Ministry of Health.

Civil Services and Revenue Departments Supplementary Estimate, 1921–22. – in the House of Commons on 27th February 1922.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1922, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Health; including Grants and other Expenses in connection with Housing, Grants to Local Authorities, etc., sundry Contributions and Grants in respect of Benefits and Expenses of Administration under the National Health Insurance Acts, 1931 to 1921, certain Grants in Aid, and certain Special Services arising out of the War.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

The Supplementary Estimate, which I have to present to the Committee is for the sum of £10. This Vote, which the Committee will recognise, is a token vote, arises from the fact that we have, during the financial year 1921–22, with the consent of the Treasury transferred the sum which was surplus to the Estimates for that year to meet excess expenditure on public health and on housing materials. Savings have been made in the central administration, housing, and health insurance, and a sum of about £3,800,000 represents the surplus to the Estimate. We ask the Committee for consent to make use of £1,587,000 of this, in order to meet expenditure which I shall presently explain. There will remain, the Committee will observe, a net surplus provision of £2,200,000, which, of course, will be surrendered to the Treasury at the end of the financial year, out of which sum no less than something like £2,000,000 will have to be revoted in the Estimates of next year in order to deal with the private builders' subsidy. The surplus of £3,800,000 is, roughly,, made up as follows. There is a saving of £365,000 on central administration due, very largely, to considerable reductions in staff, rendered possible to some extent by the restriction of the housing programme. The next large element of saving is £2,100,000 on housing. This arises, not from any stoppage of the assisted scheme for local authorities, but from the fact that, owing to the, delay in obtaining legislation for the extension of the private builders' subsidy, the number of houses completed by 31st; March, 1922, under the subsidy was fewer than was anticipated. Of course, it is not a net saving, because these houses are being built and will be completed at a later date, and the money for them will be required in the next financial year.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I do not understand those figures. The right hon. Gentleman is dealing with anticipated savings, I understand, which will make it necessary to vote only £l0. Amongst other sums he read out was £2,000,000 of anticipated savings on housing—I am not grumbling at all about those savings—whereas the whole anticipated saving is set down as £1,586,000.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member has not quite seen the point. The saving is merely a transfer of the money from the one Vote to the other, and the sum of £10 is put down for the purpose of Parliamentary convenience, as otherwise we could not have any discussion. There is a saving of £1,350,000 on National Health Insurance. That is partly due to sickness benefit claims being less than was anticipated and partly through savings on the reduction of the doctors' remuneration, which resulted from the last negotiations and came into operation as from 1st January, 1922. The saving for this financial year under that heading is £250,000. There is an additional sum required of £514,000 under the sub-head of tuberculosis. It is required, first, because there was an under-estimate when the Estimates were made out of the amount required for balance of grants in 1920–21 of £200,000, and an under-estimate of the balance of grants required for 1921–22 of £250,000; and there is an increase required in grants towards capital expenditure of £64,000.

Under the present system of the tuberculosis grants the State provides half of the approved net cost of the local authorities' expenditure. The local authorities receive an advance of a portion of the money due to them, and a year later they receive the balance. These periods do not quite coincide with the financial year period, and the result is that the Estimate is apt not to agree with the total amount at which the grant finally comes out when it has to be paid. That explains the difficulty of framing the Estimates very closely. Owing to the large increase of the costs during these periods for maintenance, for keeping patients and so on, the grants were larger than had been anticipated. Under the system we are adopting for next year of stereotyping the grant paid the year before, it is hoped that under-estimates will not take place again. There is another small amount for the Welsh Board of Health under the next Sub-head, Q4, the Committee will see that the original Estimate was £32,000, and the revised Estimate £55,000, and that the additional sum required is £23,000. This arises largely under the heading of maternity and child welfare. It represents unforeseen increases in the expenditure of local authorities on account of the supply of milk to necessitous mothers during the coal strike and during the present serious period of unemployment. I am not complaining that local authorities have spent more money on milk for the necessitous at such a time.

Another item in the Supplementary Estimates arises in connection with the purchase of housing materials. The revised Estimate shows an increase of £800,000 over the original Estimate. I need not go back into the history of the Department of Building Materials Supply. It was begun originally under the Ministry of Munitions for the purpose of buying bricks, slates, and other materials for local authorities when housing schemes were started. It then passed into the control of the Ministry of Health, and I have been engaged in liquidating it since I accepted office. The scheme had its justification when it was commenced. It was part of the attempt to get our industries going on demobilisation, when practically all the brickyards of the country were out of commission and building materials were almost non-existent. Although it may be said that better figures might have been reached, yet if you look at the whole thing in a large way it will be agreed that if no steps had been taken by the Government prices would have risen even higher than they did rise, and building would have been even more difficult than it was. I have been engaged for a considerable time in cancelling a number of the contracts for bricks not now required under the restricted housing scheme. Local authorities on more than one occasion have expressed the view that they can buy more cheaply if left to buy for themselves, and although that may not always be the case, yet I am in favour of local authorities adopting what they think is the best procedure for themselves.

Photo of Sir Percy Hurd Sir Percy Hurd , Frome

What is happening to the stocks?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

They are mainly being used up at competitive prices or in some cases are being re-sold to the makers by private sale on the best terms that we can obtain. Cancellation of the contracts has not been an easy matter. It calls for careful and intelligent negotiation. On the whole, I think the trade has met us very reasonably. Considerable numbers of the contracts have been cancelled without compensation. Others have been cancelled on terms. All these calculations have taken place with Treasury approval. I have devoted a considerable amount of my own personal time to this matter since I took office, because I was very uneasy on the subject from the first day I became Minister of Health. There were enormous obligations for years to come. I am glad to say that we have managed to liquidate these large commitments on what I regard as very reasonable terms, and the amount I am asking the House now to grant for compensation, namely, £250,000, is by no means unreasonable considering the size of the contracts and the number of transactions involved.

Mr. T. THOMSON:

Is the whole of the £250,000 for bricks?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

It is practically all for bricks.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

How many bricks has the right hon. Gentleman on hand now?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

We shall have about 20,000,000 bricks on hand on the 31st March. They will be handed over to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission. We have also commitments for light castings for about £40,000. The value of the stock being carried over to next year, excluding bricks, will not exceed £100,000. We have cancelled 177 contracts for 142,000,000 bricks without any compensation. We have cancelled 197 contracts in respect of 336,000,000 bricks with compensation, and we have cancelled about 73 contracts in respect of 31,000,000 tiles, of which 69 are without compensation. There are also about 90 miscellaneous contracts. We have got through the bulk of the work, but still have about 20,000,000 bricks to hand over. It is not a very large number, and I have no doubt we shall be able to dispose of them in reasonable time.

Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman will have to ask for another Estimate when he has disposed of these bricks?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I hope not. I should like to see what the bricks fetch before giving a definite answer to that question. Everything depends on the prices realised.

Dr. MURRAY:

Why is compensation paid in one case and not in another?

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

The compensation was given in the case of the Scotch firms; the English firms did without it.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

It depends on the terms of the original contracts.

Photo of Mr John Wallace Mr John Wallace , Dunfermline District of Burghs

Of the total value of the contracts cancelled, what percentage is represented by this £250,000?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I will make a note of that question, and obtain an answer. Of course, the difficulty is there has been a very large fall in the price of bricks. We have had to deal in this matter with large trade organisations which have realised that the Government had to economise, and have consequently met us fairly well. I have some figures here showing the variations in prices. In the early part of 1919 the lowest price of bricks was 58s.; in 1921 the highest price was 72s.; now it is about 65s. There have been ups and downs during the period, but some of the earlier contracts became far more favourable when prices went up.

Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

Had the bricks been produced or not?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

In some cases there are actual stocks which the manufacturers had to take back, but in many cases the contracts were forward contracts and the bricks had not been produced. We should, however, have been legally bound to take them over under our bargain, and therefore it was only a question of cancelling a legal obligation on the best terms we could secure. I think I have covered fairly fully the various points in the Supplementary Estimate. I shall, of course, be very pleased to reply on any further point which hon. Members may raise in the course of the discussion.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £5.

I am exceedingly obliged for the statement which has been made. The right hon. Gentleman has given us very voluminous information with respect to the various activities of his Department and in justification of the Supplementary Estimate which he has just presented to the Committee, but I have no doubt that, after a discussion, much more information will be forthcoming. Having regard to the position which has been set forth such further information is abundantly necessary. I want to refer briefly to the item under the head of the Treatment of Tuberculosis. The right hon. Gentleman informed the House that the grant should have been £250,000 more than it was in order to make up for the expenditure which has been incurred. I am not going to complain about the additional expenditure on the treatment of tuberculosis. I view with considerable regret suggestions from any quarter that some reduction should take place. As a matter of fact, the expenditure on it is altogether inadequate at present. A large number of men have been discharged from the Army who are suffering from tuberculosis and are claiming attention at the hands of the various committees interested in this subject. The waiting lists among the civilian population are heavy, and the sanatoria throughout the country are quite insufficient to meet the demands from the civilian and military populations. Again, too much of this expenditure is wanted and we do not get as much advantage from the money spent as we ought to. In the near future in addition to providing more sanatoria accommodation we want to secure a national scheme of after-care treatment, because until we get some systematic plan for after-care treatment we cannot hope to obtain the full benefit of the money we expend.

I desire next to say a word or two in respect to the item relating to the purchase of housing material and compensation for cancellation of contracts. It was somewhat in the nature of a surprise to hear the right hon. Gentleman claim that his Department had saved £2,500,000 on housing. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to tell us that this £2,500,000 was not actually saved, but that it represented money which would have been spent if the housing policy of the Government had been proceeded with, for then it would have been handed over in subsidies to the builders. He also told us that this sum of £2,500,000 had been otherwise used for the activities of his Department. That is equivalent to saying that by taking a shilling out of one pocket and putting it into another you are making a saving. I was also interested to hear that £250,000 had been saved on the sickness benefit and by the reduction in the remuneration of doctors, but again that that has been used in other Departments of the Ministry of Health. In respect of the item for the purchase of housing material the right hon. Gentleman intimated that this was part of the policy inaugurated a few years ago under the Ministry of Munitions, but I venture to suggest that the policy which has been pursued in respect of the purchase of building materials by the Ministry of Health has no relation to the policy pursued by the Ministry of Munitions, and I will suggest that if the same policy had been pursued by the two Ministries the need for a Supplementary Estimate would have been very largely unnecessary. Obviously, if the prices of any articles are regarded as excessively high—that is to say, articles required by the community in any direction—it is the duty of the Government, as custodian of the public well being, to take such action as will reduce those prices and bring any advantage accruing therefrom to the community.

The Ministry of Health did not move in that direction. It operated in an exactly opposite direction, for it stiffened the prices of articles on the market. The Ministry went into the market to purchase building material at a time when prices were admittedly high. They had definite reports as to what was causing the inflated prices of these building materials. I have here a volume containing the whole of the Profiteering Committees' Reports—a complete list of about 50. I find there are about seven Reports by the Committee dealing specifically with bricks, sand, lime, slates, stone, and internal fittings of houses. These Reports indicate that sand had increased in price by 214 per cent., lime by 263 per cent., cement by 204 per cent., kitchen ranges 320 per cent., rain-water pipes 317 per cent., sinks 388 per cent., baths 159 per cent., tiles 275 per cent., drain pipes 261 per cent., York stone 464 per cent., bricks 178 per cent., and plasterers' laths 405 per cent. These Reports were issued in the latter part of 1920 and early in 1921, and despite the knowledge thus in the possession of the Ministry we find they went into the market and spent £4,000,000 in the purchase of building materials, the result of their action being not to bring prices down, but to operate in an exactly opposite direction.

