§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
It has been suggested to me that it would facilitate the Debate if I expressed the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the issue as it will be raised when the Instruction on the Paper is moved, and, if that procedure will be in order, and if it will be for the convenience of the House, I will willingly follow it. I can assure the House that what I have to say can be compressed within a very small compass. The issue before the House will be whether the London County Council should be granted borrowing powers for the purpose of building a new Waterloo Bridge to replace the bridge which they are now demolishing. In circumstances which it is hardly necessary for me to recapitulate, the London County Council have seen fit to proceed in this matter on lines previously rejected by the House of Commons.
My predecessors, stating the attitude of the Government before the bridge was pulled down, made the question of a grant dependent upon Parliament's decision. Parliament has twice withheld its approval from the proposal to destroy the old Waterloo Bridge and build a new one, and has therefore in effect twice decided against any grant being made 1615 for such a purpose. Whatever decision, therefore, the House may wish to reach on the question of the financial method of meeting the cost which has been incurred, and particularly on the proposal to allow the County Council now to borrow—on which point the Government have no desire to stand in the Council's way—there can no longer be any question of a grant from national funds in aid of the expenditure which the Council have decided to incur of their own motion and contrary to the wishes of Parliament. The question will, therefore, be entirely for the House of Commons to decide, and it may assist the Debate if the issue is expressed on this occasion as being one of whether or not borrowing powers should be granted.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time, and committed.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I beg to move,That it be an Instruction to the Committee to leave out paragraph (c) of item 9 of Part I of the Schedule.I am much obliged to the Minister of Transport for the statement which he has just made. If hon. Members will turn to the Schedule to the Bill, they will find, on page 6, under Item 9, paragraph (c), that the London County Council once again ask Parliament to give them power to raise by loan, during the year ending on the 31st March, 1936, a sum of £140,260, and during the half-year ending on the 30th September, 1936, a further sum of £140,000, or a total sum during the two periods mentioned of 2280,260. The purpose of this loan is stated to be to obtain cash by borrowing, instead of, as was originally suggested, by a direct charge on current rates, towards payment of part of the cost of the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the erection of a new bridge. No figure is given for the total expenditure involved, but in the statement which has been circulated this morning the estimated figure is given as approximately £1,295,000; but I need not remind the House that, were Parliament to approve of the borrowing of the smaller sums to which I first referred, they would be morally bound to approve of loans for the larger sum or anything in excess of that sum which was 1616 ultimately found to be required for pulling down the old bridge and erecting a new one.
I remember that, when I moved a similar Instruction in the case of the London County Council (Money) Bill almost exactly a year ago, in May, 1934, I felt that some apology was due to Parliament and to this House that Parliament should have again been troubled with the discussion of a matter which they had considered so fully and dealt with so decisively only two years before, namely, in June, 1932. Now, with only the interval of a single year after Parliament has on two occasions, equally decisively, refused to give borrowing powers to the London County Council for the pulling down of Waterloo Bridge and the erection of a new bridge, we have once more before us the same request from that body. The only difference this time is that, notwithstanding the twice expressed opinion of this House that Waterloo Bridge should not be pulled down, but that it should be widened and reconditioned, the London County Council, a few weeks after the decision of Parliament, commenced pulling down the bridge and a great part of the bridge has already been pulled down and removed. It will be remembered that, as soon as the decision of Parliament was announced, the Leader of the London County Council made a statement to the effect that he did not regard the decision of Parliament as a matter of importance, and that he intended to take immediate steps to pull down the bridge and to pay for the expense incurred out of the rates. That this flouting of Parliament was deliberate on the part of the London County Council is, I think, clear if the House remembers a statement made on the matter in the course of the last Debate in a speech by the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray), who, after pointing out that the question of pulling down Waterloo Bridge was in no sense a party matter—which is absolutely true—went on as follows:I feel that the House to-night is pursuing something of a dream. It does not matter what this House decides to-night. Whatever point of view the House takes, the decision of those responsible for London administration has been made. For 10 years we—that is, the Municipal Reform party—have been reproached for our vacillating policy and all the rest of it, and have been urged by the leaders of the present London 1617 County Council to have the courage to put the cost on the London rates and to defy the House of Commons. [HON. MEMBERS: 'No!'] Yes. I have quotations here. The present leader of the London County Council went so far in 1932 as to say that if he were in my position as leader of the Council he would vindicate the right of self-government in London and he would pay out of the rates for five years. So I say, with all respect, that the policy of the London County Council is already determined."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th May, 1934; col. 289, Vol. 290.]Parliament having, as I have said, refused in 1934 to give power to the London County Council to borrow money to pull down the bridge, the Council at once proceeded to sign a contract for its immediate demolition. The leader of the Council stated that the expenditure involved, in accordance with the statement made by the hon. Member for Richmond which I have just read to the House, would be provided out of current rates. The House will also remember that, in order to emphasise the London County Council's disregard of the decision arrived at by Parliament, the leader of the Council a few weeks afterwards, as soon as the contract for the demolition of the bridge had been signed, summoned a large number of photographers and cinematograph operators to attend one morning on Waterloo Bridge, and there he posed, cap on head and pick in hand, with workmen from the contracting firm, showing the first stone of the old bridge being removed from its place. I may also remind the House that an unfortunate slip happened with regard to the taking of this film, and the posing had to be gone through a second time in order that full and authentic films might be preserved for the public of this historic incident.
I hope that from what I have said the House will realise that there is no difference whatever between the application made to Parliament to-night and its two predecessors, all three being requests to Parliament to allow the London County Council to borrow money to pull down and rebuild Waterloo Bridge. It is true that on the two previous occasions the Minister of Transport indicated that, if Parliament was prepared to give borrowing powers to the London County Council the Ministry would make from the Road Fund a grant of 60 per cent. of the cost, while to-night we have just heard from the Minister of Transport that in no circumstances wilt the Govern- 1618 ment make a. grant towards the cost of the bridge, though, in accordance with the usual practice in the case of a Private Bill, it is left to the decision of the House whether the House will adhere to its previous decision not to grant borrowing powers to the London County Council, or will reverse its previous decision and grant such powers. The words of the Minister, as I took them down, were that the reason why the Government have decided in no circumstances to make a grant was that the County Council of their own motion had decided to pull down the bridge, contrary to the opinion expressed by Parliament on two separate occasions.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
There can, as I have said, be no doubt that the original intention of the London County Council, when Parliament had for the second time refused them borrowing powers, was to rebuild the bridge out of the rates, and it was only recently, when it was found that the rates of London were rising with alarming rapidity, that the leaders of the London County Council thought it desirable, notwithstanding the previous decisions of Parliament, to come to Parliament again and say, "Let bygones be bygones. Allow us to borrow this money, so that no further burdens may be put upon the rates." Such is a very brief resume of the facts of the case and of what has occurred since this matter was before the House a. year ago. What the House—and I would point out that it is the same House which decided this matter on the last two occasions—has to decide to-night is whether or not it will stand by its two previous decisions, or whether it will reverse those decisions and grant to the London County Council powers which it refused to them before when they asked leave to pull down the bridge. Now that they are in process of pulling down the bridge, is Parliament going to do what it previously refused to do because part of what it refused to allow has actually been done '1 This is a statement of the facts of the case in the simplest and, I hope, least provocative form.
It is sometimes said that, when a great municipal authority—and no one has a higher admiration for the London County Council or for the great work it has done in London than I have—comes to Parlia- 1619 ment and asks, with regard to matters, the carrying out of which is its general function, to be allowed to borrow money Parliament should not go into detail in the matter but should accede to their request. That is no doubt a point of view which can and may be discussed, but it cannot be discussed to-night, because Parliament, rightly or wrongly, in the past has decided that because of the magnitude of the work of the London County Council and of its vast powers it should not be allowed to borrow money, unless the purposes for which its loans are intended have first been approved by Parliament. Parliament, having this duty laid upon it, must, I submit, discharge it fearlessly and honestly. When this same House of Commons has twice decided on the same facts that money should not be borrowed for a particular purpose, I cannot see how, with any self respect, they can now disregard their previous decisions simply because the London County Council have actually done that which Parliament after full discussion on two occasions decided should not be done. Were Parliament to take a course so weak and so pusillanimous, and so fatal to its dignity and repute, I think that it could never again refuse leave to the London County Council were they to ask for powers to borrow money, no matter for what purpose, or whether such purpose was something which Parliament considered was undesirable.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Commander MARSDEN
I beg to second the Motion.
I am very glad that the general Debate has taken this direction because it narrows down the issue to the fundamentals. It is no longer a question about Waterloo Bridge itself. My hon. Friend who has moved the Motion and I were on opposite sides in 1932 and 1934. It is no longer a question of aesthetics; it is a question of ethics, and in my submission the London County Council are asking this House to do something which they should not do. The Minister has given us a short cut by saying that the Government will not give a grant out of the Road Fund.
§ Commander MARSDEN
It is the same Government which refused it in 1932 and 1934. But I wonder how this is going to affect the attitude of the London County Council which was very clearly stated on Saturday by the leader of the majority party in the London County Council. According to the "Times" newspaper, which is always correct, he said:If the Council succeeded with the Bill it would follow that the Minister of Transport would make a grant towards the bridge.I take it from the utterance of the Minister that, whether the Bill goes through or not, whether the Instruction fails or succeeds, they will get no such grant. I understand that to be the case.
§ Captain A. HUDSON indicated assent.
§ Commander MARSDEN
What is the London County Council going to do about it now? I will quote from the Memorandum which hon. Members received this morning. They say:The question of rebuilding Waterloo Bridge has subsequently been considered by Parliament in connection with the Council's Annual Money Bill in 1932 and again in 1934 but the proposal to incur capital expenditure on the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the construction of a new bridge in its place was not endorsed on either of those occasions.We have already heard that, but they go on to say:The effect of Parliament's action in 1934 was that the Council had no authority to defray the cost of a new bridge out of borrowed money.In spite of their own declaration, they started pulling down the bridge some time ago, obviously with the intention of erecting a new bridge, and, after committing themselves to the work, they come to the House and ask to be allowed to borrow the money. It was pointed out by my hon. Friend that they have suddenly come because the rates are going up, and if the rates are going up they will not be so popular. But this did not deter them in the first instance in the slightest. They go on to say:Owing to the Council's system of finance, by which large sums of expenditure on capital works are met each year out of rate account without borrowing, the Council were in a position to proceed with the execution of the bridge works.That is what they did. They say that they have the provision and the means 1621 to raise the money without borrowing, and they work on those lines. Now they come to this House to ask for powers to borrow money for the purpose for which they said they had enough money through the rates. The arguments why we should agree to the loan are pretty obvious. The bridge will be of universal use. I am sure that it will be a beautiful bridge, that it will appeal to all of us and will be used by many of us and our successors for a great many years. The bridge may last 100 years, and as far as I know the details of the loan would be that it would probably be repaid in 60 years. That all sounds very admirable and nice, and up to a point it is. But why is Parliament asked to agree to borrowing the money at all? Is it merely a formality, and the London County Council puts down a request to this House and we put it through? It seems to be absolutely a case where Parliament should say something rather more than that. Parliament's decision has been given. I did not agree with that decision. I voted the other way. It is not a question now of the bridge, but how the bridge should be paid for. The position is obvious.
