§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Transfer of functions of Poor Law authorities.
§ 1. On the appointed day the functions of each Poor Law authority shall, subject to the provisions of this Act and except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, be transferred to the council of the county or county borough comprising the Poor Law area for which the Poor Law authority acts, or, if the Poor Law area is not wholly comprised within one county or county borough, the functions of the Poor Law authority so far as they relate to any county or county borough into which the area extends shall be transferred to the council thereof, and as from the appointed day all then existing Poor Law authorities shall cease to exist.
§ LORD HENLEY moved to leave out "of each" and insert "exercised by a". The noble Lord had also given Notice to move, after the first "authority," to insert "within the area of any county borough or of an urban or rural district having a population of fifty thousand or over." The noble Lord said: This Amendment and the other Amendments on Clause 1 standing in my name will, I presume, be dealt with together as they are consequential Amendments, the object of them being to make non-county boroughs and urban district councils with a population of 50,000 or over primary Poor Law units as well as county boroughs and counties. The reason why county boroughs were made separate units was, I presume, that their town councils were already one authority and they were large enough to provide a reasonable basis for rating. They had manageable populations and their areas were of manageable size. Another reason, I believe, why it was thought an advantage that county boroughs should he made separate units was that by doing so a certain part of the many burdens which fall upon the shoulders of the county councils would be removed. This step was recommended by the Maclean 4 Report and that Report also recommended that urban districts and non-county boroughs with a population of 50,000 or over should be in the same position.
I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to what was said by the Minister of Health, speaking in another place on December 13. He was referring to an Amendment exactly similar to this and he referred to the proposals made in the Maclean Report. In speaking of the case of the non-county boroughs and urban districts, he said that though the Maclean Report had recommended that these should be put in the same position as county boroughs, two important events had occurred since the Report was made which necessitated a change of view. One was that a Royal Commission had sat later and had recommended that the figure should be put at 75,000 rather than 50,000, and the second was that, the derating proposals having been made, the suggestion should therefore be considered in the light of those proposals. He went on to say that under those proposals local authorities affected must spread their charges over a reduced rateable value and—I am now reading his exact words—he also said—
that alone is sufficient to make it quite impossible for us to accept an Amendment which would throw upon these bodies, with their reduced rateable valuation, the liabilities for Poor Law administration.
That, I presume, means that the Poor Law authorities would have been in a less strong financial position after the passing of the Bill than they were before.
§ How can we square this statement with the frequent statements of a reassuring nature which have been made supporting the financial proposals occurring in a later Part of the Bill, that local authorities are not going to be in a worse financial position owing to the passing of this measure? If there really is a risk of this occurring, that the local authorities will not be in so favourable a position, would it not be wiser to make up to each what it loses by derating? I do not know what are the answers which will be given to this question, but I think that there is no force in the argument which was used by the Minister of Health. It appears to me that we should take these cases entirely on their merits, and by that I mean that we should consider the suitability of these areas for 5 treatment as areas on account of their size and population rather than in connection with the financial proposals which occur later in the Bill. If the county boroughs are suitable for this treatment surely also non-county boroughs with a very high population and even rural and urban district councils are also suitable.
§ I adhere to the Maclean Committee's Report. We go a little further because we include rural district councils of which there are a few in the same position. I have here a list of these non-county boroughs and urban and rural districts with a population of over 50,000. There are 15 non-county boroughs, 13 urban districts, and 5 rural districts. It does not appear to me to be possible to give any reasonable answer why a County such as Rutland, which has a population of only 18,000, or a county borough like Canterbury, with 24,000, should be put in a position different from that of a big town like Leyton, with 129,000 and rates of about £600,000. It seems to me quite absurd. There are other anomalies. One was referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, in the debate on the Second Reading: Oxford, with a population of 57,000, is a county borough and Cambridge, with a population of 59,000, is a non-county borough. I ask your Lordships to support this Amendment. I believe that it will remove a number of anomalies and tend to improve the administration of the Poor Law by providing a larger number of manageable units and by relieving county councils of some of their burdens.
Page 1, line 9, leave out ("of each") and insert ("exercised by a").—(Lord Henley.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HAILSHAM)
Your Lordships will not be surprised if I say that this is an Amendment which the Government are unable to accept and which they will ask you to reject. One of the main objects of the measure which we have submitted is to widen the area over which the burden of Poor Law relief is to be spread. The first effect of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord would be to increase the number of Poor Law areas contemplated by the Bill from a total of 144 to 193, an addition of more than one-third. That in itself is in our 6 view a retrograde step, and a step in direct contradiction of the principle of the Bill. But that is not the only objection. The Amendment cuts right across the scheme of the Bill, in which the de-rating and the transfer of functions to the counties and county boroughs are intimately related, because you will see, when we come later to the derating plan in Part V of the Bill and the financial plan in Part VI, that the whole basis upon which our proposals are to be carried out is that of taking the county and county boroughs respectively as the unit for the allocation of the finance, and for dealing with loss of rates and so on, and the weighting of the population for poor relief, among other things. That, of course, is completely inconsistent with the proposal which your Lordships are now asked to adopt.
Thirdly, in our view, the proposal would not make for efficiency. One object of getting comparatively large areas into the one Poor Law area—the whole of the county except the county boroughs—is to enable the county councils, having a large area with which to deal, to choose hospitals in which the different services which may be required for the treatment of disease can be specialised and concentrated. There may quite well be in one district of a county comparatively few cases of a particular kind of illness and yet there may be in the whole county a sufficient number to justify a hospital being devoted to its special treatment. My right hon. friend in another place gave some instances as to the very diverse kinds of case which were found being treated in one institution under the existing Poor Law arrangement, and one great object which we have here is to enable these wide areas to centralise in different suitable institutions the sort of treatment which is desired for particular classes of disease. If you are going to narrow and cut down the areas you render that task much more difficult of achievement. It can only be done by some form of combination, instead of allowing the county council to be its own effective unit.
Further, it would in some cases at any rate so emasculate the remaining part of the county if you took the urban districts with the larger population out of it, that the area left would be quite unable to bear the burden of its own 7 Poor Law. The noble Lord in moving the Amendment said his object was to have regard only to the merits, by which he was careful to explain he meant the population and nothing else. I do not dispute that the population is one factor in deciding a question of this kind, but I do dispute that it is the only factor. He was careful to say he excluded all considerations of finance. I do not think you can exclude considerations of finance in a question in which finance enters so intimately as the question of this relief. He excluded altogether all questions of historical association, which account for such anomalies as Canterbury, for instance, being a county borough, or Rutland being a county. We do not think, in our country at any rate, that historical associations and historical reasons are reasons which can be cut out of account altogether.
It is possible, of course, that some of these larger areas, to which the noble Lord referred, may, in time to come, become themselves county boroughs, and no doubt, in determining whether they are or are not to be county boroughs, due weight will be given to the effect which it will have in making them separate Poor Law authorities, and the effect it will have on the remainder of the county. If and when it is thought right in the general interests that a particular district should become a county borough that can be done, and it can be constituted a Poor Law authority. Until that is done there is no reason in our view why the particular number of 50,000 in a particular district should have the magic effect of subtracting it from the general area of the county, and we ask your Lordships to say that the principle which we have adopted of taking the county as the unit except where there is a county borough, and then taking the county borough as the unit, is the sensible and logical one, and the only one which will make the Bill practicable.
§ LORD THOMSON
My Lords, as an Amendment which I have on the Paper deals with very much the same point as this Amendment, it may save time if I deal with my Amendment now—[after the first "borough" to insert "or the council of a borough or urban district with a population of not less than twenty thousand"]. The noble and 8 learned Lord, after turning down the Amendment of Lord Henley, is not likely to accept mine, because it goes even further in what he considers the wrong direction. It would increase the number of Poor Law authorities to an even greater extent. But I do not think that quite gets rid of the principle at stake. That principle, in our view, is that the county council is not really a representative body for this particular purpose. It is remote from the great centres of population or even those smaller centres in non-county boroughs which are industrial in character. From a working-class point of view as a rule the representative character of the county council is largely negligible. And when the noble and learned Lord says that the acceptance of such an Amendment as this is against the principle of the Bill, he seems to have quite forgotten that in this Bill itself there is a precedent for such an exception as we suggest—it was in Clause 29; I think it is now in Clause 31—and that exception is to the effect that in the case of roads,Where an urban district has a population exceeding 20,000, the urban district council may claim to exercise the functions of maintenance and repair of any county road within their district, and if a claim is made within the time hereinafter limited …and so on. In other words, an exception is made which goes against what the noble and learned Lord called the principle embodied in this Bill; and what can be done in the case of roads can surely be done in the case of human beings. The Poor Law has not been abolished by this Bill, only the boards of guardians; and we are leaving the functions of the Poor Law to men who are not from their position and general attitude so likely to afford sympathetic treatment to persons who are out of work—and out of work in nine cases out of ten through no fault of their own. That is the argument for our Amendment, and I submit it was not answered in the reply given by the noble and learned Lord.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Although I am not surprised at the decision announced by the noble and learned Lord, none the less I regret that he found it necessary to come to that conclusion. The Amendment is a very important Amendment, 9 but none the less, for perhaps that very reason, I think we are the more grateful to the noble Lord for having brought it forward. The anticipation that the Government were not likely to accept this Amendment does not relieve us of the duty of discussing these important matters of principle in Committee. I wish, indeed, that I could have an opinion from the noble and learned Lord—though I am afraid I cannot hope to get it—as to the relative merits of the Amendments suggested by my noble friend Lord Henley and by Lord Thomson. I venture to hope at any rate that he will express his preference for the Amendment moved by my noble friend. I confess that I should be a little more convinced by his argument that it is desirable to have wider areas, if the Government at the same time had been bold enough to sweep away these smaller county boroughs as being isolated authorities for the purpose of carrying on this particular work. But, so long as they leave the county boroughs, and are convinced by an argument which in these practical days is of comparatively small importance, that is, the argument of historical continuity, I think we have some reason for pressing this Amendment on the Government.
The reason that they give is that in these wider areas you get greater efficiency, and you find it not only in these matters that I have already mentioned to your Lordships, but in such matters as police. If you have too small an area, and you very often get a small area, in a county borough and there is no possibility of promotion amongst the police, it is obviously bad for the force and it is much better that they should be merged into the county. I agree with the noble and learned Lord that it is exactly the same with regard to a large number of these health visitors, If you have a body of 50,000 with power to come to mutual arrangements with similar bodies in the same neighbourhood we might have a more ideal arrangement. Under this Bill I think there is power given to different authorities to consult together upon such matters as roads and things of that kind. If it had been possible to extend that power so that authorities who are interested in the same kind of subjects could come together with regard to such matters and yet have 10 their autonomy in other matters left to them, I think we might have come to an arrangement which, on the whole, would have been a more satisfactory compromise. It seems to me that here we come back to one of the difficulties which are inherent in this Bill, from the mixing up of two subjects, rating and changes in local government. If those two matters could have been separated and made the subjects of two separate Bills we might have found it altogether easier to deal with them.
I venture to remind your Lordships that the Maclean Committee recommended that every non-county borough of over 50,000 inhabitants should be made a county borough, not only for purposes such as are dealt with in this Bill but for every purpose as well. I venture to put forward yet another argument. Having regard to the burden upon the county council which is involved in this Bill, I feel that a great many people will shrink from it because it will result in an amount of work dealing with a lot of people of whom they know nothing at all. Had you had smaller bodies you would certainly have had a good deal of local knowledge of the families and the persons involved. That is why I think 50,000 is better than 20,000. If you had had 20,000 you might have had a certain amount of rather improper pressure put upon people to give relief in cases in which it was not desirable. But in bodies of 50,000 I think you would have been able to ensure just that local knowledge of particular circumstances which really is very desirable, and yet have had that larger area from which you would have had the advantage when it came to deal with such problems as unemployment and the question as to whether there was too much unemployment in one trade affecting the whole area. In the whole of the circumstances I venture to hope that my noble friend will go to a Division in order to assert the importance of making these large non-county boroughs autonomous for this purpose.
