§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I beg to move,That it be an Instruction to the Committee on Unopposed Bills to leave out paragraph (c) of Item 9 of Part I of the Schedule with regard to the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the erection of a new bridge."The Captains and the Kings depart," and I have to request the House to transfer its attention from the great problems of foreign affairs affecting peace and war, to a purely domestic issue, but one which, I submit, is of no little importance to the prestige and authority of Parliament. Anything which affects the prestige and authority of this Parliament, which is now one of the few democratic Parliaments in the world, is something of great importance in these dangerous and difficult days. Hon. Members will see that the London County Council are again asking Parliament to give them power to raise by a loan during the year ending 31st March, 1937, a sum of £155,000, and for the half-year ending 30th September, 1248 1937, a further sum of £150,000—a total sum during the two periods of £305,000. The object of this loan is to enable the London County Council to borrow money in respect of expenditure incurred in pulling down Waterloo Bridge and erecting a new bridge. No figure is given this year as to the total expenditure involved, but in the statement which was circulated last year the estimated figure was given as £1,295,000. I need scarcely point out that if Parliament were to approve of the London County Council borrowing the smaller sum, they would be morally bound to give their approval to the larger sum of £1,295,000, or to any sum in excess of that amount which was ultimately found to be required to complete the demolition of the old bridge and the erection of a new one.
The application made to-night is in every respect the same as that which the London County Council made to Parliament a year ago, which was refused, and, therefore, there would appear to be no reason whatever why Parliament should reverse the decision at which it arrived in this matter 12 months ago. The London County Council have circulated two printed statements of four pages each in opposition to the Instruction, and two pictures are included of the proposed new bridge. I submit that the one-sided case submitted in these two memorials is wholly irrelevant to the matter upon which the House has to decide to-night, inasmuch as it deals with the merits of the question as to whether or not it was desirable that Waterloo Bridge should be pulled down. That is not the matter before the House to-night. Four years ago, and again two years later, the House of Commons went carefully into the question of the merits of the two proposals, the reconditioning and widening of the old bridge or the pulling down of the old bridge and building a new bridge and it was then definitely decided—I am not concerned to-night as to whether the decision was right or wrong—that it was not desirable that the old bridge should be pulled down, but that it should be reconditioned and widened.
Notwithstanding this decision, on the advice of the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) the leader of the majority party, the London County Council openly and avowedly de- 1249 cided to defy Parliament and its decision: gave immediate orders for the pulling down of the bridge, and said that they proposed to pay for the erection of the new bridge out of the rates. Waterloo Bridge has now been pulled down, except for the old piers which still obstruct traffic in the Thames. It is therefore no longer a question of the merits, but merely the simple point as to whether Parliament is now going to acquiesce in the flouting of its authority, and is going to grant borrowing powers for something which it definitely decided should not be done.
In order to prove what I have said, and also that new Members of the House may know exactly the position, let me remind the House of the history of the case. In 1932, after a prolonged controversy, the London County Council, which then had a Municipal Reform majority led by the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir W. Ray), decided to pull down Waterloo Bridge and build a new one in its place. In June, 1932, they included a Clause in the London County Council (Money) Bill for that year asking Parliament to allow the Council to borrow money for the reconditioning of the bridge and also for pulling it down and rebuilding it. An Instruction was then moved approving the proposal to recondition the bridge, but directing the Committee not to entertain the proposal to pull down and build a new bridge. In view of this decision of Parliament, the Municipal Reform majority then in control at County Hall decided not to proceed with the proposal to pull down the bridge, but to accept the offer of the Government to pay 60 per cent. of the cost of reconditioning and widening the old bridge.
For this act of alleged cowardice the right hon. Member for South Hackney, who was then leading the Opposition on the London County Council bitterly jeered at the Municipal Reform party for not standing to their guns and demanding that Parliament should do what the London County Council asked them to do. In order that there should be no mistake as to the defiant attitude of the London County Council, the right hon. Gentleman opposite wrote an article in the "Evening Standard," of 3rd June, 1932, stating what he would have done if he had been in control at County Hall. If the House will allow me I will read a few sentences from this article. They 1250 will see that I am not putting the case too high as to the intentions of the Socialist party at County Hall when I say that they were openly and avowedly defying Parliament:'"Well, where are we now?' That is what County Hall asked itself after the decision of the House of Commons on the London County Council (Money) Bill … If I were running the London County Council I should take Parliament at its word. I should urge the council to find the money out of the rates, thereby avoiding the necessity for asking Parliament to sanction a loan.… This may appear to be financially terrifying to the ratepayer. But is it? The fact has to be faced that interest upon borrowed money constitutes one of our greatest financial burdens nationally and locally. We must borrow for a lot of things, but on the whole we have done too much borrowing and not enough paying out of revenue. The council's official estimate for a new Waterloo Bridge and the demolition of the old one is £1,295,000. Whether you borrow or pay out of revenue you have got to pay that anyway. But if you borrow, and the repayment is spread over the usual period of 60 years.… if that rate of interest were 4½ per cent., the total interest payable would be £1,748,250. And remember that the interest payable is in addition to the £1,295,000 loan, which also has to be repaid. By paying for the bridge out of revenue we save those vast interest payments.… As the product of a London County Council 1d. rate is roughly £250,000, it will be seen that we could pay for the whole job and get rid of the burden for ever after by a 1d. rate over five years. I should have vindicated the rights of local self-government; I should have freed the council from dictation by those self-appointed guardians of beauty who will assume that county councillors have no consideration for beauty..… That's what I would do. Will the London County Council do it? Ask me another! I do not run the London County Council.There you have clearly the policy of the Socialist party on the London County Council, led by the right hon. Member opposite. Now I come to the year 1934, when there was a change at County Hall and when the decision of the Municipal Reform majority was reversed by the new Socialist majority under the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman. To give him credit, he stuck to his guns, and at once decided to put into the London County Council (Money) Bill a provision demanding that they should be allowed to borrow money forthe reconditioning of Waterloo Bridge or the demolition thereof, and the erection of a new bridge.There was an Instruction moved then, as it is being moved to-night, directing the 1251 Committee that, while Parliament would be prepared to authorise the borrowing of money for the reconditioning of the bridge, it would not be prepared to allow the London County Council to borrow money for the demolition of the old bridge and the erection of a new one. That Instruction, after a, long and very full Debate, was carried by a very considerable majority, and power to allow the London County Council to borrow money for pulling down and rebuilding the bridge was again refused.
The right hon. Gentleman announced, immediately after that decision by Parliament, that the London County Council was not going to be dictated to by Parliament and that, as stated in the article to which I have just drawn the attention of the House, the London County Council, notwithstanding Parliament's decision, would pull down the old bridge and build a new one out of the rates, and defy Parliament. The demolition of the old bridge was at once proceeded with, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to emphasise the fact that the London County Council under his control was not going to be dictated to by Parliament, staged a very interesting and excellent cinematograph display of the last of the old bridge. He seized a workman's pick, held it aloft over his shoulder and, supported by one or two of the contractors' workers, was filmed removing the first stone from the old Waterloo Bridge. I am told that unfortunately the first film was a failure, so that the right hon. Gentleman had to pose a second time; there was a little delay but in the end an excellent film was prepared and duly appeared.
In 1935, notwithstanding all those brave words in the article and in the Debates of the previous year, the right hon. Gentleman found that his schemes for applying Socialism to London were involving considerable expense. This time last year the London rates had gone up by about 10d. in the £, and I would mention in passing that they have now gone up by 1s. 2d. in the £ Consequently, the right hon. Gentleman again decided that, for the third time, he would ask Parliament to allow the London County Council to borrow the money to defray the cost of pulling down and re-erecting a new bridge. The Minister of Transport, whom 1252 I see on the Front Bench, was present on that occasion, and informed the House at the commencement of the Debate that, in view of the previous decisions of Parliament, in no circumstances would the Ministry make any grant out of the Road Fund for pulling down the old bridge and re-erecting it. I understand that there has been no change in the decision of the Ministry of Transport in this matter. The Minister added, however, that it was of course open to Parliament if it so desired—for this was a private Bill and the Government took no active part in the decision—to allow the London County Council to borrow the money for pulling down the bridge rather than to charge it on the rates as was originally intended.
Once again, after a full Debate, the House refused to allow the London County Council to borrow money to provide for the cost of pulling down the old bridge and erecting a new one. To show that there has been no change of heart on the part of the right hon. Gentleman since he wrote the article two years ago, I have had put in my hands a report of a speech which he made on 27th November last at the National Liberal Club, and I will quote some sentences from what he said:The London County Council could govern the country better than the present House of Commons, but all it wanted was to govern London in its own way.… Jealously was behind the Waterloo Bridge controversy.… We will get the grant for that bridge, and I think we shall have the money this year. I do not care whether we get the money or not. If we get it, we shall have a victory;"—that is to say, a victory of the London County Council over Parliament—If we do not, we shall have a first-class grievance that will be of the greatest political value.Some of us were twitted last year that we were dragging in politics. I have always taken the line that this is not a political matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite say "Oh." I made use of precisely the same arguments against the proposal when the Municipal Reform party was leading the council. Therefore, it is not a question of politics. The question is simply and solely that the authority of Parliament should be maintained against even the most powerful municipality in the land.
1253 I come now to the present year. For the fourth time the London County Council is putting forward the same request. As I said a few minutes ago, the rates have now increased by 1s. 2d. in the pound. From the quotations I have read to the House, I think it will be agreed that there is no sign of any regret on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposite or of the body which he has the honour of leading at having deliberately flouted and defied Parliament, and I can see no reason which would justify Parliament in reversing its decision of last year that the London County Council should be refused power to borrow money for the purpose of doing work which Parliament, rightly or wrongly, decided should not be done. It was argued during the last Debate that had the London County Council been a smaller and less important municipal body, had it been Liverpool or Manchester or Glasgow, it need not have come to the House at all. But it is because of its importance and the fact that it is such a vast body that it has to come to the House. There are two reasons for that. The first is that so important is the London County Council, so big is it, that no Minister has the right to turn down any proposal which the London County Council makes in the way of finance, and only Parliament can say "Nay" to any proposal which the Council makes. That is a privilege of the London County Council. At the same time there is a duty imposed upon Parliament, because of the importance and vast size of the London County Council, to see that it does not borrow money for any purpose of which Parliament does not approve. Therefore, it is clear that the London County Council is at no disadvantage compared with Liverpool or Glasgow, but is in a privileged position.
Parliament has on three occasions disapproved of this particular purpose, and I submit to hon. and right hon. Members that it is not possible for them to go back on previous decisions and to say that, by reason of the importunity of those at present in control at County Hall, Parliament will, contrary to its statutory duty, allow the London County Council to borrow money for the purpose of doing something which Parliament has on three occasions decided should not be done. 1254 Finally, may I again remind the House that to-night we are not considering any question of merits? We are not considering whether Waterloo Bridge should have been or should not have been pulled down; we are considering only the small but very clear and important point whether, contrary to its statutory duty, Parliament should now permit of the borrowing of money for a purpose of which on three previous occasions it has disapproved.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I beg to second the Motion.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has traced very clearly the previous history of Waterloo Bridge. The matter has been approached by those who objected to pulling down the old bridge from various points of view. There was the attachment of those whose artistic and architectural taste caused them to take the view that Waterloo Bridge was one of the principal views of London still left, as recorded in pictures and admired by our predecessors. I confess that that view of the matter has great attraction, for me. To-night we are brought face to face with a very practical and simple issue, as the hon. Member for South Kensington has just reminded the House. The question has been brought here for decision because the London County Council is the creation of Parliament and is not in the position of the ancient corporations and ancient, boroughs having their own charter. The London County Council was deliberately set up less than 50 years ago by an Act of Parliament, and when that Act was passed careful consideration was given to the fact that London is the seat of Government, the home of Parliament, and the place where all the great offices of State are situated not only to administer the affairs of this country, but to be responsible for the direction of our world-wide Empire. In that respect London is in a very different situation from any other city.
