HC Deb 23 May 1938 vol 336 cc924-56

7.6 p.m.

Mr. Wedderburn

I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, to leave out" four per cent.' and to insert "the following percentage."

This is put down as the result of a question asked in Committee by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston), who was not quite sure that the Clause as it stood would not permit the 4 per cent. to apply retrospectively to houses which had been reconditioned before 1935, the date on which the increase in rent on the owner's expenditure was raised from 3 to 4 per cent. We believe that under the Act as it stood that would not be so, but we have put down an Amendment to make the position absolutely beyond doubt.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

Is not the next Government Amendment directly involved and ought we not to take both at the same time?

Mr. Wedderburn

The two Amendments hang together. The effect is that 3 per cent. is allowed before 1935, and 4 per cent. between 1935 and 1938.

Mr. Williams

The 4 per cent. as distinct from the previous 3 per cent., has been justified in previous arguments by one Minister or the other, but what I do not quite appreciate is why this retrospective application to 1st January, 1935, should take place, because it may result in very definite hardship if the property owner took adavntage of it in this sense: Take the case of a cottage reconditioned at a total cost of £150 in January or February, 1935. The contribution of the owner would be £50. Therefore, for three years or more the owner will be entitled, under the terms of the second Amendment, to an increase from 3 to 4 per cent., and, if he has been charging only 3 per cent. for three and a-half years before the Bill becomes an Act, he will be able to present his tenant with a bill for 35s., which is almost the equivalent of a week's wages. If any such property owner exists who would dare to claim the full value of this Clause and invite his tenant to make this retrospective payment of some 35s., which would be a definite hardship and an almost impossible demand for hundreds of thousands of agricultural labourers to meet, I am sure that is not exactly what either the Minister or the Under-Secretary would desire. The possibility may be remote, but it is a possibility, and I should like to know whether they have investigated it and seen the possible effect of their Amendment.

Mr. Wedderburn

I think the Amendment merely justifies the permissible increase now in respect of works which have been executed within that period. I do not think it means that the owner could retrospectively charge a higher rent but only that he would not be precluded from charging a higher rent now on account of the fact that the additional works had been executed before the Act came into effect. That is how I read the Clause, but I will undertake to look into the matter again and see whether it is necessary to do anything to meet the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Williams

The second Amendment on the Paper is very clear. If the works were completed before 1st January, 1935, 3 per cent., or, if they were completed on or after that day, 4 per cent. If the total cost of reconditioning a house is £150, the property owner's contribution is £50, and, if a retrospective payment were demanded for 3½ years, then, since per cent. of £50 is 10s., the payment for 3½ years would be 35s. If the property owner made that demand, it would be definitely a hardship. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will look at the matter again.

Mr. Wedderburn

The hon. Member will realise that the owner always had power to charge 4 per cent. in respect of improvements made since 1st January, 1935. But, if he forbore to do that, the Clause would not entitle him to make the charge retrospectively.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 1o, at the end, insert: that is to say, if those works were completed before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, three per cent. or, if they were completed on or after that day, four per cent., and no fine, premium or other like sum shall be taken in addition to the rent."—[Mr. Elliot.]

7.17 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

In view of the fact that this Bill has caused considerable interest and a fair amount of debate in the House, it is desirable that a few words should be said in speeding it on its way, and, in the midst of scenes of turmoil and violence such as we are witnessing to-day, I am sure the House will turn aside for an afternoon with a reasonable degree of pleasure to forward a constructive work of peace, and, still more, a constructive work of peace which goes to the consolidation and preservation of the countryside. The purpose of the Bill has, I think, been the subject of universal good will, namely, that the rural worker should be well housed, and housed in a comely, seemly, and, if possible, even a beautiful fashion. I think it has been in the minds of Members in all parts of the House that in many cases, at any rate, it is possible by the reconditioning of an old house, to produce a house which for beauty greatly surpasses the houses which can be built at present. I have here one or two photographs, which I will pass across to my hon. Friends, of reconditioned houses—houses such as only Great Britain, and indeed, I might almost say, as the English Minister of Health, only the English countryside can produce. There is an urbanity, a serenity, a settled peacefulness about the English countryside which you do not get in the more turbulent countries North of the border or West of the Severn.

Under my predecessor in office, some 17, 00o houses have been dealt with in England and Wales, and some 33,00o in Scotland. Although it may be said that many of these houses do not come up to the full standard that we should desire yet at any rate, in the great majority of cases, they have been enormously improved, and in some—I should say the majority—of the cases they have been brought fully up to the very best modern standards. In making that statement I base myself on the admittedly very exact and mildly censorious report of the Scottish Rural Housing Committee. This Measure is not to be taken by itself alone. It is part of our programme; it is supplemental to the other legislation. It would be wrong for me to go in detail into the two Bills, the Scottish and the English Bill, dealing with the provision of new houses for general purposes. One of them has already reached the Statute Book, and the other, I hope, will reach it in a very short time. I would, however, ask the House to consider this Bill as part of a programme. Hon. Members opposite, and, indeed, hon. Members on this side of the House, have said that they wished for new houses to be built, and we fully agree with them. It may be that in many cases the new house is essential, and the old house should be scrapped and demolished. The sites chosen in the old days were in many cases not suitable; houses were built in hollows because they were near water, or they were built in damp places because the builders of those days had not the full knowledge of conditions which sad experience has taught their successors; but I put this Measure forward as a part of our programme, and as a part of our programme for which we see no need at all to apologise.

If there has been a certain amount of difference in the House this afternoon, I think that perhaps it is due, to a certain extent at least, to the difficulty which urban Members very often find in appreciating rural conditions, and, in some cases, in bearing with rural conditions. It is true that the argument has been put forward that the private individual should not be employed at all in the housing programmes of this country, but I think it would be difficult to substantiate that argument. Many Bills brought forward by the parties now in Opposition have accepted from time to time the principle that the private individual also may find a useful place in assisting programmes for the housing of the people of this country. Certainly that is so in the countryside. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) has done in Devonshire a great work for rural housing, which I gladly acknowledge, and, indeed, many local authorities not controlled by supporters of the present Government have done much to help on that cause. The County Council of Durham has never been brought forward as a centre of active and continuous support of the present Government, but some 500 or more houses have been reconditioned under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act in Durham county, and I am sure that Durham county is the better for that improvement in housing which has taken place there.