§ On Question, Whether the words "of each" shall stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 24.11
|Hailsham, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Yarborough, E.||Faringdon, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Forester, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]|
|Northumberland, D.||Chaplin, V.||Harlech, L.|
|Wellington, D.||FitzAlan of Derment, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Hood, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Bath, M.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.]||Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Islington, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Knutsford, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Exeter, L. Bp.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Ancaster, E.||Merthyr, L.|
|Cavan, E.||Avebury, L.||Monson, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Monteagle. L. (M. Sligo).|
|Denbigh, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Byron, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Carson. L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Halsbury, E.||Queenborough, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Cushendun, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Ilchester, E.||Danesfort, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Darling, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Daryngton, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||Deramore, L.||Strachie, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Suffield, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Dynevor, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Wargrave, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Elphinstone, L.||Wharton, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Ernle, L.|
|Reading, M.||Leverhulme, V.||Olivier, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Arnold, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Buckmaster, L.||Shandon, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Charnwood, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|De La Warr, E.||Clwyd, L.|
|Russell, E.||Cozens-Hardy, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Joicey, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Allendale, V. [Teller.]||Northington, L. (L. Henley.)||Tenterden, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
I think that covers all the Amendments to Clause I except the last one. I think Lord Henley's Amendments are all consequential and Lord Thomson has been good enough to tell me that his Amendments and those of Lord Henley hang together.
EARL DE LA WARR moved, at the end of the clause, to insert:
Provided that in the transfer of the functions of a Poor Law authority to the council of a county or county borough, it shall be a condition that the function with respect to relief of persons on account of unemployment shall be transferred to the distress committee of such council within the meaning of the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905.
§ The noble Earl said:—The object of this Amendment is to give to the county 12 councils powers of dealing with the unemployed that they possess under the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905, which is repealed in a later clause of this Bill This is essentially an Amendment that fits into the principle of the Bill. It is not a principle that all of us would be prepared entirely to endorse, but, as the principle is in the Bill, it is for us to try to do our best to improve it.
§ Ideally, of course, it would be very much better if the State were to assume its full responsibilities for the unemployed. It does not do so under this Bill. It hands them over to the county councils—that is, those unemployed who are not at the moment in receipt of unemployment relief. At the same time, while handing the care of these unemployed over to the county councils, it takes away from those bodies the powers they already possess of putting these unemployed to useful work—powers of in- 13 quiry into the possibilities of transference, powers of paying for transference and emigration, and even putting the unemployed to temporary work and training them as a preparation for ultimately placing them in employment. In other words, the county councils are to be forbidden to treat these unemployed paupers as anything but paupers. They are only to be allowed to give them out relief or to put them into the workhouse. In another place it was argued from the Government Bench that it would be possible for the county councils to place a great number of these men on some of their own jobs, such as roadmaking. If your Lordships think for a moment, however, you will realise that there is really not very much in that suggestion, because the county councils have already their work going on and they have already men employed upon it, and it will only be by an infinitesimal number of men that they will be able to increase their present staffs. Furthermore, at the present moment there is hardly a local authority in the country that has not got a great number of schemes that it could put into operation—road improvement schemes and so on—and we all know that the Ministry of Transport is full of such schemes. The reason those schemes are not put into operation is that the Government are not prepared to make sufficient grants to the local authorities to carry out the schemes.
§ Therefore, to judge from the argument of the Minister in another place, the Government are really trying to get the best of both worlds. On the one hand they are disallowing work that the county councils and local authorities could carry out, and on the other hand they are justifying the repeal of this Unemployed Workmen Act by saying that the county councils could carry out work. But they cannot have it both ways. The Government case is based on the assumption that they are prepared to accept full responsibility for the employment or for the maintenance of the unemployed by providing national work, by establishing sufficient training farms and generally by sanctioning schemes of work and being prepared to put up the grants. But they are not prepared to take this step. They do not under the Bill assume national responsibility for the unemployed, and therefore, by this Amendment, we are trying to 14 make the best of what is admittedly a bad situation. We are asking the House to leave the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905 in operation so that county councils will be able to make as profitable a use as possible of the unemployed—profitable both to the county councils and to themselves. It is obviously very much better that these men should be kept at work or in training, and doing something useful rather than merely being maintained by out relief or in the workhouse. I beg to move.
Page 2, line 3, at end insert the said proviso.—(Earl De La Warr.)
THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (THE EARL OF ONSLOW)
I think the noble Earl has put down this Amendment under some misapprehension of the functions of the committees under the Unemployed Workmen Act. His Amendment says—Provided that in the transfer of the functions of a Poor Law authority to the council of a county or county borough, it shall be a condition that the function with respect to relief of persons on account of unemployment shall be transferred to the distress committee of such council within the meaning of the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905.There is no such committee. The Unemployed Workmen Act applied only to London and to boroughs and urban districts with a population of 50,000 and over. It empowered the Local Government Board, on the application of a borough or district of that size, to establish a distress committee for that area, but it did not apply to the country as a whole, and the committees to which the noble Earl wishes to transfer this duty were not charged with the relief of the able-bodied. If they had been so charged, they would have needed an entirely different equipment from that which was provided. What they did was to act as intermediaries between parties who could not find workmen and men who were able to do the work. That is exactly the function now performed by the labour exchanges, which did not exist in 1905. The Act was brought into force to carry out the function which is now performed by the labour exchanges.
One great object of this Bill, which would be obstructed, I think, if the Amendment were accepted, is to secure a greater measure of co-ordination between the different local activities dealing with various matters, and with this 15 matter in particular. If the relief of the able-bodied and the organisation of work were entrusted to two separate bodies, we should not arrive at that desirable result. On the other hand, the Bill will provide that relief of the able-bodied will be the function of the county councils, and they will also deal with the organisation of work, and the same body, with a common purse and estimates, will carry out the two branches of the work through different committees. I feel sure that the organisation of relief on those lines will be of advantage, and that to prolong the existence of the Unemployed Workmen Act would really be a retrograde step and would not serve the object which the noble Earl has in view. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will not accept the Amendment, but will maintain the principle laid down in the Bill.
§ LORD THOMSON
The noble Earl has given a somewhat different explanation of his refusal of this Amendment from that which was given in another place. There the Minister of Health did not say that which the noble Earl has just said about the different character of these committees. In point of fact, the repeal of the Unemployed Workmen Act shows that it has a possible application to this Bill. Otherwise why should it be repealed? The Minister of Health, in another place, gave what I thought was a most extraordinary explanation in refusing this Amendment. He said that the county councils and the county borough councils had never asked for it. When one reflects on the state of confusion into which this Bill has thrown county councils and county borough councils, it is not surprising that they should not have asked for this particular Amendment, especially in view of the fact that they would not have got it if they had asked for it. I am reminded of what used to happen to one in the Army. If one did not ask for leave one was supposed not to want it, and if one did ask for leave, one did not get it. That is exactly the position of the county councils and county borough councils in regard to this particular improvement of the Bill. How a Conservative Administration can refuse to revive that which was their pride and glory in 1905, just before they went to a General Election, I fail to understand.
16 The Minister of Health put forward another excuse for not accepting the Amendment. He said that it would lead to the duplication of functions, which is very much what the noble Earl has said, and he deprecated any tendency in that direction. I do not see that there is a duplication of functions in this instance. As a matter of fact, it will be an amplification of the work carried out by the labour exchanges, and an assistance to them. Indeed, if there were any duplication, I am sure that it would not be amiss if it helped to reduce unemployment, and I do not think the noble Earl can deny that it would have that effect if county councils could exercise these powers of seeking for information outside their area and transferring men from one area to another in case work was found in another area. I cannot see any harm in this Amendment, and it seems to me to assist the very principle which the Government have had before them in framing this measure. It will amplify and assist, instead of complicating, and yet, by some strange perversity, the Government go out of their way to repeal what is possibly the best Act that a Conservative Government has passed since 1874, and certainly the best that they have passed in this century.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Special provisions as to functions of Poor Law authorities in respect of infant life protection and vaccination]:
Page 2, line 9, leave out ("elsewhere than in the County of London").—(The Earl of Onslow.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ Power to combine councils for special purposes.
§ 3.—(1) Where any two or more councils, whether councils of counties or county boroughs, consider that it is expedient that the areas of the councils should be combined for any purpose connected with the administration of the functions transferred or to be transferred under this Part of this Act and make application to the Minister for the purpose, the Minister may make an 17 order for combining the areas of the councils for the purposes named therein.
§ (2) Where it appears to the Minister that the combination of the areas of any two or more councils, whether councils of counties or county boroughs, for any purpose connected with the administration of the functions transferred or to be transferred under this Part of this Act, would tend to diminish expense, or would otherwise be of public or local advantage, the Minister may make an order for combining the areas of the councils for the purposes named therein:
§ Provided that an order shall not be made under this subsection except after a local inquiry, unless all the councils whose areas are to be so combined consent.
§ (4) Any such order shall define the functions of the joint committee, and regulate the election, meetings and business of the joint committee, the mode of defraying the expenses of the joint committee, and any other matter or thing which it appears necessary or proper to regulate for the better carrying into effect of the order, and may provide for making applicable, subject to the necessary modifications, to the joint committee any of the provisions of this Part or Part VII of this Act (including the provisions as to administrative schemes).
EARL RUSSELL moved, in subsection (2), after "Where it appears to the Minister that the," to insert: "powers contained in the preceding subsection are not being exercised sufficiently in the public interest, he may appoint a committee to make inquiries either generally or as regards particular areas, and if such committee reports that the." The noble Earl said: With the acceptance of this Amendment the clause would read as follows:—
Where it appears to the Minister that the powers contained in the preceding subsection are not being exercised sufficiently in the public interest, he may appoint a committee to make inquiries, either generally or as regards particular areas, and if such committee reports that the combination of the areas of any two or more councils … would tend to diminish expense …
he may make an order. The object of the Amendment is to provide that the Minister may appoint a committee to consider the matter before he makes an order. It seemed to us that it would be an advantage to the Minister to have the advice of a committee of this kind before he took action under this clause, and that no difficulty would be created by the words that we propose to insert. I have some hope that the noble Earl opposite may see his way to accept this
Amendment, which would not at all interfere with the effect of the clause, but would merely give the Minister an opportunity of having a committee to make inquiries and to report.
Page 2, line 31, after the second ("the") insert the said words.—(Earl Russell.)
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think that the noble Earl is under a slight misapprehension. There is no difficulty, if the Minister wishes or thinks it necessary, in his appointing a committee if he wishes for advice.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Yes, I think so. Certainly, I quite agree with the noble Earl that in certain cases it might be a great advantage for the Minister to have the advice of a committee, but it would not be necessary in every case that he should do so, as the noble Earl's Amendment, so far as I understand it, would provide. I think that is the case. Then if reports are made to him from all sides that it is desirable to do so and he gets reports from his own officers that it is desirable, there would be no need of appointing a committee. A local inquiry is provided for. Unless the councils concerned consent a local inquiry would be held. The order would be subject to provisions of Clause 122 when made. Therefore I hardly think it is really necessary to add these words to the Bill.
§ EARL BUXTON
Do I understand the noble Earl in charge of the Bill to say that if the Bill is passed as it stands the Minister will have the power in his discretion to appoint a committee?
§ EARL BUXTON
As I understand the noble Earl's Amendment, he would make it compulsory. I think it would be much better to give him the power.
In view of what the noble Earl has said I will withdraw the Amendment at this stage at any rate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.19
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK moved to insert the following proviso in subsection (2):—
Provided that the Minister shall make orders for combining any two or more councils, whether councils of counties or county boroughs, covering suitable areas, for the purpose of dealing with vagrancy.
The right rev. Prelate said: I can explain very briefly why I am moving the Amendment which stands in my name. It is to make plain that the problem of vagrancy should be dealt with not by an individual council but by co-operation between different authorities. This problem is one which is becoming of increasing difficulty. During the War the casual wards were practically closed. Some three years ago there were some 9,000 men on the road. This March we are informed that there will be no fewer than 12,000. I fear that there is every prospect when the weather becomes warmer that this number may be considerably increased.
