HC Deb 10 April 1933 vol 276 cc2308-29

I beg to move, in page 3, line 24, to leave out the word "its," and to insert instead thereof the word "their."

This is purely a question of grammar.

Amendment agreed to.

10.21 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 26, to leave out the word "intended."

The object of the Amendment is to ensure that the houses which are to be built by building societies with the help of the Government guarantee shall, in fact, be let, and continue to be let, and not sold. We had a discussion upon the matter in the Committee upstairs when the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland declared that he would give no concession, and, in fact, said that no housing society or housing company building with the help of a-building society under the Bill would ever think of selling a house, because if it did the loan which it received from the building society would have to be paid off. That was an argument which many of us found completely unconvincing. On the contrary, from our knowledge and experience, and from that which we have since exchanged with other people, we are convinced that in fact there will be the strongest temptation to the building corporations, or whoever may be obtaining the money from the building societies, to sell the houses and turn over their money as quickly as possible. They will receive 90 per cent. from the building corporation and have to find the other 10 per cent. themselves, and there will be the strongest inducement to them to sell the houses as quickly as possible to get rid of the 10 per cent. loan, and to make a profit. I think that the conditions will probably be very good for making a profit.

The houses to be built by the building societies will be out of the reach of the means of a great many of the working class, and it may well be possible that, instead of being provided for to a large extent, as they are at present, by the local authorities, in future only the man earning less than 40s, a week will be provided for by the local authorities. Therefore, for people earning more than 40s. a week the market will, in fact, be a sellers' market. In these circumstances, it will be possible for the builders, not only to turn over their money quickly, which is what they want to do, but to make a profit in the course of that operation. That, therefore, is my first point. If we are to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of houses to let for the low-paid wage earners and for other members of the working class, the need of which has been stressed by every commission and committee that has inquired into the subject, including the Marley Commission on rent restriction, whose report the Government have adopted, and upon which they have based a Bill which we are at the present time passing through the House of Commons, we must ensure that the houses for which a special guarantee are given will, in fact, be let and not sold.

My second point is, that as the Bill is framed the builder can sell the house at once. There is no need for him to keep the man in occupation for a year or two years. He can sell the house at once, and there is nothing that the Government can do under this Bill to prevent that from being done. If this is really a Bill for getting houses built by building societies to be let, it is absolutely necessary to strike out the word "intended." In his argument against our proposal the Under-Secretary said that at the end of 40 years, even after the guarantee had expired, the builder would be unable to sell the houses. I am not much concerned about what happens at the end of 40 years. If the Under-Secretary can suggest the form of words to get round the difficulty I am willing to accept it. I want to make certain, and the House wants to make certain that during the period of the Government guarantee the houses shall not be sold but shall remain to be let. In the Second Reading Debate I asked the Secretary of State a question on this very point. I asked him what guarantee he had that the houses to be built with the assistance of the State guarantee were to be built to be let and would not in fact be sold. The Secretary of State replied specifically. He said: My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland was good enough to send me beforehand a statement of certain questions that he proposed to put to me. I will answer those questions specifically. He asked me, first, about the houses which are to be financed by the building societies. The guarantee is only to apply to houses to let."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1933; col. 489, Vol. 274.] That was the assurance which the Secretary of State gave to the House. I hope the Under-Secretary will make it quite clear that that assurance will be implemented to the letter, that these houses will be built only to let and that during the currency of the State guarantee they will not be sold. We attach great importance to this provision, because we believe that it will be disastrous if a number of these houses are sold. We do not want to see labour in Scotland anchored to particular districts and unable to move. We hope that as the depression lifts and as industry revives there will be here and there in Scotland opportunities for employment for men who, if they are free, will be able to take them, but if they are anchored to their houses they will not be able to go to the places where they can find employment. Commission after commission, inquiry after inquiry, committee after committee have emphasised the importance of the principle of the mobility of labour, and it is because we attach such great importance to that principle, and for the other reasons that I have given, that I hope the Government and the House will accept the Amendment.

10.30 p.m.


This Amendment was discussed in the Scottish Standing Committee, which voted upon it, and rejected it. The Liberal party, led by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, did not vote on that occasion.


