§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.57 P.m.
§ The Minister of Food (Mr. Strachey)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill has a primary purpose which I might simply describe as the enabling of local authorities, if they so wish, to continue the services of public meals and other similar activities which they are now undertaking under the general title of "British Restaurants." The House will recall the genesis of the British Restaurants. It is true to say that they were born of the general wartime needs in the year 1940 and, in particular, of the needs of the cities during the time of the aerial bombardment of this country, and of the London blitz in particular. If the House will permit a personal word, may I say that I could not help recalling, when I found that it was my place to intro-' duce this Bill, that, in 1940, when the first beginnings of the system were being made, I, like many other hon. Members of this House at that time, was a member of the Civil Defence organisation of the country—an air raid warden in the metropolitan borough of Chelsea. I very well remember making what representations I could at that time to the authorities on the view, which they were quick to take up, not from my representations, but from many others, that the provision of hot food was, perhaps, the most important single factor of all in the relief which a population under aerial bombardment could be given. We all remember how, out of that dreadful need, and out of the 1797 general need during the war years, this very wide activity, which we now know as British Restaurants, came to be born.
I need only give the House the following figures to show how wide the British Restaurant scheme became. At the peak point during the war, in May 1943, there were over 2,000 British Restaurants, and they were serving over 500,000 meals a day. Today, three and a half years afterwards, there are still over 1,000 British Restaurants, and they are serving over 400,000 meals a day. The average price of those meals is so. 3d. each. The House will notice that the drop in the number of meals served is very much less than the drop in the number of restaurants, so that the service is still in operation on a very wide scale.
I need only give one or two examples. The London County Council, for example, is running no less than 150 restaurants and serving 60,000 mid-day meals a day. Birmingham is still running 59 restaurants and serving 20,000 meals a day. Nor are these activities confined to great industrial cities. Bournemouth, with five restaurants, is serving 4,500 meals a day. Almost all these restaurants which I have mentioned are in extemporised buildings, but there are one or two cases of cities which, for one reason or another, were enabled to build really suitable, or comparatively suitable, premises. Sheffield is, perhaps, the best example, and there is a restaurant in that city which today serves as a model for other local authorities. It has just been visited by representatives of the sister authority of York, in order that a similar restaurant may be established in York if the necessary powers are given. The Sheffield restaurant, which is part of the civic centre in that city, serves 1,250 lunches a day. It is open until 8 p.m., including Sundays, and it serves teas and suppers. I am giving those facts as an example that already today the British Restaurants are playing a very real part in the life of the population in certain cities.
The first issue before this House is quite a simple one of whether all this activity shall end, as the Caterers' Association have asked us to decide, or whether it shall continue as, for example, an impartial inquiry into the matter undertaken by the National Council of Social Service concluded. I would like to read to the 1798 House a few words of that conclusion, because it is a notable one. The National Council of Social Service, after an exhaustive survey of the country, in a most interesting report which I recommend to the attention of hon. Members, concluded:The British Restaurant service, which has grown up as part of a national feeding policy in wartime, should now be overhauled and made a better and more effective part of a national food policy which will help to keep the nation fit for the constructive tasks of peace.The object of this small Measure is precisely to enable local authorities to do that. I doubt whether in any part of the House there is any division as to the desirability of achieving those objectives, but, of course, there may be division on the question of whether, on the one hand, local authorities are capable of doing that, and, on the other hand whether private enterprise unaided is capable of doing so.
On the first point, I think that 10 years ago, before our wartime experience, it might have been argued—although I would not have accepted the argument then—that the local authorities were hardly capable of running restaurants. But I put it to the House that the six years' experience which we have had of running British Restaurants have conclusively shown that local authorities can do this job. They have proved their capacity to run restaurants, to give service which is needed and appreciated by the population, and to run those restaurants as workable businesses which can pay their way. I would like to call the attention of the House to the latest accounts of British Restaurants for this financial year, for 361 out of the 419 local authorities which are still operating British Restaurants under the Ministry's scheme. They had a gross income this year of £89,300,000. Hon. Members will observe the scale of the operations. On balance, there was a net profit of £36,000 after providing £50,000 for amortisation.
§ Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox (Henley)
Do those figures include the cost of converting the premises, which has been undertaken by the Ministry of Works?
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
The right hon. Gentleman gave the gross turnover and the net profit. What is the percentage of profit?
§ Mr. Strachey
The percentage of profit on takings is the percentage of £36,000 of £89 million. The hon. Gentleman can work it out better than I can. I anticipated that some hon. or right hon. Member opposite would make that point, and it occurred to me that if they did it would show that they supposed that the British Restaurant service was being run to make the maximum amount of profit. Of course, no illusion could be greater. The local authorities were not, for one moment, attempting to make the maximum profit out of the population. It would be an absolutely repugnant idea, but I have quoted these figures to show that they are capable, in undertaking this very extensive operation, of making the restaurants pay as a business without incurring a charge on public funds.
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. Gentleman says I am not making a fair comparison. So far, I have made no comparison, fair or unfair.
§ Mr. Jennings
With great respect, the right hon. Gentleman has given the total turnover of £89 million, showing a profit of £36,000 in respect of 361 local authorities, but in respect of the others he has given neither a loss nor a profit. The proper comparison would be to say whether, as a whole, they have made a profit.
§ Mr. Strachey
No. The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I was taking the 361 as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the others?"] There are no others. Those are the restaurants of which we are speaking. There is no comparison being made.
§ Mr. Strachey
I think I had better continue. I have noticed the extreme touchiness of hon. Members opposite. I now come to the other subject, and I am afraid hon. Members may be even more touchy on this aspect, which is whether private enterprise could now provide these good, cheap meals on this scale to the population as a whole. I would say right away that, in part, private enterprise can, does and will continue to provide meals, some good and some cheap, to the population in this country, but I would add that, so far at any rate, private enterprise in the catering trade has, on the whole and by and large, catered for the middle class and not for the working class. So far, on the whole, it has not provided, on anything like an adequate scale, for public eating out, for the industrial and, for that matter, the agricultural working class of this country. There is a real gap to be filled by some other kind of service. I am not saying that that is something which I do not deplore. I think it would be admirable if private enterprise did attempt to cater on a greater scale for the working class of this country, and I do not despair that, under the spur of public enterprise which is now going to be applied in this field, private enterprise will also play a part, and a greater part than it has played up till now—a part not confined to the "pull-up" and "pull-in" and the small café—in this field. I do not know. I do not anticipate the speeches which we shall hear from hon. and right hon. Members opposite in this Debate. However, it did seem to me, in considering what they were going to put before us, that they might be faced with a somewhat difficult dilemma.
I think we may find it argued—as there was a tendency to do just now, I noticed, when I was quoting some figures—that of course local authorities would prove most hopelessly inefficient instruments for carrying on restaurants, that they would be quite incapable of providing, at prices which would enable them to pay their way, anything like as good a service as private enterprise would do. It may be we shall hear that argument from some speakers, and at the same time the other argument from other speakers, that what we are going to do now, in enabling local authorities to run restaurants—and that is all we are doing—is to place a very great menace behind the backs of private enterprise caterers, and that their businesses will be destroyed by 1801 the powerful and formidable competition of local authorities. I should not put it past some hon. Members, from our experience, if both those arguments were, in fact, used by the same speaker at different times in his speech. Of course, as I need hardly point out to the House, that hon. Members cannot have it both ways. Either local authorities are inefficient people, cumbrous and bureaucratic organisations, in which case the private catering authorities have nothing whatever to fear from them; or, they are efficient organisations capable of providing a really useful public service, in which case the public have something very great to gain by that service being provided on a permanent basis, as this Bill is designed to secure.
That brings me to the provisions of the Bill, and it brings me particularly—and I will deal with the Bill in this connection—to the financial provisions of the Bill. It may be and I dare say will be argued that that dilemma is an unreal one, because local authorities will provide these services out of the- rates. I notice that the Caterers' Association, in the resolution which they moved in opposition to this Measure, used these words:If the intention is to provide the public with meals at subsidised rates, such a system is socially undesirable in view of the fact that adequate old-age pensions and the possibility of a national wages policy will provide reason able buying power for allI am deeply touched by, and grateful to the Caterers' Association for, that tribute to the general economic and social policy of the Government. But I must say to them that they are under a misconception in their implication in that passage, and in the subsequent one still more where they go on to say:Rate-aided meals tend towards an unjustified pauperisation of the population.If they turn to Clause 3 of the Bill, they will see that rate-aided meals are not what is provided for. On the contrary, it is carefully provided that local authorities must keep careful and meticulous accounts of these services, should they desire to undertake them, that those accounts must be kept in the way prescribed by the Minister of Food, and that they must run their restaurants over a reasonable period so as to make both ends meet and not be a charge on the rates. They will see that by Clause 3 (2) any local authority which fails to make its 1802 restaurant pay over a period of three years, after an initial two years starting, simply loses the powers under this Bill to carry on any restaurant any further. That is a very drastic provision indeed. [HON. MEMBERS:"' Provided that.'"] I am just coming to that. Under certain circumstances the Minister of Food of the day can reprieve that local authority by giving it another chance to put its restaurant on a sound financial footing.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
May I ask a question on Clause 1? The British Restaurants are not licensed. Is it proposed to encourage the licensing of these premises?
§ Mr. Strachey
I am going through the Bill. I am not taking the Clauses in the order in which they appear in the Bill, but in the order of my arguments. I am coming back to Clause 1.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
The Minister used the expression "under certain circumstances." Could he suggest what sort of circumstances he would consider?
§ Mr. Strachey
If the hon. Member looks at the Clause he will see that the circumstances are set out. For example:if the Minister of Food considers that a civic restaurant authority whose account shows such a deficit as aforesaid will, within a reasonable period, be able to defray their expenditure under this Act out of their income.…That is the type of provision set out quite clearly in the Bill. In general, turning back to Clause 1 of the Bill, the House will see that the Bill provides that the proposed civic restaurants shall have authority to provide the range of services which British Restaurants provide today. They will be able to provide a cafeteria service in the restaurant if they so desire; to provide meals for factories, as many of these restaurants have done in the past; to provide meals for persons who wish to take them home with them, and to provide meals for communal centres. I now come to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He raised a point dealt with in Clause 1 (4), namely, the licensing of these authorities. We gave this matter very careful attention, and after that consideration we came to the conclusion—it is unquestionably a controversial matter —that the best thing to do was to leave 1803 the existing law in this matter completely unchanged. The effect of that is simply to apply, in this respect, the well-known principle of local option. Under this Bill any local authority which so wishes will be able to apply for a licence to sell alcoholic liquor in its restaurant.
§ Mr. Strachey
No. It will apply to the licensing authority. The effect of that is simply to apply—and I do ask my hon. Friends on this side of the House to remember this—the principle of local option, for which many temperance reformers in this House and elsewhere have pressed very hard in the past.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is not it the case that, in Scotland, the licensing authority is the local authority?
§ Mr. Strachey
It is quite true that in this Clause there is a difference between England, Scotland and Wales. It is a most complex matter, and I think that is a point which we had better work out in Committee, rather than today.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
Are these restaurants to have a licence to sell liquor, not only for consumption on the premises but also to be taken out?
§ Mr. Strachey
That, again, is a question for the local authority concerned. It is a question of local option for each authority.
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)
In view of what the Minister himself has just said about the difference between Scotland and England, will he give very serious consideration to the question of having a separate Scottish Bill?
§ Mr. Strachey
I am willing to consider anything, but I do not believe any need for that has been shown. I do ask my hon. Friends on this side of the House and hon. Members generally to think carefully over this question of whether it would be right to stop such local authorities as may desire to apply for licences, from applying for them. No one is attempting to compel the local authorities to apply for a licence. We are simply 1804 giving local authorities the power to do so. The effect of that is to give the local government electors in each area the power, by their votes, to ask their local authority to apply or not to apply for a licence, precisely as they wish. If the local authority has strong temperance views, or if the local government electors have, then, of course, they will not apply for such a licence. But I do not think for one moment that they should wish to dictate to the local government electors in other parts of the country, who may have totally different views. So I do not see that one can do anything else than leave this to the local option of the various communities of the country.
One final word on that. If might be held, of course—it would be held very sincerely and strongly by certain individuals—that no caterer should have the right to apply for a licence to sell alcoholic liquor; but unless we stopped commercial caterers applying for licences, it would be definite discrimination against public caterers, as compared with private caterers in the rest of the industry, if we picked out local authority caterers and said, "You, and you alone, will not be allowed to apply for a licence if you wish to do so." In general, therefore, what we have attempted to do in this Bill is to put the local authorities in exactly the same position as other caterers; to give them no advantages and to place them at no disadvantage in relation to private enterprise caterers. We shall have a fair field, and no favour, and let the best man win. [Interruption.'] I can only conclude from the sounds I hear opposite, that hon. Members take a gloomy view of the prospects in this field. The Bill is essentially a permissive one. No local authority should establish a restaurant, still less apply for a licence, if it does not wish to do so.
I now come to the specific objections which have been raised by caterers to this matter. Their remedy, I put it to them, is a very simple one. It is not to attempt to persuade this House to reject a permissive, enabling Bill of this sort. Their remedy is a much more simple and direct one—to persuade their local authority, in their own town or county, not to operate the provisions of this Bill. They are, of course, perfectly able to do so, if they wish to do so. I see that they have put down as one of 1805 their demands, that no municipal restaurant is to be established unless the ratepayers have been consulted, and have expressed a desire for it. But the ratepayers are consulted once a year on this and on every other subject. That is the occasion on which caterers—
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
Does the Minister not realise that it is not only the ratepayers who vote in the local elections, but that almost everybody has a vote in the local elections, and that the ratepayers can be swamped?
§ Mr. Strachey
I see. I confess I had not understood the true inwardness of the caterers' proposals. If that is what lies behind them, I confess that I find them less democratic than I had supposed. But the municipal electorate is consulted annually, and it is to that tribunal, I suggest, that the caterers, and all other citizens, must go when they wish to have matters decided which are essentially of local interest, as this is—whether, in a particular area, a restaurant is to be established or not. The next point is that, whatever caterers may think about this Measure, there is no doubt whatever about what the local authorities think. The genesis of this Measure is that the Ministry of Food was approached on 12th July, 1945, by the Association of Municipal Corporations; and I would ask the House to remember that in those days, the municipal corporations were much more in Conservative hands than they are today.
§ Mr. Strachey
These municipal corporations, which, as I say, represented the views of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in a much higher degree than they do today, strongly pressed the Ministry of Food to produce a Measure precisely with this object.
§ Mr. Strachey
It was for peacetime purposes—permanent purposes—that an enabling Bill of this sort should be produced. I am glad the hon. and gallant Gentleman has brought that point out. It seemed to us that these municipal authorities, irrespective of their 1806 political complexion, showed a much more realistic knowledge and understanding of the needs of the people than those Members of the House who see fit to oppose this Measure today. Taking the story a little further, there was a meeting at the Ministry of Food on 19th February this year. There were represented the London County Council, the County Council's Association, the Association of Municipal Corporations, the Metropolitan Boroughs' Standing Joint Committee, the Urban District Councils' Association, and the Rural District Councils' Association. A similar meeting was held on 6th March in Edinburgh, where the Associations of Scottish local authorities met—
§ Sir W. Darling
It is the Convention of Royal Burghs which represents Scottish local authorities, as the Secretary of State for Scotland will tell the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am informed that the association which my officials met on 6th March in Edinburgh was an association of Scottish local authorities, but I bow to the hon. Gentleman's superior knowledge of its proper title. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland tells me there is more than one body concerned.
§ Sir W. Darling
There is no such body as the right hon. Gentleman has named, as the Secretary of State will inform him.
§ Mr. Strachey
I could not say about that. The Measure which is before the House today is precisely the result of those consultations with local authorities all over the British Isles. Those authorities are demanding a Measure of this sort, and the Bill is not, therefore, something which this Government, or any other Government are imposing on local authorities—they could not do so in any case—or even offering them unasked. It is something which has been produced at the urgent, and somewhat insistent, demand of the local authorities themselves.
One word more as to the definition of "local authorities" under this Bill. If hon. Members turn back to Clause 1, they will see that the local authorities empowered under this Bill are, for England and Wales, the county boroughs, the London County Council, and "county 1807 districts. "That phrase may not have been clear—it was not, at first reading, to me—to every hon. Member of the House; but a" county district "signifies a non-county borough, an urban district or a rural district council. So that all those local authorities are covered.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
Would the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that the words cover non-county boroughs, such as Crewe, and urban and rural district councils, such as that of Nantwich? Would it not simplify matters if such a definition were included in the interpretation Clause, Clause 4 (3)?
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
Perhaps the Minister will also deal with this question at the same time: In view of the definition which he has referred to, why is there any need for Subsection (2), on the subject of the delegation of powers? As every authority, apart from the parish councils, has the powers, why the possibility of delegation?
§ Mr. Strachey
On the first question, we are advised that no such definition is needed legally, as this is a perfectly well-understood legal term, but if there is any doubt I am more than willing to consider the point. As to the second point, not all local authorities are empowered under this Bill, and therefore the provision in Subsection (2) for delegation is necessary. For example, in England and Wales the county councils are not empowered, except in the case of the L.C.C., neither are the metropolitan boroughs, for that matter. Several types of local authority are not empowered as civic restaurant authorities, but those authorities which are so empowered are given the right to delegate them, if they so wish, to the non-empowered authorities. That is the meaning of Subsection (2), and the reason why it is necessary, although, I agree, that it is puzzling at first sight.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
Then under Subsection (2) the authority which has power to carry on civic restaurants may not do so itself but may delegate its power to another authority which has not the power? That is to say, one authority may be carrying on, on behalf of another?
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes, that is perfectly true. I pass now to Clause 2, which gives local authorities the same powers for the 1808 acquisition of land as they are given for other activities, for housing schemes for example. Although it is somewhat obscure at first reading, Subsection (2) of that Clause, dealing with war works, simply means that in any such acquisition, the price of war works on the land is not taken into consideration. The only remaining Clause of the Bill with which I have not dealt is Clause 4, which gives the Short Title and excludes Northern Ireland from the operation of the Bill, because, of course, the Northern Ireland Parliament legislates for itself in such matters as this.
I would only say, in conclusion, that I, personally, feel great enthusiasm for this small Measure. I believe that its primary purpose of carrying on the work which has been done by British Restaurants ought to commend it to the whole House. I say quite frankly, however, that it has a wider purpose. It embodies, I believe, the principle that the peoples of our great cities, and for that matter of our smaller communities also, have the right to provide themselves, if they so wish, for their economic and social needs by communal enterprise. I believe that we have lagged behind considerably in that respect in this country. I was very much impressed on a recent visit to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, when I visited a park in the centre of that city. I do not know how many hon. Members know it, I expect some do. It is called Tivoli Gardens, and there, under municipal enterprise, is a wonderful series of public entertainments, orchestras and catering establishments. Some of them, I believe, are run by private enterprise, within the gardens which are a municipal enterprise, and such mixed enterprises may well grow up under the provisions of this Measure. There they provide for the people of Copenhagen something very much better, I say it to our shame, than most people receive, or have the opportunity of receiving, in this country.
I believe that not only in our industrial cities but also in our pleasure resorts, this Bill will enable great and attractive enterprises to be produced, and I do not believe for one moment that the private enterprises of those areas, even the private catering enterprises, will be injured by this Bill. On the contrary, I think they will find, perhaps to their own surprise, that the actual amount of business which 1809 this type of development will bring to their city will be a very great benefit, and not an injury, to them. But I would say this quite frankly: even if it could be shown that the provisions of this Bill would injure certain private business interests, that would be no sufficient reason for its rejection. I think we should be forthright in saying that the people's interest, and the people's right to provide for their social and economic means in this way, if they so wish, must prevail over any private business interests whatsoever. That was why this Government came to power, and so long as the electors of this country give us their suffrages, the public interests will prevail over the interests of private business. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Mr. Jennings
In view of this Bill, is the Minister going to grant catering licences to all of my constituents to whom he has hitherto refused them? He has not dealt with the ambiguous form of words in the first Clause, and told us what is meant by "such activities incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid."
§ Mr. Strachey
The issue of catering licences will not be affected one way or the other by this Bill. The hon. Member had better make up his mind on that. As to his second question, I am afraid I must give him equally cold comfort; it is perfectly true that these provisions in the Bill—and as a matter of fact I said so as clearly as I could—provide for all those activities, of which I gave a list, which British Restaurants are already carrying on.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which authorises local authorites to continue, develop and expand a service started to meet wartime need, irrespective of whether that need now persists or can be met from other sources, which gives powers of compulsory land purchase that could be used to purchase privately-owned catering establishments and which permits of the subsidising out of rates, for a minimum period of five year, restaurants unable to show a trading profit, thus competing unfairly with other ratepaying establishments.The right hon. Gentleman started off by giving an account of the origins of British Restaurants under the administra- 1810 tion of his predecessor, Lord Woolton. We all remember the conditions of need which caused these experiments to be made. The right hon. Gentleman, like many of us, worked in London and other towns during the blitz. We realise not only that there was need, as he said, for hot meals to be provided as a part of the A.R.P. services but that, in those areas fortunate enough to escape the blitz —and let it be remembered that it was not only in the blitzed areas that British Restaurants were opened—British Restaurants were started very often to meet the specific needs of mothers and wives who, for patriotic reasons, went into factories and found that they had not time to do their own cooking at home for themselves, and still less for their husbands. Those restaurants, therefore, performed an absolutely vital function in the successful conduct of the war.