§ This very difficult problem of vagrancy is one which is best dealt with, not by an individual union or by the new authority, but by a number of areas acting together. There are, of course, problems which can best be dealt with by those who have knowledge of local conditions, but vagrants wander from county to county, staying here one night and elsewhere another night, and it is impossible for any one authority to deal with the problems which arise in connection with them. What actually happens is that the vagrant is unpopular everywhere, and you find that different unions have their own special methods of dealing with the vagrant. Some are much stricter than others, and the terms under which he is admitted to the casual wards vary greatly. In some wards there is heat and in others none. In some he is given a bunk to sleep in, in others he has to lie on a mattress on the floor. In some he is let out early in the morning in time to find work, in others he is let out much later. The result of these differences is that the vagrant soon knows where he is likely to meet with what he regards as undue hardships. He concentrates therefore on other unions and goes to those casual wards where he knows that his lot will not be so hard. The result is that these unions, in their turn, 20 have to make their conditions stricter so as to discourage the vagrant from coming into their areas.
§ In some cases the conditions under which the vagrant exists are nothing less than horrible. I have in my hand a report, written evidently by some careful and experienced investigator, called "On the Road," which describes a journey from Reading to York. The investigator stayed in the different casual wards on the way. In some of them he had humanitarian treatment, but in others the conditions were nothing less—I am not exaggerating—than horrible. The only way in which you can possibly overcome these conditions is to bring a large number of districts under one authority which will co-ordinate the relief and the methods which are adopted in dealing with these unhappy people. Moreover, it is only by a larger area that you can deal with problems such as those of the younger traveller. At one time most of the tramps were older men. I am told now by those who are best acquainted with the subject that there are a large number of young men out of work wandering from place to place, and it is very easy for them to deteriorate unless some remedial treatment is applied. A man who had himself been on the road told me that after about a fortnight he found he was deteriorating, not only in physique, but in the whole of his outlook. Some special treatment ought to be given to these men who, only for a time, probably, through no fault of their own, come on the road. This harsh treatment simply makes it impossible for them to rise from the condition into which they are sinking.
Then, of course, there are the children—not many in number—of the vagrants. These, again, can only be dealt with by some central authority. And there are the old and infirm who wander from place to place. These, again, can best be dealt with by an authority which covers a number of different areas. It has always been recognised that there should be some greater uniformity in dealing with this problem. It was recognised by the Vagrancy Committee in 1906, and I notice that in the Memorandum which has been issued by the Ministry of Health explaining this Bill as it left the other House, it is said that:—
Experience has also shown that the most effective control of vagrancy can be secured by the co-operation of authorities covering a wide area.
There are already in existence a certain number of committees—sixteen statutory committees which cover thirty-nine counties, and sixteen voluntary committees which cover nineteen. There is a real fear that unless some such proviso as I am moving is inserted in the measure the work of these committees may be brought to an end and that the problem, which is an intricate one, may be over-looked in the new commitments and new problems which are being placed upon the authorities which will take over all this work.
§ I know it may be said that it is quite unnecessary to move this Amendment because the Minister of Health already has power to draw up a scheme of co-ordination. If we could always have the present Minister of Health I should have little fear about the matter, because the present Minister of Health has shown very great interest in the subject, but we are not legislating only for one Ministry. We are legislating for years to come, and therefore I hope that some such proviso as I am moving may be adopted, so that we can secure better treatment for a class of very unhappy people. I beg to move.
Page 2, line 39, after ("therein") insert the said proviso.—(The Lord Bishop of Southwark.)
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
I should like to support my right rev. brother. I have made it my business lately to visit some of these casual wards, and for a long time when I was at Hatfield I was in the habit of visiting the casual ward there in connection with which we had a home where we tried to do some reclamation work. The problem is an intensely difficult one under present conditions. The number of vagrants is increasing, as my right rev. brother has told your Lordships, and it must increase because there is at present no real means of reclaiming these poor fellows. Once on the road, always on the road! A man who gets on the road becomes weaker in physique, and he is unable to do hard work. He falls lower and lower. Just now the men who are coming on the road are very often quite young men. What we 22 are afraid of is that there will be a competition between the various bodies to avoid having the responsibility for these men. At present it exists to a certain extent. Where there is a vagrancy committee that treats these men with severity the men avoid that locality and this mobile stream of poor wanderers is to be found in another part of England. The other day I visited a casual ward in Devonshire and found in that little town a man from Northumberland, a collier from Wales, a sailor from Liverpool, and only one Devonshire man. Therefore I think that unless this problem is dealt with from a national standpoint we shall never solve it.
Again, you want to classify these men. A Father Downes, who has made it his duty to go from casual ward to casual ward, divides these men into the old infirm men who are regular vagrants, and the men who are bona fide seekers of work and who cannot very likely find work for some time—for instance, men who work at a seasonal occupation. They are out of jobs and must wait for employment until the season begins. Then there are the boys, who can be divided into two groups: (1), those who have friends and relations and who should be sent back to their own parish; and (2), those who have no one belonging to them. There ought to be some means of putting these boys into an occupation which will give them a livelihood. Those things are larger things than a county can do. We want a bigger unit—several counties together, but working in conjunction with other counties, so that there is no competition to avoid responsibility. I have visited a great settlement at Witzwill, in Switzerland. That is a settlement for the hardened tramp, and they boldly claim that they constantly make cures of them by improving their physique and their morale. I hope that if the Government are unable to accept this Amendment they will take steps to deal with this vagrancy problem on a national basis. Father Downes tells us that he had to sleep on stone, and in the casualty ward which I visited it was miserably cold. When the War was on there was an enormous reduction in the number of casuals. The rest were fighting for their country. I think it is extraordinarily hard that these men, who are quite 23 ready to work, many of them, and are merely unfortunate and reduced to poverty through want of employment, should be treated as if they had done something wrong, and that the casual ward should be as hard as, and even harder than, the prison.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think that the object which the two right reverend Prelates who have addressed your Lordships have in view is one which would command the sympathy of all members of your Lordships' House; that is to say, that vagrancy should be dealt with by executive authorities in a wide geographical sphere of action. The right rev. Prelate who moved the Amendment said he was quite certain that the present Minister of Health would deal with such matters in a sympathetic and politic spirit, but he said that he had some fears lest in future years the matter might not meet with such satisfactory treatment as he anticipated under the present régime. The point is this, that vagrancy must be dealt with, whether by combined or single areas. I do not think that any such alteration as this Amendment effects would make any difference on that point, and I would draw your Lordships' attention to the difficulties which in the past have militated against dealing with vagrancy so fully as has been suggested by the right rev. Prelates. The principal difficulty has been this. Supposing you have a number of unions which wish to combine for dealing with the point, one union, by standing out, might upset the whole scheme and cripple the efforts of the other authorities who are willing to combine. Under the Bill that difficulty will be very largely removed, because you are going to do away with the separate unions and small authorities, and combine the whole administration of the Poor Law under one authority—namely, the county or the county borough.
There is also a second safeguard. The Minister has power under Clause 3 to require the constitution of a joint body, even against the will of one of the authorities, if, after holding a public inquiry, he is satisfied that that is the right course to pursue. So I venture to think the Amendment is unnecessary, because all the provisions which it enumerates are already in the Bill, and I do not think that this Amendment as drafted 24 would take the matter very much further. The effect of the Amendment depends upon the selection by somebody of a suitable area, and therefore the operations depend upon the view which may be taken as to what is a suitable area. I venture to think that the whole of the results which the right rev. Prelates have urged upon your Lordships will be achieved by the provisions of the Bill as it stands and by the power which Clause 3 gives to the Minister.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
Do I understand that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill says that the object of the Amendment is really met by the Bill? Under the Amendment no local inquiry is required, and if this provision were inserted in the Bill it would be unnecessary to hold a local inquiry. All that would be necessary would be to see that there were certain areas that were suitable. That is a very simple matter, and would avoid the necessity for a local inquiry. I would suggest that under the Amendment it is not necessary to have a local inquiry at all; whereas, as the Bill stands, the object which the right rev. Prelate has in mind would never be attained unless there was a local inquiry.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I very much hesitate to differ from the noble and learned Marquess on a matter of construction, but I do not think that he is quite right in saying that the effect of the Amendment would be to do away with the necessity for a local inquiry if one of the two proposed combined councils should object. The Amendment is to come in before the proviso, and it proposes that the Minister shall make orders for covering suitable areas. But then the Bill goes on:—Provided that an Order shall not be made under this subsection except after a local inquiry, unless all the councils whose areas are to be so combined consent
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I agree. That is quite right as it stands. That makes it necessary to hold a local inquiry. I did not gather that that was the object of the right rev. Prelate. I thought his real object was to get the combination and, as I understand, without the local inquiry, and I was addressing myself to that rather than the actual Amendment on the Paper.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTH-WARK
I was anxious to make it clear that the Minister should not regard this as a matter which was occasional or exceptional, that the normal method of dealing with this problem was through uniting these various areas. That is the real point of the Amendment. As the clause stands, there is nothing to make it at all necessary to deal with this particular problem in this way. My contention is that this is a special problem, which cannot be solved locally, and therefore must be dealt with by a larger area. But I quite recognise that my drafting may be very defective, and I would gladly withdraw the Amendment now if I received a promise that it would be considered, at any rate, before the Report stage.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
; I had not understood that it was desired to do away with the necessity for a local inquiry. But, if that be so, the noble and learned Marquess agrees with me that that is not the effect of the Amendment as it stands. There is this difficulty. The Amendment—assuming that it was desired to do away with the local inquiry—provides that the Minister is to make orders for combining any two or more councils covering suitable areas. If a council regards itself as not properly married to its neighbour on the right, and as more suitably combined with its neighbour on the left, unless you have some means of letting it have its say, and having its ojcetion inquired into, you are giving to the Minister a very arbitrary power. In all other matters there is to be a local inquiry unless the bodies which are intended to be combined agree. I confess I do not think it would be desirable that in this one case the bodies which are to be combined should be combined, whether they agree or not, without any local inquiry as to whether the particular combination which the Minister desires is the one which is the most suitable.
I am afraid I cannot go further at present than to say that the Minister sympathises fully with the view which both the right rev. Prelates have urged, that the problem of vagrancy is one which ought to be dealt with on wide lines and over wide areas; but I cannot promise that we can make it mandatory in this Bill that the Minister shall make orders covering suitable areas. 26 There is power to do it. The Minister, I hope, will do it in suitable cases. After all, in the mandatory clause which is suggested it would still be left to the Minister to decide what were the suitable areas, and, therefore, you do not do very much more than you are doing already by the clause—namely, suggesting to the Minister that, where it is desirable, there should be a combination of functions, of which this is one which he would be most anxious sympathetically to consider.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER
From the point of view of the persons whose benefit we are considering I should be very glad if I might say a word in favour of holding a local inquiry. The fact of the matter is that there are things going on in our country which the ordinary man knows very little about. When you hold an inquiry, when you bring the whole question before the public in the local Press, you do something which is very informing to the ordinary person. There is no doubt at all that the right rev. Prelate who brought this forward has put before us a matter of intense national interest. A great deal of it has been dealt with already. When I was much younger than I am now I spent some years as chairman of the casual ward of the City of London Union. Any of you who know the City of London at all—I lived in it for seventeen years—would wonder that such a place should need a casual ward at all, and I am bound to say that from many points of view, except that it was so sad, the whole thing was very ridiculous. You have done away with that; in the course of the development of this legislation it will disappear.
