Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,421,449, 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, 1939, 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 National Health Insurance benefits, etc.; certain expenses in connection with Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions, and other services."—[NOTE: £1,320,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Colville)
On a previous occasion when the Estimates for the Department of Health for Scotland were introduced, and also in the case of certain other Scottish Departments, a self-denying ordinance was imposed whereby Members limited their speeches to 15 or 20 minutes. The idea seemed to be a good one, as it enabled as many Members as possible to take part in the Debates. These Estimates have been printed and are available for Members, and it is therefore not necessary for me to expound them in detail. The Debate should provide an opportunity for Members to offer criticisms and suggestions. Although, therefore, I might claim for myself a special dispensation, I shall try to set a good example and be as short as possible, and if I exceed the 20 minutes I hope it will not be by much.
The period to be reviewed fell entirely within the term of office of my predecessor as Secretary of State; and hon. Members in all parts of the House know the keen interest that he took in health matters. I shall attempt to review a part of the work of the Department, at any rate, and show the progress that has been made.
2232 The work of the Department of Health has met with the good will of all parties. It may certainly give rise to criticisms and suggestions, and I hope to-day that I shall hear some suggestions which may be valuable; but seldom does one hear fundamental opposition in any quarter of the House to the principles and aims of the Department's social work. That is why it is easier from this Box to explain an increase in the Department's Vote than to justify a decrease. There is an increase this year. The Estimates show an increase of £135,298 over last year. That brings the total Vote for the Department to £3,741,449. Hon. Members will agree that, perhaps more particularly at this time because of the heavy and inevitable burden of Defence expenditure which falls upon us all, we must see that we get full value for the money laid out. I claim that this money is being wisely applied and that we are getting good value for it. The largest increase is that of £104,944 under the heading of Housing Grants. There is also a new item of £40,000 for grants under the Maternity Services Act, which the House passed last year, and an increase of £17,000 in the grant-in-aid for the National Health Insurance Fund. That increase is partly due to the coming into operation of the National Health Insurance (Juvenile Contributors and Young Persons) Act, which was passed last year. I do not intend to go into the details of these figures. They are printed and hon. Members who wish can comment on them, and the Under-Secretary who will wind up the Debate will have an opportunity of replying.
The Committee will expect me to speak on housing, but there are several other subjects to which I wish to refer first. I glance first at some of the vital statistics for the year. After all, the main value of this Debate is that it enables us to review the health of the people of Scotland and to see whether we are going forward or slipping back. These figures are valuable in presenting a picture to us. There is no doubt that we are going forward; we are continuing the great advance that began early this century. For example, we had a very severe influenza epidemic in the spring, the worst since the year 1929, but it is gratifying that despite that epidemic the general death rate has remained practically the same. The saving of infant lives progresses considerably. The infant mortality rate fell from 82.3 to 80 per 1,000, and only in three 2233 previous years, 1923, 1934, and 1935, have better figures been shown. The latest figures, those for the first quarter of 1938, are still better. The figures are 20 per 1,000 below the average of the first quarters in the preceeding five years. The figures for children of later ages are also improving. But perhaps the most welcome improvement of all, not only because the problem has been and is a most stubborn problem but also because of its national importance, is the fall in the maternal mortality rate. In 1937 the rate was 4.8 per 1,000 registered births; in 1936 the rate was 5.6. The 1937 figure of 4.8 is the lowest recorded in Scotland this century.
I hope hon. Members will not think that I am showing any complacency in regard to these figures. We can still do much better in Scotland, and these figures must be only an incentive to further effort. But it is right to note that we have a better figure than any we can point to at any time. I think that the Maternity Services (Scotland) Act, which the House passed last year, is going to be of very great help. It gives us in Scotland the machinery for what may be one of the best, if not the best, maternity services in the world. It has not been easy to bring this Act into operation. It has made revolutionary changes in certain ways and there have been difficulties in making the arrangements for medical services in midwifery cases; but these difficulties have now been surmounted and the local authorities are pushing ahead with the preparation of the schemes. When these schemes are in operation I hope that every mother in Scotland will be able to secure the services in her own home of midwife, doctor, and, in case of necessity, consultant. I hope it will soon be possible to state that that is so. At any rate, I think the Act will be very beneficial to us in the future and will lead to a further improvement in these figures.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Before the right hon. Gentleman passes from that part of his subject, may I draw his attention to what he has just said, that these medical services are to be of such a character that all the attention necessary in materity cases can be given in the homes of the people? Does he consider that the homes of the common people in Scotland are of such a character that these services could 2234 be carried out in them at the present time?
§ Mr. Colville
I intend to speak later on housing and the effort to improve housing, and perhaps the hon. Member will now allow me to proceed with this part of the subject. I claim that the Act to which I have just referred is sound in its conception, and I hope for good results from it. For children over five years of age the school health service is doing great work. It is doing that work less in the actual medical inspection of school children and the "follow-up" where treatment is necessary, than in the way in which it is working the conception of health into the whole of school life. The healthy body is being cultivated for its own sake and for the part which it plays in making a healthy mind. On the evidence of our own eyes, as well as of statistics, we find that the children who are leaving school in these days—about 90,000 a year in Scotland—are fitter than previous generations were. The "lad o'pairts" is being helped to build up a sound body so that it can carry a good Scottish education, and there could be no better equipment with which to start life.
The Insurance Act, which Parliament passed last year, has enabled us to link up the school health service with the insurance medical service and to take action towards the continuous medical supervision of young people. Useful links are also being established with the industrial health services under the Factory Act. I stress the value of continuity in these matters. This medical service is given by about 2,000 doctors in Scotland, who, by the way, under a new scheme organised by the Department, are being given opportunities for post-graduate courses. I cannot elaborate the details of the actual running of the service, but I think hon. Members from Scotland know how valuable it has been to the people.
I desire to mention one interesting problem which has been brought out as a result of this medical service under the Insurance Act. It has been found that about two-fifths of the total sickness among insured persons is accounted for by those who are chronically sick, that is to say those who are ill for more than a year. That presents a major problem and the Department of Health, with the co-operation of insurance doctors and the 2235 approved societies, have begun an intensive investigation of it. That investigation is being conducted in such a way as to bring the services of the regional medical officer and the specialist to bear on individual cases. In that way we may help the individual case immediately, and also discover facts of value in relation to the handling of chronic sickness generally. I mention this fact for a number of reasons, but mainly in order to show that there is a problem of national health here which has to be tackled, and also to indicate how one branch of effort must be related to another in these matters.
Welfare services, school health services and other services have to be taken as part of the whole effort, along with many other branches of activity such as the milk-in-schools scheme, the protection of the purity of our food supply and the measures which are being taken to secure a pure milk supply. In that connection I ought to mention that the number of certified tuberculin-tested cows in Scotland has increased by 50 per cent., from 20,459 to 30,002, so that the cows are playing their part in the general health effort. Then there are the sanitary services. We are rather apt to take them for granted, but they are a very important part of the campaign for health and ought not to be taken for granted. They may be rather less interesting than some of the other things with which we have to deal, but we ought not to underrate the importance of such matters as drainage, cleansing, water supplies and the sanitary cordon round our shores which protects us from invasion by disease from abroad. All these form part of the general effort to prevent sickness and preserve life.
On the subject of water supplies I should mention that the consumption of water for domestic purposes in Scotland has risen to about 40 gallons per day per head of the population. It is interesting to note that that figure is four times what the consumption was 50 years ago. Of course, many improvements have been made in the last 50 years, and we must not set our standards to-day by the standard of half-a-century ago, but that increase is notable. We all wish to encourage that increase. Most of the larger burghs have good supplies and can see their way to meet future needs.
§ Sir Francis Fremantle
Does the figure which the right hon. Gentleman has just given include industrial water?
§ Mr. Colville
The figure which I have given is the consumption for domestic purposes per head of the population. I was saying that the larger burghs are reasonably well supplied and most of them can see their way ahead as regards meeting future needs. But I am well aware that some of the smaller burghs, particularly those in agricultural counties, have considerable difficulties. At a recent meeting it was arranged that a small committee of the local authorities interested in this matter should collaborate with the officials of the Department of Health in a detailed examination of the question. When I receive the report of that investigation I shall pay close attention to this problem which I regard as most important.
On the question of housing, hon. Members have taken such a close interest in this subject and have asked so many questions, that they have kept themselves pretty well abreast of what is going on at present. Let me, however, add something to what has already been said on this subject and try to present a picture of the situation as I see it at the moment Since the post-war housing effort began, some 290,000 houses of the working-class type have been built in Scotland. Of these, about 235,000 have been built with State aid and the amount paid out in Exchequer subsidies up to the end of last year, was £25,000,000. But as hon. Members are well aware, we have not yet, by any means, got rid of slum houses and overcrowding in Scotland. That fact will be realised when I say that, in spite of what has already been done, we still need some 250,000 houses. That is to say our task is only about half done.
§ Mr. Stephen
The right hon. Gentleman has just given us a very interesting figure of £25,000,000 as the total amount of Exchequer subsidy. Could he give us more detailed figures of this subsidy, say, the amounts for five-year or three-year periods since the beginning of the subsidy?
§ Mr. Colville
I could not do so without notice, but I will look into the matter and if I can let the hon. Member have those figures I will do so. In considering the progress which is being made, 2237 we have to keep in mind the magnitude of the task and the big effort which has been made since the War. The total of 290,000 houses represents a not inconsiderable contribution, but taking into account the number of houses still required, it has to be said that the progress made during the past few years has been disappointing. Shortage of building labour at times, shortage of materials and the rise in prices have been some of the difficulties. The action that has been taken to overcome those difficulties has been reported from time to time and hon. Members have had opportunities of discussing it. There have been negotiations with both employers and employed in the building industry and those negotiations have produced agreements with regard to the number of apprentices and the working of overtime where the necessity for it is proved. Of late, there are signs that more men in the building industry have been employed in house-building, but still more are required to ensure a satisfactory rate of progress.
The question of the supply of materials is also important. The Department has been in close touch with the manufacturers, and since March, 1937, the annual output of bricks in Scotland has increased by over 30 per cent. I ask the Committee to note that figure which is a substantial contribution towards the solution of the difficulty with which my right hon. Friend and predecessor in office was faced a year ago. I do not say that the supply of materials does not still present some difficulty, but it certainly does not present the same difficulty as it did a year ago. Alternative methods have been brought in to aid progress in the provision of houses. We in Scotland are, not unnaturally, reluctant to abandon traditional methods, but there is every reason why we should try out new ideas in this respect. We ought not to be afraid of making experiments when we have before us a task of the magnitude which I have indicated. For example, an experiment has been made with timber construction, and I think some of the fears that were felt about that kind of construction have been overcome. Those fears and prejudices were in many cases based on memories of old Army huts, with which the modern timber house has little, if anything in common. It is a different affair altogether—weather-proof 2238 and water-proof and sound in construction.
§ Mr. Colville
I believe it can be made vermin-proof. Fifteen local authorities in Scotland have decided to build 2,100 timber houses.
§ Mr. Colville
They have been rather slow in taking the matter up, but they are starting now. There have been some difficulties to which I referred in an answer to a question yesterday.
§ Mr. Westwood
Is it a fact that the prices of these houses are rising until they are likely to cost more than the other houses?
§ Mr. Colville
I think not. Progress has been slow at the start but I hope the hon. Member will soon see the houses rising rapidly instead of the prices. As I say, 15 local authorities have already decided to build 2,100 timber houses and, in addition, the Scottish Special Areas Housing Association has decided to build 1,123 timber houses and 786 concrete houses. These alternative methods are not intended to be used as substitutes for stone and brick houses where the latter are available, but they represent an additional means of providing houses which we would all welcome, and I feel that there is so much to be done in Scotland in this respect that every method ought to be considered. I do not think that any existing interest is likely to be prejudiced by the adoption of alternative methods in the present situation. I say that with full responsibility. I know that there has been some criticism and the fear has been expressed that the experimental steps which are being taken may be very damaging to certain valuable interests. As I say, the task in front of us is so great that I feel there is room for the employment of all these methods.
§ Mr. Mathers
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to "valuable interests" which might be prejudiced. Is he thinking of the possibility of a decline in the cost of ordinary building materials, and, if so, is not that an interest which ought to be prejudiced?
§ Mr. Colville
I was not thinking of that. I was thinking of the fears that have been expressed by many people who are engaged in the construction of houses by the more usual and orthodox methods.
§ Mr. Neil Maclean
Could we have some information as regards the prices of these alternative houses?
§ Mr. Colville
Yes, I will deal with that point in the course of the Debate. I feel that progress in housing in the past three years has been disappointing, but the figures for the first six months of this year give ground for hoping that the worst is past, and I really believe that an improvement is setting in. At the end of June, 1937, the local authorities had 13,033 houses contracted for but not begun, and I call that the lag in production. The corresponding lag at the end of June, 1938, a year later, was only 9,846 houses. This has been due to an uninterrupted improvement in the speed with which the schemes are being started. The number of houses actually under construction has risen from 25,000 at the end of June last year to 27,395 at the end of June this year, which is quite a marked improvement, and the best and most reassuring fact is that whereas the number of new houses completed by local authorities during the first six months of 1937 was 5,973, the corresponding number for the first six months of this year was 9,095, an increase of over 50 per cent, in actual houses. Nobody can say that I have sought to minimise the task before us, but at least I can claim that there is a vast improvement in speed this last year. We cannot be satisfied, with the great task confronting us, and I can assure——
§ Mr. Cassells
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that when his predecessor in office was speaking on this same housing problem last year, he gave this Committee the same figure of 250,000 houses wanted, so that to-day we may take it that the position is entirely static?
§ Mr. Colville
I have only given the broad figures of progress. The increased number in the first six months of the year is 50 per cent, greater, in actual output as compared with last year, and I claim that while there is very much yet to be done, that is a substantial rate of progress. If hon. Members will help 2240 me in accelerating that progress by the encouragement of alternative methods or other means, I shall be very glad to listen to what they have to say, and I can assure hon. Members that I intend to push forward with all measures, including alternative methods, in order to accelerate progress. In the rural areas more particularly, as hon. Members know, a fresh impetus has come from the amendment and extension of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act and by the passing of the Housing (Agricultural Population) (Scotland) Act. Those measures have been under discussion so recently that I need not say more about them, except that I fully believe that they will play an important part in raising the standard of housing in the Scottish countryside, and I shall use all my influence to that end.
In this effort it is particularly important, I believe, to secure that the new houses will, if possible, add to the beauty of the Scottish country and not detract from it. Hon. Members know, I think, that a competition was held recently for designs of attractive rural types of houses. Designs were displayed here, in the tea room of the House, full working drawings will shortly be put on sale by the Stationery Office, and every effort will be made to bring them to the notice of local authorities and others. This competition, by the way, was made possible by the generosity of a private landowner who has hitherto remained anonymous, but I have obtained his consent to name him to-day. He is Mr. G. H. Russell, of Glenesk, Brechin, and in referring to him I would like to thank him for his generous support of this aspect of rural housing, which has made this competition possible.
I feel that good design and amenity are important in urban as well as in rural areas, and the Department is doing everything possible to further this. I think there are definite signs throughout Scotland that appreciation of the importance of design and amenity is growing. The model village of West Quarter, for example, in which I am particularly interested because to visit it was one of my first public engagements on taking office, is a splendid example of what can be done in planning where architectural skill is given its proper opportunity. A bigger effort in community planning is being made by the Corporation of Glasgow at Pollok; the Corporation of Aberdeen are 2241 shortly going to follow with the development on modern lines of a satellite town at Kincorth; and many other authorities are alive to the importance of good planning and design. I will certainly do all that I can to ensure that this movement becomes more universal in Scotland. Good designs need not cost more than bad designs, and it is very well worth while to have them.
Another point in housing that I wish to mention is this. Hon. Members may have had an opportunity of seeing the report of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee on the question of smaller houses for old persons. Since the attack on overcrowding began in 1935 the Department have refused to approve the building of any houses with less than three apartments, and we have done so because the bulk of Scottish overcrowding is in one or two apartment houses and because it has been estimated that even when this overcrowding is relieved, there will be a surplus of something like 31,000 single-apartment houses and 109,000 two-apartment houses. I, for one, do not believe that houses with less than three apartments really provide adequately for family life, but different considerations do apply in certain cases, and I have in mind old people who are compelled, in existing conditions, to live in insanitary or overcrowded houses. The Scottish Housing Advisory Committee, while they support the Department's general policy, which I have indicated, recommend that to meet the needs of such old people, if local authorities can satisfy the Department that it is not reasonably possible to rehouse the old persons in suitable existing accommodation, the Department should approve the erection of two-apartment houses for them up to the number actually ascertained to be necessary. That is their recommendation, and I propose to adopt it and to issue a circular to local authorities on the subject very shortly.
Mr. West wood
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that in the circular that he is going to issue special reference will be made to the financial arrangements between the Department and the local authorities in the building of this type of 2242 houses? There are no existing provisions under any Act of Parliament for any financial assistance from the State to deal with this problem.
§ Mr. Colville
I will have that point dealt with in detail later on. The brief review that I have given of the housing situation shows that, while there is progress, it is progress that we would wish to accelerate in every way we can. Whether it is rural housing or urban housing, the need still remains, and I can assure hon. Members that I shall do my best in all ways that I can to accelerate the progress, recognising the immensity of the task.
§ Mr. Buchanan
With regard to the two-apartment houses, will the right hon. Gentleman not consider the advisability of adopting the Glasgow method of dealing with old people? The Glasgow Corporation have adopted a scheme, and will he not consider circularising the local authorities on that scheme?
§ Mr. Colville
The hon. Member means that the Glasgow scheme should be taken into account in circularising the local authorities, I suppose. We have that in mind, but I think Glasgow is not alone in that matter. They have been dealing with old people in Edinburgh, where there are some houses of a rather similar nature. Certain changes are noted in the report in the type of houses, and there are other suggestions made there that I want to take advantage of in preparing my circular, but I will not forget the work that has been carried out in Glasgow. I have gone on longer than I intended, and even so I have only touched on certain aspects of the work of the Department, but I want all Scottish Members, if possible, to get an opportunity, of speaking in this Debate and making their contributions towards the work of the Department. I have just introduced the discussion and conveyed to the Committee the feeling that I certainly have that they can confidently pass this Vote in the knowledge that by doing so they are contributing to the welfare of the people of Scotland.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Before the right hon. Gentleman resumes his seat, will he give me the figures with regard to one and two-apartment houses again?
§ Mr. Colville
I said that the bulk of Scottish overcrowding is in one or two-apartment houses and that it has been estimated that even when this overcrowding is relieved there will be a surplus of over 31,000 single-apartment houses and 109,000 two-apartment houses.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Johnston
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.
As the original promoter of the short-time movement in oratory on the Scottish Estimates, I cordially welcome the splendid example which the Secretary of State has set us this afternoon, and I trust that the result will be that a large number of Members will be enabled to put the views and the difficulties of their constituents before the right hon. Gentleman and that a large number of subjects will be dealt with. Perhaps our only justification for being here at all is that we can contribute something in a changing world to bettering the health and the living conditions of our people, and anything that contributes to brevity before blether on the Scottish Estimates is heartily welcomed by Members, I am sure, on all sides of the Committee.
In the report which we are discussing we see, if we examine it carefully, that we have re-housed about 25 per cent, of our people since the end of the War, and bad as the situation is, and difficult as it is, there is no sense in shutting our eyes to the magnitude of that great effort. We have another 25 per cent, of overcrowding, on the figures of the Secretary of State for Scotland himself, to deal with, and for my part I would welcome experiments in all sorts of directions to see how far and how speedily we can give the 300,000 households in our burghs who have no lavatory accommodation that accommodation in our lifetime. It is speed and urgency that we want. We are lagging behind, and I feel rather sorry that the Secretary of State so sketchily dealt with the financial side of the problem. I still do not understand, although I have asked questions repeatedly in this House and made inquiries in a hundred ways, why our costs of house building should rise £135 per house between 1935 and 1937 while the English costs should only rise 7 per cent. I do not know why, and we must, 2244 I feel, get to the bottom of it. I know that in England private enterprise, as we call it, dealt last year with over 74,000 houses to rent for the working class, while we in Scotland built by private enterprise for letting purposes just over 1,000. There is something requiring explanation in all that.
Explanation is also required for the jump in our prices compared with the English prices. There is something requiring explanation in the fact that private enterprise should jump into building at Carlisle and that over an imaginary line at Annan they should not be doing it. It may be something to do with our rating law. We pay rates on rates in Scotland, and they do not do that in England. As far as I am concerned, and, I hope, as far as everybody in the Committee is concerned, I would not favour any amendment in the rating law which began on the assumption that the working class in controlled houses should be asked to share the burden of rates presently borne by the owning classes. That would only make confusion worse confounded. We must, however, face the situation and find out why we lag behind England, and we ought to get clearly and distinctly a statement why we are not keeping pace with England in the improvement of the housing conditions of our people. Is the cause due to labour? I am told that the bricklayers, who are frequently accused of handicapping our building schemes, offered to expand their apprenticeship system in return for a firm statutory guarantee from the Government of 10 years' employment. I am told that that was refused. Why? Surely if we are short of houses and we cannot make up the shortage in 10 years, it is not an unreasonable request that men who are willing to dilute their labour very considerably should have a statutory guarantee of continuous employment for 10 years.
We should hear more during the Debate as to the course of price movements. Some of my hon. Friends and some English Members behind me are disturbed at the high cost of our new timber houses. I believe they cost about £480 per house. If our brick houses have jumped to £480, which is pretty nearly the same price as the timber house, what is the cause of it if it is not profiteering, or shortage of material, as the right hon. 2245 Gentleman said, or if the bricklayers and other workers are willing to come in and help? I think that the Secretary of State might be a little more responsive on this matter before the Debate closes. I will not touch upon the suggestion made in Glasgow the other day by a well-known builder, Sir John McTaggart, that they can alter existing properties at a cost of £100 and supply bathrooms, lavatory accommodation, and so on. I would say, however, that an experiment in the altering of existing tenement properties should be carried out by the corporation. If any changes in that regard are to be made, they should be made by a nonprofit-making authority, and no plunder or profit should be taken from the tenant in his living conditions. We ought to get away from that.
I was glad to hear the Secretary of State say that he proposed to pay some attention to amenities. I am sure that in doing so he will be supported in every quarter of the Committee. The report of the late John Highton, which he prepared after visiting many of the capitals in Europe, shows us what can be done in the way of roof gardens. If we are going to build three-storey tenements we must bring in flowers, trees and beauty. If we are going to build tenement houses we must in these days provide accommodation in which a man can keep a bicycle.
§ Mr. Johnston
I am merely suggesting it. We cannot go on for ever duplicating the housing arrangements that were considered good and substantial in Victorian times. I have repeatedly urged the Secretary of State, as well as the Minister of Health, to pay attention to the report of the Council on Art and Industry. The council dealt with the furnishing of working-class houses, and they produced a splendid report which is in many ways a most admirable document. They proved that what is happening now is this. We take from the slums innumerable people who have hardly any furniture, except perhaps some old boxes or old stuff which is not suitable for a house of three rooms and a kitchen, and we put them into these houses. We give them the key of the 2246 door of the new houses and leave them to sink or swim. They become the prey of the house furnishers on the hire-purchase system. They frequently purchase useless, bad and unnecessarily costly furniture.
