HC Deb 22 July 1937 vol 326 cc2509-71

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £2,348,501, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1938, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Health for Scotland; including Grants, a Grant in Aid and other Expenses in connection with Housing, certain Grants to Local Authorities, etc., Grant in Aid of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, Grants in Aid in respect of Benefits, etc., under the National Health Insurance Act; certain Expenses in connection with the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, and other Services.

7.23 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

I understand that this Vote has been put down at the request of the Opposition for the purpose of hearing a report on housing and how far we are able to make a statement of progress since the last Debate. I very gladly take this opportunity of making a further statement. We have already had two Debates on housing this year, and this will be the third. It shows the intense interest of Scotland on the subject, and I heartily welcome that interest. Since our last Debate a month ago, it has become more and more obvious that the machine is overloaded. The Scottish building industry, of course, shows a very great output, but it is showing signs of a machine which is working under great strain. The output can be judged by the figures showing the value of the plans approved in the 10 largest burghs in Scotland, that is to say, covering half of the population of the country. The total value of the plans approved in the first five months of 1936 was £3,446,700, and for the first five months of 1937 it was £4,791,000. If one examines that increase in detail, the value of plans approved for dwelling houses has gone up from £1,844,000 to £2,237,000 which is about 21 per cent. Of course, a great deal of that rise is accounted for by an increase in building costs.

On the other hand, the value of plans for factories and workshops has gone up from £158,000 to £574,000, or by 263 per cent. We do want more factories and new factories in Scotland. Nobody would seriously suggest that we should stop building factories. It is all the more a healthy sign since these factories do not include Government munition works, but factories and workshops for private enterprise of one kind or another in Scotland. Our country, whose industrial equipment is in some respects out of date, must welcome the appearance of new and up to date factories for the work of the country to be carried on. But labour engaged in factories and workshops cannot be used on housing, and I think that that is one of the reasons why we are not getting as many houses as we want.

The problem is quite simple. There is, firstly, a shortage of men, and, secondly, to a smaller extent, there is a shortage of certain materials. Suggestions have been made that we should get rid of this along two lines. One line is the suggestion of control and the other is the suggestion of increasing supplies. From my point of view I frankly say that I prefer the method of increasing supplies. I do not think the methods of control will in fact secure what we have in mind, all the more so since, whenever we examine the suggestions for control, they nearly all come down to controlling the other fellow. Industrialists may be extremely anxious that the trade unions should be controlled, and the trade unions that the big business firms should be controlled. Men in Parliament may be extremely anxious that local authorities should be controlled, and local authorities that Parliament or the Minister should be controlled. We all desire that somebody else should be controlled, and I am sure that the danger of control would be the disappearance of the things we want, namely, the men and the materials which we wish to obtain for house building in Scotland.

What are we doing to meet the situation? We have not been inactive since the subject was last debated. As I was able to inform the House on Tuesday, in answer to a question, we have recently been able to complete a most valuable agreement with the building industry in Scotland. It should have a far-reaching effect in housing progress because it provides machinery for the expansion of personnel, and also affords a ready means of discussing difficulties of organisation which may from time to time hamper progress. As the Committee will remember, it provides for a joint consultative committee being set up on which will serve representatives of the industry, both operatives and employers, and representatives of the Government Departments. We shall sit round the table and be able to raise and thrash out questions which might otherwise slow down the progress of housing. There will be no slowing down on account of our having correspondence with each other on the matter. I am convinced, after many years of experience, that if we once have separate committees writing letters to each other all progress is held up for several weeks and indeed for several months.

The agreement deals with one very important point to which representatives of labour attach the very greatest importance, and that is the augmentation of the labour supply. The agreement provides for the relaxation of the present rules of the industry limiting the number of apprentices. The present proportion of apprentices is one for the first three journeymen and one for every four journeymen thereafter. That is to be increased by allowing apprentices to be engaged where necessary for additional labour at the rate of one apprentice for every three journeymen as a flat rate. That provision is coupled with proposals for overtime and for the referring of overtime to committees which can authorise it. Neither employers nor operatives regard overtime as a sound arrangement, but they have agreed that applications for the working of overtime shall receive sympathetic consideration, especially in view of their recognition of the necessity for securing better progress with the building of houses. The agreement starts off by a recognition of the fact that the present problem of housing in Scotland is one of urgency, and I attach more importance to that than to some of the other clauses in the agreement.

I recognise the difficulty of the operatives in agreeing to increase the labour supply when there is stringency in the supply of bricks. Some local authorities have even decided to postpone further building. The increase in personnel will be gradual. It depends upon a close examination of the position in various districts. We are already taking steps to increase the supply of bricks, and that, together with the knowledge that the labour supply can be augmented, should have a steadying effect on the cost of house building. Much of the present increase in cost is due to the uncertainty in the minds of contractors as to their ability to complete contracts, and their uneasiness about the move in prices during the time that they are engaged on the contracts. The quicker we can get the houses built the finer will firms be able to quote, because with the production of houses spread over a year or two years, it would puzzle the wit of man to forecast the movement of prices of supplies for the next two years. I hope that we shall have results so that the local authorities' fears may also be removed. We want to steady prices as far as possible, and no doubt hon. Members opposite will have something to say on the subject.

I should like to turn for a short time to a matter on which the House showed great interest in our last housing Debate, namely, rural housing. We are endeavouring to stimulate a greater growth of housing activities, following the publication of the report on rural housing. I hold in my hand a circular which was issued yesterday to all county councils, dealing with the recommendations in the report and dealing exhaustively with those recommendations that can be carried out administratively. I have done my utmost to accelerate the production of the circular, more particularly that it might be in the hands of hon. and right hon. Members for this Debate. I caused a copy to be posted to all the Scottish Members so that they would have it in their possession. I hope this will not be taken as a precedent, because I cannot undertake to post to hon. Members all the circulars that come from the Department. But in view of the special circumstances I thought that hon. Members would be glad to have this circular in their hands.

It follows a meeting between officials of the Department of Health and representatives of the Association of County Councils. The association showed that they were most anxious to make progress and to co-operate with the Department in carrying out these administrative changes, and I should like to thank the representatives of the county councils for the helpful way in which they are approaching this problem, all the more so since some of the county councils felt a little sore about the terms of the report, and began by indicating that they wished to put in evidence to establish the fact that the strictures did not apply to them. I give full credit for the excellent work that some county councils have done. Take one example, East Lothian. East Lothian had certainly done a great deal of work and, naturally, they felt a little sore at the generalities in some of the statements in the report. At the same time none of us can deny that in general the picture given by the report brings out quite properly some of the very black spots in Scottish housing, and we all owe a great deal to any committee which fearlessly states its opinion, even if that opinion may be over-stated in certain respects.

The Circular recommends in paragraph (1) a more adequate inspection of rural houses, and in paragraph (2) special surveys of houses for farm servants and crofters. Paragraph (3) deals with the annual inspection of one-fifth of the houses under a rental of £26 5s. in rural areas. Paragraph (4) deals with the engagement of adequate staffs to carry out these inspections. Paragraph (5) and the Appendix gives the standard of fitness, and on the back of the Circular is printed a model form. We have drawn up a new form of annual report to the Department, which is to be issued shortly. Paragraph (6) states that there will be sample inspections by the Department, in which we hope to act as colleagues, and not as critics of the inspections carried out by the local authorities. I am sure that it will be to the advantage of the local authorities to have assistance from the central Department in bringing about a uniform standard throughout the country. Paragraph (8) makes provision as to a survey of crofters' houses, in co-operation with the Highland county councils. Paragraph (9) deals with the demolition of unfit houses, and paragraph (10) with the improvement of defective houses and a new use of the Housing (Rural Workers) Acts. Paragraphs (11) to (15) deal with a review of the procedure under the Housing (Rural Workers) Acts, and paragraph (16) deals with the planning, design and lay-out of new houses, and expresses our hope that these will be an addition to and not a desecration of the beauty of the Scottish countryside.

I hope very much that after this Circular we shall not be able with any justice to talk of waste of money under these Acts. I hope that the effect of the Circular will not be to delay housing by forms being sent from the council to the Department and back again from the Department to the council and therefore I have offered in the Circular to get into touch forthwith with the Association of County Councils with a view to expediting procedure and making sure that this accelerates and does not slow down the progress of rural housing. I hope that the Committee will agree that, as far as I can without legislation, I have implemented the pledge that I gave as soon as the Report on Rural Housing came out, that I would not regard it as a report to be pigeon-holed but as a report for action, and that action has been taken at the earliest possible moment.

As regards the general position, we are taking emergency measures to deal with certain difficulties. I mentioned a month ago that the Commissioner for the Special Areas proposed to convene a meeting of local authorities in the Special Areas to consider the advisability of some auxiliary programme being carried out by a housing association, which would not lay any burden upon the rates of the local authorities concerned, but would offer an opportunity of trying out alternative methods under conditions more suitable than can be tried out in the ordinary building programmes of local authorities. That meeting was held on 12th July, and I am very glad to say that as a result the Commissioner feels certain of a sufficient degree of support from the local authorities to justify the promotion of the Association, and the necessary arrangements are now being made.

Furthermore, I am able to announce that we have been successful in securing a chairman for the company. The chairman will be the present Commissioner for the Special Areas, Sir David Allan Hay. I should like to say that the present Commissioner has felt compelled, on account of pressure of business, to relinquish his appointment as Commissioner. When he accepted the post he made it clear that he could not promise to continue to serve after 31st March, 1937, when the Act expired, but with great public spirit, for which I wish to thank him, he agreed to remain in office until the preliminary work under the new Act could be set in train. It is with the greatest regret that the Government have now to accept his resignation. I think the Committee would like me to express to him the warm thanks of the Government for the invaluable work he has done as Commissioner. He undertook a very formidable task, and the manner in which he has discharged it has enhanced his already high reputation as a business man, possessed of great ability which he has always been ready to devote to the service of his country. He is continuing that service in an unpaid capacity as chairman of this special housing company, and I think that his experience as Commissioner will be of great assistance to us and to the Special Areas in the work which will have to be done.

I am also in a position to announce the name of the new Commissioner, Lord Nigel Douglas Hamilton. It is very desirable that we should make use of our younger men, and although Lord Nigel is a young man, he is already well known for his public work both as a Commissioner of the Board of Control and as a member of the Corporation of Edinburgh, and in other spheres. I am sure that the Committee, and especially the Scottish Members, who know him and his work, will wish him well as a young man taking on a very difficult task and deserving the unanimous support of all of us, without any distinction of party. It is his desire as well as that of the Government that Sir David Allan Hay should take over the chairmanship of the new company. In that capacity he will come into contact with the problems that we are discussing to-night, in more ways than one.

For instance, hon. Members for industrial Lanarkshire will know a little about the case of the Hamilton squatters. There, a considerable number of families occupied property which had been condemned and vacated by the tenants. The squatters numbered about 100 families, and they represented to the Department that their conditions were intolerable. The heads of the Department visited this property and were satisfied that the houses were, as one would expect, completely unfit for habitation. They had been compulsorily vacated, and hon. Members will know what that means in Scotland. They were occupied without any discipline or organisation by members of these families. There was serious danger of epidemic and general danger to the public health. The situation was scandalous, and, despite the fact that the squatters had illegally gone into these buildings and no doubt were themselves to blame for the position, we had to do something to deal with the problem as an emergency one.

Through the good offices of the Commissioner I hope that a solution has been found. He has agreed to finance the Second Scottish Housing Company, which will be familiar to the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy), in acquiring certain properties in Hamilton, old properties, and reconditioning them in order to make them suitable for occupation for a limited period. They cannot be made completely suitable for housing, but they will, I think, help us to put an end to this intolerable position. There was a meeting with the town council of Hamilton this week, when they agreed to co-operate, and accordingly the way is clear for the company to begin the work of reconditioning.