I would point out another thing which was said by the leader of the London County Council. He said that it was to be remembered that on these private Bills Parliament should be acting in something like a judicial rather than a political capacity. That is perfectly true, and then he rather spoils his own remarks by prejudging what the judges are going to say and finding fault with them if they do not bring in a decision in accordance with his ideas. That is really how they stand. In the ordinary vernacular, which some hon. Members in this House perhaps understand, they are trying to put one over on us; they are trying to get away with it. I see no reason why they should not stand by their own errors and misjudgments. There is no reason at all why next year, when the new bridge is being built, they should not come forward again to borrow money, and I for my part would then feel disposed to agree with them. But on this occasion, Parliament's authority and decisions mean anything, I hope that Members of the House will pass this Instruction.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I am sure that the House will be pleased that the hon. Mem- 1622 ber for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has delivered exactly the kind of speech which the House would expect from him.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I say that the House is pleased and gratified that its expectations should have been granted. He has told us all the good reasons why the House should interfere with the proper functions of the London County Council. I was more puzzled by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Battersea (Commander Marsden). Exactly how he regards it as a matter of high ethics that the Council's proper request for borrowing powers should be turned down to-night, but granted next year for exactly the same purpose, I find it very difficult to follow. It is not a matter of ethics, but of finance of very far-reaching consequences. It would be proper if the House would consider the real consequences of the matter which we are here determining. This is the annual Money Bill of the London County Council, and it specifies the purposes for which the Council may borrow money and the extent to which it may borrow money during the current financial period. The London County Council is an enormous body, its powers are wide, it governs more people than many a European sovereign State, and it expends more money than many a national budget. Parliament, in devising the structure of this, the greatest municipal authority in the world, required it to come to Parliament with an annual Money Bill to get sanction for its borrowing powers. The intention of Parliament clearly was that these operations were so large that it was proper that the House of Commons should determine these questions in the light of whether the proposed borrowings were for purposes which properly fall to be charged to capital rather than to rate account. It is to that aspect of the. question that the House ought to be devoting its attention.
The hon. Member for South Kensington has chosen to introduce into this subject, as he chose to introduce into the Debate last year, considerations of a party political character and to regard this matter, not as a proper function for the use of the funds available, limit as a matter by which one political party could score marks over the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It 1623 is very much to be regretted, but he has only himself to blame for it, because he very clearly expressed his own views. The London County Council is accused of flouting Parliament, and it would be well if the House would examine that charge. The London County Council is the sole authority charged with the maintenance and, if necessary, with the reconstruction of the county bridges of London. It has the sole authority because Parliament in its wisdom chose to appoint it the sole authority.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I will come to borrowing powers in a moment. It chose to lay down this great authority. It has very heavy and extensive responsibility for maintaining in proper order and in due safety, and with regard to the traffic requirements of the times, the important links across the river Thames that fall within the county of London, and it is in pursuance of duties specially laid upon it by Parliament that the county council, not out of some devilment or on account of some whim, has to determine what to do with a bridge which has been falling down for the last 12 years. Parliament does not choose to relieve the council of that responsibility. The responsibility still rests with the council, and it is a responsibility in this case for the day-to-day safety of those who pass over and under that bridge. The London County Council are not coming here cap in hand to ask the House of Commons "please on this special occasion sanction borrowing powers for doing this job," they come here in pursuance of their proper function, submitting their annual money Bill as they are bound in law to do in connection with their borrowing powers, including the necessary finance for undertaking a bridge reconstruction in which they were supported by almost every authority with whom they consulted and who had any reason to speak on the matter.
Parliament decided for reasons best known to the Members who chose to vote on that occasion that the borrowing powers for the construction of this bridge should be deleted from the Bill. But this House is not the bridges authority for London. The responsibility for the safety of that bridge has been delegated 1624 by the House to the London County Council, and the House was not asked to decide whether it was a proper thing to treat this dangerous bridge in this way or that. The House was asked to decide whether this was a proper purpose to charge to capital or to rate account. The hon. Member shakes his head, but if he will examine the Statute under which this business operates, I think he will find that I am right. Parliament decided that it would not permit the Council to pay for the construction of a bridge which the Council considered to be necessary; it would not allow them to pay for it out of capital but decided that the whole of it should be thrown on the London rates. When that Motion was put to the vote last year Members from all over the country voted on it, as it was their right to do; but it was interesting to observe that of the 46 London Members of Parliament, who are responsible to their constituents in London for what they do about it, only 18 could be found in any party who would vote against the London County Council's proper request for borrowing powers in respect of this great capital work.
The London County Council the day after that vote was taken was still the bridges authority for London; they had still to bear the responsibility which I submit the hon. Member opposite did not have to bear for the safety of those who used that bridge and navigated the water under it. They were forced in the light of the decision of Parliament to reconsider the whole matter afresh. They considered the traffic, the navigation, the financial and the architectural problems which were involved by the collapse of this old structure. They took fresh advice. They consulted again the best advisers on every aspect, and they were bound to come to a decision at once for the condition of the bridge was such that it would brook no delay in determining what should be done. The London County Council's unquestioned and unquestionable duty was to deal with this problem as the bridges authority in such a manner as after due advice they sincerely believed to be the best solution. That was the duty laid on them, and the decision with regard to borrowing powers did not affect that duty. They decided on what they believed to be the best course, to pull down the old bridge and to put a new bridge in its place. It is unnecessary for me to detain the House with the 1625 long history of the dispute over this bridge; it is enough to say that London County Councils of two opposite political complexions have arrived at exactly the same decision on the merits of the problem.
§ Mr. WILMOT
If the hon. Gentleman is making an attempt to follow my argument, he will see that I am arguing that it was not a political issue inasmuch as two opposing county councils from the political point of view came to the same decision. It is the hon. Member himself who wishes to make it a political dog fight, because, presumably, he sees the approaching election before him. But I venture to suggest that the result of his action may be different from what he anticipates. Two opposite county councils came to the conclusion that the best and the only proper thing to do in all the circumstances was to pull down, the old bridge and to put a new and wider bridge in its place. These discussions have been going on ever since 1923. In 1925 the old council, dominated by Conservatives, determined to demolish the bridge. In 1926 this House authorised the borrowing powers that were asked for by the old council for precisely the same purpose that the new council are now asking borrowing powers.
The only reason why the bridge was not then forthwith demolished was that a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the whole question of cross-river transport and the Council delayed action pending the report of that Commission. The Commission recommended that the demolition of the bridge should not be proceeded with for one reason; it recommended that the old bridge be maintained as a narrow bridge and that a new one be constructed at Charing Cross. But when the County Council, with the assistance of the Government, promoted a Bill, which was referred by the House to a Select Committee, for the purpose of authorising the building of a bridge at Charing Cross, the Select Committee turned it down; and so we were left with nothing done, with the old bridge still falling down and the County Council still left to face the problem with which it was charged. As the House will remember, in 1932 and 1934 this same 1626 question was before the House on this Money Bill.
There is no need to reiterate all the steps and stages in this long-drawn-out controversy, but the fact remains that in its decision to demolish the bridge and build a new bridge this Council, as did the old Council, had the support of the then Minister of Transport, who supported the proposition in the Debate last year and voted in the Lobby in favour of the London County Council. The Council had the distinguished and instructive support of the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson), who for many years has rendered public service as Chairman of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee and who as a result of his long and unique experience in the study of London's traffic problem unhesitatingly supported the proposal that a new and wider bridge should be provided at Waterloo. On the navigation side of the problem, the Council were supported by the hon. Member for North Battersea (Commander Marsden), who has so surprisingly changed his mind and who last year represented certain river users whose lives and property were in danger.
§ Commander MARSDEN
I am very glad that a new bridge is being built. The whole question before the House to-night is how it is to be paid for.
§ Mr. WILMOT
The House will be interested to find that while the hon. Member is glad that a new bridge is to be built he desires to penalise the people of London because it is being built, and insists that the rates should go up because there is a Labour council, who should not be treated as any other council would be. Is there anyone who would really on the merits of the question determine that the building of the bridge is not a capital work which ought to be financed out of capital and not out of revenue. The council were supported by Lord Ritchie for the Port of London Authority, by the Master Lightermen's Association, by the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Clarke), and by those who were able to speak on behalf of those who actually worked on the boats that pass under the bridge. On the architectural side it was supported by eminent architects and eminent antiquarians, who felt that it was not a practical or artistic thing to attempt to hang parapets out of ? 1627 the side of the old bridge. Finally, there are authorities who supported the council on financial grounds, who felt that is was better to spend £1,200,000 on a new bridge which would last for centuries than to spend half that sum on an attempt to patch up an old bridge which would probably collapse. Members had an opportunity of seeing in the tea room models of the new bridge, not fantastic dreams but models of a bridge which is about to be put in course of construction. The terribly nerve-racking fears of the hon. Member for South Kensington that this new bridge would prove to be some dreadful monstrosity were fortunately proved to be wrong.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I never said that the new bridge would prove to be a monstrosity. I said that I had no doubt that Sir Gilbert Scott would build a beautiful bridge, but that it would not be Waterloo Bridge.
§ Mr. WILM0T
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, but he will surely agree with me that the new bridge is a very beautiful structure. It combines in a peculiarly appropriate way architectural features which bring it into harmony with the noble proportions of Somerset House on one side and the new squat modern square architecture which is on the other side of the bridge. The keynote of the design is simplicity. By adopting the same device as Rennie, the twin arch, an impression of lightness has been created, while by springing the initial Norman arch right across the roadway and into the river, an entirely new London vista is opened up, a vista of London's curving river which very few Capitals can equal or boast of. From the aesthetic point of view, the council's architects have produced a monument which will be in a noble setting and will be a noble addition to the development of London's river bank.
The House to-night is not asked to decide whether we shall have a new Waterloo Bridge or whether we shall retain the old one. Years ago the House of Commons decided that these problems should be decided by the London County Council, which was appointed the bridges authority for London. The House has to decide to-night whether it will allow the London County Council to do what I, with respect, suggest they would not 1628 question in any other authority; whether it will allow the London County Council borrowing powers for the purpose of building the bridge. I suggest that if it were any other authority or any other bridge that was involved, it would be a different matter. There are several other bridges mentioned. There is no question in the House of preventing the County Council from borrowing money for the purpose of reconstructing Chelsea Bridge or reconstructing Wandsworth Bridge. Surely, if it is financially proper that the Council should have borrowing powers to reconstruct Chelsea Bridge it is financially proper that they should have powers to borrow for the purpose of reconstructing Waterloo Bridge. What difference is there as a financial proposition 4 If the House draws a line it is drawing a line other than a financial one and imparting into a financial decision elements which I suggest with respect should not be imported.
It is very regrettable that the Minister of Transport should have chosen to announce to-night that, no matter what the House of Commons may decide, there can be no grant from the Road Fund for this great capital work. I think that the public of London, in this great capital city, which makes such an enormous contribution to the roads, whose citizens contribute more than any other citizens to the swollen Road Fund, which is raided from time to time to make up Exchequer deficiencies, will be disappointed that the Minister, without waiting for the decision of Parliament, has announced that this particular bridge, which is being built by the London bridges authority, shall be treated differently from any other bridge, notwithstanding the fact that a new bridge is necessary and has been started, and that the Minister's predecessor supported that policy and voted for it—
Mr. WI LMOT
Parliament has not turned it down to-night. The Minister of Transport last year awaited the decision of Parliament. The Minister of Transport to-night has decided to make his decision before Parliament has had an opportunity of making its voice heard. I think it is a most regrettable decision and the implications of it go very far and very wide. But we are not here to 1629 discuss the Minister's action. We are here to discuss the Motion of the hon. Member for South Kensington, and I would appeal to him to realise that so far as the building of the new Waterloo Bridge is concerned London opinion will take it very badly if the House of Commons decide that because it is Waterloo Bridge and because it is the London County Council borrowing powers, which financially ought to be granted, shall in this case be withheld.
