The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Sir Robert Home):
I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill contains many Clauses of a diverse character. It presents some analogy to a Scottish dish which was once described as "a mass of confused feeding." The central idea which permeates the whole Bill and which, I hope, will obtain at least the assent of the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), is that it is intended to achieve economy in the public services, and also to create in certain instances a greater efficiency which, we all hope, will end in economy. I can present the main features of the Bill very shortly to the House. Hon. and right hon. Members will remember that, when we were discussing questions of economy, as raised by the Report of the Geddes Committee, a variety of suggestions was made, to which the Government gave adhesion. These suggestions created some discussion at the time and I think, in the main, the ideas presented in the Bill, if they do not obtain the full assent of the House, at least do not excite any disapproval or dissent. There are about four or five Departments which are concerned with the provisions now presented to the House.
Let me take, in the first place, the Board of Education. The House will remember that the Geddes Committee proposed that education should no longer be compulsory before the age of six years, whereas at the present time it begins compulsorily at five years. We, I believe, are the only nation in the world which inculcates the lessons it is necessary to learn at so early an age. While the Government were not prepared to say that no child should go to school before the age of five, we did agree to the suggestion that it should be optional to a parent to send children to school before the age of six. The second Clause in this Bill provides that no child need be sent to school before the age of six, but that, on the other hand, any parent who desires to send his child to school at the age of five shall still be entitled to do so, and that the educational authorities shall, in consequence, be obliged to provide the necessary accommodation in education. I do not know whether, in point of fact, that will make any great difference, but I believe: there are certain localities in this country in which it will probably be both to the advantage of the children and also more conducive to the feelings of the parents themselves if the children are not obliged to go to school before the age of six. That is the main proposal in the education Clauses of this Bill.
Advantage is taken of the presentation of this Bill to effect certain other improvements. At the present time, the appointed day for bringing the 1921 Act into force has not been decided. We provide that the appointed day shall begin as from the day when the present Bill is passed into law. It is necessary to do that because otherwise the Amendments which we now propose to make will be impossible, because it could not be determined upon what particular legislation those Amendments were made. Further, in connection with continuation schools, a difficulty has arisen in this respect, that the appointed days for bringing into force the Compulsory education given at continuation schools at the present time vary. There are certain areas in which the appointed days would occur immediately. That has brought about this difficulty that if you have contiguous area in which the attendance at continuation schools is in the one case compulsory and in the other case not, you have obviously a very difficult situation., An employer tends to select his employés from among those who are not compelled to attend continuation schools, and until we are in a position to bring in uniform compulsion it will be impossible, or at least extremely difficult and disadvantageous, at the present time to make the attendance at continuation schools compulsory in these particular areas. Accordingly, we seek in the present Bill to provide against that difficulty.
No. The intention undoubtedly is not to make attendance at continuation schools compulsory in those areas, or, at least, to put it in the power of the Board of Education to provide that compulsory attendance shall not be required in those particular areas. That, undoubtedly, is the object of the Clause dealing with that matter. There are other provisions to get rid of a doubt which is created by a case recently decided in the Law? Courts—the case of "Hanson v. Radcliffe Urban District Council"—which raised the difficulty that, whereas in provided schools the Board of Education is in a position to decide upon the amount of remuneration, it is doubtful whether they have the same power in connection with non-provided schools. It is accordingly thought to be necessary to make the practice in this position uniform.
Another matter which requires to be cleared up is in connection with the grant which the education authority is bound to give. As the House is well aware, a provision is made that the Board of Education shall give a grant of 50 per cent. of the expenditure of the local authority, but provision is made for disallowance in the case of certain forms of expenditure. The provision made in this Bill in connection with that is that it shall be in the power of the Board of Education to give the grant only up to the limit which the Board has had authority from Parliament to spend, substituting for the scheme of disallowance an arrangement by which they may decide on the particular amount of the grant A provision in regard to the transfer of secondary schools, putting thorn in the same position as science and art schools and elementary schools originally were, is also contained in the Bill. These, roughly, are the provisions which deal with education in this Bill. I think the House will realise that they are all of an entirely non-contentious character.
I turn briefly to the other Departments whoso services are dealt with in the course of this Bill. I take, first, the Board of Trade. A recommendation was made in the Report of the Geddes Committee in connection with the expenses of survey incurred by the Board of Trade. It was pointed out that those expenses were enormously greater than the revenue
obtained by fees. In particular, the Committee observed that
Although the expenditure on the Survey Service amounts to £240,000, the receipts from fees are only £42,000.
The Committee indicated that this was due, to a large extent, to the fact that
the highest fee chargeable for the tonnage measurement of a ship is £10, this being the fee for tonnage measurement for any ship of 5,000 tons and upwards.
It was pointed out that the dimensions of ships had enormously increased since those fees were fixed, and that the value of money had changed It is sought here to provide that the Board of Trade shall charge fees which shall be adequate to yield a revenue in relation to the services which are performed That was with the desire, of course, of effecting a considerable economy in the public expenditure, but there is a restriction made with regard to small fishing craft, which will not come under the provisions. That is the main proposal which is made in connection with the Board of Trade, but it is sought to provide at the same time that the inspection of provisions on seagoing ships may now cease, and that the register of business names should no longer be maintained at the public expense, but that a fee should be charged which should be adequate to meet the expenditure. There are also in the Bill certain provisions with regard to the Treasury. One is that a fee should be charged in the Foreign Office for the authentication of documents, similar to the fees which are charged abroad by our Consular Service, where authentication or legalisation of documents takes place. The fee at present charged is 5s., and there is no good reason why there should be maintained at the Foreign Office, at the public expenditure, a service by which all those who resort to it can obtain benefit, while a fee is charged in connection with similar services rendered in our Consulates abroad.
Certainly; but my hon. and gallant Friend will have every opportunity of raising the question in Committee, where it can be thrashed out in detail. A provision is made that a fee may be charged for entrance into the British Museum on certain dates and for such things as may be thought proper, and also that in connection with the county courts the registrars' fees should be put upon a different basis, and should be regulated by salary rather than by fees on the amount of the work which is done in the court.
I turn now to the proposals which are made in connection with the Home Office. The main provision which it is sought to pass into law now is in Clause 19 of the Bill and deals with the consolidation of police forces. I think it has come to be very clearly recognised by all those who have experience in the administration of police forces in this country that full efficiency is not obtained and that the expenditure is increased because of divisions between police forces which are either purely arbitrary or are caused by lines of demarcation between authorities which could, with advantage to the public service, be rubbed out. Accordingly, this Clause seeks to enact that where you have got contiguous authorities, they may themselves take into consideration the amalgamation of their arrangements for providing police forces. In cases where they do not themselves desire to do so, the Home Secretary may initiate consideration of such a topic, and where you have got contiguous authorities of not more than 50,000 inhabitants, if they fail within three months to bring about some scheme of consolidation such as the Home Secretary thinks desirable, he may then himself decide the terms upon which such consolidation could take place. If he decides contrary to the wishes, or what are supposed to be the wishes, of any of the areas involved, then provision is made for the holding of a public inquiry by which the matter can be decided; but I think the House will agree that wherever we can achieve some economy, and also efficiency, by making such arrangements, we should take every opportunity of doing so.
There are some minor provisions in regard to England and Scotland, which will achieve some economies, whereby prisoners may be kept for a longer term in local police stations than they can be kept at present. For example, the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray) have to be taken after, I think, 14 days to Inverness, and they cannot be kept any longer than the period which I have described in the local police stations. In such constituencies, where there is very little crime, it would seem to be entirely unnecessary to make such a provision, and accordingly we seek to extend the period to 30 days before the jaunt to Inverness would become necessary.
I know that is a sore point with my hon. Friend. There are similar provisions on all these matters with regard to Scotland, and I think they form a separate part of the Bill. I think possibly, if the House agrees, it would be wise to send the Scottish part of the Bill to the Scottish Grand Committee, and it might be specially discussed there, with the intimate knowledge which Scottish Member possess, not merely of their own affairs, but also of the affairs of the southern part of the United Kingdom, so that I will not go into further detail about the Scottish provisions. I will only say that there are certain offices which may now, we think, be dispensed with. At the present time there are six members in Scotland of the Board of Health The Scottish Office has come to the conclusion that three is an adequate lumber for the performance of the services which are necessary, and there is a vacancy at the present time by which they are enabled to get rid of one of the six. That is provided for in a Clause dealing with the Scottish Office, but their ultimate intention is to reduce the number of the Board of Health to three There is also an office in connection with what is known in Scotland as the Edictal Citations, of which it is desired to get rid. A clerkship is vacant at the present time, and it is not proposed to appoint anyone to the office, and when the occupant of the main office of the Edictal Citations finally surrenders his office, the office will be entirely abolished, I could give what really is not anything better than a catalogue of what this Bill is intended to do. It is, in effect, a schedule of provisions dealing with the main propositions which were put before the House in connection with these matters at the time when the Geddes Report was discussed; but without any further elucidation—of course, if there are questions to be asked, the Ministers of the various Departments are here, and are prepared to give detailed information in reply—I beg to move the Second Beading of the Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has described the Measure as in the nature of a catalogue. If it were the catalogue of a sale, the persons who were attending the sale would not be very much wiser for reading it. I would like to comment, on that point, on Clause 1, which really seems to me to be a special specimen of the drafting puzzle. I do not wonder at all at the query which came from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) as so what the effect of this was. I should recommend him, in his perusal of it, if he desires to have any clearer idea of what it means, to start at the end of the Clause, and work back to the beginning, because Sub-section (4) repeals Subsection (3) of Section 173 of the Education Act, 1921, and that Sub-section (3) says that the Act shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall not be earlier than the 1st January, 1922. Then Subsection (1) of Clause 1 of this Bill says that the Education Act, 1921, shall come into operation at the commencement of this Act. The real object of the Clause is to discontinue the continuation schools, and the operative part of it is Sub section (3). I really would suggest that, if it be at all possible for the draughtsmen of these complicated matters to put things a little bit plainer, it would be of very great assistance, not only to Members of this House, but to the genera] public, who have to struggle with these things when they get on the Statute Book.