As I have said the opposition to certain sections of this Measure has frequently been led by urban Members, but I would ask them to bear with the countryside in this matter. I should be very willing to admit that not enough has been done, but I should be most unwilling to admit that what is being done should now be brought to an end. It is true that there may have been mistakes, there may have been anomalies, there may even have been waste of public money; but, taking by and large the housing effort of this country, on which £15,000,000 is being spent every year (as compared with 50,000 under the Rural Workers Acts) would anyone suggest that, if one went over it with a microscope, one would not find, in that £15,000,000 of annual expenditure on housing, mostly urban, some anomalies, some things that one would rather had not happened, even what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) might call scandals and a great waste of public money? The improvement of housing in this country has been the greatest effort in Europe since the War, and the improvement in Scotland which has taken place under this Act is one of our great achievements in rural housing. I hope very much that the achievement which has been found possible in certain counties, such as Devon, Cornwall, and other English rural counties, and in many Scottish rural counties, will be the prelude to an effort which will spread throughout the land.

The average costs in this case are small as compared with the cost of building completely new houses, and that is an argument which I would ask those to consider who have said that this Act should not be used, but that new houses should be built instead. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling pressed very strongly the case of the County of Berwick where, as he said, a 7d. rate was the amount that was estimated—for, as he knows, there is no exact return available on the matter—to have been spent in respect of this Act, as against only a id. rate in respect of other Measures. The two rates, however, are not exactly comparable, since the assistance under the Rural Workers Acts runs out in 20 years, whereas under the other Acts it does not run out until after 40 years have elapsed. This point seems to be germane to the argument, raised by an interjection during the right hon. Gentleman's speech, as to what a 1d. rate in Berwickshire produces. It produces only £369. A county with such limited resources inevitably requires to spread the money as far as it will go, and the right hon. Gentleman will recollect, from the table which is given in, I think, the Fourth Appendix to the Report of the Rural Housing Committee, that the cost of rural housing in Berwickshire is fairly high. I think it might easily be said that for a similar expenditure you can recondition five, or it might be even more, houses by the use of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, as against one which could be produced by the building of a new house from the ground up. Clearly a local authority which desires to improve housing conditions in its area, and which can do five times as much under one Act as under another, will have a strong bias towards the Act which will produce the larger amount of improvement in housing. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the record, say, of Devonshire in regard to rural housing.

Certain hon. Members have said, including, I think, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), that it is impossible to recondition these houses satisfactorily. The right hon. Gentleman said that as many as 95 per cent. should be destroyed. Again, I do not think that that is borne out, and I do not think that on this occasion the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) would make any mental reservations on the subject, or would agree to any estimate nearly so high as that. I think the hon. Lady would agree that on the whole a con- siderable number of rural houses can be reconditioned by the use of this Act so as to be completely satisfactory, and again I would call in evidence the very report on rural housing in Scotland which has been so often referred to in these Debates. For instance, I would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the statement in paragraph 34, that 58 per cent. of the houses certified were houses in the case of which repairs and improvements could be dealt with at reasonable expense. Certainly from 50 to 60 per cent., and possibly more, according to this very close and accurate and, as I have said, censorious survey, could be put right by such measures as are envisaged in this Bill. I think we should be rash if we went forward with too much zeal for demolition in these cases as against reconditioning. There is something to be said for the improvement of a house which has lasted a long time. In some cases the house is outworn and exhausted, but in others it has merely gained greater beauty and greater strength, and has attracted round it memories which neither the family nor the village nor the county would cheerfully abandon. I think it would be a thousand pities if we said that 95 per cent. of the rural cottages of England should be destroyed and replaced by modem structures.

I attach very great importance to the question of rural housing. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling and my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) have said, from the very first moment when I occupied the position of Minister of Health in the Northern Kingdom I took the matter very seriously indeed; and I hope forthwith to go on tour in England with the object of finding out the difficulties, conferring with local authorities and calling their attention to the advantages of proceeding, not only under this Measure, but under every Act which the House has passed dealing with this subject. This very month, I hope to have a conference at York;_ in June, at Shrewsbury; in July, at Chippenham; and, if I can manage it, before the Houses rises, at Bury St. Edmunds. That is to say, I shall visit the four quarters of England with the object of discussing this subject with local authorities, and doing my best to bring before their attention the advantages of our rural housing programme.

This is the real preservation of rural England and rural Scotland. Scenery is all very well, but scenery without housing is like a man without eyes in his head. The tumbling waterfall or the mountainside gains in attractiveness when associated with the English, Scottish or Welsh village, or the farmhouse with its cottages attached, where people have reasonably decent conditions, where children are brought up without being a burden to their parents, where, in fact, rural life is carried on as we would wish it to be carried on, and as we believe it can be carried on with proper administration of the Acts which have been passed by this House in order to make it possible. The Debates on the Second Reading and Committee stage of this Bill began with a good deal of heat and cross purposes; but, as they went on, a certain measure of agreement began to emerge. It was interesting to note. The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) will bear me out that at the end what began to emerge was whether it would be possible to secure the use of those cottages for the people, rather than the question of doles for landlords. The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean said that he himself was reconditioning cottages under this Act. I am sure that he is doing that with the object of making good cottages for folk of whom he is fond to live in, and not with the object of selling his property to some visitor from London. One hon. Member—the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley) spoke of week-enders with the authentic tones of Colonel Blimp, or of Colonel Blimp's wife. He said: I do not suggest that the week-end habit can be described as evil or pernicious, but it comes dangerously near to it. It is a piece of middle-class snobbery. It certainly is evil in the sense that in many normal beautiful English country villages, what were once charming cottages are being refurnished in a garish fashion, and painted in the most glaring colours. If we want to preserve the amenities of the countryside I think it is necessary to keep these week-enders away." —OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th May, 1938; col. 100, Vol. 336.] Much as I like Clay Cross—indeed I have often gone through it—I think there are times when one would wish to go elsewhere, and when one would feel that a little less contact with his fellow-men is essential. The effect of this Measure will be that the owner of the cottage will accept a bond from which he cannot free himself, except with the consent of the Minister, by which these 16,000 cottages and these 33,000 cottages in Scotland are secured to the benefit of the agricultural population. That is especially valuable in these days when, near London particularly, the town overflows into the country, and there is a risk of ejecting the rural population altogether. It is a good thing that legislation containing such compulsory conditions should be placed on the Statute Book. It would be a thousand pities if, eventually, all the week-enders lived in the beautiful cottages, and the rural inhabitants in the ugly ones.