Members of this House who are familiar with the past of London and with the troubled and stormy history which has surrounded the rebuilding of all London's old bridges will appreciate what I mean when I say that I think I see sitting beside the hon. Member for South Kensington the shades of all the greyhaired diehards who have preceded him. There has not been one occasion when the rebuilding of the old London bridges has not been met with strenuous opposition. Every kind of opposition was put up against the rebuilding of old London Bridge and against the rebuilding of old Westminster Bridge. Enormous sums of money have been poured out in reconstruction and repairs in an attempt to delay the inevitable decision that the bridge must be pulled down and a new one built. In the end that was the course that was followed, but it was only followed after the hon. Member's ancestors in politics had done their utmost to delay the decision which was ultimately inevitable. In Mr. Harold Clun's remarkable book on London he refers to the fact that it took nearly a century of haggling for the old London Bridge to be condemned as a nuisance, a danger to navigation and a disgrace to the city. Enormous sums were poured out upon it. Sums 'that were entirely wasted were literally poured into the river. Even then, says Mr. Clun, the building of the new bridge could only be carried through in the teeth of the most strenuous opposition, and I see that opposition hovering round the hon. Member for South Kensington to-night. Cannot we in this case realise that the London County Council has made a proper and the best decision, acting with full responsibility in the discharge of the duties laid upon it by Parliament. I cannot believe that the House of Commons will penalise the ratepayers of London and lay upon them a special charge by forcing them to defray out of 1630 the current rates account an item of expenditure which no reasonable person would regard as other than capital expenditure. I hope the House will say that that is not a wise course to pursue but that it will take the decision that the County Council shall go on with its work unhampered by this excursion into party politics and should proceed with the building of a fine structure which in the end will make London a finer and better city.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. GEORGE BALFOUR
I am sure that the House has listened with interest to the long disquisition which we have just heard. No doubt we should have been more interested if any substantial portion of the speech had had anything whatever to do with the Motion before the House. The issue before us is short, sharp and clear cut. Is this House to allow the London County Council or any authority to flout the decrees of the House. It is that issue alone with which we are concerned to-night. The hon. Member said that the House has no right to interfere with the proper functioning of the London County Council. With that I entirely agree, and I am sure that every hon. Member will agree that this House would not dream of interfering with the proper functions of the London County Council. But are we interfering with the proper functions of the London County Council? In an admirable speech my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has pointed out that this question was before the House in 1932, when there was a Moderate party on the London County Council and in 1934 when it had changed its political complexion, and that on both occasions the decision of the House was the same. There was an application for a loan, a request for a guarantee and on both occasions the House decided against it.
It is necessary to keep clearly in mind that we are not in the least concerned with the old bridge or the new bridge. We are not concerned with Waterloo Bridge as such. The question is, are we to be dragooned by the London County Council; are they to say that we must give them power to put this bridge item on capital account although we have twice previously decided against it. In what circumstances was the decision 1631 taken by the London County Council. The House rejected this proposal in May last, and its decision was faithfully adhered to by the previous London County Council. Within a few days we had Mr. Morrison openly declaring that they were going to pull the bridge down, indeed, he used a pick-axe to pull out the first stone. He said: "We do not care what Parliament says; we will do it out of the rates." Up to that point I have no objection to the action taken by Mr. Morrison, although it may not have been the most dignified way of doing it. Up to that point the London County Council were quite within their rights to undertake work for which they would themselves pay out of the rates, and would not be dependent on an application to Parliament for something which had twice been denied, the last time only just immediately before the London County Council decided to take this drastic action.
I say with great emphasis that this House cannot allow any local authority in the provinces or the London County Council to flout its decisions so flagrantly as was done by Mr. Morrison's action in coming back to the House this year having said that he would put the cost on the rates. Whatever may be the political colour of the administration I should take exactly the same stand if the dignity and authority of Parliament was challenged in such a manner. I hope, therefore, we shall make certain that the Instruction is carried, so that authorities everywhere will understand that they must respect Parliament. When that proper respect is shown I have no doubt that this House will give proper and due regard to any renewed application. We have not to deal with that to-night, but it is necessary that Parliament should say that it cannot tolerate the flouting of its decisions. The hon. Member for Fulham East (Mr. Wilmot) has said that it was not a question of one political party scoring over another. That was what Mr. Morrision was doing. He was trying to score a political point. In this House while various questions were raised it always came back to the guarantee, asking for authority to borrow the money and not put it on. the rates.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
The word I should have used was "grant." It was Mr. Morrison who introduced politics. If such an issue was raised by any authority or company who is entitled to come to this House I should resist on every occasion these powers, because I attribute far greater importance to maintaining the authority of Parliament than to any other consideration. I hope the House will accept the Instruction, and show the country that it intends to maintain the authority which resides in Parliament.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
I do not suppose that anybody has fought harder for the preservation of Waterloo Bridge in this House than I have, or when I was a member of the London County Council. I have no regrets that on aesthetic, historic and traffic grounds I desired that the bridge in its original form should be preserved. Nothing that has happened during the last few years has altered my views of that point; but we must realise the position. London as a whole is undoubtedly against those views. On the last London County Council perhaps even more than the present Council, a vast majority of members took an entirely different view and I was always in a small minority. They came to their conclusion on the point of the river interest and traffic that the bridge should be rebuilt. Some of us made a last effort to preserve it last last year. We failed. Perhaps it was rather a high-handed action on the part of the London County Council when they decided that even if the new bridge had to be built out of the rates the bridge should go. The bridge has gone, and there is not the slightest hope of preserving Waterloo Bridge in its original form. There it is, being gradually pulled down stone by stone. We may think that it is somewhat of an act of vandalism, but that is not the issue.
The issue is, shall it be paid out of the rate account or out of capital account? If it was any other authority but the London County Council they would not have to come to the House of Commons. If it was Birmingham or Manchester, or any of the great municipal corporations, they would go to the Ministry of Health, the loan sanctioning authority, and undoubtedly the authority to borrow the money would be given, but owing to historical circumstances, 1633 rightly or wrongly, the London County Council have direct access to the House cif Commons. That is due to the fact that the previous authority, the Metropolitan Water Board, who carried out works like main drainage, had to borrow extensively by means of bonds, and the Treasury in 1869 decided to give London what was then regarded as a privilege—namely, the right to come to the House of Commons for raising loans in order to get money at a cheap rate.
In 1875, by special Act of Parliament, it was arranged that these loan powers should be obtained each year. That explains the annual money Bill of the London County Council, and that is the reason why we can prevent London borrowing money for a capital charge. It is a power that we have not got over Liverpool or any other great cities, and the responsibility is a great one for us to take. If we decide against the Bill to-night it is true that Waterloo Bridge demolition will continue and that the new bridge will be constructed, but at a heavy expense to the London ratepayers. I do not feel justified in putting that heavy burden on the already heavily burdened London ratepayer at a time like this. We are not going to do any harm to the County Council as such if we reject the Bill, but we are going to put a very heavy burden on the London ratepayers. I am going to support the Bill, and in the circumstances I feel sure it is a wise thing to do.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
On the last two occasions when this matter was discussed in the House I took the view that Waterloo Bridge should be pulled down, but, as has been said, we are faced tonight with an entirely new situation. We have heard a very able plea from the Labour Benches, but I do not think that the hon. Member who spoke made out his case at all. What are the facts? The Leader of the County Council, as he was entitled to do, said that whatever Parliament decided when the Waterloo Bridge question came up, "I am going to pull down the bridge"; and he proceeded to do so. It is not disputed that he said at the time that he would do it out of the ratepayers' money. The responsibility he is now trying to shift on to Parliament. Hon. Members on the Labour benches do not 1634 realise what the responsibility of Parliament is. Parliament decided that the expenditure involved in pulling down the bridge and rebuilding it should not rest on the people of this country, either by means of loan charges or by means of the Road Fund. Hon. Members talk about the burden on the ratepayers of London, but we have to think of the country as a whole. Moreover, the County Council has begun the work of pulling down the bridge. It is not as if the County Council had waited a year and had then come to us to see if we would reconsider our decision. They are doing the work at their own expense. They may consider it a noble gesture from their own point of view, but they cannot come to Parliament now and ask Parliament to get them out of their difficulty.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
In one of two ways the burden might be put on the country. First of all there is the question of borrowing from the country; and secondly, as hon. Members know very well, there is the implied necessity to find the money from the Road Fund if the Bill is passed, and that obviously is what the County Council have in mind. Suppose that a private company was concerned and had been told by the highest authority in the land that certain work could not be charged to capital account. If private enterprise had done the job and put the cost to capital account, would not hon. Members be the first to come and say "Down with private enterprise which is flouting the House of Commons." Some hon. Members may say that they could pay for it out of their dividend. The Leader of the County Council said that the cost could be paid out of the rates. But the County Council wishes to reverse that statement now. One of our duties here in authorising the borrowing of money is to see that capital expenditure is properly applied. Though I supported in the past the application of the Conservative County Council, and, secondly, that of the Labour County Council for authority to pull down the bridge, I shall now oppose the Bill because the County Council are acting in this way.
§ 8.43 p.m.
Mr. SE L LEY
I understand this question as one who probably has had more first-hand experience of it than any other Member of this House, for I have been a member of the London County Council since this matter first came before it, and as a consistent Tory who never changes, whatever the argument put forward, I have always voted for the destruction of the bridge. If Members of my party, like Wolsey, had served London as well as they had served the party, they would not have been in such difficulties the year before last. There has been far too much political bias brought into the whole of this question. I quite expected, when Mr. Morrison took a pick and removed the keystone of the bridge, that London would go mad. I searched the newspapers very assiduously and I could see nothing but bouquets and congratulations to him for having at last ended a deadlock. Whatever we may say to-night, I would state, taking a long sight, as Tories usually do, that I am very anxious not to have this extra burden to carry when we Conservatives go back to control at County Hall. I fear that some of my hon. Friends forget that Mr. Morrison is not there for all time. This burden may go on for 60 years.
If we are going to saddle London with this burden, let us remember that in about another 18 months we shall have to go to London again. What sort of story will Londoners hear from us then? I, at any rate, can tell them that I have been consistent in this matter on every occasion as I shall be to-night. I was rather surprised at the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) who seems to have the idea that because you say a thing two or three times it must be so. He tried to lead the House to believe that the County Council has never had to come back to this House with proposals on a second occasion. I am assured that on many occasions proposals by the Council have been presented to this House and have been rejected or sent back for further information. think there is ample evidence that London at any rate is satisfied with the decision which has been taken and is looking forward to the building of this magnificent Jubilee bridge. I want to share the honours with the present leader of the Council. I do not want to see this money taken out of the rates. I do not want 1636 to impose an undue burden on the London ratepayers. For those reasons and for many others—I could keep the House until a late hour explaining them all but I shall not do so—I am going to support the Bill.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
On previous occasions when this matter was before the House I definitely supported the refusal to demolish Waterloo Bridge at all and the House as far as I remember endorsed that view. What happened? The County Council said in effect to Parliament, "Never mind what you say, we shall pull down the bridge." They did so, and, to use a common expression which is very applicable in this case, they now have the cheek to come to us and say, "Will you kindly rectify our position?" I think it is one of the most abominable scandals of which I have ever heard.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Sir MURDOCH MACDONALD
When this question of Waterloo Bridge came before the House previously, I voted against the County Council being supplied with funds for the work which it was proposed to carry out at that time. I did so because I thought and still think that the widening of the bridge which is now being taken down would have been ample for all reasonable purposes, especially as practically every Member who spoke on that occasion referred to the construction of a new bridge at Charing Cross. I pointed out that if two new bridges were constructed one at Waterloo and one at Charing Cross both of the dimensions then proposed, the roadways from the bridges would meet at a point not far from the other side of the river and both would be unnecessarily wide. I, therefore, suggested that if there was to be a new Charing Cross. Bridge, which I was anxious to see built in due time, it was only necessary to widen the existing Waterloo Bridge to the extent possible without taking the structure down. At that time certain, hon. Members doubted very much whether the two roadways would really meet at a point so close to the other side of the river but that was the fact which in my view made it imperative to confine the work on Waterloo Bridge to the widening of the existing structure. I, therefore, voted against the proposal that. 1637 the Council should be supplied with funds in connection with a new Waterloo Bridge.
