the appointed day, the local authorities would be injured, he must temper the wind to the shorn lamb a little more. A certain measure of congratulation is therefore due to him, and I offer it, but in doing so I would point out that this extension of a further four years in this Clause will destroy the whole of the justification which he put forward for the scheme, and to that extent I think the local authorities in this country and the Opposition are also to be congratulated on having secured at least one concession of substantial importance on this Measure.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made:

In page 63, line 29, after the word "the," insert the word"next."— [Mr. Chamberlain.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


I notice that in this Clause and the Clause which we have spent some time in discussing this afternoon, we are saying that districts where a borough and a part of a county have been joined together will probably have to be divided under the new scheme. The whole of the financial arrangements are based solely upon the question of how much money certain districts received before this new Measure was introduced. If I were to take a district which is going to be divided and say that in some way they have had an income of £100,000, as I understand, roughly speaking, what the Government say is that during the next five years that district is not going to receive an amount less than that sum, but will probably receive somewhat more. In the whole of the discussion it does not seem to me that attention has been paid to the effect of this proposal upon these divisions, with regard to the cost of administration. I am quite prepared to hear from the Minister that he is hoping that the new scheme, generally speaking, will lead in many cases to a reduction in expenditure. I can quite imagine that in London, for instance, the amalgamation of many of these Poor Law bodies under the London County Council may lead to a reduction in expenditure; and it seems to me quite possible and feasible that, if you are going in the country to begin to cut what has been a whole into two parts, and perhaps throw a smaller part that may have been controlled by a town into a county, when you come to decide what proportion of the £100,000 is to go to one part and what proportion to the other, the evidence put before the Minister may be to the effect that it is costing more to administer the new system than the old. I cannot see that any reference is made to an emergency of that kind.

What I have in my mind is this: I believe that Sheffield and some of the large cities have been really controlling the Poor Law in what is virtually a part of the county. Supposing the new Poor Law rate is confined entirely to the county, and then some town is thrown into the county, it is quite possible that the expense of administering the Poor Law will be greater than it was when dealt with by large towns. Is any provision made, or any power given to the Minister under this Clause, to consider an emergency of that kind, or does it mean that if here and there there should be cases where the mere fact of the division has involved increased expenditure the Minister has no power whatever to meet an emergency of that kind? The whole Clause under which we are raising the money to be provided simply deals with the money received at the present time, and absolutely ignores the whole question of administration.


I should like to put this question. There is a part of the Rotherham Poor Law Union which will come into the city of Sheffield. On the other hand, part of another union may come into the city and another part may go out of the city. In the case of the Rotherham portion, which is the larger, we shall have, of course, additional expense in administration there; shall we, in addition to that have to meet the superannuation of the officer who is deprived of his duties because we are taking over part of the Rotherham Poor Law Union? The same thing may apply in a good many other cases.


Will the Minister also deal with the case of an area like Middlesbrough? I would like to know whether these supplementary grants would be available in a case such as this. A doubt has been expressed as to what would be the effect of dividing two areas. Shall we be assured that when the Eston area comes under the county area under this Clause no loss will be suffered?


Loss to whom?


That is the point I want to know. I want to be assured that any loss that may be incurred through the Eston area going into the; county area will be made up under this Clause. Here you have two areas which, for Poor Law purposes, are in such an extraordinarily bad condition that they are worried as to whether they are to bear any further loss.


There is a similar, though not identical, case in the County Borough of York. York is in the position that it is, for Poor Law purposes, inclusive not only of the county borough, but of a considerable number of adjacent parishes. Some anxiety is being caused to those who will be responsible for the administration of this Bid in the County Borough of York by the question of whether, owing to the lopping off of the county districts for which at present the county borough is responsible, the county borough will not in future have to incur considerably larger expenditure in respect of Poor Law administration. At present, it is notorious that the smaller country areas surrounding a county borough like York, although they contribute to the general fund in rates, take very much less out of the common pool. Therefore the county borough is exercised as to the effect of these proposals, if any, on its own position. I am not clear whether this Clause applies to such cases.


In reply to my hon. Friend who has just spoken, this Clause is not the one which deals with his particular point. That point is dealt with by what we call the additional Exchequer grants, and there is a guarantee that every county borough, after taking account of any loss in which it may be involved by reason of the lopping off of these county districts, shall have a gain of Is. per head of the population. There is therefore no reason why in the County Borough of York there should be any anxiety on that particular score.


May I ask whether by losses the right hon. Gentleman means losses in increased administration, or losses in the amount of income?


You have now a union which covers a county borough, or part of a county borough, and also certain districts outside, and the charge for the cost of Poor relief is equalised over the whole of that area. If you were to separate them into two areas, you would find that the cost of Poor relief in the county borough was much higher than the cost outside the county borough. That is, of course, a very natural and easily understood consequence. What is happening now is that these districts outside the county borough are bearing part of the cost of Poor relief in the county borough. Under this scheme that is changed, and the county borough becomes a self-contained unit, and has to bear what it bore before and also that part of the cost previously borne by the outside districts. It is that loss which is covered by the guarantee under the additional Exchequer grant.

