HC Deb 20 May 1935 vol 302 cc112-31

8.25 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 21, line 25, after "houses" to insert: or with respect to the administration of re-development areas. I am not clear what the intention of the Bill is as at present drafted, whether a housing management commission may be appointed for the administration of a re-development area before it has been developed. The difficulty arises on the words: other buildings or land provided in connection with such houses. In the case of re-development areas while the whole re-development is going on working-class houses do not yet exist and cannot be regarded as working-class houses which have been provided by the local authority. I hope the Minister will explain his intentions in the matter.

8.20 p.m.


I am not sure that I apprehend the Noble Lord's point, but, if I do, the answer is that the powers under the Bill will extend and apply to local management commissions only in respect of the management of a property provided it is the property of the local authority. The management commissioners will not have any functions before houses are ready for occupation, but they would have functions as regards any of the houses which are the property of the local authority.

8.27 p.m.


A re-development area which has been acquired by a local authority may contain working-class houses and also property which is not working-class houses. That area is to be re-developed in connection with the main purpose of providing working-class houses. Is the housing management commission only to be able to enter into operation when the area has been developed or can it be used by the local authority as its public utility agent—


On a point of Order. Has the Noble Lord the right to speak twice on the same Amendment on Report stage?


In the case of a Bill which has been committed to a Committee upstairs, the hon. Member in charge of the Bill has the right and the hon. Member who moves an Amendment has the right to make a. speech in reply. That rule does not apply to any other hon. Member.


Will the housing management commission be able to administer a redeveloped property bacause it is the property of the local authority, or will it only enter into its function when working class houses have been built on the property, or in so far as working-class houses have been built on the property which has been otherwise developed?

8.29 p.m.


I understand better now the question of the Noble Lord. The housing commission will have no functions except in regard to houses provided for the occupation of wage earners. They will not have functions as regards the development of the property or as regards any other property except houses for wage earners. As regards their functions for wage earners they will begin only when the houses are in occupation.


I can only speak again by leave of the House, but may I say that I cannot understand the meaning of the words: And other buildings or land provided in connection with such houses.


I will give consideration to the matter in order to make quite certain what are the functions of the housing commissioners. As regards the point of substance, their functions will be as I have described.

Amendment negatived.

8.30 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 21, line 33, at the end, to insert: Provided that such scheme shall also make provision for the dissolution of the Commission as from the expiration of a period of three months from the date on which the local authority, by resolution, determine that it is expedient that the Commission should be dissolved, for the re-vesting in the local authority of property vested in the Commission at the date of such dissolution, and for such other incidental, consequential and supplemental provisions as may be necessary or proper to give effect to such dissolution. Unlike other Amendments which have been discussed this is of considerable importance and contains a matter of great principle. Under Clause 25 a local authority may set up a housing management commission to take over the management of working class houses built by the authority. We cannot discuss whether this is necessary or not but it seems to be quite unnecessary because local authorities, in fact, now appoint a number of experts under their control to look after houses which are built. The real dangerous feature of the Clause is that once a local authority has proposed a scheme for the setting up of such a housing commission and the Minister has passed it, there is no power to dissolve the housing management commission, however incompetent it may be, and no matter to what extent it operates contrary to public opinion in the area. That is an undesirable and unprecedented proposition. I know of no other example in local government of a specific function which a local authority undertakes being taken away from that authority and handed over to an irresponsible body, that is, a body not responsible to the ratepayers in the area, and the local authority having no power to bring back under its own control the powers and functions which have been handed over in this way. We propose that where a housing management commission has been established by a local authority, that the same authority, if it desires, shall have the power of bringing back to itself the powers and functions given to the housing commission, and may dissolve the commission. Anyone who has any respect for democratic institutions and the responsibility of local authorities to the people in their area will admit that this is a reasonable proposal.