Now the matter is not quite the same. The London County Council whose duty it is to decide what bridges are required, have decided to have a new and wider bridge at Waterloo. Up to the present in this discussion there has been little or no mention of the Charing Cross Bridge proposal. It may be that as a consequence of this great wide bridge at Waterloo, which it appears, will be emple to carry the cross river traffic at this point for a long time to come, the Charing Cross Bridge for practical purposes may be considered as out of view for the present. I had hoped that such a bridge would have been constructed. From many points of view it would have been desirable. But, as the County Council have decided, as they are entitled to decide, to have a new Waterloo Bridge of the dimensions proposed, I feel that it would be a "dog in the manger" sort of policy on my part to resist to-night the granting of money to the Council for this purpose. I do not know that they have made their scheme any more agreeable by the manner in which they have described the proposed work. They have laid great stress on the fact that a very celebrated architect is to be associated with it, as if that were an important matter. In my view, of course, it is not an important matter. The architect is mentioned but there is practically no reference to the engineers whose structure the bridge really will be. Notwithstanding that defect I think it right to vote on this occasion in favour of granting the necessary funds to the County Council.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. HUTCHISON
The hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) said this was being made a political issue. Surely it has been made a political issue already by the leader of the London County Council who, in a recent speech at Cardiff said:What would the ratepayers think of it. It would certainly, and quite rightly, be thought that the ratepayers of London were being victimised by Conservative Members of Parliament because they had dared to elect a Labour London County Council.London people have elected a Labour County Council. They have got what 1638 they wanted. The Labour County Council has flouted the opinion of Parliament and decided to carry on the destruction of Waterloo Bridge and the erection of the new bridge. Parliament had the question before it twice and decided not to give a grant of money for pulling down the old bridge. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No."] The County Council came first to Parliament for permission to pull down the bridge. [Hox. MEMBERS: "No."] At any rate the question was brought up of Parliament granting money towards this work. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No."] I understand that Parliament has refused on two occasions to consent to this idea. The matter is now before us once more and we find that politics have been brought into the discussion. I, personally, do not want to introduce the political issue, but as it has been brought in we must consider it.
The London County Council have decided to carry out the scheme, and according to their first intentions, the money was to be paid out of the rates, which would have meant an increase in the rates. The hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) does not believe in adding to the burdens of the London ratepayers, but if the London ratepayers have consented to the Socialists carrying out this scheme, they must bear the burden. We find that the London County Council have now come forward with the suggestion that this money, £280,260, should be met out of capital and be borrowed, and that Parliament should permit that to be done. This is a typical Socialist attitude. They do something which is going to cost money, and they then expect somebody else to pay for it. That, as I say, is a typical Socialist attitude, and it is one reason why I consider that the House should vote for the Instruction.
Earlier to-day, on the Ministry of Transport Vote, the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned that there was a large sum outstanding on Lambeth Bridge, which the London County Council had not demanded from the Ministry, and the fact that this amount had not been demanded was one of the reasons why the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to raid the Road Fund. I suggest that if the London County Council are short of money because of the Waterloo Bridge proposal, they should go straight 1639 to the Ministry of Transport and demand the money for Lambeth Bridge. That is, however, beside the point, which is whether the London County Council should be allowed to flout Parliament. I am sure that it should not be allowed to do so, and I earnestly hope that as many Members as possible will vote for the Instruction.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM LANE MITCHELL
I support the London County Council in this matter. Some hon. Members have spoken about flouting Parliament, because the Council have come up against the last decision of Parliament on this question, but my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) is prepared to give it them next year.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I never said anything about next year or giving them anything. If Parliament comes to the same decision to-night as it did on the last two occasions, and the Council comes along next year again, I hope the House will pass a similar Instruction then.
§ Sir W. LANE MITCHELL
Next year will be different from this year. There will be an election, in all probability, before then, and although I do not predict that our friends will get a majority, I do predict that they will get 200 Members in this House, and if they had 200 Members here to-night, there would not be this trouble that there is about the flouting of Parliament. Parliament has changed its opinion time and again. The hon. Member for South Kensington says that because Parliament has once come to a particular decision for all time, that decision should hold. Another hon. Member said he supported the London County Council when it was doing its particular business. Is the building of this bridge county council business or is it not? Of course it is. The man who has caused all the trouble all these years is the hon. Member for South Kensington. Last time we had three and a half hours to discuss it, and he occupied a third of the time.
§ Sir W. LANE MITCHELL
Thank God for that. Our leader on the county council was "cabined, cribbed, confined" all the time and could not do what he ought 1640 to have done and because of that the present position has come about. Mr. Morrison took his courage in both hands. He has done the work and given a good bridge. We have heard a lot about capital expenditure. Is this or is it not capital expenditure, and is it to be paid out of loan or out of rates? I hope we get a good number next time. I have to apologise for saying so, but the hon. Member for South Kensington cannot help himself, and when he speaks of Waterloo Bridge he goes off the deep end every time. I hope we shall vote for this expenditure being met out of loan. I speak as a London ratepayer and as one who is satisfied with what is being done in this matter by the London County Council.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
The issue before the House, as I see it, is whether or not a loan shall be allowed by Parliament to defray the cost of this bridge. We have to consider what has already been said and done with regard to the bridge. It was admitted that Waterloo Bridge required reconditioning and widening to carry the increasing traffic over it. There were many estimates given with regard to reconditioning the bridge and with regard to corbelling it out, enabling it to be widened satisfactorily and substantially in order to carry the traffic that required to be carried. This matter has been before Parliament on two occasions, and in the interests of the London ratepayers it was decided that the new bridge should not be built, but that the old bridge should be reconditioned and widened, and I think I am right in saying that if that had been carried out, it would have been satisfactory. The cost of that, I understand, would have been about £750,000, but with the usual lavishness and extravagance of the Socialist party, when they got into power on the London County Council they decided to ignore what Parliament had decided on two occasions and to flout its authority. Whether we liked it or not, the leader decided that this bridge should be pulled down, and, despite the £1,290,000 which it would cost, that that sum should be expended on this new bridge
It will be a sorry day when we allow a Socialist majority to flout Parliament on two occasions and when we permit the borrowing of money to defray this 1641 expenditure, which is not necessary. A bridge such as Waterloo Bridge is essential, but it does not necessarily follow that when a bridge can be re-conditioned for £750,000 the council should be permitted by the House to borrow £1,290,000. It is not necessary and, therefore, it is extravagant. As a business man I have always held that money should only be expended if it is essential. I have never believed that one should throw away an old coat if it can be repaired satisfactorily. I do not say that that is a good analogy, but the ratepayers of London elected the Socialists into power, and if the Socialists are extravagant and the rates increase, it is their funeral. I hope that it will be a lesson which they will learn. I am going to vote against the County Council on principle, for I am not going to be a party to allowing a Socialist majority to flout Parliament after a decision has been reached on two occasions. I hope that the House wilt not allow the vote to-night to be a victory for Mr. Morrison and the Socialist party so that they will be in a position to say subsequently, "If we do as we want to do, Parliament will ultimately come to heel, whatever its decision in the past may have been." I hope that hon. Members will stand up for the rights of Parliament and will not allow it to be flouted.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Dr. SALTER
I rise to say only one thing. Whatever reasons may be put forward for supporting the Instruction, submit that the real motive behind the opposition to this particular Clause is pure political spite and nothing else. On the last occasion when this matter was before the House, I heard a Member on the opposite side say, a few minutes before the Division, that he came up specially from the country in order that he might, as he said, have a smack at the Socialists on the London County Council. To-night I have heard two Members of the Government party describe the activity of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) as that of rallying all the people he can to strike a downright blow at the Labour party on the London County Council. That is the sole motive animating the oving of this Instruction. If I approached the matter purely from a party tactical point of view, I should hope that 1642 the Instruction would be carried, because it would certainly place a valuable weapon in the hands of the Labour party in the county of London. It would enable us to point out to the ordinary ratepayer that his interests are not counted in the slightest by the supporters of the Instruction, and that they do not care in the least whether any additional burden is placed on him, but that they only wanted to secure a party victory. I hope from the party point of view that the Instructions will be carried, but I hope, from the point of view of London government and decent conduct in party life, that the House will reject it.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I will endeavour to do all in my power to follow the temperate speeches that have been made, and not the provocative speech which we have just heard. The hon, Member for Streatham (Sir W. Lane Mitchell), whom we rarely hear, made a delightful speech that gave pleasure to the whole House. I have, however, never heard a speech which has been so wholeheartedly and universally cheered by Members of the Socialist party. I noticed the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) watching the hon. Member, and, if I am not mistaken, the thought that was passing through his mind was, "Cannot I borrow this orator" 4 I hope that I shall often have the privilege of hearing the hon. Gentleman—nearly as often as he hears me. The hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) gave us a long speech in which he went into the details of capital and income and introduced a good deal of confusion. I could not imagine why it was, until I remembered that Socialists have nothing to do with companies or accounting or anything of that kind. There is a fundamental difference between capital and income, and between paying for things to-day out of the income of the rates and paying by means of borrowing. By paying out of rates the expenditure is over and done with, but by paying out of borrowing a much higher price has to be paid.
The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) made an attempt to show that the position of London with regard to borrowing was different from the position of other places. That is true, but he went adrift by trying to make out that the London 1643 County Council was in a worse position than other local authorities. It is not. London with all its power and greatness, and, until it fell from wisdom a year or so ago, with all its straightness and soundness of administration, was in a position superior to that of other local authorities. Whereas other local authorities have to get the assent of a Minister in order to borrow, the London County Council is not under the power of any Minister, but under the power of the House of Commons itself. The question is whether we, as a House of Commons, are justified in passing this particular Instruction. We have been reminded that the House has already expressed its opinion about this matter and declared that it did not wish the old bridge destroyed. I am not going to discuss the picture which was presented to us earlier of some "blackleg" pretending to use a pick for a few minutes and doing a labouring man out of a day's work for the benefit of the cinema. The trade union concerned, or the cinema industry, can deal with that point. When they decided to build the bridge the County Council said they could pay for it out of the rates, but now, a comparatively short time afterwards, they come to the House with the request to be allowed to borrow the money. I do not know whether they hope to be able, by borrowing, to shove the cost on to some other fund, or whether they want to borrow to save themselves from squandering so quickly the vast surplus which they inherited. I see that the Leader of the Opposition laughs at the word "squandering." Naturally he laughs at it, because his whole life has been spent in trying to put the largest possible burdens on the ratepayers. That is his belief—and I admire him for sticking to it—but ours is different.
The question is whether the House of Commons would be justified in withholding its leave to the County Council to borrow money on one exceptional occasion, such as has not arisen for many years past. It is a very narrow issue which we have to decide. In weighing up the matter we have to remember, on the one side, that the County Council have deliberately destroyed a work which the House of Commons has said that it did not wish to be destroyed. Now the County Council 1644 are trying to get Parliament to go back on the decision which it has already taken, and for no reasons given. The hon. Member for East Fulham nearly turned catherine wheels in explaining what he thought was capital and what he thought was income. I am sure no Socialist Member will be able to give any reason, and no reason has been given in the Press, but a vast expenditure has been incurred in sending us a pile of literature, with a picture of what, in the opinion of those who know really good bridges, is a very ugly bridge. The County Council want us to reverse our previous decision and to grant them the power to raise money after they had said they could raise it out of the rates, and after they had made it perfectly plain that they would go on with the work whatever the House of Commons wished.
I do not for one moment think that it is the duty of the House of Commons to try to deflect the local authorities from what they think is right. It is no use giving local authorities the power to do things if we interfere with them, but there are occasions when the House of Commons may feel deeply on some subject, and if the House of Commons should make up its mind about a matter it must be realised by the local authorities that the House of Commons has the deciding voice. Under our Constitution Parliament is the supreme authority. Parliament delegates authority to this, that and the other bodies and leaves them free to act, but if there is any dispute then Parliament decides. It is very rarely, however, that Parliament interferes. In other countries, as in America, there are hopeless troubles because minor authorities think it is within their power to dispute the authority of the major assembly. It should be said to-night, as on all occasions, that when there is any question in dispute there is only one authority in this country, the House of Commons.