The very fact, however, that the total number of British Restaurants has diminished, as the right hon. Gentleman told us, shows that there has already been a change in the conditions from which they originated, and one would hope that before too long, despite the results of the present Government's administration, those circumstances might change still further. The dilemma about which the Tight hon. Gentleman twitted us, and on the horns of which he thought we should be impaled, does not in fact exist, because as far as we on these benches are concerned, and I believe as far as all reasonable people, including members of the Hotel and Catering Associations, are concerned, we should all agree that where the need continues for such restaurants, or where the need may at some future time be established, we should have no objection at all, either to the continuance of these restaurants, or to the starting of new ones. But that is not what this Bill does. The right hon. Gentleman said early in his speech that the Bill was only giving power to continue existing services. But then, as he claimed towards the end of his speech, the Bill goes infinitely further than that. It enables, and is clearly intended to enable, any local authority not only to continue an existing British Restaurant or a series of British Restaurants, but to start new ones, irrespective of whether or not any need for that restaurant exists, or has been shown to exist, by a private inquiry.
1811 The right hon. Gentleman spoke of his visit to Denmark and to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. There are plenty of places in this country which provide, I do not say identical, but very similar, types of entertainment, subject of course to the limitations imposed by public opinion about Sunday observance, and local option. Local authorities provide these amenities as a result of local Bills. Inquiries are held and the authorities have to make out their case before a Committee of this House, where any objections on the part of ratepayers or any other organised body can be heard and weighed. It is only after authorities have run the gamut of Private Bill procedure, that they acquire—if they do acquire—the powers for which they seek. No one on this side of the House objects to a continuance of that state of affairs, or to local authorities obtaining powers in that way, but that again is not what the Bill does. This Bill enables any local authority, without any inquiry, and without giving any opportunity for any public hearing of objections, to set up one of these restaurants. Far from accusing, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested we should accuse, local authorities of being hopelessly inefficient, we know that many of them are extremely efficient, and most of us regret the extent of the present tendency towards taking away their powers, irrespective of whether or not they are efficient.
We have heard from the Lord President of the Council that one of the tests of nationalisation—and by inference, muni-cipalisation—is whether it is conducted efficiently or not. I do not accept the view that local authorities are necessarily inefficient, but we say that when they want to introduce a scheme like this, which is a brand new experiment, they ought at least to be required to show that there is a reasonable probability of their conducting the service efficiently. Furthermore, we believe that before they are allowed to do it, there should be some form of inquiry to show that a need exists. The right hon. Gentleman talked very gaily and skated over the provisions in the Bill dealing with the compulsory acquisition of land.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am not His Majesty's Minister of Food. It is not my job to provide alternatives, but to criticise any shortcomings in the proposals put forward by the Government.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
The right hon. Gentleman has put forward a counter-suggestion; all I am asking him to do is to make sense of it.
§ Mr. Hudson
There are plenty of precedents, even in Bills brought in by the present Government, for holding inquiries, although some of the people concerned— as in the case of the new towns, for instance—do not think much of them. At any rate, even that provides some form of safeguard. The right hon. Gentleman as I say skated over the powers for compulsory acquisition of land. Put, as he put it, it sounds a fairly innocuous and reasonable provision, but what he did not tell the House was that under the guise of the very simple language in the Bill, it will be quite possible for a local authority to acquire compulsorily an existing restaurant, or an existing hotel, and then proceed to run it in competition with other private enterprises. The right hon. Gentleman defended his Bill on the ground that all he wanted was a fair field and no favour. I think that we would all agree with that. The trouble about the Bill is that it does not provide for a fair field and no favour. On the contrary it leaves a local authority open to exercise every sort and kind of preference and favouritism on its own behalf, and against any private enterprise.
I believe that the catering trade of this country if given a reasonable chance, and provided with the necessary facilities in the shape of kitchen equipment, linen, plates, cups and saucers and so on, in the great majority of cases could provide meals as cheap and as nourishing as those provided in any of the existing British Restaurants. They have never been given a fair chance during the last five years, and they are suffering inevitably today from the results of the war. In many cases they have been exceptionally hard hit. In Coventry and Southampton, for example, establishments have been completely destroyed, and in other cases there is need for entire rehabilitation. They are faced with shortages of all kinds of equipment. But the British Restaurants do not suffer under these disabilities. The British Restaurants have always been given priority for the acquisition of all the equip- 1813 ment they require, and that is going to continue. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent it, or ensure that the private caterer will get an equal chance. No one, therefore, can describe these provisions as giving a fair field and no favour.
The right hon. Gentleman in his attempt to prove how efficient local authorities were, and how they had run their restaurants on sound business lines, said that 361 out of 419 had taken £89,300,000 in gross receipts, and had made, on that figure, £33,000 profit. But he did not define what that profit was, and we should be very interested to know how those local authorities arrived at those figures. Did they include anything for overheads, anything for a proper rent of the premises which they put at the disposal of the British Restaurants; did they provide for rates and taxes as a private caterer would have to do? The right hon. Gentleman said that £50,000 had been allowed for amortisation but he was careful, in answer to one of my hon. Friends, to say that he did not know what was the total capital involved. He is probably wise not to acquaint himself with that figure. The sum of £50,000, in face of that total capital sum, might have appeared much smaller than it does when merely stated as a figure on its own. There is nothing in the Bill at present which would ensure that local authorities should take into account all those expenses which the ordinary private individual, the ordinary catering establishment has to take into account if it is to continue business at all. Unless the local authority does take considerations of that sort into account, how can the right hon. Gentleman say that all he is asking is that local authorities should be allowed to conduct these restaurants on the basis of a fair field and no favour? It is very interesting to see that the right hon. Gentleman has apparently abandoned the criterion which was laid down by his predecessor, Sir Ben Smith. In answering a Question about British Restaurants in this House on 19th December last year Sir Ben Smith then said that, in the view of His Majesty's Government:…each one will have to stand on its own economic footing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December. 1945; Vol 417, c. 1330.]If my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) were here, I would 1814 apologise for the English of that statement. But there is no doubt that it is fairly clear what Sir Ben Smith meant. He said, clearly, that in the opinion of His Majesty's Government each such restaurant should stand on its own economic footing, and he made no sort of qualification whatever that it was only to be an economic footing so far as the Exchequer were concerned. There is nothing in this Bill about that, nor, indeed, is there anything in the right hon. Gentleman's carefully selected statement that each restaurant belonging to each of the 369 local authorities stood on its own economic footing.
We should have very much less objection to this Bill—and every reasonable person would have much less objection— if it laid down, or the right hon. Gentleman was willing to include it later, on the Committee stage, that in specifying the accounts to be kept by local authorities, the restaurants should be self-supporting, not only vis-à-visthe Exchequer but also vis-à-visthe rates, and that in those accounts they should include reasonable sums for rates, taxes, overheads, and, above all, rent. To quote a case by way of illustration, I understand that the city of Leeds wants to reopen a civic restaurant in the crypt of the town hall. In deciding whether or not the Leeds civic restaurant makes a profit, will the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the rent they have to pay for the crypt of the town hall? Clearly, the value of that town hall, if it was put up for public tender, open to caterers, would be a very substantial sum. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that a private caterer would be willing to pay £2,000 per annum in order to be able to start a restaurant in the crypt of that town hall. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to insist—and this is a serious matter, which is vital to us—that in the accounts of the Leeds civic restaurant, the corporation should charge themselves a rent such as they could get for the hall if it were put out to public tender?
§ Mr. Strachey
On principle, we shall, as I said in my speech, require that the accounts kept by the civic restaurant authority in question, are in such a form 1815 as to satisfy the Ministry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That may be an answer which Members opposite do not like; I daresay that many of my answers will not please them but, nevertheless, we shall require the authorities, in a fair and equitable way, to make ends meet. I am not willing, at this stage, to go further than that.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
That gives the right hon. Gentleman's case away entirely. It is clear from what he has just said, that his earlier description of this Bill, as merely to require a fair field and no favour, does not correspond with what he intends to do. We believe that if any local authority sets up a restaurant, they should receive no concessions at all in the way of rents or rates, as compared to what a private caterer will have to pay. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Otherwise it vitiates the argument which the right hon. Gentleman was using earlier in defending the Bill, when he said that it would provide something that the private caterer could not provide. What we want to do is to prevent local authorities from producing accounts, and saying that they have made a profit when they have not taken into account the proper expenses. Most of us know, from our experience of local authorities, the ease with which this sort of thing can be, and is, in fact, concealed. Therefore, we hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, in Committee, provide that these accounts should be properly presented.
Finally, we believe that these local restaurants should be limited to the original conception of British Restaurants, namely, the provision of cheap nourishing meals for workers, which would not otherwise be available. The right hon. Gentleman, in describing one of the Clauses of the Bill, said he was anxious to enable civic restaurants to continue the service that the British Restaurants of today can provide. Again we should have less objection if the Bill carried out only what the right hon. Gentleman said it did. But it goes infinitely further. It enables local authorities to provide all sorts of ancillary services far beyond those which British Restaurants provide today. I am also concerned, as I am sure many hon. Members on the other side must be, by the proposal that a civic restaurant authority may also provide for the sale 1816 of alcoholic liquor. That is something quite new. I think that the right hon. Gentleman himself will admit that. So far as I know, no British Restaurant today sells alcoholic liquor. One of the defences put. forward for the British Restaurants, which I have often heard made by hon. Members opposite, is that they provide a place where mothers can take their children. That is not going to be possible, if they sell alcoholic liquor.
§ Mr. Montague (Islington, West)
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that a mother cannot take her children to a West End hotel?
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
I am referring to what the right hon. Gentleman said he wanted to do. In any case, the right hon. Gentleman said that this was a case for local option. Again, the right hon. Gentleman did not accurately describe what the Bill proposes. If an ordinary caterer, or an ordinary publican wants a licence he has to go before a bench. I do not know what the law is in Scotland, but I am told that, there, he has to go before all the magistrates. At any rate, he has to go before a bench, and, therefore, he is subject to every sort of inquiry, and other people can oppose his application. Taking it by and large, the benches are, on the question of the publican getting his licence or being refused, fair and unbiased. If this Bill passes in its present form, and a local authority wants a licence for a civic restaurant to sell drink, they will be applying, in the vast majority of cases, to members of their own council sitting on the bench. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Of course they will, and in the case of Scotland, they will be applying to the whole of the council.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
There are far more persons who are magistrates than there are members of the town council. In some places more than three-quarters of the magistrates are not members of the local councils at all.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
In any case, the local authority will' in fact, in a great number of cases, be applying not to an impartial bench, but to a bench containing members of its own authority. For those 1817 reasons, as well as for the other reasons which I have stated, we object to this particular Clause.
§ Mr. Perrins (Birmingham, Yardley)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a member of a town council would be debarred from sitting as a member of a licensing authority in respect of an application in which he was personally interested?
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
There is a further point about applying for a catering licence. We have evidence that an ordinary person applying for a catering licence has to apply at present to a committee set up by the Ministry of Food. Sometimes an application has been turned down on the ground that there was already a British Restaurant. Under this Bill the town council will be applying to a body which, in many cases, is not entirely impartial. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that. A town clerk is often the chairman of the committee which decides whether or not a catering licence is to be granted—[An HON. MEMBER: "Never."]—and we say that this Bill, in all these circumstances, does not conform with the picture which the right hon. Gentleman painted for us. My final point, so far as the liquor trade is concerned, is this. I am informed that this is the first occasion in our history in which a Ministry of Food has been set up as an authority on the question of drink. Powers and duties are, by this Bill, being conferred on the Ministry of Food, and this is the first time, I understand, in this country that this has been done. Hitherto, the Home Office have always been responsible for matters dealing with the granting of licences.
To sum up our objections to the Bill. If it were confined to enabling local authorities to set up and run these British Restaurants in cases where there was a definite need, we should have no objection to the Bill. But we do object to it on the ground that it is a purely enabling Bill, with no effective safeguards at all. We believe that if this Bill is given a Second Reading that, when it comes to the Committee stage, safeguards should be inserted with regard to the form of accounts, and to cover the other points which I have mentioned. If the right hon. Gentleman will accept Amendments to the Bill in Committee so that it will carry out the purpose which he prescribed, 1818 namely, to give local authorities the opportunity of starting themselves, with a fair field and no favour, a great number of our objections will be removed. But as the Bill stands, without any safeguards, it is open to objection, and on those grounds I move the Amendment.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
I think the House will not complain if, on this occasion, I take a short time to refer to the drink question, which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food, and a great many others, must now bear the responsibility for having introduced as a first-class issue in the House. I am glad that is so. I wish to congratulate my right hon. Friend on having assisted me and my hon. Friends in getting some attention paid to this very important issue. I want at the outset to say, as one who is keenly concerned with what is usually called temperance reform, that this Bill is well worthy of the support of genuine temperance reformers. I shall criticise some of its details, both today and in Committee, but I do not wish the point to be missed that it is part of the outlook of those who are concerned to bring about a reduction in the consumption of drink in this country that there should be provided, in increasing numbers, alternative places where people may get food and refreshment in healthy conditions, and their needs may be met without there being an attempt by powerful interests to filch from them the great amount of money that is now filched from them in the form of expenditure on drink. A good scheme of British Restaurants, or civic restaurants, as they are now to be, is an essential part of the process by which I and my hon. Friends want to see the good work carried on.
It may be that some of the British Restaurants that have been developed during the war do compete with private traders in the provision of restaurants, teashops, and so on. That is inevitable. A great number of industrial canteens also compete with private traders. In 1945, there were 11,000 or 12,000 of those canteens providing hot meals for the people, and they were in addition to the 1,000 British Restaurants to which the Minister has referred. No hon. Member on either side of the House can maintain, in face of the tremendous needs of the workers, in peace as in war, that those needs should 1819 be neglected. The necessity for hot meals, for a place where those meals may be taken reasonably and in proper surroundings, a place at least as good as the homes of the people—and when one remembers the bad homes, a good deal better than their homes—where meals can be taken in proper conditions, is a matter for serious consideration by all those who want to see social improvement of the people. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend and the Government that at the time when there was some chance of the British Restaurants fading out because there were no longer the powers to conduct them, it was the business of the Government to intervene, and I congratulate the Government on ensuring that there are full powers to see that this excellent work is carried on.
This Bill is a first-class piece of temperance work. During the war, as a temperance advocate, and as one who was, I suppose, regarded as having some responsibility of leadership in the temperance movement, I went round the country helping the British Restaurants, insisting that their activities ought to be extended, that they should be used in the evenings as well as during the day time, that they should be available for youth, without there being any sort of temptation to drag youth back under the domination of the public house. It is because of these things that I approve of the Bill, but I must say to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food that we shall have to look again at the proposal about the licensing of British Restaurants. I wish to put some facts to the Minister, although I dare say he will be aware of them, since he quoted from an excellent report. When a census was taken in Birmingham of the people who used the British Restaurant concerning the places they had frequented, before the British Restaurant had been set up, for the purpose of securing meals, it was found that some of them had taken packed lunches to work, some of them had gone to the canteens, some had gone to private cafes, and some of them had gone home for their midday meals; but the number of people who had gone to public houses in search of drink represented only 1 per cent. of all those using the British Restaurant. Only 1 per cent of them required that sort of provision.
1820 I think a terrible mistake is being made by the Government in assuming that there is any real desire, even on the part of those people who drink in the evenings as a regular thing, to have this facility for drinking with their midday meal. I believe this case has been manufactured by the brewers and those who are interested. I am sorry, therefore, that the Government have yielded on this point. I do not know whether pressure has been exercised, but I know that I was never consulted about this Bill, and if I had been consulted, I would have saved my right hon. Friend from making this mistake. It is a serious flaw in what is otherwise a splendid Measure. I am hoping that in Committee we may get further consideration of this matter. I was very glad to find that, unusually, I am in agreement with my namesake the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) on this matter. I insist— and here I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague)—that in the eyes of the State, by law, it is a bad thing to introduce young people into bars where liquor is sold. The law says that one may not take children and young people into those places, and one may not serve liquor to anyone under the age of 18 years. When my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council was Home Secretary, during the war, he devised a special notice to be exhibited in all public houses saying that it was an offence for anyone to bring a young person into a bar to be supplied with liquor, or to supply a young person with liquor. It was asked that that notice should be shown in every public bar as a reminder to the public of its duty.
§ Mr. Montague
Since my hon. Friend has referred to me and my point of view on this matter, may I say that I do not want to put temptation in the way of young people, or to drag young people into boozing bars? I do not want anything of the kind. I do not think it would be a bad thing if the British Restaurants were without alcoholic liquor. That is a matter for the local authorities, as, in my opinion, it should be. What I do object to is the calm assumption that is made in every part of the House that the only classes in this country who are drunken wretches are the working clases. One can have all the liquor one wants in an 1821 ordinary hotel in London—[An HON. MEMBER: "No, one cannot."]—and nobody says anything. I am not making a joke.
§ Mr. J. Hudson
What I say applies to all classes. A person under 18 years may not go into a public bar, and may not be supplied with drink. Now under this arrangement drink may be taken on restaurant premises. Three or four different types of alcoholic beverages can be supplied under restaurant licences to persons of 16 years and over. Let us remember that great numbers of apprentices, and, indeed, school children have, used the British Restaurants. There is evidence from Birmingham of the use to which school children and students put these British Restaurants, and when we take that factor into account I think it is a retrograde step that we should be considering the possibility of licensing these places. According to my information, British Restaurants, as they are today, are not licensed to sell alcoholic liquor. I cannot see why that excellent example could not have been followed here for the general benefit of the country. Then, this Bill would have been a fine social advance without the defects now associated with it. I would ask whoever replies to this Debate to answer one question. Am I right in thinking that, as the law now stands, a town council is empowered to apply for a restaurant licence in respect of a British Restaurant? I do not know whether I am right or wrong in that, but if I am right, what was the need, from any point of view, for introducing this particular provision in the Bill?
The last thing I have to say is that the merit of this Measure will be judged by its effect on the general happiness and contentment of the masses of the people. I believe that their contentment will be better served by concentrating on what the Minister mentioned in the earlier part of his speech, namely, supplying healthy, 1822 hot meals when and where they are most 'needed, and leaving out of account altogether what is looked upon with suspicion by the whole community and what is to be dealt with with extreme care, namely, alcoholic liquor. I would like before I sit down to disabuse the Minister's mind about this being a Measure of local option. I know that the principle of local option is still part of the policy of the British Labour Party. We have never gone back on the last resolution which we passed in open conference on this matter. It should be remembered, however, that local option does not leave the question to the members of a local authority. The local electors have the opportunity of voting on and deciding the issue. If the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me, I see an opportunity for an Amendment in Committee by which the people would be given the opportunity of voting on this matter before it is decided.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
While we all enjoyed the very earnest speech from the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), and while we all sympathised with the point of view which he expressed, I could not help feeling it is, rather unfortunate that he suggested that the Ministry of Food had been nobbled by the brewers, for I do not think any of us would say that that was true. I am going to vote for the Amendment proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), because I feel that this Bill is, in the first place, unnecessary, and, in the second place, unfair. I feel that it is unnecessary, because of the Factory Canteens Order, 1942. As has been said already in this Debate, 12,000 industrial companies now have their own canteens, and I would point out that it is compulsory for any factory having more than 250 employees to have a canteen and provide hot midday meals five days a week.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it possible in any factory, as it exists today, to have a canteen that will supply all of the workers with a hot meal five days a week?
§ Sir S. Holmes
I have the privilege of being head of a company which has ten factories with 10 canteens, and every employee of ours gets a hot meal five days a week if he or she wants it.
§ Mr. Perrins
What does the hon. Gentleman consider should be done with employers who do not employ the required number to make a canteen necessary?
§ Mr. Perrins
In the city of Birmingham we have 11,000 separate employers, each of whom does not employ a greater number than 20 employees, and they are entirely outside the Order.
§ Sir S. Holmes
The hon. Member anticipated the next thing to which I was going to refer. I was going to say that the only reason, in my opinion, for continuing this system of British Restaurants would be that in the neighbourhood where there were small factories, those factories were not able to provide the hot meals that were required by their employees. However, I think it will be found that this Bill is not going to help those people in the slightest degree. I do not know the Birmingham district, but I know a district in Manchester where there are a number of small factories where the men and women have said they would like to have a canteen. This Bill will not be any good to them, because no factory canteen can be put in that neighbourhood for these people and be made to pay.
§ Sir S. Holmes
It is between the town hall in Manchester, and Stretford. No canteen which could possibly pay can be put up in that district for those people. The people do not live there and, therefore, they would only require one mid-day meal each day on five days of the week, and that mid-day meal would have to be given them at a price which they could afford. No restaurant could possibly carry on without a heavy loss where it was dependent on a low price for lunches only five days a week. So, I am afraid that the idea that this particular case can be met by the Bill is quite mistaken. I hope that the Factory Canteen Order is going 1824 to be made permanent. I know that some of my Friends on this side of the House are great sleuths in looking up the Rules and Orders which have been passed during the war, and they are continually calling upon the House to "pray" late at night that some Orders should be annulled. They have not done so with this particular Order, and I hope they will not, because I think it is a very sound arrangement, and one which is accepted by nearly all people who are in charge of factories. As a matter of fact, I think one of the reasons why a number of factories are able to retain their present staffs and obtain new recruits is because they have the reputation of having a good canteen. As one might say, "lovely grub" makes people want to work in such factories.
Besides considering the Bill unnecessary, for the reasons I have given, I also think it is unfair. It will not only set up civic restaurants in competition with the caterers and restaurateurs and the shopkeepers, but will also give those civic restaurants definite and unfair advantages in many respects. Clause 1, in addition to enabling a local authority to…establish and carry on restaurants and otherwise provide for the supply to the public of meals and refreshments …also permits them tocarry on such activities incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid as they consider necessary or expedient.This matter has already been referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport, but I would like to emphasise it. Under this provision the restaurants could sell cigarettes and tobacco, sweets, cakes and other confectionery, soft drinks —I was going to say "and other drinks," but I think I will leave that subject to other hon. Members since it is one which is arousing great feeling—and probably groceries and provisions. Further, there is no reason why these civic restaurants should not make arrangements for wedding receptions, public dinners and luncheons and dances.