The right hon. Gentleman said that his policy in this direction was similar to that pursued by the Ministry of Munitions. I challenge straight away the accuracy of that statement. When the Ministry of Munitions found that they were being penalised by being asked high prices for particular articles, they started manufacturing those articles. Speaking in this House on the 15th December, 1915, the Prime Minister declared that by following that policy £15,000,000 had already been saved. The right hon. Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison), speaking in June, 1917, said the activities of the Ministry of Munitions had been such that they were producing an explosive at 8½d. a, lb. for which the Government had been charged Is. 9d. per lb. The Secretary for India, who was then Minister of Munitions, on the 8th August, 1916, estimated that the Department over which he had control at that time had saved £41,000,000 upon lead, tin and spelter, while the present Postmaster-General, who was then Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Munitions, stated that they had succeeded in bringing down the price of the Lewis guns from £112 to £80.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I take it that these examples are cited in order to illustrate the policy which the Ministry of Health might have adopted. The hon. Member is not entitled to go into that matter at greater length.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

I am sorry if I have enlarged too much upon that point, but I desired to illustrate that what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the Ministry of Munitions and the Ministry of Health having the same policy could not be substantiated by the facts of the case. We on this side say that the policy which was followed by the Ministry of Munitions for the purpose of providing those things which the country needed in war time should also have been followed in the provision of those things which the people need in peace time. The provision of houses was, and is, just as necessary in peace time as munitions were in war time, and we should have no complaint to make if the policy of the Ministry of Munitions had been followed in regard to securing and providing building materials. As it was, we had Ministers talking upon public platforms in the country about houses for heroes, and at the same time we had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreditch engaged in endeavouring to carry out an impossible policy, with the profiteer and the moneylender on his back. When the penalty for that was discovered, the right hon. Gentleman was superseded, and the present Minister of Health took his place. He at once put up the shutters at the Ministry of Health, and put outside the label, "Business suspended pending alterations"; and he is in the position of standing at the door intimating to the public that there is no admission, that there is no more work to be done in that Department. His greatest concern is not the person who wants to get work done and to improve the health of the community, but rather the person who gets in the way and is not particularly anxious whether anything at all is done or not.

The price which the Ministry of Health in these circumstances has given for building materials has determined the price of the houses, and has made the housing scheme an absolute impossibility. Every £100 that a house costs entails an interest charge of £6 a year, and if the Ministry of Health had adopted, in securing these building materials, a reasonable policy, the policy which they ought to have adopted, they could, on a fair Estimate, have reduced the cost of those houses by £200 per house. That would have in volved a reduction in interest charges of £12 a year—the rent of an average house in pre-War days—and the tremendous national charge which is now upon the Exchequer of £10,000,000 a year to meet the financial responsibility upon those houses could have been reduced by at least one-fifth. When those houses had been erected at these exorbitant prices—due in the main to the high charges for building materials—it was decided by the local authorities, and recommended by the Ministry of Health, that preference in regard to those houses should be given to ex-service men, and, to the credit of the local authorities of the country be it said, they acted upon that suggestion, and those houses that have been erected are largely occupied by ex-service men. I see in a Report to which frequent reference has been made during the last few days—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I do not think that the disposition of the houses, who are the tenants, etc., and so on, can fall within this Vote.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

Am I not in order in referring to the price of houses and the rents which accrue owing to the price of materials?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

This is an Estimate for certain excesses in connection with tuberculosis, maternity and child welfare, purchase of housing materials, and compensation to contractors. The hon. Member has been perfectly in order in referring to the cost of housing materials and the method adopted by the Ministry of Health to obtain housing materials, and he will be in order in referring to the terms on which the contracts were liquidated; but I do not think he can go beyond that ambit into a general discussion of the housing question, the rents to be charged, and so on. He must connect it with one of the items set forth in the Estimate.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

Is not the hon. Member entitled to discuss the policy which led to the payment of £250,000 for compensation to contractors?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I think that is so, but I think the hon. Member was going somewhat beyond that into questions of policy with regard to rents and with regard to the class of persons to whom the houses were to be let.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

I suggest that the price of houses has been somewhere about £1,000 per house, and that that has been very largely caused by the price of building materials. The price of building materials has been adversely influenced by the policy of the Ministry of Health, and they have here an Estimate of £4,000,000, with an addition of £800,000, for the purpose of paying for those building materials to-day at their inflated price on the market, which ultimately determined the price of the houses and the rents that have to be charged. The result of the financial burden upon the houses does not finish there. There are higher rates on the assessment, and higher water charges. In the case of houses which have been built in my own division under the scheme of the Ministry of Health, nearly £4 a year is being imposed for domestic water charges, and, with the rent in the region of £20 a year, the extra rates and the extra water charges, these ex-service men, burdened as they are with these high charges, are wonder—ing what they have done that that penalty should be imposed upon them, and the bulk of them would like to clear out of the, houses, but they are unable to find accommodation elsewhere. That is the result of the policy of the Ministry of Health which has forced up the price of building materials. We do not on this side of the House like destructive criticism; it is not usually in our line. We like to get things done. Some of us have done our bit in the direction of public health administration, and we thought that any little that we could do in this direction might be useful to the right hon. Gentleman's Department. None of our assistance, however, is wanted; no help is required. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman does not want to do anything; he wants to suspend operations in this direction; but the penalty that we are putting on the next generation will be found, and the gospel of economy, if it be a gospel of economy, that is responsible for this proceeding, will come back upon us with compound interest in the form of further expenditure.

Now I turn to the last item in the Estimate, namely, the £250,000 paid to contractors. We gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that that is in respect, not of contracts for building houses, but of contracts for the purchase of bricks. We also find that he has 20,000,000 bricks at the present time on hand, for which, presumably, these in flated prices have been paid. What a policy—or rather, what a lack of policy—stopping the erection of houses and going on purchasing bricks, and purchasing them at inflated prices! The landlords of the country have done exceptionally well out of these housing schemes, and the makers of materials, according to these Profiteering reports, have not done altogether badly—

Mr. J. JONES:

Labour has not done well. There are 100,000 building trade workers out of work.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

We were to erect houses—houses for heroes—and we claim—

Mr. J. JONES:

We are building mansions for "profiteeroes"!

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

The landlords sold their land to advantage, and the makers of materials did exceptionally well, according to these Profiteering reports. I would ask if anything has been done by way of negotiations between these con- tractors and the right hon. Gentleman's Department? Is it an unreasonable suggestion to make that the Ministry of Health might have adopted another method? The right hon. Gentleman has adopted the method of giving something for nothing. We should not have adopted that method; we should have brought the Department into touch with the contractors, and should have said, "Look here, the price of bricks upon the; market is falling, and, having regard to the fact that the contract with you was made at a certain price per thousand, will you permit us to set aside that figure and let the contract stand at a reduced rate?"

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but there are one or two things that I should like to say with regard to that. Firstly, I do not know how we could cancel a contract without being in touch with the contractor. Secondly, as I have pointed out, a large number of these contracts were cancelled without compensation; and, thirdly, I do not know how the hon. Member is going to get a man with a profitable contract to surrender it for nothing, except by that charm of manner which he, perhaps, possesses.

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

I will answer that promptly. If any negotiation has taken place between the Ministry of Health and those firms who made contracts to sell bricks at high prices, and if that negotiation has failed to lead to an amicable agreement, and those firms desire to hold the Government by the contract—with the patriotism that is characteristic of those who sell bricks, but not of those who make them—that is no justification whatever for the Government putting its hand into the taxpayer's pocket and taking out £250,000 to pay to those contractors who have declined to meet the Government in view of the changed conditions which prevail in the commercial world at the present time. I feel that the Government are not altogether anxious on this matter. What they are doing in respect of the payment of compensation to contractors is only on all-fours with what they are doing in other directions. We on this side of the House used to be stigmatised as a set of people who believed in sharing out. The Government appear on this policy to be the people who are doing the sharing out. First it was the railway companies; then it was the colliery proprietors; then it was the farmers; now it is the people who make bricks for the community. Something for nothing is the policy of the Government all round, and, so far as this Department is concerned, since the installation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, if I may say so respectfully, the general policy of the Department has been-hopeless, helpless and futile, and cannot be described as being a sound public health policy for the nation at large.

5.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

The hon. Member who has just sat down ought, really to have considered why it was that this Supplementary Estimate is necessary. He explained that it was necessary owing to the exorbitant cost of material for-building, but he did not say how that exorbitant price originated and what it was in the first instance that started the disastrous policy which has resulted in this Supplementary Estimate. May I refer him to a pamphlet published by the" Labour party in 1918, entitled "Labour and the New Social Order"? In that pamphlet he will see laid down word for word the exact policy which has produced this Supplementary Estimate, a policy which was adopted by the right hon. Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison). That policy was that a gigantic national housing scheme should be undertaken, that it should be carried out by municipal authorities, and that the money provided for carrying it out should not be raised by those local authorities but should be at direct charge on the taxpayer, so that those who raised the money should have-nothing to do with the spending of it-The right hon. Gentleman arranged that nothing more than a penny rate should come on those who were responsible for spending the money and that everything beyond a penny rate should come upon the taxpayer, so inevitably, as I have pointed out again and again, he produced a corner in the market for building material, and not only in the market for building material but in the market for building labour. He introduced into a market where supplies were already very short, indeed a customer determined to buy to any extent, at any price, and with apparently infinite financial resources.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

Am I right in understanding that the hon. Member's state- ment is that I originated the 1d. rate policy and the policy of buying material in this way?

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

My statement is that the policy of the Government, as carried out by the right hon. Gentleman, was to make those who were responsible for the spending of the money not responsible for raising it. In those days the right hon. Gentleman's heart beat as one with the heart of the Prime Minister, and it is therefore very difficult to disentangle what policies are to be attributed to him and what to the Prime Minister. This policy was proposed and laid down in that pamphlet published by the Labour party. It was insisted upon in a further pamphlet called "Labour and Reconstruction," published just before the Armistice, and that policy was adopted—it may not have been by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but, at any rate, by the Government, and he had to put it into effect, with disastrous results, of which this Estimate is, I hope, the final outcome. I should explain that when there is a shortage of any commodity in the market and someone comes along, apparently with endless funds, determined to buy any amount of the commodity at any price, what commercial people call a corner is produced, and the price mounts up day by day. We saw it in the case of bricks. I myself was building at that time when the right hon. Gentleman's policy began to take effect. Bricks went up week by week in price, cement went up, and every sort of building materials went up, and an Estmate of this sort becomes necessary under these conditions when the market is very fluctuating and it is impossible for anyone, however experienced, to know where he is going to land next. Not only did he make this corner in building material, but he also made a complete corner in labour in the building trade. Not only did the price of bricks go up to exorbitant heights, but the price of laying them went up even more in proportion. I have seen within my own experience men in the building trade deliberately making the cost of houses so much more than it need have been that they have added, in some cases—one particular trade has added as much as Is. 3d. a week to the rent of a house in perpetuity—deliberate slacking and deliberate increase in the cost It does not become hon. Members opposite connected with the building trade to accuse builders' merchants and those who provide the raw material for building of profiteering. They profiteered, undoubtedly. They formed rings of various sorts to rig the market, but there is nothing, no dishonesty, no unpatriotic deed, no greediness of profiteering that any merchant in the trade has ever perpetrated that goes beyond what the building trades themselves have perpetrated. They have formed rings just as much as the brickmakers or those engaged in supplying any other building materials. They have deliberately put up the price of housing against the working classes. They have deliberately subjected the taxpayer to an infinitely greater burden, and of all these empty cupboards and cold hearths the building trade operative is responsible for quite a large proportion. £10,000,000 per annum of the taxpayers' money, which means the money of the industrial workers in the long run, is being thrown away year by year to pay for this costly experiment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and for the deliberate restriction of output of the trade operatives. Therefore, common shame might keep hon. Members opposite silent instead of pretending, like, the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers), knowing the whole time that it is a mere pretence, that Labour has assisted in any way to solve the housing problem. Again, the hon. Member spoke of landlords making money out of housing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] May I explain to the hon. Member, and to those who say "Hear, hear!" that it is just possible they know absolutely nothing about the situation. I can say this from my own experience. The only difference between myself and hon. Members opposite is that they have talked a very great deal of foolishness about housing, whereas I have actually done something to house the working classes. As far as the price of land is concerned, I may tell the hon. Member what he probably does not know. What can he know about the price of land? I was purchasing land for housing schemes in my district before the War, and I was purchasing subsequently, and I was able to get excellent land in every way for housing the working classes at a lower price after the War than before it, and the experience of friends of mine who have endeavoured to solve the problem instead of talking about it has been exactly the same as my own.