It was also recognised at that time that the London County Council would have in itself an inherent importance and would be greater and more powerful than any other municipality, and that if certain precautions were not taken it might arrogate to itself rivalry with Parliament. 1255 For that reason Parliament decided in the constitution of the London County Council that money Bills should be brought yearly before the House of Commons to be approved or ratified by Parliament or to be amended and submitted to the judgment of the Parliament of the day. That is the position in which we stand to-night. The right hon. Gentleman who now leads the London County Council will no doubt speak in the course of the Debate. When he accepted his office and took over the responsibility, he must have been well aware of those limitations in the relationships between Parliament and the London County Council.
I do not propose to revive ancient controversies. I will only remind Members that the proposal to build a new bridge was complicated by various considerations. It was objected that the proposed new bridge with six lines of traffic would send that traffic into an already congested area north of the Thames and would increase the difficulties and not improve the management of the traffic. As regards navigation also there were controversies. There was objection to the old-fashioned arches, although they had sufficed for a great number of years with few or no accidents, thanks to the skilful handling of those who navigate craft proceeding up and down stream. They at least never complained, although others complained for them.
We are now entering on the career of a new Parliament and it would appear that the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) thinks it worth while to try on behalf of the London County Council to get this Parliament to reverse a decision already three times taken. When he was speaking to the electors outside this Chamber he used, words of defiance and said he was prepared to undertake the financing of the pulling down of the old bridge and the building of the new bridge without raising a loan. If the ratepayers of London would give him power he would proceed in that way. Now apparently he wants a loan. There is something in the relation between Parliament and the London County Council which makes it essential that much stronger reasons should be advanced than any of those yet offered before Parliament gives way to the County Council.
1256 There undoubtedly appears to be some considerable amount of temper and feeling in this matter, but after all, it is a business matter. Parliament has decided the matter over and over again, but those who are now in authority in the affairs of London are not satisfied with the decision of the previous Parliament and desire to raise this controversy again. They will have to put forward much stronger reasons than any yet advanced. The reasons advanced seem to be that if this loan is not granted London ratepayers will have a grievance against Parliament, and that it is a great hardship they they should not have a grant from State funds. That is a very specious argument. London gets enormous grants out of the Road Fund. One can see that by proceeding about London in the ordinary way. I hold very strongly that there is a constitutional question involved in this matter and that Parliament should continue to assert its authority and should not recede from the position already taken up on the kind of arguments that have been put forward to support a loan for a new Waterloo Bridge.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. G. STRAUSS
This Debate on Waterloo Bridge is almost becoming an annual Debate. I very much hope, for the sake of the dignity of this House as much as in the interests of good local government, that this will be the last time we shall have this subject discussed in this Chamber. The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), who moved the Instruction, has opposed the County Council in this matter from the very beginning on the ground—with which I thoroughly disagree, but which I respect—that it was wrong for architectural reasons to pull down the old bridge. It is perfectly true that he has not gone out of his way to make this a political matter, but other Members of the House unfortunately have done so. I will deal with the merits of the question as raised by the hon. Member in a few minutes.
The right hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Instruction raised the constitutional issue. If that meant anything surely it meant that in technical issues which arise, on which the County Council are the responsible authority entrusted by Parliament to decide, this House should be the real authority and the County Council should be bound to follow what Parliament says, however certain 1257 the County Council may be as to the rightness of their action, and although the County Council still remain responsible for the particular service affected. I suggest that the point is this. Parliament, having entrusted the cross-river facilities of London outside the City to the County Council, the County Council must remain the responsible body, and, indeed, would be responsible if a catastrophe happened on Waterloo Bridge, as it well might one clay, and many lives were lost, and would be equally responsible if serious traffic difficulties arose because the bridge was not adequate. The County Council must remain responsible for cross-river facilities in London. Parliament has entrusted that responsibility to the County Council, and if the County Council for any reason whatever did something which they deemed to be wrong and which they knew might endanger life or be against the interests of London as a whole, the County Council would rightfully be blamed by Members of Parliament and by the people of London.
What is the position to day? It was about 12 years ago that the bridge first started crumpling up, and acute controversy arose and continued unfortunately for about 10 years as to what was to be done with the bridge. In the opinion of many that time was much too long, and there was considerable waste not only of time but of money in coming to a decision as to what should be done with the old bridge. A decision was at last arrived at by a Conservative County Council, and the County Council came to Parliament proposing to do what, after the most careful consideration, they deemed to be the right thing. That was to pull down the old bridge and put up a new and adequate bridge in its place. If any other local authority had made a request to be allowed to do something of that sort there would have been no further question. The project would have been proceeded with straight away, particularly as the Minister of Transport had given the advice that a new bridge was desirable. But London is in the peculiar position that in order to prevent the resources of the capital city of the Empire being dissipated Parliament has enacted—I am not quarrelling with it—that the London County Council must come to Parliament and ask for sanction for any capital expenditure.
1258 Parliament used that excuse, if I may use the word, to interfere with the administration of one of the services of the County Council, and when the County Council came to Parliament in 1932 it refused to give the County Council power to borrow for the building of a, new bridge. In spite of what the hon. Member for South Kensington said, the primary reason for that refusal was not on architectural grounds but on grounds of economy. If the hon. Member will read the report of the Debate that took place on that occasion he will find that made clear in speech after speech. The Debate followed on the economy election of 1931, and in speech after speech Members said that they had been returned to the House for the purpose of achieving economy, that here was an opportunity to do so and that they were going to exercise their rights to prevent giving the County Council borrowing powers. That was the main reason for the refusal. It was suggested by the hon. Member and those supporting him that the County Council should pursue an alternative policy of patching up the old bridge at an expenditure of approximately half the cost of pulling it down and putting up a new one, and they urged that that would be a wise saving of money.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
That is so, but there were conditions attached to the recommendations of the Royal Commission—Charing Cross Bridge and other factors which I must not go into at the moment. In 1934 the County Council felt so strongly on the matter, and realised that the people of London as a whole felt in the same way about it, that they came to Parliament and again, asked for permission to borrow money for the building of a new bridge. On that occasion the argument was put forward that it would be wrong of Parliament to do so, because it would be wrong to give to a Labour County Council what had been refused to a Conservative County Council—an argument that had nothing to do with the merits of the case, with traffic considerations or architectural considerations or any of the other considerations which applied. Again Parliament turned down the very reasonable request of the 1259 London County Council. What was the London County Council to do
§ Mr. FLEMING
Is the hon. Member suggesting that the argument about the money not being given, because the Labour party were in control on the London County Council, was used in this House?
§ Mr. STRAUSS
Yes, and if the hon. and learned Member will read the Debate he will find that that argument was stated by many Members.
§ Mr. FLEMING
I was present during the Debate and I have no recollection of hearing any Member use such an argument.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
To the best of my recollection the argument used was that all the circumstances remained the same and that there was therefore no reason why Parliament should give way, merely because there had been a change of the party in control at the County Hall.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
The argument was stated in different ways by different Members, but I think I have fairly stated the gist of it. Moreover, when the Division took place Members who were against the County Council stood outside the Lobby and as Members came to vote called out "This way to down the Socialist Council." Mainly for that reason, though I do not say only for that reason, the County Council's proposal was turned down. What then was the Council to do? I believe that what they did is what would have been done in the same circumstances by practically every Member of this House, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). What were the alternatives which we had to consider? To have done nothing and left the old bridge standing would have been out of the question. We could have followed the suggestion of the hon. Member for South Kensington and patched up the old bridge, but what would that mean? First, the cost would have been, roughly, half that of pulling down the old bridge and building an adequate bridge in its place. Secondly, we were advised by all the experts that to patch up the 1260 old bridge and widen it, as suggested, from three lines to four lines of traffic, would have left the traffic facilities quite inadequate, and that view was confirmed by the Minister of Transport. Thirdly, we would have spoiled the beauty of the old Waterloo Bridge. I hope that no hon. Member thinks that we lightly undertook the task of pulling down a bridge of such great architectural merit and beauty, but we were advised by Sir Edwin Lutyens that to widen the bridge would have spoiled its beauty. Lastly, we had before us the fact that the old bridge was extremely dangerous. That view was put forward with great force by the Port of London Authority, and we had evidence that there was danger to river navigation and danger to the lives of those who had to pass under the bridge in river craft.
We had no option, therefore, but to decide to pull down the old bridge and build an adequate bridge. I say again, that we did not come to that conclusion lightly, but only after very full consideration by the County Council and by its Highways Committee, of which I happen to be chairman. I, further, submit that a body such as the London County Council with its committees is better able than this House to consider a matter like this, involving difficult and complicated technical issues. It has the time and the opportunity to consider and weigh up all the technical factors and it can do so better than it could be done by this body with its vast interests, its international and Imperial concerns. I hope that that point, which I put with great respect, will be appreciated by all hon. Members.
In view of the facts which I have described the County Council decided to pull down the old bridge and proceed with the new bridge and last year, in the certain knowledge that we were doing the right thing, knowing that we had London opinion practically unanimously behind us, we asked Parliament to allow us to borrow in respect of the building of the new bridge as we do for other items of capital expenditure. Hon. Members on that occasion were more outspoken than previously and it was plain that some Members at least, deliberately voted against the County Council proposal with the object of embarrassing the Labour party on the County Council. I may read one 1261 sentence spoken by a Member of the House on that occasion, Mr. John Rutherford, who said:I gather that it is agreed that under this proposal, that 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1935; col. 1654, Vol. 302.]Obviously the matter was considered on this as on previous occasions in a political light rather than on the merits.
§ Mr. FLEMING
The hon. Member is not suggesting that Mr. John Rutherford was then speaking in any official capacity for the Conservative party.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
Hon. Members are aware that there is no question of speaking in an official capacity on such occasions. It was a Private Bill and people spoke as they liked upon it. But Members were urged to vote against the County Council on that ground, and therefore it is not surprising that there exists in London a feeling of grievance against the action of the House on this matter last year and in previous years. I think most Members will agree that there is some justification for the feeling of injustice which exists.
The argument was put by the Mover and the Seconder of the Instruction that the County Council was defying Parliament and that it was impudent on the part, of the County Council to ask Parliament to alter a decision which was taken only last year. I submit that there is nothing in that argument. Parliament constantly alters its mind on many questions and amends its own laws. I do not wish to be controversial, otherwise I might mention what took place earlier this afternoon. If Parliament were inflexible and if, once a decision had been taken on any matter, it never changed its mind, it would be a very poor kind of democratic body. But in fact Parliament often does change its mind, when new arguments, new waves of opinion, new facts are brought before us. There were 10 applications to this House before it agreed to allow the trams to cross the bridges. Therefore not only is it not wrong on the part of the County Council to come here to-day with this request, but in view of the strong feeling throughout London, it is the duty of the County 1262 Council to come to the House, particularly as this is a new Parliament and to ask the House to remove the existing grievance. That is all the London County Council is doing.
I would put briefly to hon. Members a wider aspect of the question. It will be agreed, I think, that at the present time none of us should do anything which might conceivably undermine public confidence in our democratic institutions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I hope those who agree with me in that, will also agree with me that to turn down a proposal such as this, coming from the major local authority of the country; not on its merits but on political bias, would certainly undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. It would not only be damaging to our system of local government but would tend to lessen respect for the House. When Members shake their heads and act as if there had been no political bias in this matter from the beginning, the facts are all against them, as I hope I have shown. I would remind the House that all the county council is seeking to do is simply to be allowed to borrow on building a new bridge instead of having to meet the expenditure directly out of rate revenue. It is the thing that the county council and every other local authority naturally does in all matters of this sort where capital expenditure is involved. In the building of bridges, roads, schools, hospitals and other works, the local authorities naturally and rightly have the power to borrow against such expenditure. It is what every industrialist does, quite rightly, when he is laying down plant or putting up buildings which are going to last a long time.
