§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
The Third Reading of this Bill brings to a conclusion one of the important steps in the reconstitution of the scheme of the Government to deal with the rating problem in both this country and in Scotland, and this Bill goes from this House in a form very similar, at any rate with regard to its main provisions, to that in which it was introduced. I observe that the official Opposition have contented themselves with putting down an Amendment for the rejection. On the Second Reading of this and of the English Bill, there was a reasoned Amendment. I presume the Opposition have departed from some of the views they expressed in their previous reasoned Amendment. We must content ourselves with awaiting the development of the Debate to know upon what grounds they now choose to take their stand. The Government proposals were published in the first place in a White Paper in order that the general public, and all concerned in the affairs of Scotland, might have the fullest opportunity of careful consideration. Over a long period of time my colleagues and myself and those who were working in the official Departments in Scotland made it their business to come into close contact with those who were immediately concerned. Those numerous conversations and deputations led, as they were intended to do, to the fullest and frankest discussions of proposals which everyone recognised were of vital importance and far-reaching moment, and the outcome of those discussions was the alteration of the Measure, without departure from the broad principles of policy disclosed in the Budget discussions, to meet in a large measure the representations of numerous bodies in Scotland.
I think, therefore, that the Government can at least say that they have given the fullest opportunity of criticism to those who are immediately concerned, 824 and that the subsequent procedure which has been followed in this House has, at any rate, led to discussions which have been of great interest to those who are immersed in these problems. I should like at this stage to say that I appreciate very much the temper and tone in which my colleagues from all sides of the House and from all parties have discussed this matter in this House. It would be an ill day for Scotland if on problems of this nature we could not debate these matters across the Floor of the House with freedom and a courtesy, which, I hope, will always be maintained.
It must be admitted by everybody that industry and agriculture have been suffering under a burden of rates, which have borne upon these industries in very unequal proportions. While it is the case that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have other ideas as to the solution of some of these problems, there is a large measure of agreement that there are incidences and burdens which bear upon agriculture and industry which ought to be dealt with. In 1926, we did make alterations in the rating system of Scotland but those alterations were made, as the House and my colleagues in Scotland know, in restricted circumstances. Our object on this occasion has been not only to give relief to industry and to agriculture, but to spread more equitably the charges between the poor areas and the rich. I need not remind the House that that kind of problem was brought very clamantly before this House in the troubles and the difficulties within the coal industry and that this House, recognising those inequalities and the difficulties which these smaller and poorer areas had to sustain, gave succour and help from the Exchequer to tide over some of those difficulties. But the very size of these areas and the fact that the system of poor relief, for instance, dates back a long way in the history of local administration have brought permanently before men of all parties the necessity of doing something to mitigate these difficulties. The present system of Government grants, devised as it was under very different circumstances in the past, is to-day out of date, inadequate and insufficient in many cases to deal with the problem which we have to face at this time. There also, I think, there is a clamant need for revision.
825 The local government system of Scotland, however good and efficient it may be in some respects, is also a machine, which those who have had to work it and those who have had experience of it know is a creaking machine in other respects. All these objects were in the mind of the Government. The relief of industry, some impetus in order to restart and to ease the wheels of industry, relief to agriculture, which is desired not only by the agricultural community but by the general community in the development of our country, the difficult problems of these small and diverse areas—all these objects have been within the scope of the Government's aims. I think I can claim that we are to-day considering a Bill which, while it has been modified and altered in a variety of details, both from the discussions outside this House and from the discussions upon the Floor of this House, in the main remains to carry out those ideals. We have always welcomed criticism not only within this House, but outside it, and I believe that now that this Bill has been so fully discussed both on the Floor of this House and throughout the country, the great mass, not only of those immediately interested in the administration of local government, but of the people of Scotland, have realised what are the primary objects of this Bill and what is the method by which we intend to carry them out.
Since the Second Reading of the Bill, there have been five important new provisions on the financial side and, as this is a matter of some importance, I will venture to detail them. The noteworthy provisions are all in favour of the local authorities and at the expense of the central Exchequer. The 15 years' transitional period has been lengthened to 17 years, and the first revision will take place after the third instead of after the fifth year. The Government have undertaken to explore, with the local authorities before the end of seven years, the working of the formula and the distribution of money under the formula. The guarantee of 1s. per head of the population to every county council and large burgh in addition to their calculated loss of rates and grants in the standard year has been made permanent. The guarantee to every separately rated area against any increase of rates due to the scheme has been extended from 826 one year to five years, and the total period of Exchequer assistance in areas that have an increase of rates due to the scheme is extended from 15 years to 19 years. These are important financial concessions.
I should like now to turn to what, after all, has bulked very largely in our discussions in this House—the alterations in the machinery and the structure of local government by which this work is to be carried out. The broad basis of our Measure is to take the four great cities of Scotland and the counties of Scotland as the administrative units for local government. The moment the Government attempted to deal with a problem of this kind and to bring into the ambit of the county many of the burghs of Scotland, it was recognised by anyone who knew anything of the circumstances that such a proposal would evolve considerable criticism on the part of those who worked and directed the affairs of those burghs. But I would say to this House and to the country that a system which has grown up whereby certain burghs, because they were royal burghs, were put in one position, and other burghs, because they were not royal burghs, were put in a dissimilar position, already linked with the counties, irrespective of any question as to population and irrespective as to whether they were capable or able in any measure to carry out the public services with which they were entrusted, was a system which of itself was fundamentally unsound and, therefore, called for reform. I realise at once that there is a great feeling of patriotism and a long record of great public service on the part of many of these ancient burghs, whether they be royal burghs, or police burghs, or Parliamentary burghs, but, in dealing with this problem and while insisting upon the county as the unit because we think that that is the fundamental path of progress in local government, we have conceded to the burghs some of those powers which we had originally proposed should be transferred.
While then there is to be a county authority, I want it to be clearly understood that that new county authority is not the existing county council, but a new and combined authority, representative both of the landward and the burghal areas, I hope 827 that that very fact will lead to a quickening of, and an increasing interest in, the development of these services, and that these burghs, which have in the past earned for themselves such a high place in the history of our country, will be able to carry with them into these reconstituted bodies all the knowledge, energy, and enterprise which they possess. I have indicated that concessions have been made to the burghs. They have been allowed to retain, under this Bill, full powers in regard to their housing, water and sewage. They have had other concessions made to them with regard to the administration of their sanitary affairs and I trust that, whatever doubts and uncertainty they may have felt in the earlier stages of this discussion, they will now go into these newly formed central authorities to administer the main services of roads, health, education, and police with a clear determination to work for the best advantage of our country, and with a single eye to that purpose and not to any question of personal aggrandisement or assertion of the ancient rights of their particular community. Indeed, there are no rights except the rights of the people within these districts. They are the people whom this scheme is to serve, and the very fact that they are being given these large and increased opportunities should be an incentive to them for better service. On the other hand, the county districts have been allowed to retain complete power in dealing with purely landward affairs. They, in their turn, in coming into these enlarged bodies can deal with the larger services on equal terms with the representatives of the burghs.
In addition, there has been the further concession of setting up district councils within the county areas. While it is an essential part of this scheme that the financial control should rest with the central body, it was felt on both sides of the House that the sweeping away of the old parish councils and the putting of no other local body in their place was detrimental from the point of view of maintaining local interest and of forming a nucleus round which the people in these localities might first assist in education and local government, and proceed from those minor bodies to the larger bodies. We have 828 devised a scheme which I hope will give to the small localities in the county districts a feeling that they have a body which will conserve those local interests which are closely associated with country and village life and that they may be entrusted by the larger bodies with the carrying out of a great part of the detail of the work which is entrusted to the central body.
This scheme has been purposely drawn upon an elastic basis in order that those who are entrusted with the county government, representing the burghs and the landward areas, should be in a position, when they take office, to review clearly, anew and afresh in the area over which they are to rule, the circumstances which prevail within that area, and to devise in the interests of to-day and not of yesterday the schemes by which they will best administer those duties. Under this scheme that can be done, and I hope that it will he done after friendly consultations between the existing county authorities and the burgh representatives, and that they will come to the Scottish Office with schemes which are in a large measure agreed schemes, and not disputed schemes. In any ease, these schemes are of such a nature that they can be modified and altered from time to time. It is one of the most hopeful features of the new system that there is this measure of elasticity left. The central bodies are entrusted with the problems of education, Poor Law, the roads, the police, and the larger health services.
I should like to say something at this stage about the problem of education. Anyone who looks back on the history of education will realise that we have moved from one method to another in dealing with this problem. In 1918, the larger areas came into being; a very great advance not only from the point of view of the teachers but from the point of view of the efficiency of the services for the children. We maintain these larger areas, and we bring the problem of education within the ambit of the ordinary local government of the county and the large cities. Whatever criticisms may have been made on this, I say that in my judgment, when we are overhauling the whole of local government in the country, when we are 829 setting up in county areas these new bodies with large powers dealing with the great health services, which are so closely interlocked with the progress of education and the health of the children, it would have been a fatal error to have left education outside. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan) put this matter before the House in a manner which could not be bettered when he was speaking on this problem in the Committee stage. He outlined the problem and the various negotiations and committees with which he had been concerned prior and up to 1918, and he pointed out that the Bill introduced by the then Secretary for Scotland in 1919 did, in fact, have within it the exact terms which we are now passing in the Bill to-day. It was not carried out at that time owing to a variety of circumstances. The conclusion which the hon. Member arrived at was this:We recognised that education was not so important that it required a specially elected body to look after itself, but that it was so important that it could not be left out of the great stream and tendency of social service. It was because the question of education was inseparably bound up with health and housing, medical inspection and treatment, recreation and life; it was because all those things came into our view that we came to the conclusion that the municipalising of education was not only desirable and necessary, but indeed inevitable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th February, 1929; col. 1663, Vol. 224.]That view is held not only by the hon. Member but by the great majority of the teaching profession in Scotland. As I have said on a previous occasion, we are not making this change because we desire to decry in any sense the services of the great education authorities in Scotland in the past, but for the simple and understandable reason that education and health services are so interlocked that they ought to be administered by the same authority, that anything connected with the development of the services for children, a better service for eyesight, anything connected with their health and above all with their recreation, should be co-ordinated under these new councils.
Let me turn from education in order to say something on the subject of agriculture. I believe that there is a great measure of agreement among men and women of all parties that it is desirable to give some relief and assistance to agriculture. That, of course, is 830 challenged by hon. Members opposite. Let me draw the attention of the House and the farming community to the speech made by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) on this subject. If, as a leader of an important section of his party, he represents the views of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, it is well that the farming community know his views. Speaking on the 20th February, he said:The farmer has always come to the House of Commons and wept about being on the verge of bankruptcy…. They have good voices for weeping about their condition, and they always seem to be able to impose their views upon Governments…. I object strongly to the granting of this relief to the farmer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1929; col. 1225, Vol. 225.]And, of course, the hon. Member objects even more strenuously to the landlords having any assistance whatsoever. If hon. and right hon. Members opposite are prepared to say that in existing circumstances agriculture neither deserves nor ought to get any relief of any kind, we know where we are. For myself and for the Government, and indeed for the great mass of the people in the country, I say that by some means or other we must do whatever we can to encourage life in the country and assist the development of what is after all a very essential part of our national life. It is to the interests of the great towns and industrial communities that life in the country should be developed and agricultural progress kept alive and stimulated. We propose to give relief to agriculture, but, owing to the peculiar circumstances of rating in Scotland, we have had to adopt a different system from that adopted in England in order to give that relief. As a Scotsman, I see no great evil in adopting different methods, though I am sometimes told that I am being drawn at the wheels of the larger chariot. At any rate, in this case, I believe that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who will shortly move the rejection of this Bill, agrees with me and my colleagues that the method of approaching this subject—if it is to be approached—by the percentage system, is a better method than that adopted in England of the valuation of the house. And for the very obvious reason that under the system which we propose in the Bill, whatever burden of rates falls upon the 831 agricultural industry in future will fall on that industry as a unit and will leave the improvement of the cottages and farmhouses without risk of detriment. That is a great matter. There remains, of course, only the question whether the amount of one-eighth which we propose is best fitted or most likely to reflect a similar amount of relief to that given in England. I am satisfied that while the one-sixth which was originally proposed was a figure which might in some regard have met a great part of the case, yet under closer examination the Government were convinced that one-eighth was more equitable, and they have therefore accepted it.
Of course, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may claim that the landlord, who is a partner in this business, has no right to any part of this relief. After all, he is a partner in this business, and it is his capital and his energy which have provided the equipment for the buildings, the fences and the drains. He continues to be a partner and continues to be called upon for the improvement of the housing and for the betterment of the workers' conditions; and he has in the past paid the larger part of the burden of rates. In our judgment, it will be to the advantage of the worker, and will lead more certainly to the improvement of these properties, if this relief is given. But we have ensured that during the currency of existing leases one-half of the relief shall be passed on. I observe that there are critics who say that the proposal is inequitable, and that it will lead to the result that some people will be relieved of paying any rates whatsoever. That is perhaps true, and it is certain that in a great many cases they will be so relieved. But for a period and for a period only, and at the end of that period there will be that revision and that free interchange of bargaining which, whatever you give, was bound to take place. I think it will be thought, on reflection, that this proposal is the most equitable under the circumstances, since it gives an immense impetus and relief to both partners in the industry, and at a time of great stress and difficulty in the industry gives the larger part of it to the tenant and not to the landlord. I despair of those who would endeavour to say that 832 the partner in agriculture should not be considered in this matter. It is clear that one of the greatest difficulties which a large number of agricultural properties are facing to-day is the inability either of the tenant or of the landlord to find sufficient capital for carrying out improvements which are essential.
These are our proposals. We submit them to the Scottish agricultural community with the confidence that they will be a large measure of relief to them, and an incentive not only to the large farmer but to the small one. When we were considering the problem as to whether we should adopt the English system, which we might have done, we came, of course, immediately up against the difficulty not only that the adoption of that system would be detrimental to the large mass of smallholders throughout the country, but that it was bound to be detrimental to the interests of the small farmer. When I say the small farmer, I mean the great majority of the farms in Scotland. Any scheme which proceeded upon those lines was in my judgment unthinkable. It was that above all which led the Government to take the decision which they have taken in the matter.
I turn for a short time to speak of what this Bill will do for the improvement of the health services of my country. Anyone who knows the conditions of Scotland, either in the purely rural districts or in the great cities, must be well aware that, in spite of all the progress which we have made—it is very considerable—there still lies before us a vista of great difficulty and a problem of immense size and character. What is that problem? The fact that a large part of the population has come to be crowded into a section of our country, that they are faced by a shortage of houses in many cases and live in houses whose standard is not the standard that a large number of us would desire to see, and the fact that more and more people of all kinds and classes are tending to turn to medical science and to the hospital accommodation of our country for assistance and relief, is well known to those who move about the country and realise the difficulties of the problem.
With the best intentions many of the existing authorities, county and urban, have been incapable of meeting some of these 833 problems adequately. You may have two burghs in a county, within close distance of each other, one with a hospital for infectious disease capable of dealing with seven or ten individuals, and within a few miles another body with the very best intentions doing its utmost to meet this problem and having an institution that is able to deal with fifteen or twenty individuals. The fact is that neither of those institutions finds it possible under existing conditions to be effective. They are not economic, and the truth is that unless there is co-ordination of all these efforts and a bringing together of all the resources of the communities to deal with the problem there is waste and inefficiency.
If I look at the great city of Glasgow I see there many highly efficient and privately-supported hospitals. I see the medical fraternity giving their services with great freedom and without remuneration, and I see the institutions supported, and well supported, by the great mass of the people of all classes. Alongside, I see a great Poor Law hospital run by the City of Glasgow. I do not see that measure of co-ordination and co-operation either between the private hospitals or between the private hospitals and the public hospitals which, if there is to be real efficiency in this matter, is essential. We, in this Bill, are holding out not only the hope but, in my judgment, the guarantee of a great solution of that problem. We called together—it may have been late, but, at any rate, it was called together—a body representative of all the private hospitals in Scotland as a consultative body, and I have gone to them from time to time, and my Department has gone to them from time to time for their assistance and advice. The methods which we propose to adopt in this Bill to deal with this problem are methods taken upon their advice, and it is one of the most important parts of this matter that we have behind us the wholehearted co-operation not only of the managers of these great private hospitals but of the medical profession, which is closely linked with them, and we shall see, as we see to-day in Aberdeen, the linking together of these hospitals, the co-operation of the university and the local authorities and of the medical 834 fraternity all working for a common end.
It is essential that in any fresh development of municipal treatment of this hospital question there should be the fullest examination before any step is taken, and we provide with certainty in this Bill that there shall be that careful investigation before any such step is taken. That is essential, and it is all the more essential if you visualise, as I visualise, in a great city like Glasgow the development in the future of this hospital service. More and more, in my judgment, there will come into the paying wards of these hospitals the classes of people who hitherto have not gone to these hospitals, but who, in increasing numbers, will go there. In addition, I think we shall see the building of annexes outside the great cities in the fresh and pure air of the countryside, into which will be taken at various stages those who first will enter the portals of the hospitals within the city, and it is only by that co-ordination of the work, not only within the bounds of the city but outside the city with the county authorities, that a satisfactory solution of this question will be reached.
If this Bill dealt with no other problem than this of the improvement and co-ordination of our great health services, I should indeed be proud to submit it to this House. But it goes further than that. It carries within it relief to industry. Hon. and right hon. Members may doubt it, and may question the efficacy of this scheme, but, at any rate, it is relief for which these industries have asked, which they can appreciate and of which, in their turn, they can make use. The general progress of our community must rest upon our general well-being. It is essential that if we are to have good houses, if we are to take advantage of the progress of education, we must find the opportunities for the development of industries and for the employment of our people. It may be that this is doubted by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I submit to this House and to the country that this Measure is an honest and a determined effort to give that stimulus to industry, and to carry with it the improvement of all the conditions which surround the lives of our people.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
Whatever disputation may take place this afternoon upon the terms of the Bill which is leaving the House to-day, there will be, I think, general agreement that the right hon. Gentleman has given a clear and an exhaustive account of the intentions and the objects which the Government have in view with their Measure. This Bill has peculiarities which distinguish it from any other local government Measure of the last century. It was not preceded by any public agitation or demand and, as far as I am aware, no hon. Member mentioned it in his last election address. Its provisions were concocted secretly and without consultation with the administrative bodies who will be compelled to operate it. I believe the executive, or some members of the executive of the County Councils' Association were consulted, but the Convention of Royal Burghs and the other administrative bodies in Scotland whom one would have imagined ought to have been consulted in the early stages of the arrangement of the Clauses of this Bill, seem not to have been consulted.
Further, this Bill has been produced in the dying months of a Parliament elected, as millions of people in this country think, upon a lying canard. It is being crushed through this House in face of vehement protest from the popularly elected bodies in Scotland. It is being crushed through in defiance of the wishes and the apprehensions of a majority of Scottish Members in this House. It was deliberately withheld from the Scottish Standing Committee, and important Clauses, particularly the Clauses relating to the small burghs, have been Guillotined through the successive stages of the Bill without discussion, or with very inadequate discussion. No vote took place upon some important Clauses, and the Bill as a whole emerges, probably inevitably so, but nevertheless it emerges as a queer hotch-potch of reaction which, in part, at any rate, can only be made workable by the very wide powers of dictatorship about removing difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in obtaining, which might conceivably earn for him envy in Madrid, Rome and Moscow, and from which, it seems, Scotland can be saved 836 only by the vigilant activities of representatives in another place. If we are to believe that what is happening with reference to the similar Clauses of the English Bill, we shall also have when this Measure gets to another place, then we may hope that the dictatorial Clauses will be amended.
In the earlier stages of the public discussions on this Bill, one hon. Gentleman went about the country in a sort of ecstasy declaring repeatedly that this Bill had been well thought out, had been long planned and was well prepared. But the burghs of Scotland seemingly thought otherwise, and the amazing proposals which were included in the Bill in its earlier stages, whereby the water supplies and the sewage supplies of the small burghs were to be taken from those small burghs and handed over without a penny of compensation to the county councils, and the amazing proposals under which the housing schemes of these small burghs were to be taken from them and handed over to the county councils, in some cases, at least, when those county councils had built no houses at all—these amazing proposals were, as a result of pressure from the burghs of Scotland, hurriedly dropped by the right hon. Gentleman in the early stages.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Before the Bill was introduced. Subsequently, the limited discussions which we were permitted to have in this House have compelled the Government to introduce something like ten pages of Amendments to the Bill, which was heralded as a very carefully thought out Measure, and the Bill, mangled and transformed almost beyond recognition on non-essentials, because the right hon. Gentleman, as one would have expected, never gave way on anything that mattered—it is true he did hand us a painted gold brick, as I will show in a moment—this mangled Measure is now going through its final stage in this House for weal or for woe in Scotland.
What are the net results of this Bill on the administrative side? The small burghs have been stripped of their local initiative in the major public health services. The parish councils and the education authorities have disappeared, being supplanted by partly elected and 837 partly non-elected committees. Co-opted ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in Scottish administrative history, will, be spending public money, and although provision is made in the Bill to provide that the co-optees will be in a minority—
§ Captain FANSHAWE
Will the hon. Gentleman make it perfectly clear that he is not referring in any way to district councils?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I specifically said parish councils and education authorities. I am referring only to those co-opted ladies and gentlemen are to be there for the first time, and, while in a minority numerically, they will be, of necessity, the only active members who can afford the time. As we have sought to show in previous discussions, it will be impossible, in the city of Glasgow for example, for municipal representatives to continue attending the hundreds of meetings to which they are summoned normally every year, and, in addition, to undertake the work of the distribution of Poor Law relief and the work of education. Therefore, we believe that the co-opted members—sometimes men and women who have experience and who may be skilled people in these matters—will of necessity be the active agents in education and Poor Law duties, and, that being so, we have the fact that these co-opted members will very largely be engaged in spending public money without any responsibility to the electors. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), speaking in this House on 5th February, declared that these co-opted members were those who would not in many cases go through the trouble of a popular election. Nevertheless, they are to be permitted to spend public money.
One further fact emerges from this Pill. By reason of the large areas—the county council areas—working-class representation must inevitably be diminished. The meetings of these bodies are held during the day and only a very small moiety of the working-class representatives can possibly get away from their work in order to attend meetings held, perhaps, in a distant county town. Because of that fact, in only five counties, at the most, in Scotland do we find working 838 class representation on the county councils. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have graciously conceded payment for lost time. I am perfectly certain, however, that it is within the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge in making that concession, that he was offering us very little indeed. We have had payment for lost time in our county education authorities and the result has been as many of us prophesied. When a working man who has been elected to a county education authority goes to his employer and says, "I shall be off on to-morrow or Thursday or Friday, attending a meeting of the education authority but you will not require to pay me my wages during that time, as I am paid those wages by the county education authority," what happens is that the employer says, "I am very sorry, but I have an urgent contract in hand and you must choose between non-attendance at the education authority meeting and the loss of your job." The result is that unless in certain specialised occupations such as that of a miner's agent—miner's agents being paid by working class organisations and trade unions—we have practically no working-class representation on our county council bodies at all. Therefore when the right hon. Gentleman conceded payment for lost time he conceded virtually nothing.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I said that my experience was that in regard to education authority work it was useless. I said that the real remedy was another remedy altogether. Indeed we sought to propound that remedy in. I think, the first Amendment during the Committee stage, but it was ruled out of order. The point I am making at the moment is that not only working-class representatives, but small shopkeepers and others who do not come under this provision as to payment for lost time, cannot and do not attend these county council meetings, and the result of these proposals in my submission, will be that the working class representation which we presently have in the small burghs, and the smaller areas 839 will automatically diminish, if it does not disappear, unless perhaps in two or three special counties in Scotland.
