HC Deb 07 July 1931 vol 254 cc1992-2057

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.

[Sir ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient— (a) to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of such special contributions, payable annually for a period of forty years, as the Minister of Health and the Department of Health for Scotland, respectively, may, on the recommendation of committees appointed by them with the approval of the Treasury and on such conditions as they may with the like approval determine undertake to make towards the expenses to be incurred by rural district councils in England in providing houses in agricultural parishes for agricultural workers and persons of substantially the same economic position, and by county councils in Scotland in providing houses for such persons as aforesaid in rural areas; Provided that—

  1. (i) such contributions shall be made only to councils who satisfy the said committees, acting in accordance with such general directions as may be given to them by the Minister or, as the case may be, by the Department, that their financial resources are insufficient to enable them without such assistance to make adequate provision in regard to the matters aforesaid;
  2. (ii) the rents to be charged for houses in respect of which such contributions are made shall not, notwithstanding anything in section three of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924, exceed such sums as the Minister and the Department respectively may, in accordance with the recommendations of the said committees, determine; and
  3. (iii) the present capital values of such contributions, as calculated at the dates when the Minister and the Department respectively undertake to make them, shall not in the aggregate exceed, as respects England, eighty ninety-first parts and, as respects Scotland, eleven ninety-first parts of the sum of two million pounds;
(b) to authorise the Minister and the Department respectively to assist rural district councils in England and county councils in Scotland in providing dwelling accommodation in such localities and for such persons as are mentioned in the preceding paragraph by themselves acquiring land and erecting houses, or by arranging with some other Government Department to acquire land and erect houses, on behalf and at the expense of those councils; and (c) to make provisions consequential upon, or ancillary to, certain of the matters aforesaid."—[Mr. A. Greenwood.]—(King's Recommendation signified.)


I think it would be the general desire, Sir, if it can be arranged, that we should have a general discussion on this Resolution, and then deal briefly with our Amendments later. I do not know whether that is possible, but I think it is the desire of the Minister of Health as it is also the desire of hon. Members on this side, and I think that the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir Tudor Walters), who will be here in a minute or two, will also desire it.


There is no objection that I can see to a general discussion provided that it is confined to the question of finance with which the Resolution deals.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

This Financial Resolution is the preliminary to a Bill dealing with a special aspect of the housing problem, that of rural housing. There are two difficulties in the way of solving the housing problem. There is the unwillingness of certain local authorities to use the powers they possess, and the inability of certain local authorities to find the financial resources to deal adequately with the problem. It is true that since the War we have built a very substantial number of houses, the majority of them by private enterprise and built for sale. A minority, rather over one-third, have been built by local authorities, over half of them under the Act of 1924, designed to bring rents within the reach of what an ordinary workman can be expected to pay. In the rural areas over 410,000 houses have been built since the War, 84,000 of them by local authorities, about half of that number under the Wheatley Act of 1924. That looks a very good figure, but if we in- quire about the number of houses which have been made available for the rural working class it is clear that the figure of 84,000 does not carry us very far, owing to the largely accidental way in which we have classified our local authorities. A large number of rural districts contain industrial areas, and a considerable number of the houses built in rural areas, technically so described, have, as a matter of fact, been provided for an industrial population.

There is no doubt, moreover, that the overflow of population from the towns into the rural areas, with the natural and laudable desire of town dwellers to live nearer to the open country, accounts for the fact that a number of the houses built in rural district areas have not gone to rural workers. The pressure of the towns upon the countryside has been an influence in restricting the accommodation available for the agricultural worker. There has also been the difficulty of the customary wage of the agricultural worker, which is deplorably low, and the customary rent which he has paid in the past. There has been a vicious circle. Low wages meant low rents, and low rents were used as a justification for a continuance of low wages. The fact is that rural wages to-day do not permit of the building of houses of a rent as high as the ordinary industrial worker can pay, and it was because of this that in the Act of 1924, for the first Lime, a differentiation was made in the Exchequer grant for houses built in rural areas. There was a substantial difference in the grant in respect of houses built in agricultural areas and the grant in respect of houses built in urban areas.

I would like to press a little further the figures as to the number of houses which have been built by the district councils. Of the 41,000 houses which have been built by the rural district councils, 18,000 have been built in agricultural parishes. In other words, the majority were built, not entirely in agricultural areas, but some outside the purely agricultural areas. Investigation which has been recently made showed that of 15,000 of these only one-third of them, so far as we could compute, have been let to agricultural workers, that is to say, to people engaged in agricultural employment. In spite of the very generous assistance that has been given by the State, we have not succeeded in providing for the agricultural worker the kind of house for which the provision was made.

The late Government tried, through the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, to alleviate the position in the rural areas, and that Act has been extended for another five years. In the contributions made under that Act during the last two years, I have tried to flog more out of it than my predecessor, and I have succeeded, although what I have been able to get has not been very large. In the meantime, we have been faced with a new difficulty. The derating of agricultural land has put the authorities in rural areas in a desperate position, because of the loss of rates on agricultural land. Certain of the functions of the rural district councils have been handed to the county councils, but it still remains true that housing is a function of the rural district councils. Many of the rural district councils are finding it increasingly hard, especially since the full operation of the Derating Act, to find a contribution of £3 15s. per house per year for 40 years. That is not surprising, when one remembers that there are probably 200 rural district councils where a penny rate produces less than £100—a sign of the financial stringency of the time. It was largely for that reason that, in the Housing Act of last year, we gave the county councils, for the first time, a direct responsibility for the housing conditions of rural areas, with powers to assist, financially or in other directions. A definite obligation was put upon the county councils to give financial assistance where houses were provided by rural district councils for the agricultural population. We have to admit that, in recent years, heavy responsibilities have been placed upon county councils, and that this was a new one which they were not at first very willing to accept.

I think it is clear that there is an unsatisfied demand for houses for rural workers. I do not want to enter into harrowing details of what is to be found in rural villages. We know they are pretty bad. I have seen a good many of them during recent months. Whatever the number may be, there is a considerable number of people in agricultural areas whose economic circumstances are such that they cannot provide those houses for themselves, and the houses are not there. It is equally clear now that the poorer rural district councils—I am not saying all the rural district councils because they are not all equally poor—will be able to provide very little money to meet this situation, unless they are given further financial assistance. The County Councils' Association, and the county councils themselves, are beginning to realise their responsibility. In the course of time, I have no doubt, they will rise more fully to their responsibilities. In existing circumstances, and under present economic conditions, they are very unwilling to go beyond the responsibilities placed upon them by the Act of 1930. It was because of that that we—in consultation with the right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir J. Tudor Walters) and other hon. Members that were associated with him worked out that it was necessary to provide some supplementary engine to deal with this problem.

I do not think that the value of this Financial Resolution and of the Bill which follows will be confined to the actual houses which will be built under the scheme. My own view is that it will set machinery in motion which, once it gets in motion, will operate with the normal machinery; that it will be, so to speak, greasing new machinery at the beginning, machinery which ought to continue to work if it can be properly started now.

The proposal which is now submitted is to provide a sum of £2,000,000, on present capital values, to assist the poorer districts. If one gets outside the range of the poor districts, then, clearly, there is no end to the amount of money which might be given. So long as housing remains a local service, and there is a local responsibility, I should myself wish to confine this proposal to local authorities who are not unwilling, but who are unable, to fulfil their responsibilities. It is suggested that this sum should be distributed on the recommendation of a strong committee which will receive and consider applications made by the existing councils. That committee will then grant assistance, in addition to the assistance already provided under the Wheatley Act; that is to say, it will be assistance in addition to the £11 per house per year which is being paid at the present time in agricultural parishes. The purpose of the additional sum will be, on the one hand, to relieve the rate burden of the rural district council, and, on the other, to bridge the gap between rents and wages. The grant will be confined to agricultural parishes as they were defined in the Act of 1924, and it will be confined to applications made before the end of November this year. That will give the local authorities sufficient time, without giving them too long, to formulate their claims for assistance.

It is difficult, as the Committee will see in a moment, to say how many houses this money will be likely to provide, and how much will be given per house. What we are aiming at—one does not want to use the figure too definitely—is the house built at a maximum cost of about £350. I believe, and I think other hon. Members do too, that that figure can be reduced. If so, so much the better. But we are thinking of that as a maximum. At the present time, the existing subsidy in agricultural parishes amounts, roughly, reckoning £11 per house per year for 40 years, to a capital value of about £200. That is almost two-thirds of the cost of the cottage of which we are thinking, and leaves about £150 which is not covered by the subsidy. If you take a rent of, say, 3s. per week, roughly one-half of that, I am informed, would be set aside for repairs. It is a larger proportion than in the ordinary house. The cost is the same, but the proportion is higher.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, while he is on that point, if he will give the Committee some idea of the accommodation he expects this house to provide?


I do not want to standardise any kind of accommodation. It would have to be varying accommodation.


Probably a five-roomed house, with three bedrooms.


Some may be, and some may be smaller. It depends upon the local needs of the area. If we assume a net rent of 1s. 6d. per week, that would as a capital sum provide about £75 towards the £150, leaving you with £75 to be met, either out of local rates or by State assistance. If the cottage, however, is for a member of the agricultural population, the county council has to make a contribution amounting to another £18. Then you would be left with a debt of only £57. We have gone on the assumption that the additional contribution which will be made will be a grant of about £50. That means that we should get down to the figure of a cottage to be let at 3s. per week, plus rates. If that works out so, and it will depend, of course, upon the actual working of the scheme, we hope that it will initiate, as the first part of a rural housing programme, the building of 40,000 houses. The £2,000,000 is to be divided between England and Wales and Scotland, in the usual proportions of 11–91sts for Scotland and 80–91sts to England and Wales. In consequence, there will be a separate advisory committee to advise the Department for Scotland.

Now, as to the financial conditions, and how they will be applied. Hon. Members opposite wish to put some alarming conditions into the Bill. I do not wish to argue the case, because there is an Amendment on the Paper to deal with the question. The general direction under which the committee will work will be this: The committee will consider the-poverty of the area. They will get away from the flat-rate grant. If a local authority are able to make a part of the contribution that it should make under the Act of 1924, and that is reasonable, it will be asked to make it. The more that can be done, the further the capital sum involved will go. In some cases where from sheer poverty the rate contribution is impossible, the whole of it will have to be met, and will be met. The local authority will come before the committee with their scheme and proposals, with an explanation of their poverty, and the committee will make recommendations on specific points—the number and type of houses for which this special assistance should be given, the date for the completion of the houses, the rent at which the houses are to be let, having regard to the estimates submitted, and the amount of the special grant which is to be given.


What kind of committee is this to be?


If the hon. Member will be patient I can assure him that before the Bill reaches its final stage I shall be pretty definite about the kind of committee this will be. But I prefer not to say anything about it now.


Will the constitution of the committee be in the Bill?


It will be in the Bill.


Then any question about it arises on the Bill, and not here.


We are asked to hand over this money to a body of which we know nothing.


When the hon. Member comes to the Bill he can propose to change the committee if he is not satisfied.


The hon. Member will find the points dealt with in the Bill. I think it right to inform the committee of the yard-stick to be used by the new committee. We are issuing a double test: (1) That to be eligible the estimated product of a 1d. rate for the present financial year does not exceed 5d. per head of the population, and (2) that the poundage of the general rate levied for the year 1930 exceeds 10s. Those seem to be reasonable conditions which would establish a level of real poverty.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any idea how many areas would be covered by conditions of that kind? I do not mean the number of parishes actually, but some estimate as to whether the area would be large or a comparatively limited one.


So far as we can tell at the present time, out of about 650 rural district council areas in England and Wales, this would include between 300 and 400. That total would exclude the industrial areas and some of the rural district councils in the area where the right hon. Gentleman lives, which I think are well able to do their own work. But it would include all the truly agricultural areas which can be described as really poor, and which out of their own resources could not, unaided, carry on the work. I go further and say that there may be special conditions, even when the two requirements are not fulfilled, to which the proposed committee ought to attach importance. There may be cases where, although the general rates levied in the area do not exceed 10s., there may be pretty heavy special rates and parish rates which are a heavy burden on the district. I think that the committee should be empowered to take circumstances of that kind into account, even though the two requirements were not strictly fulfilled. There may be other cases where the local authority might not be able to do the work unless it was to have cast on itself a burden substantially higher than £3 15s. There provision will be made for the committee to make recommendations for houses in those areas to be endowed to bring the contributions of the local authority to the £3 15s. level. That will cover the necessitous rural areas.