This council, which was set up by the Government, go the Wholesale Co-operative Society in England to furnish a house at present-day prices and they did it at a saving of 33⅓ per cent, to the tenant. They put in far better furniture and showed that they can furnish a three-roomed house for about £50. People do not believe that, but the artists, designers, co-operators, directors, and so on, who compose that council have shown how it can be done, and it has been done. I wish it could be done more. The Secretary of State knows perfectly well that since the Chamberlain Act in 1925 every local authority has the power to provide furniture for working-class homes. We can provide them with furnishings at cost price, and there is no reason why these poor people should be exploited. If we allow them to be exploited to the extent of one-third, and sometimes more, of their wages in meeting the demands of house furnishers, we are compelling them to take it out of their stomachs and the stomachs of their children. That is not good enough and if we are to build up the healthy life of the families of the country we must do a little better than that.
I compliment the Department on the health report for 1937. It is a fine report and a splendidly written document. If I have one criticism to make of it, it is that it devotes only six lines to atmospheric pollution. I do not know why that problem should be so under-estimated in our health administration in Scotland. Our most fatal diseases are not, as many people think, tuberculosis or cancer, but respiratory diseases. The lungs of city dwellers are found to be black when they are examined after an operation. The lungs of agricultural workers are pink. That is because the city-dweller swallows week after week and month after month unnecessary quantities of soot, ash and tar. I saw the other day a report which said that the smoke pall in Manchester is estimated to reduce the actinic value of sunlight by no less than 50 per cent. The report of the Department of Scientific and Indus- 2247 trial Research for last year on atmosperic pollution says that at Glasgow Cross, where they have a gauge installed, the average monthly deposit of solids from the air is no less than 35⅙th tons to the square mile—sheer poison falling from the air and being swallowed by the people. At Birmingham, if it is any consolation to hon. Members, it is worse. In Great Charles Street the amount is 45 tons to the square mile. In Manchester, at Oldham Road, it is 44 tons. London's worst is at Horseferry Road, so that Members of the House are swallowing some of the 40 tons per month per square mile which falls there. In Manchester it is estimated that the housewives spend over £37,000 more in washing their curtains than the housewives of Harrogate spend. All this concerns public health, and when we get only six lines devoted to atmospheric pollution in the report of the Department it is time attention was drawn to it. In Glasgow during a fog period the weekly death rate from respiratory diseases rises six times.
May I say a word about water supply? The Advisory Committee on Rural Housing have told us that our housing progress is seriously hampered by the absence of water supplies. Many of our water arrangements were made in the prebathroom era. They were made before we started to build cottages on proper lay-out in wider areas and to induce the people to use more water. Unless the Secretary of State takes a hand in this matter there will be many small burghs and some county areas, and I am afraid some of our cities, where our housing progress and our health arrangements will experience very severe difficulty if we do not get larger regional control of our water catchment areas and a better and cheaper distribution.
On our water supplies we have had a commission sitting for eight years examining the rivers and pools in Scotland. They have produced most elaborate and valuable reports, all of which I have read. I will not trouble the Committee with an analysis of them now, but perhaps some other day that occasion may arise. They have examined the Tweed, the Esk, the Bonny, the Carron, but their reports, so far as I know, except for a little local persuasion, have been pigeon-holed. Report after report says that there is 2248 gross pollution, unnecessary and gross pollution. Report after report says that in certain cases colliery companies have introduced new and improved processes whereby they do not poison the streams, while other colliery companies do poison them. Reports state that crude sewage is being passed into our streams and that local authorities have in many cases done nothing. A place like Melrose refused even to send witnesses before the commission because there had been an inquiry 45 years before.
My time is exhausted. May I say, in conclusion, that these water pollution reports must be taken seriously? I warn the Secretary of State that when we resume in October we on this side of the House intend to take an early opportunity of raising the whole issue in regard to the unnecessary pollution of our streams and the measures which can be taken, on the evidence already before the Commission, to stop it. The poisoning of our streams through the beet sugar factories can be stopped, because they know how to do it. The poisoning of the streams from the milk manufacturing factories can be stopped because they, too, know how to do it. They know how to stop the pollution of the streams from the paper manufacturing factories. I beg the Secretary of State to put on some of his smart young men—he has any number of them, because he has a very able Civil Service, particularly on the housing side—and to give them a run with new ideas. Let them loose. The bureaucracy which is growing up uncontrolled, and which the right hon. Gentleman cannot control, will kill us unless the Secretary of State allows his second and third string a free hand, with new ideas, to give our countrymen and countrywomen a chance of better health than they have to-day. Let us, at least, bring our health conditions up to the level of England.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) said that we prefer brevity to blether, but we always listen to him with great interest and he could well have spoken for more than 20 minutes without being accused of blethering. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State introduced the Vote in a speech which deeply interested the Committee and, although we might have good reason for applying this limitation to ourselves, we did not 2249 intend to apply it to him, and we should willingly have listened to a longer speech than that with which he delighted us.
I shall not attempt to range over the whole of the annual report of the Department of Health, which I agree is an extremely able and interesting one. I shall confine myself to three definite points. The first one starts where the right hon. Gentleman finished, namely, with water supplies. Strong as is the case for improved water supplies in many parts of Scotland, I am sure that there is no part of the country where the case for improvement is more urgent than in the Highland counties, two of which I have the honour to represent. Let me quote to the House one example from a letter which I received from a constituent at Knockally, in the parish of Latheron:Owing to the long spell of dry weather, things have been even worse than usual. Dysentery broke out when the nearest wells were going dry, and really the other wells or pools are not fit for human consumption.That letter is typical of a great many others that I have received. Another case is from the parish of Reay, where the situation was so bad in the council houses that the tenants threatened to withhold their rent. The county council themselves thought that the tenants had a real grievance. The council tried to remedy it. When the facts were brought to the notice of the Secretary of State he was sympathetic and gave us a grant in that case, but in giving the grant for that particular scheme he warned me that the scheme is not altogether satisfactory and that a full supply of water may not be available throughout the whole year. It is a very serious thing that at this time we should be embarking upon schemes which are admittedly, from their inception, unsatisfactory. We must have a more satisfactory policy than the one for which the Government, through the Secretary of State and the Department of Health are responsible. There are other cases such as that of Halkirk in my constituency, where schemes which were undertaken at great cost some years ago have proved wholly unsatisfactory. In that district we raised £1,500 by private effort before the War, when there were no subsidies available for such purposes, and now the water is so bad that the doctor has frequently to warn the people against using it.
2250 In the Government's manifesto at the last General Election there was a paragraph devoted to Scottish affairs, which stated:The provision of water supplies and drainage will be the subject of special care and attention, especially in the sparsely populated districts.I was very glad to see that paragraph in the manifesto, but I was just a little suspicious and doubtful. I made a special note of the paragraph and put it aside, because I was not satisfied that it would be carried into effect, and my suspicions have so far been justified. I had been carrying on a campaign for some years by speeches in this House and in the country and by correspondence with the Secretary of State, and I had hoped that it would lead to action. That was three years ago, and since then there have been only piecemeal efforts at a solution of the problem. It is not my case this afternoon that nothing has been done. Through the activities of the local authorities and the sympathy and co-operation of the Secretary of State and his predecessor water supplies have been provided and improved at several places in Sutherland and Caithness, but these efforts have touched only the fringe of the problem. In some cases, like that at Reay, the schemes that are being launched are admittedly unsatisfactory. In many other cases, which are far too numerous to mention—I have them on the tip of my tongue, but I will not take up the time of the Committee by mentioning them— nothing has been done.
The Government have been telling us for some time that they have under consideration the advisability of instituting regional water schemes in different parts of Scotland. We have had committees of inquiry into that subject already. We have been told by the Government that the policy of regional water schemes is in contemplation, and the Secretary of State has told us to-day that detailed examination of the question is being given by a committee of local authorities. Of what question? It is too late for them to start at this time of day to examine the whole question de novo. Are they examining an actual plan prepared for them by the Department of Health? I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us. Has a plan been prepared, and is that what they are examining? If so, can we have a brief outline of it? How is it to be 2251 applied to the Highlands of Scotland? I think it was the right hon. Member for West Stirling who in putting a supplementary question a little while ago said that we ought to have regional schemes on a wide basis and not confined to one county. In the part of the country which I represent they would perhaps be confined to one county; perhaps not. I am not being dogmatic, but rather interrogatory. I want to know what is in the mind of the Government and whether they have any real plan. Three years after giving to the electors of Scotland in their manifesto the pledge which I have quoted, they ought to have a plan which they can produce in outline to the Committee this evening.
This question of water supplies is vital in its relation to rural housing and the depopulation of the Highland counties. The report of the Department of Health says:The growing demand on the part of the rural population for better houses with modern sanitary conveniences must be met if the people are to be encouraged to remain on the land.I would add that if it is not met the people will continue to leave the land:This demand, together with the increasing requirements of dairying and other rural industries, is making the need for new or improved water supplies in many areas a matter of urgency. But it is in the landward areas that such difficulties as the wide distribution of dwellings and low rateable values are specially felt. The temptation is to follow the line of least resistance and adopt temporary expedients.That is the temptation into which the Government are falling at the present time. For roads, the wealthiest counties in Scotland can get grants of 75 to 80 per cent., and the poorer counties grants of 100 per cent., and surely they ought to be able to get some effective measure of assistance in providing for the people what the Department of Health has described as a cardinal necessity of public health. I ask the Secretary of State to give us some hope that this urgent need of the people, especially in the rural areas, will be met.
My second point concerns housing. It is, indeed, a remarkable fact, as the right hon. Member for West Stirling has said, that since the War we have rehoused one in four of our people in Scotland.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I think it is a remarkable achievement to have rehoused 25 per cent, of our people; but that is not enough. The scandal lay in the conditions which prevailed when the War came to an end. What has been accomplished has taken 20 years, but they have included years of very great difficulty. In the first few years after the War prices were enormously high. The astonishing thing is the scandals which are left after we have rehoused 25 per cent, of the population, and we shall have to tackle courageously the rest of the problem. The Secretary of State said that progress had been disappointing in the last year, and it certainly has been, and I had thought of offering some observations on the wider aspects of the housing problem and following up some of the interesting remarks made by the right hon. Member for West Stirling; but in the time at my disposal I will concentrate on one point which is of very real urgency to the people in Caithness and Sutherland, and that is the provision of houses for young married couples. The need for them is particularly felt in the villages and towns in rural districts—Lochinver, and other places in Sutherland, in Lybster, in Thurso, and Wick. From all over my constituency I get the complaint that young married couples are unable to get houses. There are no grants available for housing now, except under the Housing Acts of 1930, 1935, and 1937, because all the grants are going for the very important purpose of dealing with overcrowding and slum clearance. At the same time the needs of the younger people ought not to be neglected. Perhaps it would be wrong to suggest that the need is more urgent in the rural districts than in the towns—to say that would be pressing my case too far—but it is particularly urgent in the rural districts for the reason that the absence of houses is one of the things which is stimulating the urge to leave the countryside and thereby aggravating the problem of rural depopulation.
I come now to my last point, the statutory health services in the Highlands. On previous occasions I have drawn attention to the immense difficulty of carrying on the statutory health services in the Highlands, because of the low rateable 2253 values. This situation was investigated by the Departmental Committee on the Scottish Health Services three or four years ago, and a closely reasoned analysis of the situation is contained in the report which they presented to Parliament. They made a recommendation that a special supplementary grant of £50,000 a year should be given in aid of the statutory health services in the Highlands and Islands. Since they reported a good many things have happened, none of which has made the task of the local authorities any easier, while two factors have definitely increased the burdens. On the one hand by the passing of the Maternity Act, the Rural Housing Act, and other smaller Measures, such as the Fire Brigades Act, which we passed only the other day, Parliament has thrown increasing duties and burdens upon these local authorities. On the other hand, the catastrophic decline in the fishing industry has not only added to the burden of public assistance but has also to some extent dried up, or at any rate diminished, the revenues of those local authorities. The grant of £50,000 which was recommended by the Departmental Committee is urgently required, and my last word is to ask the Secretary of State to tell us that that recommendation will be implemented.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey
While I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) that in these Debates we ought to limit our remarks more closely, and cut out the blether, I did feel when listening to the opening statement of the Secretary of State for Scotland that perhaps he might have allowed himself a little more rope and given us perhaps a little more information. I am not complaining that what he said was not interesting; far from that; it was so interesting that I should have liked rather more, and perhaps next year the right hon. Gentleman will not limit himself so severely. In any event I intend to adhere carefully to our time limit. The right hon. Member for West Stirling ended by saying that after the Recess he proposed to do all he could to see that action was taken to stop the pollution of rivers. I can assure him that there are a great many Members on this side who will give him their support when he does so, because the condition of many 2254 rivers in Scotland at present is an absolute disgrace; and if he is also prepared to carry on a campaign for the purifying of the air he will find that I, for one, shall be an ardent supporter of his. In New York they have perfectly pure air, and there is no reason why the example should not be followed in this country. Even if it meant abolishing the open fire which is so dear to the British heart, I, for one, would willingly go without it in order to get purer air and healthier conditions for the people in our cities.
I touch only upon this point because I wish to come to the question of housing, and particularly rural housing. I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to the competition just held for plans for rural houses, and I hope that he will do all he can to urge not only local authorities but private individuals to make use of those plans when they are building houses in the country. One thing which saddens anyone going about Scotland is to note the enormous number of new houses, which, though, no doubt, comfortable inside, are very ugly outside. We seem to be losing any type of Scottish architecture which we have ever had, and are putting up buildings which might be seen in Czechoslovakia or South Germany or anywhere else in the world. We are losing our own characteristics, and that is a great pity. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that good architecture is allowed to play its part in the rehousing of our people. The late Sir Godfrey Collins took a great deal of interest in this matter, but after he died we heard very little about it. I am glad to think that my right hon. Friend is taking an active interest in it.
While my right hon. Friend is trying to improve the town planning of our towns and villages do let him do all that he can to persuade local authorities of the desirability of having plots of flowers. I have seen them in other countries. I am thinking particularly of the city of Auckland, where in every available corner there is a little plot of flowers. I know a great many corners in Scotland which would be very much beautified by a plot of flowers, and it could be secured at no very great expense. Indeed, it might well be that a local firm of seedsmen would be willing to maintain a plot free of charge for the sake of the advertise- 2255 ment. It would make an enormous difference to the amenities of our cities and is an idea which it would be well worth while to pursue.
Coming back to more rural questions, I am a little anxious about some of the developments which we see at the present time. Nothing has been said in these Debates about the desirability of improving the housing conditions in our rural districts and in the landward areas with which I do not entirely agree. I have no doubt that housing in cities is a subject of vast importance, but if we are to keep people on the land it is essential to provide them with good, comfortable and up-to-date dwellings. It is not alone a question of providing new houses but of renovating old houses, and it is that question which is worrying me. I believe there is an arrangement whereby county councils have the opportunity to submit all the plans for renovations to the Department of Health in Edinburgh. What happens at the moment, if my information is correct, is that the Department of Health produce their plans and then the county councils see how far the demands can be met. I understand that that is an experiment, and it is one which needs to be watched carefully. We ought not to encourage too much interference by the Department of Health with work which is being done by the county councils. It leads, in the first place, to great delay, and delay is the one thing we do not want. There is not a speaker who has not urged the speeding up of housing. Further, to a certain extent it undermines the independence of the county councils. If the county councils have people who can carry out the work, as they have, it is merely duplicating labour and adding unnecessary expenditure if every plan has to be combed out by the Department of Health in Edinburgh. Looking at the report, I see there is a very large increase in the staff of the Department of Health, and in these days we do not want to incur unnecessary expense.
Reference has been made to the enormous increase in the cost of building, and as one who has built houses I hope the Secretary of State will do all he can to check it. It is undoubtedly holding up housing. Only to-day I received an estimate for a building which, though it is less than the original estimate presented a 2256 week ago, is still, in my view, very much higher than it ought to be. So long as costs are as high as they are it will not be possible for private individuals and local authorities to go ahead with housing as fast as we should like, and I hope that question will receive the very serious attention of the Department of Health.
There is no doubt that in many of the rural districts it is extremely difficult to get an adequate water supply to the outlying and isolated houses. Incidentally if water-closets are put into houses which have no proper water supply, and in which one cannot get a gravitation supply, because it does not exist, it is of doubtful value to the health of the community, because those things have a way of getting choked up. The sanitary inspectors are hard-working and competent persons but they cannot get to every individual house, and in many cases we may be hindering rather than helping health conditions if we put in water-closets where there is no adequate water supply. I hope the Department will try to realise some of the difficulties, because I understand they have their mind concentrated on using rain water as a source of supply. We have seen what happened last winter, and we have to realise how utterly hopeless any suggestion of that sort is. I believe the time may be coming when we shall have to reorganise our local areas, and our future organisation may be based not on the boundaries of counties and burghs but on catchment areas. I am not trying to lay down any hard-and-fast plan but there is no doubt that water supplies in rural areas are a matter of very grave concern in those areas. I hope that the Department of Health will look most carefully into this matter and get out some plan to meet our difficulty.
My last point relates to the rebuilding of houses in the country. Nobody is more anxious to secure good houses for those who live in the country districts than I, and I want to see a good water supply, baths, water-closets where possible and all such modern arrangements, but there are occasions when it may not be essential to insist upon the exact area of window or the exact height of room. I believe that if a little relaxation were occasionally given we should get a great deal more done to secure really efficient housing. I do not mean that you are going to allow the tiny windows that one got accustomed to in the old rooms. I 2257 am the last person to suggest that we should have bad houses in the country and in the villages, but we must remember that what is suitable for a house in the slums of Glasgow is not suitable for a house situated at the foot of the Grampians, where it is open to God's air and sun. I hope that the points which I have raised will receive consideration from the Government.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Henderson
I was very pleased that the right hon. Gentleman asked Members to criticise and to make suggestions to his Department for the welfare of the Scottish people, but I sometimes think that suggestions by a retired tailor or an eminent King's Counsel secure attention while those made by a Member who has given a lifetime of service to an industry do not receive as much attention. I say that, because I intend to deal with some aspects of the housing problem in our country. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a reason given in the report for the fall in the building of working-class houses. In page 19 it says that one of the main reasons is the shortage of bricklayers. When we were debating the Scottish Estimates a year ago I suggested to the right hon. Gentleman who is now Minister of Health a method of increasing the number of operatives in the building industry, but I never heard anything more about it. All that you have been able to do through the council that you have set up, covering the master builders, the building operatives and the Department, has been to increase the number of bricklayers in Glasgow by 60 apprentices, who have been added to the strength of the bricklayers in Glasgow. How many houses do you think that will build? Are we likely to get the satisfaction of increased building of working-class houses by that increase of 60 apprentices? I am afraid not.
I am, therefore, venturing to suggest one or two things which come to my mind because of my own experience. In the south and south-west of England, saturation point, we have been told by the Government, has almost been reached in the building of working-class houses. Let me tell the Committee why; it is because there has been very little control by the bricklayers' union in the south and south-west, where, unfortunately, brickwork has been constructed that is a disgrace to the name of bricklayer. There has been no control 2258 in many parts of the country, and I have seen a man working as a foreman bricklayer who worked for me as a bricklayer's labourer. That all means that houses are not properly built. In some of these houses I have seen partition walls five inches out of plumb. I would ask the Minister to use his influence with the council with a view to considering a control-transfer scheme operating within the operatives' organisation. If the bricklayers, by their rules and regulations, are able to keep the rest of the working-class people of Scotland from getting houses fit to live in I should not defend opposition of that kind. Men who have worked for five years or 10 years as bricklayers' labourers are quite as able to build walls as any bricklayers that I have seen. You could harness them to the work of building brickwork and they would do it as efficiently as a bricklayer. If you had that control-transfer scheme you could get hundreds of men in parts of Scotland with absolute security to the bricklayers' society.
With regard to the introduction of the wooden house, I see from the national organ of the builders that the Department have agreed to the building of 512 wooden houses, under the control of the Lanarkshire County Council, and that the contract has been undertaken by a Glasgow builder. The price is something like £260,000 for 512 houses, which works out at £483 or thereabouts per house. I would ask the Minister to tell us what are the internal fittings of those wooden houses. Have they any insulation inside the outer timber? What kind of lining are you going to fit in the house? Unless those details are satisfactory, the houses are unfit for a working-class family to live in in the winter in Scotland. The report speaks of tenants who were unwilling to leave their slum and overcrowded dwellings and go to other houses provided for them, because the buildings were too cold. If a brick building is cold, heaven help any tenant who has to go to one of the wooden shanties that the Department has approved.
It is peculiar to remember that up to the pre-war period we were using stone in Scotland, and that we could provide what was necessary for that time. In the post-war period we went to brick. Now the Department are anxious to pro- 2259 ceed to workmen's dwellings built of timber, yet every inch of the timber required has to be imported and the houses are dearer than brick houses. What are you going to do with the £6 15s. subsidy paid to local authorities at the present time? Are you asking the local authorities to carry the burden of a £483 house with a £6 15s. subsidy? Are you going to raise the rents to tenants or throw the burden upon the rates? Those are questions to which I deserve an answer when the Minister replies. Brick houses could be built for the working class in Scotland if the right method were taken to get the necessary labour. I believe that it is unnecessary to build shanty towns in our country. We should give good and decent buildings to the working class.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Sir Henry Fildes
I offer my congratulations to the Secretary of State for the remarks with which he opened our proceedings. I would first remind the House that we have the finest water supply in Scotland in Dumfriesshire and an electrical installation which is the envy of the northern part of this Kindgom. I am surprised to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) that the people in his district are housed under dreadful conditions, having no adequate water supply and being without electric light. I have been in the Caithness area, and it struck me as a country which might be quite all right to harbour goats and gazelles but not very suitable for human beings. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to persuade the people who are living in those difficult and degrading conditions to come further south, where amenities have already been provided.