I do not deny that municipalities buying land have probably had to pay high prices at times, and for this reason. The right hon. Gentleman opposite set up a Land Valuation Department which was going to examine his tenders, and see whether they ought to be reduced or not, and he had pretty considerable powers to make a reduction. Obviously then if a land owner had land worth £200 an acre, when the municipality offered to buy it for a housing scheme the market asked £400. The right hon. Gentleman's Department went into the question very carefully and reduced it to £300, and he went about boasting of the hundreds of thousands he had saved. The thing was notorious throughout the suburban districts. Hon. Members opposite talk as if they were in the habit, in those far away days when they used to do useful labour, of refusing to accept high wages, as if the ordinary workers, particularly hon. Members themselves, did not take absolutely every penny they could lay their hands upon and buy everything they wanted as cheaply as possible. Is there any reason to suppose that any hon. Member opposite has not all his life, and will not continue for the rest of his life, to take every penny he possibly can for his labour —his contribution to the price—or any other thing he has to sell I They get up and say, "Observe the profiteer. Observe the man who makes bricks. People offer him £3 a 1,000. He accepts it instead of saying, 'No, I could sell these bricks for £2 15s. if I were only honest.'" What is the good of hon. Members talking nonsense such as that? They do not appreciate what is at the bottom of Estimates like this. It is their public policy that produces this result and leads to this expenditure. I have referred them to two publications of their party in which they lay down these principles which have led to this Supplementary Estimate and have led to the complete breakdown of the Government's housing scheme. After all if men spend the whole of their time in endeavouring to become rich and completely fail in that object, surely that -does not justify them in setting up to he financial experts and dictating to us, who presumably had the same desire and have succeeded, exactly how the finance of any Government scheme should be conducted. I leave hon. Members opposite with that little night thought.

Mr. J. JONES:

We have the opportunity in this House sometimes of listening to lectures delivered more or less with good intentions. At other times we are listening to the prototypes of the dismal Dean, who generally set out with the object of trying to teach their grandmother the way to suck eggs. We on these Benches do not pretend to be political economists. All we know about economy is that we have always had to practise it because we belong to the class that generally have to earn their breakfast before they can eat it, and they generally see more dinner times than dinners. May I remind the hon. Member who has just condescended to sit down that some of us have not spent our lives trying to get rich. We have tried our best to escape being so poor as not to be able to fulfil our proper responsibilities. I live in an ordinary working-class cottage and have never lived anywhere else, so I know something about the housing question. In our district it is not a housing question, but a warehousing question. The hon. Member has been able to commit an act of voluntary sacrifice and give up a mansion to live in a cottage; I can congratulate him upon the experiment. He will probably in a few years from now begin to understand what it is that the ordinary workman is up against in the matter of the housing problem. The ordinary workman living in an ordinary house has to face all the responsibility of paying all the costs that you people talk so glibly about. He pays for everything—the man who produces everything. He is the only one who can pay. Therefore, there are many people in this House who pay for nothing, although they are always grumbling about what they have to pay. We of the Labour party are being lectured perpetually because we point out that the workers are the last people and the first people who have to pay all the increased costs that may be placed upon the country in consequence of any policy that may be pursued.

The hon. Member went out of his way to lecture the building trade in particular. I am a member of the building trade. I happened to be a builder's labourer before I became accidentally a Member of Parliament. Of course, it was an accident that I became a Member of Parliament, just as it was with a lot of other people, who are now being shoved out faster than they came in. I want to remind the hon. Member that we in the building trade have had a certain procedure by which our wages were fixed. For years and years we have had a Conciliation Board. This House believes in Conciliation Boards for the fixing of wages, the regulating of conditions of employment, and the making of arrangements between employers and employed. For over 30 years we have had such an arrangement in the building trade. Does the hon. Member say that that is a wrong policy? During the War we were controlled practically by a court established by the Government in order that the War might be properly conducted to a satisfactory issue. I challenge the statement of the hon. Member, and I say that the building trade has not controlled its own wages. Although there was a shortage of workmen, and although we had the power to take advantage of our economic opportunity under the law of supply and demand, we did not do so.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

The hon. Member does not understand that the question of the rise and fall of wages is not merely a question of money values, but a question of the amount of work done in return for wages. When the Conciliation Board has finished with the job of fixing the money value of a bricklayer's wage, the-bricklayer decides whether he will lay a really honest toll of bricks per day or only one quarter of what he might honestly lay.

Mr. JONES:

That old statement has been made so often that it is about time it got its death knell. I challenge the hon. Member to say why it is that if that statement is true that the master builders, and those who have made the statement, have not been prepared to accept the challenge of the Building Trade Federation for an inquiry into the matter. I do not want to say that the workmen are all angels, but they are just as less devils as the other people. So far as wages and the conditions of employment are concerned, the workmen and the employer for over 30 years in the building trade had a mutual arrangement whereby these matters were settled. How can the workmen, therefore, be charged with taking advantage of the nation in certain circumstances? We are told by the hon. Member that we limited production.

Mr. JONES:

Who limited production first? What is the curse of the building trade? What is the curse of casual employment to-day? It is the fact that a man is never sure of a day's work, and the result is that he thinks that by hanging on for a time he will guarantee longer employment. That is the curse which creates the problem. If the hon. Member and those who think with him will try to solve that problem of intermittent and casual employment, they will encourage the working man to work, instead of discouraging him, as the present-day conditions do. Through the building trade guilds, we, of the building trade, because we are in control of them, have reduced the cost of production of houses by about 15 per cent. That is because the workers have an interest in their employment, because they have a guaranteed week and full wages for their work, and because they know that nobody is taking advantage of them. In the building trade guilds we are carrying on work in a most highly scientific and practical manner. The Government have given £250,000 of public money to contractors for doing nothing. The Government thought that they would save £1 by giving away 10s., and the result was that men had to go on to the unemployment exchanges and receive 15s. per week unemployment pay, which is not counted against the £250,000. Then the hon. Member puts up his hands in holy horror and says: "Please, Sir, it is not my fault; it is the fault of the other fellow." Is not the hon. Member one of them? Whatever the Government has done, he has their ticket in his pocket.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

I have not, I must deny that allegation.

Mr. JONES:

I only want to say that the hon. Member at the last Genera] Election was one of the candidates that ran against the workers.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

I must really protest against these expressions.

Mr. JONES:

The hon. Member may say that he is not one of them, but people cannot deny their parentage by saying that they are not their father's sons. The fact remains that every time the Government has been in trouble we have discovered the hon. Member, although he attacks the Labour party, generally walking into the Lobby with the Government.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

That, again, is not true.

Mr. JONES:

I am not particularly interested in the virtues which the hon. Member may possess, but I am more particularly interested in the virtues he does not possess.

Mr. JONES:

We are attacking the policy of the Minister of Health because at the present time he is not a Minister of Health but a Minister of bad health. Attempts are being made to place full responsibility upon the late Minister of Health, who has resigned office.

Mr. JONES:

That shows that when you have been elected to support the Government and you do so, you turn round when something goes wrong, and, say that one man is responsible for the policy, and that the whole of the Government is not responsible. Either you meant to build houses for the people and to make England a land fit for heroes to, live in, or you were telling lies to the people at the last General Election when you said you were going to do these things.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

I have never said anything of the sort, either by implication or by words.

Mr. JONES:

I cannot imagine the hon. Member ever saying anything worth listening to in that particular respect. The hon. Member denies anything he has ever said.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member in order in accusing other hon. Members of lying? The hon. Member knows absolutely nothing whatever as to what I said or what I have not said at the General Election or elsewhere.

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

That is not a point of Order. The hon. Member made a speech in which he referred at some length to hon. Mem- bers on the opposite side of the Committee and he should not misunderstand the reply.

Mr. JONES:

I am sorry that I have not had an opportunity of education equal to that of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and therefore possibly I do not understand the English language as they do, being an Irishman. When hon. Members opposite start throwing bouquets about, they must not be surprised if rhubarb is thrown back. We are not prepared to accept the suggestion that we are out to rob the nation while they are out to enrich it by taking all the advantage they can of the necessities of the people. We have protested against the policy of the Minister of Health in the matter of housing because we know what the effect of that policy is. The building trade today are proving by their own organisation that they are able to provide houses on a reasonable basis, taking present-day facts into consideration. Why have not the Government supported the building trade guilds as much as they have supported the contractors? Why have they not given to the building trade guilds the same amount of financial support they have given to the contractors? Why have they not given to these social experiments for productive capacity the same support that they have given to private individuals, who are simply out to make profit out of a public necessity? It is because we are set up against the policy that has been pursued in the matter of housing by the present Minister of Health that we are supporting the Motion for a reduction in the Vote.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

I will endeavour to bring the Committee back to the subject matter of the Vote. The hon. Member who moved the reduction was apparently under the impression that if the Government had manufactured the building materials themselves this Vote would not have been necessary. The experience which everybody has had in regard to what happens when the Government enters into business has been absolutely to the contrary. Whenever the Government has gone into business—I am not speaking about exceptional cases during the War—in the ordinary way of becoming manufacturers or retailers or anything of that kind, the result has always been a loss. Therefore, the remedy suggested by the hon. Member seems to me to be a very unfortunate one. The only result would have been that instead of having to find £800,000 we should have had to have found a great deal more.

I should like to ask the Minister of Health whether this £800,000 for the purchase of housing materials, etc., is likely to be exceeded. Is the £800,000 likely to meet all the obligations? Apparently we shall have to find the money to meet the obligations of a mistaken policy, but I should like, to know whether there will be any further sums to be found. When we come to the question of compensation to contractors it is very difficult to give an opinion as to whether or not the sum mentioned in the Vote is reasonable. When you have entered into a contract with a man, if you want to get out of that contract you must pay the man something for doing that. Whether or not the Government have paid a proper sum is another matter altogether. I could not gather from the right hon. Gentleman what was the actual percentage paid to the various contractors. [HON. MEMBERS; "Ten per cent.!"] If that is so, it is not unreasonable. A contractor having entered into a contract and expecting that he is going to make a profit, if the Government have paid him 10 per cent. I do not think that is a very unreasonable amount. Even supposing he was able to resell his bricks at a higher price than the Government paid, he was entitled to something in respect of the contract.

The statement of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson) is true, that where you have a willing buyer determined to buy at any price and at any cost a limited supply of articles, the price of those articles must go up. That is what took place in regard to wages in the building trade. I am not complaining about the men. They had a right to say that they would not work except on certain terms, but I am not sure that they were right in refusing to allow others, ex-soldiers, to enter into the building trade and to work. That is a different matter altogether, and I think they were wrong. I have yet to learn that contractors combine together to refuse to allow some other person who wishes to work to do so. So far as these matters are concerned, there is not very much to say against the Government. I cannot be supposed to be an out and out supporter of the Government because I say that.

In the treatment of tuberculosis there is a very large increase of nearly 50 per cent, on the original Estimate of £1,210,000. We are told that this is caused owing to the expenditure on treatment having proved to be higher than was anticipated. If so, the Estimate must have been a very bad one, and we should have some reason given for this large increase. An hon. Member said that he thought a great deal of money was wasted on this, and I think that probably that is so. I am not in a position to say that the treatment of tuberculosis carried out by the Ministry of Health is producing any good results. The medical profession, like all other professions who are interested in keeping up their work, no doubt are very anxious that the State should undertake, at the expense of the taxpayer, these experiments by which they should learn their work. That is natural, but I am not sure that it is in the interests of the taxpayer to incur all these expenses unless we are certain that the result is going to be beneficent. We are told that the savings under other heads amount to £1,586,000. The right hon. Gentleman gave no explanation of that. We should be told how these large items are arrived at. The Debate wandered rather widely over the subject before the Committee. Still it has been important, and we ought to have someone present to answer these questions.

Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:

We all agree that one of the most crying needs is to have more employment and more houses and it is somewhat ironical that the £250,000 figuring in this Vote is to give us less employment and fewer houses. We have arrived at an absurd position when the Department which is supposed to exist for the provision of houses asks for money which will defeat the securing of those houses. The Minister has said that it is necessary to cancel the contract. Why is it necessary to cancel the contract? Were more bricks bought than were deemed necessary for the original programme presented by the Government or more than were necessary for the 500,000 houses which the Prime Minister said are essential to make good the needs of the country? Surely is not the fault of the Supplementary Estimate to be found in that strange policy which the Government have so unfortunately initiated? Would not it have been far better to spend this £250,000 in providing more houses rather than to scrap houses and to make for unemployment? The Minister has said that business firms have to cancel contracts. They cancel contracts when they do not want to take delivery of goods, but no one suggests that we do not want houses and do not want bricks.