§ Sir S. Holmes
It is going to be a very expensive matter to build and equip civic restaurants. It is a very expensive undertaking for the ordinary private trader to open a restaurant. I have not had anything to do with building and opening a restaurant, but I can say with regard to 1825 canteens that the last one which my company put up, cost us £3,000 for structural alterations to part of our own factory, and £4,000 for equipment. That involved £7,000 of capital expenditure to give some 250 meals each day for five days a week. A private man who starts a restaurant has to make that capital expenditure, and probably borrows the money at 4 or 5 per cent. The local authority will be able to lend the money free of interest to their civic restaurants, which will have that advantage over a private individual. Then, the most expensive person in a restaurant is the manager or manageress, who is also the most important person because the success of the undertaking usually depends upon his or her ability, and the remuneration has to be commensurate. There is nothing whatever in this Bill to prevent a local authority appointing a welfare officer to its permanent staff, who will then be instructed to look after the civic restaurant. The salary of such a person would be paid out of the ordinary list of salaries at the town hall, and nothing would be charged for the manager or manageress against the restaurant accounts. That is another most unfair advantage for a civic restaurant over a private individual.
§ Sir S. Holmes
There will be many other ways in which the local authority could reduce the expenses of the civic restaurant which, in the case of a private restaurant, would have to be paid by the individual owner.
The Bill contains nothing to say that civil restaurants shall not have a priority with regard to food supplies. This is a Measure which is being introduced by the Ministry of Food, and the present Minister of Food has not had much success in his office up to now so that he will probably not want this Bill to be a failure. As I see it, the temptation to the right hon. Gentleman will be to see that the civic restaurant receives priority with regard to food, and if it does, it will obtain yet another unfair advantage over the private caterer. The position appears to me to be that a private trader has to allow for interest on his capital expenditure and on the money which he locks up in stock. He must charge up every expense in connection with his business, and must make 1826 sufficient profit to be able to keep himself and his family. The civic restaurants, on the other hand, have no interest to pay, and may be able to charge against the local authority's funds many expenses which should, in fact, be charged to the restaurants themselves. The local authority with a civic restaurant can, under the Bill, make a loss without limit which will have to be paid by the ratepayers for a period of five and a half years. I venture to suggest that, this being the case, the civic restaurant, with all these unfair advantages, will be in a position to undercut not only the restaurateurs but also the retailers in the neighbourhood who are selling sweets, cakes, confectionery, and all the other things which come under the ancillary paragraph in the Bill.
What I have said so far applies to the country as a whole. I now want to discuss the way in which this Bill will apply to seaside resorts. Seaside resorts have been difficult for the Ministry of Food to cater for, particularly in the last 12 months. Their population changes rapidly. During the winter months, it is at its lowest level; from Easter onwards, it gradually rises to its peak in July and August, and then gradually comes down again. I have five seaside resorts in my constituency and I was told that the Ministry of Food did very well last summer. Of course, there were some complaints, but, on the whole, it was felt that they had done their best to provide the food that was required. I do not know whether the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary can tell me straight away, but the question I want to ask is whether, if a civic restaurant is opened in any seaside resort, it would be allotted a supply of food and, if so, would the supply to existing establishments be reduced? If the answer is in the affirmative, and the opening of a civic restaurant in a seaside resort is to mean that the other caterers, who may have been in business there for many years, are to suffer as a result—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summerskill)
If there is a consumer need, and a local authority decides to open a civic restaurant, of course the allocation to the other licensees will not be reduced.
§ Mr. Piratin
Surely, the hon. Member's whole argument is an "if"? He is looking into the future. No one will say that the civic restaurants can be established in the next year or two, but the hon. Member is looking into the future and comparing it with the present.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Perhaps my answer to the hon. Member was not emphatic enough. Let me therefore repeat that the allocations will not be reduced. I think the hon. Member will agree that we treat seaside resorts very fairly.
§ Sir S. Holmes
I thank the hon. Lady for that reply. It is now clear that if a civic restaurant is established in a seaside resort, the amount of food supplied to existing caterers will not be reduced.
I would like to point out—I am not sure that it is to my advantage, as representing seaside resorts, but I do so in the interests of truth—that it now appears from what the hon. Lady says, that people in seaside resorts will get more than their fair share of food in the summer. That will happen in this way: Suppose there is a town ordinarily with 20,000 inhabitants and that in August the population rises to 120,000 because there are 100,000 visitors. The food sent there is sufficient for 120,000. If a civic restaurant is opened, and gets an extra amount of food, the total amount of food will be increased, but the number of people will not increase correspondingly beyond 120,000. Therefore there will be more food in the seaside resort when a civic restaurant is opened than there would be if there were no civic restaurant.
§ Dr. Summerskill
May I clear up this point? I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is so confused about this matter. He must know that catering establishments have an allocation according to the number of meals served. It will not make any difference whether a family who go to the seaside resort feed at the British Restaurant, at the local Lyons, or at any other place.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman who had the ear of the House has given way. The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) is therefore entitled to ask a question.
§ Mr. Piratin
On a point of Order. May I point out that the hon. Member wishes to put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary, who herself was an inter-jectionist?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Is it in Order, Sir, for a Member who has not been speaking, to address a question to a Minister who also has not been speaking, since some other Member has the Floor?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Whether the hon. Member who desires to ask the question has been addressing the House or not, does not affect his right to put a question.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If hon. Members will be so good as to leave these matters to me, I am sure we shall make progress. Let us hear the point which the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare desires to put.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I only wanted to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to explain a statement she made. She referred to these words: "where consumer need is proved." Those qualifying words seem to explain everything, but they might make nonsense of the scheme.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I am assuming that a local authority is composed of fairly sensible people and that no local authority would put a British Restaurant at a place where there is no consumer need.
§ Sir S. Holmes
I feel that I should acknowledge the brief rest which hon. Members have given me. I want to point out to the hon. Lady the position with regard to milk. Milk is allocated in this country so much per person. Then there is a surplus, which is allocated to exceptional cases, such as those of children, expectant and nursing mothers and invalids. If the Bill is passed, no cow in this country will give an extra gallon of milk as a result. There will be exactly the same number of gallons of milk as there would have been whether civic restaurants had been opened or not. The position will be that immediately a town opens a civic restaurant, a quantity of milk will be allocated to it, and the milk will be taken away from the pool of extra milk. In other words, it will be taken away from the milk that would otherwise go to children, expectant mothers and so on.
§ Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)
Is not the hon. Member developing an entirely erroneous thesis? The first people entitled to milk are the priority people. The hon. Member is therefore arguing upon a wrong assumption, and his argument falls to the ground.
§ Sir S. Holmes
I was going to develop the point to which the hon. Member is referring, in relation to the whole of the milk of the country, and not to the priority pool. The additional amount of milk for civic restaurants will have to come out of the priority pool.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Many of the points which are being raised are matters for the Committee stage, and can be disposed of then. As hon. Members know, in Committee a little more intervention is permissible, even on the part of both Ministers and hon. Members, than is desirable during a Second Reading Debate.
§ Sir S. Holmes
I can sum up this point by saying that civic restaurants can be set up only by robbing, with the help of the Minister of Food, existing restaurants of their supplies—the hon. Lady has said that the Ministry will not do it—or by robbing children and other people of their milk.
§ Sir S. Holmes
The Factory Canteens Order proved a necessity in wartime, and should be made permanent, because it was of very great use to the people. It gave working people in the factories where they worked the mid-day meals they required. The Bill will not provide for the other people who do not come under the Order. I therefore feel that the Bill should be rejected by the House.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mrs. Wills (Birmingham, Duddeston)
I congratulate the Minister upon bringing in this Bill. If there has been one thing that local authorities running British Restaurants have been anxious about for years, it has been the uncertainty as to what would happen to this service. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Harwich (Sir S. Holmes) to talk about factory canteens, but in a city like 1830 Birmingham 90 per cent. of our workers are employed in factories which are not catered for by the Factory Canteens Order—factories employing less than 200 persons. It is to these people that British Restaurants, or civic restaurants as we now call them, are necessary. It is important that our people should be well fed. I ask hon. Members who are standing up so strongly for private enterprise, what did private enterprise do for the workers between the wars? How many meals did they provide for the workingclass people? In the city of Birmingham there were very few. Workers had to rely on bread and cheese and a pint in the pub or a bun and a cup of tea in a coffee house. There was no such thing as a regular hot meal at a price the workers could afford.
This is a most important Bill. We found after starting British Restaurants in Birmingham that timekeeping was very much better because the workers were able to stand up better to their jobs. The magnificent efforts made by Birmingham workers during the war could not have been made if they had not been so well fed by the restaurant- service run by the local authority. I am sorry to have to illustrate all I have to say with Birmingham, but that is the city I know most about, and what applies to the workers in Birmingham will apply to the workers in any other city which is similarly situated. We had 60 restaurants in Birmingham but we now have 59. We are serving more meals with the 59 than we served with the 60 because we have vans which take meals to the factories which were covered by the restaurant we had to give up. We had to give up that restaurant because the property had been requisitioned, and as the need of the people who wanted it back was very great the local authority gave way and allowed them to have it.
There are many very human reasons why British Restaurants should be continued. Before the war many workers had their meals in packets on the bench where they worked. The food picked up particles of metal and dyes or whatever they were engaged on, and there was a considerable amount of ulcerated stomachs and other gastric conditions which caused much loss of time through incipient sickness and incidental absenteeism. We say definitely that the workers who have gone through the period of blitz in the 1831 war and who have suffered and have lived in damaged houses for years deserve better of this nation than that, and that this service ought to be continued for them. Their effort was made to win the war. Are not hon. Members opposite yet aware that a similar effort is now needed to win the peace? We must see to it that our people are capable of making the effort which is needed, and it is, therefore, important that these civic restaurants should be continued in peacetime.
At present our civic restaurants are all in converted buildings and we have to make them pay. They were all valued by the district valuer and rents were charged, and all the accounts have been carefully kept in order to see how we stand, and we still make them pay. We gave good value for the money the people spent in those restaurants. We cannot afford to ignore the experience we gained during the war in this respect. The charges for meals were made to cover all these incidental costs, and the Ministry of Food were very careful about the charges which were made and in examining the accounts. We were compelled during the war not only to use unsuitable buildings, which made labour charges higher, but to buy short-lived utensils, the sort of utensils which would never be bought by any competing private enterprise hotel or restaurant. These utensils have practically no life and they have had to be replenished very quickly. I would illustrate this by saying that British Restaurants have one hand tied behind their backs in order to make sure that they have no excessive advantage over the private enterprise firm with which they are competing, so that private enterprise can make a better show. Even though these restrictions tied a hand behind our backs, we had deputations from private enterprise caterers who wanted to see what they could do towards tying up the fingers of the other hand so that we should be still further handicapped in the competition. In fact a very dog-in-the-manger atitude was adopted towards us in Birmingham. Private enterprise was not prepared to do the job itself and it wanted to make certain that we could not do it either.
Eating out is becoming a habit of our people—and a pleasure in most instances —and it will continue to grow, and it will 1832 need to be catered for more in the future than it has been in the past. Here are some of the reasons why these restaurants should be continued. If the housewife knows that her family who go out to work and stay away from home the whole day are getting really good meals in the middle of the day, it will help to relieve her burden. It is no joke for the housewife to do her job and to clean up and get tidy in the evening and then have to start to prepare a good meal for the workers of her family as they come home because they have not been able to get one during the day. This is one of the practical ways in which hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are always saying they want to, car help the housewife.
§ Mrs. Wills
They can help quite easily in that way. There is also the saving in sickness and suffering of the workers and that, too, will save the housewife who, as the maid of all work, has to wait on the sick persons, has to put up with their bad temper when they are not quite so sick, and is the Chancellor of the home. The protection which a good meal gives to the worker is something which has to be enjoyed to be understood. Between the wars threequarters of our people were underfed and ill-nourished. We have taught them what a good meal means and the feeling after a good meal, and we shall not relinquish that very easily.
Evening facilities should be provided in the British Restaurant. Why should not the working man take his wife out for a meal sometimes? Nobody but the housewife, who is cooking every day and all day, knows what it means to eat a meal without first having had to scrape the potatoes, clean the stove, and carry out all the drudgery of cooking. So I believe that these should be made places where the community can meet together to enjoy meals. Also, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) they should be places where the family can go and, if liquor should be provided, local authorities will provide it in a decent way, instead of in the degrading way in which it is very often served in public houses. We believe that people should be able to get a meal without being forced into the public house.
The community spirit which will be engendered will help local authorities in 1833 the government of their own locality. Talks on interesting subjects, cultural subjects, even music and singing, will help to brighten the lives of the people who patronise these community restaurants without the family feeling that one meal out will break the bank for the whole week. The reasonable prices will make them attractive to the people in the vicinity. Properly planned and placed restaurants, I believe, can be the pivot of the community in the neighbourhood units that are planned for our cities of the future. I want to commend the Government for bringing forward these plans which will give local authorities the power to go on and make their own preparations. After all, the community in a city, a town or a neighbourhood will do as the people in that city, town or neighbourhood want. It will not be held up by private interests; it will consider the interests of its citizens, because those citizens will help to make the prosperity of the town in the future.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I have listened to the hon. Lady the Member for Duddeston (Mrs. Wills) with very great interest, and I must commend her speech to anybody who has the interests of the working classes at heart, and to her own constituency in particular, because Birmingham, as we all know, suffered very greatly in the last war and probably has need of a civic restaurant such as this Bill provides.
The Minister commended this Bill to the House as a simple Measure. I do not think its implications are nearly as simple as he would have us believe. What he is doing is foisting upon the community in perpetuity a Measure which was introduced originally as a wartime emergency measure. This is not the first Measure of this kind with which the House has had to deal in this Parliament, and no doubt it will not be the last. The first question he asked himself, and which everybody on reading the Bill must ask themselves was: Is there a need for this Measure to-day? Is there need for a Measure which was introduced originally as a wartime emergency measure? I do not think there is a necessity for it in most parts of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Sir S. Holmes) mentioned a seaside resort where, perhaps, they 1834 have to deal with problems that are not inflicted upon other parts of the country, such as Birmingham. Those of us who have to deal with seaside resorts have a very difficult problem in catering for foodstuffs and restaurants. We have, for instance, the regular customer who resides permanently in our community; we have the day tripper who descends upon us, generally has a meal or two and, if there are any points goods in the shops, carries them off as well. Then we have to cater for the summer visitor who comes for a holiday and expects to be provided with sufficient restaurant accommodation and meals during his holiday. Very often summer visitors expect these things without their ration books.
The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady who assists him in his Department know well that I have been worrying them a good deal ever since they have been in office, and their predecessors as well, over the question of catering for seaside resorts. They have tried to meet us and our problems this last season, the first season since the war that we have really had an opportunity of trying out our postwar facilities, yet in spite of the efforts they have made, there is no doubt that the catering facilities we were able to provide in many of our seaside resorts this Summer fell short of what was desired and what we wanted to provide. It was a very difficult problem, and was made far more difficult by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman introduced bread rationing just before the holiday season started, which made it almost impossible for caterers in some places, certainly in my own constituency.
§ Sir Robert Young (Newton)
Surely, the hon. Gentleman is not conversant with his own constituency. I was in Shanklin during the Summer Recess and I found there was no difficulty about bread rationing. The restaurants put up a notice that their own people would be supplied up to a certain time, and the general public after that.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I am glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman had a good holiday in my constituency and did not go short of food. However, I can assure him that master bakers in the Isle of Wight stated at the outset that they did not see how they could possibly carry out bread rationing. Later, I heard from them that 1835 it was impossible to carry out the regulation. Therefore, I think that in the place where the hon. Gentleman spent his excellent holiday, they were not trying to carry it out at all because they found it was impossible. At any rate, that was what they told me and what I passed on to the Minister. That is the problem with which we are trying to deal. There are various types of people for whom we have to cater in seaside resorts.
If the local authority find it in their interest to introduce civic restaurants, and this Bill becomes law, I hope that the private caterer, who has had a very hard struggle, will be considered. He has to get his licence to restart his business after the war, and has to get his premises put in order after they have been blitzed. Then he has to re-equip them, and often finds himself short of staff. He has to deal with all these problems and in addition he has to carry overhead charges, rates and taxes, lighting, and so forth, all the year round. If civic restaurants are introduced, I want them to start on a fair level. That is something that is not necessarily provided for in this Bill. Under the Bill's provisions any local authority can start a civic restaurant and run it at a loss for five years. If the right hon. Gentleman sees fit, he can give it an extension for a longer period. How pleasant it would be for private caterers if they could do the same. Supposing they were given powers of compulsory purchase, for instance, and for compulsory requisitioning of land, or property, in order to start businesses, and were given licences without being held up by local committees. All these facilities are bestowed on civic restaurants. I think private caterers would be delighted if they had such facilities, but that is not the case.
Very often these people, especially in the defence areas and seaside resorts, started with very grave handicaps after the war. Many of them had been blitzed, and had to buy equipment again and get a staff together again. They have had a very great battle to get re-established. Now we find that a local authority with a Socialist majority can decide to set up a civic restaurant with no regard for the interests of private enterprise or fair play. They can easily start a civic restaurant under very unfair conditions, and put the private caterer out of business. That is 1836 where I consider this Bill is unjust. It is not only unjust and unfair, but uneconomic in most cases. The Minister has not proved to the House that it is economic. I hope that later he will give us a little more information, for he glossed over the figures in introducing the Bill when he spoke of the gross income of £89 million and £36,000 net profit. To me that sounds very ambiguous. I want to know how many restaurants made a very considerable loss, and are still being kept going at the ratepayers' expense.
There are many other aspects on the financial side into which we want to probe and which will be dealt with, probably on the Committee stage. I see no necessity for this Bill. I support the factory canteen, and hope it will be encouraged, and kept in perpetuity to play a part in factory life, but I do not think this Bill is necessary. If private enterprise is given a fair opportunity, I do not think it necessary to have civic restaurants. The test that is put to everyone who tries to start a restaurant, to ex-Service people and others, is consumer need. That is thrown at me every time I try to put a case to the Minister. Consumer need has to be proven. Has consumer need been proved in the case of civic restaurants on the same basis as in the case of private enterprise I do not think so. These restaurants were set up as an emergency measure during the war. Regardless of whether they pay, or prove themselves economically, they will be continued, certainly for another five years, by this Government. That will be to the detriment of private traders who are struggling, and deserve to be given an opportunity of earning a living.
The right hon. Gentleman has described this Bill as a simple Bill, but I think it is a brazen hussy of a Bill, a painted harlot of a Bill, and I do not think it is necessary on any ground. I hope that when the Amendment is put, it will be carried and the Measure will be rejected.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. T. J. Brooks (Rothwell)
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) call the Bill "a hussy," after the statements of my hon. Friend the Member for Duddeston (Mrs. Wills), who showed that it will give a great deal of joy and pleasure to the working classes of this country. In my home town we have a very good restaurant which has paid its way and has been a 1837 blessing and a boon to many people, not only during but since the war. I am confident that there will be a great need for civic restaurants in the future, even when rationing has ceased. I suggest that there is really no substance in the arguments for opposing this Bill on the ground that civic restaurants would be in opposition to and competition with existing restaurants and hotels. Thousands of people who use British Restaurants do not frequent hotels and expensive cafes. Civic restaurants serve a very useful purpose, and I hope the Bill will be passed, so that authority can be given to continue them. All that is needed is good managers and good staffs.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman might consider a few questions before the Committee stage is reached. It is provided that the authorities shall include county districts and that authorities may delegate their powers under the provisions of Clause 1in respect of the whole of their area or any part thereof, to any other local authority.From that it would appear that an urban council might delegate powers to a county council, or a county council to an urban council. In any event, it would seem that for efficient working, one authority only should be directly concerned in the running of a civic restaurant in any area. Presumably, a county council would be allowed to delegate powers to the urban or rural council, where those authorities have not decided to operate p. British Restaurant. It is suggested that in the case of a county council the expenses will be special expenses under which any loss would be charged to the area in which the restaurants were operated by the county council. The alternative would be for the district councils, who have provided restaurants, probably at a profit, to contribute towards the loss of the county council which has delegated these powers to adjoining rural or urban districts.
It is observed that the form of accounts and particulars to be included therein are to be prescribed by the Minister of Food, after consultation with the local authority associations. Can we be assured that the regulations imposed in this matter will not be onerous or restrictive since it is a service where the utmost liberty of action should be allowed to local authorities? I note that there is authority for the charging of losses to the general rate in the case of the common council of the city of 1838 London, but there does not appear to be any provision authorising the charging of losses to the general rate of a county district. It may be, no doubt, that when the finance regulations are drawn up, it will become clearer whether the Minister of Food proposes to take responsibility for any such losses, or whether perhaps the county district rate should bear them.
Again, the Bill does not attempt to deal with the matter of the terms for taking over existing British Restaurants. Three alternatives are offered to local authorities in the Bill. Under all three it would appear that existing equipment would fall to be transferred to the civic restaurant authority. Consideration might well be given to this matter, since the equipment supplied for British Restaurants was not, in all cases, the most up-to-date of its kind. It would be a pity if a civic restaurant authority were handicapped from the start by having to take over equipment which was not the most economic, either from the point of view of finance or the consumption of food. Why should we have to use out-of-date equipment, when there are more up-to-date labour and fuel saving devices? I cannot find in this Bill any specific authority to raise moneys for capital expenditure by local authorities. It may be, of course, that the provisions for raising loans included in the Local Government Act, 1933, are considered adequate for that purpose. The Parliamentary Secretary may be able to tell us something about that.