The Secretary of State is not here at the moment, but I am sure that he would agree with me that the provision of adequate wages for the people has a good deal to do with good housing. We have plenty of health in Dumfries but very little money, and I would take this opportunity to say that if the Minister could concentrate upon Dumfriesshire he would solve our difficulties to a very large extent. We have an admirable factory in Dumfries that could absorb the labour of many people who could be 2260 moved from other parts of Scotland. I say nothing beyond that; but if something could be done to provide such additional wage-earning opportunities, there is, in Dumfries, something for which the rest of Scotland has been languishing, in respect to the application and the supply of amenities which are so urgently desired.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland could not see his way to wait longer to hear the Debate, because this is his introduction to Scottish affairs so far as the office of Secretary of State for Scotland is concerned, and this is where he ought to be, even in preference to attending a Cabinet Committee. He is the seventh Secretary of State for Scotland that I have appealed to on behalf of my native land. I have sat under seven different Secretaries of State for Scotland, and every one of them, without exception, has delivered just the same kind of speech as we have heard here to-day. But, compared with what Scotland ought to be, Scotland to-day is a standing disgrace. The conditions are absolutely appalling, and the problem that we are going to be up against inside of three years is, as far as I am able to see, beyond the wit of man to solve. No provision whatever is being made for the day when the rearmament programme will be finished, and our country will be derelict if it is left to the present Secretary of State for Scotland, if this is the approach that he is going to make. What did he say? He talked about education. I desire to speak about education——
I must point out to the hon. Member that the Education Vote comes on to-morrow, not to-day.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
The Secretary of State touched on it, and I just wish to say a word or two in reply. I think that will comply with your Ruling. He talked about the lad o'pairts. That was all right at a certain period, before the Secretary of State's day, before he was born. Then the whole family was exploited, and pulverised, and starved in order that the lad o'pairts might be made the lad o'pairts. But to-day it is quite unnecessary for the whole family to be starved in 2261 order that one may be able to equip himself and be fitted for the struggle of life. That day is past. We, in our country of Scotland to-day, are the heirs of a glorious inheritance, which would enable every lad in Scotland to get the highest possible education that the country can give. That would be the state of things if we had a Secretary of State for Scotland who was capable and had the courage. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), who himself has been in that position and could have done things, talks about courage, but, if he had had the courage of his convictions when he was in power, the story would have been a very different one to-day. He is just doing, as others have done, the very things that we said they would do. Scotland will not always be imposed on in that way. The Secretary of State said that there are 90,000 children leaving school each year. Is any provision being made to find employment for them——
I must point out that we are discussing only the Vote for the Scottish Department of Health, and the matter to which the hon. Member is now referring is one on which the Minister could not possibly answer.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I am coming to the question of health. He dealt with maternity, and said they were going to make it possible for maternity to take place in the home. I interjected and asked him whether the homes of Scotland were fit places for maternity to take place in. I want to arrest the attention of the House, and of Scotland also, in regard to that subject. What are the figures for single-apartment houses in Scotland? We have been told that there are 31,000 one-apartment houses. Are those fit places for children to be born in? Those are the conditions of my native land. We have been told that there are 192,000 two-apartment houses. I am not talking about what is to be read in books; I am talking about what I, as the father of a family, know from experience. We reared seven in a two-apartment house, and I know the hellish conditions under which my class have to live to-day, after a quarter of a century, after one of the greatest wars in all history. The Government tell us they have done wonders; they have produced 250,000 houses in a quarter of a century. It is a standing disgrace for any Department, or for the Government 2262 of any country such as mine, to boast that this is what they have done. They have produced 10,000 houses a year; that is what it amounts to. They should think shame on themselves instead of boasting about it. This is a war—a war with the most far-reaching consequences possible —the housing of the common people of the country; and this is all that the Government could do over 25 years.
It is no use saying that the people have been apathetic. It is not the case. The common people of Scotland have been deeply interested; the whole thought of the people of Scotland has been revolutionised in the last 25 years. There was a day when, if we went into a mining village and propounded the idea of a three or four-apartment house for a collier, we were chased away, because we suggested that the rent would be 3s., 4s. or 5s. a week. John Wheatley and I, on two Saturday afternoons, were stoned out of a village because we suggested that. At that time people thought that a single-apartment house was quite good enough, and they only needed to pay 1s. a week. They thought that what was good enough for them and those who had gone before them would be good enough for their children. That was their point of view; that was their state of ignorance. These are the things that we Socialists inherited from those who went before us, just as we inherited these terrible housing conditions in Scotland, just as the local authorities to-day are being saddled with a set of conditions over which they have no control, and with which, in my opinion, they are not capable of coping. Big corporations, like those of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, or any other big city, are probably quite capable of handling these problems, but I have always held that this housing problem is such a gigantic problem that it should be handled by the Government.
I do not want to mention any towns, but fancy towns talking about the great efforts they are making when they are going to build 90 houses, at a time when they really require 1,000. That is no exaggeration. Why are they not doing it? Why are they trammelled? It is because they have not the power, because they lack the initiative, the courage, the necessary backing. They are afraid of the propertied class, who in 1931 pledged themselves and organised 2263 against my constituency getting houses. They are the men who at that time said that shipbuilding and engineering were finished, and got the then Secretary of State for Scotland to deny to Clydebank—which had not at that time a Labour town council, and was unanimous about continuing to build houses—they got the Secretary of State to deny to Clydebank the right to build more houses, because they said that shipbuilding and engineering were finished. My reply to that assertion turned out to be true. It was that, if shipbuilding and engineering were finished in this country, Britain was finished. I never believed that that was so, and I never will. Now we have the seventh Secretary of State for Scotland in my experience. I am not superstitious, but I am fairly conversant with the Bible, and seven is a very decisive figure in the Bible, so I am hoping that this seventh Secretary of State will be able to do something for Scotland. He comes here as a representative from big business. He comes from Colvilles of Motherwell—big industrialists, manufacturers of steel and so on. I have before me the list of these seven Secretaries of State for Scotland—Lord Novar, Sir John Gilmour, Willie Adamson, Sir Godfrey Collins, Sir Archie Sinclair, Walter Elliot, and now we have David John Colville. We shall see what impression he is going to make on this problem.
It is worthy of any man giving of his best—not being afraid of any Cabinet, not catering in any way in order that he may get any honour when he has finished, because, in my opinion, the greatest honour that a Scotsman could get would be to do something with the power that each of us as a Member of Parliament has apart from the power that a Secretary of State for Scotland has. I am waiting for the man who shall have the courage to put a policy into practice, and to stand there with all Scotland backing him. I am not asking the Government to do anything but what they have said they would do, and what they have asked others to do. I ask them now, I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, to view Scotland in all seriousness, and see its conditions. The housing conditions, not only in the industrial parts of Scotland, but in rural Scotland, are a standing disgrace. We stand here after 2264 the talk of 25 years, and still everyone knows it is the truth that the housing of Scotland is a disgrace to Christendom. I hope that the new Secretary of State for Scotland will do something to justify his existence, and, if he does that, I will be the first man, irrespective of party, to bless him.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Following, as I do, the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), I can only say that I believe that every Scottish Member looks forward as eagerly as he does to the time when we may see the scandal of Scottish housing wiped out. I am not in entire agreement with what has been said by several hon. Members as to the method of conducting this particular Debate, and as to the length of speeches. I would like to join in the congratulations to the Secretary of State for his speech; but I regret that we did not have a longer, fuller speech, and that we could not in this Debate learn more than the mere outline that he was able to give in the time that he said he would devote to his speech. I do not think that Scottish Debates will be made better or more useful if we are to have what I might almost call a game of musical chairs: quickly to speak, quickly to sit down, so that everybody can say something; or that by that procedure Scotland will be the better. I do not believe it. If there had been longer speeches I might at 11 o'clock grumble that I had not had the opportunity of speaking, but I would grumble more if everybody had the opportunity of speaking only for a very short time. The problems are too big.
I would have liked a fuller picture of what is going on in Scotland, with reasons for some of the difficulties and an explanation of how my right hon. Friend hopes to meet them. We want to come down to a real discussion of the essential difficulties we are up against. That cannot be done in the few minutes that have been arranged. Because of the arrangement I will try also to be as short as I can, and I will deal with the one problem which has been dealt with over and over again in the Debate, and which I think transcends all others in Scotland. That is housing.
We have not sufficiently as yet taken account of the housing emergency in 2265 Scotland. If the real nature of the emergency was realised, I believe we should take stronger measures to deal with it. I am not going to say that we have been complacent. We have been told of the number of people rehoused since the War, but the facts put forward by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) show that our efforts have not been sufficient. It is said that there are 250,000 still wanted. Is that really the full amount? Hon. Members will agree that there are in Scotland to-day hundreds of houses that are not condemned and that ought to be and will have to be condemned. Those are not included in that figure. We have called a halt at the 250,000 houses. Last year we completed in Scotland 13,000. I would ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary whether the Scottish Office really realise that this is an emergency. Are people who are growing up in Scotland to continue in these conditions for 10 or 20 years? The hon. Member for Dumbarton has spoken about this subject for much longer than I have, and with far greater eloquence, but even during the time I have been in the House we have spoken year after year of the people living in those appalling conditions, and they are still there.
The people who were born in those years have been growing up in those conditions. We all know of them. One-roomed houses; six, eight or more people, ranging from babies to children of five, six and seven years, growing up; and boys and girls of 16 and 17 all crowded into one small room, with not even a kitchenette, but one small room perhaps with no water laid on. Is it right for human beings to go on like that? If the urgency of this question was realised, if we could only face it, if plans could be made to deal with it speedily, I do not believe that we should merely go on in the future as we have done. Are we going to deal with these people for 20 years hence at the rate we are doing? In Dundee 10,000 houses are needed at once. In Dundee they have built about 400 houses each year. Are we to wait 20 years even to get those people in Dundee out of the hovels they are living in? I cannot help thinking that if this matter were tackled as the most urgent problem in Scotland to-day it could be done. It is because we and the country and the Government have not decided 2266 that it must be done, whatever the cost, that the problem continues. But when I say "cost" I do not think it is merely a case of money. I do not think the local authorities are being kept back merely for want of grants or money from the rates. We want more initiative, more ideas, more courage, more experiments.
The hon. Member for Tradeston said a great deal against alternative styles of building. I could not help wondering whether he would not agree that even if, in his opinion, a particular type of house is not as good as brick or stone, it would be better than leaving human beings overcrowded in condemned and verminous houses. Would it not be much better to get them into these houses? He seemed to think that a far larger supply of trained bricklayers could be obtained. I hope that he has taken note of what was said, and that every man who can be got into employment in the building trades, will be so employed. There were 13,000 houses built last year. I ask hon. Members to study this question, bearing in mind the condition in which the people are living. I do not want to see any diminution of the work of building brick houses or stone houses. I want everybody drawn into the building trade who can be; but that is not enough. A few weeks ago I saw in the county of Angus two three-apartment cottages put up under one of the new types of alternative building. I am no housing expert. I can merely go by the information given me by many experts who were there to examine the houses and who watched them being built. The houses were cast, with wooden shuttering, and they were put up in 10 days. They can be ready manufactured in the yard, and give employment to many people who are out of employment to-day. Plans were given to the county council only three weeks before I saw them finished. Tests were taken in every possible way. A three-apartment house costs £380, and it could be put up in 10 days or a week.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Yes. They had all the amenities of other houses, baths in bathrooms, etc., and they have been passed by the Department of Health.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I know they have been tested, and one test showed that the outside temperature at night fell nine degrees and the inside temperature two degrees. They have wooden shuttering with Heraklith slabs in between, a substance of compressed wood shavings at present imported from Austria but which can be made here and largely by unskilled labour.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Similar houses have been built on the Continent. I have seen those houses, and other people have seen them, still up 40, 50, 60 years or more after they were erected. There are houses that people could have, and have cheaply. I would like to see the town councils and county councils in some of these places give a lead and have thousands of these houses put up. I know that in some cases attempts are being made. In Dundee orders are being given for 500 of another alternative type, the solid red cedar houses. They will cost £214,241 for the 500, an average of £424, but there are different sizes—92 five-roomed; 248 four-roomed; and 160 three-roomed, all with kitchenette and bathroom.
Then there is the Swedish house which could be got at once by hundreds. There are three alternative types in timber alone. They have been examined by the Department of Health, and by housing experts not only in this country but in others. Their construction will give work in districts where work is badly needed. It seems that we are waiting while people are suffering from appalling housing conditions and unemployment. I believe there is a way to relieve these conditions. We have to tackle this problem on a far bigger scale. These people cannot wait. We ought to be able to come here next year talking not of 15,000 or 16,000 houses, but double that number. If there is courage and initiative, the expense of the alternative types will not be greater. I believe we have, with the various alternative types of building and the schemes suggested for bringing in more building labour, found the way to solve the problem. What we are waiting for now is the will.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Leonard
Housing is a matter of paramount importance in Scotland, and 2268 what has been said and may yet be said will suffice for me. I only want to ask a question on the subject, because of the lack of some detail preventing me from viewing it as a proper picture of the position in the report. I wonder whether the Department consider that a better picture would not be presented if, in the two appendices at the end of the report, they added another column giving the number of apartments as well as the number of houses. The apartments in a house would give a better impression as to how far we were tackling this problem. That is all I want to say on that point, and I am sorry if, perhaps, I have interrupted the continuity of the discussion on housing.
I want to put a few brief points dealing with the administration of pensions under the Department of Health for Scotland, and I trust that they will receive some consideration with the object of trying to lessen the burdens and the hardships which beset a very few people from time to time. I want to draw the attention of the Under-Secretary to a case which recently came to my notice, and which can be multiplied, but not, I admit, by many. It is the case of a man and wife, both old age pensioners. The wife was taken ill and had to go to hospital. It was anticipated that her illness would not last longer than about two months, but, unfortunately, that period was extended. Her husband, a man with a very fine spirit, said that he would endeavour to keep her pension intact, so that when she came out she would have the advantage of her accumulated pension to provide her with a little of the extra attention which she would require. He endeavoured to get the guidance of the Post Office, but, I admit, the guidance was not correct. When his wife came out of hospital, after the three months' period, the total sum which he deemed would be at his disposal was entirely lost.
§ Mr. Leonard
Simply because of the three months' period within which you must draw the pension according to regulations.
§ The Temporary-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
That is a question that would involve legislation.
§ Mr. Leonard
I do not think so, and because it affects so few people, I believe 2269 that it could be rectified comparatively easily. Another case brought to my attention was that of a woman who adopted the habit, because the factor insisted upon quarterly payments of rent, of leaving her pension to meet that obligation and other liabilities which came within the same period. A week's illness came upon her just as she was about to draw her pension and she was unable to do so, and because of that illness, and notwithstanding representations made by ministers and others who spoke highly of her, she found that she was left without the advantage of the pension that she expected.
The other case to which I wish to call attention is more important, and it caused greater hardship because of the trouble to which the person was put. It relates to a widow's pension. The husband of the lady served in the forces during the War, and worked for a short time after the War, when he took a position with the War Graves Commission in Salonika. He did that because of the very bad state of his health. I am informed on the highest authority that the state of the man's health was very poor, and that it was not expected that he would live very long, and that was one of the reasons why he went from this country. The last communication that was received from him was in 1921, and in 1928 the widow, who was 55, endeavoured to obtain a pension. She took the trouble of obtaining legal advice, and applied to the sheriff in order to get a decree that would enable her to presume the death of her husband. A great deal of trouble was entailed, and the sheriff granted, as the law permitted him to do, a decree to allow the woman to presume that her husband was dead. She then made application for a pension, but, notwithstanding the fact that this method of procedure would have been considered satisfactory in most other walks of life, and strictly legal in character, the Department held that it was not satisfactory for them. On appeal, the referee held that he was tied by the regulations governing this matter and, therefore, the appeal was not sustained, and yet the woman in this case had gone to all the trouble of getting the necessary decree from the sheriff, which would have been accepted, I presume, in all other legal matters in Scotland, and on this occasion it was refused.
§ Mr. Leonard
I am giving the Committee the details. I have them here tabulated, with the name of the sheriff as well, and I will hand them over to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland afterwards. Another point I want to touch upon is connected with the report. I listened to the recital of the advantages which have accrued to Scotland, and I do not want to blacken the picture at all. I wish to refer to the question of dental treatment afforded under the jurisdiction of the Department, but before doing so I want to direct attention to that part of the report referring to infantile mortality. It says, on page 68:Prior to the year 1913 the infant mortality rate in Scotland was consistently lower than in England. Since that year, however, the English rate has fallen more rapidly than the Scottish rate, and is now well below it.What I want to give greater prominence and consideration to is the further paragraph:The decline in the infant mortality-rate in Scotland has been mainly at ages over one month and under one year. The causes of death at ages under one month, and particularly under one week, have not yet yielded appreciably to the influences that have secured a reduction in the deaths at later ages under one year.That is capable of standing as an introduction to my remarks with regard to dental work. I notice in the report, under the heading of "Dental defects," there is not a very pleasing picture as to the position in Scotland. There are 97 dentists employed under the school health schemes, of whom 55 are whole-time officers. Many of them have duties under other local authority services (including maternity and child welfare, tuberculosis, and public assistance), and in one area the school dentist is also a part-time school medical officer. The importance of dental treatment warrants a much wider network of officials attending to, and directing the local authorities to, the work than is functioning at the present time. The chief dental officer says in the report that he is impressed by the unsatisfactory condition of the teeth of the industrial 2271 community and by the evidence of neglect during the early years of childhood. On going into the matter further, I had the advantage of reading the "Lancet" of 28th May, 1938, in which Professor Mottram is reported as having said that by the time the children come under the care of the education authority, they are already damaged goods. It is in order to save the sending of damaged goods to school that I want the Department to see if something cannot be done to ensure greater attention being paid to pregnant mothers and to younger children than is given at the present time.
The Notification of Births Act, 1915, I am advised, empowers local authorities to make such arrangements as they think fit and as may be sanctioned by the Department of Health for Scotland for attending to the health of expectant and nursing mothers and children under five years. I am of the opinion that real economy in this matter can be obtained by generous spending, not only on the part of the Department, but also in urging local authorities to pay attention to this matter. There is no doubt that a very large percentage of the diet of pregnant women is deficient both as regards quality and quantity, in vitamins, mineral standards and other factors necessary for this period of life. If this kind of food could be given in greater measure than it is at present, much of the money spent upon dentistry which is not preventative work at all, would be saved. Of no less importance is the period when the child is weaned, when a higher standard of diet is required than can be bought by the average mother in Scotland.
My mind goes back to the introduction of the Import Duties in this House a number of years ago, when a Member of the House of Commons was bold enough to assert that fresh vegetables and fruit were luxuries on the table of the working class. They should not be luxuries on the table of the working class. They are far too essential and necessary to be luxuries. This fact is too widely recognised now for such a definition to be accepted. If we paid more attention to these requirements and forced upon the authorities the fact that these requirements should be provided in greater measure at the present time, it would be to the advantage of the nation in general. No amount of attention that takes place 2272 after the defects have shown themselves can be equal to the advantages that I have suggested. I trust, therefore, that this part of the report, and the services which it covers, will be attended to in greater measure. I am not apportioning any blame, but I think that greater attention should be given to the work of the Department, especially in the preventive sense, and if that were done much economy would ensue.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore
In reading through this most admirable, and, indeed, at times fascinating document, one would find enough food for comment to occupy the rest of the day, and, therefore, one is forced naturally, in view of the time limit on our speeches, to find those points which appeal most to each individual Member or to his constituents. There are two, therefore, that I have selected and one, which I will touch on very briefly is, the question of nutrition. Two years ago, when speaking on this very Debate, I asked my right hon. Friend, who was then Under-Secretary, to go into the question of establishing milk bars more widely in Scotland. I specified two particular cases in which he might consider it. One was to ensure that every war department factory or aeroplane factory should have a milk bar, and the other was that whenever a Government contract was given, it should be stipulated that, on the contractors' premises, there should be a milk bar. My right hon. Friend promised to go very carefully into these two suggestions and to ascertain whether they could properly be put into effect.
I hate giving advice or speaking without some practical experience, and having heard so much about the benefits of milk and talking so much myself about milk without adequate knowledge, I thought that I would experiment on myself. I have added during the last six months one pint of milk a day to my diet. The consequence is—I am giving this information for the benefit of other hon. Members and people outside—that I have put on 11 lbs. to my weight. If that is the result in the case of a grown person how much greater the result would be in the case of young children? I ask the Under-Secretary to consider that practical experience.
I do not make any apology for again stressing the question of housing. Three 2273 years ago I welcomed the co-operation of the late Sir Godfrey Collins, who was one of the most sympathetic of men, and the present Secretary of State for Scotland. I thought that with these two men, one with understanding and the other so efficient, we should surely have all things going well in Scotland. As regards housing, things are not going well in Scotland. It is difficult to find the reason. The Government mean well, the local authorities mean well, and this House means well, and yet with all this good will there is still confusion and delay and a lack of housing accommodation reckoned by the needs and urgent demands of the population. I have gone into this question at some length with local authorities in my constituency and at times with the Under-Secretary of State. As far as I can find out, the complaint of local authorities is, first, that the subsidy of £6 15s. under the 1935 Act must be increased or, at any rate, reconsidered. They also say that the £2 10s. unit grant under the 1930 Act is insufficient, and that financial assistance must be given for the erection of houses to meet needs other than for slum clearance and overcrowding and the provision of houses at suitable rents for young people about to be married and for the elderly who do not need the extensive accommodation which is at present provided.
They also complain about building costs, and say that when the subsidies were granted building costs were considerably lower. Now they have gone up, but the subsidies remain the same, and, therefore, without increasing rents, which was not the intention of Parliament when the subsidy was granted, they cannot carry on. These are points which every local authority put forward when you ask them why houses are not being produced. Finally, they complain of the long drawn and involved method of compulsory purchase of land for housing. I do not say that the Government can rectify these difficulties, but I think that with determination and courage on both sides, on the side of local authorities and on the side of the Government, and with the support of Parliament we can surely get something done. The Government quite properly say that it is the modern development of policy that local authorities should be given the fullest possible powers and the fullest possible responsibilities, and that private enterprise should be encouraged to meet the demand. The trouble is 2274 that while both sides are evading their final responsibilities many of the poor people of Scotland are living under conditions which are a disgrace to our civilisation. Some of the houses have been improved, but many of our people are still living under these conditions.
We are inviting the world to come to Glasgow, to see the march and progress of science, to see the tremendous capacity and resources of Scotland at our great Imperial Exhibition. We do not ask them to go and see the slums of Glasgow. They are a shame. We ask the world to come and see the great oceangoing luxury liners which we build, to admire the quality of the stuff we put into them, but we do not ask them to see the homes of the men by whose skill and craftsmanship these palaces of the sea are built. I am not talking about Glasgow alone, because the same thing can be said about the smaller towns in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. I admit that local authorities are doing very good work, but they are not building quickly enough or to a sufficient extent. There is no excuse in a rich and powerful country like ours for such degrading and squalid conditions in which so many of our people have to live. I am speaking for almost every Member of this House when I say that I am ashamed when I visit some of these houses, and I am amazed at the patience, kindliness and good temper of the people who have to live in them. I often wonder if by some accident of birth I had been born in similar conditions I should meet them with the same courage. I could give many examples but the time is not sufficient, and the Minister knows exactly the type of case with which we have to deal. Our mail bags are full of them, there is no necessity to stress them.
There is another point I want to put to the Government. To get to my constituency I have to pass through many mining villages of almost unbearable depression. Indeed, I should imagine that it is more preferable to stay down in the pit rather than to come back to such homes. I recall to the Committee what was said to me by the late Sir Godfrey Collins when coming round my constituency with me. He told me about his plans for sending architects abroad to get ideas for housing schemes, and for erecting different types of houses for our people. What has happened about that? 2275 A report was issued, but what has been the effect on the housing conditions in our mining areas? I do not know. I can only suggest that these houses should be pulled down, and pulled down at once. It may be said that it is too expensive. But, surely, the bodies and minds of our men have some financial value in the world to-day? I know that many of my colleagues think that we cannot do it now owing to the cost of our rearmament programme. Guns and tanks and aeroplanes are not the only requirements for our protection. We need alert minds, agile and active bodies, to operate these weapons, and how can mind or body flourish under conditions of squalor and depression such as we see around us?
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) in his reference to timber houses, and the hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) also disagreed with him. I lived in a timber house for two years in North Russia where the temperature for four months in the year was always below zero. We were warm in winter and cool in summer. It was just a type of house of which we have several at the present time in Scotland, and my information is that these houses can be erected by sections at the rate of one per day. It has been said that they will last 50 years. The money is ready, the skill is ready, and the tenants are ready. Surely the time has come to resort to some alternative method which will give our people a better opportunity. During the last few days, when our privileges were at stake, we have found ample time to discuss them and speed to decide on them. Surely speed is far more necessary when the bodies and minds of our people are concerned. If we bend our minds to it there is no reason why the speed and the money could not be found to carry out these schemes which I am suggesting.