You cannot enjoy the countryside unless, in the beautiful surroundings, there are people living who have lived there since the beginning of time. [Interruption.] Well, I know the hon. Member will agree with me that the rural cottage, with the rural cottager living in it, has been a feature of the countryside throughout the memory of man, and, although it is, in many respects, not up to modern standards, there are certain compensating advantages about these cottages. I should be sorry if there were not cottagers living in these cottages. Therefore, I commend this Bill as part of our programme—not the whole of it, but a part of which we have no reason to be ashamed, and I hope that hon. Members, having found us prepared to accept Amendments to improve the Measure, will decide to give it the Third Reading without a Division, and help us to bring into operation a programme which in these days of disaster and turmoil will be one of the sheet-anchors of those who wish to preserve the peaceful beauty of rural England.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: this House, whilst recognising, as a supplement to the erection of new houses, the advisability of improving existing houses in rural areas where practicable, cannot assent to the Third Reading of a Bill which fails to provide that all houses so repaired will approximate to modern standards. I find it difficult to readjust my mind to the Ministerial changes that have taken place during the last week. I appear to have lost a very old friend with whom I have crossed swords, metaphorically speaking, on many occasions. I should like to welcome into our battlefield the right hon. Gentleman who succeeds him, and who made his maiden speech on this Bill at a very late hour on Monday night. I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the concessions he has made. He has proved what I believe to be true of all Scotsmen, that they are open to make concessions—but not very many. Those concessions are of some importance. But it will be remembered that, although we allowed the Second Reading to pass without a Division, we did stake out our claim to resist the Bill in the further stages, and we did drive the Committee to a number of Divisions on the Committee stage.

I do not want to follow the right hon. Gentleman in detail. I like to see lovely scenery and beautiful surroundings. I am all for maintaining beauty in the countryside. It is all very well for the passer-by, perhaps driving swiftly along a road in a motor car, to enjoy the external beauty of a rural cottage; but what of the people who are living inside? We have been told that "man cannot live by bread alone"; but neither can we live by beauty alone, and many of these externally beautiful cottages—which I, personally, because of their external beauty, would like to preserve—are no longer fit habitations for the citizens of this country. The right hon. Gentleman passed across the table to-day photographs which, I am bound to say, did credit to the people who have improved the houses, at least externally; but I am not sure that that proves anything.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us that these cottages which have been reconditioned come up to the very best modern standards. I cannot accept that. To enlarge a window or two windows and let in more of God's sunlight, is a good thing; to let in more air is a good thing, but that does not necessarily bring the house up to modern standards. To add another room to an overcrowded house is good, but it does not necessarily mean that that house has been brought up to modern standards. The Minister quoted what I said about the proportion of houses which, in my view, ought to be demolished. He said something about "this zeal for demolition." I have no zeal for demolition. I would not destroy a structure of beauty if I could avoid it. I would keep it empty, if you like; but the passer-by has no right to claim beauty at the expense of the people who have to live in such houses.

Some of the reconstruction which has been done, while it has improved housing standards—and I am certain it has in many cases—has not improved them sufficiently to make the new housing accommodation satisfactory according to modern standards. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the real preservation of rural England. He talked about the waterfall tumbling down. Waterfalls will always tumble down, but what I very much object to is the use of public money on cottages that tumble down. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that new cottages are bound to be ugly. Why should they? Why should not the rural cottage built in 1938 nestle down in the countryside, as part of it, as harmoniously in it as the old one that is falling to pieces; and why should it not, in addition to that, conform to the standard which the urban dweller regards now as essential?

The Minister almost complained that urban Members take an interest in this Bill. I am very proud that they have done so, for, if it means anything, it means that my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House believe that the landworker is as much entitled to the decencies of family life as the town worker. And in the overwhelming majority of cases now—not in all, unfortunately—the town workers are enjoying at least the decencies of life. Many of them, as the result of successive Housing Acts, are enjoying, in addition to the bare decencies of life, the amenities of decent housing conditions. Why should not the rural worker? Why, because of this pose to beauty—for that is what it amounts to—should the rural worker and his wife and children be condemned to live in conditions which are insanitary?

We come to the root of this Bill. It has never been disputed—I made this point in 1926, and it has been proved by inquiry after inquiry—that in the rural areas the Housing Acts have never been properly administered. By-laws have been hopeless.

Mr. Quibell

And are.

Mr. Greenwood

By-laws, where they exist, have never been enforced. Cottages have been allowed to fall into disrepair during the whole of our lifetime, and now there is a cry for the expenditure of public money in order to try to restore these decrepit structures to something which is beautiful outside, and healthy within for those who dwell within them. That is really an impossible policy. The right hon. Gentleman has claimed that it is only a part of the programme of which they were proud, and that it was supplemental to further legislation. He argued that it would be right to assist private enterprise. That is not new on the part of Members of the party opposite. The 1923 Housing Act was primarily based on assistance to private enterprise. I do not press this point, because it has been argued in the Debate to-day at very great length, but I am simply putting the point that, if this be part of a considered policy, the Government would be far better advised to throw their weight and influence on the side of comely, seemly and beautiful houses, but new, rather than in continuing after all these years for a further period this method of trying to improve second-hand, third-hand, and fourth-hand houses, which no longer conform to modern standards. The right hon. Gentleman said that this is cheaper than building new houses in the rural areas. That, as I understood the right hon. Gentleman, was the case he made, and he quoted the case of Berwickshire. I am not a person who comes from so far north, but I admit that what the right hon. Gentleman said is right, that a sevenpenny rate over a 20-year period is not quite the same as a penny rate over a 40-year period. But on his arithmetic, Berwickshire has been spending far more on reconditioning old houses than it has on building new houses. The total cost to date of reconditioning has been nearly £70,000, and there is this point which increases the burden upon the local authority; they do not get any increased rateable value out of the houses that are reconditioned. Every new house is a new asset to the locality.