We got another concession from the right hon. Gentleman, which is, in my opinion, just about as valuable as the concession I have just mentioned. On the Clause dealing with education he conceded the point that instead of one co-opted theologian representing the non-transferred schools, he would permit of two. Well, in no circumstances do I believe that two co-opted theologians on an education committee are any concession at all. I believe in democracy for good or ill. With all its faults, it is the best system which we have yet developed, and, to offer us two representatives of theological interests instead of one, does not appear to be offering us anything at all and is certainly not an offer to be hailed as a great concession. It reminds me of the story in "The Vicar of Wakefield" of how the boy Moses went out to sell his father's colt and came back with a great bargain, the bargain being a gross of green spectacles with copper rims and shagreen cases. The concession which the right hon. Gentleman has offered to the people of Scotland in connection with the education committees is about as valuable as the bargain with which Moses returned to his father in Goldsmith's story.
I do not for a moment say that there should be no wider areas. I do not think anybody can argue seriously in support of the existing administrative areas in Scotland. If there were no other reason, the coming of the motor car has made the existing administrative areas impossible. But what we sought to move for in the Committee stage was to have a commission of delimitation going about the country, fixing fresh administrative areas and recommending where adjacent areas should be joined together, whether those adjacent areas were in the same county or not. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government stick to the county areas. But there is nothing sacrosanct in the county boundary line. Industry does not stop at county boundaries. Indeed, there are some towns and industrial areas which swarm over county boundary lines and are in two or three counties. If we had had our way we would have urged very strongly on the right hon. Gentleman the desirability 840 of a commission of delimitation and the setting up of wider areas retaining a community of interest and retaining the local touch, and we would have advocated having those areas so fixed that the meetings of the public representatives could be held at night. Where the public representatives could meet at night, there we would have retained, we believe, democracy.
That, unfortunately, we were not permitted to do, and we now have instances such as that of Rothesay which is shackled to Arran, although in the winter months there is no transport between the two places. There is no sense in talking about a common hospital in Rothesay for the people of Arran when those people cannot get to Rothesay from Arran unless they go all the way round via Wemyss Bay and back again. There is no sense in shackling places together in this way, when people have to go through another county in order to reach the county town to which they are required to go. By persisting in this system of county areas, the right hon. Gentleman has produced many fresh anomalies in administration in Scotland, though it was, I believe, his intention to wipe out such anomalies altogether. The big area means bureaucracy. I see no escape from that conclusion. It means loss of popular control and popular interest. It affects the reporting in the local Press of the doings of these public authorities. The fact, at any rate, should be known to the right hon. Gentleman, that county education authority meetings are not as well reported in the newspapers as the old burgh school board meetings and other school board meetings were. The county council meetings are not a quarter as well reported as the burghal council meetings, and this larger administrative area must inevitably mean a lack of public interest.
It also means, in my belief, greater cost and waste. We are continually hearing from hon. Members opposite about the small numbers who go to the poll in burghal areas and we know there are parts in Scotland where no candidates at all have been nominated for county council areas. I think in the last elections that was so in tow places—in South Harris and I think in part of Renfrewshire. More important is the fact that at the last county council elections, 660 representatives were returned in Scotland without a contest and there 841 were only 150 contests showing that there is no popular interest or very little popular interest in the elections in the county council areas now. We have had some illumination in the earlier Debates on the Bill. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan) said, dealing with education:The parents are important, but they do not come first."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th February, 1929s col. 1667, Vol. 224.]Then the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) who I am sorry is not in his place, made a speech on 5th February in which he advanced the most frankly cynical argument I have ever heard in this House. He said that the business of education should be left to the people who knew most about it. He said it should be left to the teachers—that the teachers should control education and he added:This Bill will restore the liberty of the teachers, because if it is true that the county councils have so many Acts of Parliament to administer, that they are very fully occupied, then they will get through with their education business and will not go making work for themselves and perhaps interfering too much with the teaching profession, which is one of the noblest and best professions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th February, 1929; cols. 1673–4, Vol. 224.]We do not dispute that it is a noble profession. We deny utterly this strange doctrine, that education is a matter for the control of the teachers, just as we deny that police work is a matter for the control of policemen or that scavenging work is a matter for the control of scavengers; and yet, if it be true that education ought to be taken out of the control of the people of Scotland and placed in the hands of co-opted bodies and of teachers, that doctrine must sooner or later apply to all sorts of people and sections of the community in Scotland, and we shall land in a syndicalist State which will frighten hon. Members opposite.
It is with genuine regret that we, on these benches, see disappearing the training ground for public service and administration in the homely burghs of Scotland. Under this Bill, the numbers of men and women who have hitherto taken a part in administration who will be eligible for county council work will diminish. The right hon. Gentleman looks surprised. Let me give him the 842 instance of Grangemouth. Here is the provost, who is a registrar by profession, and he is therefore ineligible for county council duties; the bailie is a headmaster, and he is therefore ineligible; there is a judge, who is inspector of poor, and he is therefore ineligible; and one other councillor has a contract for laundry work required in the schools, and he too is ineligible, so that four members of the present Grangemouth Town Council are ineligible for service on the county council. The same thing applies, though not perhaps in the same degree, all over the country, and it will apply in a greater ratio as the county councils have to undertake new duties; and, therefore, new groups of people will automatically be barred out on the grounds of self-interest.
Before the right hon. Gentleman started poking sticks into the administrative machinery in Scotland, he told us it was necessary, in order to carry his de-rating scheme through, that the two schemes should hang together, that it was in order to get his de-rating scheme through that he started all these monkey tricks with the burghs and the public administration. We offered him alternatives. We offer him these alternatives still, and we hope to have every opportunity of urging them in the country. We believe that if he had only taken away the employers' share of the unemployment insurance stamps and made them a national charge, he could, by a stroke of the pen, have relieved industry and not required at all to alter the whole administrative machinery in Scotland as he has done. If that did not suit him, he could have relieved industry by taking away the cost of able bodied poor relief from the local authorities in Scotland and making it a national charge. [...] that were not satisfactory to him, he could have taken away the cost of maintaining parish roads from the local authority, roads which are a national asset and not a local asset. Time was when the old parishes could properly have been called upon to do this work, because they used the roads, but with the advent of the motor car everybody from all over the country uses these roads, so that now there are no parish roads in reality.
The right hon. Gentleman insists upon all productive industry being relieved of 843 its share of the local burdens. Yet not all productive industry, for he excludes public utilities, where the public own them, where the common people are the shareholders, In the course of recent debates we have had some particulars as to where this relief is going in Scotland. The landlords in Scotland are to get £770,000 a year, and the farmers £110,000. The landlords get seven times what the farmers get. The landlord is to give half of his share of the swag to the tenant, the right hon. Gentleman says, during the currency of the existing lease, but only during the currency of that lease, and at the expiry of the existing lease the half of the landlord's share will be the matter of a new bargain, a bargain with the landlord standing with the cards in his hand and the farmer, as in the past, getting what he can under very unfavourable bargaining circumstances. One man's prophecy in this matter is as good as another's. One man may prophesy that all this farmer's money will sooner or later accrue to the landlord. Another man may deny that and say that none of it will accrue to the landlord, but, at any rate, we are fortified by this, that the people who know most about the facts in Scotland, namely, the National Farmers' Union in Scotland, believe that this money will eventually fall into the pockets of the landlord class.
Then we take the industrial lands and hereditaments. The Government declare that the agricultural landlords are entitled to something, inasmuch as they provide buildings, drains and fences, but when we come to the industrial lands and hereditaments, that argument disappears in toto. The mineral royalty owners provide nothing, yet only during the currency of the existing leases to the colliery companies are they to hand over the relief. Sandpit owners, quarry owners, and owners of industrial lands and hereditaments in Scotland are to receive £617,000 per annum during the currency of existing leases, while the tenants are to receive £983,000. We are told that the house proprietor is not in a productive industry and is to get nothing. If one man invests money in building houses for pigs, he is engaged in a productive enterprise and gets relief; another man who builds houses for human beings is not in a productive industry 844 and gets nothing. Homes for pigs, relief; homes for human beings, nothing. While the owner of the houses for human beings gets nothing, while the tenant is to get no relief, and the shopkeeper and the doctor's surgery are to get no relief, because it is all a non-productive enterprise, at the last moment appear the house factors in this industry, and by some legerdemain which has never yet been explained to this House the house factors contrive to induce the Government to give them a wide open door, whereby they can appeal to the sheriff for a 100 per cent. increase in their emoluments for the collection of rates.
There are other anomalies, but some of my hon. Friends will dilate upon them. There is to be no relief for hospitals, but relief for distilleries. I hope that will be adequately explained in Scotland. Veneral disease treatment is to be free, maternity treatment can be charged for. An old man, a grandfather of 65, has bronchitis, and he can be charged for. If he cannot pay, his son or his daughter can be called upon to pay; and if they cannot pay, his grandchildren can be called upon to pay. I wish the Government and their supporters joy of that provision when it begins to be operated in Scotland.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Major Elliot)
We trust democracy!
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
They trust democracy. The people who co-opt, the people who take away the right of democratic voting, trust democracy. I am certain the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have every opportunity of explaining to the people of Scotland how far he and his Government have trusted democracy in this Bill, and we, on our side, will be able to explain how far the democratic machinery of administrative Scotland has been smashed up, and that that is the opinion of all the administrative bodies in Scotland, including normal supporters of the Government. Officials of the Convention of Burghs, representatives not of our political views at all, Conservative representatives, on the educational bodies and on the parish councils, are going about denouncing this Government on the ground that it is taking anti-democratic steps. Yet the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove 845 (Major Elliot) says, "We trust democracy." They take care not to trust democracy in the treatment of venereal disease. It is compulsory treatment, free, for that disease, but it is optional as to whether a committee shall allow a maternity case or a bronchial case to be treated free; and if that is the hon. and gallant Gentleman's notion of trusting democracy, then I wish him joy of his explanation when he goes before the people of Scotland. The Royal Western Infirmary is to pay rates, but Johnnie Walker's distillery gets relief—"still going strong." I am perfectly certain that before many moons are over the Government will wish they had not altered the administrative machinery of Scotland in the way they have done, nor looted the Treasury for their friends as they have done.
§ Dr. DRUMMOND SHIELS
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am glad to have the opportunity of seconding the rejection of this Bill. It is an important Measure, and, if we cannot give it a benediction in saying farewell, we can at least say that in several respects it is a better Bill now than when it was first presented to us. The de-rating section of the Bill did not bulk largely in our recent discussions, as the main principle had been discussed and accepted previously. The discussions we did have, however, brought out in a remarkably clear manner that the rating relief which it was supposed would go to the producer will ultimately entirely go to the country landlords and to the landlords and the property owners in the towns. The owner-occupier will certainly benefit both in the country and in the cities, but the tenant, who is presumably the more needy, will in a few years be exactly where he was before. In my opinion, the case for land nationalisation has never been so obvious as it has appeared during the Debates on this subject.
The Bill makes a change from the percentage grant system to the block grant system, in which the health services are involved. In his interesting speech this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said that in his opinion the Bill marked a step forward in regard to public health. In some respects that may be so, but I feel that that argument cannot be seriously advanced 846 in regard to the block grant change. On several occasions the Under-secretary has done his best to justify this change and has suggested that the public health services in backward areas will have more money spent upon them. I cannot, however, get away from the fact that the impulse for this change came from the Treasury and not from any medical or local government source. Any saving to the Treasury in respect of public health development means heavier burdens on depleted local re-sources. In my opinion this is one of the bad features of the Bill. Even child welfare and maternity services could not he saved from the change, though we used all our endeavours.
I am more hopeful about the hospital sections of the Bill than about any other part of it. The changes made in Committee, though by no means all we should have liked, have made some progress possible. The distinction to which the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) has referred between infectious and other diseases is one which cannot be justified, and we can only hope that local authorities will exercise their discretion wisely when using their powers of enforcing payment. Otherwise, the new hope of abolishing waiting lists in hospitals may easily fail to be fulfilled. Many of those who require treatment are already harassed by rent and other obligations. They need more money when they are ill instead of having to incur new charges. I regret, especially, that the Government did not see their way to exclude maternity hospitals from the payment section. As the hon. Member for Dundee has pointed out, the treatment which may be meted out to expectant mothers and, otherwise, to those suffering from certain infectious diseases, presents a very strong and painful contrast. I think the Government would have had the full support of public opinion if they had made the exception we tried to secure. Presumably, there will now be paying and non-paying wards in these municipal hospitals, just as there are already in many voluntary hospitals. That will lead, unfortunately but naturally, to the belief, which I do not think is generally justified, that better treatment and more attention are given in the paying wards than in the non-paying wards. It will therefore tend, as it has done elsewhere, to 847 patients and their relatives making sacrifices to go into the paying wards, thus involving them in financial difficulties for a long time, a thing which certainly will not help convalescence.
The voluntary hospitals have reluctantly agreed to the new arrangement, but some of their managers and supporters and certain eminent members of the medical profession have been voicing their fears of extinction by the municipal hospitals. No one will deny the splendid work which has been done and which is still being done by voluntary hospitals. They stepped into a big breach before the public conscience was educated to the duty of the community towards the sick and suffering. If, however, it be viewed rightly, this new development is not a censure on voluntary hospitals but is the real triumph of their educational work. They have convinced the community that medical and surgical aid must be promptly and fully available to every member of the population. The voluntary system admittedly cannot achieve this and, therefore, the community must accept the responsibility. For many years to come there will be need for all the resources of both voluntary and municipal hospitals, as there is a very big leeway to make up.
Even if municipal general hospitals ultimately meet a large part of the demand there is still abundant pioneer work for voluntaryism to do, because there are still many new fields to conquer. For example, the public conscience is still dulled in regard to crippled children, 75 per cent. of whom could be made self-supporting if they were treated early. They are now languishing in cripple hospitals and in private homes, often a burden and an unhappiness to themselves and frequently a burden on the community. Mental defectives are still largely untouched by any kind of organisation. Rheumatic children, who tend to become permanent invalids, are in many cases without treatment of any kind and without any prospect of the rest and consideration vitally necessary to them. It is well known also that the blind and the deaf are classes of the community who have not yet received the attention which their needs merit. There is plenty of scope for new voluntary effort. I hope, therefore, that no dog- 848 in-the-manger policy will attempt to hamper the new municipal and county efforts to do what is the barest duty of the community. I trust also that the inquiry to which the right hon. Gentleman referred this afternoon and on which I asked for information in Committee will not be of a vexatious kind and not such as to hamper local authorities or involve them in great expense in their proper endeavour to meet the medical needs of their people. I agree that there are difficulties in regard to the co-operation of the voluntary and municipal hospitals. There is difficulty in regard to honorary staffs and about medical teaching and other matters, but these can be surmounted by the spirit of good will, which I trust will be abundantly forthcoming.
I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee that it was unfortunate that we had no discussion on the limit of 20,000 population for the smaller burghs. There is a good theoretical argument for bigger areas, but there are very good practical reasons why the larger at least of the smaller burghs, should have been left outside the county council scheme. The practical test of efficiency, as well as the sentimental and historical arguments, which the Under-Secretary himself brought forward in regard to Inverness only a few days ago, were considerations which in many cases would have justified a much lower figure. The changes have been too reckless and too sweeping, and, as has been pointed out, the good will of the burghs was not obtained. Scotland resents the constant attacks on her characteristic institutions and the Government have provided much ammunition for the Home Rule movement in Scotland.
In closing, may I say that from the point of view of democratic government, I feel that this Bill is a backward step? Whatever one's theoretical views may be about ad hoc authorities and about having education and other subjects all in touch with the common stream and all administration being affected by the common influences of life, the fact remains that these combined activities will now be very numerous and the work vast in extent. By bringing the work of all these ad hoc authorities under one control you have made membership of town and county councils practically a full-time job. It is obvious, therefore, that it is going to be difficult to secure working-class member- 849 Ship of these bodies in Scotland. I do not despise the concession which the Government made in allowing payment for time lost, because, while I feel that it will not be very effective, I think it is an important principle to have established. The main difficulty is not concerned with the payment for time lost; the difficulty will be for individuals to get the time off at all, and therefore, though I believe the concession of payment will help in some cases, yet it will not meet the real difficulty. The loss of working-class representatives from our local bodies in Scotland will hit this party more, perhaps, than any other party. I daresay that hon. Members opposite will be able to bear that reflection without great sorrow.
But, though it may seem to some hon. Members opposite to be an advantage that working-class representation on local bodies should be diminished, because that would mean a smaller Labour party representation, that is really a very short-sighted view to take. No political party in the State can be successful unless it has working-class support. In the smaller burghs of Scotland working-class members, including Liberals and Conservatives, will be affected by this Bill. Even though the small burgh council will continue to meet at night, those members of it who have to be the county council representatives will almost certainly have to be taken from the class who have leisure and opportunity, and the working-class members will be excluded from the honour of serving on the larger body. Apart from all considerations of party, our local government in Scotland should be so constituted that working-class representation, which in one form or another has existed for generations, is made easy. It seems, however, that it will now be largely swept away. It is not to the real advantage of any party, or for the good of the country, that our local government should be carried on only by the leisured classes of the community. From this point of view, the Bill is a great set back, and that is one of the charges which will be made most strongly against this Government by the people of Scotland. For all these reasons, and for others into which I will not go, I have pleasure, though it is a melancholy pleasure, in seconding the Motion for the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I must ask the indulgence of the House because I am suffering from the prevailing complaint, but I very much wanted to come here to-day in order to put a few points in regard to this Bill, as I never had an opportunity of speaking on the Committee stage. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels) naturally confined himself for the most part to that portion of the subject on which he is an acknowledged master, namely, public health. He concluded his speech, however, by stating that working men would not in future be able to serve upon our local authorities in Scotland, and that it would be a pity if our local authorities were to be served by the leisured classes. I agree with the last statement, but he adduced no reasons to show that this would be the case in future. I think there is every reason to suppose that on the new authorities that are to be created the working-class will be far more fully represented than it is at the present time.
§ Dr. SHIELS
May I suggest that I gave a very good reason when I said that the work would be a full-time job?
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I cannot see how that will be so. I suppose that the average number of times that the new authorities will meet in full will be four to six a year, and to say that that is a full-time job for any working man seems to be quite absurd. I was very interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston). I wanted to see what sort of a job he would make of a Third Reading speech, because we know him for a formidable debater; he made an extremely good speech, as we expected that he would, and he was very wise to keep clear of all the main issues. He never touched one, but confined himself to the anxieties of the town councillors of Grangemouth and of the old man with bronchitis. He was quite right to do so, because these are the only serious anxieties which will be raised by the Bill. Incidentally, he said that at the last election nobody had raised the issue of this Bill, and that it had been flung at the House of Commons in the last stages of this Parliament without adequate discussion and without any demand. I deny that most vehemently. Throughout my election I spoke of the unfair incidence of local as against Imperial taxation, and of the urgent necessity for some remedy. 851 Again, the hon. Member said that the present administrative areas for local administration in Scotland were impossible. If they are impossible, it is time that they were made possible, and I do not consider that this Bill has been introduced a moment too soon. He also complained that certain of the Clauses were passed without adequate discussion; that frequently happens under the Guillotine. He says that the position of the small burghs was not fully discussed by the Committee. If, however, hon. Members opposite had not spent such an inordinate amount of time in discussing the abolition of the parish councils, of the desirability of which everybody is agreed, they would have had more time to discuss the question of the small burghs.
This Bill really divides itself into three main sections: the relief of productive industry, the widening of the areas of administration of certain services, and the substitution of the block for the percentage grant. With regard to de-rating, it has never been denied from the first word spoken on this Bill until this very moment that rates are a tax upon capital and a first charge upon the cost of production; that they are cumulative in their effect; and that they are grossly unfair in their incidence, falling most severely upon the heavy producer who employs the largest number of workers in the hardest hit districts, and falling upon him whether he is making a profit or a loss. That is a ridiculous system of taxation. Had it not been for the tremendous prosperity which this country enjoyed prior to the War, it would never have been tolerated as long as it has been. It is a relic from mediæval times. These rates upon productive industry have been a formidable-contributing factor in bringing about the existence of the industrial depression and of necessitous areas. This Bill relieves productive industry of 75 per cent. of the rates which are at present levied upon it.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Quite rightly. If they are borne on the Imperial Exchequer, they will not be paid in rates. The taxpayer pays taxes on profits, but the producer pays rates whether he is making a profit or a loss. The Opposition have 852 not the face to say that the de-rating of industry is a bad thing, but in regard to the de-rating of agriculture they have said a good deal about the benefit that will accrue to the landlords, What is the actual position? After the passage of this Bill, agriculture as an industry in Scotland will be relieved of rates to the tune of £1,500,000. The tenants will get off seven-eighths of their total rates, and they will be relieved of £770,000 under this Bill and other Measures. The landlords will be relieved of another £770,000. Of course the landlords will derive some benefit from the relief of agricultural rates. Nobody has ever denied that they will. It is a thoroughly good thing that they should be until and unless the land is nationalised. As the Secretary of State for Scotland rightly pointed out in his speech, under the present system the landlord is, whether hon. Members opposite like it or not, a full partner in the agricultural industry. He has a grave responsibility, which he has not been able adequately to fulfil during the last 10 or 12 years of agricultural depression, through lack of adequate capital. I admit that it is open to the Opposition to say that it may be necessary to change the whole system, and to nationalise the land. We disagree with that; but it is obvious that so long as the present system continues, the landlord is just as deserving of relief as the tenant farmer and it is as necessary.
What pleases me about agricultural de-rating is that the man who stands to gain most is the owner-occupier, for he is probably the most important man in Scottish agriculture to-day. Whatever hon. Members may say, the owner-occupier will get the whole cumulative benefit of agricultural de-rating, for he will get the benefit that goes to the landlord and the benefit that goes to the tenant as well. The hon. Member for Dundee talks about the woes of the farmer, and says that when the lease falls in, and half the relief will no longer have to be handed back to the tenant, the poor farmer will go trembling to an avaricious landlord, and as usual, get the worst of the bargain. If the hon. Member feels like that about the farmer, he ought to come to the House when his hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) is discussing the question of farmers. He made a speech the other night, part of which he directed against me, in which he 853 said that the farmers had always been the spoiled darlings of successive Governments, and never more so than of the present Government, and that if I were wise I should ignore their votes because they did not count for much. He spoke of the farmers with contempt and disdain, and he had no sympathy with them. Although I thoroughly disagree with the attitude that was taken up by the hon. Member for Bridgeton, I think that the hon. Member for Dundee, as a colleague, need not stress so much the painful woes of the farmers, who are not going to do so badly under these de-rating proposals. We hear about discrimination between prosperous and unprosperous industries, special mention being made of distilleries. The principle that underlies the de-rating part of the Bill is absolutely unassailable. It is that the tools and plant of production should not be taxed as such, but only the profits arising from their use. If you produce a scheme based upon a principle like that, it is better to stick to it, and to see it through. If you want to go for distilleries as such, you have your weapon; you can impose increased taxation directly upon them. In the meantime, to try and distinguish between profitable and unprofitable industries in a scheme of this kind would not only be impracticable, but unsound in principle. The fact that out of £26,000,000 that is going into the relief of rates on productive industry £20,000,000 will go to the industries that are most depressed, shows how wisely the scheme has been devised.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
They have been provided on several occasions by Departments of State, and I am prepared after the Debate to provide the hon. Member with my sources of information about the amount that will go to the distressed areas.