An essential condition of this arrangement, which will not cost the town council anything, is that the town council should take all possible steps to prevent illegal occupation of condemned houses in the future, and to do this effectively the town council need the support of property owners to secure that evacuated property is not re-occupied. I should like to make a personal appeal to property owners to co-operate to the fullest extent with the town council. I want to make it abundantly clear that this action is taken to deal with the special difficulty in Hamilton and must not be regarded as lending any encouragement to the idea that any person can unlawfully occupy a condemned house and then expect to get a preference over other tenants for new houses. In some cases when you deal with one evil you bring in other evils worse than the one you are trying to remove, but I am sure hon. Members who are interested in these matters will realise the dangers of this course and will also realise that the scandal of the Hamilton squatters cannot be tolerated if our country is to hold up its head with any dignity at all and that some method had to be taken to deal with it. I hope this difficulty will not be followed by other and greater difficulties.

In the present emergency we are examining possible alternative methods of construction. So far as labour is concerned, I have indicated the extent to which it will be possible to recruit new labour which can be absorbed in the industry, and any further acceleration of housebuilding must come from other methods of construction not yet explored. The main forms are houses of concrete construction and timber construction and the association which has been set up in the Special Areas will give an opportunity for experimenting in these new methods. In regard to wooden houses, we are in touch with representatives of certain special forms of construction.

Let us have a look at the picture of the present housing situation and see whether we can form any estimate of the future course during the next six months. We have now the returns for the completion of houses in the first half of the year, which is the worst half, and for the purposes of the Debate I have asked local authorities how many houses they expect to finish in the second half of 1937. The number actually completed is 5,973. The houses which have yet to be completed are a matter of estimate. No one would like to tie himself to an iron-clad figure of how many houses will be finished by the end of the year. Anyone who has had the experience of trying to get into a house of his own knows the number of small incidents which are likely to arise to delay the final completion and occupation of the house, and, therefore, I give this figure with the utmost reserve. The estimate is 11,267, that is local authority houses, for the second half of 1937. If that is realised the total for the year will be 17,240 houses as against 16,044 for 1936. That is to say, there will be a slight increase over the figures for the previous year.

Mr. Dingle Foot

Will these houses come under the 1935 Act or under the other Acts?

Mr. Elliot

I cannot say. I am taking the gross output of the building trade. In many cases the local authority does not allocate the use of the houses until they are completed and they are deciding what tenants to put in. As to private enterprise 3,949 houses of five apartments and less were finished in the first half of 1937, and on that basis we estimate that the number of private enterprise houses of five apartments and less completed in 1937 may be about 8,500 as compared with 7,300 in 1936. There again, there is a slight increase over the previous year. We can now make a balance, which comes out at a rough total of some 25,000 houses of this size, that is to say, five apartments and less, the houses which are wanted to deal with the present situation. That, roughly speaking, is similar to the number completed in the last five years. In 1933 the number was 26,000, in 1934, 24,000, in 1935 25,000, in 1936 23,000—a very serious drop. In 1937, the estimate, which I give with the greatest reserve, is 25,000.

Mr. Westwood

Is it not the fact that the houses to be completed in 1937 are houses for which the estimates were accepted by local authorities some time ago and before the big jump in prices? Can the right hon. Gentleman say what estimates have been accepted during the last three months as compared with the previous year?

Mr. Elliot

The tenders for the houses which are now being completed were, of course, accepted a year or 18 months ago. As to the tenders which are now coming in, I cannot give figures for the last three months and I am coming to the next feature of the situation, which is the increasing lag between the number of houses approved and the number completed. I have taken out figures for 30th June, 1937. At that date 25,000 houses were under construction by local authorities and 13,000 contracted for. That is, there were 38,000 local authority houses on the stocks. We have completed them at the rate of 16,000 or 17,000 a year. That is not a desirable situation. It shows that the Scottish building industry has now on hand local authority work which cannot be accelerated by any increase in the subsidy, which cannot be in any way improved by any further financial terms being given, and we shall have this lag at the end of the next two years unless we can do something to accelerate progress. That is why I attach great importance to the building agreement I announced earlier and to other methods we can take of bringing in auxiliary teams to help us out of this difficult position.

All these are symptoms, not only of the congestion in house building, but of increasing industrial activitiy. Hon. Members will agree that people are being drained away from housing activities to other activities. There are indications, which we all welcome, that industrial activity will increase, and that will increase the demands on building labour. About one-half of the bricklayers in Scotland are on local authority work, a much larger percentage than in England, and it means that that is the area of labour from which recruitment will inevitably flow for other building enterprises. I think it is important, therefore, that the plans which I have announced for labour augmentation and for local consultation should work smoothly and easily. It is suggested, quite rightly, that this joint consultative committee should be a moving committee, that it should not confine itself to sitting in Edinburgh hearing delegates and discussing matters, but should travel to areas where a shortage has taken place, meet the local representatives and do its best to clear up the situation. This will demand personal supervision if we are to get any real acceleration into building programmes in the immediate future.

It is possible—I warn hon. Members—that things may get worse before they get better. We can all see a shortage of labour coming owing to industrial activities. It is an encouraging feature, and I am glad to be able to say, in talking about these problems, that the trouble arises from industrial activity in Scotland instead of arising from the depression. We are moving from a period of depression into a period of activity, and I am glad to have a different set of problems to grapple with from those with which my predecessors have had to grapple for so many years.

Mr. Gallacher

We want to move out of slums.

Mr. Elliot

We do; and we want to move out of a period of depression into a period of activity.

Mr. Leonard

A period of explosions?

Mr. Elliot

I made it clear that the factory figures I gave did not include Government munition factories, but were factories required by private enterprise in industrial activity which is very badly needed in Scotland. The increasing pressure on the building industry makes it absolutely necessary to plan our programme, and with that object I issued last week a circular to local authorities urging them to review their probable programmes for the next two years and try to plan, with adjoining authorities where necessary, so that the available supply of skilled labour shall be fully and continuously used without undue strain. I undertook that the Departments under my control should also be ready to assist individual authorities in planning their programmes. At the meeting with the Associations of Local Authorities it was agreed that a general order could not be applied over the whole country, but that joint consideration by departments and discussion with individual authorities would establish local orders of priority. I have done my best to review the problem before us and the progress which has been made during the last year. I hope the Committee will agree that we have not been asleep during that time. The whole of my administration and organisation has done its utmost to forward the rehousing of Scotland at as early a date as possible. There are obstacles in the way, but we are determined to carry through our housing policy as quickly as the obstacles will permit.

7.59 P.m.

Mr. T. Henderson

I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.

The right hon. Gentleman is a little more optimistic than he was when discussing the question of the herring industry, but those who live in industrial areas are not quite so optimistic on this matter as the right hon. Gentleman. I agree that there are always conflicting interests and that industrials want some kind of special treatment. We object strongly, we think it is wrong for industrialists to combine to obtain a monopoly of essential commodities which will be beneficial to the welfare of the people. During the last two months I have heard in this House and outside a statement to the effect that the bricklayers' union has become a close corporation, and that by regulations and restrictions it has made it impossible for the supply to meet the demand by local authorities and other employers in the house-building line. For that reason, the bricklayers' union is condemned. Speaking as one who, for over 50 years, has been a member of a trade union which is part of the Building Trades Federation, I say that if that were true, then it would be our duty to condemn the bricklayers just as we condemn the industrialists. I appeal from this side of the Committee—and I hope the appeal will have some effect—to the bricklayers' union to ease down as much as it can the rules and restrictions that stand in the way of providing houses for the working classes. If the union's attitude is one that will prevent the working class from obtaining houses, which are the basis of good health, then it is more evil than the combination of industrialists. I hope an appeal from these benches will have some effect.

I have had some experience of building estates in this country and I have noticed how, in my opinion, something more could be done in crises of this nature. After all, the new proposals and the appointment of a joint council will provide only a few apprentices, and it takes some time to learn the trade. My experience in the building industry has taught me that there is another source, and I intend to make some suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman. However, he said in his speech on 24th June that the negotiations for an arrangement with the bricklayers' union and other building trades were delicate and difficult, and I agree with him. If he will be good enough to have a conversation with me privately, I think I shall be able to satisfy him that there is another method, instead of the apprenticeship method, of helping along the building of houses for the working classes in Scotland.

As I represent a Glasgow constituency, a city which is one of the blackest spots in Scotland from the point of view of the housing of the workers, I feel that I am entitled to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the position there. The Glasgow Corporation was determined to build houses, under a 10 years scheme which would persuade the building trade workers to come into the industry because of the long period of employment that would follow. The Corporation also thought that it would be able to get the Scottish Office and the right hon. Gentleman to be more generous in their treatment of the applications of the local authority for carrying through the scheme by direct labour. It is a peculiar thing that the working-class building scheme in the City of Glasgow is the only one in Scotland that has kept to scheduled time. Building has been continuous, and there has not been the slightest trouble. It is being carried through by direct labour, and so far it has been kept up to date. I am referring to the Bellahouston scheme.

A great many schemes in Glasgow have been at a standstill because it was not possible to find men to do the work. The bricklayers are the people who are standing in the way, and if that difficulty could be overcome, the other difficulties would be met. In the case of plasterers, there are alternative methods of doing the work. I do not like those alternatives, but the working class must have houses. The position in Glasgow is exceptionally bad. A start was made with the 10 years plan. The Glasgow Corporation has the best intentions in the world, and was very anxious to build houses for the working class. It found that from May, 1936, to June, 1937, it was able to complete, not 7,000 houses as planned, but 2,025. From June of this year to the end of May, 1938, it proposes to build 4,935 houses. Sites have been prepared for approximately 18,000 houses.

But the corporation is rather troubled. In his speech on 24th June, the right hon. Gentleman used a very unfortunate word. He spoke about the scramble for the £60. He said that of the £100 increase on each house,£40 went in wages and the increased price of materials, and that there was a scramble for £60. Hon. Members know that the Scottish people, theoretically at any rate, are very thrifty, and when the right hon. Gentleman speaks of a £60 scramble, there are "wigs on the green." People want to know where it goes. I am reminded of an old Scottish custom. When a Scottish couple gets married, a crowd of children gathers at the door, and calls out, "Hard up," expecting some money to be scattered for which they can scramble. According to the right hon. Gentleman, £60 is being poured out in this case. He does not know where it is going, and people are becoming anxious. There is a great deal of hilarity among the children when they scramble for the money, but there is no hilarity in the housing committees of the local authorities when they hear about the £60. It means that on the 4,953 houses that the Glasgow Corporation is undertaking, it is paying £297,180 to be scrambled for.

Mr. Elliot

I do not think the hon. Member is doing me justice. Surely, I said that the scramble is being caused by the local authorities.

Mr. Henderson

I beg to differ. They object to the increased price.

Mr. Elliot


Mr. Henderson

I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to take steps to stop this increased price, because the working classes for whom the houses are to be provided are so poor that they cannot possibly afford to pay in rates the money that is to be scrambled for by the contractors. There is no merriment in the housing committees.

Mr. Elliot

I wish the hon. Member would stop using that unfortunate word. There is no merriment going on anywhere about this matter.

Mr. Henderson

I am not responsible for it. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible. He used the word "scramble."

Mr. Elliot

When I use a word to describe a very serious situation—a word without a fraction of merriment in it—it seems to me arbitrary that anybody should take a reference to housing costs as being funny. I do not think it is funny; nor does any hon. Member on this side of the Committee.

Mr. Henderson

The right hon. Gentleman described it as a scramble. I spoke of the merriment caused by an old Scottish custom, but there is no merriment caused in the housing committees by this particular scramble.

Mr. Elliot

I agree.

Mr. Henderson

What are the facts? On 4,953 houses, £60 a house represents a total of £297,180, and it means that 743 working-class houses will not be built. They will have gone in the scramble. That is a very serious thing. If one takes the 18,000 houses which the City of Glasgow Corporation intends to build, there are being wasted in the scramble no less than 3,748 working-class houses. That cannot be justified.

Mr. Elliot

Hear, hear.