That is all that the council is asking the permission of this House to do, and it is that which is being opposed in the Instruction. On the merits of the question there can be no two opinions that the county council should be allowed to borrow on this matter. I beg the House to consider this question on the merits only, and not to impede the county council in its work of building, with the full support of the people of London, the magnificent and beautiful bridge which will shortly be under construction and which I believe will be one of the finest architectural features of London. By 1263 allowing the Bill to pass without the Instruction, Parliament will, moreover, enable this unhappy controversy between itself and the people of this great city to be finally and decently buried.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
The speech which has just been delivered by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) places the real issue clearly before the House. Whatever may have been the merits of the past controversy on the matter, the fact is that the old bridge has been demolished and a new one is being constructed, and the House is invited to express an opinion as to whether or not the London County Council should pay for the expenditure incurred out of capital or out of revenue. What the lion. Member for North Lambeth has said is perfectly correct, that normally a bridge would be paid for out of borrowed money. The attitude of the Government in this matter is precisely what it was last year. We endeavoured to express the issue then. It was not then solely one of borrowing or not, for the question of a grant was included. I have never retracted what I said on the subject of grant last year, and I invite the House to consider purely on its merits the question whether or not this bridge should be paid for out of borrowed money or out of the rates. It is normal for bridges of this character to be paid for out of borrowed money, and if that be the issue before the House, it seems to me a matter that can be simply decided without reference to politics or to past controversy. That is the frame of mind in which I would seriously ask the House to consider this question in order that it may be disposed of once and for all, and not be, as it has already been described, a hardy annual.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
I feel that the line advised by the Minister is the one that should be taken up. I speak with some measure of detachment because I am not a ratepayer of London and I have not been a member of the London County Council for some years. Those of us, however, who have been members of the council feel very jealous for the dignity and good will of that body and its work, and we shall support it. I want the 1264 House to distinguish the controversies of the past from the issue of to-day. I was among those who regretted the decisions of Parliament in the past. The issue today is not whether Parliament, having made one decision last year is being deliberately flouted by the London County Council in its application to-day. My hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), who brought this instruction forward, seemed to me to have made only that one point in favour of the Instruction. What appeals to me as the real issue is what will most do justice to the ratepayers of London. The ratepayer, called upon to pay his rates, will say to himself, "Is it fair that I should have to pay for this business out of revenue rather than the ordinary arrangement for paying it out of loan?" I cannot help thinking that the ordinary ratepayer of London is not in the least concerned with Waterloo Bridge, for it is being imposed on him for the benefit of the community as a whole, but if he is suddenly called upon by the action of this House to pay for a capital sum out of revenue, it will be a great injustice to him and one that we have no right to inflict. I maintain strongly that there is no question but that we should oppose the Instruction and agree to the Bill.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT TASKER
This is the fourth time I have listened to a Debate on Waterloo Bridge. It is more than a hardy Annual as far as I am concerned, because we have had this question before the county council for the last 12 years. The Mover of the Instruction concentrated his attention on what he described as the leader of the councils defiance of the House of Commons, and he said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) had been guilty of some indiscretion in talking to his electors and other people. Is there any Member of the House who has not been guilty of indulging in indiscretions The question is whether this House is to be influenced because my right hon. Friend indulged in certain political shibboleths which some of us believe are rather nonsensical, or are we concerned with the rights of the London ratepayer? My hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) rather sought to concentrate upon my right hon. Friend defying the House of Commons. That is not the issue. The 1265 real issue is that which has been put by the Minister of Transport.
This bridge has engaged the attention of many hon. Members who did not know anything about it. I have heard in this House the most amazing statements about Waterloo Bridge, which clearly showed that the Members knew nothing about it as a structure and very little about it as a work of art. I can claim that I do possess certain amount of technique, that I did examine the bridge in company with an official of the council, that I did crawl underneath the arches, and that I did make the suggestion that to relieve the stresses on the piers we should take 2,000 tons off the surface of the road, because there was a weight of something like 10,000 tons on each pier. I discovered to my astonishment, during those investigations, that this so-called bridge of granite was not granite alone but included sandstone and limestone, and that one pier had sunk no less than 26 inches. I was one of those Members who in 1926 attended a lecture delivered by an engineer—whom I am not going to advertise—who wanted to underpin the bridge. I asked him one question, "Can you restore those distorted arches without pulling them down?" He said, "No." It would have meant taking down two arches, supporting two others, and stopping navigation on the river.
Navigation on the river is one of the difficulties to be considered in connection with Waterloo Bridge. Those who have advocated that the County Council ought to do nothing forget that year by year the size of vessels increases and it becomes increasingly difficult to get ships and barges in tow through the arches. If the suggestion had been carried out to widen the bridge for vehicular or foot traffic it would have spoiled the bridge. If the piers had been widened that would have increased the dangers to navigation. Moreover, the records of the bridge, such as are in existence, do not indicate how many piles there are under—
§ Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend, but are we to-night discussing whether or not Waterloo Bridge should be reconstructed, or whether the cost should be borne out of the rates or taxes?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
Up to the present time, listen- 1266 ing to the hon. Member, I have not seen any reason to interrupt him.
§ Sir R. TASKER
The Minister has said that the point was whether the bridge should be rebuilt out of capital or revenue, and I am attempting to demonstrate, for the first time in this House—because I have read every debate on Waterloo Bridge—that the County Council were not guilty of folly in taking the action they have taken, but did only what men of my own political faith and creed should have done years and years ago. The only time I was howled down in the County Council was when I was telling members of my own party that they ought to pull down Waterloo Bridge. [Interruption.] I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), who interrupts everybody and anybody, but as he has not been a member of the London County Council, and there are something like 100 Members of this House who have been, perhaps he will permit some of us to know something about the business of London.
I have stated what the issue is. Suppose that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) did say "We can pay for it out of revenue." So they could. A rate of 1d. in the £ brings in about £250,000, and if my right hon. Friend chose to exercise his authority with his supporters he could add 1s. to the rates in London, and find £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. But would it be fair to London? My right hon. Friend is too good a Londoner to try to injure his fellow ratepayers. Unknown to himself he possesses many attributes of the good old-fashioned Tory. He makes up his mind about a thing and carries it through, and that is in striking contrast with some people who seem to have minds like a flabby jelly, which will flow into any mould but will never take definite shape.
Knowing that Parliament has said to the County Council, "You shall be responsible for these bridges," it does seem to me an extraordinary thing that Parliament should say in 1932, because there had been a financial crisis, "We will not permit you to have this money"; later should change its mind and say, "We will not let you undertake this unless you combine it with a Charing Cross scheme"; and then change its 1267 mind again and say, "We will not let you have the money at all"—should first say the County Council can have a grant of 75 per cent., then 60 per cent. and now no grant at all. I do not think that is a very dignified position. It was the Ministry of Transport which gave the decision about a grant, and yet only two or three days ago we heard that £5,250,000 was to be taken out of the Road Fund for the Treasury. We all know that the money which goes into the Road Fund is not drawn out by London. There are representatives here of other constituencies in which enormous sums have been spent upon roads, but London has been denied a contribution. We are not asking the Minister to pledge himself to give a grant of 60 per cent. or any other sum, but we do ask that Parliament shall do an act of common justice to the ratepayers of London and relieve them of some portion of the burden which they are now called upon to bear.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
I am going to vote for the Instruction moved by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). As a matter of fact I am a voter in his division, although I live in Cornwall. I have never voted for him, but for myself, but still, as a resident in London, I am interested in this particular matter which has been brought up to-night and so often before. The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) introduced what I thought was a quite unnecessary political bias into the Debate to-night. So far as politics are concerned in this matter, my conscience is perfectly clear. In the first Debate I attended in this House, in 1932, I voted for the demolition of Waterloo Bridge. I could see no big architectural merits in the bridge; and for navigational reasons the plan which the London County Council put up in favour of the demolition of the bridge entirely and the building of a new one was a perfectly sound one. Very shortly after Parliament had given its decision the London County Council again came here, and my natural tendency was to feel rather annoyed at that so soon after Parliament had given a carefully considered decision, and my inclination was to vote against granting the money. That was in 1934. Finally I decided purely on those grounds.
1268 In the meantime, control of the London County Council had gone from Conservative to Socialist. Therefore, I decided that I would give the slight weight that I could exercise in no way according to political bias and, I again voted for the demolition of Waterloo Bridge. On the third occasion when the matter came up I thought: "This is really a bit too much," and on that occasion, for the same reason that I shall vote for the Instruction to-night, I voted in favour of the Instruction on that occasion. I believe that my case is not an isolated one, because many other hon. Members felt as I did. We thought that the bridge should be demolished, but we disliked the council constantly flouting the decision of Parliament in this way, to use the words of one hon. Member who has spoken.
The Minister of Transport has said that the issue is a very simple one, and that it is not necessary to discuss whether the bridge is good or bad. The issue is whether the County Council are to be allowed to borrow for the demolition of the bridge and building a new one, or whether the cost is to be paid out of the rates. He gave us the advice, as I understand it, that the London County Council should be allowed to borrow, on the ground that big public works of this nature are usually financed by borrowing. He claimed that that was the only issue involved, but I claim that it is not. It has now become a constitutional question. The matter has been decided three times since 1932, and now, once again, we are being asked to reverse our decision.
The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) very forcibly although very moderately said that the London County Council is a responsible body and therefore it ought to be allowed to make decisions of this nature for itself, without the intervention of Parliament. That is true, and I would not contest it for a moment. The bridge will be built, anyhow, and the demolition has been going on very rapidly. The new bridge will soon be in the course of construction. We do not deny the responsibility of the London County Council, nor do we say that we should limit their powers to any large extent, but we must look at the matter rather from the other way round. We allow the Council by Statute to do certain things. Parliament has laid down that the London County Council shall 1269 have certain powers, and on this occasion they want to do something which Parliament has definitely told them not to do. That seems an extremely important point when we come to consider how we should vote when the Division comes.
The hon. Member for North Lambeth also said that the vital issue in the Division of 1932 hinged upon economy, but I do not believe that that was really the case. I think it was decided, after the evidence was heard by hon. Members, on many different grounds, and it is almost impossible to decide which was the ruling one. It may be that in some cases economy had something to do with it, or that political bias had something, but not very much, to do with it. The hon. Member quoted a speech from Mr. Rutherford, who was Member for the Edmonton Division at that time. That, so far as I can remember, was the only speech during the course of those various Debates which showed real political bias. The discussions were kept upon a very high level. They were started with the consideration of the evidence as to whether it was good or not, and even after the London County Council control had gone to the Socialist party, political bias was notable by its absence rather than by its presence.
One hon. Member has rather complained that the London County Council ought not to have to come for authority to Parliament at all. They have to come because they are so big. Far from it being harsh that the London County Council should have to come here, it is rather a great privilege, because they have a right of audience to the King in Parliament, whereas the ordinary small local council, and even some of the bigger ones, have to go to the Minister. Whether they like it or not, the Minister decides whether they shall have the authority to borrow and to carry out any public works. The Minister very frequently turns the authority down. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker) has said that it is very hard upon the ratepayers of London if the authority to borrow be not granted. There may be something to be said for that, but the bridge has to be paid for at some time by those ratepayers, and it is merely a question of whether they will pay for it quickly or over a long period of years.