There are several points for comment which I shall take as briefly as possible, and then refer to one or two omissions of matters from the Bill which I think ought to have been in it. I agree that, on Clause 2, it is probably the best way of meeting the question of compulsory attendance at school of children between 5 and 6 years of age—that where the parents so desire it, it is left as a duty on the local authority to provide places for them in the public elementary schools. I was wondering what was the meaning of Clause 3, but I now understand that the intention is to put teachers in provided and non-provided schools on the same basis in regard to their salaries, which is a very desirable thing. As to Clause 4,"Temporary reduction of Parliamentary grants," that, I suppose, gets rid of the percentage system in the education grants.
It enables the Board to fix a ration during the period named, as it proposes to do this year—to fix a limit for expenditure on elementary education and for expenditure on higher education. Without such power, the Board, strictly speaking, has to disallow particular items of expenditure if it wants to limit total expenditure, and that involves very meticulous interference.
That is, that the principle under which this will move is that as much is to be granted as the nation can afford in respect of the payments under this Clause. I should like the President of the Board of Education to let us know, when he comes to reply, what is the financial effect of Clause 5, because naturally it is not developed in the Clause itself. Then, coming on to the various miscellaneous matters to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred, he makes his economies by making the subject affected pay more. He lifts the burden off the general public and puts it upon those subjects who have to make user of these services, and he hopes to balance the account by getting more money out of them by way of higher fees. That, I understand, is his position. I want to say a word or two in regard to Clause 14,"Provisions as to Housing," and that, no doubt, will lead to some discussion by other hon. Members in certain parts of the House. I understand that is the legislative
method of abolishing the limit of the penny rate upon the local authority. Anything beyond that was paid by the Exchequer itself. Now this limitation being removed, and the grants to the private builder being gone, as was done administratively, it is necessary to have legislative power in order to deal with this matter as regards the rate and the local authority. What will be the effect of that? The effect, undoubtedly, will be —I am not for the moment discussing the merits—to put pressure upon the local authorities to effect the sale of the houses which they have built. That, I think, must undoubtedly be the effect of the Clause. But there were some safeguards in connection with the sale of houses under Section 15 of the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1919. There was a proviso there which ran as follows:
Provided that it shall be a condition of such sale or lease that the houses shall not be used by any person for the time being having any interest therein for the purpose of housing persons in his employment.
The obvious intention there was to prevent the misuse of houses built by local authorities and being turned into—I do not use the word at all offensively—tied houses in connection with industrial establishments. That must be guarded against, and I hope that point will be noted in Committee when it falls to be dealt with. There are one or two comments I wish to make with regard to the omissions from the Bill. Of course, the teachers' superannuation recommendation by the Geddes Committee has been dealt with by a separate Bill, but there was a very definite recommendation made by the Geddes Committee on page 25, which, I am quite sure, is well within the knowledge of Members of the House, and that was the recommendation for the abolition of the Ministry of Transport. I cannot conceive any reason why that should not have been in this Bill. It could have been dealt with by a simple Clause. I agree that you cannot abolish it within a month or so. It requires some time to wind up, but there is no reason at all why the Government should not have implemented the recommendation of the Geddes Committee, and, indeed, the general desire of this House, by putting in a Clause to the effect that, after a certain date, that Ministry shall come to an end.
That is perfectly accurate, but I have the misfortune to differ from my right hon. Friend. That is why I am commenting upon it. If I agreed with him, I should have nothing to say; but I do not agree with him. I think great economy could be effected. We know that the vital sentence in the letter of Sir Eric Geddes, of the 18th November last year, was that
There was no justification for retaining a separate Ministry of Transport, especially having regard to the existing financial stringency.
That was his opinion, and that was backed up by every one of his colleagues. Their recommendation was that the duties of this Ministry should be redistributed amongst the various Departments which used to handle them. First of all, they took certain powers from the Board of Trade in connection with railway administration. The sooner they go back to the Board of Trade the better.
That is a matter of opinion. I think it would. Sir Eric Geddes recommended it, and he ought to know. Then there were certain powers taken from the Ministry of Health. I forget exactly what they were, but I should think they could quite efficiently be dealt with by the Ministry of Health. There was a separate. Department created by statute, the Road Board, which operated—and very efficiently operated— within the ambit of the Ministry of Health. That, I think, properly ought to go to the Board of Trade, along with the railways. Then there were certain duties, in connection with the First Lord of the Admiralty, relating to harbours. The proper authority for dealing with that, of course, is the Board of Trade. Clearly, it is their function. Then there were certain duties in connection with the Commissioners of Works, in relation to the Menai Bridge. Am I right in saying that that has been taken over by the North Western Railway? I am not quite sure, but, at any rate, there is no reason at all for keeping a Ministry to manage the Menai Bridge. Then there are some powers in connection with the Caledonian and Crinan Canal. The Secretary for Scotland can manage that canal at least as well as the Ministry of Transport. [An HON. MEMBER: "Much better!"] Much better ! We come to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; the Commissioners of Public Works, Ireland; the Congested Districts Board for Ireland; and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, Ireland. All those are gone. What is there left upon which the Ministry of Transport has to operate? There is no question agitating the commercial community more acutely at the present time than the question of the incidence of the railway rates, and what does the Minister do here? The Minister says, "It is nothing to do with me. Go to the Railway Rates Tribunal." I ask again, why was not a Clause inserted in the Bill giving the House the satisfaction, at any rate, of having, say, an appointed day when this Ministry shall come to an end? I suggest that is an economy which would assist the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the extent of many, many thousands of pounds.
The right hon. Gentleman does not agree. It has cost this year no less a sum than £212,000, and there is a staff of 483. The two main things, namely, the railways and the Road Board, in 1914, were managed, one within the Board of Trade and the other within what was then the Local Government Board, and, apart from standing charges for officials, the whole of those things was managed with a staff of 80.
And, on the whole, quite efficiently managed. What is left? There is no question of railway policy to be inquired into by a railway Department. That is settled for the time being by the Act passed last year. There is no further need to accumulate these statisitics, which can be got from the railway companies and passed on to then natural destination, namely, the Board of Trade. I ask, again, what reason is there why this Ministry is not brought within the ambit of this Bill? I hope it will be in order in Committee to move some such Clause as that, and that it will be adopted. It is well within the title of the Bill, which is, "Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions)."You might, indeed, carry national economy further by inserting another Clause for the abolition of His Majesty's Government, but that, I am afraid, would be out of order on this Measure.
There is one other point which, I hope, is in order. What further measures are being taken for continuing the work of the Geddes Committee, out of which this Bill has arisen? The time is fast approaching when it ought to be dealt with. The Geddes Committee, upon which this Bill is founded, was appointed last August. We are within four or five weeks of that time now. That Committee accomplished what was said to be quite impossible. They asked for provisional Estimates. Those provisional Estimates were furnished to them, and on those provisional Estimates they worked with great ability, zeal and a very considerable amount of success, and there has resulted a saving of tens of millions of pounds. Why cannot that process be carried on this year, and by a Committee of this House, which is the right body to function in this matter, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer very well knows? These-are questions which, I am certain, would find an immense amount of support outside this House. That process having been satisfactorily commenced, and resulted in economies, of which we know, and some further legislative acts, which this Bill contemplates, why cannot the process be carried on? The Treasury, perhaps, may not like it, as it may interfere with Departmental smooth running, but it has resulted, as I say, in the saving of tens of millions of pounds. I believe, if you had some such Committee set up again this August, composed entirely of Members of the House of Commons, with some similar powers, you would succeed in saving, again, not as much as last time, but certainly a very considerable sum of money. It is worth doing. It costs very little. The total cost of the Geddes Committee was something under £1,000. An hon. Friend says £532, but I say under £1,000. That is an excellent investment, I should imagine. Why cannot the House of Commons insist on the Government investing in that way again in the Autumn Session? I do not know how much this Bill saves. We have some idea in the recommendations, but it will not save a tithe of what can he done by the administrative suggestion which I now lay before the Government, and which has been pressed upon them time and again in all parts of the House. I offer these criticisms and suggestions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope, if they do not find a responsive reecho in his breast, that at least they will find general support in the House.
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
It is my desire to go a little further than my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, and to move the rejection of the Bill. The Bill is reminiscent of one introduced in 1921. I remember that Bill was called the Ministry of Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. If I remember rightly, it was the subject of a good deal of criticism. I am not surprised that hon. Members who were so active in criticising that Bill do not happen to be in their places this afternoon. As a matter of fact, the reason is that they have been lured by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he has very craftily —and I admire the ingenuity with which this Bill has been drawn up—framed the Bill that it does so allure. I have spent as many as I could spare of the last 48 hours in examining the Bill, and I continue to admire the ingenuity displayed in its framing. The hon. Members, as I say, have been lured by the title of the Bill. In that title the word "economy" stands out. That is why, for example, amongst others, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) is not here.
It may be of interest to consider some of the objections that are raised to Bills of this type—Miscellaneous Provisions Bills. I remember I was subjected to a good deal of complaint in the Bill I introduced, and which did at least deal with the work of one Department. We have heard the exposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and we discover that this Bill goes into several Departments, whilst others are not mentioned. The Bill has been very artfully drawn and, I say again, I admire its ingenuity.
What was the objection stated to the Bill which I had the honour to introduce?
It was that there was so much legislation by reference. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), whom I am glad to see here, led the attack upon me on that ground. But what about the present Bill? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made no reference to this fact, that you have this legislation by reference from the first Clause to the last. I should like the House to consider this point and see the illuminating character of this Bill. Note the words in Clause 1, Sub-section (2, a):
At the commencement of this Act as respects any area or part of an area or any class of persons in an area or part of an area to which Section 10 of the Education Act, 1918, applied at the commencement of this Act.