Because I feel that in this matter there has been a deliberate effort to get round the decision of the House of Commons I shall certainly vote for the Instruction, and would ask anyone who cares for the constitutional and the democratic position of the House of Commons to do the same. I say this in no spirit of hostility to the London County Council, because to bring that spirit into the House would be unworthy 1645 of the members of any party. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) says that I know it is true, but I would not dream of accusing him or his colleagues of bringing in,that spirit. The action I am taking I am taking from a constitutional standpoint, and with no wish to hurt the feelings of the County Council, but I am sure that it is the right position for the House of Commons to take up.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. G. HARVEY
I should like to make a short explanation, because the attitude I am taking up has been slightly changed during the week-end. When this matter first came before the House in 1932 I was a strong supporter of the London County Council, and was one of those who were energetic in whipping into the Division Lobby those Members who had any doubt as to how to vote. When the colour of the Council was changed I still supported the Council, because in spite of what the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) said just now, I felt that if a thing was right when the Municipal Reform party were in power it must also be right when their successors are in office. I am going to be very blunt and to say quite distinctly that I shall go into the Lobby to-night against the Instruction. I know that Mr. Morrison said that he was prepared to build the bridge out of the rates. A penny rate in London produces approximately £250,000. If the cost of the bridge were put on to the rates it would mean a penny rate for five years. If the money is borrowed it will cost the London rates approximately one-seventh of a penny a year for something like 60 years. The position seems to have resolved itself into a question of what is capital and what is revenue, and with all due respect I feel that the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) showed that he knew more about capital and revenue than did the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams).
The question whether this is 'a capital expenditure or not is as plain as the proverbial pikestaff. This bridge will last for approximately 100 years. If a loan is obtained, as I think it ought to be. it will simply mean that we are spreading the cost over a considerable portion of that 100 years. As we are dealing with those that come after us, I think it is only 1646 reasonable and fair that they should pay some portion of the cost we are now incurring. It would not be a very serious matter if the bridge were built out of the rates. I took particular notice of the speech of the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Wilmot), and I thought he had got hold of the subject extremely well. I do not want to take what is commonly called the Socialistic view of this matter, but rather the horse-sense and business view of it. This thing has gone on long enough. We all know that the bridge was tumbling down, that the fifth pier had gone and that another was going, and it was ridiculous to talk about reconstructing bridge when its usefulness had passed. I say deliberately that in re building the bridge the present London County Council are but following the line of policy adopted by their predecessors, and I object strongly to political bias being brought into the subject to-night. I feel that this is a question which is outside of politics and which should be free from political bias of any description. As a plain business man who has not been altogether unsuccessful in business life, I have no hesitation in asking 'anybody who is in any doubt to-night to vote against the Instruction.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. PIKE
I rise to make only one point, which I consider is important to the Debate. The hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot), in the closing sentences of his speech, referred to the attitude taken up by the Minister in stating the position so far as the Ministry was concerned. He used these words: "It is a scandal that the Minister should state before this Debate that whatever the result of the Division to-night no grant would be made from the Road Fund." He continued on these lines: "On the last occasion the Minister allowed the whole Debate to conclude before making his statement or even submitting what was the attitude of the Ministry of Transport towards the application." And the hon. Member said that the same thing applied in 1932. I have since looked up the records, and I find that on 28th June of last year a question was put to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in these terms:To ask the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the fact that the London County Council have now decided to abolish 1647 Waterloo Bridge, he will consider making a grant from the Road Fund towards the construction of the new bridge?And the Parliamentary Secretary replied:Whether he is now in a position to inform the Housse of the decision of the Law Officers of the Crown as to whether the London County Council are legally entitled to disregard the twice-expressed opinion of Parliament that Waterloo Bridge should not be pulled down?The Lord President of the Council, replying, said:It is a long-established rule that the opinions of the Law Officers are confidential and must not he disclosed, but I would point out in any case that a decision in the matter can only be pronounced by a court of law.The hon. Member for South Kensington then put this supplementary question:In view of the fact that Parliament has on two occasions come to a decision in this matter, is my right hon. Friend aware that the Act under which the London County Council are acting as a highway authority deals only with the reparation of bridges and the widening of bridges, and that it is only when a bridge is wholly incapable of repair that they are entitled to pull it down? Js he aware that they are estopped from alleging that in view of the fact that they proposed this year to recondition it?The Lord President of the Council replied:With regard to the first point, what the House did, as I understand it, was to say that unless a certain course was pursued no grant would be allowed on the Vote for the Money Bill. With regard to the latter part, perhaps it may simplify matters at this point if I say that the Government have no intention of proceeding any further in the, matter.The hon. Member for East Fulham will perhaps remember this occasion. If he does not remember, I may remind him that he himself put another supplementary question and asked the Lord President of the Council:Whether the right hon. Gentleman did not agree that the London County Council were entirely competent as the bridges authority in their own area? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1934; cols. 1556 and 1557, Vol. 291.]Why do I raise this issue? I do it because the London County Council, 1648 following Parliamentary procedure as it does, knew as long ago as 2nd June last —and it repeated in this House in the following month—that no grant could possibly be made through the Money Bill this year, either for the purpose of assisting the demolition or for the purpose of constructing a new bridge.
Mr. WI LMOT
Since the hon. Member has so consistently misquoted what I said, may I say that no question of grant arises on the Money Bill at all or can arise?
§ Mr. PIKE
I would not have raised this matter if the hon. Member himself had not complained that the attitude of the Minister prior to this Debate was that no matter what the decision of the House might be to-night no money would be forthcoming from Parliament for the purpose required by the London County Council. I want to say that the London County Council knew a year ago to-day that no money would be forthcoming. Yet they have inserted it in the Money Bill. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No!"] They have at least inserted words which have given rise to the Instruction moved by the hon. Member for South Kensington. I submit that in doing so they have nothing else in mind than the hope that it would pass unnoticed, that Parliament would be caught napping on a quiet day, and that what Parliament refused two years ago, and again a year ago, would be forthcoming on this occasion.
As a provincial Member I take a deep interest in these matters, because I can foresee that if this Instruction is turned down great danger may perhaps arise to Parliament in the future. What would be the thanks of the County Council to-night if this Instruction were turned down? I do not want to transgress the rules of order, but I remember receiving only a few weeks ago a letter signed by the hon. Member for the Rothwell Division (Mr. Lunn) and written to one of his constituents in respect to the withdrawal of the Unemployment Assistance Regulations. It stated: "If we as a small party can force the Government to withdraw these Regulations, what will we do when we are in power? "What precedents would be created to-night if this Instruction were turned down. It would, in my humble opinion, give rise to very grave precedents, affecting not only London in the future but affecting the 1649 whole of the provinces. As representing one division of a provincial city, I am going to do my best to see that the Instruction is not only carried but carried by a large majority.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Miss GRAVES
I intervene in this Debate because I was a ratepayer long before I was a, Member of Parliament. I have learned to-night some extremely interesting facts from both opinions of the subject before the House. The case has been put very strongly, and with more moderation than I should have expected, for Parliamentary responsibility, and from the other side the case has been put which points to another responsibility of Parliament, that ultimate responsibility towards the ratepayers. That is where I start; it is the ratepayers who will have to foot the bill. Whatever may have been the opinions of this House on the subject of pulling down Waterloo Bridge because of its aesthetic qualities, there can be no question that the bridge is pulled down to all intents and purposes, and the County Council must either leave the bridge as it stands, which is not within practical politics, or they must get money from somewhere to finish the job which they have undertaken.
As a ratepayer I have learned to-night that there are two courses open. One is that there should be a capital charge, and that as a ratepayer I should pay one-seventh of a penny for 60 years, and that the capital charge should consist of a loan, the service of which should amount to that money. The other course means that I am faced, as a ratepayer, with the fact that I must pay out of my rates, as the building of the bridge goes on, a sum, I am told, of £1,295,000 in all, representing an addition of one penny on the rates for, I think, five years. There can be no doubt which is the businesslike course to pursue—I speak as a ratepayer—as to which is the course to be followed by a person of limited income, and which my fellow-ratepayers would prefer. I am, as a ratepayer, concerned about the opinion of my fellows, because I share their point of view.
For that reason, and with all possible respect to this Assembly, I suggest that the first thing that will occur to the ratepayer is getting his bridge and paying as little for it as he possibly can. 1650 He will think no worse of Parliament because Parliament was big enough to change its mind. Perhaps the greatest source of vitality in our Parliamentary system is its acceptance of an outside point of view and the consequent change of attitude. The ratepayers will admire and respect an Assembly which knows how to change its mind. In the Debate on the original question of demolishing the bridge, the victory was won by a margin of some 35 votes. In the nature of things that is not a majority which this House need fear to change. I hope very much that we shall vote against the Instruction, which, however much it may have intended to uphold Parliamentary prestige, must, in the long run, lower it in the eyes of the ordinary person.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
This is not an occasion on which we can sharpen our battle axes for the next election. The leader of the dominant party of the London County Council has been a little tart in his references to those of us who are Conservative-minded and who, he conceives, might oppose his project, but I do not think that the rather toughened politicians who find access to this House through the portals of a general election should be disturbed in their judgment by the reports of tart speeches, to which we must now have become quite accustomed from the leader of the ruling party.
We have to come to a, decision to-night for the good of London. Those who loved the old bridge served their love faithfully for many years in its decay. They maintained their love while, by various plastic arts, they kept the corpse in a monumental existence for their artistic worship, long after it had ceased to be a fit subject for loving adoration. In the end this object of artistic love could no longer be kept above ground. In the shires of England there are many admirers of old etchings and of ancient bridges, nevertheless, I would assure them that the whole of London breathed a sigh of relief when the new County Council said, "It is time that this very aged, much loved but decayed lady were interred." Therefore, none of the ancient feelings attached to the contests and battles of love and chivalry about the old bridge should move us now. 1651 London is most anxious to lessen its traffic congestion, to lessen the accidents in its streets that follow from that congestion and to get about its business in an expeditious and decent way. There is an eyesore on the Thames that is a constant irritant to its nerves, and an obstruction to its proper passage on its right business, and the London County Council, without distinction of party, wish to get on with the job of bridging the Thames where, at the moment, there is no adequate bridge. Parliament in the past refused to make a grant, but the proposition before us to-night is to enable the, millions of people who make up London to borrow on their own credit to do a public work by which they will profit, and for which they will have to pay. It is futile to call this a Socialist measure. Here is a Socialist County Council—sometimes referred to as a Labour County Council, according to the tenderness of the conscience of the speaker—manipulating the capitalistic money market in a most skilful and modern fashion. They are making the best use of the world as it is, and are using neither the bridge nor the method of financing it as a means of coercing me or my friends into becoming Socialist or Labour voters, and unable to live as Conservatives. That is to say, they are accepting their responsibility towards London as a whole, and with the best engineering and financial advice they can get, they have set out to do something which is pleasing to London as a whole.
In the past, in this country and in Europe, there have been bitter feuds between great cities and central governments, and it has not always been great cities that have come off worst. We have in recollection the ancient liberties of the City of London, which have been maintained from the earliest days against Parliament and against the Kings of England, and I can conceive that, if this House be persuaded by Members not immediately interested in London, but much moved by their antique loves, to irritate London, it will make London more and more conscious of its unity. It will bring into London that same solid spirit which animates the central city, and we shall then be hearing, as the years pass, of the privileges of London and the rights of London, and the 8,000,000 who live and work under the control and with the help 1652 of the London County Council will become more and more conscious of their entity. Most persuasively we do not wish that to happen. Conscious entities are conscious sources of conflict, and I hope that this House in its wisdom will, as a wise physician, concede a little to the invalid in order that he may regain his strength. There is no purpose in irritating great cities if no great end is to be attained. If this Instruction is carried, it will not add one Conservative to the Conservative voting strength; it will not make one Conservative into a safe Socialist. It will simply act as a kind of safety-valve for those worshippers of antique bridges of the long past to say that they have struck a great blow tonight for ancient history, ancient bridges and decayed granite.
