HC Deb 28 February 1933 vol 275 cc203-89

3.52 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, after the word "house," to insert the words: (other than a house in an agricultural parish within the meaning of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924). I cannot now argue the general question of the stoppage of the subsidy under the Act of 1924. The purpose of this Amendment is to make an exception in the case of houses in agricultural parishes. Members who were in the House in 1924 will remember that the Labour Government then made a distinction between urban houses and houses intended for agricultural workers or persons of like character. There was a good deal of discussion, in which several Members of the present Government took part, and we devised ultimately, out of committee discussions, a definition of an agricultural parish which would limit the special subsidy—the additional subsidy given under the Act of 1924—to those areas which were really agricultural areas. It is true that since the War, under the Housing Act of 1919, under the Act of 1923, and under the Act of 1924, a very large number of houses have been built in rural districts, but to-day the term "rural district council" does not in any way denote that the council's area is a rural area. There are, in many districts in this country, rural district councils whose areas are primarily urban, and the number of houses built under those Acts, apart from the houses which qualified for a special subsidy under the Act of 1924, for rural workers, was comparatively small.

It is undoubtedly true that there is a special rural housing problem. It is a problem of two kinds. In the first place, there is the problem of the very old houses which are now overcrowded and ought to be replaced, and with it there is the question of the gradual shifting of the agricultural population. On the other hand, there is the larger question for which the Minister of Agriculture, and not the Minister of Health, is responsible—the revival of one of our most fundamental industries. If the housing problem in the countryside is to be dealt with adequately, our submission is that it will not be dealt with in this Measure, as under the terms of this Bill no houses will be built. If we take the number of houses which have been built in agricultural parishes—and that means that all the houses are intended for rural workers —if we take the number of houses built under the Act of 1924 in agricultural parishes up to the end of last year, we find that it was just over 26,000, namely, 26,208; and it is very interesting to observe that 24,500 of them were built by local authorities, and less than 1,700 of them were built by private enterprise. These 26,000 houses were a direct contribution to the problem of rural housing, but that contribution would not have been made had it not been for the special provisions in the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act of 1924. In effect, so far as we can ascertain the number of houses built specifically for agricultural and rural workers since 1924, out of every 23 or 24 only one has been built by private enterprise, and the rest have been built under the provisions of the Act.

It is admitted by hon. Members opposite, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General, who took part in piloting the Bill of 1926, the Housing' (Rural Workers) Act, that there is a rural housing problem, and provision was made six years ago for local authorities to recondition rural housing. It is true that since that time an increased num- ber of houses or buildings have been reconditioned and made habitable for people in the countryside, but the number is very small. I, myself, never believed in that Bill as a solution of the rural housing problem. Indeed, I remember when the Bill was originally introduced I moved its rejection. During my term of office I did my best, as I think hon. Members who were then in the House will admit, to get the best out of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, and the number of houses reconditioned during 1930 and 1931 was very considerably larger than during the earlier days of the operation of the Act. I am not going to deny that last year the number was larger than it was in 1931, but the number of houses reconditioned is, on the whole, relatively small. I mention the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, because it is an admission of the reality of a rural housing problem, an admission made by the party which is the predominant partner in the National Government at the present time.

My contention is, that the rural district councils, which are rural in character and not semi-industrial, are so impoverished, their rateable value is so small, that they have to be helped in a way that urban districts need not be. That provision was made in the Act of 1924. My second contention is that, having regard to the traditionally low rents in the countryside—it is a vicious circle: low wages, low rents; low rents, therefore low wages—it is not, even with the reduced cost of building to-day, an economic proposition for private enterprise to build houses in the rural area to house the workers. Even if it be true, which I do not admit, in the case of the urban areas, the urban district councils and the municipal boroughs and county boroughs, that they can do without special assistance from the State, that does not apply to the rural area, first, because private enterprise will not build there at the rents which can be charged to the agricultural workers; secondly, because the rural district councils could not, because of the restricted resources at their disposal, in any circumstances build without a subsidy, and could not, indeed, except in favoured areas, even with the very substantial subsidy which was given under the Act of 1924.

I could hope that the Government would give way on this point. We have to admit ourselves beaten temporarily on the major point as regards the abolition of the 1924 subsidy, but there is a powerful case, it seems to me, and one which ought to be accepted by hon. Members opposite, who represent agricultural constituencies to a greater extent than my hon. Friends behind me do. I am disappointed that the last Act placed on the Statute Book by the late Government, the Housing (Rural Authorities) Act has produced no result, because it has not been worked as it should have been. It has made, under the present administration, no contribution. We were to have devoted £2,000,000 to local authorities for the building of 40,000 houses. The latest figures presented to this House show that the Minister has given his approval to the acceptance of tenders in respect of 680 houses. That means that no attack has been made on the problem of rural housing. If it be true that agriculture is one of our fundamental industries, as I believe it is—hon. Members opposite know more about it than I do—if it be true that agriculture is an essential industry of the community, then it is clear, I think, that we ought to have regard to those people whose lives are bound up with the fortunes of that industry. Housing in the countryside is, indeed, a scandal.

Here is an opportunity, this being a National Government, to make an exception to the Government's policy of abolishing subsidies. Here is an opportunity to do something for those who are engaged in an important national industry. I think it is bound to be admitted on all hands that private enterprise, the building societies—such building societies as have taken part in this work—would never dream of going to the country villages, the little hamlets and building three cottages here, four there and 10 somewhere else. That is not the scale on which their operations would work. The Bill will fail to deal with the rural housing problem. If that problem is to be dealt with, it must be dealt with either nationally—and I am not committing myself to any kind of national building—or through local authorities. Local authorities cannot deal with it if the 1924 subsidy is to be taken away. With the utmost difficulty, under very considerable pressure, and then only in certain selected areas have we been able, with the very substantial subsidy given under the 1924 Act, to build in England and Wales 26,000 cottages.

The problem of the countryside is as serious as that in the towns, and relatively, even admitting the decline in the agricultural population, the problem is becoming more serious. The only solution I can see—and I am not trying to make a party case—is that in this Bill we should at least exempt from the operation of Clause I the powers of local authorities to build in agricultural parishes. I am not asking that the rural district councils, semi-urban and industrial in character, should be allowed a privilege that other industrial areas are not allowed. I am only asking that agricultural parishes, which are agricultural parishes as defined in the Act, should still receive public assistance. It is an awkward term to use in these days, but I am still asking that they should receive financial assistance in this case, for there is no way, short of that, of the problem of housing in the countryside being settled. I hope that on this point the Committee will be with me, and I hope that the Minister will be prepared to grant this very humble request, but one which, I am satisfied, is in the national interest.

4.11 p.m.


I should like to add my plea, if it be necessary—I hope it is not necessary—to exempt these agricultural parishes. I have some confidence, because the Minister of Health built up the whole of his case for the withdrawal of the subsidy on the urban problem. He based his case on what has come to be known as the Ray report, on the suggestion that private enterprise in the towns, owing to the drop in costs and cheaper money, can now construct houses, but when interrupted and questioned on the rural problem, he did not seriously suggest that it applied to rural districts. It is common knowledge that with wages something like 30s. a week, it is impossible in most areas for the agricultural labourer to pay an economic rent. I have a very vivid memory of a discussion on the Housing (Rural Authorities) Act, associated with the name of Tudor Walters. That was an agreed Measure. It was the result of appeals from all parts of the House. The personality, character, energy and imagination of Sir Tudor Walters gave hope that as the result of that Act being provided with ammunition, the only kind of ammunition necessary, that is to say, money, a real attack would be made on the rural housing problem. That Act has disappeared practically into limbo. It is not in operation. I am going to suggest that if the Minister now will come forward and say that it is going to be revived, that the machinery is again to be put into operation, the need will largely disappear, and I do think that the conscience of the House, the common sense of the country, would demand that, whatever may be done in withdrawing the subsidy from the town problem, it should not be withdrawn in regard to 'agricultural housing.

A very important part of this Bill is Clause 2, which provides the new machinery for bringing into the housing of the working classes, for the first time on a large scale, the building societies. No one could suggest that the machinery of the building society can tackle the scattered problem of houses here, there and everywhere in the numerous rural parishes all over the country. I suggest that this Amendment, aiming at putting into operation the Sir Tudor Walters Act, should be accepted. Let the Minister try a new great experiment in the towns, and deal with this rural question on its own by special treatment. It may be said that, after all, I am a town Member, and what concern have I to go into the interests of rural parishes I Well, my answer is that there is a constant migration from the rural districts to the cities to compete for the only too scarce jobs at the dock-gates, the factory and the workshop. They will leave the rural districts because the agricultural labourer, when he gets married and starts on his own, finds it impossible to get a cottage or a house. The Minister would have the most meticulous economist on his side in drawing into the purview of the Bill the rural housing question.

4.16 p.m.


Speaking as one who would naturally wish to see the largest amount of development in the countryside, I hope the Minister will not accept the Amendment. Every one of us knows that you would have development and expenditure of money in a great many ways in a great many areas, but many of us also realise that, although in the country districts you might have a considerable improvement in the housing system, what we really want both in the country and in the towns is a restoration of general prosperity which will make the money flow back into the countryside and develop it in a natural way. The Government, as I understand it, are laying it down as a definite matter of policy that subsidies of this kind should not be encouraged as a general rule, although there may be exceptions, and for that reason, realising that the larger side of the Government policy must be a general increase of prosperity, which can only be brought about by drastic reductions in taxation, although every instinct, every desire, and possibly every interest of mine would be to get money for development of the countryside in this way, yet it is essential, if the Government lay down these principles and Amendments are cleverly designed by the Socialist party to break right through the Government policy in this way, that we should resist those Amendments and make it clear that we are going to stand by the Government in their main policy and not be led away by what may seem very attractive at the moment. For that reason, I hope the Government will not accept the Amendment.

4.18 p.m.


Coming from a district which has had difficulty in dealing with housing in small agricultural parishes, I want to add my plea to that of the Mover that the Minister should give this question serious consideration. I have been rather astonished at the urgent support given by hon. Members opposite representing agricultural districts to the removal of subsidies. Our experience has been that in the erection of rural housing in remote districts it is impossible for private enterprise to meet existing demands. Moreover, if prosperity does come to agricultural areas, you will have very great difficulty in retaining the youth there unless you provide through local authorities, to my mind the only authorities who can do it, with financial help from the Government, reasonable, sanitary, social housing conditions. It is a mistake to speak of the agricultural labourer to-day as you would have done 20 or 30 years ago. He is as intelligent as the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), and he fully appreciates reasonable, sanitary housing conditions for his wife and children.

I do not wish to put any blame on anyone, but the agricultural labourer has never had in the whole history of the country reasonable and fair conditions of housing. There has been some change since 1924 and a certain number of houses equipped with modern sanitary conditions have been erected, which have been greatly appreciated by men and women who never before have had an opportunity of living in a house with a fresh water supply and reasonable sanitary arrangements. I was speaking only last week to one of the most eminent agriculturists in the country, formerly a Member of the House. I was asking for his observations on this Bill as a man purely interested in agriculture. He admitted that one of the difficulties in keeping the youth in the countryside was housing conditions and the lack of houses when the youth who worked on the land is thinking of taking a wife and making a home of his own. The modern youth looks for something better than his grandfather had and, unless you provide it, he will go into the thickly-populated towns to get for his wife and bairns the improved housing and social conditions which are lacking in his own district.

The building societies cannot possibly meet housing necessities in the remote agricultural areas. If we desire to keep in the countryside permanent residents who understand their job, instead of having people rushing into the towns, there are obligations on us to continue the subsidy; otherwise the problem will not be dealt with. A lot has been said during the reign of the National Government about the development and reorganisation of agriculture, and the Government ought to give very kind consideration to the Amendment and not allow rural housing to be retarded. The authorities who have been operating the Act should have an assurance that the State will give financial assistance so that progress may continue. It is in that spirit that I support the Amendment, and I trust the Minister will agree to the renewal of the housing operations of the Government and give the local authorities the chance of dealing with the problem.

4.26 p.m.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)

I ask the Committee not to accept the Amendment for reasons which appear to me quite unanswerable. There is danger of a certain confusion of thought on the subject of housing in rural areas. The problem is not really one, but two. There is the problem of housing the agricultural labourer, and the problem of providing accommodation for other inhabitants. The two really have to be dealt with separately. I do not think that the arguments that have been used by hon. Members opposite assist us at all in the problem of housing the agricultural labourer with which we really want to grapple. The other inhabitants of rural areas can in general afford rents of about the same standard as people in the towns, and, as regards the provision of accommodation for them, all the considerations and arguments apply which we have already thrashed out as regards the general issue of subsidies or no subsidies. They will have a better prospect of more new houses under the Bill than they had before, because we are clearing from the path those forces of subsidised competition which prevent the free supply of new houses. There is no case at all for special treatment of inhabitants other than agricultural labourers.

I come now to the class which we really have in mind in the discussion—the agricultural labourer. I entirely agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price) as to the deserts of that particular class, and I am sure we all have their interests very particularly at heart. I say freely that if I thought that the Amendment was necessary in the interest of agricultural labourers I should take a very different view of it from that which I take now. The passage of the Amendment would be no good whatever to the agricultural labourers. Consider the conditions of the problem as regards the agricultural labourers? We are dealing with a problem which is absolutely different from the problem of the towns because on the whole the population of the rural areas is decreasing whereas the population of the urban areas is increasing. Unfortunately, I have not the full figures of the new census yet, but I have obtained the best sample I could from the new census of the state of affairs as regards change of population in the rural areas. I find that it has been calculated from the returns already available for the counties of Kent, Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire, that the agricultural population of those counties declined from 1921 to 1931 by at least the equivalent of a drop of 7 per cent. The decline of the agricultural population in the rural districts which are the districts most affecting agricultural labourers was a good deal more than 7 per cent. Therefore, we perceive at the outset that, clearly, the problem with regard to the agricultural labourer is a problem not of the number, but of the right sort of houses for his accommodation.

The second fact to which I would direct the consideration of the Committee is that new houses at the sort of rents at which they could be let under the subsidy could be very little if any good at all to the agricultural labourer because the rents have been too high. It is no good providing huoses for the agricultural labourer at rents which he cannot afford. In my part of the country agricultural cottages are still let at 1s. 6d. a week and 2s. 6d. is quite a common rent. Workers who can only afford to pay those rents cannot afford to pay the rents of the new houses. It is to meet those two facts, that of a shrinking of population on the whole and the small rents which the agricultural labourer can afford, that we have framed the policy which will be enacted in the present Bill. That policy is to continue special assistance for the sake of agricultural labourers and to continue it in the form in which alone it is going to be any use to them, namely, the reconditioning of existing cottages which, even after reconditioning, can still be let to the agricultural labourer at a rent which he can afford to pay. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) said that the Reconditioning Act of 1926 admitted that there was a special problem. Undoubtedly, it admits that that is a special problem, but it also shows a remedy for the special problem, which is to take the existing cottages which are not up to modern standards as regards what is decent for life and to put them into a proper state under the very large subsidies provided by that Act.

Let me remind the Committee how very big those subsidies really are. The cost, you will remember, is divided into equal thirds between the local authority, the Exchequer and the owner, and the subsidy goes up to a maximum of £100 per cottage. With the assistance of that subsidy cottages can, after reconditioning, still be let at such low rents as 3s. per week, and 'are available for the agricultural labourer. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the small number of cottages built under that Act. What is the matter? We have a perfectly good Act only it has not been used. Probably one of the principal reasons why it has not been used is because other activities have distracted the authorities' attention. That has been the actual experience under the Act. I propose to do what can be done by central administration to assist the administration by taking a vigorous initiative in calling the attention of the responsible authorities to that Act.

There is another matter. It has been suggested to me by men who have practical knowledge that the reason why that Act—and, I believe, it is probably the solution of this problem—has not been sufficiently used is because it has been too exclusively left in the hands of the county council, though some county councils have done excellent work. Comparisons are odious, and I will not particularise the councils in question. But on the whole there has not been sufficient initiative and energy introduced into the Act by the county councils. I suggest that you would get more steam behind the Act by a mere transference of its powers to county districts, because it is among those who have more intimate knowledge of the special requirements of the smaller areas, the members of the authorities of the county districts, that you get a more pressing necessity to put the Act into force. I therefore propose by way of getting a more ready use of the Act, a freer transfer of the powers from the county council to the county district. That by no means completes the picture of the special help which will still be available to the authorities after the passage of the Bill.