Mr. Henderson

I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he intends to do to stop that. I would like now to refer to the prices. Taking the figures of the Glasgow Corporation's costing department, from February, 1936, up to the present time the price of timber has increased by 40 per cent. or 50 per cent., lead by 33 per cent., bricks by 50 per cent., steel by 60 per cent., cast-iron goods by 80 per cent., and slates by 5 per cent. Another important material which is used in house-building is cement. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that in the case of cement there is a monopoly, and that 94 per cent. of the total amount of cement produced in this country is produced under one federation of producers, and that they have increased their export trade every year. They are selling cement abroad at less than 30s. a ton and they are taking from the local authorities and other users of cement in this country no less than 40s. a ton. I would have no argument at all if the export trade did not pay them, but it does pay them substantial profits. Yet they charge 40s. a ton in the home market. Nor is that all for they make an excessive charge for transit.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to inquire into these prices. Is there no method of control? I know that the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) tried to get something done in the Finance Bill to deal with this matter, but he did not succeed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to try to do something effective to stop any further increase, if he cannot get a reduction, in the price of building materials. Local authorities who, perhaps, have very poor communities, cannot be expected to go on spending more and more on materials, knowing that it means an increased burden of rates and that the rates are already too high for the working-class people who have to pay them. I would be obliged, therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what steps, if any, he is prepared to take to remedy this evil.

8.17 p.m.

Mr. Foot

I wish to support what has been said by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson). I have differed from the Secretary of State on a large number of questions but I am certain there is no one in this House more anxious than he is to raise the housing standards of Scotland and I was grateful to him for the speech which he made on this subject during the Adjournment Debate on 10th June last. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that bad as the housing conditions in rural Scotland may be, in the big cities where human beings are piled one on top of another in great tenements, there are conditions of sanitation which even the rural districts cannot equal. We have just heard something about the conditions in Glasgow. I wish to add that anyone who represents Dundee must also have the question of housing constantly in mind.

In the last month, to give a typical experience, I visited two one-roomed houses in Dundee. The rooms were quite small and each room housed seven people—a father, mother and growing family in each case. These were not condemned houses and it was impossible in the ordinary way for the tenants to get any of the new houses which are being erected by the corporation. The only way in which that could be done would be by making an exchange with a family in a slum house who had become entitled to a house built under the 1930 Act. I understand that in Dundee there is no prospect of houses under the 1935 Act being immediately available for the relief of overcrowding and that they are not likely to be available for two or three years. The cases which I have mentioned are not extreme cases but are typical of a very large number and when one comes across such cases, where parents have growing families and are anxious to get better conditions not only for the sake of the increased comfort but for the sake of mere decency. It is very hard to have to have to tell them that no houses will be available for the relief of those conditions until a time when probably they will no longer be interested, because their families will have grown up and left home.

My experience and I think it has also been the experience of my colleague in the representation of Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) is that in the last few years there has been a growing feeling there on the subject of housing. When I was first elected for Dundee in 1931 it was a comparatively rare event for people to make representations about their houses. Now I scarcely ever go there without hearing complaints from people about the conditions of their houses or about the general overcrowding. I think that is largely the result of the activity of the local authorities. The very fact that we have managed to produce a large number of houses, principally under the 1930 Act, has created greater discontent with their conditions among those who have been left behind in the older house property. Clearly there is a slowing up in the rate of housing. The right hon. Gentleman was able to give us a total figure of 25,000 houses which it was hoped to complete within a year but he warned us that that was only an estimate and that it was not possible to promise that all those houses would be ready for occupation at the end of the year.

The figures in the report of the Department of Health show that there was last year an appreciable falling-off. For 1936 as compared with 1935 there was a drop from 25,392 to 23,372. In answer to a question put by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) the Secretary of State informed us that no fewer than 15 local authorities were postponing developments or wanted to reduce the number of houses which they originally proposed to build. The reasons are well-known and are clearly set out in the report. This is due to the rise in prices which, in turn, is partly due to the fact that local authorities are building larger houses, but still more is due to the rise in the price of building materials. Whatever the reason, nobody can dispute the fact that the cost is increasing. A good deal was said on the subject the other day at the Convention of Royal Burghs. The Commissioner for Brechin said that in the beginning of December, 1936, contracts were entered into for the erection of a certain number of houses at an average price of £409 per house. In January of this year another scheme was contracted for, the average price being £423 per house, and in the beginning of March this year in a third scheme the average cost per house amounted to £533. The Commissioner for Dundee said: Our experience in building schemes recently has brought out a figure which shows that our latest contract has gone up by 23 per cent. I wrote to Dundee for confirmation of that figure and I am informed that during the present year the price of timber in Dundee has gone up by 70 per cent. and the price of bricks by 20 per cent. and the cost of houses—not comparing larger houses with smaller houses but comparing houses which are similar in every way—has increased during the last nine months by a percentage of between 23 and 25. Though the slowing up may be partly due to shortage of labour—and we are glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take steps to remedy that—it is due still more to the steady rise in prices which has been going on and which, as far as I can see, is likely to intensify during the next few months.

The last speaker referred to the question of monopolies. I am not going to follow him into that, but if there is substance in what he said, I am sure that this House would never refuse to the right hon. Gentleman any powers that he might need to deal with inflated prices occasioned by monopolies in building materials. The point that I want to make is that when you have this steady rise in the price of building, the whole of the increased cost is thrown on to the shoulders of the local authorities. It would not be in order to suggest any amendment of the law in this Debate, but I think I should be in order in drawing attention to a resolution that was passed recently by the Convention of Royal Burghs, which reads: That for the purpose of relieving overcrowding, the subsidy paid under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1935, is inadequate, and that it be remitted to the annual Conference to take all necessary steps with a view to securing an increased subsidy such as would enable local authorities to provide suitable houses at reasonable rents. I hope the Secretary of State has paid due regard to that resolution, It was, I think, rather unfortunate that the Government did not accept, a year or two ago, a suggestion that was put forward by those of us who sit in this part of the Committee for a more elastic housing subsidy. When we were dealing with the 1933 Act, the Act under which the Government reduced the housing subsidy from £9 to £3, we proposed that, instead of doing that, we should have a subsidy that would vary, according to different circumstances or the needs of different localities, between £3 and £9. I do not want to go back on the Debates that took place on that Bill and on the Bill of 1935, but I think we are justified in pointing out that it might be very useful at present if our suggestion had been adopted at that time.

The Government have sought power under Section 30, Sub-section (2), of the Act of 1935 to provide a higher subsidy in respect of houses in a redevelopment area. Of course, there is a certain condition that has to be fulfilled. The cost has to be more than £10 per house for a period of 40 years. I am looking into this report to see what is being done about redevelopment areas, and I see that already two redevelopment schemes have been approved, and I understand that other authorities are considering similar schemes. Would it be too early for the Under-Secretary of State to tell us whether it will be possible, in the schemes that have already been approved, to use the power to give a higher subsidy for houses that are included in a redevelopment area? If that were done, if the machinery contained in that Sub-section were used, I think it might be a considerable encouragement to local authorities which have not yet adopted that part of the Act to consider using the machinery for redevelopment; and I hope it will be used, because I believe that it is along the lines contained in Section 30 of the 1935 Act that we may be able to deal most satisfactorily in the long run with housing conditions in many of our large cities.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Leonard

I did not really intend to take part in this housing discussion, but there has been through all the speeches such a continual recurrence of the questions of labour and costs that it occurred to me that it would be desirable to draw the attention of the Under-Secretary of State, and through him of the Department, to a part of the report that has been issued by the Scientific and Indus- trial Research Department. There is a part of that report dealing with building research, and as I put about half-a-dozen points on the last occasion on which I spoke, and none of them were answered, perhaps the Under-Secretary will pay attention to what I am saying to-night. This report makes reference to the large amount of stone that is at present in buildings being demolished and is capable of being re-used. My own personal observation in Glasgow and other cities leads me to believe that there is a very large number of old buildings built with stone which are now being demolished, and, as far as I can see, the material from them is only going to bottom roads. This report says: With the more durable stones, there is good reason to think that, provided the weathered surfaces and a reasonable thickness of the underlying stone are rejected, the old stone, as regards durability, is as good as new. Examination of the stone from Waterloo Bridge showed that this applied in that case; equally specimens of Portland stone taken from St. Paul's Cathedral proved, on laboratory investigation, to be equivalent to the best of the quarry samples available except for the surface portions. It is well known that we have machinery at the present time with which we can resurface stone very speedily, and if it were possible expeditiously and economically to draw to a given centre much of that stone, it is possible that it would be in some small measure capable of reducing building costs at least in some parts of the country. According to the report of the Ministry of Labour, I notice that in the return for last month there are no fewer than 1,204 unemployed masons. Up to the present time no reference has been made in the Debate to any tradesmen other than bricklayers, who, I admit, in the main are required, and will be required, for all internal construction, but there is no, reason why, in Scotland especially, the stone of the type of building that has long been associated with that country should not be used to a greater extent than at the present time. I have taken part in discussions with masons themselves, and representatives of the masons in Scotland have been very insistent upon the assertion that building in stone, if attended to with proper regard to continuity of employment in this work, can be made to approximate, if not equal, costs in so far as brick itself is concerned. Therefore, I suggest that that line might not be lost sight of and that perhaps, in so far as costs are concerned and with regard to the essential conditions of labour, something may be done in that direction.

I want to make only one other reference, which is also in regard to costs. I do not know whether or not the information is available, but in this report of the Ministry of Labour I have paid a little attention to the brickmaking industry. I have found that the total number of workpeople employed in making bricks was 12,391. The method of compilation of the statistics made me doubt whether that was the total of insured persons engaged in this employment, but I am informed by a Member who knows brickmaking reasonably well that that would be the total. I find that the number of workpeople in Scotland engaged on brickmaking is only 159. It appears to me that if Scottish requirements in bricks make it necessary to transport them from England, it will increase costs, and I am therefore wondering whether the Department has information at its disposal whether the potentialities for brickmaking in Scotland have been exhausted. If not, it might be possible to have brickfields situated close to desirable clay if it exists. It appears to me that only 159 out of 12,000 workpeople is a very small proportion so far as Scotland is concerned.

I would like to make a reference to two points which I raised before. I have been advised by letter on one, but not on the other. In the Department's report there is a reference to home visitation and child welfare schemes, in which it is stated that the chief purpose of the visits is to enable the house visitor to advise the mother in matters affecting her own health, individual care, domestic hygiene and home management. I have endeavoured to get from the Department some indication of what they are doing to follow up the circular sent to all authorities in Scotland prior to the maternity Act being passed. The Department drew the attention of local authorities to the fact that domestic helps were essential if the new maternity machinery came into operation. There is no reason why we should spend money in sending visitors to homes in which childbirth is expected to give guidance with regard to home management when the person who has to manage the home and do the work is not capable of doing it. Therefore, I press again for an answer as to what is being done to urge local authorities to prepare for and supply domestic helps in order to attend homes of a working class character, especially in view of the fact that the personnel of midwives in the future will be different from what it was in the past, when they were able to give domestic help in addition to their other technical qualifications.

I would like to ask the Department to pay attention, through the medium of their inspectors, to the question of maternity homes. This was a matter I endeavoured to bring to the attention of the Department before, but since then I have received, in the form of an answer to a question, details of the number of maternity homes registered and functioning in Scotland. Under the Maternity Homes Act it is possible for a maternity home to have only one qualified person, and that person may be the superintendent herself. All the other nurses associated with her may not be qualified. I am now informed that the total number of maternity homes registered by local authorities in February, 1937, is 146. The total number of nurses employed in the homes is 747. The number of nurses who neither have the Central Medical Board qualification nor are registered in the general part of the Registry of Nurses, number 107. That is to say, one in seven have no qualification or have inadequate qualification. While I admit that if they were spread out in the ratio of one to seven, there would not be much to say about the matter, I hope the inspector will examine the possibility of some maternity homes being run with the superintendent as the only qualified person. If there is not a proper proportion of qualified nurses, I hope the Department will take the matter up and endeavour to rectify it.

8.41 p.m.

Captain W. T. Shaw

I do not want to deal with the question of the housing, but with the question of general health. In the report of the Department of Health it is said that the people who are unemployed and the families of the unemployed do not suffer any more from malnutrition than the families of many people who are employed in the industrial belts of Scotland. I was surprised to read that, but man does not live by bread alone, and no doubt unemployment has a very deleterious effect on the general health of the people. I was interested to see from the report that men do not suffer so much as the women from unemployment. There is no getting away from the fact that unemployment is a primary cause of bad health, and we are anxious to see it removed. In the part of the country I represent, they are suffering from what I may describe as an Asiatic plague. It affects the small burghs in my constituency and it has been a very serious menace to the health of the City of Dundee, which is so well represented in this House. It takes the form of an uncontrolled flow of jute manufactures from Calcutta which is cutting into the employment of Dundee and the small burghs of my constituency. If the standard of health is to be maintained in that district, something should be done in the near future to restrict this importation. I hope that the Secretary of State will use his great influence to stir up the Government on this question so that something can be done in the near future.