I come to my second point, which is the question of the widening of areas. It seems to me that on this point there appears to be a very considerable measure of agreement, and almost every hon. Member who has spoken has said that it is desirable that the areas of administration should be widened. Even the hon. Member for Dundee agreed with this argument, although he said he did not approve of the method which had been employed. It seems to me that the size 854 of an area of administration ought to bear some relation to the character of the services that have to be conducted therein, and also to the capacity of the inhabitants to pay for them. We live in a revolutionary age, and the changes which have taken place during the last few years have been astonishing. Not only has there been a great development of road transport, and the making of great trunk roads, but there has been a great development of electricity. There has also been a large growth of separate residential areas, working-class areas, and factory areas. Why should the district which houses the workers bear the whole burden of maintaining those workers during a period of national industrial depression for which the people in that particular area bear no responsibility whatever? Why should the district which houses the workers have to provide for all their needs, and reap no benefit from the fruits of their labours when times become better? Why should a sparsely populated rural district bear the whole burden of the Class I and Class II roads which pass through it and which only benefit the large towns at each end of the roads? These questions have only to be asked; the answers are quite obvious. The parish council is no unit for administering the Poor Law. It bears no relation to reality, and the whole parish system has broken down; it broke down finally in 1921. The Maclean Committee spoke the truth when it said that a unification of services and a reduction of the number of separate administrative authorities was imperatively necessary. That is exactly what this Bill does. It "countifies" five great services—police, education, the major health services. Class I and Class II roads, and the Poor Law.
The main criticisms which have been advanced by the Opposition have been that you ought to leave the education authorities and the small burghs alone. I do not agree with either. I do not see how under present conditions you can separate education from health. I do not see why you should deprive these great new authorities of control over so vital a service as education when they have control over other services of a semi-national and equally important character. As far as the burghs are concerned, I have two small burghs in my own constituency which are very much alive and 855 kicking, and they wanted to be left out of this Bill. I think I have persuaded them that it would be against their best interest to be left out. In fact, I think it would be little less than a tragedy. All burghs with a population of less than 20,000 should be represented on the new authority. I think it would be deplorable and derogatory to the power, authority and the status of these new authorities if they were not represented upon them.
There are many defects at the present time in the county councils; but here we are going to create new authorities in their place, and they will require new men—men of "push-and-go"—upon them, determined to get things done. This is exactly the class of men which the small burghs can supply, which will infuse new blood into the county councils, and make the old county councillors sit up. In that case you will get a much more effective administrative authority. I think it is very necessary that there should be the closest possible touch between the town councils as such and the county councils. That is why I approve of the proposal that the town council shall elect some of its own members to serve on the new county authority. I think it is absurd to say that that it not a sound democratic principle. The small burghs in Scotland will elect town councillors on the understanding that they are to serve on the town council and possibly on the county authority as well, and they will go to the county authority as fully elected democratic members. It cannot be argued that because these councillors have not been elected twice over the democratic principle has been done away with. The small burghs will be masters in their own house with full control over their water supply, sewage and housing, and they will now have a great additional part to play in administering the semi-national services through the county council.
§ Mr. STEWART
Do I understand the hon. Member to be arguing that the burgh representatives on the county council are to be full members of the county council?
Mr. BOOTH BY
For everything except those things which concern burghs as 856 burghs. The small burghs are being given complete control over their own services. The county authority to which I am referring is the administrative authority for semi-national services, and for that purpose the burgh representatives will be full members of the county authority. There is one other point I would like to raise in this connection. The status of the small burghs is, I agree, going to be greatly increased, but why should my two small burghs be singled out for what I regard as grossly inadequate representation on the county council? Take Fraserburgh with a population of 10,500, and that town only gets three representatives. Peterhead with a population of 13,120 gets four representatives; but Forfar with a population of 9,587 gets six representatives; Wick with a population of 8,115 gets seven representatives; and Elgin with a population of 7,776 gets seven representatives. I think this is very unfair. Why should Fraserburgh and Peterhead have to have 3,500 and 3,200 electors, respectively, for each member sent to the county authority, while all the other small burghs do infinitely better? I make an earnest appeal to the Secretary of State for Scot and to take urgent and strenuous steps to secure that Fraserburgh and Peterhead should have better representation on the county authority, seeing that there are 69 members of that authority, and those two districts at present are to have only seven members. I am sure that all my colleagues in Aberdeenshire will agree that the efficiency of the Aberdeen county authority will be enormously increased, and, in fact, almost doubled by the addition of two or three more representatives from Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
I come to the block grant system. The Under-Secretary for Scotland, in a very interesting speech on this subject, said that nowadays the State was a sleeping partner in industry; and that the assigned revenue system had completely broken down under modern industrial conditions, owing to the "delocalisation" of finance. The modern industrial State is far too complicated for this system, and to remunerate a local authority in accordance with the amount of money it spends is surely the height of absurdity. Why should you give more money to a local authority on that condition? I think it has become absolutely necessary to secure that the State contribution to 857 local government, which is necessarily enormous, should bear a direct relation to the needs of the district. That is what the formula does.
It is a very flexible system, and it provides for triennial revision. Consequently there need be no fear that any services will be starved. There will also be the additional advantage that the local authorities in the future will be less subject to control from Whitehall, and they will be free to plan and develop their own services in their own way. Our country is going through one of the most difficult periods in all her history, and we have to adapt our whole economic system to the utterly changed conditions of modern times. Slowly and very painfully this is being done. The British people loathe change in any form, which is the chief reason why I have never been in the least afraid of the Labour party. Their two chief qualities are an innate conservatism, and a sturdy independence. But that is why we are 10 years behind our competitors in the reconstruction or rationalisation of industry. Just look at the pressure that has been required to persuade our industries to adopt new ideas, new men and new methods! In this new process of industrial reorganisation the State cannot and should not play a direct part; but what the State must do is to bring the political and fiscal machinery into line with modern developments, remove inequalities, and free industry from the antiquated burdens and charges by which it has been for so long stifled and held in check. That is what this Bill does in every respect. It achieves it in four or five different ways. I remember in the earlier stages of this Parliament the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said:Nobody knows how difficult it is to get anything done in this country until they try as I have tried.The hon. Member for Dundee made great play of the opposition which has been raised to this Bill. Of course there has been opposition. There will always be opposition, as the Labour party will find out in the future. There has always been opposition raised to any proposals of a constructive character. We all know that the vested interests have been up in arms for the last six months against this Measure, and I congratulate the Secretary of State for Scotland upon the 858 adamant front which he has maintained to that opposition. As the hon. Member for Dundee admitted, he has not given away anything that mattered. Speaking upon this Bill the other day, the hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division (Mr. Maxton) said:I am not prepared to say that on occasion the Government should not quite courageously come forward and say to public opinion: 'We who are in charge of affairs, have not to follow you but to lead you. We have to get you to see that this is absolutely necessary for the improvement of the service.' That is the real work of Government. It is not to follow, but to lead. But before a Government does it it must be tremendously sure that what it is going to do is in line with the best ideals of the nation that it is governing, and that it must in addition be productve of fruitful results in the very near future.It is because I most earnestly believe that these results will happen in the near future that I have never given a vote in this House with greater pleasure than that which I shall give in support of this Bill to-night.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
The provisions of this Bill have been expounded to the House in a series of speeches of great interest and lucidity, culminating in the admirable speech, which the House enjoyed so much, from the Secretary of State for Scotland; and yet the woebegone ranks of the Government supporters refused to be comforted, even by the jauntiness and wit of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), whose eloquence was unaffected by the influenza from which we were sorry to hear he was suffering. Now that we have scrambled helter-skelter through the various Clauses and Schedules of the Bill, and have come to its last stage, we find that points and principles of the utmost importance to the people of Scotland have not even been discussed. There were Amendments on points of detail which individuals and public bodies in Scotland wished to be discussed, but we felt bound to advise them that it was not expedient to put them down, because we wanted to concentrate on matters of greater importance. Many Amendments were put down which we were not able to move owing to lack of time, and on many matters to which we attached real and substantial importance we have not gone to a Division, merely because we wanted 859 to save time in order to discuss some Amendment which was vital. Even then, in spite of all that effort to avoid the worst consequences of the drastic Guillotine Motion, whole Clauses have been passed without any discussion whatsoever, including at least one which a good many hon. Members feel is out of order and not in accordance with constitutional precedent. I refer to Clause 70, which says that future Parliaments are going to take a particular course of action. Even in the case of such a Clause it has not been possible to raise with the Chair the points of Order to which it naturally gives rise.
We are glad to see the Secretary of State back again, recovered from his influenza; but he is suffering from a much worse disease, a disease which I believe is known to alienists as Dementia Brummagensis. It is a disease which he has undoubtedly caught from the Minister of Health, who is very seriously infected with it, and, I believe, originally caught it from the Socialist party, but the Socialist party in these Debates have shown some signs of being on the high road to convalescence. The symptoms are unmistakable. The worst is the hallucination that you can do everything by means of the power of the bureaucracy, which is going to make the people good, and wise, and healthy, and happy. I myself believe in democracy. I believe in freedom and responsibility—the freedom and responsibility of the individual, the freedom and responsibility of the little community, the freedom and responsibility of the democratic council which represents that community, whether in the parish, the burgh, or the county. The impetus and driving power which will raise the standard of life and civilisation in Scotland come from education and freedom of discussion on the platform and in the Press. These are the things which are going permanently to raise the standard of life in Scotland. Information and advice we ought to be able to get from the skilled experts who are conducting research work at headquarters with all the resources of the State at their disposal, and that information and advice should be placed at the disposal of progressive men and women in the local authorities; it should be the ammunition, the pabulum of democratic 860 discussion up and down the country. In that way we shall get real and lasting advances in matters such as public health and other major local government services.
We are told that amalgamation of services is vital. I think that amalgamation, or rather centralisation is an obsession, with the Government's money, but still I agree that, as regards health services, there is a need for amalgamation, for the taking of a wide national view of the resources with which the country is to combat the evil of disease, and cognate evils such as mental deficiency and so forth. All of that can be accomplished, and is at the present time being accomplished, by democratic councils on democratic lines as a result of public discussion of the kind which I have described, and without any need for the strong powers of compulsion which the Secretary of State is taking for himself and for his bureaucracy. These compulsory powers will do one of two things. In the first place, they will tend to undermine the spirit of responsibility of these local councils, and of the electors who elect them. The electors will say, in regard to housing for example, that it is no use appealing to the county council, and that they will go to the Department of Health—that they will not bother about the election or about getting the right people returned to the local council in order to get houses for them, but will go straight to the Department of Health. It will, therefore, either undermine the sense of responsibility in the councils and on the part of the electors, or it will generate an atmosphere of suspicion and jealousy, which will be the worst possible atmosphere in which a policy of reform could start.
The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech this afternoon, referred to a case in which a hospital was doing work for one local body, and another hospital a few miles off was doing work for another local body, and he pointed out that there was urgent need of co-operation and combination and co-ordination, but said that he did not see this co-operation going on. A few sentences later, however, he gave us an instance where, in Aberdeen, a magnificent scheme has been proceeding on purely voluntary lines, as a result of education and of the strong civic sense 861 of the people in that great city. But, if he does not see the co-operation, do people in Scotland, do these local authorities, see the Government giving them the lead that they might? Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite talk rhetorically about great plans which they have in their minds for the improvement of the health services in Scotland, and the great good that is going to result from the provisions of this Bill; but where are those plans? We have no details of them. Is there any great plan Have the Government and their medical staffs thought out these things? Have they a plan to put before the country? If the Government came before the people of Scotland with a well thought out plan for the co-ordination and reorganisation of the public health services of Scotland—a well thought out plan framed and endorsed by Scottish public health officers—and if they put that before the people in the Press and supported it by means of public discussion in all parts of the country, they would have no difficulty whatever in rallying the people of Scotland whole-heartedly and enthusiastically in voluntary support of a great progressive scheme of that character. If such plans exist, we in Scotland know nothing whatever about them, and all that this Bill asks us to do is to give these great powers to officialdom without any guarantee as to the manner in which they are to be used.
For the first time, the grip of officialdom will be actually fastened upon these county authorities, which, as was said by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen, will be such very formidable engines of government. There are two or three reasons why that is so. As was said by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), in his powerful speech in opposition to the Bill, there will undoubtedly be diminished public interest in the work of these larger bodies. That was the lesson of the education authorities. When the school boards were got rid of, there was diminished public interest in these larger authorities. I do not say that that was so in the cities, because conditions there are different, but certainly in the rural districts there was diminished public interest in the work of these larger organisations. As the hon. Member for Dundee said, less space will be given to them in the newspapers, and from every point of view there will be less public 862 interest in them. The other principal reason why the grip of officialdom will be increased is that the councillors will be over-burdened. Men will not be able to spare the time to go half a day's journey, and in some cases more, to attend these council meetings and also constant committee meetings. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen talked about these councils only meeting five or six times a year, but that is preposterous when we consider that they will have to deal with the whole of the major services in their county area. Not only will there be the ordinary full meetings, but there will be constant committee meetings dealing in detail with every aspect of these services, and it will be very difficult indeed for men of the type that we want to see in our local governing bodies to spare the time.
Finally, the officials whom we have now in our country districts are mainly people whom we know, who have grown up in the country district, and who are strongly sympathetic and identified with the lives of the people among whom they work. We shall find, now that we have these new bodies, with their formidable powers and responsibilities, that we shall not get the same kind of men, but will have instead highly trained officials. Indeed. I know that many of the men who are now undertaking these responsibilities say that they are not prepared to take on this additional work, and, if I were challenged, I could give instances of that. We shall have the highly trained civil servant, who has passed through examinations and so on, coming down from Edinburgh, or London, or wherever it may be, and taking over the work of local administration at a time when, as I have said, public interest in it will be less than it was, and when the overburdened councillors will not be able to give such constant and unremitting attention to the details of the work of local government as they have been able to give under the easier conditions of the past.
What is the purpose of it? We were told at one time that it was economy, but where is the proof of economy? If there were any prospect of economy, would not hon. and right hon. Gentlemen representing the Government come down to this House with proofs and estimates of how and where the economies were going to be attained in different counties? We have had no such proof; we have had no testimony whatever that 863 any kind of economy will be obtained by these measures. Here and there the services of an official may be dispensed with, but the whole cost of compensating these officers will rest on the local council, and it will be years before any economy will inure, even if some little economy may be derived eventually from such sources.
In the course of these Debates we have had a few gibes from hon. Members opposite as to what our constructive suggestions were. We made some in the Amendments we put down, but a great many of them were not in order on this Bill. This Bill is so ill-constructed and so ill-designed that any satisfactory comprehensive alternatives to the proposals of the Government would have been out of order, and we were not able to get them on the Paper. Briefly, I would say that we would re-align these areas in consultation with the people who have been concerned in the work of local government for a long series of years. In that way we should have produced a scheme which would have been framed by Scotsmen and women, whereas my first objection to the Bill is that it was not framed by Scotsmen and women. Scotsmen were not consulted—at least the men who have spent their lives in the work of local government were not consulted until the Bill was drafted. Even when it was introduced, it failed to obtain a majority of the Scottish Members of Parliament who were here to vote on it, and if it is passed, it will be passed in defiance of the will of the Scottish people.
May I say one word upon the educational aspect of the Bill and the change it makes from the ad hoc system of control to the ad omnia system? It is true we have used these words ad hoc and ad omnia as a kind of catchword. They serve to express shortly what otherwise would have to be explained at little, length, but surely the essential difference between the two systems is that under ad omnia system you have men elected because of the interest they take, or the electors take who sent them to the authority, in a whole range of other matters which have nothing to do with education. If you have the ad hoc system, it does not mean that they are all people interested in education and nothing else. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) said it was advisable 864 to have men with a wide range of ordinary interests. That is exactly what the present education authority has got. It is not that they have not a wide range of interests. They may even now be members of the county councils as well, but they are men who have proclaimed to the electors that they are ready to assume a special interest in and responsibility for education, and the electors have elected them, not because of the views they hold on a number of other subjects, but because of the views they hold on education.
What will be the practical working of the ad omnia system? The ad omnia authority will control the whole of the five major public services—health, education, roads, public and poor relief. The electors may quite well prefer one man, whom we will call A, standing in a particular electorate, because they approve of his views on education, but it may well be that there is some burning local issue, for instance, the direction which a sewer is to take down a particular road, and because they approve of a candidate's views on this, they will turn down a man who is interested in education, though if they could decide it on its merits alone they would prefer to have him representing them on the education authority. So when you come to the election you will find a majority of men who have been elected, not because of their interest in education, but on other issues and who, therefore, will not give education that foremost place which the whole of the people of Scotland, and certainly the parents of Scotland, think ought to be given to it in all decisions which affect it in our local government. I agree as to the importance of co-ordinating the questions of health and education. That could perfectly well be done by voluntary arrangement and combination between authorities. I believe the change will be justly resented by parents, it cannot increase the efficiency of our educational system and the remote prospect of achieving some measure of economy by it will be bought at far too dear a price.
May I now say a few words about the de-rating proposals? If the, only question here were whether we were in favour of de-rating or not, I should certainly be found voting for the Bill. We strongly believe in de-rating. We strongly believe, of course, that the rates 865 are a great burden on industry and, in fact, we claim, and not I think without some substance for our claim, that we have very largely forced this issue to the forefront of politics. But this scheme is unfair, anomalous, capricious and wasteful. It seems to me that no part of the Bill is more ill-designed than that which gives agricultural rating relief. In the first place, the rural community is essentially one. A great many of the people who are not going to get rating relief are working men with little cottages, who have seen their rates rise steeply since the War, and customers themselves of the agricultural industry. We believe, therefore, that such relief as is given should be given fairly and equally to all those who reside in the countryside. Of course, agriculture stands in much need of help. I was surprised at the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who talked of the farming industry as the pampered darling of the House of Commons, and said they have imposed their desires in a very strong form upon the present Government. But they have not imposed their desires upon the present Government. This is not what they asked for at all. This is not enough for them. This is not going to give any real constructive help to agriculture. Moreover, agriculture is going to pay for such help as it gets by the Petrol Duty. The Government is going to say at the next Election, and for a long time to come, "You cannot expect any more help from us. We have given you de-rating." But that is very far from being a solution of the problem with which agriculture is confronted.
Let me give an instance. Let us take a croft where a man is paying £16 rent, and his rates are 10s. in the £. At present he pays on one-fourth. The rates on the occupier are £1. In future he will pay on one-eighth and, therefore, his rates will be 10s. The landlord pays on three-eights and, therefore, the rates on the owner are £3. In future he will pay on one-eighth and his rates will be 10s. Therefore, the crofter's benefit equals 10s. a year and the landlord's benefit equals £2 10s. a year. But during the first seven years the crofter gets half the landlord's benefit and, therefore, he gets altogether during those seven years the princely sum of 25s. a year from that. The total benefit is the sum of 35s. a year 866 and the landlord's benefit is 25s., but at the end of the seven years, or if he is sitting under a lease at the end of the lease, he will be left with a benefit of 10s. a year, out of which he will be paying Petrol Duty. He may not have a car of his own, but he will be travelling in public vehicles, and the price of petrol is now going up and fares will inevitably rise. I have taken it on rather a low level at £16, but the number of crofters who are paying as much as £16 in rent are in a minority of the total number of agricultural holders in the counties I represent. This concrete case shows that the Government's policy does not touch the fringe of the agricultural problem. I have brought the true method of tackling it before the House on other occasions, and before the country on every possible occasion, but I should not be allowed to discuss it on this occasion. If you are going to relieve rates at all, the first thing you ought to relieve is rates upon improvements. That is one vital issue of principle between us and the Government.
There is one aspect of this rating relief which I like, and that is the benefit that is undoubtedly coming to the occupying owner. He has been very hard hit, especially the man who bought his farm since the War. Other methods could easily have been adopted to give him adequate relief. Of course, a certain amount of gilt is taken off the gingerbread by the Petrol Duty, because the occupying owner is the very man who in a large number of cases has a little lorry of his own, the petrol consumption of which is generally fairly high. I have been told of instances in which the amount of the tax is estimated to come to more than the amount of the relief. I have already argued in the Committee stage about the landlord's share of the relief. I only wish to say on this occasion that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was quite right in saying that the landlord is a partner in the industry, but the point is whether or not we should hand over large sums of public money to landlords without any restriction or care to see whether or not the money is wisely spent. Although the large majority of the landlords probably will spend it on the improvement of their estates, there will undoubtedly be in the ways 867 which I have specially enumerated in the course of these Debates a great deal of waste of public money which this House ought not to allow. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the landlord was deserving of this relief. If he was deserving of relief, was he not equally deserving in 1896 when agricultural rates relief was given and no such relief was given to the owner. This is one of the worst features of the Bill and one which will only result in the long run in forcing the landlord into the limelight of public and political discussion. You are raising discussion and public distrust of his methods, and you are setting in this Measure a very bad precedent. You are taking no proper precaution to see that the money which we put into the landlord's hands is going to be spent in the interests of agriculture. As to the block grant, what is to be said in its favour? We do not know what there is to be said in its favour, because the general Exchequer contribution has never once been discussed on this Bill. It is one of the most vital aspects of the Bill, but on account of the working of the Guillotine we have not had a single discussion about it except such as has been confined to a few sentences in the course of the Second Reading Debate.
The Government speak on this subject with two voices. In the country, they say to their supporters, "Economy; you are going to get great economy and freedom from interference from the bureaucrat, and you will be able to spend your money as you like." Here, we hear quite a different tone as to how they are going to be made more progressive and have to spend more on their public services, how backward some of the counties are, and how unprecedented powers have been taken for withholding grants. I have heard a Minister on the Front Bench say, "unprecedented powers"—for withholding grants in order to exercise the strongest possible control over these authorities. On every Clause they have fought might and main to further entrench their officials. This Bill represents to me the subordination of democracy in our local government and the dictatorship of officials. In particular, as regards the block grants, our demand—a demand which has been made by nearly every local governing council in Scotland—that the loss of rates 868 should be made up has never been met or debated in this House, Leither has the equally important demand that obligations into which local authorities had entered just before the standard year, but which did not rank for expenditure during the standard year and therefore did not rank for the calculation of grants, should be taken into account. That we have demanded, but have been unable to obtain a full discussion on the subject. We have demanded in vain that provision should be made for the payment of grants in those cases.
How are Highland counties, for example, to improve their services under these proposals? Many of the services do not exist now. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State is keenly interested in matters of public health, but he must be aware that in some of these Highlands we have no child welfare and maternity service. We have no grant for it. We have no grant to cover any percentage grant because we have never had a percentage grant. We have never had a scheme. Surely, some provision should be made in a case like that for a special grant to enable us to start these schemes which we have never had before and which we shall certainly be unable, with the funds at our disposal under a block grant, to start de novo. How is the block grant to be distributed? We have this almost incomprehensible formula, and the formula, as I have previously pointed out, is very unfair to the Highlands, because there are only two factors in it which will bring much benefit to the Highlands—the roads and the low valuation factor, the factor for a low rateable valuation. We managed to get an Amendment moved about the roads during which we were given some information which turned out to be based upon a misunderstanding. We were told that the expert who had prepared our figures for us had had a consultation with the Treasury and had receded from the position he had taken up. We now know that that is not so and that the figures we produced on the Committee stage are absolutely right and sound. As to the low rateable valuation, we tried to get that factor increased, but there again we found that it was impossible to move Amendments on that point.