Lord Baldwin said two or three years ago that there is always a lag of two years between democratic countries and the dictator countries. That two-year lag appears to apply to housing as well as to rearmament. It would do the hearts good of hon. Members who do not agree with Herr Hitler to go round the big industrial areas of Germany and the rural areas to see a complete absence of slums. I admit that there 2276 are disadvantages associated with a dictator form of Government, but it has one very definite advantage which we should do well to emulate. In conclusion, I must say, like the Committee of Privileges, that I find my charges on the question of housing proved, but I apportion no blame and cast no reflection on anyone. I only ask that this Committee in its wisdom, its capacity and its understanding, will find methods and will operate those methods to overcome the delays——
§ Mr. T. Henderson
Has the hon. and gallant Member seen the "National Builders Magazine" of last month? There is a beautiful structure of fine design but the price is £1,900.
§ Sir T. Moore
I understand that the prices vary, and I understand from the information given to me that the price would not be more than the price charged for brick houses of a similar design. I am merely quoting the facts given to me. I am not a builder or an architect, and I merely get the information which a layman usually gets. I would ask the Committee to give as much help as possible to the Government in order that we may overcome the delays which are at present causing so much misery and un-happiness to our people.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Quibell
It may be considered almost a liberty for the representative of an English constituency to take part in a Scottish debate, but I must say that I am pleased to have the opportunity of doing so to-day. I listened attentively to the Debate last year. The report which was presented to us last year was very similar in character to the one that has been presented to the Committee today, and I can only say that as far as housing is concerned it must be disappointing to Scottish representatives to find what little progress has been made during the intervening 12 months. The Secretary of State has appealed to all sections in the Committee to make practical suggestions for the purpose of solving some difficulties which perhaps apply more to Scotland than to the rest of the United Kingdom. It was stated in the Debate last year that about 30 per cent, of the houses in Scotland lack sanitary accommodation of any kind. To any English Member who has had experience of local government work, as I have, that 2277 is a revelation of a very shocking state of affairs and of very serious neglect on the part of the local authorities, their officials, and the Ministry of Health. Such shocking conditions ought not to be allowed to exist.
It has been said in the course of the Debate, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) and other hon. Members, that the difficulty in Scotland, particularly in the remote rural parts, is sewerage and water supplies. I always consider that it is very difficult to divide the problem of water supplies and sewerage. If one solves the difficulty of water supply, one very often creates a problem of the pollution of streams, thus creating more difficulties than one solves. I will make a practical suggestion to the Minister. It is that the difficulty of a lack of sanitary accommodation in many of the remote parts of Scotland could be solved by the use of chemical appliances of a modern character, as has been done a great deal in the rural parts of England. Until there is an adequate water supply and adequate sewerage schmes, I consider that it would be a mistake to attempt to remedy the difficulty of sanitation by putting in water carriage.
With regard to housing, I have spent the whole of my life in the building trade, as a bricklayer during the greater part of the time, and I must confess that I am a little prejudiced in favour of brick or stone houses. I think that anybody who has had experience of a wooden house knows that it is more liable to become contaminated and more susceptible to being affected by heat and cold than a properly built brick or stone house. What causes me some disquiet is the cost of some of the wooden houses in Scotland. I have looked into that matter, as well is into the cost of some of the brick houses in Scotland. I find that whereas in England a house costs from £350 to £360, a similar house, having the same accommodation, costs from £480 to £500 in Scotland. Since last year the price of timber has eased to the extent of about 20 per cent., but despite that, approval is to be given for the erection of 512 houses at a cost of £482 10s. a house. Moreover, Aberdeen is going to build 500 and Dundee is going to build some. Thousands of these houses are to be built, and I consider that they are more expen- 2278 sive than brick or stone houses. Certainly, they are more temporary in character.
I do not like to use the word ''profiteering" and I do not do so in public speeches very often, because profiteering is largely a question of opportunity. It seems to me that in the matter of houses in Scotland, there is an opportunity for profiteering, and I consider that this price of £482 10s. a house is absolutely outrageous. I cannot understand why the price should be so high, unless there is some working arrangement. I do not make that charge, but unless there is some arrangement by the people who are tendering for the houses at that price, I cannot understand why such an excessive price should be paid for them. If I had myself had the opportunity for a year or two of building houses at that price, I should not have been in the building trade very long. Evidently there is more money in Scotland than there is in England.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot
Before the hon. Member leaves the question of the price of timber houses, when he refers to the price of £482 10s., is he referring to a five-roomed house?
§ Mr. Quibell
I am referring to the 512 houses mentioned in the Report, the average price of which is £482 10s. per house. I presume that there are houses of every type, but certainly they ought to be five-roomed or six-roomed houses, because we are building five-roomed and six-roomed houses in the United Kingdom for less than £400 a house. Indeed, the Ministry of Health would not allow a local authority in England to accept a tender to-day if the cost were in excess of £400 a house. Why is that not the case in Scotland? I believe that some method ought to be adopted of bringing the matter before a committee which would look into building trade prices. I do not suppose that the craftsman in Scotland are inferior to the craftsmen in England. The simple fact that a man lives in Scotland ought not to make him less efficient as a bricklayer or less willing, when given a proper standard of wages, to do a proper day's work.
Certainly I think that, in regard to brick houses, there ought to be some inquiry into the difference between the costs in England and in Scotland. It may be that this is the reason why some 2279 of the local authorities are very chary about promoting schemes. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is."] The local authorities know very well that a penny rate produces only a very small sum, and they have to make a contribution between what we call economic rent and the grant from Government sources. The matter is a very important one, and I am sure that the Minister himself, if he could save £100 a house, would be only too delighted to do so. If there were some saving, it would encourage the local authorities to go in for schemes, and I believe that if an inquiry were made, it would be discovered that a great deal could be saved. I agree that in Scotland there may be difference in the specifications which are drawn up, and that might account for a small difference, but it could not account for the great difference that there is.
I wish now to commend to the Minister an alternative method of building which has recently been introduced in this country. I have done some building with this material, which is very largely used on the Continent, particularly in Germany. It is known as foamed slag, and it is a new method of dealing with slag so that, so far as heat and cold are concerned, it has the same advantages as building a big cavity wall and putting in a timber lining inside. Some big firms are manufacturing this material, which has passed every test that could be applied to it, and has been found to be satisfactory. I believe that houses of that material could be erected much more cheaply than houses of other materials if a quantity were built. The material is made in huge blocks and it has been used in Germany and in this country with great success.
§ Mr. Quibell
Yes, that is the reason for the foaming, but it is absolutely fireproof, and it has many advantages in regard to light, heat, and so on. I think the Minister would do well to make some inquiries in regard to it, and he would find that it is now being extensively used. I consider it is a material which has come to stay. I hope and trust that, in schemes to deal with the great problem which confronts the Minister and every Scottish Member, all Members will do what they can to make some practical contribution 2280 so that the terrible conditions of housing in Scotland may be improved by the time this Vote is before us next year.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Captain Shaw
Hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies do everything they can to get as much money as possible from the Treasury, but it is important that we should see that we get full value for that money when it is spent. I have often wondered why there should be such a discrepancy between the cost of building houses in Scotland and the cost in England, and now that the former Secretary of State for Scotland has gone to the Ministry of Health, I wonder whether the present Secretary of State has consulted his right hon. Friend with a view to analysing the costs in England and in Scotland in order to see exactly how the additional cost arises in Scotland. We ought to get as much for our money as we can, and we ought also to be sure that we deal first with the things which are most urgent. Reference has been made already to the difficulty of getting water in rural districts. That is a very urgent requirement in many parts of my constituency. The Secretary of State referred to the desirability of getting pure milk and pure food, but it is also desirable that there should be pure water. My hon. Friend the Senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) referred to the housing in my constituency. I dare say that when she visited the constituency she was not shown the worst conditions, but probably some of the newest houses. Had she gone to another village, say Inver-keiller, she would have seen how very necessary it is to have a proper water scheme in that district. Last night I got a letter from a parish minister referring to the necessity of a decent water supply in his village. He says:For eight years we have been desirous of obtaining a regular water supply and drainage system. The conditions under which the people live in this place are primitive in the extreme and constitute a grave menace to health. Cesspools are in close proximity. Water left in pails overnight contains a great proportion of sediment along with floating scum. Ashpits and cesspools are cleaned at regular intervals, giving rise to a filthy stench. Until last year I had all my drinking water boiled, but I now obtain drinking water from a source three miles away. This is a very great inconvenience, since it necessitates a journey of six miles once every two days.He hopes that I shall be able to get the Department to do something, and I hope 2281 the Department will do something immediately. The Secretary of State tells us that a committee is being set up to inquire into the matter. It is not before time. A great deal of money is spent on roads, which do not so much benefit the people of Scotland as visitors who come to Scotland. We want more of the money that comes to us spent to improve the conditions of the people who work and live in the country.
§ 7.4 p.m.
Mr. J. J. Davidson
I have listened with very great attention to the speeches of Members who represent the Government's point of view, and I notice that they all express the greatest sympathy for the terrible housing conditions of the country. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last waxed very indignant with regard to the water supply of his particular area. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) said the housing conditions were a disgrace, but he allotted no blame for those conditions. The Government cannot shift their responsibility for their blameworthiness for the conditions that exist. It has been stated that the Secretary of State is the seventh holder of that office since my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) came to the House and he hopes that, being the seventh, he will be a more fortunate choice than those we have had in the past. In our history the seventh attempt of Robert the Bruce was successful, but he was assisted by a spider. I am very much afraid that the Secretary of State to-day has around him only tortoises, who are very slow to move. Before we get any cure for the ills of Scotland we shall need to have a different form of Government in Westminster, and we must clear out those who have been responsible for these conditions. For month after month we have been asking the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary for some statement with regard to the Gilmour Report. The Committee on Scottish Administration reported in September, 1937, and last week, and the week before, and the week before that the same Scottish Secretary, who hopes to accelerate progress, as they all say when they appear annually before the Scotsmen of this House, was unable to make a statement. Scotsmen have been 2282 continually trying on these lines to obtain some acceleration of progress.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have realised the point. The whole meaning of the Gilmour Report was to institute offices and officials in order to accelerate and assist with regard to Scottish legislation. Scottish conditions will not be changed without legislation. Therefore, it is time that we stopped listening to the pretty speeches of Tories who are responsible for those conditions. I was highly amused when I heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs, the hon. Lady the Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) and the right hon. Gentleman say how they desired to assist us. Our housing conditions are disgraceful, and yet every one of them, without exception, voted for the recent decontrol of Class B houses, which inflicted further hardships on the people. In Glasgow, where we have terrible slums, we have also thousands of good houses idle and unoccupied. There are villas and mansions idle and unoccupied, and if the Secretary of State were serious he could quite easily transfer the people to those empty houses. He could quite easily give the local authorities the necessary financial support to take those people from their slums into the houses that already exist until we have built the necessary new houses. The blame for the present situation lies with the party opposite, because since 1931 housing subsidies have been reduced. Houses are decontrolled only for one purpose, and that is to increase the rents. As to the smooth words that come from their lips, we should repeat the old poem:Do not trust them, gentle people,Though their words be soft and low.I trust that the constituents of the Members who have made these speeches today will not listen to their words, but will take notice of their actions. You cannot separate this question of housing from the general question of poverty. Under the administration of those who have held office since 1931 poverty has increased, the number of old age pensioners seeking public assistance has increased every year, relief generally has increased from 2283 £4,000,000 to more than £6,000,000 and the registered unemployed have increased by nearly 90,000. If you build houses now, you have to build them at rents within the reach of those who have been impoverished by your actions. The housing problem is a double problem. You have not only to build the houses but to give the people the necessary finance so that they can pay the rents. There are thousands of men, engineers, for instance, earning £3 7s. 6d. or £3 17s., scraping and striving to pay the rent of the houses they are in in order to give their families a decent opportunity of a healthy upbringing. Parents are stinting themselves of the necessities of life in order to pay their rent. With regard to the water problem, I advise those who are finding a difficulty, particularly in the Highlands, first of all to remove the landlord-ridden Tory councils and to establish men there who have an interest in being in the Highlands, and you will make progress in obtaining an adequate water supply.
The Secretary of State made great play with regard to nutrition. With the facts that I have quoted about poverty and unemployment, obtained from answers to my own questions, it rather amuses me to read in the report that it is very improbable that insufficient fruit and vegetables are eaten and that more potatoes should be eaten, replacing some of the sugar and highly milled cereals. On the top of that the right hon. Gentleman says he has taken up the policy of drinking more milk. The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for the marketing boards which make it difficult for poor people to purchase milk. These marketing schemes are a disgrace. When we are told that people should eat more potatoes, I am reminded of the case of a friend of mine in the Highlands who distributed his surplus small potatoes among the poor people in the district, and was fined £100 by one of these marketing boards which are supported by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.
The working-class people of this country do not need to be told about the health-giving qualities of milk or potatoes or any other food. What the people of Scotland require is the finance, and given the finance they have the knowledge—better I believe than any nation in the world—of how to bring up their children. The 2284 mothers of Scotland know the kind of food to buy if they have the necessary funds, but in poverty-striken and slum conditions they have no opportunity and those conditions are the responsibility of the Government who are now telling us what they intend to do in the future. I say frankly that the right hon. Gentleman cannot be congratulated on this report. He stands here to-day not only to state what the Government intend to do in the future. He is here also to account for the actions of the Scottish Office during the past year. Those actions have been tardy, because the right hon. Gentleman has to approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer of an English-controlled Cabinet before anything can be done. The Under-Secretary of State repeatedly stands up at that Box and occupies the time of the House in saying as little as possible. He does not answer questions adequately. If I were asked to say, after one year's experience of the hon. Gentleman in that office, what were the six most notable points about the present Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, I would repeat six times over, "The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is very tall." That is about all I could say. We have received no support from the Government and no progress has been made. This report is an indication that there still exists in Scotland a poverty problem. It is an indication that there is a lack of nutrition among the great mass of the people. That is the responsibility of the Government.
There is another point to which I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. T. Johnston) would have referred, as he has been a consistent champion for many years of self-government for Scotland. The Secretary of State knows as well as I do that he will be supported to-night in the Division Lobby by hundreds of Members who do not know the conditions in Scotland and have never taken any interest in those conditions. Until Scottish Members obtain their own government, until there is self-government in Scotland, so that the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends will not dare, when they are so near their constituents to say or do half the things which they say and do now, 400 miles away from their constituents—until, I say, we have that self-government, there will be very little hope for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman may exchange smiles with his 2285 colleagues, but I am sure that there will be little hope for Scotland while he is dominated by a Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer and an English Cabinet.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Allan Chapman
I trust that the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) will not think me discourteous if I do not follow up his remarks, but I desire particularly to point to certain nettles which have not been grasped so far, in the discussion of the housing problem in Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not easily satisfied with progress in anything which he undertakes and I do not suppose that anybody who sets a high standard such as he does ever is satisfied, but certain points about the present housing position are worthy of note. Comparisons are odious, but they are sometimes salutary, and it is interesting to note that whereas the output of municipal houses in England is 80,000 a year, in Scotland it is 16,000 a year. There is an interesting comparison to be made here on the basis of proportion of population. Taking the ratio between the populations of the two countries as 1 to 8, the output on municipal houses in Scotland should be in the region of 10,000 a year, but actually, as I say, it is 16,000. I do not think, therefore, that it is in the region of municipal effort that we are lacking in Scotland. Our difficulty is that the problem is so vast, that we need something more than municipal effort to deal with it. The present position has been created by deficiency of non-municipal output and not by lack of keenness on the part of municipal authorities as regards their own schemes.
In this Debate it has been made clear that we view this problem, not in terms of ciphers in an annual report, but as a problem of people who are at present living under intolerable conditions. I agree with previous speakers who have suggested that when we look at our vital statistics we have serious cause for thought. In the statistics of tuberculosis alone we find that the comparative figures between England and Scotland in the 1936–37 report show a death rate of 681 per million in England and 740 per million in Scotland, and it will be agreed that housing conditions have an important bearing on the incidence of this dread disease. We in Scotland have to make 2286 our national pride something more than historic. We have to face modern conditions and fight evils like tuberculosis with the best weapons available, and one of those weapons is good housing. My right hon. Friend, in answer to a question I put to him not long ago, said that we still required 250,000 houses in Scotland to meet our programme. At the present rate of output I suggest that many present-day fathers and mothers will be dead and buried before all the new houses required are available. We must have some other agencies at work in addition to those which we have at present, if we are to tackle this problem successfully.
I am sure other hon. Members have experience similar to my own, but there are areas in my Division where, despite very good housing schemes put forward by the Lanarkshire County Council, 88 per cent, of the housing requirements are unfulfilled. That is the magnitude of the problem as one finds it in one's own district. I do not think there is any doubt that a big crusade is wanted on this question, and that every possible agency will have to be utilised to deal with it. I confess to being one of those who view the trend of public expenditure with some anxiety. The country is carrying a terrific burden in the matter of rearmament as well as a growing normal expenditure. I believe economies under some heads possible and desirable, but houses for slum-clearance and overcrowding is not one of them. I am prepared on any platform in the country, North or South of the Border, to justify this expenditure. It is the one thing on which we cannot and dare not economise, because it is vital to the future of our people, and I am prepared to make that clear to the hardest-boiled audience which I am called upon to face.
I said that comparisons were odious but salutary. The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate in such an admirable speech drew one or two conclusions from the statistics in England. I propose to follow that up. In England private enterprise is building houses of all types at the rate of about 250,000 a year, and I find that the corresponding figure for Scotland is only about 8,000. If one takes the ratio of population at 1 to 8, one would expect Scotland to be providing by private enterprise about 30,000 houses. Instead, as I say, it is providing only 8,000.
§ Mr. Chapman
These are the combined figures. I have an analysis here if the hon. Member wishes it, but for reasons of time, I am cutting down the statistical references as much as possible. Whereas in Scotland private enterprise is supplying only about 29 per cent, of the total of working-class houses, in England private enterprise is supplying 45 per cent. That is a striking contrast. In this connection, I wish to direct attention to legislation of which we hear very little in Scotland. There are, for instance, the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts, by which local authorities have power to make loans to people who desire to build or purchase houses. I find that since the inception of these Acts, which run back to the beginning of the century, £8,000,000 has been spent in this way in Scotland whereas over £100,000,000 has been spent under these Acts in England. Any person who can undertake the responsibility of building a house can, to that extent, ease the pressure of housing needs. For my own part I can imagine nothing more desirable than to own one's house, and I find that a great many of my constituents, working-class people, not always of my own political views, seem to think that there is nothing finer or grander than having "your feet on your own ground," and I understand and appreciate that spirit of independence. I believe that the small owneroccupier is as important to the town as the yeoman farmer is to the countryside. He gives stability to the town in which he lives and has an independence of mind which is extremely valuable to the community.
I think the Committee will appreciate the point to which I am coming. Whatever views one may hold, the fact cannot be disputed that South of the Border, in the matter of providing working-class houses, private enterprise has made a vital contribution. I believe that that is one of the agencies which my right hon. Friend will have to enlist in this campaign. There are certain obstacles in the way. I am not prepared to enter into an argument on the virtues of private enterprise, but it is because so many hon. Members have made eloquent pleas this evening on the need for getting houses somehow, that I make this submission. 2288 Let us use whatever agencies are available to the fullest extent. Let us not criticise them or argue about them; let us use them with proper safeguards. I believe that there is a great possibility of expansion in the building industry in Scotland and that it is capable of absorbing a great many of the unemployed. I believe that with the good will of the trade unions, which I am certain we shall have, it would be possible to get a gradual expansion of the industry as private enterprise increased, and that we should be able to increase the size of that industry to the permanent good of Scotland. That is a proposition which is worth considering.
I was delighted to hear that at last the old folk and the young married people are to get a look-in as regards the provision of houses. In my own division I find nothing more tragic than the situation of an old mother, perhaps a widow, who becomes crowded out as her grandchildren increase in number and who has to go out and seek accommodation for herself. Further, from what I have been told by ministers of religion, in my division I believe that the married lives of many young couples which otherwise would have been successful have been wrecked as a result of the housing conditions under which they have had to make a start. These are important points to bear in mind.
I wonder whether the time has not arrived, on this question of private enterprise building in Scotland, for my right hon. Friend to get together all those concerned with the building industry and other aspects of the problem and find out why it is that private enterprise is languishing there. I believe that unless it is made to work, you will not overtake this slum problem, for the figures in England are so eloquent on the subject. Everyone will say that the great obstacle to a revival of private enterprise building in Scotland is the rating system, and I give the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) full marks for having touched on it, because it is my belief that that is the biggest nettle of the lot, and until we have grasped it, and grasped it firmly, we shall not get any permanent progress. I submit to my right hon. Friend that the time has come for a complete investigation into our rating system. After all, the last one was in 2289 1922, and on that occasion a Departmental Committee reported as follows:Parliament should recognise that the present system of rating is near to breaking point.I am not a bit surprised.
§ Mr. Cassells
Does the hon. Member suggest in all seriousness that there is any relationship whatever between the question of the proposed rating reform and the high cost of housing at the present moment?
§ Mr. Chapman.
No. That is another but very valid point to put. I thought, when the hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) raised that matter, that he had pointed out another of the nettles which we have failed to grasp, and I would like to back up the hon. Member for Brigg in urging my right hon. Friend to look into that matter and dispose of it. We may have higher standards than England, but the rating system, in Scotland is definitely holding back people who might in my opinion be building houses.
§ Mr. Chapman
I should like to have conclusive evidence before I could accept that. If there are differences of opinion on the subject, all the more reason for an inquiry. The present rating system may have worked successfully in 1663, but I doubt whether it is up to modern conditions. The Rating Committee sat in 1922, but I would point out that the amount raised by assessments in 1930 represents an increase of 146 per cent, over 1914. That is from the report of the Scottish Development Council on rating and taxation, which was made in 1934. At the same time I want to recognise that owners of property have received certain direct and indirect subventions. They have had the direct subvention of derating, and they have had indirect subventions in the form of increased——
§ Mr. Chapman
I was not thinking of house property in particular but of property in general. I wanted to make the point that owners of property have not 2290 been left entirely out in the cold. There have also been increased block grants to local authorities, which, of course, indirectly help the property owners. I suggest that, despite all those things, there is a case for inquiry—there are plenty of suggestions—on the subject of rating in Scotland. It is a leading question and one which deserves earnest investigation.
I would say, in conclusion, that if my right hon. Friend will use all the assistance that is available to him and not hesitate to grasp the many nettles that there are in regard to this problem, I believe he will have every Member of this House, irrespective of party, behind him.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
I think the Secretary of State for Scotland must realise that he has before him a very great task in regard to the housing of the people in Scotland. It is evident that on all sides there is real dissatisfaction with the present position, and coming, as I do, from the Camlachie Parliamentary Division, I certainly feel that something very substantial will have to be done to solve the housing problem there. In my division there are three wards. There is a ward that is fairly well-to-do, where the infantile mortality rate runs at round about 50; in the middle ward, as you cross the street from the best-off ward, the infantile mortality rate runs at about 90 to 100, sometimes higher, sometimes lower; and then, as you go further south and cross into the third ward, the infantile mortality rate has reached on occasions as high as from 160 to 170, but is now about 130. The people in the well-to-do ward are not any better people than in the Mile End ward, where there is the higher infantile mortality rate, but the housing conditions in the ward with the highest rate are ever so much worse than the housing conditions in the other wards, and I believe that, so long as this House and the Government allow those housing conditions to continue, they are responsible for the deaths of many of the infants born in that part of my constituency. I realise that successive Secretaries of State for Scotland have been genuinely anxious that something material should be done to improve the housing conditions, and yet we do not seem to be able to arrive at a solution.