That is a provision. I have made some endeavour to understand it. It is a very ingenuous proposal. And so it goes on. There is a very favourite phrase used by the draftsman of this Bill. I have a fairly clear recollection of serving on Cabinet Committees which gave instructions to the draftsman, and I can see, I think, what happened. I can sea my right hon. Friend the Chancellor sitting at the table when this Bill was before himself and others, and I can visualise the scene well. The phrase occurs several times. "Not withstanding anything." Then you are referred to the whole Act. But the most majestic phrase is the one at the beginning of Clause 12. Here the draftsman clearly had it in mind that at some time or other, since Magna Charta, or it might have been in the time of Henry the VIII, or the days of Good Queen Bess, there was tucked away in some of our statutes some right Whereby the common people might at least have a look at their national possessions free of charge. Somewhere or other there was power given whereby they might be entitled to consult a book. So the draftsman was directed to make a clean sweep of the lot. Therefore he used the majestic phrase, "notwithstanding anything in any Act." I really think that when the Cabinet Committee which dealt with this Bill was dealing with it, they should have given directions to have inserted at the beginning of this Act, "Be it enacted," etc., "notwithstanding anything in 'any' Act," and then we should have known how to get along. The Bill would have been
much plainer if you had this phrase governing the whole of it. Then the draftsman might have been instructed to tell us what the different Clauses meant. With great respect to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, may I say he has carefully avoided telling us some of these things?
Another of the objections which I remember was urged against the other Miscellaneous Provisions Bill—of bitter memory—was that it dealt with a number of questions of policy of a diverse kind in one Bill. The best answer I can give to that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not even suggest any defence for the questions of policy in this Bill. He has left us to assume in a friendly way that this Bill, printed on a Friday, with its Second Reading on Monday—which we have had a week-end of leisure and guidance to consider—that this Bill is but a little Bill, and is only going to affect a few trifling proposals for economy emerging from Sir E. Geddes' Committee. I propose to show the House—and I do not think it will take very long—that this Bill is nothing of the kind. This Bill raises vast questions of national policy. Whether they are good or bad, they certainly ought not to be tucked away in a Bill which deals with all sorts of other things from Small Charges to people that go to the British Museum, to a revolution in relation to the whole of our grants to the local authorities in the country. The whole of our system of grants to public authorities is torn in pieces by this Bill. Apart from the merit of the thing, it seems to me to be somewhat of an affront to Parliament to submit a proposal of this importance in this way; but as a matter of fact this Bill is misnamed because, as the House noted, the economies set out by my right hon. Friend opposite were in this direction: You have got to pay more! You have to pay it at the door of the British Museum or to the man who comes to inspect your petroleum apparatus. In any case, you have to pay more. That is in the Bill, and is a very satisfactory finish! That is what they call economy! I think the payer may perhaps be under a misapprehension as to where the economy comes in. The general public, for example, does not pay to go into the British Museum, and if they have to pay 6d.
they are not likely to be impressed with the economy of it. They would put it that, as part of the State, as taxpayers, they have paid for a long time both for the maintenance and upkeep of the Museum, and therefore, as people who pay in that way through taxes, they naturally object to pay when they go to see it. However, that remains to be seen. We do not, perhaps, need to worry over a small matter of that kind. Let us take five of the big points in the Bill. Take Clause I. Perhaps I may be permitted to explain to the House that Clause, seeing we have not had it explained fully. Let me show what it really does. If we look at the Education Act, 1921, Section 75, we will find the following:
It shall be the duty of the local education authority for higher education … to establish and maintain or secure the establishment and maintenance under their control and direction of a sufficient supply of continuation schools in which suitable courses of study, instruction and physical training are provided without payment of fees for all young persons … under an obligation to attend such schools.
That is an obligation which the Act of 1921 casts upon the local authority. They know that that obligation is limited to the young persons living in the area who are required to attend. The wording of the present Bill is very ingenious. It deals with young persons; but note Sections 76 and 77 of the Act of 1921 which are suspended by the present Bill. They are the Clauses which say that young persons shall be required to attend. It is definite, "Shall attend as may best suit the circumstances of each locality." What the present Bill does really is to remove the obligation to attend by the suspension of Section 76. Once that obligation to attend is removed then the obligation of the local authority under Section 75 ceases to exist. There is another loophole. Take Section 10 of the Act of 1918. Consider, too, that strange sentence in the present Bill which I read to the House a few minutes ago which began with, "At the commencement of this Act" and ended with "at the commencement of this Act." What it means in English I really do not understand. What it means in terms of legislation is this, that under the Act of 1918, Section 10, the local authority shall appoint a day upon which all young persons shall attend continuation schools. It so happens that the local education of London did appoint a day.
What was the result of that position? Look at Sub-section (3) of Clause 1, which says:
The Board may, on the application of the local education authority, by Order direct that Sections 76, 77 and 93 shall cease to be in operation.…
In other words, if the local education authority shall be so courageous as to appoint a day on which continuation education shall begin and shall have got a little in front and have arranged the matter when this is passed into law they will see that the obligation no longer rests upon them. One of the results is that instead of the local education authority appointing a day—
May I explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the local education authority does not appoint a day, but applies to the Board of Education for a day to be appointed, and that the Board appointed a day for London. Since then London has had an election and has asked the Board to be allowed to be relieved of the obligation incurred under the Act of 1918.
That is all very well, but that is not what is provided by the words of the Act. The proposal goes on to describe what the local education authority should do. London has done it and now the right hon. Gentleman has given official sanction. But this Bill wipes it off the slate altogether, so that in no part of the country will you have a continuation school started when this proposal comes into operation, and where initial steps have been taken they are to be swept away.
But that has nothing to do with the point. One of the reforms which the great Education Act was supposed to secure for the people was a continuation of the education of the children. I am not talking about what the Society of Friends have done, or other far-sighted people, but I am talking about what Parliament is doing with the mass of the community, and I say the whole thing is wiped off the slate so far as any continuation schools are concerned, and even where the local authorities did make a start you wipe it off too. It is no good trying to bamboozle the House of Commons in this way, because what it means is a change in our national policy.
I am well aware that this Parliament cannot pledge a future Parliament, and I anticipate that this Bill will be one of the first steps in getting rid of the Government. We shall have to press forward for continuation schools. We know very well that this proposal has been made in order to put a stop to the scheme of continuation schools. That is what the Bill does. I well remember the Minister for Education telling us some time ago that he stood for the education of the adolescent, and that the War had taught us that we had to educate and train our adolescent. I am sorry now to see my right hon. Friend supporting a proposal in the opposite direction.
The next Clause is one which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said would make it optional on the part of parents to cause children under six to attend school. It provides that it shall not be compulsory for a parent to send a child to school between the a ages of five and six. Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 provides that:
Nothing in this Section shall affect the duty of the local education authority to make provision for the education of children between the ages of five and six whose parents desire that they shall attend school.
That is to say, the whole initiative is to rest with the parents of the children If the parent of a child under the age of five and six wishes his child to attend school, he has to inform the local education authority, otherwise they will not be required to provide any accommodation for that child. I think everybody recognises that, in order to improve a child's physique and vigour, exercises are more important than cramming their heads with all sorts of figures. Why do the mass of the people in great industrial centres desire their children to attend school when they are young? Why did we propose
that there should be nursery schools and that kind of thing? The reason was that mothers found it was a good arrangement where they had not proper facilities for looking after their own children. There are more than 1,000,000 homes in this country with not more than two rooms, and consequently there is no room for the children in those homes to play except on the stairs, the landings, and the gutter, and that is why the women want their children to go to some nursery school. That is the next big question of policy raised in this Bill, and unless the parents take some steps on their own initiative, no provision will be made for their children.
The next point I wish to raise is on Clause 4. This deals with the temporary reduction of Parliamentary grants, in fact some of them may get nothing at all. They get a grant of 50 per cent. under the Education Act of 1921, but under this Clause that provision is swept away. There are some important provisions in Clause 6 dealing with merchant shipping, and I hope those who are interested in shipping will examine those proposals very closely, because there is in them a lot of legislation by reference. I take it that one of the economies provided by Clause 7 is that we are going to take no interest whatever in regard to the question of the kind of food that ships will carry for their crews, because that is what the proposal means, As far as the Board of Trade is concerned, no provision whatever is made in regard to this matter.
Clause 14 makes provision as to housing and the Ministry of Health is brought in. I was rather surprised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer missed that provision out altogether, and he never told us anything about it. I remember my right hon. Friend Lord Long in 1916 talked about it being a black crime that men should have to come back from the Army to some of the places in which they had to live. Of course, this matter is considered to be so trifling that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not condescend to mention it at all to the House of Commons, and they put it forward as a little trifling alteration suggested by the Geddes Committee, so trifling indeed that even the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not think it worth while to mention.
Let the House for a moment have a look at this proposal. Under Section 15 of the Housing Act certain provisions are set out whereby, if a local authority has built houses and requires to sell them, certain obligations rest upon them when they effect a sale. One obligation is that it shall be a condition of such sale that the houses sold in this way shall not be used by private persons against the public interest. This provision was made because we were not going to allow public money to be used for building houses if somebody else, when there happened to be a slump in the market, was to be allowed to come along and acquire the property for tied house purposes. That was the whole point of the proviso. This proposal makes it possible for somebody else, having obtained this land probably by compulsory purchase, to come and acquire these houses strictly for their own employés as tied houses.
I am not objecting. What I wish to point out is that there are certain generous provisions to assist private people who want to build houses, and the whole scheme of public utility is for financing them under the Public Works Loans Commissioner, and the scheme is designed for that kind of thing, and it has been done very extensively. If a man desires to build houses to house his workpeople, there are already provisions of a generous kind to help him. In the case we are considering, however, the houses have been built for the general public by a public authority for public purposes, and they are another class altogether, and this House should no more allow public property acquired in that way to be used for private purposes than we should allow them to alienate the use of Hyde Park.