The dangers of the Clause are considerable. I very much doubt whether an efficient local authority will set up such a housing commission, because if they are efficient in house building they will also be efficient in looking after their own estates. An authority that can build houses can also look after those houses when they are built. It may be that there are some authorities doubtful of their powers, or more particularly an authority which is unpopular in its area and fears that after a coming election it may be turned out of office. It may have strong ideas as to the management of houses under its control. Such an authority might set up a housing management commission to take control of the houses built by the local authority in the area. Then after an election it may be that there is an entirely different local authority, with a different outlook altogether on all questions affecting housing. The housing management commission will be entirely out of sympathy with the views of the local authority. You will therefore get an intolerable position. Unless the Amendment is accepted in principle, there will be no getting over that position, and plainly the local authority will not continue to build working-class houses if it knows that after they are built they are to be handed over to a group of people who, in the view of the local authority, will mismanage those houses. Indeed the Minister in Committee pointd out how essential it was that the local authority should act in concert with the commission. On 12th March last he said: From the fact that the housing commissioners are responsible to and appointed by the local authority, the Committee will perceive that it is essential that the two bodies should pull together and work in co-operation, that the local authorities should not look upon the management commissions as hostile bodies imposed upon them by an outside force in an unsympathetic and overriding manner. If they were at arm's length I am sure the experiment—because it is an experiment—would be fore doomed to failure."—[Standing Committee A, OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1935; col. 286.]. It may well be that these commissioners will be appointed for five or 10 or 15 years, and during this period there will be chaos in the district. Houses will not be built and there will be no way of getting over the difficulty. The members of the management commission may not be competent, or they may be thoroughly unpopular and the whole feeling of the area may be against them. Yet unless there is this Clause in the contract of their establishment there will be no way of getting rid of them. Moreover, these housing management commissions will have immense power locally. Not only will they be able to control the rents of the houses, but indirectly they will affect the rates of the locality. It may be that the commissioners would consider it desirable for one reason or another to reduce the rents of the houses very considerably, and no one would be able to stop them, as far as I can see. If the rents are reduced it means, of course, that the rates are put up. And these people have no responsibility at all to the people in the area. They have not been elected in the first place; they have just been appointed by the local authority on any ground which the local authority may consider desirable.

We want to see included in Clause 25 a definite condition of their appointment, and the condition is that on any occasion on which the local authority so desires it will be able, at three months' notice, to dissolve the housing management commission. I cannot see what arguments can be brought against such a reasonable proposal. If a local authority is able to establish a body, surely it should be empowered to dissolve that body if it finds that the experiment has proved unsuccessful. It is no use waiting for five or ten years, when the time of their appointment has ended, because by that time irreparable damage may have been done to the cause of house-building in that area.. The Amendment gives an essential power to local authorities. If the commissioners go too far and make themselves unpopular or intolerable, they can be turned out. This will bring about an indirect but certain connection between their activities and the people of the locality. Unless such an Amendment is carried the action of the Government in setting up these commissioners can produce no such desirable result. I doubt whether any decent local authority will set up such commissioners, but if, unwisely, they do so, it will be contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy, as we know them in this country, and contrary to all that is best in our local government system.

8.43 p. m


I beg to second the Amendment.

There is no enthusiasm on these benches for Part II of this Bill, and I might as well make that quite clear at once. With regard to the commissions set up by Clause 25, I think the arguments of my hon. Friend are convincing. There should be something included in this Clause to enable a local authority to get rid of one of these bodies if in any given area it should not be functioning satisfactorily.

8.44 p.m.


The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. R. Strauss) put his case as clearly as ever, but I know he will not be surprised if I say, on behalf of the Government, that I cannot accept the Amendment. The fundamental principles of democracy that are called into question are on the other side on this issue, and I should like to stand up for them. Let us see what we are really doing in this business of the commissioners. We are instituting a purely voluntary system. I am sure that that is quite clear to the House. No local authority is under any obligation whatever to adopt this method of administration of its publicly-owned estates, unless it pleases to do so. I believe that probably the housing management commission is an institution for which immediate use will be found in certain directions and that experience will lead to its increasing use. Let me also call the attention of the House to the fact that the plan of the Bill is to give the greatest possible freedom to local authorities in establishing these schemes. We have laid down no provision in the Bill as to what those schemes should be. We only give a general indication of what they are to include and then we do, what I regard as the sensible and the democratic thing, in that we give the fullest power to the local authority who fill up the skeleton by making provision for their own needs. I cannot see what reason there can be for an arbitrary distinction in favour of the particular provision embodied in the Amendment. There is ample power in Clause 25, as it is drafted, to include in the scheme for a housing management commission, provisions relating to the termination of the Commission and a provision such as that indicated in the Amendment might be included in a scheme.


Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate where that is to be found in the Clause?


Generally speaking, I think it is implied particularly in paragraph (g) of Sub-section (2) which refers to the re-vesting of property in a local authority in the event of the dissolution of a commission. I have no doubt that includes a power for the dissolution of a commission if the local authority chooses to do so. What reason can there be for binding their hands in this particular rather than in any other particular? I suggest that to do so would be definitely undemocratic and contrary to the spirit of confidence in the local authorities which we desire to encourage in this matter. I think we ought to seek to maintain the principle of elasticity, of voluntary exercise of powers and of the greatest possible degree of freedom for local authorities, which has been our guiding principle in drafting this Clause. The acceptance of this Amendment would be an infringement of that principle and would be contrary to those very good characteristics of the existing scheme which I have indicated.

8.48 p.m.


We have had an interesting revelation of the mind of the Minister, and I hope that my hon. Friends will take careful note of it. According to the right hon. Gentleman's understanding, apparently, it is in keeping with the true principles of democracy that a local authority should be able to divest itself of the ownership of houses, paid for out of public funds and vest that ownership in an ad hoc body and that it should never be able to take that property back again even if it wants to do so. I must state frankly and with the greatest emphasis that the party to which I belong repudiate entirely that interpretation of the Minister's and I confidently prophesy that if ever we are in a position to repeal this atrocity, we shall certainly get rid of it. What is it that we are asked to do in this Clause? Here we have houses built at the public expense and let to the people of a locality and it is proposed to hand over to these commissions the power to assess rents and to inflict it may be all kinds of blunders upon the unfortunate tenants and there is no guarantee that there will be any appeal of any sort. The local authority may be required to look on helplessly while their own estates are being mismanaged by these people.

The Minister says that there may be something in a scheme to provide against that contingency. It may be true that a scheme can provide for the dissolution of a commission which proves recalcitrant. But the House of Commons before authorising public authorities to part with property, for which it has found a large share of the money, ought to be assured that each scheme will necessarily contain a provision of that kind. When the National Government sought to remove unemployment from politics by setting up a national assistance board a friend of mine said, "They may remove unemployment from Westminster but they will take it into Trafalgar Square." I think the same remark applies to this proposal. The local authority which attempts to divest itself of its responsibilities in regard to these houses, and the solicitudes and anxieties of the tenants of these houses, will be subject to a sad disillusionment just as the National Government has been disillusioned in regard to the regulations about unemployment assistance.

Having had at one time responsibility for the Ministry of Health and having had a good deal to do with legislation I can say that I have never seen a proposal in any Act of Parliament more entirely undemocratic than the proposal in this Clause or one which is more certain to lead to trouble. The only comfort one bas is that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. R. Strauss)—that no self-respecting authority will set up one of these bodies. The trouble is that the authorities who will want to shuffle off their responsibilities to people of this kind are those very authorities whom it is most desirable to retain in active relationship with the Ministry of Health, in connection with the management of their estates. The very last authorities who ought to be encouraged to divest themselves of responsibility will be the authorities, if any, who will try to do this kind of thing. I cannot imagine any reason for not accepting the Amendment which only requires that a scheme should embody some provision which will enable the local authority to bring the experiment to an end if they want to do so. It seems entirely reasonable and justified by every consideration of public policy. I cannot imagine the British Government in respect of any of its own Departments handing over its responsibilities in perpetuity to somebody who was not responsible either to them or to Parliament. But that is what we propose that local authorities should do in regard to housing—on which we are paying, in the aggregate, several millions of pounds a year of subsidy. We shall certainly carry this Amendment to a Division and we shall oppose the proposal in the Clause both in the House and outside with all the power at our command.

8.55 p.m.