I was very glad to hear the Minister say that the Bill is sufficiently wide to allow the local authority to operate a British Restaurant, say for the benefit of young people—I do not know whether he would agree with this—opening it on Sundays and providing concerts. If a restaurant could be operated in this way, it would keep a number of young people off the streets on Sundays, and perhaps provide the means of getting in touch with hundreds of young folk who are not in touch with the churches. A talk and a song might, in time, go a long way to improve the conditions and outlook of our young people, and keep them off the streets. From that standpoint it would be a good thing. The Minister mentioned that he had visited Denmark and seen the gardens there. I do not see why our working people should not have such 1839 facilities available to them in places where they could spend a social evening, or go on Sunday evening after church. I believe I am definitely voicing the opinion of my own urban district council, who have a good restaurant with an excellent manager and staff—that is what we need —in hoping that the Bill will become law, and allow them to continue their good work, which is of great service to our town.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
A little time ago the hon. Lady the Member for Duddeston (Mrs. Wills) told the House what is very true, that this is a most important Bill. I agree with her, but I would add that it is also a very vicious Bill. It is not designed, as she told the House, merely to continue the existing British Restaurants, but rather to open wide the floodgates of subsidised municipal competition against the private caterer, and the private trader also. I think the hon. Lady told us that she was all in favour of the housewife having an easier time, and being able to go out for her dinner at night, or her lunch in the middle of the day. So are we. That is not the point about which there is any controversy. The difference between us is that we believe these facilities can be provided by private enterprise.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
If the hon. Member will listen, I will develop my argument, though, if my suspicion is correct, I shall be unable to convince him.
I listened with great interest to the Minister of Food. The only point on which I found I could agree with him was that during the war there was a necessity for the British Restaurant. Of course there was. When the country was under attack from the air, and whole centres of cities were wiped out, it was obviously impossible for private enterprise and the small local caterer to do their job. The individual caterer was bombed out and lost his resources, and perhaps storage facilities for food did not exist in that town; food had to be shifted on a large scale from one part of the country to another. That was done, and done well, and we approved of it. But conditions of war are gradually getting further and 1840 further away. We are returning to peace time conditions, and the Government have no right to bring this Bill before this House, without proving that there is a need for the facilities which it is proposed to offer. I do not think that any speech that has yet been made has proved that the existing caterers cannot meet the needs of the people. I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary, will tell us whether there have been consultations with the catering industry? Has the Ministry of Food at any time put it up to the caterers that they are not providing the facilities required to meet the needs of the working class of this country for meals? Has she invited them to do so, and offered to provide them with the same facilities as those which will be provided for these new civic restaurants?
§ Mrs. Wills
We have done that in Birmingham. We told them what was needed, and we asked for their help, but we did not get it.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
I very much doubt whether the hon. Lady was able to offer to private enterprise and caterers in Birmingham the full range of equipment and facilities which is being offered to civic restaurants by this Bill.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
If the hon. Lady made the offer, it was one which could not have been fulfilled as easily as she thinks.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
If the Ministry is to prove its case for this Bill, it must show that facilities for feeding the workingclass people of this country are inadequate. I say that facilities exist today, that during the past few years there have been provided more millions of cheap and good meals than were ever provided before in the history of this country. The people of this country have greater purchasing power. Cheap food, as the Minister himself said, is not reserved for the few, because Government policy is to subsidise the price of food. In fact, an admission was made the other day that this was being done up to an amount equal to 3s. in the £in Income Tax. By means of rationing, an equal quantity of food is made available to all. Therefore, the Minister has to go quite a long way 1841 before he proves that catering facilities in this country are such that people cannot get food to which they would be entitled in the normal way.
Nor did I hear him make any suggestion that private enterprise in the catering industry had in any way exploited the people or that prices were too high. The Minister did follow up with the old piece of prejudice telling the House that, of course, private enterprise is only interested in providing expensive meals for people in the West End and does very little to feed the workers of the country. I submit that the great majority of the thousands of meals provided in canteens, are provided efficiently and cheaply by private enterprise. I take it still further. In the town that I represent, the people earn their living by catering, not for the rich man with his Rolls Royce, but for the workers who come from all over the country. Whether it be a great private enterprise concern such as the Blackpool Tower, or any little cafe on the corner of the street, good food and facilities are provided for the working people who come back in their millions every year to enjoy those facilities once again.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
The workers when they visit Blackpool are offered a great variety of food and each one is catered for according to his desires. Some like tea, and others like different things. I say that we are delivering the food, and it is my belief that, given terms of equal competition, private enterprise will win hands down in nine cases out of ten.
I put my case in this way. There has been no serious criticism of the job the industry is doing at the moment. Obviously, there is no case for nationalisation. Instead of that, the Government are offering to us cut-throat subsidised competition, which they think will weaken the private caterer and, in the end, will let in the State. The Government are asking for an awful lot. The whole resources of municipal finance are to be available for a period of some 5½ years and then, if the Minister thinks fit, in certain circumstances they can go on still further. If, some five years from now, the country still has the misfortune to have the same Minister of Food, I would 1842 not trust him to cut out those municipal restaurants which have been running at a loss. That is fair criticism. There could well be a change of circumstances, achieved by ruthless price-cutting in industry, by municipal enterprise, with the knowledge that the resources of private enterprise were becoming strained and that in two years they would be put out of competition so that the Government would have the field practically to themselves. It is hard to compete under those terms.
The point has been raised already that these municipal enterprises will not bear the burdens which must be borne by private enterprise. Mention has been made about the power to requisition land. Whatever else it means, the municipal restaurant will not have to pay rent or capital values for its land and buildings, such as its competitor in private enterprise will have to pay. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will consider the point that, under this Bill, by the use of the powers of requisitioning, it is possible for a local authority to requisition any restaurant which is at present run by a private caterer, to put him out and to use his premises. There are many other ways in which local authorities can make the life of the private caterer very difficult. There is the matter of licence priorities for material, equipment and labour. Another difficulty will be the question of who is to have the liquor licence. It is well known that in any part of the country, when there is a chance of a new licence being available, there is a great queue of people who want to have it. Undoubtedly, the municipality will put itself right at the head of the list.
Another advantage which municipal restaurants will have concerns the question of general overheads. When the accounts are produced I do not think they will be sufficiently accurate to show the general overhead position. A great deal of expense, by way of salaries and administration, can be swallowed up as part of the general overhead expenses of the town hall, and it will not be charged against the municipal catering enterprise. I think that this Bill goes much farther than merely attacking the private caterer. It is a Bill which, for the first time, gives powers to the municipalities to go right ahead in the field of private trade. That comes under the heading of "ancillary activity." It is quite clear that if a local 1843 authority have a catering establishment they will also enter into outside catering work. They will cater for wedding parties and receptions and there will be music and dancing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad hon. Members say, "Hear, hear," because I believe the country should know exactly what is the position and just how far the Government propose to go in the field of private catering. There are thousands of people, who voted for hon. Members opposite at the last Election, who will be voting against them at the next Election when they know the exact position.
To take my argument a little further, I would point out that outside catering leads to outside trading. For everyone who runs a restaurant it is common form to have a counter somewhere near. This means that the local authority will go into business for the sale of sausage rolls, and pastry of all sorts, in direct competition with the small trader. As the Minister of Food is prepared to admit, we may well see these places with off-licences. I think that is a thing about which this House must be very careful. Competition will go further. A place like that cannot be run without selling cigarettes and tobacco, and that, again, is in direct competition with the man who has a little tobacco shop. I think that the Government have been leading the people astray. In August the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade went to the Conference of the National Chamber of Trade and said:There is a personal human contact between the private trader and his customers which it would be very difficult to duplicate.He added that there was a place for the private trader and that none of his colleagues in the Government had any desire to harm the private trader. If this Bill is passed, then I say the pledge made at that meeting by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade is just about as valuable as the earlier pledge made by another junior Minister to the friendly societies.
A further important point is that catering is wrapped up, inevitably, with the tourist industry. For a long time now, the Government have given a great deal of lip service to the development of the industry. Various Ministers have encouraged those engaged in the industry to go ahead and spend money in developing 1844 their catering and entertainment resources, in order to attract the foreign visitor. From time to time they have thought it necessary to give assurances. Such an assurance was given by the learned Attorney-General at the annual meeting of the Travel Association, as late as July of this year, when he said:I can assure members that there is no question of the Government nationalising the tourist industry or the travel industry and no question of any fettering by the Government being established in regard to it.Later he said:I am most anxious that the trade should develop as a perfectly independent trade but that in its development it should be given every possible support and assistance by the Government. The proposals put forward by the Catering Commission were put forward with that end, and not in order to control; not in order to fetter initiative or private enterprise and development.I think that here we are fettering initiative in the catering industry. How in the world do the Government expect large sums of new money to go into the catering industry when, at the same time, the people know that, at any time, they are going to have to face rate-aided competition?
§ Mr. John Lewis (Bolton)
Is the hon. and gallant Member suggesting that foreign tourists would patronise British Restaurants? Is that his case?
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
If the civic restaurants are developed in the way the Minister and hon. Members opposite said they should be developed when they were talking about the great holiday facilities in Denmark, then they will compete with everyone. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman was not here to hear his own Minister lay that down.
§ Mr. Walkden
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what objection there would be to the municipality of Blackpool taking on such a job as he mentioned in connection with Copenhagen, as compared with the Blackpool Tower Company and the enormous dividends which it has made for the last 30 years?
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
Quite a lot. It is unnecessary for public money to be spent in providing these facilities where they exist today. I quoted the example to show that the needs of the people were met. However big the dividends, no one would ever suggest that 1845 the company was exploiting the public. People could go there and get more for their shilling than elsewhere.
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
One of the other points I want to make, in order to try to get the support of hon. Members on the other side of the House, concerns the position of hon. Members of this House associated with the Co-operative movement. The co-operative societies are traders, and to some extent they are in a privileged position. Now, for the first time they are going to get some competition of which they never thought before. Are they going to say as traders, "We object to it," or on the other hand, are they going to sit back in the hope that perhaps for the co-operative society there might be some nice, juicy management contracts, or an extra outlet for the goods of the C.W.S.?
§ Mr. Tiffany (Peterborough)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that two Co-operative Members have spoken already in support of this Bill, and that the Co-operative movement is not afraid of good competition?
§ Wing-Commander Robinson
I have listened to every speech made in the House up to now, and I have not heard one hon. Member say, "I speak as a Co-operator and as a representative of a co-operative society, and I want this competition." We, on this side of the House, unlike those hon. Members who are members of cooperative societies, find no difficulty at all in judging our position. We believe that this is unfair subsidised competition against caterers, both big firms and small, especially the small man, all over the country. We believe it is unfair competition against traders. We, on this side, will honour the pledges we made, and will support the little man, be he caterer or tobacconist who backs his initiative with work and with money, believing that he is serving the country well, and we will fight for his case tooth and nail.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (Upton)
First of all, I speak as a Co-operator, as a Labour Party member and as a trade union official representing 12,000 organised catering workers in the West End of London alone. I desire to speak in favour 1846 of this Bill and against the Amendment on the Order Paper in the names of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. In welcoming this Bill, I want, first of all, to try to prove, if any proof is necessary— and, quite frankly, I do not think proof is necessary—that this Measure is, in fact, long overdue as far as this country is concerned. I want, if possible, to get the support of every hon. Member of this House behind it, and I want to say, in addition to that, that, as far as the workers in the catering industry are concerned, they welcome this Bill.
When looking through the Bill, I noticed that it gave powers to local authorities to establish British Restaurants and to maintain those that are already in existence. As the Minister quite rightly stated when he opened the Debate, it is true that, during the war period, British Restaurants and civic restaurants proved what a wonderful job was able to be done on behalf of the whole of the working class population of this country. Particularly was that true so far as the lower income groups and also the old age pensioners were concerned. I shudder to think how some of the poor old age pensioners would have existed during the war period if it had not been for the services rendered by these British Restaurants. It is right and proper that local authorities should provide all the necessities of life for the people within their respective areas, and I suggest that adequate restaurant and feeding establishments are, in fact, a necessity for the workers of this country.
Before I conclude, I want to deal with one or two points raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson), but it has been suggested generally by all those who have spoken from the Opposition benches that, while it may have been true that civic restaurants were a necessity during the war period, when they served a very useful purpose, there is no necessity for them now. It has been suggested by the Opposition that there is no longer any need for them.
§ Mr. Lewis
It may be true of those hon. Members opposite who use the Mayfair and the Ritz, but, if any right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite tries to go to any small cafe or restaurant in and around the City, on the outskirts of the West End 1847 of London, or in any big city in the country, during the peak period in the lunch hour or during the workers' break time, he will find that it is almost an impossibility to obtain a meal within a reasonable time.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
The hon. Gentleman really must not misquote what we say on these Benches, and certainly not what I say. I made it clear in my speech, and it will be within the recollection of the House, that we had no objection at all to these restaurants continuing where the need could be proved, and that our objection to the Bill was that it enabled them to be started and continued whether the need was proved or not.
§ Mr. Lewis
As I was trying to explain to the right hon. Gentleman, if he tried to get a meal in any ordinary, middle-class cafe or restaurant during the lunch-period, in London or in any big city, he would find it almost an impossibility, and the worker has to spend the greater part of his hour's lunch time in trying to get served because of the lack of facilities for eating out. That is a statement of fact. It is all right if one has two or three hours for lunch, and that is why I mentioned the West End hotels. I know that some hon. Gentlemen go there and take two or three hours for their lunch period. The workers in factories and in offices cannot spend all that time waiting to be served, and, therefore, there is a dire necessity for adequate facilities for eating out. The best way of providing those facilities is to give the opportunity to the local authorities to establish that which has proved itself conclusively during the war period—the civic restaurant—because it serves the best interests of the workers and middle-class people.
§ Mr. Lewis
I cannot give way because Mr. Deputy-Speaker tells me that there are many more speakers to follow. I have several objections to this Bill. One of them is that it does not go far enough; I would like to see it extended.
I will now deal with some of the points raised by the hon. and gallant Member. I would like power to be given to local authorities to establish holiday camps, hotels and clubs so that the worker could have not only cheap, good and reasonable 1848 food during his lunch period and while he is at work, but so that he could have the opportunity to go to some of those coast resorts mentioned and get a decent holiday at a reasonable cost. At present, many workers find that they cannot afford to go to hotels and restaurants in coastal places because of the terrific charges that are made. I would like to see this Bill even further extended. I would like to see local authorities given power to increase their rights so far as British Restaurants and the setting up of holiday camps and the establishment of hotels and restaurants in holiday camps are concerned. I would also like local authorities to have power—to deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Tiffany) who has now left—to set up hotels which would encourage the tourist traffic.
What is the position now? We talk about encouraging tourist traffic, but the foreigners who come here from the Continent or from America invariably say, "We go to your luxury hotels and we pay a terrific charge, but we do not get the service or the quality that we get on the Continent."
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon Member is getting rather wide and is not discussing the Bill.
§ Mr. Lewis
One hon. Member opposite said that, given a fair opportunity, private enterprise can do the job. Private enterprise has had every opportunity in the past to do the job, but, in the majority of instances, it has made a mess of it. When they talk about the unfair position in which the private caterer will be placed, hon. Members opposite seem to forget the unfair position in which local authorities were placed in running their civic restaurants during the war. They were the only catering employers of any size who were paying decent wages and providing decent conditions for their employees. In the majority of instances, catering employers were not providing 1849 such good conditions and wages. It was only in the British and civic restaurants that workers were able to get decent conditions. The Minister of Food made a statement to the effect that a gross profit of somewhere in the region of £89 million in one year—
§ Mr. Strachey
If my hon. Friend would give me an opportunity to intervene, I would be very grateful. I misquoted the figures, and I should like to correct them, especially as the error that I made cut against my own argument. The House was surprised when I spoke of gross takings of £89 million and a profit of only £36,000, which seemed a very small amount. I am afraid that my notes were wrong. I must admit that the £89 million seemed a very strange figure. The figures of the financial statement from which I was quoting were for three months, and not for a year. They were £893,000 gross takings for three months, so that the annual figure would be, roughly, £3,200,000. Therefore, the profit represents a far larger percentage than it did on the figures I originally gave to the House. I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to make that correction.
§ Mr. Lewis
I am glad that the Minister has corrected the figures because I was somewhat astounded when he first mentioned them. I naturally thought that he must be giving the profits of private employers and not those of civic restaurants. When hon. Members opposite say that we should give private enterprise the chance and that they will do the job, I would point out that they never have done the job in the past. If any private employer in the catering industry had the opportunity to open a restaurant or a cafe tomorrow, wherever it may be, even if there were a workers' or a consumers' need for such an establishment, he would not open it unless he was sure of the profits coming in. I say that that is wrong, and that the place should be opened. If there is a consumers' need or if there is a factory where facilities for eating are not provided for the workpeople, there should be a proper establishment, a restaurant or a café, set up so that those workers can have a decent meal on the spot.
1850 Friends—[Laughter]—when I say "friends," I am under the impression that all of us are progressive enough to see the wisdom of welcoming this Bill, but, unfortunately, only those are friends who realise what a big improvement this Bill will mean in the catering facilities for the workers of this country. I would ask the Minister to consider whether it is possible to give local authorities the opportunity further to extend their activities in the sphere of catering. This is one of the most important industries in the country, and, in the weeks and months to come, it will become the most important industry. Therefore, I want to see civic restaurants springing up all over the place so that the workers may have decent meals at a reasonable cost without having their pockets picked by private enterprise
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)
I know that the Government are bound, in the course of this Session, to bring in several Bills which are totally unnecessary. I think that this Bill is unnecessary for the following reasons. As we all know, the British Restaurants were established for a very good purpose and a very good reason. The conditions under which they were established made it necessary that they should be subsidised to a very large extent. It was right that those subsidies should have been provided, because the years during which they were needed were years of urgency and emergency. We could not look at the cost of things; we had to look at the need and at the provisions which they would supply. Therefore, there was every excuse for subsidising the British Restaurants as they were subsidised. But one cannot say that the same need exists today, or should exist in the years ahead.
I believe this Bill is a sop to those Socialist councils who are anxious to extend their municipal trading opportunities. The Bill not only enables them to extend their trading facilities, but the on conditions in which they are to be allowed to do so are such that anyone with the slightest business experience must see that they will result in reckless expenditure. One only has to look at Clause 3 of the Bill, to see that not only can the Minister condone losses of three years, and make them up for a further period if he wishes, but he is given the power almost to raise the dead, because it is proposed that if it can be proved—how, I do not know—that 1851 if they are allowed to continue for some longer period they can defray their expenditure, he can allow them to carry on, in which case I imagine they may still make these losses. I, like other Members of this House, am closely connected with the running of British Restaurants, and I have known none which have been able to show a profit.
§ Mr. Tolley
I could give an example of a British Restaurant which, within its first year, made a profit of £600 and is now averaging £1,000 a year.
§ Mr. Marshall
There may be one or two exceptions, but usually they are not economic profits. Those people acquainted with the accounts of British Restaurants know that the charges are very often not the proper charges, but that assistance is given in unrevealed ways, thus enabling the restaurants to carry on. These businesses have been carried on in a manner which would not be followed by any private firm, and the services rendered by British Restaurants are not such as would be rendered by any private trader.
An hon. Member referred to the lack of facilities in the cafes and restaurants in the West End. These facilities existed before the war, and the reason why they do not exist today is because people have not been allowed to trade; the opportunities have not been given back to them. There was never any complaint about the lack of these middle-class facilities before the war, and I feel sure that, given the opportunity, we shall see these restaurants supplying all the needs of the people in the towns. In this Bill, not only are the municipalities and county district authorities allowed to carry on these restaurants under most favourable conditions, but they are to be given even greater facilities than are available today. They are to be allowed to engage in ancillary trading and, as has already been pointed out, there is no limit to what may be sold in ancillary trading. Honourable Members opposite wish to see British Restaurants selling foodstuffs, tobacco and so forth, because it is part of their philosophy that all trading should be done by the authorities and not by the private trader. Why should the small man in the catering trade be prevented from carrying on his work? If there are any hon. Members opposite who are, or have been, engaged 1852 as small private traders, would they like to lose their businesses?
There is another point in regard to this question of ancillary trading It is obvious that if these British Restaurants are to be allowed to sell provisions, tobacco, confectionery and so forth, all those tradesmen who have earned a living in a proper fashion, who have made a profit, and paid their rates and taxes, will loose the birthright to which they are entitled. I cannot see why this Bill is necessary, except for the reason, which may seem proper to hon. Members opposite, that such trading should be carried on exclusively by the municipalities. I do not fear the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), who thought the British Restaurants, or civic restaurants as they are to be called, would compete with the public houses or licensed restaurants. He drew a vivid picture which made one think of a civic restaurant named, perhaps, "The Summerskill Arms", where one would see "Strachey's fine old ales" for sale. I do not think for one moment that there is any fear of that. However, the Bill is totally unnecessary because in the days ahead there will be ample opportunity for the private trader to provide all that is necessary in this direction.
I cannot help thinking that this Bill is what one might call a form of minor nationalisation. It proposes to give opportunities to municipalities to engage in trading, in the same way as the Government, who now imagine that they are the big bosses of industry. It amounts to handing down to the smaller fry, who follow their philosophy, the opportunity to engage in similar transactions, but always at the cost of the ratepayer and taxpayer. There is no reason why the sort of British Restaurant which is envisaged in the Bill should be provided. Hon. Members opposite have asked why they should not provide evening entertainment which, I suppose, includes dancing. One hon. Member actually suggested that these restaurants might go in for culture, which, I believe, included music and singing. I do not think it necessary that these amenities should be provided in restaurants at very low prices subsidised by the rates.
The private trader must be given his opportunity. He is the man who earns the money and pays his rates and taxes, 1853 thus making a very considerable contribution to the revenue of this nation. If the livelihood of these men is to be taken away, what is to happen to them? I suppose hon. Members opposite want them to enter into industry and work in factories instead of being allowed to use their own initiative, endeavours and energy. I think hon. Members opposite will agree that the small trader in the days gone by has been a hard worker He has contributed much to the nation. Many a small trader starting in very humble circumstances has, by his endeavours, forged a considerable way ahead and become a well-established trader, employing many people in very happy circumstances, and making no small contribution to the revenue of the nation.