I returned last week from my constituency, which is typical of many others. Since 1919 there have been 3,375 applications for the houses and only 415 have been supplied. A deputation is coming up this week to see the Minister of Health to get leave to build more houses, which will mean more work, and yet we are here voting to compensate contractors because we do not want any bricks. We are living in a fool's paradise. What is true of one district is true of another. The London County Council wanted originally 29,000 houses. Now they have been satisfied with a little more than 7,000. The evidence on all hands is that we want the bricks and that it is folly to spend this large sum of money to get rid of what we want. It is true that they may have been bought at a high price, but surely, without paying a huge sum for compensation, it would be possible to make a re-arrangement of price. It is true that where obligations have been entered into for some time ahead some compensation must be paid, but if the right hon. Gentleman were controlling his own business and did want something—he wants the bricks—he would not pay £250,000 for nothing. He told us that a great many of the bricks have not yet been made. The greatest charge in the manufacture of bricks is for coal and labour. Surely, since the price of coal has come down and the price of labour has come down, it would have been possible to enter into negotiations with these contractors and to say: "We will take your bricks, because houses are still needed, but in view of the fall in wages and in the price of coal, you will meet us in this case of national emergency."

I believe that in the case of other trades that has been done. Contracts have been revised owing to the extraordinary alteration of the position. Where former contracts have not been entered into, subsidiary to the main contract, and this would be the case in reference to most of the bricks, there would have been no difficulty whatever in reducing the amount and coming to some reasonable arrangement. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) supports the economics of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), but, surely, they were based on a fallacy. The hon. Member suggests that the original programme of the Government was wrong, because they were making an unlimited market for a limited supply. Has he forgotten that when these contracts were made the business world was taking 90 per cent. of building material, and labour and housing was only taking 10 per cent. Surely, the price was fixed by the major demand. Surely, the 10 per cent. for building and labour, which went on the building of houses, could not fix the price for the other 90 per cent. which was used in ordinary industries for the erection of factories, motor garages, and so forth. Manufacturers, anxious to get rid of Excess Profits Duty, were enlarging factories, warehouses, and workshops, and were putting up the price of building materials and of labour.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

I do not know where the hon. Gentleman gets his figures. It is a revelation to me that 90 per cent. of the building was being done for purposes outside of houses.

Mr. THOMSON:

If the right hon. Gentleman refers to answers given to questions put to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour, for 1920, he will find that the amount of labour employed on houses was little more than 10 per cent. and that the building materials required and used, as shown by the Returns given, bear about the same proportion. I admit that the whole theory, from my point of view, depends on a percentage, but I thought that it was generally admitted that the great majority of the building material, steel, iron, bricks, mortar, and cement, and also labour, was in the earlier stages, in 1919 and 1920, devoted to industrial concerns. That was the case in my particular district, and it is the experience of other Members of the House, and these points should be borne in mind when criticising the Government for taking exceptional measures to meet an emergency period. When we have this shortage of work and of houses we should not scrap contracts and pay £250,000 not to have delivery of material which we require urgently at the present time.

I do hope that the Minister will even yet think better of this policy which he has initiated of curtailing these houses, which he was prepared to have built, realising the tremendous need which exists for these houses and the fall in prices which has taken place and which is not confined to Government Departments. It is suggested that because the right hon. Gentleman has gone to the Ministry of Health the prices of building have fallen. His going there happened to coincide with the general fall in prices. Was it because he has become Minister that the price of steel has fallen from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent., and the prices of wool, leather, and all world commodities have fallen? It was not because the right hon. Gentleman became Minister of Health, and it was not because of this change of polity on the part of the Government that the prices of labour and building material have fallen. This fall has happened to coincide with a world-fall in the prices of food, clothing, and everything else. Now that prices have come down surely the right hon. Gentleman should look with more sympathy on the needs of the country for more houses, so that this 20,000,000 bricks which he has in stock and wishes to get rid of shall be put to a good purpose in providing these homes for heroes of which we heard so much a few years ago, and of which we see so little at the present time.

The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London takes exception to the large increase in the Estimate for the treatment of tuberculosis, and naturally so. Some of us naturally rejoice that this money is being spent on what we believe is a real economy, because we know that the treatment of tuberculosis is yet in its infancy, and, from the evidence which is available, those of us who have been attempting to deal with the problem in industrial areas believe that for every pound spent now on the treatment of tuberculosis in its earlystages there will be a saving from £8 to £3 in later years. Valuable work is being done. I hope that the Minister will be encouraged to go on, so that in this way real economy may be achieved and that the unemployment, disease and ill-health which follow tuberculosis if left unattended may not fall upon us in the future. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will encourage the local authorities and will see that the experiences of various towns are not lost sight of, because, unfortunately, we are but in the initial stages of the treatment of this disease, and it is therefore all the more necessary that the experiences of local authorities in dealing with this question should be collected and statistics compiled, in order to see how the money would be best spent. Experience so far, goes to show that it is far better spent in the treatment of the early stages, rather than in building up sanatoria and large establishments, and spending it on bricks and mortar on a huge scale. It is better to deal with the disease in its earlier stages, by domiciliary and dispensary treatment, following that up by a sympathetic and systematic after-care policy. In that way much might be done to wipe out this white scourge. I hope, when framing the Estimates next year, the Minister will make liberal provision in this respect and achieve a real economy by measures of prevention against this scourge. I wish to ask him how it is that the grant for maternity and child welfare centres in Wales shows a much bigger increase than that for England. I do not grudge to our Welsh friends what they have got, but I begin to wonder whether England is not coming off second best.

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

The hon. Member is going a little wide now. It would be better to get nearer the actual question before the Committee.

Mr. T. THOMSON:

My point is that there is an increase of nearly 100 per cent. in the amount of money devoted to maternity and child welfare work in Wales, and I am anxious to know whether the same liberal consideration has been given to local authorities in England in administering this most excellent work. The Minister has referred to the coal stoppage, but the coal stoppage was general, and unemployment has been general, and I hope the excellent work of local authorities in England is not to receive less sympathetic or favourable consideration than has been extended to the local authorities in Wales. I am satisfied it is a work that should be encouraged, and the right hon. Gentleman is to be congratulated on having had the courage to withdraw the unfortunate Circular sent out soon after he took office, curtailing considerably the activities of local authorities in this respect.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

I am glad we have once more the privilege of the presence in the Committee of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. During his absence one or two very important questions were asked, of which I have no doubt the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir Kingsley Wood) has taken note. Nearly the whole of this discussion has been directed to the question of housing. With the exception of one or two sentences, nothing has been said about the treatment of tuberculosis. I agree with the Mover of the Amendment—if I am not misinterpreting him—when he says that he doubts whether for the vast sums of money which we are spending on the treatment of tuberculosis we are getting full value. I very much doubt myself whether we get anything like full value, and this is a matter which we should look into, because the increases now being asked for are very heavy. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is asking in this Supplementary Estimate for an increase equal to 42 per cent. of the whole original Estimate for the treatment of tuberculosis, and he is also asking as a Supplementary Estimate for no less than 12 per cent, of the original Estimate for maternity and child welfare administration in Wales alone. I expect the reply of the right hon. Gentleman will be that this is merely keeping a bargain with the local authorities. No doubt during recent years great pressure has-been brought to bear on local authorities to act, very often in a direction which they did not consider the best or most expedient for dealing with this particular question. But these increases are all the more curious in view of Circular No. 182 which was issued by the former Minister of Health now sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. In regard to the treatment of tuberculosis, in that Circular he said: Cases where schemes have been approved but work not commenced should generally be postponed. He also asks for a reconsideration of the present schemes of dealing with this grave scourge, and as regards maternity treatment and child welfare, he said: Every effort should be made to reduce the cost of maintaining the existing centres. In spite of that Circular, we have these very large increases, and although my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) welcomes them, we have to remember that not only are they large increases on last year, but that last year's Estimates were very large increases on those of the year before. In 1920–1, £754,000 was spent on the treatment of tuberculosis and £800,000 on the maternity side, which is to say that in the treatment of tuberculosis the cost in one year was doubled, or more than doubled. It is quite clear there has been a very great expansion in the expenditure on these particular services. I do not in the least grudge expenditure of this kind, nor, I am sure, does anybody here, but we have to make up our minds as to whether or not it is wise expenditure. In April last year, the Insurance Committees gave up their work in connection with sanatorium benefit, and a great many of the Committees issued reports of their experiences of the previous 8¾ years during which they had administered that benefit. Nearly all these, reports showed that the results of sanatorium treatment were extremely disappointing. Even in the case of the non-insured, the better class, this was so, and the death rate at Midhurst was enormously high. The Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health said: The sanatorium, as it has often been worked, has not yielded its full value, and in some instances has, without doubt, in this and other countries, been a failure. I am merely speaking as a layman, from figures, but there are hon. Members present who are technical experts on this question, and who will be able to give their opinion. There is no doubt, however, that according to statistics, the death rate from tuberculosis fell most rapidly in the years before institutional treatment began. In 1912 sanatorium benefit began. In 1913 it was getting into full swing, and in 1914, when it was in complete working order, there was an increase in the death rate from tuberculosis, and from 1914 until 1919 the death rate went up steadily. If you take the period of the War, leaving out the male population altogether, you will find that during the War there was a continuous increase in the female death rate from tuberculosis until, in 1918, it was higher than it had been during any year since 1901. For women I find that the lowest death rate on record was in 1913 before any of this treatment commenced. Then we only spent £117,000 upon it.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

The hon. Member is referring to the years up to 1918.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

Yes, up to 1918. We find that the highest death rate recorded in this century was in 1918, when we spent five times the amount which we spent in 1913. I am not attacking this expenditure on tuberculosis. I merely mention these facts which seem to prove to me that under the present system of spending that money we are not getting full value for it. I hope my right hon. Friend will look into the whole question of the present system of expenditure in this direction. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough raised another point. In the Geddes Report the Committee recommend the total abolition of the Welsh Board of Health, but we find here there is an enormous increase in the amount required for maternity schemes in connection with that Board. The other Boards are not asking anything at all additional for the particular item which, in the case of the Welsh Board, shows such an increase. The Geddes Committee point out that it would be perfectly easy to transfer the functions of the Welsh Board to the Ministry in London, and that to do so would effect a saving of £40,000 a year. In the present state of our finances, my right hon. Friend should very seriously consider whether he cannot save this substantial sum in administration. I only heard this morning that the Chairman of the Welsh Board, whose agreement is expiring in a day or two, has had that agreement renewed until 1926 Considering that an important Committee has given the opinion that the Welsh Board should be abolished, it is not right that before this House has had an opportunity of saying whether they agree with the Committee or not, the Chairman of this very body should have an extension of his agreement until 1926. [HON. MEMBBES: "When was that done?"] I am told it was done a day or two ago, and the right hon. Gentleman will contradict me if I am wrong, but I believe it is going to appear in the papers to-morrow. Those are all the points I wish to make, and I hope on the most important question of tuberculosis treatment, the right hon. Gentleman will look into the facts carefully and see whether we cannot secure full value for the large sums we are being asked to expend.

6.0 P.M.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

The Supplementary Estimate of my right hon. Friend has called forth some very interesting observations, not the least of which are those of the hon. Member who just sat down. I agree with him and with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury)—and I said so often when I occupied the post of my right hon. Friend the Minister—that we do not get the value of our expenditure on tuberculosis, nor do I think we ever shall until the present system is supplemented by a more considerate after-care scheme of treatment and observation. On that I would like to ask my right hon. Friend a question. He is well aware that when I occupied his position certain arrangements were in contemplation with regard to the training of patients in the post-sanatorium period, or, at any rate, towards the end of their stay in the sanatorium. Does the Supplementary Estimate, here presented, contain any provision for training men towards the end of their stay in sanatorium? As a matter of fact, what happens is, that only too often the men come away from the sanatoria and get back to the adverse home conditions and are quite unable to enter the labour market, with the distressing competition that falls upon them, and sooner or later they go down again. That is why it is useless to give additional sums of money for the treatment of tuberculosis and at the same time cut down the money for dealing with slums. It is simply a contradiction in terms. It is no doubt a fact that a large proportion of the unfortunate people who go from the sanatoria, if they go back without any further training for an alternative occupation to their previous ways, in some crowded street—

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

I am wondering how far a general discussion on the treatment of tuberculosis would be in order at this stage. This I understand to be a Supplementary Estimate arising from grants to local authorities. That is a policy, and that has been settled. It is now only a question as to whether these grants should be given. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to the grants to the local authorities he would be in order on this Supplementary Estimate, but I do not think it would be in order now to discuss the general policy which the House has decided.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I would point out, with great respect, that the details of the Supplementary Estimate contain these words: Special grants towards the cost of schemes undertaken by local authorities. The schemes to which I have been referring up to the present are exclusively undertaken by local authorities, and it goes on to say: With the approval of the Minister for the treatment of tuberculosis generally. The point I am making is that an approved scheme should contain within it arrangements for after care and treatment, and I am asking the right hon. Gentleman whether the additional £514,000 asked for does apply to such schemes. I wish him to bring out to what extent this system of after care has been adopted and to what extent it is represented in this Estimate. With regard to my second observation, it referred to the £250,000 compensation to contractors. That compensation, of course, arises out of the provision of housing, and my point was that it is no policy to spend large additional sums on the treatment of tuberculosis on the one hand if, on the other hand, you cease to seek to improve the homes in which the people live. However, I know as a matter of fact that the policy of the Ministry is, as far as they can, to proceed with these after-care schemes, and I am glad to see, notwithstanding recent animadversion in a very wide section of the Press, that even the Geddes Committee blesses the health scheme and does not seek to Curtail it.