There is another matter in which there is too little interest to which I should like to call attention and enlist the assistance of Members in calling the attention of their local authorities to the question. The Act of 1930 is also available to the rural authorities for dealing with the evil of the rural slum. There are slums in rural areas as there are in urban areas. Too seldom does it occur to local authorities that they can make use of the powers and subsidies under the Act of 1930 for clearing away their rural slums as well as their urban slums. I will give one instance within my personal knowledge of the sort of good work which can be done. A rural district council in my constituency recently put through a successful scheme for clearing away four cottages which were no longer fit for habitation under the powers contained in the Act of 1930. With the assistance of the full subsidy they provided for the. substitution of four rural workers' cottages in place of the four condemned cottages.


Can my right hon. Friend say whether the four cottages can be let at a rent of 2s. 6d. per week?


My hon. Friend has put his finger on the point. The subsidies under the Act of 1930 are, as the Committee know, £2 10s. per person displaced from the Exchequer, and £3 15s. per house from the council. It will be found in practical experience that with the assistance of those subsidies the rent charged for the replaced cottages can in normal areas be kept down to 3s. or 4s. per week and thus brought within the reach of the agricultural labourer. It is, therefore, a practical power to be made use of for the betterment of housing conditions of which sufficient use has not yet been made.


Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say whether that estimate includes rates or not?


That is the situation. You are dealing with a different problem from the general problem because you have a shrinking population and one which cannot afford the rent. Ordinary subsidised building has done no good to the agricultural labourer. What you need in order to improve conditions and to give him the house he wants is a more active use of the Reconditioning Act and of the Slum Clearance Act to which I have referred. It will be the policy of His Majesty's Government, as I have said, to take the initiative in promoting the use of those Acts among the rural authorities.

4.42 p.m.


I think that the Amendment which stands on the Paper is absolutely essential if rural housing is to continue upon anything resembling adequate lines. The Minister, in a cogently reasoned and temperate speech, has put the view of his Department, but I find myself very far from being convinced by any of the arguments that he put forward. The first argument was the shrinkage in the rural population. There is no doubt that shrinkage has taken place, but it is not universal, and it is accompanied, at the same time, by changes in rural population; an alteration and shifting in rural population which makes new housing essential in those areas in which the rural population is increasing—and there are such areas—instead of diminishing. Moreover, we have to bear in mind the fact that rural housing, neither now nor at any previous period of our history, has never been adequate. It has been insufficient, and, in many oases, of the lowest possible quality. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman knows of villages in which the standard of housing is so low that the reconditioning of such houses is practically impossible.

I very much regret that I have not the figures—I have been inquiring into specific figures and hope to have them before the Third Reading of the Bill—but surely the Minister will agree, that in many cases, and in many areas, the reconditioning of houses is also intolerably expensive and is not the most economic method of dealing with the problem. You have exceptions to the rule. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) is not here, but, if he were, I am sure that he would assure the Committee that in Devonshire the reconditioning of rural cottages has worked extremely well. But then, my right hon. Friend is there to put pressure upon the county council, and he does it with great effect. In other areas the Measure has not been effective, and, indeed, in some areas cannot be effective, owing to the difference of cost between one area and another. I hope to be able to show the right hon. Gentleman, before the Bill is finally through the House, that in certain parts of the North of England reconditioning of rural cottages is not an economic proposition. It was the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, that the population in the rural areas was decreasing and that what was wanted was not new houses but the reconditioning of old ones. On various grounds I dissent from that view.

But I go much further. The Minister has stated that the building of new houses, with the subsidy, has not provided and cannot provide houses at rents which agricultural labourers can pay. That is not so. I have here a report of a scheme which is being carried out by a rural district council, in which houses are being built to be let at very low rents. The rents can be fixed at 2s. 7d. a week, plus rates is., making 3s. 7d. The houses show a profit of 5d. per week per house if they are let at 4s. a week. The rural district council will come out flat if the houses are let at 3s. 7d. Four shillings is the rent which an agricultural labourer can pay and is going to pay.


Can the hon. Member tell us the size of those houses?


Yes. The superficial area is 759 square feet, the accommodation is three bedrooms, a living room 15 feet by 12 feet 10 inches, a wash-house and a bathroom.


Built under the 1930 Act?


Under the 1924 Act.


Under the Wheatley Act?


Under the Chamberlain and Wheatley Acts, I presume. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the cost per house?"] The cost of the house which enables rents to be fixed which agricultural labourers can, and in this case will, pay, is £281. The land in this particular case has been given, but even if it had not been given it would only have added a trifling cost to the price of the house. It would not have affected the rent more than 1d. per week. That is an actual case, of which the Minister must have knowledge, in which rural housing under the subsidy is being carried on, and houses are being built for agricultural labourers, which will be inhabited by agricultural labourers, at rents which they can pay. With prices in their present condition there is no reason why a policy on the same lines should not be carried out in many more areas. I should be prepared, if the Minister would make a concession, to accept half the present subsidy for rural houses. I think it would then still be possible, with a £5 10s. subsidy instead of the £11 subsidy, to build houses which the agricultural labourer could inhabit and of which he could pay the rent.

I am sure the Committee would be extremely gratified if the Minister would give us that concession, because it is not a subsidy that would cost the country vast sums of money. The amount of rural housing that is needed, although large, is not enormous, and the Minister by making that concession would put the necessary drive into rural housing, which cannot possibly come from simply handing over to rural district councils the necessary authority to use the Reconditioning Act. I should like to hear what the Minister's experience is in regard to that Act. I know that in some areas it has worked fairly well, but I know positively that in other areas it is not an economic proposition, and cannot be made one. I am equally certain that there are all over the country, we have all seen them, houses that have fallen into disrepair, or are falling into disrepair, or ought to be abandoned, which no amount of architectural ingenuity can ever render habitable.

The second class of person with whom the Minister was concerned was a very important class—the person who is not an agricultural labourer but who lives in a rural area. There, again, I differ from the Minister's proposition. He said that under this Bill private enterprise will be able to build houses at approximately the same rents, or at the same rents, at which houses of that character are being built at the present time. That is not so. The rents which private enterprise will have to charge under the scheme of borrowing from the building societies, to put it at the lowest figure, will be 12s. per week. That is a high rent, whereas at the present time I can draw the attention of the Minister and the Committee to houses that are being built for that particular class of people, according to their quality and size, to be let at 9s. 10d., 7s. 9d. and 6s. a week.


Can the hon. Member give us any data on which he bases the figure of 12s. as the rent chargeable by private enterprise?


Yes. That is the rent which is being charged, with the subsidy, at the present time by local authorities, and there is no reason to suppose that private enterprise is so much more skilful than public enterprise, seeing that they will employ the same contractors in the building of the houses, that they will be able to build cheaper.


Is it not a fact that private enterprise has built houses and is letting them at rents much lower than that?




That is not so. The houses that are going to be built by private enterprise for this class of people will be at rents averaging not less than 12s. I do not think that the Minister claims that the rent will be any lower than that.


Surely, if houses have been built in rural areas at 2281, the rent of 12s. now mentioned by the hon. Member is entirely out of relation to his figures.


I agree, if the figures related to the same class of house, but I would point out that the houses in question do not come up to the standard which will be required in regard to the expense of drainage, of road making, of site and the rest of it, that is required for urban houses.


In rural areas if the agricultural labourer can get a house built for £281, why should he pay 12s. rent for it.


It is a different house altogether, but even in regard to the cheaper house of the agricultural labourer, if you take the subsidy away the rent to which I have referred, amounting to 4s. per week, inclusive of rates, would be approximately 8s. a week.




Indeed it would. I have been referring to houses which are being built to let, with the subsidy, at 9s. 10d., 7s. 9d. and 6s. Without the subsidy the rents would be 138. 10d., 12s. and 10s.


indicated dissent.


Certainly. I cannot argue with the Noble Lord here. Perhaps I might take him out into the Lobby and in half an hour I might enlighten him as successfully as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary enlightened my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. D. Mason). My point is, that for those who reside in rural areas but who are not engaged as agricultural labourers there are at present being built with the subsidy, houses to let at 9s. 10d. a week for the parlour type, with three bedrooms, 7s. 9d. for non-parlour type, three bedrooms, and 6s. for non-parlour type, two bedrooms, inclusive of rates. That is the type of rent which those people can pay. They are being provided in this particular instance by a public utility society in three different classes, to meet three different classes of wages, three different sizes of family, and three different sorts of requirements, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that under this Bill activities of that kind, which are exceedingly useful, will immediately come to an end, nor do I think that under the Bill they will be replaced by the activities of private enterprise enabling houses to be let at the same rents.

The right hon. Gentleman said that over a large part of the country houses to be let at approximately the same rents at present being charged for council houses can be built by private enterprise, at a profit. That applies to a great part of the country, but it certainly does not and can never apply to the rural areas, whether in regard to houses for the agricultural labourer or the individual who lives in a rural area and is engaged in what is known as rural industries. I am sure the Minister is anxious that housing should proceed under the Bill. He would do an immense amount to prevent harm being done if he would grant one-half the subsidy, if he cannot grant the whole. There is a strong case for reducing the subsidy, which was granted at a time when costs were immensely higher. Costs have fallen and the necessity for so high a subsidy has also decreased, but some subsidy there must be, or the form of activity with which I have been dealing will cease.

The Minister made one final reference to the question of rural slum areas. There I am in complete agreement with him. I do not believe that anything like sufficient advantage has been taken of the opportunity of clearing rural slums. Anyone who knows the country, particularly small country towns, must know of little back streets in which there are slums as bad as any in our great cities. I trust that the Minister will take steps to encourage local authorities to schedule these slum areas and get on with the clearance of these slums. Before we dispose of the Amendment I hope we shall have a further explanation from the Government on the question of houses for the agricultural labourer. I cannot see how, in the face of the figures I have given for rural districts, the Minister can maintain the proposition that under the subsidy new houses cannot be built to let at rents which the agricultural labourer can pay. That is not so, it is being done; and the Bill, unamended, will prevent it being done and thus set back the whole case of the rehousing of our rural population, which is just as urgent a question as the housing of our urban population.

5.2 p.m.


The Minister of Health has stated that there are two problems, which are entirely separate, one, the problem of the agricultural worker and, secondly, the problem of the other residents. I cannot agree that they are not in some ways interlocked. Many people have been unable to obtain "C" class houses in the towns and have descended upon the countryside. They now occupy houses which should be occupied by agricultural workers. The 24,000 houses referred to by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) have taken off some of these people, but a great many are still occupying these houses, and unless we have some type of new house for rural districts we shall never really cure the housing problem in our rural areas. The Minister of Health also stated that there has been a decrease of 7 per cent. in the numbers living in rural districts.


No. That was only a sample figure, taken from the last Census in connection with certain districts, to which I referred.


I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but at the same time there has been a decrease in the number of rural houses. Many in my own district have become so rotten and obsolete that they have been allowed to fall down. As regards the future of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, I am glad to hear that the Government propose to hand over its administration to the district councils. It has been a success only in a few county councils like Devon, and East Suffolk, and in Scotland, but in those districts where it has been a success I hope the Government will consider the possibility of the county councils being allowed to continue the good work they have done in the past.

5.6 p.m.


I want to call the attention of the Committee to what, in my opinion, is the vital and fundamental matter which underlies the question of rural housing. Since I have been in this House I have heard from time to time expressions of opinion from all sides that we have to get back to prosperity in agriculture, to get the people back upon the land, if we are to get rid of some portion of our great army of unemployed. I suggest that it will be impossible to get people back to work on the land unless you ensure to them decent housing conditions for themselves and their families. In the main it is true to say that the only remedy in many of our rural areas for the housing problem is to pull down at least two-thirds of the existing buildings and rebuild them again. Reconditioning is no solution of the problem. The majority of these places are too far gone already to rebuild, or to be reconditioned, and the surroundings of these places, the drainage, are such that many of us feel ashamed of the conditions under which agricultural labourers are asked to exist.

Hon. Members opposite always put themselves forward as representing the true interests of agriculture. They are always anxious to impress upon us that they are the agricultural party, and I am told that at election times they very often talk to the wives of agricultural labourers about the bad conditions; and so on. This important Amendment is designed to do something practical for the agricultural labourer, but very few of those who are supposed to represent the best interests of agriculture are taking any interest in the Debate. I appeal to the Minister to allow the 1924 subsidy to continue. Far more might have been done had there been goodwill and determination among those who sit on county councils and rural district councils to do something to improve the housing conditions in their areas. I feel sometimes that the class who are elected on these bodies are very anxious indeed to do nothing to build more houses in their areas. The tied house system is a scandal in our rural districts, and many of those who flourish among the farmers and who are of the type which the tied house system suits, are elected to our local bodies and to county councils, and are the most reactionary among the whole agricultural population. Consequently you get a drag upon the wheel.

The Minister says that he cannot agree that the subsidy should go on. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) talked as he usually talked; and suggested that in some way the demand for housing in rural areas, and the subsidy, is something in the nature of Socialism. There are men of good will on all sides in this Committee who demand that there shall be a square deal for the agricultural labourer and for the rural areas; and to say that it is a demand for Socialism is preposterous to say the least. I am surprised that the Minister considers that there are two problems; the question of the agricultural labourer and the problem of the others. "The others," I suppose, are the carpenters and masons, and bricklayers, whom he says can afford to pay rents equal to those paid in the towns. I put it to anyone who has a knowledge of rural life and conditions that it is not true to say that these "others" can pay anywhere near the rents which are paid in the towns. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Johnstone) has proved conclusively that given the will and a continuance of the subsidy, given a desire to get a drive in rural areas, something can be done, but there is a weight in these rural areas which, in spite of all the efforts of men of good will, is sufficient to keep back and retard any efforts towards improving housing conditions.

If it is true, and I think it is possible to get a real revival in agriculture, which is the one thing which holds out some hope for our people in the future, I am confident that the Government must face the question of housing. If county councils and rural district councils will not carry out their work then the responsibility lies on the Minister of Health to tell them to do their job or he will be obliged to do it for them. The Bill drops the subsidy and gives the whole matter into the hands of the building societies. I repeat that I am confident that building societies will not do this class of work in rural areas. The Minister says that they can use the Slum Clearance Act. Yes, but the difficulty is how are we to compel these people, knowing the facts as we do, to open their eyes and declare that there are any slums in any rural area. You will have considerable difficulty in persuading many of the farmers that there are, as a matter of fact, any slums in their particular area. The idea still remains in the minds of many of them that almost any kind of accommodation is good enough for the agricultural labourer, and accommodation is so terribly scarce that these men, who after all are the backbone of the country, are compelled to live in hovels which are a disgrace to our civilisation.

We have a perfect right to make an appeal to the Committee to help us in the problem of rural areas. I wish we could get rid of the tied-house system altogether, and get enough free cottages in the village and the hamlet to enable agricultural labourers to have a choice of accommodation. If we are to deal with this matter we must realise that we cannot get prosperity back to the countryside by paying low wages, or by providing houses with low rents to go hand in hand with low wages. Prosperity can only be brought back to the countryside by having well paid agricultural labourers living in decent houses, with a chance for their children. Unless you do that you may tinker with this problem year after year and pass Acts of Parliament, as you have done, without touching the problem, and you will still be up against it. There will be reactionaries who will put sprags into the wheel of every effort to improve housing conditions in the country. If the Minister is really enthusiastic and sincere, I ask him to take over this matter of rural housing and declare that he will see that something definite is done on behalf of the rural population. If these hidebound county councils and rural councils will not do their job, the Minister should take the matter in hand and do the job for them.

5.16 p.m.


I regret that I did not hear the Minister's speech or the whole of the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Johnstone), but I want to say that I am in fundamental disagreement with those who, in what they allege to be the interests of the agricultural labourer, of whom they probably know singularly little, desire to increase or continue the subsidies for rural housing. There is a fundamental difference between those, like hon. Members of the Socialist party who quite honestly and sincerely believe that the housing of the people is primarily a Matter for the State, to be assisted by private enterprise, and those who, like myself and the majority in this House, believe that it is primarily a matter for private enterprise, to be assisted if necessary, and only if necessary, by the State. That is a sincere difference of opinion on which we are not likely to find any common ground of agreement. I suggest that the Government are right in saying that the time has come when State subsidies can serve no useful purpose in the matter of general housing.

The hon. Member for South Shields, in a most able and informative speech, gave an instance with the details of which he had been kind enough to furnish me, in which rural housing is being provided by a rural district council at rents which the agricultural labourer can and in fact will pay. But the fact remains, and the hon. Member who has just spoken showed an appreciation of the point in his somewhat fanciful condemnation of certain rural district councils, that though it may be that in this particular instance these houses are being provided, taking the country as a whole the houses for the rural population, at rents which they can afford to pay, are in fact not being built. Anyone who goes to the country districts, particularly those not very remote from London, knows that many houses are being built by rural district councils ostensibly for the rural population, and are in fact lived in by week-enders and other people who have no connection with the locality, while the rural population prefer to continue to live in the hovels so justly condemned by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) and by the hon. Member for South Shields, and these rural workers are living in these hovels because of the difference in rent. That has been going on all over the country for a considerable period.