If a man wants to spend money in order to provide houses for his employés, there are provisions which enable him to do so, but it is wrong for him to alienate public property built for general public purposes in that way.
The whole effect of this provision will be to encourage sales of houses built by people who have paid a good deal more for them than they will receive when they sell them. But I do not wish to argue this point as it was argued at great length in 1919. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir F. Banbury) thinks it is right and fair that public money spent for public purposes should be handed over to a private individual to use for his own private purposes.
At any rate, that is what this provision means. If hon. Members will consult the Housing Act, they will see it laid down that where land has been acquired it shall be used for the purpose for which it was acquired within a reasonable time and that there should be a limit as to the rent. All that is now removed. I can quite understand this may encourage competition, but what will it mean? The local authority has acquired land for these purposes by compulsory order. It is enabled compulsorily to acquire land, whereas the private individual has no such power. The local authority having used its powers under the Housing Act to acquire the land, it is now proposed, the land having been acquired in that way, that the local authority shall be able to re-sell it to any private individual to do what he likes with it, without any conditions being imposed at all. Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, is in fact to be repealed, and with the repeal go the limitations with regard to building within a reasonable period and as to rent. There is no doubt about it that what the proposal really is is that this land and these houses which have been acquired by the local authority, armed as it is with special powers for taking land compulsorily, are to be made over without condition to private individuals—to the profiteers to do with as they like. I do not mind an individual making as much profit as he can out of any transaction, but I do object to the powers embodied in a Statute of the Realm, which enables a local authority to take land compulsorily from one man, being used to enable that land to be sold to another man who will be able to gamble with it as ho likes. That is what the proposal amounts to.
Then I come to other proposals dealing with insanitary property. They look very innocent on the face of the Bill, but as a matter of fact what they do is this. By Clause 14, Sub-section (1) of this Bill, the amount which under Section 7 of the Housing Act, 1919, is to be contributed by the Minister of Health towards the loss incurred by a local authority in the carrying out of a re-housing scheme is to be-such amount as the Minister, after consultation with the local authority, may determine, so, however, that the contribution shall not exceed the sum which, but for the provisions of the Sub-section, would have been payable under the said Section 7 and the Regulations made there under. Section 7 here referred to enables a local authority which acquires or improves or reconstructs under a re-housing scheme to get its losses over and above the proceeds of a penny rate reimbursed to it. This Clause 14 makes a clean sweep of the whole of the rights of the authority under the existing law and substitutes for them something which the Minister, after consultation with the authority, may determine, and that is the only guarantee that the local authority has that it will get any money which the Minister after consultation may grant in respect of such works. But an authority will not undertake such work unless it is assured of what it is going to get. What, however, is the amount to be devoted in the whole of Great Britain, to enable the Minister of Health and the Secretary for Scotland, to improve slums? It is £200,000 and of that we have been told by the Secretary for Scotland that the share of Scotland is to be about £30,000. I take it that that £30,000 was arrived at more or less on a basis of population. Let us see how the thing will work out.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lady-wood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) some time ago presided over a Committee which presented a very able Report on Unhealthy Areas. On the basis of the popu- lation, out of this £200,000, of which £30.000 will go to Scotland, I estimate the City of Leeds will get £4,000. This city, we are told in this Report, has got about 72,000 insanitary and unsatisfactory houses, built on the back-to-back principle, with no air space between them. 12,000 of the houses seem to be fairly decent, and not much is required to be done in their case. There are 27,000 more houses which are built in blocks of eight. These may be described as the second best. The people who occupy them have to come out of the houses and walk along the street some distance to the sanitary accommodation, which is provided between each block of eight houses. Then there are 33,000 houses which, we are told in the Report of my hon. Friend's Committee, are so bad, so atrocious, so abominable, so unhealthy, that the only thing to be done is to clear the whole lot away and to replace them by new dwellings. That is the problem in front of Leeds. If the local authority is to deal with it, if it is to replace these 33,000 houses, all that will be available out of this £200,000 will be a sum of £4,000, or about a half-a-crown per house per annum. That is all that will be available from the Government in order to sweep away these wholly abominable buildings. This is what the speeches about homes fit for heroes to live in, and about the crime of bringing men back from the front to live in dwellings of this nature, have resulted in—an allowance of about half-a-crown each per annum for the smaller half of the unsatisfactory dwellings known to exist in Leeds at the present time.
It is astonishing we should have a proposal of this nature, sandwiched in the middle of a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill drafted ostensibly to deal with a number of minor economies. It was not even mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expounded the Measure to the House of Commons. I think that is a revelation to the House. It may be a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, but is does not raise small questions of policy. It raises great questions of policy. Many of the provisions, no doubt, deal with sixpences and pennies which will be filched from the average person's pocket by these expedients and by limitations to be practised on poor men. The real economies in the Bill are not big economies such as those recommended by the Geddes Committee; they are the economies, more or less, of the man in the street, and are apart from these great changes of policy. As a matter of fact, this Bill ought to be called a Limitation of the Rights of the People and a Breach of Pledges Bill. That is what it really is, and I hope that hon. Members who share my view will support me in opposing it, as I intend to do, line by line.
My right hon. Friend has made a long and detailed examination of the Bill. I do not propose to deal with the whole of his speech, but he has fallen into so many errors on the Section with which my Ministry is concerned that I am bound to say, if his criticisms of the rest of the Bill are as ill-founded as those on this particular section, then I am afraid their value must be regarded as very small indeed. My right hon. Friend launched a long attack on the amount of money which has been devoted by Parliament for the improvement of the slums. I may say in passing that, in spite of my right hon. Friend's denunciation of the amount which is now available for that purpose, when I took office I found that there was no provision whatever made, and nothing was being done to deal with slum questions.
No money had been voted for the purpose, and no scheme had been sanctioned. Nothing whatever had been done to clear away one single slum property. I am doing not only what my right hon. Friend did when he was in office, but I. am actually taking steps to clear away slums and to make the best use of the small amount of money which Parliament has placed at my disposal. With that money we have been enabled to enter into agreements with local authorities all over the country, under which, if these local authorities will contribute a certain portion of their rates to the clearance of slums, my Department undertake to contribute an equal and perhaps a larger amount. This Bill does away with the absurdity—I do not know how my right hon. Friend allowed it ever to creep into his Bill—that if slums are cleared away the State shall be responsible for any deficit over and above the proceeds of a penny rate. How the penny rate as affecting housing was ever allowed to creep into the financial provisions of my right hon. Friend's Bill I have never been able to understand. I am sure that it was an oversight in the construction of that Bill, because it immensely limits what it is possible to do. The London County Council have now a scheme which they claim will in 12 years clear away the whole of the slums of London. It was put forward at a meeting of their Housing Committee to-day. They are prepared to find a very large sum of money, and, as the law stands to-day, I could not grant them any money at all except on this condition. There are three or four other authorities who are also in the same position.
In Leeds, the condition as regards housing is deplorable, and, with the limitation of a penny rate, my £200,000 would cover very few houses, but, if they will put up 50 per cent. and I put up 50 per cent., we can do four times as much as we can at present. It is not an economy in the sense of relieving taxation, but is a redistribution of the burden. I am anxious, with the help of the local authorities, to do as much in the way of slum clearance as can be done with the money which Parliament has put at my disposal, and I shall be able to do that by means of this Clause. I am very glad that the local authorities are coming forward in the way they are, and it is very creditable to them. They are ready to waive the penny rate, and I want Parliament to give me that liberty which will enable me to work in conjunction with them. My right hon. Friend says that the local authority must know where it stands. Of course it must, and we shall settle with them before starting what their contribution is to be. But we do not want to be bound by this hard-and-fast limit of a penny rate, which is an absurdity. My right hon. Friend is just as much opposed to it as I am, so it is useless for him to stand in a white sheet and cast ashes on his head.
Not at all. We shall not spend any more money. I do not say that this money will deal with the slum problem, but it will go a long way towards it. It is a redistribution. This Clause enables me to make for the State a better bargain with the local authorities in regard to clearing slum areas than I should be able to do under the limitation of a penny rate.
The taxpayer will contribute, and the ratepayer, if he wishes to have the slums cleared away, will, of course, have to contribute, but that is entirely at his option. There are, however, people in this country who wish to see the slums cleared away.
Why call it economy? I am not against having slums cleared away, but I am against a Bill being brought in, under the title of Economy, which will necessitate further encroachments on the ratepayers' pockets.
There certainly will be an economy in national welfare if the slums are cleared away. To deal with another point which my right hon. Friend raised, I think he misunderstood to a large extent the reasons why I wish to do away with the restrictions on the sale of certain lands. The local authorities, under the housing scheme, have a considerable amount of surplus land. In the original Housing Act there was a mysterious and obscure provision, the meaning of which no one has been able to explain to me, but which will undoubtedly form a kind of blot on the title of this land, and will prevent its sale to private people for the purpose of building houses. The local authorities have certain land which they do not want and upon which they cannot build. There are builders who are ready to build houses, which are badly needed, if they can buy the land. Where is the common sense in keeping this land tied up indefinitely, instead of allowing the local authority to sell it at the best price they can obtain?
It is in Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Housing Act, 1919. That Sub-section runs as follows:
Where a local authority under this Section sell or lease land subject to any conditions as to the erection thereon of houses or the laying out and construction of streets or the development of the land, there shall be included in the conveyance or lease all such covenants and conditions as may be necessary to secure compliance with the condition aforesaid within a reasonable period, and to limit the amount of the rent which may be charged in respect of the land or any part thereof or in respect of the houses erected thereon.…
The aforesaid condition referred to is as follows:
Provided that it shall be a condition of such sale or lease that the houses shall not be used by any person for the time being having any interest therein for the purpose of housing persons in his employment.