We feel very strongly about being deprived of the Highlands grant. The 869 Lord Advocate has tried to prove that the Highlands grant is paid back to us because it is one of the grants lost and therefore taken into account in the calculation of the block grants. He knows perfectly well that we get back only 75 per cent. of the grants we lose in the first seven years. The loss of grants, plus the loss of rates, plus the new money, is distributed according to the formula, and it is only 75 per cent. of the loss of grants that we get back. The rest goes into the formula and is shared by us with all the other counties; we get only our share of the formula grant. After the first seven years, we get fifty-fifty; we get only 50 per cent. of our loss of grants paid back, and, as to the remaining 50 per cent., we have to share it with the rest of the counties. And so it will go on until at the end of 17 years when we shall get nothing except what we share with the rest of Scotland under the block grant.
It works out in this capricious way because the factors of which the formula is based are purely arbitrary. Instead of adopting the direct and simple method which we propose, they have abandoned this to the bewildering abstractions of high mathematics and have worked out a formula which is almost incomprehensible to the ordinary man in the street. If you apply your mind for the purpose of Parliamentary discussion, you can understand it, but it is almost incomprehensible to anybody who does not have to make a special study of these questions.
Finally, there is Clause 68. That is the Clause which gives the Secretary of State for Scotland powers which are absolutely unprecedented, at any rate in recent times, for what is called getting the Act into operation. He is able to alter not merely the provisions of this Act, but the provisions of any Act. Here, again, when we challenged the Secretary of State we had no time for proper discussion, and no time in which to submit a reasoned argument to the Committee or the House on account of the Guillotine. We had only two or three minutes in which two or three of us managed to make a protest, but after we had made our protest the Secretary of State said that we had not read his Amendments. When we did so, we found 870 that they did not in any way diminish the powers which he had claimed in the original Clause. All that they did was to limit the matter in point of time.
The diminished but servile hosts which support the Government have sold the pass in this vital matter of the constitutional rights of this House and of the democracy of this country. Not since the days of Henry VIII and the Statute of Proclamation, have we had such proposals actually approved by the House of Commons. The Secretary of State said that the English Bill contained similar proposals. A fight was put up by the English Members, and now the House of Lords have come to the rescue, have looked with contempt upon the House of Commons, and have actually shown a better feeling for the rights and privileges of the House and of democracy than the House itself had shown. Here indeed is the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, and we hope that the House of Lords will deal with it as it dealt with the English Bill. The role of Cassandra is an unpleasant and an ungrateful one. The Bill will eventually be amended and the work of Scottish local government will go on, and Scottish political genius will rise superior to the shackles by which the Government are now attempting to fetter it. The Government undoubtedly will meet their doom and will receive their fitting reward when they go to the country in a few months' time. In the meantime, we shall have to content ourselves with the pleasure of voting against this Bill to-night.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) in banding about that large vague word "democracy," which few people understand and no one has ever been able to define. I should like, if I may do so without presumption, to congratulate him and the crowded benches around him on the part which hon. Members opposite have played in regard to this Bill. There is a classic case of a young woman in Scotland who complained that the conversation of her lover was too full of "senseless civility." Occasionally that defect might be noticed by the impartial observer in our Debates, and occasionally the opposite defect. But 871 not in this Debate. Hon. Members opposite, much as they dislike the Measure, have endeavoured most gallantly to amend it. They have brought to the discussion a great deal of shrewd and well-informed criticism, and I think this Measure leaves the House substantially the better for their work.
It is generally agreed that the Measure is one of first importance. In the first place, it proposes a new system of rating. In the second place, it introduces many changes in local government to give effect to that principle; and, finally, the opportunity has been taken to bring about local government changes for the sake of efficiency which are not directly required by the de-rating proposals. Unlike the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), I think the procedure has been the right procedure on a Measure of such importance. We began last summer with a White Paper in which was sketched the Measure, based, I suppose, upon Departmental records and ideas. With many of the details of that sketch I found myself out of sympathy. After discussion amongst Scottish interests, there came the Bill. The Bill has been very fully amended during the discussions in this House, the Amendments coming partly from hon. Members and partly from the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who, we were delighted to be told this afternoon, is regarded with admiration and envy by Madrid, Moscow and Rome.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee at the close of his speech indulged in prophecy. He told us, in picturesque words, that in the course of a few moons the Government would be rueing the day when they touched this Measure. I am not going to prophesy; I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, and I would not dare to speculate on the future psychology of my party. The hon. Member also told us that Scotland was seething with suppressed revolt against this Measure. I have been a good deal north of the Tweed in recent months, but I cannot say that I have seen much sign of this alleged wholesale and bitter antagonism. No doubt many of the local government changes are disliked by what we may call the "vested interests," the people who are concerned with the old régime; but I believe that the attitude of the ordinary man and woman in 872 Scotland towards these changes is one of complete apathy. I believe that the principle of de-rating, on the other hand, is very generally welcomed and accepted.
It is perfectly true, as has been pointed out to-day, that we are profoundly conservative, that we dislike any form of change. We do not like the "end of an auld song," even when the song is not so very old and by no means good. But we are also reasonable people, and we are prepared to bow to necessity. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson) in the Debate on the Committee stage quoted a proverb of his countryside to the effect that "after no wife at all the next best thing was a good wife." We may prefer no change at all, but if we are to have change, then we believe that the next best thing is a good change. I believe that when this Measure passes into law, it will receive the general assent of our profoundly conservative race.
There is no feature in this Debate which has given me greater satisfaction than the dislike and suspicion expressed from every quarter of the House about the thing called bureaucracy. I have been specially pleased with the criticism from the Labour Benches on that subject, and I hope that it signifies not merely a change of tactics but a change of heart. In the complex world in which we live, there is always a danger that we may be overridden by the official; but it is important not to be driven by a fear of that eventuality into adopting foolish and clumsy methods. As I understand it, bureaucracy, used in that bad sense, means one of three things. It either means that the State is doing something which could be left to voluntary effort; but that does not apply in this Measure, because this Bill makes greater demands than ever upon voluntary effort. Or it means that the central Government is doing something which rightly belongs to the sphere of the local authorities. That does not apply here. The whole purpose of our local government changes is very largely to safeguard local autonomy. Without these changes, and with so much money coming from the Exchequer to the local authorities, there has been a serious risk of local autonomy breaking down, and a most undesirable extension of centralised control. The third meaning of bureaucracy is that the official takes it upon himself to legislate; that we are 873 governed by administrative orders, which may, in theory, receive the assent of this House but in practice do not.
No one can dislike that system or any extension of that system more than I do, and I agree with every word that has been said in recent Debates against it. It means giving an inducement to Government Departments to think out their schemes imperfectly, because they know that they can amend them when they have been passed into law. It means putting a premium upon slip-shod drafting. But while it is important that we should not be slaves to bureaucracy, it is not less important that we should not be slaves to the mere insensate bogey and dread of bureaucracy. Much as I dislike the general principle of legislation by administrative order, I think there is a great deal to be said for it in this particular case. What have we got in this Bill? We have a new scheme with a multitude of details, a scheme which in its operation affects many other Acts, a scheme about the operation of which no human foresight can be quite certain, until it is actually put into working. It seems to me that, with strict safeguards, there is no reason why we should not, for a certain time, legislate by administrative orders, in order to harmonise this Measure with the rest of our Statute law, always providing that there is a real chance of control by the elected Members of Parliament. I understand that the Amendments proposed in another place will make certain not only that these administrative orders are submitted to Parliament, but that the attention of Parliament will be specially called to them. If you have that safeguard and if you have the matter strictly limited in time, it seems to me that the practice has in this case no danger. What is the alternative? The alternative is to have a series of small amending Acts, which would seriously trespass upon the time of this House.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The hon. Member seems to be discussing a Bill which has been before another place already, and not this Bill, which has no such safeguards.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I was replying to what has been said in another place. In our discussions we have been so engrossed with the local government changes as proposed in the Bill that we have been 874 rather inclined to forget the main principle, the de-rating principle. This is a great attempt to bring about the freedom of productive industry in this country. I have noticed that, as the discussion has gone on both on the English Bill and the Scottish Bill, the arguments which were advanced at first against the de-rating principles have slowly faded into thin air. There was only one argument of any substance raised against the de-rating proposal, and that was that the scheme proposed to assist not only the depressed industries but also the prosperous industries: that it was giving to those who had as well as those who had not. The hon. Member for Dundee, in his speech on the Second Reading of this Bill, read out a formidable list of commercial firms in Glasgow of supposed Conservative proclivities, which he said would greatly benefit from the passing of the Bill. He might as well have read out a list of the Kings of Israel, or a list of the recent winners of the Derby, for all the relevance it had. That argument of the hon. Member showed a profound misconception of the real purpose of the Bill.
Unemployment is an organic disease in British industry, and it is no good trying to tinker with this or that particular manifestation of it, or with this or that depressed area, or with this or that bankrupt industry. The only thing is to do what this Bill does, and that is try to get at the root, or one of the roots of the mischief. If a man is suffering from blood-poisoning, the wise doctor does not attempt to heal this or that sore or to cure this or that local pain; he tries to get the poison out of the system. This Measure will enormously assist depressed areas and depressed industries, and if here and there a prosperous industry is made more prosperous, that prosperity will soon be distributed over a wide area and in any case will be reflected in the national revenue.
I should like to think that this Bill does not stand alone. I should like to think that this is the beginning of a great effort to emancipate productive energy from all its shackles. I am no great believer in the entry of the State into the domains of ordinary productive activity. I am a Tory, and so I have not the Whig distrust of State action. I am ready to admit that many activities are better in the hands of the community than in the 875 hands of individuals. It is a question of the facts in each case. But I believe that, as a matter of sober fact, the occasions on which the State can fruitfully engage in productive enterprise are strictly limited, and that, for the most part, the main medium must be private enterprise. But there is one thing that the State can and should do. The State has both the right and the duty to emancipate productive industry from artificial obstacles, whether they come from antiquarian survivals or from some short-sighted private interests. I hope and believe that this Measure will be the beginning of a great campaign to take off the shackles from all productive effort, whether in field or in factory; a campaign in which, without any departure from its principles, every party can share.
§ Mr. BARR
The House always listens with the utmost pleasure to the speeches of the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan), and I congratulate him sincerely on the contribution which he has just made. I gather that he has a very great aversion to the powers which are conferred upon the Secretary of State for Scotland by this Measure. The only justification which he could see for them, or the only excuse which he could give for them, was that the Measure was of such extraordinary quality that he was willing to set aside his distrust. However, he went the length of inviting another place to amend this Bill as they have amended the English Bill. I desire to make some reference to the settlement of the religious instruction question which has been made in this Bill. The House is to be congratulated on the happy issue of what at one time caused a good deal of almost panic-stricken thought in different parts of Scotland. The provisions of Clause 12 are ample to secure what the people of Scotland desire. All matters relating to the provision of religious instruction as defined in the 1918 Act have been referred to the educational committee. The whole system is passed over and, I believe there will be no disturbance as a result of this Measure. In a later Sub-section to this Clause we have a provision which gives the churches great security. They can appoint at least two representatives who are interested in the promotion of religious instruction in schools. In 876 regard to the proposal which was made the other day, while it had certain merits in defining for the churches the numerical relationship in which they should associate, I am pleased that in the end, and in order to secure a harmonious settlement, the Lord Advocate withdrew his proposal. To have persisted in it would have been an undue interference with the liberty and competence of the churches to manage their own affairs.
Just one word on the proposal in Clause 29; that is, that a plebiscite shall be taken in certain conditions. Some misgivings are felt in Scotland about this proposal. Indeed, so much fear is entertained in some quarters that the Presbytry of Hamilton, of the United Free Church of Scotland, the largest Presbytry in my own denomination, has unanimously declared against the provision. I do not think their fears are altogether well founded. They take the case of a county where Roman Catholicism is strong, and they seem to figure out the possibility of the Roman Catholics voting out Protestant religious instruction in the public schools. Those who have been working on education authorities in Scotland know that the Roman Catholics have constantly supported giving such instruction and, therefore, I do not think these fears are well grounded. They fear also the possibility of abstention and a small section giving a decision one way or the other. I trust that this plebiscite will only be brought in in the case of a definite abandonment of all religious instruction. The references to the form of religious instruction in the 1872 and 1918 Acts are vague and negative.
In certain areas the shorter Catechism is not taught at all, and there might arise a controversy as to whether it should be continued or not. We contend that that is not an abandonment of religious instruction, although it has been represented in some quarters as if that were an abandonment of religious instruction. I take it that it is the intention of the Government, and will be the result of this Clause, that this plebiscite will not be brought in to determine a case of that kind, but only in the event of an entire departure from the system of religious education which has obtained in Scotland. We have been most anxious to have a harmonious and unanimous settlement of this question 877 and, therefore, we have not pressed these objections. I do not consider that these safeguards are necessary. Let me quote from the letter written by the Secretary of State to Dr. John Whyte on the 17th of November last:The real bulwark of religious instruction in Scottish schools is not proportional representation. It is the serious conviction of the overwhelming proportion of Scottish public opinion. It is inconceivable to me that that bulwark should ever disappear. But if it did, what value would attach to any paper security.And I might add, to any plebiscite. It was Lord George Hamilton, I think, who said that it was the duty of a Conservative Government when it was in office to look after its own friends, and in this Measure we can see that a good deal of attention has been paid to their friends and supporters by the present Government. During the last stages of this Measure a Clause was introduced which makes it possible to double the commission which factors may receive. It came in quite unawares, like a thief in the night. We have good authority for saying that:The thief cometh not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.I do not know that there was any murderous intention in this proposal, but the other epithets apply. Take the brewers, another section of their friends. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities used the illustration of a man suffering from blood poisoning, and he said that a wise physician who was called in would not deal with this or that sore but would attack the root of the disease. I do not think any wise physician, if he was called in, would proceed to strengthen the root and the cause of unemployment in this country. I have already pointed out that the more flourishing the brewing business, the more employment it gives, the greater is the amount of unemployment in the country as a whole. The more this industry flourishes the less do healthy businesses of the country develop and grow. This is a Measure to assist productive labour. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) did not justify this gift to the brewers and distillers; he only apologised for it as part of a scheme, a formula, and a theory. He evidently felt that he could not justify it at all. And you cannot justify it on the ground of productive labour. The hon. Member will 878 no doubt know Adam Smith's definition of productive labour:It is that which adds to the value of the subject on which it is bestowed.No one can say that this labour "adds to the value of the subject on which it is bestowed," or adds really to the national wealth. In Glasgow we have 11 breweries and distilleries which pay rates on an annual value of £20,312. We have 30 infirmaries and hospitals, which pay rates on an annual value of £36,358. That is to say, that the breweries and distilleries pay only five-ninths of the proportion which the hospitals pay. After de-rating they will only pay five-thirty-sixths of the proportion which the hospitals pay; or one-seventh. Now they are paying a little over one-half, but after de-rating they will pay only one-seventh in rates as compared with the hospitals. So far as new municipal expenditure is concerned they will contribute, as far as any increase is concerned, 25 per cent. In Scotland it has been the practice to exempt voluntary hospitals from municipal rates, but they are obliged to pay the poor rate and the educational rate. I take eight Glasgow breweries and distilleries, and I find that even with this exemption the eight breweries, which at present pay rates of £12,433 will, after de-rating, pay £3,106, whereas eight voluntary Glasgow hospitals will pay £3,694.
I come to another section of the friends of the Government, Reference has been made to the fact that under this Bill the landlords will receive £770,000 per annum from de-rating and the tenants £110,000 per annum. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen tried to show that a tenant is receiving something like one-half which the landlord is receiving. That is not under this Bill. He included the relief given in former Acts of Parliament. We contend that the whole of this benefit should go to the tillers of the soil, to the agricultural farmer, and, as a consequence, to the agricultural labourer. That is the one way in which you can secure that the whole of this benefit will go to the development of agriculture. I grant you that some landlords will devote it to the development of their estates, but others will spend it in pleasure. The last thing they will think of is to put any of it to the development of their estates; but by giving it to the struggling farmers—I know something of their struggles—you will secure that it goes immediately to 879 the development of the agricultural industry. It has been said that the landlord is a partner in this business. He is very often a sleeping partner. In Ayrshire and in Dumfriesshire I have seen estates going entirely derelict, nothing done to houses or fences. You have no security whatever that this relief will be passed on, especially after existing leases expire.
The Secretary of State spoke of the freedom of bargaining that would come as between landlord and tenant at the end of the present leases. Anyone who knows anything of the present system knows that with no agricultural rent court for the larger farmers, that is those above the statutory small tenant limit and above the crofter class, there is no freedom in bargaining. No one who knows the system can believe that there is any real freedom of contract in the matter. The farmer is under the obligation either of paying rent beyond a figure that he thinks is proper, or of quitting his holding. It is not bargaining on equal terms at all. I do not think that the method adopted for rating in respect of housing is satisfactory. You are putting one-eighth on the rent in respect of the houses. Yet there are many farms in Scotland that have no houses at all. In Ayr, for example, the number of holdings with no dwelling-houses is 1,687, in Banff 1,793, and in Roxburghshire 1,482. Reference was made in the speech of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) to the farmers coming weeping to this House. Sometimes they have had occasion to weep, and some of them are beginning to weep because of the effect of this Bill on them, for they find that they will pay more in increased petrol prices than they will receive in benefits from this Bill. The Under-Secretary of State made a reference to Tarn o' Shanter the other day, and I think he might have quoted with some effect what applies to this Measure so far as the tenant farmers of Scotland are concerned:But pleasures are like poppies spread:You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed,Or like the snowfalls in the riverA moment white, then melts for ever;Or like the borealis raceThat flit ere you can point their place,Or like the rainbow's lovely form,Evanishing amid the storm.The "rainbow's lovely form" that has been thrown around this Measure will 880 soon be "evanishing amid the storm" to which we are moving forward.
I must say a few words about education. The Secretary of State said that in Scotland we had moved gradually from one position and one method to another. I think he will agree that in Scotland we have always given a special place to education, and that even in 1872, when the Royal Commission praised very highly the work of the burgh schools, they refused to make it a burgh function but resolved to establish an ad hoc authority. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Act of 1918, and said that this very proposal of linking up with town and county authorities had been the original form of the Bill of 1918, but had been abandoned owing to a variety of circumstances. But the main circumstance was indicated by a predecessor of his in Office, Mr. Munro, who gave in very clear terms the reason why that proposal was abandoned. Mr. Munro said on 26th June, 1918:I have come to the conclusion that there is considerable opposition to the proposal. I have formed the opinion that indirect election and the provision for co-opting members is not, generally speaking, acceptable to public opinion. I recognise that my views have not prevailed. I therefore bow to public opinion as I understand it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th June, 1918; col. 1076, Vol. 107.]The Secretary of State has himself recognised the justice in large degree of the criticism regarding co-option, and has met that by his proposal of district councils. But he has made no provision in regard to the criticism which led his predecessor in 1918 to abandon the proposal that we have before us now. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised again that the teachers were in favour of this Measure. I understand that, the teachers are in favour of it, first of all because it will give less control and more indirect control than they have now. I cannot see that that is a justification for a public service not exercising full control over public servants. The second reason that I have seen given is that at present the elections for education authorities are the scene of a good deal of religious opposition and rivalry and sometimes of bigotry, and that there are too many Ministers on the education authorities. My experience is that for a fortnight of the election you have a good deal possibly of religious rivalry, but 881 that the members settle down to business and that most of these ministers prove themselves serviceable on the education authority. I speak from experience. The main reason given is this, and it-was emphasised by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen—the co-ordination of education with the health services.
The Secretary of State also made an argument of that kind, but he referred only to eyesight, playing fields and the like. He did not give us any judgment or any evidence, commensurate with the importance of education itself, for leading us to depart from the present system. Indeed in speaking of the 1918 Act he referred to what it had done for the efficiency of service for the children. That I think should be the touch-stone, and so far we have had not a single argument to show how this new machinery is likely to be more serviceable for the proficiency of service for the children. We then have this: That in connection with education, without any educational argument, contrary to the best educational traditions, without any mandate, and resisting the national demand for the preservation of the existing system, our whole system of education is to be changed in Scotland. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen went on to say that he had foreshadowed these proposals because he had spoken of the relation of Imperial and local taxation. Nothing could be more distant as a justification for the bringing in of this Measure. I maintain that Scotland is strongly adverse to this Measure and particularly to its education Clauses. I give two arguments in support of that statement. I quote first from Sir James Leishman, who was Chairman of the Scottish Board of Health. He said:The scheme bore evidence of congestion and indigestion, and it had also marks of applying to Scotland considerations and treatment which ignored the peculiar circumstances of that country as against those obtaining in England.I believe that Sir James Leishman once stood as a Liberal candidate for this House; and perhaps his evidence may be discounted. There is no doubt as to the political attachment of the next witness whom I shall quote—Lord Scone, who is at present Conservative candidate for North Lanark. In a speech at the Fifth Annual Congress of Education Authorities at Sterling, Lord Scone proposed 882 and carried, by 93 votes to 18, a motion in favour of the retention of the ad hoc authorities. That was only a few weeks ago. He declared that this Bill was a complete revolution in the administration of Scottish education. He asked what was wrong with the present system, and, referring to an address just given by Dr. Innes, the Chief Education Officer of Birmingham, who had given an account of the English system, he said:What was to be substituted for that system? Surely not the system Dr. Innes had described, for a more crazy patchwork it was almost impossible to imagine. But if they proposed that an improved form of the English system was to be foisted upon them, what guarantee was there that education would be advanced any more by that? He could not see that any argument had been put forward to justify this change which Hew in the face of all Scottish traditions.We sympathise very much with Lord Scone in his illness, but it is providential for the Government that this man is not in the field denouncing this Bill and the proposals regarding education as a crazy patchwork. The Secretary of State said that the great mass of the people of Scotland have realised what is the nature of this Bill and the provisions by which they seek to carry it out. I am confident that in that he spoke correctly. I am confident that they realise the nature of the Bill, and that in this Measure the right hon. Gentleman has given a great impetus to the movement for Scotland managing her own affairs. We shall then have no longer a system under which, as on the Second Reading of this Measure we had a majority of Scottish Members voting against the Bill, and the English Members trooping into the Lobbies for the Bill, with no mandate to Anglicise our Scottish system or to overthrow our educational system, which, I say without fear of contradiction, has been the envy of the world, one of the true glories of our country, and one of the brightest pages in the annals of our Scottish story.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir HARRY HOPE
We are now neat the end of the discussion on a great and far-reaching Measure. If we are to determine whether this Measure is a wise and prudent one in the interests of the country at the present time, it is essential that we should keep clearly in mind what are the great needs of one times in which we live. At a time when all nations 883 are devoting their energies to trade and commerce, when competitors are rising up in every direction in the industrial field, is it not essential that we should do what we can to free British industry from any hampering influence which affects it? Again, is agriculture not so important to the general welfare of the country that we should take every means to bring about its revival? British trade is the life blood of our country. Without success in trade and commerce this nation cannot continue to be amongst the first nation of the future and, unless we do something for our people in the country districts, we cannot have that healthy, virile population which is so badly needed in order to carry on the existence of the country. This Bill is brought in in order to bring relief to our trade, and, by the sum of £26,000,000 percolating all through the sources from which industry grows, will it not be a great means of bringing about a revival in trade? By this revival in trade and commerce we can do something to solve unemployment, to raise hope again in families where men are in need of employment, and to raise the morale of our people.
When such is the position, I was rather surprised to read the other day that the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), speaking there on Thursday night, as reported in the "Scotsman," said that the new de-rating Bill was a piece of sheer, naked rascality. I know-that many wild statements are made on public platforms and the only comment I would make on his assertion is that it reminds me of the old truism that "immoderate invective is the twin brother of immature judgment." There is a good deal of criticism in the country as regards the local government changes and that was perhaps only natural. Our people are very conservative as regards making changes, especially when they have no previous warning that such changes might be made. While that is so, the country is now beginning to realise that, the great need of the time being to assist British trade and industry, they can fall in with and adjust themselves to the changes which my right hon. Friend is introducing. This attitude of acquiescence on the part of the people throughout Scotland has no doubt 884 been assisted by the considerable concessions which my right hon. Friend has made to the various representations made to him by responsible public authorities.
