HC Deb 29 May 1935 vol 302 cc1181-3

5.49 p.m.


I beg tomove, n page 64, line 11, at the end, to insert: "and (b) except in so far as the Minister may, in any particular case, dispense with the observance of this paragraph, that the house is provided with a fixed bath in a bathroom. This Amendment is put down as a result of a discussion in Committee, because it was felt that in these enlightened times we should put in statutory form what is the practice, that is, that in giving approval for new houses, a house should contain a fixed bath in a bathroom. All parties agreed to that general principle, but it was pointed out, and accepted again by all parties, that there were exceptional circumstances in which a suspensory power should be given to the Minister, as in the case, for instance, of the provision of a dwelling for aged per sons where there would not be the necessity for a fixed bath in a bathroom though there might be the necessity for a bath. With this explanation, I hope that the House will confirm this Amendment.

5.50 p.m.


I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out from the beginning, to "that," in line 3.

I agree that in the main this Amendment carries out what was promised when we discussed the matter in Committee. The House will know that it has been the practice in some areas for baths to be provided without any bathroom, and the Amendment appears to make that practice a thing of the past. I thank the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary for having put down the Amendment, but I am a little concerned about that part of it which deals with exceptions. If the Parliamentary Secretary can give me an assurance that the only kind of exception to be made is that which he has just quoted, I shall not have much of which to complain. I hope that there is no intention of making it possible for the Minister to dispense with the observance of this paragraph in any what may be called ordinary dwelling-houses. I can understand that, under a Bill of this character, where you provide flats and dwellings of that kind, there may be the need for some exceptions, but I should like an assurance that there is to be no exception in respect of the ordinary dwelling-house typical of the provinces. If that is so, I have no intention of pressing my Amendment to the Amendment.

5.52 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

At the same time, I wish to say that I appreciate the change which the Minister has inserted. I do not think that many Members of this House realise the great importance of it. It is the first time, I believe, in our legislation that it has been made compulsory to have a fixed bath in a bathroom. It is rather wonderful when you consider that 50. years ago not 5 per cent. of the houses of Great Britain had a bathroom of any kind. Forty years ago even Windsor Castle was without a bathroom, and it was not until 1900, so I am informed, that a bathroom was put into that very magnificent building. Indeed, in Kensington, where the aristocracy used to live, 90 per cent. of those great houses were built 60 years ago without a bathroom. It is incredible. Even to-day in London more than 50 per cent. of the houses are still without a fixed bath in a bathroom. In 1900 it was an abnormality for the well-to-do to have a bathroom built in their houses in London. It is a great social advance to have a provision put into a Bill so that even the poorest of the working people shall have a bathroom, when one realises that a bathroom was a luxury for the rich 30 years ago. It is a very great advance that we now realise how extraordinarily important a bath room can be in the lives of the people from the point of view of cleanliness, and from amoral point of view. I congratulate the Minister upon his courage and foresight in putting this improvement in the Bill. I do not know what his dispensing power is to be, but I take it for granted that the Minister will allow exceptions to arise only in very abnormal cases.

5.56 p.m.


I entirely agree with all that has been said by the hon. Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. West) about the importance of this being a social advance. I could not give an undertaking to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) exactly in the words which he has suggested that the only exception could be that referred to by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary in respect of houses for old people. That was given only as an illustration, but I can give him an assurance which I am sure will satisfy him. It is intended that the provision in the Act shall be the normal provision, and that its observance shall only be dispensed within circumstances justified by exceptional conditions.


After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.