I have no doubt that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) winds up the 1270 Debate, he will give us some very interesting remarks upon the genesis and progress of the bridge, and good advice as to what we should do to-day. It is very amusing, and it will be interesting, to see the right hon. Gentleman, as Chairman of the county council, defying himself as Member of Parliament, and urging himself to flout the authority of Parliament and to give him what he wants as chairman of the London County Council. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not yet."] I mean leader, or Fuehrer, if I may say so. Far from undermining the principles of Democracy, as was suggested by the hon. Member for North Lambeth, I believe that if we again refuse to grant the London County Council the powers that they wish, we shall be maintaining them. Surely the essential principle of a democratic system is that you have a Parliament whose power is supreme in the country, subject, of course, to the law. Therefore if you do anything which brings the authority of Parliament into disrepute it is bound to be a blow at the democratic system. I entirely agree that it is necessary to uphold it, in face of dictators abroad, but when you are going to Parliament for the fourth time in four or five years and saying: "See, you have made fools of yourselves in the past. You have made wrong decisions. Will you please eat humble pie and reverse your decisions?"—
§ Mr. PETHERICK
The decision in that case was made in entirely different circumstances. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite do not know that Italy has conquered Abyssinia or a large part of it, or they have forgotten it, or they do not read their newspapers. In this case we are being asked to do something in precisely the same circumstances. The circumstances have not changed. The London County Council are still asking power to borrow for a new bridge. Where have the circumstances changed? In face of the same circumstances, Parliament is being asked to change its mind. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friends on this side of the House at least—because I know which way hon. Members are going to vote—will put aside all political bias, as I have done myself. I think that hon. Members, after my explanation at the beginning of my speech, must do me that 1271 justice. I hope that my hon. Friends here will vote for the Instruction, not because they want to stop the Socialist majority on the London County Council having what they want, but purely to uphold the honour and strength and respect of Parliament.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have been waiting very patiently to hear from the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) any real reason why he is proposing to vote as he tells us he intends to vote. He gave us no argument except the statement that the House of Commons, having done this thing three times, must not change its mind now. But this is a new Parliament. Parliament exists to remove grievances, and, when a new Parliament is elected, very often a grievance that was not removed by the previous Parliament is removed by the new Parliament. It is a new doctrine altogether that, once Parliament has said something, it cannot say something different another day.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
I do not like to interrupt one of the most respected Members of the House, but I would point out that in this case Parliament is not being asked to change it decision once; it has been approached four times since 1932.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
But there is no law that says you shall not keep on. I have lived long enough to know, and the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) is very nearly in the same position, how many times great questions have come before this House and been turned down, and then finally a Parliament has been elected that did exactly what dozens of other Parliaments had refused to do. Take the question of tariff reform. It took 25 years to begin to nibble at it, and each Parliament turned it down, Session after Session—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Only two Parliament? Two hundred, nearly—all my lifetime, which is a very long time. Lord Chaplin was the great protagonist for tariffs, and he went to his grave without seeing them come in in the fashion in which we have them to-day. I am sure that the hon. Member, when he has had a sleep on this, 1272 will realise how wrong his speech has been to-night, and how little reason he has for saying that, while he has changed his mind, Parliament is not to be allowed to change its mind. The hon. Member is a Member of Parliament; why should not other people change their minds also? The majority of Members of Parliament change their minds. Really, it is a nonsensical argument.
There is no real argument against the rebuilding of this bridge. I remember that, when Harry Gosling first came to the House, this question was up for discussion. I do not think that any Bill was before the House, but that it was one of those occasions when people had an opportunity of raising such a question. It may have been on Supply. Harry Gosling gave us a very clear and informative statement with reference to the bridge. He pointed out that, since the erection of the bridge, the Thames Embankment had been finished, and the whole currents of the Thames had been changed because of that. Those who constructed or drew the plans for the original bridge could not have had in their minds the change that he as a lighterman knew had taken place. If he had been listened to on that occasion, we should not have waited so long as to have to do this thing in so great a hurry as is the case now.
As I understand it—and it is a little difficult always to understand hon. Members' objections on this matter—as I understand it from what I have heard tonight and on other occasions, their objection is that the London County Council must not be allowed to do as it pleases in the matter of pulling down an old bridge and putting up a new one. In the first Debate we were told that we must not allow the county council to pull down this beautiful monument. The whole case was that, whatever we did in the way of building a Charing Cross Bridge at enormous cost, we must preserve Waterloo Bridge as a monumental work of Rennie which was of such value from the architectural point of view that it should not be destroyed. But even in countries and towns which are devoted to splendid architecture, every now and then some gem has to be taken down because of age, and Waterloo Bridge, when Harry Gosling made his speech, was beginning to give indications of what was going to happen.
1273 if hon. Members care to turn to the OFFICIAL REPORT and read his speech on that occasion, I think they will find that every word he said has come true, and that the county council ought to have had the power at that time to deal with the bridge. I am told now that there is tremendous inconvenience, because of the delay, in regard to traffic on the river, to say nothing of the frightful delay in the case of traffic from the North to the South side of the Thames. I should have liked very much to see a comprehensive scheme for a very big widening on both sides of the river, and a real effort to deal with the North-to-South traffic, but that has all gone by the board, and we have now to deal with the right of the London County Council to get from Parliament the same measure of consideration that is given to practically all the other local authorities.
The difficulty which the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth seems to see, in comparing other local authorities with the London County Council and with the citizens of London through the London County Council, is that while we have a direct approach to the King through the House of Commons, another council to whom the Minister might deny the right to get a loan would have no appeal. He seems to forget that we have the same right as any other part of the country to challenge a Minister's decision in Committee of Supply. The right to approach the King through the Commons is inherent in every individual in the country. That argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman goes by the board. There is nothing to it. I think the County Council now has gone out of the realm of experiment and may be trusted. I always thought so from the beginning. But let us concede that it was a new and a very big experiment in self-government right in the centre of the Empire. It has been going now for a long number of years and there is not an expert in local government anywhere but would agree that it has shown itself one of the finest bodies of administrators in this or any other country. For that reason I should be very glad to see this provision go. But Parliament, having that power, like everyone else with great power, must exercise it with reason because, if it does not, if the House continues to pinprick this great administrative body in this way, there will be a very great rising 1274 of popular opinion in favour of giving it the same freedom that other bodies receive. I notice an hon. Member opposite vigorously taking a note. I hope he will take down all that I said then. It is all contingent on him and his friends continuing to play the fool with the London County Council.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am sure of that, because we appreciate each other and we return the compliment to one another. I do not, at any rate, take so many opportunities of appearing to record my opponents' sayings. The whole argument on this question as I have heard it, if argument it can be called, is based on the assumption that the London County Council has done something it ought not to have done, that is, a Tory county council and a Labour county council have come to Parliament three or four times for the same purpose but, since the last occasion, the council has actually taken the matter into its own hands and said, "if Parliament will not give us the power to borrow this money we must, for the safety of the people who use the river and for the convenience of those who wish to go across the river, do this job even at the cost of doing it out of the rates."
It is no use saying that is a fanciful picture. It is nothing of the kind. I challenge those who are going to take part in the Debate to say that the bridge could remain standing. I challenge anyone of them to say that the centre arch would have stood up much longer. I travel up and down the Embankment every day, sometimes twice and three times, And you only have to use your eyes to see, almost every month or six weeks, some difference in those centre piers. I want to Ask those who are going to oppose the county council what they would have said if the bridge had tumbled down and there had been a great accident. It may be said the council ought to have done what some Members of Parliament said should be done, but really I think the argument of the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) is unanswerable. What technical or practical knowledge did hon. and learned and right hon. Gentlemen 1275 have of the bridge? No one has challenged my hon. Friend. He has told the House that the county council took the very best advice it could and that to rehabilitate the bridge in the way they proposed would have been to give a botched-up bridge which would not have fulfilled any of the requirements of those who used it. No one has yet said that Sir Edwin Lutyens does not understand his business. He advised the council on the question of building up on each side of the bridge. Other experts have given other advice. They acted on the best advice they could get—not the advice of a lot of people who only think they know, but of people whose business it is to know. I hope that hon. Members opposite who have come down for the purpose of bilking the London County Council once more will reconsider it from the point of view put by the hon. Member for North Lambeth and not at all met by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth. [Interruption.] I understood he was A lawyer. If I have libelled him, I am sorry.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
He is in my trade. We are pals in that, anyhow. The hon. Member, trying to answer my hon. Friend, argued that they were upholding democracy in passing this Instruction. That is really too far fetched also. Nearly every statement of the hon. Member was not on the spot, and this one particularly was not. After all, Parliament delegates certain work to the London County Council. Parliament has only taken the power to challenge expenditure from a financial point of view. I believe it is an innovation to say that Parliament shall override the expert knowledge of the body to which it has entrusted the power to do certain things. I am not now speaking of the power to raise money. I believe Parliament kept that power jealously in its hands so that the council, being such a big body, should not injure the financial standing of the country as a whole. That, I believe, is the reason for this control. I do not believe for a moment that those who introduced and carried that control ever imagined that the British Parliament, this Mother of Parliaments, would spend as many hours as we have 1276 spent during these four years in trying to override a decision upon a piece of domestic work of this great body to whom they have entrusted the job. I do not think that it was ever contemplated that that would be done.
When it is said that there is no party feeling in this matter at all, we have to remember the many occasions, when a Socialist proposal is included in a Bill of a municipal authority, on which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) run in double harness against us. We are bound to remember it, but this time we know that their case against us is based upon a certain amount of suspicion that there is some wicked bogey of Socialism floating round somewhere under the piers of the old bridge, and they have to drag it out. They ought really on this occasion to be much bigger and to recognise that, if Parliament gives power to a great authority like the London County Council, it is a very bad thing to tell my constituents, who are not as well off as hon. Members opposite, that they must find the money. I do not know how well off is the hon. Member who spoke last, and perhaps I am as well off as he is, but I would remind hon. Members that in Lambeth, Poplar, and Bermondsey, and in the poorer parts of the Metropolis, a ½d. on the rates goes on to their rent. They are willing to spend money on necessary things, but they will be certain, if this Instruction is carried, that the burden that will be put upon them compelling them to pay for this bridge out of the rates, will have been put upon them by their political opponents, and they will not believe that there is any other reason. We need not go out and preach class war or class hatred; actions they say speak louder than words. By the carrying on of this fight as it has been carried on year after year, and, if to-night it is again decided that the payment for this bridge shall come out of the rates, the working people at least will know that the extra burden is put upon them by those who object to the manner in which they use their votes. They have put into power a small Socialist majority at the County Hall, and no one can point the finger of scorn at the work that that body is doing.
1277 There has not been a speaker to-night who has challenged the validity of the statements made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth, in which he told the House the whole story of the bridge—much clearer than I could do, because I am not acquainted with it as he is—and I cannot for the life of me understand how anybody who believes in democracy can go into the Lobby in support of the hon. Member for South Kensington. I often join with him in trying to preserve something that we both feel worth preserving, but here is something that is tumbling down, and the County Council, fighting against the opposition of Parliament, which is not based upon any real principles at all, are forced to take action. We ought to be asking for a grant for this bridge. We are not asking for a grant, but for the right of the people and ratepayers of London to borrow money for a great piece of capital expenditure, and some hon. Members in the House are going to vote against our having that right. I believe that if they carry this matter against us again, many of the hon. Members who sit for London constituencies will never sit again.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
I listened with the closest attention, and, indeed, with a large feeling that I ought to listen with interest and attention to every word which falls from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). I realise that he has the right to speak in this House as one who has paid very great attention to local government in this country and who has given very great services in times past to the problems which arise in carrying on that government. I never feel my deficiencies when speaking in this House on matters of local government so much as when I realise that by the accidents of life 1 have never had the benefit of taking part in local government. When the right hon. Gentleman speaks to us in terms of democracy about this matter, I sometimes wonder whether this House is to be regarded as having no rights as representing the people of the country to express an opinion which is contrary to the opinion expressed by other people representing local government. I do not go construe my functions in this House. We are sent here to give effect to the rights which are given to Parliament in particu- 1278 lar instances. The House may think that it is improper or undesirable, but the right exists that we should exercise some amount of control over local government from this House.