I come, however, in the main, to the last two portions of this Vote, and in connection with Item F4, "Purchase of Housing Materials (Re-vote)," I would have been tempted, had he been in his place, to make more observations than I shall on the remarks of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson). If his superior air were only equalled by his information, it would be very useful to the Committee, but I believe that every statement he made was inaccurate. He made, if I remember right, three statements—and they related to the policy which is here dealt with—first, that I had originated the purchase of materials, and that that had landed the House of Commans in having to vote £800,000. When I challenged the hon. Member for Mossley, who I am glad to see has now returned to his place, he hesitated a little before replying, and perhaps, to warn him not to make definite statements again before he has ascertained the facts, I may tell him something about this Vote, and why it is that the Committee comes to have to vote this sum of money. I do not agree with the Mover of the Amendment (Mr. Myers) that the conditions after the War were such that the same methods could have been applied to building materials as were applied to the provision of materials for munitions, because only the Government wanted munitions, but a great many other people wanted building materials, and therefore it could not have been possible for one set of men to know all that was required; and here I come to the hon. Member for Mossley. He said that the Minister of Health, going into the market to make these contracts, immediately forced up prices. In the first place, the Minister of Health did not go into the market. The purchases were not made by the Minister of Health, but by the Minister of Munitions. That is the first point on which he is wrong, but the main point is that the bulk of the materials at this time, when prices were rising, were used and were required for commercial and industrial buildings other than houses. I do not know whether it was as much as 90 per cent., but at all events it was by far the greater proportion, and they absorbed by far the greater part both of the materials and of the labour in the whole of 1919 and 1920, so that the hon. Member's statement that we produced the corner is grotesque and inaccurate.

I may say that the origin of this Vote—and I think it is as well that the Committee should know it—was that this matter was considered during the War, and a scheme was produced based upon what would certainly happen after the War was over, namely, that there would be a great scarcity of materials, especially bricks, and that, therefore, the right thing to do was to encourage their production locally. A scheme was worked out for encouraging their production locally, and in December, 1918, or January, 1919, that scheme, which was worked out by people who were in the trade, and who knew it thoroughly, was set on one side by a Committee, and this wholesale purchase of materials by the Ministry of Munitions was substituted. The hon. Member may be interested to know that Sir Eric Geddes was Chairman of that Committee, but, at all events, that particular proposal did not emanate from the Minister of Health, so there again he was wrong. We did our best to carry it out, of course.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite understood what I was saying, which was that the policy of the Government did introduce into a short market a customer prepared to buy to practically any extent, and therefore it produced a corner. The mere fact that the greater part of the building material was being taken for commercial building made it easier for the right hon. Gentleman to produce that corner, because it produced the shortage, but the fact that there was in the market a customer who was determined to buy produced the corner, and therefore forced up the prices.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am well aware of what happened. There were a large number of customers in the market. As a matter of fact, the purchases made in 1919 were not very considerable, but there were vast numbers of customers in the market in 1919 and 1920 who were prepared to give 5s. or 10s. per thousand bricks more than anybody else in order to get bricks, and they were very anxious indeed to buy. I quite agree, of course, that a Government Department coming in with a massive order must inevitably have forced up the prices, and that is one of the reasons why I recommended the other scheme. However, we did our best to work the scheme, and the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Health finds himself compelled to come to the Committee to propose this Vote, having himself done his best to work the scheme, and he knows that I got hold of it and was so dissatisfied with some of it that I tried to get rid of it, and he has followed that process.

The main point of this Vote, however, is this £250,000 compensation to contractors, and it is the policy there embodied that I want once more to say a word or two about, because we now have, happily, some figures. I notice that, although we were told in July, 1921, that not a house less would be built and that the trade was to be employed to its fullest capacity, there were as a matter of fact, in July, 132,000 men unemployed in the building trade, and on the 31st January that figure was 176,000, while on the 10th January it was 168,000. At my own request I have been supplied by the Ministry of Labour regularly with the figures of unemployment in the building industry, and I say that it is this policy largely which has produced the augmentation. There was unemployment before, and we were told that it was because there was a shortage of plasterers and that therefore they could not employ other people. As a matter of fact, in January there were no fewer than 7,422 bricklayers out of work, and the July number was 3,000. Unemployment in the other trades was similarly augmented. As a matter of fact, there were 48,000 skilled men out of work in July, and 75,000 skilled men in this trade out of work on the 31st January.

The Minister of Labour, the other day, was asked what these men were paid, and his reply was that they received £105,000 a week out-of-work pay in various ways. We all know that the men, certainly in the building trade unions—bricklayers and others—are also receiving benefit from their trade unions. Then the unemployed unskilled men are receiving assistance from the guardians to supplement what they are getting from the Unemployment Fund. I have made inquiries as to the figures in different districts, and it is certainly a fair statement to make that the average assistance which these men are receiving is from 10s. to 15s. a week each from other sources—the unions or the guardians—beyond what they get from the Unemployment Fund. That is to say, there is being paid at the present time in respect of unemployment in this trade, out of public moneys or in contributions from their fellow-workmen, £200,000 a week. That is the lowest computation. There are 40,000 additional men out of work, mainly through the termination of contracts or the non-renewal of contracts by this policy. Instead of calling it 40,000 men, we will call it 25,000—again an under-estimate. We certainly paid in unemployment pay, assistance from the guardians, and otherwise since July to men additionally unemployed in this trade, £750,000 at the very least.

Let us carry this out a little further. Those men on the present scale of relief from the guardians, from the Unemployment Fund and trade unions will absorb at least £2,000,000 during the next 12 months. Entirely apart from promises that have been broken, and the public need for houses, and that sort of thing, taking it simply as a matter of arithmetic, this policy since July has certainly involved an additional payment to unemployed persons of £750,000. It has involved this payment of £250,000 in cancellation of contracts, and we are spending additional money now to unemployed in the building trade, in consequence of this decision, at the rate of £2,000,000 a year. All these are most conservative figures. That is what this policy means in terms of cash. It is not very economical when you come to look at it like that. It is true it does not appear on the Votes of the Minister of Health, and my right hon. Friend is not in the unfortunate position of having to answer for them. It will fall in the general mass of expenditure for which the Minister of Labour will have to be answerable under the Unemployment Act, and upon boards of guardians, trade unions and otherwise. No doubt it disappears from the books of the Ministry of Health, and unthinking people might imagine that it disappears as public expenditure, but it does not. Let us take this a little bit further, because these men at the present time are receiving all this money for doing nothing. The price of house-building has fallen very much. I think the credit is clue neither to myself nor to my right hon. Friend for the change which took place during my time and during his. According to figures supplied by the right hon. Gentleman, I understand that houses can be built now for about £500.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I will give my right hon. Friend £50, and call it £500. When these houses were built the cost of borrowing the money, in the main, was about 6½ per cent.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

How does the right hon. Gentleman connect this part of his argument with the items of the Vote?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

My point is that this is an expensive and uneconomic policy. I was going to put the other side of the case to show that this was costlier. The point was that when this money was borrowed it cost 6½ per cent. We are now able to get it at 5½ per cent., so that the loss which the Exchequer will have to bear will be reduced proportionately. A house costing £500 with money borrowed at 5½ per cent, will cost, say, £30 a year, and, adding something for the land, drainage, fencing, and so forth, we will call it £35, or, say, £40—let us be generous. The average rent which the Ministry of Health fixes is about 10s. a week, or £26 a year. We will call it £20 a year. According to the right hon. Gentleman's own figures, the loss on that house, at the present rate at which money can be borrowed, at the outside would be £20 a year. In the building trade you may say it takes two men a year to build a house. At the present time if those two men are kept out of public funds, one way or the other it costs about £120 a year. That means that if you put those two men who are now drawing £120 a year out of public funds on to building houses you could have a house for six years for nothing. That is what it comes to on the right hon. Gentleman's own figures.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

This will not go on for ever, but the houses will.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

It has certainly gone on since last July. In my view, it would be a wiser policy, and it would certainly be in accordance with our pledges—we put them on one side, as they do not seem to matter—it would, at any rate, be a wiser policy, and a more sensible policy, to allow a reasonable number of these houses to continue to be built, even if they result in a loss of £20 a year, than to pay the two men required to build a house at the rate of £120 a year for doing nothing. It certainly would be better policy in the interest of public health. It would be better policy even if the whole of the money were spent, not in building new-houses, but in patching old ones, as suggested by my hon. Friend. It would be better public health policy. It would be better in the interests of tuberculosis, and it would certainly be more economic than the payment of £120 a year to two men for doing nothing. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman is doing his best to carry out a policy, which, as a matter of fact, he did not originate, which has resulted in the payment of £1,000,000 to men for doing nothing, and is producing no good in the last 12 months, and which, in view of the public need for houses, and the reduced prices of building, is a policy which is condemned, and I believe myself that if outside indications are anything to go by, it is a policy of which, in the long run, the country will not approve.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

The Debate has proceeded for some considerable time, and my right hon. Friend who has just spoken (Dr. Addison) has devoted the major portion of his speech to a calculation which I am afraid has little to do with the Estimate now presented, and on which I have addressed the House. Whether or not it is wise or otherwise to go on building houses, whether or not it is cheaper to pay people unemployment allowances or to subsidise the building industry, are interesting points for discussion perhaps, but nobody in their senses would go on with a brick contract at prices which the local authorities cannot afford to pay. The cancellation of the brick contracts are quite apart from the larger questions involved. I therefore do not propose to follow my right hon. Friend into his calculations—assuming that his figures are accurate Some of the points he has put forward are the very reasons why the present scheme has had to be curtailed, and then we must not forget what the Geddes Committee have reported in connection with this matter. My right hon. Friend does not do himself justice in this matter, and he does me less justice still when he implies that action of mine is responsible—

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

No, I did not say that I said I did not wish to claim credit.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Criticisms on the building programme which my right hon. Friend instituted, and which seemed to be supported by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough West (Mr. Thomson) are very well, but, after all, no economic platitude can do away with the facts. I trust that in due course we shall get this matter put on a satisfactory basis; that we shall get houses back again to an economic level. What, in some of these matters, we require, is firmness as purchasers against unscrupulous profiteers. When the building industry once more becomes normal and houses are put up at economic rents which people can afford to pay, then, in the long run, everybody will be rather better off.

Several points have been put to me by the hon. Member opposite. We have not been able to find any money for the purposes he mentioned in the money at our disposal. It is quite probable that all the money spent on sanatoria has not been spent to the best advantage, but I want to point out that in criticism of that sort, made, not unnaturally, as to the increase of both Supplementary and original Estimate, that a very much higher percentage has been brought about by the large increase in the cost of material and food than in any real or great development of the services. In regard to this treatment, I do not think anybody, perhaps, considers that it is very much more than a sort of intermediate method of treatment until medical science really discovers a cure. But important work is being done. Still, until medical science can be more sure, I imagine we shall have to go on and get what results we can by sanatoria treatment. I hope the after-care treatment will develop. I would like to say here that that work is carried on to a large extent by voluntary effort due to the present financial stringency. I hope we shall not always be so badly off.