Let us be practical to-night. Let us be as persuasive as we can—we London Members—towards those from distant parts of England, and say to them, now that the old bridge has gone and London as a whole is anxious to see the sore removed and the river bridged, and London has uttered no public word of disapproval of the action of the Council, let this House look with approval on the needs and deeds of this great City, and not inflict on it the small hurt and the irritating jar of an Instruction which may have been conceived with the greatest of love, but the alternative to which might be adopted without disloyalty to the past.
§ 9.49 p.m.
Mr. JOHN RUTHERFORD
The hon. Member for Mile End (Dr. O'Donovan) spoke of there being no purpose in irritating a great city. I should say that equally, and, in fact, more, there is no purpose in irritating Parliament, and that is exactly what the Socialist Leader of the London County Council has succeeded in doing, and will succeed still more in doing should this Instruction not be passed. I should like to say how grateful I am, representing a constituency outside the London County Council area, to the Minister for refusing to allow some of our money to be used for a purely London purpose. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It would be money from the Road Fund, but if this Instruction is passed it will be money raised from the London rates that will pay for a purely London affair. If it were to come from a grant from the Road Fund, it would, as 1653 hon. Members will understand, include money contributed from other parts of the country to be used for a purely London matter.
There has been some talk this evening of party politics being brought in. I would point out that there was no talk of that whatever until the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) put up this dummy only to knock it down. If we are going to bring any party politics in, let us have some, and let us tell the hon. Member for East Fulham that it is a purely political manoeuvre on the part of Mr. Morrison to come here and ask for this loan. If not, why did the London County Council, very shortly after the proposal had been turned down by this House, commence, with a Socialist majority, to pull down the bridge? Surely it is obvious that it was only in order to "get one back" on their political opponents in this House. Further, does the hon. Member, whom I do not see in his place at the moment, really suppose that, if there had been a Socialist majority in this House, the London County Council would have deliberately gone against the decision of a Socialist majority in the House of Commons? He must indeed think us very simple if he thinks we believe that that is so.
One of the real objections on this matter is the hopelessly inefficient manner in which it is presented to the House—the slipshod way in which it is done. We need not be surprised at that; it is what we expect from a Socialist majority or a Socialist administration; but to come here and ask bit by bit, half-year by half-year, £140,000 for each of two half-years, is slipshod. If we had had—and this is what I think my hon. Friend the Member for South Battersea (Mr., Selley) must have had in mind when he said that things might be different next year—if we had had a properly set out plan for the demolition and reconstruction of the bridge," stating how long it was to take, how much it was to cost, how much would be paid off each year, and ho w much would be levied on the rates each year, different consideration would perhaps have been given to the proposal; but now they come asking for a little. bit on account of pulling the bridge down, and we do not know how much will he wanted next year, or how much is going to be borrowed in the following year. 1654 Altogether we know very little except that Mr. Herbert Morrison, the Socialist Leader, decided that come what may he would pull down Waterloo Bridge, whatever Parliament might say.
I should like to say to my timid hon. Friends, members of the same party as myself, who may be afraid of what the Socialists in London will say at the next London County Council or General Election, that I do not know why they should be afraid of what the Socialists will say, because, so long as we do not give in to the Socialists on the London County Council, we have nothing to be afraid of I suggest to my hon. Friends that what will tell will be the size of the rates under the existing regime and party in the London County Council, and nothing else. If the rates have gone up—and I understand that they have gone up by something like is. already under the present administration of the London County Council—the ratepayers of London will rightly say, "we are incompetent, and should go out.", I gather that it is agreed that under this proposal, if the Instruction is not passed, the rates will go up a little more, and a very good thing too, because it will at least have the effect of waking up those somewhat lazy electors—and that is the only way in which the Socialists will ever get into power in London—who have not taken the trouble to vote I hope that the increase in the rates occasioned by this proposal will bring those electors to their sense It is rather interesting to observe the London County Council coming to Parliament and glibly talking about a loan. I seem to recall that not very long ago the London County Council went to the City to try to get another loan, and, if my memory serves me, some 54 per cent. of that loan, so shaken is the confidence of the country in the Socialist administration of the London County Council, was left on the hands of the underwriters. [HON. MEMBERS: "No ! "] If that be not so, I shall be glad to be corrected. At any rate, it will generally be agreed that a considerable amount of that loan was not taken up by the investing public. I do not know really whether, even if this Instruction were defeated, we should get our Waterloo Bridge after all without recourse to the rates, because probably people would not be any the more inclined to loan them money again. 1655 A point was made by one of my hon. Friends supporting the Socialists in this matter that if it goes on to the rates it will be a penny on the rates for five years, whereas if the money is borrowed it will mean something like one-seventh of a penny on the rates for 60 years. The hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. G. Harvey) put that forward, and I have no reason to doubt it. If my arithmetic is correct, I make a total of 5d. on the rates if it is done under the scheme which we suggest, that is to say, by putting it all on the rates, whereas if it is spread over 60 years it will total 84-rd. which the London ratepayers will have to find. So that surely the advantage, even on that purely financial ground, is in paying it all off in five years, which would cost 5d. on the rates. On the major point Mr. Morrison has said that he will build his bridge out of the rates, and for him to come here and try to shuffle out of putting another penny on the rates by trying to borrow the money in order to put on one-seventh, is hardly worthy of the London County Council and the high standards of that great body of which hon. Members on those benches speak. We should be very foolish this evening if we were to allow not Parliament to interfere with the London County Council, but the London County Council to interfere with Parliament.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Sir ISIDORE4 SALMON
It is a little unfortunate that some of my hon. Friends who have made speeches this evening should have approached this matter from a political point of view. It is no novelty even for a municipal council to come to Parliament on three occasions, which they did before trams were permitted to go over the bridges of London. Therefore we are not to-night reviewing anything that is novel on the part of the London County Council. It is as well, when we consider a business proposition, to try to review it from a business aspect. The position, as it strikes me, is that many of my hon. Friends this evening have spoken against the right of the London County Council to get a loan. They object on the ground that it will cost a large sum of money. On the other hand, if it had been a question of merely reconditioning the bridge, they would have approved of it. Let us look at it 1656 from the point of view of the difference in cost. The building of a bridge is estimated at the most to cost £1,200,000, and the Council have said that they think it will be done for £100,000 less. It was estimated that the cost of renovating and putting the bridge into a safe condition, in round figures, was £900,000, so that the whole argument of those who are speaking against the Money Bill of the County Council is based on the sum of £200,000. Those are facts which cannot be contradicted, and they are asking for a lean for the purpose of doing a piece of work which it is their duty to do.
It is essential that the old bridge, now that it has been pulled down, should be replaced. I should have thought that a big authority like the London County Council, who, after all, are the responsible authority for the bridges of London, would be permitted to borrow the necessary money so essential for replacing the bridge. It would be a great mistake to have behind one's mind any political bias. No one is more anti-Socialist than I am, but this is not a political proposition; it is a business proposition, and as a realist and as a business man, I think that it is the right thing to do. It is proper to ask the permission of Parliament to get the money so essential for this particular peice of work, and to refuse an authority like the London County Council is scarcely worthy of the dignity f Parliament. I hope that we shall pause before we refuse such an important body the right to ask the public to subscribe money for an object which is so necessary for the benefit of London.
§ 10.2 p.m.
Mr. G. R. STR A U SS
Several points have been raised this evening in regard to the attitude of the London County Council on the question of Waterloo Bridge and questions have been asked as to their attitude in certain respects. As chairman of the Highways Committee, which is charged with the responsibilities of keeping up the London bridges, and seeing that they are efficient and functioning according to their purposes, and which came to the decision with regard to the rebuilding of the bridge, I may be able to help the House in one or two matters. We have been told that we are flouting Parliament and acting somehow in a most unconstitutional way in coming to Parliament for the fourth time and 1657 asking permission to borrow money. I really cannot follow that argument at all. I am sure that the hon. Member who raised that point cannot remember that before trams were able to cross the London bridges, the authorities had to come to Parliament 10 times, I believe, in order to obtain permission. Surely, everybody—certainly a. big local authority like the London County Council—is entitled to come to Parliament and say, "Here is a, case which we consider absolutely reasonable, and we ask you to consider it on its merits and come to a new conclusion, even if when you considered it last year you had a different opinion."
Further, I would remind the House that this question has been before the House on three previous occasions. The first time in 1926 the House agreed with the view of the London County Council that a new bridge should be built and that the cost should be defrayed by borrowing. On the second occasion, in 1932, on the grounds of economy—certainly anyone who reads the Debate would say that that was the major ground—this House did not approve of the County Council carrying on with this big project. Every hon. Member who spoke against the County Council on that occasion said, "Here is an opportunity to economise, and on this ground we should not approve of a big projection which was to cost a great deal of money." It was turned down on those lines. On the last occasion it was turned down, it is true, by 35 votes, after the matter had been very considerably discussed. Hon. Members, if they are frank with themselves, must admit that to some considerable extent on that occasion there was a big element of political bias which entered into the consideration of the matter. Everyone will agree with that.
We have always tried to avoid making this question a political one, and it has not been difficult for us, because we have been almost unanimous; certainly both parties have agreed right from the time of this controversy in 1924. Right from then till now there has been no division of opinion that the proper solution of this problem was to build a new bridge. Therefore, politics simply have not arisen. It arose on the last occasion when the matter came to the House. I do beg the House on this occasion not to allow political prejudice to bias them in the way in which they are going to vote. 1658 We have had speeches, most unfortunately, by Members saying, "If you want to down the Socialists, vote for the Instruction." In a speech made by the hon. Member below the Gangway he quite frankly said, "Let us punish the Londoners for having elected a Labour County Council. It will be a good thing if the rates go up as a result of the London County Council action. We should like to see the rates go up. Punish the ratepayers and they will not want to elect a Labour council again." That has been put forward by other Members as well. In considering this most important matter that attitude is quite unworthy. There is a very strong feeling in London about this matter, and it is not confined to one party. It pervades people who are non-political. In every constituency throughout London, about 95 per cent, of the people who take any interest in public affairs feel very keenly the position with regard to Waterloo Bridge. They know that the action taken by the County Council was the right action and they feel hurt at the attitude of Parliament in flouting the views of London.