Therefore, I hope we on this side will be able to muster a good number in the Division Lobby tonight to express our opinion of the value of this Measure. It is very essential that this pernicious form of subsidised trading should be stopped once and for all. If tonight we indicate our objection to it by going into the Division Lobby in support of this Amendment, I hope we shall be able to impress the country, if not hon. Members opposite and the Minister, that we are looking after the interests of the small trader, whereas hon. Members opposite are anxious that he should be exterminated altogether. On those grounds we shall go into the Division Lobby and indicate our displeasure at this unwanted child of the Minister of Food.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I rise to state the position as regards Scotland. I do not propose to interfere in any way with the private quarrels and aspirations of mere English Members. If British Restaurants had been able to submit to the terms of the Ministry of Food on the number of main meals serve based on prewar usage, the British Restaurants would have been in the same happy position as all other catering establishments, many of whom did not know where to hide their profit. I know that for the purposes of applications the period used in watering places was July, August and September; I know that in the winter time they drew supplies based on their summer figures. That only applies in a minor way North of the Tweed. Let me say at the outset that I think this is rather an anaemic looking Bill. The Ministry of 1854 Food is like other Ministries—the longer they last the less they learn. I should be out of Order were I to draw the attention of the House to the fact that all the Civil Defence arrangements in this country were based on the perimeter of London; nothing that happened outside that imaginary line was right, never mind what conditions were North of the Tweed.
There is a point which I wish to mention now and which I will raise again in Committee, when I hope to get an explanation from the Lord Advocate. Assuming for the moment that any local authority decides to set up civic restaurants, or to retain the existing British Restaurants, who informed the Ministry of Food that it we: the practice in Scotland for workmen to drink beer with their meals? I must have been going about blindfolded all the years of my industrial activity. Why does the workman in Scotland carry his can? I have seen them boil their cans, take their meals and go out for a drink. But in 99 cases out of 100 you will not find them going into either a pub or a licensed restaurant to take beer with their food. That is a good old English custom, though in my view a silly one. If they were as canny as the Scots, they would get drunk before they were full. The reason why beer is so popular in England is that Englishmen get full before they are drunk. I was chairman of the licensing bench in Glasgow, and I was a magistrate for four years. If an application came from the Glasgow Welfare Department—it will not, but let us assume it—would anyone suggest that I could split my identity, and act as convener of the welfare committee, who are running the restaurant, and also act in my capacity as a magistrate, without prejudice?
§ Mr. McKinlay
Of course it would be illegal. These provisions cannot be applied to Scotland as they are here. The licensing authorities in the county areas are appointed by the county councils, and the same difficulty will arise. I can see the liquor trade saying, "Of course you should have a licence for a restaurant." In the city I come from the corporation have a standing order to the effect that on no property or premises owned or controlled by the corporation can alcoholic liquor be sold. That standing order keeps 1855 the liquor trade out of the big housing developments. The liquor trade have been trying to pull that standing order to pieces, because they are losing their customers. They are now going into new areas, where the standing order will be forgotten; and the trade will support the setting up of civic restaurants with a licence in the middle of housing developments, not because they want civic restaurants but because they want to pull down the barrier of the standing order so that they may enter.
If this Bill was framed by the Ministry of Food and thrown out as a tasty morsel for the signature of the Secretary of State for Scotland, that is all right. But if the Ministry of Food consulted the Law Officers of the Crown in Scotland, that is quite a different matter. You know, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, there is a difference in the law in Scotland. During the war English judges, dealing with persons guilty of food offences, sent the offenders to gaol or fined them £500; but the generous Scottish sheriffs usually fined them two guineas and let them go out to commit the offences again. Do not let anybody be under any misapprehension about it: there is a difference. I do not believe the Socialist movement wants the business it has to conduct to be subsidised from the rates. There is only one thing to justify an activity like this: its efficiency. If it is not efficient, it should not be put on the rates. When a rate is levied on owner and occupier alike, where is the deficit? What do they do with the profit? Do they apply that to the rates? It is definitely against all the tenets of the Socialist movement to apply anything that may accrue from a municipal trading undertaking to the reduction of rates. Imagine a £100,000 surplus of the transport department in Glasgow going towards the rates. Whose rates? The railway companies' rates. The thing is absurd.
To make this Bill apply to Scotland seems absolutely stupid and futile. It does not apply to Northern Ireland. Of course, they may all be teetotallers there. I am not speaking for England at all now. Everybody has his own way of going daft. If anybody thinks alcohol is an aid to digestion, I shall not interfere with him. I am concerned only with the position in Scotland. I, for one, will not accept any suggestion that it is only an 1856 enabling Measure. Never mind about the poor little private trader. If somebody wanted to put up a new Corner House in Charing Cross Road, the poor private trader would get it in the neck, and nobody would say anything about it. The tears for the small man always come when it is convenient. I am not concerned about setting up establishments in competition with small men, merely for the sake of setting up establishments.
I give due notice that I shall want a legal explanation about how this Bill can be applied to Scotland if any local authority desires to go in for a licence. My submission is that one cannot do it, because one would be an interested party. I know that on one occasion there was a case in the court at Edinburgh against members of the Labour Party, who were told that they could not sit as licensing justices, because they had previously given an undertaking, before coming into the council, that they would not support an application for a new licence. It was argued that, if they carried out that pledge that they had given, it would be interfering with their judicial function. It is all poppycock. All they had to do was to sit quiet, say nothing, look wise, and vote against the new licence.
Although I am speaking thus on this Bill, I am still, even after the General Election, concerned about the company in which I find myself in the Division Lobby. This is not a revolt. This is a one-man performance. I have no party organisation behind me. Perhaps, however, it will be conveyed to the Secretary of State for Scotland and to the learned Lord Advocate that the Scottish Members —and I think that, generally speaking, I am speaking on behalf of the bulk of Scottish Members—do want an explanation. I want again to protest against the suggestion that the main interest in working-class life, in either England or Scotland, is the drinking of alcoholic liquor. I have heard more nonsense about altering the hours to suit the working man than, perhaps, about anything else. There was consternation because the working men were getting into the habit of walking past the "pubs" to the civic restaurants.
I say to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side, "Do not worry too much about this Bill." I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) does not 1857 look as though he were worried. There are still local authorities in England out of the grasp of the Socialist movement. I cannot for the life of me see Blackpool putting in an application for a municipal restaurant, when one can buy tripe by the yard on the shore from the private traders. I cannot even imagine Eastbourne, though they have a Socialist majority there, daring to do a thing like that. There is nothing to worry about in this Bill, I am satisfied of that. The only thing that worries me is the particular point I have raised. Amendments will be put down in Committee for the purpose of getting an explanation, or even of taking Scotland out of the Bill altogether. There is no use putting Scotland into the Bill, if it cannot be applied in Scotland. In my view, it would simplify matters, and save a great deal of time, if, between now and the Committee stage, the Minister would get the Law Officers to look at this, so that we could have some explanation.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
It is very difficult, in discussing a small Bill such as this. to refrain from repeating what has been said. Here we have a Bill of two apparently innocuous pages, with glib wording; and it apparently is so innocent that it is just a question of providing cheap meals for the working classes. But I suggest that there is something very much deeper behind these two small pages here. The end of the wedge is always thin, and I suggest that this is the thin end of the wedge—that it is the first step —towards nationalisation of the catering industry. This is one way of trying it out as an experiment.
But before I go any further I should like to say, as was said by my right hon. Friend from the Front Bench, that we, on the whole, do not oppose this Measure where its necessity can be proved. I suggest most sincerely to the Minister that that necessity must not be artificial; that necessity must not be created by the withholding of licences from private individuals, as he has done in the past. It is a very easy thing to say that necessity exists, when one knows full well many people have applied for catering licences and have been refused. I hope that the Minister will remember that, when the question of necessity arises.
1858 There are one or two aspects of this Bill which arouse alarm, and I do hope we shall get some assurance from the hon. Lady when she replies. There is another point about which I would ask the Minister. He quoted figures with regard to profits. Everybody, I think, has had a go at him about that, but there is this point, that these profits cover the period when a very large amount of work was done in British Restaurants by voluntary labour, and when there were practically no overheads of any sort or kind. So, really, I do not consider that that was a just example to put forward. It is only very recently that wages have ben paid to waitresses and cooks employed in British Restaurants. Practically throughout the war they were run by the W.V.S.
§ Mr. Strachey
On that simple point, those were the figures of the last financial year—postwar figures.
§ Mr. Perrins
Surely the hon. and gallant Member is aware that before the British Restaurants were started there was in existence an agreement about the payment of wages, so that in the big towns, at any rate, the workers came into the industry on certain stated wages and holiday conditions?
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I was very busy doing other things, and I was not able to review all the British Restaurants. Those I saw were on the voluntary basis. I would ask the Minister: Does he consider it is equitable that the private trader, who, on the whole, I think it is agreed, bears as great a proportion of the rates as, if not a greater than, the average citizen, should be compelled to meet simultaneously the burden of this subsidised competition and that of meeting the charge on the rates to subsidise that competition? It does seem to me to be an injustice.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
May I just finish? I do realise that this is allowed to run for five years, but there is that period of five years in which, presumably, somebody has to pay the losses, if any.
§ Mr. Strachey
I could not agree at all that there is to be subsidised competition. This phrase has been used. I have been asked to press very strongly that we shall not put up concealed subsidies. I should 1859 like to give the assurance that, in the accounts for which we ask in the Bill, we shall include items such as the rent of premises. It would be utterly wrong to permit such concealed subsidies. But it would be equally wrong to say that the restaurant authority must produce a profit in the first year, because conditions are quite abnormal at the present time, and I think that the provision of a breathing space is an essential one.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
Yes, the Minister will admit that, if there is a loss in the five years, it must be borne out of the rates; and the unfortunate trader is going to provide the rates and subsidise his own competition. That is extremely hard. I do not understand how the Minister reconciles this Bill with the repeated assurances that have been given in the past that British Restaurants were a wartime measure, and would not be continued into the peace. I may have formed the wrong impression, but I have seen and heard that frequently; and there was the question of the assurance given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, that private traders would not be harmed in any way. I was delighted to hear that, and remember it, and I hope the Minister remembers that statement, too, and that he will set up, during the Committee stage, various safeguards, to see that the private trader, who is, after all, the backbone of the industry in this country, is not harmed in any way.
If he really does not mean that this is a Socialist ideological scheme and that the private trader is to be squeezed cut of business and crushed altogether, I hope that there will be safeguards to ensure that the private trade is not hurt. I, like many other hon. Members, am not happy about one definition. I should like a clearer definition of the "incidental and ancillary activities" which are allowed to the authorities operating civic restaurants. Does it really mean that they are to be encouraged to set up' a large municipal retail service dealing with the sale of groceries, sweets and tobacco? If I might have the hon. Lady's attention for a moment—is there to be set up a large municipal trading concern dealing in the sale of groceries, confectionery, tobacco and the making of bread? If so, I think it would be absolutely and entirely wrong. I will not touch on the 1860 subject of intoxicating liquor, but will leave that to other and more capable people than myself, but I will just ask one question in case those hon. Members who are interested in the subject fail in their efforts in Committee. Will people be allowed to consume intoxicating liquors in British restaurants without at the same time consuming food? That is a question which I hope will be pressed very hard.
Further, I am very unhappy about the question of the acquisition of land. Will the Minister give as an assurance, or will he set up some safeguard to ensure, that in no circumstances whatever will a catering concern suddenly find its establishment requisitioned? There is nothing in the Bill to say that that kind of thing cannot be done by a ruthless or unscrupulous local authority. I consider that it is typical of the totalitarian tendencies of the Government to find Parliamentary time for a Measure of this kind which is a direct attack on the small man while at the same time refusing to find time to introduce legislation to deal with the scandalous state of affairs which has been brought to light by the Curtis Report.
§ 7.33 p.m
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
I welcome this Bill. Hon. Members have asked whether it is supported by the Co-operative societies, and have been asked to declare whether they adhere to Co-operative societies. I am a co-operator, I have been a co-operator, either myself or through my family, for many years. My father founded a Co-operative store that now has over 200,000 members, and as a small boy I went along. Our number was 14. I am quite sure that the great Co-operative movement is behind this, and I should be amazed if any member of this party got up and opposed it because he is a member of a co-operative society. We welcome this Bill because it gives the local authorities an opportunity to show what they can do in the way of providing catering establishments and all the amenities that go with catering. One thing which puzzles me is, What is to be covered by the words, "incidental and ancillary activities"? I hope they will be wide enough to produce if necessary an establishment owned by a municipal authority which will be the equal of the Tivoli in Copenhagen referred to by the Minister. I 1861 have had the pleasure of visiting the Tivoli. It is a magnificent institution, and I know of nothing in this country which equals it. One goes in there and pays a very small admission, and there is one of the finest orchestras on the Continent playing the finest music for nothing. On the other hand, you can hear jazz if you wish. Every kind of amenity is there and every kind of restaurant, at prices which vary.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
If the hon and learned Member has been to the Tivoli, can he say who owns these restaurants and by whom they are run, and has he any idea of the number of restaurants?
§ Mr. Allen
The Tivoli itself is owned by the Copenhagen Corporation, but within it there are private enterprise cafes. That is not against them. If we liked to open a large Tivoli in London, I am sure we should give the private enterprise gentlemen an opportunity to compete within the grounds, but what they seem to be frightened of is the healthy competition of the municipal authorities. I do not know why hon. Members should be so alarmed at this venture, because it is free to any private trader to set up his own restaurant in competition, and if our fare is better and cheaper and our premises are brighter and happier, I should be only too pleased to see that once again, as I believe, Socialist enterprise is superior to private enterprise.
One hon. Member who spoke earlier actually had the audacity to say that this Bill prevented the private trader from setting up. Of course that is the kind of argument that is put forward and, as I said only the other day, it provides a good headline for the Tory Press, and that I believe is why some of them do it. Time after time when they have made statements like that, one picks up the "Express" or the "Mail" next day and reads: "Private traders prevented from trading in catering establishments. "Such irresponsible statements are made by back benchers or even by front benchers, who may not even be following the line of their own front bench, as we saw the other day when the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) made a speech which was entirely contradicted on several occasions by hon. Gentlemen on the back benches.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman was not here when the Parliamentary Secretary was asked whether there was any restriction on the starting of these things, and she used the expression, "First of all, if consumer need were proved, …"When I interjected to ask what that meant she said that she was relying on the commonsense of the local authority, but at the present moment the test as to whether a private trader can start a catering establishment depends entirely on proving consumer need, which is quite a different category from that in which the public authority is now to be placed.
§ Mr. Allen
I appreciate that, but, as I understand it, we are not legislating merely for a war period or immediate postwar period, we are legislating for the Socialist State which we hope to set up. This is a permanent and not a temporary Measure. As has been said, it may be that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite find no difficulty in getting food in London or elsewhere, but other people, droves of people, find difficulty in getting food. I have no doubt that in many places there is ample opportunity for getting food if you have a large purse, but a minimum opportunity if your purse is small.
I notice certain movements, Mr. Speaker, but I should like with your permission to go on for one minute longer in order to point out one thing which I think ought to be known. 'The words used in the Bill with regard to authorities are, "county district"—"the county district may set up a restaurant." That puzzled a number of hon. Members on this side of the House, and it also puzzled a number of my constituents, namely, whether a place like Crewe which is a non-county borough, or a place like Nantwich, which comes under an urban district council, will have an opportunity to establish British Restaurants. I have had an opportunity to look at the law, and I think it is quite clear that a non-county borough or a rural or urban district council can set up a British Restaurant, because under the Local Government Act, 1933,"county districts" are defined asnon-county boroughs, urban districts or rural districts.That appears in Section 1 of the Act, and so my constituents need have no fears 1863 in Crewe and Nantwich that British Restaurants may not be set up. Having said that, I welcome this Bill, and the opportunity to establish British Restaurants equal to those established in other parts of the world by municipal authorities.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Wadsworth (Buckrose)
I have been told by more experienced Parliamentarians than myself that these small Bills of one or two pages have to be carefully regarded, because they usually contain dynamite and often give powers to a Minister which at first in our innocence we did not think they contained. I view this Bill with very great concern, because I believe that it gives great power to the Minister, and is the first step towards the socialisation of distribution which was supposed to be part of the Labour Party's programme. When my constituents have pointed out that I have supported the Government in this Division and that Division, I have always told them that the Government are composed of a large number of Liberals who are carrying out the Limehouse speech of the late David Lloyd George, as he then was, in 1910, and that as they have brought forward this large flow of Liberal legislation, I naturally supported it.
I find myself somewhat in a dilemma, because this Bill does quite the opposite. We understand that part of the constitution of the Labour Party is the socialisation of production, exchange and distribution, and here we have the first step towards socialisation of distribution in one particular industry. It is for that reason that I am not supporting the Government on this occasion.
I am opposing the Bill chiefly on a question of efficiency. I believe that private enterprise, particularly in the catering industry, can produce better results than public enterprise. It is true that during the war we had some very efficient British Restaurants, but I would remind hon. Members on the other side of the House that in those days the catering business was very severely handicapped as a result of a large number of the employees entering the Forces and the difficulty of obtaining supplies, and that the only answer was that to establish British Restaurants throughout the country. I supported them during the war, and in my own town I attended the 1864 first lunch given in the British Restaurant, and was wholeheartedly in support of the scheme. That does not mean that in these days of peace—in spite of the fact that when one says that it always seems to be just around the corner—we should not get back to normality.
I believe that private enterprise will serve the workers of this country more efficiently than public enterprise. In that respect I would draw attention to Clause 3, which appears to lay down that British Restaurants should be carried out on certain lines of efficiency. Many hon. Members opposite who have served upon local authorities where there has been a trading department, know full well—and I have served for many years on a public authority myself—that it is very difficult to ascertain the exact costs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not at all."] There are all sorts of ways in which costs can be disguised or not shown. In the case of British Restaurants, as has already been mentioned, there was voluntary help, apart from items for carriage, labour and interest, which are often not shown on the balance sheet. If you have ever served on a local authority where there has been a trading department, you will know that there are all sorts of ways to disguise the real costs.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
May I ask whether you, Mr. Speaker, have served on a local authority, because I gather from the hon Member that you have?
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Member is asking me whether I have ever served on a local authority, the answer must be in the negative.
§ Mr. Wadsworth
I was suggesting that many hon. Members on the other side of the House had served on local authorities, and I am sorry if I gave any other impression.
§ Mr. Austin (Stretford)
The hon. Member has made a serious allegation against local authorities' undertakings. Surely, after his personal experience of such undertakings, that is no tribute to the service he has rendered himself to local authorities?
§ Mr. Wadsworth
That is hardly fair. The point I was wishing to emphasise is this. It has been brought out before that the duty of a member elected to a local authority is to run the services for the 1865 ratepayers as efficiently as possible. Many of these ratepayers are in the catering business, and they are responsible for a certain proportion of the rates. Therefore, the local authority is in direct competition with the ratepayers who are supplying part of its funds. That appears to me to be an injustice, and from that point of view I am against local authorities trading.
§ Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)
Is the basis of the argument that local authorities ought not to engage in any form of business in which any ratepayers are also engaged? If the hon. Member pursues that, we 'cannot have local authority transport undertakings, and local authorities cannot even take part in the educational sphere because they are competing with private schools run by ratepayers.
§ Mr. Wadsworth
To me, it is a question of efficiency, and in certain directions it is true. Passenger services provided by local authorities have been mentioned, and in that case I think the service has been rendered more efficiently by those authorities. But in the case of the catering business it is my view, and the opinion of my party, that it can be carried out more efficiently by private enterprise than by local authorities.
It is unfortunate that this Bill should be introduced at this time, when the private catering trade of this country is being very severely penalised. I know from my own experience a number of small traders who have applied to me for assistance to enable them to obtain a catering licence. In every case, without exception, they have been turned down I would like to give illustrations of the sort of cases which are being turned down at the moment by the Ministry of Food, at a time when he is introducing a Bill to enable local authorities to set up catering establishments. First, there is the case of Mr. A. Barron, who put the whole of his savings into a business which, for 25 years, was a fish and chip shop with a house attached. This was at Bridlington where, during the war, few people went, and where there was no catering, except for local residents whose numbers were very few owing to evacuation With the help of a building society, he put the whole of his savings into this business He applied to the local food authority for a licence, but his application was refused. They said that he must estab- 1866 lish need in the locality, so he obtained hundreds of names on a petition. But he was told that that did not make any difference because, as there were fish and chip shops 500 to 600 yards away, he could not have a licence. That is a case I have taken from a whole list of cases which have come into my hands this week.
The second case concerns a Mr. Eric Pursehouse, who also bought premises in Bridlington, which had been used as a cafe before the war. He, too, applied for a catering licence, but was refused. Having spent a lot of money on the premises, he decided to use them for another purpose, for a waxworks exhibition He appealed to the Ministry of Health for a decision as to whether he could open the premises for such an exhibition, and the Minister's representative told him he could not, because there was definite need in the locality for a café. On the strength of this, he appealed to me, and I put the case to the Minister of Food and was refused. Although there was supporting evidence from the town clerk, that man's application was turned down on the ground that there was no further need for a café. This sort of thing is absurd; it is getting us nowhere, especially when a Bill is being introduced to enable local authorities to establish catering businesses.
The worst case of the lot is one which I have not yet presented to the Minister. It concerns a small village in East Yorkshire, in which a person wants to obtain a food licence to open a fish and chip shop, as there is not one in the village, which has 300 to 400 inhabitants. His application has been refused, although I hope that when I appeal to the Minister he will grant the licence because of the special circumstances. The reason for the refusal so far is that there is a fish and chip shop in another village, two and a half miles away. How can men working in the village, agricultural labourers, find the time to go over two miles to get the fish and chips they need? Is that the way in which rural districts are being treated?
I believe that private enterprise, given a fair chance, a fair deal, can satisfy completely the working men of this country, and that there is no need to give all these powers to local authorities when the demand can be satisfied by private enterprise. I therefore hope that the Labour 1867 Party will once again go back to the support of private enterprise, instead of wandering away from the broad paths of Liberalism. If they do that then their action will make for more efficiency in this country.
§ 7.57 P.m.