I left that point out in my speech, because the Under-Secretary gave us an undertaking in Committee that he would consider this point with a view of devising an Amendment on Report stage; and it was on that account only that we withdrew our Amendment and refused to vote for the other proposal. We refused to do so because we received an undertaking that the Under-Secretary would consider this matter; he was obviously much impressed by the arguments which we put forward.


I only said that the Scottish Committee had rejected this proposal and that the Liberal party did not vote for it. I said that I would look into this matter in consultation with the building societies, although, clearly, the decision of the Committee afterwards would make it unnecessary to carry out that undertaking. As the right hon. and gallant Member and his friends did not vote I thought it only right to say that I would make further inquiries, but I gave no undertaking that I would frame any Amendment of the kind suggested. I said that in my opinion the proposal was impracticable. But I have made further inquiries, with the result that, speaking on general considerations, I have ascertained that not only Scottish building societies but certain English building societies come into the work of providing loans for houses under construction. The English building societies in their operations under the English Bill will operate under the words "intended to be let." I suggest that it would be extremely unsound to make English building societies lending money for English houses operate under one arrangement and the same building societies lending money for Scotch houses to be obliged to operate under another arrangement. That is one of the results of my discussions with building societies.

Another practical point emerges. Suppose that the borrower of money for the building of a house, a builder or a building corporation, were to go bankrupt before the loan was repaid, the only recourse the building society would have would be to foreclose and take the house into their own possession. The natural sequel would be not that the building society would hold the house themselves but would sell it. If they have to sell houses under the proviso that in no circumstances are the houses to be anything but let they will not have a free but a restricted and limited market for the sale. The building societies point out that that would be an extremely undesirable position for them to be put in, in Scotland alone. The contention of my right hon. Friend comes to this: The State and the local authorities are going to guarantee a part of the loan, and that therefore we ought to insist that the houses in all circumstances can only be let. My right hon. Friend thinks it is important that the houses should not be sold during the continuance of the guarantee, and that so long as the State and the local authorities have this liability the houses should be for letting purposes only. My answer is that I cannot figure a case where the sale could take place without the guarantee being fully met by the loan being repaid. If one were in the position of the borrower and owner of a house which one holds, and then one sells the house, one would be left with a liability to repay and with no assets. The dictates of common sense would ensure that the first thing one would do with the purchase price would be to repay the building society's bill.

My right hon. Friend has urged that almost inevitably a large number of these houses will be sold at an early date. What are the facts with regard to private enterprise houses under the existing Act? I am told that in Glasgow alone there are some 4,000 houses which have been built with the old subsidy by private builders for letting purposes. So far as I know no appreciable number of those houses has been sold; the great bulk have been retained for letting purposes. If that could be done in the past, we hope and believe that, with the reduced cost of building, houses will be built for the working classes, who do not desire to buy but to let them, and that there will be far less inducement than in the case of the 4,000 I have mentioned for selling to take place. For these reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division.

10.39 p.m.


I am afraid that while the Under-Secretary may have kept his pledge he has not fulfilled the hope of the Mover of the Amendment. If the word "intended" remains in the Clause the position will be that the houses can be sold under certain conditions. We do not desire that in the conditions existing in Scotland houses in the hands of a building society shall be saleable. We know what the hon. Gentleman may say. The intentions of the Government may be the best in the world, but the old proverb has it that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." I hope the House is not going to set itself up as a paving contractor to the nether regions. I had hoped that the Government would delete the word "intended" and allow the Clause to provide that the houses were to be built or acquired for the purpose of letting particularly to the working class. Since, in the provisions of the Bill, the rents to be charged for the houses are set out, one would imagine that all the houses coming under the guarantee were to be for letting purposes only.

I need not describe the housing problem in Scotland to the Under-Secretary for Scotland or any of his colleagues now on the Front Bench—with the possible exception of the Under-Secretary for the Home Department and we hope to make him a Scotsman before the end of this Debate. But the Under Secretary for Scotland and his colleagues know what Scottish housing conditions are to-day, and in bringing this Bill before the House they are under the impression that they are doing something to increase the number of healthy dwellings available for the working-class in Scotland. I agree with the Mover of the Amendment that the retention of this word "intended" will affect that purpose—whether to a greater or a lesser degree only time can tell. Its deletion would make it impossible for these houses to be sold and would remove a feature which I am sure the Under Secretary himself would be the last to wish to have in this Bill. I hope that even at this late stage he will consult his Scottish colleagues with a view to ensuring that this Bill shall be what we expected it to be, a Bill for the erection or acquiring of houses for letting and not for sale.