There is one form of criticism on which I would like to say a few words, and that is that the relief on agricultural rates is a dole to landlords. This question of agricultural rating relief is not a new one; it is, in fact, a very old one. It goes back over 30 years, In 1896, the first step was taken when the Agricultural Bating Relief Act was passed reducing the assessments on which tenants paid from their full rental to that of one-third. That had to be renewed every year under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, but it was renewed for 30 years. During those 30 years, different Governments were in power, and, as showing that it could not have been considered a dole to landlords, it has only to be remembered that its continuance was carried by Governments of all parties, not only by a Unionist Government, but by a Liberal Government for 10 years from 1906 to 1916, and by the Labour Government in 1924. The second step was in 1926, when the present-Government reduced the assessment from one-third to one-fourth and made it permanent. Now tenants of land are being relieved altogether as regards assessment on their land, while the assessment on the farmhouse and cottages in which the workmen live is based on an eighth of the value.
Various reasons have been mentioned in trying to prove that nearly all this benefit would ultimately accrue to the landlord. I will give one or two figures to show that that will not happen. Take as an example a tenant's rent of £400 a year. He is now assessed, before this Bill comes into operation, on £100. In future, he will be assessed at £50. If the rates are 5s. in the £, he now pays £25, while in future he will pay £12 10s., so that thereby he secures a net gain of £12 10s. In addition to that, he gets half of the owner's relief during the continuance of the present tenancy. The owner's rent of £400 is assessed now at £300 or three-fourths, but will be assessed in future at an eighth, so that if the rates are 5s. in the £, the owner will in future pay £12 10s. instead of £75 as at present. He thereby secures a net gain of £62 10s. Half of that, namely, £31 5s., is passed on to the tenant, making with 885 the tenant's own gain of £12 10s. a total net gain to the tenant of £43 15s., assuming that his farm has a rent of £400 and that the rates are 5s. in the £. That happens during the present tenancy. It has been said that, at the end of the present tenancy, the tenant will lose that half-share of the owner's rate. Let us look at that calmly and carefully. The hon. Member who spoke last said it would all go into the owner's pocket. I would point out that, under the Agricultural Holdings Act, a tenant may be awarded up to two years' rental if he is removed from his tenancy by disturbance. If his rent is £400 a year, he might be awarded £800 payable by the owner.
§ Sir H. HOPE
If the owner desires to get that £31 5s. which he has to pay to his tenant and in order to do so gives his tenant notice to quit, he makes himself liable to pay £800. Will any sane man run the risk of paying £800 in order to get the yearly sum of £31 5s.? It is therefore quite a fallacy for anyone to say that this money is bound naturally to fall into the pockets of the landlord.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Is the hon. Member aware that the Lord Advocate said that the relief would ultimately go to the landlord?
§ Sir H. HOPE
Whatever my right hon. and learned Friend may have said, he may have overlooked temporarily the important argument which I have used.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
What I said was quite clear. When the tenant left and there was no tenant, it must go to the landlord until there was another tenant. Surely, that is obvious.
§ Sir H. HOPE
The benefits accruing to agriculture do not altogether end there. There is to be a rebate of 10 per cent. on the railway freights on agricultural produce which is again of very great importance to the agricultural industry. It has been said that all this benefit is going to be given to one class and that householders and shopkeepers will not benefit in any way at all. If trade is made more prosperous, employment 886 increased, and wages improved, are the general householders not going to gain very largely indirectly? Are the shopkeepers not going to gain enormously by more money being in circulation and by a larger trade passing over their counters? This Bill provides for general prosperity coming to all sections of the community. People in our country districts will gain by the owners being able to improve their housing conditions. Our country population will also gain by the reorganisation of health services which will do far more good and bring far more relief to them. Though there may be some objection taken to this Bill on the part of men who have been connected with boards and councils, the great industries of our country and our people living in our country districts, are going to gain. This Bill, as I have said, is a far-reaching Measure, and we in Parliament can do good work if we recognise that it is a Bill of vast importance, coming at a time when the relief of industry is urgent. I think the country is beginning to have the vision to see that, even though difficulties have been raised and objections have been taken to it, yet this is a Bill which is going to bring relief to our industries and prosperity to our people.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
There is not a great deal that I wish to say about this Measure, because it seems to me the whole question can be boiled down to a single issue, namely, whether it is going to improve the conditions of the working classes in Scotland or not. Indeed, that is the primary concern, and, if it can be proved, as I believe it can, that the purpose of the Bill is to provide relief for the capitalists and landlords in Scotland, relief which will not be passed on either to the consumer or the producer, then clearly the working class of the country have little to gain. This afternoon we have heard adduced a strange argument to the effect that rates are a burden on industry. For the moment, I do not discuss the merits of that argument, but I make this inquiry. If rates are, indeed, a burden on industry, then why do the Government not remove local rates entirely? Why stop at 75 per cent.? Why not demand 100 per cent.? If the Government believe, as apparently they do, that the reduction of local rates by three-quarters is going to start the 887 wheels of industry, bring trade back to normal, remove unemployment in large measure, and raise the standard of life of the working classes in Scotland, then I challenge them to produce an Amendment in another place providing that local rates should be abolished altogether. Otherwise, it is no argument to contend that a reduction in local rates can do for the people what the Government allege it can do.
We had a most interesting speech from the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby)—a speech which was delivered with a condescending and patronising air. For that, we can forgive the hon. Member because of his extreme youth. His speech was interesting, because it developed a view which receives considerable credence in industrial and other circles at this time—the view that unification, or, as it is sometimes called, centralisation can remove all our ills. The hon. Member is obsessed with that conception. He imagines that in all difficulties you have only to apply this specific of unification and the trouble will vanish. I do not share that view. It cannot be argued that in every difficulty which arises, in respect of industry, or in respect of rating, or any other problem, all that is required is a change in machinery—a more elaborate piece of mechanism or a modification of the existing machinery. That is not sufficient. We have indeed, as hon. Members have told us, to get to the root of the problem. Some hon. Members have expressed that desire, but my case against them is that they have not gone down deeply enough. They have skimmed the surface. Their treatment has been purely superficial.
Take the question of de-rating, which is, after all, the basis of this Measure. There can be no doubt about that. Whether the Government intended to produce a local government reform Bill or not is beside the point. I do not discuss that, because it seems to be a superficial issue, and on the Third Reading it is better to concentrate on the fundamentals. The Government's primary intention is to make a change in the rating system, and they have produced their de-rating proposals, because, they say, the removal of these rates will lead to development in industry. What does that 888 mean? It means that if you can, by removing local rates, reduce the cost of production, you can sell your goods and produce more employment. I think I am treating, the Government's spokesmen generously when I interpret their argument in that fashion. Let us examine that argument for a moment. If it be true that reduced cost of production will enable us to capture markets abroad, and expand markets at home, and remove unemployment and the like, then we ought to have been able to do all those things in the mining industry, because of what followed 1926. As we know, there was a substantial reduction in the cost of producing coal arising from the events of 1926. There were lower wages and longer hours of labour, and we were told by the Secretary for Mines quite recently that there had been an all-round reduction of 3s. 6d. per ton in the cost of producing coal. But that reduction has not improved the position. Far from that being the case many mines have closed in consequence of what occurred. At all events whether they closed in consequence of that, or because of other factors which operated, does not matter. They did not at any rate resume operations in consequence of the reduction in the cost of producing coal.
May I put that point to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under-Secretary, and may I say with great respect—I hope he will take the observation from me in the spirit in which I offer it—that we do not merely lock for a reply couched in witty or entertaining language. We hope that he will face up to the difficulties which exist in relation to the fundamentals of this Measure. I put it to him categorically. Will he tell us whether, having regard to the fact that a reduction of 3s. 6d. per ton in the cost of producing coal cannot solve the problem of the mining industry, how he expects a further reduction of 6d. per ton to solve that problem? I think that is a fair question calling for a fair answer. In addition, we have the fact that, in spite of this reduction in the cost of producing coal, the price of coal has gone up. Since October last, there has been an all-round increase of 2s. 6d.; but how does that affect the producer? It certainly has not affected the producer, because, as we all know, instead of the miners' wages going up, 889 they are going down. Facing the matter in that way, I come to the conclusion that de-rating in itself is no specific for the problem.
I do not deny, and no one on these benches would deny, that there is a need for a change in the method of rating. It has been pointed out time and again from these benches that a new orientation in the matter of rating could be devised if the Government desired it, and the Government had various alternatives presented to them when the de-rating proposals first came before the House. There is need for reform in rating in Scotland, just as in England and Wales, but these proposals are not calculated in our judgment to do what the Government say they will do, namely, bring about a vast improvement in the condition of trade with resulting benefit to the working-classes. The hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope) spoke eloquently about agriculture. He knows a great deal about the subject—much more than I can ever hope to know—and I am not going to discuss the technique of agriculture with him. But agriculturists in Scotland, as elsewhere, have frequently been the recipients of relief at the hands of this Government. They have been relieved annually. They are constantly asking for something, and they have not always gone away disappointed. Has agriculture recovered from its depression as a result of the new method of rating? Far from that being the case, agriculture is still as depressed as it was some years ago. In common with other hon. Members, I have received a letter from the National Farmers Union of Scotland advising me that they demand—they are always demanding—at the hands of the Government a change in respect of National Health Insurance. In short, they refuse, having regard to the depression in agriculture, to pay for National Health Insurance any longer. They are always depressed. It is a chronic depression as far as the farmers are concerned, and, in spite of all your de-rating, they will still be depressed.
I put this point also to the Under-secretary. Will the de-rating of agriculture bring about any change in agricultural methods in Scotland? Will it lead to greater fertility of the soil, to greater productivity; will it affect the co-operative marketing arrangements which the hon. and gallant Gentleman 890 knows are so urgently desired? Will it, in short, bring any improvements to the people of Scotland? Last, but not least—since so much has been said about the merits or demerits of the relative positions of landlord and tenant in agriculture—will it bring any improvement to the great host of farm workers in Scotland who have been rarely mentioned by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I say, frankly, that the primary concern of hon. Members on this side is not how these proposals will affect landlords or tenants engaged in agriculture, but whether they will benefit that great mass of the people who are still subsisting on insufficient wages and working long hours in agriculture. That is the primary issue.
I come to another issue, and here I digress for a moment to point to a singular fact. The Government propose to come to the assistance of industry and agriculture. Yet the Prime Minister has frequently said that it is not the business of this Government to interfere in industry, that industry ought to stand on its own legs, and that the Government ought not to intervene. But here we have His Majesty's Government coming to the assistance of depressed industry and helping it to rise to its feet. I am not concerned to argue here as to whether the consumer will ultimately benefit, because that cannot be proved, and any discussion on the point is purely hypothetical and must be set aside. But if the Government want to assist agriculture and industry—and we know that both are suffering from acute depression—let them come forward with a scheme of reorganisation for agriculture and industry and not seek to satisfy the immediate needs, as alleged, of industrialists and agriculturists by offering them a few millions of pounds—derived, by the way, from taxation which has to be paid by other members of the community.
I come to the question of local government, and in that connection I only touch on two or three fundamental issues. To begin with, what does the machinery of local government matter if your purpose is faulty? It is immaterial to me whether it is a small parish council, whether its activities are co-ordinated with those of a larger body, or whether they are small, large, or royal burghs, as the case may be—I am indifferent to all that sort of thing—if you are not achieving your purpose. 891 What is the intention of local government in Scotland? It is to administer to the needs of the people, but in respect of what? In respect of housing, for example. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman will not tell me, at this time, that a mere change in the mechanism of local government, adaptations, modifications, and the like, can contribute to the housing needs, not the remote, but the immediate housing needs, of the people in Scotland?
I had occasion the other day to ask him a question in respect of a district in my own constituency of West Lothian. I noted that his geography was at fault, but he was probably misled by some mistake, for which someone else was responsible. At all events, it was proved as a result of that question and his answer that the county council in that area had no will to provide the houses. How is the right hon. Gentleman going to compel them as a result of this Measure? Will he go to the county council and say, "You are not providing houses for the people in your area, so I shall make you?" There has been much talk about a dictatorship. I am not so much afraid of a dictatorship as some people are, if it is the right kind of dictatorship. I prefer democracy to dictatorship, of course, but if you had someone at the head of a Department taking to himself useful powers, exercising them wisely, and intervening when some other body refused to intervene, I should be the last to complain. But there is no provision in this Bill to enable the right hon. Gentleman to exercise powers in the event of failure of that kind on the part of a county council. As I say, what is the use of local government machinery if it is not achieving its objective? And by this Bill, so far as I can see, it does not.
I want to reform local government in Scotland, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), who stated our case so ably, desired. We all desire a change in local government in Scotland, but, if you are going to get it, you must consider the matter much more carefully than you have considered it. The Government appear to think that all you require to do is to widen the areas, but why should you always do that? If the Government are anxious to have a constructive proposal, I shall do what I can to help them, modest though my effort 892 may be. Instead of having a wider area based on a geographical county basis, they might have something approximating to the district council which they are proposing to set up in this Bill. District councils throughout Scotland, small compact corporations governing particular areas, might have been suggested. There would have been some cutting and carving, something in the nature of a dismemberment in respect of local government in Scotland, but nevertheless that would have been a much more rational, scientific, carefully thought-out scheme than this precious Bill appears to be. Therefore, I say that the mere fact that you require a change in local government in Scotland does not connote that this method is the best that cat, be devised, having regard to all the facts.
I come to the question of democracy. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) said something about the Labour party being well disposed to a bureaucracy. I can assure him—though he is not present at the moment, my words may come to him later—that if and when this party comes into power as a Government, it will use bureaucracy less than the present Government has done in this particular Measure. I would point out that there is little or no democracy in the Measure now before us. It was said, for example, that there was so much democracy in it—I think the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) said it, but he says a lot of things that are not of very great concern—that this would impart virility into the county councils, and yet everybody in this House knows that one effect of this Measure will be, I will not say to exclude, but to curtail. Labour representation on the county councils. There can be no doubt about that. I was only yesterday in my constituency talking to members of local authorities, and they are all concerned about this. I say quite sincerely to the right hon. Gentleman that this is their chief concern. They say: "We cannot get people to go on, and what are we to do?" That probably suits the right hon. Gentleman, because naturally he does not want more Labour representation than he can help, but I am sure that when he divests himself of political bias, as some of us can do on occasion, he will see the substance embodied in my point. There is no doubt that 893 there can be no democracy where you are ipso facto curtailing Labour representation; and, after all, in these days, when we are within measurable approach to a Labour Government with a majority, Labour representation, based on the people's will, on democracy itself, is surely entitled to some consideration.
Then I come to another point, and that is the question of overburdening your county councils, giving them too much to do—education, police, water, drainage, and all those varied things. What do you expect them to do? They are going to do it very ineffectively and imperfectly, as you well know. I said in Committee to the right hon. Gentleman, I think it was, that with a larger experience of the actual work of local authorities he would not talk in the way he did. I learned with some surprise—but I accepted it—that the right hon. Gentleman had had a very large and varied experience of local authority administration in Scotland, but I put this to him, that the one thing that militates against the effective and successful working of a local authority is having too much to do—I have seen it on the Glasgow Corporation—when amateurs, as they are, members of a local authority, are incapable of tackling the problems that come before them, and in the main leave them to the bureaucrats, the, permanent officials. That is the last thing we ought to do, and the less work we give to a local authority, the better for all concerned.
Lastly, one of the defects of this Measure is that you are vitiating democracy, because your burgh members, that is, those members on a county council who are nominated by a burgh council, are only to be concerned with the functions of the burgh council itself; and your county council will in future be a collection of members, some of whom will have one, some two, some three or more varied interests, and some none at all. Unless you have unified interests, you cannot have unification in fact, and, in order to get unification working smoothly and efficiently, you must have unification in respect of interests. I oppose this Bill and shall vote against it, because it cannot solve the poverty problem in Scotland, because it puts money into the pockets of the friends of the Government, because it will lead to bureaucracy, and because it will curtail 894 Labour representation. For all these reasons, I regard this Bill as thoroughly objectionable and of no value to the people of Scotland.
§ Mr. BARCLAY-HARVEY
I do not follow the wild and whirling words of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell), who has just sat down, but there is one point in his speech that I should like to take up, and that is in regard to the benefit which will accrue to the workers in agriculture. The attitude that we, on this side, take up as regards that is that, if agriculture itself is going to benefit, the workers will benefit along with the other partners in the industry. It is perfectly plain that if an industry is flourishing it is in a better position to pay good and sufficient wages; and I am sure hon. Members will agree that we are just as anxious for agricultural workers to enjoy good wages as are any other party in the State. Obversely, when it is depressed, it is in a less good position than it should be in that respect. Therefore, we believe that, by assisting agriculture through the de-rating proposals in this Bill, we shall certainly benefit the workers in agriculture as well as the other partners in that industry.
It is not, however, of the de-rating proposals that I want to speak this evening. I want to revert to the proposals for the reform of local government in Scotland. The proposals which the Government have brought forward have been attacked in many quarters outside this House, not infrequently, I might say, in very extravagant terms, but the gravamen of the charge which has been brought against the Government in this respect is that they are recklessly and needlessly interfering with and destroying the ancient democratic system of local government in Scotland. In the first place, it seems to me that it is rather a curious argument to come from hon. Members opposite that age should of itself he a reason for leaving things alone. I have heard the argument used that, because an institution is ancient, therefore it is something which should not be touched, and I must confess that that sounds rather a curious argument from hon. Members opposite. [Interruption.] I sometimes wonder whether the age of the small burghs has had anything to do with the love shown for them by the hon. and 895 gallant Member for Montrose (Sir R. Hutchison). Perhaps Arbroath is a particularly ancient one, which accounts for his affection for it and the great interest he has shown in it.
One of the forms of local government which we propose to abolish and which has been most strenuously supported on the other side, partly on the grounds of antiquity and partly on other grounds, has been the parish council. I have no word to say against the way in which the parish councils, as such, have administered their duties in times gone by. Nearly everybody has paid tribute to the way in which the parish councils, and the town councils of small burghs, too, have done their duties, as far as it has been possible to do them in the circumstances, but a clear case has been made out for a reconsideration of the existing organisation of the parish councils in Scotland to-day. The parishes themselves no doubt go back very far into the ancient history of our country. They do so for ecclesiastical purposes, but might I remind the House that even for ecclesiastical purposes in some instances the parishes have not been found to be the most ideal organisations for modern requirements, and we have seen parishes set up to bring the ecclesiastical requirements more into line with modern times.
If the parishes are of great antiquity from an ecclesiastical point of view, it cannot be said that on the local government side they are of such enormous age. It was only in the year 1845 that the parochial boards, which the parish councils later superseded, were set up, but even so, during the last 80 years since the setting up of those parochial boards, we have seen an enormous alteration in conditions. In those days, railways were hardly known outside a very limited area of Scotland. All that great network of the iron road which has brought so much prosperity to our country was then entirely in the womb of time, and it is only since then that the railways have developed and that we have got even that form of transport. By 1894, when the parish councils took the place of those parochial boards, it is true the railway system of our country was pretty well developed, but since then an even greater revolution in transport has taken place than resulted from the increase in the 896 railways. We have had the motor car and all that has resulted from that great revolution in transport. In most parts of our country, even the most distant glens, are now brought within a reasonable distance of the higher forms of civilisation in our cities, and it would be idle to say that that has had no effect on the form of local government.
There has been no less a revolution in the matter of medicine. The hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) seems to think that the only essential thing in medicine is the sympathetic type of nursing which you get in the small hospitals. I hope I am not misrepresenting him I think he said that on the Second Reading. We all know that sympathetic nursing and good nursing are essential in the treatment of the sick, but they are by no means the only necessity, for modern medicine and surgery call more and more for the most up-to-date equipment and the most up-to-date apparatus. It is because we believe that the small districts which have previously had to run many of these hospitals cannot afford to keep the equipment up to date, and because we believe that it is the right of everybody to get, as far as may be, the use of the most up-to-date equipment and the most up-to-date medical devices, which can only be found in institutions of a reasonable size, that we who support the Bill have come to the conclusion that the Government are right in saying that the health services should be operated by authorities working over larger areas. Further, during the last 80 years there has been a considerable change in the population of our country. Population has shifted, and areas which years ago were suitable units for the discharge of certain duties are not so suitable at the present time.
All these are cogent reasons to be taken into account when considering, first of all, why you should have a wider area for your chief health services and, secondly, why you should take fresh areas for the administration of other local services in preference to retaining the old ecclesiastical pariah as the area. But there is still another reason. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) put forward as one of the reasons why the county councils were not suitable bodies for administering local government 897 in the future that they do not create any great interest in the public mind. In some instances, he said, sufficient candidates were not forthcoming to fill vacancies on the county councils, and in many instances there was no contest; and he argued that this showed a considerable lack of interest in the work of county councils. While he was speaking I could not help thinking how curiously he differed from the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland, who advanced precisely the opposite argument in the case of parish councils. The hon. and gallant Member, in the eloquent words with which he delights this House, said in the course of a speech on the 4th February:The Secretary of State has complained that not enough interest is taken in parish council work, as shown by the fact that there are very few elections. That is not a very sound argument. There is a kind of process of latent election going on the whole time. There is a grievance, say, in a particular parish, and so-and-so is in favour of settling this grievance in a particular way, and somebody else is in favour of doing it in another way. The thing is argued inside and out, and two men are very often put up for election, but before the nomination day comes along the thing has been argued out in various assemblies, newspapers, and so forth, and, to save the expense of an election, one or other side in the controversy gives way and one man goes up to nomination and is declared elected. That process is constantly going on."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th February, 1929; col. 1437, Vol. 224.]The hon. and gallant Member evidently thinks, in the case of parish councils, the fact that there are sometimes no elections is no sign of a lack of interest in their work, whereas the hon. Member for Dundee thinks that if there are no elections for a county council it must be obvious that the people are not interesting themselves in that authority. The House can judge between the two wings of the Opposition and can make up their minds. For myself, so far as the parish councils are concerned, my agreement is with the hon. Member. We find that there were something like 76 parish councils for which there were not sufficient candidates in 1925, and that in no less than 608 cases there were no contests. I know that there are many instances in which parish councils have created a great deal of interest, but when you have to take the country as a whole—and in this case we must consider the country as a whole—we must 898 realise that there are many districts where these councils are not creating that amount of interest which some people would like us to believe.
I would like to say one or two words about the small burghs. From what has been said on countless platforms some people would get the idea that the Bill proposes the abolition of the town councils of the small burghs. As has been pointed out on innumerable occasions in this House, we are leaving the small burghs and burgh councils entirely as they are; all we are doing is to take away from them the management of the classified roads and the health services. In the course of the Debates on the Report stage, a complaint was made that one of the Schedules of the Bill was made up of a list of no fewer than 25 Acts of Parliament, the administration of which was being taken away from the small burghs, but the hon. Members who made that complaint had forgotten to look what those 25 Acts of Parliament were. Had they done so, they would have found that some 21 of them dealt, either directly or indirectly, with health services. There is no desire on the part of us who are supporting the Government to see town councils wiped out or their efficiency in any way diminished. We admit as readily as anybody else the good work which they have done in the past. There is no doubt that they have done an immense amount of good work, and I join with my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) in thinking that when the Members of those town councils go to the county councils they will have an enlivening effect on the county councils and that their presence will be all to the good. In passing may I say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that if there is to be anything in the nature of a dog worry on the Floor of this House over which small burghs in Aberdeenshire are to get most representation, then I would observe that, while I have nothing against the burghs in East Aberdeenshire, I do beg of him to remember that there are small burghs in the west of the county which are just as worthy of full representation on the county council.