There appear to have been many suspicions of our action in paying compensation for the cancellation of the brick contracts. It may be that hon. Members are labouring under a misapprehension and think that no attempt has been made to see the contractors or to come to any reasonable compromise with them. As a matter of fact, I think I have explained that, not only were we dealing with individuals, but in most cases we were dealing with large federations of building trade manufacturers in the north of England whose operations covered large areas. Most of the bar- gains were made on a flat rate with a representative of the association concerned. My hon. Friends of the Labour party may some day have to form a Labour Ministry which, I have no doubt, will involve filling the post which I now occupy. [An HON. MEMBER: "We will get there all right, do not worry!"] Doubtless they will do well, but I imagine they will find themselves up against the difficulties that we are up against. Take the case of the brick contract for 100,000,000 bricks at 75s. How would they go about a matter of that kind? They could not tell the man that they would not now take the bricks off his hands and ask him kindly to cancel the contract. If they had been fortunate enough to induce the person concerned to cancel the contract without consideration, they would have been more fortunate than I have been. As a matter of fact, the gentleman had a right to go into the Court of law and to insist upon my taking the bricks at 75s., or paying the difference between what he could sell the bricks at and the contract price. That is the legal position. I can hardly imagine the Labour Ministry repudiating their contracts. I have devoted a considerable amount of time personally and what persuasion I may have to the adjustment of this matter, and I consider we are being met in a fair and generous way. My hon. Friend opposite does not suggest—I do not believe he does—that the keeping of an honourable bargain is nothing! The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Myers) referred to his volume of profiteering reports. One of those reports points out—I have it here—the not unreasonable profits made by both manufacturers and retailers in view of the amount of capital involved. Then it deals with labour, and, taking the average wage of the labourer before the War at 24s. per week, it points out that he latterly received 67s., which, of course, is approximately 180 per cent, increase. I am not responsible for bricks going up in price. Then there is the fuel. The wages of the colliers during past years have been a very large factor in this matter. I am not complaining about these advances in the remuneration of labour, but these things should not be forgotten in our criticism. No further contracts have been made during 1921 and 1922 and no further contracts are going to be made. If hon. Members look at the stocks of bricks in some of these places, I am sure they will not be at all anxious to start brickyards. I do not think it is relevant for hon. Members to say that we should benefit by going on building more houses under these circumstances, and we do not want to pay a higher price for bricks. The local authorities have all been saying that they could buy bricks cheaper than Government Departments, and in the past we have had to say to them, "You must take your material from a really first-class Government Department; we have bought the bricks and you must use them." That policy could not go on, and it is all very well to be wise after the event.

With regard to the question put to me about the Welsh Board of Health, obviously the Estimate was not as well founded as the one that preceded it, and the local authorities seem to have underestimated what they required. I do not, however, think that this is the occasion for dealing with the point raised about the future of this Department, and it ought to be dealt with when the ordinary Estimates are introduced, because this Estimate is one purely of an exceptional character. I think I have now covered most of the points which have been raised, and as there will be another occasion on which my sins and iniquities can be discussed with much greater freedom than is permitted on Supplementary Estimates, I ask the Committee to pass this Estimate now and reserve any further discussion for the occasion when the Estimates will be introduced later on, and when a much larger discussion can take place.

Dr. MURRAY:

The right hon. Gentleman is always interesting on the question of prices, but how he can justify their reduction on some occasions and their increase on other occasions I cannot understand. I want to emphasise the fact that in a sense this Estimate presents both the bane and the antidote. The policy adopted shows that there has been a stoppage of the housing scheme, which means an increase of tuberculosis and its consequences, and that is what I wish to rub in. I know we cannot generalise on the subject of tuberculosis, or upon any other disease, but if there is one feature more prominent than another in tuberculosis, it is the housing conditions of this country. One hon. Member referred to the fact that the number of deaths from tuberculosis had increased during the War, although institutional treatment had been applied. The treatment had nothing to do with that result, which was more due to the fact that the slums of the country had not been properly attended to during the War and there had been a cessation of the house building. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has provided half a million for the hospitals of the country, but he is taking it away again by taxing scientific instruments.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member has been trembling on the verge of what is in order for some time, but now he has gone completely over the verge.

Dr. MURRAY:

I only wish to emphasize that in my opinion nothing tends more to the prevention of the spread of this disease than the provision of suitable and well-ventilated houses.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The housing policy is dealt with in the original Estimate, and there is nothing in this Estimate upon which that subject can be raised.

Dr. MURRAY:

I only wish to emphasise that this policy of the Government, like any other policy they have adopted, is inconsistent, and the stoppage of house-building will produce more tuberculosis, and then you will be asked to vote further money in order to counteract the results of your own folly.

Photo of Mr Lewis Haslam Mr Lewis Haslam , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

I am sure that few hon. Members of this Committee wish to oppose the expenditure of this money which is necessary as a curative agency. I regret, however, that there is no mention of any expenditure on preventive agencies. I think hon. Members will agree with me when I say that prevention in these matters is better than cure, and money might have been saved in the end if it had been spent upon the prevention of tuberculosis. I desire to impress upon the Minister of Health and his permanent officials the desirability of paying the closest attention to promoting the health and resisting power of the community against contamination by the adoption of prophylactic measures and a better system of nutrition. If these methods had been pressed forward much of the time and money spent upon curative agencies would have been unneces- sary. I have in my hand a memorial sent to the previous Minister of Health drawn up at the meeting held in one of the Committee Rooms of this House on 11th December, 1919, in connection with the Society known as the Bread and Food Reform League. The memorial is signed by 85 Members of Parliament, including all the members of the medical profession who are members of this House, and it is endorsed by about 35 of the leading medical authorities.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I am not quite sure what the argument is, but I think the hon. Gentleman is advocating some kind of sanitary measures for which there is no provision in this Estimate. If that is so I am afraid he will have to develop that argument upon some other occasion.

7.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr Lewis Haslam Mr Lewis Haslam , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

I was only trying to point out that a great deal of saving could have been made in this Supplementary Estimate if the young people of this country had had proper nutrition. I wanted to draw particular attention to the fact that in the bread and flour now being made the germ essential to health is excluded.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I am afraid it is quite clear that is a matter of policy affecting the Ministry of Health generally. No doubt it would be a very proper subject to discuss on the Vote on Account, but I do not think it can be brought into this Supplementary Estimate.

Photo of Mr Lewis Haslam Mr Lewis Haslam , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and I hope I may have an opportunity when the Vote of the Ministry of Health comes on of dealing with this particular subject, which is one of the most important things we have to consider in connection with the health of the people.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

We have had much advice given to us from the other side, notably the irritating and offensive lecture from the Simon Pure of the House, the Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson), who simply squirms in his place when any reply is made to him and leaves the House. The Minister of Health has been telling us that if the Labour party were in power we might bring in a Bill to cancel this Vote. If the Labour party were in power to-morrow they could not produce more legislation in three years and cancel it than the present Government. There are mining, housing, agriculture, to mention only three that come to mind, so that we should be in good company if we did that. We are asked to pass a Vote to compensate somebody for work which has not been done, and we say, on this side, that work that ought to be done ought to be going on to-day when there is a crying need for it. There are local authorities to-day begging for permission to build houses. I have got one urban district in my own Division. We have been begging for a long time, but sanction is still withheld. There was a new colliery started there at the beginning of the War, and during the War that colliery developed, but there was no house building and, as a result, the colliery has not half the houses it ought to have. In another part of that district, in 1913, an inquiry was held, and the local authority were advised to build then. They have not been allowed to do that up to the present. If what the Government told us when they cancelled their housing programme was true, there would be no necessity for this Vote at all. Unfortunately, it was not true, and I think they must have known it at that time. They told us they were cancelling it because no further houses could be built until the end of 1922, as building labour would be wholly employed up to that time. Why then pay money over to some building contractors for work they could not do, because of the labour market? Unfortunately, that is not true, and I venture to say there will be 200,000 men unemployed in the building trade to-day because of housing schemes which are being finished from day to day. The number of unemployed is being added to constantly because of that.

This question of tuberculosis touches the housing question very closely. There are some diseases that are practically unknown to-day, not, I think, owing to the skill of the medical profession—although we do not want to belittle that at all—but because of the better sanitation of the country. I refer to certain fevers, smallpox, and so on, and I am going to say that if there were better housing, better living conditions, if the mothers and the babies and the small children were given a better chance to live than they are at present, then this scourge of tuberculosis would go out of this country the same as the other diseases I have referred to. I think it is patent to everybody that this is a disease we ought to be ashamed to see existing in our midst to the extent it does. Housing is a very important factor. The subject I wish to speak about most particularly is maternity and welfare. I am glad the Minister of Health has not given a reply to the question of whether, he will dispense with the Welsh Board of Health. There will be something to be said on that point, and I hope he will take time before he makes his decision. I wish to ask a few questions in regard to "Maternity—Grants to Local Authorities." I do not know who is meant by "local authorities." We generally consider urban, rural, and county councils as local authorities. Have the county councils any power under this scheme at all, and will they under a welfare scheme set up by them in any part of the country administer this Order1? If so, we should want to know what the composition of those committees is, and whether there is a predominance of people on those committees who have been popularly elected, because we are opposed to public money being spent by people not responsible to the community. Then there is the question of "voluntary agencies." I do not know what is meant by that term. Does the Government hand over public money to people responsible to nobody at all? When the Housing Act of 1920 was on the Government did the same thing. In opposition to a large body of opinion in this House they then agreed to hand over public money to certain irresponsible people, utility societies, good in their way I dare say, but not responsible to the ratepayers of the country. They decided to hand over money to private individuals, to speculative builders, and so on, but the sum was limited, and the time for which it was to be paid was also limited. We find the very same thing here. I take it that "voluntary agencies" means that public money is handed over to people not responsible to any local authority or any body of ratepayers in this country. If that is so, we condemn that principle.

There is another point, namely, the £23,000 increase. The question was asked why the increase was greater in Wales than elsewhere. I know something about that, and I think I can give a reply. It is the extreme poverty of the people that has caused this amount to go up as it has. The wages of those who are working are low enough to satisfy even the hon. Member for Mossley, and the hon. Member for one of the Cardiff seats who has never ceased to prate about the wages of the workers since he came into the House. If they can work a full week they may hope to earn about 36s. Is there any wonder there is this increase in the Estimate? There are large numbers unemployed. I have never known anything like it in my life, and people who have never before thought of going to the Guardians, and would have resented any suggestion that they should go, have been compelled by sheer force of circumstances to go there. I regret the necessity for people taking advantage of this. We are very little further on than we were in 1795, when there was a scale of poor relief given in addition to wages to bring them up to a certain figure. There are people giving a week's honest service to-day—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

This seems a very long way from the particular Vote before the Committee.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

It was just an illustration, but perhaps a long one. I was lamenting the fact that it was necessary for people to apply for poor relief who are able and willing to work. We are undermining that independent proud spirit we like so much. I would like to know how these Estimates are obtained. What steps are taken to secure them? Are local authorities applied to? I cannot imagine the Minister of Health applying to a voluntary society for an estimate, but I do not know how he proceeds. Is it on the basis of some past period, or what is the idea? Then there is another point. I understand the present arrangement for providing milk for mothers and babies is to come to an end, or it is proposed it should come to an end, on the 31st March. I should like to know what is to happen after that. I think it would be one of the greatest misfortunes if that scheme ends then. At least the babies of the country ought to be given a chance. I do not know where the Minister of Health gets his information from; he cannot have first-hand information because he would not claim to have any personal knowledge of how the workers and the poor live. I do not put that offensively at all, because that does not help any case, and I keep as far away from it as I can. But it is stated here: The Minister is satisfied, as a result of experience of the administration of this service, that many local authorities have incurred expenditure very greatly exceeding what is either necessary or desirable for the purpose in view. Where does that information come from? Surely the best people to know are the local authorities, the local people who deal with it. Surely they know much more than any Government office in London what is necessary. They live among the people, and know what their necessities are. Then I read further on: It appears to him that with a proper system of administration the necessities of those whom the service was designed to affect could be met by expenditure very considerably less than that now being incurred. I ask again where docs this information come from. The people on the spot ought to know best.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

The people on the spot very often send me that information.

Mr. J. JONES:

Who are the people on the spot?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Very often the local authorities.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

The people on the spot are in a better position to know than anybody in a Government office in London. I say that not with a view to opposing this Vote at all. We believe that the Vote for Maternity and Child Welfare is one which might with advantage be increased, and as far as that particular Vote is concerned we support it. I think we ought to consider more favourably in what way we can give the mothers and children a chance. If we do that we should get a better nation than we have to-day, and would not be what was talked so much about during the War, a C3 nation. I think very much could be done, and I think it is due to them to do it.