10.44 p.m.


The Under-Secretary will remember the discussion which took place on this subject in Committee when he gave a definite undertaking that he would inquire into the matter before the Report stage, an undertaking which he has carried out, so far. We know that the dominant need in Scotland is for houses to let, and not for houses to be sold, and I am puzzled to know why in the terms of this Bill the Government have not seen their way to carry out their own avowed intention of providing houses to be let. I do not know what difficulties stand in the way. The Under-Secretary has spoken about the building societies. I had hoped, in view of the undertaking which he gave, backed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, that their united ability would have got over the difficulties which the building societies evidently have raised I think we have sufficient ability in the Law Officers of the Crown in Scotland and the Secretary of State for Scotland to carry out what is obviously the intention of this Bill, and that is to provide houses in sufficient numbers to let, not to sell. We all know exactly what will take place if the Bill passes in its present form, and even at this late hour I appeal to the Government to make up their minds to carry out the obvious intention of the Bill. I shall be very sorry and disappointed if that intention is not carried into effect.

Amendment negatived.

10.47 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 10, at the end, to insert the words: and (c) make provision for securing that in the case of houses to be built a fair-wage clause, which complies with the requirements of any resolution of the House of Commons applicable to contracts of Government Departments and for the time being in force, is inserted in all contracts or agreements for advances between the society and its members and in all contracts for the construction of the houses. This is a very serious position as far as the trade union movement is concerned. We are not asking for something new; we are asking for something which is inserted in every Government contract given out in this country, and not only in every Government contract, but in contracts given out by town councils, county councils, and every local authority. They all have a fair wage clause in their contracts, and why the National Government in its wisdom should bring in a Housing Bill omitting this very valuable clause is beyond me. If ever there was a time when it was essential that we should have a clause in the Bill safeguarding the interests, not only of the operatives in the building industry, but also of the employers of labour, it is now, because up till now, since the War, private enterprise has gone out of house building. Economic circumstances were of such a character that it did not pay private enterprise to build houses. Houses were required, and the Government had to step in and give power to the local authorities to go on with building them.

Now the National Government consider the time is opportune for again bringing private enterprise back into housebuilding. In order to do that, they are placing it in a favoured position. Those who are financing the building of houses are to be guaranteed by the Government, 5 per cent. interest on their money. Those building societies are posing before all Britain as philanthropic institutions—nice, kind Christian gentlemen who are going to save the situation by building houses. We Socialists know perfectly well that they are no philanthropic institutions at all. They are going into the building of houses because there is profit in it, and for nothing else. It is because it is a good paying concern, far better than lending money on which they get only 3 per cent. Not only that but this disreputable Government is going one worse. "Disreputable" is a very mild term when you consider what they are doing. They are not only guaranteeing these smug philanthropic individuals 5 per cent. on their money for exploiting the needs of the poorer sections of the community and exploiting the conditions appertaining in Scotland. Those conditions have been admitted by the Lord President of the Council, who, when he visited Scotland, said he had no idea that the housing conditions there were of such a terrible character, and he gave us a pound extra—


The Amendment which the hon. Member is proposing has to do with guaranteeing wages. He is not referring to that now.


With all due respect, I am going to show the reasons why they have done such and such a thing and I am trying to connect it with reasons why they should not have done such and such a thing, exactly as I did in Committee, when it was in perfect order.


Then the hon. Member must cut short his preamble to his Amendment.