It is also proposed that we should bring in the service of the State. I understand that strong objection is taken to that on the Opposition side of the Committee, and that later an Amendment will be moved to deal with it. Many of these rural district authorities have built next to no houses. In Scotland some have never built any at all. They have not the resources, the technical knowledge, the skill, or the experience to deal with the problem. It seems to me that where the local authorities cannot do this work and where the county will not, the authorities should not be penalised, and that there should be this power of the State to step in and make arrangements for the building of the houses. It is not a new thing. It exists in the Act of 1930 and can be used in cases of default. If it is to be used in cases of default why should it not be used in the case of the willing but poor authority?

I hope that the Committee will agree to the Resolution as it stands, and that this power of direct national intervention will be retained both in the Money Resolution and in the Bill. This proposal represents a contribution to the solution of the housing problem, but, as I suggested earlier, I believe that its value is not going to be so much in what it actually accomplishes, substantial as that may be, but it will be an agency for educating authorities, like the county authorities, who ought to be doing far more than they are doing but have not yet learned how to use their new powers. It is this double value of it which I think will appeal to the Committee—the fact that it does something directly and may enable further building to be undertaken in the rural areas in future.


I suppose that rarely has a Financial Resolution been introduced in such peculiar and unusual circumstances. From the indications which the Minister of Health gave, when he waved an arm towards the right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir J. Tudor Walters), I think that we can at any rate say that the parentage of this proposal is of a rather dubious character. I am beginning to wonder whether the Minister of Health is really the person who ought to be fostering these proposals. I had some confirmation of that view during the Minister's speech, because I observed that when there was a difficult question to be answered, as we should expect the right hon. Member for Penryn was able to supply the answer. Certainly the Minister of Health is the last man who a few weeks ago thought that he would be introducing proposals of this kind. Only a short time ago we had a long housing Debate. I hope I am not doing the right hon. Gentleman any injustice when I say that the impression he gave me and other hon. Members was that, so far as housing was concerned, we had a complacent, self-satisfied and self-sufficient Minister. I remember very well that the right hon. Gentleman, who was chairman of the Liberal Housing Committee—he came from Manchester—described the Minister's speech as a speech of self-satisfaction throughout. Then as to any alteration of his policy, or any proposals such as those of to-day, only a few months ago I asked him what was the policy of the Government on housing, and he replied that the housing policy of the Government was contained in the Acts or 1924 and of last year. I admit that the right hon. Gentleman had a bad break, so far as his self-complacency was concerned, and it was just about the time that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) began to visit the Minis- try of Health. The Minister of Health then said: I will not be a member of another minority Government. It would not be fair to the people I represent; it would not be fair to anybody. 8.0 p.m.

Apart from that, the Minister of Health regained his confidence. We then criticised him so far as the rural areas were concerned. He said little or nothing was wrong, that he was prepared to place his record against that of any one of his predecessors, and that all was well. This afternoon he has spoken about the desperate financial position of the smaller local authorities and the terrible experience that they were suffering under what he called derating. This is an entire change of front. It was only a few weeks ago that the right hon. Gentleman was saying to the local authorities of this country: Under the provisions of the Act of 1930"— that was the Housing Actit is open to the county council to assist the rural district councils where necessary in dealing with the housing needs of their district"— He told them that: The Act provides for the co-operation of the county councils and rural district councils in attacking this serious and important problem. So far as money is concerned, in regard to which this resolution asks for a further £2,000,000, the right hon. Gentleman, only two or three months ago, told the rural authorities that the Act of 1930 provides wide powers … under which the superior resources of the county councils may be brought to the aid of the rural district councils. As to the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth, I remember very well that when the right hon. Gentleman made his speech in the House of Commons, making proposals in reference to these financial matters, I put a question to the Minister of Health. I have put a great many questions to the right hon. Gentleman and I have endeavoured to help the Liberal party, because I took the whole of the recommendations of the Liberal party in their Yellow Book and I put them one by one to every Minister of the Crown dealing with these proposals to aid unemployment.


Did these recommendations deal only with housing? If not we had better keep to housing.


No, I regret to say they did not. As a matter of fact there was one and this one met with the same fate as all the other questions which I put, because on every occasion the Government turned the Liberal propositions down. I asked the Minister of Health what he was going to do about the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman in this connection, and he made the most icy reply. After all the eloquence of the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth, this was the answer which the Minister of Health gave to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that a Housing Board should be set up. He said that this question was the subject of recent discussions in this House, and that there was no general desire that the present position should be reconsidered in this way. I feel for the right hon. Gentleman. That, at any rate, was the position just a few weeks ago.

It may be that a large number of members of this Committee think that this financial proposition may commend itself to them because it is based upon the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth, and if they read the newspapers and the Liberal propaganda they may be carried away in that particular connection, but even that suggestion is a very doubtful one. I approach the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth with the greatest good will. He knows that. I remember when he stated just before the last General Election that my right hon. Friend and colleague the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) was the best Minister of Health that this country has ever had. I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman has changed his opinion since then, and, so far as housing is concerned and the proposals which are now before the Committee, I think the right hon. Gentleman commended himself most to me in this particular connection when he was a guest of a club called "The Individualist Bookshop." They pay tribute to individualists like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth, and on that occasion, dealing with this very question of finance in relation to housing, the right hon. Gentleman said that he did not believe in any form of State subsidy and he saw no reason why working-class houses built for men receiving fair wages should not be let at a rent within their power to pay.


And I believe that still to-day.


The right hon. Gentleman believes that still, and I shall therefore be interested to hear how he reconciles that with the resolution now before the Committee asking for another £2,000,000 so far as subsidy is concerned. Fond as I am of the right hon. Gentleman, it does not seem to fit in with the statement he made when he said he did not believe in any form of State subsidy. So far as housing policy is concerned, and this particular position of rural cottages is in question, I think the right hon. Gentleman has, on the whole—at any rate up to the last few weeks—been perfectly sound. He said, so far as the Minister of Health was concerned, that he was tired of this dull, stupid, jog trot, fearful way of dealing with matters, and he said also, and I agree with him in this, that courage, resolution, initiative and determination were lacking so far as the Minister of Health was concerned. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman went a little bit too far, and I do not go with him when he talks of the Minister of Health being displaced so far as housing is concerned and a National Housing Board put in his place. With that reservation, up to a few weeks ago, I was entirely with the light hon. Gentleman, but I must say, so far as these financial proposals are concerned and the attempt made by the Minister of Health a few minutes ago to associate the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman with this Financial Resolution, I shall await the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman on this particular matter with some considerable interest.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth has a youthful and vivid imagination. He is not wedded to consistency, and he is not bound down by any particular financial principles or dogmas. What was the plan he disclosed to the House only a few weeks ago? It was a plan which took away the breath of a good many hon. Members. He said that, so far as the expenditure of this money was concerned, under his scheme he would employ, right away, directly, a quarter of a million men and indirectly another quarter of a million, and 300,000 odd of them were to build agricultural cottages and the rest would be engaged in dealing with slums in urban areas. The Minister of Agriculture was to select the sites and buy the land, and the Minister of Health—he did give the right hon. Gentleman some little work in this connection—was to step in and make the roads. But that is very different from the proposals which we have before us to-day. They were to be built by a central authority, under methods of mass construction. But the most stimulating and intriguing part to the imaginative mind was the finance of the scheme. I should think the right hon. Gentleman must have gone to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs for the finance of the scheme, because he said that 100,000 houses would be built for agricultural labourers, and it would cost nothing at all. But a very interesting incident took place when the right hon. Gentleman was proposing this scheme. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was present, as I think he ought to be this evening, if he is well enough. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth got to this stage of his proposals and said that 100,000 houses were to be built for nothing, the Chancellor of the Exchequer began to sit up and take a little notice, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth looked at the Chancellor of the Exchequer and said: I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer looking suspiciously at me as though I was juggling with something. And then a little while afterwards, apparently instead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer looking suspiciously, he began to smile, because I noticed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth said: Now the Chancellor of the Exchequer is smiling. I do not know what has happened to this scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, so far as this proposal of a quarter of a million men engaged directly and another quarter of a million men engaged indirectly and the Minister of Agriculture to buy the land and the central housing authority going into methods of mass production, are concerned. What becomes of them I do not know. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has many ways of dealing with Liberal constructive plans. Some are offensive and disagreeable. But on this occasion I believe those plans were withered by his smile, because one thing is certain and that is that they are not in this Resolution.

We have had a very hesitating presentation of the case for the Government. I have never heard so many qualifications as to what was going to happen. Three times we were warned not to expect too many houses under this plan, but to look to the indirect results of this proposal. I think the "Manchester Guardian" has given a very important judgment on the proposals contained in this Financial Resolution. The "Manchester Guardian," the leading Liberal newspaper, has devoted a very considerable portion of its space to social matters, such as housing, and has given its considered judgment on the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman as contained in this Resolution which we are discussing this evening. The article was headed, "In A Minor Key," and I think the writer in the "Manchester Guardian" must have had some prophetic sense, because he was not only describing the contents of the article, but he might very well have been describing the speech of the Minister of Health this evening—"In A Minor Key." This leading Liberal newspaper said this: One expected a bolder and more comprehensive measure to emerge from the conversations between Sir Tudor Walters and the Government. Sir Tudor is known to be an enthusiast for the mass production of buildings, of which his feat in building 12,000 houses for the Industrial Housing Association, Limited, has given him special experience. Perhaps his idea of a central housing authority, with power to help local bodies, not only in paying for the houses but in actually building them, smacks too much of State Socialism to commend itself to the Ministry of Health, This is very important, especially for Members of the Liberal party, because I want to warn them not to go on platforms and speak too much about these proposals and what they have done in connection with them. The article goes on: But is the less ambitious plan brought forward by the Government a satisfactory equivalent? When the Liberals opposed the Conservative Vote of Censure two months ago, one of the points which weighed most with them was a promise of a more active rural housing policy. And this is the summing up of the "Manchester Guardian": The Government have not responded too generously to their confidence. In other words, they had the votes of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen of both sections, in return for the promise that there was going to be a really active policy. The last Vote of Censure was in regard to the unemployment policy of the Government, and the "Manchester Guardian," quite rightly, says that after all the Government have not responded too generously in that connection. The result is that we have these proposals this afternoon, which remind me very much of a pathetic ballad which I used to sing in my earlier days. It was entitled, "Nobody's Darling," and was the pathetic story of a poor waif, unwanted and disowned. So it seems to me are these proposals, for they are certainly not the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth; do not let anyone be under that mistake; and, so far as the Minister of Health is concerned, we know that only a few weeks ago he was the most contented and most self-satisfied Minister of Health that the House of Commons has ever known. This is one of those compromises, I suppose, which result from an unfortunate union of the character of that which I have been describing.

If one takes the view of this great Liberal newspaper that this is but a halfhearted and timorous plan, it certainly has a more serious aspect so far as housing generally is concerned, because I believe that in this proposal which we are now discussing are the seeds of considerable mischief and damage to housing progress generally. Take, for instance, the main proposal in the Resolution, for another £2,000,000 in subsidy. Whenever right hon. Gentlemen opposite get into difficulties, either in connection with unemployment or in dealing with their colleagues, or whatever they call them—perhaps comrades—of the Liberal party, they always have to come for more money. That is their main stand-by, and we are now asked to vote another £2,000,000 in subsidy. We have spent, since the War, about £1,000,000,000 on housing, most of it borrowed, and im- posing, undoubtedly, heavy burdens on taxpayers and ratepayers alike.