Here we are dealing with a different point. Here we are dealing with a case where in a comity borough there are two separately rated areas inside the county borough. This Clause does not at all apply to the case where there is part of a union in the borough and part out of the borough, and therefore the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) is raising here a point which does not arise on this; Clause. There is no question of the county districts here, it is merely a question of any loss which may be incurred by different parts of the same county borough which are now separately rated. Take the question of Poor Law officers, which was raised. That does not arise here at all.


I am sorry to interrupt, but I should like to get this right. If I may, I will refer to the case of Middlesbrough, purely as an example. There we have a big housing estate which comes into the borough for most purposes, but one section of which goes into the county for, I think, Poor Law purposes. Does it mean that those people will be excluded under the operation of this Clause?


If I have rightly understood the hon. Lady, part of this housing estate is in another union now, but it is within the county borough. Is that right?




Then that part comes into the county borough for Poor Law purposes under the Bill. The question which I understood she was putting to me before was as to where you have a county borough divided into two parts which, being in separate unions, are separately rated and where you may have a loss in one and a gain in another, and the question to be determined is whether there is an aggregate loss in the whole borough. If there is an aggregate loss in the whole borough, then the additional grant comes in. In the case of the county districts. in addition to the guarantee which applies to the county as a whole, there is also an arrangement which applies to the differences and losses of the individual districts. Where you have a number of districts, some of which are going to gain and some of which are going to lose, what the Bill says is that those who would otherwise lose shall not lose for the first five years. The deficiency which has to be made up is to be made up half by the Exchequer and half by the districts which would gain. There is a similar arrangement in the boroughs. There may be a part of a borough which gains and a part which loses, and we have to modify our Clause in order to meet that. If the additional Exchequer grant is less than half of the aggregate loss of any part which lose in the

borough, then the Exchequer is going to make up half the deficiency and the other half falls upon the other half of the county borough.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 176; Noes, 64.

Division No. 125.] AYES. [3.24 p.m.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Goff, Sir Park O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Albery, Irving James Gower, Sir Robert Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Grant, Sir J. A. Penny, Frederick George
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Giasgow, Cent'l) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Griffith, F. Kingsley Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Gunston, Captain D. W. Plicher, G.
Atkinson, C. Hacking, Douglas H. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Hamilton, Sir George Rawson, Sir Cooper
Balniel, Lord Hammersley, S. S. Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Harris, Percy A. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, ch'ts'y)
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Harrison, G. J. C. Roberts Sir Samuel (Hereford)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Hartington, Marquess of Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Ropner, Major L.
Berry, Sir George Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Rusself, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bethel, A. Headlam, Lieut.-Colonet C. M. Salmon, Major I.
Betterton, Henry B. Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Savery, S. S.
Boothby, R. J G. Hills, Major John Waller Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Briggs, J. Haroid Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)
Briscoe, Richard George Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Brittain, Sir Harry Hopkins, J. W. W. Smithers, Waldron
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Buckingham, Sir H. Hudson,Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Bullock, Captain M. Hurst, Gerald B. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Campbell, E. T. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Iveagh, Countess of Strauss, E. A.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton James, Lieut.-Coionel Hon. Cuthbert Stuart, Crichton, Lord C.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Styles, Captain H. Walter
Clarry, Reginald George King, Commodore Henry Douglas Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Clayton, G. C. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Sugden, Sir Wllfrld
Cockerill, Brig.-Gcneral Sir George Knox, Sir Alfred Tasker, R. Inigo.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Cope, Major Sir William Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (slingtn. N.) Loder, J. de V. Tomlinson, R. P.
Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Luce, MajorGen.Sir Richard Harman Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Lumley, L. R. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Macintyre, Ian Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Dawson, Sir Philip Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Watts, Sir Thomas
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Macquisten, F. A. Wayland, Sir William A.
Dixey, A. C. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Wells, S. R.
Drewe, C. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple
Edmondson, Major A. J. Malone, Major P. B. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Manningham-Buiier, Sir Mervyn Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Meller, R. J. Wolmer, Viscount
Everard, W. Lindsay Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Moore, Sir Newton J. Worthinqton-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Morris, R. H. Ycung, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
Fermoy, Lord Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Foster, Sir Harry S. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) TELLERS FOR THE AYFS.—
Fremantie, Lieut.-Coionel Francis E. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Captain Margesson and Captain
Gates, Percy. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Wallace.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Broad, F. A. Duncan, C.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bromley, J. Dunnico, H.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Cape, Thomas Gardner, J. P.
Batey, Joseph Charleton, H. C. Gillett, Ceorge M.
Bellamy, A. Cluse, W. S. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charies W. Cove, W. G. Groves, T.
Briant, Frank Dennison, R. Grundy, T. W.
Hall, F. (York., W. R., Normanton) Mosley, Sir Oswald Sutton, J. E.
Hardle, George D. Naylor, T. E. Taylor, R. A.
Hayday, Arthur Oliver, George Harold Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)
Hirst, G. H. Palin, John Henry Thurtle, Ernest
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Ponsonby, Arthur Townend, A. E.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Potts, John S. Viant, S. P.
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Purcell, A. A. Wailhead, Richard C.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sakiatvala, Shapurjl Weliock, Wilfred
Kelly, W. T. Scrymgeour, E. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Kennedy, T. Shinwell, E. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lansbury, George Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Windsor, Walter
Lawrence, Susan Sitch, Charles H. Wright, W.
Lowth, T. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
MacNeill-Weir, L. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
March, S. Stamford, T. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Paling.

Resolved, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next, 28th January.