Not only are they to get this guarantee of 5 per cent. but there is no Clause in this Bill to protect the builder of the houses, either employer or employé. There is no fair wages Clause. Not only are they to get 5 per cent. on their money, but the worker and the builder of the houses is to be left to the most disreputable employer of labour that may come along. The Secretary of State for Scotland carried the Committee with him, and why? I moved this new paragraph in Committee, but it was left to the hon. Member for Banffshire (Sir M. Mckenzie Wood) to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that we were going to get something in a Scottish Bill that the English had not managed to get into their Bill, and that if we got this in it would make it very awkward for the right hon. Gentleman in the Cabinet. So the Liberals rush to his assistance and turn us down. The House ought to know the tricks that they play on us—those gigantic powerful fellows they call the Liberals. The hon. Member for Perth (Lord Scone) said in the Standing Committee; The only explanation came not from the right hon. Gentleman but from the hon. and gallant Member for Banff (Sir M. Wood). We wish to know whether that explanation is the cause of the Government's refusal to accept this Amendment. There are plenty of us on this side who believe ourselves to be good employers and who do endeavour to pay the best possible wages. We are not able nowadays to pay the wages we would like; we are obliged most unwillingly to reduce them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee on Scottish Bills); 23rd March, 1933, Col. 198.] He went on to say that they did not want to let the bad employer get an opportunity of reducing all good employers to the level of the bad employers. The Secretary of State for Scotland on the same date said: I am anxious, however, to secure the object which the hon. Member has in view, and we have been considering how best to do so. I find that in September, 1924, after the Housing Measure of that year became law the Department of Health for Scotland issued a circular directing the attention of local authorities to the Fair Wages Clause and pressing it upon their consideration. I intend to follow the same practice and to issue a circular directly the Bill becomes law, directing the attention of local authorities to this all-important question and inviting them to consider it on its merits. I hope that with that assurance, the hon. Member—having been met by us on some other occasions—will be satisfied in this case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee on Scottish Bills); 23rd March, 1933, Col. 190.] Again the Secretary of State said: The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) reminded me of the case of certain building operatives whose wages bad not been paid although the contractor in that case had received the subsidy. Let me tell the hon. Member that since he raised that matter on the Floor of the House I have made inquiries into the case, and although I am unable to give him a definite undertaking that these men, whose interests he raised, will receive their wages, I am hopeful that the wages which these men have earned, and should have been paid, will be paid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee on Scottish Bills); 23rd March, 1933, Col. 195.] My point is that that last statement proves conclusively that the circular of the Secretary of State is not worth the paper on which it was written. I have given absolute proof that here it is being defied in a very serious fashion. Here are individuals, who will be brought into the building of houses, who are prepared to cut prices so low that they are paying no wages at all. I brought a case to the right hon. Gentleman's notice and he admitted that such employers were in the position to get the subsidy and then pay the workers no wages at all. We desire to safeguard the position and to ensure that all employers will be placed on an equal footing, so that no unscrupulous employer will be able to come in and undercut his fellows.

In our opinion in Scotland this is a direct attack on the trade union movement, and we will resist it with all the power at our disposal. The Secretary of State for Scotland can rest assured of that. To-night I have gone to the trouble of cutting out these extracts from his own speeches and have laid all the evidence before him to show what a very serious matter this is, and I hope the House will not be carried away, as the Committee was carried away, by the hon. and gallant Member for Banff, and vote us in Scotland down because this provision is not in the English Bill. I want the House to deal with this question on its merits: Is it right to support trade union wages and conditions? Up to now the House has considered that trade union rates of wages and conditions were not exorbitant, but right and just. It is not only the horny-handed sons of toil who will be affected, but every individual who earns an honest penny working for his livelihood. This National Government, with their generous cuts, have brought all individuals who render useful service to society down to that level The Prime Minister said that if there were to be cuts there would be cuts all round, but they are not carrying that policy to its logical conclusion. We Socialists see in this the thin end of the wedge against trade unionism. All these facts having been laid before the Secretary of State, I hope he will have the wisdom in his day and generation to accept this Amendment.

11.4 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I wish to add one or two words to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood). I notice that in the Memorandum issued with the initial draft of this Bill we were informed that by virtue of paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 75 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1925, local authorities had power, subject to certain conditions, to make payments to societies, but under that law there was no liability on the part of the Exchequer to any repayments. Under the proposal in the Bill now before the House, however, there is a provision whereby the Government may, with certain reservations, make payments to those societies. In view of the possibility of an Exchequer contribution, we are entitled to ask that there should be added, to the restrictions placed upon the issue of such sums, the restrictions referred to in the Amendment. The total power to reimburse part of the loss guaranteed to the building and other societies, should be accompanied by that restriction. I do not contemplate that there will be much antagonism to the proposal. The Government have displayed some desire to see industry organised, and they have made promises that protection would be given if there were organisation.