But, as the right rev. Prelate has told you, the situation is still very serious. As I came along the road from my house to Worcester this morning I must have met eighteen or twenty tramps. I suppose they were going from the Worcester house either to the Kidderminster house or the Shrewsbury house. But the majority of them were young men. It is too late to cry over spilt milk, but what we have done in the last few years by means of unemployment payments and the like is undoubtedly very largely responsible for that state of affairs. Well, now, here is a clause which, when I read it first, delighted my heart. I 27 thought that here was all that the right rev. Prelate wanted: it would be possible for the Minister to combine suitable areas; and it did not seem to me, thankful as I am to him for raising the subject, that the actual proposal that he brought before you was really necessary. But I am thankful indeed for this discussion, because you are dealing with one of the great problems of English life, which is not getting better and better, but steadily worse and worse. I merely rose to urge that you should not push aside the local inquiry. In my judgment it is a very useful and beneficial arrangement.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
The next Amendment is a drafting Amendment. Part VIII contains some general provisions—provisions as to borrowing—which might very conveniently be applied to the joint committee as constituted under this clause. I beg to move.
Page 3, line 15, leave out ("Part VII") and insert ("Parts VII and VIII").—(The Earl of Onslow.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
LORD CHARNWOOD moved to insert as a new subsection:—
(7) The Minister may by regulations authorise any such joint committee, subject to compliance with the regulations, to pay the reasonable expenses of any of their members or of their clerk incurred in attending any conference of such committees held for the purpose of discussing any matter which is connected with the duties which devolve upon them and any reasonable expenses incurred in purchasing reports of the proceedings of any such conference.
§ The noble Lord said: I placed this Amendment on the Paper in the interests of the particular joint committees dealing with vagrancy which, no doubt, will be set up under this clause. Members of the existing joint committees value very much the power which they have, whether as boards of guardians or not I am not sure, of holding conferences from time to time with their colleagues in other parts of the country, and they are very anxious that the joint committees who succeed them shall have the same facilities in doing this as they have themselves. Your Lordships have been hearing of the great importance of administering the law with regard to vagrancy over areas of con- 28 siderable size. I do not know how it is in the South of England generally, but certainly in a great deal of the North of England it is being dealt with with considerable success by joint committees in which the unions of, perhaps, two or more counties and county boroughs are combined.
§ It will, of course, conduce a great deal to the success of their work if the various joint committees in different parts of the country act more or less upon the same lines. For that purpose it is desirable that they should have means of conferring with one another, and I think that some such Amendment as I have here set down is necessary for the purpose. The county councils, in fact, take conference with one another through the County Councils Association. County boroughs again, are in standing conference with one another through the Association of Municipal Corporations. But under the Bill you will have, I dare say, joint committees which will join together areas of counties and areas of county boroughs, and I think I am right in saying that in order that conferences of joint committees of that character may take place it is necessary that some such provision as I have set down should be inserted in the Bill. Whether the subsection I propose is the best for its purpose or not I do not undertake to say, but I have followed as exactly as possible the wording of Section 145, I think it is, of the Poor Law Act, 1927, under which conferences of guardians are held at the present time. At any rate I hope that the Government may be able to look benevolently upon the purpose for which I have placed this Amendment on the Paper.
Page 3, line 32, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Charnwood.)
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think the object which the noble Lord has in view will be attained by a somewhat different route. There is no doubt whatever, I think, that there will be every reason for the consultation of authorities on a basis covering the whole country or, at any rate, very large portions of it, especially among authorities who administer relief in connection with the question of vagrancy. Local authorities already have their own associations. There are the County Councils Association, the 29 Association of Municipal Corporations and so forth, and undoubtedly one may expect that on matters of common interest such as that which the noble Lord has brought before your Lordships joint discussion will be introduced by those associations. It seems desirable to systematise these joint discussions which may take place on all kinds of subjects and, on the whole, I think it is preferable that the existing associations of counties and municipal corporations should organise them. They have, of course, powers under which they can draw upon financial resources to further these conferences upon this or upon other subjects. In those circumstances, I think it is desirable to leave things as they are, to leave the matter, as I think we can with perfect confidence, in the hands of the various associations of local authorities, and to allow things to proceed in the manner in which they have done so far, feeling certain that these national conferences for which the noble Lord wishes will take place in the future when the authorities are constituted under the Bill.
I am not sure whether this matter might not come better under Clause 49 where I have an Amendment which has to some extent the same object. But I would rather like to know what is the financial resource to which the noble Earl referred that local authorities can draw upon for these expenses. Is it in the form of public money?
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I am speaking without the book, but I think it is contributions from the county councils and the constituent bodies, which they can give to the associations for expenses. I think it is that, but I am not quite sure.
Authorised contributions to a central body for expenses. That would cover it, and it would still come out of the public funds, which is rather the object of the proviso. But I do not quite understand from the noble Earl what possible harm this proviso can do. It will be observed that it only gives power to the Minister in proper cases and where he thinks it desirable to make a regulation to that effect. If you do not put it in I assume he will not have that power unless he gets it under Clause 123, 30 which may not survive criticism. I cannot understand what the real objection can be to putting this proviso in. It leaves it entirely in the Minister's discretion and it seems to me that it might be a reasonable and useful provision.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think the real reason is that it is desirable to systematise these matters as far as possible. There are already associations which function very well indeed, and it is the best sort of organisation to allow all these conferences and arrangements through the one channel and not to have different channels and set up ad hoc bodies. That has been the whole trend of local government during the last fifty years. You have done away with ad hoc bodies and set up special bodies to deal with everything of this kind. I am not really putting this very high. I think the suggestion of the noble Lord has merits in it; I am not denying that. But on the whole I think it is better to allow these things to take place through the constituted associations rather than through another body even though powers to the Minister to withhold or to give his consent, as the case may be, exist. I think it leads to a better organisation of local government.
I shall not disagree with the noble Earl about the advantage of this being done through a central body provided that it is perfectly clear that the central body has undoubted statutory or other power to make contributions to these associations.
§ LORD CHARNWOOD
I do not want to be troublesome on this rather small point, but I am net quite sure that the noble Earl has altogether appreciated the point of my Amendment. He speaks of the valuable machinery now provided by the County Councils Association on the one hand, and the various organisations in which municipalities are represented on the other. My difficulty is that you are dealing in this Bill with bodies which fall neither into the one class nor the other, and they will not be constituent members of these joint committee—neither the County Councils Association nor the Municipal Corporations Association, nor, so far as I know, any existing body. The contemplated 31 joint committees, if I understand aright, will be joint committees in which county areas and county borough areas will be combined. They will be nobody's child so to speak. These conferences will not be the business of the County Councils Association or of the other associations to which I have referred, and I think it would be harmless, and might be even useful, if special provisions were made for what I submit would be impossible if the Bill remains as it is—special conferences between this special class of bodies and joint committees of county borough councils. I am not going to press the matter, but I hope that the noble Earl will consider it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 4:
§ Administrative schemes.
§ 4. The council of every county and county borough shall prepare, and within six months after the commencement of this Act submit to the Minister, a scheme (hereinafter referred to as an administrative scheme) of the administrative arrangements proposed to be made for discharging the functions transferred to the council under this Part of this Act:
§ Provided that the Minister may on the application of a council extend the time within which a scheme is to be submitted if he is satisfied that there is reasonable cause for such extension.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP moved, after the first "county," to insert "in consultation with representatives of the districts comprised within the area and the council of every." The noble Earl said: This is quite a small Amendment, but I think it would be a useful one if it were adopted by His Majesty's Government. The object is that consultation between county councils and the various districts should take place at the earliest possible moment. I have three reasons for moving this Amendment. The first reason is that it is only natural, when the county councils are taking over the work which at present is done by these small authorities, that they should consult the authorities who have been carrying on the work, and get what advantage they can from their experience, before drawing up their scheme. Secondly, it is very desirable to get their co-operation and you are more likely to get it if they are consulted in the matter. Finally, His Majesty's Government realise that there is something to 32 be said in regard to this matter, because they did introduce in another place an Amendment dealing with it. Unfortunately it does not seem to me that the Amendment went quite far enough. That Amendment is now to be found in Clause 8, providing that the county council, as soon as they have made their scheme, shall at once publish a copy of it in the local newspapers. That does not go quite as far as I should like. I should like to secure, at the earliest possible moment, the co-operation of the county councils with these local authorities. In the end it may mean that the Ministry of Health may have a great deal less work to do. It is that which is in my mind in moving the Amendment.
Page 3, line 33, after the first ("county") insert ("in consultation with representatives of the districts comprised within the area and the council of every").—(Earl Beauchamp.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
As the noble Earl has suggested, this is not a point of first-class importance, and, probably, he will forgive me if I tell him the Government, as at present advised, prefer the Bill as it stands. The proposal is that before any scheme is put forward by the county councils they shall be under the obligation to consult with the representatives of the districts comprised within the area and the council of every area. No doubt in most cases consultation may take place with individuals representing the districts. We have to remember first of all that every one of them will have their own members on the county council, so that the county council is in touch with local requirements. Under Clause 119 the districts are under the obligation to give all such information as may be required. Under the Amendment to which the noble Earl called attention in Clause 8, which was made in another place, provision is made that the scheme shall be communicated at once to the different district councils as soon as the county council has prepared it.
The only small point between us is whether or not the county council must have a formal consultation with representatives of the districts and of the council of every district before they submit a scheme at all. We do not think it necessary to impose that obliga- 33 tion upon them, and unless necessary we do not think it desirable for this reason. When the scheme has been submitted and communicated representations have to be made to the Minister by every district. The Minister has to given full opportunity for those representations under Clause 8, subsection (2), and then there has to be consideration by the Minister, and no valid scheme can be prepared until the Minister has approved it. We have, unfortunately, not unlimited time in which to do all these different things. The 1st of April, 1930, is the date upon which this Bill comes into effective operation, and we think, if we impose this obligation, which would involve at any rate some form of election or selection of representatives of the districts, before the councils embark upon the preparation of a scheme, we should be adding an extra delay in the preparation of the scheme which might make it even more difficult than it is likely to be as it is for the scheme to he ready and approved within the statutory time.
We think the districts are amply protected, firstly, because their own members are on the county council; secondly, because they have to have the scheme communicated to them; and, thirdly, because the Minister has to consider their representations before he approves any scheme. Therefore we think it is sufficient to leave it to the county councils to ask the district if they desire any more information other than that which the local member is able to give and not to make it obligatory upon the council, before it even prepares a scheme, to have a consultation with representatives the exact selection of whom is left in some obscurity under the terms of the Amendment.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
I agree with what the noble and learned Lord has said that this Amendment does leave in some obscurity with whom the consultation is to be made, but that does not touch the real part of the Amendment. Surely the reasons which have been given by the noble and learned Lord himself are reasons in favour of the Amendment. He says that the Minister must, under Clause 8, subsection (2), submit this scheme after it has been put forward, to these very people. Surely, for a simple working of the measure, it would 34 be infinitely better that the scheme should be submitted in the first instance to the people who are interested in it rather than have the representations of these people after the scheme has been submitted. The Amendment of my noble friend on these Benches might be modified so as to show what selection means, and then that would be a much better arrangement than that in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING moved to insert immediately before the proviso, "In so far as such scheme relates to hospitals the council shall take reasonable steps, to seek and to continue to secure full co-operation with every voluntary hospital within or serving the area of the council." The noble Marquess said: The Amendment which stands in my name is of very great importance to voluntary hospitals throughout the country. I am proposing it in their interests, and for the purpose of protecting them and of ensuring that there shall be full consultation with them before any action is taken that might impair in any degree their usefulness, as well as of ensuring that full effect will be given to what I understand is one of the main purposes of the Bill. There are three other Amendments in my name all dealing with the same subject, and I propose to address my-self to the subject matter of this Amendment in the hope that we may arrive at a conclusion which will not make it necessary to discuss the others.
§ I apprehend it is quite unnecessary in your Lordships' House, where so many of you are not only familiar with the work of voluntary hospitals but take an active part in their management and administration, to dilate upon the importance of voluntary hospitals and the system that has grown up in connection with those hospitals, and I shall receive the sympathy of your Lordships if I show that voluntary hospitals run the risk of being injured in some way if the Bill remains as it is at present. The whole purpose of the Amendment is to ensure co-operation with the voluntary hospitals and co-ordination of the various efforts so that there may be no overlapping of the work of, let us say, rate-supported hospitals and voluntary hospitals and that the voluntary hospitals may be consulted in order that the best 35 use may be made of existing institutions. I understand from the White Paper and from the whole tenor of the Bill that this is intended by the framers of the Bill and by the Minister responsible for it.