If this Bill does nothing else it will stop that most deplorable practice, because there is no reason whatever why an impoverished countryside should be called upon to build, or the Government be called upon to subsidise, week-end cottages for urban dwellers in the rural areas. I differ also from the hon. Member for South Shields in his assertion that private enterprise cannot now build houses for the people of rural areas who are not in fact agricultural labourers—houses at rents which they can afford to pay. The fall in building prices has reduced the cost. to such an extent that private enterprise can, and in fact has already begun to, cope with the situation. I failed entirely to follow the argument of the hon. Member for South Shields that 8s. a week represented the value of the subsidy. I do not understand where he got his figures. If we take a comparable figure it is nearer 2s. You can find new houses being built by private enterprise, some without the subsidy, at rents which the population in the rural areas, not agricultural labourers, can and do pay.

I agree with the hon. Member for South Shields that the housing of the agricultural population is not an economic proposition in the true sense of the word, but I believe that private enterprise is now, in view particularly of the complete failure of the subsidy system in the past as far as other housing is concerned, in a better state to deal with it than is any local authority. While I have not the virulent objection to the subsidy in principle that some of my hon. Friends have, I do believe that the subsidy, as far as the housing problem still remains is concerned, has lamentably failed, and I am delighted that the Government have seen fit to discontinue it.

5.22 p.m.


I want to ask the Minister to reconsider some of the arguments that he has used to-day. His first argument really was that the rural population is decreasing and that therefore there is not the same demand fox houses in rural areas as there would be if the rural population were not decreasing. The right hon. Gentleman divided the rural population into two classes, the class of agricultural labourers who, he says, cannot afford to pay an economic rent, and another class that he think can afford to pay a rent approximately the same as the rent now paid by workers in town areas. I put it to him that if the rural population is decreasing, as it undoubtedly is, one of the main reasons for the decrease is the lack of suitable housing accommodation for the people who live in the rural areas and desire to continue to work there. It has been said many times that young couples desiring to get married cannot find any kind of accommodation in rural areas, and consequently there is every inducement for a man to seek occupation in or near one of the big towns if he can get any kind of accommodation there at all.

The other class is the class of which the Minister speaks entirely wrongly, the class that he thinks can afford to pay rent about equal to that which is being paid in urban areas by similar types of workers. I think the Minister will realise that in all negotiations for wages between trade unionists and their employers, the rural population of mechanics and the type of workers who are generally catered for by trade unions, are compelled to accept a lower wage because the conditions of living in the country are not as expensive as in the towns. I have had some experience of that type as representing the working-class people, and I hardly remember an instance, when we were negotiating on wages in rural areas and in agricultural areas, and in fact in the areas surrounding the smaller towns, where we have not been met with the argument that rents are lower there and that therefore wages ought to be lower. But the Minister tells us that these people are able to pay and in fact do pay a rent equal to that which is paid in the towns. I think the right hon. Gentleman on further inquiry will find that his information is entirely wrong.

The right hon. Gentleman also told us that in the past, with the subsidy, we have never provided houses at rents which the agricultural labourer could pay. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) said that the houses that had been built had been used very largely by week-enders. I can hardly imagine that there is much truth in that statement, although I have seen it in the Press a good deal, for I presume that county councils and rural councils pay the same attention to the question of their tenancies as is paid by the urban councils, and I can hardly imagine their building houses for use by their own people in their own area and then letting those houses to week-end trippers. In fact I imagine that the Ministry, if it were aware of such practices, would very soon put a stop to them. It is impossible for such a thing to be done on anything like a large scale. But the Minister's main argument was that the houses were not of much value to the agricultural labourer because the rents were too much for him to pay. Now he is proceeding by this Bill to take away the subsidy which without doubt will make the rents considerably higher than they were before.

I was interested in the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Johnstone) which the hon. Member for Aylesbury attempted to controvert. It was said that it is not possible, even under present conditions in rural areas, to build houses at a rent that the agricultural worker can pay. The Minister will be aware of a housing scheme with which I had some association. We built houses of three bedrooms, 12 to the acre, with all the modern amenities that are allowed in houses built by urban authorities, and we let them at 5s. 3d. a week with a £7 10s. subsidy. If they can be built with that subsidy, after paying for the land, and let at that rent, I ask the Minister to consider at what rent the houses could be let if, instead of the £7 10s. subsidy, there was a £11 subsidy as suggested in the Amendment. With £11 subsidy those houses could be let at approximately 4s. 4d. per week, provided that they were built under the conditions that prevailed at the time when those houses were built, that is 18 months to two years ago.

Since then prices have fallen considerably and if allowance is made for the fall in prices, these houses could now be let at approximately 4s. a week. There are many thousands of agricultural labourers who would be delighted to get a house of the kind to which I have referred at 4s. a. week. But if they are to be left to the tender mercies of the building societies and the jerrybuilders, then I am afraid that the agricultural labourers' opportunities of decent housing conditions in the future are practically nil. "But," says the Minister, "we are going to recondition some of the old houses and we may spend in some cases up to £100 upon reconditioning." For the purposes of the people who have to live in these houses after they are reconditioned, it would be infinitely better if the Minister spent £100 in building some kind of decent wooden house with modern amenities and decent sanitary conditions.

The hon. Member for Aylesbury suggested that we on these benches knew nothing of agricultural conditions. I have lived in agricultural cottages —not for any long period of time, thank heaven, because it is no pleasure to live in an agricultural cottage in any part of the country. But I am qualified to claim that I know something of the conditions by the fact that I have lived in these cottages and I very much doubt if the hon. Member for Aylesbury has had that experience. My point is that the Minister, by his policy, can only succeed in one thing and that is to make it impossible for building to go on at all in agricultural areas unless the subsidy is granted. A plea has been made to him to grant even a reduced subsidy. Personally I think that if houses are to be provided for the agricultural labourer to meet the needs of the situation it will be necessary to have the full subsidy, but, when we take into account the reduction in the cost of building and in the cost of money since the subsidy was fixed at £11, the agricultural labourer might be able to get houses to-day, built by local authorities with half the subsidy, at a rent approximating to that at which he could get a house at the time when the £11 was fixed.

I ask the Minister to consider the fact that agricultural houses have never been sufficient at any time during his lifetime or mine. Ever since I was a boy I have heard the story of the bad housing conditions in rural areas. I think the Min- ister himself in his Parliamentary career has made speeches about the housing of the agricultural labourer. We have often heard it said that the agricultural labourer lived under conditions which were not decent and of which the country ought to be ashamed. We have heard pleas, especially when the Labour Government were in office, from hon. Members who now sit opposite and who appear to have forgotten those pleas, that the agricultural labourer should be given decent housing conditions. Such opportunities as he had of securing decent conditions under the existing law will be taken away from him by the Minister, unless the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to make this concession. I hope therefore that those who sit behind the Minister and who have talked so much about the agricultural labourer will show their earnestness by voting for the Amendment.

5.35 p.m.


I do not suppose that the Minister in his consideration of this Amendment will be greatly influenced by the views expressed by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). It seems to me that the argument which the hon. Member submitted was fallacious and it is an argument to which the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) lent a certain amount of support. The suggestion appeared to be that there is something immutable in the policy of the Minister; that, as and from a certain date, say 7th December, 1932, onwards, in no circumstances whatever and for no purpose, shall there be any Government subsidy. That of course is not the policy of the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman has on the Order Paper an Amendment which would provide for the extension of the subsidy to those schemes which had been under consideration for some considerable time and had reached a stage of maturity before 7th December, 1932. Thus, in due course if that Amendment is accepted as I have no doubt it will be, the subsidy will apply to those houses. 'Further, the subsidy is to apply for a further period to all houses built in Scotland for the reason—very properly—that there is a considerable lag in the provision of working class houses in Scotland and it is right that that lag should be overtaken by means of the extension of subsidy. There is recognised to be a considerable lag also in the provision of houses in connection with slum clearance—


May I call the hon. Member's attention to the Amendment which is before the Committee? He has made no reference to it at all up to the present.


The point of my argument is that there is a great dearth of houses in agricultural parishes, and, just as it is right and proper that subsidy should be available for houses in connection with slum clearance, just as it is right and proper that subsidy should be available for houses under those schemes which had reached maturity by 7th December, 1932, so it is right and proper that subsidy should be available, as the Amendment provides for houses in agricultural parishes which are so urgently required. I have no particular love for subsidies to industries of any kind, and especially to the building industry, and the building industry as such never asked for any subsidy from the Government. The subsidy has been asked for the provision of houses by local authorities and others, but never by the building industry. The building employers urged the Minister two years ago, and have consistently held the view, that it is desirable that subsidies for all housing purposes should be withdrawn. There may have been some who thought that a subsidy would be a good thing for the industry but for the building industry the subsidy has been Dead Sea fruit, turning to ashes on their lips. No one dislikes subsidies more than I do.

Nevertheless I do not think there is anyone who is interested in agricultural development and in the housing of the agricultural workers who can fail to give a certain amount of sympathy, if not of support, to this Amendment. It ought to be supported upon at least three grounds. First, there is the exceptional dearth of houses in agricultural parishes. Secondly, even with the amount of subsidy hitherto available— £11 from the Government and £3 15s. from the local authority—it has been impossible for rural district councils to provide houses in agricultural parishes. Third, while under the Act of 1931 additional facilities were provided to meet the needs of agricultural parishes that Act, if it has not been maladministered has been administered without the sympathy and understanding which I think is requisite. For those reasons the Amendment ought to find acceptance in the Committee.

Under the Act of 1931 a committee was set up to assist and advise the Minister in the provision of houses in agricultural districts. It was decided, or at any rate it was so understood, to place at the disposal of that committee £2,000,000. That committee has never functioned in the manner intended and I gravely fear that it has been regarded very much as a smoke screen for Departmental inactivity. Since the War and prior to 1931 the number of houses erected in rural districts by local authorities has been about 41,000, out of the total of 700,000 erected by local authorities. About 5 per cent. of the total have been erected in rural districts. Of that percentage the number erected in the agricultural parishes of rural districts has been about 15,000 or rather about 2 per cent. of the total number of houses erected by local authorities all over the country. Of those houses erected in the agricultural parishes only one-third—that is one-third of 15,000 or about two-thirds of 1 per cent. of the total number of houses erected by local authorities in the whole country—are those available for agricultural workers.

It is to remedy that state of affairs that the Amendment is designed. It was recognised during the passage of the Act of 1931 that the dearth of houses in rural districts for agricultural workers was serious and clamant. That dearth had not been met by the ordinary financial facilities previously available considerable though those were, and it seemed to be recognised that, whatever might have been the shortcomings in the past either of Government Departments or local authorities, under the 1931 Act the stigma of apathy was to be removed and facilities made available for housing agricultural workers in the agricultural districts. Under that Measure considerable facilities were provided. A sum of £2,000,000 was placed at the disposal of the Minister and additional powers were conceded to the county councils upon whom the Minister now appears to rely very considerably for assistance. They were given the power to supersede recalcitrant and lethargic rural district councils in cases where it was necessary to do so and further powers were given them by which they could make an additional monetary contribution themselves. Further, there was a committee set up which was supposed to consist of able and practical men who were to have the opportunity of assisting the Minister, but they have never had the opportunity of assisting the Minister in the spirit that was intended when the Act of 1931 passed through this House. I wish for a moment to compare that which was anticipated to be done for the purpose of providing agricultural cottages when the Act of 1931 was passed with what actually has been accomplished.


I must ask the hon. Member to keep a little more strictly to the Amendment before the Committee. This has nothing to do with the Act of 1931, and we cannot have a disquisition on that Act.


I submit to your Ruling, Sir. My argument was directed to showing that that very great need which was established beyond any doubt in 1931, still exists, and I wish to tell the Committee, with your approval, that extremely little, a ridiculously small amount, has been done under that Act, that therefore almost 99 per cent. of that which was recognised as being required in 1931 still requires to be done, and that this Amendment should be passed in order to allow of a little further instalment. It was considered in 1931 that at least 40,000 houses for agricultural parishes should be erected, not in the course of a great number of years, but immediately, as they were required at that very moment. One year was given within which that particular scheme had to be carried out. A matter of 40,000 houses had to be provided by the Ministerial machinery in 1931, and £2,000,000 was placed at the Minister's disposal to effect that purpose. I know there was a fundamental defect in the Act of 1931, in that—


The hon. Member may be quite in order in referring to that Act, but he really is not entitled to go at great length into discussion about that Act, which does not come under this Amendment at all.


I submit to your Ruling, Sir. What I wished to show was how extremely little had already been done and what a very large balance remained to be done towards that which was recognised as essential in 1931. Thereby, I wished to show how very necessary it was that this Amendment should be passed, in order that there might be a little more done towards providing the enormous lag which was shown so clearly in 1931. The net result under that Act is that there has been provided at the present time the merest dribble of houses. I understand that up to the present the Minister has approved about 400 houses. That is the way in which this great scheme is flickering out. Forty thousand houses were recognised and agreed upon all sides to be urgently required, and as they were required then, so they are required now, but that number has gradually dwindled and dwindled, until the 7,000 houses for which the rural councils applied were reduced to 4,000, and then, by a stroke of the Ministerial pen, they were reduced again to 2,000.

I doubt very much if there has been a single house completed up to the present, though approval has been given for 400 houses; that is to say, 400 houses in 20 months, when it was intended that 40,000 houses should be built in 12 months. My point is that the need remains clamant, that it is such a vital need that ordinary financial assistance was found to be quite impossible, and that therefore special financial facilities were provided. The proposal under the Bill as presented to the Committee today is not only that special facilities should be withdrawn, but that ordinary facilities also should be withdrawn, that no facilities whatever should be available for houses in agricultural parishes, and that the needs of agricultural workers should be left to Providence.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 51; Noes, 305.