I explained quite frankly to the House on Second Reading my position on this Bill. I opposed it on Second Reading. I have never liked it. I supported its continuance in 1931, and I do not apologise for my change in attitude. It was out of loyalty to a colleague, who felt that, in that period when the 1930 Housing Act was not fully operating, it might be of service to Scotland, and I say that, having already protracted that period, the Government, in asking for a further four years, are asking too much. On Second Reading I raised a point on Clause 9 of the Bill. Under that Clause additional public money can be provided for the assistance of the abatement of overcrowding but the Bill makes no provision—though we have had verbal promises—for ensuring that, where this increased assistance is given, the houses are up even to what I regard the meagre overcrowding standards, as I explained to the House, of the Housing Act, 1936. If these standards are to be applied to houses where additional money is being provided, why should not this public money be devoted to reconditioning houses, which, when reconditioned, should conform as far as practicable—and I am not pressing the point too far, because I know the difficulties about water supply, and so on, in rural areas—to the standards now required of local authorities when they build houses with the assistance of the State and of the rates? That point has not been conceded to us, and I feel that I am entitled to move the rejection of the Third Reading of the Bill. We are thankful to the right hon. Gentleman for such concessions as he has given to us, but we on this side of the House will never again in any circumstances consent to provide public money for private landlords unless—and I am not sure that we will even do it then—those houses conform to the standards of houses built under the Housing Acts of this country and required now by the public conscience of this country.

7.55 P.m.

Mr. Boothby

It is always rather difficult to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) when he has been in one of his most censorious moods, and it is even more difficult when he has been preceded by the Minister of Health in one of his most lyrical moods. I have very few qualifications to speak at length on this Bill, and I am not going to speak on it to-day except as the representative of my constituency. I have no objection in any shape or form to declaring myself to be one of those week-enders—to whom my right hon. Friend referred in censorious and scathing terms—who live by beauty alone. I will only say to my right hon. Friend that I do not care what he says, and I do not care what his country friends say. I shall continue to go into the country as long as I am able to pay rent, and I hope to be able to get some credit even then. I have no objection to the week-end habit. It is a thoroughly good idea and I hope to live to see the day when practically every member of the population of this country will be able to enjoy at least a large part of the week-end in the countryside. The idea of the countryside for the countryman can be taken very much too far. I do not intend to enter into a dispute to-night with my right hon. Friend upon the respective aesthetic merits of a tumbling waterfall. There is a great deal to be said for a waterfall, but we can discuss that matter later on. The right hon. Gentleman would have us believe that this Bill is claimed to be a great, ambitious and a comprehensive Measure to solve for all time the problem of rural housing. I do not think that the Minister of Health has claimed that point. It is a useful Measure supplementing the general housing policy of the Government.

The successive rural Workers Acts have proved enormously useful in my constituency, and if it had not been for them we should never have had anything like the satisfactory housing conditions in the countryside in Aberdeenshire as we have to-day. There is in Scotland, at any rate certainly in the North of Scotland, a great deal to be said for reconstruction as against new construction, not only on account of cheapness, which applies very strongly and forcibly in these scattered countrysides, but because in many ways the houses which were built 30, 40 or 50 years ago are very much better structurally than the houses that are built today. They have better and thicker walls. It is a hard country from which we come, and the people who live in a hard country have to have very hard houses, much harder than some of those which are built in modern times, to withstand the rigors of our climate. There is many a cottage built many years ago in which, if it were reconstructed, I would much rather live than in one of the modem brick and slate houses of the present day.

Mr. Greenwood

Why not brick and slate? Why brick versus stone? The hon. Gentleman, like the right hon. Gentleman, is endeavouring to put us into a false position as wanting slate or asbestos roofs. We want nothing of the kind. We are prepared to agree that the structure should be appropriate to the surroundings.

Mr. Boothby

I will put two arguments. First of all, the country districts are poor, and I do not think that they are in a position at the present time, after the agricultural depression has continued off and on ever since the War, to build very expensive houses. If we had new houses, asbestos houses would be the sort of thing we would get from the Ministry of Health whether under a Labour Government or a Conservative Government. The right hon. Gentleman may say there is no reason why new houses, modern houses, should not be beautiful and nestle down into the countryside and take their place in the scheme of things. There may not be any reason why they should not, but the fact remains that they do not. I put it to hon. Members, particularly those from Scotland who have any knowledge of housing schemes, urban and rural, since the War, that nine-tenths of them are absolutely frightful in their ugliness. If you put this sort of house all over the countryside you will ruin the countryside, certainly in Scotland. There are one or two housing schemes in Scotland, including a scheme outside Aberdeen, where a young architect of brilliance has carried out a comprehensive scheme, but as a general rule in the housing schemes carried out in Scotland the new houses have been uniformly ugly. As the right hon. Gentleman is so keen on urban housing, let him get some improvements in urban schemes before he seeks to bring those houses to the countryside on a large scale. The new houses are ugly, on the whole. There has been a little sign of improvement during the last year or two, and it certainly has been overdue.

The right hon. Gentleman under-estimates the beauty of some of the older houses and the intrinsic merit of some of those houses. I deny strongly that it is impossible, by the use of this Bill, to put some of these older cottages into a condition which is fully up to modern standards, and which in many respects would be better houses for the farm workers than the new houses, unless you spend more money on the new houses than the countryside is at present able to afford. I can only repeat that I do not know what we should have done in Aberdeenshire without these Housing Acts. They have done an immense amount of good, and I am glad that, with the Amendments which have been made in Committee, with the assistance of hon. Members opposite, this Bill when it becomes an Act will be of great use in the countryside, particularly in the North of Scotland.