Photo of Mr John Robertson Mr John Robertson , Bothwell

The hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson), in discussing this question to-night, has had his usual tilt at the wicked worker. I am sorry he is not in his place, but I have no desire to follow him. There are some things he cannot explain, no matter how much he may criticise labour, among others, the fact that the men who build all the fine houses live in slums themselves, and are the people who are affected with tuberculosis. The Minister for Health says that in 1914 the wages of building trade labourers were 24s. per week. It cannot be high wages, then, that is the cause of tuberculosis, because anyone who took even a casual interest in the subject must have known that we had bad housing then and we had tuberculosis then. The hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers), the hon. Member for Mossley, and the Minister of Health, are agreed on essentials up to a certain point. The great mass of workers were living in houses little better than pig styes. You will see one of them in the Olympia Housing Exhibition if you care to take a walk across there on Wednesday. Houses were wanted, and you cannot build houses without materials; we are all agreed upon that. The hon. Member for Mossley, the Minister of Health, and the hon. Member for Spen Valley all agreed that we wanted houses and the material was there, but because there was a demand that houses should be built for the people, those who owned that material created rings, prices went up, and we could not build the houses. The three of you are agreed up to that point. [Interruption.] I wish my friends would leave me alone, as well as my opponents. Housing had to be stopped for a period because of the cost of materials. This is where we part company. I do not hope to convert you over there; I have told you that over and over again; we have different ideals in life. [A laugh.] Yes, different ideals, thank God! Your ideal is to buy and sell and to make profits even out of bad houses. I may be uneducated, I may not have had university opportunities, I may be "one of those Labour men," but if to be educated is to hold the opinion that trusts and those who create rings and keep us from getting good housing—if that is the result of education, then Heaven prevent me from being educated, I prefer to remain uncultured. The Labour party's position—and, as I said, we do not hope to convert the Government: the people outside will see into that quick enough—is that it was the duty of the Government to step in and prevent any individual or corporation, or even workman, from keeping the people from getting good houses. That was the argument of the hon. Member for Spen Valley. His position was that it was the duty of the Government to prevent rings being formed, or, if they were formed, to break them up.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Would the hon. Member agree to conscripting building labour cheap?

Photo of Mr John Robertson Mr John Robertson , Bothwell

Labour has always been conscripted at the cost of living. [Interruption.] Well, I do not want to follow up the argument, because I cannot spend my time trying to convert this House. As I have said already, labour generally got no more out of the War than the cost of living. However, I will have an opportunity to reply to this later on. What we blame the Government for is that they had more consideration for the profiteer, and for the men who formed rings and trusts to hold up building materials, than for the men and women who were suffering from tuberculosis in the slums of this country. That is our charge against the Government.

I am a layman, and I do not know anything about it from the medical standpoint, but at least I have got sufficient education to be able to read, and I have read medical testimony, and the general testimony is that, no matter what you do, you will never cope with tuberculosis until you deal with the houses. That is the reason why we pay so much attention to houses in preference to elaborate buildings that are simply a monument to the neglect, ignorance and selfishness of the people of this country in not providing good houses, It is a form of cruelty, and the worst kind of cruelty, to take men and women out of the slums and put them into a sanatorium, and then, when they are a certain way on the road to health, bring them back in the slums again. We recognise that the housing problem in this country has been a difficult problem. I do not care if the Labour party had been in power—it would have been a difficult problem; but we say that no corporation or any trust would have been allowed to stand in the way of a sound housing policy that would give houses to the people before dividends were given to trusts and corporations holding up building material.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

The hon. Member who has just sat down has referred to one or two points which show some misconception of the problem, though he voices opinions with which most of us who have had practical experience of dealing with health or housing can entirely agree. We do not agree with his expression of his views, because that has been full of inaccuracies; but with the spirit which lies behind it we sympathise wholly. Whichever coalition of parties has been in power, they have been consistently anxious, for the last 14 years, to take measures for the reduction of tuberculosis and improving the housing of the people. The hon. Member referred to medical opinion, and perhaps I have a right to speak on that subject, having been for 15 years a county medical officer of health. In that capacity, and quite apart from politics, I can say that I entirely agree with his general opinion, which is the opinion on both sides, that in order to deal with tuberculosis on a large scale, you must hope for and aim at an improvement in the housing of the people. Not that that is the only thing, or that by itself it is of such great importance, but it is perhaps the most useful thing you can drive at, it is the centre of a whole set of social circumstances, which, tackled as a whole, will help to reduce tuberculosis. Where I part company with him is in this: that he and his friends take the line that it is the duty of the Government to provide the houses, and that the people should sit down and receive those houses. He takes that line because he is a Socialist, and that is the opinion of the Socialist party. That is the tenor of his remarks, and I do not think I have misinterpreted him—that the Government have got to provide the houses and that the working classes have got to receive them.

Photo of Mr John Robertson Mr John Robertson , Bothwell

That is the policy on which your party was returned to power in 1918.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

One of the articles of that policy was to assist in the providing of houses. They were never returned—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

This is getting a very long way from this very limited Supplementary Estimate with regard to the treatment of tuberculosis and the cancellation of contracts.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

I quite agree; I was going too much into detail. But with regard to this particular question, the cancelling of contracts and diminishing the cost of houses, what the Socialist party always refuses to recognise is that housing is only useful in so far as the tenants and occupiers of the houses are prepared to do the best with them themselves. There is no reason why housing, like other essential matters—like food—should not to a large extent be provided at their own expense with assistance from the Government. That was what the Government set out to do. They recognised that they could not expect tenants to pay the full economic cost of these houses, and were prepared to give a very large contribution to meet the exceptional circumstances. The hon. Member says the Government were defeated by the formation of rings and trusts which they could have stopped.

Photo of Mr John Robertson Mr John Robertson , Bothwell

I said the Minister of Health said so.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

Among the many difficulties we have had to deal with in carrying out this policy on the London County Council was the formation of rings and trusts—undoubtedly. But in the building of houses you have to consider the cost of labour, materials, and overhead charges, and in materials you have also got to consider mainly the question of labour. Take it all in all, we make out that something between 80 and 90 per cent, of the cost of these houses is due to labour in one form or another, whether in materials or in transport, or in actual building.

Mr. J. JONES:

On a point of Order. I would like to ask if it is not true that during the period since the Armistice there have been continual reductions in wages—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That is a question of fact—whether it is so or not. It cannot be a point of Order.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

The universal experience is that 80 to 90 per cent, of the cost of building, whether low or high, has been due to labour.

Mr. J. JONES:

No.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

The experience of the London County Council has been that high costs, medium costs, or low costs have been mainly due to the high cost of labour. I do not say that labour has been always to blame, but the Socialist party should recognise this fact quite clearly and definitely, that not only has that been the case, but we have had incessant obstacles placed in our way by the Labour party themselves in opposing the full and free use of labour. What was to be done with such an increase as there was as the result of rings and combines in this tremendously high cost of production, and when added to this there was the high cost of labour? The position was impossible. The houses on the Roehampton Estate cost £1,700, involving an indebtedness to the estate of no less than £98 per year. The only way of bringing everyone back to their senses was to have a dead cut. Whether you put the blame on the manufacturer or on the contractor the only way was to get them all to come down by a sudden cut. That was felt to be the only way to bring costs down, and the result was a tremendous drop, because not only contractors and manufacturers, but labour also recognised that they could no longer expect a permanent subsidy from the Government. We who are as keen on housing as Members on the Labour Benches agreed that it was essential to have an absolute cut and get down to dead rock before deciding on another policy.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I have always listened with great interest to the hon. Member who has just spoken, because he is always fair in his contributions to our discussions and adds to the value of our Debates. He mentioned the case of Roehampton. Will he, in totalling up the cost of that costly experiment, not agree with me that land which was rated at £950 was bought for £120,000 by the London County Council before they started to build? That was one of the items of the Roehampton building scheme, and when you talk about apportioning the whole blame to Labour, I suggest it is a distortion of facts. I am quite prepared to admit that the cost of labour was higher than in pre-War times and that working hours were shorter, but no man who really has at heart the betterment of the condition of the working classes and a higher standard of educational development can consistently appeal for an extension of working hours, but would rather agree with the men in their demand for a shorter working week.

The hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) went further, and proved out of a Report compiled by one of the poorest Members in the House, a man exempt from taxation because of his poverty, the existence of a state of profiteering which should have been a revelation to hon. Members. In connection with the Woolwich Pumping Station of the London County Council we had complete evidence of the existence of rings and combines, for members of this particular ring, which operated in every corner of Great Britain, sent in tenders all exactly of the same amount for this job, the figure being £27,072. That led to questions being put in this House from the Labour Benches, and, as a result, a profiteering tribunal was set up to deal with that particular section of building costs. My hon. Friend pointed out that, as compared with pre-War costs, sand went up 114 per cent., lime 262 per cent., cement 204 per cent., kitchen ranges 320 per cent., rain water pipes 317 per cent., sinks 388 per cent., drain pipes 261 per cent., tiles 275 per cent., and York stone 464 per cent. I could go on with dozens of items of a like character. Does any hon. Member seriously suggest that the cost of labour has risen 464 per cent.? I suggest that that record produced by my hon. Friend constitutes a complete indictment of the building ring, which was deliberately brought together to exploit the community.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

Will my hon. Friend tell us what was the increase in the cost of labour? Will he take it from me that it amounted to 300 per cent.?

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

Labour costs have risen in some cases by 160 per cent.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

And in some cases by 300 per cent.

Mr. J. JONES:

Lawyers and doctors.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I am quite willing to admit that wages in some of the skilled trades have gone up nearly 150 per cent., but they never went up to the extent of the increase in the cost of living. The Committee on Production is my authority for that. That Committee was set up by the Government It reviewed the Board of Trade statistics as to cost of living, and apportioned the wages three months afterwards. Every trade unionist and every person who has gone forward with a demand for an increased wage knows that the Committee of Production, through the whole period of the war, granted rises in wages three months after the increase in the cost of living revealed by the Board of Trade figures, and I would like it explained how it is that at the present moment wages which followed prices when the War broke out now precede prices in coming down. Wages are coming down, but the cost of living is far higher.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member is getting into a general discussion now.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

When one attempts to follow interruptions he is liable to be led into a blind alley. I should like, in dealing with this particular phase of the question, to add that as a justification of the demand of any body of workers, skilled or unskilled, for a reduction of their working hours per week. I submit if nothing has been gained—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That, again, is a general matter. How can it be relevant to this Debate?

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I will draw my remarks to a close by stating that in my opinion the curtailment of the housing programme, as revealed by this Estimate and the adding to the burden of taxation of a quarter of a million of money as compensation to men for contracts that were cancelled at a time when thousands of houses within a stone's throw of this building only stand together in rows because they eannot stand separately is a distinct indictment of the people who are prepared to cancel the housing problem. Will anyone in their senses deny that?

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member in the remarks he has just made-because it would not be in order. But the hon. Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) in his interesting speech referred to the case of the Roehampton housing scheme as a justification of the policy of the Minister of Health in cancelling contracts. The hon. Member who last spoke (Mr. Mills) suggested that my hon. and gallant Friend failed to take into account the cost of the land at Roehampton. I am informed that that land was purchased at about £600 per acre. Eighteen houses were built on an acre and therefore the cost of the land per house worked out at about £30. Hence in this as in many other cases the cost of the land is really a negligible quantity in the building.

Mr. J. JONES:

The land we fought for.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

Hon. Members must be well aware of the facts I have quoted. I can give other instances. I know of a case in Hampshire where land was sold at £50 per acre, while the houses cost over £900 to build.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That may be a matter of fact, but it is hardly relevant to the discussion.

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

My figures were challenged by hon. Members, and therefore I proceeded to give others. I do not suppose however many figures I give I shall influence their opinion. Several hon. Members in the course of this Debate have complained of the item of £250,000 for the cancellation of contracts, and it has been suggested that this is money paid for work which has not been done. Do hon. Members of the Labour party really think that that is a fair description of the Estimate?

Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

If they think it is a complete or sufficient description of the transaction, all I can say is that they have not really faced the question at issue at all. Do hon. Members imagine that when a contractor makes a contract, all that he does is to sit still and reap his profit? Surely, they must realise that when a contractor makes a contract he at once puts himself in the position of having to incur a great number of expenses. He either has to provide, or to reserve, machinery; he has to purchase raw material; he has to make his preparations; he probably has to make other contracts; he has to engage labour. Then the Government come along and change their policy and say to him, "We would like to get out of this contract with you." The point was put very well by the Minister of Health. There are only two alternatives—either you have to induce the contractor to cancel the contract, or else to pass a special Act of Parliament cancelling it. Hon. Mem- bers were challenged by the Minister of Health as to which of these two alternatives they would adopt, and the only reply from the Labour benches was that, if they did pass repealing legislation, they would, at any rate, only be following the example of the present Government.