In a previous Debate it became very apparent that there was a great deal of misgiving about the way in which build- 2291 ing prices had risen in Scotland as compared with England, and I then made the suggestion that a very small committee should be appointed by the Government to go into this matter of prices—that, and nothing more—and to find out how it was that housing cost so much more in Scotland than in England. I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will not do that now. What I have in mind is a very small committee, possibly of five people, that will get down to it and find a really satisfactory answer to the question.
Another point that appeals to me in this connection is that I think local authorities may not be giving the drive to their housing programmes that they ought to give. One of the reasons for that is that while there is a Government subsidy, there is also a local subsidy, and the local authorities in many cases feel that they are at just about the limit in regard to what their rates can carry. The consequence is that they cannot go on with a great expansion of their housing programme. Supposing they increase it by 100 per cent., it will mean, in spite of the Government subsidy, a substantial addition to the local rates, and many people in many of those poor houses will be asked to pay a substantial increase in rates and will yet themselves get no advantage from it. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not take into consideration the possibility of providing that the subsidy should be entirely a national subsidy, because as things stand at present in many districts in Scotland the rates are just about as high as the people are able to pay. I put the suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman that in many districts local authorities would be able to embark upon a great expansion of their housing programme if they had the knowledge that it would not place an intolerable burden upon the citizens whom they represent.
I think the point that was made by the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) about the difficulty that so many of the people find when they are going in for a new house, that they have no furniture, is a very important point, and I believe that something is necessary in the way of assistance to them in the furnishing of their homes. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) points out that in many 2292 cases they do not want the old furniture, because it will mean that there will be overcrowding in the new house if they take some of the old furniture with them from the miserable slum property from which they are possibly moving. Those people, very decent people, are surely entitled, when they are getting a better opportunity of housing, to some assistance with regard to their furniture. I find that constituents of mine who have had their names down for a house for a long time, when at last they get the offer of a house, come to me and tell me that they have been offered a house and that the rent is so-and-so, but that they cannot afford the rent out of their small income. I have taken the responsibility occasionally of saying to them, "Get into the house and take it, and then see about the rent afterwards. If you cannot pay your rent, well, then we shall have to have a hullabaloo about it. Your pressing problem is to get decent housing for yourself and your family." I certainly think the Scottish Office will have to take the necessary steps, in the solving of this problem, to see that the rents of the houses provided for the people are such as the people in their economic circumstances are able to pay. My contention is that the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he is going to justify himself at all in his office will have to do something much more substantial than has been done in the past in this connection.
I want now to say a word or two with regard to that part of the report which deals with the provision of milk for the children. I notice that approximately 300,000 children out of a total of 789,000 have been supplied with one-third of a pint daily. I notice also that a headmaster submitted a questionnaire to the pupils in the senior and junior divisions who were not taking milk, asking the reasons for their non-participation. Out of 189, only two suggested that the difficulty was economic. It costs 2½d. per week. When he asked, "Will you take it if you get it free?" 61 answered "Yes," and 128 answered "No." Obviously the children in answering that questionnaire did not want to parade the poverty of their parents. They did not want even their teachers to know that they were poor. I have not any doubt that it is the poverty of the family in so many cases which is responsible for milk not being taken. The number of children 2293 taking milk is falling off. On every hand, however, we are assured of a tremendous improvement in the fitness of the children since the introduction of the milk scheme. In order to try and prevent it falling off still more, the authorities are trying this flavour and that flavour in the milk. Would not the Secretary of State consider trying a new flavour which has not been tried hitherto, and that is to make the milk free? It is worth while the Minister experimenting in some districts to see what the results would be if every child were given the milk free.
I want to raise the question of National Health Insurance in connection with the approved societies. Evidently the Government have no intention of nationalising health insurance and the approved societies are to be retained. I am greatly concerned by the fact that so many people in the approved societies, through no fault of their own, are not able to get any of the additional benefits. I wonder whether the Secretary for Scotland would consider calling a conference of the societies in order to work out a system whereby the additional benefits can be provided for every person who pays a contribution under the National Health Insurance scheme. In the nature of things many of the approved societies have worse lives than others, and their members are possibly those who are most in need of the additional benefits. I am demanding that the Scottish Department of Health should go into this question seriously. It is for the Minister to take the necessary steps to see that people who are insured and are unable to get the additional benefit no longer suffer the present injustice.
My last point concerns the administration of pensions. Some time ago I asked the Minister whether he would consider calling a conference of the approved societies to discuss the whole questions of pensions administration with a view to increasing the amount of the pension. The Minister replied that the approved societies had nothing to do with the payment of pensions, and he did not see why they should be called into conference on the matter. I do not know what his experience is in his division, but my experience, as I go through various parts of the country, is to feel a great pity for the fearful hardships that so many of the poor people and widows are suffering on the 10s. per week pension. This is a 2294 very urgent question which is pressing on the local authorities. They have been called upon in many cases to give additional payments, and they would like to give much more, but they are held down by the fear of increasing the rates. The treatment of pensioners is a matter of urgent public importance. There have been many representations in the House and demands made for an increase of pension, but the Government have returned a hard refusal. Possibly at the back of their minds all the time is the consciousness of the tremendous expenditure upon rearmament which shuts out the possibility of an increase in the pension. A great problem is presented by the hardships which are being imposed on so many poor people—hardships which they should not be called upon to endure.
Alongside of it is the other problem of people who are not receiving pensions but who ought to receive them. They have not been able to produce evidence of the 104 stamps or have not been able to satisfy this or that statutory condition. As the Minister has to deal with so many complaints, he must realise how gravely many of our fellow-citizens are being injured because of this. It happens very often in connection with unemployed people who do not return their franked cards, not knowing what they have to do and not understanding the working of the system. I wonder how many hon. Members, if they were taken up to Room 14 and presented with an examination paper on the Pension Acts, would be able to pass? How many of them could answer a question like this: If you were an unemployed man for so long, what steps would you take to see that you were securing your pension rights? Yet the Department and this House expect all these people to know precisely everything that they ought to do. It may be said that they have been told and that circulars have been issued, but we all get circulars and often find a waste-paper basket for them. I am asking the Minister to consider setting up a committee or calling a conference of approved societies to go into the question of how to provide for the pensioners more adequately and to see that people know exactly what they ought to do in order to secure their rights.
I am not at all happy with regard to the position of Scottish affairs at the present time. I feel that this Debate has 2295 come too late in the Session, and that we should have had an opportunity like this a month ago. I suggest to the Government that they should have the report of the various branches of government in Scotland provided for Members at an earlier date. I hope that the Minister will do something this year in order to see that the people are decently housed, and that the standard of life in Scotland is materially improved.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Macquisten
This Debate is very similar to other Debates we have heard on Scottish housing. We have made very little progress and I wonder how much is our fault. We must bear some of the responsibility. I heard the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. J. J. Davidson) speaking about poverty in Scotland. Scotland has always been a very poor country. For a long period of time we were constantly resisting the demands of the country of the south to dominate us. We laid waste our most fertile parts in Lothians in Scotland and they were kept as desert so that the English invaders would have. nothing to eat and would have to go home again. We lived in poverty because we preferred poverty with liberty to comparative comfort without it. I do not know that we have ever completely recovered from the wars of Independence. We have suffered in the Highlands terribly from English domination. In 1746 they took the land from the clans; they took our chiefs from us and gave us landlords. The landlord naturally wishes to get money out of the estate and make it profitable. The chiefs business was to look after the clan. Until the clan spirit is restored both in industry and in the land we shall never have a happy population. The English also took away our national dress.
§ Mr. Cassells
May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he is prepared to lead the Scottish nation back to freedom and liberty?
§ Mr. Macquisten
I will not develop that. I am only giving historical results. I have no belief in turning back the clock of time. It is a bad thing to turn back the clock even when Summer Time is ended. It is bad for the clock. The English took away our national dress and abolished our language, and, perhaps the 2296 greatest outrage of all, which had a great deal to do with the depopulation of the Highlands, they took away the right of private distillation. A Highlander said to me, "The food is my own, why can't I cook it the way I want without the Government interfering?'' If you go back to first principles you will see that there is a great deal of logic in that. All these things made the people poor. The country was no longer the habitable place it used to be and the people cleared out by the thousands. But still there are enough left to make me feel that I am not in the least anxious to see, as the hon. Member for Maryhill wanted, more self-government, because I would not like to see the Highlands ruled by Glasgow Irishmen with a certain city treasurer as Prime Minister. I want to make the best of the circumstances in which history has landed us. Unfortunately, many Members of this House are singularly ignorant of the history of their own country.
§ Mr. Maclean
The hon. and learned Member might at least not slander the people of Glasgow who, on his own admission, were generous enough to put him into the town council and elected him to Parliament, although in the end they turned him out.
§ Mr. Macquisten
It is no slander to say that a man is an Irishman. He belongs to the Celtic race, the same as myself. It is a compliment.
§ Mr. Maclean
The manner in which you said it was the slander, and the manner in which you referred to a certain treasurer of the city of Glasgow.
§ Mr. Macquisten
I differ from him entirely in political opinion and I should not want him as Prime Minister. Although I may differ from him politically, I have great respect for him personally. I think he is a very bright fellow. We inherited our bad housing in Scotland. It is dreadful. One of the reasons was that not only were we a people in poverty, but we were a people always more or less at war with each other. Therefore, we congested ourselves in towns for defence from raids, perhaps from the Highlands or the South or the Border. We developed the tendency of living together in crowds. Take the old Edinburgh houses. I remember Lord Tweedsmuir saying that Sir Walter Scott was born in a slum. The old houses of those days, large tenements, we now call slums. I hate these tenements. It is one of the cruellest jokes that has been perpetrated on the people to take them out of little, perhaps insanitary, cottages, and to put them into big tenements. It means imprisonment for the women. We call that slum clearance. It is putting people in cells. It is practically putting them in jail, and we call it housing improvement.
I want to see very many houses built in Scotland, but the true way to bring that about is to disperse the population. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) spoke about wasting money on roads. We do not have nearly enough money spent on roads. Our roads are being strangled and road traffic is being strangled. I want to see our people scattered by means of proper road transport, instead of being strangled and cooped up as they have been by successive Governments and by enormous taxation on transport. I want a man to be able to travel to his work by the cheapest possible transport and to be able to get good nutrition. What is the use of telling the working man to buy fresh vegetables? By the time they get from the market to the retail shops they are stale and dear. Fancy telling a working man to buy green vegetables and salads, when perhaps he has to pay 2d. or 3d. for a lettuce, which he ought to be able to grow in his own garden. If he had the leisure which he ought to have he could 2298 cultivate his garden. The first thing that we must do is to liberate road transport from the stranglehold of the railways. Then we should spread the population and put up the houses.
In regard to dental treatment, the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) referred to the question of medical and dental attention. There would be no dentists needed if people were properly fed. I know an old gentleman of 85 with every tooth in its socket. He has never had anything in his life, in the way of chewing, but hard crusts. The tendency is to feed young children on sloppy food. Dentists and doctors do not seem to know anything about this question. At the bottom of every tooth there is a pad which needs to be kept hard by chewing. I remember a former Member for the Western Isles saying that all the people of over 70 in Stornoway had every one of their teeth in their sockets, and he added that now at the age of 17 the usual thing was for the teeth to have gone because of wrong feeding. It is nice and easy to give children bread and milk, but it is altogether wrong. Medical men should instruct the parents that the children must chew, and that if they did not chew they would lose their teeth. Children do not like crusts and they will hide them, but if they are hungry enough they will eat them. But not if you give them slops and soft food. The natives of Africa keep their teeth in good condition by hard chewing.
With regard to water supplies, I should like to know why it is that there is a shortage in Scotland, which is the one country possessing unlimited water. One of the reasons is that they want catchment boards and the laying of pipes to bring the water from long distances. In the country areas all that is necessary is to put down a two-inch bore under the directions of a good "dowser" and up will come the water. It is not necessary to go to any very great depth. If you go down 100 feet almost anywhere in Scotland you will get a water supply. Why is that not done? Why build great reservoirs when we have the water practically coming out of the rock, as if Moses had struck it. That is not done because it is too simple and does not involve great expenditure of capital.
In regard to housing, I should like to emphasise what I have said before. I do not believe in these scattered local 2299 authorities doing the housing. The thing needs to be simplified. We need a housing commission, with some public-spirited man, who has a sound knowledge of housing, to act as manager and chairman. If that were done we should be able to build houses at half the present cost. What happens at the present time with so many customers for building materials, local authorities, going into the market, is that the price of bricks and all other building materials goes up. It is a hopeless position. We need one comprehensive scheme. We ought to be able to say to a contractor, "We will give you a contract for 100,000 or 500,00 houses, which will find employment for the next 10 years." I know of one builder who told his men that he would give them employment for a definite period at a wage which was above the market rate, and the result was most satisfactory. I would ask the Secretary of State to turn his attention to this matter and see whether he cannot find the right man. I know there was a difficulty in finding a Director-General for the B.B.C. and for Imperial Airways, but surely he can get a Scottish Tudor Walters——
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I would rather be in Edinburgh a hundred times than here. I would not stay here five minutes.
§ Mr. Macquisten
If the right man were appointed the local authorities could send for him and ask him to make arrangements for the building of the houses they require. The grant could be made, the contracts could be settled and we should get the houses in a very short period, instead of having to wait for the next 20 years, while in the meantime our people are having to live in many cases in horrible houses.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The Secretary of State referred to the decrease in the infantile and maternal mortality, but he added that he did not want anyone to think that he was complacent. There is not the slightest reason why he should be complacent or why the thought of being complacent should have entered his mind. Although there is a slight reduction in the infantile and maternal mortality, there are two things to be taken into account. One is the extraordinary advances that have been made in science, sanitation, health services, dietetics, and so on. In view of the progress that has been made in these matters during the last few years, it is shameful that the mortality figures should be what they are at the present time. We are doing little more than hold our own, despite the advantages of all these scientific discoveries and aids. Though the Minister can record slight progress so far as infantile and maternal mortality is concerned, I would point out that any advantage which the community gets from that is offset by the decline in the birthrate. Therefore, I should say that there is no room for complacency on the part of the Minister when one goes over the report and considers what could be done if science were utilised, if we had a sane system of society and if we had a Government prepared to act in the interest of the people.
When we come to housing we have an indication not only of the bankruptcy of capitalism but of the terrible price that people have to pay for its bankruptcy. I have been in some awful houses recently in my own constituency and I could find similar houses in any constituency in Scotland including that of the Secretary of State. I know that in the constituency of his predecessor the housing conditions are almost unspeakable. It is a crime that people should be condemned to live in such houses. I have been in one where there is no such thing as daylight, though children are being born and reared in them. I know that in the Arctic regions there is no daylight for one part of the year, but, as compensation, for another part of the year there is daylight all the time, day and night. These houses have no compensation in the way of sunshine at any time. I have seen houses which people have tried to make clean and nice and habitable. They papered a bedroom, 2301 but a day or two afterwards the paper was hanging off the wall because of the damp; and here and there in the walls were holes which the rats had eaten through. It is an absolute crime that people should be condemned to live in such houses.
If those slum houses—where it is true they are not paying very much rent—are closed down, they are forced out into some new four or five-roomed houses and find that their rent has gone up two or three times. They are very poor people, and even with the smallest rents they have no margin at the end of the week. If they are put into a new house not only does the rent go up two or three times but they have to get new furniture. Week after week they carry a terrible burden of rent and the payment of instalments, and on housing estate after housing estate they are having to go short of food. That is the penalty they have to pay for a better house. Every week-end the shilling-a-week-men descend on the housing estates like locusts and they do not leave a green thing there. They empty the cupboard. The furniture and the clothing instalments and the rent have all to be paid, whether the mother or the children get food or not. It is obvious that something must be done by the Government for these masses of poor people who are existing under such terrible conditions.
I have heard various Members opposite express the most admirable sentiments about getting houses for the people, saying that we should not limit ourselves in any way but try all new methods of house-building, all kinds of schemes—in sort, do everything but the right thing. The senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) spoke of the terrible housing conditions in Dundee. She does not represent those who are suffering from bad housing, but rather those who are responsible for those housing conditions. Hon. Members opposite will work up an amazing amount of sentiment about the need for housing the people. They say try wooden houses, try any sort of house—try anything but getting rid of the robbers. That is the one thing they will not try. The hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) said he could not understand why there should be such a difference between building costs in Scotland and England. The explanation was given on one occasion by the pre- 2302 decessor of the present Secretary of State. The right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) had pointed out that the price of workmen's houses had gone up by £130 in two years. The then Secretary of State corrected him. He said that the increase was £126. We demanded a detailed statement of how that increase was arrived at, and he told us—and I am wondering whether the present Secretary of State can do any better than his predecessor.
How was that £126 made up? Increased cost of materials, £30; increased superficial area, £20; increased cost of building workers' wages, £6. That comes to £56 only, and so there is £70 missing, on each house. The Minister can wrestle with the problem as he likes. His predecessor wrestled with it, and after getting all the assistance possible from his secretaries he had to tell us that the £70 represented "floating factors." What are floating factors? That means smash-and-grab, robbery. Increased costs, £56; sheer unadulterated robbery, £70. That is the main reason why local authorities are having their building programmes held up. You may talk as you like about brick houses, stone houses, wooden houses, any kind of houses, but until you are prepared to put an end to robbery you will not get very far. The problem that confronts us in this House confronts every local authority. A conference of the Scottish local authorities passed a resolution urging that the Government should take control of the materials necessary for building houses and also increase the subsidies. That was not a Socialist conference. There were a few good Socialists present, like the hon. Member for Falkirk and Stirling (Mr. Westwood), but most of those who were representing the local authorities belonged to other than the Labour movement, yet they were all demanding that the Government should take control of materials for house building and provide increased subsidies in order to encourage the development of house building.
Housing conditions are worse than they have ever been in England. The unemployment, poverty and the terrible housing conditions are a disgrace. They cannot be tackled unless the Government are prepared to face their responsibilities. They should provide subsidies to allow the local authorities rapidly to extend 2303 the building of houses at rents that the people in Scotland can pay. It is a task that any Government worthy of the name would take on. One of the most terrible condemnations of this system is that young men and women who are about to be married or who have just been married, and who should receive our greatest consideration and aid, cannot be provided with houses. The policy of the National Government has laid it down that under no consideration can a newly-married couple be provided with a new house. Hon. Members on the other side utter all kinds of sentiments about their concern for the working class, yet they blindly and stupidly follow the Government.
§ Mr. Gallacher
No, it is the policy of this Government. Since 1931 the Government have been gradually cutting down their subsidies and by their policy of providing subsidies only for overcrowding and slum clearances, have made it utterly impossible for a young married couple to get a new house. From this side of the House we should utter the strongest possible condemnation of the Government for their policy in housing and for their handling of Scottish affairs. I look forward to the day when we shall have a Government which will actually represent the interests of the mass of the people in Scotland, when we shall have better times and real homes at rents that people can pay.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Hunter
I cannot go quite as far as the hon. Member in condemning the Health Department of the Scottish Office or the general administration of Scottish affairs. I have heard many condemnations of the Government and black pictures of the conditions in other parts of Scotland, and I am thankful that I represent a constituency where the housing problem is less pressing. I do not mean to suggest that I have anything to say against hon. Members who have been talking about the bad housing conditions that prevail in certain other cities and burghs; I know that what they have said is true, but I also have had experience of housing. When I was engaged in civic work I took a rather prominent 2304 part in the promotion of housing, and I flatter myself that the Town Council of Perth did me an honour by naming two of the streets of houses after me as a tribute to what I attempted to do in connection with the housing of our citizens.
I have no reason to complain of the enterprise of the local authorities. I served on a local authority which was deeply interested in houses, and as a result of my association with other local authorities I say that there is a genuine attempt and desire on the part of the burghs with which I have been associated to improve the housing conditions of the people. If I have any complaints to make about the Department of Health and its administration, it would be that its efforts require to be accelerated. The complaint that we had was that town councils did not get the opportunity of carrying through their housing schemes as speedily as they would have liked.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I take it that the hon. Member is by no means blaming the officials of the Scottish Office, who cannot answer for themselves.
§ Mr. Hunter
I have had considerable association with previous Secretaries of State for Scotland, although not so much with the present one because he has not been sufficiently long in office for me to be connected with him in that respect. I regret that the present Ministers were not in office when I was Lord Provost of the city of Perth. Far too many local authorities are content to carry on their negotiations with the Department by means of correspondence, but that is quite the worst thing they could do because the officials, who are nothing but courteous and respectful in their negotiations, are afraid to give decisions because of the many others who are on the steps of stairs above. On one occasion I had an interview with a previous Secretary of State for Scotland and expressed my difficulties and feelings. It was then that I realised how important it was that the heads of local authorities, housing convenors, provosts and lord provosts should go direct to the Minister. Not one Minister has ever let me down, and I have got everything I wanted. I went as an individual, and the records of the town council will show that I got everything I wanted by my direct speech with the Minister.
Is the hon. Member not aware that the Glasgow authority and every authority in Scotland have often and regularly had consultations with the Secretary of State for Scotland without getting one-twentieth of what they wanted?
§ Mr. Hunter
Perhaps they have not been as persuasive as I have been. I am a believer in the erection of new two-roomed houses, and I have often found myself up against a stone wall when I have approached the Scottish Office. Their argument has always been that there is a sufficient number of two-roomed houses already in existence, and they seem to expect the young folk to go into those houses. That is wrong, because the two-roomed houses that exist have not the modern requisites that we desire for our young people who are beginning life. What I regard as a two-roomed house is a house with a living room, a bedroom, a kitchenette, and a bathroom and lavatory accommodation. That is really, in effect, a three-roomed house, but it is only called a two-roomed house by the Secretary of State for Scotland. In our own city we cannot find houses for young people who desire to get married or have been newly married and have been compelled to stay with their parents. That is entirely wrong; young people, if they are to start life successfully, ought to have a house of their own. But they do not require a large house. Most of them have but little money to spend, and, while they may be able to furnish a two-roomed house, a three-roomed house as a rule is beyond them. If they are compelled to take a three-roomed house, in many instances one room remains unfurnished. If two-roomed houses can be provided for old people and for young people, we shall have gone a long way to cure the housing problem.
The question of slum clearance and overcrowding is being taskled successfully, though perhaps not so quickly as many of us would like, but it is not until one is up against the problem as a member of a local authority that one realises how difficult it is to get on with housing. The local authorities, as I have already said, are hindered in many ways because of the slowness with which the wheels of administration in the Scottish Office move. If they moved more quickly, the local authorities would respond more quickly. 2306 But when they have to start a scheme, first by agreeing, and then by preparing plans which have to be laid before the Scottish Office and examined, and which, after going backwards and forwards perhaps for months, are returned with various changes, private enterprise could build the whole scheme while it is being considered in this way. The reason why progress is not made in private building is due to the rating system, which makes it uneconomic for anyone to build a house to let at an economic rent. It cannot be done, and, until the rating system of Scotland is reformed in some way or other whereby rates are not based on rent, we shall not get private enterprise to build houses except for sale, which is a very slow process unless the houses can be taken by those who have the money to spare and the wisdom to take advantage of the many building society schemes; and even to such people their houses are probably a great burden for at least 20 years. That is why there is no private building——
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Would not the hon.. Member admit that the reason why private enterprise is not building houses is because it is not possible to make a profit by so doing?