§ Mr. Somerville Hastings (Barking)
I am very glad indeed that the Government have decided that one of the greatest successes of wartime should be continued into peace. I can speak from some personal experience of British Restaurants, for I have had many meals in them in London, including my Christmas dinner the Christmas before last. The hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) suggested that British Restaurants had not been characterised by their efficiency. I want to refute that statement, especially when we consider that they were started during the war, that they had difficulty in obtaining premises and equipment, that they were restricted in their activities, to a large extent, by the Government. In London, they were not allowed to obtain the type of equipment they wanted and they had to provide for cooking by both gas and electricity and also by coal, in case of a breakdown—
§ Mr. Wadsworth
I did not say that they were inefficient during the war. I said that they satisfied a definite need during that time.
§ Mr. Hastings
I understood the hon. Gentleman to suggest that there was some lack of efficiency, and I am sorry if I have mistaken him. I believe that the British Restaurants have been extremely successful. Another reason why they have been so valuable, which I do not think has been mentioned so far, is that they have taught people something of food values, and the value of balanced meals. In the old days, people used to think that if they had sufficient of any sort of food that was all that was necessary, but now we have learned that we must have proteins, fats, vitamins, and salts in our diet. The fact that we have acquired that knowledge has resulted in the great improvement in the health of this country during a Second World War as compared with the first. In these British Restaurants the people have had demonstrated to them the value of a regular and properly mixed diet. Nowadays, a wise woman no longer 1868 exists on a cup of tea and a bun, but spends her money in the British Restaurants where she gets nourishing meals.
Objections raised on the other side of the House to this Bill have been that there is no real need for a continuance of the British Restaurants and that what need there is for them is sufficiently supplied by industrial canteens-. I dispute both those statements. Industrial canteens admittedly have been doing a great deal to provide food for the people. Where a factory is standing alone, little better could be desired than a factory canteen, but I think that there is something to be said for people not working, feeding and playing together. If we can give them a change of environment at mealtimes, and a change of society as well, it is a very good thing. One advantage of these restaurants is that all sorts of social and industrial classes are mixed. Moreover, everyone cannot use an industrial canteen; only those engaged in industry. In London, in 1943, an analysis of those who used the British Restaurants showed that 15 per cent. were over 60 years of age, and a good many of them were not engaged in industry. These British Restaurants in the past, as, I imagine, will be the case in the future, are a particular boon to old people who do not want the bother of cooking meals for themselves, and who would rather go out for their principal meal of the day.
I suggest that the demand for this type of restaurant in the future will be greater than in the past, for the reason that people are now getting into the habit of eating together. The education authorities are proposing to develop and extend school meals. In the schools, the children are seeing the advantages of being able to have a pleasant meal and chat with their friends. The men who have come back from the war have been accustomed to taking their meals together, and the conscripts of the future will have acquired the habit of enjoying meals together. Another objection that was raised from the other side was the need for extensive building. I think that is over estimated. I believe that civic restaurants of the future should be developed in association with other civic functions. I hope that we shall have community centres and youth clubs. What could be better than a common building for all these purposes? Why not a big hall, in which the midday meal is served, 1869 which can be used in the evening for dances or meetings of various sorts, and why cannot there be smaller rooms in the same building used for serving snacks? I think that in the future the civic restaurant will have a very important part to play in the life of this country.
I would like to bring to the notice of the Minister one or two further points which I think need a little elucidation. The first is the suggestion that these restaurants must pay their way within five years. What about other trading organisations? Does every big organisation that starts pay a dividend within five years? We have to remember that social habits change rather slowly in this country, and people are only beginning to see the advantages of taking meals together. I think that we are asking rather a good deal of these restaurants that they must be made to pay a divident within five years. I can conceive of a case like this: Perhaps, for four and a half years, a restaurant has just managed to keep its head above water, gradually increasing its trade, and then comes a time when a new industry arrives and fresh factories are built in the area and it is felt by the local authority that there is a great call for the development of another restaurant. That may just turn the scale. The restaurant may cease to pay, and over the five years there may be an adverse balance, and the whole enterprise may have to close down.
Then on the question of equipment: When these restaurants started, heavy equipment, such as stoves, was obtained from the Ministry of Works pool. It was purchased on the understanding that the capital cost would be repaid in eight and one-third years—I believe I am giving the period correctly. In some cases, these restaurants have already been running for six years, so that 'three-quarters of the cost has been paid. Would it not be right for the Minister to do the generous thing, and say to the local authorities, "The people of your area have been paying steadily for the past six years; we will let them start with a clean sheet and take and make use of all the equipment which they now have"? In London, the cost of equipping these restaurants— and, of course, they are paying rent and very often pretty heavy rent—and the cost of adaptations has been somewhere in the region of £140,000. The profits of these restaurants in London up to March 1870 of this year were £130,000, so that by March last they had nearly paid the total cost of the equipment. Could not we ask the Minister if he would say to the local authorities, "You have done very well in the past. Now let there be no further trouble about equipment; keep as your own the equipment which is in your hands"?
There is a further matter which I would like to bring before the Minister. The question of licences has been mentioned before today—and I feel very strongly about it. In my view, these restaurants have developed a very special character. They have been places in which parents could take their children, being sure that not only would they receive a good wholesome meal, but that it would be taken in the best surroundings. I am not sure if that will be the case when these restaurants have a licence.
I hope, as has been suggested repeatedly by hon. Members, that British Restaurants will extend and develop their trade, as is, indeed, happening in London today, by supplying snacks, breakfasts, teas, and even suppers. Nowadays, people seem to be taking a good deal more than the standardised three meals a day. Certainly I do, and I expect many other hon. Members do. I would not like to say how many small meals a day I sometimes have. People are going in for snacks more than they did in the past. Is there not some danger that if these restaurants have a licence, and it is possible to get in them biscuits, bits of cake, and some beer or spirits, they will cease to be British Restaurants as we know them, and become places to which people go mainly to get drink? I am sure that is not the intention of the Government.
There is another reason why I have strong fears on that score. I have referred already to what one might call the "five years rule" by which the restaurants must be made to pay in five years. I can conceive very well that in an area where the need for these restaurants is felt to be great, they may not have been doing very well in four years, and may become very apprehensive that in the fifth year they may show an adverse balance, and have to close down. Will there not be a very strong tendency then for the restaurants to apply for a licence and so make up, by the sale of drink in the fifth year, the adverse balance of the previous 1871 four years? I have often seen political clubs, with which I myself have been connected, ruined by the introduction into them of liquor.
I hope that in the future, as in the past, the Ministry will give advice and encouragement regarding these restaurants. Considering everything, I think they have done exceedingly well, but there are many ways in which they could be improved. There is one restaurant near Baker Street where there are excellent pictures on the walls. When I lived near it, I went there partly to see the pictures. I hope also that in future British Restaurants will be better advertised than they have been in the past. There is an excellent British Restaurant, known in London as one of the Londoners' Meal Service, nearly opposite St. Pancras station. I have had several meals there, but I did not discover it until about two years ago, and then only when it was pointed out to me. I think the British Restaurants ought to advertise more than they do at present. Finally, the people who go to these restaurants are sometimes manual workers, who want a lot of food, and sometimes sedentary workers, who want much less. Could it be impressed upon the British Restaurants that food is often wasted by their giving too big helpings, and would it not be desirable to stress that, where asked for, small helpings should be served? I have mentioned these small details—and there are many more I could mention—not because I am averse to this Bill, for it is an excellent one. I wish the Bill all success, as I wish all success to the restaurants that will be developed by it.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Somerville Hastings) devoted a large part of his speech to demolishing an argument which he said had been made from this side of the House, but which had never been made from this side. He said that, as he understood it—and I would point out to him that if he did so understand it, he misunderstood it—our objection to the Bill was that there was no need for these British Restaurants. I do not think it could have been said more plainly by my right hon. Friend the Member for South-port (Mr. R. S. Hudson) that we are not putting forward the case that there is no 1872 need for restaurants. What we have said throughout is that where the need is shown, there should be restaurants, but that we did not want a general power to be given to enable restaurants to be set up where there is no need because the demand is already being met.
§ Mr. Somerville Hastings
I took down the words of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), who asked: Is this Bill necessary?
§ Mr. Marlowe
That is perfectly consistent with what I have said. Hon. Members on this side of the House say that the Bill is not necessary, and all that is needed is a Bill to enable restaurants to be established where the need is proved. We do not want to give the general power to enable restaurants to be set up where there is no need. That completely tallies with what my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight said, that although this Bill is not necessary, some other Bill might be advantageous. The hon. Member for Barking rather begged the question when he pointed out that it was necessary to have these restaurants in order that certain amenities such as he mentioned, dance places, and so on, could be provided. Nobody disputes that those things are required, but the question is whether they should be provided by civic restaurants, or by other forms of restaurants.
Our case is not by any means that these things should not be provided; indeed, we admit entirely the need for these facilities to be provided, but we say they could be provided by a different method. I notice only too frequently that when hon. Members on this side oppose a Measure of this sort, it is immediately assumed by hon. Members opposite that we are trying to do the workers out of something to which they are entitled, or to deprive them of some benefit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would oblige me by endorsing that statement. It really is not so. There is, I think, no difference between hon. Members in any part of the House on the question that these facilities should be provided. The issue between us is the manner in which they should be provided We on this side believe that private enterprise is fully capable of filling the demand which undoubtedly exists. No one disputes that there is a demand. We believe it can be filled in 1873 a different way, and that it would be to the advantage of the community, on the whole, to meet the demand in the way we suggest.
Almost every hon. Member opposite who has spoken has rightly paid a great tribute to the success of British Restaurants, and it is rather remarkable that hon. Members opposite are rushing to praise something that was set up by the Coalition Government under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). What would have happened if that chorus of praise had come from this side of the House, if we had said what wonderful work the Coalition Government had done in providing these facilities for the workers, the old age pensioners, and the children, and that because the Coalition Government had provided these facilities, they were good, and therefore, should be maintained? We would probably have been charged with being reactionaries of the most diehard type. I am very glad that hon. Members opposite have recognised at least one virtue in the Government which preceded theirs.
I want now to turn to another matter which rather shocked me. In his opening statement the Minister of Food made great play with one point on which he received vociferous support from those behind him. It was when he said he was not concerned with the traders but only with the people's interest. I am giving the general effect of his statement, and his reference, of course, to traders was in regard to our efforts in support of private traders. As I say, that statement produced loud acclamation from the Government benches behind him, but are these private traders, whose interests we are here to defend, not people, too? Do they not form a large part of our community, and is it right for a Minister of the Crown to refer to a large section of the community in that way and say that the Government are not concerned with them but are only concerned with defending the people's rights? What the right hon. Gentleman means is that the Government are not concerned with the trading section of the community, and that they are only concerned with one particular section of the community. That is a startling confession from one occupying the position of Minister of Food, and it only confirms the charge which we have con- 1874 stantly made against this Government, namely, that they have only a sectional interest and are not generally concerned with the interests of the whole of the community. It should be noted that the right hon. Gentleman has made that confession.
Quite frankly I am not ashamed to say that I am here to do what I can to represent the interests of the great trading community—those tradesmen who have by their independence and by their own hard work built up their businesses. I want, if I can, to defend them from that unfair competition to which they are subjected under this Bill. I do not propose going into all the details of the Bill, because that has been done so often, but my submission is that the competition is unfair because the local authority has this power to carry on for five years by subsidising its loss out of the rates, and it has the power to requisition premises which, of course, no private trader has. It has other undoubted advantages over the local trader, and with these I will deal a little more fully in a moment.
I want for a moment to deal with my submission that there is the competition against which the average private trader cannot stand up. I suppose if a private trader tried to carry on for five years with a loss he would be driven out of business before the end of that time, but the ironical thing about this scheme is that that trader, against whom the municipal restaurant may be competing, even though he may be losing money and may be a competitor of the municipal restaurant, has to pay his rates which will help his competitor to drive him out of business. I regard that as most unfair. With regard to requisitioned premises, that is an enormous advantage to a person engaged in the trade, particularly when we can go and requisition a going concern. A municipal authority may be able to walk into a restaurant, which is a going concern, and take it over with all its equipment, thereby gaining a great advantage. I confess that I have not had much time to go into this particular part of the Bill, but perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food will deal with it in her reply. However, my impression from reading rather quickly the Clause dealing with requisitioning is that requisitioning is a speedy procedure, which really was originally intended for Government Departments acting in an emergency 1875 like housing. Not only has the municipal authority to get the advantage of getting requisitioned premises, but it is to get the advantage of the speedy procedure which was not intended for this kind of business at all.
Although not actual nationalisation, this Bill is really akin to nationalisation. The Lord President of the Council has said that he who is proposing nationalisation has on him the onus of establishing his case. I entirely agree with him there, and the same principle applies to a proposal of municipalisation. I do not think that the Government have made the slightest attempt here to prove that the demand, which undoubtedly exists, cannot be met by the ordinary trading public. Unfortunately; that is a process with which we are all too familiar in this House. The Government, backed by a large majority, are relieved of the responsibility for establishing a case, because they know perfectly well that their supporters will carry the day whether the case is proved or not.
I want now to refer to one or two other matters with regard to the advantages which are given to the municipal trader as against the private trader. Several instances were given by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) of constituents of his who had difficulty in obtaining catering licences. We all, of course, have experiences of that kind, but this Bill is going to accentuate that difficulty. It must inevitably be so, because if a local authority sets up a restaurant, which probably caters for several hundreds, it will absorb the equivalent consumer need of perhaps two, three or four other restaurants. It means more and more when constituents come to complain that they cannot get catering licences and we take their case up with the Ministry of Food, that the answer is going to be, "There is no consumer need.'' The reason why we will get more and more answers of that kind is because the consumer need will be taken up by the municipal restaurants.
The next matter is that of equipment. The Bill itself gives no preferential treatment to local authorities requiring equipment, but I think that no one who knows anything about such things will have any doubt that they will get it. One 1876 knows only too well what prospects the individual private trader has if, when there is a shortage of equipment, a particular item becomes available and he and a local authority apply for it at the same time. I think most of us have no doubt as to who would get it. That, again, is an unfair advantage from the private trader's point of view. I think it is fax to say that the system of accounts used by local authorities is not suitable for disclosing fully their financial position so far as one undertaking of this kind may be concerned. One or two hon. Members have suggested that losses might be concealed. Although personally I am not for one moment suggesting that there would be deliberate concealment, I think it should be said that the accounting system of the local authorities is not in fact likely to disclose the true financial state of an individual undertaking such as a municipal restaurant. It is quite impossible for it to do so.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I do not want to develop anything—it would take up too much time. The hon. Gentleman has made me lose the thread of what I was about to say. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister said that it would be open to the electors in a municipal area to turn out of power a local authority which ran a municipal restaurant. I do not think however, that that is really a strong enough safeguard. One knows perfectly well that when voting takes place in local election there are a thousand and one issues on which one is voting, and I think the right hon. Gentleman made rather a weak point in suggesting that, given all the things with which local elections are concerned, the electors would say, "We are going to turn out the municipal authority because of the way in which they are running the civic restaurant." I think that a better safeguard could be inserted in the Bill. Certainly, allowing the local authority to run a restaurant at a loss for a period of up to five years while other people are being driven out of business is giving them undue favour.
One hon. Gentleman opposite said that we should not find any anti-Socialist local authorities running these municipal restaurants. The hon. Gentleman may be 1877 very surprised to know that although my own local authority is quite strongly anti-Socialist, I have nevertheless received a message from them asking me to support this Bill. Hon. Members opposite will see that I have to disappoint them. I do not support this Bill by any means, because I do not believe that this is the right field in which a municipal authority should be working. A local authority has its own proper business to attend to and the private trader has his sphere. I do not think that the municipal authority should try to drive private traders out of business and compete against them on advantageous terms. For these reasons I shall vote against the Second Reading.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Montague (Islington, West)
I welcome this Bill for a particular reason. Like the Education Act and the National Health Service Act, it is a form of distributive Socialism, and if Socialism means anything at all it means social distribution. I have listened to the arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite, and since I cannot deal with all of them I should like to reply to the argument that the whole question is whether a municipal enterprise of any kind— whether British Restaurants or civic restaurants—pays in a financial sense by the test of the balance sheet. Although it may be unpopular with hon. Members opposite, I want to submit that that is not the real test. The real test is whether an efficient service is being given, and I would object as much as anyone to a municipal restaurant being run inefficiently. It is not a question of whether the undertaking is paying in pounds, shillings and pence. If a needed service is given properly and efficiently it must pay. Does Westminster Bridge pay? Does Woolwich Ferry pay? Do roads pay? Does lighting pay? Do all the social services pay from the standpoint of the balance sheet and from the point of view of dividends—a term which has been used frequently during this Debate?
§ Mr. Drayson (Skipton)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that if there were a toll gate across Westminster Bridge it would not pay?
§ Mr. Montague
That is not my point. If we are setting up a service of a Socialist character we must remember that the only test is social service and efficiency in providing that social service. It is not true 1878 that private enterprise is likely to provide the kind of service that is required, quite apart from the abstract question of social distribution.
I live in an area where it is impossible to get a decent meal unless one goes to a publichouse at specified times. I can go along the main shopping street and find so-called milk bars, which are terrible places nowadays and very different from what they were when they were started. I can go to a shop from which the stench of fat that has been cooked over and over again nearly knocks me down, and get fish and chips. I remember I used to pay 4d. for what now costs me half a crown. One is rooked right and left. There is no place to which one can go for a comfortable meal, as one wants to do after coming from the pictures or the theatre.
Some British Restaurants are managed better than others, and some are finer than others in their general setup. I would like the Minister to take note of one question. Might it not be possible to encourage something rather less institutional in character in the management of some of these restaurants? The area where I lived before I came back to London was a good place in the country, where there was a British Restaurant. I remember going to the restaurant on one occasion for a meal. I got a fairly good meal, considering wartime restrictions. I was satisfied, although there were no tablecloths. They are unnecessary for a proletarian. Nevertheless, the place was clean and tidy and the cooking was good. The meal was quite substantial.
Then I found facing me a poster containing the big black word "Bones." It went on to say what could be done if I salvaged my bones and got them made into various kinds of articles. Frankly, I was afraid to look at the other walls. I was sure I should find a poster there about death on the roads or venereal disease. There is a good deal of that kind of thing. There is no reason why a British Restaurant should not be run in a decent sort of way so that people could go to it in comfort and feel that they were having a meal under reasonable conditions.
The question of licensing has been raised. I think hon. Members on this side of the House know my views on the subject. I am not an agent of the business. If we were turning British Restaurants 1879 into ordinary public bars for drinking for its own sake, it would be deplorable, and I should not advocate anything of the kind. I object, however, to the argument which says that alcoholic liquor on the table with a meal encourages young people, or some other people subject to temptation,' to go along the downward path. That is not true. When that type of argument is used by right hon. Gentlemen opposite I want to point out that they may often go into the smoke-room of this House for a drink. I am sure that in the hotels to which they go, as I do myself when I can and find it convenient, or in their homes, there is a decanter of wine or other drink. If such places are frequented by young people, I do not know that anything very terrible will arise.
I have travelled very much upon the Continent where I have never yet seen a drunken man or woman. I have been into Swiss and German beer gardens and other places on the Continent where whole families can enjoy themselves over a meal and have drinks of all kinds if they want them. They enjoy themselves in a way in which we seem incapable of enjoying ourselves. Those who have been on the Continent know the kind of thing I mean. Yet I do not find any deplorable results. If is a deplorable thing to drink for its own sake—the long bar business—but if the argument is put forward that a working man should not have beer side by side with a meal, that should apply to everybody. But it does not apply to anyone else, and, therefore, it should not apply to the working class. I very much resent the attitude of mind which says that the working class must be protected from these things and wet-nursed on issues of this kind.
A week or two ago I went to a symphony concert at the Bournemouth Pavilion. There is a first-class municipal restaurant there, and I had a meal after the concert. I was able to obtain a drink. I am not a teetotaler. I am not ashamed of it. I have never had a drop too much in my life, that is to say, in the ordinary sense of the term. The meal was a good one and it was served at a reasonable price. Everything was decent, in order, and clean. I did not see any immorality or deplorable results because drinks were served with the meal, but I agree that drinks should be confined to being served 1880 with meals. It is the other thing which is objectionable. For that reason I rose to explain my attitude on the subject. I do not want to be unreasonable. I know that intoxicating drink is a great danger, but, at the same time, I deny the right of certain people to say what I shall eat or drink. The moral issue is my issue. It had better be left to the individual rather than to certain people who wish to impose their own wishes upon the habits of the rest of the community.
On the whole I welcome this Bill very much because it is a means of encouraging a development that will make for a better social life among the people, a kind of social life that the people have not had up to the present, for even if it is argued that it is possible for private enterprise to supply the need, it has not done so in the past. I have lived long enough to remember when one could not get a cup of tea in London. That was a very slow development. There used to be nothing like this service to the people; there was the ordinary "pull-up" of the carmen where one could get cheap, badly-cooked meals. We want something better than that, something with the amenities of the table and social life. What the Government are proposing to do is concerned with the principle for which I have stood all my life—social distribution and the amenities of life looked at from the point of view of the public and not from the point of view of the private person. So far as the private person is concerned, hon. Members opposite believe in competition. The only competition they do not believe in is the competition of the people themselves through their local representatives or the competition of the cooperative societies. Why? It is all competition. If the service is required, if it can be provided efficiently by the community and if the community is satisfied with the service it gets, private enterprise will simply have to put up with the consequences. It has to do that anyhow in ordinary competition, and it is no use simply living in the past. We must recognise the fact that there is a sense of social life arising which is the essence of the principle for which we stand as a Socialist Party.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Digby (Dorset, Western)
I am very glad to hear that the hon. Member 1881 for West Islington (Mr. Montague) believes in the principle of efficiency, because that is the principle which we believe in very much on these benches. I was not quite clear how he was going to apply that principle to the case of the civic restaurants. As I understood his argument, provided they were run efficiently, it did not matter how much it cost the ratepayer. That seems to me to be rather a dangerous argument at a time when so many of our industries are to be nationalised—that if they are to run efficiently on an overdraft, it does not matter.