I desire to approach the matter from that point of view, and also from another point of view—in the tradition in which I have been brought up in connection with my every-day work, that when a responsible tribunal has decided upon a particular matter, it is in the interests of the people of this country as a whole that we should not go back upon that determination and that view, unless there has been a change in the circumstances which induced us to come to our former decision. This House has on more than one occasion debated this subject. I have formed an opinion about it to which I still adhere, an opinion which perhaps hon. Members opposite may think is largely induced by sentimental feeling towards what I have chosen to regard as a great monument to the efficiency, skill and artistic knowledge of our forbears. But I put that all on one side.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
This House has considered the whole matter on more than one occasion. I gave at that time consideration to the arguments which were advanced and having done that, the House, not by a small majority, came to a view about it. There really is no case for a re-examination. Of course, I recognise that we are right in a sense to use the advantage of an old motto and to "try, try again," but if the arguments are the same arguments—and I submit that they are in effect, notwithstanding the interruption to which I have just paid attention—is there any good reason at all why the House should change the opinion which it has expressed on former occasions? That seems to me, from the point of view with which I approach this subject, decisive in the present case. I have read with care and attention the document which I received this morning on behalf of the promoters of the present Bill. I was unable to find in that document a single statement which pointed out anything new. I could not find any argument which was not among those to which I hope I paid due, adequate and 1279 impartial attention on the occasions when this matter was previously before the House. I could not see that any case had been made out for what is really attempted to be done here in one form or another, the rescission of the view to which this House came before and the coming to a new determination on facts which this House heard debated in full and decided upon in the course of the last Parliament. I am driven to the conclusion—I hope that I am not doing anybody any injustice—that the real reason for this present attempt is—and I am far from saying that they are not entitled to try it—that inasmuch as this is a new House of Commons they may have better luck with this House than they had with the last one.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
But where is this to end? There has been a certain convention in our public life that when we have finished with our differences and disputes, that when we have decided upon the controversies of the moment, each House, each successive Government, by what I venture to think is a wise convention, comes to the conclusion that the matter having been decided we had better carry on.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
It has been done—with the exception of one or two matters of particular controversy which it would be out of order for me to mention this evening, and particularly those in connection with trade disputes—through the greater part of the time when I have been of sufficient sagacity to take any interest in public affairs.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
Before any body of persons come to this House with the object of getting us to go back on a previous determination, they should not only make a case for showing that there is a change of circumstances, but they should make a very strong and potent case. I have watched with care—I drive under the bridge every day, and in the days of my youth I walked over it every day al I believe so many Members of this House have done—to 1280 see what there is with regard to the circumstances of Waterloo Bridge which would make us alter our decision; and although I have heard a great many arguments which may no doubt have been extremely good arguments for this House originally, having arrived at a different view, the view having been taken and the determination having been arrived at, I have not heard or seen anything which would suggest that there had been any change from the circumstances which existed when this House came to its determination.
The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred more than once to what he thought were pinpricks which had been directed against the London County Council. I am not one of those who would ever desire for a moment to adopt that kind of attitude with regard to any body of citizens who are carrying on the arduous and difficult job of local government in this country, and inasmuch as the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to suggest that the activities of some friends of mine and myself with regard to local legislation in this House were directed with a feeling of hostility to local bodies which was dictated by a political feeling, I would beg him to observe the Order Papers of this House when he will find that my Friends and I put down Motions in connection with local bodies and the Bills they promote quite indifferently as to whether those Bills are promoted by Socialist bodies or by those who represent a different political opinion. If he will be kind enough to look at the Order Paper at the moment he will find Resolutions down, to some of which at least I have given the support of my name, to Bills which come from bodies which are of the political opinion to which I adhere.
I approach this matter from a perfectly simple point of view. I approach it from the point of view of the desirability of the business of this House being conducted in such a way that when we come to a determination about a matter that must be the end of the matter, unless we are able to show that there has been some circumstance wholly left out on the previous occasion, or some circumstance which has so changed that it makes it desirable that we should have another go. I have looked to see whether this 1281 case comes within either of those categories. I find that it does not, and, in accordance with the training I possess, I find myself compelled to say on this occasion that I see no good reason for altering or going back on the decision which this House gave on at least two former occasions. For those reasons, I am bound to say that I intend to support the Motion which has been moved by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison).
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. SILKIN
In addressing the House for the first time I know that I can rely upon the indulgence and sympathy which the House always gives to its new Members. If I understand the argument of those who are supporting the Instruction, it is that if this matter were being considered on merits for the first time, that if the House really had to consider whether it was proper that the £155,000 which it is intended to spend this year on the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the construction of the new bridge were to be paid for out of capital or out of revenue, the only answer could be that it was proper that the expenditure should be met out of capital in exactly the same way as the money for items in the Schedule of the London County Council Money Bill are being paid for out of capital.
It is suggested that the prestige of Parliament is involved, that the London County Council have adopted a defiant attitude in the past, that the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) has made speeches in some club, that Parliament has on three occasions decided this matter, that it is right that the ratepayers of London should be penalised, and that some form of economic sanctions should be imposed upon them on account of the action of the wicked Socialist London County Council. I should like to point out that the London County Council has in no sense flouted the authority of Parliament. The county council has given the question of the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the construction of a new bridge the most careful consideration. I have been a member of that body for 12 years and I know of no matter which has received more careful and more prolonged consideration than the question of Waterloo Bridge. It is a question which in the 1282 last resort is the responsibility of the London County Council, and I submit that it is proper for the county council in the last resort to take the responsibility for doing what it considers to be the right thing, after taking into the most serious consideration the views of this House.
On several occasions the county council has had the views of this House before it, but they had a responsibility to the people of London to provide what they thought to be the most appropriate form of bridge, and they could do no other than provide the bridge which they thought was the most suitable in the circumstances. I wonder what the people of London and the people of the country would have thought of the county council if the general view of the council was that it should provide a new bridge, with six lines of traffic, and it really believed that to be the right thing, in which view it was fortified by the opinions of two Ministers of Transport, yet instead of doing what it thought to be the right thing it did something which it thought to be the wrong thing. The county council would have been justly blamed and seriously criticised as the body primarily responsible if it had taken a course which it thought was not the best for the people of London.
I submit that the county council has in no way flouted the authority of Parliament, that it has taken into serious account the views of Parliament, but that reluctantly, after the most careful consideration, it had to disagree with the views expressed in this House, and take the final responsibility. The county council has been penalised for disagreeing with this House. Already £175,000 has been expended on Waterloo Bridge, and the whole of that sum has been paid out of the rates. No part of that sum has been provided out of capital. The county council, I do not say cheerfully but respectfully, has put up with the consequences of the decision of the House last year and it comes to the House this year and puts before it an entirely fresh case, in accordance with the requirements of the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson). It puts forward the case that this year it is going to spend £155,000. The money which has already been spent has gone and has been paid for out of the rates, but this year the county council ask the House to 1283 authorise it to provide out of capital the further £155,000 to be spent this year. I submit that that is a new case. It is not the case which Parliament decided last year. Last year's decision was in respect of a, totally different figure for a totally different period, and the county council accepted the decision of Parliament last year.
Furthermore, this is a new House. The political complexion of London itself has changed, and the county council is entitled to come to this new House and to have an opportunity of stating its case to the new House so that Members of the new House should have an opportunity of reviewing the situation. The situation has changed, because while hon. Members on previous occasions took the view that they were in a position strongly to influence the kind of bridge that would be put up by the county council, the situation to-day is that the old bridge had gone and that there is a new bridge under construction. The only matter before the House, therefore, is whether that bridge should be paid for out of capital or out of revenue. It would be a monstrous thing if the whole cost of that bridge from now on had to be paid for out of revenue by the righteous and the unrighteous alike. The constituents of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) have taken the line, presumably, that he takes, and they will be victims just as much as the constituents I represent or the constituents of the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss). That is unfair to the ratepayers of London who take the view of the hon. Member for South Kensington.
Finally, I submit that the House is entitled to consider the matter afresh. For that view I have the authority of no less a person than the seconder of the Instruction last year, Commander Marsden, who is no longer a Member of this House. In his concluding remarks, in seconding the Instruction, he said: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, if Parliament's authority and decisions mean anything, I hope that Members of the House will pass this Instruction."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd June, 1935; col. 1621, Vol. 302.]1284 They did, and I hope that now that the London County Council and the people of London have taken their medicine and we have come forward again this year, the House will reject the Instruction and permit the rest of the cost of the construction of Waterloo Bridge to be met entirely out of capital.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Sir HENRY JACKSON
My first duty is the pleasant one of congratulating the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) on a very admirable maiden speech. He has a great knowledge and experience of local government, and it is quite appropriate that his maiden speech should be on questions which are so intimately connected with the London County Council and the citizens of London. I am sure that we shall look forward with great pleasure to his interventions in our debates. In a few moments I shall vote against this Instruction for the fifth time. For it has been solemnly moved over a period of 10 years and one would imagine, listening to the speeches of the Mover and the Seconder, and to the legal arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) that the only argument which should have any weight is the constitutional argument. What are the facts of the case? We have been repeatedly told that Parliament has consistently decided that Waterloo Bridge should not be pulled down. I want to remind hon. Members that just as some hon. Members change their minds so has Parliament changed its mind on this question. On the 18th May, 1926, a similar Instruction to the present one was moved by the right hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton):That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out Schedule 1, Part 1, Item 9.He went on to explain that:One of the purposes of the expenditure is the reconstruction of Waterloo Bridge and the provision of a temporary bridge, for which £100,000 is proposed to be expended during the current financial year and another £100,000 in the first half of the next financial year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1926; col. 213, Vol. 196.]During that Debate our old friend Mr. Gosling made a very moving speech, to which the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) has referred. That Motion on being put to the House was lost by 96 votes for the 1285 Instruction and 158 against it. Therefore, in 1926 this House approved of the demolition of Waterloo Bridge, and it is just futility to argue that the House can be accused of some inconsistency if it decides, as I hope it will, to vote this evening against the Instruction.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to mislead the House. That was before the Report of the Royal Commission.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
I am not misleading the House. That was the decision of the House in 1926, and the long and rather melancholy history of this story since then is not one that reflects any great credit on a large number of people. During that same Debate I quoted from the Report of the London and Home Counties Traffic Committee, of which I am now chairman, and this is what I said 10 years ago, on a Motion similar to the one we are discussing to-night:Waterloo Bridge has failed by reason of age and traffic stresses. It is clear that a road bridge at this point cannot be dispensed with, and also that the present temporary relief structure cannot be regarded as other than a makeshift. The bridge must be constructed to its present dimensions or a new bridge providing for additional lines of traffic must be built. The Committee understand that the London County Council are advised that it would cost approximately £1,000,000 to reconstruct the old bridge in its present form and dimensions and £1,300,000 to provide a new bridge for six lines of traffic. Having regard to the estimates of cost and to the small additional expenditure required to provide for additional width, they are driven to the conclusion on purely traffic grounds that a new bridge to accommodate not less than four lines of traffic should be proceeded with as soon as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1926; col. 237, Vol. 196.]Now the bridge is going to be proceeded with, and as one who has taken some part in the problems of London traffic I wish to say here and now that we look forward to the great advantages which the new Waterloo Bridge will bring to the relief of London transport. Its immediate effect will be to relieve the congestion in the Strand, and if better approaches from the north are provided in the future it may become a bridge of vital importance. Therefore, I say that we should sweep away all these trivial questions as to whether the House of Commons should or should not change 1286 its mind. What we want in London to-day is more bridges across the Thames, and I think we should express our gratitude to the London County Council for giving us a bridge which, in the opinion of those who have a right to express their views on London transport, will be a great boon to London.