The words that I desire to insert are taken from the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, which was brought forward after this Bill had gone through all its stages in another place. The words are almost identical with those that appear in Clause 27 of the Scottish Bill. I am proposing that—
In so far as such scheme relates to hospitals the council shall take reasonable steps to seek and to continue to secure full co-Operation with every voluntary hospital within or serving the area of the council.
I cannot believe that there is any intention of not giving effect to the view expressed in this Amendment. Indeed, I know perfectly well from that which took place in the other House and from the statements of the Minister of Health that he is in full sympathy with the idea that there should be co-operation with the voluntary hospitals, that there should be co-ordination of effort and that the voluntary hospitals should be consulted. The only point that has arisen, so far as I can understand from the discussion that has taken place already, is that an objection was raised to introducing a statutory provision. In a matter of such vast importance, affecting voluntary hospitals and the whole system under which they have developed, I feel that we should make quite clear what is the intention of the Bill. When I put down this Amendment I thought that I was not going counter to the views of the Minister of Health, but rather supporting him, and I am confirmed in that view by finding an Amendment that was put on the Paper to-day—at least I had not seen it before——
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
This Amendment proposes to insert a clause which will ensure that the county councils shall make such arrangements as they think desirable for securing that the functions transferred to them shall be dealt with in consultation with some body in their area representing the voluntary hospitals. I should like to know whether it is proposed to introduce that provision.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I imagined that it would be. I gathered from the discussion that took place in the other House that the Minister would find it possible to insert a provision to meet this case. I think the Government are perfectly reasonable in taking this course and that the introduction of this provision will allay the apprehensions of those who are concerned with the voluntary hospitals. For my part, having taken some share and having been engaged in consultation with those who really care about the hospitals and work for them, I am merely anxious to ensure that this provision really meets the point.
There is one question that I should like to put to the noble Earl in charge of the Bill. I should like to ask him whether, when the proposed Amendment has been accepted and the Bill comes into effect and, in the ordinary course, a circular is issued to the councils by the Minister of Health, special care will be taken to draw their attention to this part of the Bill, and particularly to the new provision which is to be introduced. I ask that question because the clause as it stands is really not mandatory except in so far as it says that the councils may make such arrangements as they think desirable and that they are to consult a representative body. I want, if I may, and if the Government see no objection, to emphasise the point that the Ministry are strongly in favour of consultation and co-operation with the voluntary hospitals and that such coordination is their desire.
To give a simple instance, supposing that, under the functions transferred by this Bill, a council wished to start a new rate-supported hospital, I wish it to be emphasised that the Ministry desire that they should first take care by all proper means to ascertain from the voluntary hospital that it is unable to do the work better. If the voluntary hospital can do and is doing the work, and perhaps can do it better, assisted in some way by the council, then it is obviously better that the work of the voluntary hospital should be continued and that this institution should go on as before. It would be wrong to start a rate-supported hospital whose functions would overlap those of the voluntary hospital. This would injure the latter and impair 37 the value of the medical teaching and training, the nursing and medical research which are provided by the voluntary hospital. If the noble Earl could see his way to tell me that attention will be drawn to this point in the circular that will be issued and that it will be made plain that the Government intend that there shall be this co-operation and consultation, then I should be prepared to withdraw the Amendments that stand in my name and accept the provision that is to be introduced.
Page 3, line 39, at end insert the said words.—(The Marquess of Reading.)
LORD DAWSON OF PENN had given Notice to move to add to the clause:—
A council in preparing a scheme under this section shall have regard to the desirability of consulting (a) any body existing in the area which is so constituted as to be representative of the voluntary hospitals in the area, and (b) any body existing in the area which is so constituted as to be representative of the duly qualified medical practitioners in the area, including those on the medial and surgical starts of any voluntary hospitals in the area.
§ The noble Lord said: I understand that it will be for the convenience of your Lordships if we discuss all the Amendments connected with hospitals at the same time, and accordingly, with the permission of the Committee, I will speak to the Amendment of the noble and learned Marquess, because it is cognate to the subject of my Amendment. The noble Marquess has spoken in defence of the voluntary hospitals with his usual force. For my part I do not think that they require any defence, for their work is known and without them medical progress and the progress of nursing would not exist. If they need support it is because of the aid that they can bring to the new hospitals which must inevitably arise. I cannot contemplate that in the future there will be voluntary hospitals alone, for it seems to me inevitable that municipal hospitals must arise. It is true that these hospitals will arise very slowly, but this makes it all the more important that in their early beginnings they should have the advantage of consultation with the great voluntary hospitals that at present exist and should be brought into touch with their traditions. And if that is to occur it seems to me essential that those who do know about voluntary hospitals should 38 co-operate with those who have had no experience up to now and who have had little or nothing to do with curative medicine.
§ In times gone by the medical officer of health was the person and he is now the main person responsible to the council on questions of health. As long as these councils deal with preventive medicine that is a scheme which will work well enough. But the medical officer of health has no knowledge of curative medicine. He is not competent to deal with it. When, therefore, the councils are going to enter upon the founding of hospitals which will steadily grow year by year, it is surely reasonable to suppose that you want to bring to the aid of the present advisers of the councils, to bring to the aid of the medical officers of health, the assistance of those members of the medical profession who have spent their lives in dealing with the cure of disease. I will quote to your Lordships figures if you will allow me. The whole time medical officers of health in England and Wales number altogether 1,740 men, whereas the medical men in England and Wales who are in active practice number 30,000. Is it reasonable to suppose that this great and large work of hospital management into which these councils are going to enter can be undertaken by them without an organic nexus being formed between themselves and those whose lives have been spent in curative medicine?
§ That is the reason why I have put down an Amendment of my own which not only asks, as the noble and learned Marquess has asked, that when a council prepares a scheme under this clause it shall consult representatives of voluntary hospitals, who are very excellent people, very able in administration and very experienced in administration, but that, they shall also consult with the doctors of the district who are competent to deal with the curing of disease. For myself I cannot see what objection there can be to that course. It is quite as easy to find a coherent body of medical men in any district as it is to find a coherent body of those representing the management of voluntary hospitals. Experience of the Poor Law is little or no help in the administration of a curative hospital. The traditions of the Poor Law are quite different. The status of the medical 39 officers is different and they have not had the necessary experience, and therefore experience of the Poor Law may even be a disadvantage in founding a hospital if it is going to approximate to the quality of work of the voluntary hospitals. I would urge most strongly that it would be to the public advantage if, in some way, you can bring the great body of the medical profession in contact with this new work which is going to he undertaken by the councils. Only in that way do I see the progress that is required.
§ It is along the line of hospitals that I see progress in attainment of the health of the people, for in dealing with the health of the people it will be more and more necessary to have institutional provision. Improvement in the quality of panel practice, as distinct from quantity, will depend very largely on the amount of institutional provision. I do not deceive myself by thinking that voluntary hospitals alone are going to be any longer adequate for the medical needs of the country. It is for that reason above all others essential, as I think, that in their early beginnings these council hospitals should get the right tradition and should get the advantage of the long experience which the voluntary hospitals have gained. It is for that reason that I am most anxious that there should be some machinery provided, that it should not be left to the will of the local authority, and that there should be some opinion recorded in the Bill which will not depend upon whether this Minister of Health or that Minister of Health is in office. It should be recorded in the Bill so that, should there come into office some Minister in favour of an entirely nationalised or municipalised medical service for the country, it would make it more difficult for him, with an opinion of this kind recorded in the Bill, to transpose the medical policy of the country.
I urge upon His Majesty's Government that they should find a form of words if they do not agree with the words I have suggested. The words I have put upon the Paper are these:—
A council in preparing a scheme under this section shall have regard to the desirability of consulting (a) any body existing in the area which is so constituted as to be representative of the voluntary hospitals in the area, and (b) any body
existing in the area which is so constituted as to be representative of the duly qualified medical practitioners in the area, including those on the medical and surgical staffs of any voluntary hospitals in the area.
I am not wedded to that form of words, and if the noble Earl opposite when he moves his new clause can find some way of effecting the object which I have in view—an object which, I may say, has the support and the wide support of my own profession—I shall be satisfied, because I am in no way wedded to the form but only to the substance.
§ LORD JOICEY
I think that the question we are now dealing with is one of the most important in the Bill. I doubt whether there is any matter which is looked upon with greater interest in the country than this matter of the hospitals. Owing to the enormous taxation the voluntary hospitals have had some difficulty in getting sufficient money to carry on their good work. I have no doubt that as time goes on it will be necessary for some contribution to be given to those hospitals if they are to continue in the form in which they exist at the present time. I think any one who has had anything to do with voluntary hospitals must realise that the services which they render through the medical profession and the nurses, are such as could not be so satisfactorily rendered by any hospital which was under the control of a local authority or the Government.
In the North of England the wage-earning class take the very greatest interest in their hospitals. Until the serious depression came two or three years ago they contributed to them most liberally. Tyneside, I believe, contributed through the workmen something like £30,000 to £40,000 a year, and representatives of the wage-earning classes were put upon the committees to deal with the various matters likely to come before them. It is not only on Tyneside but on the Wear and in different parts of the Counties of Durham and Northumberland that this great interest is taken. We have there a system of contributing to these hospitals. I may say that the workmen of the company with which I am connected are in the habit of contributing, by weekly sums, between £7,000 and £8,000 a year to the hospitals of Sunderland and the employers make an addition of 10 per cent. The result is that we have a most valuable body 41 of men who take an interest in these hospitals, which makes me thoroughly in sympathy with the speech delivered by Lord Dawson of Penn.
I hope that if the Amendment put forward by the noble Marquess will meet the views which Lord Dawson has stated the House will be disposed to accept it. I think that at the present moment it is most important that we should not go wrong on this question. I am one of those who believe that the voluntary hospitals are doing such immense good in the country that it would be a disastrous thing if their great services were not assisted generously, where necessary. I should certainly be very much opposed to any hospital which could be established either by a local authority or by a Government Department doing anything to interfere with the splendid work which the voluntary hospitals are doing.
§ LORD ATKIN
May I take this opportunity of asking the Minister in charge of the Bill whether he is quite satisfied with the Amendment which he has put down? I venture to suggest to tile House, merely as a matter of drafting, that it is in a somewhat restrieted form. The only obligation which will be imposed upon any council under the clause on the Paper is that they shall make arrangements for securing that the functions with respect to hospital accommodation will be discharged "after consultation with such body, if any, within the county … as they consider to represent the voluntary hospitals in the area." It would seem to follow that if there were no body within the county which could be considered to represent the voluntary hospitals, then no statutory obligation would be placed upon the county council at all, and I venture to suggest to your Lordships that in a good many of the smaller counties it would be impossible to find such a body. No doubt there is a general hospital association, but that is not a body, as far as my information goes, which has county subcommittees, or which can be in any way considered to be representative of the special needs of any special county. It would seem to follow that in this restricted form of the proposed Amendment a county council might very well proceed without consulting with anybody.
42 In the county—a poor county I am sorry to say—with which I am familiar there are three or four, or perhaps four or five, small voluntary hospitals. They are cottage hospitals. I am quite sure they are not united. There is no general body which represents them, and I cannot help therefore preferring the words that the noble Marquess has taken from the Scottish Act, which provides, so far as hospitals are concerned, that the voluntary hospitals shall be represented, without imposing a condition that there must be some body which represents the hospitals as a whole. There seems to me, if I may suggest it, a very much stronger claim which has been made by Lord Dawson of Penn, and which is ignored by the Government Amendment. What Lord Dawson of Penn desires, as I understand, is that a question of the probable extension of the hospital system of this country should not be embarked upon without consultation with the medical profession as a whole. I venture to suggest to your Lordships that it is essential, if this new scheme is to take a real hold and serve a proper part in the future welfare of the country, that it should be done with the good will and co-operation of the medical profession.