There is one final point with which I should like to deal, which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston), and that is the giving of money to the rich landlords without a means test. If Sir John Ellerman were the real landlord test as far as rural houses were concerned, there might be a strong case to be made out in favour of having some kind of means test, but in point of fact, as hon. Members know full well, what the countryside lacks at the present time, above everything else, is capital. If we had a few Sir John Ellermans in my constituency I am sure that they would be warmly welcomed. The difficulty—and it has been the difficulty in agriculture almost ever since the War—has been to get a sufficient flow of capital into the industry. The industry has been starved for want of an adequate supply of capital, and that is the main reason why we are not making full use of the land in this country. The present Government has ways and means of dealing financially with the Sir John Ellermans of this world, both in life and in death.

Mr. Johnston

I suppose the hon. Member will apply the same arguments next week when we come to deal with Clause 4 of the Herring Bill, under which this Government is proposing to apply the means test to the wealthier proprietors who ask for grants for new motor boats.

Mr. Boothby

I certainly propose to move an Amendment, which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will support, to delete that obnoxious provision in the Herring Bill, and I have no doubt that the Government will accept the Amendment. If you are going to deal with the mythical figure of the rich agricultural landlord this is not the time, the place or the Bill in which to do it. I warmly welcome the Measure on behalf of my constituents, and although I do not think it is a solution of the problem of rural housing, it will do more than much of the housing legislation that has been introduced for some time.

8.5 p.m.

Mr. Quibell

I do not share the opinion of the hon. Member who has just spoken. He seems to have a very decided preference for the country cottage as compared with the modern cottage. He said that he would prefer the country cottage to the modern jerry-built house. I have heard that same expression used before in this House on many occasions, and it would be very useful if the hon. Member would briefly give us a definition of what he means by a jerry-built house. Then he might be able to direct the attention of the Minister to some improvement in the conditions laid down, so that we might eliminate what he calls the jerrybuilt house. I think he would be under a difficulty in trying to define a jerrybuilt house. I was brought up on the countryside in a cottage which was thatched and whitewashed, and beautiful to look at. There was a certain sentiment attached to that cottage, and if I brought here a photograph of it, hon. Members would admit that it was beautiful, but if they had seen inside it, the back of it and the end of it, and they realised the kind of house it was, they would agree that so far as its beauty was concerned it was like the snowstorm, which looks all very well on a picture postcard, but which in reality is not nice.

Mr. Boothby

It must have been a healthy cottage.

Mr. Quibell

I have been brought up on English wheat, which is supposed not to be made into flour. I am an example of nutrition of the older type. So far as the country houses are concerned, there are hundreds of them 70 or 80 years old which cannot be reconditioned, and it is a scandal that public money should be spent on reconditioning them. I have looked very carefully into the report of the committee on rural housing, and although I do not desire to make any reflection on the personnel of the committee and those who gave their services, I like practical men on a committee. I do not think that the practical man would say that some of the stone houses, which we are told will stand the rigour of the Scottish climate, are fit to be reconditioned. It is impossible to recondition them. You may repair them, but hon. Members who come from Scotland must know that if the local authorities in the rural parts—and the same remark applies to the local authorities in the rural parts of this country—had done their duty and called on the landlords to repair their houses in the rural areas, as is done in the urban areas, the state of affairs would have been very different to-day.

Why should Parliament be called upon to provide money for the landlords under this Bill because the landlord has failed in his duty for the last 30 or 40 years and has allowed his houses to get into such a state of disrepair that they have become uninhabitable? Now we are told that they are to be given grants to recondition these houses in order to preserve the beauty of the countryside. It is absolute nonsense to talk about reconditioning houses of that kind. One of the most important things in connection with a house is the damp-course. If you tried to put a damp-course into some of these cottages, they would fall down. It is impossible to cure the dampness unless you take the house down, and put in a proper damp-course. I think as much about the countryside as any hon. Member, but I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting against this Bill. I want to see, as the authority covering nearly the whole of my division wants to see, these houses demolished and proper houses put in their place.

If the hon. Member opposite wants to help, as I believe he does, and if other hon. Members desire to help, they ought to press the Government to see that the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act is put into operation. If they want to assist the small owner-occupier, let them bring pressure to bear upon him so that he in his turn may bring pressure to bear upon the local authority to adopt that Act, under which they have power to borrow—as my local authority have been doing for years —at 3¼ to 3½ per cent., and then lend the money to the small owner-occupier to enable him to get a new house. But the Government are very careful about this matter. You do not find them issuing circulars asking the local authorities to adopt the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act, and the reason is that the strong financial corporations, called building societies, object to the local authorities lending cheap money, because they have so much money they want to lend at a greater rate of interest. I would press the Minister to draw the attention of the local authorities to this Act. Many of them do not know that it is on the Statute Book. If they adopted the Act it would do a great deal for the small owner-occupier, for whom they pretend to be so very solicitous.

Reference has been made to the brick house and the slate-roofed house. I believe in using the materials that lie nearest to our hands. If you go into North Wales you will see stone houses with Welsh slates, which have lasted many years. I would much prefer the Welsh slates to the Portuguese slates and the French slates which I have seen lately. Some hon. Members decry slate, but I like the Welsh slate, the Penryn slate. I know of houses on which Welsh slates have lasted for a century, and they will probably last the house out, because they certainly stand very well. Let those who want tiles have their tiles. Let them get different colours of tiles. But if you want a change and it affects the price, perhaps to the extent of an additional £10, the Ministry will turn to some other adjoining district where cheaper tiles are in use, and they will ask for a fresh specification to see whether they cannot bring the cost down to the level of the other place where they have the cheaper materials, and consequently there is no variety. The trouble is with the Ministry.

I maintain that the right policy is to continue the building of new hoases. The authorities which are to be complimented are those which are reconditioning least. It is no good putting an additional room on a damp house; that is not reconditioning. This Bill is only recompensing the landlord who has neglected his duty. I cannot but regard the handing out of public money for this purpose as other than a dangerous precedent, and much as I love the countryside I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting against the Third Reading of this Bill.