We put forward in this proposal a form of words which would give protection to an industry that has organised itself in a great measure. Its importance is, furthermore, related to national economy. Sir Arthur Salter has laid it down that the building trade is always the key point in the economic structure and that any improvement there would quickly radiate. We suggest that the conditions that have been negotiated under the National Joint Industrial Council of the building trade, in so far as wages are concerned, should be protected, as the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has stated. Anyone who is not prepared to act up to those conditions or endeavours to escape from them, should be excluded from performing any work that may in future be subject to State subsidy. It is all the more important to bear in mind that this industry, for every £100 expended in it, £80 is spent, according to the memorandum which has been prepared by an impartial committee, in remuneration. Payments made in wages should conform to those which have been brought about by negotiations between employers and employés in the industry.

I want to refer to the Memorandum presented to every hon. Member, with regard to organisation in this industry. It states: The building industry is now so organised as to be able to produce in the most efficient manner, and in consequence at lower costs, than at any time since the War. … The National Joint Council for the Building Industry has made full use of new inventions; it has instituted methods of standardisation; and it is doing notable pioneer work in the direction of planned co-ordination of all the manifold activities associated with the industry. I do not think that can be challenged. Here is an industry that is conforming to the express desire of the Government to organise itself, and is making full use of efficient methods to co-ordinate the interests of the employers and employes. In view of the fact that they have done the pioneer work, we suggest that we should recognise that. No State subsidies should be given to any work permitted by this Bill unless the conditions conform to the fair wages stipulation.

11.10 p.m.


As my hon and gallant Friend the Member for Banff (Sir M. Wood) is not able to be here tonight, and, as he was referred to as "the villain of the piece" by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), I should like to remind the hon. Member that the part which my hon. and gallant Friend took in the Debate in Committee was based on the fact that he took the view, which we also take, that this Clause would be ineffective. He went on to say that he hoped the Secretary of State would take the offer of the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean), and would go into the question again and see whether he could not do something more to ensure, in respect of all the houses built, that there should be more effectual control on the question of the wages paid to the men engaged in the building of them. The reason given by the Secretary of State is, I think, really unanswerable. This Bill is to guarantee a building society, and, however much we may desire, as we all do, that fair wages should be paid in the case of all contracts where the Government have any control, or any other contracts, I fail to see how it would be effective to put a Clause of this sort into a Bill of this nature, the purpose of which is to guarantee a building society. Therefore, I am afraid that we shall be unable to support the Amendment.

11.12 p.m.


I suggest to the Government that, to any reasonable-minded person, a case has been made out, both in Committee and in the House, that a fair wages clause ought to apply to the production of houses in relation to the building industry in our cities and counties. The Secretary of State, in Committee, did state fairly that he thought that the fair wages clause ought to apply, but he suggested a different method of approach from that suggested in connection with the Amendment moved by Members of the Opposition and supported by ourselves. I cannot conceive why there should be a refusal to insert a definite provision in the Bill to guarantee fair wages to those who are engaged in the industry. We stated in Committee, and I desire to state again ill the House, that certain standards have been guaranteed to certain sections engaged in the production of houses—the giving of land, or the sale of land, and the sale of money for the production of houses—and I cannot understand how the Government can refuse to incorporate in this Bill, in language that will be easily understood, an instruction to those concerned throughout the country to pay the rate of wages obtaining in the industry in the area in which the houses are being constructed.

