HC Deb 03 February 1930 vol 234 cc1650-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."

Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN

I am afraid that at this hour, it is rather late to raise the matter which I intended to raise, or to give the Minister a chance of answering my points. I wonder if he would receive a deputation from those who are interested or would he prefer that I should proceed as far as I can now?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

I think the point has been settled and I see no advantage in receiving a deputation representing the local authorities, but if the hon. and gallant Member himself and such of his Friends in the House as care to be associated with him wish me to hear their full story I shall be very glad to see them.


If I might associate myself with what the first speaker said, I should be very-grateful if the Minister could see his way to allow myself and one or two other Members to come and lay the facts before him. There is an extremely strong feeling on the point throughout my constituency, and the matter is of burning moment in the three constituencies concerned, and if I could myself, with other Members, be allowed to lay some of the facts which possibly have not struck the right hon. Gentleman at the time, before him, we should be very grateful.


I should be very glad indeed to see the Members for the constituencies affected, but I think I could not, at this stage, receive the local authorities themselves.


As a Member representing a constituency on the borders of which Woodley lies, and a constituency very intimately involved in this matter, I shall be very glad if the Minister will consent to see us. I have had 25 years' experience as a member of a board of guardians, and I know the effect of concentrating the vagrants applying for admission. Here you are concentrating some 400 vagrants a week in one of the most beautiful spots in England, and in order to keep the nuisance, as far as it is a nuisance, outside Reading. You have three small authorities, Sonning, Earley, and another, and a rural district, all opposed to this scheme. In that 25 years' experience, I have never known an instance in which the Minister of Health has refused an inquiry asked for by the local authorities concerned, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is of any use our seeing him, whether it is a chose jugée or not. I put it to him that it ought not to be, that it is only common justice and fairness that the authorities of the districts concerned should be heard. If he will receive us, we shall be grateful.

Brigadier-General BROWN

We shall be glad to accept the Minister's offer, and I hope he will allow me to bring my other hon. Friends and, I hope, some hon. Members from the other side of the House. For instance, I should like the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Hastings) to come too. The hon. Lady, the Parliamentary Secretary, knows that I have discussed the question with her a great deal, and I am afraid she is very obstinate about it, but we feel that we have a genuine case, and that the countryside should not be put upon by the town, as it is in this case. The Minister has not really heard the point of view of the countryside outside, and we shall be very grateful if four or five of us can represent our point of view. I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman will do what he can then to meet our views. I realise his difficulty from my conversation with the hon. Lady. It is a very difficult problem, but you are creating trouble between the town and country by treating those outside as they are being treated, and I do not know why the Minister finds it necessary to have this ward in that spot. The least we could expect from him is some statement that we could send to the Wokingham Rural District Council and to the people of Woodley, Earley, and Sonning.


If I may, I should like to bring force to what has been said, for the local authorities have very strong feelings in this matter, and we would be glad to have the opportunity of bringing their views against this site before the Minister. Apart from what I might describe as the practical reasons against this site, we could lay before him good reasons to justify the case we have put before him.

Question put, and agreed to

Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-six Minutes after Eleven o'Colck.