The right hon. Gentleman referred us to Sub-section (2, g) as containing a provision which he thought would meet the point of the Amendment. I think his reference would possibly be satisfactory if the Sub-section in question provided that a scheme "shall make provision" with respect to the matters set out in the paragraphs instead of merely providing that the scheme "may" make such provision. A local authority might endeavour to prejudice its successors by trying to make provision for the appointment of a housing management commission permanent. I suggest that we might save ourselves a lot of time if it could be arranged that a scheme must provide for some arrangement to bring the delegation of powers to an end if that delegation should either prove unsatisfactory in operation or be against the wishes of the successors of the particular authority that made the arrangement. I put this to the Solicitor-General: Would the case be met by substituting "shall" for "may" in Sub-section (2), line 34? If not, I shall be forced to support the Amendment.

8.56 p.m.


I was very much impressed by what the Minister said a few moments ago. On the Second Reading of the Bill I pointed out that we disliked Clause 25 entirely, and that we should fight it on the Floor of the House and in Committee upstairs. We have fought it all along the line. On the Second Reading the Minister said, "Well, a local authority may if they choose, but they are not bound to do it." He let the cat out of the bag unconsciously and very nicely. This is a baby of Fascism, bred in the bowels of the Ministry of Health. It is handing over the democratic control of a local authority to somebody who is not responsible to the people, and the Minister gets up to-night and is proud that a lot of the local authorities will adopt the provision. Previously he said, "Well, there is no harm in this; it is only a little ewe lamb. They may if they like." Our point is that if they may do it, why should they not have the power to undo it? There is the true spirit of democracy in the Amendment. The Minister of Health is looking at it, not in the spirit of democracy, but in the spirit of an infant Hitler. We can never expect the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to accept anything that we put forward as an Amendment.


He has just accepted one Amendment.


He has not accepted this one. I am satisfied that, so far as this overcrowding Bill is concerned, it is not as popular as some people think, and the more it is explained in the country, the more satisfied I am that it will not help the National Government when they go to the country, but it will be of great assistance to us. We ask the Minister to reconsider his attitude on this Amendment and allow it to be inserted in the Bill.

9.0 p.m.


I did not expect the Minister to accept the Amendment, but I regret that he did not answer the arguments which have been advanced in in favour. He said that this is quite a voluntary Measure, which local authorities can adopt or not as they like. That is all very well. A scheme agreed to by the Ministry may establish one of these housing management commissions for 20 years, and while it may be quite voluntary for the particular authority that adopts the scheme at the time, that authority may be within a year of being turned out of office as hopelessly incompetent, and for the remaining 19 years it will be compulsory on its successors to build their houses under the burden of a housing management commission to whom they may be hostile. The Minister did not deal with that point, nor did he deal with the other very important point, namely, the necessity of there being good feeling and co-operation between a local authority and A housing management commission. Suppose they are at daggers drawn and have an entirely different outlook. How will the local authority control the situation? The Minister did not answer that question at all. It will be helpless to do so unless a Clause is inserted in the scheme, as we ask, to the effect that the local authority, representing the views of the people of the area, should be able to dissolve the housing management commission if and when it desires to do so. That is a fundamental point which remains unanswered by the Minister.

What is proposed by the Government is very similar to the position which the House of Commons would occupy if it had been suggested that the Unemployment Assistance Board set up by this Government could not be dissolved by any future Parliament, but should be an established institution for 20 or 25 years. Should we not all have been indignant and have regarded such a position as impossible? If one day we found the Unemployment Assistance Board working in a manner that was contrary to the public interest, or that it was an anachronism or was for any other reason undesirable, we must be free to abolish it; and a local authority that adopts a housing management commission should be in exactly the same position if some years afterwards it should desire to dissolve that commission.

I agree with my hon. Friend who spoke just now in thinking that the whole movement for the establishment of these housing management commissions, which is not an isolated example, is really sinister. It is part and parcel of the movement which we have seen recently, fostered by the National Government, of which the establishment of the Unemployment Assistance Board is an example, to take matters of prime importance to the people completely out of the hands of their elected representatives. In the same way as it is thought undesirable by the Government to leave the question of poverty in the hands of the elected representatives of the people, who would be able to bring their influence to bear and come to effective decisions in remedying the situation, so it is thought undesirable that an important element in the housing question should be left in the hands of the elected representatives of the people.