I do not believe that this country will ever grudge adequate provision for housing people who need housing in this country. There never was a time when we more needed a wise, efficient and economical housing policy. But it is astonishing to me—and I think most hon. Members opposite will agree, perhaps not with my conclusions, but at any rate with my complaint—it is astonishing to me that this proposal for an additional £2,000,000 for housing has never been submitted to the Committee which was set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with all financial matters and proposals. I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, only on the 2nd of this month, whether the new proposals in relation to rural housing had been submitted to the Economy Committee, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied in these terms: The rural housing proposals have not been specifically referred to the Economy Committee. It is, of course, for the committee itself to determine the direction of its inquiry within its terms of reference. Those terms are sufficiently wide to allow of this question being taken into consideration. I ventured to put a supplementary question: Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be wise, in view of the fact that he set up this committee, to refer such a matter as this to it, in order that, when the House comes to consider it, we shall have their observations, if any, on the matter? I think that that was a perfectly reasonable suggestion. The reply of the Chancellor was: No, I do not think it would he a wise thing at all. I am prepared to trust the Economy Committee to carry out their work in full under the terms of reference. To complete the quotation, I think I had better read the last question that I put, which, I regret to say, was unanswered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer: Does the right hon. Gentleman still hold the opinion about the Economy Committee that he originally announced, that he could write their report himself before they sat."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1931; cols. 1451–2, Vol. 254.] It is astonishing that when the Government, whatever may be the merits, bring forward financial proposals of this character, involving a very considerable sum of money, we should have no statement from any responsible Minister or from the Treasury as to whether in fact they did desire to make any observations to the House on this matter. I hope that whoever is going to reply later will be able to tell us whether in fact the attention of the Economy Committee has been called to this matter, as I think it ought to be if the Committee was worth setting up and if we have any confidence in it at all.

There is another observation that should be made in connection with this further demand for a subsidy. I think it is ignoring all the lessons that ought to have been learned from the housing experience of this country during the last few years. One of the most remarkable records of achievement during the past year has been the fact that no fewer than 161,000 houses were built in this country by private enterprise without a penny of subsidy at all, and I would venture to say that, even so far as local authorities' housing is concerned, the policy of reducing the subsidy still further would not have interfered in any way with greater progress in housing. I am sure it is a matter of great regret to everyone, whatever their views on housing progress may be, that the Minister of Health is taking no effective steps to bring about a reduction in housing costs, because that is not only in the interests of the national Exchequer, but in the interests of the great body of working people in this country, who are themselves very largely paying these subsidies in respect of houses which a large proportion of them will never occupy at all.

A proposal of this kind to ask for further money is a retrograde step. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth has ever even been associated with it. I much prefer the statement that he made a few months ago when he said that he was against all subsidies and believed that houses could be economically built without them. I am sure he was on the right lines then, and I cannot make out what has happened to cause him to change his mind. What effect is this increased subsidy going to have on housing progress generally, and what is going to follow from the fact that ultimately additional grants are to be given to certain local authorities? I beg hon. Gentleman who, I hope, equally credit me, as I credit them, with a desire to see housing progress, to consider the endless difficulties that will arise directly you begin to choose the local authorities to whom you are going to give extra money. In the words of the Minister of Health a few moments ago, the test is to be their poverty—whether they are poor local authorities. The trouble and confusion that will arise, and the difficulties that will be experienced in respect of one local authority receiving and another not receiving will be endless.

A large number of local authorities will claim to come under the conditions that qualify them. You will have all those difficulties and, when you think that under these proposals it will be possible to give the local authorities the whole of the sum of money to build their houses, we are going back again to what is called the Addison policy, which proved so disastrous, when there was so very little responsibility upon the local authorities from the financial point of view. We are going to deal with certain of the main objections that we take to the Resolution in our Amendments. We think it is right to have regard to Parliamentary authority, and it would be a very good thing for the local authorities that the general conditions upon which they receive the grant shall be set forth in the Bill. Secondly, we say that, in the matter of the State stepping in and the Office of Works being permitted to build, the Minister has made out no case for it and I shall hope to move an Amendment to delete that portion of the Resolution. As far as I can see—and I shall prove it from statements of the Minister himself—there is no occasion for such a provision to be made in the Resolution.

We are inclined to take the view of the "Manchester Guardian" that these are not much of proposals. There is nothing particularly bold or comprehensive about them. There is little or no promise of an active rural policy in them. Since the right hon. Gentleman became Minister of Health he has been denied nothing by the Opposition in relation to housing. If the mischievous and dangerous elements are eliminated and various Amendments made, he might as well have these proposals for what they are worth. I should not like hon. Members opposite to go whimpering and whining and excusing their housing failures because we refused to give them these proposals. That is the first thing they would do. One may very well take the view that, having regard to the unfortunate and disastrous experience of the Government during the last two years, the possibility of an addition of even a few hundred houses in certain rural districts cannot be rejected. There are 144,000 building operatives walking the streets. The Wheatley Act has failed to provide houses for the lower paid workers and, but for private enterprise, there would be no reduction in the housing shortage. The straits to which the Government have come in relation to the problem of the unemployed in the building trade and elsewhere is well illustrated by these proposals. The Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal were asked a week ago whether, before the House adjourned for the Summer Recess, they had any practical proposals to make to deal with unemployment and they were only able to point to the pitiful contribution made by these proposals. As a real effort to bring new houses to rural areas they can be regarded as insignificant, and certainly as a contribution to the mitigaation of unemployment it is one more revelation of the incapacity of the Government and their failure to redeem the pledges upon the faith of which they obtained office.


I am very much touched by the references which the right hon. Gentleman has made to me. I am glad to know that he listened to the speech I made in February and, no doubt, he has since refreshed his memory by consulting the OFFICIAL REPORT. It appears as though the seed has fallen upon good ground and may at some time bring forth fruit, because, as far as I can gather, the chief fault he could find with the Bill is that it did not follow the bold lines that I laid down in February. If the wheel of events turns round and the Conservative party comes back to office and the right hon. Gentleman becomes Minister of Health, I shall expect to see him reproducing in an early Measure that bold scheme of mine of which he has spoken. Although I am cordially supporting the Resolution, I do not deceive myself by fancying that it is in any sense an embodiment of the proposals that I submitted. I adhere to those proposals today. Every word that I said in that speech I still believe and am prepared to prove. My figures were not the wild visionary dreams of a Cornish Member. They were the result of a very long practical experience. The estimates that I submitted were based upon actual plans prepared and tenders obtained. I have not a single word to withdraw of the statements that I made on that occasion.

I should like to have seen a bold policy in connection with housing. I should like to have seen half a million men employed within a few months—and I believe they could have been employed—in mass production in building houses both in town and country and in slum abolition. Those were the views that I held and I hold them to-day. I am not the Minister of Health. I am not the Prime Minister of the Socialist Government. I cannot lay down a policy nor insist upon my views. I am very grateful to the Government for having given me an opportunity of putting my views before them. On many occasions I have met them in consultation, and they have adopted some of my suggestions. They have mixed a good deal of water with the whisky, and diluted it very considerably, but I still think that the proposal that is promised in the Rural Housing Bill is one fraught with beneficent possibilities for the countryside. Why do I think that? I will give one or two reasons. I view with great satisfaction the introduction, not of a national housing board, I am sorry to say, but of an advisory committee. I think that it is time that not only the Ministry of Health but other Government Departments had, in addition to their excellent permanent officials, the help of some of the outside public who understand various questions, in order to get a move on.


I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that this is a Money Resolution in Committee, and that such matters as he is now introducing should be left until we come to the Bill.


I submit that one reason why we should vote £2,000,000 is because it is going to be spent in a sensible way. I have made my point, and I will leave it at that. Another reason why I shall support the Bill is because I think that it will mean a closer touch between the local authorities and the Ministry of Health. It will mean that the Ministry will be able to give advice and assistance, and that they will hear in fuller detail the difficulties of the rural authorities, and will be able to submit to them plans and matters of organisation by which they can more effectively and economically provide the houses so much needed in the rural areas. The mere focussing of the attention of the Ministry of Health upon the problem of rural housing must lead to a great advance in that direction.

I need not dwell upon the needs of rural authorities. Many Members of the House are fully acquainted with the inadequacy of housing in the agricultural parishes. It is certain that unless some assistance of this description is given, unless there is some help from the Ministry of Health and some further financial grants are provided, it will not be possible for agricultural labourers to obtain houses at rents which will be within their capacity to pay. I think the urgency of the need is the reason why we should make special efforts. In my view, if the methods of mass production had been adopted, the results would have been the building of houses at a much cheaper rate, and this additional subsidy might not have been needed. I never contemplated in my proposal any increase of subsidy, and when I made the observations which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted, it was on an occasion when I had been explaining the methods of mass production and the cheapness that resulted therefrom. I should have preferred that method of dealing with the question, but, as the Government have not seen fit to adopt those proposals, I welcome, as an instalment towards dealing with the rural housing question, the method of procedure outlined in the financial proposals submitted to us tonight.

One point of view has been entirely overlooked in our discussion to-night. It was the one which was most prominent when we discussed this question in February last, namely, the question of un- employment. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Minister of Health did not preface his observations by saying that this is an emergency Measure, and that it is something for the purpose of providing work for the unemployed, but he never mentioned it at all. It is fundamental to the whole proposition. If you build the 40,000 houses suggested, that will mean 60,000 men connected with the building trade directly employed, and another 40,000 indirectly employed in the provision of materials, transport and the like. There is 100,000 men. Is that nothing? It is not the 500,000 which I suggested, but 100,000 would save in unemployment benefit £5,000,000.

We are asked to sanction £2,000,000 for the purpose of carrying through these 40,000 houses, and, on the other hand, we save £5,000,000 in unemployment benefit. Is that a bad financial transaction? The question of employing unemployed members of the building trade is vital to a consideration of a Measure of this kind. I am satisfied that if a fair experiment is tried, we shall alter many of our methods of dealing with housing questions in this country. I believe that this Measure could be used as a dynamic to set into operation forces at present only partially active. Of course, everything depends upon the way it is handled. It might be merely an excuse for further postponement, but if those who are concerned in the matter, the Minister of Health and those working under him, mean business, this is an opportunity to do something.

I confess that I should like to see a great deal more earnestness and enthusiasm put into the advocacy of the Measure. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health took the matter quietly and calmly. He is not, perhaps, of the Celtic temperament like some of us on these benches whose enthusiasm generates heat and vivacity. Perhaps he feels as intensely in his restrained and quiet way as we do when we express ourselves more vigorously. But this Bill, with all its possibilities, with this Financial Resolution before us as its foundation, will fail utterly unless those who administer it believe in it, and put some steam and go into it. If they do so there should be no difficulty whatever in building the full complement of 40,000 houses at least within the next 12 months, and, before they have spent all that money, having gained experience, in coming to Parliament for a further £2,000,000 for another 40,000 houses. This is the right direction in which to move, and I have no doubt that when once those concerned with the administration of the Bill begin to realise the practical advantages of other recommendations that have been made to them, they will be like repentant prodigals, and come back and ask for the original scheme. It is my pleasure to support the Resolution.


I think that the Committee, in considering the Financial Resolution, should ask themselves three questions. What is the case that is being made out for the expenditure of this money at this particular time? What is the method by which this money is to be spent? Is this method likely to produce the results which the Minister desires? On the first point, I cannot for the life of me understand how the Minister—and I listened carefully to him—justifies the expenditure of this money upon the case he put forward as to the need of the houses. We are at a time, nationally, of great financial embarrassment. Almost every week adds to that embarrassment by the addition of some sum or other to the deficit that this country will have to face in the next Budget. With a levity almost astonishing we march forward day after day adding to that deficit, and to-night we are proposing to add to it to the tune of £2,000,000. We have heard from the right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir J. Tudor Walters) that he calmly contemplates at an early date a demand for another £2,000,000 in the same direction. Those who are familiar with the agricultural situation know that, owing to the conditions of agriculture and the absence of any effective remedial measures to assist agriculture to do its business, there are many parts of England where cottages are falling vacant with a rapidity which is distressing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] There are a good many districts in England. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] In the Eastern counties.


In your own Division?


In my division. Owing to agricultural depression in many areas there are many cottages falling vacant. There can be no doubt that in those areas it will be very difficult to make out a case for the expenditure of this further money on houses. The hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Alpass) said: "In my division." In my division, if we had had more energy employed we could, unde the Act of 1926, the reconditioning Act, have satisfied the housing needs. We all know the difficulties that the local authorities have experienced in working that Act. I am sure that if the Minister of Health had put his energy, initiative and enthusiasm into spreading a better knowledge of the advantages of that Act and of making it fully appreciated in the rural areas by owners and local authorities, we should have found in that Act means of satisfying a very large amount of the demand which exists for more houses for rural workers.

The Minister has spoken about the unwillingness of the local authorities to tackle the rural housing problem. That may be largely due to their want of knowledge of the means that this House has provided. I welcome very cordially the steps that the Minister took the other day to start a missionary effort in the rural areas where the housing problem has been satisfied, such as the county of Devon and in the rural district of Atcham in Shropshire, where the needs of rural housing have been satisfied without the help of such a Vote as the one proposed to-night. That has been done under the Act of 1926. If the right hon. Gentleman had dealt with the unwillingness of the local authorities by means like that, by spreading the knowledge of the provisions that Parliament has made for a larger supply of rural cottages for agricultural workers, there would have been little, if any, need for this Bill.