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

The hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) speaks upon this subject with great knowledge and a big heart, and in that respect reflects, I think, the sentiments of the new Minister of Health. I have never heard the Minister of Health make a more eloquent speech than that which he delivered on the Third Reading. We all know that the right hon. Gentleman understands this problem and has it very much at heart. Indeed, I can confirm his suggestion that since he became interested in the matter of rural housing it has become almost his first care. I want to ask only one or two questions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) opposes this Bill on two main grounds, one, that it is a dole for the landlords and, secondly, that it will mean the improvement of houses which ought not to be improved, or which, when they have been improved, are such that you should ask no one to live in them. It is no good trying to persuade the party opposite that this is not a Bill for the landlords, but on the other point I think they have raised an important issue. When the Under-Secretary of State replies, will he tell us what has been the effect of the circular issued to local authorities in Scotland following the report of the Rural Housing Committee? It was sent out by the Department of Health on 21st July last year. Let me quote from it, because I think if we can get satisfactory answers to my questions it may be possible for the hon. Member for Brigg to reconsider his view. The survey of typical parishes carried out for the Committee revealed that only slightly more than half the dwellings dealt with under the Acts in those parishes have been satisfactorily reconstructed according to modern requirements. That being so, criticism of the Act was clearly justified. The right hon. Gentleman goes on in his address to the county councils: The Secretary of State is certain that county councils will recognise the importance of seeing that no public money is spent under the Acts except on dwellings that can be rendered in all respects fit for habitation, and he would be glad if county councils would review their procedure for dealing with applications for assistance under the Acts with this object. Can the Under-Secretary tell us what has been the effect of that circular? Have the county councils in Scotland reviewed their proceedure? Have they carried out the instructions which appear in the second paragraph: The Secretary of State has decided…. to ask the county councils to submit to the Department in respect of all applications received after 1st January, 1938, a statement in the form given in Appendix II. The form which county councils were asked to fill in contains the following pertinent questions: Is the site of the existing building satisfactory, and the building suitable for reconstruction? Is dampness present in the existing house or building? If so, what specific works are to be carried out in order to remedy this defect? Will the dwelling after the execution of the works, contain an indoor water supply, with sink, a water closet and a bath? If not, what are the reasons why it is not practical to provide these conveniences? Will the dwelling, after the execution of the works, contain: a scullery, a larder with external ventilation, fuel store; facilities for Washing and drying clothes, press accommodation, and facilities for cooking food? I believe that if the Government could assure the House that, at any rate, in Scotland, and we hope in England, no grant will be given under the Act unless these conditions are met, the whole House will be ready to support this Measure. I would like to think that in this urgent problem of country cottages we are not maintaining a partisan point of view. I am satisfied that the right hon. Member for West Stirling feels as strongly on this matter as any of us on this side of the House. Like the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) I can speak with first-hand knowledge of the great advantage that these Acts have been in my part of the country. I can take the hon. Member for Brigg to almost any part of it and show him not only dwellings that look attractive from the house outside, but which also are well worth living in. I cannot see why we should stop an Act that has effected this kind of improvement and may do still more in the future. I wish to express my gratitude to this Government and to the previous Governments for having introduced these Measures, and I wish this present Bill, which is intended to strengthen the existing Acts, every success.

8.25 p.m.

Sir F. Fremantle

I wish to make a few observations from the point of view of the medical officers of health, who are anxious to promote good housing under whatever Acts it is possible to do so. That is the object of this Bill, and, in view of that object, many of the criticisms that have been made on both sides of the House have been beside the point. The object is not to substitute this Bill, when it becomes an Act, for any other Act, and the last thing which any medical officer of health would wish would be that this Bill should in any way substitute the provision of reconditioned houses for good, new buildings. What we want is to get good, new houses in the countryside. This Bill will give further help, and it is for that reason that this exceptional provision of a subsidy is made.

The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George), who was a colleague of mine on the Rural Housing Committee, has explained how she differed from us with regard to the giving of this subsidy to rich landowners. She said that she would never agree that it was right to give the subsidy to people who could recondition the houses themselves. In that, the hon. Lady and other hon. Members entirely miss the point, which is not whether a person can supply better accommodation or reconditioned houses, but whether he will do so. It is right to say that these persons ought to do so, but it is not the law that they shall do so. They may prefer to spend their money in other ways, it may be with good reason, or perhaps, as is the case with many small landowners, they have not got the money; but if they do not recondition the houses themselves, there is no legal power to compel them to do so. That was the question which concerned those of us who, 15 years ago, were trying to find out in what way we could improve housing, especially in the rural areas. We said that, in addition to building new houses, existing houses could be improved, but that in most cases that could not be done without assistance, and that that assistance ought to be given under conditions that would not inure to the benefit of the landlord, but to the benefit of the tenant. That is a matter that has been discussed a good deal to-day. Speaking as a small landowner, who has a good number of houses and cottages that have been reconditioned, I can say that the benefit that will come to the estate at the end of 20 years will be so infinitesimal that I am certain that it will not be considered of any value when the probate value of my estate is calculated on my death.

Mr. Quibell

If the hon. Gentleman has reconditioned the houses already, there is no reason why the subsidy should be given to him.