It seems to me impossible to conceive a hospital system in which the poor are to have relief for their different ailments and needs, to which the poor will be entitled to come freely and the moderately poor en making payment if necessary—it seems to me impossible that such a scheme could be started, and be carried out satisfactorily at all, unless the medical profession, and the general practitioners, had at any rate some voice, through their proper representatives, in the organisation, or at any rate unless they had been consulted. I venture to suppose that these new municipal hospitals, if founded, will desire, as do the voluntary hospitals, to draw upon the good will and services of specialists and consultants and so forth, and surely it would be right, in proposing such a scheme, that the scheme should be devised in the first place after consultation with the medical profession as a whole. The medical profession is organised. The British Medical Association represents for all practical purposes the whole of the 43 medical profession, and has branches in every county, and there should be no difficulty in carrying out a scheme, whatever form it may take, in consultation with the medical authorities.
The noble Earl in charge of the Bill is willing, I understand, to substitute the words of his Amendment for those of the noble Marquess opposite. All I wish to say, after some experience of voluntary hospitals, is that we are extremely anxious to co-operate with the proposals in the Bill. We have no fear of competition. What we are anxious about is that if any new hospital is started it should not overlap and do the same work as the voluntary hospitals. We do not want money to be wasted in carrying out work which may be done by a hospital set up by the county council across the road. We expect and hope that they will strengthen our weakness, and we hope that we shall be able to help them do their work well. That can only be done, as the Minister for Health said in another place, by consultation not only in drawing up your scheme but in the proper way of carrying it out.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I would like à propos of what Lord Atkin said just now, to make an appeal to the noble Earl to take into consideration in this connection not the type of great urban institution with which Lord Knutsford is so honourably associated, but rather the small cottage hospitals, and hospitals of that type, which are doing invaluable work in many parts of the country today, sometimes under considerable financial stress, but at the same time not merely serving the local requirements in the matter of disease, but also to a large extent assisting the counties in their own administrative work. I happen myself to be not only on the executive committee of the county infirmary, but also the chairman of a hospital of this character in a rural district., and it is only two years age that we were invited by the medical officer of the County of Gloucester to undertake on the premises of our relatively small hospital the work of a clinic to examine school children for various defects of the nose and throat and eyes and similar small ailments, and for their treatment on the premises of our hospital.
44 We put in hand an extension scheme in order to meet these requirements, and I cannot help thinking that if the Government look to what is described as a "body" as the medium of co-ordination between the county and the hospital interests, such a small hospital as that which I represent would be left out of representation on such a body, and that, therefore, the words which the noble Marquess has suggested would be infinitely more apposite to meet the case of the hospital which I have in mind, which is at present doing county administrative work with, I am hound to say, a certain amount of undesirable detachment between the executive of the hospital and the medical staff of the county which has asked us to undertake this obligation. I hope that the noble Marquess's Amendment will receive due consideration on that footing, if on no other, that a so-called" body "does not meet the case of a small rural hospital of the kind that I have described.
§ LORD JESSEL
The clause seems to me a very nebulous sort of clause, and I do not understand, for instance in London, what would be the proper authority. Would it be King George's Hospital Fund, or what? should also like to know whether the Government are going to adopt the view so eloquently put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Dawson of Penn, who pleaded for some representation of all the medical practitioners in the country, that is, that the British Medical Association would have some say in the matter. I hope that the Government will take into consideration the very strong feeling there is on both sides of the House in this matter, and see that the medical profession as well as some definite body of voluntary hospitals, should have representation.
It seems to me that there are three points involved in this discussion. I understand that it is the purpose of the Government to move a clause which they have printed on the Paper, and it would appear that that goes very far to meet the case as urged on behalf of the great urban hospitals, for which the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, spoke, but that it does not meet the position of the small cottage hospitals. One would like the noble Earl to say how far it may be 45 possible to meet the very reasonable objections which have been made on their behalf. The Amendment to be moved on behalf of the Government does not in any way touch the last point referred to in the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Dawson of Penn—namely, the taking into consultation of the representatives of the management of voluntary hospitals and also the representatives of the general practitioners. I hope, in view of the speeches made from all parts of the House, that the noble Earl will be able to tell us that it will be possible for him to meet that last point to some degree.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
When I expressed my satisfaction with the proposals, as I understood them, and with the answer which the noble Earl gave, I was not dealing with the second part of Lord Dawson's Amendment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
In regard to that second part, I would support the view of Lord Dawson, but I did not think we were discussing it at that time. May I ask the noble Earl whether he will consider between now and a later stage, changing these words in the clause which he says he will move later "as they consider to represent the voluntary hospitals in the area." This clause has not been on the Paper until to-day. It is very difficult to consider it. The more I look at these words, the more unhappy I am about them. I suggest some such words as "after consultation with such body as represents the voluntary hospitals in the area."
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
The Amendment moved by the noble Marquess has led to a very interesting and informative discussion of the whole of this Bill as it affects the voluntary hospitals in the country. I think that the method which noble Lords have followed in discussing it all together has been a very convenient one indeed. If I may take the first point raised by the noble Marquess, I mentioned on the Second Reading that it was the desire of the Government to encourage as much as possible the co-operation between local authorities and hospitals, which has had such good results in the past, and from which so much may be expected in the future. 46 I should like to assure the noble Marquess that the object with which the Government and my right hon. friend are mainly concerned is to make the best use of the existing institutions. It has not been from want of sympathy with those objects that the Government have found some difficulty in framing a clause to meet the wishes of noble Lords.
As the noble Marquess said, it was on the question of making statutory provision to give effect to the suggestions that the difficulty cropped up. It has been sought in certain quarters to make use of the analogy of Clause 7 (3), which says that county councils should consider the appointment of members of existing Poor Law authorities on guardians committees. If the hospitals had been organised in the same way as the Poor Law authorities are to-day—that is to say the guardians, the unions—and were statutory bodies defined in law, perhaps this analogy might have been of assistance. But that is not the case. We all know what is meant by a voluntary hospital, but there is no precise definition of such an institution. I remember—and by noble friend Lord Clwyd will remember it, too—that when t he Voluntary Hospitals Commission was instituted, the first thing we had to do was to devise a definition of voluntary hospital and a very difficult thing it was. It was rendered more easy because it was done for a special purpose—namely, the distribution of a Government Fund to certain institutions which were badly in want of money. The definition was arrived at on that occasion, and it worked fairly well, but I do not think it could be used at the present moment, because it did not include such institutions, for instance, as mental hospitals: in the course of the administration of the Fund various other border-line institutions cropped up, and I do not think it would have been possible to use that definition as a statutory one.
Considering that point it seemed that the only way of meeting the wishes of noble Lords was to draft the clause in as wide terms as possible, making it flexible and, therefore, adaptable to every area. It is to be remembered, of course, that the areas differ very largely in administration and in amount, and they differ altogether in regard to their hospitals and their hospital provision. So that we propose in the Amendment which I 47 shall lay before your Lordships later, but which I shall venture to deal with now, following the excellent example of Lord Dawson of Penn, that county and county borough councils themselves be the judges of the bodies which may be represented on the voluntary hospitals in their areas. We propose that they may make arrangements for consulting them.
The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, asked me if it would be possible to emphasise this fact in a circular or by some other means from the Ministry of Health. I am very glad to be able to meet him in that respect. My right hon. friend has authorised me to say that he will use such means as he properly can to bring, by circular or otherwise, to the notice of local authorities the provisions of the new clause that I have put down, and point out to them the desirability of the fullest co-operation with the voluntary hospitals. Under the provisions of the clause which I hope to introduce to your Lordships later, it will be open to the councils of boroughs and counties to enter into consultation with either the local voluntary hospital committees where they are functioning or where they may be resuscitated for the purpose, or with the descendants of those committees—because they have developed in some places, notably in county boroughs and to a very large extent will become hospital councils in some county boroughs—or they will be able to utilise the committees of the British Hospitals Association as they exist at the present time, or as I believe they are shortly to be altered and put upon a committee basis. It will be open, of course, to the local authority to make use of those means.
We have had a speech from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, who asked—and my noble friend Lord Bledisloe said the same thing—what was going to happen about the smaller cottage hospitals; how would they be represented? Take the voluntary hospitals committees. Where they function they consist of representatives of the local authorities, both county and county borough, in the area, of the medical profession, both general practitioners and consultants, of the voluntary hospitals, both of the larger type like infirmaries, and of the cottage hospitals which were referred to by Lord Bledisloe and Lord Atkin. Sup- 48 Posing use is made of the British Hospitals Association Committees, any hospital has only to join the British Hospitals Association, a branch of which exists in each area, and its views will be available for the local authorities through that particular channel.
I have now to mention the very important point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dawson. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, said that he dealt only with the point in his Amendment; he did not deal with the second point of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, so I propose to deal with that at this moment, with your Lordships' permission. The noble Lord, Lord Dawson, has informed me that he proposes to move an Amendment to the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper dealing with this particular question. I think he accepts the Amendment which I have put down as meeting his views regarding the first part of his own Amendment, but he has other suggestions to offer your Lordships regarding the second part. The words of the Amendment which he has handed to me are—and (b) any body existing in the area which is so constituted as to be representative of the duly qualified medical practitioners on the medical and surgical staffs of the voluntary hospitals in the area.In his very eloquent and able speech the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, said that in order to make this consultation between the hospitals function properly, not only must you consult with those experienced in the management of voluntary hospitals but also there should be an "organic nexus," I think those are his words, between the medical profession in the area and the local authorities who are calling the bodies into consultation.
In order to meet that I am afraid I should find it difficult to accept the Amendment which the noble Lord has put on the Paper. But he does not hold himself to those words. He is ready to accept any other form of words which the Government may put forward and which would give effect to the ideas which he has placed before your Lordships. I cannot propose anything at the moment because obviously we have not had very much time in which to deal with the matter, but I shall hope on the Report stage to be able to add to the clause which I have put down, if that is 49 accepted by your Lordships, words which will provide that some of those who are to be consulted, who shall be referred to by the county councils or the county borough councils, shall be representatives of the medical profession in the district. I hope those two together will make a clause which will be acceptable to those of your Lordships who are so deeply interested in and so cognisant of all matters connected with hospitals and their work, and will secure, what we all desire to secure, the close co-operation and consultation with voluntary hospitals in the different districts.
I have one or two words to add. Firstly, on the point which was raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin. There is, or was, a local voluntary hospitals committee in each county. That may not be functioning now. It may be resuscitated or, as I said just now, the work may be done through the British Hospitals Association. As regards the County of Merioneth that was dealt with by the local voluntary hospitals committees in a group of councils for the whole of North Wales. I do not know whether it is functioning at the moment but doubtless it was a very efficient committee as the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, I think will agree. If it was asked to function again I think it would do so to the particular satisfaction of the noble and learned Lord. London is, of course, different from other parts of the country. I should have suggested King Edward's Fund which was the local voluntary hospitals committee for London, as suggested by the late Lord Cave. It was a useful arrangement. I do not know whether that would be the most suitable body. That brings me to the desirability of leaving it open to the county council to choose the particular body which will best represent the voluntary hospitals in the particular district owing to the great variation all over the country in the arrangements regarding the voluntary hospitals. I do not want to delay your Lordships any longer. I think those were the only points. I hope that the clause which I shall be able to move on the Report stage will meet all views which have been heard from every part of your Lordships' House.
I only want to add one word to the discussion. I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and 50 the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, who both said that they were not wedded to any particular form of words. I think it will be sufficiently clear to your Lordships that the Committee is determined that this matter shall be settled in a satisfactory manner, and I hope that the noble Earl will consult with those two noble Lords and will succeed in producing a clause. If Clause 7 is not reached to night I cannot see why he should not produce the Amendment during the Committee stage to-morrow and let us deal with it at once.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I will try. I do not know how far your Lordships will get to-night and it may require a little consideration. I should not like to hurry it.