As to the financial inability of the rural authorities, I would remind the Minister that in the county of Devon 600 or so cottages have been reconditioned and put into a splendid state for occupation by rural workers at an expense of one-sixth of a penny in the pound on the county rate. Contrast that expenditure with the lavish expenditure contemplated under this Financial Resolution, and we realise that the House is doing something to-day which to a large extent is unnecessary. The right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth, in a former speech, chided the Government in that they were shivering on the brink. He deplored their attitude of mind in regarding the local authorities as something sacred, and in considering that they should not be dealt with summarily. In effect, he said: "Why do you not do away with them? Why not set up an outside authority to deal with housing enterprise, and leave them entirely in the lurch? The Minister to-day has indicated that he contemplates that something like 300 or 400 rural district councils will come under the operation of this Financial Resolution. We are making a strange departure. Under paragraph (a) of the Financial Resolution we are putting the control in the hands of the Ministers or as the case may be of the Department of Health for Scotland. In paragraph (b) we find that the local authorities are limited and the control is put into the hands, presumably, of the Office of Works, who can acquire land and erect houses at the expense of the councils. After wiping out the councils they calmly throw the expense upon the local ratepayers. The Minister said that he was beginning a new machine. The right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth told us that we were moving in the right direction.

It seems to me that this Financial Resolution is part of the method of an agency not for educating but for eliminating local authorities from the fulfilment of their proper functions, depriving them of their powers and putting their duties into the hands of some centralised authority like the Office of Works. We need in this country agencies for educating local authorities. We have enlarged the franchise, we have brought the whole community in to the task of assisting in the government of the country, and we can only hope to carry through that gigantic enterprise if we bring public opinion along with us. If we enable local administration to be carried out by those people who are close to the homes of the people and who have a knowledge of their needs, all will be well, but it will be hopeless to expect to carry through to success this enlarged democracy, this new ideal of democracy on a large franchise, unless we bring the local people into intimate touch with the management of their local affairs. The more we have of this kind of legislation, which takes the control of local affairs out of the hands of local people and those whom they elect locally, and bring them to London, to the Office of Works or to the Ministry of Health, the more we are tending to degrade local administration and to deprive it of what has been its chief advantage.


I am surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hurd) when one considers two things which I propose to mention. First, the Act of 1926 was not an Act for building houses.


For providing homes.


It was an Act for patching up old property and subsidising the landlord to do it at the expense of the State. I am pleased that the Minister of Health has brought in a Housing Bill which we can support very cordially and a Financial Resolution to spend the State's money for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of private individuals. The speech of the hon. Member leads one to think that there are unlimited resources in connection with the rural district councils which will enable them to meet the housing requirements of the agricultural districts. He must know that the De-rating Act deprived those councils of the necessary money with which to undertake building operations.


One-sixth of a penny in the pound.


Whatever it may be, it is too much for the rural district councils, who are too poor to do this work. Therefore, this Financial Resolution provides additional money for that purpose. My complaint is that the sum is far too little in view of the terrible shortage of houses in agricultural districts. Why should we begrudge this expenditure? During 14 years we have spent £1,000,000,000 in building homes for heroes, and we spent during the War £8,000,000,000 in four years. We are far better engaged in this constructive purpose, in voting this £2,000,000, than we are sometimes engaged in voting £100,000,000 for purely destructive purposes. I hope that this is by no means the last Bill to assist rural housing. I am astonished at the suggestion that rural authorities are in a position to deal with this problem without any financial assistance. Quite near to my own constituency a resolution was introduced into the Tutbury Rural District Council to erect more rural houses at Branstone, but the resolution could not get a seconder, although it was pointed out that in that particular area there were 11 people living in a house with two bedrooms, eight other people in another house with two bedrooms, and 10 people living in a house with two bedrooms. The excuse made was that the council were already building 12 houses, but, as a matter of fact, there were already 30 applications for them, although they have not yet been advertised.

9.0 p.m.

In spite of these facts, hon. Members opposite, who are supposed to represent the agricultural worker and to be the special champions of agricultural interests, refers us to an Act of Parliament which they passed in 1926, which has been largely ineffective, and which I regret that the present Government have extended, because I think the money could have been much better spent. I have had representations from some rural councils in my own constituency. They have asked me to use my influence with the Minister of Health to prevent men and women living in caravans, but these people who protest against people living in caravans are the same people who during the past year or two have only built seven or eight or a dozen houses in their own areas. I welcome especially the possibility of the intervention of the Government to bring these recalcitrant and poverty-stricken authorities to do their duty to the people in their localities more effectively than they have done in the past. I have sympathy with the proposals of the right hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir J. Tudor Walters). The Government might have taken their courage in their hands and made this a far more Socialistic Measure. It would have been a good thing if the idea of mass production advocated by the right hon. Member on the last occasion had been introduced into this Measure, but I hope that we shall not take up the inconsistent position of the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood). On these grounds I hope that the Committee will brush aside the suggestion of the wasteful expenditure of public money. We have been told of the hard times in which the country finds itself and of the burdens upon industry. I have in my constituency numbers of people who would build houses in rural areas if they could, but they are denied the opportunity of doing so because of the incapacity of rural councils to grapple with the problem. If hon. Members opposite, who are always girding at the Labour Government because of their supposed failure to provide the means of employment, were as sincere as some of their interruptions would lead us to believe, instead of criticising and denouncing this Resolution to provide at least £2,000,000 worth of work for the building trade of this country, they would welcome it with open arms.


I support the Resolution, and I am sorry that hon. Members above the Gangway have gone out of their way to oppose it on the ground that the financial position of the country does not warrant the expenditure of an additional £2,000,000 on rural housing. Anybody acquainted with rural districts and who has taken the trouble to investigate the conditions will feel that the nation has not devoted anything like that amount of attention to the housing problem in these areas which it deserves. Comparatively little of the money that has been spent on housing has gone to the rural areas. I have gone down from this House on three successive weeks and spent my own money in instructing solicitors to deal with people who were being ejected from rural houses and who had nowhere else to go. When you find conditions like that prevailing and appeals constantly arriving of people who have been given notice to quit and who have nowhere else to go, the fact is brought home to one that something ought to be done immediately to deal with the situation. It is not a good investment to have a large number of people in rural areas living in rotten and decayed houses, little white washed sepulchres as they are in many cases. With a rambler rose climbing over them they look picturesque on postcards, but inside many of them are insanitary little hovels placed in beautiful surroundings.

It is time that we turned our attention to that question. I was called in only the other day to make arrangements for the removal from one of these places of a person who was suffering from tuberculosis, due to the existence of these overcrowded houses in a beautiful countryside. It is not a good investment for the country to allow things like that to persist in the open countryside, where people contract disease, and then to be compelled to give the county councils the money to build sanatoriums in which to cure the people. It would be far better to spend money on housing people in better and healthier conditions. I hope that when this Resolution has been passed and this money has been granted, the Ministry will speed up the getting through of plans. I am going to make a complaint not against the Minister but that the officials of the Ministry seem to think that it is their job to hold up schemes as long as they can.


indicated dissent.


I am going to give chapter and verse, and I mention the matter because I want to raise this point. In the Bill for which finance is being provided by this Resolution, I understand that the definition of "agricultural parish" is to be the same as that in the Act of 1924. I sent to the Minister only three days ago communications on the subject of rural parishes which are cut out even from the £11 grant because of certain conditions attaching to that definition. I urged the West Ashford Rural District Council to undertake the building of houses. They got schemes through to build houses, and Smarden and Pluckley, two of the most agricultural parishes in that district, applied for the £ 11 grant. What happened? Because a length of railway line runs through them—there is no station in one of them—and because the rateable value of the railway track happens to exceed the rateable value of the adjoining areas, the Ministry say they cannot have the £11 subsidy, but must be content with a lower subsidy, although the rates from the railway do not go entirely to those villages but are spread over the whole union. Thus two of the most rural communities are cut out. I sent to the Minister the whole of the correspondence and pointed out that I thought he had the power to decide what was a rural parish and the power to include these parishes. Yet, after all our trouble and difficulty in securing the promotion of these schemes, it would seem as if the Ministry had some desire to hold up the schemes. I feel sure that cases of that kind when they are gone into will be put right in this Bill. I hope that the Government will take steps to see that such a thing cannot happen under the legislation now proposed.

I welcome this Financial Resolution, and I believe that these proposals will be welcomed by many rural district councils throughout England. There are many councils who are not unwilling to build houses, but whose financial resources are not adequate. I would, however, like to see what hon. Members above the Gangway seem to fear, namely, larger compulsory powers, because while there are many rural district councils willing and anxious to build, there are some rural district councils, where probably the agent of the lord of the manor has a seat on the council or is chairman of the council, which desire to have no houses-built in their localities. Propositions to build houses have time and again been torpedoed because of the lack of interest in them. There are councils like that within our knowledge, and while it is something to take powers so as to be able to say to a rural authority, "If you are unable to do it, then we will do it for you," yet there is no power, as far as I can see, to deal with people who are unwilling. I should be very glad, however, to be reassured on that point. I cannot see that the Government have taken powers to deal with people who default. [Interruption.] I am talking about this particular Measure for the moment, and we are a little in the dark because we have not the actual proposals of the Bill before us, but if my information on that point is incorrect, and if the Government are taking such powers, then I congratulate them all the more. I hope they will seldom have to use those powers and that the very fact of such powers being there will suffice to stimulate the backward authorities. In-any case I congratulate the Government on introducing this Financial Resolution.


The hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Kedward) appears to be under the misconception that we on this side of the House are opposed to the betterment of the conditions of rural housing. I wish to take this opportunity to deny the charges and accusations which have been made in that respect by hon. Members in the course of this Debate. The speech of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Winterton) is precisely of the sort which does harm, not only to our discussions on rural matters but to the development of housing in the rural areas.


Has the hon. Member read his own Amendment in which he seeks to exclude "agricultural parishes" from the benefits of the Measure?


The hon. Member is labouring under a misapprehension as to the conditions of housing in the rural areas. I have put down that Amendment in order to meet the very point just raised by the hon. Member for Ash-ford and, if the hon. Member for Loughborough had studied the matter, he would realise that owing to the definition of "agricultural parish" in the Act of 1924, at least half the agricultural rural parishes in this country are going to be omitted from the Bill. He would then understand why I have put down that Amendment. If the hon. Member wishes to take part in our Debates on these subjects, I think it would be well if he acquainted himself with the elementary facts of the problem.


Perhaps the hon. Member will explain what he means by his next Amendment to exclude "rural areas."


That is to cover precisely the same point in regard to Scot-land. I would not have taken up this scholastic attitude in reproving the hon. Member were it not for the fact that I very much resented his attitude towards us on this side in regard to rural housing. I also resented his remarks about the Act of 1926. The hon. Member for Ashford said that there were many rural district councils which deliberately obstructed rural housing. If he is going to make charges like that I should like him to substantiate them with facts.


I said that there were many rural authorities who were too poor. I said that there were some who were unwilling. I did not make any charges of the kind which the hon. Member suggests.


Perhaps the hon. Member will tell me in which of the cases he had in mind the agent of the lord of the manor was chairman of the rural district council and obstructed rural housing? I am willing to give way if he will quote me a case.


That is not fair.


I wish to do no damage by mentioning names in this House but I will give the hon. Member the name of the council, the name of the man who was chairman for years and my correspondence with him. That man was agent for the lord of the manor and he did obstruct, because he did not want houses built in the locality. I will supply the hon. Member with the facts.


I do not wish to pursue an individual case and I do not wish to impute any motives to the hon. Member. I was, perhaps led away by my enthusiasm for the cause of rural housing, but I am sure the Committee will agree with me in not wishing to pursue any particular case. I was objecting to the general attitude which has been taken with regard to the party on this side of the House, and to coupling it with certain rural district councils which are deliberately obstructing the cause of rural housing. I should like to return to the hon. Member for Loughborough, who said that the Act of 1926 was introduced for the purpose of assisting the landlords only. That is a travesty of the facts, and I believe also that that sort of attitude towards the Rural Workers Act, which the medical officer of health for Essex in his report says has done a considerable amount of good, and which I know has done good in my district—that sort of attitude towards rural housing does more harm than anything else in our discussions.