In a White Paper dated yesterday I was interested to see that the Secretary of State is using great pressure, and will use greater pressure, to get a move on to deal with housing conditions in the rural districts of Scotland. I think that that is very essential, for the housing conditions in many parts of rural Scotland are very unsatisfactory. I hope that this additional pressure which is indicated in this Paper may have that effect. It is well that it should be known that the proprietors, many of whom are suffering from shortage of finance, can get 90 per cent. of the money they have to spend to bring these working-class houses into a proper state of repair. I wish that this Paper had said what interest was to be charged to the landlord, and I should be pleased if the Under-Secretary could give me that information.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Westwood

As pointed out by the Secretary of State for Scotland, this is the third Debate we have had on housing, and we on this side of the Committee make no apology, despite what was said by the previous speaker, for having chosen housing on a second day given to Scottish Estimates. In reviewing what has been done since the last Debate the Secretary of State made special reference to the possibility of getting more houses by an augmentation of the supply of labour, the relaxation of the apprenticeship rule in the building industry and the working of overtime, and he also made a special reference to an auxuliary programme of housing. I shall try to deal with all those points, particularly from the administrative point of view, as it affects Scottish local authorities. What I am going to say has special reference to the work to be done in the auxiliary programme of housing. This, I understand, is to be concentrated upon the Special Areas, so as to enable them to carry through schemes which would not be carried through by the local authorities themselves. To make a success of even an attempt to deal with housing it will be necessary in some of these areas—because there are rural areas within Special Area districts—to do something respecting the problem of water supplies. In the last Debate I made special reference to the inadequate sum provided in the Estimates, a sum of £36,000, for assisting the provision of water supplies in rural areas, and I quoted from a memorial prepared by the Association of County Councils to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I will take a little of the time at my disposal in further quoting from that memorial. Large sums from Government sources have been promised and are in course of being expended on water supply and drainage works in distressed areas in Scotland. That is effecting suitably the double purpose of providing labour for the unemployed and securing the execution of urgently necessary public works. The memorial went on: Scottish areas which have not been scheduled as distressed areas may not have as many unemployed, but equally with the distressed areas they have their problems incidental to water supply and drainage which, without further Government aid, seem practically insoluble. The County Councils Association urge that the Secretary of State should take the question of water supply and drainage in rural areas into his serious consideration with a view to Government aid being made available towards the cost of suitable schemes in areas not scheduled as distressed areas. The fact that this year only £36,000 is provided, as against £70,000 last year, would in itself justify not only Members on this side but hon. Members opposite who represent rural areas, going into the Division Lobby to-night to protest against the inadequacy of that sum. Houses cannot be built unless there is an adequate water supply.

We make no apology to the hon. and gallant Member for Forfar (Captain Shaw) for stressing the necessity for housing at every available opportunity, because we are convinced of the necessity for real eneregy and initiative in dealing with housing both in the rural and urban areas. If we did not know it from our own personal experience the report of the Department would justify our protest against the inaction of the Secretary of State for Scotland in some cases and the ineffectiveness of his action in other cases. I will quote from page 24 of the report of the Department of Health: One common stair in a tenement gives access to 20 back-to-back houses, each of one apartment. Sixty-eight persons live in these 20 houses. Broken plaster, worn and uneven floors, woodwork round windows in disrepair, doors in need of repair, inadequate cupboards, no larder accommodation, recess bed spaces, bug infestation and dampness are found in all these cases. Let me quote from another report: A four storey tenement contains 16 houses with access by a common entrance, thence by stairs to the flats above, and thence by common lobbies to the houses. The defects consist of broken wall paper, worn floors … and sagged ceilings. … One of the tenants complained that the bugs dropped into the food. The wife of another tenant gave birth to a child in a bed which the district nurse stated was literally moving with bugs. This is not a report of housing conditions in some foreign country. This is a report of housing conditions which exist in Scotland in the twentieth century, when we are said to belong to a Christian nation and said to be civilised.

Mr. Guy

Do not those instances suggest inactivity on the part of the local authorities rather than of the Scottish Office?

Mr. Westwood

I admit that in some cases it does, but these particular cases the places have in the main been controlled by men, and women sometimes, of the same political complexion as those who sit on the other side. Consequently, the responsibility must be borne by those who have had administrative opportunities and have not discharged them up to the present time.

Sir Henry Fildes

Are they in Glasgow?

Mr. Westwood

I cannot say where they are, because the report does not state the exact locality. I am quoting from the report of the Department. The shortage of building labour and the augmentation of that labour were referred to by the Secretary of State. Not only is there a shortage of labour, mainly of bricklayers, but the arrangements so far suggested have been altogether inadequate. There is also the problem dealt with by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson). There has been unjustifiable delay in dealing with internal disputes in the trade. On 27th April, I think it was, by a question I put in the House I gave notice, first, to the Secretary of State for Scotland and then, because the question was transferred, to the Ministry of Labour, of a dispute that was taking place between joiners and plasterers as to the fixing of a plaster board. I knew it was taking place, because I was connected with administration in Scotland. A strike was allowed to go on for almost five weeks, with housing held up in many parts of Scotland, because of the inaction either of the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Ministry of Labour. If a dispute was pending between two sections of the building industry and likely to affect housing, all speed should have been used by both the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Labour to bring the two sides together, and avoid at least five weeks of unnecessary loss of time in the building of working-class houses.

The effect on the building of houses was even more serious than that. In many instances, men who were engaged on municipal housing were transferred to the building of cinemas and other classes of work. Speaking from practical experience of the administrative side of the matter, I can say that we actually lost eight or nine weeks of building time. As we were building at the rate of one house per day, we actually lost approximately 60 houses for the working class, in an area where houses are desperately needed. My complaint is not only that there is a shortage of labour but that there has been ineffectiveness in dealing with the labour problem to which I have referred. This is a dispute between sections of my own class, and I am not going to be any more critical of them than I would be in the case of a dispute between employers.

Mr. Buchanan

The Trades Union Congress would have settled that dispute in five minutes.

Mr. Westwood

It affected the class to which I belong and which are suffering, although it did not affect them, so far as one hour, or even one farthing of the cost of the building, was concerned.

Now a word about the failure to deal with the rise in costs. We are now beginning to experience the tragic effect of the rise in the cost and the refusal on the part of the Government to provide an adequate subsidy. In the last Debate I submitted figures to prove that the costs, between estimates, with only a four months' interval, had increased by £48, £75 and £56 for three, four and five-apartment houses respectively. The Under-Secretary then told us that the rise was not general, but applied to certain areas, mainly the industrial areas of Scotland. Since then I have put questions to the Secretary of State and I have had replies which prove that we were not getting a statement of fact from the Under-Secretary. I do not mean that he consciously tried to mislead us but he did so unconsciously by the statement he made.

What do we find? It is within the knowledge of the Committee, as a result of the questions which I put, that there are 20 authorities who have stopped building—15 was the number given but I can add five more. These include Tayport and others which have discussed the question of building and decided to stop, and St. Andrews, which accepted the advice of its medical officer of health not to go in for building these houses because of the rise in cost and the inadequate subsidy. Since that time, Fifeshire and Dunbartonshire have decided not to proceed, according to the reports in the Press. That makes 20 authorities that have had to stop building because of the increase in cost and the refusal of the Government to increase the subsidy.

These authorities vary from a county like Kinross to an industrial county like Lanarkshire, or from the place like Fort-rose in the North to Stranraer in the South. We have also small places like Kinross and large areas like Lanarkshire. We have counties like Peebles and others who I have no doubt will decide not to proceed and counties like Fife which cannot proceed because of the rise in costs and refusal of the Government to increase the subsidy. My time is practically finished. I shall try loyally to abide by the 15-minutes rule. In conclusion, I want to comment that we are spending millions of pounds upon schools, the treatment of defectives, hospitals and general medical service. It was estimated by the Department that £19,500,000 was being spent per year upon health services in Scotland in the fight against disease. The necessity for that expenditure is intensified and magnified by the housing conditions of the people, as is proved by the report of the Department and by our own observers.

I believe all parties in the House now admit that Scottish housing is a disgrace to civilisation and a blot upon the face of Scotland. I have not time to say all that I intended to say about it. The primary aim of a health policy should be to promote the fitness of the people, and that can best be done by ascertaining that every family is provided with a decent house at a rent that they can reasonably be expected to pay. Because the Government have miserably failed to deal with the rise in the cost of house-building and to provide adequately increased housing grants to assist local authorities to give effect to that aim, we shall take the only constitutional course open to us to-night of going into the Lobby to vote against the Government, and as a protest at their ineptitude in dealing with the first problem of the rise in costs and their refusal to provide adequate subsidies to enable us to complete our work of housing the working class of Scotland.

9.3 P.m.

Sir H. Fildes

I wish to raise one or two points that have arisen in the course of the Debate. The Mover of the Amendment referred to higher prices, and instanced cement. He pointed out that the export trade in cement was catered for at lower prices than our own market. That can be explained in a certain measure by the fact that cement in bulk is very heavy and that the freight charged to carry it abroad is also very heavy. There are tariffs to overcome in the export market. Those facts account in a measure for the difference between the export price of cement and the price for home consumption. I am surprised at the emphasis upon the increased cost. We were told that in some cases it would amount to £27, £40 or £45 per house, but a healthy community or corporation can borrow money at something like 3½ per cent. On £40, how much does the interest cost in a year? Only a comparatively few shillings, which will make very little effect upon the rent that has to be charged.

Certainly materials have increased in price, but I have in my constituency lead mines that have been closed because the price of lead has dropped to something like or £7 or £8 a ton, an entirely uneconomic price, and, owing to the closing of these mines, between 100 and 200 people have been thrown out of work. I welcome the return of prices that will enable lead miners and others to get an economic return for their labour, and, when the total of these increases only represents a comparatively negligible amount reckoned as interest on the capital involved, I cannot see any reason why decent citizens should be denied housing owing to such a small difference in interest charges.

I agree with everything that has been said here to-night about the dreadful conditions that obtain in many parts of Scotland. There are cases in my own constituency where the state of affairs is a positive disgrace. But what is it that is standing in the way? Everyone here to-night is talking as though it was an increase of £20 or £30 that was standing in the way, but I cannot subscribe to that idea. If it be the case, I would ask, where is the courage and the discernment of those authorities in Scotland who are responsible for the provision of houses for the people? In Dumfriesshire we have spent very large sums of money in providing ample supplies of water in the rural areas, but all this is to go for nothing, and, because of an increase of a few shillings in costs, people are to be continued in conditions which in many cases are disgraceful. If that be the case, it is a rebuke to the Scottish Office and a rebuke to all the burghs and county councils of Scotland that an increase of a few shillings is preventing and delaying the solution of a national problem. Sir Edward Younger, who, when his health was better, was one of the pioneers of housing in Scotland, struggled long and hard, and I had looked forward, in view of the promises which were made in regard to the housing programme, to seeing an inroad made on the dreadful conditions that obtain. We have done quite well in some areas, but others have failed most lamentably.

I hope that all those here who are concerned with authorities responsible for housing will emphasise the fact that the increase in capital or interest charges is a very trivial thing. It is due partly to a rise in wages, a very proper thing, with which no one quarrels. The hon. Member who has just spoken told us of the lamentable instance in which two trade unions took seven or eight weeks to settle a dispute, and he suggested that the Minister of Labour should have sent someone down to settle a childish dispute between two responsible bodies of men. I think that that is ridiculous. There is another point. Trade union regulations might well be made more elastic. I do not know if hon. Members are aware of it, but it is a fact that it is against trade union regulations for one trade only so work overtime. It is a regulation that, when one trade is working overtime, all the trades on the job must be paid overtime. That is a rather surprising thing to me, and, indeed it is rather ridiculous—

Mr. Davidson

While most of us regret internal disputes between trade unions on certain questions of demarcation, may I be allowed to point out that the reason for those disputes is not so much the actual piece of work that is being done at the time, but the fact that the allowing of the principle has been used in the past by employers for their own ends. A question of principle is involved.