I was somewhat disappointed with the introduction we had from the right hon. Gentleman, because I hoped that he, at least, would have dwelt seriously on some of what appear to be the defects of this Bill and, further, that he would have gone on to tell us why it was necessary to introduce this Measure as a matter of urgency. We all know quite well that the Bill was not necessary in order to continue the powers to ran British Restaurants. Powers to run them could have been taken again for another year without any difficulty, and it is hard for us to understand why it was necessary to cram this Bill in at a time when we are told that other important Measures, such as the implementation of the Curtis Report, are crowded out of the timetable of this Government.
We would all agree on this side of the House that where a need is shown for British Restaurants, they should be allowed to continue, but the question is to establish the need. The need must be a real one, but, having established a need which cannot be met by private enterprise, we must then go on to apply the principle to which the right hon. Gentleman himself subscribed, the principle that the competition must be fair. As a matter of fact, listening to the course of the Debate afterwards, it was perfectly obvious that a lot of hon. Members opposite would prefer the competition to be unfair. However, the Minister himself has subscribed to the principle that competition should be fair, but he skated over, I thought, some of the characteristics which appear to be very unfair indeed. It is perfectly obvious to anybody that a municipality which is setting up a civic restaurant has very much more money behind it than an ex-Serviceman—
§ Mr. Digby
—who comes out of the Forces and tries to set up a small restaurant on his gratuity. Under the Bill, a municipality is able to embark on enterprises which areincidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid as they consider necessary.Who is to be the judge as to whether they are necessary? The municipality itself is to be the judge. There is no reason why it should not buy a chain of farms; indeed, one hon. Member opposite has suggested that municipalities should buy chains of hotels. That is really a form of competition which, at the very least, would be very difficult for many of the present smaller type of caterer. I am not so much concerned with the large chain restaurants.
That brings me to the question, How can a municipal authority acquire the restaurant they wish to operate? Here I think there is very real discrimination in favour of the local authority which has been very much glossed over tonight. It is clear from the Bill that a borough council can acquire compulsorily under the Acquisition of Land Act, 1945. We have not been told that the speedy procedure under Clause 2 of that Act may not be used and, from my study of it, it seems to me that it can be used. Hon. Members ought to remember exactly what that means. It means that a borough council can like the look of an existing restaurant and decide to take possession of it. They can serve a notice, to which an appeal has to be lodged within 14 days or not at all, and a week after that—three weeks after their first intention was notified to the restaurant—they can take possession. I believe I am right in saying that; I hope I shall be corrected if I am not.
If that is the case, it seems to me to be highly dangerous. As I read the Bill, there is no need whatever to stop them going further than that. When they have set up one restaurant, they might find they have a dangerous competitor down the street, and can do exactly the same thing all over again. If hon. Members opposite take the view that that is right, I do not. They may say that in practice it would be very difficult for that to be done, and that the necessary authority would not be given. But I believe that 1883 in framing a Bill in this House it is our duty to see that safeguards are there, and that there are not opportunities for abuse.
In regard to the acquisition of land, it a private firm or individual wishes to set up a catering establishment and is lucky enough to get a licence, they have to buy the land at 1946 price. If a town provides the same restaurant they pay the 1939 price. There is a tremendous difference between 1939 and 1946 prices. That does not seem to me to be a case of fair competition. Further, there is the point, which has been dwelt upon already tonight, the question of losses. A civic restaurant can go on losing money for five and a half years, or longer. It can go on for five years and not be forced to close down for six months. That puts it in a much stronger position than any but an extremely soundly financed catering establishment. It is quite clear that there is no reason why British Restaurants should not go on under current legislation. If we are to have new legislation, it should be proper legislation, with proper safeguards, so that borough councils are not put in a tempting position to abuse their authority, and are not tempted to take upon themselves to do down people who can ill afford to be deprived of their livelihood. For that reason, I support the Amendment.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Sargood (Bermondsey, West)
The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), in opening the attack, asked that all factors should be taken into account when assessing the merits of the Bill. In the few moments I have at my disposal I want to deal with some of the factors which he failed to mention. As he expressed concern as to whether the accounts of the new civic restaurants will be properly debited by the charges that ought to be debited against them, I would remind the House that we still have district auditors. I am certain that those district auditors will look at the accounts of municipal authorities with the same eagle eye which they use at the moment.
Another charge against British Restaurants which is not normally a charge against the private caterer, is the fact that in London, at any rate, the use of voluntary labour was very small indeed. In 1884 fact, the wages standard we set up was the first agreed wages standard for catering workers in London. It was very considerably in excess of what was being paid by private caterers. That was a factor in assessing the charges compared with the private caterer. British Restaurants had to be sited in areas where it was extremely difficult to obtain suitable accommodation, with the result that we often had to take over very uneconomic buildings. A further handicap was that British Restaurants were only open for very limited hours. Nevertheless, they had to carry a full staff to deal with the peak load, and most of the overheads which would normally be charged against them if they had been open all day long. The new civic restaurants will have that as a credit to put against their accounts when assessing the difference between the running of a municipal restaurant and a private catering establishment.
My last point—I am being very brief because I know there are many others who wish to speak—is this: It is a point which has not been mentioned in the Debate. This will enable municipalities, for the first time in their existence, to make the parks and open spaces of their localities much more attractive. In addition to providing open air they will be able to provide proper eating facilities for the people who use them.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
I am always grateful for an opportunity to discuss anything which has a bearing on local authorities, because since the present Government came into power there has been a disinclination to give to local authorities the extensive powers which they formerly enjoyed; there has been a lowering in the status of local authorities. To that extent this Bill is interesting. Hon. Gentlemen must be aware of the National Health Service Act and other Acts which take away from local authorities many powers which they formerly enjoyed for centuries. It. is no part of my purpose tonight, however, to educate and instruct hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but to address myself to this Bill. I know something about civic restaurants. I was employed, during the time I was chairman of a local authority, to start a civic restaurant the first in Scotland. In this case, the Socialist Council of Glasgow would not start civic 1885 restaurants. Edinburgh did, in fact, start the first civic restaurant in Scotland.
One should keep in mind that it was an achievement thrust on the local authorities by the Ministry of Food, who had excellent reasons. They were pressed on local authorities because men had gone to the war and women to the Services, and ordinary catering establishments were unable to supply the services the public demanded. When I say catering establishments I mean catering establishments of all kinds, including those of co-operative societies who, as hon. Members do not know because they are often out of touch with working class movements, run extensive catering establishments and restaurants. Under these circumstances because staff was not available, because fuel was precarious, and because the action of the enemy might destroy the capacity of the housekeeper to produce food for her household, the Ministry of Food imposed, quite properly, the duty of providing civic restaurants. These had some success. No coupons and no points were required, there was no financial control. The Ministry of Food inspectors in those days forced on local authorities the desirability of these restaurants, whether they were equipped for the purpose or not. Under the circumstances of the war we loyally discharged those duties. That does not seem to me to be a justification for a continuation of this war service.
It is typical of this Government that they can only think in terms of what the Coalition Government did—whether in education or in all the many other social services. There is a sheer inability on the part of the Government to think of anything new. They are only able to carry on something which war made necessary.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
It would be an advantage if the hon. Member would come to the purpose of the Bill itself.
§ Sir W. Darling
I am grateful, as always, for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. A little history is not unhealthy, even if it is not a very accurate historian who presents it.
The purpose of this Bill is to continue these relics of the war. The purpose of the Bill is to allow local authorities to continue these responsibilities. I would ask whether the Minister can tell me of any 1886 local authority which individually has asked this House to give it these powers. Local authorities are not backward in asking for powers. Not long ago Glasgow came and asked for permission to build tramcars. When great cities in this country want powers—
§ Sir W. Darling
I am always grateful for your indulgence. The relation is that if local authorities want a thing I have never known them backward in asking for it. When they wanted tramcars, they asked for the power to build tramcars. No local authority has asked for the power to extend civic restaurants. Groups of local authorities were consulted and I am glad to be able to inform the Minister that the group in Scotland was not the group he thought he consulted. No single local authority, to my knowledge, has asked the Ministry of Food to carry on this service. This is a piece of imposed legislation. The Ministry of Food, with its passion for power which it is reluctant to abandon, is imposing upon reluctant local authorities the responsibility of doing this thing which they do not want to do.
§ Mr. Strachey
May I be allowed to correct that statement, because it is important? I realise that the hon. Gentleman believes that things are only valid if they are done individually rather than collectively, but I must point out that the local authorities in July, 1945, collectively, through all their associations which I enumerated in my speech, including the Conservative local authorities and the Scottish local authorities, did urge us to give them precisely these powers. We cannot possibly call it something which has been imposed on reluctant local authorities. We cannot let that pass.
§ Sir W. Darling
It is none the less true—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] There is nothing for me to withdraw. The Minister may be accurate. He may have made a collective consultation. I am sure he is right when he says so, but I assert that no single individual local authority approached the Government with a desire to extend or continue this service. I repeat that no local authority has asked for this service and very few local authorities have discharged it even adequately. Very few have the capacity 1887 to do it in the future. It is a service which is better provided by individual effort. I finish by suggesting to the House that this is another example of the desire of the centre to control the provinces of the country. The Ministry of Food is a wartime organisation set up because of the rigours and difficulties of war with, quite properly, great powers. It is now engaged in an attempt to extend permanently its control over local authorities in the country, to dominate a policy which local authorities may not particularly want, to compel them to set up, or to encourage them to set up, which is the same thing, on an uneconomical basis a service for which only a very small percentage of the public have any great use.
Have the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary looked at the repercussions of the proposal? The Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland are engaged in building many hundreds of thousands of houses for the people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, they are engaged in constructing a large number of houses—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Again, I must ask the hon. Member to indicate to me whether there is anything about the building of houses in the Bill.
§ Sir W. Darling
Sir, the building of houses, as you are aware, includes the kitchen. If His Majesty's Government are building kitchens in which domestic cooking is to be raised to a higher standard, the need for civic restaurants, surely, disappears. Are we engaged in the encouragement of the domestic arts and in the building of kitchens? I suggest it would be a waste of public money to engage, at the same time, in the provision of municipal restaurants. If adequate facilities are supplied to the housewife, with all these labour saving devices of which we have heard so much, there would be no need for this collective, socialised soup-kitchen that is being offered to them today. I feel that local authorities can look after their own business. They do not want imposed upon them an extravagant policy which is only going to be continued by bribes and which has been forced upon them. I beg this House to have nothing to do with it, but to leave it to the people who have the food to cook it in their own houses 1888 and in the way they want it, and to reject this socialisation.
§ 9.6 p.m
§ Mr. Perrins (Birmingham, Yardley)
I have listened with great interest to the remarks of hon. Members opposite throughout the Debate, and we have heard the suggestion that British Restaurants are unfair in their competition with private traders because they are in some form and measure subsidised, but no real evidence has been given to that effect. In the city of Birmingham, which has been mentioned previously, we have 59 restaurants. The catering trade, under the circumstances that prevailed, would not undertake their responsibilities for this work.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not a point of Order. When I think the hon. Member is out of Order, I shall call his attention to the fact.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Further to that point of Order. Do I understand—[Interruption.] Certainly, I will raise a point of Order, if hon. Members will be audibly silent. Do I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you have ruled that no point of Order was raised?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot have two hon. Gentlemen on their feet at the same time. Lord Winterton.
§ Earl Winterton
Is it not a fact that anyone has a perfect right to call your attention to a breach of Order, and are we to understand that this was not a breach of Order?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Not at all. It is left to the discretion of the Chair, and I do not think that was a point of Order.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I was rather assuming that, when the point of Order was raised, it was an invitation to me to speak.
§ Mr. Perrins
I was trying to develop the point that the Birmingham Council invited the assistance of the catering trade 1889 to provide these services, and that they declined, but a Conservative council was very careful to make sure that, in the accounts of the restaurants open in the city, all necessary charges, including overheads, and the like, were debited against the account. What happened? The trading profit for the last year, which ended in March, 1946, was actually over £27,000, despite the fact that the restaurants had to meet that which hon. Members of the Opposition call unfair competition. To provide that, they had to allow for Income-tax and the like, and they provided profits amounting to £58,000, from the start of the service, after allowing for rent, rates, wages, amortisation and so on. I want to suggest to the House that we cannot generalise on this subject. We "have heard hon. Gentlemen talking about Blackpool and seaside resorts, but we have got highly industrialised centres, where the private traders never have wanted and never will want to cater for this type of service. I am a trade union official. When I went to the industrial country I found that there were no factory canteens for the industrial workers; they were dependent on the fish and chip shops, on a cup of tea with a wrapped meal. Why did not private enterprise choose to meet that need?
If one knows anything about industry, it is very obvious that men whose clothes are impregnated with the odours of industry are never welcome in ordinary restaurants. That is very natural, but, unfortunately, there are not always adequate washing facilities in the places where they work. Before local authorities take any action under this Bill, they may—or they may not—determine such action according to their local circumstances. As I said earlier in my speech, we have over 11,000 small employees in my city who, individually, do not employ over 20 people. How are such workers to be fed unless the local authorities provide the restaurants? I thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to speak in this Debate. There are many other things I would like to have said had there been time, but in the circumstances the only way to cease talking is to discipline oneself and to sit down.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
We who sit on these bences have shown on numerous occasions during this 1890 present Parliament that when the Government introduce a Measure which does not conflict with our principles we are always ready to cooperate, and to put forward helpful criticism in an endeavour to make the Bill a better Measure. Therefore, it will be obvious to those who have followed this Debate today that our opposition does not arise merely from the fact that we are His Majesty's Opposition, but because this Measure violates principles in which we believe.
Like many other hon. Members who have spoken from these benches today, I am of the opinion that before a public service is instituted, the need for that service should be proved beyond any reasonable doubt. It should also be proved that private individuals are either unwilling or incapable of providing that service. We have had no evidence whatever on these matters today. [An HON. MEMBER: "That evidence has just been given."] An hon. Member opposite calls my attention to what the hon Member for Yardley (Mr. Perrins) has just said. All I can say, in that respect, is that Birmingham is very unfortunate, and that in Glasgow we are much more fortunate. Even when I was a boy, I was able to get a magnificent meal in the vicinity of any of the great workshops on Clydeside.
The hon. Member for Upton (Mr. A. Lewis) told us that more restaurants were necessary, and many hon. Members on both sides of the House were in agreement with that. But if that need exists, then I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it exists, in part at least, because of the policy which he is pursuing in regard to licences, a policy which he has told us today he has no intention of relaxing. We all know of cases where his Department have refused to issue licences. One such case in my own constituency came to my notice only last week. A woman who wanted to provide a service which would have been of great benefit to the hardest hit community— the housewives — was not allowed to do so because it required a small allotment of food which the right hon. Gentleman's Department was unwilling to grant. The fact is that private persons are willing to undertake this service and that it is the right hon. Gentleman's Department which is standing in the way. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the 1891 Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson) that we in this House have a right to be told what steps the Government have taken to ascertain whether or not this service could be undertaken by private persons. I do not believe that public funds should be risked in a venture of this nature, except in the last resort. In his opening speech, the Minister said that we on this side of the House were in a dilemma, that there were only two arguments which we could put forward and they were mutually destructive. If he will look carefully at the Bill, he will see that these arguments, in the case of the Bill, are not mutually destructive, and I will endeavour to show it to him before I sit down.
It has become fashionable on the part of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and those who hold the same political views and are members of local authorities, to assume that once they are elected to office they immediately and automatically become qualified to undertake any trade or industry whatsoever, no matter how intricate that industry may be and no matter what amount of experience is necessary before it can be carried on satisfactorily. I do not suppose they will ever learn that they are not so qualified until they have had very bitter experience indeed. As I listened to the hon. Member for Upton and others, I could not help wondering whether they would be willing so readily to venture into this undertaking if their own funds were at risk. In this case the local authorities who, notwithstanding what has been said, have very little knowledge of the catering industry, are to be empowered to set up an unknown number of civic restaurants, but the risk is to be borne by, and the loss is to fall upon, the ratepayers. The Minister has told us that the results so far have been good, but, after all, these restaurants up to now have not had to meet any serious competition, and they have had granted to them every privilege that if was possible to grant. At the same time, he admits—because he admits it in the Bill—that the risk is great, because the Bill envisages losses for five consecutive years. I wonder how many hon. Members in this House, had they been told in a prospectus that there was possibility of five years' losses, would be willing to venture in a matter of this kind.
I have understood that the ratepayers of England and Wales were beginning to 1892 complain of the burden of rates that they have had to bear, and I know from my own experience that for a generation and more the ratepayers in Scotland have been complaining very bitterly indeed of the almost intolerable burden which they have suffered. Yet we have the Government coming forward in a more or less light hearted way and placing a further unknown burden upon these long suffering people. I can only assume that, in part, the purpose of the Government in bringing forward this Measure is to help the people to eke out their present meagre rations, and if I am correct in that assumption it is surely an admission that the rations at present are insufficient. If that be so, I believe the country should be treated equally. Under this Bill, the urban areas will stand to profit far more than the rural areas. Today in the rural areas, where people, for one reason or another, are not in a position to grow their own produce, they have to subsist on their rations alone. In the urban areas, people can always supplement their rations by meals at canteens or restaurants, and this Bill will make that inequality greater than ever. The right hon. Gentleman has told us en numerous occasions that so long as scarcity exists, it will be his policy to see that there are fair shares for all. I hope he is not fooling himself into the belief that this Bill achieves that end.
§ Commander Galbraith
That is not the only inequality which this Bill creates or accentuates, for payment in regard to any loss incurred is to be borne by all, whether they have an opportunity of enjoying the service or whether they have not. It is obvious that this service cannot be of universal application. This service cannot be provided in little hamlets, in villages, or in rows of cottages which are scattered all over the countryside. Yet the occupiers in these villages, the ratepayers, are to be called upon to subscribe to a service which they can never enjoy, and from which they obtain no benefit.
§ Commander Galbraith
The inequality is even greater in the case of Scotland. If hon. Members examine Clause 3 (4) they will find that any deficiency is to fall equally upon owners and occupiers. 1893 The justification for owners' rates in Scotland is that if they receive a service they are entitled to pay for it. As an example, if a man who owns property has that property protected by the police, then he is entitled to pay his share for that protection. I wonder if that argument really applies in the case of civic restaurants. The owner-occupier of a house of the same value as one occupied by another person will pay two shares as against the other man's one. I do not think that is equitable at all. It goes much further than that. Take a man who happens to own 10 houses and resides in one of them. He will be called upon to pay 11 shares against the one share paid by an occupier of one of his own houses. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite think that that is a fair or an equitable arrangement I am very much surprised indeed. I cannot recall any previous occasion when Parliament has been asked to grant powers to local authorities which will enable them to compete with private citizens on the grand scale that is suggested in this Bill. I would deplore such competition at any time, in the public interest. The injury inflicted need not be severe if the competition be fair, but this Bill does not provide for fair competition. Notwithstanding what the Minister has said, these civic restaurants are to be subsidised by the ratepayers
§ Commander Galbraith
They are to be in competition with caterers, confectioners, tobacconists, publicans, proprietors of dance halls, and with a multitude of other people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because under this Bill incidental and ancillary services are brought in which cover a great number of other activities. The traders will be fought with their own money. I remember that before the war we used to complain very bitterly indeed of the unfair, foreign subsidised competition in regard to shipping. How much more unfair is it to compel people to subsidise a public undertaking which is in competition with themselves. These civic restaurants will have no difficulties whatsoever in procuring licences for painting, repairs, alterations, and for the sale of liquor and tobacco. The local authority in many cases will be the licensing authority and even where it is not the licensing authority, the Ministry 1894 will place no obstacles in the way of this State-sponsored scheme.
I cannot see that these private traders will be able to compete under all these disadvantages. Many of them may be driven out of business, and it is possible that, within a reasonable time, the whole of the catering industry of this country will fall into the hands of the local authorities, and I should not be surprised if that is the real purpose behind this Bill. The powers of compulsory purchase which are granted under Clause 2 of the Bill make it possible, as other Members have said, for existing catering establishments to be taken over, for shopkeepers to be dispossessed, on the authority of the Minister of Health or of the Secretary of State for Scotland; and if the procedure under Clause 2 of the Acquisition of Land Act is invoked—and it is competent under the Bill for the Minister to invoke that Act—then no trader will be safe in the possession of his own property, and those who are under lease may well be turned out in a matter of a few days, as the hon. Member for Western Dorset (Mr. Digby) has said, and that without any inquiry.
§ Commander Galbraith
I cannot give way. And that with no inquiry, with no right of appeal, and with only the opportunity of stating an objection to the Minister. In fact, they can be turned out, and are at the mercy of the right hon. Gentleman. If this House is going to grant such powers to Ministers when the safety of the country is not at stake, and merely to meet the convenience of a few— and in that connection, let me remind the House that the Minister has himself told us today that these restaurants serve only 400,000 lunches a day—then I despair of the survival of the rights which the private citizens of this country have hitherto enjoyed under the law of this country. These are powers such as a dictator in a totalitarian State might have. They are powers which no democratic Minister would ever seek, but I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman is a democratic Minister. They are powers which no democratic Government would ever think of granting, and if these powers are not to be used as I have suggested, I should like to know what the purpose is of including them in the Bill.
1895 If they are not to be used to dispossess people, then the local authorities will be forced to build their own civic restaurants; and I should like to know, since when civic restaurants have become of more importance than homes for the people of this country. Or is it that the Government foresee a breakdown in their food policy, and that they are preparing to introduce communal feeding? The administrative incompetence of this Government is such that even that would not surprise me. We on these benches cannot give a Second Reading to a Bill which places such powers over the individual in the hands of a Minister; which may well deprive many traders of their means of livelihood, through no fault whatsoever of their own, through no inefficiency on their part, but simply because of their inability to withstand unfair subsidised competition from the State dressed in the guise of a local authority; and which, in many of its Clauses, is both unjust and inequitable.