I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not desire to misrepresent me. I did not refer to the Act of 1926 as benefiting the landlords only. I object to public money being used for the subsidising of private individuals.


The hon. Member certainly gave us on this Bide that impression. I am not deliberately raising this point, because it is not my habit when talking on this question to create discord between one side of the House and the other. Hon. Members on both sides of the House who have heard me intervene on these subjects will agree that the tenor of our Debate has been changed by the rancour which has been introduced by the two hon. Members with whom I have had the pleasure of having an altercation this evening. I hope that we can finish with that and continue in a calmer atmosphere the discussion on rural housing. It is unnecessary for me to add anything as to the necessity for housing in the rural areas. I have been visibly struck, when I have had the privilege of taking any party of my constituents over the House of Commons and the House of Lords, in seeing the attitude which they adopt towards this magnificent structure in comparison with the almost miserable hovels in which they live in the countryside. Very often what strikes them most when they come to this great city are those buildings and structures in which we live in comparison with those in which they are obliged to spend the greater part of their lives. The Act of 1926 was one of the first efforts to deal with this problem by the repairing of old houses. The suggestions in this Money Resolution will do something towards tackling the deficiency of houses in the rural areas, and because of that I shall support it.

By the introduction of this Money Resolution some effort is being made to tackle a problem which has never really been tackled from the very beginning of history in England. Some of the houses in my district in Essex are the type of wattle and daub houses which were actually erected by those men who originally cleared the country for cultivation, and it is a striking fact that we in this age of civilisation can put up in our rural districts the sort of structures that are there for the people to live in. That is particularly remarkable of the Essex daub and wattle, and lath and plaster houses, in which so many of my people are obliged to live. This Measure, therefore, will be one which we shall take seriously on all sides of the House and do our best to encourage. I prefer to take that attitude rather than the attitude which so many hon. Members took when the Act of 1926 was brought in for the patching up and reconditioning of old houses. I hope that that attitude will be generally adopted in the House on this Measure.

I am very interested in the attitude of the Liberal party towards this provision. I am told when I consider the Liberal attitude towards rural problems particularly in regard to subsidies to the corn or sugar-beet industry, that that party is against a policy of subsidies. Yet when we are to have a subsidy for rural housing, which is an ancillary problem to the great productive industries in the rural areas, we find that the party will give it their blessing. I ask their Leaders why they are willing to support a subsidy for rural housing, but not willing to support a subsidy for great rural industries. I am leading up to this point because I believe that the problem of rural housing is one of the aspects of the general economic troubles of the countryside. If the Government introduced this rural housing Measure as part of a great policy of restoring prosperity in our countryside, there would be more to say for it, but merely to tackle the housing problem, which is only one aspect of the economic difficulties of rural England, and to leave the whole subject of the jobs and occupations of the people who are to live in the houses without any policy, is a case of putting the cart before the horse. I cannot blame the Ministry of Health for that, but I can blame the Government as a whole. I wish that this policy could have followed upon a general policy of the economic betterment of the countryside as a whole. That is the general criticism that should be levelled against this Money Resolution.

I want to take up the point of the hon. Member for Ashford with reference to the meaning of an agricultural parish. I have an Amendment to leave out the words "in agricultural parishes" in order to make the scope of the Bill very much wider than we find it. I only wish the hon. Member for Ashford could have given us the benefit of his advice and encouragement when we raised this question before the Parliamentary Secretary in the discussions on the 1930 Act. There was an opportunity in that Act of remedying the definition of "an agri- cultural parish" as included in the Act of 1924. We had repeated opportunities for pointing this out to the Minister and to the hon. Lady, but unfortunately nothing was done by the Government to remedy this defect. The result is that it remains, despite the fact that it was thought proper to insert it in another place. The sins of the hon. Lady are returning to her in the course of the introduction of this Money Resolution, because that definition, which she could have encouraged in the 1930 Act, would have made the provisions of this Bill apply to all the agricultural parishes in England.


The effect of the Amendment, whatever may be its intention, is to remove the limitations of expenditure as sanctioned by the Crown. It is, therefore, out of order on the Money Resolution. The question may be raised when the Bill is introduced.


If that means that this Amendment will not be called, may I, in all deference to your Ruling, ask your advice. If the Resolution is passed with the words "in agricultural parishes" included, it will mean that we have absolutely no method of introducing this discussion, because the money will be limited to the Bill as it stands.


The King's recommendation has been signified to this Money Resolution, and the effect of the Amendment would be to remove the limitations of expenditure, imposed therein. It is therefore out of order. It is not for me to say at this stage what will be in order on the Bill, but on the Second Reading of a Bill, one can certainly raise questions which it is thought ought to be included in the Bill.


I thank you for your Ruling. May I take it that that means that, as a Member of the House of Commons, I am unable to enlarge the scope of the Money Resolution?


The Royal recommendation must be signified to all Money Resolutions, and it is not for any individual Member to initiate matters involving expenditure which have not received the sanction of the Crown.


Again, in deference to your Ruling, Mr. Dunnico, what I wished was not to enlarge the Money Resolution, but to spend the money in a different way by distributing it among the parishes which are financially in need.


As I have already said, it is not for me to decide what the intentions of the hon. Member may be. I have to decide what would be the effect if the Amendment were accepted, and the effect of accepting it would be to remove the limitations on the purposes for which expenditure is recommended by the Crown.


I give up that point, with every apology for detaining the Committee, but I believe it to have been a very important point. I have received strenuous representations on the point from a rural district council and from others, and I thought it necessary to intervene. As it had been mentioned specifically, I thought I was in order in proceeding. It was an important point which I wished to introduce into the Bill, as most of the parishes in my division will not be included in it. That being so, I cannot have the same praise for the Resolution that I had when I first started my speech, because I find these parishes which are wholly agricultural will not be included. As it does not apply to many of these parishes, I must consequently withdraw many of the observations of praise which I made when I started.


I should like to join in the congratulations to the Minister on making a real attempt to deal with the problem of providing new houses in the rural areas. Albeit I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler) in thinking congratulations to be premature owing to the definition of agricultural parishes. But because one criticises a measure it does not mean that one is opposed to rural housing, only that one is trying to see where the Bill could be improved. At the same time, when you examine a Measure of this sort critically, the first thing you see is the advisory committee. An advisory committee is just a beginning in delegating responsibility, which means red-tape and puttings things off. As one who was connected with the administration of the Rural Workers Act, 1926, in my own county, I can say that one of the greatest difficulties we had even then was to get over the red-tape which must accompany any grant of Government money, as between the rural and district councils and the county councils, and as to the conditions governing county councils. It was a definite check necessitated by a form of inspection which is one of the greatest checks on rural housing. This issue is confused by the lack of simplicity by the advisory committee having to deal with the poorer districts only in certain areas, for the whole of the agricultural parishes not even as defined in the 1924 Act, but only certain necessitous areas. Those of us who know where the necessitous agricultural area is, know that the cottages in such an area are probably sufficient for the workers. I do not say they are in good condition, but in really necessitous agricultural areas they are probably sufficient for the workers, for the reason that there is no irruption of industry into the really poor area, and no increase of rateable value. Therefore, there have been no artisans taking the houses which formerly belonged to agricultural labourers. Moreover the poorest agricultural areas are generally those places where agricultural labour itself has been drifting into the towns owing to the depression.

In these circumstances, I agree that in the case of these poorer necessitous areas the 1926 Act would be more likely to provide the necessary houses, but it is the richer areas where the agricultural labourer is in the worst plight. It is there that he has to face the competition of highly paid labour, with present methods of transport. As soon as a farm falls into the hands of a farmer with, say, four sons, the farmer lets those cottages, perhaps, to the artisan labourers who come out from the towns, and when the sons leave, it is impossible to get the cottages back without the greatest difficulty. Those are the areas where we are having far the greatest difficulty in housing the rural workers. Before we vote this two million pounds for which the Minister is asking I think we have the right to have certain questions answered. In this Resolution there is mention of the rent which the Minister thinks he may charge, but there is no condition of any sort as to whom these cottages shall be let to. It is perfectly possible to build cottages in rural areas for 4s. 6d. or 3s. a week with the help of this Bill, but just as possible that people coming from the towns will get them if they happen to be temporarily empty. When you are spending money under this Measure in providing rural cottages, you should do something to earmark them for those who are drawing agricultural labourers' wages, or who are agricultural labourers themselves. That is the definition which applies in the 1926 Act.

There is another thing upon which the question of rural areas bears very strongly, and upon which we ought to ask the Minister to give an assurance, before we vote this £2,000,000, and that is, the question of the size of the cottages. Often and often we meet with difficulty in housing our old people who live for years in cottages close to the farms, which are badly needed for the younger labourers when the old men retire. They are probably old Darbies and Joans. A great deal of the problem could be met infinitely more cheaply by providing cottages for the younger married people, and others to which the old people to retire. There could be some form of sliding scale with a grant according to the size of the houses, so that there would not be the restrictions of the earlier Acts on the size of the houses.

Lastly, I should like to enter a protest against what I know is a perfectly common practice in these housing Bills, and that is what I may call the Drage way of finance. We deliver these houses in plain vans, and the country does not guess the bill until it is too late. To provide £2,000,000 to be spent on housing in 40 years is simply hiding the truth of the financial position from the country. Forty years hence, or even 20 or 10 years hence, the whole position may be entirely altered, and I do think that we should incur financial responsibility only as far ahead as we can see. It should not be for more than 10 years, and, if the country is really to realise the financial position, it should not be considered for more than one year.


This Financial Resolution applies to Scotland as well as to England, but not a voice has been raised on the subject of Scotland during this discussion. I listened with some interest to the discussion of the financial provisions of this proposal for dealing with rural housing so far as it affects England. Of course, it is obvious that many of the conditions in rural districts in Scotland differ vastly in circumstances from those across the Border. Since I am closely conversant only with the conditions in my own country, and can speak with but a limited knowledge of conditions in England, I will, in the main, confine myself to the circumstances of my own country. I have always looked at rural housing proposals with a view to seeing whether they can be used with material advantage to meet a problem which, until we had the Rural Housing Act, was gravely neglected by Parliament. It was natural that after the War the attention of housing reformers should have turned more particularly towards our great cities and the overcrowded conditions in our slums, but those of us who have lived all our lives in the country and know the difficulties of housing there realise that we owe it to the dwellers in the countryside to give them material help.

The Rural Housing Act was a great step forward, and if I thought that the present proposals would materially assist in dealing with the rural housing problem in Scotland I should give them my wholehearted support. I observe that we in Scotland get our share of the £2,000,000 allotted to this scheme, but, after all, that cannot be a large sum of money, or go very far in dealing with this problem. However that may be, Scotland has to ask herself, and we in this House who speak for her have to ask ourselves, whether this proposal will be of material value or not. In England, as I understand the position, there are rural district councils and, superimposed upon them, county councils dealing with housing. In Scotland we deal solely and absolutely through the county councils. Under the reorganisation of local authorities which took place county councils are given wider and more enlarged powers for dealing with this problem. In Scotland, too, rural housing is dealt with to a certain extent under land settlement Acts and the administrative procedure of the Department of Agriculture; they deal with crofters and other dwellers in the poorest and most difficult areas. For smallholders we have a system by which not only are grants given to them but stores of building materials of every kind are made available to them. If it had been suggested that the existing powers should have been developed I should have said that was a more practical scheme and more likely to succeed than the present one.

I have listened with some interest to the criticisms made from time to time of the laxity and inertia of local authorities, but is there any one who will say that we ought to adopt a threatening policy, an overriding policy of taking away powers from these local authorities, particularly the new and enlarged authorities, who now have wider opportunities for dealing with this problem? I have had the responsibility of doing business with the local authorities of my country, and I have often felt a sense of irritation at their hesitation over local affairs, but unless we are to say frankly that we will abolish the whole system of local government we must approach this question with the intention of assisting and advising, encouraging and directing local authorities in carrying out the necessary work. I heard the Minister responsible for the English Department say that he did not think either the Financial Resolution or the Bill was calculated to produce any material number of houses, but that this legislation would be an agency for educating local authorities.