May I say one word more in the interests of London ratepayers? This is not a political question. I have supported this proposal made by a Municipal Reform County Council and by a Labour County Council. It has been consistently approved by every type of London County Council during the last 10 years. After all, the London ratepayer is asking this simple question: "Why should I be treated differently to the ratepayers of Manchester, Glasgow and the West Riding and other great municipalities?" If the expenditure on a major matter of this kind is distributed over 30 or 40 years the burden on the ratepayer is naturally small, but we are asking the ratepayers of London to meet this expenditure during a period of five years. We are asking why London, which, after all, is the capital city and has the biggest and in my opinion, the best local government in the world, should be treated differently to other great municipal authorities and receive no aid? We have heard a great deal about sanctions. Cannot we raise sanctions on the London ratepayers? By doing so we shall be doing a great service to the millions of ratepayers in the metropolis. Finally, in the interests of decency, cannot we bury this controversy? It is not very creditable to go on living in the old worn-out trenches. The day is past, and I appeal to hon. Members to have done with these things once and for all and defeat the Instruction to-night, which I hope will never be resurrected.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
I want to join in the appeal that has just been made. I was one of those who fought to preserve the old Waterloo Bridge on aesthetic and practical grounds, but I was defeated. The bridge has now been pulled down, and the simple issue is: Are you going to make London pay for the new bridge out of capital or out of rates? Is it a proper capital charge, or is it expenditure which should be defrayed out of the annual rate account? 1287 Obviously the answer is that it is a proper charge to go to capital account. I would remind the House that it is an historic tradition, dating back to the old Metropolitan Board of Works that London, as a great authority, should have the privilege of approaching Parliament direct. Other minor authorities such as Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow do not have that privilege, but go to the Ministry of Health. If London were an ordinary authority, the House of Commons would have no power in the matter, for the London County Council would go to the Ministry of Health, and undoubtedly the Ministry of Health would in this case have passed this amount of money as a proper charge to capital account and the money would have been forthcoming. It is a very simple issue; it is a local government issue. I think it would create an unfortunate impression in London if, because some people wanted a particular sort of bridge and others a different sort, we were to make the unfortunate ratepayers bear an unfair charge by forcing them to pay for the bridge out of the annual rates bill, instead of out of capital account. Therefore, I shall vote against the Instruction.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. H. STRAUSS
I would not have intervened in this Debate had it not been for the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson). I should not like it to be thought that either as a lawyer or as a Tory I agreed with him. As I understood him, the main propositions which he put forward were two. The first was that Parliament should not reverse a previous decision unless there were new circumstances, and the second was that there were no new circumstances. I disagree with him entirely on both those propositions. I know of no authority for the statement that Parliament should not, if it sees fit, reverse a previous decision. In fact, the argument seems to be based on the proposition that one is not entitled to think that any previous Parliament has made a mistake. I can only say that I certainly do not propose to base my actions in politics on that supposition. I also disagree with the suggestion that there are no new circumstances. A new circumstance is that there is a, new Parliament, and if it be true, as I believe it to be, that the main 1288 question we ought to be considering is which is financially the more proper course to take, the matter is one in which the circumstances can change every month, and certainly from one year to the next.
It has been suggested in a rather farfetched way that we ought to support this Instruction because we should be striking a blow for a beautiful bridge. Of course, we should be doing nothing of the kind. As has been pointed out, the beautiful bridge has gone. I was a little shocked by some of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken questioning whether what has been destroyed was a beautiful thing. I think that in itself and in its miraculous combination with Somerset House it was one of the architectural glories of this city. But that architectural glory has been destroyed, and as one who was not in the House at the time in question, I can only recall with a certain regret that, to the best of my recollection, nobody in any quarter put up much of a fight for the bridge as an architectural thing of beauty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh yes!"] Let me finish. If I remember correctly, even those who wished the bridge to be retained were in favour of its being widened in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission and that, in the eyes of anybody who had studied the matter at all, was destined to ruin the bridge. Therefore, I do not think the bridge was ever very well championed. Moreover, I am bound to say, in connection with the remarks of people who refer to having been over the bridge, that frequently I have gone under the bridge as an amateur navigator, and having done so in a small boat, I never had much difficulty; but I certainly had a good deal of sympathy with those who had to go under it with a whole series of barges. While I greatly admired their skill I am bound to say that, greatly as I admired the architectural monument, I do not for one moment suggest that the London County Council had no case.
But we are not fighting for the bridge which has gone, nor, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick), for democracy. It seems to me to be an extraordinary point of view to put forward that somehow if we vote one way or the 1289 other on this matter we are fighting for or offending against democracy. It does not seem to me that if this House comes to a decision on a question of fact to the best of its ability, it is doing anything against democratic government. To my mind the question must be merely which is financially the more proper course to be taken, and on that point I have not heard it seriously disputed that this is a proper purpose for which borrowing should take place, It has been said, I know, that in some way the London County Council, if we did not support the Instruction, would be receiving condonation for the offence of having defied Parliament, but I think that is rather farfetched. Had it been the fact that a grant depended on our vote to-night, or that, if we failed to pass this Instruction, an automatic consequence would be some Government grant to the London County Council—and I do not wish to go into the merits of the question of a grant—I could understand a very forcible case being made out in favour of this Instruction; but as we have had the assurance that no grant is to be made in any event—I understand that was the attitude of the Ministry of Transport, although I was rot present when the Minister was speaking—
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Captain Austin Hudson)
That undertaking was given by the Minister.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
That being the case, I think we can be clear in our minds that we are not called upon to express our view on the demolition of the bridge. We are not called upon to take any particular action by the fact that we believe in democratic government. We are not bound, however good Tories we may be, to say that this House cannot reach a decision this year different from that which it took last year. In all those circumstances I believe the point at issue is the simple, naked point; is it or is it not right that this particular type of expenditure should be met by loan? Believing on the undisputed evidence that that is a proper way of dealing with it, I shall vote against the Instruction.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Sir GEORGE HUME
As the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) has raised a constitutional 1290 point, I think it is well to consider for a moment what is the real function of this House in dealing with a London County Council Money Bill. I remember that in 1927, when I had charge of a Money Bill, an attempt was made to raise some question as regards grievances felt by certain members of the staff of the London County Council. On that occasion the then Speaker pointed out that he had to consider the limitations which were imposed upon this House by the Statute. He said:I do not see how their grievances can be discussed on this Bill. The only reason why the Bill comes before the House is that there is certain control over the expenditure of the London County Council. The hon. Member prefaced his remarks by referring to the procedure on railway Bills. I think it is quite a different case, where a statutory company comes to the House, because by an ancient procedure of the House grievances may then be discussed if they are special to that company, but it would be rather a serious matter if we were to raise on the Floor of the House the ordinary administrative work of a great body like the London County Council.He went on to say:I must adhere to my Ruling. It is most important, for local government reasons, that we should not review the details of local administration.I think it is necessary that this House should realise how far its duty and responsibilities go in the matter. I notice there is another Instruction on the Paper following this one which would certainly interfere with the administrative duties of the London County Council, and I venture to think that as regards the matter of Waterloo Bridge the House was getting very near the borderline when it dictated to the London County Council as to the details of the manner in which they should deal with that bridge. It has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) that this House did at one time grant to the London County Council the right to work on capital expenditure. At that time the administration at County Hall was very anxious to keep in close touch with this House, and we held our hand because it was desired that a Royal Commission should go into the matter.
I am not going to take up time going step by step through all that has taken place, but I do not think this House can be proud of the way in which it has handled administrative matters with 1291 which, I venture to say, it is not competent to deal. When I remember the advice the council received from responsible officers and from committees which have studied the matter in detail, when I remember that the proposal was held up by individuals with no responsibility, when I remember that the Debate was listened to by only a small proportion of Members, and that Members crowded in afterwards, I venture to say that it would be an unhappy thing if the House of Commons were to be encouraged to deal or endeavoured to deal with administrative matters which really do not fall within its province and for which I venture to say it has no responsibility. I, therefore, hope that the House will not pass this Instruction because if it continues on these lines it will be no longer a question of defending the rights of privileges or dignity of the House, but it will amount to a matter of persecution.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
On the 18th June, 1815, the battle of Waterloo was fought and won and lost. On the 18th June, 1817, Waterloo Bridge was declared open to the public. On the 18th June, 1936, the battle of Waterloo is being fought over again, and I hope very much that the result will be such that it will have been fought over again for the last time. I do not propose to argue at any length the merits of the policy adopted by the council or the merits of the decision as to what to do with the bridge. In 1924 it was ascertained that there were weaknesses in the bridge and that there was danger of collapse, and the first decision of the county council was to demolish the bridge and build a new one.
Then there arose in this city and in the country a very great and almost bitter controversy as to whether it was a crime against beauty and aesthetics and architecture and history for that bridge to be demolished. The battle raged with enormous vigour. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir Percy Harris) was on one side and I was on the other side. The controversy cut clean across party divisions and a furious row went on, but the county council upon the merits of the question, whether the council was Tory or Labour in its majority, always came to the conclusion 1292 rightly or wrongly that the bridge ought to come down. I most strongly held that view when I was in opposition, and I hold it now that my party is in power.
Shortly my view is that bridges cannot be expected to last for ever, and that a bridge in the middle of the traffic arteries Of London cannot reasonably be treated as an ancient monument. It is a bridge, with the function of allowing traffic to travel from one side of the river to the other, and it must be regarded as a bridge and as a traffic proposition. It seemed to me that to preserve a bridge with three lines of traffic right in the heart of London was a ridiculous thing to do in the twentieth century. Moreover, as the cost of patching up the old bridge would have been a substantial proportion of the cost of pulling it down and building a new one, it seemed a scandalous waste of public money to do such a thing. I am a Socialist, and hon. Gentleman opposite will find it difficult to believe that I am careful in the expenditure of public money. But I am, and the chairman of the spending committees of the London County Council will tell you that I am a positive terror in controlling the council's money, in conjunction with the chairman of the Finance Committee.
Honestly, I cannot reconcile my conscience to the spending of a very substantial sum of money—by far the major portion of the cost of a new bridge—on merely patching up the old bridge, corbelling it out to take four lines of traffic so that architecturally it would be a different bridge from the bridge which it was desired to preserve as an architectural masterpiece. So I said it ought to come down and we ought to build a new bridge. I do not want to go through all the adventures of this business in the House of Commons, but they have been many. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) said, in the first instance the House passed the Second Reading of the County Council (Money) Bill, containing provision for the bridge, by a very substantial majority.
But then the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister of to-day who was Prime Minister then found sanctions applied to him by the architectural people who are known as—I say it with great respect, I do not use it as a term of abuse—the long-haired people. They have an enormous social pull and the Prime Minis- 1293 ter came to the conclusion, I have no doubt quite sincerely and genuinely, that if he allowed the old bridge to be interfered with he would certainly be defeated at the next General Election. He was absolutely wrong but I fully understand his feeling. He sent for the representatives of the council and said "I think we ought to have a Royal Commission on Cross-River Traffic." That is a common and legitimate device whereby decisions can be avoided for the time being. The leaders of the Tory party on the council and myself representing the Labour party went to him and the Tories said "all right we shall hold up on the bridge." I told them in front of the Prime Minister that they were wrong and that they ought to go on with the scheme.