I appreciate that. I am sure it is quite clear to the noble Earl that we do not profess to have the knowledge of these matters that the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, has, but I think it is clear to the noble Earl that it is the general sense of the House that this matter must be settled in a way which will be regarded as satisfactory by those who know most about it. I have no doubt he will take that warning.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
We are all equally anxious to have the matter settled in the manner the noble Earl has indicated.
§ LORD HANWORTH
Before your Lordships pass away from this matter may I support the plea of Lord Atkin and the noble Marquess [the Marquess of Reading]? The Amendment which is on the Paper in the name of the noble Earl, the Earl of Onslow, appears to me to be drawn in what I might call epistolary language. It may be quite true in writing a letter to say that we had a debate tonight "for securing that the functions transferred to the county council under this Part of this Act with respect to the provision of hospital accommodation will be discharged after consultation with such body" and so on. That might be all very well in a letter, but I agree with the noble Marquess that it really carries out nothing. It is drawn so loosely that it is quite ineffective. May I suggest that something of this sort is what the House really wants? I am not prepared to be precise as to words that would meet Lord Dawson's point, but it is almost im- 51 possible to leave it in that loose way—"will be discharged after consultation." That seems to introduce merely a note of futurity as to consultation; they seem to be entitled to show they have discharged their functions if they merely have that consultation in the future.
Something of this sort is really necessary:The council of every county and county borough shall"—and then you ought to introduce the latter portion of the clause—after consultation with such body within the county or county borough as represents the voluntary hospitals in the area, and anybody constituted to be representative of the duly qualified medical practitioners in the area, make such arrangements as they think desirable.Without some condition such as that put in at the early stage of the clause it is impossible to carry out what the intention of the House is. I merely call attention to this in the hope that the noble Earl will take a little trouble to have this recast. It certainly is very imperfect in its present form.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I propose to withdraw the Amendment, and all the Amendments to this part of the Bill which stand in my name. I do hope that the noble Earl will take the opportunity for consideration as to what language would adequately meet what the House desires.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD DAWSON OF PENN
I would like to follow the example of the noble Marquess and not move my Amendment now, but I take that course in the hope that we may get something more out of the Government than good intentions. I do not want them on the one hand to dissemble to the medical profession and on the other to kick them downstairs. The more I look at the Amendment suggested by the Government the more it seems to fall under that head. It really gives us very little. I do hope that in recasting it the noble Earl will fall in with the excellent suggestion of the noble and learned Lord opposite [Lord Hanworth] and give us something clear and definite, which will bring in contact those who are going to administer and know the work—the people who really know something about it.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.52
§ Clause 5:
§ Provisions as to alternative powers of giving assistance.
§ 5.—(1) A council in preparing an administrative scheme shall have regard to the desirability of securing that, as soon as circumstances permit, all assistance which can lawfully be provided otherwise than by way of poor relief shall be so provided, and accordingly any such scheme may declare that any assistance which could, after the appointed day, be provided either by way of poor relief or by virtue of any of the following Acts as amended by any subsequent enactment including this Act (that is to say)—
- (a) The Public Health Act, 1875;
- (b) The Local Government Act, 1888;
- (c) The Mental Deficiency Act, 1913;
- (d) The Maternity and Child Welfare Act, 1918;
- (e) The Blind Persons Act, 1920;
- (f) The Public Health (Tuberculosis) Act, 1921;
- (g) The Education Act, 1921;
§ EARL RUSSELL moved, in subsection (1), after paragraph (g), to insert "(h) or any other enactment mentioned in the scheme." The noble Earl said: This is a very small Amendment and one I venture to suggest of a very reasonable character. Indeed it is of so reasonable a character that I think If the government not accept it they will convict themselves of unreasonableness. If your Lordships will notice what Clause 5 deals with, in the first part you will see that it deals with preparing an administrative scheme and that all assistance which can legally be provided otherwise than by way of poor relief shall be so provided. That is to say, the object is to touch all possible sources for dealing with unemployment and poor relief. That is the object of the clause and for that purpose it may be provided either by way of poor relief or by virtue of any of certain Acts. Then come seven Acts which are set out. I propose to insert at the end these words: "or any other enactment mentioned in the scheme." It is possible that there may be some Local Act or even some General Act which has been overlooked that might help to provide for an object such as this, which is providing 53 for some of the cases of poor relief. The addition which I am proposing is clearly quite permissive, because it has to be mentioned in the scheme; it is not like the first seven Acts which have to be included. These have to be mentioned in the scheme; and the scheme is subject to the approval of the Minister. I confess I cannot see any sound reason why the Government should not accept the Amendment. I have such confidence in their reason that I hope they will. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 17, at end insert ("(h) or any other enactment mentioned in the scheme").—(Earl Russell.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Earl said that if we did not accept his Amendment we should convict ourselves of being unreasonable. Whether he really was moving this Amendment or one on another clause at the moment I am not sure. The reason why we do not ask the House to accept his Amendment is one the noble Earl would appreciate and one that is not quite so unreasonable as he thought. As far as we know the seven Acts set out here are the only enactments which could be referred to except one, and the one which is deliberately omitted is the Lunacy Act. Your Lordships are aware that under the Lunacy Act a public lunacy authority can only deal with lunatics after certification, but in Poor Law institutions under an earlier section—I think 24 or 25—of the Lunacy Act, a large number of persons infirm in mind but not certified as lunatics are in Poor Law institutions, and if these persons are to be brought within the purview of the lunacy authority they must have them certified, which, I think, would probably be undesirable, or else the powers of the lunacy authority might be extended so as to deal with persons without certification. That is a very controversial alternative.
The noble Earl himself was a distinguished member, if he will allow me to say so, of a very important Royal Commission which has recently dealt with the subject of the lunacy law. It is hoped that before long legislation may be brought forward dealing with the whole question of the lunacy law and based upon the proposals of the Royal Commission. The Government have deliberately thought that it was much more 54 desirable that we should not include the Lunacy Act in these specific enactments referred to in Clause 5, for the reasons I have given, and that the question of taking the lunacy cases out of the Poor Law altogether, which I think is the recommendation of the Royal Commission, should be dealt with when we deal with the Lunacy Acts and when we deal with the rather comprehensive legislation which it is hoped to introduce based upon that Royal Commission's Report. I hope the noble Earl will think I am not quite so unreasonable as he did when he got up to move the Amendment.
With everything the noble and learned Lord has said I entirely agree, but it does not seem to me to have anything to do with my Amendment. I am most unwilling to alter the Lunacy Act until we have that great reform which I welcomed in the observations I made in the Second Reading, and which we are promised in the White Paper will at last be introduced at an early stage. I am most unwilling to interfere at the present time, but it may surely be possible that there is some Local Act or some small Act somewhere in some particular district of the country which might be of use, and what conceivable harm can it do for the Government to give themselves an opportunity, if there is such an Act, of putting it in a scheme? That is all I suggest. If the Government are determined to say that is an unreasonable thing to ask and a reasonable thing to refuse I must leave it at that.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6:
§ Public assistance committee.
§ 6.—(1) An administrative scheme shall provide for the constitution of a committee of the council (hereinafter referred to as the Public Assistance Committee), and may provide—
- (a) for the inclusion therein of persons, some of whom shall be women, who are not members of the council; so, however, that of the whole number of members of the committee two-thirds at least shall be members of the council;
- (b) that any other committee of the council shall act as the Public Assistance Committee, or that the members for the time being of any other committee, with such additional members as may be provided by the scheme, shall so act.
§ (2) Subject to the provisions of the last foregoing section, all matters relating to the exercise by the council of the functions transferred to them under this Part of this Act, except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money, shall stand referred to the Public Assistance Committee, and the council before exercising any such functions shall, unless in their opinion the matter is urgent, receive and consider the report of the Public Assistance Committee with respect to the matter in question.
§ (3) The scheme may provide for the delegation by the council to the Public Assistance Committee, with or without any restrictions or conditions as they think fit, of any of the functions so transferred, except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money, and may provide for the discharge, on behalf of and subject to the general direction and control of the Public Assistance Committee, of any of the functions of that committee by any of the other committees of the council.
§ EARL RUSSELL moved to leave out all words in the clause after "An administrative scheme shall provide for the" and to insert "delegation of the functions so transferred to appropriate committees of the council, with or without any restrictions or conditions as the council think fit, except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money." The noble Earl said: I am afraid that this Amendment is less likely to commend itself to noble Lords opposite. We are inclined to think it better that such delegation to committees as the county councils desire to make should be left entirely free. No doubt it is desirable that there should be a certain uniformity, and the schemes that are presented and introduced will, no doubt, provide for that uniformity, but there seems no particular reason for directing a council in its scheme to set up a committee of a particular kind and constituted in a particular manner. It is surely much better to give these local authorities, who, after all, are elected bodies and therefore have the confidence of the ratepayers in their area, the power to delegate their functions to appropriate committees and to put upon those committees any restrictions or conditions as to exercising their function, subject, of course, to not giving them, the right to raise a rate or to borrow money. I do not quite know why the Government are wedded to the particular form which this clause takes, but we on this Bench think that it would be better to give the councils a reasonably free hand and not to require them to 56 constitute a Public Assistance Committee or any other committee by name, but to leave them to arrange the matter in whatever way they think best. That is the reason why we propose this Amendment.
Page 5, line 15, leave out from the first ("the") to the end of the clause and insert the said new words.—(Earl Russell.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
This Amendment proposes that the powers of the guardians which have been transferred under the earlier part of the Bill shall be distributed among appropriate committees instead of being transferred to one committee called the Public Assistance Committee. This does not seem to the Government either a useful or, indeed, a practicable proposal. There are being transferred a whole block of functions which at present belong to the boards of guardians. The noble Earl proposes that in future these shall be split up among a whole lot of different committees of the councils. This would be a very complicated business indeed and, as we think, it would be much less desirable than the provision which we propose to enact, that a committee of the council shall be constituted for the express purpose of dealing with the functions of the guardians, with power to add from outside such members as may be necessary, up to the maximum of one-third, who will bring local knowledge and expert experience to bear upon these problems.
It seems to us that the plan that we have set out, that there should first of all be a Public Assistance Committee which takes over the functions other than financial of the guardians, and then that there should be a guardians committee which will do the actual local administration of relief after consultation with the Public Assistance Committee, is the practical and sensible means of dealing with the problem of the administration of these functions of the guardians by the council. We feel that it would be much less practical and sensible to try to split up the existing functions among a whole lot of committees and to delegate different bits of them to different existing committees of the council. Further, there would apparently be no provision, such as we have at present, for the co-option upon the Public Assistance Committee of members 57 from outside who can bring their expert qualifications to bear. If you are simply going to delegate to committees of the council, then presumably the committees would consist of members of the council, each of them would have particular functions delegated to them and they would lack the advantage, to which we attach importance, of having co-opted members brought in from outside.
§ LORD PARMOOR
This is a question of administration, and we have to decide whether the proposal made by my noble friend Lord Russell would lead to a better system of administration than the Bill as it stands. There are really two points involved. Is it better to leave to the councils upon whom these new functions have been laid for the first time the power of distributing their business amongst committees of the councils in whatever way they think fit, in order that the business may be carried out in the best manner? That is the proposal made by the noble Earl. There is a further point which, I think, is rather important. The noble Earl's proposal, as I understand it, is that these committees should not consist partly of co-opted members, but only of representative members. I do feel, in reference to the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, that there may be difficulty in maintaining the committees merely from the representative members, and I understand that this is the reason why the system of co-option is suggested. It is, of course, inconsistent with ordinary representative principles and it creates a new phase in local government. I do not think, however, that it is worth while for the noble Earl to press his Amendment, having regard to what has been said by the Lord Chancellor. After all, this is only an administrative question, upon which there may be two opinions, and I gather from the Lord Chancellor that he, at any rate, prefers the system which is already in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD HEMPHILL: moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "may provide (a) for the inclusion therein" and to insert "shall provide (a) for the election thereto." The noble Lord said: The Amendment that stands in my name and those that follow on Clauses 6 and 7 deal 58 with the question of direct representation. The Party to which I have the honour to belong has always been of the opinion that persons who deal with public funds or public functions should be directly elected, and this part of the Bill is, if I may say so, particularly important. Latterly the opinion has grown up that there are super-men and super-women—people who are so constituted that they do not care to waste time by fighting an election and who prefer to be selected. Indeed, we may at some time or other have a super-House of Lords. There will be a super-Lord who is selected by somebody or other who will be superior to all other Lords. This same principle seems to me to be extending. To my humble mind the one thing that appeals is the difficulty that the people who select these super-men and super-Lords and so on are not themselves super-men. I think it is very advisable to consult what a very eminent statesman—who I regret is not present this evening—referred to at one time as the Man in the Street. After all it is the Man in the Street who controls all public bodies and it is the Man in the Street who, a few months hence, will say what is going to happen to the Government of this country.