If the local authorities require education is it not the duty of the Department to point out to them their responsibility, under existing laws, with reference to insanitary and insufficient houses? They should encourage them to go to the owners of such houses and say "You fail in this and that respect, and in our judgment things must be put right." In the main Scottish local authorities have always responded to such advice, and I look with apprehension at a situation in which they are threatened with the introduction of dragooning powers, threatened with the introduction of the Office of Works, of all things, into Scotland. Our experience of the working of that Department has not always been so satisfactory. Under the Department of Agriculture we have to-day a system by which smallholders are assisted by loans and by materials to build good and proper houses in the most rural parts of the country. They are built by the energy and self-help of the smallholders themselves, assisted by local people in the building industry. We owe a great deal to private enterprise in housebuilding in this country. Is it to be said that, without a further attempt to work the existing machinery, you are to scrap that and bring in a Government Department, take over the land and build these houses?

Our conditions in Scotland, so far as agriculture is concerned, differ very materially from the conditions in England. In England, you have a system in which, I imagine, the great bulk of your farm workers live in villages, and outside the land with which they are concerned. That is not so in Scotland. The workers on the land, and others who are occupied in agricultural pursuits, live in houses connected with the land for which they pay no rent, and for which they are not asked to pay rent. The houses are part of the estate on which they work, whether it is an estate of large dimensions, or whether it is owned by an individual farmer who has bought the land, or who works in the main with his hands. The conditions which pertain in Scotland are so vastly different, that it is to-day within the power of the Department of Agriculture, not simply to spend more of the money that is at their disposal, but they could make more use of their existing powers, without touching in any way the proper jurisdiction of the local authorities. We throw into the arena of local Government in Scotland threats of a system, and of a variety of judgments, as to what the local authorities should do.

I do not know, because we have not heard, what kind of composition the council is going to present, nor, I understand, can we discuss it to-night. It is not without its importance, in considering the administration of this money, to ask into whose hands we are to place this sum of money, and under what conditions are they going to dictate, either through the representatives of their council or the Department of Health in Scotland, to the local authorities. I have heard something of the terms which the Minister in England considers shall represent the line of poverty across the Border. I want to know whether those conditions are exactly similar in Scotland, or upon what basis this line or datum of poverty is to be considered. It may well be that you will go into some districts and say that the local authority has done so much in this line already that it may reasonably be excused from going further. I confess that I cannot see any kind of line upon which any body of men, or any Government adviser, can, with fairness or with proper judgment, decide where the line of poverty shall be drawn. If that is so, what is to be the inevitable result of this proposition? Every extra Act that we produce to deal with housing—and, goodness knows, there has been a large number already—has set up, each one in its turn, a different problem. The Lord Privy Seal stated in the House not long ago that the time has already approached, if it has not already passed, when we have to take all those systems and coordinate them into some new scheme. Here we are adding another. Every local authority is to hold up its hand, and to hesitate to advise anyone to go into this proposition, until it knows whether it is to come within this so-called datum line of insolvency.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. Johnston)

Would the right hon. Gentleman mind indicating to the Committee what his view is as to how we should deal with county authorities who have never built a house under any Act, because they have been too poor to do so?


If the right hon. Gentleman says that there are counties of that kind, no doubt that represents a difficult problem. Under the suggestion of I he Government, the Department of Health in Scotland, as I read the report, have in their hands great coercive powers under which they can go to the local authority and say, "You are not doing so and so." Equally, if a medical officer of health operates in that district, as he operates in the one in which I live, he goes, to my knowledge, to the proprietor of a cottage and says, "This cottage is deficient either in sanitary arrangements or something else, and it must be put in order." It is done, and it can be done, under the present arrangements. I cannot see that the right hon. Gentleman is to gain anything fresh or that he will secure any fresh weapon or power, except that he is going to say to these local authorities, "We are not going to give you an opportunity to carry it out, even under our compulsory powers. We are going to step in with the Office of Works, take the land and build."


I would like to make my point clear to the right hon. Gentleman. I am not at all asking him about the case of counties who are able to operate the Acts, and do not do so. That is another point. I asked him the question about counties who are too poor to be able to build any houses.


It is news to me, though I had something to do with the administration of this problem, that there are any counties where real poverty is so bad. I am aware of the fact that in many counties there has been great delay in taking the opportunity of the Rural Housing Act, but it was in great part due to the ignorance of those who were operating the Act, and the lack of means of communicating with the individuals concerned, who did not realise the opportunities which they had under the Act. I confess I am a little surprised to hear that there are counties in Scotland who are really so impoverished that they cannot make any progress in these things. I do not believe that this is really the case. In Scotland we now have machinery which is ample and sufficient to carry out a great part of the work of dealing with rural housing problems. If the right hon. Gentleman is to take this method of spending fresh money and of adding fresh commitments in expenditure, that is his concern. For myself, all I will say is, that I think it is a wrong method to apply.

I believe that when, in the further stages of the Bill, we come to consider this problem, we shall find that the method in which this Financial Resolution has been drawn, and the administration with which it will be carried out, will prove to be a grave disappointment to many rural districts both in Scotland and in England, and that in no case will it make the slightest difference in a problem which, if goodwill exists between Government Departments and local authorities, can be capable of solution. All through we said that we would deny to the right hon. Gentleman responsible for the Government of our country, no money which could be expended for the improvement of the country. On those principles we are not opposing him. In the main, this new device is inadequate and wretched, and I fear that it is likely to be a disastrous proposition, creating disorder among the local authorities of the country.


I am glad of the opportunity to intervene at this stage. Unfortunately I had to attend another meeting and was unable to take part in the earlier Debate, and I have not heard it all. Let me say something about what fell from the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I am not in the least concerned with the interference with the county councils—quite the reverse. My complaint is that the powers of interference and of direct action are not greater than they are. It is no use saying that you are interfering with local authorities who have been striving hard to do their duty during recent years. They have not, and that is the fact of the matter. They have had all sorts of encouragement and assistance, financial and otherwise, from successive Governments, but up to the present, as I understand from the Minister, only 5,000 of these houses have been erected. There are many counties in which hardly any house has been built. That is not because there is no need. If the right hon. Gentleman will make inquiry about some of these areas, he will find that there is no decent accommodation for the agricultural labourer and his family. That applies to a vast number of them.

It is not a case of poverty. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman there. It is because of reluctance, a real reluctance to build these houses in the rural areas. The people who dominate the councils do not want them. They have a natural objection to anything in the nature of a penny or twopence added to the rates, but I do not think meanly enough of them to imagine that that is the dominant factor; there are other factors into which I need not enter. But having lived and been brought up in a rural area for many years, I know exactly why in those districts there are scores of workmen's cottages that have been allowed to fall into disrepair and now are mere ruins, and why no effort has been made to substitute new houses for them. Therefore, I am not in the least alarmed at the small measure of direct initiative which the Ministry of Health have taken to themselves in this respect. My only regret is that they have not taken very must stronger action. I am a little bit disappointed that their proposal has not been bolder, that they have not shown more enterprise, have not shown more confidence in themselves and their colleagues in other Departments, and have not taken a real grip of a serious problem. The de-population of the rural side is not altogether an agricultural problem. There are a great many young people who know that if they get married there, there is no house for them, and that in itself is driving them to the towns.

10.0 p.m.

This will be a contributory measure towards re-establishing rural life and regenerating it, a task which in my judgment is one of the most important problems of the time. Until the House of Commons and the agricultural interests take counsel together, and take some steps for the purpose of reviving the old life of the countryside, I am certain that we cannot depend upon anything like healthy prosperity being restored to this country. I am glad that the Government have gone so far. I wish they had gone further, and I hope that with the encouragement of the House of Commons they may be induced to put a little more vigour into their rather halting steps.

With regard to the test of poverty, I did not quite follow the Minister. I wish there had not been this test. It is not altogether a conclusive test. It is not mere poverty that is preventing the building of these houses, but reluctance on the part of local authorities. Moreover, the test is a very difficult test to apply. Into districts where you can never persuade the rural council to move one step, the Department ought to be able to go, to plant houses there, and to supply a real national need. Otherwise what you will get will be this: You will get certain districts which will be able to satisfy the conditions with regard to poverty, where houses will be built, but other districts where you may have greater need for houses because you have a greater number of agricultural labourers, and where, because the test of poverty is not satisfied, the Government's beneficence will not apply and the houses will not be built. I maintain that it will be quite impossible for that distinction to continue. Once you begin, you have to put it right through and undertake this as a national enterprise, which it really is and ought to be.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the test of poverty would not apply to the county from which I come. If the test is as high as he stated, I tell him that there will not be many houses built. He was talking about a Highland county, where most of the farms are smallholdings, and by smallholders I do not mean people with under 100 acres, but people with 10, 15 or 30 acres where man, woman and child have to work in order to make a living at all. The right hon. Gentleman said it will not apply to a county of that kind. Would he say where are these poverty-stricken counties which are so much poorer than the Highland counties? Is it only the Highlands of Scotland that are to receive this benevolence, and are the Highlands of Wales to be excluded? By what ingenuous test is the right hon. Gentleman going to succeed in that achievement '? The test of what he calls poverty is a very important one. I wish that he had not put it there at all, and that the State would undertake this as a really great undertaking. Then the right hon. Gentleman could say, "Here is something I have done." This is his opportunity. Then I do not know whether the tests of poverty which he laid down are alternative or cumulative. He mentioned two tests: A penny rate is not to produce five pence, and the rates are not to be more than 10s. Are these cumulative?


indicated assent.


Yes; then what part of the population in the rural areas would be covered? There is another case not provided for, and I rather think that one of my hon. Friends referred to it. There are cases where you have something which is called a rural parish but where there is one corner with a population that has no interest of any sort or kind in agriculture. I could mention such a case. It is a rural parish, but those with no interest in agriculture dominate the voting there. It is in no sense of the term a poverty-stricken district. On the contrary, this particular area should be rather a well-to-do area. The result will be that that district will be completely excluded, because of the rural council being dominated by a rather rich area which is not concerned about planning houses for agricultural labourers in the more poverty-stricken part of the district.

I hope that the Minister is going to make his test of the conditions so wide that, where there is a separation of interests of that kind, the agricultural population is not going to be left in the lurch, because there is a rich corner of the parish. I know one or two instances of that kind. Everything will depend upon that test. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had not got a test at all. The other thing will be the composition of the committees. I know it would not be in order for me to discuss that, and I do not propose to do so. I only want to emphasise that it is of paramount importance that the committees should be of such a character that they will have on them men interested in putting this thing through and not merely in saving money to the Treasury or in carrying out the orders of the officials of the Ministry of Health, but that they will be there with a real concern for providing houses for these workmen who, at the present moment, are either herded together under unhealthy conditions in old cottages, quite unequal to the needs from the point of view of accommodation or sanitation, or, on the other hand, as an alternative, are being driven into the towns.


The Government has no reason to complain of the manner in which this Resolution has been received, and I will, if I may, go through some of the speeches, taking the smaller and less important points first and coming last to the main issues raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and other speakers. Taking them in this order I begin with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood). Listening to him it was difficult to know whether he was in favour of the Resolution or whether he was not. He gave us a biographical sketch of the political career and opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Sir T. Walters) and then he gave a resumé to us of an article in the "Manchester Guardian." He then made a little excursus on the general history of housing. He said £1,000,000,000 had been spent on houses and added, quite truly, that it was a large sum of money, and added to our already large commitments. Then he said a few words of general disapprobation, and it was only in the very last minute or two that I received the impression that, after all, he was not going to vote against this Financial Resolution. In duller and more lethargic speakers we should have called this sitting on the fence, but no metaphor could be more inappropriate. For we saw the right hon. Gentleman running round and round his subject as though he were making an effort to see how close he could get to it without touching it. I do not know if hon. Members have had the pleasure of watching figure skating. The performer puts down an orange, and then he goes round and round and round it. He gets as close to it as he can, but he would be disgraced if he touched it. A more delightful speech and a more amusing performance I have rarely listened to.

The next isolated point was raised by two Members on the question of the reconditioning of rural workers' cottages, and one Member spoke very regretfully of the Government, saying that they had not taken proper advantage of the Measure already in force. Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I will give the figures. The number of cottages reconditioned under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act in 1928 was 44; in 1929, 792; in 1930. 1,086; and in 1931, 1,455. It docs not look as though we have been very unkind to the little Housing Bill brought in by our predecessors. Then I want to say one word on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Sir J. Gilmour). He complained most bitterly that we were forcing the rural authorities and interfering with their proper functions and doing all manner of things we ought not to do. But ho would not answer the question put to him by Lord Privy Seal, the late Under-Secretary for Scotland, with regard to the case of counties such as Ross, Sutherland and Caithness, which were so poor that they could not build any houses at all. It seems strange to talk of what we are doing as coercion. We are offering to bear up to the whole cost, if they apply. I should have thought that a Scottish constituency would have welcomed coercion in this matter. We should like very much this sort of coercion in our private affairs and I cannot believe that this is a coercion to which any reasonable man would object.