They did not do so and for 10 years—and I try to say this in a non-controversial way but it is a difficult job, because I have so often said it in a controversial way—the council and the Government and the Prime Minister, who is genuine about these artistic and aesthetic matters, wobbled all over the place. It is an extraordinary thing that the bridge itself did not wobble all over the place. There were delays for 10 years, until this question of Waterloo Bridge became a test of the capacity of the British people for decision in democratic government and capacity in public administration. Then we won a great victory at the 1934 election and came into power. We had held the view all along that the bridge ought to come down. The hon. Member for South Kensington has quoted an article which I wrote for Lord Beaverbrook's evening newspaper. I will apologise for that if he thinks it necessary, but there are not many occasions upon which I can express my views in that quarter and receive payment for doing so. I like to get my views expressed in quarters in which they are not ordinarily received, and incidentally I may mention that this week or last week we have, for the first time, received support in that quarter. It is true that they have mixed it up with a lot of abuse on me personally, but I do not mind that and I am glad to say now, that every London evening newspaper—two Tory and one Liberal—are with the council in this matter.
As I say, we came into power and I, with my hon. Friend the Member for 1294 North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) as chairman of the Highway Committee and my friend Mr. Latham as chairman of the Finance Committee, decided that it would be a great waste of public money to patch up the old bridge when for a little more money it could be replaced by a new bridge. We said we did not believe that all the great British architects were dead. We said we believed that there were great British architects alive and that we should find one to build a Waterloo Bridge which would be a worthy and dignified successor to the admittedly unique structure of Rennie, who was an engineer. We said we could not conscientiously waste the money and we came, properly and constitutionally, to Parliament to say "Please Parliament will you allow us to borrow money to build this bridge."
I want to put the constitutional position as I see it. I suggest that the hon. Member for South Kensington has got the constitutional position all wrong. A whip has gone out for this Instruction, stating that it is laid down by Statute that the London County Council can only borrow money for purposes of which Parliament has approved and that Parliament has disapproved of the purpose in question here. With great respect that is wrong. It treats the matter from the wrong angle and it is not precisely true. It is important that we should get it accurately. Section 4 of the London County Council Finance Consolidation Act, 1912, deals with this matter, and it says nothing about approving or disapproving of the purpose of the expenditure. What it says is that the council may, during any financial period, that is to say the financial year or the following six months, expend on capital account, for such purposes as may be mentioned in the annual Money Act relating to that period, such sums as they may think fit, not exceeding the amounts specified and so on. Approval of the purpose of the expenditure is really conferred on the council in the specific statutory powers given to the council to do certain things. Acts of Parliament confer upon the council power to build, mend, repair and demolish bridges over the River Thames. That is a statutory power which the council possesses all the year round, every day, all night, Christmas Days, Bank Holidays and all the time.
§ Mr. MORRISON
We are not talking about that for the moment. It is a perfectly fair point to raise, however. The statutory power and, indeed, the statutory duty to do certain things is imposed upon this council in those Acts, by the Local Government Act, 1888, by certain Acts and powers conferred upon the Metropolitan Board of Works, and, before that, certain powers and functions conferred upon the justices in quarter sessions assembled. They are powers and requirements to do certain things, and this House and their Lordships' House have, in fact, by British constitutional procedure delegated to the London County Council certain duties, functions and powers. This House decided that it is not convenient for Parliament to build bridges and to decide whether a bridge in the county of London should come down or go up. Parliament did not want to be bothered with these details of local administration, so Parliament, whose supremacy I admit and glory in as a good Parliamentarian, deliberately delegated to the London County Council the functions in connection with Thames bridges in the county of London.
Having delegated that power to us, and having not only conferred that power upon us, but imposed a duty upon us, Parliament must not interfere every now and again and say, "We want you to do this bridge one way and that bridge another way." Parliament having imposed the power and duty upon us, I, as the leader of the council, with any colleagues must discharge the duties that Parliament has conferred upon us and, indeed, imposed upon us. What is the Bill? Here is a great local authority spending somewhere in the region of £40,000,000 a year.
§ Mr. MORRISON
The hon. Gentleman is not a great authority on municipal administration. He may have the duty of looking after the Croydon Corporation, but he has no statutory duty to look after us. We spend on revenue account somewhere in the neighbourhood of £40,000,000 a year, and we borrow substantial sums for housing, schools, hospitals, drains, fire stations, bridges and all sorts of things. Parliament said to the county council in the beginning, "You 1296 are going to be a public authority of such magnitude and importance that, instead of your going to the appropriate Minister, you will go to the Treasury for sanction for your borrowings." We went to the Treasury for a number of years. Then it got so big that the Treasury, being a modest department of State—in those days—said, "This is getting too big for us to deal with as a departmental matter; you are so big and important that you ought to go to Parliament annually by way of a Money Bill." The council said, "Very good, we will do so."
I am not grumbling at all. It is a privilege to come to this House on the annual Money Bill. We are delighted to come. I would sooner come to this House on the annual Money Bill for sanction to borrow sums for all purposes than go to a Minister in Whitehall every day of the week about every item of capital expenditure. I appreciate the privilege and do not want to disturb it. I do not want a row with the House of Commons if it can be avoided. What is the issue? The issue before the House upon a Money Bill is not whether a particular piece of expenditure on pulling down a bridge or propping it up is right or wrong; the real function of the House is to decide whether the financial policy of the council is ruinous, whether the total borrowing powers are excessive, whether the money is being wasted, and so on. Therefore, as regards the first decision of the House, when a large body voted on the issue of economy—that was then the major issue—we were nearer to constitutional accuracy in the situation than we have been since; because the real function of the House is a financial function, since it has delegated the executive and administrative functions to the London County Council.
I want to be perfectly frank with the House. This House did strike out that provision, and it did it for reasons that were mixed, some purely aesthetic reasons—I think that was the major reason with the hon. Member for South Kensington but there were a number of others. But I cannot forget—I am sorry it sticks, but I cannot forget it—that in the Lobby there were shouts going up, "This way against the Socialist county council," that there was an element of political prejudice. I cannot forget that, and I do not like it. I do 1297 not like the persistent opposition of a certain little group of Members when anything progressive comes from a local authority or comes from a Labour majority. As an illustration of the undesirability of the House being involved in politics in connection with Private Bills I would remind the House of what occurred on the Bill for the Western Exits Road improvement which came before the House the other week. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss), for whose support I am much obliged to-night, was then one of the opponents. That Bill was promoted jointly by the London County Council—Labour—and the Middlesex County Council—Tory—at the request of a Coalition Liberal Minister of Transport. That was the parentage of that Bill. The question has nothing to do with politics, any more than this bridge has, and yet a Whip was sent out, signed by a series of Conservative Members, which said this:You are earnestly requested to be present and vote against the London and Middlesex Improvements, etc., Bill promoted by the Socialist London County Council which is down for Third Reading.I say with great respect that that kind of thing is a degradation of Parliamentary procedure. I do not care whether I have a Labour majority, or a Tory majority, or a Communist majority, or an Anarchist majority on the London County Council. When I come to the High Court of Parliament I expect the High Court of Parliament to act in a quasi-judicial capacity. I am a private subject of His Majesty. I come to Parliament for certain powers by private Bill, under ancient rights and privileges that it has conferred upon the subject under Parliamentary usage. Parliament is then sitting as the High Court of Parliament. It has no right to victimise me because I have a Labour majority on the council, and no right to deal with this matter in anything but a quasi-judicial capacity and upon the merits of the case. I admit that after that experience I went back to the County Hall—I had written previously for the "Evening Standard" in 1932—and asked: "What has Parliament done?" and answered it by saying: "Parliament has said that for this particular purpose we will not permit the London County Council to borrow." I said "Very well. Let the council accept the position. We must bow to the 1298 will of Parliament. We will not borrow. We will take the money out of capital moneys. We will take it out of revenue, out of current account, and get it that way." That was perfectly constitutional, and certainly perfectly within the rules of the game, too. Parliament had a right to say: "We shall not let you borrow for that purpose." All right. I have not borrowed. I have paid the money out of the till, out of current revenue. My constitutional conduct is absolutely 100 per cent. correct.
I come back again to this House—twice. This is the second time. I will come back a dozen times. I have a perfect right to do so under the Standing Orders of the House and the rights of the private citizen. I come back to this new, and I hope wiser, Parliament, and I say: "Please, Parliament, give me the power to spend this money out of capital account." What is wrong about that? You cannot save the bridge now. It has gone. I helped to get it down myself, I know. I made speeches about it. One of the most revolutionary, apparently, was made within the portals of the National Liberal Club. Again the hon. Gentleman did not get all that I said. I said: "If I were a mere politician, which I am not, it would suit me handsomely that Parliament should play about with the council and interfere, on partisan grounds. It would be all right if I got the money. If I did not get the money, I should get a first-class political grievance." I said: "I am not a mere politician. I am above that sort of thing. I would much sooner that Parliament were perfectly correct, official and proper, and let us all play the game together."
It is quite true. I said: "We are championing and defending the constitutional rights of the London County Council." So we are. I do not want to be defiant to this House, but I have spent 20 years of my life, and more, trying to get some civic and municipal self-respect into the heads and the hearts and the minds of this easy-going crowd of Londoners, and have partly succeeded, with the aid of my friends. I asked London to respect itself as a city and as a local self-governing unit, within, the Powers conferred upon it by Parliament. I have asked the London County Council and the citizens of London 1299 to live up to the ancient traditions of the City of London Corporation. Talk about fighting Parliament; why, the City Corporation fought kings, and beat them. I say, as a Londoner, a cockney born and bred, that I am proud, Tory though that corporation is, of the work that the ancient corporation of the City of London did for British liberty, for local government rights and for the democratic rights of the people against absolutist kings. I believe I am in their tradition and in their line.
So I said, and my friends said, "Parliament has conferred powers upon us. Within those powers and within those rights we were elected by the citizens of London to govern this city, and we are going to govern it." That is what I said. What is wrong about it? Could anything be more respectable and Conservative? Anything more in accordance with the doctrines of the Constitutional Club? Nothing. I merely claim the right to exercise my lawful, local government, statutory powers as a London County Council; that is all. The hon. Member for South Kensington said: "I am not going to let you. I am going to interfere with you. I am going to get the House of Commons to pass a particular Instruction that you should do a particular thing in a particular way." He succeeded.
I admit the complete supremacy of Parliamentary institutions. It is the glory of our Constitution that this House is in the end above everything. But the House, if it wants the Constitution to run smoothly, must be like every other organ of public authority; it must not go beyond what is wise and expedient and sensible if it wants the machine to run properly and if it wants the relations between Parliament and the local authorities to run smoothly. I admit that I have said these strong and vigorous things. I feel deeply about the rights of my city. I often feel that London is more like a Crown Colony than any city in the country. We have less local self-government than any city in the country, and I do not like it, but I suppose I must put up with it, owing to the way in which the laws are passed in this House and in the other House
But, when all that is said and done, my friends on the London County Council 1300 and myself have as much right to civic patriotism as the Birmingham Corporation. We have as much right to independent jurisdiction in self-government as the great corporations of the provinces, and hon. Members who represent these great provincial cities know as well as I do that they are not willing that they shall be interfered with in their judgment improperly. They are very keen about their civic rights and their rights of self-government. Unlike what happens in London, if the rights of the corporation in Birmingham, or Manchester, or Leeds are attacked, it is the common practice of all Members of Parliament who represent those cities to stand solid, foursquare for their city and champion its cause in this House. Not so in my poor old London. It is better than it was. Nearly every London Member who votes in the Division to-night will vote with me. It used not to be so; we were divided and all over the place, and I felt deeply about the ill-defended rights of London. Is there anything wrong about that?