There is one other point in connection with small burghs which I would like to mention, because it was referred to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for St. 899 Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart), and that is as to whether the members for the small burghs on the country council are to be full members of the county council or not. As a matter of fact, I believe the members who are elected by the small burghs will have voting rights on the county council on all questions which are not purely questions of interest to and paid for by the landward areas.
§ Mr. J. STEWART indicated dissent.
§ Mr. BARCLAY-HARVEY
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Perhaps my hon. Friend, when he comes to wind up the Debate, will be able to settle between us; but, if I have read the Bill aright, the members who go to the county councils from these small burghs will have full voting powers on the financial side, on educational affairs, on the first and second-class roads, and such other general matters—I only quote them as illustrations—as the election of the convener of the county and the setting up of standing orders. The only matters on which they would be excluded from voting are those which deal purely with the landward areas. That, it seems to me, is a perfectly reasonable proposal. After all, the small burghs are keeping their own local concerns in the hands of their own town councils and I am certain there is nobody who does not agree that that is the proper thing; and if the county councils have no control over what goes on in the small burghs—and I should be the last to suggest that they should have—it is right that the small burghs should not be able to interfere in matters which are purely an interest of the landward parts of the county. I think it is quite proper that the county councils should not have control over affairs in the burghs, and I was very glad when my right hon. Friend altered his original scheme and left the control of the small burghs in the hands of the central body and not in the hands of the county council. If we give the representatives of the small burghs full rights, along with the other members of the county council, over all the affairs in the county in which they are in any way interested, and in all general affairs of the county, we are giving them a very full share in the administration of the 900 county as a whole, and I am quite confident that the part they will play will be all to the good of the county.
Over the question of the relation of this Bill to democracy the hon. Member for Dundee and the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland are, apparently agreed. Both appear to think we are doing something which will kill democracy in the local government of Scotland. I have here a cutting of a speech made by the hon. and gallant Member in Aberdeen not long ago in which he tried to alarm the local students over the prospects of democracy in our country in the future. He said:The Government have brought in a Bill which denies to men and women in Scotland the right to govern themselves in their own communities, whether cities or burghs, without consulting and in defiance of the opinion of the men and women who have spent their lives in local government.8.0 p.m.
The hon. Member for Dundee said that we were attempting to abolish democracy. I differ from that point of view, for we are going to maintain democratically elected town councils in oar burghs, to institute democratically elected district councils in place 01 the parish councils, and to maintain democratically elected county councils. I cannot understand the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) when he says that we are going to curtail Labour representation on the county councils, because we are doing something which has not been done before. Largely at the request of Members opposite, the Government will not only pay travelling expenses of members of those councils but for broken time of people who are attending the meetings. That ought to facilitate the election of working men to those councils, and I should be very sorry if that were not the effect.
§ Mr. BARCLAY-HARVEY
But not on the county councils, and it is of the county councils that I am speaking. I think that we shall have members of all types of society on the new county council, just as we shall have members from the county and from the burgh co-operating for the common good of Scotland. It is because I believe that this Bill will introduce a new scheme of local 901 government in Scotland which will be for the benefit of the people of Scotland as a whole, and because I believe that that, after all, is the object we have to keep in view in framing our legislation, that I shall with great willingness and pleasure give my vote for the Third Reading of this Bill, which I believe will go down in the history of Scotland as one of the great measures of reform and one of the great landmarks in the history of local government.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
When the Secretary of State for Scotland moved the Third Reading, he took the opportunity of saying that no one could complain of the temper in which the Debates on this Bill had been carried on. I should like to take the opportunity of saying that we owe a good deal to the Members on the Government Front Bench for their patience, lucidity and courtesy in answering our questions, Amendments and attacks. Unfortunately, a great amount of this Bill has not been discussed at all, and many of our criticisms and attacks have had to be cut down to the most meagre measures in order that we could get on to something that we thought was more important than the matter which we were discussing at the moment. One of the most important matters which we have not discussed, owing to the Guillotine, is the finance of the Bill, and I am afraid that many Members are much alarmed as to how it will work out.
The Bill as foreshadowed originally in the White Paper and the Bill as introduced differ very materially from the Bill which is now before us. That is, of course, due to the Secretary of State bowing to the storm of criticism that was aroused and making considerable alterations, such as putting the district council in place of the proposed abolition of the parish council, and giving back to the small burghs a considerable amount of the powers which he originally proposed to take away. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), however, was largely right in saying that he had given away nothing that really mattered. We realise that he had to hang on tenaciously to the main proposals of the Bill, but we realise also that he has made some attempt to meet us in the various Amendments and criticisms that we have put 902 forward. The important alterations are those with regard to the district councils and the small burgh. The Bill now is in its approximately final form; I say approximately final, because it has yet to go to another place, and possibly come back here with Amendments which we shall have further to consider. Of one thing, I am fairly certain: When the Bill becomes an Act we shall have before very long a Local Government (Scotland) Amendment Bill No. 1 and possibly No. 2 and No. 3, as we begin to find out the practical difficulties of putting this very large and complex Measure into working.
The main propositions of the Government, of course, remain with regard to de-rating and the alterations in local government by which it is proposed to give effect to them. The arguments that were put forward on Second Reading with regard to efficiency and economy are put forward again now. We still want to know where the efficiency of the new scheme comes in, but we cannot find that out until we have it in practice. Some hon. Members think that the new scheme will tend very much to greater efficiency, while others differ and think that no really great efficiency will be effected. We have no proof at all of what economy in administration will be effected, and we have great suspicion that the scheme will entail the appointment and payment at high rates of pay of officials who do not now exist, or of officials who carry on similar work at much less rates of pay. I am afraid that the result of the scheme, though it may tend to greater efficiency cannot possibly tend to greater economy.
The hon. Member for Aberdeen and Kincardine (Mr. Barclay-Harvey) said that the representatives of the burghs ought to be thoroughly pleased with their present position. He may say that they ought to be pleased, but I am afraid that they are not. As far as my knowledge of the position goes, they are not satisfied; in fact, they are far from it. I admit that they are less dissatisfied than they were when the original proposals were made, but, though it is said that when they go into the newly-constituted body with a limited power of voting they ought to be satisfied, it does not follow that they will be satisfied. I am sure that the Secretary of State will admit that the burghs would have pre- 903 ferred to be left alone. It is pressing an argument very far to say that because they have wider opportunities they are satisfied, or at any rate that they ought to be satisfied. We admit that the objects of the Government, to endeavour to take the fettering shackles of heavy rates from industry and agriculture, are good, but on this side of the House our criticisms have mostly been of the manner in which the Government have set about doing it, and the manner in which they have gone out of their way to do certain things which do not seem to tend towards the objects they have in view, but which they have brought in to the general scheme.
A good deal has been said about the abolition of the education authority. We have had the arguments before, and I suppose that it is open to any two people to hold different views. Some people sincerely believe that, by putting the management of education under the control of the local authorities, they will get better education. Other people believe that they will get better results by leaving it as it was before under the control of people who are specially elected to look after education. The Secretary of State brought forward the argument that the teachers were in favour of the new scheme, but I would rather take the unanimous findings of the education authorities than advice from the majority of the teachers. After all, it is the education authorities to whom we must look for advice rather than to the teachers who are under their control. With reference to what was said about the parish councils by an hon. Member opposite, why, if the parish councils had become so useless, antiquated, and inefficient, did the Secretary of State find it necessary to replace them as far as he could by the creation of the district councils? Had the parish councils been abolished, it is obviaus that there would have been a gap in local government which it would have been very difficult to fill, and, although the new district councils will not have the same authority and independent existence as the parish councils bad, and will only act as the delegated authorities from the central body, they will still perform a very necessary function in local government in Scotland.
904 Another question which has been asked, and which we are entitled to ask, is how do the Government really expect greater efficiency in the health services by substituting a block grant for a percentage grant. I have spoken to people who can speak with some authority on this matter, who are concerned with maternity and child welfare schemes, and who are anxious to see them improved and spread throughout Scotland, and they look with great suspicion and fear at the result of substituting the block grant for the percentage grant. It is obvious from the arguments which we have had on this subject that if you want to encourage a scheme of this sort so that it should extend, you are more likely to do it by means of a percentage grant than by means of a block grant. When you get all the block grants together under the control of the finance committee of the new local authority, it will be found that there are directions in which the authority will want to spend the money, which may very much contract the direction in which those who are interested in health would desire it to go. I regret that we did not discuss this Bill in the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills. There would have been great advantages in discussing this Measure in Standing Committee instead of in Committee of the Whole House. At any rate, that would have been a Standing Committee representing Parliament, and we should have been in closer touch with the problem than we could possibly be in the more formal atmosphere of this House. For these reasons, I regret, considering the large amount of ground we had to cover, that we did not have our discussions in the Standing Committee.
I am afraid the Secretary of State for Scotland is inclined to be a little bit too autocratic. A great deal can be done in this world by kindness, and you can do more in that way than by autocratic methods. Guidance and assistance is what we look for from the Government, but, when the Government say "You shall" and "You shall not," then we are inclined to say, "We will not," when we otherwise might have allowed things to go forward if we had been encouraged by more kindly method. In the past, we know from experience how well burghs and counties have combined, and with good will on both sides some very excellent results have been achieved. As a 905 result of this Bill, I am afraid that we see the beginning of suspicion and jealousy between burgh and county. That is a very regrettable result which I have already had brought to my notice.
Controversies have sprung up as to the unfair proportion of representatives of the burghs, and the urban areas on the larger authorities. One cause which tends to that nervousness and uncertainty is the fear as to how the Bill is going to work out, and whether the rates are going to fall or rise. We have been given a formula, and periodical revisions and promises, but we do not know how the thing is going to work out, and some counties entertain very grave suspicions. There are certain counties where the penny rate in the burghs produces very much more than in the de-rated areas, and those burghs are afraid that directly any new services are undertaken the whole weight of them will fall on the burgh area and not on the county area. In the county of Shetland, a penny rate will raise 60 per cent. in the burgh of Lerwick, whilst in the county of Orkney, in the burghs of Kirkwall and Stromness a penny rate will raise 25 or 35 per cent. more than in the rest of those areas. That is a very serious position, and hon. Members can easily picture the anxiety with which the ratepayers in those areas regard the future. There are no great industries in these burghs, the ratepayers being mostly householders, shopkeepers, and ordinary residents, and it is upon the shoulders of those people that the burden of any increase in the rates will fall. That is what is causing a great deal of antagonism in the Highlands of Scotland towards this Bill. What we want is a certainty that the loss of rates will be made good, and that is a guarantee which we have not yet received. I know that we have Clause 70, which reads as follows:It is hereby declared that it is the intention of this Act that in the event of substantial additional expenditure being imposed on any class of local authorities by reason of the institution of a new public health or other service after the commencement of this Act provision should be made for increased contributions out of moneys provided by Parliament.We all know the place to which good intentions lead, and the fact that this Clause has been included in the Bill is to my mind a most extraordinary attempt at what is commonly known as eye-wash. 906 Some people are inclined to regard what I have quoted as a guarantee, but others have expressed themselves dissatisfied with it. This declaration has been made in the hope that it will bind future Parliaments. To my mind, the Clause is a most extraordinary piece of drafting, and it binds nobody. Anybody who knows anything about drafting of Acts of Parliament knows that such a provision binds nobody. It is because of the uncertainties of the future that the Government had to put that Clause in. I only wish that we could have been told during the discussion on this question that what is lost in rates will be made good by the Government grant, and that is our difficulty. I wish to refer to another question—I do so with some diffidence—that is the freight transport hereditament. Hon. Members know that that is not included in this Bill, and therefore I am doubtful whether I am in order, although it is included in the English Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I am afraid after what the hon. Gentleman has said that it would not be in order.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
Clause 30 provides for industrial or freight transport lands and heritages and for the de-rating of those particular properties. It is true that the scheme for the distribution of the money is not included in the Scottish Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I will follow the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) with as benignant a judgment as my duty will allow.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I must say that I expected that you, Mr. Hope, would have ruled me out of order in the first instance, and that was why I drew attention to the matter. This freight transport hereditament appears in another Clause, and it seems to me that that is even a more curious effort of the draftsman than Clause 70. In future, any matter relating to the passing on of the de-rating of freight transport hereditaments will have to be referred to on the English Bill, and not on the Scottish Bill. We know, of course, that no method can be devised, or has been devised, whereby the de-rating given to docks, unless those docks are part of a railway concern, can be passed on in the shipping freights. I represent a part of the world where 907 shipping freights are a very vital matter, and some time ago I asked the Minister of Transport whether any estimate could be made of the advantage of de-rating—how much would be passed on by the shipping companies using the docks; and the Minister answered me in terms of railways, although I was trying to talk about ships. I perfectly realise, however, that it is impossible, and that the Government have to leave it to the shipping companies to pass on the advantages that they get by de-rating, if they can and if they like.
I want to draw the attention of the Government very particularly to this matter. As the Under-Secretary knows, a new scheme has recently been started, at considerable expense, for reorganising the shipping services in the Western Isles, but the Northern towns of Scotland also depend very largely on the shipping services, since all that goes into and all that comes out of the islands travels in ships. But, differently from the Western Isles, the shipping company there pays a good dividend, and is in the position of not needing to ask for a subsidy, but in order to maintain that position it charges, I am afraid, exceedingly high rates, and I am very anxious that the Government should keep their hands on this particular matter, and ensure, as far as possible, that any benefits of de-rating which go to the shipping companies shall be passed on in a reduction of rates and freights to the islands which they serve.
I should like to say a word or two with regard to the relief which the Government are supposed to be giving to productive industry. I fully realise that they are bound to adhere to the position which they have taken up, and that, when they say they will relieve productive industry, they are unable to pick and choose, but have to relieve the good and the bad industries, the efficient and the inefficient, and they have to relieve them whatever they produce. Whether their product be whisky, coffins, or table-legs, if they are productive industries they have all to be relieved alike. But the result in practice is most unfortunate, because a large proportion of this money, to raise which the transport of this country is being very seriously taxed, is going to industries which do not want it, and it is very 908 difficult for anyone to argue outside this House that it is part of the general scheme that the rich shall get relief as well as the poor, the inefficient as well as the efficient. I think the Government have gone on the wrong lines, and have got into a position from which it is very difficult to extricate themselves. I would far rather have seen them adopt a scheme of taking off the local tax paying community generally what are really national burdens—the cost of the roads and the cost of unemployment. That would have taken off the burden far more equally and simply from the shoulders of the taxpaying community than the method adopted by the Government. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary a question with regard to productive industries. It has been suggested to me that there is some question whether the one-house shop—say the house with a loom or a smithy in the Highlands—would come within the definition of a workshop and get the advantage of being a productive industry. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be kind enough to look into that matter in regard to cases where a family is employed but no one is employed on wages.
I want to say a word or two on the question of agricultural relief, which was touched upon by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). He quite rightly said that the person who gets the benefit is the person who deserves it more than anyone else, namely, the owner-occupier. Because he is the owner and the occupier, he is able to get the whole benefit and keep it for himself. Under our system in Scotland, where the owner pays one-half of the rates and the occupier pays the other half, it has been very difficult for the Government to devise a scheme whereby the benefit should go really to that part of the industry which wants it most, and in the result we see that the owner-occupier gets the whole of it, the ordinary tenant gets a portion of it for a period, but the big bulk, and the big capital value added, goes to the landlord. There was some query just now as to what the Lord Advocate said the other day. Before I came down to the House this afternoon I took the trouble to cut out the words, and what the Lord Advocate said was this: 909I do not want to argue at length the question of whether a benefit like this ultimately goes to the landlord or not. My humble view is that it certainly does. The landlord or owner of the property is the only person with whom the property permanently remains. Obviously, the tenant, who is a tempoary person, cannot carry it away with him.I think that that correctly represents what the Lord Advocate said the other day.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I shall be happy if the Lord Advocate can add anything to it which will contradict that, because one of the things brought out very clearly in our Debates the other day was that, whatever happens, the benefit must go to the landlord.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent what I, at any rate, intended to say, and I will try to make it quite clear. The hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), when he made the quotation, put in the word "permanently," and hon. Members use the word "ultimately" as though that were the end of it. My statement makes it clear that that is not the end of it. Really, the question is unarguable. There is the landlord, and there is the tenant. The tenant ceases to be a tenant, and then, clearly, there is no tenant, and the only person who can have any advantage is the landlord, because he is both the owner and the occupier. Then the question arises, when the landlord gets a fresh tenant, where does the benefit rest as between the new tenant and the landlord? It is not a statement that this benefit ultimately goes to the landlord in the sense that it permanently goes to the landlord. Surely, hon. Members will never suggest that I said that.
§ Mr. MacLAREN rose—910
§ Mr. MacLAREN
May I point out, Sir, that the question of the Lord Advocate having made that statement was raised, before you came into the Chair? I took the trouble to find out the statement, and—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That really is not the point. I am not criticising the merits of the matter, but, while an interruption may or not be permissible, an interruption of an interrupter is certainly not permissible.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I do not for a moment wish to misrepresent the Lord Advocate, but I think that what he said was perfectly clear and was thoroughly understood. If you take a burden off the land, you increase the capital value of the land. No one can controvert that statement.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
Let me take it a step further. If you take the burden off the land and increase the value of the land, the land will fetch more rent. Other things being equal, the value would naturally—
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
That is where we differ. The question between us is whether it enables the landlord to get an easier rent or not.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I take it it remains an uncontroverted proposition that if you take the burden oft the land the value is increased.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I leave it at that. I am prepared to argue it with anyone, even with the Lord Advocate. The estimate that has been made of the capital value that is added to the property of the landlords is about £15,000,000. That is the long and the short of it. The tenants undoubtedly get an advantage for the first seven years, or until a break in their lease. Then the landlord gets the advantage, and ultimately he gets the increased capital value of the land, and it is impossible to get away from that. That is done with money which the whole country is taxing itself to provide, and it is most unfortunate that what has been called the sleeping partner 911 —certainly not the active partner in the industry—should get a large share of money which has been so raised.
In order to carry out this very complicated Measure it has been necessary for the Secretary of State to take special powers. In Clause 2, he may by order, transfer certain functions to county councils. He can adjust the liabilities of town councils regarding roads. By Clause 8 he can, by order, apportion burgh and landward representatives, and fix boundaries. Under Clause 10, he can fix the number of councillors and magistrates to be elected for a united burgh. In Clause 14 he has power to approve and modify schemes for administration of functions—a very important power—and he has power to approve public utility schemes of local authorities. In Clause 17, he has power to prescribe travelling rates for county councillors. In Clause 25 he has power to approve of the division of county councils. Then we come to Clause 58, which gives him the power to reduce grants for inefficiency. That is a very great power indeed, and one on which he is inclined to rely very largely, but he will find he will have a very great difficulty in putting it into operation. Lastly, there comes the famous Clause 68, which gives him general power to make any orders he likes.
The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) said people were very apt, particularly on this side of the House, to make a bogy of the word "bureaucracy." These are not powers that he can exercise of his own volition. He acts on the advice of his Department. But in his hands are all the strings leading from the counties and the big burghs in Scotland up to Whitehall, and that is the sort of bureaucracy and the sort of control of local government to which we object. We think it is of far greater advantage to Scotland in her local government to be independent than to have it brought under the control of a Government Department by means of powers such as these. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the path on which he is going? It is a very slippery slope. He cannot stop there. It means that there will be further money to be granted, and, therefore, further control. The grip of the Departments will be tightened on 912 local government, and its independence will be stifled altogether. The objects of the Bill, as far as they are directed to helping distressed industries, including agriculture, are laudable. It is the methods that are adopted to which we take objection. I am afraid friction has already been created, and further friction will be created, by the favouring of classes rather than by taking the burden off the back of the whole rateable community. The Bill will go through, of course, and I rejoice to think that some portions of the money that is being raised to relieve distressed industries will go into the right quarter, but I regret very much that a large proportion of it will not. I cannot conscientiously approve of the proposals which rain alike on the just and the unjust and confer so small a benefit on the tenant farmer, who is the active partner in the indsutry of agriculture.
§ Mr. SKELTON
It is clear from the Debate that the ardour and zeal with which Scottish Members have approached this long and important Bill has hardly been quenched at all, because the Debate so far has been of the most active, detailed, and determined kind. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will allow me to congratulate him on the dour determination with which he said all that could be said against the Bill at a Parliamentary hour which in my experience is singularly inimical to long speeches. I shall be brief, because the Bill has been very closely discussed, but there is one general observation which seems to be worth making at this stage. Whatever may be the fate of the new alliance between the small burghs and the counties, and whatever may be the fate of the de-rating of agricultural and industrial subjects, these two things have this in common, that for the first time they bring into close relation country and urban districts, and the fact that agricultural and urban industry are both forms of industry and are, therefore, closely connected. So long as I have had any share in politics one of the great misfortunes of our present day community has always been the extent to which the urban world is careless, negligent, and ignorant of the rural world. I welcome most sincerely this combination, in the new county authorities, of the smaller burghs and the counties. It seems to me 913 to bring the counties and towns together for administrative purposes in a way that has previously never been attempted. In the same way, I very much relish the fact that it has now been clearly put before the eyes of the country that agricultural and urban industry are really one.
I think it would not at this stage of the evening be worth while to rise to make observations of that sort, because in one form or another they have already been made, but there is one further observation that is worth making. I fear that attempts have been made to stir up hostility between the burghs and the counties, and the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) was certainly not guiltless of that vice.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I was going to add that under the guise of referring to correspondence which he had received the hon. Member was skilfully attempting to spread the idea that married life between burgh and county was impossible. That is not my view. I think that everyone must admit that there has been a certain amount of friction on that particular point in relation to the passage of this Bill. But I sufficiently trust the public sense both of the county and of the burgh members to be satisfied that they will work together for the common good when they are combined in one common council. I cannot but think that it will be greatly to the benefit of Scotland, to the prestige, the dignity, the importance and the value of local government that we should for the purposes which we now know so well have the counties and smaller burghs combined in one county. There are few circumstances connected with this Bill to which I look forward with greater confidence as likely to bring new vigour and a new interest into local government than this combination of town and country. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland also made several observations upon the fear of the smaller burghs with regard to the future burdens which they would have to bear in connection with rates. As far as my constituency is concerned, I can see no excuse for such fear because in the five small burghs which my constituency 914 contains the result of this Bill will be this: One has its rates reduced from 8s. 3d. to 5s. 6½d., another from 8s. 5d. to 6s. 2d.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I did not say that they were absolute, and surely at this stage in the life of this Bill everyone knows the facts about these figures, which have been frequently quoted on all sides of the House as the best estimate that could be given.
§ Mr. SKELTON
No one has effectively challenged them, and they have been accepted by hon. Members as reliable figures.
§ Mr. SKELTON
If you like, as an illustration. As far as my constituency is concerned they are a very good illustration. I was saying that in regard to the first of these burghs there is a reduction of 8s. 3d. to 5s. 6½d., in the second from 8s. 5d. to 6s. 2d., in the third a comparatively small reduction, in the fourth a reduction of 8s. 9d. to 6s. 6½d., and in the last burgh a reduction from 9s. 5d. to 6s. 2½d. It cannot be said that there can be any possible risk as far as these burghs are concerned of any rise of rates. The reverse is obviously the case. The House will remember that these are all old, poor, rather impoverished burghs, and will, I am sure, agree that in the case of those which I have mentioned, at any rate, the proposals have not, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland said, fallen upon the unjust, but have fallen upon the heads where rating relief is largely needed.