§ I venture to think that it is very desirable that these Public Assistance Committees should have on them only directly-elected representatives. As it is they are to have the members of the county councils, but members of the county councils, as they are constituted at the present time, are not entirely satisfactory from the public point of view, because I doubt very much whether members of the county councils represent the public to a great extent. Most of the county councils consist of members elected with very little competition. You find in the County of Hereford, for instance, that with 52 members only, four seats were contested. It is unnecessary to weary your Lordships with a long list, but in Northampton, where there are 40 members of the county council, only five seats were contested. Therefore you cannot say that they are very representative. They are not very representative because the only person who can be a member of a county council is a person who has some money and a motor car to get about in and also is able to afford the time. Therefore, not merely the 59 poorer classes but people like solicitors and barristers and middle-class people cannot afford the time. Now you are throwing on the shoulders of these members of the county councils enormous additional work, and who are you going to get to do it? You must have some provision to make it easy for them. Therefore it is extremely important that there should be local representation on these Public Assistance Committees, and the best way of getting that is to have direct election. At this late hour 1 do not propose to detain your Lordships further. I beg to move.
Page 5, lines 17 and 18, leave out ("may provide (a) for the inclusion therein") and insert ("shall provide (a) for the election thereto").—(Lord Hemphill.)
§ LORD PARMOOR
So far as I understand the Amendment in its present form it really amounts to substituting the word "shall" for the word "may." The difference between election and co-option I will not deal with, but in my view the word ought to be "shall" and not "may." To that extent I support the view put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hemphill. The word "may" leaves the matter entirely vague, whereas "shall" determines it definitely and that is the right thing to do.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will try to imitate the brevity of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment. The effect of the scheme in the Bill is to provide for a Public Assistance Committee which may contain up to one-third of co-opted members, added members from the outside. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment wants to substitute for these co-opted members elected members, and later on to have them elected by proportional representation. It is a strange recommendation of a proposal that you should increase the number of elections to say that the elections we have already do not give you representative people; to say that county councils were non-representative because it was difficult to get people to stand, and that therefore you should add to the number of elections and elect even the people who are put on the Public Assistance Committees by sonic method of public election. Of course that would not alter the non-representative character of the county councils. It 60 would not alter the character of the two-thirds who must be members of the county council. It would only involve another special election to find the other one-third of the committee. Our view is that that would be the greatest possible mistake.
You have the county council, which, by this Bill if it becomes law, will be responsible for the financial control and administration of these great functions. You have a committee to which that county council is to delegate its duties other than finance. On that committee naturally the county council must have a majority, which in the Bill is put at two-thirds. Then it is thought that it may be desirable to have on that committee also some people who, to use the noble Lord's expression, have not time to waste on fighting elections to get on, but who would be willing to give their services and experience if invited to do so and thereby strengthen the Public Assistance Committee and add to the weight to be attached to its decision and to the efficiency with which the committee will do its work. To wipe that out and substitute some sort of bastard guardians' election under which members shall be elected who cannot control finance, does seem a retrograde step which would ensure a much less efficient committee and certainly would not be in the interest of democratic government.
§ EARL BUXTON
I think the great fault of this Bill is that it is less democratic and that it diminishes direct representation of those who are entrusted with these matters. We have, at the present moment, in the boards of guardians, directly elected, many thousands of persons, men and women, taking a direct interest in local government especially in regard to the Poor Law and matters of that description. They are all to be wiped away and absorbed in the county councils or county borough councils. Direct representation will, therefore, disappear. That is apparently not a democratic proposal nor is it a democratic basis for this Bill. There is a great deal of force in what my noble friend behind me said, that on the boards of guardians you have people who are directly elected and directly interested in these particular matters. You now propose to have them transferred to the county councils or county boroughs, in which the direct 61 representation is only nominal, and with regard to which the voters, for reasons which have been explained, have little opportunity of expressing their views or of electing those whom they would desire to elect.
I think this Amendment will enable those who are willing to serve to have an opportunity of doing so. When you come to the election of a county council there is very seldom an election at all. It is the natural state of things under present conditions, under which the work of the county council can only be carried on by those who have money and leisure. The result is that the work of the county councils falls more and more into the hands of one class, and also, I am afraid, of one political complexion. I attach no
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "some," and to insert "one-third at least." The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is simply to increase the chances of securing the services on the Public Assistance Com-62
§ blame to the county councils, but that is the result. If you can provide that a section of these committees should be directly elected, instead of being nominated by the county councils, I think it will be a good thing from a democratic point of view, and will secure that these committees shall not be nominated by the county councils and consist of person of the same political complexion. The county councils will also obtain the services of an additional and useful element, which at present they lack.
§ On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64: Not-Contents, 15.61
|Hailsham, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Stanhope, E.||Deramore, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Desborough, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Dynevor, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Chaplin, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Churchill, V.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Elibank, V.||Faringdon, L.|
|Bath, M.||Falmouth, V.||Forester, L.|
|Exeter, M.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]|
|Hood, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore. More.)||Hanworth, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Jessel, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Knutsford, V.[...]||Monson, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Sidmouth, V.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bess-borough.)|
|Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Fortescue. E.||Worcester, L. Bp.||Queenborough, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Riddell, L.|
|Jellicoe, E.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Bledisloe, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L.Sheffield.)|
|Mount Edgecumbe, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Plymouth, E.||Cushendun, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Darling, L.||Templemore, L.|
|spencer, E.||Dawson of Penn, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Arnold, L.||Olivier, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Clwyd, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Cozens-Hardy, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Russell, E.||Hemphill, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Northington, L. (L. Henley.)||Thomson, L.|
|Allendale, V. [Teller.]|
§ mittees of the women who are at present acting as guardians. I hope that that is an object which will secure more benevolent attention from the Government than some of those which we have dealt with to-night. The Poor Law Commission of 1909, so far as boards of guardians generally were concerned, were not able to praise them very highly, 63 but I believe both the Majority and Minority Reports did pay a special tribute to the work of the women guardians, and the Minister of Health in another place has, I believe, expressed the hope that the services of existing guardians will continue to be largely available. Of the 20,000 guardians at present working I believe only 2,500 are women, and I am quite sure your Lordships know the extraordinarily valuable services which women at present perform on the boards of guardians. I apprehend very seriously that under this Bill as it stands there will be very great difficulty in these women being able to continue to do the work which they have been usefully carrying out, and the object of this Amendment, is simply to increase the chances of those services being available. There is nothing compulsory about it, because the Bill states that the administrative scheme "may" provide for the inclusion therein of persons, some of whom shall be women. The Amendment is extremely mild; it simply provides for "one-third" instead of "some."
Page 5, line 18, leave out ("some") and insert ("one-third at least").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I am very sorry, but I am afraid I cannot recommend your Lordships to accept this Amendment, because the effect of it would be to tie the hands of councils in an undesirable way. The extent of the representation of women on any committee depends largely upon the number of women who may already be on that committee in the capacity of councillors. There may be quite a large number of women already acting as elected councillors. There is another objection. If you put in this "one-third" you insist that one-third shall be women, and only one-third, though it may be desirable to nominate more.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. That objection, therefore, would not apply. It would be possible under his Amendment to appoint more than one-third. Still, for 64 the reasons I mentioned, I think it would be undesirable to tie the hands of the council. They are bound under the Bill to appoint a certain number of women, and it should be left to them in their schemes to determine the number.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I regret to hear the noble Earl's answer, because he mentioned on the Second Reading that there were nearly 2,500 women guardians.
§ Loan PARMOOR
2,319 women, who were admittedly doing admirable work in Poor Law relief on the boards of guardians at the present time. I think it is fanciful to suggest that putting in a figure like one-third as a minimum would tend to decrease the number of women who would be likely to give their services in the future on these new bodies. I am disappointed by the noble Earl's answer. I think the Amendment is an extremely reasonable one, and, in accordance with past history, there ought to be a guarantee that at least as many women as are mentioned in this Amendment should be on the new body. I suppose, however, we have to accept the noble Earl's answer under the conditions.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTH-WARK
I agree with the noble Lord. I fear that, as things stand, it will mean that a large number of women who are now serving admirably on boards of guardians will not have the opportunity of serving on the new committees. I wish very much that the Government would re-consider their decision.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Among the 2,319 women guardians there is a considerable number who are already councilors.
§ LORD ASKWITH
I am inclined to support the Amendment. There is a good deal of feeling that the women have not sufficient chance under this Bill, and that many devoted workers who have practically given their lives to assistance in this matter have little or no chance of continuing the work they have done, or of training others. Moreover, if your Lordships carried the next Amendment on the Paper, standing in the name of 65 Lord Thomson, whereby the number of persons who are county councillors would be five-sixths instead of two-thirds of the committee, the chances of women would become still less, because the majority of county councillors are men. To ask that one-third of these committees should be women is only reasonable and fair.
|Hailsham, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Onslow, E.||Bledisloe, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Spencer, E.|
|Stanhope, E.||Cushendun, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Deramore, T.|
|Wellington, D.||Desborounh, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Bath, M.||Allendale, V.||Faringdon, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Bertie of Thame, V.||Forester, L.|
|Chaplin, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.]|
|Airlie, E.||Churchill, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Elibank, V.||Northington, L. (L. Henley.)|
|Cranbrook, E.||Falmouth, V.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuech and Queensberry.) Iveagh, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.|
|Hutchinson, V.(E. Donoughmore.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Strachie, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Knutsford, V.||Swaythling, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Sidmouth, V.||Templemore, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Askwith, L.[Teller.]||Olivier, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Balfour of of Burleigh, L. [Teller.]||Parmoor, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Riddell, L.|
|Southwark, L. Bp.||Clwyd, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Cozens-Hardy, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Arnold, L.||Hemphill, L.||Thomson, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ LORD THOMSON moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "two-thirds" and insert "five-sixths" The-noble Lord said: It is evident that there is a widely held opinion in favour of having the elected element in these Public Assistance Committees as strong as possible. As these committees, so far as I can gather from the Bill, do not travel around the county but remain rooted to one spot, there should be no difficulty in manning them with county councillors. Therefore, there seems no particular point in having the co-opted members as strong as one-third. I agree that some co-opted members are necessary, but why so high a proportion as one-third? It is to meet the general view that the elected element ought to be strong that I placed this modest Amendment on the Paper to increase that element from two-thirds to five-sixths on the Public Assistance Committees. I beg to move.66
§ On Question, Whether the word "some" shall stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 45; Non-Contents, 16.
Page 5, line 21, leave out ("two-thirds") and insert ("five-sixths").—(Lord Thomson.)
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I venture to hope that your Lordships will not accept this Amendment because it will hamper the use of co-option considerably. The proposal which we have made is that there should be two-thirds in order to give a clear majority of county councillors. So long as that exists, and so long as there is a clear majority of the elected element, surely one should give as much opportunity as possible for securing the services of those who are not able to stand for election and become county councillors and yet are ready to give their assistance to these committees. I venture to hope, therefore, that your Lordships will support the principle which exists in the Bill and will not accept the Amendment which the noble Lord has moved.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ House resumed: To be again in Committee on the Bill to-morrow.