May I put it to hon. Gentlemen that there have been in the history of British local government great Tory municipal administrators who have stood up for the rights of their cities with just as much violence—not physical violence, but violence of language—with just as much determination and with just as much aggression as I have stood up for the rights of the London County Council? Let me give three examples that practically every hon. Member will remember. There was Joseph Chamberlain in Birmingham, and the work that he did in Birmingham over those years in making that city into a great city with a fine local government, with a splendid degree of municipal self-respect, and with great municipal enterprise. As a result, they have Socialist water, gas, electricity, trams, omnibuses arid so on. They even have a bank under the leadership of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Such is the great civic tradition of Birmingham. The fight for the solidarity of its civic administration was the great work of Joseph Chamberlain, and I like to feel that, in my work for London, there is a bit of the Joseph Chamberlain about me. I love my city. Do not let us be small enough not to be able to admire Joseph Chamberlain as a city administrator. I do. He was one of the greatest civic 1301 administrators in this country, and he developed a patriotism for his city. I am bitten with the same kind of thing.
Then there was Sir Charles Wilson, of Leeds—Charlie Wilson. So much did he identify his city with himself that, in a Parliamentary Committee upstairs, when he was asked, "Well, Sir Charles, what does Leeds think about this?" he replied: "Leeds? I am Leeds." I have not got to that. Charlie Wilson loved Leeds. He would have fought you all to a standstill for the civic sights of Leeds. Am I wrong because I do the same thing? You admired and respected him for it. I want you to admire me for doing the same thing.
Finally, there was Sir Archibald Salvidge at Liverpool—a very great municipal administrator and an enormous political power. He would have fought for Liverpool against the whole lot of you, would he not? You know it. Why cannot I, a poor simple Cockney, have as much right to be proud of my city? He fought for his rights as the Tory Members of municipal corporations in the Provinces generally fight for theirs. That is all that I have done and all that I am doing. Let the House say to itself if it wishes, "This lad has been very impudent. He has said things he ought never to have said. He has used language which some people think is defiant, but we do not think it should be interpreted in that way. He is a bit cranky about the London that he loves so much, but he is just like Joseph Chamberlain, Salvidge and Wilson and we had better let him off and give him his whole Bill." That is the human thing that the House of Commons is capable of doing and it is going to do it to-night. This is a new House. I am not going to say whether it is a better one than the last. I think it is. I am in this and I was not in the last. But that may be sheer prejudice. I hope the House will give us the Bill. The issue before the House is not grant or no grant. That is irrelevant. The Parliamentary Secretary agrees. The issue is whether the council is to be permitted to borrow.
It is only fair to tell the House—I do not want to deceive it—that on financial merits borrowing powers are good but there is not much in it so far as finance is concerned. There is much more in the grant. I must tell the House in all honesty that, if this Bill is passed, the 1302 council will go to the Minister and ask for a grant, as we have a perfect right to do. I hope the Government will be disposed to treat us the same as they would any other local authority. But that is not the issue that is being settled to-night. Let not the House worry itself about that issue. The sole issue is whether you are going to put these borrowing powers in the Bill. It has been a great controversy over many years. If I have said things that I ought not to have said, do not ask me to apologise. That is asking too much. If I have offended the House, I am sorry. I would not offend the House. If I have offended Members, I am sorry. It has been a great argument. We have been fighting for what we believe to be a great constitutional principle. The hon. Member for South Kensington is fighting for a constitutional principle as he sees it. It is a great pity that the good relations between this House and the next greatest public authority in the country, the London County Council, should be bad, that the relations between us and the Ministry of Transport should be poisoned by this business. I ask this new House, not necessarily saying that all that we have done is right or is wrong, to do the big thing, to give us this Bill, unfettered and undamaged, by a big and emphatic majority.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS
We have listened to an attractive and eloquent but, if you read it carefully, very irrelevant speech. That is not difficult to establish. May I first of all deal with one point of Parliamentary tactics, procedure—call it what you will—the right hon. Gentleman's complaint that some of those who oppose municipal Bills in this House are in the practice of issuing Whips with some reference to the Socialist party. I have been associated with opposition to more novel proposals which I thought at the time objectionable than anyone else. On not a single occasion have my friends and I who act together in this manner ever issued a Whip of that kind. I think that the right hon. Gentleman might have been a little more careful. Is it entirely an accident that I saw sitting on the bench opposite a moment ago the representatives of Carnarvon, Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield and other great centres of popu- 1303 lation? Were they attracted here to-night merely by the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman? Neither he nor I believe that. They were here because the party opposite has been very active in saying, "We must have a good show to-night." Do not bring in that sort of stuff. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] I agree, but why make complaints when others do it?
Do not let us be humbugs in that way. People send out a Whip when there is a debate on, and put in whatever words they think will draw support. I have not done the kind of thing of which the right hon. Gentleman complains. I have never sent out a Whip in which I have prejudiced an issue which was not an issue between Conservatism and Socialism by making reference to Socialism. [Interruption.] Hon. Members must not get annoyed. I listened very patiently to the right hon. Gentleman. The only time that I interjected was when he said that that great body were spending £40,000,000, and I hinted that it was £10,000,000 too much. Instead of replying, he said that I had had no municipal experience. Strictly speaking that is not true. My experience started before his and for the last seven weeks I have been constantly serving on committees considering what powers municipalities should have in future. There is no particular argument in saying that somebody does not know something about it until you have found out. The right hon. Gentleman compared himself to Chamberlain, Charlie Wilson and Archibald Salvidge What did Wilson say—"I am Leeds," but within 12 months he was out of office. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had better be careful. Has he ever heard of the mouse that once went wandering into a wine-cellar and consumed some of the drippings, and said, "Where is that something cat that chased me last night?" The right hon. Gentleman is rather like that on this issue.
What is the issue? I was always in opposition to my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) and always thought that the bridge should be pulled down, and I voted that way in 1926. I could never understand why the Government appointed a Royal Commission. I think that that Government of which I was a member made a great mistake. After 1304 the Royal Commission was appointed the council came back to Parliament and asked for sanction for a loan. The right hon. Gentleman is playing with words in saying that we do not control the purpose, but only the money. That is special pleading. If we say that we will not allow a loan for that purpose, we are saying that we do not approve of the Bill. It is poor pedantry to try and prove otherwise by reading Section (4) of the London Consolidation Act, 1912. That does not bear on the issue. The right hon. Gentleman is an acute politician, and I do not blame him. He said "When I was in power." They are dangerous words to use. Remember Charlie Wilson again! I took part in the Debate and voted that they should have the money, but Parliament decided otherwise. He and his friends should think of the little mouse. I do not know how they stimulate themselves, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not do it judging by the advice he gave to a Scottish paper. He said, "We are not going to be done in by Parliament. We are the big lads and the big noises. We are not afraid of anybody." And then with an innumerable battery of pickaxes like Ajax defying the lightning he struck the first stone from the bridge. Last year he said, "I do not mind what you do. If you give me a loan I shall be happy. If you do not, you will give me a grievance." The electors of London have not taken up the grievance. Our main grievance is the extravagance of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. I am a London ratepayer and have a right to complain. The rates are going up. Every time I get a demand note it is for a greater amount than the previous one. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman saying that he is a terror to the chairman of his Standing Committee? He is not a very efficient terror if he professes to be a believer in economy. I am sorry to speak from the personal standpoint, but the right hon. Gentleman made a very personal speech.
What is the issue? Parliament was asked by the county council to give approval to the expenditure of money for a series of specific purposes. Our procedure permits Parliament to select any one or more of those specific purposes and to propose an Instruction that it should not be approved. That clearly 1305 means that we do not approve the purpose. When Parliament took its decision, as I think wrongly, in 1932 to refuse the London County Council, that was a decision which the then county council of constitutionally-minded people accepted. Then we had a change of control, and the successors said, "We have a right to do this, we have a statutory authority." The right hon. Gentleman said Parliament must not interfere. Those are challenging words to use to Parliament. They are words which no municipal authority wisely uses to Parliament. There is no power which Parliament has not given to the London County Council and which Parliament cannot take away. We could repeal any provision in every London County Council Act. We have not reached the stage of having local Lenins and Trotskies in our municipal authorities.
The issue is a simple one, that a municipal authority, in the most formal and explicit way it could do, denied the power of Parliament. It was done in the most provocative way conceivable. When the right hon. Gentleman went with his pickaxe and a battery of camera men it was obvious that he was doing it in the most provocative way he could think of to impress the people of London with the idea, "We are not going to be dictated to by Parliament." It is on that alone that I join issue. If the London County Council wants to give itself airs of that kind it will not do the London County Council and its leader
§ any harm if Parliament occasionally gives them a lesson in modesty. Whenever I find myself guilty of the folly of being over-pushful I always find that it does not pay. Most of us have domestic relatives who attend to that, even if it is not done in public places. It cannot do the least conceivable harm to the London County Council to be told that there are things they cannot do.
§ I am sorry that I was provoked to make some comment during the speech of the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and to use words which perhaps were not appropriate to one of his distinction and age. We have sat on opposite sides, but we have always been very good friends for many years, and I should regret if it was thought that I had said anything that might be regarded as personal. This question has been debated for three and a-half hours and in going to a Division I would ask the House to make it clear again that a municipality must not flout the will of Parliament. I hope the House will vote by a large majority for the Instruction moved by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison).
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on Unopposed Bills to leave out paragraph (c) of Item 9 of Part I of the Schedule with regard to the demolition of Waterloo Bridge and the erection of a new bridge.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes, 186.1307
|Division No. 245.]||AYES.||[10.55 p.m.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||De la Bère, R.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Duggan, H. J.||McKie, J. H.|
|Balnell, Lord||Eastwood, J. F.||Magnay, T.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Emery, J. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Errington, E.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.|
|Bracken, B.||Findlay, Sir E.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Fleming, E. L.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Foot, D. M.||Petherick, M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Ganzonl, Sir J.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Gluckstein, L. H.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Hannah, I. C.||Salt, E. W.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hartington, Marquess of||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hepworth, J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st),|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Storey, S.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (N'thw'h)|
|Touche, G. C.||Warrender, Sir V.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.||Waterhouse, Captain C.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Wakefield, W. W.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Wallace, Captain Euan||Williams, C. (Torquay)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)||Sir William Davison and Mr.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Messer, F.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Mliner, Major J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Grimston, R. V.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Albery, I. J.||Groves, T. E.||Montague, F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll,N.W.)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Guy, J. C. M.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Paling, W.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Parker, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Peake, O.|
|Batey, J.||Harbord, A.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hardle, G. D.||Potts, J.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Pownall, sir Assheton|
|Bellenger, F.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Price, M. P.|
|Benson, G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Radford, E. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Co'onel A. P.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bromfield, W.||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Riley, B.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ritson, J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Holdsworth, H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Rowson, G.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack, N.)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Chater, D.||Hulbert, N. J.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jackson, Sir H.||Shinwell, E.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Jagger, J.||Short, A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Silkin, L.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Brace well (Dulwich)|
|Daggar, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Dalton, H.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Keeling, E. H.||Stephen, C.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kelly, W. T.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Day, H.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lathan, G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lawson, J. J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Leach, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Leckie, J. A.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lee, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lesile, J. R.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Elliston, G. S.||Liddall, W. S.||Walker, J.|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Loftus, P. C.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Logan, D. G.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||McEntee, V. La T.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||McGhee, H. G.||White, H. Graham|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||McGovern, J.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gallacher, W.||MacLaren, A.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Maclean, N.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibbins, J.||Markham, S. F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Marklew, E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Mathers, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Maxton, J.||Mr. C. R. Strauss and Mr. Selley.|
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.