This irresponsible body, therefore, is to be set up by any local authority that desires to appoint it to control the houses built by them, and it will not have to listen to or be sensitive to any feeling of the public; it can be in the position of an autocrat responsible to no one and be able to continue to mishandle—it may be, grossly to mishandle—the housing affairs of the locality. The Minister now refuses to insert in the Bill a provision under which a local authority when it so desires should be able to dissolve the commission which might otherwise put a permanent millstone round its neck. It is a. tragedy that this should be inserted in the Bill. Anyone who cares for democracy at all should be on the look out for this sort of provision. We shall be fully justified in regarding them as very sinister when coming from this Government, for they form part of a general policy along these lines. They should be opposed by everyone who believes that the people should control their own destiny, whether in the matter of housing or poverty, or of any other question of public importance.

9.7 p.m.


This is really a question of constitutional principle. It has been laid down in the House time and time again that no Parliament can bind its successor. Parliament, however, is now about to impose on local authorities a limitation which ought never to be imposed on them. It is a limitation of their powers which has never been imposed before. If after this Government ceases to exist it is felt in the wisdom of the next Government that this Bill is wrong, they can repeal it. We are now, however, being asked to lay down that, apart from special national legislation or private Bill legislation, a local governing authority, having taken a decision to demunicipalise its housing estates, will not be able to reverse that decision. I think that every hon. Member will agree that that will put fetters on a local authority which this House would never put upon itself. How many times have we heard that this House is free to change its mind when it likes. If there be a change of Government, they can change the legislation. Once this provision is on the Statute Book, if a local authority decides to hand over its housing functions and activities to a commission, that decision will remain for ever.

Let me put the other side of the case to hon. Members opposite. Members of this party do not happen to be in a majority on all local authorities, but I think I am right in saying that we control the majority in over 100 local authorities in England and Wales. Suppose, as I should certainly advise them to do, they pass a resolution never to appoint a commission. How would the opposition on those councils like it? They would regard it as wrong. I should regard it as wrong if a majority of a town council, for the time being were to pass a resolution which was to bind their successors. I am sure the House must see that this new procedure is one which creates a situation which the House itself would not like to adopt. I do not want to press it too far, because this provision gives us a new precedent in legislation which might be adopted in a way that hon. Members opposite would not like if there were a change of Government. Suppose an Act were passed debarring any local authority from doing anything which the party then in office did not like. That is only a step forward for the present proposal. The principle in the Bill really cuts at the root of national and local democratic government. I am not questioning the right of the right hon. Gentleman to give the power to local authorities to demunicipalise their services. I know that that is the policy of the party opposite and that the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) has written about it at great length. I understand this new policy of the Tory party to demunicipalise every service that is now municipalised. If hon. Members wish to do that, they ought at least to give the right to the electors in any municipality to change their minds when they wish.

What the right hon. Gentleman is doing now is unparalleled in our history. The Parliamentary Secretary smiles, but I shall be glad if he will give me a single instance where a local authority has been given power to bind its successors for ever, apart from an Act of the Imperial Parliament. It has never been done, and to do it in this case is opening a wide door which may make local government utterly futile and the cat's-paw of the Government which is in power for the time being. I hope I am broadminded enough to believe that local government is local government whatever Government is in power, and the governing authorities in our municipal areas should be entitled to exercise the will of the people who sent them there by a majority. I think the House has already made one serious mistake to-day, and I hope that it will not commit this grave mistake of trying to fetter the freedom of local authorities to change their minds if the electors wish them to do so. This is an indirect way of imposing an unfair form of central control upon the activities of local authorities.

9.14 p.m.


I hope that I did not misunderstand the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), but it seemed to me that he was overstating his case unnecessarily. Surely the Bill does not intend to impose upon local authorities something which will be on them for ever and which they will not be able to reverse. What it does s to give local authorities permission to impose something on their successors.


It will be for good.