Division No. 54.] AYES. [5.50 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Pickering, Ernest H.
Attlee, Clement Richard Janner, Barnett Price, Gabriel
Banfield, John William Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rathbone, Eleanor
Batey. Joseph Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rea, Walter Russell
Brown C. W E. (Notts.. Mansfield) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Buchanan, George Kirkwood, David Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Cove, William G. Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Wellhead, Richard C.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Logan, David Gilbert Wedgwood. Rt. Hon. Joslah
Curry, A. C. Lunn, William White, Henry Graham
Daggar, George McEntee, Valentine L. Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) McGovern, John Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maxton, James Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Milner, Major James
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Owen, Major Goronwy TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Harris, Sir Percy Parkinson, John Allen Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G.
Acland Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Borodale, Viscount Christie, James Archibald
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Boulton, W. W. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Clarke, Frank
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.
Albery, Irving James Bracken, Brendan Collox, Major William Philip
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman {Liverp'l, W.) Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trant) Brass, Captain Sir William Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Conant, R. J. E.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Broadbent, Colonel John Cook, Thomas A.
Atkinson, Cyril Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cooke, Douglas
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Browne, Captain A. C. Courtauld, Major John Sewell
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Buchan, John Cranborne, Viscount
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Buchan-Hepburn, p. G. T. Crookthank, Cot. C. de Windt (Bootle)
Balniel, Lord Burnett, John George Cross, R. H.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Crossley, A. C.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Culverwell, Cyril Tom
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks, Aylesbury) Caporn, Arthur Cecil Dalkeith, Earl of
Beaumont. Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th,C.) Cautley, Sir Henry S. Davidson. Rt. Hon. J. C. C.
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, city) Davies, Maj.Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prismth., S.) Davison, Sir William Henry
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Cazlet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dawson, Sir Philip
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Denman, Hon. R. D.
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks, Skipton) Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.STr J. A.(Birm.,W) Danville. Alfred
Blindell, James Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh. S.) Dickie, John P.
Boothby, Robert John Graham Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Dower, Captain A. V. G.
Drewe, Cedrlc Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Duckworth, George A. V. Lewis, Oswald Robinson, John Roland
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Liddall, Walter S. Ropner, Colonel L.
Duggan, Hubert John Lindsay, Noel Ker Ross, Ronald D.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllffe- Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Dunglass, Lord Llawellin, Major John J. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Lloyd, Geoffrey Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Lack wood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Runge, Norah Cecil
Elmley, Viscount Loder, Captain J. de Vere Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Ruseell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Mabane, William Salmon, Sir Isidore
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare MacAndrew, Lt.-Col C. G. (Partick) Salt, Edward W.
Everard, W. Lindsay MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Fade, Sir Bertram G. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassctlaw) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Ford, Sir Patrick J. McKie, John Hamilton Savory, Samuel Servington
Forestler-Walker, Sir Leolln McLean, Major Sir Alan Scone, Lord
Fox, Sir Gifford McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Sellay, Harry R.
Fraser, Captain Ian Magnay, Thomas Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Fuller, Captain A. G. Maitland, Adam Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Mander, Geoffrey le M. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Ganzoni, Sir John Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Shepparson, Sir Ernest W.
Gillett, Sir George Master man Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Glossop, C. W. H. Martin, Thomas B. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Slater, John
Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. Mailer, Richard James Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Goff, sir Park Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Goldie, Noel B. Milne, Charles Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tfd & Chisw'k) Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)
Graham, Sir F. Fergut (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Mitcheson, G. G. Somervlile, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Mclson, A. Hugh Elsdale Soper, Richard
Grimston, R. V. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Spean, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Guntton, Captain D. W. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fyide)
Guy, J. C. Morrison Morrison, William Shepherd Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Moss, Captain H. J. Storey, Samuel
Hales, Harold K. Muirhead, Major A. J. Stourton, Hon. John J.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Nail, Sir Joseph Strauss, Edward A.
Hanbury, Cecil Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hanley, Dennis A. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Hartington, Marquess of Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Sutcllffie, Harold
Hartland, George A. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Peters'fld) Templeton, William P.
Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kennlngt'n) North, Captain Edward T. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Nunn, William Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Palmer, Francis Noel Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Peake, Captain Osbart Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Hepworth, Joseph Pearson, William G. Train, John
Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Peat, Charles U. Turton, Robert Hugh
Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Percy, Lord Eustace Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Petherick, M. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Hornby, Frank Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Horobin, Ian M. Peto, Geoffrey K.{W'verh'pfn.Bilston) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Horabrugh, Florence Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Howard, Tom Forrest Potter, John Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Power, Sir John Cecil Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Hurd, sir Percy Pownall, Sir Assheton Wayland, Sir William A.
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Procter, Major Henry Adam Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford) Purbrick, R. Walls, Sydney Richard
Iveagh, Countess of Pybus, Percy John Weymouth, Viscount
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Raikas, Henry V. A. M. Whiteslde, Borras Noel H.
Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Ramsay. Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Ramsbotham, Herwald Wills, Wilfrid D.
Ker, J. Campbell Ramsden, Sir Eugene Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rankin, Robert Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Kerr, Hamilton W. Ratcliffe, Arthur Withers, Sir John James
Kimball, Lawrence Rawson, Sir Cooper Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Knox. Sir Alfred Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingslay
Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham- Worthington, Dr. John V.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Reid. James S. C. (Stirling) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Law, Sir Alfred Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Leckie, J. A. Renwick, Major Gustav A. Sir Victor Warrender and Mr.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Womersley.

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:

In page 1, line 13, to leave out the words "seventh day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-two," and to insert instead thereof the words: first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-three."—[Mr. McEntee.]

6.0 p.m.


On a, point of Order. May I submit that this Amendment, inasmuch as it will cause subsidies to be paid which are not intended under the Bill, will create an increased charge?

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)

I think that the hon. and gallant Member overlooks the fact that under the existing law the Minister is empowered to grant these subsidies, and that this Amendment would really prolong the period of an existing charge, and would not therefore make a new charge.

6.2 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, to leave out the words "seventh day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-two," and to insert instead thereof the words: first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-three. The object of this Amendment is to extend the time during which the subsidy will be granted to local authorities which have housing schemes in course of preparation. I think that the Minister was rather harsh in his method of cutting off the subsidy. When local authorities have schemes in preparation they think, and they have a right to think, that they will receive some consideration, and, if they have submitted schemes in some preliminary form, they are entitled to expect, if it is proposed to abolish the subsidy, some consideration for those schemes which they have in hand and on which they have expended a considerable amount of money. The Minister brings in a Bill and says without warning: "I am going to cut off the subsidy right away." That is not the type of thing that local authorities have the right to expect.


It may have escaped the hon. Member's attention that I have an Amendment down which deals with this point, namely, in page 1, line 14, at the end, to add the words: Provided that if the Minister is satisfied that proposals for providing or promoting the provision of houses under those Acts had been prepared and were substantially ready to be submitted to him before the said seventh day of December, he may, subject to the approval of the Treasury, treat the proposals for the purposes of this Section as if they had been submitted to him before that date.


It has not escaped my attention. I have read it very carefully and have noticed the word "may." I have always been suspicious of that word in Acts of Parliament. If we say that a local authority "shall" do a thing, we know that it will be done, but, if we say that the local authority "may" do a thing, there is considerable doubt whether it will be done. My experience in these matters is that if a scheme would cost a local authority anything and if it happens to be a reactionary local authority, the word "may" is a means of enabling it to get out of a responsibility that Parliament very often desires it to carry out. I want the Minister to say that where housing schemes have been prepared within a reasonable time, the subsidy shall be paid, and I hope that, having made some concession to us in this matter, the right hon. Gentleman will go a little further and say that the subsidy "shall" be paid. A good deal depends on the officer in the Ministry of Health before whom a scheme comes. I have had experience in dealing with officials in that Department, and I find that all of them are very nice people, but, at the same time, one gets a consideration from some of them that one does not get from others. The question whether a subsidy shall be granted should not depend upon the whim or the will of a particular individual in the Department before whom a scheme happens to come. If the Minister will accept the Amendment and agree that a local authority shall have an extension of six months during which it can get the subsidy for schemes that were in preparation at the time of the introduction of the Bill, he will do something that is fair and that all local authorities and the Committee will appreciate.

6.7 p.m.


In supporting the Amendment, I wish to call the attention of the Minister to the unfortunate position in which many local authorities will be placed, and I will take Liverpool as a typical example. When the Minister announced his decision that the subsidy would cease on the 7th December, it had no regard to the liabilities which Liverpool and other local authorities were incurring in the housing schemes which were about to be carried out. For months preparatory work has been going on in order to carry out a letter which we received from the Minister in the early part of January last year. That letter pointed out the necessity of housing at a cheap rental being provided in the city. We were able to make some arrangements, but we were not able to go forward with the plans until January of this year. Apart altogether from the political aspect of the question, Liverpool is anxious, as every other great centre is, for facilities to carry out the requirements of the Ministry and the obligations laid on the local authorities to make provision for houses. The Minister's Amendment would not meet our requirements, because it contains a reference to the approval of the Treasury and the word "may," with which I do not agree. I wish to see something more definite inserted in the Bill. Liverpool has already sent to the Minister plans of a scheme involving almost 5,000 houses. The drastic move to stop all subsidies places it and municipalities in every part of the country in an undignified position. All their work goes for nought.

It is remarkable that, while the Ministry of Health laid down this mandate without warning, the Scottish Office sent out a fortnight's warning notice. I know that Scottish Members as a rule want to get the best of everything, but England expects at least the same fair treatment with regard to housing. We hope that the Minister will meet us in regard to the obligations that we have undertaken so that we can have the opportunity of providing the cheap houses which he has asked us to provide. The abolition of the subsidy will make a difference of 4s. a week in the rent. We have bought the land, we have prepared the plans, and we have a demand for the houses, but we shall not be able to meet it without the subsidy because the rents, which would have been 7s. and Os. 8d. with the subsidy, will be 11s. and 10s. 8d. without. I am not sure what was in the mind of the Minister when he put his Amendment down; I am not sure of my own mind at times; and I would like to see it in black and white in the Bill if it is in his mind to grant the subsidy to local authorities which have got out plans. It is most essential that municipalities should have no further liabilities in regard to the schemes that are already in hand. They are badly hit, particularly in the depressed areas.

I ask the Minister to put aside the question of national economy and to consider the responsibility that rests upon this Committee to see that justice is done to those local authorities which have got out plans for schemes. It is unfair to produce a Bill and say without warning that the Government have nothing to do with the obligations which local authorities have incurred through housing schemes and that it is not their responsibility. The Government have a great responsibility in housing which calls for the particular attention of every hon. Member. I am not seeking this concession in order to gain any party capital. Every Member for Liverpool who does not represent the party to which I belong will be bound to support such an Amendment as this. I am not speaking from the party point of view at all, although the Amendment meets my views as to the responsibility that falls on this House. Therefore, I have great pleasure in supporting this Amendment, and I hope that the Minister will accept it in order to do the right thing by the municipalities of the country.

6.15 p.m.


I wish to say a word or two on this Amendment, although I recognise that the Amendment which is on the Paper in the name of the Minister will, if reasonably administered—and I have no reason to think it will not be—go a considerably way in the direction which the Amendment before us suggests, and may in some ways prove to be a better one, because I can see the inconvenience and difficulty of adopting this present Amendment. The county of Devon, with which I am connected, has been quoted as one in which good work has been done and is being done under the reconditioning Act, and that is true. We hope to get the county council to grant a further sum for additional work to be carried out, because we find that the more we do the more there is to be done. But I do not want it to be understood that because we are working that Act fairly well there is not a very considerable need of new houses which is not touched at all by reconditioning, and still less do I want it to be understood that the demand for new houses can in any way whatever be touched by private building.

In rural districts the operations of building societies are really unknown. Whatever they do in towns, building societies are not active in the rural parishes. The people there have never heard of them, and that is a fact. Therefore when we talk of private enterprise in connection with rural houses we mean the private enterprise of the ordinary builder building rural cottages, which have to be built in twos or fours. From inquiries I have made I find that taking into account the cost of land, roads and water supply, these cannot be built under £350 a house. To make a reasonable profit the builder will not let such a house under 8 per cent. on his outlay; and after making provision for the cost of repairs, the collection of the rent and the possibility that the house may be empty, and taking rates into account also, he will want a rent of 10s. 10d. a week, which is an absolutely laughable sum from the point of view of the people in the villages. As far as I can see, this Bill will stop dead the building of new houses in rural districts.


I rather think the right hon. Gentleman is addressing himself to an Amendment which has already been dealt with. We are now concerned simply with the question of the date.


I bow to your Ruling, and will only say that I am very glad that the Minister has had second thoughts on his original proposal, and is at any rate willing to consider the question of allowing schemes which were substantially ready at a certain date to go forward. I join also with what has been said from the benches opposite in hoping that the word "may" will be really generously interpreted, and that we shall not find that a lot of these schemes are knocked on the head when they come forward.

6.20 p.m.


I do not myself expect the Minister to accept this Amendment, because I feel that the real trouble does not arise over the date but over the stage which the preparations have reached at the date. There has to be some date, and the same trouble will exist whatever the date may be. I have been very much impressed with the care which the Minister has given to this matter. Those of us who were present when he spoke on 7th February will agree that he recognised that the terms of the Bill were too cast-iron on the point of the preparations, and he undertook, in consultation with the Committee, to make them a little broader. That is the real issue, and I am only anxious that it should be appreciated when the Minister comes to speak. It is all very well to talk about making a rule for the whole country, but it must be remembered that different parts of the country have different methods. The case of Liverpool has been quoted by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. Logan), and though he had something to say about the Scotland Division of which I do not approve, I agree otherwise with what he said. In Liverpool it has not been usual to apply for assistance until an accepted tender has been submitted for approval and there has been a statutory undertaking by the council, but I believe that in Manchester, Birmingham and in other places they follow a different procedure. The real issue is to meet the difficulties arising in practice in the different parts of the country. I do not challenge the policy of the Bill, and we are grateful to the Minister for having made good his promise by the Amendment which he has put down.


Does the hon. Member say that the Amendment of the Minister will suit Liverpool? I say distinctly that it will not.


The hon. Member interrupted me before I had finished. I would point out that that Amendment has not yet been discussed. I say that I think the Minister realises the difficulty, and he has already promised an Amendment in consultation with the Committee. What he has to consider is the different methods prevailing in different towns rather than any particular date. I do not object to the date.

6.23 p.m.


The right hon. Gentleman for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) succeeded, in the parlance of the Navy, in "neatly bracketing the target." He spoke about the last Amendment and then about the next Amendment, and I was hoping that his next shot would be on the target itself, but that did not come about. The speech by which this Amendment was supported by the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) and his Seconder showed a complete misconception as to what the result of the Amendment would be. They told us they were under the impression that if it were carried it would exercise some compulsion upon the Minister to accept schemes. Of course, it would have no such effect at all. All that would occur would be that the Minister could make no contribution as subsidy for houses provided after a later date than the one provided in the Bill. It would leave his discretion totally unfettered. There is no intention on the part of the Government to alter the general state of the law regarding the conditions and terms under which these proposals are considered and either accepted or rejected. The only question is where we shall draw the line, and there, again, it appears to me that the Amendment defeats the purpose of its supporters. I have agreed that the date fixed in the Bill cuts the thread too sharply. What we need is reasonable elasticity. This Amendment would not provide that reasonable elasticity, but simply replace one sharp and arbitrary cut by another. It would not enable me as Minister to deal with the matter as I should desire and as I believe the Committee would desire.


If our Amendment has no effect, how is yours effective?


The effect of all three Amendments will be precisely the same as regards any compulsion on the Minister to accept proposals; he will retain the same discretion as the general law gives him. The only question is as to what elasticity there shall be. I suggest that the reasonable way to arrange this is not to insist on an arbitrary date, as the Bill does, and as the Amendment does, but to have regard to the state of development of the plans. I should call that taking account of the practical aspect of the matter. We do not want to encourage a lot of artificially stimulated plans. We want to make sure that if bona fide plans—and I use that word in a wide sense, without any derogatory meaning—are submitted which are in a reasonably advanced state they shall have consideration. That is the practical and elastic method adopted by the Amend- ment to which I may not refer; but I suggest that the present Amendment will leave us only at as much disadvantage as does the Bill itself.

6.27 p.m.


The reason the Labour party put down an Amendment to extend the period to July, 1933, was that we hoped it would give the Minister time to make effective alternative plans. We very much appreciate the decision of the Minister to go beyond the date of 7th December, and his statement that where plans are in a reasonably advanced and practical shape at that time he is willing to give them sympathetic consideration, hut we honestly believe, in view of the "economania" of the National Government, that the interpretation of the promise will not be as wide and as liberal as we should like. If the date were July, 1933, the Minister would have time to make other plans. We do not think that the gap which will be created by the sacrifice of all the machinery, built up over many years, for dealing with the housing problem can be effectively bridged by agreeing to accept plans that may be prepared, or partially prepared, at Christmas or January, or perhaps by the end of this month.

The machinery that was evolved for the purpose of dealing with house building was very effective, and we might say that it was the most effective machinery that has been evolved for that purpose in any part of the world. That machinery was constructed since the War, and all of it is to be dropped. Nothing tangible is to take its place. So far as we are aware, no official pronouncement has been made on the part of the building societies that they are committed to anything. They are not, so far as we are aware, pledged to do anything. Consequently, there will be a definite gap created by sacrificing the whole of the established organisation. We very much regret that the subsidy is to be abandoned altogether. The Ministry would be well advised to accept our proposal to take, at least six months in which to move and in which to be able to get something tangible from the building societies, who have not yet made any general declaration.

We cannot lightly regard the sacrificing of the machinery that has been established. Over 2,000,000 houses have been built since the War, a most formidable proposition in housing which has been accomplished as the result of machinery evolved by the Ministry of Health, through municipal authorities, employers and organisations set up all over the country. All that is to be dropped. We are throwing ourselves into the pool of chance by saying that under the Bill provision will be made for building societies to advance up to 90 per cent. of the cost, and that the builders have to fill in the gap between 90 per cent. and 100 per cent.; but there is no guarantee. There has been no official announcement, and no one has challenged the building societies. Everything is left to chance, and the Minister should have the opportunity effectively to prepare something to take the place of that which he is now proposing to abandon. The 1st July is we think the earliest date that should be laid down in this Clause.

6.33 p.m.


I entirely agree with what the Minister has said, but I would like to ask him why, under this Amendment, he requires the approval of the Treasury?


The hon. and learned Member realises, of course, that the point he is discussing arises upon the next Amendment but one.


I agree, as a matter of order, but if I may be allowed—


Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman had better raise the point on the discussion of the Minister's Amendment.


I understood that we were discussing this question because the Minister had referred to his Amendment when dealing with the Amendment which is now before the Committee. It would influence the minds of some of us if this matter were clear up. I will be very brief if I may refer to this matter.


Perhaps we might have a. wider discussion to include my Amendment. That would save the time of the Committee, and we should not have to deal with the same points over again when my Amendment turns up.