§ Mr. Hunter
I think the hon. Member is quite correct. No person is going to take part in any kind of industrial enterprise unless he is going to make a profit. I am speaking, however, of the question of letting. People who build houses for sale do make a profit.
There is one aspect of the building of houses by local authorities that is often overlooked. They seem to imagine that, when they spend capital on a housing scheme, there is no return. That, however, is a mistake. There is a return, because, when a house goes up, it has to be let for the benefit of the community, and the statistics in relation to municipal housing show that there is a sufficient return to enable the municipalities to pay off their capital and sinking fund. Therefore, there is no loss. Moreover, an examination of the accounts of any local authority will show that the housing rate is ridiculously small compared with the enormous amount of capital that has been sunk in the scheme. That is because many local authorities have not yet realised that it will pay them to build houses, and to build houses quickly. If 2307 that fact were realised to a greater extent, greater progress would be made in housing.
I was very glad to hear the references to the supply of milk. That also is a question in which I took much interest while I was engaged in civic administration. I had something to do with the founding of a maternity and child welfare scheme, and I also had the good fortune to be a trustee of a gentleman's estate. As a result of my efforts in connection with this work, I got from the trustees a very substantial sum of money which was invested with the town council on the one condition that the whole revenue from the investment should be handed over to a ladies' committee who supervised the maternity and child welfare scheme. As a result, a substantial income comes to those ladies, who are voluntarily doing the work, and to whom I take off my hat and give the greatest praise for the splendid social work they are doing. They are thus enabled to have at their disposal a substantial sum of money which they use for the benefit of the mothers and the children by providing them with extra food, milk and medicines which are not given to-day by the local authority. I am glad to think that there is a prospect of local authorities being given power to procure milk at a cheap rate and supply it to expectant and nursing mothers and children under five who attend these maternity and child welfare centres. I am confident that the result will be a great improvement in the general health of the community.
Fortunately, I have the honour to represent a constituency which has been very progressive, where the death rate, both infantile and adult, is very low, and where the most severe disease that troubles the people is old age. Fully 50 per cent, of those who die die after the age of 65. That is due to the fact that there has been a progressive policy on the part of the local authority in the past, and because we are blessed with many open spaces and recreation grounds where the workers of the city can spend their evenings, and where in the winter provision is made for their healthy exercise. These are the lines which should be followed by local authorities, to whom, in my judgment, as much blame can often be attached as may be attached to the Scottish Office. I have never at any time found the Scottish Office to stand in the 2308 way of a genuine scheme put forward by a local authority to improve the health of its community.
The suggestion has been made that all our troubles would fly away if only we had self-government in Scotland, but that is not my belief. I do not believe for a moment that Scotland would be any better off for having a Parliament of its own. But I believe there is a great need for something to be done whereby the voice of Scotland may become more articulate, and if that could be brought about the results might be better. We have in Scotland a Convention of Royal Burghs, and in the work of that convention I have been associated with my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood). I hope he will agree with me in the suggestion I am about to make. The Convention of Royal Burghs includes representatives of every burgh in Scotland, large and small. There is also the County Councils Association, which includes representatives of every county. Is there any reason why the Convention of Royal Burghs and the County Councils Association, who directly represent the people, should not be allowed to set up a statutory committee within themselves?
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have repeatedly asked the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Office to convene conferences of the very bodies he has mentioned, for the purpose of discussing plans for the economic and agricultural development of Scotland, but that on every occasion they have refused? Does not that point to the fact that the Scottish Office are against giving any statutory powers to these organisations?
§ Mr. Hunter
It is quite obvious that great minds think alike, and it is probable that, in view of my support of the hon. Member for Maryhill, they may open their ears a little more widely to the suggestion we are making. I think that, if that were done, and if these organisations were given power to initiate legislation, which would be purely Scottish in its nature, that legislation, when it came to be presented to the House of Commons, would be accepted as the unanimous voice of Scotland. I have sufficient faith in this House to believe that if that were done this House would give it a speedy passage through its legislative processes. Also there is a sugges- 2309 tion made with reference to the Scottish Standing Committee. We have English Members on that Committee, and I suspect them of not being quite capable of dealing with Scottish affairs. I think it should be left entirely to Scotsmen to revise Scottish legislation. I have every respect for the way the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) stands up in this House for Scottish affairs. I admire him for that, although I do not always agree with him. Certainly he speaks for Scotland. If something on the lines I have suggested is adopted by the Scottish Office, many of the problems which beset us will speedily pass away.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Mathers
It is very tempting to follow the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Hunter) along the line which he has taken in the last part of his speech; and most tempting for me, because I have felt for many years that what is wrong with Scotland is that it does not have a Parliament to look after its own affairs. It has been lamented in this Debate that Scotland lags far behind England in respect of housing development, and various Members have asked what is the reason. I think we can find the reason, in part, in the fact that in 1707 "a parcel o' rogues in a nation" took away the independent Scottish Parliament, which at that time had a record of achievement not equalled by any other parliament in the world. I believe we should be able to serve Scottish interests much better if we had in Edinburgh an opportunity of dealing, with authority and power, with matters that affect Scotland in every way.
This afternoon we have welcomed, in the making of his first statement on Scottish Estimates, a new Secretary of State for Scotland. It is only three months ago—on the 19th April—that I had the pleasure, during the time Parliament was not sitting, of attending in the City of Edinburgh the ceremony of granting the freedom of the capital of Scotland to the late Secretary of State for Scotland. So short had been his period at the Scottish Office that there had not been time before then to confer upon him that highest honour that a Scotsman can have, the freedom of the capital city of his native country. This afternoon there have been in my mind several times what seemed 2310 to me the outstanding words used by the then Secretary of State in the speech of thanks he made on that occasion, that there was "muckle to be done for Scotland." We have had an indication that the new Secretary of State for Scotland also believes that there is "muckle to be done for Scotland." If he did not believe it, he certainly has had it well rubbed in this afternoon.
I am not going to develop the argument I made last year on these Estimates. On that occasion, I was able to point out that in the constituency I represent the highest increase in housing costs for any local authority in Scotland had taken place. We have had since that time some analysis of those housing costs, and I remember that the then Secretary of State commended the town council of Bathgate for the stand they had taken in refusing to allow themselves to be put in the position of paying what they considered to be an excessive price for the houses. Tenders had been presented; they showed an increase of 25 per cent, on previous tenders for similar houses; the town council said, "We cannot stand this; we will not go on with these houses"; and six weeks later they had revised tenders very considerably below the tender they had objected to. It was quite evident that at least part of the increased cost could be removed without any great difference in the conditions under which those costs were made up. I shall not follow that line to-day.
I want to raise two administrative matters in relation to housing, and I hope it will be possible for the Under-Secretary to deal with them. One does not affect me territorially, but it does affect me in respect of the calling I pursued before I came to this House, the only calling I have ever pursued in my life, the calling of a railway clerk. This affects a railway clerk in the county of Fife. Why I am so keenly interested, indeed aggrieved, is that the county council of Fife have declared that a railway clerk, or any clerk for that matter, is not a member of the working class, and they deny to individuals in that position the opportunity of getting three-apartment houses at a lower standard rent than is charged to those who do come within the definition of the term "working class." It is not as if this had been done in only an individual case. One communication that I have here is in the form of a 2311 cyclostyled letter, and it is addressed to one of these railway clerks:As you are not of the 'working class,' in terms of the definition adopted for fixing rents of the three-apartment cottage type of house, your rent as from 28th May next will require to be £21 per annum.Prior to that, the rent had been £18 10s. per annum. When my colleague in the railway service objected he was told:You are in the clerical service of the railway company, and the county council have instructed me that clerical workers are not to be considered as being of the working classes, and you might please note that the decision is not arrived at from scrutiny of salary or wages received, but according to the vocation of the tenant.I claim that the Secretary of State for Scotland ought to take cognisance of this, as I consider, illegal action on the part of the Fife County Council, and to bring a railway clerk, or any other clerk, within the ambit of the provisions for enabling those houses to be obtained at rents which it is within the power of working-class tenants to pay. I would take the members of the county councils themselves to the Statutes that govern all Housing Acts, which have, if I am not mistaken, within their preamble the provision that those Acts relate to the provision of "houses for the working classes." The point I want to make is that, apart altogether from my claim that a railway clerk is a member of the working class, if I am correct in saying that the houses are for members of the working class, then, most definitely that puts the communication and the attitude of the Fife County Council out of court entirely. If this individual is not a member of the working class, then, in keeping with the provision that I have indicated, they are not entitled to let people of that class at all who are not members of the working class, in their definition, have houses to rent.
The other point that I want to raise is one in which my constituency and certain burghs in that constituency find themselves very keenly interested. It is the question of the interpretation of the Section in the 1925 Housing Act which debars members of local authorities who are tenants of local authority houses from having a vote in that local authority upon housing matters. I raised the question some time ago in correspondence with the Secretary of State for Scotland, 2312 the predecessor of the present right hon. Gentleman, but before I got my reply it was the present Secretary of State who was able to give me the indication of the attitude of the Department. Perhaps if I quote part of the reply I received from the Secretary of State, it will indicate the position that is taken up.I might explain that the provisions of this Section have operated to prevent certain councillors who are the tenants of municipal houses from voting on the question of the fixing of rents, but I am not aware of any difficulty having arisen under the Section with regard to voting on other housing matters.In my constituency there are several small burghs where quite a number of the councillors are resident in local authority houses, that is houses provided with local authority and Government subsidy. In South Queensferry, for example, there are four councillors out of nine in that position, and I understand, although I have not checked the figures, that in Bo'ness there are at present in council houses seven out of 12 of the councillors; in Armadale seven out of nine, and in Whitburn also seven members of the council of nine resident in local authority houses. The position of these councillors ought to be more clearly defined. There is the question of the interpretation of "beneficial interest." These are the words that govern the position in the Statute, and the position is becoming so acute and so many members of local authorities are becoming tenants of the local authority, that it is absolutely necessary that a proper definition of the limitations that are placed upon them should be indicated by an authoritative pronouncement from the Secretary of State. If any authoritative pronouncement can be made to-night, I shall be very glad, but it should take an even more authoritative form than a statement in this House. It ought to be included in a circular of instructions to the different local authorities, because it is not merely a question of the opinion of the Secretary of State, but of the interpretation by the provost or whoever is presiding over the meetings of the local authority, when he has regard to the words "beneficial interest." For their guidance, these people are entitled to know precisely the limitation that is imposed by that particular term.
I have only a few more minutes within the allotted time, and I want to use what remains of my time to draw attention to 2313 one particular point and to ask for some indication from the Under-Secretary, when he comes to reply, of the position of the Scottish Office. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kincardine (Sir M. Barclay-Harvey) dwelt to some extent upon die pollution of rivers, and he added that he was also anxious to see that the pollution of the air in cities was prevented. I want to see the pollution of the air in the countryside prevented by better steps being taken to stop the terrible nuisance that is caused by fumes from burning pitheaps. Can the Under-Secretary tell the Committee the experience of the Department of Health with regard to these burning heaps?
In many cases fires must arise from carelessness and from the putting of hot slag upon heaps when it should be more carefully dealt with, so as not to start a fire that is never put out. Or does experience show that these huge masses of waste material develop heat and that the fires are due to spontaneous combustion, or is it a combination of both? In any case, I want to emphasise how very serious is the position. You go out into the open country, where you can see for a considerable distance round about you. There is some evidence of mining, and very soon, quite a long distance away from the pits that have been sunk, you find your nostrils assailed with a stench that is certainly very unpleasant. When you think of people living all their lives practically within reach of these fumes, it is a terrible punishment indeed for them to endure. It certainly cannot be good for health, and even where it is not looked upon definitely as a nuisance and a menace to health, it is certainly a very unpleasant thing.
I would like to know what action is being taken in a general way—I am not going to cite any particular case, although I could do that—by the Department of Health for Scotland to check this sort of pollution of the atmosphere, which, I am certain, everybody will agree, requires to be attended to, if they have any experience at all of the terrible conditions that are involved in living within reach of fumes of that kind. I do not want to continue beyond my time, but I simply emphasise these points in the hope that to-night we may get a reply regarding them, and that, in the period that lies ahead, the Department of Health 2314 for Scotland, by administrative action, will take some steps to see that the points which I have put forward are explained and remedied.
§ 9.5 p.m.
At this late hour the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) will forgive me if I do not follow him in some of the points he has raised in his speech, which I regret I did not hear in full. As far as I understood, he was raising a question which had been referred to earlier in the Debate by the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston), with regard to the question of the pollution of the atmosphere. The right hon. Gentleman gave us some notable figures on that matter and compared Manchester with Glasgow. As far as I understood, the balance came out decidedly in favour of Glasgow, but I should have been much more happy about the matter if the right hon. Gentleman had been a little more definite in the figures he put before the Committee. Air pollution, whether it is in Glasgow or in Manchester, is bad, and must be dealt with by the Departments of Health for both countries. The important matters which have been raised during the Debate have been housing and water supplies. With regard to housing, I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State for Scotland in his very admirable introductory speech stressing the point of amenities. He urged that local authorities should have great care indeed with regard to the architecture of the buildings they were proposing to erect both in the burghs and in the landward areas. During my lifetime I have travelled a good deal about Scotland and I have been shocked, not in my own constituency, by the monstrosities which one often sees throughout the countryside erected by local authorities. I was delighted to hear this afternoon the timely warning from the Secretary of State with regard to the importance of this matter.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
With all due respect to the architectural construction of the houses which are going up, are they not a tremendous advance on the awful buildings for which employers of labour have been responsible for erecting throughout the length and breadth of my native land?
The hon. Member will forgive me if I do not follow him into the iniquities of landlords who have been 2315 responsible for the erection of these houses. At the present moment I am dealing with amenities, and I am glad that the Secretary of State stressed the importance of local authorities seeing that as far as possible the buildings which they erect, having regard to the increased number of houses which are necessary, shall not be in any way in the nature of an eyesore. I fully agree with the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), and I hope he will realise that I do agree with him, that the housing conditions of Scotland leave very much indeed to be desired. I was dealing with the question from the point of view of amenities.
I think beauty is a joy for ever. I fully agree with the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs in many of the serious matters he raised in his very forcible and, if he will forgive my saying so, his very dramatic speech. I want to say one or two things in regard to housing needs in the rural areas. I have heard a good many of the speeches which has been made this afternoon but I have not heard a very great deal said about the conditions in the rural areas. We have heard much about the sins of omission on the part of landlords in town and country alike. We have heard something of the sins of commission as well. I want to speak as the representative of a purely agricultural constituency where farming is the only industry. That industry has not been in very happy circumstances recently, and although there has been a good deal of criticism about the housing conditions and about the actions of landlords in town and country, I do not think the point has been stressed sufficiently—in fact, I am sure it has not—that a very great deal has been done in the rural areas of Scotland by landlords in providing proper accommodation and conditions for workers who live in tied cottages. I know that a tied cottage is like a red rag to a bull to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. I have heard them say so many times, but perhaps those who represent agricultural constituencies have not sufficiently stressed the fact that a great 2316 deal has been done to provide proper accommodation for the workers, very often at much self-sacrifice, by the owners of the soil. I do not think any hon. Member occupying a seat above the Gangway will deny that.
Is the hon. Member aware that I have figures from the Secretary of State himself which prove that less agricultural acreage is being worked and that there are 2,000 less agricultural workers being employed?
That hardly meets my point. It is an echo, a very faint echo, of a speech made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) a few days ago in Committee of Supply. I have not the figures at my disposal the hon. Member may have, but that does not daunt me in making the assertion, and in making it again, that a great deal has been done by rural landlords in Scotland to provide decent accommodation for farm workers. This has been done at very great individual sacrifice. When this legislation affecting the rural workers of Scotland was before the House, I ventured to call attention to the very heavy burden which is laid upon rural proprietors in providing this accommodation. It would not be in order for me to suggest what the Government might see fit to do in order to give them increased assistance, and if I were even to suggest increased assistance, I know that the suggestion would meet with shouts of derision from hon. and right hon. Gentleman above the Gangway. All that it is in order for me to do to-night, in endeavouring to reply to some of the things that have been said about rural housing conditions, is to point out that while things are far below the standard we would all wish to see in Scotland, a very great deal has been done, at very great cost, to see that the rural workers are housed in fairly decent and tolerable conditions.
I want now to say a few things regarding water supplies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling referred to the question of river pollution, and, among other rivers, he mentioned the River Tweed. I was glad to hear him mention the River Tweed, because I have recollections of a certain Parliamentary Commission sitting in Edinburgh under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scot- 2317 land) Act, in 1934, when the River Tweed came very prominently into the picture. At that time the corporation of the city of Edinburgh were applying, under the Provisional Order Procedure, for permission to take compensation water which daily poured down the River Tweed from the Talla reservoir. The Parliamentary Commission refused the city of Edinburgh the right to take compensation water which at that time they were bound to discharge, on the. ground that when that scheme to supplement the water supplies of Edinburgh was first undertaken, some 50 or 60 years ago, the City Fathers saw to it that the water pipes were two and a-half times bigger in diameter than was necessary for the purpose of carrying water from Talla to Edinburgh, a distance of some 50 or 60 miles, because they envisaged the time when they would have to provide increased supplies. Even at that time, the water consumption of Edinburgh was increasing formidably, and I would remind the Committee that the water consumption per capita in Scotland has always been far greater than in England. I do not intend to try to give any reason for that. The City Fathers at that time thought rightly that when the time came they would tap the adjacent scheme to the Talla scheme.
The Corporation of Edinburgh came to this House, by the somewhat circuitous route of the Provisional Order Procedure, in order to get power to take compensation water when they found that the water supplies of the Scottish metropolis were running very low. The commission refused those powers and in my opinion—I was a member of the commission—they were justified in doing so, because the evidence so strongly brought out the fact that when the Talla scheme was originally undertaken, it was not a temporary measure, but was undertaken with regard to what might be a larger desire in future on the part of the citizens of Edinburgh—[Interruption.] I did not quite hear what the hon. Member said.
§ The Chairman (Sir Dennis Herbert)
It would be much easier for me to follow the hon. Member if he addressed the Chair instead of carrying on private conversations with other hon. Members.
I had no wish to carry on a private conversation, Sir Dennis, but some stray remarks caught my ear. I have 2318 said that the Parliamentary Commission refused the Provisional Order promoted by the Corporation of Edinburgh at that time, but some 12 or 18 months later the City of Edinburgh applied directly to the House, by way of a Private Bill, and on that occasion I had the audacity to get up and address a few remarks to the House. The House was not disposed to turn down that Private Bill promoted by the City of Edinburgh, and it was passed. The result is that they now have power to take compensation water which, under the Talla scheme, they were under an obligation daily to discharge down the River Tweed. I well remember that the water engineer of the City of Edinburgh told the commission that in his opinion the discharge of compensation water, not merely with regard to the Talla scheme, but with regard to any scheme anywhere in Great Britain, was simply a vain sacrifice to the river god.
I have gone into greater details than I had intended, but I come now to the crux of the question of river pollution. With regard to the city of Edinburgh taking compensation water which they were bound to discharge, under the Talla scheme, down the River Tweed daily, the point was most strongly made in the evidence that down the lower reaches of the Tweed the mills were polluting the river, and if the compensation water were taken the last condition would be very considerably worse than the first. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that at an early date in the next Session, or in another Parliament, he and his friends will ask for a searching inquiry into the whole question of river pollution in Scotland. He mentioned the River Tweed, and that is why I have taken the liberty this evening of raising the question of the Talla scheme and the taking of the compensation water under that scheme, which was bound to be poured down the River Tweed.
Many subsequent speakers have raised the question of water supplies in the rural areas of Scotland. With regard to that, just as with regard to the necessity of providing proper and adequate housing accommodation for the rural community in Scotland, many and great difficulties arise. I have ventured to say in this Committee, and it did not meet with an unfavourable reception from the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs, that a great deal had been done by those directly 2319 responsible for the ownership of land with regard to water supplies. But, as I say, many and great difficulties arise. You have, for example, to consider the difficulties that arise from the actual dearth of water—not merely drought—in many districts. Adequate water supplies are a very clamant need. After all, if you have not got a proper water supply you cannot have a proper sewage system. Many instances have been given to-night of the insanitary conditions in which many people in rural Scotland perforce have to live, and I was deeply grieved to hear them, and I certainly could not combat the assertions made: they are only too painfully true. But I do wish that the Government would very seriously consider this question of water supplies. I have ventured to give some facts about what I still think was not merely the oversight but the negligence of the city of Edinburgh in this connection, and I am sure that there are many burghs in Scotland where the water supplies are not all that they should be—indeed, if the facts were known, are not all that the inhabitants of those burghs would desire.
The hon. Lady the Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh), in her very interesting speech, said she was rather against the self-imposed time-limit under which Scottish Members for two or three Sessions had operated when we were discussing Scottish Estimates in Committee of Supply. She suggested that we should have longer and more detailed speeches from those who have, perhaps, greater knowledge and experience than some of us can pretend to have. I hope that on more mature reflection she will realise that in an ancient Kingdom like Scotland, where we are all drawn very closely together, to whatever party we belong, it is desirable that on these occasions, so far as is reasonably possible, hon. Members and right hon. Members in all parts of the House should have an opportunity to be heard.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Cassells
It almost seems presumptuous on my part to intervene at this late hour, particularly following the spate of oratory from the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie). I am sure that, speaking on behalf of hon. Members on this side of the Committee, I can at least say that we shall definitely in the future look 2320 forward with the greatest keenness to the hon. Gentleman's participation in Debates of this sort.
§ Mr. Cassells
I was proceeding on the assumption that it was. In those circumstances I beg to withdraw anything I said in that connection. With regard to the subject-matter on which I rise to address the Committee, I wish first of all to associate myself completely with the point made by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) in connection with his plea to the Minister concerning old age pensions. As the Minister knows, on more than one occasion I have placed Questions on the Order Paper about this very important Scottish problem. The last Question was an effort to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman, and through him from his Department, detailed figures concerning public assistance payments made to persons who were in receipt of old age pensions in Scotland. The answer I received was rather astonishing, because he raised the question of local administration, and said he was rather diffident about instructing local authorities to make the proper and necessary investigation. I venture respectfully to submit that, having regard to the constant and clamant demand from all parts of this House for the increase of the payments in respect of old age pensions, he ought in his wisdom and in the exercise of the high office which he at present occupies at least to pay due regard to those requests and, if at all possible, to cause investigation to be made on the lines which in my opinion I have very properly indicated.
The only other matter to which I wish to invite attention is one upon which practically every speaker this afternoon has dwelt and that is the question of housing. I wish to associate myself completely with the comment which was made by the hon. Lady the senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) on the brevity—it may be the compulsory brevity—of the statement by the Secretary of State. It may be that other Members should, on occasions like this, be subjected to some time limit, but having regard to the importance of the right hon. Gentleman's office and the functions which he is called upon to 2321 perform, I believe he ought to be given an opportunity of explaining more fully and with greater detail the facts and circumstance pertinent to a question like that of housing.