Sir F. Fremantle

I have already explained in the Debates on the Bill that I did it myself, but that I was not prepared to do any more unless I could get a grant. Let it be remembered that this Bill deals only with cases where provision would not otherwise be made. As regards the conditions and terms, those are within the power of the local authorities at the present time, and they have power to refuse to give a loan or grant where they think it is unsuitable. Unfortunately, most authorities hitherto have not used the Act as frequently as we would have wished. It was only as a result of the Rural Housing Committee and the efforts of the late Minister of Health that action was taken which led the local authorities to revise their opinion in that respect. I hope they will do so a great deal more in future. The hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) said that little attention had been paid to the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. I am glad that the hon. Member revived the memory of that Act, which was an inspiration to those of us interested in housing 35 years ago. The Act was originally introduced by a Conservative Member, the late Sir Thomas Wrightson, and it was taken up in the original programme of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, some 40 years ago. He always made a great point of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. It was developed in one way and another, and was largely taken up by the present Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Health, in connection with the 1923 Act. I think that the provisions of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act and the corresponding provisions in the 1923 Act need to be brought to people's notice a great deal more at a time when so much is done to advertise the building societies, which also have done a great deal of good work. This Bill gives small extra help in the matter of housing. I hope that it will be used increasingly where it is required, and that local authorities will be made to recognise their responsibilities and their powers in the matter, because a great deal needs to be clone to strengthen the administration in rural areas throughout the country. I hope hon. Members will support the Bill.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Johnston

I wish to offer a few observations on the Debate which has taken place. The hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) made a speech with a very great part of which many of his Scottish colleagues on these benches will agree. I have never before voted against an agricultural workers housing Measure, either in 1926 or in 1931. Many of my colleagues voted against those Measures, but I abstained, because I felt that on balance, as long as there was a chance of some poor rural workers in Scotland getting a bathroom, a water supply in their homes or additional conveniences, it would be criminal on my part, because of abstract, political or economic theories, to go into the Division Lobby and to do anything to prevent them getting those advantages which I enjoy myself. However, it must be recollected that there has been a commission dealing with this matter in Scotland. It must be recollected that it was the opinion of the majority of that commission that at most they could recommend the extension of this Measure for only two years. It must be recollected that they described, in scathing words which are very seldom found in a Royal Commission's report, the situation in Scotland as being a grave waste of public money. We have specific evidence of what has happened in certain villages in Scotland, supplied to us not by politicians, but by a skilled inspector sent by the commission to make an examination of the matter. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) referred to that subject in his speech. But the hon. Member did not quote what was said by the official who carried out the survey for the housing committee: On an average 75 per cent. of the working-class houses surveyed were considered to be unfit for human habitation in their present condition. Hardly any of the cottages for workers have indoor water supplies; 48 per cent. of the houses surveyed had only dry closets and 29 per cent. had no sanitary conveniences at all. These were houses surveyed in the parish of Tarbat in Ross-shire, in Inverarity, in Angus and in Jedburgh; and one in three of those houses, inhabited by the rural population of Scotland, had no sanitary conveniences of any kind. I do not believe that this Measure touches the difficulty at all. The first difficulty is to provide water supplies for the villages. There is no use in talking about providing sanitary conveniences in villages where there is no water supply, and anyone who has studied the position in rural Scotland knows that the primary, the essential con- sideration is an adequate and efficient water supply. Only when we have water supplies and drainage systems will it be possible to supply even existing houses with the ordinary conveniences of modern life. Until that is done, vast numbers of the present generation of our people will be compelled to pass their lives without sanitary conveniences such as are enjoyed even by the Kaffirs in their kraals. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, I am told that they have water supplies in the kraals in many places but such conveniences are refused to the inhabitants of rural Scotland.

Here we have another Measure extending these Acts not for two but for four years. I should hesitate to vote against even that proposed if there was any observable effort to ensure that where decent new houses could be provided, they would be provided, that where water supplies could be installed, they would be installed, and that where drainage systems could be constructed they would be constructed. Under this Measure, publicity in regard to applications for grant is refused. Hon. Members walked into the Lobby a week ago and voted against an Amendment which sought to provide that recipients of grants under this Measure should be catalogued and that a copy of the list should be available to any local government elector on payment of 6d. All sorts of amazing arguments have been adduced as to why rich men, who do not need the money, should be entitled to grants. Some hon. Members who sit opposite have said privately that they would be ashamed to ask a county council for grants for themselves. Yet, as supporters of the Government, they have voted for these prpoosals. It is true that I have given only the one instance of Sir John Ellerman, because it is a notorious case—and I am not sure that it is not in the division of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen.

Mr. Boothby

Unfortunately not.

Mr. Johnston

There is a vital difference between us. The hon. Member says "Unfortunately not." I say it is immoral, it is socially wrong, it is a misconception of citizenship, for a man with £40,000,000 to go to an already overburdened local authority to get them to improve his property.

Mr. Boothby

I should not like to be taken as approving in any way of Sir John Ellerman's methods in this connection, if he did so. If he did what the hon. Member says I think it was indefensible, and when I said "Unfortunately not," I only meant that I wished there was more capital behind the landlords in my constituency.

Mr. Johnston

That is another question and I am not sure that I disagree with the hon. Member on that point. One of my objections to the present landlord system is that a large number of landlords have not the capital with which to keep their property in a decent condition. A number of them are only nominal owners and are in the hands of mortgage companies with representatives in Edinburgh, or in London, or in Palestine, or somewhere else, drawing perhaps 6 per cent. on loans. The landlord who "swanks" about in a kilt is really only a factor or a rent collector for some group of moneylenders. That is one of the evils of the private landlord system, but it has nothing to do with this Bill. The Bill is a Measure to provide public funds—disguise it how you will—for the renovation and perpetuation of private house property, and in some cases that private property is owned by people who do not require grants.

We do not deny what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that a number of houses have been reconstructed under these Acts and that the tenants of those houses enjoy a higher standard of life now than they did previously. I know, personally, a number of such cases, and it would be foolish to deny that they exist. On the other hand, I know of cases in which walls which were dripping with damp have had wooden structures plastered on to them and grants have been made for that work. In an earlier Debate I gave a case in which two years after a grant had been made by a local authority, the same local authority passed a demolition order on the property because it was unfit for human habitation. In any number of cases there has been a grave waste of public money. I cannot anticipate a question which I understand is to be put in the House to-morrow about houses in Aberdeenshire, but I understand there are allegations about second-hand grates and other secondhand ironwork being used in recon- structions for which public money is being paid under these Acts.

On all those grounds, we would prefer the right hon. Gentleman to make use of the Act already referred to on this side and to purchase the property and do anything and everything necessary to serve the public interest. May I offer one constructive suggestion? In the burghs there are thousands of people who have inadequate sanitary conveniences but in the rural areas we have 75 per cent. of houses unfit for habitation and 29 per cent. of people without any sanitary conveniences at all. We cannot afford to stand too rigidly upon abstract economic dogmas when it comes to dealing with these matters, and I appeal to the Government to take every possible step available to them, by administrative order, to stop local authorities in certain areas from spending public funds in preserving what is in many cases a decayed housing system, and to drive them as far as possible into erecting new and decent habitations.