Hon. Members seem to me omitting the Amendment that lies in between the two which they are discussing. In that Amedment there is no reference to the Treasury and no reference to the date. It leaves the matter to the discretion of the Minister.


If it is the wish of hon. Members, I will take a discussion on the three Amendments, the one now before the Committee, the one in the name of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir S. Rosbotham), and the one in the name of the Minister. If that course is objected to, I will proceed with the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Ormskirk, and in that case I think we had better discuss the points raised in the Minister's Amendment when we come to it. I am in the hands of the Committee, and I will take any course that is desired.


It may be found speedier to conduct the business in strict order, and to discuss the Minister's Amendment when it arises.


It may be the most convenient course if we dispose of the present Amendment and then raise any further points on the Minister's Amendment.


I would like to point out that we cannot effectively discuss our Amendment alone, because the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that his Amendment is the alternative to ours. It is clearly open to us to argue that our Amendment is a much better way of meeting the point that the right hon. Gentleman meets in his Amendment. It would be therefore much better if we could discuss them together.


I should very much like to have said a word or two on the Minister's Amendment when I was speaking, but I have felt that I was precluded from doing so because it would have been out of order.


I am in the hands of the Committee, but it seems to me that it will be better on the whole to take all the discussion on this Amendment. If hon. Members object, it is not for me to overrule them.


Is it not possible to deal with: the dates raised in this Amendment and on the Minister's Amendment, and to leave out entirely the other Amendment which comes in the middle, the subject of which is as to whether the Minister may determine the date? Then we could deal with the point as to whether the Minister should have a discretion in regard to the date. They are two separate propositions.


It seems to be the general will of the Committee to have a general Debate, and I therefore withdraw my objection.


I think that we should be able to vote on each Amendment, even if we discussed them together.


Obviously that must rest with the hon. Member in charge of the Amendment. If that hon. Member desires a vote, he will move for the matter to be decided upon forthwith.

6.38 p.m.


The principle to be decided and the whole object of the proposal which we are now discussing is, as I understand it, to take care that those local authorities who have gone to the expense and trouble of preparing their plans, and who have got everything almost ready for submission to the Minister by the 7th December, should still be able to obtain the subsidy under the Act that we are altering by this Bill. The question is whether those plans and the steps that have been taken are such as make it fair and just that the authorities should go on under the old Act and should not be subject to the limitations provided by the Bill, which would mean that they have no subsidy. It is not affected by the amount of money which is involved. I suggest to the Minister that it is obviously a question for him and his Department to decide. He is in constant communication with the local authorities. The matter depends, as I read the Bill, on whether the plans under the old Act have been so far prepared and schemes so far adopted that it would be unfair to cut them off short on 7th December and to render all the work that has been done wasted, subject to the provisions of this Bill. I understand that some question has been raised with the Minister by the Corporation of Liver- pool, but there is no reason whatever to bring the Treasury in here, because it is a matter that ought to be left to the Minister himself. If the Corporation of Liverpool has the slightest trouble or anxiety because the steps that they have taken have gone to such a point, it is the Minister himself who will have to deal with that situation.

6.41 p.m.


After the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) it is advisable that I should bring into the picture the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir S. Rosbotham) and myself and other hon. Members, because that Amendment does precisely what the hon. and learned Member wants. The Amendment is to add at the end of the Clause the words: save in such cases as the Minister may determine. It leaves the Minister as much discretion as he now possesses in the matter of raising money and of approving loans for housing, and it avoids the specific reference to the Treasury to which the hon. and learned Member objects. It is clear that the argument in favour of the principle of our Amendment is accepted in all quarters of the Committee. The idea that the axe should fall suddenly and sharply, to withdraw the subsidy from any house in respect of which proposals had not been submitted by 7th December, is repudiated. There must be elasticity. Submission of a proposal is not a good criterion of whether houses should or should not receive the subsidy. Our Amendment proposes, in a single sentence, the recognition of the fact that these proposals will be in the very last stage of incubation. Some will be nearly coming out, and some will hardly have been put into the incubator. We wish to leave the Minister complete discretion to be able to examine the egg and if it is fertile, and if he sees that it is shortly going to hatch out, we ask him to regard it as a chick.

6.43 p.m.


We have heard a very specious speech from the Minister and one that was very persuasive. The Minister almost persuaded the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks) that if his Amendment were carried it would not make very much difference to that of the Minister himself. The hon. Member is too old a bird to be caught with that. He was very nearly caught by it, but before he had finished his speech he had wriggled out of it. The Committee ought to realise this fundamental difference: I want the Acts of Parliament from 1923 to 1924 to operate for another six months, whereas the Minister wants to bring them to an end and take them off the Statute Book for all practical purposes, and to bring in the provisions of Clause 2. I agree with the hon. Member for East Woolwich that that is too sudden a change. This is a great new experiment which I hope is going to be a success. I hope that the building societies will function, and that private enterprise will be effective.

Inevitably, new organisations like those proposed in the Bill, and new methods and new ideas cannot come into operation right now. It must take at least six or nine months. The builders have to get the financial assistance arranged, they have to buy the land, to lay out the reads, and to make arrangements about sewerage and so on. Anyone with experience of housing development knows that it is necessary to look a long way ahead; that, indeed, is the real problem of housing, and it takes time. You cannot turn out houses like sausages out of a machine; it means long thought-out plans. Local authorities have now built up a complete organisation, with architects, valuers and engineers. They possess knowledge and information, and can go right on to build houses. This Amendment proposes that the old machine should continue operating for six months, so as to give time for the new experiment devised by the right hon. Gentleman to mature. I am informed that only three building societies have agreed to this proposal. The great bulk of them are still hesitating on the brink; they are not yet persuaded; and there is a real danger in an interregnum between the old order and the new. Instead of a great push in house building such as the Minister wants, it may mean, and I think it will mean, a complete hold-up, with local authorities stopped, and private builders and building societies still thinking out plans.

I think that the Amendment is a reasonable one. Of course, the Minister has always the power to veto any scheme that may be unsound. He has had that power ever since the Act of 1923. We want the machinery of the Acts of 1923 and 1924 to go on for another six months. It may be said, and with some reason, that local authorities would take advantage of this to push forward a great number of schemes and get them through within the next six months. I hope they will, because houses are required. This is a most critical moment as regards unemployment. Money is cheap, materials are cheap, building costs are low, and it would be a great thing if during the next six months the Minister could say to local authorities all over the country: "You have six months more in which to get on with your business, and then you will disappear." I think that this is a sensible Amendment, which would meet a good deal of the opposition of all those good people throughout the country who are terribly depressed and upset at this complete change of policy. I am in favour of the Amendment, and shall certainly vote for it.

6.48 p.m.


I think I shall be in order now in discussing the Minister's Amendment as well as that which has been moved by the hon. Member opposite. The Minister's Amendment, I apprehend, does two things. It gives to the Minister a discretion to admit for subsidy schemes which were substantially ready to be submitted before the 7th December last, and I take it that the object of that is twofold. It enables the Minister to meet hard cases, and there certainly will be some hard cases—we have heard of them already; and, further, to tide over the transition period between the old system and the new. The Minister may have to bring in more cases under the old system, in order that there may be no gap between the old system ceasing and the new system starting. These are both really valuable powers, and they are given to the Minister by means of a discretion. He may treat these proposals as though they had been submitted before 7th December. But there is a very important qualification—it is to be subject to the approval of the Treasury. I understand the giving of a discretion to the Minister, and I understand a limitation by the Treasury, but I do not quite see how these two are going to work together.

This is a partnership, and I want to know whether the Minister is the predominant partner, or the Treasury. I can conceive of the imposition of a limitation for several different reasons.

The Treasury may say that they will only approve of a certain number of houses—a quite conceivable limitation; or, more probably, the Treasury may say that they will only approve of a certain financial commitment, a certain definite sum. These are important considerations. The Minister's responsibility, however, is wider than that. He has to consider, as I have said, the necessity of easing the transition stage, and he may have to consider the needs of the locality and the necessity for housing in certain places. I should like to know on what terms the Treasury are to approve or disapprove of a scheme. If we have the Minister there, we can tell more or less. We know him, and, if he does not approve, we can ask him why. But the Treasury is an impersonal body, and its consent is given or refused away from the House of Commons. That would mean the putting of a bar upon the Minister's discretion which might not be for the benefit of housing.

We all admit the necessity of economy, but, at the same time, I think the Committee ought to bear in mind the big change that we are making here, and the great importance of seeing that there is no break in the continuity, and also of seeing that special cases are met, and met not entirely upon the financial obligations involved. We all know that certain parts of the country are more distressed than others, that certain parts are more crowded than others; and I should like to see the Minister the judge in such circumstances. I believe that a certain amount of public expenditure is not only justifiable now, but beneficial. I believe that we have passed out of the era of extreme economy and cutting down everything, and that it is being generally recognised that beneficial expenditure, even though it does not produce a complete financial return, is of advantage to the country. I think that for that reason it is extremely important that we should know where we stand in this matter. Are we to be held up entirely upon financial considerations, or is the Minister confident that the great powers of persuasion which he exercises to the full in the House of Commons will be equally effective when exercised on the Treasury?

6.54 p.m.


I do not feel that the Minister, in the remarks that he addressed to the Committee a few minutes ago, quite did justice to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. I think that a very strong case can be made out for the Amendment, and that, on merits, it deserves the support of the Committee to an even greater degree than the suggestion of the Minister himself. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to fix a certain date in December, 1932, as the appointed day, if I may call it. We wish to fix a date in July, 1933. What are the respective merits of the two dates? I think it is unfair to many local authorities to fix upon December, 1932. A great crisis occurred in this country in 1931, and a great wave of economy spread throughout the land. Great pressure was brought to bear upon local authorities to cut down their activities, and it is fair to assume that, certainly for a long time during 1932, local authorities presumed that it was not very much worth while to discuss plans for building new houses, and probably, therefore, they did not press on with that side of their activities to the degree that they otherwise might. If, therefore, the Minister insists upon fixing the date in December, 1932, it is fair to assume that a comparatively small number of local authorities could argue that their plans were sufficiently advanced to merit the Minister's approval. We suggest, therefore, that, if the date were changed from December, 1932, to July, 1933, it would give to local authorities who would like to be included within this provision a much better chance of being included than if the original date is adhered to.

I recall that in 1929 the then Labour Government desired to encourage local authorities to build a number of schools within a certain period, and their standard was that, so long as the work was contractually undertaken between certain dates, the Treasury was prepared to make an additional credit grant. That may not he possible in this ease, but it seems to me that the Minister ought to give a chance to authorities which were prevented by the period of crisis from going ahead with their plans, to get in before the door is finally closed. What is the Minister's alternative?His offer applies to cases in which the plans were substantially ready—I think that those are the words. But what does "substantially ready" mean? It is loose phraseology, to say the least. I dare say the Minister will apply it in as fair and just and impartial a way as he can, but, however just and impartial he may be, he will inevitably create a great deal of disappointment, and there may be some unkind reflections upon the measure of discretion which he has exercised. If, however, he fixes a definite date six months from now, no one will have a right to complain, because everyone will know that they must be ready by a certain date in July, and that, if they are not in "on the ground floor," to use a common expression, before then, that will be their fault, and they will not be able to blame the Minister for it.

I was glad to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Major Hills) and the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) point out that even the Minister is going to be circumscribed under the terms of his own Amendment; he is not to be master in his own house. I can understand that the Government may desire to take control of the amount of money to be spent, but nowadays we hear too frequently the cry that everything must be subject to theipse dixitof the Treasury, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has given expression to a growing opinion in the House that the time for economy in cutting down socially desirable work of this sort has come to an end. The dead hand of the Treasury ought to be removed. If, therefore, we can put in our date, large numbers of plans will flow in to the right hon. Gentleman. But even if there are large numbers of plans, he will still have, under the old law, the right to withhold the sanction of any plans which do not meet with his approval. There are merits attached to our proposal which the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked, and I beg him to reconsider our Amendment.

7.2 p.m.


It is necessary, when we are discussing the third Amendment, that I should add a word regarding the other two Amendments. I do not want to repeat the argument on the subject of the Amendment we are voting upon first.

That Amendment has the effect that the only people it would help would be those who were artificially stimulated at the last moment, and who pushed their affairs along to get them through. Let me pass to the next Amendment. That Amendment, as far as its practical working and intentions are concerned, is identical with my Amendment. The reason why I ask the Committee not to accept this Amendment is that it is really too vague in its terms. It is a novel experience for a Minister to stand at this Box anti; protest against too large powers being conferred upon him, but by this Amendment I should be promoting what is not good legislation.

When power is conferred upon a Minister some definition must be given by the Act as to policy, or the circumstances, under which that power is to be exercised. I do not find these requisite directions in this Amendment. These directions are given in the Amendment I propose to the House which sets out, the Committee will remember, that if the Minister is satisfied that proposals for providing, or promoting, the provision of houses under the Acts in question have been prepared, and were substantially ready to be submitted to him before 7th December, he may, subject to the approval of the Treasury, treat the proposals for the purposes of this Section as if they had been submitted to him before that date. The final words would give the Minister the necessary instructions from the House of Commons that he is to give consideration to schemes which "had been prepared and were substantially ready." The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last claimed that these terms were too vague or too wide. The intention is that they should be wide.

I think the Minister should be subject to some direction, but he should have wide discretion as to the acceptance of plans which are prepared and substantially ready, and commend themselves to him on general grounds. I do not hesitate not only to admit, but to claim, that the words are quite wide. The point is that we must put the matter in this form, and not in the more arbitrary form proposed by the other Amendment. This is really doing something to meet the class we want to consider. The other Amendment is arbitrary, and not co-extensive with that class. We want to consider the matter on the merits. I come to the point taken by my hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills). I confess to some surprise at this attracting any comment. The policy which this Committee is asked to approve is that applications, which recommend themselves, shall be accepted and that is a policy which the Minister will be authorised to carry out. I am asked who is to be the predominant partner. I have no hesitation in saying that, with regard to housing policy, the Minister will be the predominant partner and will have the decision as to the applications to be accepted.

It is quite usual to insert these words in Acts of Parliament where a single non-recurrent financial charge is in question. It is put in because the powers granted here—the powers which I deliberately ask—are so wide that if abused by a Minister—one must consider possibilities, not probabilities, in Acts of Parliament—if they were abused by me, or some more fortunate successor, they might confront the Treasury with an embarrassing position. That is always a feature of powers of this sort granted for single non-recurrent transactions. I think it is not only usual but is really wise and sensible, to recognise the presence of the factors which are necessary for decisions, and the financial factor is represented by the Treasury. That is all that the insertion of these words means, and, in the circumstances, I do not think they need cause any undue apprehension to the minds of hon. Members. I think at this juncture the Committee might come to a decision on the Amendment.

7.10 p.m.


I do not think the Committee will be satisfied with the Minister's further explanations. On every side of the Committee there is opposition to the Minister's Amendment. I do not think that, so far, mention has been made of there being considerable opposition outside the House from a very influential quarter, the Association of Municipal Corporations. Incidentally, the electors of Rotherham have expressed in no uncertain voice their view.


Will the hon. and gallant Member allow me to ask him to what expression of opinion of the Association of Municipal Corporations he refers?


The Association of Municipal Corporations, or the housing committee of that Association, saw the right hon. Gentleman on 2nd February and informed him that they viewed with very grave alarm the suggestion made in the Bill now before the Committee, namely, that the subsidy should be cut out immediately. They pointed out that only 12 months ago the right hon. Gentleman requested members of that Association to do what they could to remove the very serious and urgent need for the provision of small houses. He circularised the municipalities to that effect and now, within 12 months, he is coming along to them again before they are able to tackle the problem. He is now proposing that the subsidy should be cut clean away. So far as they can ascertain, from the great knowledge they possess, they cannot see any possibility, under the proposals now made, of providing houses to let at anything like the present rental, so the problem is to remain unchanged.


I do not think the hon. and gallant Member wishes to mislead the Committee, but the opinion of the Association of Municipal Corporations was expressed before my present Amendment was proposed.


I have not quite finished. I hold in my hand a letter from the Association of Municipal Corporations, dated since the Minister's Amendment was put on the Paper, and they express the hope that I may see my way to object to the present Amendment which is before the Committee. Is the Minister content with what I said, namely, that the Association of Municipal Corporations is, in effect, objecting not only to the original proposals to stop the subsidy, but also to the present proposals?


I did not know of the later document which the hon. and gallant Member has, nor has he read it to the Committee. I have no information of the fact that the Association objects to the form of the present Amendment.