It may be for good. That is where I differ from the right hon. Gentleman. It is to that point that I would like the Minister to reply. The Minister suggested that Clause 25 (2, g) met the situation, but with great respect that does not seem to be the case. Subsection (2) seems to give merely a permissive power to the local authority. Therefore, the local authority, according to the wording of this Bill, may make rules or regulations as to the re-vesting of property in the local authority. It says "may," but it does not seem to be obligatory upon them. My submission is that unless all that has been said from the Labour benches is to be true, surely the words in the Bill should be such as to make it obligatory upon the local authority to make provision for a re-vesting of the property in itself should it so desire. It is on that point that I would ask for a reply from the Minister.

9.16 p.m.


I was not arguing that the local authority are bound to make provisions such as those referred to in the Amendment. On the contrary I was arguing that that is the wrong thing to do. I was pointing out that they might, if they pleased, make provisions equivalent to those in the Amendment.


If a local authority produced a scheme setting up commissioners for 10, 15 or 20 years and that scheme were adopted the successors to that local authority would have no power to dissolve the commissioners during those 15 or 20 years. Is that so?


It is unthinkable that a local authority should propose or the Ministry should accept a scheme which made no provision for a case of default or incompetence on the part of the commissioners or circumstances of that sort, but I think in theory the hon. Member is right. That is the position I am defending.

9.18 p.m.


I do not know where the official Opposition stand in this matter. I understand what the Minister said about Clause 25 being permissive, and I understand the attitude of the Liberal party, but do I understand from the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) that he speaks for the Socialist party in this matter, or do I understand that the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) is their official spokesman in matters of this sort? If I understood the right hon. Member for Wakefield correctly he seemed to say that the electors ought to be entitled, in his opinion, to change their mind if they wish. I take it he has the support of the members of his party for that proposition. He went on to say that it was a very bad thing that a local authority should become the cat's-paw of the Government in being, a very admirable sentiment, but I think I ought to draw his attention to the words used by the hon. Member for Limehouse in that monumental work "Problems of a Socialist Government," because he really ought not to confuse the House as he has done. On page 197 the hon. Member for Limehouse, who seems to speak, on some occasions, for his party, said that local authorities have as much civic pride and even latent Socialism in them when they are not Socialists and went on:

"So long as they do not fear that every activity will mean a rise in the local rates they"—


No doubt this is very interesting, but I think we had better postpone arguments over the difference of opinion between the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) and the hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee) to some other occasion.


But I am in this difficulty, that before I can come to a decision on this matter I must know whether we are to take the words of the hon. Member for Limehouse as representing the official Socialist party or those of the right hon. Member for Wakefield. There is bound to be a little confusion in the country and in this House unless we can have the matter cleared up.

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

The House divided: Ayes,52; Noes, 199.