I should like to say one word of criticism. I regret very much, and my regret deepens as I consider the subject further, that the Bill leaves this House without any attempt having been made to combine the work of the school management committee and the work of the district council. I think that the House will 915 agree with me on that. This is a real defect. It was, perhaps, inevitable as the time of the House on the subject of district councils was largely concerned with the new proposal which my right hon. Friend has made, but I hope that even now it is not too late for that Amendment to be made. I trust that when the Bill reaches another place consideration will be given to that point, and for this reason. To anyone who seriously considers the subject it must be a matter for regret that in an area that is practically the same as, or equivalent to, that covered by the new district council, there should be another elected body, namely, the school management committee. If there can still be a combination between the school management committee and the district council we shall find the work, and therefore the prestige, the interest and the importance of the district council largely enhanced, and by the loss of the school management committee we should have lost a body, which, from its very inception, has never had a very considerable degree of vitality. I trust that, in view of the new structure of local government introduced by this Bill, this matter will be looked at from a large and general point of view. It is the only outstanding matter of serious importance which has been overlooked. I hope very much that in another place an effort will be made to combine the work of the school management committee and the district council.
I shall give my vote in favour of the Third Reading of this Bill in the confident belief that we are taking a real step forward in Scottish administration, and, in particular, that in combining the work of county and town, far from raising jealousies, as has been suggested, we shall be bringing these two great sides of our national life into far closer touch than they have ever been before. In that way we shall be taking what may well be the first step towards making the towns of this country realise the importance of the country districts, and, perhaps, even the first step towards doing what, in my judgment, is the main task of the 20th century—readjusting the balance between country and town.
§ Mr. J. STEWART
One regret in connection with the Bill to-night is that 916 we have been deprived of some very interesting speeches that ought to have been delivered; but we Scots have been gifted in many ways, and the gift of tongues has fallen upon us, so that my hon. Friends have been cut out on this interesting occasion, "the end of an auld song," and the beginning of a new one. We have been told that the main underlying purpose of this Bill is to deal with unemployment. In its inception, it was intended to bring about a state of affairs that would develop industry and that would lead to the rehabilitation of industry, otherwise the tremendous unemployment that exists would develop more and more. Therefore, the Government have come along and put their proposals before us. On the Government side those proposals have received almost universal commendation, but on this side of the House the reception has bean the very opposite, because we do not believe that the proposals can provide work for the unemployed.
The Government are taking revenue from the people of the country by means of the Petrol Duty of 4d., which is to be applied to the reduction of the rates of certain individuals. So far as Glasgow is concerned, the fortunate individuals who are to get this relief represent only a rental of £898,000, and the real relief which they are to get amounts to £873,000. The people who are to get no relief represent a rental of £6,019,000. The total for the city amounts to £7,270,000. Some 82 per cent. of the rates paid in Glasgow, and the same applies to England as well as Scotland, are paid by people who will get no relief under this Bill. There are many anomalies in the Bill, one of which is that the shopkeeper does not benefit. The shopkeeper is at the mercy of his landlord when the lease falls in or, if he is a yearly tenant, at the end of the tenancy. In the event of an increase of rent, he has no power to remove his occupancy of his shop, because if he does so it is at the risk of losing all the capital that he has invested in it and all the years of labour that he has given in building up the industry. The householders are in exactly the same position, because no benefit of any kind is to come to them.
This Government and other Governments have imposed upon the City of 917 Glasgow a total burden, between 1921 and 1928, of over £5,000,000. The burden of rates that has to be borne by the tenants of Glasgow, in rates—I am talking about the burden of the parish council in consequence of relief for the able-bodied unemployed—has represented £1,250,000 for 1928. Our total rates are over £7,000,000, and if they had been reduced to the extent that these particular rates have to be paid, it would have meant a reduction of more than 2s. in the £. Hon. Members opposite say to us that the reduction of rates that is to be given will benefit industry. I have always understood, perhaps incorrectly, that the more money that was scattered among the masses of the people, the better it was for industry; certainly much better than masses of money being held by a few people. The reduction of rates, generally, as compared with the wiping out of three-fourths of the rates to a few selected individuals, would have been of great advantage. In that direction the Government are false to their proposals. Let me take one firm in Glasgow.
In order that my statement may not have the least dubiety, I will mention the name of the firm—G. & W. Campbell, warehousemen and manufacturers, who have property in England Street and Montrose Street. The property is a six-storey building. The two upper flats are occupied as a factory. Each of the flats is a separate and distinct factory. The four bottom flats are a warehouse. Because the two upper flats belong to the same firm as the four lower warehouse flats, no relief whatever is to be given to this particular firm. That sort of instance could be given in several cases in Glasgow. We have firms struggling against adversity, who will receive no benefit in this direction, even though they are manufacturers. If this particular firm had established a subsidiary company and let the two upper flats for manufacturing purposes to the subsidiary company, they would have been entitled to the relief of the rates which is now denied to them. Therefore, the benefits under the Bill are not being properly distributed.
So far as giving relief to unemployment or diminishing unemployment, this Bill will be no good. That statement is in the nature of prophecy. All the statements 918 that have been made in this House in regard to the relief of unemployment, or in regard to the extension of employment by this Bill, are in the nature of prophecy. I submit my prophecy, and time will tell which of the ideas are correct. The statement was made to-day by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, East (Mr. Boothby), that working men will have more opportunities than ever of becoming members of public bodies. That statement is incorrect so far as this Bill is concerned. It is true that concessions have been made and that members of public bodies are to be paid for time lost, but that will not solve the question. If you are going to make payment of members effective, you must make it on a scale which will relieve them of the need to ask their employers to allow them to be away from their work for a time. I happen to be an employer, on a small scale. If a man employed by me came and said that he wanted to attend a meeting and I happened to be busy at the time I am afraid that I should resent it and suggest that he should find another situation which would enable him to give time to attend to his public duties. What is true in my case is true in other cases, especially where the man who is a member of a public body happens to hold hostile opinions to those of his employer. There is no foundation for the suggestion that this Bill offers real opportunities for working men to give part of their time to attend to their public work.
The hon. Member for East Aberdeen, as far as the de-rating proposals were concerned, said that taxation was a charge on capital, and that the right way of dealing with the question was to put it on profits. We on this side agree. If the suggestion ever came from a Tory Government that rates should be taken off capital and put on to profits, we should be willing to support it. It has been claimed by hon. Members opposite that the block grant is going to be more advantageous to the ratepayers and local authorities than the method which now exists. The block grant is not an innovation. It has been used in Scotland in regard to various services. In the days of the old local boards it was tried, and afterwards transformed and put on to a 50–50 basis. The block grant to-day only represents a fraction of the amount that was coming to the local authorities for 919 the development of new services. There is no instance in Scotland, as far as I know, where it has worked out on a 50–50 basis. And we are told that we are going to be better off under it than we were under the old system!
It is true that Glasgow under the new proposals is going to be better off to the extent of 3¾d. in the pound. Quite surreptitiously a proposal was inserted into into the Bill that the landlord's commission on the collection of rates should be increased from 2½ per cent. to 5 per cent. I know that the Sheriffs are to decide, but the fact remains that under the proposal now in the Bill it will be lawful for them to get 5 per cent. That will cost the City of Glasgow in extra commission over £26,000. A penny in the rate, under the new de-rating proposals, will yield £41,000 and, therefore, £26,000 means something like ¾d. in the pound. That will leave a gain to Glasgow of 3d. in the pound. On the top of that we are going to expend the Mearnskirk Sanatorium to hold 440 patients. Each patient costs not less than £2 15s. per week. That means more than £80,000 a year, which will wipe off nearly 2d. in the pound. Therefore, 2d. out of the 3d. has gone. Lennox Castle has been acquired by the Parish Council of Glasgow in order to provide accommodation for mental defectives. Men are working on the scheme at the moment and capital costs are being created. Each patient will cost from 25s. to 30s. per week minimum for their maintenance, and, therefore, long before the first three years are over the 3¾d. relief for Glasgow is wiped out altogether.
More than that. Urged and encouraged by the Ministry of Health, for which I give them all credit, we are contemplating the extension of our maternity and child welfare services. We want an annexe to the hospital in order to relieve the demand for beds. There again expenditure will come in. Under the Bill power is taken to combine in some degree voluntary and public hospitals. To-day in Glasgow there are 2,900 beds belonging to the voluntary hospitals, and there is a waiting list of 3,000 patients. In our public hospital, Stobhill, we have 1,700 beds; but the hospital is so overcrowded that a church belonging to the establishment 920 had to be turned into a hospital quite recently in order to deal with the temporary demand for beds. Therefore, as I see it, this relief, this generous offer which the Government have made under the block grant system to prevent an increase of the rates on the citizens of Glasgow, means that the great bulk of the citizens, those who pay 82 per cent. of the rates, will, before the three years have elapsed, be saddled with a greater burden of rates than ever. The other ratepayers of Glasgow, no matter how trade may have improved, no matter how successful business may have been, those who have got off under the de-rating proposals, will not bear the increase of a single penny in their rates, or a single penny of the increase in the capital expenditure on these buildings and institutions. They will get off all. So far as the great bulk of the ratepayers are concerned, the Bill as it now stands, and as it will leave this House, is not what it was expected or intended to be.
The one thing in the Bill which I am glad to see, and upon which I commend the Government, is in fact that they are now separating health from Poor Law administration. While I give them credit for that, they have put into the Bill a provision which in a great measure counterbalances the good. They have minimised the original provision, and it is to their credit that, instead of saying that it is the duty of a health authority to charge for treatment and maintenance, they say "it shall be lawful" for the health authority to do so, which leaves the authority with a much greater discretionary power as to what charge, if any, they make. But the Government have inserted words which provide that the person legally liable shall be called upon to pay, if the local authority so wills. That means that the pauperising provision connected with Poor Law administration to-day is inserted here. It is true that in connection with maternity and child welfare the health authority has power to make a charge, but it has never before been put into any Act of Parliament that any person legally liable was to be called upon to pay. This, of course, means that the child of a man suffering from a non-infectious disease may be called upon to pay if the local authorities so will it. If the child is suffering from the disease the parent may be called upon to pay, 921 or in lieu of the parent the grandparent may be called upon to pay. In this way the Government have introduced a pauperising provision, which will help to defeat our object of getting the health of the people attended to properly.
There is a worse possibility than that. Suppose that a grandfather becomes ill, it may be with rupture or varicose veins or any disease not classified as infectious. The grandchild who has never seen him and who is not responsible for him except legally, is to be called to pay for the old man's treatment. I am certain that the citizens of Glasgow have no desire that such a provision should be inserted in an Act. They are big enough and wise enough to recognise that, in dealing with public health, if they can attract the people to their hospitals it will be a good thing. I have said before that I have served on the parish council and on relief committees. I have pleaded with a man to go into the new hospital at Stobhill, one of the finest hospitals in Great Britain, where a patient has as good treatment as any paying patient in a sanatorium. Because it was a pauper institution the man would not enter it.
There was a transformation when pulmonary tuberculosis was made a notifiable disease and we opened a tuberculosis hospital. To-day in that hospital you will see representatives of all classes of the community, people who belong to the lower middle class, the working class and the labouring class, in beds in the same wards and being treated in the same way. When they have put on their pyjamas and are under the bedclothes it is hard to tell who is the millionaire and who is the pauper, for all patients look alike. Then with regard to maternity and child welfare we have developed the service. We were called upon by the Government to do so. We have been imploring the people to come in. I remember that at the end of 1918 the Government sent out circular after circular calling upon the local authority to make provision for the feeding of expectant mothers and of children up to five years of age. We were spending as much as £120,000 a year in that work. Then came the axe, when the economy stunt began to take effect, and instead of £120,000 being spent by Glasgow and half of that being received from the 922 Board of Health, £6,000 was allotted for the whole of Scotland.
I must say something about co-opted members on authorities. Co-opted members are to be forced upon us. I have had experience of co-opted persons, and I do not know of any of my colleagues in the Glasgow Corporation—I am not speaking necessarily about Labour men or Liberals or Conservatives—who would have anything to do with the co-opted representatives if they could avoid it. In this Bill the Government are making it compulsory to have persons of experience in Poor Law and education to be co-opted. What is likely to happen? The experienced person, whether man or woman, is likely to be appointed not so much for experience, but because he is of the same political complexion as the majority that appoints him. I do not think it is likely that a Tory majority of the Glasgow Corporation will select Labour men or Labour women in preference to Tory men or Tory women, because they have the experience. I am afraid that politics will dominate the selections. I am not making any charge against the Tories. The probability is that the Labour people will do the same. But does anyone say that that sort of thing is going to lead to good Government? I do not think so. Let it be remembered that the co-opted person is to spend money or to authorise the spending of money without any mandate and without any responsibility to anyone for his action. You are going to have co-option. I could only wish that an enlightened democracy in another part of this House could see its way to remedy that, but I am afraid it will not, so that we shall have to put up with co-option. I am certain it will lead to friction, and that you will have to amend this Bill before very long so as to do away with the co-opted person who is, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, in the main a great nuisance.
Let me say just this one word more. The Secretary of State and those immediately connected with him, who have served and taken an active part on local authorities, will know how anxious members of all parties are to be on all important committees. I am now dealing with the point that has been made by the Government that, while they are increasing the committees by setting up 923 an education committee and a Poor Law committee, by decreasing the numbers on the committees, as they expect to do, they will be able to rectify the position and ensure that the work will not be a greater burden than it is just now. I am one of those who believe that that position in a great population like Glasgow, with its 37 wards and 37 representatives and one representative from each ward on all its great standing committees, is not good, and I would like to see it altered. What is going to happen in Glasgow? Here, again, I speak from knowledge. Every member who comes into the Chamber wants to be put on all the more important committees—gas, water, electricity, health, etc. The man who comes in wants to be put on these committees, and it will be very, very difficult. I can see the difficulties which the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will find in getting the Corporation to agree to the reduction of its committees, and the wiping out of the importance of the individual councillor—reducing his status, and taking away the powers that he has by being on several committees. He will only realise it when he comes to try and face that situation.
The consequence will be that the work of the great town councils of Scotland will be increased, and in a way which will defeat the, no doubt, laudable object of the Government in getting these committees reduced and in getting work done more effectively than, perhaps, it is done at present. It will be found that the determination of the members to be put on committees will surpass any powers they have to compel a reduction, and, instead of it leading to efficiency, I doubt very much whether the result will not make for inefficiency in place of the efficiency that obtains now. The result will probably be that more and more power will be delegated to the officials. It is true to say that our officials connected with the various authorities throughout the length and breadth of the land, just as our civil servants, are men of capacity who are devoted to the work on which they are employed and whose aim it is to serve the interests of those in whose service they are. There have been occasions, as I have known, of men who had not the capacity—it was not dishonesty or any- 924 thing of that kind, but not the capacity—and because of the members of town councils and local authorities being busy men, and having other duties to attend to, they could not supervise the work as perhaps they ought to have done and would have done had they been more free. As you Increase the work of these authorities, so you will perhaps increase the tendency in that direction.
My final word—for I want to give the Under-Secretary the time he desires in which to reply—is that you have got the local authorities to agree to your proposals. Every local authority begins as a small concern and grows bigger, and the bigger it grows the greater its appetite grows for power. It takes this and that, always adding to it. Perhaps it may be true that we have not yet reached the stage where bigness becomes a source of inefficiency, but I submit that we are dangerously close to it, and the day may come when, because of this throwing of extra duty after extra duty upon one authority, we shall have to retrace our steps. Instead of compelling one authority to undertake these multifarious duties, you will have to go back to the simpler method of concentrating a duty in one body of men, instead of among a whole host of committees, with the one object which most of us have—economy coupled with efficiency.
I submit that this Measure, with all its desire to do well for the State and for the interest of the citizens, has failed completely in most respects. It is not going to reduce unemployment or to decrease the rates in our city or to increase industry. It will not do these things. It will fail, and then we shall have nothing but complaints and shall have to undo these things—perhaps by the method that the Secretary of State has reserved to himself, namely, the power of doing it by Order. Perhaps, under Clause 70, if he cannot do it by Order, he will delegate to his successors the task of finding the money necessary to make up for the extra expenditure that he foreshadows but for which he does not make provision in this Bill. The Bill will fail as it has failed in other directions. I do not wish that even at this late hour some power could be given the Government to see the great mistake they are making and to cast this Bill to the winds and admit that all our labours have not produced anything that 925 is worth having. Instead of proceeding with this Bill and making it an Act of Parliament, let them say: "We have made a mistake, we are willing to admit it, and we will cast this aside."
§ Major ELLIOT
I feel that the House, which has listened with great pleasure to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart), must have been greatly abashed by the unnecessary tone of gloom which he imparted, sorely against his view as it seemed, to the concluding passages of his speech. The hon. Member is well-known as one who utters optimism in a doleful tone, though his attitude towards life, like that of the party to which he belongs, is a buoyant belief in the future. The hon. Member has expressed that buoyant belief in the future in terms which would make one feel, as an American once said on a famous occasion, that what you wanted to do was to climb down into a hole in the ground and pull the hole down after you. Let me, however, before passing to the arguments which I wish to put before the House to-night, do my utmost to cheer up and invigorate my hon. Friend in regard to one or two of the points which he has raised, because I am sure he will be able to enjoy the rest of the evening better when we have been able to clear away some of his forebodings.
I take the case which he brought forward of the gain in rates which, he admitted, the City of Glasgow was to receive. A sum of £150,000 new money is going into Glasgow under these proposals. We agree that it is a matter of 3¾ d. in the rates. I think the hon. Member will also agree that that is a sum practically equivalent to the whole of the housing rate in the City of Glasgow, from the first Addison house built after the War, to the last house finished under the schemes which are now in progress. That is a great and notable reduction in the rates, not merely to one section of the community, but to the whole of the community. If one could, with a stroke of the pen, wipe out the housing rate of the City of Glasgow, or wipe out the housing rates of any of the great counties or cities of Scotland, it would be a notable alleviation of the rates burden upon ordinary householders. When one can do that, in addition to a reduction in the rates of many shillings 926 in the pound on industrial property, I think it will be admitted, at any rate, that it is a proposal which merits something a little better than the hon. Member's final suggestion. His closing words were to the effect that we should wave our hands dolefully and say that our labours have been wasted, and our toil has been in vain; that our only hope is in the enlightened democracy at the other end of this building, and that, if we cannot trust them to reject the Measure, our only course is to commit suicide here and now on the Floor of the House, and admit that our acts have all been mistaken.
The hon. Member, refusing to be comforted by the thought of this new money, went on to summon from the vasty deeps of his imagination all the possible ways in which these proposals might turn out badly for Glasgow. He referred to the Clause under which it would be possible for the factors to go before the sheriff and prove the extra cost of collection of rates, and he assumed, at once, without any suggestion of an inquiry, that the factors' request would immediately be granted—and there goes ¾d.! I do not wish to go further into it. It would be folly to say that the sheriff might make a cut of 50 per cent. in the present figure and thereby add £10,000 to the rates of Glasgow. I do not wish to bring forward considerations of that kind. We are not legislating against hypothetical bogies of that kind, cither beneficent or maleficent. The hon. Member, however, brought forward the immediate point of the effect upon Mearnskirk Sanatorium. He said this work had been begun before the standard year, but not completed, that a sum of £80,000 was involved and that it would be 2d. in the £ on the rates—and there goes another 2d.! But the hon. Member deceives himself. If he will look at Clause 62, he will find that we have made provision in this respect. Sub-section (3) provides that the regulationsshall make provision for securing that where proposals for the development of institutional treatment in their area were submitted to the Scottish Board of Health by the council of any county or large burgh at such a date that grants in aid of capital expenditure on institutions to be provided thereunder are payable in accordance with the directions of the Treasury, then, if the execution of the proposals was delayed by the directions of the said Board….the amount of any grants paid or payable to 927 the council for the standard year is less than the amount thereof which would otherwise have been so payable, the amount of the grants paid or payable to the council in respect of that year shall be estimated and certified as if they had been increased by such amount as may be prescribed.I may inform the hon. Member that Mearnskirk Sanatorium is covered by this Clause and the £80,000 which he anticipates will fall on the new money, will not so fall, and, in fact, that the grant will be estimated as if that had been part of the expenditure of the City of Glasgow in the standard year.
§ Major ELLIOT
It is impossible for me to go over all the proposals which are under consideration. I do not think it would apply to Lennox Town. I do not think Lennox Town has been held up under the terms of the Sub-section, but, at the moment, I am merely engaged in bringing a little cheer and comfort to the heart of the hon. Member for St. Rollox so that he may be able to enjoy the closing stages of the Debate.
§ Mr. STEWART
The hon. and gallant Member has not cheered me up. I want to know if that proviso as to being held up applies to Mearnskirk? Has it been held up and, if it has not been held up, how can this proviso apply?
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member, perhaps for the only time in his career, will be delighted to hear that it has been held up. Consequently it is covered by this Clause. Let us hope that balm has now been brought to his soul. Even the time at my disposal is brief enough in which to cover all the points raised in this Debate, and I was adjured by several hon. Members opposite not to attempt to be facetious and not to attempt to import any lightness into this Debate, but to discuss these subjects with the full seriousness of the Scot in dealing with a project which involves the local government of his country, as well as considerable, indeed enormous, sums of public money. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), who moved the rejection of the Bill, claimed that these provisions had been secretly concocted, that they had not been canvassed by the country, and that they had not the support of 928 public bodies in Scotland. He went on to say that they were not produced by Scotsmen and Scotswomen. A Bill very similar to this, but much more drastic, was drafted by the executive committee of the County Councils' Association of Scotland. Committee after committee has reported along the lines of this Measure. If the hon. Member has any doubt about that, let him ask the hon. Member for St. Rollox; let him ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas); let him look up the papers of the late Lord Haldane; let him ask Mrs. Sidney Webb.
These proposals have been before the public in one form or another for 20 years, and they have recently been specified and delimited more exactly by some of the most authoritative committees that have ever sat in Scotland. As I say, a Bill dealing with this matter was in draft proceeding from the executive council of the County Councils' Association of Scotland, a body covering the whole of Scotland in its extent. The great public bodies of Scotland have resolved time after time in favour of this Bill. We have resolutions in favour of this Measure from the town council of Glasgow, not passed on a party basis, but passed, not merely with the support of Members of his own party, but actively introduced and moved by them.
§ Major ELLIOT
The Amendments have been met in almost every case by the Amendments incorporated into the Measure by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. All that one can say is that no counter resolutions have been brought forward by the city of Glasgow or by the city of Edinburgh. We are not in receipt—if we were, I am sure the hon. Member would have quoted them—of indignant resolutions from the county councils of Scotland denouncing this Bill root and branch. If the great cities of Scotland are in favour of it, and if the county councils of Scotland are in favour of it, what right has the hon. Member to say that this Bill has been forced through against the will of Scotland, when the representative institutions of Scotland, popularly and democratically elected and by overwhelming majorities, have declared their whole- 929 hearted support of the main principles and the machinery of this Bill? The same people who elect the parish councils elect the great county councils and the town councils, and neither the parish council nor the education authority can claim to be of the same weight and representative character as, for instance, the great corporation of the city of Glasgow.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Is it a fact that the same individual electors who elect the county councils elect the education authorities? The hon. and gallant Member knows it is not correct.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member must admit that the electorate of Scotland is the same, whether dealing with one local authority or with another.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
But it is not, so far as the election of the education authorities is concerned. Take Fife. You have the two large burghs in Fife, and you have all the separate burghs and you will find that it is not the same electorate as elects the county council that elects the education authorities.