I propose to canvass the housing problem from two points of view only. I wish first to deal with it not so much from the public health standpoint as from the standpoint of environment and the effects on the individual. The Minister indicated this afternoon that the vital statistics for Scotland this year were, in his opinion, more satisfactory than they have been in the past. I am prepared to accept those premises. The right hon. Gentleman went on to refer to the desirability of ''the healthy mind in the healthy body" and I entirely concur with him in what he said on that point, but what I wish to point out to him is that, linked up with this question of housing conditions, is the question of environment.
In the criminal courts of Scotland, when an adolescent person is charged with some offence, and when we go back into the history of the case, we often find that it is the unfortunate environment in which the individual has been brought up that has played a very important part. I am not suggesting that the mere fact that a person has been born in more salubrious home circumstances should, of itself, lead to the healthier type of mind to which the Minister referred; but I do say that environment is a vitally important factor. We may plead as much as we like for the better treatment of adolescents, for Borstal reform, for the appointment of psycho-analysts in juvenile courts and for prison reform, but I say, with confidence, that unless and until we realise that the foundations of good society, in this as in other lands, rest almost entirely in the homes where children are born and where they are brought up to understand what life means, we shall make little progress. Unless we are prepared to understand the importance of that factor, our other efforts at reform will to a great extent be stultified.
The Minister this afternoon could not possibly deal precisely with all the facts and circumstances. He was compelled, no doubt, to pass over particular criticisms of conditions in particular areas, but as Members of this Committee it is our re- 2322 sponsibility and duty to draw his attention and that of his Department to specific complaints in specific areas whether we represent those areas or not. The Minister is new to his office but he must realise that he is saddled with responsibilities which his predecessors have left him and as far as attention to Scottish health matters is concerned, I contend that his predecessors have been neglectful of the interests of the Scottish people. It is not my duty nor is it any part of my responsibility to accuse any person or body of persons, unless I am prepared to support my statement with tangible evidence. It is easy to say "I will do a certain thing"; it is an entirely different matter to be tested in the light of promises and statements made.
When the discussion on these Estimates took place last year the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston), at my request, placed before the then Secretary of State certain photographs which had been taken on my instructions. They showed shocking and deplorable housing conditions which had then been existing for many years in the county of Dumbarton which I have the honour to represent. It was said from the Government side that due investigation would be made into them. One of those photographs depicted a house on the loch side at Arrochar. The house was 200 years old and in it a man and his wife and six little children lived on a stone floor in a single apartment. We were told that investigation was to be made. There has been no investigation. There has not even been a representative sent from the Department to see that house and ascertain whether the complaint was justified or not. Another photograph was taken showing open water-closets at Dalvast Row. We had the same speech from the former Minister and the same results have followed.
This matter can easily be tested. The only suggestion of remedy which has been thrown before the Committee this afternoon is that we shall act like ostriches and hide our heads in the sand, in the hope that things may better themselves in the future. To attempt to deal with the present position by suggesting the erection of wooden houses is a definite admission of defeat. It is an admission on the part of the Government that they are 2323 unable or unwilling to deal with this very important social problem in the only way in which it is possible to deal with it. The Minister to-day said that we still required 250,000 houses to meet the housing position in Scotland. His predecessor on 24th June, 1937, used precisely the same figure. He said then, that 250,000 houses were required. More than a year has flown and still we find that no remedial effects are apparent.
§ Mr. Colville
I am sure the hon. Member would not wish to misrepresent what I said. I explained that the figures which I gave were round figures, but I also pointed out that more rapid progress had been shown in the building of houses in the last half-year.
§ Mr. Cassells
I entirely bow to the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made, and I am satisfied, knowing him as I do, that any statement which he makes in this House or anywhere else is made in all good faith. At the same time I venture this statement, that there has not been as rapid progress with housing in Scotland in the past year as we were entitled to look for. How comes it that the housing progress in Scotland has been stultified? I entirely agree with the point made by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) that we may talk as much as we light about this problem, but when we get down to brass tacks it is a question of cost, and, that being so, the Government are permitting themselves to be driven to adopt the thoroughly unsuitable alternative of the erection of wooden houses. What is the history of this question of cost? On 24th June, 1937, the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman admitted that, as compared with the previous year, there was an increase in cost of £100 per house. He said:Roughly speaking the price of houses have risen £100. … I have analysed the elements in that rise, and, as far as I have been able to judge, £40 is accounted for by the rise in the cost of materials and wages, and £60 is unaccounted for—it can only be put down to what might be called 'scramble.' "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th June, 1937; col. 1409, Vol. 325.]It was not admitted in this House that this scramble meant profit, but there is absolutely no doubt at all that it does mean profit, and the test of truth of that 2324 is to be found, not in any speech emanating from this side, but in a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office on that same date, when he was dealing with a suggestion from this side that the subsidy should be increased. He said:Take one remedy suggested. Local authorities have suggested that we should raise the subsidy from £6 15s. to £9. If you capitalise £6 15s., you get a capital value of about £150, and therefore to raise the subsidy to £9 is equivalent to adding about £70 to the capital value of the subsidy. It is our opinion that to add £70 to the capital value of the subsidy would be to throw it into the scramble. If that is true, then it is important. If we add £70 to the scramble, and the scramble goes on at the same rate as during the last 12 months, we come back at the end of the year with no advantage whatever from the £70."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th June, 1937; col. 1409, Vol. 325.]What a pathetic faith the right hon. Gentleman has in private enterprise, to admit, as he did on that occasion, that if the subsidy were increased from £6 15s. to £9 a year, instead of any financial benefit accruing to the local authority it would definitely accrue to the local builders. That was the position then, and we were told then by the Minister that everything was being done to control prices. Yet on 29th March, 1938, he admitted that the price had fluctuated from £100 to £126, and to-day, in this Debate, it was stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Stirling that the price is now roughly £140. Are we, on this side, not entitled to say that this question of the rise in prices, in so far as private enterprise is concerned, is completely outwith the control of the Government? What is the alternative? It is not to be found in the method by which the Minister suggested that the problem is capable of being tackled. That is an admission of defeat, and even the recommendation to increase the subsidy from £6 15s. to £9 is of no use, in view of the actual state of affairs. I thoroughly agree with the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), when he said that the local authorities have done all they could to assist with house building and that it has got beyond their competence and ability to deal with it. It is a Government problem, and it is my submission, therefore, that it is the Government's responsibility. In view of the fact that the Government must now realise that private enterprise has failed, the Government should step in and take its place.
2325 I wish now to refer my remarks to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn). During the past few weeks I have been very actively engaged in his constituency—no doubt he may be aware of it—dealing with complaints sent to me. I do not know why they were not sent to him. They were complaints dealing with a rent-rebate scheme which is in process of application by the county council of that area. The relevance of this point is that if the Government are to cater for the housing necessities of the people of Scotland, they ought to realise that they should build houses the rents of which it is within the ability of the people to pay. What is the position in Renfrewshire? At the beginning of last week I found that tenants in municipallyowned houses, occupying two-apartment houses, five units, and paying a rent of £14, are, under this rent-rebate scheme, served with new missives increasing the £14 to £29 12s. on the compulsitor that they shall forthwith remove from the two-apartment to a three-apartment house, with the only alternative that if they do not sign that missive, agreeing to move and to pay the increased rent, they shall forthwith be ejected.
I say, with a full sense of responsibility, that that is a problem in regard to which even the Under-Secretary of State will realise, apart from the office which he occupies, but as the Member for that constituency, that he has a definite responsibility. I pledged myself to bring this matter to his attention at the earliest possible moment, and I hope that when he replies this evening he will at least, if he has not the information before him, give me what I ask on behalf of his constituents, namely, a definite undertaking that at the earliest possible moment he will cause the necessary investigation to be made in connection with this very proper complaint.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Captain McEwen
I cannot help feeling somewhat envious of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Cassells), who has just resumed his seat, in that he has had sufficient time on his hands to undertake to remedy the grievances of another constituency besides his own. I wish that I——
I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that I occupy 2326 a position outwith this House entirely, and that it was in that advisory capacity that my services were enlisted; and even at that I gave the undertaking to bring the matter before the Minister. I therefore hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not take any exception to it.
§ Captain McEwen
I do not think I was taking exception to it, and I trust that the hon. Member will receive my bantering remarks in the spirit in which they were given. I rise for the briefest possible space of time to say that I entirely agree with what the senior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) said with regard to the self-denying ordinance, and I would point out to her that this self-denying ordinance is a matter of admiration among our English colleagues in this House. It is not only a reform, but a pioneering reform. I listened with pleasure to the sympathetic reception which the Secretary of State gave to the report on two-roomed houses. There has been a good deal of prejudice among hon. Gentlemen opposite against those houses, but I would remind them that in the smaller burghs in Scotland there is a crying need for them, especially for the old people for whom I understand they are particularly to be set apart. In the larger burghs, such as Glasgow, no doubt this kind of accommodation is to be deplored, but that is not the case in the smaller burghs, and I was glad to hear to-day that they are not to be deprived of these houses.
The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) referred to a passage in the report of the Department which deals with dental necessities, and he showed the Committee, what is indeed the fact, that there are large deficiencies in this matter so far as not only juveniles but adults are concerned. I am not an expert in these matters, but it is only right to point out that in a country like Scotland, where we boast of the beauty of the lassies, it is a common thing for girls in the early twenties to go to a dentist and have every tooth removed. I cannot believe that there is the slightest necessity for anything of that kind. I believe that the dental profession frown on the removal of teeth and that a great deal of repair can be done to teeth. The removal of teeth at an age when such a drastic measure cannot possibly be necessary is greatly to be deplored, and it 2327 shows that this is a matter to which attention might well be directed. I would like to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on assuming his high office, and I hope that he will have a tenure of that office which for Scotland will be rich and fruitful in its yield.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Westwood
I want to associate myself with the preliminary remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen) with regard to the self-denying ordinance in speeches. It has worked most successfully, and I hope that it has been equally useful in the Debate. Before the Debate finishes to-night at 11 o'clock 24 speakers representing Scottish constituencies will, as a result of that self-denying ordinance and the good team spirit that has been shown on both sides of the House, have been able to put their various points and to deal with the various aspects of administration. I always prefer a short speech and a good one to a long speech and a windy one any day. Let me congratulate the Department on the very admirable document which they have prepared so early in the year to enable us to deal with the problems which we are discussing to-day. It was ready for printing, I understand, on 31st March, and the Department is to be congratulated upon having made it possible for us to have it so early in the year. If I had my way I would see that a copy of this valuable report was placed in the hands of every administrator in Scotland. Within its 220 pages we have the whole of the administrative work of the Department of Health set out, not too minutely, but summarised in such a way that makes it possible for the average administrator to understand the tremendous amount of work that is being done in Scotland in the interests of health.
Although we are of different political opinions in this House and on our administrative bodies, there is one thing on which we are united: we are desperately anxious to make Scotland a healthier and happier place than it is. It would be good propaganda and expenditure well justified if a copy of the report was placed in the hands of every administrator in Scotland. It has many valuable appendices, and I suggest an additional 2328 one which would be of the greatest interest to those who are responsible for administration. I would like to see an appendix giving the acreage and the population of the respective administrative areas, their gross valuation, their rateable valuation, the rates per pound, and the rates per head of the population. That would be a valuable assistance to this House and to the administrators. Time and again when local administrators who have progressive ideas—and they do not belong to one party alone, although it is usually the Labour party which has to see that they are given effect to—are challenged on the rates which are being charged in an area they would be able to prove that it is not rates per pound that count, but that rates per head of the population may be a more valuable index to the amount that is spent on local services. It would enable us also to deal with many other problems. I put the suggestion to the Secretary of State's predecessor, who offered to consider it, and I hope I shall get a satisfactory reply to-night.
Another valuable report was made available to Members of the House only last night. It is the report on the rehousing of aged persons in Scotland. Again, that committee is to be congratulated on the speed with which it dealt with this problem and made its report available to the House. It does not require anyone to go amidst the horrible housing in Scotland to be able to picture the degrading housing conditions that are the lot of the Scottish people. They will get it in tabloid form in this report. On page 7 we are told that the census of 1931 showed that the number of houses in Scotland was 1,146,852, and that of those 109,498, or 9.5 per cent., were single-apartment houses. I do not blame the Government for those one-apartment houses, because we have in Scotland some mighty reactionary local authorities, who have been advocating to the Department and to this Committee the provision of more one-apartment houses. Those who advocate that have themselves usually more houses than my class have rooms to live in. They might feel differently if they had to live in one-apartment houses. I started married life in one; I got out of it as soon as possible and what is good enough for me is not too good for the class to which I belong.
2329 Some castigation is due to the persons who appeared before the committee and to the local authorities who want not only to perpetuate but to increase the number of one-apartment houses. We find also that there were 422,823 two-apartment houses, or 36.9 per cent. In some of these houses nine people are living; they are living under worse conditions than the agricultural community would be allowed to house their pigs under. Yet we still have the local administrator and local authority who seek not only to perpetuate but to increase the number of this type of house. 46.4 per cent, of our houses are either of one or two apartments—almost one out of every two. It is a standing disgrace to Scotland. These are not the conditions which our people desire. I have often heard local administrators say: "Ah, the old folk would not be able to keep the bigger houses clean." But people who are able to keep one-apartment houses clean would be able to keep bigger houses clean more easily. All credit is due to our womenfolk and to the people of Scotland for their high standard of morality, cleanliness and hygiene in the terrible conditions under which they are compelled to live. What I have said, without trying to make things blacker than they are, ought to convey to the Committee and to the country that something drastic must be done to improve the housing conditions of Scotland.
I want to congratulate the Committee on definitely recommending that as a general principle there shall be no more two-apartment houses built in Scotland. I have a vivid recollection that at the time I was at the Scottish Office one local authority was desperately anxious to build more two-apartment houses. I tried to get them to reconsider their attitude. It took three letters from the Department before they would even sit down to reconsider the situation. Then a final letter suggested taking estimates for three-apartment houses so as to discover the difference in cost. What did they discover? That the difference in cost of three-apartment houses compared with two-apartment houses was £30. Even with the increased cost of building at the most it will be £40. The economic rent as between a two-apartment or three-apartment house is 6d. per week. Is it worth arguing about, even for the old people, because old people will not always occupy them? It is not worth arguing 2330 about. You have the same scullery to build, the same sanitary arrangements, and only a little difference in the size of the roof.
It has been seriously suggested in this Debate that young married couples should start living in two-apartment houses. What a silly stupid suggestion to make. In the natural way of events two becomes three, three becomes four, and sometimes two becomes 10. I have had that experience and had to live in a two-apartment house, not because I wanted to live in it but because I could get no other. It is a waste of time at this time of day to start talking about two-apartment houses. I believe it is possible by reorganisation and reconditioning to bring up to a modern standard at least 20 per cent, of the houses. In Kirkcaldy we are going to make an experiment. We have acquired houses and it will be possible to bring them up to a modern standard at a cost of £50 to £60 per house. We shall be able to claim a grant for having reconditioned these houses and brought them up to that fit state because we shall let them to old people over 60 years of age and of the same economic position as agricultural labourers. By that method and by concentrating on the building of four-apartment and five-apartment houses we shall achieve improvement. It will take time. You cannot get rid of all the horrors of capitalism in a year or two.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I would like to put this to the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood). Is it not the case that if we were faced with a war to-morrow this country would be organised in such a fashion that they would meet that emergency inside of six months. The hon. Member has to remember that in Woolwich in six months at the beginning of the War they built 300 houses?
§ Mr. Westwood
I think that if my hon. Friend had waited until I had finished we would not have been in disagreement. You have to set out with the purpose of solving the housing problem as speedily as possible. The Government have not set out with that purpose. What do we discover in this report? After five years of the National Government we now have the output of houses at its lowest. Last year's output was the lowest of those five years, which conclusively proves that there is 2331 something wrong in the methods by which we are dealing with this problem. There ought to be some explanation of why, if 18,000 or 20,000 houses could be produced in the preceding years, only 13,000 were produced last year. What you can do in one year you ought to be able to do in the succeeding years, and even to improve upon it. I have not the time to deal with many questions which are of the keenest interest, but the outstanding point in the Debate this evening has been the attention concentrated upon the increased costs of building in Scotland. I will quote from a report prepared by the Convention of Royal Burghs:One of the most important economic factors which emerges from the survey undertaken by the local authorities is the large increase in building costs suffered by all local authorities with in a comparatively short period.I was afraid that no actual figures would be forthcoming, and that it would be said that some of us had exaggerated the rise in cost, but the convention collected the facts in 11 of the large burghs, and present them in page 6 of their report. In Edinburgh the all-in cost per house prior to the 1935 Act was £323. The most recent all-in cost per house, in some cases estimated, was £561, an increase of £238. Talk about a scrambling of £70. That is a scrambling of, approximately, £160 per house, and I am wondering who it is who has managed to get off with most of the loot. In Dundee the all-in cost prior to the Act of 1935 was £399 and the most recent all-in cost £643, an increase of £244. Take my own town of Kirkcaldy. As an administrator I find that I am up against all kinds of problems in dealing with housing. In Kirkcaldy the all-in cost prior to the Act of 1935 was £348 and in recent estimates £555, an increase of £207.
Many times during this Debate there has been a demand for an inquiry. May I suggest that we are entitled to get a promise that there shall be an inquiry? All sides of the Committee will back me up in that demand. There are two methods by which an inquiry could be undertaken. We have the Housing Advisory Council, and it ought to be possible to remit the question to them and to get a report. It may be said that those with technical knowledge ought to be engaged on such an inquiry. In that case assessors could easily be added. If that method is not considered satisfactory I am entitled to 2332 demand that some form of inquiry shall be set up to inquire into the disparity between the cost of building houses in Scotland and in England, and to inquire into the enormous increase since the 1935 Act came into operation. There ought to be no difficulty in giving such a promise. There may be a reason for the existing state of affairs. The building industry in Scotland, if I understand things aright, is not organised in the same way as in England.
§ Mr. Westwood
Let me deal with it as I know it. Sometimes even lawyers do not know as much as laymen about the building industry. In England, I understand, builders contract for the building of a house. In Scotland the bricklayer contracts for laying the bricks, the joiner contracts for the joinery works, the slater contracts for the slating works and sometimes before the house is half finished there is an argument between the respective trades as to who shall put on some particular strip of wood. Then there is a strike because they cannot come to an agreement as to who is to put in that strip of wood, or that pipe. Where we have tried to get a modern type of bath installed we have actually had trouble between the plumbers and the joiners as to who should put in the strip of wood for the panels of the bath. There is matter for inquiry there and in subjects of that sort. We are entitled to know whether it is possible to get the building industry organised in Scotland to build houses. It is worth an inquiry, in the interests of housing progress, and I trust that we shall have a guarantee to-night about an inquiry.
There are many other problems with which I should like to deal, but I can present only one other point because of the limited time at my disposal. I have given an indication already of the increased costs of building; local authorities are very anxious about these increased costs and unless increased subsidies are provided great difficulties will arise. Might I ask what success has attended the negotiations with the local authorities? I am entitled to a reply, and the Committee, which will go into Recess next week, is also entitled to know the answer to that question.
§ Mr. Macquisten
Does the hon. Gentleman not believe that, when the subsidy goes up, building costs just rise in proportion, and that the builder collars the subsidy?
§ Mr. Westwood
I could have given the hon. and learned Member a reply if he had interjected a moment or two ago, but I am not now dealing with costs; I am asking for the result of the negotiations that have been going on with the local authorities in regard to Scottish housing. On this side we are entitled——
§ Mr. Westwood
I am glad to get support from the other side—to know what success has been attending the negotiations dealing with this problem. We are having to build larger houses, which are costing more, and the subsidy is reduced as compared with 1924 and 1930. There can be only one method by which local authorities can balance their housing budgets, that is, increasing the rents to the working class, who are already being charged sufficiently high rents. If high rents are to be charged, less food will be available, more medicine will be required and the authorities will pay more for the health service. The best health service we could provide in this country would be a decent home for everybody to live in, with rent according to the individual's ability to pay. You cannot afford to increase the rents of municipal houses, as some of us have been prepared to do against our better humanitarian judgment, but because you have to balance your budget, whether is be local or national; otherwise there is financial disaster.
Local authorities are very much upset by the fear that they should be compelled in this matter. I have not time to quote fully from the document, in which they say, dealing with increases of rent:This they are reluctant to do, being of the opinion that both rentpayers and ratepayers already contribute a fair share towards this service.Keeping all those facts in mind, I trust that, while progress has been made in dealing with houses, still greater progress will be made before we can be satisfied with the position in Scotland. I again make an appeal: Do not try to cut down the standard of housing which we are providing for the people of Scotland. I 2334 have not time to deal with all the suggestions that are being made to that end, but many of them are absolutely silly and stupid. Here is one:Omit 5 inch by ¾inch skirting and 1 inch by 1 inch fillet and substitute 4 inch by ⅝ inch skirting without fillet.They suggest omitting power plugs in the bedrooms and sculleries, and in another place the suggestion is made that we should take out certain cornices, reduce the provisional sum for gas wash boilers from £28 to £20 per block, and should also reduce the figure in connection with the ironmongery of the house from £18 to £12 per block. It is even suggested that we should go back to the old type of brass taps instead of chromiumplated fittings. I hope that, no matter how big the problem is, we are not going to get an inferior type of house for Scottish people. If the problem is dealt with on the lines I have suggested, I am perfectly sure that we can make far greater progress this year than was made last year in our attempts to provide decent, healthy, and happy homes for the people of Scotland.
§ 10.26 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Wedderburn)
In the last Debate of this kind in which we agreed to impose a time limit on our own speeches, I remember that, when I announced my intention of observing this limit, I was immediately interrupted by some half-dozen Members who proceeded to occupy about five minutes of my time in discussing whether I should, or should not, speak for only 15 minutes. I, therefore, felt some little difficulty to-night in deciding how much time I ought to allow for the Government's reply. I think that the great number and variety of speeches which have been made possible by this arrangement have added very greatly to the interest and usefulness of the Debate. As my right hon. Friend explained in opening his remarks, he did not wish to occupy too much time himself, because the whole of what he had to expound had already been printed and circulated, and his object was to enable as many Scottish Members as possible to contribute something of interest to the Debate. I am glad that that intention has been so well met and usefully fulfilled. Even if I had a great deal more time than is now at my disposal, it would not be possible 2335 for me to reply adequately to all the questions that have been addressed to me, but I shall not neglect to communicate, as I usually do, with all hon. Members who have addressed to me any requests for information or have raised any particular point which requires to be examined.
The Committee has discussed this afternoon such varied subjects as water supplies, river pollution, smoke abatement and housing. I know that the right hon. Gentleman opposite is particularly interested in the question of river pollution. I found myself in agreement with the sentiments which he expressed, and hope that he will fulfil his intention of raising the matter in greater detail next autumn. While the Department have not any powers of compulsion over local authorities, we have communicated with them after the publication of each report, urging the adoption of any remedial measures recommended by the Advisory Committee. As the Committee are probably aware, a great deal has been achieved in the case of the rivers Tweed, Ore, Leven, and Kelvin, and a certain amount is being done, as a result of the activities of the Special Areas Commissioner, in purifying the Clyde. As regards pollution from factories, the position is not very satisfactory, for the reason that the most troublesome pollution is caused by the effluents of paper mills, and, so far, no reasonably practical means of purifying these wastes has been found. The problem, however, is engaging the attention of the Water Pollution Research Board, and I hope that methods will be found for dealing satisfactorily with these wastes.