That would prevent an employer of labour from buying the land and building houses on it for his workpeople. The local authorities are anxious to sell, and, after all, they are acting for us. The State is finding the money, and not the local authorities, and we are trying to get out of a very bad bargain. My right hon. Friend still does not understand in what a bad bargain his scheme landed us. We desire to give the option of selling these houses to an employer who might use them for his workmen, and thus make them into tied houses. The Geddes Committee reported in favour of the compulsory sale of all local authorities' houses, and local authorities in many eases are anxious to sell. The large employer of labour who may be anxious to buy the houses is probably the readiest, if not the only, buyer that they can get. Why should he not be allowed to buy them?
Can he turn them out as long as the Rent Restrictions Act goes on? After all, he is only going to use them to house people for whom the houses were designed. If the local authority docs not wish to sell, it is not compelled to sell.
No, but if they wish to sell I wish them to obtain the best price they can, and so diminish the enormous loss of some £9,500,000 of the taxpayers' money. These are not merely theoretical considerations, but have emerged from consultation with the local authorities, who have been constantly dealing with this problem, and I would urge the House not, on merely theoretical grounds, to make more difficult the task of liquidating this enormously costly scheme in a practical business way. This agitation in regard to tied houses is one of the most theoretical agitations I have ever known. It is a most unbusinesslike proceeding, to my mind. It is an endeavour to interfere with the freedom, both of the local authorities and of the Minister, as representing the taxpayer, to deal with this property in the best and most beneficial way. I thought that this explanation was due to the House, because I do not think that my right hon. Friend, in his very picturesque speech, really put the actual case before the House. He devoted a great deal of his attention to the really irrelevant question as to whether the amount of money voted by Parliament for slum clearance was adequate. I am not going to quarrel with him on that point, and, indeed, I imagine that it would not be strictly in order on this Bill, though when occasion arises I am quite ready to explain what has been and is being done with what I admit to be the very small amount of money at our disposal. In view, however, of the great fall in prices in the building trade, and the better economic conditions which exist to-day, I feel that we shall be able to achieve much better results than I anticipated when I first made this modest proposal.
I do not propose to enter into the mutual recriminations between the ex-Minister of Health and the present Minister, nor to explore the collectivist view which is still so con sistently maintained by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison), or the die-hard view of the present Minister. I thought that the Minister of Health, in his reference to Clause 14, made out a very bad case for economy, because it is absolutely no economy to save money to the taxpayer and then to suggest that you are not really going back on your policy because the ratepayer will make it up. Personally, I think that if there is any line that this House ought to take now, it is that the rates need reducing more than anything else, for they are proving a greater burden on industry and a, greater hindrance to the recovery of trade than probably any other form of taxation. Therefore, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's explanation of Clause 14 is sufficiently satisfactory. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreditch that this is a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill of the very worst kind, because it is drafted in such a form that no Member of Parliament can understand it, certainly no elector can understand it, and, still less can any of the people who are vitally concerned with some of its Clauses understand it.
When we are attempting to carry out economy the first thing we want to know is precisely how much we are going to save, and we have not been told by the Government what this Bill is going to save. As the House goes through the Bill Clause by Clause, we ought to be told exactly what these Clauses are going to save the taxpayer and what they are going to cost other people, because some of them are merely shifting the burden from one pocket to the other, without effecting any real economy, such as undoubtedly would be effected if the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) were put into the Bill, that the Ministry of Transport should be abolished. I think it would be clearly within the scope of the Bill to move such a Clause. The Ministry of Transport makes work and attracts work, and encourages all kinds of unnecessary statistics and interference, for which the Board of Trade would not have time. I am sure that if we could get rid of the Ministry of Transport, lock stock and barrel, with its separate representation by a separate Minister in this House and in another place, we should effect a very real economy. After the Railways Act of last year there was absolutely no reason, to my mind, why we should keep on this new Ministry, and if we could only cut down the number of separate Ministers and Under-Secretaries and separate things of that kind, I am sure we should be doing more for economy than by abolishing the inspection of seamen's food on ships and some of the provisions which are found in this Bill.
What I particularly wish to protest against is Clause 12. it is the most penny wise and pound foolish Clause which has ever been introduced. I do not believe the trustees of the British Museum want it in the least, and it will only lead to great inconvenience. The worst thing about it is not the intention, which is, no doubt, to keep out the small children—some, no doubt, are ragamuffins—by imposing a charge, but the iniquitous thing, to my mind, is that the whole question as to the number of days on which a charge should be made and what the amount of the charge should be is taken out of the hands of Parliament and is placed in the hands of the Treasury to make Regulations. I hope no Parliament will pass a Clause imposing for the first time a charge on the entry into our two principal museums without laying down very emphatically what it should be, and not leave it to the Treasury to make Regulations from time to time. Parliament ought not to allow these things to go out of its control. I oppose it altogether, because I am sure it is not sufficient to allow students to go in free under special permits. You might make Regulations allowing readers of the British Museum to go in free, but that is not enough. What you really lose if you impose charges is potential students. If you put charges on, you prevent a certain number particularly of young people, going to the museum at all, and it is only if they go that they may become interested, and may study and attend the admirable lectures which are now given, and so take up the subject and become research students. I believe you would lose the ten or dozen research students you get, both in the National History Museum and the British Museum, each year, coming from quite humble homes, very often from the elementary schools, if for the first time in our history you impose a charge, which would bring in practically nothing—a mere bagatelle of a few odd hundreds a year—and which will, I believe, do infinite harm to the cause of science and art. It is the sort of economy which is not worth making. It is the sort of economy that is absolutely trilling. Although we are in a bad way financially, with a £900,000,000 Budget, still we are a pretty great people and a pretty rich country, and at least we can afford that the National History Museum and the British Museum should be open free to the British public. So, if I can get on the Grand Committee, I shall move the deletion of that Clause, or try, at any rate, to amend it out of all knowledge, and prevent the Treasury getting control of our museums.
As to what is to be done with the Bill, I think it ought to be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House. It touches so many different aspects of Government and of the national life—teachers, police, health, housing, museums, petroleum, even Scotland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that it should be divided and that half should go to the Scottish Committee and half to an English Committee. We English Members know what happens in the Scottish Committee. The Scotchmen get better terms than the English, and we shall have great divergencies in the Scottish and the English parts of the Bill, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman's plan is quite impossible. Otherwise we shall have to spend days on Report bringing the Amendments carried by the two Committees into consonance one with the other. I cannot imagine a more unsatisfactory proposal. There is one further reason why the Bill should be referred to a Committee of the Whole House. I received a copy with my papers on Friday morning. It is put down for Second Reading practically a Parliamentary day after it is introduced. It is one of the most complex and hastily and peculiarly drafted Measures which I should think has ever been introduced. I am sure, when the interests affected get to know its contents, Members of Parliament will receive a great many representations. I cannot profess to understand all these things about merchant shipping and all these highly technical subjects affecting limited classes of the community, but on Clause 19, one of the few Clauses which is not legislation by reference, you can get a rough idea of what really is intended, and what is intended is the very laudable object of scrapping some of our smaller police authorities. I have always been in favour of that policy. There is a large number of boroughs which maintain a separate police force—quite a small force—which, in the interests of efficiency and economy, ought to be merged into the County Police. But that is a highly controversial question, and there are boroughs up and down the country which will want to know exactly what this Clause is going to do, and still more, what is going to be the position of their present head constables and on what terms the members of their force are going to be absorbed in a larger force. There is practically nothing in the Clause on these very important matters. It is all left to the Home Office to put the matter through, except that a perod of three months is given in which it may be done by an agreement. Look how far it is going. It is going to deprive all the boroughs, which are not county boroughs of 50,000 population and over, of their separate police force. It is quite an important Measure in itself, and it is introduced in the second week in July when we are told it is hoped the House may rise early in August. You are including a Measure of that kind in a highly controversial Bill ranging over the whole area of Government. It is most unfortunate the way the Government instruct their draughtsmen in matters of this kind and the way they produce Bills of this kind. It is such another miscellaneous provisions Bill as was really responsible for the downfall of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shore-ditch.
Why was not the whole of the education part of the Bill dealt with along with the superannuation of teachers when the educational proposals arising out of the Report of the Geddes Committee were being considered some little time ago? Surely the President of the Board of Education should have introduced a separate Bill dealing with the whole subject of education as arising out of the Geddes Report, and not have this bit of it here and a bit of it in another Bill. In the interests of sound legislation and of good Parliamentary machinery, a Bill of this kind, although it has a high-sounding title of economy—that is a spring to catch woodcocks—should not be introduced in this form. The Department should have brought forward any legislation which was necessary to give effect to the recommendations of the Geddes Committee in so far as those recommendations were approved by the House. Then each Minister in turn would have given an account of the expenditure of his Department, and told us how much money would be saved by the legislation respecting that Department, and we should have known where we were. This Bill, introduced at this period of the Session, printed on a Friday, Second Reading on Monday, to go to two Committees upstairs, is not the real way to get true economy. We want something far better and deeper than this. This is merely trifling with the subject of economy. It is only dealing with the mere fringe of it, and I think the House would be well advised if they declined to proceed with the Measure before the Autumn Session, when matters can be thoroughly gone into, and we could get new suggestions as to where real economies might be effected, and give the people affected by the Bill a fair chance of being heard and making their case as to whether we are really doing justice to the people who are vitally concerned.