We have had a certain amount of trouble in connectiion with the interpretation of what might be termed the rights of the fair wages clause in various areas. In the city of Glasgow, we have had numerous disputes in connection with housing schemes undertaken by the corporation and by private enterprise builders who have received a subsidy. We may have an employer who takes advantage of the fact that there is a large number of employés in the market, and, desiring to obtain cheap labour, offers a lower wage than that paid by employers who are bound by agreements in the building trade. The majority of employers in the building trade play a fair and straight game with the employés as regards the conditions that have been agreed upon by both sides in conference, but we always have that small minority of employers who desire to overcome the agreements that have been made, and who refuse to carry out the fair wages clause. The local authorities sometimes step in, as Glasgow has frequently done, and attempt to secure for the employés the guarantee of a fair wage, but evasion takes place, and sometimes the authority themselves say that they have not sufficient power to compel these people to put the fair wages clause into operation. I plead with the. Government, if they are fair-minded in connection with these bargains come to between employers and employés, to remember that it is not only acting against the employés, but it is penalising the good employers who desire to keep to their bargain. We ought to penalise that small body of crafty employers who desire to evade their responsibilities. There is no reason why we should not penalise the bad employer by compelling him to face up to his responsibilities and prevent these disputes from taking place. We say, as representing the working classes, and I say as one who has been a member of the building trade from 13 years of age until 2½ years ago, that we are entitled to expect that you will pay respect to the desires of the working class and will give some assurance that you will incorporate in the Bill that desire of the Opposition and ourselves to secure for the working classes the fair wages that they are entitled to.

11.17 p.m.


My right hon. Friend and I have considered to the best of our ability this question since it was raised in Committee, and I should like, in informing the House that it is not possible to accept the Amendment, to add one or two other considerations to the reasons already given by my right hon. Friend in Committee. Let me first deal with a word that fell from the hon. Member opposite, who drew a lurid picture of the activities of the building societies and said the Government propose to guarantee them 5 per cent. The arrangement is that they are going to lend at 1 per cent. below the usual rate, 90 per cent. of the advance for the purpose of building houses intended to be let. That percentage works out not to 5 but to 4 per cent. I think the House will agree that that is a very valuable financial reinforcement and that the great resources of the building societies should be available, with the assistance of the Government guarantee, at 1 per cent. below the usual rate. My right hon. Friend pointed out in Committee the undesirability of including in the particular circumstances of this Clause an Amendment with regard to the fair wages clause. The Minister of Health said a better method would be the issue of a circular calling the attention of local authorities to the matter. Let me add these considerations. The activities of the building societies are connected almost exclusively with the lending of money for the erection of houses. It is not sound legislation in one department of the building societies' activities to put in a provision with regard to the fair wages clause and to leave what must always be by far the greater area of their activities unaffected by that provision.

Anyone understanding the meaning of the series of Acts of Parliament must feel that the imposing of this particular provision with regard to the building societies, if it is to be done at all, should be done with regard to the whole and not to the small proportion of the financial activities which will only be partially covered by the State in a, local guarantee. I suggest that that is not the right way to deal with the terms under which building societies may loan money for house building. That, one may take it, is the view of the House and of Parliament, because in the Housing Consolidation Act of 1925 this provision, not so wide in its application, was introduced, as it had been previously in the Act of 1923. Neither in the Act of 1923 nor in the Act of 1925, when loans by building societies were made part of the building law, did Parliament think fit to put into the relevant Sections this particular provision with regard to building societies' loans. Parliament was right then, and I maintain that if you make this provision with regard to building societies' activities, it will not be a sufficient excuse for limiting it to one part of their activities to say that you limit it to the part where there is a local and State guarantee.

Building societies are an important and most valuable part of the social structure. They have received the particular attention of Parliament. Over a period of years a code with regard to their conduct has been built up. If you wish to alter the law with regard to building societies the proper way to do it is through the building society laws and not the housing laws. That is the consideration which I put before the House in addition to those that have already been introduced. On the whole matter, I would urge that, having in view the number of cases in which there will be no contract at all into which such a provision can be put, the builder himself would be the borrower from the building society, and from the considerations I have urged with regard to the general position of building societies, the position will best be maintained by the circular which my right hon. Friend proposes to address to local authorities if and when the Bill passes. He asks me to say—and I do so with all the emphasis at my command—that should difficulties arise in particular cases his good offices or my good offices, and the good offices of the Department, will be fully at the service of those who may require them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) referred to the Glasgow case, where a sub-contractor went into bankruptcy and the men he had employed in connection with a building scheme were not paid their wages. I fear that no provision with regard to a fair wages clause could ensure any wages at all to men whose employer became bankrupt. Since he referred in further detail to the case, the present situation is that the main contractor handed over a sum of money which, I understand, was sufficient to pay the wages of the men, but that sum of money was immediately earmarked by proceedings in bankruptcy and did not reach the men. We are at present negotiating in order that not only the Unemployment and Health Insurance contributions of the men may be paid, but that their wages may be paid.