I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice of believing that I have such a letter in my hand, which I shall be most happy to show him.


What is the date?


The 25th February. It is a letter which I received this morning, and I have no doubt that my hon. Friend on the Front Bench, who is a vice-president of the association, also received one.

Mr. WOMERSLEY (Lord of the Treasury)

Why do you not read the letter out?


Why do you not bring your copy out and hand it to the Minister? The position is that the influential body, to which I have referred, not only take exception to the right hon. Gentleman's first proposals, but have stated that in their view—I will not put it quite so strongly as to say the right hon. Gentleman has not quite played the game. But he did request them to provide certain further houses, and then he comes forward with this proposal, which was, at first, to stop this subsidy altogether. He now comes forward with a further proposal in which the matter is left entirely to his discretion, subject to the approval of the Treasury. What can the object of that be? The inclusion of these words means something. I think it is a decision, by the use of these words, to limit the consideration of proposals which municipalities might put forward now. In these circumstances, I do not think the Committee should, without some more definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, pass this Amendment.

I hope the Committee will approve of the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend which suggests that a date should be fixed in July, 1933. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, and the Parliamentary Secretary, that on 15th December the Parliamentary Secretary said that, in this matter, obviously some date had to be fixed. The Parliamentary Secretary added on that occasion that when we came to the Committee stage we would see whether a date could not be fixed in order to include genuine applications and exclude spurious ones. It was not then suggested that the matter should be one for the discretion of the right hon. Gentleman, either with or without the approval of the Treasury. It was in pursuance of that statement, made I am sure with the approval, if not in the actual presence of, the Minister, that my hon. Friends put down their proposal in which they inserted a date, and a very reasonable date, not six months ahead. It is going to take quite a considerable time to prepare the necessary technical work to enable the local authorities to go on with their building.

It has been said that only three building societies have indicated their intention of participating in the scheme. In the very nature of things, they are only likely to invest their surplus funds in schemes under this Bill. If they can lend funds to their occupiers or in other directions at 5¼ per cent., they are not likely to lend under the Government scheme, though, no doubt, they will do what they can to assist as far as their surplus funds are concerned. I hope the Committee, in view of the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary on 15th December, will pass the Amendment, and will pay due regard to the views of such an important body as the Association of Municipal Corporations in taking exception to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, because it is clearly directed to limiting the number of proposals that are likely to be considered by him.

7.20 p.m.


I cannot understand anyone raising any objection to the Minister's Amendment, and I do not want to say anything about that, but the earlier Amendments deserve a little more sympathetic consideration, particularly the second one, which I prefer. I think it will take quite a considerable time to get the scheme of Clause 2 in operation. I find that local builders are very averse from building to let. They understand that it implies some restriction on their right to sell for some unknown period. They are busy building for the purpose of selling, and they tell me they are terrified at the cost of road making. They say it is too expensive to buy land for building small houses on roads that are already made and, if the roads are not made, the local authority can come along at any moment and make them in an expensive way. They say that as long as that burden has to be faced there will be, in their view, an insuperable barrier to very much use being made of Clause 2 by local builders. It seems to me that more time than is contemplated will be wanted to get that Clause into operation. The builders will have to be got together, to be brought in touch with the building societies and to meet the chairman of the building committee of local authorities to indicate the sort of programme the local authorities would have undertaken if they had the power, and every inducement will have to be brought to bear upon them to put the scheme into operation. I cannot help

feeling that there ought to be some discretion with the Minister far beyond that in his own Amendment, giving him power, without limitation as to date, to approve schemes under the old system where he finds that builders cannot be induced to put Clause 2 in operation.

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

The Committee divided. Ayes, 247; Noes, 50.

Division No. 55.] AYES. [7.22 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Drewe, Cedric Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Duckworth, George A. V. Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Albery, Irving James Duggan, Hubert John Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Mabane, William
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Dunglass, Lord MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Applln, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Emmott, Charles E. G. C. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Atholl, Duchess of Emrys-Evans, P. V. McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Atkinson, Cyril Ersklne, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) McKeag, William
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Essenhigh, Reginald Clare McLean, Major Sir Alan
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Everard, W. Lindsay McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Balniel, Lord Fade, Sir Bertram G. Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Fielden, Edward Brocklchurst Magnay, Thomas
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Ford, Sir Patrick J. Maitland, Adam
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Forestler-Walker, Sir Leolin Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.) Fox, Sir Gifford Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Bernays, Robert Fuller, Captain A. G. Mayhew. Lieut.-Colonel John
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Ganzonl, Sir John Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Glossop, C. W. H. Milne, Charles
Blindell, James Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd k Chisw'k)
Borodale, Viscount Goff. Sir Park Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Boulton, W. W. Goldle, Noel B. Morris, John Patrick (Salford. N.)
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Greene, William P. C. Morrison, William Shepherd
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Grimston, R. V. Moss, Captain H. J.
Brass, Captain Sir William Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Muirhead, Major A. J.
Broadbent, Colonel John Guy. J. C. Morrison Nail, Sir Joseph
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Hales, Harold K. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Browne, Captain A. C. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Newton, Sir Douglas George C.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hanley, Dennis A. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Burnett, John George Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nunn, William
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hartland, George A. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Palmer, Francis Noel
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Pearson, William G.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Peat, Charles U.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Percy, Lord Eustace
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Petherick, M.
Cayzer, Maj, sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Holdsworth, Herbert Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bllston)
Chapman, CoT.R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Hopklnson, Austin Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hornby, Frank Potter, John
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Horobin, Ian M. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Christie, James Archibald Horsbrugh, Florence Procter, Major Henry Adam
Clarry, Reginald George Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Pybus, Percy John
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. O. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Colfox, Major William Philip Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Ker, J. Campbell Ratcliffe. Arthur
Conant, R. J. E. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cook, Thomas A. Kerr, Hamilton W. Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-
Cooke, Douglas Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Law, Sir Alfred Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Cranborne, Viscount Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Croom-Johnson, R. p. Lees-Jones, John Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Crossley, A. C. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Robinson, John Roland
Dalkeith, Earl of Levy, Thomas Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Lewis, Oswald Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Liddall, Walter S. Runge, Norah Cecil
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lindsay, Noel Ker Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Denville, Alfred Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllffe- Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Dickie, John P. Llewellin, Major John J. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l)
Donner, P. W. Lloyd, Geoffrey Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Salmon, Sir Isldore Somervllie, D. G. (Willesden, East) Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)
Salt, Edward W. Soper, Richard Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Savery, Samuel Servington Stourton, Hon. John J. Wells, Sydney Richard
Scone, Lord Strauss, Edward A. Weymouth, Viscount
Selley, Harry R. Strickland, Captain W. F. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwoll) Sutcliffe, Harold Wills, Wilfrid D.
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Templeton, William P. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Withers, Sir John James
Skelton, Archibald Noel Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Worthington, Dr. John V.
Slater, John Thorp, Linton Theodore Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)
Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-ln-F.) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Smith, Louis w. (Sheffield, Hallam) Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.) Train, John Captain Austin Hudson and Mr. Womersley.
Smith-Carington, Neville w. Turton, Robert Hugh
Somervllie, Annesley A (Windsor) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Adams. D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro', W.) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Attlee, Clement Richard Grithffis, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maxton, James
Banfield, John William Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Milner, Major James
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Harris, Sir Percy Owen, Major Goronwy
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hicks, Ernest George Parkinson, John Allen
Buchanan, George Janner, Barnett Price, Gabriel
Cape, Thomas Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rathbone, Eleanor
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cove, William G. Kirkwood, David Thorne, William James
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Lawson, John James Wallhead, Richard C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Lunn, William Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) McEntee, Valentine L.
George. Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n) McGovern, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. D. Graham.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot

Amendment made: In page 1, line 14, at the end, add the words: Provided that if the Minister is satisfied that proposals for providing or promoting the provision of houses under those Acts had been prepared and were substantially ready to be submitted to him before the said seventh day of December, he may, subject to the approval of the Treasury, treat the proposals for the purposes of this Section as if they had been submitted to him before that date."—[Sir H. Young.]

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

7.32 p.m.


Before we part with the Clause there are one or two comments I wish to make. The Clause leaves us with an entirely new situation in regard to the housing of the working classes. The housing of the working classes has now, with the exception to which I will refer in a moment, become a question almost entirely for private enterprise. The Minister, both on the Second Reading Debate and in the Debate on the Financial Resolution, seemed to be pretty confident that the new situation which the Bill would create would be one in which private enterprise would be able adequately and cheaply to meet the needs of the working classes for houses. His refusal to accept the Amendment which we had put upon the Paper to continue subsidies in connection with rural housing led him to make a statement with regard to the policy of the Government on that particular matter. He told the Committee that the Government are now prepared to leave the matter entirely to the housing (Rural Workers) Act, and to what can be done for rural housing under the Act of 1930.

The right hon. Gentleman used two rather curious arguments in this connection. The argument he used about declining populations in the countryside was a very curious one to come from one of the leading Ministers of the National Government. I should have thought that the policy of the Government ought to have been a co-ordinated policy in all spheres of Government activity. I should have thought that the housing policy, either for urban housing or rural housing, would have fitted in with the general policy of the Government in regard to trade, industry and agriculture.

We have been told that the policy which is being pursued by the Government in regard to agriculture will bring us an agricultural revival and that it will mean that more people will be settled in the countryside. It seems, at any rate, that the Minister of Health and the Department which deals with the question of housing have very little faith in the general policy of His Majesty's Government in connection with agriculture, because the Minister of Health this afternoon, in refusing an Amendment to Clause 1 which would have continued the subsidy to houses erected in agricultural parishes, stressed the fact, that apparently in his view there would be less need for houses in the countryside owing to declining population.

He went on to use another argument, saying that houses built in rural areas by means of subsidies were not houses which agricultural labourers could afford to occupy. That argument was very effectively demolished by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Johnstone), and I do not propose to say any more about it. Obviously, the cessation of subsidies, particularly in connection with rural housing, leaves the agricultural labourer and the rural worker generally in a position in which they are not likely to have, in any future which I can visualise, any improvement in their housing conditions. I cannot for a single moment see the likelihood of private enterprise coming along and erecting houses in the countryside at rents which agricultural labourers and rural workers will be able to pay. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont), in the course of the discussion this afternoon, said that the difference between us was primary, that he and those hon. Members who thought as he did believed that the question of housing the working classes was a matter for private enterprise, while we who occupy these benches thought that it was a social obligation—he did not actually use the words "social obligation"—on the part of the country, if the thing was not being done satisfactorily in other ways, to see to it that people who lived, not only in the countryside, but in the towns and the cities, were properly and adequately housed.


I know that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepre- sent me, but what I actually said was that we believed that it was primarily 'a matter for private enterprise only to be assisted when necessary by the State, and that admits the social obligation on the public as a whole. But we suggest that it is better carried out by private enterprise than by the State, and that is where we differ.


The only thing I wish to say on the further explanation which the hon. Member has given, and which I entirely accept, is that we on these benches do not think that the conditions are such that the houses, which, as everybody agrees, are urgently needed, are likely to be provided by private enterprise, and because we do not think that that situation exists we strenuously oppose the proposals put before us in this particular Clause. That is why I am making these comments before the Committee finally pass from the Clause. Obviously, only the future can decide the issue between us, but there is nothing in past experience, as far as housing in this country is concerned, which leads us to believe that private enterprise will ever adequately and decently house the workers in the countryside. There is nothing in past experience which leads us to that conclusion. If by some miracle a complete change takes place And private enterprise provides the dwellings which are necessary in rural England, the hon. Member will, I suppose, at some future date, have an opportunity of chastising us for the attitude which we 'are taking up on this occasion. But if, on the other hand, private enterprise fails to fulfil what many hon. Members opposite are obviously expecting it to fulfil in the distant future, the emphasis we put this afternoon upon the question of the social obligation upon the community to 'attend to the matter if no one else does, will amply be justified by the events as we see them in the days that lie ahead.

The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), in opposing one of the Amendments to the Clause, said that he hoped the Minister would resist the Amendment, because he saw in it some kind of Socialist action designed to undermine entirely the attitude which His Majesty's Government are now taking up in regard to the question of housing. He went on to argue, particularly in connection with the countryside, that if there came a general restoration of prosperity, which is something, I presume, at which His Majesty's Government are aiming in their general policy, then, in. some mysterious fashion, out of that general prosperity you would get the provision of the houses which the working-classes in rural England need so badly. In other words, he was saying that if the farmer and the tradesmen prosper, and generally prosperous conditions come about, then houses will be provided. That is the sort of argument he used, and, when you listen to arguments like that, you cannot help but remember that that has not happened in the past. There have been many prosperous periods in British history and many periods when business has been thriving and farmers and all kinds of undertakings have been doing well, but in such circumstances were the working-classes of this country housed under satisfactory conditions? If under prosperous conditions in the past that had actually happened, we should have had very little complaint to bring before the Committee to-day. It does not seem to us who sit on these Benches that when you have, by passing this Clause, abolished subsidies in connection with the provision of houses for the working-classes, except in the case of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, where there is slight assistance, and in the case of the Act of 1930, you are likely to produce conditions which will effectively and definitely house the working-classes, and consequently we shall have no option on this occasion but, both by word and vote, to oppose this Clause.

7.44 p.m.


I wish to support what has been said by my hon. Friend against Clause 1. It is the crux of the whole Bill and takes away all subsidies with the exception of the slum clearance subsidy. I have spoken to a good many of my friends who know more about housing than I do and are concerned with municipalities and have spent a good deal of time in endeavouring to provide for the needs of the working-classes. They looked forward to continuing providing that kind of house, but to their consternation they now find that the National Government, which I term the Tory Government, are reverting to their long established ideas of private enterprise. Behind this Bill lies the establishment once more of private enterprise. With the knowledge that those people have had of private enterprise in the building of houses and what it has meant, they feel that no good can come from the Government's proposal. For a long time private enterprise has failed to provide adequate housing accommodation for the people and because it failed, the Government had to step in and try to do something. The people of my class, realise what it means. The class to which I belong have had the sad experience of not being able to get houses. Those of us who have been able to get houses have not been able to forget what has happened to our poor brethren who have not been able to get housing accommodation. Constant appeals have been made to us to assist them to get houses, and finally the Government had to give way to pressure and to grant subsidies.

The housing needs are not being satisfied. Wherever one goes there is a shortage of house's, and it is because of that fact that we are so keenly anxious that the House of Commons should not attempt to stop building by means of subsidies. If the Government do stop the subsidies, we believe that we shall go back to the position that existed when subsidies had to be given originally. The Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary say that private enterprise can meet the needs. Candidly, I do not think it can, and it is because of that fear that we are so much opposed to the Bill. Because of our knowledge of what has taken place in the past, we hope that the House of Commons will not place the country in the power of private enterprise once more. If they do, it will mean once again a fight for houses. The owners of houses will be able to extort from the people more than they ought to pay, and they will do that by various means. Because of the tragedy of the shortage of houses I do hope that we shall be able to prevail upon the Government not to trust themselves to private enterprise again.

If at any time later they can satisfy me or any of my friends that the housing shortage has been met and that times have become normal, we might agree with them, but wherever one goes, or to whatever public body one speaks, one hears of the prevailing shortage. I have here a cutting from a newspaper of a conference on housing which was held at Manchester in January of this year, by the Industrial and Social Order Council of the Society of Friends. That conference passed the following minute: In view of the very acute problem of overcrowding and the serious housing shortage, we believe that it would be a disastrous step to abolish all ordinary municipal housing development and to leave it to the uncertainty of private enterprise to meet this great need, which might so easily be exploited for private profit. It is because of the fear of what might happen that we are opposing Clause 1. If we can defeat Clause 1, we shall be well satisfied with our work to-night. Looking at the House at the present moment it is hardly fair that there should be recorded in the Division Lobby, when the vote is taken, probably the names of 300 Members against us, although there are not more than 50 Members in the House. I do not think it is right that hon. Members should crowd into the Lobby to support the Government unless they fully realise what the trend of the discussion has been. It may be that we can put forward nothing fresh in our arguments and that we are saying what has been said before, but it is not fair to the House of Commons that on an important matter like this the House should not be crowded by hon. Members listening to the discussion on the merits of the case.


Will the hon. Member count how many there are on his own side I You are seven, I think.


Yes. Probably the hon. Member has a right to point to my side, but may I say that these benches have been fairly full this afternoon and that my hon. Friends have to go out to procure some refreshment to stimulate them to carry on the Debate 4 We have to go in relays, because there is only a mere handful of us.


Our friends have to do that, also.