I rise to support those who are in favour of the rejection of the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is enunciated for us in the Preamble. It says it is a Bill designed to make provisions with a view to promoting economy and efficiency in public administration. That is entirely a misnomer of the effects of the Bill. A far more appropriate title would be "a Bill to promote waste and to increase inefficiency." There is not the faintest doubt that, accepting a fairly general interpretation of the word "economy" and not a narrow one, this Bill is going to fail completely in its purpose. Let me not be misunderstood. I entirely agree that there is a case for economy in public administration. I believe in various departments of public activity there is a good deal of waste and extravagance, and indeed a duplication of certain services, but this Bill will in no wise promote economy, and it certainly will not tend towards efficiency in the public service. The Bill reflects that type of mind which makes the mistake of supposing that the mere saving of money is economy. Every saving is not economy, and every spending of money is not necessarily waste. There is a form of spending that is really a saving, and there is a form of saving that is in actual effect a form of spending. It is quite possible for a parent to abstain from expending money upon some particular commodity for the benefit of the child, and in that abstention the parent actually, so far from promoting real economy, although he may be saving money, is in effect spending, perhaps, the health of the child. The true economy is that form of economy which lays emphasis upon the more useful social service and gives it priority over the less useful. The proposals of this Bill are a direct negation of the terms of its Preamble. I submit, further, that this Bill is a mean and contemptible Bill, because it seeks to save at the expense of the least defended members of the community. It seeks to save money—I am speaking primarily of the education proposals—at the expense of the children. I boldly declare that that form of saving is a very contemptible form. Not only does it save at the expense of the children, but it pledges the future of those children in order to pay for the follies of the present. You have no right to foist upon the children of to-morrow the burdens which the people of to-day ought to accept. On that ground the proposal is a peculiarly mean form of economy, if it is any economy at all.
In the proposal to limit educational opportunity, the Bill condemns the children of to-morrow to a far more bitter struggle in the battle of life in order that the people of the present generation may-escape the consequences of their own folly. It shows, moreover, a very significant principle, and one that the Bill admits, namely, that our Government are far more in fear of taxation than they are of ignorance. The Bill seeks to save the 1s. Income Tax, which the well-to-do have been given, by taking away from the children their copy books. That seems to me a very mean and contemptible form of economy. There was a time in this country, not many years ago, when various promises were being made in regard to social betterment. They were made rather profusely in the time of the War. I will not quote from those various promises, but I may inform the Colonial Secretary that there is more than one person who can produce a black book. It would be fairly easy to produce a black book which would be distinguished by the name of every Gentleman on the Government Bench, not excepting the Prime Minister. This Bill deprives the living of the elementary rights that ought to be theirs, because they are citizens, and the children of citizens. It not only tricks the living, but by reason of the making of these various promises it actually mocks the dead. What is the excuse that is advanced? The excuse is that the country cannot afford it. I advise the Minister of Education to go through the returns which were presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to one of the hon. Members on this side of the House, indicating the number of people who are in the enjoyment of incomes over £5,000 a year and up to £100,000 a year. I point out the significant fact that the number of people in this country in 1919–20 in possession of incomes of over £100,000 per annum was more than double the number of people in possession of like incomes in the year 1913–14. We observe in this country evidence on every hand of the superfluity of wealth, and when we observe this superfluity of wealth—
I was making the point that it is absurd and wrong as a matter of public policy to cut down these very necessary public services on the ground of the necessity of economy. If you rule that that is not in order, I accept your ruling. I observe in the early part of the Bill a proposal concerning the exclusion of children between the ages of five and six from the elementary schools. I am rather surprised to see this proposal in the Bill, because I have refreshed my memory with the words which the Chancellor of the Exchequer used in referring to the Geddes proposals on 1st March:
Now I turn to the other matter in connection with education, namely, the question of the exclusion of children from school under the age of six years. It is perfectly true that in this country we take children to school at an earlier ago than in any other country in the world, and it might be contended that in these times of great monetary stringency it would be justifiable to alter that system and prevent children coming to school at so early an age; but"—
I particularly draw the attention of the President of the Board of Education to what follows—
we must all recognise what are the social effects of what we have done. There is no question at all that the health of the children of this country has been immensely improved by reason of the medical treatment and care which they get at school at these tender years, and at a time like this it would he nothing less than a great injury to a very many homes in this country if, when you have women battling with the difficulties of life, and trying to support their children, they were forced to keep their children away from school, where they at present get the only mothering and the only attention which is by any chance available. For these reasons, the Government has felt it impossible to recommend to the House that the proposals of the Geddes Committee in this matter should be adopted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1922; cols. 432–3, Vol. 151.]
Further, it is pointed out in the Bill that it is the duty of local authorities to make provision for the education of children between the ages of five and six whose parents desire them to attend school.
The President of the Board of Education answers that it is an obligation upon the local authority to provide for the education of children between these ages, if the parents apply; but he will admit that, unfortunately— we certainly regret the fact—there are a very large number of people who have no very great regard for education. That is true. It is not general, but there is a small proportion of such people, but because there is that small proportion of parents who do not like education for their children, that is not the slightest reason why we should allow those children to be deprived of the right of education. We must step in where the parents fail to do their proper duty. Therefore, I suggest that it is a very unfortunate provision to exclude these children unless their parents formally demand that provision shall be made for them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was perfectly right when he suggested that the effect upon the health of the children at these early ages in the elementary schools is very substantial. Without the schools, their park is nothing but the public street, and their pleasure ground is amidst the filth and refuse of the roadside. They have to make their sand-castles at the edge of the kerb. Therefore, I suggest that it is most unfortunate that the President of the Board of Education should have accepted this proposal to make the attendance of children between the ages of five and six permissive, rather than compulsory. I would not like the children between the ages of five and six to have a hard type of instruction in the schools, but rather that we should preserve for them that healthy atmosphere and that contract with better and nobler things that the school may give, as compared with the slum or the overcrowded street.
In regard to the- question of making this matter permissive instead of compulsory, I fear the same result will follow that has actually happened in London. During the elections last March for the London County Council—I have evidence that I can give, if necessary—when it came to be known in London that the continuation schools were not to be compulsory, a candidate for public honours in London not merely made it known that it was permissive, but openly advised parents not to send their children to continuation schools. The same thing will happen again if this particular proposal is made permissive. Unscrupulous people will egg on those who are indifferent to education to take advantage of this permissive provision. This means a postponement for a year, and by that postponement the medical attention and supervision which is now given to these children between the ages of five and six will be removed, and certain physical defects and physical diseases will have had time to secure a firm grip upon the delicate constitutions of these children. The consequence will be that these children's lives will become a burden to themselves, and the sickness that will supervene in later years will make them a burden upon the community as a whole. False economy in these days will in later years involve this country in greater social expenditure by way of provision for ameliorative institutions. Therefore it comes to this, that closing the schools to these children between the ages of five and six will involve providing hospitals for them at a later date in their lives.
I have referred to the valuable effect of contact between these young lives and the formative influences provided for them in the elementary schools, and, speaking as one who has had some little to do with the teaching of children, I regard the loss of this year by way of preparatory educational work as being extremely unfortunate. When I spoke on this question of the children of five or six on a previous occasion an hon. Member opposite asked why their mothers did not attend to them. An inquiry was conducted in Manchester some months ago to discover how many mothers in Manchester had to leave their children during the day in order to do work, and the result was interesting and significant. There were in Manchester some 2,400 mothers of children between five and six years old, who had to go out to work day after day, and had to leave behind some 4,200 of these children, who were left to the mercies of anybody who might be charitable or otherwise towards them.
Then consider the effect of the proposed alteration upon the teachers. One of the effects of this proposal will be that, if all the parents accept the permissive character, and keep the children at home, then, taking an average of 60 pupils per teacher, as there will he something like 600,000 children concerned, some 10,000 teachers will be without work. They will therefore become unemployed. In addition there are every year about 5,000 emerging from the colleges after having been trained. There are 2,000 people every year who qualify to become uncertificated teachers. That gives 17,000 teachers who, directly or indirectly, will be affected by this proposal. What does the Minister of Education propose to do for those displaced teachers? They would have to join the unemployed: will they get unemployed benefit? Is it economy in the best sense of the term to have a large number of young people, some of whom, as I know7 very well, have spent anything from £150 to £300 training themselves for two years in a university college, and who have reached the age of 19, 20 or 21, thrown upon the unemployed market at that very unfortunate age? They will lose heart and join the flotsam and jetsam of humanity, and the Government hold out no hope that these people may in the near future look forward to reinstatement in the job for which they have fitted themselves
Therefore I submit, that so far from this being a Bill for promoting economy, it is promoting the worst form of waste. Not
only is it not promoting efficiency but it is creating actual inefficiency. The experience of all people in touch with education is that if you are out of touch with educational institutions for two years you are in grave danger of losing contact with the progressive ideas in that particular work So I suggest that something ought to be done to save this kind of thing befalling the teachers, not because they are teachers, but because they are the men and women who are called upon to be responsible for the young, imaginative mind, in its most impressionable days. In its report for the year 1916–17 the Board of Education says:
We concluded our review of the question last year by stating it as our opinion that a continuance of the present shortage of supply would not only preclude such improvement as increase in the length of school life or reduction in the size of classes, but would gravely imperil the maintenance of the level of efficiency in elementary schools which was reached before the War. The situation however must at best continue for some years to be critical, and will continue to need most careful consideration from all who are concerned in the national system of education.
Then in the Report for 1917–18 they say:
We have found it necessary for years past to call attention to the serious deficiency in the supply of teachers for elementary schools.
In the Report for 1918–19 they have the same phrase, the same sentence. In the Report for 1919–20 they say:
The increase in the number of candidates last year and the further increase during the present year may, we think, be attributed mainly to an increasing appreciation on the part of candidates of the prospects now offered by the teaching profession. But however attractive any ultimate prospects may he made they would not meet the immediate needs. If a sufficient number of boys and girls are to be able to complete the period of education and training required, liberal assistance on the part of the local education authorities will be required.
Yet under one of the proposals of this Bill the very education authorities who have taken the Board of Education at its word are to be told that, for the future, they are to be rationed by way of grant from the Treasury, and, having been egged on by the Board of Education itself to be efficient in the progress of education, they are now to discover that the money for that progress is not forthcoming. I submit that that is a gross breach of faith with the public
authorities, which, I hope, the Minister of Education will not be allowed to forget.