When the question is asked, as it was. asked, "Why, after Parliament came to this decision last year, did the County Council carry on building a new bridge? Surely it was for political reasons"? I would answer quite definitely that my Committee has the responsibility of seeing that the bridges of London carry as much traffic as wants to go over them and, particularly, has the responsibility of seeing that bridges are safe and will not be a risk to life and limb to those that have to go under them. Every Londoner realises that the river traffic has grown immensely during the last few years, particularly big steamers. As it was our responsibility, we had to see that the work entrusted to us was properly carried out. If there was a tragedy, it would not be Parliament's responsibility but that of the London County Council. After careful consideration, we came to. the conclusion that even if we had to pay for it out of the rates, even if Parliament would not alter its decision on a future occasion, which we hoped might happen—even if London was to be burdened and penalised by having to pay for it out of the rates we could not help ourselves if we were going to carry out our duty properly, we had to go on building a new bridge. That is the sole 1659 reason, and surely it is an adequate reason, for our action at that time. I do hope that the relationship between this House and the big authority for whom I am speaking this evening will not be strained by irrelevant and purely political matters on an issue which is not political at all. I think the resentment which exists against this House is most unfortunate, and I do not desire to see it. I would like this House looked upon as a body which invariably considers matters which are not political from a non-political point of view in a cool, detached, judicial manner, absolutely fairly. Unfortunately that is not the feeling that many people have in London as a result of last year's decision. I think it is a great pity. I hope we are not going to repeat that mistake this evening. The House is entitled to treat with respect the expressed view of all London. The question of a grant does not arise at all this evening. Personally, I am very sorry inded that the Minister should have made any announcement whatsoever about that. I think that is a matter which should have been treated on its traffic merits pure and simple, and he should not have made any announcement about it. Nevertheless, he has, so that the question of a grant from the Road Fund does not arise at, all. I am certain that every hon. Member—with the exception, perhaps, of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), who has particularly strong feelings with regard to the old bridge—to whatever party he belongs, in the situation with which the London County Council were faced after the decision of Parliament last year would have come to the same decision, and would have had to do as we did, and build a new bridge. I hope the House will not vote for the Instruction, but will respect the opinion of London as expressed unanimously by its elected representatives, an opinion strongly felt by the people throughout the area, and will not deny London what is just—will not deny London their right. I, therefore, hope that for the sake of good government this Instruction will not be accepted by the House.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander AGNEW
I am one who, on the first two occasions when the London County Council came forward with this request with regard to Waterloo 1660 Bridge, voted against it and for the retention of the old bridge. On the first occasion the state of the national finances dictated the policy, but on the second occasion last year I voted against the pulling down of Waterloo Bridge because I believed then, and I believe now, that the right solution of the whole bridges problem was to have repaired Waterloo Bridge and, when time and money permitted, to have built a new bridge at Charing Cross. That issue has been avoided and neglected, and, instead, the whole situation has been focussed on Waterloo Bridge alone. There are two considerations when dealing with this problem. You have the ethical, or moral, aspect and the purely practical. I do not want to say a great deal about the ethical and moral aspect, because I believe that the purely practical one far outweighs it in importance, and it is the only one by which this House ought to be governed when deciding how votes should be recorded in the Division Lobby.
I cannot, however, refrain from making a few remarks on the ethical side. I think that the present leader of the London County Council is deserving of some censure for having introduced a political element into this controversy in his ill-timed and immoderate Cardiff speech. In that speech he made a statement to the effect that the London Tory Members had decided on a certain course of action, but it must be placed on record that he was misinformed, for the London Tory Members of Parliament are not at one on this issue at all. But that indiscretion was a minor one compared with what Mr. Morrison did when this House had rejected his Bill last year. He decided to build the bridge out of the rates. So far so good, but now that he is unable to carry out his boast—he made his decision in somewhat of a boasting spirit—he has had to come to the House of Commons, through his representatives this evening, and walk back on his policy, virtually, because he realises that the burden of the building of the bridge, a great capital work, is too great to be placed purely on the rates, and that it ought to be provided for in some other way.
The right course for this House to consider is whether the expenditure should be provided out of the rates, or whether it should be provided by some means 1661 more favourable and more in accordance with modern practice, and for the greater benefit of the community as a whole. But the position that a great public body, having twice in three years been refused by this House a particular request, has come down to the House oi Commons and once again asked for it, is a wrong one. The position ought not to remain, and I suggest that our Parliamentary procedure should be changed in same way so that when a request of this kind is refused the same request cannot be brought forward again within the lifetime of that particular Parliament. Here I part company with those who are going to vote for the Instruction, because the circumstances since last year have entirely changed. We Cannot fight the fight for the retention of Waterloo Bridge, even if we wished to do so, because the bridge has gone and the Debate this evening in so far as it discusses that question can be nothing more than an inquest.
We have to decide how the new bridge which is to be built is to be paid for, and it is right for the House to take a broad view and to rule out of consideration altogether any derelictions of official con- duct that the promoters of the Bill may have made, and to weigh the question of the payment for the new bridge absolutely on its merits alone. Nearly two years ago in a Mediterranean country a revolt was organised on a large scale, with a large force, by a certain group, and in the course of that revolt a great deal of damage was done and many beautiful and. usefuI buildings were either destroyed or greatly damaged. I think there is no one in this House who would deny that it is absolutely right for the present Government of Spain—for that is the country to which I refer—and the whole country to co-operate in rebuilding anew the buildings which one particular group in their wild excess had damaged and pulled to pieces. So this evening, this House ought to take a broad view, and ought to co-operate with the whole country in granting the most fav- ourable terms possible for the rebuilding of a new and worthy bridge. I have a feeling of contempt for the way in which this matter has been handled by the par- ties responsible—I do not mean political parties—and, although their request is somewhat contemptible, I think it would be a great injustice to deny it.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
I am very glad that the Debate has now got on to the basis of considering what really are the proposals before the House. Its initiation may be described as the last attempt of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) to stir up the flickers of an old controversy. Throughout the Debate it has struck me that there has been an under-current of trying again to revert to the old question of the merits of Waterloo Bridge, and, in order to reinforce the arguments for the Instruction it has been said that the London County Council, by bringing forward this proposal, are attempting to challenge the decision of the House of Commons. I ask hon. Members really to look at what has happened in this matter. Hon. Members who were present on the last occasion know perfectly well that the discussion then had no reference whatever to the question of whether the money should be raised by one means or another. The sole question of the Debate was whether Waterloo Bridge should be pulled down or not, and that was the question upon which Parliament indicated its opinion. It was not competent to decide the issue; it was not within the purview of Parliament otherwise than by promoting a Bill to preserve Waterloo Bridge. It had delegated its powers long ago, as regards the construction and maintenance of bridges, to the London County Council. One of the most remarkable things has been the practically unanimous opinion expressed by hon. Members representing London constituencies in this House—I except the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) and the hon. Member for South Kensington. They are the only dissenting voices in the whole of London Members in the House to-night; and, in addition, you have both parties on the London County Council desiring this and the almost unanimous' opinion of London.
There has been no expression of regret at the disappearance of Waterloo Bridge since its demolition was started. Therefore, the decision which Parliament indicated—it could not give a direct vote on the matter on the last occasion—was a decision as to the desirability or not of pulling down Waterloo Bridge. It must be remembered by hon. Members who talk about the undesirability of Parliament changing its views, that in 1663 1926 Parliament decided that it was desirable to pull down Waterloo Bridge. There was a vote in the Money Bill which gave permission to borrow money for the pulling down and rebuilding of the bridge. On that occasion the London County Council did not proceed with what Parliament had acknowledged not only that they were right in doing but had encouraged them to do, because the Government themselves set up a Royal Commission, and the County Council waited for the decision of that Royal Commission. When the decision came out the London County Council immediately tried to implement it by producing a Bill which incorporated its provisions, and they laid it before this House, again asking for the assistance of this House in the solution of the problem. A Committee of this House turned it down.
Never throughout this controversy has this House itself been prepared to do anything constructive as regards Waterloo Bridge. It has criticised and it has commented, and of course the reason why it has not done anything constructive is that it had delegated its powers to the London County Council. Then, after waiting this period of 12 to 13 years, during which the bridge had been in a dangerous condition and there was a temporary structure carrying some of the traffic, surely the time arrived when the authorities that had been charged with this particular job had to decide what they were going to do about it. The Council, taking into account their heavy responsibility in this matter, resolved that if Parliament could not help any further than by merely indicating its opinion—Parliament did not seek to take over the responsibility, financial or otherwise—they must decide, and they so decided, apparently to the unanimous pleasure of the constituents to whom they are responsible.
Now arises a wholly different question, and it arises for the first time in this House in this Debate That is that the responsible authority having decided that it is necessary to build a bridge, having decided that it is to be done by pulling down Waterloo Bridge and erecting another bridge in its place, how is it to finance the undertaking? Under the machinery that was laid down many years ago it is necessary for the County Council, or one might say it 1664 is the privilege of the County Council, to submit an annual money Bill to this House. The object of that is that the County Council may have a better facility for borrowing. The only question that this House considers is whether the capital expenditure which is shown as being requisite by the County Council in the Bill is properly capital expenditure, whether it is a proper thing upon which capital should be expended rather than revenue. I do not think there has been a single argument to-night on that issue, which is the issue before the House, even attempting to show that in this case the expenditure on this bridge ought not to be on capital account. Indeed, there is not a Member of the House who could conceivably get up and say that under the ordinary methods of finance which are adopted by the central Government, by municipal governments or corporations, this type of expenditure is not one which ought properly to fall upon the capital account of this large municipal body rather than upon the rates.
There can be no argument upon the actual merits of the case before the House. If that be so, then apart from the picturesque and somewhat antediluvian notions of the hon. Baronet who moved the Motion as regards aesthetic preference for Waterloo Bridge, what else is there that can conceivably induce anyone to vote for the Instruction? I regret to say that it is clear from some of the speeches, that.the only other thing that could conceivably induce anybody to vote in favour of it is the consideration that they would thereby embarrass the political party which is in the ascendancy in the London County Council at present. I am sure that the House, if it takes its duty and its obligation seriously, is not going to allow that consideration to weigh with it. It, would be most unfortunate if, as a result of this debate, it could be said outside "Look at these speeches urging people to have a smack at the Socialist party in the London County Council"—I think someone picturesquely put it in that way—and if it could be said that those speeches had apparently succeeded in swaying a majority in the House of Commons. I am sure that nobody here would wish that that reading should be given to this Debate.
I appeal to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, therefore, to realise that this is the 1665 first time the House has ever been asked to decide the question which is now before us. We all know quite well that the problem which was discussed in previous debates was completely different. The House of Commons then took a different view from the London County Council as to the desirability of doing something which was the function of the County Council and not of the House. That question now being out of the way and the London County Council having decided, as it has the right and indeed the duty to decide, that this operation is to be undertaken, it now asks the House to consider one single point: Is this to be done by capital expenditure and not out of revenue? No argument has been put forward on the merits to show that it should not be done by capital expenditure. Therefore if we are to proceed in this matter by reason and not by prejudice, as I hope we are, there can be, in my submission no doubt in anyone's mind that support must be given to the County Council and that this Instruction ought to be defeated.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
Like the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just delighted the House with his speech, I am not a Member for a London constituency though, like him, I am a London ratepayer. My excuse for intervening in this discussion is that it seems to involve a constitutional point of great interest. I hope I shall follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in the moderation of his speech and I join with him in deploring that on an issue of this character party political considerations should be suffered to intrude. I would only say in defence of my own side that Members of ail parties have occasionally allowed such considerations to appear in their speeches. It has not been confined to one set of politicians alone. Perhaps it is a natural vice of our system that we cannot speak on any subject without words of a party political character flying to the tips of our tongues. But the real point in this matter seems to be of more practical interest.
Let me first ask the House to consider what we are called upon to decide. We are asked to decide whether or not we shall give an Instruction to the Committee which is to consider the Bill to excise that portion of it which enables 1666 the County Council to borrow money for certain purposes. It seems to have been assumed that what the County Council are asking is some great financial boon which will redound considerably to the profit of the citizens of London. I am willing to accept the calculations submitted by the hon. Member for Kenning. ton (Mr. G. Harvey) and it appears to be, financially, a very trifling matter. You have to choose whether the ratepayers of London are to pay a penny rate for five years or a rate which he says amounts to a seventh of a penny for 60 years; in other words, you have to decide whether you are going to pay for your new bridge outright or whether you are going to buy it on the hire-purchase system. As a matter of domestic economy, I have always tried to make it a rule never to purchase anything on the hire-purchase system if I could afford to pay for it out of income, because, added to the total cost with which you saddle yourself, you have to pay the interest charges involved. It seems to me, if the calculations of the hon. Member are correct--and I have no reason to doubt their accuracy—that it is an extremely bad bargain from the point of view of the London County Council to ask its ratepayers to spend 81d. spread over a period of 60 years when they might settle the bill once and for all by paying a fivepenny rate.