The hon. Member's friends are more numerous than we are. Surely, they could provide more representatives here in order to keep things going. We are certainly entitled to a better assembly than we get on these occasions. It really gives the spectators the idea that we pay little attention to the business of the House of Commons. This is a matter of great importance to the working classes, and I hope that we shall be able to persuade the Committee not to pass Clause 1.

7.51 p.m.


One would have more regard for the sincerity of the Labour Opposition in regard to the question of subsidising houses if they would help in the matter of restricting somewhat the lines of demarcation which exist in the various trades concerned in the building of houses. When municipalities or Governments engage in the building of houses for the working classes it would appear as if those who are engaged in the building industry, both masters and men, regard the municipality or the Government as a milch cow from which they can extract everything possible for the benefit of profit on the one hand and the highest trade union rates of pay and conditions on the other. If Labour were sincere in this matter of houses it would be easy to do something useful by reducing the harshness, the fine lines which are drawn between one trade union and another. It was my lot at one time to live in a municipal house that was built under the grandiose scheme of Dr. Addison. It was supposed to be a working-class house, and it cost £1,200 to erect. When I got into that house the gas was not on. When the gas was turned on, it was found that the workmen had nailed the skirting board and the picture rails to the gas pipes, with the result that something had to be done about it. I went to the foreman on this large municipal scheme, and he said: "That is quite right. I will send the plumber round, right away." The plumber came and knocked off the picture rail and the skirting board, and wiped the joints. He left the picture rail on the floor. I said to him: "What about this wood I "He replied:" Oh, I cannot touch that. That is a joiner's work." Next day a joiner and his boy came along and they put up the picture rail and the skirting board again. I then said: "The backyard gate is an inch too long and will not shut." The joiner replied: "Oh, I cannot touch that. It is an outside joiner's job." I found when I talked to the men that they were only allowed to place so much wallpaper per day. have respect for trade unions. In fact, I am a member of one myself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Why should I not be? I served my apprenticeship as an engineer.


Wilt the hon. Member tell me if a barrister would do a solicitor's job?


I am not arguing that point, but if barristers and solicitors claimed to be the friends of the working classes and refused to do what I am asking trade unionists to do, the hon. Member would have some cause for blame. Barristers and solicitors do not talk with tears in their voices of their interest in the working classes, and at the same time refuse to do things necessary for their best interests. In regard to the building of houses for the working classes by private enterprise, without a subsidy, I believe that we shall have something of the variety in the building of houses which we see at Port Sunlight. When subsidised houses are built by a municipality or under a Government, the Government or the municipality can only think in the terms of the mass. When Governments think of clothing, for instance, they think of it in terms of uniform, and when municipalities or Governments think of houses you have houses that are fit for jockeys to live in, all built to a standard type and subject to certain regulations. The subsidised houses built by municipalities will be slums 20 or 30 years from now. I hope that, at least, those Labour Members who are leaders of trades unions will be sincere in their utterances and will get the workers not to exploit the workers who want houses, and that they will endeavour as far as possible to assist in the building of houses that are worth while for the working classes of this country. In so far as rural areas are concerned, seeing that sooner or later we shall have people being settled on the land, cultivating a few acres and thereby providing a solution for one part of the unemployment problem, the Government might consider putting up in those wide open spaces houses built of wood, so that when a, man gets on a little and makes his holding pay, the 'house might be replaced with a more permanent structure, and the portable wooden building might be moved to some other place.


I do not think that the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part," involves the whole question of Government building policy. We are limited to the question as to whether or not subsidies are to stop.


I hope that private enterprise may regard this matter in the light in which I have put it and that we may have, as I believe we shall have under this scheme, a great deal of property being erected, so that the working classes, people looking for homes, may find homes which are worthy of them and at a rent they can pay.

8.0 p.m.


I am tempted to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Procter) in his attack on trade unions. If there is one section of the community which has a grumble against the Government under this Clause it is the employers and workmen in the building industry. In 1924 the Labour Government made an attempt to face the problem of housing as it existed at that time. There was a tremendous scarcity of houses, a shortage in building trade labour, and it was said that the industry was not organising itself. An appeal was made to all the parties concerned to try and get on with the provision of houses, and in response to that appeal the four parties concerned, the State, local authorities, the employers and the workmen, came to an agreement with the then Minister of Health to carry on for a period of 15 years. The building trade workers were given to understand that if they would lessen their restrictions the agreement would be made. In those circumstances the building trade agreed to lessen their restrictions. The number of boys allowed to become apprentices was increased and in addition men who had not properly served their time were allowed to rank as properly qualified masons.

The employers also have a grumble, because they planned their capital development on a 15-year agreement. To the credit of the building trade it must be pointed out that they produced houses under this scheme at a faster rate than ever before. Yesterday we heard a great deal about the sanctity of agreements, and the need for agreements being kept. This agreement is just as sacred as any agreement made with a foreign power, yet this Clause scraps the agreement and sets aside both employers and workmen alike. The Secretary of State for the Dominions is always telling us about the sanctity of agreements and taxes the Irish Free State with breaking an agreement; yet this Government proposes to cancel an agreement they have made. The building trade will probably learn by their experience. They have been shockingly treated by the Government, and no one can blame them if they safeguard their livelihood. But for a barrister to talk about the line of demarcation between workmen and to utter cheap sneers upon them is the limit of bad taste.


I made no aspersion on the workmen, but I did question the sincerity of Labour Members who speak on behalf of the working classes and yet refuse to do something which will help the working classes to get houses at a rent which they can afford.


The building trade, which has now an ample supply of labour, can provide the houses required three times over. There might be something in the hon. and gallant Member's case if the building trade could not supply the houses required, if their restrictions were keeping back house building, but the facts are all against the hon. and gallant Member. The building trade can supply the houses required if allowed to do so. The hon. and gallant Member draws a line between one trade and another, but he says that there must be no line of demarcation between lawyers and barristers. He must remember that a man who serves his time at a trade, say for five years, invests his livelihood in that trade and is not likely to throw up his whole livelihood because the hon. and gallant Member makes sneering remarks about how he does his work in the nailing up of some picture. Sneering and offensive remarks can be made about Members of Parliament. Any cheapjack comedian can make offensive remarks about politicians; and I say that members of the building trade do their work with credit to themselves and as craftsmen and compared with any other body of men either here or abroad. If they make a mistake in nailing up something it is only human after all. Their mistakes will not compare with the mistakes which this Government will make before their job is finished. I am tired of all this. I once knew a joiner who went to repair some property, and whilst doing the work was told by another man how he should do the job. When he asked the other man what he was and was informed that he was a billposter he said, "I cannot stand this. I cannot be told what to do by a man who is a billposter." And when the hon. and gallant Member tells working men how to do their job it is about the limit.


The hon. Member forgets that I, being an engineer, am entitled to do so; I could have done the job myself.


We have your assertion; but some of them will have sneering remarks to make as to how you do your job as a politician just as you have made sneering remarks as to how a plumber does his job. I have lived in an Addison house, and they have a lot of faults. They were built in very difficult times, when the industry was not organised and when men were coming back from the War after two and three years in the Army. These men were credited with the years they had served in the Army and were admitted as full tradesmen, because it was thought that they should not be penalised through having fought in the War; and the hon. and gallant Member sees fit to make sneering remarks. The Addison scheme left a lot to be desired, but it was a genuine attempt to build houses at a time when the country needed them, and I would sooner have the millions of pounds wasted in that way as perhaps some of that money was wasted, than the millions which were wasted in warfare in Russia and elsewhere.

I look upon this Clause as the violation of a treaty made between various parties to build houses over a period of 15 years, with a guarantee of a £9 subsidy. The value of such a subsidy was never greater than it is now. In 1924 the cost of houses was much higher, money was dear. Money is now, comparatively speaking, much cheaper, and costs are falling. A £9 subsidy which could not bring the houses down to a working-class level in 1924 would do so now, and now, when it is of the greatest value in the erection of houses, it is proposed to take it away. This is not the time for such a policy; we must keep the subsidy because houses should be built in greater numbers now than ever before. No one who really considers the housing conditions of the country, urban or rural, can do so with any satisfaction. It is said that private enterprise can build the houses required. Private enterprise will only build when it can see a profit on the capital invested, and no one can argue that the building of working-class houses has yet reached a profit-making basis. The great bulk of the people who require them, the mass of the working population, are those whose wages are falling, who are working on short time and who are insecure in their employment. They cannot meet the rents which it will be necessary to charge if private enterprise is to make a profit. It is wrong to take the subsidy away at this moment and I hope the Committee will vote for it to remain.

8.15 p.m.


The hon. and learned and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Procter) has seen fit to come down to this House and level a charge of insincerity against the Labour party on the question of housing. I do not question the sincerity of the hon. and learned and gallant Member for Accrington, but I do question his authority to speak on this question of housing. I should have thought that after his wide experience with the Black-and-Tans in Ireland he was a greater authority on burning down houses than on constructing them.


I hope the hon. Gentleman is not inferring that I was a Black-and-Tan.


I was referring to the hon. Member's experience in Ireland in connection with the Black-and-Tans.


I was an officer in His Majesty's regular Army and not a Black-and-Tan.


Anyone who served in Ireland during that terrible time must have a far better knowledge of burning down houses than of constructing them. I think that the hon. and gallant Member when he has been a little longer in this House will know better than to come here and charge his fellow Members with being insincere without, as far as I could see, any knowledge of the subject on which he was talking. As far as this Clause is concerned, there is less to be said for it than for any other part of the Government's policy. The Government's general policy seems to be the policy of doing nothing. Here they are going backward and causing people to be thrown out of work by withdrawing the subsidy for municipal housing. Therefore this is a Clause which deserves even greater condemnation than the general policy of the Government is receiving, riot only in this House but throughout the country, at Rotherham and places of that kind where by-elections occur. My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) made a very interesting speech as to the effect of this Clause upon rural housing. That is a very important subject. At least 20 years ago a Royal Commission reported that there was a shortage of 200,000 cottages in the rural districts, and very little has been done since then to meet that shortage. Two years ago my friend Sir Tudor Walters had a scheme for building a large number of cottages in the country.


He and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health were then in the same group of the Liberal party.


I do not know the extent of the intimacy between the Parliamentary Secretary and Sir Tudor Walters, but the facts I have stated are not in dispute. We have a great shortage of cottages in the country districts. Many of the existing cottages are very old. They may be very picturesque. Visitors from overseas admire them, with their honeysuckle round the door and all the rest of it, but these visitors would not like to live in the cottages. The sanitary conditions are very bad, there is often no water supply, and although the people are living in ideal surroundings, as far as the natural beauties of the countryside are concerned, they cannot be expected to be very healthy. So we find that in the villages, phthisis, rheumatism and all sorts of illnesses are extremely common. We have only to read the reports of medical officers of health on the condition and health of the children and people in the country villages to realise the importance of providing them with better accommodation. Apart from that, although the rural population is declining, there are workers who have no cottages to live in when they grow up and wish to get married.


Why should they wish for such a luxury?


My hon. Friend thinks it is a luxury. It is one of the luxuries that he enjoys.


Rather expensive for me, anyhow.


No, I think the hon. Member would be far worse off if he had not got that particular luxury. One result of the shortage of cottages is that the population of the countryside is coming into our towns and increasing the army of unemployed there. There is another effect to be borne in mind. Farm labourers often have to live miles away from their work, to which they have to cycle or walk in all sorts of weather. The children, too, live too far from their schools. Here public expenditure is involved, for the Government have to erect schools in widely scattered districts for a few children, whereas if the children were concentrated in the villages the expenditure on education would be less. Owing to the shortage of cottages we have also the terrible position of the people who live in tied cottages. We know that tyranny exists. Decent English people are sometimes afraid to express their views on politics or religion because they are afraid of being turned out of tied cottages, and they have nowhere else to go. The unemployed man in a town is a comparatively free man, for if there is another opportunity of getting work he can take it, but in the country very often if a man is thrown out of his employment he is thrown out of his cottage at the same time. The withdrawing of the subsidy is perpetuating conditions such as these.

Then there is the urban problem. Hon. Members opposite have only to read the "Daily Herald" every day to find some very vivid descriptions of the disgraceful state of the slum population in our great cities. I challenge anyone to read those articles and not say that slum clearance is one of the greatest tasks the Government can undertake at the moment. They should blow up the slums and rebuild them. Overcrowding conditions, we all know, are terrible. The families living in one room make a total of 500,000 people, and about 5,000,000 people are living in crowded conditions. Yet we have unemployment growing every day, builders out of work, and plenty of money available, in spite of the stranglehold that the Bank seems to have on the Government. In this matter the position of the Government in the presence of the Bank of England is like that of a frightened rabbit in the presence of a stoat. The Government seem to want to prove that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right when he said that there would be no decrease in unemployment for 10 years.

The Government are taking away the subsidy from municipal authorities, and preventing those authorities from carrying on the rebuilding of houses in our towns. One of the things which I cannot understand is that a highly intelligent man like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, sitting there with a highly intellectual party behind him, cannot see these things, or, that, if he sees them, he does not say: "This must be done, or, if it is not done, I will get out of the Government." It has been admitted by the Minister of Health that, whatever else he may say about this policy, it will not succeed in erecting houses which can be let at the lowest rents to the poorest of the people. The Minister has said that under this scheme the building societies cannot build the very cheapest houses.


The hon. Member is now going past the Clause with which we are dealing. We have not yet reached Clause 2 of the Bill.


I will reserve my remarks on that point for Clause 2. What is really wanted to-day is a great national policy for rebuilding our towns and cities through the medium of municipal and other local authorities. This Clause strikes against such a policy. A policy of that kind would reduce unemployment, would improve the health of the people, and would bring about economy even from the point of view of the Treasury. But the Government are facing against that policy, and that is one of the reasons why the Labour party are unanimously opposed to this Clause.

8.28 p.m.


It may be that some Members of the Committee are very anxious to get this business out of the way, but we are anxious to have business done properly and to have a full expression of opinion on the Clause before us. Certain hon. and learned Gentlemen who are accustomed to sit in the courts may be anxious to get rid of business of this kind in the House of Commons, but in their own particular class of work they are not so expeditious and they should allow a little latitude to Members of this Committee who desire that full consideration should be given to a Clause of this importance. We, who come from working-class districts and who represent the people, more especially those of us who have served on housing committees, have a right to express our opinions even to a Minister of the Crown in charge of a Housing Bill. We may at times criticise the Minister from a political point of view, but I am anxious to approach this matter, not from a political point of view, but from the point of view of impressing upon a Minister in the National Government the necessity of giving some consideration to those people in our cities who are directly interested in the housing question.

The subsidy has been a Godsend to the depressed areas of this country. Under the subsidy system, it was found practicable by housing authorities to carry out their obligations and to give, in some measure, decent homes and the amenities necessary for the moral life of the people. When, in this year of 1933 a Minister of the Crown at short notice announces that he is going to end that system, and that he is not prepared to accept conditions whereby we think justice might be done, we are justified in raising our voices in protest and pointing out the difficulties of the situation. In Liverpool, irrespective of parties, we have had to house about 13,000 people. We have done so, and we have been very thankful to previous Governments who enabled us to fulfil that great obligation.

If hon. Members treat their responsibilities so lightly as to be absent from this Committee when a discussion on housing is in progress, and only attend here when high finance is being considered, that is a matter for their constituents. But I am concerned with the problem of those who have to live nine or ten in a room, who have to live in cellars and garrets under conditions described by medical officers as demoralising. As a member of the housing committee in Liverpool I am surprised at hon. Members for that city not being in their places to-night. They ought to be here, because they have been asked to support our point of view as against that of the Minister. There is an obligation on every Member of this Committee to take part in dealing with the grave subject of housing in our cities. The question of the subsidy is one of the vital factors in the depressed areas. The proposals of the Government are going to increase the rates and place tradesmen in a difficult position, and, what is more important, in the words of the Minister himself, they are not going to provide cheap houses for our people.

The Minister approaches this matter from the point of view of financial economy. He is out to protect the interests of the Treasury and that being so, liberal time ought to be given to the local authorities in order that they may face their obligations and meet the difficulties of the housing situation. After 10 years on a local council I know of no problem in which hon. Members ought to be more interested than this. We speak to the people about better homes and improved housing conditions, but when we come here to this Committee we find an Amendment which merely seeks to give the local authorities time to get through their responsibilities, thrown on one side. We find a Minister stern, autocratic, despotic, out to protect the interests of the Treasury. He asks for power to carry on; he says that he is not going to have any datum limit. He admits that a datum limit might in certain circumstances, be necessary, but he says that in exceptional circumstances he will be pleased to deal with exceptional cases. Whatever merit there may be in that kind of statement, we want more than that. We want the statement implemented in a Bill, and, when we are confronted with the kind of legislation which is before us, every Member who professes to look after the interests of the people ought to protest against it. We have 5,000 people in Liverpool waiting for homes, and there are hundreds of thousands up and down the country. Surely no Minister of Health in those conditions can find fault with one who raises this question from the point of view of unemployment and housing conditions. If there is a forum in which such a voice should be heard, surely it is the British House of Commons.