Now I come to the questions raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. He raised two important questions. The first was with regard to the poverty line and the second was his desire to see some great national housing scheme undertaken by a central authority. Let me take first of all the poverty line.


What I said was that if the local authorities failed to carry out the provisions of this Bill then it should be undertaken by some central authority. But I should much prefer the local authorities to do the work.


I want to recall to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman the provisions of the 1930 Act. Supposing a local authority is rich enough to build houses and refuse to do so, the Government have the power now to come down and build the houses and put the whole charge on the local authority and take away from that authority as much of the subsidy as they think fit. There cannot be more complete powers for dealing with default than those which already exist under the Act of 1930. You can build the houses, you can hand the houses over to the local authorities to manage, and you can charge the local authorities not merely with the amount which ordinarily falls to them but with the whole cost. That is the procedure for those who can and will not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Will it be carried out?"] I say most certainly that, where a case is properly proved, my right hon. Friend will have no hesitation in carrying it out, and I shall myself have considerable pleasure in seeing it carried out.

Then we have to meet the ease of those who cannot, and here it is absolutely necessary to draw a distinction between rural districts which have plenty of money and those which have not, because, if you say that every rural district is to have these facilities, you cannot possibly draw the line at rural districts, but will have to include urban districts also. Some rural districts in the county to which my right hon. Friend referred are far richer than a great proportion of urban districts. I will take the case of the Epsom Rural District Council. Its general rate is 6s. 2d. in the £, its 1d. rate produces £1,529, and it can build 100 houses for a ¼d. rate. [Interruption.] This is the best case that I can find anywhere. It is a rural district council, with agricultural workers within its area, its 1d. rate produces £1,529, and it can build 100 houses for a ¼d. rate. Supposing that the poverty test were done away with, and we said that every rural district should have these houses for nothing, would it be possible to stop at Epsom? You would have to say that the nation should shoulder the whole burden of housing for the great hulk of urban authorities, and that would impose upon the Exchequer a heavy burden which at present is partly shouldered, as it should be, by the local authorities.

Under the definition "agricultural parish" 9,000 out of 13,000 agricultural parishes in rural districts will be included. We found, speaking in general terms, that the Act of 1930 was working very well indeed; there has been a marked and increasing revival of housing. We found that urban districts were increasing their programme by 80 per cent., and we found that county councils and rural district councils in many cases were getting on with the job, but we found that in the case of the very poor districts the burden appeared to be too heavy for them to carry and it was quite clear that under our housing programme the poor people and the poor districts would be served last and possibly not at all. We therefore resolved to take the tail end of the programme and put it into the front rank—to cut out that part of the work which in normal circumstances would he done last and put it in the place where it would be done first. That was the whole plan—to deal with this difficult part and leave it to the Act of 1930 to deal with the more prosperous areas. We have committed ourselves to national housing; the Government will come in, either when districts cannot or will not act. I hope I have answered all the points which have been put to the best of my ability and I think I can see that the Committee will not be prepared to vote against the Resolution.


Would the hon. Lady kindly deal with the very pressing point as to the cutting out of purely agricultural parishes because a length of railway line happens to run through them and the rates on the railway line are more than the rates of the agricultural parish itself?


Where you have a nice lump of rateable property, you are not poor enough to qualify for an additional subsidy.


Take the two parishes I have mentioned—two of the poorest in this district. They do not receive the rates that come from the main lines themselves. They are spread over the whole union. Yet there are several parishes which are going to get the £11 subsidy, nearer the town and more populated.


I could not obviously discuss individual cases on the Floor of the House.


I have no desire to ask the hon. Lady to discuss individual cases. We are raising a vital principle which affects hundreds of rural parishes wherever a railway line runs. I can assure her it is a much bigger thing than two isolated cases.


I beg to move, in line 16, to leave out the words "the Minister or, as the case may be, by the Department," and to insert instead thereof the word "Parliament,"

The purpose of the Amendment is that general directions should be stated in the Bill and should not be left in the hands of the Department. We do not wish to see the Bill made a means of further endowment of Departmental control and the elimination of Parliament in matters of representative government. In recent times we have had, from no less a person than the Lord Chief Justice, a reminder of tendencies in our present methods which are very menacing to our public life. He has spoken of the way in which Departments have been usurping the place of Parliament, even in some cases deciding what the law should be. In our view this tendency of government by Department has already gone too far and we do not wish to see it extended. It may be said that no small part of the fault lies with Parliament itself. There is no doubt that we have by our legislation introduced such complexity into the machinery of government that it is very difficult to carry on upon the old lines of administration. We have thought, in much of our legislation, too much of increasing that complexity and adding to government at the centre instead of building up the local management of local affairs: Checking the crazy ones, Coaxin' onaisy ones, Liftin' the lazy ones on wid the stick. The whole genius of the English character is shown in the way in which we try to leave the management of our local affairs, as far as possible, in the hands of the representatives of the localities, to encourage efficiency and self-management on sound progressive lines. In the Amendment we ask the Committee to use some restraint in this tendency by-enthroning Parliament. I should certainly be the last to say anything which would detract from a recognition of the efficiency of civil servants. The more we see of the official life of this country, the more we recognise the devotion and high efficiency with which they discharge their duties. At the same time, we have our duty as Members of Parliament and we have our representative system, and we should not allow these to be displaced whatever temptation there might be.

It may be said that if you put these governing directions into the Bill, you will still have difficulty in defining what they mean. The Minister this afternoon talked about the yard-stick. He set out in broad outline the sort of stipulations to go into the Bill. It should not be left to the management and control of departmental regulations. It will be said that there will be exceptional cases. That is always an excuse for a further extension of bureaucratic interference with our affairs. I do not think that that is a sufficient reason for the words contained in the Financial Resolution. If exceptional cases arise, I fail to sec why they will not be covered by the terms in which the general directions are framed, but supposing the necessity should arise for some exceptional treatment, it would not be a very strange thing to have in such a case a Resolution passed by both Houses in order to deal with it. At all events, in this Amendment we ask the Committee not further to weaken the functions of Parliament in the management of local affairs. The Minister talked to us to-day about the new Measure being the greasing and the beginning of a new machine. Do let us use some restraint in the tendency to displace control in our national affairs.


I have two objections to this Amendment. The first is that in view of the character and the limited time during which the provision operates it is quite unnecessary. My second objection is that I see no reason why I should be shackled in a way that my predecessors have not been shackled. The principle which has been adopted in the Financial Resolution is no new principle. For years the unemployment grants operated under the annual Vote of Parliament without the publication of any rules of any kind and no money limit and no time limit. It just went on from year to year, and Ministers were entrusted to administer the money as well as they could, and as wisely as possible. It ill becomes the party opposite who have really been the pioneers in this method of increasing Ministerial control which they now profess to dislike when out of office to raise this question. The Housing Act of 1923 provided us with a most pernicious illustration of the use of Ministerial powers. A grant was payable to local authorities in respect of the building of houses under private enterprise. No rules were there applicable and there was no financial limit. Here we have a financial limit and a definite rule of time. To bind the advisory committee down in an Act of Parliament, literally, definitely and specifically to detailed regulations is, I think, asking too much, and I hope the Committee will not accept the Amendment.


I will not detain the Committee more than a minute or two, because we shall have a further opportunity of discussing this matter on the Bill. The only real objection of the right hon. Gentleman to the Amendment is that it would prevent him from making what he describes as the detailed changes which he might desire to make in the

sums granted under his proposal. If that is all the difference between us, if he desires to preserve the right to make some changes in detail, I have no doubt that we shall be able to meet him and to preserve to him some power to meet any matters of that kind that may arise in the day to day working of the scheme. What the Amendment seeks to do—and the right hon. Gentleman has advanced no real objection to it—is that, so far as the grant of this money is concerned, we should lay down some general directions in the Bill regarding the local authorities who shall be entitled to claim the grant and, secondly, that we should lay down the general conditions upon which the grant should be made. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has made no substantial objection to that course and that the discussion this evening has shown the necessity of some specific way of dealing with a matter of this kind. After the very loose suggestions of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), I think the Committee will see the necessity for some specific way of dealing with this matter. As we have two other Amendments on the Order Paper we do not desire to detain the Committee further, in view of the further opportunities we shall have for discussing this question. But we shall have to divide, and deal further with the matter at a later stage.


Before we divide I should like to enter my protest against the continued expansion of the powers of Departments to make laws for this country. It is a custom which has arisen, no doubt, out of the War, that Departments should constantly be given extraordinary powers to apply orders for the expansions of legislation. Legislation by order of a Department is a very objectionable feature of our system. I will not give a silent vote. I must protest against this continued enlargement of the powers of a Department to make laws.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 244; Noes, 91.

Division No. 380.] AYES. [10.35 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Ammon, Charles George Attlee, Clement Richard
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Arnott, John Ayles, Walter
Alpass, J. H. Aske, Sir Robert Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)
Barnes, Alfred John Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Barr, James. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Phillips, Dr. Marion
Batey, Joseph Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Herriotts, J. Potts, John S.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Price, M. P.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hoffman, P. C. Quibell, D. J. K.
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hopkin, Daniel Rathbone, Eleanor
Birkett, W. Norman Horrabin, J. F. Raynes, W. R.
Blindell, James Isaacs, George Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bowen, J. W. John, William (Rhondda, West) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Broad, Francis Alfred Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Ritson, J.
Bromfield, William Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Bromley, J. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Romeril, H. G.
Brooke, W. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Brothers, M. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Rothschild, J. de
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Rowson, Guy
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Burgess, F. G. Kelly, W. T. Sanders, W. S.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sandham, E.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Lang, Gordon Sawyer, G. F.
Calne, Hall-, Derwent Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Sexton, Sir James
Cameron, A. G. Law, Albert (Bolton) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Law, A. (Rossendale) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Charieton, H. C. Lawrence, Susan Sherwood, G. H.
Chater, Daniel Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Shield, George William
Clarke, J. S. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cluse, W. S. Leach, W. Shillaker, J. F.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Shinwell, E.
Compton, Joseph Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Daggar, George Lees, J. Simmons, C. J.
Dalton, Hugh Leonard, W. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Sinkinson, George
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert Sitch, Charles H.
Dukes, C. Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Duncan, Charles Longden, F. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Ede, James Chuter Lunn, William Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Edmunds, J. E. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Egan, W. H. McElwee, A. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Elmley, Viscount McEntee, V. L. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
England, Colonel A. McKinlay, A. Sorensen, R.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall. N.) Stamford, Thomas W.
Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Strauss, G. R.
Foot, Isaac MacNeill-Weir, L. Sullivan, J.
Freeman, Peter McShane, John James Sutton, J. E.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Thurtle, Ernest
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Manning, E. L. Tillett, Ben
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Mansfield, W. Tinker, John Joseph
Gibbins, Joseph March, S. Toole, Joseph
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Marcus, M. Tout, W. J.
Gill, T. H. Marley, J. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Gillett, George M. Marshall, Fred Vaughan, David
Glassey, A. E. Mathers, George Viant, S. P.
Gossling, A. G. Matters, L. W. Walker, J.
Gould, F. Messer, Fred Wallace, H. W.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Middleton, G. Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Mills, J. E. Watkins, F. C.
Gray, Milner Milner, Major J. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Montague, Frederick Wellock, Wilfred
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Morley, Ralph Westwood, Joseph
Groves, Thomas E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) White, H. G.
Grundy, Thomas W. Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mort, D. L. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Muff, G. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Muggeridge, H. T. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Murnin, Hugh Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Naylor, T. E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Noel Baker, P. J. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Haycock, A. W. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Wise, E. F.
Hayday, Arthur Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hayes, John Henry Palin, John Henry
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Palmer, E. T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Atkinson, C. Beaumont, M. W.
Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Bird, Ernest Roy
Albery, Irving James Balniel, Lord Bourne, Captain Robert Croft
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Boyce, Leslie Hartington, Marquess of Savery, S. S.
Bracken, B. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Briscoe, Richard George Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Skelton, A. N.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Butler, R. A. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Campbell, E. T. Hurd, Percy A. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Carver, Major W. H. Inskip, Sir Thomas Thompson, Luke
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Kindersley, Major G. M. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Lamb, Sir J. Q Todd, Capt. A. J.
Christie, J. A. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Train, J.
Colville, Major D. J. Long, Major Hon. Eric Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Cooper, A. Duff Lymington, Viscount Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Margesson, Captain H. D. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Warrender, Sir Victor
Dalkeith, Earl of Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Wayland, Sir William A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Muirhead, A. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Nail-Cain, A. R. N. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Elliot, Major Walter E. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ford, Sir P. J. Penny, Sir George Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Ramsbotham, H. Womersley, W. J.
Ganzonl, Sir John Remer, John R. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Gower, Sir Robert Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Salmon, Major I. Major Sir George Hennessy and
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Sir Frederick Thomson.
Hammersley, S. S. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)