I would plead with the Government not to allow them to cut down trees. When they buy an estate now and they are going to put so many cottages on it, the first thing they do is to cut down all the trees, as if those trees were an offence on the landscape. Why should they do it if you are fighting to preserve beauty and something lovely to look upon in the world? I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to do everything he can, both through his own Department and through the Scottish Office, to prevent the demolition and the destruction of what is really beautiful in the world. But I do not believe that it is "a thing of beauty" and "a joy for ever" to place people in homes where the women and sickly children in winter weather have to go perhaps a quarter of a mile to carry a water supply or have to go out into the blizzard because there is no sanitary convenience in the home. These things are no credit to landlordism, no credit to the capitalism which has bossed and ruled Scotland for so long; and while we on these benches would be willing to do anything and everything we could to raise the standard of civilisation in our country, we do not believe that this Measure, as it leaves our hands, fulfils the necessary conditions. For that reason, while we do not oppose a blind negative to the Bill, we are prepared to support the reasoned Amendment which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) has moved.

8.48 p.m.

Mr. Wedderburn

Although the party opposite have decided to oppose the Third Reading of this Bill, they have taken that decision for reasons which have already been thoroughly discussed in the earlier stages of the Bill, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not wish me now to take up the time of the House in going over the same ground again. The right hon. Gentleman made some comparisons between the state of housing in urban and in rural areas, and he gave some figures to show how few of the existing rural houses were up to our modern standards. I think he said that 75 per cent. were unfit for human habitation and that 29 per cent. were without any sort of sanitary convenience at all. I am not sure that these conditions are so bad as those in some of the parts of Glasgow which I have seen myself, and I think there are many parts of our great cities which would compare pretty unfavourably even with the least advanced of our rural areas. But if it is the case, as we agree it is, that there is much that needs to be done, I think that is all the stronger reason for prolonging this Act, because a great deal of what ought to be done can be effected by this method, and it can be effected, not only more conveniently and less expensively, but, as we believe, in most cases equally successfully, by renovation and enlargement, as by demolition and rebuilding.

The manuscript Amendment indicates as a reason for not passing the Third Reading that not all the houses so repaired would approximate to modern standards, and one or two questions have been put to me in regard to the kind of standards which will be enforced administratively under the existing Act as prolonged by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that he asked a similar question on the Second Reading of the Bill, to which I replied at some length, giving various figures for Scotland. I also read out the substance of a circular which the English Minister was then considering, and I had occasion to deal with the same subject again on one of the Amendments in the Com- mittee stage. I have already covered the questions which were asked by my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), but I will give him some figures more recent than those which I was able to give in the Second Reading Debate. My hon. Friend wanted to know what had been the effect of the circular that was sent out last July—that is, the circular laying down that in future all schemes for reconditioning must be submitted to the Department. Speaking from memory, the figures that I gave were that about 460 statements had been submitted and that all but 5o of these had been approved, some of them with variations, but I have some more recent figures here.

The number of applications that have been submitted since 1st January, 1938, is 609. Of these, 500 have been approved by the Department. My hon. Friend is already aware of the conditions which must be fulfilled before we approve the statements. As I say, 500 cases have been approved, in 104 of which variations were suggested by us. Of the remainder, two were withdrawn and 38 are still under consideration. That leaves 69 which have not been approved, and of that number 17 were turned down, not for any defect in regard to the houses, but because it was proposed to put tenants into them whose economic status was not, in our view, similar to that of an agricultural labourer. Fifty-two cases were refused on structural grounds. In 21 cases the reason for refusal was that the number or size of the rooms was inadequate, in nine cases that the site or the structure was unsatisfactory, and in 22 cases that the reconstruction would not have provided conveniences such as bath, water closet, etc. I think these figures will show that in the great majority of cases the applications which we are receiving do come up to the standards laid down in the circular, because those houses which do not come up to the standards are not approved.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

In the same circular, my hon. Friend will recall, the right hon. Gentleman made it plain that he did not desire, in making these further regulations, to delay the county councils in this work. Would my hon. Friend assure us that these further regulations have not in fact held up work under these Acts?

Mr. Wedderburn

I do not know, but I think that they very probably have. I think that the average annual number of houses dealt with has been about 3,000. The figures I have given are for the first three or four months of the year, and a rough mental calculation does not show that the number this year will be much below that of last year. My right hon. Friend, having despatched one circular to Scotland, will have the duty of despatching to England one in which he will emphasise the following points: first, the importance of securing the inclusion of such substantial works as will make the house not merely of a minimum standard of fitness, but also of a good standard; secondly, the advantages which may be secured by the inclusion of such domestic conveniences as sinks, water closets, indoor water supply, modern cooking ranges and bathrooms; thirdly, the importance of a good standard in the actual execution of approved works; and, fourthly, the benefits which can be secured by the use of the provision for joint works, such as those of water supply and drainage.

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) is not here. He was good enough to accept with some appreciation the various concessions which my right hon. Friend has made, and he acknowledged that Scotsmen were open to reason,

but not very much. He seemed to say that with some feeling, and one perhaps detected the ultimate cause of it when he told us later that his support of this Measure in 1931 was due only to his loyalty to a colleague. On that occasion he obviously did not find his Scottish colleague very much open to reason. I do not think that the unreasonableness is all on the side of Scotsmen, because I remember that last year at the Naval Review, on board the ship where many of us were, I spent most of an evening unsuccessfully endeavouring to persuade the right hon. Member for Wakefield to dance a reel. He was adamant in his refusal to listen to reason. I suppose that he is gradually becoming accustomed to resisting the arguments of his Scottish colleagues, and I am sorry that on this occasion—perhaps I am wrong in my surmise —he may perhaps have been adamant in resisting the suggestions of at least some of his Scottish colleagues on the other side of the House that he should not pursue his intention of voting against this Bill.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 186; Noes,111.