Sir H. Fildes

However that may be, we are informed that in this case housing was delayed for seven or eight weeks before a settlement was arrived at. I am not belittling the difficulties of trade union leaders in struggling to obtain and maintain reasonable rates of wages, but the hon. Member blamed the Government because the Ministry of Labour and the Scottish Office did not send down to a body of men who struggled and disputed and held up housing for six or seven weeks over some trivial matter which common sense would have settled in five minutes. I have in mind a case in which it was very important that some concrete floors should be put in speedily, and the men in that trade were asked to work overtime; but the trade union regulation was that all the other people who were working on the job must work overtime also, though there was nothing for them to do, and consequently overtime—

The Temporary Chairman

I am afraid I cannot allow this to be developed, because the Government are not responsible for the trade unions.

Sir H. Fildes

The question was raised on the other side, so perhaps I may be forgiven for having alluded to it. I conclude by saying that I believe it to be absolutely imperative that something should be done with regard to housing. I have heard no insuperable difficulty mentioned here to-night that need stand in the way of bringing about better housing conditions in Scotland. The increase in costs is negligle. Vast sums have been spent in various counties on the provision of better water supplies, and I hope that the Secretary of State will take his courage in both hands and, if the local authorities and county councils will not take steps to provide this very necessary accommodation, that he himself will take steps, either by legislation or under the powers which he already possesses, to see that these conditions are remedied.

9.14 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

I wish to put in a few words for my own little corner in Scotland, but, before doing so, I should like to register at least a mild protest that we are tied down to 15 minutes for the discussion of matters which affect thousands of people in Scotland. On the last occasion on which I had the privilege of addressing the Secretary of State for Scotland on the troubles and grievances of the Western Isles, I also had the major privilege of seeing him sound asleep on the bench opposite at about two o'clock in the morning. That was when we were discussing the Special Areas Amendment Bill. Unfortunately I got nothing whatever for the Western Isles out of that discussion. I am going to deal less at first with housing than with the more general question of health. One of the items in the Vote is the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, and I wish to draw attention to the difficulty of people in the more outlandish places who have to travel long distances to isolated cases. For the doctors and nurses of this Service, the highest praise is not too high. They are battling with a difficult problem in difficult places, very often in difficult weather, and I must pay a tribute to the very splendid service and work that they give. But I have to draw attention to some of the difficulties which prevent them giving the best service.

One difficulty is transport. It has a very definite bearing upon the health of the communities in these places and it adds to the difficulty of serving the people as they should be served. I know of cases of a doctor having to hire a car from a village half an hour or an hour away from his home, having to travel a long distance to a landing place which is simply a cliff edge, then across by a ferry, which is not a very safe ferry, for a 10 minutes crossing to an island of Bernera in Lewis where he takes another car since there happens to be one on the island, and then has to travel more miles to get to the patient. Imagine a doctor or nurse called in the early hours of the morning in such circumstances. The Secretary of State must be aware of many such cases, but nothing has been done since he and his predecessors took office in the National Governments, to improve the lot of these doctors and nurses in the Western Isles. Obviously the equipment is not always there for the doctor and nurse to use, and often the patient has to be carried the same distance or further than the doctor travels. There are cases where they have to be carried from the far end of Harris (sometimes across hills) down to the roads, if you can call some of them roads, along to Stornoway, to get to the only hospitals which have proper equipment and accommodation. The question of roads cannot be over emphasised. It has to be raised also in connection with the passage of little children to and from school. I object to children having to go as much as three miles, in some cases more, to school in the winter time, sometimes drenched with the rain. The paths over which they have to walk are hardly more than cart tracks. Often they take short cuts over streams through barbed wire fences and things of that kind.

Another development which would greatly assist doctors and nurses, whose work is difficult enough already, would be the extension and improvement of the telephone service in the islands. There is no reason why they should not have automatic exchanges. You may have the case of a nurse having to attend a patient in such a condition that she is not prepared to cope with it. She prefers to have a doctor, and she has to call up a local sub-postmaster at any hour of the night. We recently had a case where the postmaster refused to get up to go to the sub-office telephone. After two or three hours of pressure and persistence, his wife I believe, was finally persuaded to get out of bed and oblige the nurse in her difficulty by permitting her to telephone to Stornoway in order that a doctor might take an hour's journey to the patient. Nurses and doctors should not be dependent upon a telephone service of that kind. It is a matter into which the Secretary of State might well look. It is often difficult for us to divide the right hon. Gentleman into his eight or nine different capacities. He is much more than a Jekyll and Hyde. When we have to deal with health, transport, agriculture or fisheries we are up against the Secretary of State all the time. I sympathise with him, but we have to make this claim upon an eighth of the Secretary of State's attention on the question of improving the telephone service in order to assist the medical service and others.

Another question that is fundamental to sanitation is that of water supply. The right hon. Gentleman knows that there are rural areas which cannot raise sufficient money locally to pay for and maintain a water supply service. At the same time he knows that such services are fundamentally necessary to the health of the people. What is he going to do about it? It is no use saying it is impossible because the local people cannot pay for them. If they are fundamental necessities they have to be paid for by someone. The State has no right to neglect the problem any longer or to shelter itself behind committees that are "investigating the matter." I have been told several times that "the matter is under careful review." We are not asking for "careful reviews" any more. The Secretary of State knows the facts or should know them. We do not expect him to be the sort of genius who has "an infinite capacity for taking pains." It is only a matter of picking the brains of those who know all the facts. These things have been investigated time after time. The question of water supplies is fundamental and I appeal to him to get on with the job. We are dependent in many places on shallow supplies which it is complained are used by cattle as well as human beings; and some of them are not fit for cattle. People have to travel miles some times to get water and take it home in buckets. The water supply must be made plentiful, pure and within a reasonable distance of communities and I hope that the Secretary of State will give the matter his attention now instead of hiding behind inquiries or alleged inquiries. I often find it hard to believe these matters are under review at all.

There is no such thing as communal sanitation in the Western Isles outside Stornoway and perhaps two other towns. That is a disgraceful thing to have to say about any part of Britain. We know that Secretaries of State have been in the habit of going on unofficial cruises to some of the islands in the summer time. They have a look round and it takes them about three days. I wish that I could do the Western Isles thoroughly in a period of three days. The Secretary of State may be able to do so. He does not give such quick results. There is need of decent roads and footpaths for small communities. The Secretary of State should also give his serious consideration to the development of the air service for ambulance purposes in the Western Isles. That should be encouraged. He should get into touch with the people responsible and try to encourage this development of an air medical service.

We have some very bad housing in the Western Isles. There are still many houses of the old stone and thatch variety. In the old days the roof was more important in connection with fertilisation of the ground than as a roof. The soot from the fires in the middle of the house gathered in the thatch and was taken off and put on the land in order to fertilise it. One old gentleman was asked if he had a water supply in his house. He replied sarcastically "Yes, go and look at the house, you will see it coming through the roof." There are still in remoter parts hundreds of these houses, ill ventilated, dark and many of them insanitary. They are disappearing. however, to the lament of the sentimental. But a good many still stand; some lean and some are staggering in every sense of the word. They have had their day and this is not their day, and it is time the Secretary of State inquired into the problems of the people who are still left in these houses. Fortunately these houses are going out and we have now houses which have been built with Government assistance and others. You would expect that everybody would have rushed to secure one of these houses but, unfortunately, there are criticisms which must be made of these as well. I am prepared to sing their praises as far as sanitation, ventilation and so on are concerned, but there are criticisms which apply to them, too. First, there is a dreary uniformity.

I heard a story of one old chap who tried six "different" houses in a village before he got the one he was looking for. They are exactly alike; no imagination has been shown and they have no architectural beauty. The lack of water supply applies in these new houses built with Government assistance to the specification of the Department of Agriculture. There is no lavatory, no thought of a bathroom and no internal water supply. It is a disgraceful thing that such houses should be built with Government assistance and yet have no proper water supply and sanitary conveniences.

A year or two ago, the assessors of county councils in the north of Scotland suddenly discovered that it was possible to assess the tenants more highly than they had been assessed. In Lewis, at Sandwick Park, people who went into houses under an impression which was broadcast by the Government are now registered as owners and occupiers. But the Secretary of State knows that these people will never be owners of any of these properties. They cannot let their houses to any other person except virtually with the permission of the Secretary of State. These people will never be owners. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Fildes) agrees with me because he has the same complaint in his own constituency. I am surprised that we have heard nothing from Members from the Highlands, because it is a thing that is going on all over the Highlands.

The Secretary of State has given me most unsatisfactory answers to questions on the assessment business. Last week he told me that he had nothing whatever to add to these answers. Are these county councils and their assessors in order and within their legal rights in raising at this time the assessments of these houses and assessing these people as owners and occupiers? If not, what action is to be taken by the Secretary of State? If they are within their legal rights, why have they neglected their duty in not having done this several years ago? Can it be wondered that we say that they appear to be breaking the law now or have been ignoring it in the past? We must really have some definite lines to go upon. Are the county councils within their rights in doing this now? If they are, I can understand it; but they must have been wrong in not doing it in the past. If they are wrong in doing it now, we demand that some action should be taken against them to redress this injustice. I do not want to pursue this question further, but it is a most important point, and it is a barrier and a discouragement to re-housing in the Islands of Scotland. Many people are threatening that, if these assessments are raised, they will go back to the old "black" houses. They are under bond and contract, and we know the difficulties there. But all the same, the right hon. Gentleman must realise that this is a discouraging thing. It is going on now and the Secretary of State for the Dominions will know perfectly well that it is going on in his constituency also, and I hope that he will fight it or endeavour, in his persuasive way, to get his right hon. Friend to do something about it.

I should like to have some definite ruling on this matter, because decisions are conflicting, and some are bound, therefore, to be unjust. Nobody is certain of the position, and we want some definite rulings from the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate, or from both. I will not pursue the question further now. We know to-day, as I have proved in this House, that within the conditions and stipulations of the Minister of Labour under the Special Areas (Amendment) Act, the Islands of Scotland and a large part of the Highlands are a distressed area in every sense of the term; even within the stipulations which he himself has laid down, namely, the serious and long unemployment, and the failure of staple industries—we have proved all these things. They are reduced now—I do not say all parts, as some areas are still fairly prosperous—but the people are reduced, especially in the Islands, bluntly to the dole standard of living. Some are becoming reconciled to it, which is the most demoralising thing of all. We expect the Secretary of State for Scotland to be awake on this occasion. Last time I appealed to him he made it an occasion to be asleep when we were all awake. He has no excuse this time. Because the Islands, like himself, have been so inactive for so long, are they to continue for ever in that state? Is that the attitude? He is going to be surprised unless something is done by the agitation which will be produced, and which I will do all in my power to produce and which my hon. Friends can produce in this House, if necessary, to shame him to action. He should be surprised at the public indignation that will drive him from office unless he does something now or at least in the near future to mitigate the conditions in the Western Isles.

9.39 P.m.

Mr. Buchanan

I agree in the main with the remarks of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood), who in a very graphic way described many of the housing conditions in Scotland. There are many other issues which we could raise—education, health insurance, prisons, and the rest. When we consider the Scottish Estimates, which are the basis of about a score of very important matters, it is always very difficult to choose the particular subject for discussion.

I wish to raise one or two smaller points regarding administration in Scotland, the first of which is the matter which I raised some years ago, and I now ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to look at it anew. As hon. Members well know, there is machinery for appeals in connection with widows' and old age contributory pensions. I have nothing to say against the inspectors of the Department of Health, most of whom I have found very decent and always ready to help. Frequently these appeals are disallowed by the Department of Health and they go to an arbitrator, who is generally the sheriff, as in the case of Lord Kinross and various others. When a widow applying for a widow's pension, goes before the sheriff we find that the Department of Health is represented by a legal gentleman who knows the Act from beginning to end, while the poor applicant is not represented in any way at all. It is hardly a fair battle, even at times when these people have some representation because the lawyer appearing for the Department, being constantly in attendance, has a unique knowledge of the Act. But it is much worse when widows, as I have seen them in the City of Glasgow and in the West of Scotland and in Lanarkshire, have no assistance at all. Frequently they are ill-equipped with knowledge, and they have to face a lawyer who has a tremendous capacity in dealing with these cases.