§ Major ELLIOT
I failed to make myself clear to the hon. Member. The electorate of Scotland is the same. There are not three Scotlands, one governed by a parish council, one governed by a county council or a town council, and one governed by an education authority. Scotland is one and indivisible and it is governed by its representative bodies and the hon. Member does not improve his case by saying that the large burghs send members to the education authorities. The 22 large burghs have all passed resolutions in favour of this Bill.
§ Major ELLIOT
Well, well, we have by no means the unanimous opposition of the large burghs. I have still to hear that the majority of the electorate of Scotland, or even more than a substantial minority of the people of Scotland, have in any way indicated their opposition to this Bill through the democratic machinery of popular election of their main governing bodies which has been provided for them by Acts passed by this House many years ago. The hon. Member must admit that the Town Council of Glasgow has had plenty of opportunities to pass resolutions against this Bill. I think we may flatter ourselves that we 930 have got the hon. Member for Dundee so far as to admit that changes ought to be made, that the present machinery is not right, that the present areas are not right; and after some six months of deadly combat we have brought the hon. Member up to the point that he abandons his past position and has now come out in the open seeking what new scheme would be best, because he admits that the old scheme can no longer stand.
§ Major ELLIOT
What the hon. Member said 20 years ago and what some hon. Members opposite said five years ago, they withdrew as soon as they came down to the discussions on this Bill. [Interruption]. The hon. Member must not be so testy when other hon. Members meet him in argument. I say, without hesitation, that the hon. Member has abandoned the position that the present state of things is satisfactory.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
How can I abandon a position that I never held? The hon. and gallant Member has no right to say that unless he can quote me.
§ Major ELLIOT
Then I will say that the hon. Member has always been whole-heartedly in favour of a change and that he has only succeeded in concealing it from us by some obscurity of language which we have failed to appreciate on this side of the House. The hon. Member brings forward at this stage, in seriousness, an argument which he advanced at a previous stage of the Bill, which seemed to us then as if it must have been intended to bring the Bill into ridicule. He brings it forward again on the Third Beading, however, and I am compelled to devote a moment or two of attention to it. What is the hon. Member's remedy for the present state of local government in Scotland? He repeated it. He wants a peripatetic Royal Commission to go roving through Scotland over a period of years; to give them complete bureaucratic powers to tear up boundaries, to tear up counties, and to tear up burghs too, if I understand him aright, to make Regulations, to disjoin areas, and to conjoin areas—all apparently to be done by the same Commission. How long he thinks that would take, what kind of upset and 931 turmoil it would produce in Scottish affairs, or what kind of revolutionary new bodies it would produce when it had finished, he did not descant upon.
The only remedy, the official remedy, put forward by the Socialist party as an argument for rejecting this Bill is that they would throw all the historic boundaries of Scotland into the melting pot through the bureaucratic machinery of a peripatetic Commission, and that the same Commission would have to go through the length and breadth of Scotland, settling the boundaries of all those new bodies and apparently everything else that the local government of Scotland would require. If that is the proposal of the Socialist party, if that is the only alternative brought forward for the local government of Scotland by the Socialist party on the Third Reading of this Bill, then I think I can ask with confidence for the vote not only of hon. Members on this side, but of many of the hon. Members on the other side as well. The hon. Member went further and said that the finance of the Bill could be met by altering the insurance, by carrying the whole of the able-bodied relief as a State charge and by the taking over by the State of the whole of the first and second class roads. What becomes of the hon. Member's demand for elected bodies under such a system? What would the elected town council have to do with the administration of poor relief if that were entirely run by the bureaucratic machine under the control of the Department of State here in Whitehall? What would become of the whole of the training ground for persons and local authorities of which he speaks if the finance of all the first and second class roads were taken out of the hands of the popularly-elected bodies and left under the control of the Minister of Transport here in Whitehall? Surely he would agree that in both cases an enormous area of profitable and useful work had been removed from the control and even from the responsible consideration of the local authorities of Scotland. If the relief of the able-bodied were run under the Regulations of unemployment insurance and if the whole of the first- and second-class roads were run by the Ministry of Transport, surely local government in Scotland 932 would suffer a shattering blow, a far more serious injury than can be inflicted by this Bill. Hon. Members opposite know that our post bags are weighed down daily by cases sent to us in relation to unemployment insurance.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member's party has a certain responsibility for unemployment insurance. But nothing can get away from the fact that if there is a locally elected body dealing with these questions, it is possible for it to take off the central department most of the questions which otherwise are referred to it when the administration is run by the machine of bureaucracy from Whitehall.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member will realise the difference then between that and appealing to a popularly elected body which is managing these things and which has a right to interfere. We are agreed then that it is useless in this case to try to interfere with the bureaucratic machine and I do not desire that the ambit of the bureaucratic machine shall be extended as the hon. Member for Dundee suggested it should be as one of his contributions to the constructive side of this Debate. [Interruption.] I would willingly give way, it is far from my desire to misrepresent the hon. Member, but I am in the recollection of the House and I maintain that the hon. Member said he would deal with one of the problems confronting us just now, the problem of poor relief, by having the administration of poor relief taken over by the State instead of being as it is now, to some extent a burden upon the local authorities. [Interruption.] If that is so, then in so far as I am misrepresenting him it must be in regard to some minor point in this discussion.
The hon. Member also claimed that the de-rating proposals were so far in 933 favour of the landlord, that the relief which was being given would fall entirely into the hands of the landlords of Scotland. He went further than that. He said that in industrial cases there is a relief to owners of £617,000 and a relief to tenants of £983,000. The hon. Member must be aware that in nearly all industrial cases the owner and the occupier are the same person. There are not two separate persons receiving that relief. The owner and the occupier in industrial undertakings are not two distinct entities to anything like the same extent as in agricultural undertakings and, therefore, the argument which he sought to found upon the apparent relief to owners in the case of industrial hereditaments falls entirely to the ground. He also brought forward a point which seemed to trouble also my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart). I refer to his complaint that a reasonable charge should be made under this Bill in respect of hospital treatment. He said we were importing an entirely new principle into Scottish public life.
§ Major ELLIOT
I think the hon. Member will admit that the health of children is a public health matter, and that the feeding of school children is a public health matter, and he will admit, also, that the Act of 1908 has been in our public life for a considerable time. Let me quote him one of the provisions of that Act relating to the feeding of school children.
§ Mr. STEWART
Pardon me again. I referred to the Board of Health. I did not refer to the Education Act and the feeding of school children.
§ Major ELLIOT
I was trying to carry the hon. Member with me. I said that he would admit that the health of school children is a public health matter and he agreed with me, and therefore I consider that I am well within my scope in saying that the feeding of school children is a matter to which one may reasonably apply the phrase "public health." If he disputes that, I am willing to abandon the point; but I merely say that in the Education Act of 1908 we find it lays down with regard to the 934 feeding of school children that the school board shall have:power to make temporary provision for the child, pending the completion of the procedure hereby prescribed, and to recover the cost of such provision from such parent or guardian as an alimentary debt, unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the School Board that such parent or guardian was unable by reason of poverty or ill-health to supply sufficient and proper food for the child.
§ Mr. STEWART
I do not desire to interrupt, but I must point out that in the Act you have just quoted it says that the parent or guardian is liable. Under the present Bill, those liable are the persons who are legally responsible and under the law a grandfather is legally responsible as well as the parent. Even in cases of maternity and child welfare the law at present is that the parent is responsible in respect of anything that may be done for the child.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member is in error. Let me read the definition Clause in the Act of 1908. In Section 34 the word "parent" is defined as:including guardian and any person who is liable to maintain the child.We may all be said to make mistakes in these complicated discussions, but I do maintain, without any desire to rub it in that I have proved my case that in the 1908 Act it was laid down that even the feeding of a child was to be done under strict provisions for the recovery of the cost, not merely from the parent but from any person liable to maintain the child, a much more drastic provision than we put into Clause 28 of the present Bill. In that Clause we say:It shall be lawful for the county council or the town council to recover from any person maintained by them or any person legally liable to maintain that person a reasonable charge.It does not say the cost, as laid down in the Education Act, but only "a reasonable charge." Then we go on to say that if the council are satisfied that the person is unable to pay, they may remit such part thereof as they think he is unable to pay. I submit, therefore, that these provisions are much less drastic than the provisions applicable to the feeding of school children which have been in our public health legislation, using that term in the widest possible sense, since 1908.
935 I have dealt now, I think, with the points raised more particularly by the hon. Member for Dundee. I think the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels) came rather to praise Caesar than to bury him, as far as one could understand it. He praised the Government for the action they were taking particularly in regard to the hospital sections of the Bill. He said also that there were strong theoretical arguments for larger areas. We all know the case to which he actually referred, and he said that theoretical considerations should not apply at this time, but I think on further consideration he will realise that it is impossible to hold up a new system of health organisation because the burgh of Musselburgh and the burgh of Edinburgh have not composed differences which in the near future they are bound to compose and upon which they are bound to come to an agreement.
The points raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) were of a more general kind. He said that everything can be done by freedom and responsibility and by depending upon voluntary combinations and by the association of one local authority with another. He went on to quote the case of Aberdeen, which was a very bad case to prove the point he had in mind. It is true that Aberdeen city has been able to deal with Aberdeen parish, and that they have been able to make hospital provision for great portions of the inhabitants of that area, but that was in virtue of an Act giving Aberdeen power of hospitalisation which other great cities did not have. We have given these powers to the other cities by this Bill, and no amount of voluntary association or combination could have brought about this result without the legislation which we are asking the House to pass now.
The hon. Member brought forward the Liberal alternatives, but they were of even a more hazy character than the alternatives brought forward by the hon. Member for Dundee, which at any rate had the virtue of being clear, precise and definite, and a solution with which one could join issue. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland suggested that we should de-mark the areas in consultation with experienced people, but how to 936 procure them he did not go on to say. Then he said that we should give them leadership based upon the result of research; again what kind of leadership is to be defined? I was reminded of a famous statesman who, when asked for his policy, said that he preferred to rely on the sublime instincts of an ancient people. Then the hon. Member asked how the Highland services were to be improved. The Highland services are to be improved out of the vast sum of new money which this Bill will make available for the Highland counties. We have already pointed out that the sum of no less than £80,000 a year will become available to the Highland counties under the proposal of this Bill. When you consider that both the Highland and Island grant in itself originally did not come to £40,000 a year, it is easy to see that an opportunity for the advancement and improvement of services is to be found in the new sums of money which are being made available. The Highland and Island grant is not being reduced; furthermore, it will have to be increased and extended. This great balancing grant for the regions of the north is by no means being reduced by this Bill. The giants will be made in addition to the proposals of this Bill, so that, with the new money available, it should be possible to make a fairly substantial improvement in the social conditions which the hon. Member has most at heart.
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr), after a few words of praise on the solution of religious instruction, moved on to the more familiar ground of the breweries, about which he launched an attack of some length upon the Government. Let me say again as has been said before from this Box time and again that the question of the de-rating of industries cannot be considered simply with a bias against one set or another set of industries. The muddles into which it would lead the rating and the assessing authorities, and the difficulties which it would throw upon the whole rating system of the country make it impossible for that seriously to be considered. Already I have asked the hon. Member how he would deal with the situation which would arise if a local authority, which had a brewery or distillery in its area, found that it was able to get four times as much rates from that institution than it could get from anything 937 else, and whether it is not quite likely that that would lead to results which the hon. Member did not exactly contemplate. It might easily mean that a local authority would go to a great deal of trouble to have and to keep a brewery or distillery in its area because of the revenue which was to be derived from it. He then went on to the question of the struggling farmer. I have as much sympathy for the struggling farmer as any Member, but the hon. Member mistakes if he as under the delusion that assistance given to the provider of the equipment of a farm is not of as much assistance to the struggling farmer as any other kind of assistance that could be given. Improvement in the plant of agriculture is just as necessary as improvement in the plant of any other industry, and assistance given to the partner who provides the working capital of the industry is just as much a benefit to the farmer as a cheque given into his hands. I have had to deal with farmers and have been connected with them all my life and if there be one thing that a farmer wants, it is a farm whose laird is in a position to keep the equipment up to date. Everyone knows that for an estate to fall under the sweep of Death Duties is regarded by tenants as a grave inconvenience. If it falls under the Death Duties twice in a short time, it is regarded as a serious calamity, because the tenants know that it means the crippling of the powers of the estate to provide the plant which is required for the working of the farm. The hon. Member quoted a great civil servant of Scotland, Sir James Leishman. I also ask him to read the words of Sir Leslie Mackenzie, a man not less entitled to respect, who has spoken in the greatest praise of this Bill. He says that it opens up a new era for the development of the health services of Scotland.
Then the hon. Member referred to our candidate in the North Lanark by-election. He had spoken of the English system as a crazy patchwork, and said he hoped that it would not be imitated in Scotland. It would be far from me to wish to attack any Scottish candidate for describing anything English as crazy patchwork. I am not here to defend the educational system of England. The system we are bringing forward is not the English system, and we have every 938 reason to suppose that it will work satisfactorily in the educational system of Scotland.
§ Major ELLIOT
He did, but he has admitted himself that he did not appreciate the proposals that were under discussion. As hon. Members opposite know, he has come to an appreciation of the benefits of the Bill. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) said that everyone else had treated the whole subject in a superficial way, and he said that he would get right down to the roots of the whole question. The hon. Member told the House that this Bill would not do any good, that it would do nothing to assist in solving the problem of unemployment, and he also declared that it would not help industry in any way. The hon. Member for Linlithgow also asked why was it supposed that this Measure was going to do any good, and he reminded hon. Members that, for instance, on previous occasions reductions had been made in the cost of coal without any beneficial result. His argument is as though a man climbing an 11 foot wall should stop 10 feet up and say "There is no use making any further effort to climb any more of this wall, it extends right up into heaven." The hon. Member has only furnished us with additional reasons for doing everything we can to reduce the cost of the production of coal still lower. If the reduction in the price of coal has improved our export trade surely that is an argument in favour of making further efforts in that direction, and every effort made to bring down the cost of a ton of coal is worth making.
It has also been stated that the de-rating proposals under this Measure will do no good. I wonder what the hon. Member for Linlithgow would say if we brought forward a proposal to increase the rates on productive industry by 6s. 8d. in the £. Not only would every hon. Member of this House complain but we should be told that we were strangling industry and placing upon industry a burden which it could not possibly bear. If that proposal would be piling a burden on industry, then surely by the same reasoning it follows that if you take 939 6s. 8d. in the £ off an industry you must be taking a burden off that industry to that extent. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for day Cross (Mr. Duncan) seems to be carrying on a speech of his own by interrupting. All I can say is that if the hon. Member would do us the honour of rising in his place and taking part in the Debate, we should appreciate more his contributions to our discussions. The hon. Member for Linlithgow asks if our proposals will add to the fertility of the soil or the comfort of the agricultural workers. With regard to our agricultural proposals it cannot be denied that improvements in drainage for instance are a direct improvement to the soil. Improvements in rural housing are a direct help to the workmen. Improvements in housing brought about by relieving burdens on agriculture, particularly on the landlord, as proposed by this Bill are improvements giving a direct benefit to the agricultural workers in Scotland.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
As a matter of fact, agriculture has been considerably relieved at various times in previous years, and if that is so, how can the Under-secretary still maintain that agriculture is a depressed industry?
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member for Linlithgow will not understand that although other assistance has been given that does not mean that we should slacken in our efforts to improve agricultural conditions. Surely it cannot be disputed that the condition of the agricultural industry would have been proportionately worse if none of these reliefs had been given. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir E. Hamilton) said that he was in great doubt and distress about the formula, and wanted to know how his counties would stand, not merely now, but in the future. I went to some trouble to get the information which the hon. Member desired. The Counties of Orkney and Shetland will not merely receive benefit from the formula now, but will receive a much greater benefit if and when, at the end of the whole of the quinquennial periods, the whole grant comes to be distributed by the formula, instead of only a portion of it, as at the beginning. As the fixed grant periods advance, a greater and greater weight of money will be drawn into Orkney and 940 Shetland by the beneficent operation of this scheme. If the hon. Member has the patience to wait for five years, he will see an advantage; in 10 years he will see a greater advantage, and in 15 years a still greater advantage, and in the end, in the case of some of his areas, the amount will reach no less a sum than 16s. per head of the population.
The hon. Member who asked me to eschew anything in the way of a general speech will, I hope, be satisfied. I have done my utmost to deal in sequence with the objections brought forward to the Bill at this last stage. I cannot pretend to have satisfied hon. Members opposite—[Interruption.] I cannot pretend to satisfy the hon. Member who keeps up a running fire of interruption. I do not think that anything would satisfy him, and I would suggest that, if he is unable to remain silent during the Debate, he should seek some other portion of the Chamber. We are asked what are the benefits that we desire to see. The benefits that we desire to see are those of greater efficiency and greater service to the people of Scotland as a whole. We have five major services, some of which have been unified to a considerable extent, others where we are now completing the unification. We are bringing into force a county rate for the five great services of police, education. Poor Law, main roads and health services. The police used to be a peculiar privilege of the small burghs. We know, in Shakespeare, the immortal words of Dogberry summoning the watch and giving them instructions, and there is no doubt that, whenever improvements in the police force were brought in, the local Dogberrys gathered together and inveighed against the invasion of the rights of the burghs by the centralised authorities, who were enforcing a standard of efficiency which had nothing to do with that local touch which it was so necessary to preserve between the police force and the inhabitants in the past. All that, however, has passed away, and everyone now agrees that it is impossible to maintain the position of small burghal police forces which used to obtain in the past. In the case of education, a great unification was brought about by the recent Act—I think that in some ways it was too great a unification. A complete divorce was made between the burgh area and the old associations which it 941 had with the education of its citizens. We are in process of repairing that to a certain extent under the proposals of this Bill. We restore here the connection of the town council with the schools of the town, by the very provision that elected representatives from the town council shall follow to the central meeting place of the education authority and there discuss the fortunes of the council's schools.
§ Major ELLIOT
No; they are directly elected without any relation to the town council. We propose to restore the relation of the town to the schools which was swept away by the Act of 1918. [Interruption.] The town council had control up to 1872, and after that the local school boards preserved the local touch, which—and this is one of the main criticisms of the hon. Member for Dundee—was swept away and lost when the larger authority was brought in, consisting of elected members coming from all districts.
§ Major ELLIOT
At that time there were only two children in the world, and one of them killed the other. On the question of roads, I had prepared some facts with regard to the economy and efficiency that we expected would arise from the reduction in the number of highway authorities in Scotland. I do not think it is necessary to stress that. Everyone will agree. For instance, one road between Ayr and Ardrossan passes in 20 miles through areas of nine separate highway authorities. It is obviously an unreasonable number of authorities to look after it. The Class I and Class II road between Burntisland and Leven, 15 miles in length, passes through the areas of seven separate highway authorities—we here reduce that to one. The Class I road between Earls ferry and Crail, 11 miles in length, passes through the areas of seven separate highway authorities. These, again, will be reduced to one. It seems to me the road Clauses of the Bill alone would make it worth while to introduce the proposals to which we are now asking the House to give a Third Reading.
942 As for the health services I have left myself little enough time to deal with them particularly seeing that it is a subject to which many of the formative years of my life were devoted. I have as much knowledge perhaps of the hospitals and the waiting lists as almost any other Member of the House. I have had the compiling of these waiting lists. I have realised the hope deferred that makes the heart sick as week after week and month after month cases would come up asking for treatment where we knew treatment would be an advantage, but owing to the shortage of accommodation we were forced to deny it. We go a great way to remedy that in the proposals that are under discussion here. The Mackenzie Committee report that no fewer than 700 beds of the first class could be made immediately available if accommodation were come to between the municipal and Poor Law authorities and the voluntary hospitals, and that it would be possible to bring hundreds of beds immediately into service in Glasgow alone. In Aberdeen it has been possible to bring 160 beds into operation and keep them constantly filled. We can do that and more in the other cities under the hospital Clause in the Bill.
I hope the House realises the landmark which to-night we have reached. We are reaching the Third Reading of a Bill which will be famous for many years after all of us here have quitted this House. It will open the door to new developments in public health, in highway work and in work regarding the relief of the poor. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and I had some discussion last Thursday about the relief of the poor in Glasgow. The whole of that discussion it seems to me it will be possible to deal with in Glasgow itself under the provisions of the Bill. The new powerful, financially strong, responsible authority is coming in under which both Eastwood and Cathcart will be making their contribution towards the relief of the city of Glasgow and not leaving the whole burden of Govan having to be carried by the parish of Govan—all these things will make it possible for Glasgow to deal with the problems of Glasgow and not to have either to refer them to the Department in Edinburgh or bring them to the Floor of this House. The keynote of the Bill is 943 the trusting of the affairs of the people of Scotland to the local government electorate of Scotland. These are draft schemes—outlined schemes. It is for the electorate to fill in the sketch that we are making in this House. What we ask the House to do to-night is to give us the
§ Third Reading of the Bill and to remit to the people of Scotland with power to act.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269: Noes, 86.945
|Division No. 263.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Albery, Irving James||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Dixey, A. C.||Lloyd. Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.||Ellis, R. G.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Looker, Herbert William|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lougher, Sir Lewis|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hunh Vere|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Atkinson, C.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||MacAndrew Major Charles Glen|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Flelden, E. B.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Catheart)|
|Balniel, Lord||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Foster, Sir Harry S.||McLean, Major A.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Ganzonl, Sir John||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Gates, Percy||Makins, Brigadler-General E.|
|Bennett, Albert (Nottingham, C.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Berry, Sir George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Golf, Sir Park||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Bevan, S. J.||Gower, Sir Robert||Meller, R. J.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Grant, Sir J. A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Grotrian H. Brent||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Guest, Capt.Rt.Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hacking, Douglas H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hamilton, Sir George||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hammersley, S. S.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hanbury, C.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Buchan, John||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Barman, J. B.||Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Oakley, T.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hills, Major John Walter||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cayzer Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nan.)||Perring, Sir William George|
|Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Charterls, Brigadier-General J.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Plicher, G.|
|Christie, J. A.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Pliditch, Sir Phllip|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Cochrane. Commander Hon. A. D.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Preston, William|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Radford, E. A.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hurst, Sir Gerald||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Couper, J. B.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Remer, J. R.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||James), Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rentoul, Sir Gervais|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gten)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Joynson-Hicks. Rt. Hon. Sir William||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Kinloch-Caoke, Sir Clement||Ropner, Major L.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knox, Sir Alfred||Ross, R. D.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lamb, J. Q.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Rye, F. G.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Storry-Deans, R.||Wells, S. R.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Sandeman, N. Stewart||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Withers, John James|
|Sandon, Lord||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Tasker, R. Inigo.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Savery, S. S.||Templeton, W. P.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Thomson, Sir Frederick||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wragg, Herbert|
|Skelton, A. N.||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Wright, Brig.-General W. D.|
|Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Major Sir George Hennessy.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Ritson, J.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Groves, T.||Scurr, John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Shield, G. W.|
|Barr, J.||Hollins, A.||Shield, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Shinwell, E.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Bellamy, A.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Kelly, W. T.||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charlie W.||Kennedy, T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Lawrence, Susan||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lee, F.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lunn, William||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Buchanan, G.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Montague, Frederick||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Compton, Joseph||Morris, ft. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Connolly, M.||Morrison, R, C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Whiteley, W.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Murnin, H.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Day, Harry||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Duncan, C.||Owen, Major G.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Edge, Sir William||Paling, W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Pithick-Lawrenes, F. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gillett, George M.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham. Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Purcell, A. A.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
Resolution agreed to.