Division No. 207.] AYES. [9.20 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur McEntee, Valentine L.
Banfield, John William Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Mainwaring, William Henry
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W.Riding) Mallalieu. Edward Lancelot
Cleary, J. J. Grundy, Thomas W. Milner, Major James
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Paling, Wilfred
Cove, William G. Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Parkinson, John Allen
Cripps, Sir Stafford Harris, Sir Percy Pickering, Ernest H.
Daggar, George Holdsworth, Herbert Salter, Dr. Alfred
Davies. David L. (Pontypridd) Jenkins, Sir William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Dobbie, William John, William Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Edwards. Charles Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinker, John Joseph
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) White, Henry Graham
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lawson, John James Williams. Thomas (York, Don valley)
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Logan, David Gilbert Wilmot, John
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lunn, William
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Groves.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Dickie. John P.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Cadogan, Hon. Edward Drewe, Cedric
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Duckworth, George A. V.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)
Apsley, Lord Caporn, Arthur Cecil Eastwood, John Francis
Aske, Sir Robert William Carver, Major William H. Elliston, Captain George Sampson
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Eimley, Viscount
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Balniel, Lord Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Essenhigh, Reginald Clare
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Clarry, Reginald George Everard, W. Lindsay
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Clayton, Sir Christopher Fleming, Edward Lascelles
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Cobb, Sir Cyril Fremantle, Sir Francis
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Fuller, Captain A. G.
Blindell, James Conant, R. J. E. Gillett, Sir George Masterman
Bossom, A. C. Cooke, Douglas Gluckstein, Louis Halle
Boulton, W. W. Copeland, Ida Goff, Sir Park
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Courtauld, Major John Sewell Goldie, Noel B.
Boyce, H. Leslie Crooke, J. Smedley Goodman, Colonel Albert W.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Greene, William P. C.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Crossley, A. C. Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)
Brass, Captain Sir William Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Culverwell, Cyril Tom Grimston, R. V.
Broadbent, Colonel John Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hanbury, Cecil
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Denman, Hon. R D. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Hartington, Marquess of Manningham-Buller. Lt.-Col. Sir M. Salmon, Sir Isidore
Harvey, George (Lambeth, kenningt'n) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Salt, Edward W.
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Martin, Thomas B. Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Mason. Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Mayhaw, Lieut.-Colonel John Selley, Harry R.
Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Somervell, Sir Donald
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)
Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Horobin, Ian M. Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Soper, Richard
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Morgan, Robert H. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Morrison, William Shephard Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Hume, Sir George Hopwood Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Munro, Patrick Stones, James
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Nall, Sir Joseph Storey, Samuel
Jamieson, Douglas Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Strauss, Edward A.
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Nunn, William Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) O'Donovan, Dr. William James Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Orr Ewing, I. L. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Kimball, Lawrence Pearson, William G. Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Peat, Charles U. Turton, Robert Hugh
Leckie, J. A. Perkins, Walter R. D. Wallace, Sir John (Dunfermline)
Leech, Dr. J. W. Petherick, M Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Lees-Jones, John Pike, Cecil F. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Power, Sir John Cecil Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Lewis, Oswald Pybus, Sir John Wells, Sydney Richard
Lindsay, Noel Ker Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Loftus, Pierce C. Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Remer, John R. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Mabane, William Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Wise, Alfred R.
MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Rickards, George William Womersley, Sir Walter
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Worthington, Dr. John V.
McCorquodale, M. S. Ropner, Colonel L. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)
McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Ross, Ronald D.
McKeag, William Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
McKie, John Hamilton Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Sir George Penny.
Magnay, Thomas Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)

9.30 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 23, line 15, to leave out Subsection (6).

I submit that this Sub-section is in no way germane to the purposes which should be borne in mind in a Bill of this kind. The Sub-section provides that unless the scheme makes provision for the accounts of one of these commissions to be audited by a district auditor, of necessity there shall be an auditor appointed from a certain body of accountants practising in England or in Scotland. In other words, this Amendment is a corollary to an Amendment proposed that no buildings should be erected by a local authority unless a qualified architect was employed. The Committee would not accept that, and that Amendment which was down on the Paper was not called. If you are going to close a profession, whether the architects' profession, the accountants' profession, or any other profession, it should be done in an ad hoc Bill designed to close that profession, and should not be done piecemeal, as is suggested in this Bill.

I belong to a profession which, perhaps, might be fairly regarded as the most closed profession in the country. I have not the slightest objection to closed professions. I think they are admirable, but if you are going to close them do not do so piecemeal. Do it to everybody. The accountants protected by this Subsection belong to a very distinguished body. They are people who, no doubt, would be reasonably called upon by any person present. Some efforts have been made, and are being made, to enable them to have the monopoly of practising accountancy, but unless they have that monopoly why should the housing Committee be tied down to employ one of them? The suggestion was made that no building should be erected by a local authority unless it employed an architect, and the position was put forward that that might be the making of a monopoly for architects so far as the housing committee was concerned. Why should this be put in in this way? I was not present in the Committee up stairs when this matter was discussed, and it seems to have slipped through some-what unnoticed, because the three Sub- sections were discussed together and the question of superannuation and other matters were dealt with, and this was never mentioned or discussed. In these circumstances, I beg to move the omission of the Sub-section, in order that these people may take the necessary steps, if they are entitled to do so, to close their profession throughout the whole country, and not limit it to this particular housing committee.


As no hon. Member rises to second, the Amendment lapses.