It is time that the Scottish Department of Health at least considered the advisability of an applicant appealing for a pension before the Appeal Board having the right of legal representation. As the Lord Advocate knows, the practice in the Criminal Court is that each person is entitled to a form of legal assistance, and the appeal in respect of a widow's pension is no less important. At least a widow who is possibly in a defenceless state ought to have some right of legal and other assistance to help to equip her in the presentation of her case.

The second point I wish to raise is in regard to the method of the Department of Health in dealing with appeals in connection with public assistance. I raised this point the last time I spoke, and I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will look at it again. I am coming across, not many, but a number of cases where sick persons, on becoming chargeable to the Poor Law have the amount of assistance actually reduced. It is not unfair to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland at least to see that, when a man becomes sick, his already low standard of unemployment benefit should not be reduced. Under the regulations the cost of free meals is not chargeable as income; when local authorities supply children with meals at school they are not taken into account as part of the income, but in regard to the Poor Law they assess free meals as part of the income. The Scottish Department of Health ought to ask the local representatives throughout Scotland at least to bring themselves into line with the regulations that this House passed, and, in assessing Poor Law relief, the cost of meals to children ought to be exempted from income on that account. May I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland who are the persons who decide the cases of appeal? I have gone into a large number of these appeals and rarely, if ever, have I found the Department of Health interfering with the decision of the local authorities. I would like to be told exactly the persons who give the decisions in these cases and will the right hon. Gentleman tell me, further, in what way do they investigate the cases apart from the bald written statement made by the applicant making the appeal? I should be very grateful for a reply, because at the present time I am finding a very unsatisfactory position arising in regard to this matter.

I should like to turn to the question of housing in my native city of Glasgow, with special reference to my own division. Last Tuesday I put a question with regard to housing in Glasgow. I am not going into the question whether the Glasgow Corporation are right or wrong, but I see before me poor people who are herded together in a way that would be a disgrace to beasts. Whether the fault rests with the city council or the Government, I know not, but whoever is to blame, there are the facts. It is a shocking state of affairs. I find from the reply to my question last Tuesday that over 1,700 houses in my division are condemned as unfit for human habitation. That figure relates to this year. In 12 months the number has only been reduced by 27. At that rate of progress poor people will be condemned to live in those houses for at least 50 years. At that rate at the end of 10 years there will be 270 fewer unfit houses, and at the end of 20 years, 540. If we reckon the average family at about five, it means that many thousands of people are living in these places. It is a shocking and indefensible state of things. I care not who is to blame, but what I am concerned about is that we are living in an age when no human being can defend such a state of things.

I asked the right hon. Gentleman how many applications have been made for houses in Glasgow and the reply was that last year there were over 60,000 applications and this year there have been nearly 8,000 more people wanting houses. Far from there being a solution, the position is becoming worse. A year ago we were building 2,800 houses in Glasgow and this year almost a similar number. The figures are that on 30th June, 1936, there were under construction 2,437 houses for overcrowding and slum clearance and for ordinary purposes, without State assistance, 259, a total of 2,687. This year at the same period there were in course of construction for overcrowding and slum clearance 2,637 and under construction for ordinary purposes 202, a total of 2,839, as against 2,687 last year. There is practically no change.

Mr. Maclean

Might the hon. Member not ask the Secretary of State to reconcile the figures that he gave to the hon. Member on that occasion and the figures he gave to the Committee earlier this evening?

Mr. Buchanan

I am only taking the figures that are published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. T. Henderson

The fact is that the year for computation in Glasgow ended in June, and the Corporation say that they have prepared and under construction for this year 1937–38, 4,953 houses.

Mr. Buchanan

The date given in the answer which I received is up to 30th June, which is after your date. The figures for under construction and not started show an increase. Every kind of house is included, with and without State assistance. There is an increase in those prepared for but not begun. Last year the figure was 1,416 and this year 2,080. Take my division alone. There are 1,700 houses unfit for human habitation. As regards overcrowding, the position is appalling. If I were selfish I should almost welcome some local authorities stopping building houses, because then one would expect there would be more available labour for other places. My division might then get a little more housing, but I hope the problem will not be solved by my place being played off against some other place. Each place requires human consideration.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us about an increase in building labour. I suppose that is all to the good, but is there no other way, without attacking trade union conditions and standards, to get at this problem? I cannot defend the present conditions. Who could defend six people living in a single apartment in my division? This sort of thing seems to go on for ever. In housing we seem to make little progress compared with the progress made in ordinary commercial building. I often wonder why in Scotland, when we are engaged in a fairly big housing scheme, that we do not use the tubular scaffolding which is so excellent in commercial building. It is easy to handle. Why is it that the bricklayer cannot be under cover? Could not something be done to enable the bricklayer to keep on with his work, without having to give up in wet weather? Surely, this is a problem that we could conquer. I agree with the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) about stone. Why not adopt stone in order to give us something more in the nature of housing? Trade is a little better, and every time that trade improves the demand for houses becomes more clamant. Cannot something be done to ease this terribly growing problem in Glasgow and elsewhere? It is a matter which brooks no delay. It may be that the difficulties are great, but I am certain that in these days an enlightened community will not tolerate its continuance. It is costly in rates and in health, and I trust that the Secretary of State will turn his attention to it with as much capacity, understanding and courage as he can possibly put into it.

We are often told that we must defend ourselves against a foreign invader, but I have often felt that people who are living under these conditions have very little to defend. If this is all that modern civilisation can provide for them, then I could not make an appeal to them to defend these terrible conditions. Most of our burdens have to be carried by these people. They have to join the Army and go into the trenches and fight. I doubt whether they come back to anything which is much better than the trenches. When they are in the trenches they only see other men suffer as well as themselves but when they come back to the slums of Glasgow they see not only men but women and children suffering. When children are brought into the world in such conditions as these we are condemning them from the first day of their birth to a shocking and disgraceful life. It is not fair to us, and it certainly is not fair to the children.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. Guy

I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) when he stresses the urgency and gravity of the housing problem in Scotland. In my own division in Edinburgh the conditions are very much the same as they are in Gorbals. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) rather suggested that the Secretary of State was not alive to the gravity of this problem, but the Committee will remember that shortly after he took office the right hon. Gentleman challenged local authorities and urged them to face the problem and accelerate their programmes. The local authorities gave two excuses, shortage of labour and shortage of certain materials, bricks and timber in particular. The Secretary of State with much ingenuity and earnestness has endeavoured to remove as rapidly as possible these two excuses behind which local authorities and urban areas have been definitely sheltering. So long as these two excuses remained unremoved local authorities would have slowed up their programmes. Therefore, I specially welcome the suggestion for alternative types of construction.

It is said that there will be an inquiry and experiments by the new company under the direction of the Commissioner for the Special Areas in concrete and timber construction. I am not an expert in these matters. I understand that at the present moment there is a definite shortage in timber, but I do know that an experiment was made in concrete houses in Edinburgh in 1925, they were called the poured or corolite concrete houses. They were built at a time of a temporary shortage in bricks. I have seen these houses and have asked the tenants what they think of them from the point of view of warmth in winter and weather proofness, and the reports I have received which have been confirmed by the Department of Health, are that although the design may be rather ugly they are a perfectly satisfactory type. In my opinion the whole value of these houses, whether they are of concrete or timber or any other kind, is not that they would displace in normal times ordinary construction but that at the present moment, when there is a shortage of bricklayers and bricks, they would be a most valuable help to the programme which local authorities have in hand.

The Secretary of State gave the estimated total of new houses to be built by local authorities in 1037 as 17,000. I doubt very much whether that total will be completed. If 15,000 or even 14,000 houses are completed, local authorities will be doing very well, but if they apply their energy to the alternative types of construction, to which the Secretary of State is urging them, I see no reason why in 12 months' time we should not have a total not of 14,000 but of 20,000 houses, and perhaps 25,000 houses. The hon. Member for Gorbals referred to the number of condemned houses in his division. In Edinburgh we have to total of condemned and overcrowded houses which, at the present rate of progress, will take 30 to 35 years to eliminate. Are we to accept that state of affairs? The Committee will agree that it may be impossible, in the present circumstances of shortage of labour and shortage of materials, to eliminate slums and overcrowded houses in the short space of some three or four years, but I see no reason why the problem should not be largely removed within five or 10 years. It is not a question of trying to allocate blame to local authorities or to the Department of Health or to any individual; it is rather a question of trying to get better cooperation between the central Department and local authorities. I believe local authorities are anxious to play their part if adequate facilities are given, and I hope the Secretary of State will continue to give them every encouragement in their efforts.

10.5 p.m.

Mr. Kirkwood

I want to try to get the Secretary of State to organise Scotland and to see that we get the houses which are required. I am perfectly satisfied. after all the years I have been here and all the speeches I have made to all manner of Governments, that every hon. Member is in favour of what we are asking. The conditions of housing in Scotland are a standing disgrace. Hon. Members opposite are moved by sympathy and by humanitarian ideas in this matter, but with us it is a question of stern reality. We were born and bred and lived in those terrible housing conditions. Some of us reared our families in those conditions, and we were glad to get away from them. Memory has a tendency to make fanatics of us all. With regard to the increase in the price of houses, my information is that in London a similar house has been increased in price by £80, and because of the increase house building is being stopped all over the country. That was the reply given just now by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Those who have been privileged to listen to the Debate to-night must understand from it the terrible conditions of housing that prevail in Scotland. The shortage of houses is absolutely appalling. With all due respect to every other constituency, there is in no part of the British Isles a constituency which compares with the Clydebank in overcrowding. In the Clydebank we cannot get houses built; everything is held up, largely because of the price. There is no shortage of skilled labour. There is no shortage of material. The material is being used elsewhere. I cannot agree that because the price has increased house-building must be stopped. Have we ever heard of the building of a battleship being stopped because the price of material had increased? Have we ever heard of the making of a gun being stopped because the price had increased? It is true that in a case of that kind the Government make inquiries and probably make a protest against the increase. They have done that time and again, but stop the programme—no, Sir! In no case has that been done.

We are engaged in a most serious war against the housing conditions of our country. It is a real war. A shortage of houses is our real enemy. There is a shortage of places for the people to sleep in. We are told that the Government are determined, if necessary, to spend £1, 500,000,000 on Defence. But here is our real enemy. The Prime Minister is concerned—and I support him—about raising the physical standard of the people of the country. How can one raise the physical standard of children who have been brought up in circumstances such as are familiar to every hon. Member who comes from the West of Scotland—indeed to every hon. Member who comes from any big industrial centre in this country?

Another feature which makes the problem more difficult is that during our life- time there has been produced a new race in this country. The standard of life in Great Britain has gone up by 100 per cent. Our people are better educated, they have increased wages, they dress better, they go to cinemas, picture galleries and museums, and all those things have a tendency to raise the standard of life of the people. We have done our utmost to raise the standard of life, and one of the results of its being raised has been to make people more conscious than were their fathers and mothers of the terrible conditions in which they live. Therefore, there is being bred discontent of a character which is a menace to the welfare of the country. I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland will bear that in mind.

It is not as though we had not got positive proof that from a commercial point of view the building of houses for our people is a paying proposition. On the borders of my constituency there is the Knightswood housing scheme. There Glasgow has housed more people than there are in the town of Perth, and from the health point of view it has proved to be a commercial proposition. What could be more glorious than to spend money in order to wipe away the terrible picture portrayed by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) tonight? We have the power to do that. There never were men and women more capable of dealing with the problems confronting them than are the men and women of to-day.