§ 9.30 p.m.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summer-skill)
As I listen to hon. Members opposite it is clear to me that they have not the same conception as the Government of the Government's function in the sphere of food and nutrition. I was surprised that the hon. and gallant Member who wound up for the Opposition could not conduct himself in a reasonable manner and approach this in a quiet and unemotional way. It seems to me, listening to hon. Members tonight, that there is a certain excitement about them. I cannot understand why the Civic Restaurants Bill, which, after all, is a social reform, should not be regarded as such by every progressive man in this House, whatever his party. The Government have accepted responsibility for promoting the health and welfare of the people, and the Ministry of Food was placed on a permanent footing for the purpose of ensuring that the people are adequately fed and that their standard of nutrition is safeguarded. Food is the first essential for human well-being, and the civic restaurant, together with the industrial canteens and the schools meal service, is complementary to our rationing scheme. The Bill which we are discussing today is not an attack on private enterprise, but is part of our national food policy. It has been said 1896 that Lord Woolton told caterers in 1942 that he saw no reason to anticipate the continued existence of British restaurants; he did not commit himself. I can see no reason why our policy should be framed in the light of Conservative pronouncements.
We have made no secret about introducing this Bill. If hon. Members opposite had taken the trouble to read "Let us Face the Future," they would have seen that in that publication we made it quite clear that if we came to power we should introduce a Civic Restaurants Bill. In the King's Speech it was also made clear that we should introduce it this Session, and although hon. Gentlemen opposite have suggested that we have foisted this Measure on local authorities, I can assure them, as my right hon. Friend has already done, that the representative associations of local authorities in this country have asked us to introduce these powers. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) asked my right hon. Friend whether any single local authority had approached the Ministry. The first authority was South Shields. They asked us if we would give them these powers, and we said that we intended to introduce a Bill in order that every authority in the country would be able to have them.
§ Dr. Summerskill
But the hon. Member must realise that these powers lapse in March, and the reason why this Bill has been introduced is to enable local authorities to continue to exercise them.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Again I must contradict the hon. Member. It is next March, and not last March. One hon. Member said that this is a sop to the Socialist councils. I must remind the House that Birmingham has 59 British Restaurants, and it is only just recently that we have had a Labour majority in Birmingham. There was a Conservative majority in Birmingham when these restaurants were introduced. [HON. MEMBERS: "There was a war on."] I have not observed that the war makes much difference to party labels of a local authority, and if the Conservative authority in Birmingham did not approve of these 1897 restaurants, they would certainly not have set up 59 of them. I regard any service where a substantial meal can be obtained at a price within the means of the lowest paid worker as ancillary to the health services. I welcome the contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings). Civic restaurants play a great part in this country, because they are complementary to the services which we shall very soon see operating in this country, when the Health Bill comes into effect in 1948.
I welcome the tributes which have been paid to the housewife, that weary, unpaid worker who performs the most important function in the country—the renewing of the nation's life. I deplore the contribution made by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh when he said that the place for the housewife was in the kitchen cooking, and there was no need for civic restaurants if the housewife had a kitchen where she ought to be cooking for her husband. I hope that the housewives of South Edinburgh will read the hon. Member's contribution. It is time that social reform penetrated the kitchens and relieved the lot of the housewives. I wonder whether hon. Members opposite who like to jeer at the housewives, who have not seen fit to have one working-class housewife on the benches opposite— [An HON. MEMBER: "They are at home scrubbing the kitchen floors."] That is exactly what I expected from those benches—the woman is there to clean up the house. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why is the hon. Lady not there?"] I wonder whether hon. Members opposite would be so vociferous if they had to prepare every meal every day, and do the unpleasant business of washing up afterwards.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I have probably done it much more than the hon. and gallant Member, and I have renewed the life of this country. Hon. Members behind me have reminded the House of the old age pensioners who will use these restaurants. The old age pensioners who live alone never know what it is to have a properly cooked meal. They do not cook joints and potatoes, and these restaurants that we hope to see in operation, will give them an opportunity of having balanced 1898 meals, and that will probably mean that their expectation of life will be lengthened.
§ Mr. Tiffany
On a point of Order. Is it in Order, Mr Speaker, for an hon. Member to voice his thoughts audibly, even although those thoughts might be most childish and inane?
§ Mr. Speaker
It may not be in Order for a Member to voice too audibly what his thoughts are, but I cannot control Members sometimes.
§ Earl Winterton
May I say, Sir, that the inability of the Chair to control Members was very apparent during the speech which preceded that now being made by the hon. Lady, and that the only reason I interrupted was because I thought that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander?
§ Mr. Speaker
My answer was not directed to the noble Lord, or to anybody else. It was merely a general observation.
§ Mr. Alpass
Is it in Order, Sir, for the noble Lord to keep up a continual run of interruptions when Members on this side are speaking?
§ Mr. Speaker
The noble Lord, I daresay, makes his comments, and if they are heard on the other side of the House, well, I cannot help that.
§ Dr. Summerskill
My right hon. Friend, in his speech, referred to statements by the Catering Association which appeared in the newspapers last night, in which they said that rate-aided meals tend towards unjustified—[Laughter.]I want Members opposite to understand that this is a matter of serious concern to their constituents. Although they have spoken tonight on behalf of private enterprise, I can assure them that their constituents will be very concerned with their approach to this matter. Members opposite have asked for evidence. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) said that we had produced no evidence that these restaurants were needed. Well, I am producing evidence which in my opinion is of the greatest importance—
§ Commander Galbraith
What I called for was evidence of need, and also evidence of the inability of the service to be supplied by private enterprise.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I have been trying to explain to the House that there is need, that there are certain groups of people who are under-nourished. Private enterprise has failed to solve that problem.
§ Dr. Summerskill
When the catering industry said that this was a method of pauperisation of the population they should logically be against meals in schools, and welfare services. I have not heard Members say that these reforms should never have been introduced. Furthermore, evacuation revealed that children from poor areas had never had a chance to acquire a liking for good, wholesome meals. I ask hon. Members opposite to examine the public health statistics. They are a justification of our food policy—a policy of each according to his physiological needs. I recommend hon. Members—new Members here—if they want evidence to read Sir John Boyd Orr's Book "Food, Health and Income." Between the wars a survey was made in this country, and it was discovered that 50 per cent. of the population was suffering from under-nourishment.
Tonight, I heard hon. Members opposite speaking of profit. They can only think of profit in terms of £s. d. We on this side of the House have a very different standard of values. We believe that health and human well-being cannot be assessed in terms of £s. d. The hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing - Commander Robinson) asked whether private enterprise was not making a contribution which was satisfactory to every income group. The average price of a substantial British Restaurant meal is 1s. 3d. The cheapest restaurant meals, even in Blackpool, are, I think, 5d. and 6d. more, for less substantial meals. I would remind hon. Members who are opposing this Bill that many workers will not be choosing between private enterprise and public enterprise. When these restaurants are set up by every local authority, the worker who has been in the habit of taking a snack to his work will find that he can get a substantial meal at a British Restaurant. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that the caterers will benefit, because the workers will learn to have meals out, and will probably, in the long run, go 1900 to restaurants when in other parts of the country, if they cannot find a civic restaurant available. I sympathise with the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague), who went to a restaurant and had a meal on a table without a cloth and who saw "Bones" on the walls. I agree that that does happen. There is lack of vision and lack of imagination, as we have seen tonight; lack of enthusiasm and lack of initiative in many places; but the success of a restaurant, as I think every hon Member will agree, depends upon the individual in charge. I would recommend the hon. Member for West Islington to go to York and look at the delightful mural decorations there
We are grateful to the catering industry for the services which they have rendered in the past, but the industry must reorientate itself and try to understand that in the future we must ensure that the needy and not the greedy get first consideration. The catering industry has not fared badly during the war, and I find it difficult to understand the attitude of the Opposition. On the one hand, they are opposed to nationalisation on the ground that it kills private enterprise, which alone, they say, can guarantee efficiency; and yet when we come to the House to night with a project which should stimulate private enterprise and competition, we find little enthusiasm.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Is it the kind of competition which the hon. Gentleman is used to? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) asked particularly about financial provisions, and he mentioned the crypt in Leeds. By a curious coincidence, one of the most active members of the catering committee of Leeds was sitting in the gallery while the right hon. Gentleman was speaking. I think it is an understatement to say that she was a little disturbed by the aspersions which the right hon. Gentleman cast on the Leeds City Council. She produced the document which I have in my hand, and this document is very instructive. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who is she?"] She is sitting in the gallery now. If the right hon. Member for Southport would like to have her name, I will let him have it.
§ Earl Winterton
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not an entire innovation for a Minister to refer to the 1901 presence of someone in the Gallery who takes an interest in this Debate and is making comments on it? In those circumstances, should not the Minister be asked to give that person's name? I had understood that an hon. Member could not refer to the presence of anyone in the Gallery.
§ Miss Bacon (Leeds, North-East)
Further to that point of Order, Sir, I should like to state that the person in question gave me certain information, and I, in turn, handed that information to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am not quite clear as to what the hon. Lady's reference was to a person in the Gallery.
§ Dr. Summerskill
When the right hon. Member for Southport was speaking, he asked whether the Leeds authority had paid a rent for the crypt which they used for catering purposes, and by a curious coincidence this document came into my hands, and I thought the House would like to know how it was I happened to have all these details concerning Leeds within such a short time of the right hon. Gentleman's statement.
§ Mr. Speaker
I understand that the hon. Lady was given information by somebody just as a civil servant might have given her the information. She is entitled to use that information, although she might not have been entitled to give as authority that someone from the Gallery gave it.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Buchanan)
Further to the point of Order, Sir, may I put it to you that when we are debating Private Bills, it is not uncommon for, say, the railway companies to have a person under the Gallery Whom hon. Members frequently consult, and then come back and state that they have received advice on the subject?
§ Mr. Speaker
Perhaps I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, but I think his reference was to a person under the Gallery, whereas the original point of Order referred to the words "in the Gallery." In the case of a person under the Gallery, it is perfectly in Order.
§ Mr. Speaker
I did not actually hear the hon. Lady say from where she got the information, but if she did state where it came from, I would point out that it is not usual for information to be sent down from the Gallery. It could be from under the Gallery, because people are there to supply information on a Private Bill.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Further to the point of Order, is it not rather dangerous that we should be given figures the source of which we do not really know? I am quite certain the Minister would not want to mislead the House, but we do not know whether the figures are official or unofficial.
§ Dr. Summerskill
These figures have been published by the civic catering department of the City of Leeds, and I think hon. Members opposite will accept them. The figures answer many questions that have been asked tonight about the expenses which are incurred by local authorities in operating civic restaurants. As to the question that was asked by the right hon. Member for Southport, I am told that Leeds has been paying a rent of £200 a year for the crypt.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
That, in fact, was not the question I asked. I am very sorry, but whoever it was did not take the trouble to listen to the question. The question I asked was not whether the Leeds City Council had paid a rent; what I asked was whether the Leeds City Council was paying a rent equivalent to what they could have got from a private caterer tendering for that particular accommodation. I am led to believe there was some substance in what I suggested, because the amount they paid is small compared with what they could have got.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Thorp (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
On a point of Order. Would the hon. Lady supply those figures before she concludes?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Parliamentary Secretary does not give way, and the hon. and gallant Member must resume his seat. Hon. Members are only wasting time.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Hon. Members opposite must not blame me if their questions are not answered, for they have only left me a few more moments. I think the fact that £200 has been paid for the crypt is the evidence for hon. Members opposite that local authorities have no intention of getting in concealed subsidies. The hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) suggested the same thing, but in fact the returns show that is not so. Leeds, in their return, have mentioned transport and fuel. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rates?"] Yes. They show transport, fuel, rent, rates, lighting, heat and the full maintenance of equipment. When I tell hon. Members that these items have totalled nearly £8,000 for the quarter ending 30th June, they ought to be satisfied.
In the few moments which I have got left I want to deal with the acquisition of land, which has perturbed so many Members. Many Members feel aggrieved that local authorities should have these special powers, but I want them to realise that local authorities have always exercised these powers. They have powers to acquire compulsory sites for mortuaries and washhouses and surely no Member opposite is going to suggest that a civic restaurant is not as important as a mortuary or a washhouse. Members have said that local authorities might use their powers to acquire a catering restaurant. Certainly they have those powers, but surely hon. Members opposite realise that
§ most members serving on local authorities are people of integrity. There is a safeguard. Having earmarked their site the local authority must get permission from the Minister of Health. I cannot believe that the Minister of Health would allow local authorities to take a catering establishment.
§ My final word is on licensing because I want to reply to the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) and the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson). I his reference to liquor was inserted in the Bill because we were given to understand that if these powers were omitted the local authorities would have no powers at all. At the moment their position is a little obscure. Therefore, we inserted this in order that they should have these powers. I want to remind the hon. Member for West Ealing of the position of George Lansbury. He felt as strongly as the Member for West Ealing on these points. I think the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), who has been here for 40 years, will bear me out. He agreed that these powers should be given in order that the people should enjoy a glass of beer with their meals, if they so desired, in the Hyde Park Lido.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes 272; Noes 116.1907
|Division No. 14.]||AYES.||10.01 p.m|
|Adamt, Richard (Balham)||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Daggar, G|
|Adams. W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Daines, P.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brown, George (Belper)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Buchanan, G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Burden, T. W.||Deer, G.|
|Austin, H. L.||Burke, W. A.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Awbery, S. S.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Delargy, Captain H. J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Callaghan, James||Diamond, J|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Chamberlain, R. A.||Dobbie, W.|
|Baird, J.||Champion, A. J.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Balfour, A.||Chater, D.||Donovan, T.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Barton, C.||Clitherow, Dr. R||Dye, S.|
|Battley, J. R.||Cluse, 'S||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Cobb, F A||Edelman, M.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Cocks, F. S||Edwards, John (Blackburn)|
|Benson, G.||Collick, P.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Berry, H.||Collindridge, F.||Edwards, W J (Whitechapel)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Collins, V. J.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Binns, J.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Field, Captain W J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Follick, M.|
|Boardman, H.||Corvedate, Viscount||Foot, M. M.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Cove, W. G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Crawley, A.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S|
|Gibbins, J||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Sharp, Granville|
|Gllzean, A.||Marquand, H. A.||Shurmer, P.|
|Glanvilla, J. E. (Consett)||Marshall, F. (Brightsida)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Goodrich, H E||Mathers, G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C||Medland, H. M.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mellish, R. J.||Skefington, A. M.|
|Grierson, E.||Messer, F.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mikardo, Ian||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Gunter, R. J.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Guy, W. H.||Monslow, W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Montague, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Hale, Leslie||Moody, A. S||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Hall, W G. (Colne Valley)||Morgan, Dr. H B.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Morley, R.||Stamford, W|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Morris, P, (Swansea, W.)||Stephen, C.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Moyle, A.||Strachey, J.|
|Hastings, Dr, Somerville||Murray, J D.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Nally, W.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Naylor, T. E.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hicks, G.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Holman, P.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Horabin, T. L||Oldfield, W. H.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|House, G.||Oliver, G. H.||Thurtle E.|
|Hudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)||Orbach, M.||Tiffany, S|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Paget, R. T.||Tolley, L|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Palmer, A. M. F||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hynd, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Isaacs, Rt Hon G. A.||Parkin, B. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Janner, B.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Usborne, Henry|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Walkden, E.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Pearson, A||Walker, G. H.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamslow, E.)|
|Jones, J. H (Bolton)||Parrins, W||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Piratin, P||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Keenan, W||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Weitzman, D|
|Kenyon, C.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||West, D. G.|
|Key, C. W.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|King, E. M.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Pritt, D N.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C A. B|
|Kinley, J.||Proctor, W. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Pursay, Cmdr. H||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Lavers, S||Randall, H. E.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Lee, Miss J, (Cannock)||Ranger, J.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Lewis, A W J. (Upton)||Reeves, J.||Williamson, T.|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Willis, E.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Rhodes, H.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Richards, R.||Wllmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Longden, F.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Woods, G. S.|
|Lyne, A. W||Robens, A.||Wyatt, W.|
|McEntee, V. La T||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mack, J D.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Royle, C.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Sargood, R.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Scollan, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McLeavy, F.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Captain Michael Stewart and|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Segal, Dr. S.||Mr. Popplewell.|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Gridley, Sir A.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Corbatt, Liaut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)|
|Birch, Nigel||Crowder, Capt. John E.||Harvey, Air-Comdre- A. V.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Darling, Sir W. Y||Head, Brig. A. H.|
|Bossom, A. C||Davidson, Viscountess||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.|
|Bower, N.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Boyd-Carpentar, J. A.||Digby, S. W.||Hogg, Hon. Q.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cemdr. J. G.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Drayson, G. B.||Howard, Hon. A.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Erroll, F J||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Butcher, H. W||Fletcher, W (Bury)||Jarvis, Sir J.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Fox, Sir G.||Jennings, R.|
|Byers, Frank||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Carson, E.||Gage, C.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Challen, C.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Gammans, L. D.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Peto, Brig. C. H M.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Ponsonby, Col C. E.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|McCallum, Maj D||Poole, O B S. (Oswestry)||Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (Is. or Wight)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Thomas, J P. L. (Hereford)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H R||Raikes, H. V||Thorp, Ll.-Col. R A. F.|
|Maclay, Hon J S||Ramsay, Maj. S||Touche, G. C.|
|Maclean, Brig. F. H R. (Lancaster)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Manningham-Buller, R. E||Renton, D.||Ward, Hon. G R.|
|Marlowe, A A. H.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Marples, A. E.||Roberts, Maj. P G (Eeclesall)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Marshall, S. H (Sutton)||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)||Willoughby do Eresby, Lord|
|Mellor, Sir J.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Ross, Sir R||York, C.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E||Sanderson, Sir F.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Commander Agnew and|
|Orr-Ewing. I L||Spearman, A. C. M||Mr. Drewe.|
Main Question put, and agreed to
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Com-
|Division No. 15.||AYES||10.10 p.m|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Gage, C.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Galbraith, Cmdr I. O||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Beechman, N. A||Gammans, L. D.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Bennett, Sir P||Glossop, C.W H||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Birch, Nigel||Gridley, Sir A.||Peto, Brig C. H. M|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. O. C (Wells)||Grimston, R. V||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Bossom, A C||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Bower, N.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbrldgs)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Raikes, H. V|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Head, Brig A H.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W||Hogg, Hon. Q||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P G T||Hollis, M. C||Renton, D.|
|Bullock, Capt M.||Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Butcher, H W.||Howard, Hon. A.||Roberts, Maj. P. G (Ecclesall)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A. (S'flr'n W'ld'n)||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Byers, Frank||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Carson, E.||Jennings, R.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Challen, C.||Lambert, Hon. G||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E A. H||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lennox-Boyd, A. T||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Linstead, H N.||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirra)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H F. C||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thomas, J P L. (Hereford)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y||Macdonald, Sir P. (Is of Wight)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Mackeson, Brig. H. R||Touche, G. C|
|Digby, S. W||Maclay, Hon J. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Dodds-Parker, A D.||Maclean, Brig F H R (Lancaster)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A V G (Penrith)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Drayson, G B||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Wheatley, Colonel M. J|
|Drewe, C.||Marlowe, A A. H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marples, A. E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Erroll, F. J '||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||York, C|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Morrison, Maj. J. G, (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)||Mott-Radelyffe, Maj. C E||Sir Arthur Young and|
|Adams, w r. (Hammersmith, South)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Benson, G||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Berry, H.||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Alpass, J. H||Bevan, Rt Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Attewell, H. C||Bing, G. H C.||Bruce, Maj O W T.|
|Awbery, S. S||Binns, J.||Buchanan, G.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Blackburn, A. R||Burden, T. W|
|Baird, J.||Blenkinsop, A.||Burke, W. A|
|Balfour, A.||Blyton, W R||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)|
|Barstow, P. G||Boardman, H.||Callaghan, James|
|Barton, C.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Chamberlain, R. A|
|Battley, J. R.||Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Champion, A. J.|
|Bechervaise, A E||Braddock, Mrs E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Clitherow. Dr. R|
§ mittee of the Whole House."—[Mr. R. S. Hudson.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, III; Noes. 242.1909
|Cobb, F. A.||Hynd, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Cocks, F. S.||Itaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Randall, H. E.|
|Collick, P.||Janner, B.||Ranger, J.|
|Collindridge, F.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Collins, V. J.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Reeves, J.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Rhodes, H.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Jonas, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Robens, A.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'wall, N.W.)||Keenan, W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Kenyon, C.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Crawley, A.||Key, C. W.||Royle, C.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||King, E. M.||Sargood, R.|
|Daggar, G.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Scollan, T|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Kinley, J.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Layers, S.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Davit., Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A|
|Davies, Harold (Leak)||Lewis, A. W J- (Upton)||Shurmer, P.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Deer, G.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Longden, F.||Simmons, C. J,|
|Delargy, Captain H. J.||Lyne, A. W.||Skefnngton, A. M.|
|Diamond, J.||Mack, J. D.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Dobbie, W.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Dye, S.||McKinlay, A. S.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Ede, Rt Hon. J. C.||McLeavy, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Edelman, M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mann, Mrs. J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stamford, W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Marquand, H. A.||Strachey, J.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mathers, G.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Farthing, W. J.||Medland, H. M.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Field, Captain W. J.||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Messer, F.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Follick, M.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Monslow, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Moody, A. S.||Tiffany, S.|
|Gibbins, J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Tolley, L|
|Gilzean, A.||Morley, R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Moyle, A.||Usborne, Henry|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C||Murray, J. D.||Walkden, E.|
|Grey, C. F.||Nally, W.||Walker, G. H.|
|Grierson, E.||Naylor, T. E.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Weitzman, D.|
|Guy, W. H.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||West, D. G.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||While, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hale, Leslie||O'Brien, T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Oldfield, W. H.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Oliver, G. H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Orbach, M.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paget, R. T.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pargiter, G. A.||Willis, E.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Hicks, G.||Pearson, A.||Woods, G. S.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Peart, Capt T. F||Wyatt, W.|
|Holman, P.||Perrins, W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Piratin, P.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Horabin, T. L.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Zilliacus, K.|
|House, G.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Capt. Michael Stewart and|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pritt, D. N||Mr. Popplewell.|