It is rather a severe request on the main contractor that he should have to pay two sums of money representing the wages which should also be paid by the subcontractor. I can assure the hon. Member that we are still actively pursuing the best mehods by which the interests of the men concerned can be served. I hope that the Amendment will not be pressed to a Division.

11.26 p.m.


I doubt whether the issuing of a circular to the local authorities will be as good to the workmen in the building industry as the insertion of our Amendment in the Bill. I was pleased to hear the Under-Secretary explaining these matters, but he has not convinced us. The circular is to be sent to the local authorities. Does that mean that they will have control over the contractors?


The hon. Member will recollect that the local authority has scrupulously to consider each proposal before it gives the guarantee. When it gives the guarantee the central authority then shares half the guarantee.


My point is that the responsibility of seeing that the contract is carried out rests with the local authority.


This is rather a technical matter. When I said that the local authority were responsible I said they were responsible for their share of the guarantee. That is where they come in. I did not say that after the guarantee has been given the local authority is responsible for the carrying out of every detail of the contract.


I do not expect that we shall be able to induce the Government to accept the Amendment, but I am not satisfied with what has been stated. For more than a generation the State has laid it down that the Fair Wage Clause should apply in all contracts on which it is interested. No one can argue that the State is not interested in the payment of this subsidy. We are all agreed that the State has a very considerable part to play in the whole of the housing question. What we are asking is that when the employers and the workmen, meet frequently to discuss conditions of labour and wages and come to an agreement, then whatever agreement they make applies to everyone engaged in the industry, whether employer or workman. It is agreed that there are

bad workmen and bad employers. The law is an agreement between the State and the citizen, and anyone who refuses to carry out the law is subject to punishments of one sort or another. In the same way an agreement entered into by employers and workmen to cover the industry as a whole in regard to wages and other conditions should have the force of law in the industry. Up to the present time the Government have recognised this and a fair wage clause has been in operation for more than a generation.

I am sorry that the Government have taken up the position that the fair wage clause is unimportant. If when trade begins to revive and houses begin to be built the employers refuse to carry out an agreement which has been entered into, it, will result in stoppages of work, and I believe that the men are always right when they are fighting for the preservation of their own rights. You do not make progress along that line. The only way to make progress is by reaching an agreement between employers and workmen and see that that agreement is carried out. If the employers refuse then they should be treated in exactly the same way as an ordinary criminal. The Government have provided for a fixed bath; that is a condition so far as the quality of the house is concerned; and there is no reason why a condition should not be laid down as regards wages and other conditions.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 34; Noes, 190.

Division No. 137.] AYES. [11.33 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur McEntee, Valentine L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McGovern, John
Banfield, John William Groves, Thomas E. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Maxton, James
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Milner, Major James
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen
Daggar, George Hirst, George Henry Rathbone, Eleanor
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Kirkwood, David Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Dobbie, William Leonard, William Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Aske, Sir Robert William Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Atholl, Duchess of Blindell, James
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Bailey, Eric Alfred George Boothby, Robert John Graham
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Boulton, W. W.
Apsley, Lord Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hanley, Dennis A. Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Broadbent, Colonel John Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hartington, Marquess of Ramsbotham, Herwald
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Rankin, Robert
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Rea, Walter Russell
Burnett, John George Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Horsbrugh, Florence Remer, John R.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Howard, Tom Forrest Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Carver, Major William H. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Castle Stewart, Earl Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Rosbotham, Sir Samuel
Gazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Runge, Norah Cecil
Clayton, Dr. George C. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Cochrane, Commander Hon, A. D. Jesson, Major Thomas E. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Ker, J. Campbell Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Conant, R. J. E. Knebworth, Viscount Salmon, Sir Isidore
Cooper, A. Duff Lamb, Sir Joseph Quintal Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Crooke, J. Smedley Leckie, J. A. Scone, Lord
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Leech, Dr. J. W. Selley, Harry R.
Cruddas, Lieut-Colonel Bernard Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Liddall, Walter S. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Curry, A. C. Lindsay, Noel Ker Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Llewellin, Major John J. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Duggan, Hubert John Lloyd, Geoffrey Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Dunglass, Lord Loder, Captain J. de Vere Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Eastwood, John Francis Mabane, William Spens, William Patrick
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. McKie, John Hamilton Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey McLean, Major Sir Alan Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Elliston, Captain George Sampson McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Stevenson, James
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Magnay, Thomas Stourton, Hon. John J.
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Strauss, Edward A.
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Sutcliffe, Harold
Fermoy, Lord Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Tate, Mavis Constance
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Thompson. Luke
Fox, Sir Gifford Moreing, Adrian C. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Fraser, Captain Ian Morgan, Robert H. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Fremantle, Sir Francis Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Morrison, William Shepherd Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Muirhead, Major A. J. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Glossop, C. W. H. Munro, Patrick Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Goff, Sir Park Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Wells, Sydney Richard
Goldie, Noel B. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. North, Captain Edward T. Whyte, Jardine Bell
Greene, William P. C. Nunn, William Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Grimston, R. V. O'Donovan, Dr. William James Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, s.)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Pearson, William G. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Penny, Sir George Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Guy, J. C. Morrison Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Womersley, Walter James
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Potter, John
Hales, Harold K. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Procter, Major Henry Adam Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
and Commander Southby.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 37.