I am not going to defend the policy of the present Government in regard to the various Acts of Parliament which they have repealed. I think that perhaps, on some of these matters, hon. Members above the Gangway and myself would be of very much the same opinion. I would, however, like to point out to them that in this case it is really not a fair retort on their part. It is not a question of repealing a policy, but of repealing a contract by Act of Parliament, and that is an entirely different matter. I do not suppose that even the Labour party would advocate the repeal of a contract by Act of Parliament, because any Government that did that would never be able to get a tender from any firm again. Therefore, I think the Government did perfectly right in attempting to cancel contracts. I should like to congratulate the Minister of Health on having made the best of a bad job. When he came to his Department he was faced with an almost incredible state of affairs. His predecessor had reduced the housing question in this country to an impasse. The cost of housing had been driven up by his muddling policy to such lengths that it was impossible for houses to be built. [HON. MEMRERS: "It was the Government!"] I quite agree that the Government collectively bear a responsibility, but the present Minister did what, in my opinion, was the only thing to do. He made a clean cut, and in the course of doing that he had to cancel contracts. I think the nation has got out of those contracts very cheaply. The result of the right hon. Gentleman's policy has been to increase and accelerate the fall in the cost of raw material and in the cost of labour; and partly—not, of course, entirely—as a result of his policy, it is now much easier to build houses than it was six months ago? Therefore, if the Labour party go to a Division on this matter, I shall support the Government.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

The complaint that I have to make against the Government is that they have made no attempt up to the present to answer the case made by the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) for a reduction of the Vote. The hon. Member attributed the failure of the Government's housing policy to the failure of the Government to control the prices of building materials; and, to substantiate his statement, he quoted a number of instances where the Ministry of Munitions had controlled the cost of materials, and had been able thereby to reduce the prices of the manufactured articles very considerably. The Minister of Health has made no attempt to answer that case. The only attempt he has made has been by trying to ride off on high wages.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I do not want to interrupt, but I did quote the Report of the Profiteering Committee, which stated that no undue profit had been made on bricks.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

What about the other materials? Are bricks the only constituent part of a house?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

They are the most important.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

It is no use the Minister trying to ride off on that horse. The cost of building materials in this country is a public scandal. In one of the prominent London daily papers there was a standing headline for weeks, "The Ring Round the House," and it showed the people of this country why houses could not be built on reasonable terms. What happened after the Armistice was signed? The first thing the Government did was to dispossess themselves of every bit of material they had. They put up their factories for sale; they got rid of every bit of timber they possibly could; they got rid of every bit of material they could have used for housing; and then they announced to the country a great housing scheme, involving an expenditure of many millions. What happened then? Those gentlemen who had hold of the building material got together and cornered this material, and ran up the price of houses until it became economically impossible to build them. The Minister of Health, as a Member of the strongest Government this country has ever seen, made no effort to control those profiteers; and why? Because it is well known in the House of Commons and in the country that the Government's own supporters were the very men who were interested in these high prices. It is useless for the Minister of Health to ride off at a tangent on high wages. As the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) said, the price of the article always goes up before wages go up, and therefore the Minister's argument has no point whatever, because the cost of wages only follows the cost of living.

The right hon. Gentleman asks, what were they to do with those bricks? They could have built houses with them. The charge that the country has against the Government is that they have sacrificed the health of the people of this country on the altar of the profiteer. The condition of this country to-day is a disgrace to any Government. I should like some of the hon. Gentlemen who are supporting the Government to-night to come down into the constituencies and go into the houses and see the wretched conditions under which the people are housed. It is absolutely wicked, and the country is disgusted with the Government, especially as regards housing. The Government cannot win an election in any industrial constituency, largely because of the failure of their housing policy.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member is now getting very far away from the subject of the Vote.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

I am not the only one who has got outside the ambit of the Vote. I do agree with the Government in one thing, and that is with regard to the sum of money that they are devoting to their Health Department. I was surprised to hear an hon. Member express approval of the Government's policy in regard to removing the Housing Committee from Cardiff to London. I hope it is not too late yet to urge them to reconsider their decision upon that. It involves a question of economy. Cardiff is 150 miles away from London, and it cannot be economical to force every deputation to come up from Cardiff to London in order to have their housing business attended to. Therefore, I hope the Minister of Health will not take the step of closing the Department at Cardiff. I do not know why they should not have a Housing Committee of their own. Why

should they come up to London with all their business? I consider that it is a great reflection upon the Welsh people to close down the Housing Committee at Cardiff, and, if that be done, I do not envy the right hon. Gentleman when he goes back to his constituency.

I hope the Committee will reject this Vote. The right hon. Gentleman says that the demand which it makes for £800,000 is due to an unforeseen rise in the cost of material. It is very nice to hear the Government confess that they had not foreseen this. Everything that has happened, at any rate since I have been in the House of Commons, has been entirely unforeseen by the Government; but, if honest confession is good for the soul, I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's confession with reference to this matter. I do not think, however, that the reason put forward is a bonâ fide reason. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that he did foresee that the prices of these building materials would go up, but he was hindered, by those who were behind him in the House of Commons, in taking the action that he ought to have taken in the interests of the country. We are getting to-night a very good lesson as to the virtues of private enterprise. Private enterprise has never been restricted in building houses, and yet we have to-day a scarcity of at least 200,000 working-class dwellings in this country. I was going from here to Paddington the other day, and on the way I counted no less than 51 mansions that were either to let or for sale. That shows that there is no scarcity whatever of houses for the wealthy classes. It is only the toiling millions who are left without houses, and that is the charge that we bring against the Government. I defy the right hon. Gentleman to go down into his constituency and defend this Vote.

Sir A. MOND rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 174; Noes, 56.

Division No. 17.]AYES.[8.0 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteBanner, Sir John S. Harmood-Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)
Baird, sir John LawrenceBarnett, Major Richard W.Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBarnston, Major HarryBirchall, J. Dearman
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Blake, Sir Francis Douglas
Borwick, Major G. O.Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir GordonRoberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Hills, Major John WallerRoberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Breese, Major Charles E.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRobinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Briggs, HaroldHood, Sir JosephRoundell, Colonel R. F.
Broad, Thomas TuckerHope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund
Bruton, Sir JamesHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Hurd, Percy A.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Campbell, J. D. G.Jodrell, Neville PaulScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Carr, W. TheodoreJohnstone, JosephSeddon, J. A.
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Casey, T. W.Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonKollaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. GeorgeShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Coats, Sir StuartKing, Captain Henry DouglasSimm, M. T.
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsLambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSmith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Conway, Sir W. MartinLewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Cooper, Sir Richard AshmoleLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.Lloyd, George ButlerSteel, Major S. Strang
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)Strauss, Edward Anthony
Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Lowe, Sir Francis WilliamSturrock, J. Leng
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Sugden, W. H.
Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)Sutherland, Sir William
Dean, Commander P. T.McMicking, Major GilbertTaylor, J.
Doyle, N. GrattanMcNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Macquisten, F. A.Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Marks, Sir George CroydonTickler, Thomas George
Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)Martin, A. E.Townley, Maximilian G
Evans, ErnestMitchell, Sir William LaneTownshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Falcon, Captain MichaelMolson, Major John EisdaleTryon, Major George Clement
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzWaddington, R.
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.Wallace, J.
Ford, Patrick JohnstonMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Forrest, WalterMorden, Col. W. GrantWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotMorrison, HughWard, William Dudley (Southampton)
Fraser, Major Sir KeithMunro, Rt. Hon. RobertWhite, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Whitla, Sir William
Gardner, ErnestNeal, ArthurWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)
Goff, Sir R. ParkNield, Sir HerbertWilliamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Green, Albert (Derby)Parker, JamesWindsor, Viscount
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir HamarPeel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Wise, Frederick
Gregory, HolmanPennefather, De FonblanqueWolmer, Viscount
Greig, Colonel Sir James WilliamPercy, Charles (Tynemouth)Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Gwynne, Rupert S.Perkins, Walter FrankWood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Perring, William GeorgeYeo, Sir Alfred William
Hamilton, Major C. G. C.Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest MurrayYoung, E. H. (Norwich)
Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Pratt, John WilliamYoung, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.
Haslam, LewisRawlinson, John Frederick PeelTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.
NOES.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherGrundy, T. W.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGuest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)Raffan, Peter Wilson
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hallas, EldredRendall, Atheistan
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Halls, WalterRobertson, John
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hancock, John GeorgeSmith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHartshorn, VernonSutton, John Edward
Cairns, JohnHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Swan, J. E.
Cape, ThomasHirst, G. H.Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Hodge, Rt. Hon. JohnThomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Holmes, J. StanleyThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Kennedy, ThomasWignall, James
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Kenyon, BarnetWintringham, Margaret
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Lunn, WilliamYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Finney, SamuelMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Galbraith, SamuelMills, John EdmundTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Glanville, Harold JamesMurray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. T. Griffiths.
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Myers, Thomas

Question put accordingly, "That a sum not exceeding £5 be granted for said service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 58; Noes, 169.

Division No. 18.]AYES.[8.8 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherGuest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHalls, WalterRaffan, Peter Wilson
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hancock, John GeorgeRendall, Atheistan
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Hartshorn, VernonRobertson, John
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHirst, G. H.Sutton, John Edward
Cairns, JohnHodge, Rt. Hon. JohnSwan, J, E.
Cape, ThomasHolmes, J. StanleyThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Kennedy, ThomasWalsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)Kenworthy, Lieut-Commander J. M.Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Kenyon, BarnetWignall, James
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kiley, James DanielWilliams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeWintringham, Margaret
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Lunn, WilliamYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Finney, SamuelMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Galbraith, SamuelMills, John EdmundTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Glanville, Harold JamesMurray, Hon. A, C. (Aberdeen)Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Frederick Hall.
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)
Grundy, T. W.Myers, Thomas
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGreenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir HamarPratt, John William
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Gregory, HolmanRaw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.
Baird, Sir John LawrenceGreig, Colonel Sir James WilliamRawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGuest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-Hamilton, Major C. G. C.Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Barnett, Major Richard W.Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Barnston, Major HarryHaslam, LewisRoundell, Colonel R. F.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund RobertHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir GordonSanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Hills, Major John WallerScott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Birchall, J. DearmanHolbrook, Sir Arthur RichardSeddon, J. A.
Blake, Sir Francis DouglasHood, Sir JosephSeely, Major-General Rt. Hon, John
Borwick, Major G. O.Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.Hurd, Percy A.Simm, M. T.
Breese, Major Charles E.Jodrell, Neville PaulSmith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Briggs, HaroldJohnstone, JosephSprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Broad, Thomas TuckerJones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Bruton, Sir JamesJones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)Steel, Major S. Strang
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, GeorgeStephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)King, Captain Henry DouglasStrauss, Edward Anthony
Campbell, J. D. G.Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)Sturrock, J, Leng
Carr, W. TheodoreLewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)Sugden, W. H.
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Wellington)Lindsay, William ArthurSutherland, Sir William
Casey, T. W.Lloyd, George ButlerTaylor, J.
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonLloyd-Greame, Sir P.Thomson. Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Coats, Sir StuartLocker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsLowe, Sir Francis WilliamTickler, Thomas George
Conway, Sir W. MartinLowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Townley, Maximilian G
Cooper, Sir Richard AshmoleMcCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)Tryon, Major George Clement
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)McMicking, Major GilbertWaddington, R.
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)Wallace, J.
Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)Macquisten, F. A.Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)Marks, Sir George CroydonWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)Martin, A. E.White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Dean, Commander P. T.Mitchell, Sir William LaneWhitla, Sir William
Doyle, N. GrattanMolson, Major John ElsdaleWilliams, C. (Tavistock)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzWilliams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)
Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col- J. T. C.Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Evans, ErnestMorden, Col. W. GrantWindsor, Viscount
Falcon, Captain MichaelMorrison, HughWise, Frederick
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMunro, Rt. Hon. RobertWolmer, Viscount
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Neal, ArthurWood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Ford, Patrick JohnstonNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Forrest, WalterNicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotNield, Sir HerbertYeo, Sir Alfred William
Fraser, Major Sir KeithParker, JamesYoung, E. H. (Norwich)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Gardner, ErnestPennefather, De Fonblanque
Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnPerkins, Walter FrankColonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.
Goff, Sir R. ParkPerring, William George
Green, Albert (Derby)Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray

Original Question again proposed.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY rose

Colonel LESLIE WILSON (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

rose in his place, and claimed, "That the original Question be now put."

Original Question put accordingly.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 140; Noes, 58.