§ Mr. Mathers
Does the hon. Member find that the legislation available now is sufficient to enable him to deal with river pollution effectively?
No, Sir. We have no power of compulsion. In regard to smoke abatement, our chief inspector under the Act of 1906 is in constant touch with industrial concerns whose works emit smoke while manufacturing is in progress, and a good deal has been achieved in securing improved conditions in the neighbourhood of works where trade processes had previously given rise 2336 to complaints from the local inhabitants. The truth is that the greatest part of the damage is being done by the ordinary domestic chimneys which are responsible for most of the soot—I think the right hon. Gentleman said 40 tons of soot—which descends every month.
On the very important subject of water supplies, I will only say that I think it is generally admitted that many local authorities, particularly in the more remote rural districts, do find the greatest difficulty in proceeding with the housing schemes which are necessary in those areas, on account of the fact that there is no means of providing new houses, or those houses that have been reconditioned, with a piped water supply. The Committee is already aware of the representations which we have received on this matter, and I think hon. Members have already been informed that a committee of the local authorities is considering the whole question, together with the Department, and that a questionnaire has been addressed to all the county councils asking them to furnish an exact statement of what they regard as their needs, what regional schemes ought to be undertaken, and what the cost is likely to be.
§ Mr. Quibell
Could not the Ministry encourage the use of dowsers to find water supplies in those remote villages? I know that in many areas they have been successful where water engineers have failed.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
Have they a plan which these local authorities are discussing, or are they starting from the beginning, with no plan before them?
No. We want to find out what each area regards as its own need. Whatever schemes we might have on the subject of local supplies, there is no doubt that many areas would require big regional schemes, involving the use of big reservoirs. I must be candid and say that this question is mainly a question of cost, and probably the schemes which the right hon. Baronet opposite regards as necessary would run—we do not know the exact cost—into many millions of pounds. Expenditure of that kind must always be considered in relation to other branches of expenditure.
On the question of housing, I think the main thing the Committee wants to know 2337 is why greater progress is not being made, or what steps ought to be taken to accelerate it. I have been asked a number of particular questions—Why are we lagging behind England? What is the explanation of the present high cost of building in Scotland? How do timber costs compare with brick costs? These and a number of similar questions which I think I can best answer if I deal with them as I proceed to the main subject. I will try to state the problem as shortly and concisely as I can. We need in Scotland 250,000 houses for the purpose of slum clearance and the relief of overcrowding alone, excluding all other purposes. I was asked whether there was any difference in that figure since last year? It was pointed out that at this time last year my right hon. Friend's predecessor also gave this figure of 250,000 houses. That estimate is only an approximate one. We have got exact figures showing the number of houses which are overcrowded, and we have exact figures showing the number classified as unfit, but the number of new-houses needed to remove that overcrowding and to replace those unfit houses can only be approximately estimated. I think that the figure given last year was a conservative estimate, and I certainly would not be inclined to put it any lower at this moment.
What period of time ought we to contemplate as a reasonable period in which to build these 250,000 houses? An hon. Member behind me mentioned a figure of 25,000 a year. That would mean that these 250,000 houses would be built in 10 years, but that would not mean that you would have solved the problem in 10 years because you have to take account of the normal wastage. If I asked every hon. Member to give me instances from his own constituency of houses which are not now classified as unfit but which ought to be so classified within the next 10 years, I might perhaps receive a considerable amount of information. I think that the Committee would agree that to build this number of houses in 10 years would not be a rate of progress which we ought to regard as satisfactory. Suppose we could build 35,000 houses a year. That would mean that 250,000 houses would then be completed in seven years. I do not think that any hon. Member would regard that aim as 2338 being unduly or unreasonably ambitious. Having regard to the fact that that is only one part of our housing needs, our immediate and present needs, to get rid of slums and to remove overcrowding, I do not think that anybody would regard it as unreasonable if we took a seven-year period as the minimum at which we ought to aim and if we did not regard anything short of that as satisfactory.
What does that mean? The record number of houses that have been built in any year for those purposes alone, excluding other building, which is not directed to slums or to overcrowding, is about 18,000, which were built in 1935. In 1937—last year—the figure was 13,000. I think that we shall, in fact, recover and, I hope, surpass this year the record figure of 18,000, but an objective of 35,000 houses per year would mean that the figure of 13,000 for 1937 ought to be very nearly multiplied by three, while even the record figure, that which we hope to achieve this year, ought still to be multiplied by two. That applies to the whole of Scotland in general, but we shall perhaps appreciate better what it means, if we take one or two local authorities separately. Glasgow, for example, requires 65,000 houses to remove the slums and put an end to overcrowding, and for the last two years only 1,800 houses a year have been built. At that rate it would take 35 years to do what is now required.
At any rate, it is not going to solve the problem in less than 35 years. In Dundee they need 13,000 houses. Last year they built less than 400, and it would therefore take them 25 years. In the County of Lanark 16,000 houses are required. Last year 1,000 were built, so that it would take 16 years to carry out the whole programme. In the County of Fife, 5,000 new houses are required. Last year only 86 were built. In Motherwell 6,000 houses are required and last year 258 were built. In Clydebank 3,000 houses are required, and last year the number completed was nil.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Is the Under-Secretary taking into account the fact that in 1931, when the National Government was formed, the Clydebank Town Council, not a Socialist council, appealed to the then 2339 Secretary of State for Scotland to allow them to build houses, and that the then Secretary of State told them that they were not to get permission to build houses as shipbuilding and engineering were finished? I said that if that were the case Britain was finished. And here we are landed in this mess. The reason is that we could not get consent to build houses.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I must answer that challenge immediately. I have answered it on several occasions, and the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has never made any reply to my statement. Instead, he goes on repeating his criticism. In fact we did not refuse an appeal to build houses in Clydebank. What we did was to refuse to adopt a scheme put up by the Clydebank authorities, and we told them that if they would submit a scheme for the removal of slums and providing for overcrowding, it would receive our most sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
It was the factors in Clydebank who own houses who drew up the petition, and who got the shopkeepers to sign it and then went to the management of John Brown, who stupidly enough signed the petition also. It was because of the power of the factors that the Secretary of State at that time did what I have told the Committee.
I confess that I was not entirely unconscious that my observations would produce this result. I was merely giving them as an illustration to show the comparison between performance and need in certain towns. But for the whole country, we want to double our existing rate of building. I have been asked for what sort of people houses should be provided, and it has been represented that more should be built for young married couples. I entirely agree, 2340 but the main problem is to get houses built. There are only a certain number of houses which can be built, and, although to give them to young married couples is highly desirable, it means that there will be less for slums and overcrowding, and it is the policy of Parliament that housing subsidies should, in the first place, be directed towards these two purposes. The main question is how can we get more houses built. If a satisfactory number can be built the question as to how they should be distributed will then become very much less troublesome. Why is it that our present rate of housing progress has not been doubled in the last year or two? Or may I put the question in the form in which it was put to me by the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston), why are we lagging so much behind England?
If you are to draw a comparison with England, I think it would be fair to say that, in proportion to our population, we have, in the way of slum clearance and relief of overcrowding, done a great deal more than England, but the fact is that we have six times as much to do, because while of all houses in England less than 4 per cent, are overcrowded, in Scotland the figure is 23 per cent. Therefore, we have six times as much building to do as they have in England, and although I think we have done more than England has done in proportion to our numbers, we have not, of course, done six times as much; and until we can do that, we shall not be on a level with them.
Why is it that we have not yet anything like reached the output at which we ought to aim? A few weeks ago the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) asked how many houses had been approved for each of the last three years, and the answer showed that for the year ended May, 1937, no less than 28,000 houses had been contracted for and approved by the Department; that is to say, during that year local authorities in general had the intention to build a very much larger number of houses, a number which was coming nearer the figure at which we ought to aim. Why were they not built? They were not built, to put it shortly, because the building industry could not bear the additional strain which we were trying to place upon it. What we were doing was 2341 trying to put a quart into a pint pot. There was not a sufficiency of building labour to undertake the work of suddenly doubling our normal building progress.
The hon. Gentleman asked about materials. We have been concerned about a possible shortage of material. We have frequently met representatives of brickmaking firms, and I am glad to say that in the last year the total output of bricks has increased from 621,000,000 to 825,000,000, an increase of between 30 and 40 per cent. But you cannot increase the number of bricklayers as rapidly as you can increase the number of bricks. Within the last 12 months, there have never been more than about 60 bricklayers unemployed in Scotland out of a total of some 5,300, and those 60 are practically all accounted for by the fact that they are normally moving from one job to another; whereas at one time last year there were no fewer than 600 applications on the Employment Exchange books for new bricklayers which could not be satisfied. No amount of rationalisation of building labour is going to get rid of the problem that there simply is not at present enough building labour to do the work which is needed. It was that strain on the building industry, that imposition upon it of far more than it could fulfil, which in our view was the principal cause of the greater rise in prices which took place in Scotland. Before going any further, I think this would be the right moment for me to deal with questions that have been asked on this subject of housing costs. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk asked whether we would undertake to have an inquiry.
§ Mr. Johnston
I do not like interrupting the hon. Gentleman, but really he must state the facts to the Committee. He says that it was the great number of orders placed in the building industry which caused the great rise in prices. As a matter of fact, fewer houses were completed in 1937 than in 1936, and there was a steady diminution.
There was a great increase in the number under construction, and in the number constracted for, but not begun. They were not completed, because there were too few people to complete them. Let me go into the question of prices. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk asked us whether we would 2342 have an inquiry into that question. My right lion. Friend is perfectly willing to do that. He would like to consider whether it would be best to have a small departmental committee or an outside committee to look into the question of costs. He is willing to undertake to have an inquiry of some kind. But without any inquiry I think I can give some information to the right hon. Gentleman in reply to his question. He asked for a thorough explanation of this rise in building costs. Last year I gave some figures applying to three-roomed houses, showing that £40 of the rise is accounted for by an increase in the price of materials and wages, while the remainder had to be attributed to other factors. I have now had a more comprehensive table prepared, showing the causes of the average increase of costs for all houses, which amounts to £152 since the end of 1935. This is accounted for as follows:—The increase in the proportion of houses of four or five apartments accounts for £22; the increase of superficial area of rooms accounts for another £20 to £25; the higher standards of specification and the greater unity in schemes accounts for another £30, the increase in wage rates for £9 and the increase in cost of materials £30. That makes a total of £116, leaving a sum of £36 which is not accounted for.
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) referred to this, which he attributed to profiteering. I should be perfectly willing to attribute it to profiteering, but I would only make this qualification, that if it is due to profiteering the profits have not yet been made. These increased prices are not in respect of the houses which were built last year. They are all in respect of houses some of which have not yet been begun. Some have been begun, but we do not know when they will be finished. That brings me back to the point at which the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me, that a great part of this cost is due to the fact that we have been asking the building industry to undertake more than they have the capacity to perform. Suppose the right hon. Gentleman were a builder who had contracted to build 600 houses. Suppose he cannot get enough labour to finish them and he does not know whether he can finish them for two years. He is now asked to undertake a contract for a further 500. He is, however, very un- 2343 willing to take on the contract. If he does take it on, he does not know whether he will be able to begin the houses for another two years, and when he has begun he does not know whether he will get enough labour to finish them, how long it will take to build them, or what will be the cost. So he naturally puts up the cost to substantially more than would be accounted for by the increased cost of materials, in order to protect himself against these risks. And that, as we fully explained last year, is the main cause of the difference between the increased cost in Scotland, where there is this shortage of labour, and in England, where there is no such shortage.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The predecessor of the present Secretary for Scotland said that the increased cost of material was £30.
I have already gone into that. What, then, are the steps which ought to be taken to deal with this situation? As we explained last year, the main thing to do is still, as it was then, to try to get an increased supply of labour in order to deal with this overflowing of the building industry, and we explained last year the steps which were taken to that end after many long months of negotiations with the building trade. It was agreed that they would take on a certain number of additional apprentices and allow a certain amount of overtime, but it is not the case that they ever asked for a statutory guarantee, or refused to do anything on account of being refused one. What happened was that the building needs of the next seven years were put before them and, having been satisfied of the existence of those needs, they agreed to make the concessions which I have indicated. The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) pointed out that in Glasgow this had only meant an increase of 60 apprentices, and I know there are many areas where it has not meant a large increase. But in general—not due solely to the increase in the number of apprentices but to other causes as well—there has been a certain increase this year in the number of bricklayers employed on local authority work. At the end of 1936 there were 2,600 bricklayers employed on local authority building schemes. At this moment, according to the latest return, there are something like 3,600.
2344 Let me come back to the number of houses which we want to build. If 2,600 bricklayers built 13,000 houses in 1937, and if 3,600 build 18,000 or 19,000 this year, how many shall we want to build the 35,000 houses which we require? We should want 7,000 for local authority work alone and there are only 5,300 registered bricklayers in Scotland altogether. In addition to that 7,000 it would be necessary to have the number required for private enterprise houses—of which 7,000 were built—in addition to new factories, schools and so forth and the relatively trivial number employed on building cinemas and banks, which it has sometimes been suggested we should stop.
The conclusion we must draw is that we cannot, by means of bricks alone, deal with our problem unless we double the number of bricklayers employed, and I do not think we can easily expect the bricklayers to dilute themselves to such a great extent. It is for that reason we think that we shall not be able to solve our problem in a reasonable period of time, unless we proceed on a very considerable scale, with the alternative methods of construction which my right hon. Friend has described. I think the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Cassells) is mistaken in describing this as an admission of defeat and I hope the hon. Member for Tradeston will alter his opinion of the quality of these houses, when they begin to be built in large numbers. There are many different types, all of which have satisfied the requirements of the Department of Health and are not inferior, either in comfort or durability to any other kind of house. In reply to the hon. Member for Tradeston I would say that the internal fittings and the provision for insulation, and so on, are precisely the same as those in any other kind of house.
§ Mr. T. Henderson
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the suggestion which I made with regard to a transfer system among building operatives?
I do not think any reorganisation of the available building labour could do much to reduce the immense shortage which I have indicated. I was asked by the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) about the cost of these timber houses. The cost varies very much, just as the cost of brick houses does. Those which we have lately 2345 approved in Ayr county cost £457 per house and another lot there cost £440. In Lanark, the cost was £475 per house and in Angus £385 per house. But it is not on the ground of cheapness, that I am recommending these houses to the country. It is not because they are cheaper. They should not be cheaper because they are equal in quality to other kinds of houses. I recommend them because they are capable of being put up in an exceedingly short space of time and in large numbers, and because there are now many sources of supply from which they can be procured, either from Sweden or from firms which we have brought to the notice of local authorities in Scotland—several firms which are operating in Scotland, and an English firm at Hull. It has been indicated by my right hon. Friend that decisions have already been taken by local authorities to build over 2,000 of these houses, and another 1,000 have already been decided upon by the Special Areas Housing Association. I hope very much that this will prove to be only a very small beginning and that the number of these houses which are ordered and built from all sources will multiply very rapidly indeed.
If I had wished to draw satisfaction from our present rate of housing progress, I could very easily have pointed out that this year we are likely to build a record number and that the number of unfit houses replaced during the last six years is greater than in the previous 60 years, but I have preferred to look at it from the opposite angle and to measure our present rate of achievement, not in relation to what has been done in the past, but in relation to what ought to be aimed at in the future. I may perhaps be mistaken, but I think that—in spite of all the speeches that are made about the squalor of the slums and the scandal of housing conditions, and in spite of all the public interest taken in the subject by so many people in Scotland—there is still too much complacency. I would wish that there were a little more sense of urgency, a little more imagination, a little less caution, a little more readiness to seize those opportunities which are available, and a little more determination to put an end, not in a generation, but in a much shorter period of time, to these conditions in which so many thousands of our families live and which 2346 must preclude the possibility of domestic happiness.
§ 11.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I should like to ask whether the Under-Secretary of State will deal with a very important point which I have undertaken to my constituents to raise on this occasion, namely, the question of beneficial interest on the part of councillors employed in voting upon housing schemes.
I have already informed the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) that I will examine the point and communicate with him.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
But has the hon. Gentleman not realised that we have been pressing the Government to examine this question for the last two years, that nothing has been done, and that that attitude is on a par with the attitude which he has just pronounced on almost every topic of health, housing, and——
The point which the hon. Member raises is a matter which ought to be raised in the courts, and if then the position is unsatisfactory, it might be a subject for legislation, but it could not be discussed now.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
That only indicates that the hon. Gentleman has not addressed his mind to the problem. The matter has been put to the Law Officers, who are unable to express an opinion on it. The law on the question is surrounded by the utmost confusion, and the pressure which we have brought to bear on the Government has been to clarify the law.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
Let me just say that whatever may be the exhortation which the Under-Secretary of State has just addressed, in vague general terms, on these questions of housing and health, I for one remain utterly unconvinced that there will be any improvement in these matters while we have the present Government in office. The Under-Secretary of State said without a blush that 23 per cent, of the population of Scotland were living in overcrowded conditions.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
Yes, and 4 per cent. in England. We have heard conscience-stricken sentiments on that situation in this House for the last five years. Nothing effective has been done, and, as far as I can see, nothing effective is likely to be done. There is another more serious consequence of that situation. The Debate to-day has not turned on health questions at all, yet the ill-health which is being suffered in Scotland on a scale far greater than that in England and most European countries, is a direct consequence of those housing conditions. Why did not the Under-Secretary say anything about the maternal mortality and infant mortality which is being suffered in Scotland? Fourteen countries in Europe have a lower infant mortality rate than Scotland. In Scotland the rate is about twice what it is in certain European countries. What steps has the Secretary of State taken to deal with that situation?
§ Mr. Colville
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear my speech, in which I pointed out that the maternal mortality rate was now the lowest ever experienced in Scotland. The Act which the Government have recently passed in that direction will greatly assist it.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
All I can say is that that is the same spirit of complacency which has characterised every speech which has been made from the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. Colville
The hon. Gentleman asked me what I was doing, and I am complaining that he did not listen to my speech.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
And I am complaining that the right hon. Gentleman has not told us what the Government are doing. They have completely failed to face the situation. I much regret that on these occasions there should be a certain atmosphere of complacency as regards the Government's achievements on these matters. I have not been fortunate enough to deliver the speech which I had intended to make, and I do not intend to be so unreasonable as to insist on making it after 11 o'clock, but I want to say that I, for one, have no confidence in the proposals of the Government, either in health or in housing.
§ 11.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The Under-Secretary mentioned a figure of 23 per cent, in 2348 reference to overcrowding for the whole of Scotland. I wonder what the conditions in Glasgow and Gorbals must be like if it is 23 per cent. for the whole of Scotland including the comparatively good districts. Would the Under-Secretary say something about the question of the approved societies and additional benefits? My hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) pointed out that certain approved societies were able to give additional benefits while other societies, equally well run, were not able to give them. An illustration is to be found in the case of ophthalmic treatment. I am chairman of an approved society, and I find that, trade having got slightly better, there is a tremendous demand for treatment of the eyes in order that men may get jobs and hold them. I want to ask the Under-Secretary whether he will take up with the approved societies this question and see that every member is entitled to the same kind of treatment in regard to the eyes.
Another question raised by my hon. Friend was that of seeing that those who occupy new houses and slum clearance houses are given the necessary furniture in order that they may live in decency. I wish the hon. Gentleman would answer, if he can, the questions I have put.
§ 11.10 p.m.
With regard to furniture, there are certain provisions which I would have dealt with if I had had time. I will communicate more fully on the subject with the hon. Member. With regard to approved societies, the question has already been exhaustively considered. I could not add to the reply which I gave at Question Time the other day. In reply to his question about overcrowding percentages, the figure of 23 per cent, is an average for the whole of Scotland. The worst figure is 44. Glasgow as a whole is 30. I do not know what the particular figure is for Gorbals.
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Gibson
There are two points on which I would like assistance. The first is with regard to 2349 the machinery which has been set up for the receipt of deductions from the pay of the men in the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory in Greenock. This is going to operate very disadvantageously for Greenock, which is a very unfortunate matter, because it was as a result of persistent pressure brought to bear in this House on behalf of these workers that machinery was set up for the whole of Britain. That machinery is being set up really to assist English hospitals, whose organisation is on an entirely different basis from the organisation of our hospitals in Scotland. As it is after 11 o'clock, I do not want to elaborate that matter, but if the Secretary of State, who as Financial Secretary to the Treasury must have had something to do with the setting up of this machinery, will assure me that he will look into the matter I will not take up the time of the Committee at this stage.
There is one other matter to which I would like to call his attention, and that is the position of the Inland Water Survey Committee which is mentioned in the Department of Health Report. That is a joint committee for Scotland as well
§ as England. My understanding of the position is that the functioning of that committee has got into a position of deadlock. From Scotland certain grants have been made towards the expenses of that committee, partly through the good will of the Department of Agriculture in Scotland. No corresponding grants have been made from English Departments, and I understand the work of the committee as a whole is being brought to a deadlock. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into that, because this committee was doing very valuable work so far as Scotland is concerned and in this particular case the parsimony is not from Scotland, but England?
§ Mr. Colville
I will have the points looked into. I am not sure whether both are really Departmental matters affecting the Vote we are discussing.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,421,349, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 111; Noes, 162.2351
|Division No. 311.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Muff, G|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Paling, W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parker, J.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Groves, T. E.||Pearson, A.|
|Barr, J.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Batey, J.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Price, M. P.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hardie, Agnes||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Benson, G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Riley, B.|
|Bromfield, W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ritson, J.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Herderson, T. (Tradeston)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jagger, J.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cassells, T.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Chater, D.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kelly, W. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Daggar, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stephen, C.|
|Dalton, H.||Kirby, B. V.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kirkwood, D.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lathan, G.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Dobbie, W.||Leach, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||Leonard, W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Leslie, J. R.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lunn, W.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Maclean, N.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Foot, D. M.||Maxton, J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Frankel, D.||Messer, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Gallacher, W.||Montague, F.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Fleming, E. L.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Furness, S. N.||Munro, P.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Gledhill, G.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Gluckstein, L. H.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J,|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Goldie, N. B.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Petherick, M.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Grimston, R. V.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Porritt, R. W.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Hannah, I. C.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A P.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Bracken, B.||Hepworth, J.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Higgs, W. F.||Remer, J. R.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Holmes, J. S.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Hopt, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hopkinson, A.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rowlands, G.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Cary, R. A.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hutchinson, G. C.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||James,Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Smith,Sir Louis (Hallam)|
|Cook. J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Keeling, E. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Kimball, L.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Lamb, Sir J.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Lees-Jones, J.||Spens. W. P.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Thomson,Sir J. D. W.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Levy, T.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Liddall, W. S.||Waiker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lindsay, K. M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lipson, D. L.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Loftus, P. C.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Duggan, H. J.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Macdonald, Capt. T. (Isle of Wight)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Eckersley P. T.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||McKie, J. H.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Macnamara, Major J. R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Emery, J. F.||Magney, T.||Mr. James Stuart and Lieut.-|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Colonel Kerr.|
|Errington, E.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
Question put, and agreed to.