Division No. 138.] AYES. [11.43 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Broadbent, Colonel John Conant, R. J. E.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Brown, Ernest (Leith) Cooper, A. Duff
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T, Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Crooke, J. Smedley
Apsley, Lord Burnett, John George Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)
Aske, Sir Robert William Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard
Atholl, Duchess of Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Culverwell, Cyril Tom
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Caporn, Arthur Cecil Duggan, Hubert John
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Carver, Major William H. Dunglass, Lord
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Castle Stewart, Earl Eastwood, John Francis
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Blindell, James Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey
Boothby, Robert John Graham Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Elliston, Captain George Sampson
Boulton, W. W. Clayton, Dr. George C. Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Entwistle, Cyril Fullard
Bracken, Brendan Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Lloyd, Geoffrey Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Fermoy, Lord Loder, Captain J. do Vere Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Mabane, William Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Fox, Sir Gilford McKie, John Hamilton Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Fraser, Captain Inn McLean, Major Sir Alan Salmon, Sir Isidore
Fremantle, Sir Francis McLean, Dr. W, H. (Tradeston) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Magnay, Thomas Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Scone, Lord
Glossop, C. W. H. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Shaw, Helen S. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Goff, Sir Park Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)
Goldie, Noel B. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Greene, William P. C. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Grimston, R. V. Moreing, Adrian C. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Morgan, Robert H. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Gunston, Captain D. W. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Guy, J. C. Morrison Morrison, William Shepherd Stevenson, James
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Muirhead, Major A. J. Stourton, Hon. John J.
Hales, Harold K. Munro, Patrick Strauss, Edward A.
Hanley, Dennis A. Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Hartington, Marquess of Nicholson, Godfrey (Moroeth) Sutcliffe, Harold
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. North, Captain Edward T. Tate, Mavis Constance
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Nunn, William Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) O'Donovan, Dr. William James Thompson, Luke
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Pearson, William G. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Horobin, Ian M. Penny, Sir George Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Horsbrugh, Florence Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Howard, Tom Forrest Potter, John Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Ward. Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Hudson, Capt. A. U.M.(Hackney, N.) Procter, Major Henry Adam Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Wells, Sydney Richard
Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsbotham, Herwald Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Ker, J. Campbell Rankin, Robert Whyte, Jardine Bell
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham- Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Reid, William Allan (Derby) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Leckie, J. A. Remer, John R. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Leech, Dr. J. W. Renwick, Major Gustav A. Womersley, Walter James
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Liddall, Walter S. Rosbotham, Sir Samuel TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Lindsay, Noel Ker Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Sir Frederick Thomson and Lieut.-
Llewellin, Major John J. Runge, Norah Cecil Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. McGovern, John
Banfield, John William Grundy, Thomas W. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Maxton, James
Daggar, George Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd) Milner, Major James
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Hint, George Henry Parkinson, John Allen
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Holdsworth, Herbert Rathbone, Eleanor
Dobbie, William Kirkwood, David Rea, Walter Russell
Edwards, Charles Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Tinker, John Joseph
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Leonard, William Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valiev)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Logan, David Gilbert
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.