I come here not to find fault with the Minister, but to demand whether it is not possible for us to provide homes for people who want them so badly. What do we find in this Clause? We find that the Government propose to withdraw the subsidy, representing the equivalent of 4s. a week on the rent of three roomed non-parlour houses over a period of 40 years. That will not give to the poor, to the unemployed, to the destitute cheap houses in which to live. I contend that no nation can be grand or good or can avoid the spread of Communism unless it has proper housing conditions. I live in an overcrowded area, in which every street cries out for the retention of the subsidy, to enable the municipality to deal in a proper and generous manner with those who are unable to afford decent housing accommodation. I come here only to express the voice of the people who sent me here, in whose district I live. The Parliamentary Secretary visited the City of Liverpool, and he knows that the housing conditions there are terrible. Dante's "Inferno" is nothing in comparison with the miserable hovels there, which should have gone 50 or 60 years ago; and we are unable to remodel our city because of the price of land.

The Government, in taking this drastic step of depriving us of the subsidy, have practically taken the life of the people of the City, and I trust that whatever may be in the mind of the Minister, and whatever he may mean by his word "may," there will be some elasticity offered to us, at least in regard to our scheme, which is only a few weeks late in coming forward, which isbona fide,and which gives us on the outer area of the City an opportunity to take advantage of a subsidy, if the right hon. Gentleman can find in this Measure some method by which to enable us to complete what is essential, namely, at least 5,000 houses. I have spoken from my heart, and I trust that the Minister will believe that it is not a case of empty vapourings from this bench, but an honest and sincere desire on our part that our people shall be able to get the benefit of that word "may," which the Minister himself says gives him elasticity. I have spoken against this Clause only in order to put forward the point of view of Liverpool in the unhappy position in which that City finds itself in regard to housing.

8.38 p.m.


I do not apologise to those who appear to think that this is a matter that ought to be passed over very lightly and who want to get on to some other matter, which apparently they think more important. I have often been struck with the things that attract Members into this House and the things that apparently empty the House and bore Members, particularly those representing 'agricultural constituencies. One would imagine that if there was anything, outside the question of unemployment, that should interest Members of the House generally, and fill the House for a real, live discussion, it would be the question of the housing conditions under which the people live, but all the time that I have been here, both in this Parliament and in others, I have been struck with the fact that when housing is under discussion the House is practically empty, yet when elections are on, housing forms perhaps the main plank in the election addresses of most of those who address the voters. Apparently what interests hon. Members most—


Will the hon. Member come to the Clause under discussion?


With all humility, I submit that I am discussing the Clause, which deals with the housing conditions of the people and the taking away of the subsidy, which has been in existence for a number of years. The effect of taking away the subsidy will be to make the housing conditions almost impossible in most districts in this country. I submit that this Clause will do several things. In the first place, and perhaps the most important of all, it will definitely increase the rents of people who obtain houses under the new conditions. I think I am not far wrong when I say that the £7 10s. subsidy is worth about 2s. 1d. a week on the rent of the tenant, and that the £11 subsidy for rural housing is worth perhaps 1s. 4d. more, or, say, 3s. 6d. or 3s. 8d. a week. I cannot see that there is any alternative to this Clause meaning that, even if the houses are built in large numbers—as the Minister appears to think will be the case, though I do not agree—the houses that are now let at 12s. in urban areas will cost 14s. or 14s. 3d. under the new conditions. That will be a very serious matter for the people in my constituency and in other constituencies.

In Walthamstow we have a waiting list of something like 3,800 people, in spite of the fact that we have built 1,300 to 1,400 houses—I do not remember the exact number—and we are particularly anxious to see that those people get a reasonably good habitation. We are very dissatisfied with the housing conditions in the area, and we naturally want them improved; and, as a member of that local council and of this House, I have to ask myself, Will the new conditions that are now sought to be imposed upon us increase our opportunities of making decent homes for the people? I do not think the Minister will dispute my contention that they will not increase those opportunities, because, in the first place, they will increase rents. That is a certainty. As to the houses themselves, there is no guarantee at all that when they are built they will be let at the old rent, plusthe value of the withdrawn subsidy, as the Minister thinks will happen. There appears to be no guarantee at all that the increase in the rent due to the withdrawal of the subsidy will stop at that, because it will be open to any of the speculative builders who may induce building societies to make loans to charge what rent they like, and as a result the opportunities of the people to live in those houses will be lessened again.

Therefore, I cannot help feeling that this is one of the worst Bills, from the point of view of the opportunities of the people to live in decent houses, that have been introduced into this House in my experience here. I cannot help feeling that the knowledge that it was coming probably played a very large part in the election result that has been announced to-day, and I cannot help feeling also— and I am not at all sorry for it—that when it becomes known that the Minister refuses to make any concessions at all, as apparently he intends to do, along the lines which we advocate, the result will be even more disastrous for the Government. I want to make the strongest possible protest, in the interests of the poor people, not only in my own constituency, but in all urban and rural areas, at the attempt which has beer made by the Minister to prevent then from living in decent houses and to drive them back into miserable dirty slums.

8.46 p.m.


I would not have risen had it not been for the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Procter) who referred particularly to trade conditions in industry as being responsible for the lack of houses. His remarks were particularly vindictive, and I do not think that they were based on very much information. I have a sense of satisfaction, however, in that the hon. and gallant Gentleman brought an atmosphere of reality into the Debate. It seemed as if the speeches that had been made were simply being poured off in order to pass the time until the clock reached the hour when we were to go into the Lobby. The proposal in this Bill will change the whole course of housing activity from that which we have known for the past 10 or 12 years. Fundamentally it changes the whole method of approach to the problem of house building, and from my experience I seriously believe that the Government by this proposal will signally fail to produce anything like the number of houses that even they have in mind. It may be an easy thing for us at the end of 12 months to be able to say that we had told the Government that this method of approach to the problem would not materialise in the provision of houses, and we might be able to propose a Vote of Censure and get it substantially supported in the House, but what about the people who would be deprived of housing accommodation and who could have had it if there had been a right method of approach? They are clamped down in the misery of their housing conditions with little or no chance of escape.

The attempt to rely upon voluntary effort—voluntary from the point of view of the financing organisation, the builder, and the measuring of the housing requirements—will fail to make any substantial contribution to housing. I speak as one who has taken part in negotiations for housing activities. I have helped to build houses and to superintend building, and I have negotiated with responsible persons for a number of years in an attempt to get housing activity in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for Accring- ton referred to the lines of demarcation in the industry, but he was particularly ill-informed of the general activities of the building industry to bring forward such a frivolous point as a serious contribution to the Debate. He gave in stances where relatively incompetent people were called upon to do certain work, and he spoke of picture rails and skirting boards being nailed to a, gaspipe. I do not know whether it was an iron gas-pipe. He followed that up by saying that if it were not for the strict rules of the trade unions housing could be made cheaper. If he had applied the ordinary measures of examination, he would have found that they were incompetent persons who were executing the class of work to which he was referring. Competent tradesmen could not do anything of the kind. No responsible body in the country, either of municipal authorities or employers or anyone who knows anything about building, has any complaint to make about the effect of the general lines of demarcation on the expedition of work or the cost of work. It is absurd to attempt to argue that such a thing is responsible for stopping house production.

Owing to the Government's change of policy, I feel that the members of my own organisation are condemned to a longer period of inactivity than is necessary. Instead of having an opportunity to exercise their skill in building houses, they will still be signing on at the Employment Exchanges or going to the public assistance committees. We have increased our personnel at the request of previous Governments. We agreed to adopt ex-service men and to train them and to give them work side by side with craftsmen. We have paid very dearly for it. These men were the first to be unemployed when there was little opportunity for employment because their skill was not equal to that of the others, and we had to subsidise them out of trade union funds during unemployment. We have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in that direction. In addition, manufacturers must feel very apprehensive about this change of policy, for in order to meet the housing needs they laid down additional plant. Many yards and factories are partially idle to-day. It seems such a pity to waste all the skill and the capacity that we have. There is no chance to apply it unless there is assisted guidance. All the technique of our builders, which is as rich as the country has ever known, is to be allowed to be picked up here and there in a haphazard sort of way. There is to be nothing organised about it. It is all to be left to chance—the chance that some municipal authority, finding that they have a waiting list of 3,000 or 4,000 people wanting houses, may call the master builders together and suggest to them that they should approach the building societies to see if they would be agreeable to advance financial assistance.


The speech of the hon. Member is becoming a speech on the Bill rather than on Clause 1.


I do not wish to trespass against any ruling you may lay down, Sir Dennis, but this Clause is altering the whole principle on which we have acted in housing matters, and I wish to direct attention to this violent change, which, in my opinion, will be responsible for slowing down housing activity rather than stimulating it. I am sure the House would wish to see house building encouraged, in view of the effect which poor housing has upon the character of our people and in face of the terrible statistics we have as to people who are living in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. I fear that the general complacency with which hon. Members appear to accept this change will be regretted in the future. The statement of the Minister that if we take away the subsidies and leave private enterprise a free and unfettered opportunity the effect will be to stimulate building enterprise is one with which we respectfully disagree.

The change we are introducing will not increase the number of houses to anything like the extent which is necessary. In present economic conditions, with the poverty which prevails among our people, there will be no sufficient guarantee to master builders that they will find people able to rent or purchase houses and that will be no stimulus to them to build. The Government have taken the wrong approach to this problem. We are sorry, also, that the Minister has not agreed to extend the period during which schemes may be submitted and sanctioned. If he had agreed to the longer period it would have given him a better opportunity to secure from agencies such as building societies some guarantee, some public statement, something more than a mere gesture—secure a definite assurance that they were prepared to build houses. We cannot say whether ten houses will be built by the building societies, or 10,000.


I must again call the hon. Member's attention to the Motion before the House. 'He is definitely wandering on to Clause 2.


I will reserve my observations on Clause 2 to a later period. I hope the Committee will agree that the taking away of the subsidy from house building is not a step in the direction of providing houses, but is a retrograde step.

8.59 p.m.


I do not think I need detain the Committee for more than two minutes, because we have had a very full discussion on the Clause, but one or two points have just arisen with which I would like to deal briefly. I agree with the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks) that it is a great pity to interpose the question of demarcation. After all the problem is big enough in itself. We are hoping to secure good will, and if we start flinging taunts at building operatives we shall never solve this problem. The question is, "Shall we or shall we not get more building activity by this change of policy, by the withdrawal of subsidies under the Act of 1923 and the Act of 1924?" The hon. Member said he regretted the complacency shown by the House. As far as I am concerned I am not complacent, but I am infinitely delighted at this change of policy, because it meets the point made by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan)—whose constituency I knew too well for one day. In my humble judgment, and I am not saying this without a good deal of thought, the only hope of clearing out some of those hovels lies in the policy on which we have embarked, because as

long as we have the 1924 Act subsidy continuing local authorities will go on building lovely housing estates, although not a fraction of 1 per cent. of slum dwellers will ever get into the houses. That is my strong conviction. These lovely new houses nearly always go to the aristocracy of the working class.

We propose to reverse that policy and concentrate on the 1930 Act subsidy, which is payable only in respect of persons displaced from the slums. No displacement, no subsidy. Local authorities will have an unrivalled opportunity in the next few years of using the Act and concentrating on slum clearance as they have never done before. I hope hon. Members will observe what is happening —I think it is happening in Liverpool. The local authorities are already concentrating to a quite remarkable degree on this Act. There have been more houses "declared" in the last fortnight than for a long time past. I would like to congratulate the Corporation of Liverpool on the way it is solving the question of re-housing on the spot. It is solely due to the fact that we have announced the removal of the subsidy under the Act of 1924 and left the local authorities free to get on with this tremendous and baffling question of slum clearance. That is all I need say. My right hon. Friend dealt fully with the justification for the Government's policy in agricultural areas. I just wanted to add that one word on slum clearance.


Is there no gleam of hope with regard to the date? What about any concession? It is all right for the Minister to say, "Oh, oh," but we want to know. We are not concerned with the Minister's "Oh, oh."


I have dealt very fairly, and I think very fully, with that point, and I feel that we have the general assent of the Committee for our policy. There has been a full discussion and I hope the Committee will now let us have the Clause.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 219: Noes, 48.

Division No. 56.] AYES. [9.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Saltour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Ralniel, Lord Bonn, Sir Arthur Shirley
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Birchall, Major Sir John' Dearman.
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Hartland, George A. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Blindell, James Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Borodale, Viscount Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Rankin, Robert
Bossom, A. C. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Ratcllfle, Arthur
Boulton, W. W. Hornby, Frank Ray, Sir William
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Horobin, Ian M. Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Horsbrugh. Florence Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.) Robinson, John Roland
Broadbent, Colonel John Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ropner, Colonel L.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Runge, Norah Cecil
Browne, Captain A. C. James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Burghley, Lord Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Ker, J. Campbell Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Burnett, John George Kerr, Hamilton W. Salt, Edward w.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Law, Sir Alfred Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Carver, Major William H. Leckle, J. A. Savery, Samuel Servington
Casseis, James Dale Leech, Dr. J. W. Scone, Lord
Castlereagh, Viscount Lees-Jones, John Selley, Harry R.
Cayzer, Ma). Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Levy, Thomas Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Lewis, Oswald Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leotric Liddall, Walter S. Slater, John
Christie, James Archibald Lindsay, Noel Ker Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)
Clarry, Reginald George Llewellin, Major John I. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Colfox, Major William Philip Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine.C.)
Conant, R, J. E. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cook, Thomas A. McCorquodale, M. S. Somervell, Donald Bradley
Cooke, Douglas McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Somervllie, Annesley A, (Windsor)
Craven-Ellis, William McKie, John Hamilton Somervllie, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro) McLean, Major Sir Alan Soper, Richard
Croom-Johnson, R. P. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Cross, R. H. Macmillan, Maurice Harold Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Crossley, A. C. Magnay, Thomas Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Maitland, Adam Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)
Dalkeith, Earl of Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Storey, Samuel
Denman, Hon. R. D. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Stourton, Hon. John J.
Denvllie, Alfred Martin, Thomas B. Strauss, Edward A.
Dickie, John P. Mayhew, Lieut-Colonel John Strickland, Captain W. F.
Donner, P. W. Meller, Richard James Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Drewe, Cedric Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest; Sutcliffe, Harold
Duckworth, George A. V. Milne, Charles Templeton, William P.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Mitcheson, G. G. Thomson. Sir Frederick Charles
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Elmley, Viscount Morrison, William Shepherd Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Moss, Captain H. J. Turton, Robert Hugh
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Muirhead, Major A. J. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Nail, Sir Joseph Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Everard, W. Lindsay Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Ford, Sir Patrick J. North, Captain Edward T. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Forestler-Walker, Sir Leolin Nunn, William Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Fox, Sir Gifford Oman, Sir Charles William C. Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Fremantle, Sir Francis Palmer, Francis Noel Wells, Sydney Richard
Glossop, C. W. H. Patrick, Colin M. Weymouth, Viscount
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Pearson, William G. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Gaff, Sir Park Peat, Charles U. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Goldle, Noet B. Percy, Lord Eustace Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Perkins, Walter R. D. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Petherick, M. Wilson. Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Greene, William P. C. Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Grimston, R. V. Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Potter, John Withers, Sir John James
Gunston, Captain D. W. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Womersley, Walter James
Guy, J. C. Morrison Procter, Major Henry Adam Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Pybus, Percy John
Hanbury, Cecil Raikes, Henry V. A. M- TELLERS FOR THE AYES —
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Major George Davies and Dr. Morris-Jones.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Curry, A. C. Harris, Sir Percy
Attlee, Clement Richard Daggar, George Hicks, Ernest George
Banfield, John William Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Janner, Barnett
Batey, Joseph Edwards, Charles Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Kirkwood, David
Buchanan, George Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Lawson, John James
Cape, Thomas Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Logan, David Gilbert
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.) McEntee, Valentine L.
Cove, William G. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McGovern, John
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Price, Gabriel White, Henry Graham
Maxton, James Rathbone, Eleanor Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Mliner, Malar James Salter, Dr. Alfred Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Nathan, Major H. L. Thorne, William James
Owen, Major Goronwy Tinker, John Joseph TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Parkinson, John Allen Wallhead, Richard C. Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G. Macdonald.