They have taken people from the tenements to Knightswood—taken them out to nature—and the result has been a decrease in the death rate. It is true that epidemics may come to that part of Glasgow as to other parts, but because the children there have better sleeping accommodation and get fresh air, they are better able to resist them. The result is that it has paid Glasgow to undertake that scheme. As far as police are concerned, with a population as big as that of Perth, there is only one policeman. The Secretary of State for Scotland is aware of the conditions that prevail there at the moment. Surely, we could have a gigantic scheme of that nature throughout Scotland. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made some arrangement with the trade unions and with the building industry, employers as well as workmen. That is very good, but I beg him not to allow anything to stand in the way of a vast continuous programme of house building. Augustus Caesar boasted that he found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble. I believe that was an exaggeration, but I want the Secretary of State for Scotland to be able to boast, when he finishes, that he found Scotland a land of slums and left it a land of happy homes. If he does that, all Scotland will bless him.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Maclean

I was about to compliment the First Lord of the Admiralty on his extreme modesty. Instead of taking his usual seat on the Government Front Bench I noticed that he retired to the second bench and I though that was an indication both of his interest in Scottish matters and of his desire not to intrude in the Debate. The Secretary of State in his review of circumstances in Scotland, referred to a circular which he has issued and which purports, at all events, to deal with rural housing in Scotland. My hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) criticised the work which has been done there and did so very effectively, but if anything is done as a result of this circular, I am sure that nobody will be better pleased than not only my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles, but also the Members for other constituencies, which are situated in the large towns.

Since I first became a Member of this House I have seen the issue of many circulars on the subject of housing from both the English Ministry of Health and the Scottish Department of Health. We have had Circular after Circular, and Housing Act after Housing Act. We have had subsidies granted, subsidies reduced, subsidies abolished, subsidies reintroduced and subsidies increased. But with all these attempts by various Governments since 1918 the housing problem in this country has in my opinion, as far as the population living in the older parts of our towns is concerned, become accentuated. The position is worse now than it was in 1918. The Secretary of State says that there is a shortage of labour and he is trying to remedy that shortage by arranging for consultation between the employers, the employés and the Department, with a view to arranging for the introduction of more apprentices into certain trades in the building in- dustry. Does that mean that if the Government and the two other parties mainly interested come to an agreement for an increased number of apprentices in those trades, the people of Scotland will have to wait until those apprentices become journeymen and in their turn train other apprentices, and so on, before we get the housing accommodation which is required to-day? Optimism is always breathed by the representatives of the Government when they tell us at that Box about the intentions of the Government. Year after year report follows report, but the conditions of the people of the country have not improved in the degree which is necessary to keep pace with the advance of the world.

The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) spoke of the conditions in his area. The conditions in my area as regards the slum districts are just as bad. So are the conditions in Maryhill, in Clydebank, in Greenock and even in Edinburgh. Along the "Royal Mile" where their Majesties the King and Queen passed only a week ago, if you go down some of the closes and wynds and pends, you will find slums that are a disgrace to any country calling itself Christian or civilised. Year after year the same story has to be repeated from that Box. My constituency is probably not as bad as that of the hon. Member for Gorbals. When I came into this House in 1918 about two-thirds of the constituency of Govan, industrial as it was considered to be, was farmland—there were six or seven farms there—but all that land is now taken up by housing schemes undertaken by the Corporation of Glasgow. Gorbals is a closed area, with no open space that can be taken in for building extensions, and Maryhill and Tradeston are in practically the same condition. Members for those divisions and for divisions like them have to go down week after week into their constituencies and have their constituents coming to them and pleading with them to do everything they can to find them housing accommodation so that they can get cut of the horrible slums in which they are at present compelled to live.

I wonder that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has Kelvingrove Park in his own constituency, and with two or three of the well-to-do houses in Sandy-ford, but also with a slum portion down in the dockland of Glasgow, with William Street, Piccadilly Street, and streets of that character in his division—I wonder that he comes to this House to hold out such high hopes of what the Circular that he read to us to-night will do for rural housing in Scotland. I wonder how he can be under the impression evidently that what he is arranging with regard to the committee between employers and employés in the building industry will solve the housing problem in his own division and in mine. He will waken with a rude shock from that very rosy-tinted dream that he is dreaming, and I hope he will do, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), and put some vigour into this campaign. The hon. Member said, quite truly, that when you want to build a fleet you do not worry about the increased prices of the ships that are to be built, and you do not worry how prices go up when you want Government work done of any other sort.

There is no real shortage of labour in the building industry. Go over any part of London to-day, and you will find huge skyscrapers of luxurious flats being built, rented at from £100 upwards. There is plenty of labour for them and for luxury cinemas, but there is not plenty of labour for workers' houses. The Government say they have a reconstruction policy. Had they not better commence with it? If there are too many workers in one area to suit the Government when they want Government work done, do they not transfer the workers from that area to the place where they want more of them? If that can be done in the case of Government work, if the Government can see to it that their work is not slowed down for lack of workers, why, in heaven's name, do they not do the same thing when it comes to building workers' houses and clearing out the slums?

Mr. Gallacher

The Minister is asleep.

Mr. Maclean

The Secretary of State for Scotland is never wider awake than when his eyes are closed. He is taking in all that is being said. If he will act on what is being said he will be more active. His eyes will then be open and his feet will come off the table. I want to appeal to him as the representative of the Government and as an individual, who in the past has been put forward by the Press and by Members of his party and by people in various walks of life as one of the live wires in the Cabinet, to justify that compliment and to put up a fight for Scottish housing. He will find that he has the Scottish people behind him in anything he demands and insists on being done, because even those who are in comfortable homes in Glasgow, Edinburgh and every part of Scotland desire to see every other individual in a comfortable home. They desire to see the slums wiped out of existence—and put out of existence in a different way from that in which they abolished slums in Dundee.

I ask the Secretary of State what he intends to do. He was very generous to Scottish Members to-day. He sent us a Circular about rural housing and was quite enthusiastic about it. He explained it by running over the paragraphs and told us what it meant to the rural workers. We were, however, told the same thing about the industrial constituencies. In every Housing Act that has been passed by the House the same promises were held out to us. I hope that the Secretary of State, during the three months that he is away, during the period when he is going round the Western Isles in the fishery cruiser, will, with the fresh air about him and the breezes of the Western Isles, get some of the imagination that the Western Isles are supposed to bring to people, and will come back to the mainland determined that, with all the Acts and the powers that he possesses, he will do everything he can for housing. I hope that he will speed up the local authorities who are expected to destroy the shoddy building of a hundred years in the course of a few years. Let him come back and put some breeze into his housing programme and behind the local authorities exert some influence over the employers and employés in the building industry, and erect in Scotland houses for the people, comfortable homes in which a generation can arise that will not merely bless him, but will be his greatest monument to the work he has done as Secretary of State.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Wedderburn

I was certainly in agreement with the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Westwood) when he claimed that he need not apologise for raising yet one more Debate on the subject of Scottish housing. When a man is in good health his friends do not inquire after him very often, but if he is going through a serious illness they naturally desire to have frequent statements about his condition. So it is now with Scottish housing, which is going through a very critical period, and hon. Members are entitled to be kept constantly and well informed on the subject. When we last discussed this matter, on 24th June, we scarcely had time to deal with it as thoroughly as it deserved, and my right hon. Friend was not in a position to give the definite information which he had hoped to be able to give on that day on the results of the negotiations with the building industry which had then been proceeding for some six months. To-night hon. Gentlemen have again returned to the same charges and raised the same questions which we discussed three weeks ago. They have asked us what we are going to do to bring down the cost of building, what we are going to do to improve the supply of labour, to control the rise in the price of materials—to check all those factors which have caused this marked, and we hope temporary, increase in building costs in the industrial parts of Scotland. I think it is highly important that we should be well aware of those things which have caused this increase in the price of houses and I ask the Committee to allow me to give a thorough explanation of that rise.

The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs said that I had misled him last month when I said that the rise in prices had not been uniform, but only applied to its greatest extent in certain places, and he quoted a number of authorities which had been prevented from proceeding with housing programmes on account of this rise in building costs. If I misled the hon. Gentleman it must have been because I expressed myself badly, because nothing which he said was inconsistent with what I intended to say, which was that the big rise in costs had only taken place in the industrial belt, in those counties running across the centre of Scotland where the greater part of our population is congregated. All those authorities which the hon. Member quoted this afternoon in Fife, in Peebles and elsewhere are, of course, in those areas in respect of which I did say that the increase in building costs had been most heavy.

Mr. Westwood

Are Montrose and Stranraer in that area?

Mr. Wedderburn

I think it is important that we should get a correct view, and I have had prepared a table of costs in various burghs and counties in different parts of Scotland showing the comparative increases in prices in respect of three-roomed houses between the first quarter of 1936, that is more than a year ago, and the second quarter of the present year, in which we are now. Some of them are very high, some of them are not so high. I take Annan Burgh in Dumfriesshire. The cost in the first quarter of 1936 was £404, and at the present time it has risen to £412. That is an increase of only £8, although, of course, the cost in 1936 was slightly above the average for that moment. Take the Burgh of Forfar; for the first quarter of 1936, the cost of a three-roomed house was £317. To-day it is £341; an increase of only £24.

Mr. Westwood

Did the hon. Gentleman say that that was the Burgh of Falkirk?

Mr. Wedderburn

No, Forfar. In Hawick in the county of Roxburghshire, a year ago the price of a three-roomed house was £318 and it is now £372, an increase of £54. In the County of Aberdeen, the price has risen from £422 to £457, an increase of £35. Let me take one or two larger increases. In Westlothian it has risen from £297 to £417, an increase of £120; in Glasgow, from £287 to £381, an increase of £94; in Johnstone a very big rise from £424 to £568, an increase of £144.

Mr. Dunn

In order that we might properly understand this matter would the Under-Secretary tell us the superficial area of these houses instead of merely stating that they are three-roomed houses?

Mr. Wedderburn

I have not the superficial area but the houses are all the same. They are local authority houses as approved by the Department of Health, and the area is slightly larger than the area of the corresponding houses in England. That is not the point; I am taking these figures simply to illustrate the diversity of the increases which have taken place.

Mr. Mathers

Is the hon. Gentleman comparing like with like?

Mr. Wedderburn

Yes, Sir. I have also the figures for the four-roomed houses, but I do not wish to delay the Committee by reading them. My only purpose is to illustrate their diversity, and the figures are widely different from each other, showing that the increase is lot uniform to all parts of Scotland.

Mr. Maclean

Since the hon. Gentleman is not giving us all the figures, would he circulate them, so that Scottish Members may have them?

Mr. Wedderburn

If they are of interest to any hon. Member I will certainly do so. I am not giving the figures for their own sake but to illustrate the argument which I am about to develop. The average increase for all parts of Scotland in respect of three-roomed houses, over the period I am taking, was £111. How much of that increase is due to a rise in the price of materials and wages? The Committee have already been informed that the average figure is, as nearly as it can be calculated, £40. In those parts of Scotland and in nearly the whole of England where there is not great congestion of building work, the cost of houses on the average has increased by approximately £40 or £50, just about the amount of the increase in the price of labour and of materials, while in those parts of Scotland where there is congestion and this terrible pressure upon the work of the industry, the average cost of a three-roomed house has risen over £100, so that we have a difference of more than £60 to account for.

First of all, comes the cost of materials. Some hon. Members have quoted figures which they have obtained from various sources suggesting that these increases are higher than they ought to be. In a period when we are recovering from deep industrial depression, it is natural and normal that there should be some increase in the price of commodities and in the amount of wages. An hon. Member mentioned timber. The price of timber, of course, since about 1929 or 1930 has been depressed to an altogether abnormal extent, and the rise which has taken place in the price of timber, although on a percentage basis it seems high, has not yet brought it back to the level at which it stood before 1929. We are, of course, keeping a very close watch on the prices of these materials, and I am not going into the merits of all of them, but am merely putting the general point that, at a period like this, it is natural to expect some rise in the price of commodities and some rise in the cost of wages. As I have already explained, in England and in those parts of Scotland where there is not heavy pressure on the building industry, the cost of housing has only increased by the amount which is due to this rise in the price of materials and wages, that is to say, about £40 or £50.