§ Mr. RADFORD
Does the hon. and learned Member take into account that if the ratepayers of London have to find 'a penny in the £ during the five years, there will be interest running on those pennies for the 60 years, and that accounts for the whole difference?
§ Mr. MORRISON
That means that the hon. Member is to credit himself with interest on sums of money which he never possesses and is never likely to receive in the course of his life. It is no gain to me to say that because I choose to buy a thing outright because I can pay for it, I am thus debiting myself with the interest on an unascertained sum of money running, it may be, into 60 years. No; it is plain common sense that if 'a man can pay out of income for what he is purchasing, he is saving himself the additional burden of interest charges which he pays for accommodation for a period of years. If you need the 'accommodation, the interest charge is worth paying, but van anyone say that a penny rate for five 1667 years is a burden on the ratepayers of London which they cannot tolerate Can anyone say it is a, burden of sufficient magnitude to entitle them to pay money for interest over a long period of years? It appears to me that even on the financial side we should be doing a wise thing in asking the London County Council to shoulder this burden of a penny rate for five years, rather than asking them to pay interest charges for accommodation over a period of years, an accommodation which they do not require, which is a mere luxury to them, and which will cost them money which should not be expended.
I am very surprised to hear Members of the party opposite supporting this proposition, because I had the pleasure recently of reading a very eloquent declamation by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition against all interest charges, and I have some sympathy with his view, because I realise that in all matters of national economy this insidious piling up of debt—a seventh of a penny here, going on for years and years, and so on—is a process that should be watched with the utmost vigilance if it is not to result in an intolerable burden. But if all interest is usury, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition should tell the London County Council to avoid this evil thing and keep their money in their own pocket instead of spending it on interest charges.
Apart from that, it seems to me that the main question which we are discussing to-night was proposed but not answered by the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot), when he said he was concerned that Parliament should not interfere with the proper functions of the London County Council. I would agree with that. I am not a member of the London County Council, but I am a Member of Parliament, and I am concerned with the functions of Parliament and with how far Parliament's voice is to be honoured and obeyed when it expresses its opinion, right or wrong, on any subject. The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) followed his hon. Friend the Member for East Fulham in attempting to consider this matter as if it were a financial matter only, and as if all Parliament had to do in passing these annual London County Council Bills was to consider 1668 whether the expenditure could be properly put to capital account or met out of rates. The hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) said that no other local authority, if it asked the Minister to borrow money for such a purpose, would be refused, and he made a strong point that the London County Council was in an invidious position in regard to that. I would ask him whether, if a local authority like Birmingham or Manchester asked the appropriate Minister for sanction for a loan for a purpose which Parliament had condemned, would it get the loan? The answer is obviously that it would not. This matter comes before the House of Commons at this moment because of the peculiar relations that exist between us and the great London County Council.
It might be worth while if I stated the point I am trying to establish, namely, that in considering the money Bills of the London County Council Parliament is not only concerned with the mere accounting of the money and its allocation to the appropriate account, whether capital or revenue, but is concerned with and is responsible for the purposes for which the money when borrowed is to be used. If that be true, it puts an entirely different complexion upon the matter from the merely financial and accounting aspect on which hon. Members opposite instructed us. The position arises in this way. Hon. Members will find a most succinct account of it admirably expressed in a book by the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green, which he has been kind enough to place in the Library for the convenience of Members. I refer to "London and its government." The predecessor for this purpose of the London County Council was the Metropolitan Board of Works, which was in the habit of raising money in its own way. Sometimes it raised money very badly and paid too much for it. Parliament, desiring to give it a better opportunity for borrowing purposes, laid down a limit in 1869 beyond which it could not borrow, and then said that if the Board wanted to borrow more it had to get Treasury sanction. The Board soon exhausted the limit, and there were frequent appeals to the Treasury for power to borrow more money. The Treasury, in a correspondence with the Metropolitan Board of 1669 Works, took up the attitude of saying that they would prefer an annual Act fixing the amount which might be raised within the year, inasmuch as they would reserve to Parliament the complete control which was desirable when extensive loan operations were in progress.
That is bow this arrangement came into being, and the matter received further consideration and statutory confirmation in the Consolidation Act of 1912. Therefore, we are concerned, every time the London County Council wishes to raise money, with an examination, not only of the accounting, but of the purpose for which the money is desired to be raised. Had it been otherwise, had it been the mere accounting matter that we are told it is, it would not have been necessary for the London County Council to say what they wanted to do with the money. The fact that the Bill is in this form, with all the details of the purposes for which the money is wanted, shows that Parliamentary approval, not only for the loan itself, but for the purpose for which it is to be used, is necessary. It is easy to see why that is so. Not only are there the questions of the magnitude of London's security and its wealth and the huge size of its possible financial operations—those are not the only considerations. London is the capital of a great Empire and contains monuments of triumphs to which not only London but the might of the whole Empire has contributed. It commemorates, it may be, disasters in which the whole nation has suffered, and not London alone. It is that aspect of London, as the capital of the Empire, which makes it necessary that changes which involve capital expenditure in particular and may involve the destruction of national monuments should be subjected to Parliamentary control.
We are asked to say whether we approve of this expenditure being charged to a revenue account. I have offered to the House considerations which lead me to suppose that the London County Council would be acting more frugally in the interests of its ratepayers if it paid the money, as it could well do, in five years. But we are also concerned with the purpose for which the money is being spent. That purpose is no stranger to this House. It has been discussed fully in the past, twice within the lifetime of this Parliament. Not only has it 1670 been debated on the Floor of the House, but those debates have been heralded by the usual barrage of documentary persuasion from both parties. Who can say, in these circumstances, that Parliament's decision, which may be right or wrong—and I think it is right—is not the voice of Parliament and, as such, entitled to respect?
It is idle to suppose that, in those discussions there was any powerful party bias on the one side or the other. Parliament answered with the same voice a Council composed of the supporters of the present administration and of their declared political foes. Hon. Members saw on the first occasion the unusual spectacle of two Members on the Treasury Bench speaking on different sides of the question. It is a matter on which we are all entitled to our opinions and may be pardoned if we differ from one another. I submit thta the matter has been considered by Parliament in that light.
If that be so, how do we stand? Are we to be told that the London County Council should be allowed to borrow money for a purpose which Parliament has declared to be a bad one? If that were to be the case the voice of Parliament would suffer sonic diminution of authority. It is regrettable, to some extent, that there has been what, for want of a better term, has been called a flouting of Parliamentary authority in the language used and in the tone and temper in which it was expressed. Had it been a mere matter of disagreement with Parliament and a regretful determination to procede with what was considered to be the best scheme, the matter would not be so serious; but it is common knowledge that after the recent change of administration there was a good deal Of horn blowing, a good deal of ostentatious contempt of the decision of Parliament, a good deal of what I may be permitted to call injudicious contrast of Parliament's voice with that of the rival body. They should never be rival bodies, but co-partners in this matter.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will the hon. and learned Member tell us whom he considers responsible for the safety of and for the traffic over Waterloo Bridge, the County Council or Parliament?
§ Mr. MORRISON
I consider, undonbtedly, the highway authority the bridge authority, to be the London County Council; but my argument is that the growth of the relations between Parliament and the London County Council places the bridge authority here in a different relation to Parliament than in the case of any other bridge authority, because the necessary borrowing power of the London County Council requires scrutiny by Parilament as to its purpose as well as to its accounting.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If during these discussions a central arch of the bridge had fallen in who would have been responsible to the people of London 1 The argument that has been put to-night—and not met —is that action had to be taken.
§ Mr. MORRISON
That is a question where perhaps I ought to follow the advice that it is unwise to answer hypothetical questions. If in fact that situation had arisen the London County Council would have been blamed and properly blamed, because they had not told the people of London that the situation was as serious as that. It was not that situation. The situation was that Waterloo Bridge was in danger, and that there were two views of what ought to be done for the safety of the people of London. There was the view that there ought to be a destruction of the old bridge and a completely new erection. There was the equally good scheme from the point of view of the safety of the people of London, which was put forward by myself and my hon. Friends on the last occasion, that you could reconstruct a narrow bridge and have your Charing Cross bridge at some later period. This has never been a question between, on the one hand, accepting the London County Council's scheme and, on the other hand, of doing nothing and letting the bridge fall into the river, and it does not help
§ the argument to suggest that it ever was so. Unfortunately, the position comes before us in this way. After one makes allowances for words spoken in the full flush of a newly acquired and hardly expected victory there has been created a spirit of opposition, a suggestion that Parliament's views on this matter are of no account, that the London County Council's point of view is the only one that matters, and that we are concerned with the mere accounting matters which have been harped on by the hon. Member for East Fulham and the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol. It is not so. We are entitled to express our opinion, and no money should be borrowed for a scheme which this House has, rightly or wrongly, come to the conclusion is a bad scheme.
§ I view this as a constitutional matter of some importance. It is true that relations between Parliament and the London County Council are bound to be difficult because they are anomalous. Their working out will require a good deal of patient exploration, of good temper, of self respect and mutual respect. We do not help to a proper solution of that difficult problem by disclaiming the powers which we undoubtedly have by shirking the responsibility which is undoubtedly east on us of approving the purposes for which London is borrowing money and, while this regrettable opposition has arisen, in my judgment—and I say it with great respect—the only way in which we can express as Parliament our view that this matter has been injudiciously dealt with by the other body is by voting for the Instruction which was moved in a speech of such admirable temper by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison).
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 121; Noes, 96.1673
|Division No. 231.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Craven-Ellis, William|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Crooke, J. Smedley|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Braithiwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brass, Captain Sir William||Davies, Maj. Gec. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Broadbent, Colonel John||Dickie, John P.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Burnett. John George||Ford, Sir Patrick J.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Campbell-Johnston, Maicolm||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Bird Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Blindelt, James||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cook, Thomas A.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Morgan, Robert H.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Heneage, Lieut-Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, William Shepherd||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Mom, Captain H. J.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Munro, Patrick||Spencer, Captain Richard A|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nall, Sir Joseph||Stones, James|
|Hunter, Capt, M. J. (Brigg)||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Storey, Samuel|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Peat, Charles U.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Petherick, M||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Pickering, Ernest H.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Pike, Cecil F.||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wlck-on-T.)|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Pybus, Sir John||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Leas-Jones, John||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Levy, Thomas||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Remer, John R.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Rickards, George William||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Runge, Norah Cecil||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Sandys, Duncan||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Sir William Davison and Commander Marsden.|
|Mitchell, Harold 'P.(Br'tfd & Chisw'k)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forlar)|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Graves, Marjorle||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Agnew. Lieut.-Com. p. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Aske. Sir Robert William||Grenfell, David Ree (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. Clement R.||Griffith, George A. (Yorks.W.Riding)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Penny, Sir George|
|Batey, Joseph||Hairs, Sir Percy||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pfn,Bllston)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hicks, Ernest George||Radford, E. A.|
|Buchanan, George||Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. Leslie||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Janner, Barnett||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Jenkins, Sir William||Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)|
|Castlereagh, viscount||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Selley, Harry R.|
|Clarke, Frank||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cleary, J. J.||Law, Sir Alfred||Shute, Colonel Sir John|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Leckle,. J. A.||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cove, William G.||Leonard, William||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Logan, David Gilbert||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Dallgar, George||Lunn. William||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Thorne, William James|
|Denman. Hon. R. D. '||Macdonald, sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dobble, William||McEntee, Valentine L.||West, F. R.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||William, David (Swansea, East)|
|Edwards, Sir Charles||Mainwarlng, William Henry||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Evens, David Owen (Cardigan)||Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sir W. Lane-Mitchell and Mr.Wilmot.|
That it be an Instruction to the Committee to leave out paragraph (c) of item 9 of Part I of the Schedule:
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.