I pass now to the question of higher education. Everyone admits that there has been a remarkable phenomenon in connection with secondary education in this country in recent years. Never before has there been such a remarkable demonstration of anxiety on the part of the working folk of this country to give their children a secondary education In the county of Glamorgan, in which I was a member of the Education Committee last year and the year before, they had more applications for places in secondary schools than ever. In Manchester it is the same. All over the country the people are demonstrating a desire to avail themselves of the provision of secondary education for their children. Now a committee appointed by the Government itself has actually recommended that more free places should be provided. That report was discussed at great length by the Welsh Council of Education not very long ago. They welcomed the proposal with open arms, and their own reservation was that the proposal of the committee did not go far enough.
In Wales who love education too much to be prepared to contemplate it being cut down to any degree. Moreover the disparity between the number of pupils in secondary schools and elementary schools is very grave indeed. While there were 6,000,000 pupils in elementary schools, there were only 339,000 in secondary schools last year, showing that the provision for secondary education is already hopelessly inadequate. Most public schools not only are full, but they have now waiting lists that will last for years. The secondary schools, similarly, cannot find places for all the applicants. Yet we have a Government that has taught the people to believe that there was going to be a new world, a new relationship between men, a new happy state of contentment and well-being in this country of ours, now saying, "We cannot afford it, because the new world is going to cost too much." Not only are right hon. Gentlemen opposite imposing a restriction, but there are other causes imposing a restriction as well. In my part of the country I happened to sit upon the board of governors of the endowed school until recently, and at meeting after meeting of those governors we had appeals from coal miners begging the governors to release them from their undertaking to keep their boys and girls for three or four years at the secondary schools, because, with the new industrial depression that has come upon South Wales and other parts of the country, they are simply compelled to recognise that they cannot carry on as things are. And then, in addition, the Government comes along and says. "We can only preserve a certain number of free places, and priority must go to those who can afford to pay." I protest against this. It is a mean thing, because it is availing themselves of the poverty of the people.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman did not understand me to mean that. I merely meant that by reason of the new circumstances the governors of necessity will be compelled to choose those who can pay rather than those who cannot pay.
That does not quite represent the facts. What we have said is that the present proportion as between free places and fee payers shall not be disturbed.
That is all very well, but if the right hon. Gentleman gives the education authorities block grants and limits them entirely to block grants the obvious result will be that they will have to review their activities and limit the opportunities for advanced education according to the measure of the block grant which they will receive. Not only does the Government propose to interfere, as it will interfere, with elementary and secondary education, but of necessity also it will interfere with the efficiency of the universities. I would ask hon. Members, men who have been themselves successful in business, who have been able to bask in the sunshine of fortune, whether, as a matter of fact, they do not owe a very deep debt of gratitude, in the building up of their fortunes, to the universities of this country? The universities provided them with their scientists, their chief engineers, and their leading men. I ask them why, now that their fortunes have been made, the universities which fitted
out their leading men should be starved by financial poverty? I suggest to the Government that, whatever else they do, they should in no wise limit the opportunities for development of our university work. It is already "cribb'd, cabin'd and confin'd" enough. The university of which I know most is anxious at this moment to embark on a very big advance educationally, but if this proposal of the Government should go through, that university will be sadly impoverished and a large number of my young fellow countrymen will be prevented from giving their best to the nation. The Prime Minister has already expressed in this House his view of the value of education. On 23rd July, 1920, he gave expression to these words in answer to a question:
There is no more pressing necessity than measures for raising the standard of mental and physical efficiency in this country.
On 11th November, 1920, he went further and said:
I think it would be very serious—I could not conceive anything more serious than that the nation should come to the conclusion that it cannot afford to give a good education to its children.
This Bill is an attempt to cut down the opportunities for education of the poor. The children of the rich, whom I congratulate upon their opportunity, are not one whit the worse off. Their playing fields are not cut down, their schools are not over-crowded, and they are doing well. Why are the children of the poor to be deprived of a similar chance of progress in the educational world? The nation is presently to be confronted with a great rivalry with other nations. Already America and Japan are doing their best to acquire the use of the best brains that they can secure in order to make their commercial development as prosperous as possible. I do not wish my own nation to be backward in this great race of life. I desire that England, too, shall stand in the forefront in the matter of education. Therefore, I urge upon this House that this Bill should be rejected, because, if We are to place reliance upon a national institution builded on the shifting sands of ignorance, rather than on the solid rock of knowledge, the time will come when the winds of adversity will beat upon it, and the fall thereof will be very great indeed.
Tempting as it would be to reply to some of the remarks of the last speaker, I propose to confine my few observations to the speech of ray hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) in relation to Clause 12. My hon. Friend referred to Clause 12 as wholly injurious and pernicious. It is a mere guess on my part, but nevertheless I feel sure that that Clause has not been inserted in the Bill in reply to any pressure brought to bear by the Trustees of the British Museum. The question of charging entrance fees for going into public museums is by no means a new question. There are, entrance fees on certain days at the National Gallery, at the Wallace Collection, and at other museums. My hon. Friend implied that the charging of an entrance fee at the British Museum would keep poor people out of the museum. It would, no doubt, have that effect on certain days. But there is no proposal to charge entrance fees every day or most days of the week. Experience shows that the effect of charging entrance fees is not to reduce the attendance at the museums of which I have been able to obtain statistics. The Wallace Museum, of which I am a trustee, had an attendance during 1913 of 111,000 persons. The museum was closed for several years during the War, and was open only last year, and the fact that it had been opened did not become very generally known at first. The entrance fee has been increased. The attendance in the first six months of this year has been 61,000. If it were maintained at the same rate to the end of the year the figure of attendance would be considerably higher than was that for the last year, when there was no payment for admission. The National Gallery has always had an entrance fee on certain days. In that case the fee has been doubled. The attendance for 1919 was 512,000 people. In 1921, since the fee was raised, the attendance was 559,000.
But there is a much more important point to be considered. At present we have to submit to economy in all kinds of ways. I am the last who wishes to economise on museums. What is the alternative we have to face? Either we must economise in purchases or we must raise money for purchases by some new method. The present moment happens to be one when museums have the opportunity of purchasing valuable additions to their collections at an uncommonly cheap rate. If now the purchase fund were greatly reduced or completely exhausted, this extraordinarily precious opportunity would pass. At the National Gallery the entrance fees are ear-marked, and I presume that the entrance fees at the British Museum also will be earmarked for purchases. Last year the National Gallery obtained £1,382 out of entrance foes for purchases. The British Museum must either charge an entrance fee or the purchase fund must be cut down drastically. If that be the alternative, it is unfortunately necessary to agree to the charging of an entrance fee. One consideration of paramount importance is that the entrance fee shall not be applied to students using the library or the students' rooms at the British Museum for the purpose of research. I trust that an amendment will be accepted which will put that restriction into the Clause.
The hon. Member for Stafford referred to Treasury control as a kind of terrible horror. As Director-General of one museum and trustee of another, I have found Treasury control in every way helpful rather than injurious. I have found Treasury control of museums always enlightened control, helpful control, control which the museum authorities have more often to be thankful for than to criticise. I do not in the least object to Treasury control in the form in which this Clause is drawn. The power is generally used with great wisdom and moderation and I would prefer that the days of the week when fees may be charged were fixed by the Treasury than that they should be fixed by the House of Commons. In the one case you would certainly have an expert fully acquainted not only with the needs of one museum, but the general needs of all, and an expert who would assist the Treasury to arrive at the wisest possible decision, whereas I doubt whether the House of Commons as a body is really capable of examining the rather complicated questions which arise. While confident that this Clause will be so shaped that no fee will be charged to regular research students using the library and students' room of the British Museum for the purpose of research, I am bound reluctantly to admit that on the whole it is necessary to agree that on certain days fees may be charged for admission to the Museum.
This Measure might be met with passionate denunciation or treated with that ridicule which tends to kill. I wish to avoid both. At the outset I want to make an appeal to the Government. The condition of these benches at the moment in now way represents the importance of this Measure. But that is not surprising. I will guarantee that four-fifths of the House of Commons have not seen the inside of this Bill. I am very doubtful whether the Prime Minister—I am sorry he is not in the House at the moment—realises the conditions under which we are called upon to discuss this Bill. I notice that the order for the printing was given on 6th July I managed to get a copy on Saturday, but not until Sunday was I able to spend an hour over the contents of this Bill, and I did spend Sunday afternoon and evening trying to understand the Measure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I was in search of light literature at the moment, being confined to be under doctor's orders. My first astonishment was to find that this Measure was priced 6s. on the cover. When I got a copy to-day I found that was altered to 6d. Strangely enough, one of the Parliamentary Secretaries to the Treasury, who was by my side a few moments ago, had a. 6s. copy. This printer's error may account for the fact that multitudes of people outside who are interested in this Measure were unable to obtain copies on Saturday. The London County Council received itsfirstcopy—for consideration by a Committee—at three o'clock this afternoon, although this is a Measure which will disconcert the whole of municipal finance. Really, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer understand the importance of this Measure? He said it was a mere catalogue, and he said so in a light and airy way, as though it were the catalogue of a jumble sale. I assure him it is very much more than that.
Take Clause 4. We have had some forecast of that. It has been rumoured for some time past that the local education authorities were to be rationed. The very rumour has proved a disturbing influence and made it perfectly impossible for the great education authorities throughout England and Wales to make out their plans for the forthcoming year. We have not the least idea of the amount we are going to receive from the State I have a very lively interest in this question. I suppose it is now five-and-twenty years ago since I, with three or four other Members of this House, went to Mr. Arthur Balfour, as he then was, to draw attention to the serious disadvantage under which the London Education Authority was placed by virtue of the fact that the major costs of education fell upon the ratepayers and the minor costs fell upon the State. We continued to struggle year after year, until at last we thought we had reached a final settlement in the Act of 1918, whereby the State undertook to find 50 per cent. and the local authority 50 per cent. We have worked under that arrangement for a few years, and now what is to happen? We are to receive such amount as the Minister may determine within the limits of the Parliamentary grant. Hope will carry a local authority a long way. We may hope that we shall get a substantial sum, but hope is no guide to a Finance Committee in determining the rate which is to be levied upon a community during the forthcoming half-year. Unless, beforehand, we have some rough idea, at least, of the principle upon which the Minister proposes to work, how can we act?