Before I pass from materials and wages to the remainder, which is by far the more important part that we have to consider, I want to refer to the observation of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) about bricks. He gave some figures of the number of workmen employed in brickworks in Scotland. I have not with me any information on that point, and I cannot make any comment about the hon. Member's figures of the number of men engaged in the manufacture of bricks in Scotland or in England; but I have for some time been closely concerned with the production of bricks, and I can give the hon. Member the figures for the total production of bricks in Scotland. Last year we could produce, I think, about 550,000,000 bricks in Scotland alone. This summer we were rather concerned about the shortage of bricks, and we had a conference with brick manufacturers on 7th June. representing to them the need for greatly increasing their output. We found that a large number of new brickworks are being erected and old ones extended, and it is estimated that by the end of the present year the output in Scotland alone will have increased by a further 80,000,000 bricks, which will be sufficient to prevent any shortage in the meantime. We have represented to the brick manufacturers that next year, when we hope we shall have got more labour and when there will be more building in various kinds of categories, that quantity will not be sufficient, and that we think there ought to be a further increase of production next year; but so far as we are aware there is no danger of our having to import any more bricks from England, and I do not think that, so far as we can see at present, the shortage in Scotland is likely to be acute.

I come now to by far the most important part of this rise in building prices which we are considering—not the £40 which is due to the rise in the price of materials and to increased wages, but the remaining £60 or £70 which is not accounted for by either of these two factors. Obviously there must be some local reason for it, because there is no difference in the organisation of labour and of capital between, let us say, Forfar and Kirkcaldy, or between London and Glasgow, which would account for so great a disparity. There must be some peculiar local reason which has caused this exceptional rise in the Scottish industrial districts, and I do not think we need go very far to seek it. Suppose that a building firm is offered a new contract. Suppose that the price of building has gone up by £40. Suppose that the firm will be able to execute the work in six months with a sufficient supply of labour. There is then no reason, of course, why the firm should quote a higher increase than But suppose that the firm knows that it will not be able to get sufficient labour to complete the contract in six months. Suppose that it knows that the contract will probably take 18 months or two years, during which time its overhead costs will be maintained at the same level. That will naturally increase the charge very much, and, added to that, there is the uncertainty of what may happen to prices in the meantime. When you have building firms which cannot even compete with the work that they have in hand at the moment and, beyond that, have a large number of houses which they have contracted to carry out at a certain price but have not begun, when they are now asked to undertake still further work, it is not astonishing that they are quoting prices which will cover the risk of taking a very long time to complete or failing to carry out their contract.

Mr. Westwood

Am I to understand that the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument is that the vocal authorities are not to proceed any further with taking any estimates for any of their other schemes because of the schemes already in hand?

Mr. Wedderburn

No, I am merely dealing at the moment with the reasons for this large increase in price and, when we remember the figures that my right hon. Friend has given, I do not think we can be surprised. There are 25,000 houses now under construction but not yet completed and 13,000 houses contracted for at a price already fixed but not yet begun. That is far more than we have ever had before, but it is not for that reason a matter for satisfaction, because it is due not to a greater amount of building but to slower building. What it means is that, at the present rate of building, these 25,000 houses now being constructed, and the further 13,000 which have not yet been begun though the contracts have been signed, will take another 24 months from now to build unless our rate of building can be accelerated. In these circumstances can we wonder, the building trade in industrial parts of Scotland being overburdened like this, knowing that anything further that is undertaken may never be completed at all, or at least that any further contracts may take years to finish, not knowing what will happen to their costs, that the price of building should have risen by some £60 or £70 per house above the figure that we ought to expect from the rise in price of materials?

Mr. Gallacher

It is a terrible argument that the hon. Gentleman is using. The worse the service, the higher the cost.

Mr. Wedderburn

I do not see the relevance of the interruption.

Mr. Gallacher

You say that, if houses can be built in six months, that is good service. If they cannot be built for 18 months, which is bad service, the builder is entitled to another £70.

Mr. Wedderburn

If you begin them now and finish them in six months it costs less than if you begin now and cannot finish them for two years. The hon. Member has misunderstood the argument. What I wished to establish first was the reason for this increase in cost. What we now have to consider is the remedy. How are we to deal with that shortage? It is obvious that an increased subsidy would do nothing whatever to accelerate the completion of the 25,000 houses now under construction or to hasten the commencement of the 13,000 contracted for but not yet begun. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy) spoke of alternative methods of construction. We are certainly anxious to pursue any alternative method which may hold out hope of being useful, but at present I should certainly not be justified in telling the Committee that any alternative method of construction that we are at present examining is likely to be anything more than a mitigation of our difficulties. It certainly will not remove them altogether. It has also been suggested that we might put a prohibition on luxury building so as to release a larger amount of labour for the essential work of slum clearance. That is a thing which, if we had to do it, we should only do with great reluctance. Hon. Gentlemen may remember that the Government in 1921, when a similar difficulty existed, gave power to the local authorities to stop luxury building. That power was never used. There was never any case in which a local authority thought it right and justified to make use of that power.

Mr. Buchanan

Glasgow Corporation did it. They were turned down and appealed to the sheriff.

Mr. Wedderburn

Anyhow, it was never put into force. When you have a general expansion of commerce and housing there is a great deal of other building beside housing which must be done. When you have a slum clearance scheme you have to build new schools for the children. Why should you not build a new cinema for their entertainment? I think the public would regard it as rather a poor solution if at a time when we still had more than 200,000 persons unemployed in Scotland we were to attempt to deal with the problem by cutting down the amount of available work.

At the same time, a certain balance must be preserved. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) told us that while there were big housing schemes under construction in his constituency with only four of five bricklayers employed on them he knew large cinemas which had a dozen or 15 workers employed on them. That could not be looked on by anybody as a right balance and it is the duty of all those concerned in the building industry and local authorities to keep a watch on that state of affairs.

Mr. Davidson

And the Government.

Mr. Wedderburn

Certainly, that goes without saying. We have now been conscious of this difficulty most acutely ever since November. My right hon. Friend has been applying his mind to it ever since then, and after studying it all these months I can see no other solution than that we have been pursuing—that is, to do all we can to get an increase in the available amount of labour. That is the root cause of all this difficulty. My right hon. Friend explained the agreement which has been reached to take on one apprentice to every three journeymen instead of one to every four journeymen in those areas where the necessity for additional labour is established. The question of whether the necessity does exist will be decided by the local committees of the joint building council. At the same time there is the agreement about overtime, which will mean a further increase in the amount of work which can be got through. It takes a long time to take on the necessary labour and train it. No one could expect to get everything we want at once and I do not think that this present increase will be sufficient to supply all we want next year. The trade has agreed to establish a Joint Consultative Committee which will constantly keep under review the need of the industry for more labour.

I have purposely emphasised our difficulty because I am sure that when you are faced with a difficulty of this kind the right thing to do is to explain it frankly so that the country and particularly all those concerned in the work of housing may be able to see what is the best means of overcoming it. I have said nothing at all to-night about the progress which we have made in the last four years, because I think that the Committee are already well aware of the extent of that progress. If you compare our present rate of slum clearance with the rate for any year previous to 1933, it is exceedingly satisfactory, but if you compare it with the needs of our country, it is not at all satisfactory.

Mr. Buchanan

That does not apply to Glasgow.

Mr. Wedderburn

It might in terms of slum clearance, though perhaps not in regard to working-class houses in general. It is unsatisfactory because it is not sufficient to remove slums, let alone over-crowding, within a reasonable period of time. Hon. Members may recall that in 1933, when we began our slum clearance campaign, it was hoped that both in England and in Scotland slums would all be removed in five years, that is, by the end of 1938. Since then we have removed 43,000 slums in Scotland, a far higher rate—five or six times higher—than anything ever done before. Yet if you add on to those houses which are already scheduled as unfit, those which ought to be scheduled and would be scheduled if there was any immediate prospect of replacing them, the Department of Health estimate is that there are probably still another 50,000 houses to be removed, and we are now half way through 1937. I am speaking of slums alone, apart from overcrowding.

Mr. Buchanan

You have only cleared 27 in my division in a year.

Mr. Wedderburn

We certainly shall not remove them by the end of 1938. Shall we remove them in another five years after that? That entirely depends upon the additional provisions for increasing the supply of labour which we are able to make now. The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) said a good deal about the building unions. I should like to say that we are grateful for the spirit in which the building unions have carried on these negotiations. I do not complain of the delay, although it is very often galling to us. The unions are bound to be very cautious in the interests of their own members and to examine very carefully the future prospects of employment in the industry, so that the future cessation of building may not throw the people out of work who are now being taken on. Although the constant delays which go on from time to time are often discouraging, neither my right hon. Friend nor I have ever thought of complaining, or would ever be justified in complaining of them.

I would only say, not by any means to trade unions alone, but also to the employers and to everybody else concerned in the production of houses, that they should reflect that while these delays go on, or if any delay goes on in future in the working of the joint Consultative Committee, thousands of people in Scotland will have to go on living month after month in conditions of the most hideous squalor from which they can never escape. I am confident that if not only those engaged in the building trade, but the local authorities and ourselves bear that consideration in mind, we shall be able, without prejudice to the future prospects of employment in the building industry, to raise our rate of production to the height which is necessary to fulfil the needs of the country.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,348,401, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 170.

Division No. 306.] AYES. [10.59 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Ammon, C. G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Price, M. P.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Pritt, D. N.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Quibell, D. J. K.
Banfield, J. W. Hollins, A. Ridley, G.
Barnes, A. J. Jagger, J. Ritson, J.
Barr, J. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. John, W. Sexton, T. M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Shinwell, E.
Buchanan, G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Chater, D. Kirby, B. V. Stephen, C.
Cluse, W. S. Kirkwood, D. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cove, W. G. Lathan, G. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Daggar, G. Lawson, J. J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dalton, H. Leach, W. Tinker, J. J.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leonard, W. Viant, S. P.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leslie, J. R. Walkden, A. G.
Dobbie, W. McEntee, V. La T. Walker, J.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Maclean, N. Watson, W. McL.
Ede, J. C. MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Westwood, J.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Mander, G. le M. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Maxton, J. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Frankel, D. Messer, F. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Gallacher, W. Montague, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Paling, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Parker, J. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Groves.
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Parkinson, J. A.
Aske, Sir R. W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Dodd, J. S. Higgs, W. F.
Atholl, Duchess of Donner, P. W. Holmes, J. S.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Dower, Major A. V. G. Horsbrugh, Florence
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Hulbert, N. J.
Beechman, N. A. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Hume, Sir G. H.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Duggan, H. J. Hutchinson, G. C.
Boyce, H. Leslie Eastwood, J. F. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Eckersley, P. T. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Brass, Sir W. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Keeling, E. H.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Elliston, Capt. G. S Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Emmott, C. E. G. C. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Bull, B. B. Errington, E. Lees-Jones, J.
Butler, R. A. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Lewis, O.
Cartland, J. R. H. Everard, W. L. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Castlereagh, Viscount Fildes, Sir H. Locker-Lampoon, Comdr. O. S.
Channon, H. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Loftus, P. C.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Furness, S. N. M'Connell, Sir J.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Fyfe, D. P. M. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Colman, N. C. D. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Gluckstein, L. H. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Goldie, N. B. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Goodman, Col. A. W. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Gower, Sir R. V. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Cox, H. B. T. Grant-Ferris, R. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Crooke, J. S. Grimston, R. V. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.
Cross, R. H. Gunston, Capt. D. W. Moreing, A. C.
Cruddas, Col. B. Guy, J. C. M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Hannah, I. C. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Harbord, A. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Dawson, Sir P. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Munro, P.
De Chair, S. S. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Nall, Sir J.
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Ropner, Colonel L. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Royds, Admiral P. M. R. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Samuel, M. R. A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Perkins, W. R. D. Sanderson, Sir F. B. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Petherick, M. Savery, Sir Servington Waterhouse, Captain C.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Scott, Lord William Watt, G. S. H.
Pilkington, R. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Procter, Major H. A. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Ramsden, Sir E. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Rankin, Sir R. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rayner, Major R. H. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Wise, A. R.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Strickland, Captain W. F. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Sutcliffe, H.
Remer, J. R. Tasker, Sir R. I. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Thomas, J. P. L. Mr. James Stuart and Lieut.-
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Colonel Kerr.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

Mr. Blathers


It being after Eleven of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

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