I beg to move, in line 23, after the word "committees" to insert the words: and subject to such conditions as Parliament may impose. I do not propose to detain the Committee long, because I know that hon. Members opposite are anxious to have a Division as quickly as possible, but I would not like this Amendment to be put to the vote without some words of explanation. During the discussion on the previous Amendment, which also had a bearing on the subject of this Amendment, the Minister told us that he was only following the example set by others and he gave as an instance the Unemployment Grants Committee and the way in which they dealt with their work. I think that the right bon. Gentleman selected a bad example to prove the desirability of the Minister and his Department having the sole right to handle any money voted by Parliament for this purpose. I see that the Parliamentary Secretary is in her place again. I welcome her very much because on this question as to whether Parliament or the Department shall have control, I had a little discussion with her a day or two ago. I was wandering from the path of rectitude, and she took me, back again very quickly. I made a suggestion that a certain matter should be left to the Minister of Agriculture to settle, and this is what the hon. Lady said: It will be as well that I should state the views of the Government on this matter. After consultation between the Minister of Health and the Minister of Agriculture, both Ministers are of opinion that this question is one which should be determined by Parliament, and it would be quite improper and wrong to give such powers to the unchecked discretion of the Minister of Agriculture. I can understand the hon. Lady saying that about the Minister of Agriculture, because he has shown himself to be rather extravagant, but we have embodied in this Financial Resolution exactly the opposite to what she was preaching to me the other day. My Amendment deals with the rent to be charged, and I can appeal to hon. Members opposite to support it. The question of the rents to be charged for these houses is a serious one to those people who have to occupy them. We are told that it will have to be a very cheap rent to meet the conditions of the agricultural workers whom it is hoped will occupy the cottages. It is all very well to say that we will leave the question of what the rent should be in the hands of the Minister and his Department. Hon. Members opposite may have a great deal of faith and hope in the present Minister and his Department, but other Ministers will follow him, and it is wrong to allow this to go out of the hands of Parliament.

It says in the paragraph that notwithstanding anything that may be enacted under the Housing (Financial Pro- visions) Act, 1924, this power shall be given to the Minister and his Department. The section of the Act of 1924 referred to lays down that every rule made under the Section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament forthwith. We ought not, therefore, to allow this to go out of our hands. It ought to be laid as an order on the Table of the House, so that any Member who thinks that too much rent is being charged will have his opportunity of bringing the matter forward in the usual way. The rights of private Members in this House are being filched away week by week, and by no one more than the

present Government. I cannot understand hon. Members opposite, who pride themselves on defending the rights of individuals, allowing a Minister of the Crown to come along with such measures to take away the few remaining rights of hon. Members. I know that the local authorities will resent very much this being left in the hands of the Minister and his Department. It is a step in the wrong direction, and I hope that many hon. Members opposite will follow me into the Lobby.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 93; Noes, 243.

Division No. 381.] AYES. [10.50 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Ganzoni, Sir John Salmon, Major I.
Albery, Irving James Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Atkinson, C. Gower, Sir Robert Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Balniel, Lord Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Savery, S. S.
Beaumont, M. W. Hammersley, S. S. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Bird, Ernest Roy Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Skelton, A. N.
Boothby, R. J. G. Hartington, Marquess of Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Boyce, Leslie Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Bracken, B. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Briscoe, Richard George Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Thompson, Luke
Broadbent, Colonel J. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hued, Percy A. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Butler, R. A. Inskip, Sir Thomas Train, J.
Campbell, E. T. Kindersley, Major G. M. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Carver, Major W. H. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Long, Major Hon. Eric Warrender, Sir Victor
Christie, J. A. Lymington, Viscount Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Colville, Major D. J. Margesson, Captain H. D. Wayland, Sir William A.
Cooper, A. Duff Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Muirhead, A. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Dalkeith, Earl of Nall-Cain, A. R. N. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Womersley, W. J.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Ramsbotham, H. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Edmondson, Major A. J. Rathbone, Eleanor
Elliot, Major Walter E. Remer, John R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ford, Sir P. J. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir George Penny.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bromfield, William Dalton, Hugh
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Bromley, J. Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)
Alpass, J. H. Brooke, W. Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Ammon, Charles George Brothers, M. Dukes, C.
Arnott, John Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Duncan, Charles
Aske, Sir Robert Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Ede, James Chuter
Attlee, Clement Richard Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Edmunds, J. E.
Ayles, Walter Burgess, F. G. Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Burgin, Dr. E. L. Egan, W. H.
Barnes, Alfred John Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Elmley, Viscount
Barr, James Calne, Hall-, Derwent England, Colonel A.
Batey, Joseph Cameron, A. G. Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Foot, Isaac
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Charleton, H. C. Freeman, Peter
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Chater, Daniel Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Benson, G. Clarke, J. S. Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Cluse, W. S. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Blindell, James Cocks, Frederick Seymour George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)
Bowen, J. W. Compton, Joseph Gibbins, Joseph
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Daggar, George Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)
Broad, Francis Alfred Dallas, George Gill, T. H.
Gillett, George M. Longden, F. Sanders, W. S.
Glassey, A. E. Lunn, William Sandham, E.
Gossling, A. G. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sawyer, G. F
Gould, F. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sexton, Sir James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) McElwee, A. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) McEntee, V. L. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gray, Milner McKinlay, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sherwood, G. H.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Shield, George William
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middletbro' W.) MacNeill-Weir, L. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Groves, Thomas E. McShane, John James Shillaker, J. F.
Grundy, Thomas W. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Shinwell, E.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Manning, E. L. Simmons, C. J.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mansfield, W. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) March, S. Sinkinson, George
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Marcus, M. Sitch, Charles H.
Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Marley, J. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Marshall, Fred Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mathers, George Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Haycock, A. W. Matters, L. W. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Hayday, Arthur Messer, Fred Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Hayes, John Henry Middleton, G. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Mills, J. E. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Milner, Major J. Sorensen, R.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Montague, Frederick Stamford, Thomas W.
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Strauss, G. R.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Morley, Ralph Sullivan, J.
Herriotts, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H, (Hackney, S.) Sutton, J. E.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Hoffman, P. C. Mort, D. L. Thurtle, Ernest
Hollins, A. Muff, G. Tillett, Ben
Hopkin, Daniel Muggeridge, H. T. Tinker, John Joseph
Horrabin, J. F. Murnin, Hugh Toole, Joseph
Isaacs, George Naylor, T. E. Tout, W. J.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Noel Baker, P. J. Vaughan, David
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Viant, S. P.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blacklay) Walker, J.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Wallace, H. W.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Palin, John Henry Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Palmer, E. T. Watkins, F. C.
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wellock, Wilfred
Kelly, W. T. Phillips, Dr. Marlon Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Picton-Turbervill, Edith Westwood, Joseph
Lang, Gordon Potts, John S. White, H. G.
Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Price, M. P. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Law, Albert (Bolton) Quibell, D. J. K. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Law, A. (Rossendale) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Lawrence, Susan Raynes, W. R. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)
Leach, W. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Lee, Frank (Derby. N. E.) Ritson, J. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Lees, J. Romeril, H. G. Wise, E. F.
Leonard, W. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lewis, T. (Scuthampton) Rothschild, J. de
Logan, David Gilbert Rowson, Guy TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Long bottom. A. W. Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.

I beg to move, in line 29, to leave out paragraph (b).

Question put. "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 92.

Division No. 382.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Batey, Joseph Bromley, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Brooke, W.
Alpass, J. H. Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Brothers, M.
Ammon, Charles George Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)
Arnott, John Benson, G. Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)
Aske, Sir Robert Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)
Attlee, Clement Richard Blindell, James Burgess, F. G.
Ayles, Walter Bowen, J. W. Burgin, Dr. E. L.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)
Barnes, Alfred John Broad, Francis Alfred Calne, Hall-, Derwent
Barr, James Bromfield, William Cameron, A. G.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rathbone, Eleanor
Charleton, H. C. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Raynes, W. R.
Chater, Daniel Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Clarke, J. S. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cluse, W. S. Kelly, W. T. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ritson, J.
Compton, Joseph Lang, Gordon Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Daggar, George Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Romeril, H. G.
Dallas, George Law, Albert (Bolton) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Dalton, Hugh Law, A. (Rossendale) Rothschild, J. de
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lawrence, Susan Rowson, Guy
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dukes, C. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sanders, W. S.
Duncan, Charles Leach, W. Sandham, E.
Ede, James Chuter Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Sawyer, G. F.
Edmunds, J. E. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sexton, Sir James
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lees, J. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Leonard, W. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Egan, W. H. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Elmley, Viscount Logan, David Gilbert Sherwood, G. H.
England, Colonel A. Longbottom, A. W. Shield, George William
Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead) Longden, F. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Foot, Isaac Lunn, William Shillaker, J. F.
Freeman, Peter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shinwell, E.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) McElwee, A. Simmons, C. J.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McEntee, V. L. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) McKinlay, A. Sinkinson, George
Gibbins, Joseph Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sitch, Charles H.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Gill, T. H. MacNeill-Weir, L. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gillett, George M. McShane, John James Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Glassey, A. E. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gossling, A. G. Mander, Geoffrey le M. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gould, F. Manning, E. L. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mansfield, W. Sorensen, R.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Marcus, M. Stamford, Thomas W.
Gray, Milner Marley, J. Strauss, G. R.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Marshall, Fred Sullivan, J.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mathers, George Sutton, J. E.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Matters, L. W. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Groves, Thomas E. Messer, Fred Tillett, Ben
Grundy, Thomas W. Middleton, G. Tinker, John Joseph
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mills, J. E. Toole, Joseph
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mliner, Major J. Tout, W. J.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth. C.) Morley, Ralph Vaughan, David
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Viant, S. P.
Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Walker, J.
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Mort, D. L Wallace, H. W.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Muff, G. Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Haycock, A. W. Muggeridge, H. T. Watkins, F. C.
Heyday, Arthur Murnin, Hugh Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Naylor, T. E. Wellock, Wilfred
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardin, S.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Noel Baker, P. J. Westwood, Joseph
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) White, H. G.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Herriotts, J. Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Palin, John Henry Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hoffman, P. C. Paling, Wilfrid Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hollins, A. Palmer, E. T. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hopkin, Daniel Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Horrabin, J. F. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Isaacs, George Phillips, Dr. Marion Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Potts, John S. Wise, E. F.
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Price, M. P. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Quibell, D. J. K.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Thurtle and Mr. Hayes.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut-Colonel Boyce, Leslie Colville, Major D. J.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Bracken, B. Cooper, A. Duff
Albery, Irving James Briscoe, Richard George Crookshank, Capt. H. C.
Atkinson, C. Broadbent, Colonel J. Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Dalkeith, Earl of
Balniel, Lord Butler, R. A. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)
Beaumont, M. W. Campbell, E. T. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Bird, Ernest Roy Carver, Major W. H. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cautley, Sir Henry S. Elliot, Major Walter E.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Ford, Sir P. J.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Christie, J. A. Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Ganzoni, Sir John Margesson, Captain H. D. Stanley, Hon. O, (Westmorland)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Thompson, Luke
Gower, Sir Robert Morrison, W. S. (Glos-, Cirencester) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Muirhead, A. J. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Nall-Cain, A. R. N. Train, J.
Hammersley, S. S. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ramsbotham, H. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Hartington, Marquess of Remer, John R. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Warrender, Sir Victor
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Ruggies-Brise, Colonel E. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Salmon, Major I. Wayland, Sir William A.
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hurd, Percy A. Savery, S. S. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Inskip, Sir Thomas Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Womersley, W J.
Kindersley, Major G. M. Skelton, A. N. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Long, Major Hon. Eric Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Sir George Penny and Sir Frederick Thomson.
Lymington, Viscount Stanley, Lord (Fylde)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.