This Bill does not give a single idea of the principle. The whole thing is to be at the discretion of the Minister within the Parliamentary amount. Subject to his discretion, we are to carry on as best we can, and I cannot foretell— no one can foretell—in what directions we may be crippled. That is only one of the important proposals in this omnibus Bill. It is large enough to demand the serious consideration of this House for three or four hours on Second Heading and large enough to occupy the attention of a Committee for some considerable time. Only those who know the intricacies of municipal finance and the close relationship it has with State finance, and the way in which Parliamentary grants are interwoven with local expenditure—only those who have had daily contact with that work for years can realise the enormous disturbing influence which arises locally when the State suddenly departs from a bargain. There was the bargain of 1918, as to the payment of 50 per cent. Of "lawful expenditure." Even in that case, within the last two or three years, the Board of Education have put a very stringent definition on the word "lawful." You cannot even run a motor-car to bring the children to school without the sanction of the Board of Education. We do not so much mind that. We do, at least, know who is going to pay. It is far better that the State should say, "We will give you one-half or one-third or some definite sum." In that case we do know where we are. But my county council sent to me this afternoon, and to many of my colleagues, a message to this effect: "Oppose this Clause. It places our finance in hopeless confusion; it gives us not the least guidance for the future and leaves everything at the discretion of the Minister of State."
It is not Clause 4 alone. We are in a worse position over Clause 14. I heard from the Minister of Health some words of praise of the London authority for attempting to grapple boldly with the housing problem in London. Let me say, in passing, there is not much encouragement to local authorities to put Acts of Parliament into operation as rapidly as may be, when they find time after time that after having done so, they are left in the lurch by Parliament. We put the Act into operation with regard to the Day Continuation Schools We are to be left in the lurch on that matter. We went ahead under the direct inspiration of the right hon. Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison), who was then the spokesman of the Government, with our housing plans. I myself had the pleasure of stating to him, when he was the Minister in charge, our position financially in that matter, and we eventually accepted the dicision that we were to bear the expense in the London area, amounting to a 1d. rate, which is about £220,000. We were to bear that expenditure annually for the London area, and the State would undertake the remainder. Now what are we to have? I do not know whether or not I can rightly interpret the Clause dealing with this matter. Who can tell what its effects will be? Housing experts have had no opportunity of looking at it, and these Clauses are certainly not clearly drafted. In fact, if I may refer to Clause 2 particularly, I doubt whether anything can be more misleading or cumbrous than its drafting. This Bill is not as clear as daylight. It has got to be scrutinised line by line and sentence by sentence; one Sub-section has to be read with the other Sub-section before we can know where we are with regard to it. Yet this is in a matter which involves an expenditure of millions in London alone. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not like anybody to serve him in that way in regard to his annual finance. He would not like some outside influence to suddenly turn round on him when part of the year's course had been run, and say, "Those sums of money upon which you counted are not forthcoming." He wants to look forward to his year's expenditure and to the means of raising that money with some certainty. Here again, in Clause 14, dealing with provision for housing, there is material for close scrutiny and material for conference. The local authorities and the State should be got together to find out whether this plan which is to take the place of the penny in the pound plan can be adjusted to suit the requirements both of the Government and the local authorities.
It is utter folly to call a transference of burdens national economy. I declare that any Committee which goes through this Bill in detail will be compelled at the end of its labours to alter the title of the Bill. No one could adhere to the title who examined the Clauses. There is far more transference of burdens than there is relief of burdens. I quite admit that, from the- Chancellor's point of view, he is going to gather in a little more money and avoid a little expenditure, but he is simply shifting it cither on to the individual or on to the local authority, and that occurrs Clause after Clause. I take a third question which is in itself sufficient for another Bill, and that is the question of the amalgamation of local police forces. If there is one question upon which Lancashire is, and has been for years, deeply agitated, it is the extent to which borough police shall be thrown into the county police, and how far one great borough shall exercise predominance over smaller borough, in the running of the police forces. I have not even had time to telegraph to my local authority for their opinion upon this Clause in time to get a telegraphed reply, yet the Bin is being hurried and scurried through the House of Commons. I said I would not use passionate language, but I am very much tempted to do so. Here is a Bill printed on the 6th, to foe read a Second time on the 10th, and copies are not available three days before that time. It is not decent. It is not fair to the House of Commons. It is not fair to the very many outside interests which are directly affected.
There are three measures in this Bill which call for the most cautious and complete investigation, and there is trouble in nearly every Clause. Clause 17 may seem a little thing to the House. It abolishes cotton statistics. I have had no opportunity of communicating with the Free Trade organisations of Manchester to ascertain whether the abolition of these statistics will destroy the cotton trade in the County Palatine. There might be as much mischief in this as in fabric gloves. I do not know, but these organisations know, and they will try to tell us as quickly as they can. With great wisdom the Government try to get the Measure through the House of Commons before anybody in the country can get to know what is inside it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot tell us that these things have been forecasted. I admitted that we had some rumour with regard to restrictions in educational finance, but frankly, the first time I had heard of any restriction on the housing expenditure was when I read the Clause of this Bill. With regard to the police forces, I understood, after the Report of the Desborough Committee had been acted upon, that this subject was for the time being exhausted. I thought that question was set aside. Let me put this, to whoever is leading the House at the moment. I wish to goodness the Prime Minister himself were here. I have always known him either as a strong friend or a very vigorous opponent, but I have always found him very fair in his treatment of the House of Commons. I am perfectly certain he would not wish to dragoon the House into passing this Measure during this Session if he appreciated the important questions which are raised in it. Let me put it, however, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I know that he imagined, and his friends who advised him imagined, that they were going to get five or six further Orders to-day. From what I can see, this discussion is going on until Eleven o'clock, because, when hon. Members who are not in the Chamber now, but are in the precincts of the House, get an inkling of what is going on, there will be a fresh rally of speakers. They are simply waiting because they do not know what is in it. Supposing you get the Second Reading to-day. How long is this Bill going to take in Committee? It is hopeless to try to divide it. I entirely agree that you cannot have the Scottish people coming down with one-Clause and the English people with another Clause. The wrangle that will happen when we try to reconcile the two will be far more acute, and will take up far more time, than if you attempt to deal with the Bill as a whole.
I have heard it suggested that the questions raised are of sufficient importance to justify the Bill being considered by a Committee of the whole House. If that be so, there will be no Recess between this and the Autumn Sessions, because there are sufficient materials in the Bill to occupy the time. One trifling Clause, the charging of a fee for admission to the British Museum, has already produced two speakers this afternoon. Let the House wait till the financial experts get on to the Clause to which I have referred, which rations the local authorities with regard to housing and education. Wait till they have been primed by their borough treasurers and have heard the views of local authorities on the matter, and see the recrudescence of speeches we shall have then. No, the right hon. Gentleman cannot get the Bill through a Committee of the whole House; that is perfectly impossible. It may go upstairs to a Grand Committee. I have served on Grand Committees a bit, and I have never known, excepting perhaps the Railways Bill, a more complex, widely distributed Measure than this. There is hardly a phase of public life that it does not touch, from the amount of money you shall grant for housing to the fee you shall take for transferring a corpse from one district to another. Trivialities! Where is the economy? How many of the corpses are you proposing to transfer? What will be the value of the fees you receive for them?
There are lots of things I want to know in regard to this Bill, and even in the arrangement of the Clauses there are references to Clauses in other Acts of Parliament. I have not got all these Acts of Parliament in my library. If I had, I could not have got through them even with the day's rest of yesterday. I do not know what I am asked to repeal, nor does any other hon. Member of the House. I am not a betting man, but I will guarantee that not a single hon. Member can tell us what all the Sections are, to which reference is made in this Bill, which have either to be amended or repealed. Yet we are asked to give the Bill a Second Reading, and we have no promise of what is to be done later on.
Here is one little thing, for example, which occurred to me yesterday. By the very last Clause of the Bill I learnt that it may apply to the North of Ireland except in so far as the powers referred to in the Bill are already vested in the Parliament of Ireland. I have not the faintest idea whether the Parliament of Northern Ireland can give a licence for the transfer of corpses or whether they cannot. I do not know whether this is an Irish function or one of the Reserved British Services. I do not know—I should like to know—whether the responsibility for serving out stale food to the sailors will rest with the Northern Parliament of Ireland, or whether that is a Reserved Service for the English. Yet I am asked to vote and to give a Second Reading expression of opinion upon all these things, into which no man in the House has had an opportunity of looking. A little while ago I felt almost, inclined to jump up and move the Adjournment of the Debate, in order to give the Minister of Health an opportunity of making himself acquainted with the meaning of the Clauses. Perhaps it is not altogether Parliamentary to refer to the fact that he was seeking assistance right and left, but I am inclined to think that even the Ministers behind this Bill might like to have some little time before they are called upon— as they will be called upon when we come down to the discussion of details—to justify every line and every comma in this very complex Measure.
It might have been expected that I should have said something about the Clauses in regard to education. I forbear, because this is a Measure which should have been broken into at least four. It should have been introduced as four separate Bills and properly debated by the House of Commons, with a full knowledge by everybody of what was going on and what was being done; with opportunities—I say it advisedly—of con- sulting with experts who have wider knowledge on many of the details in this Bill than any hon. Members of the House could hope to obtain. We are not all experts on every subject under the sun. It is impossible. I doubt whether even the Ministers on the Front Bench would claim that omniscience, and no private Member would. On some of these things you are bound to get advice.
I have said nothing, I am afraid, but what is condemnatory of the procedure and very largely condemnatory of the proposals. There is one little economy I can see in the Bill. It is proposed to abolish the office of the Keeper of the Minute Book—I do not know what that is —and the Record of Edictal Citations. I hope some Scottish hon. Friend will advise me how much economy will result, from the abolition of that office. There is only one comment I wish to make upon that. If the gentleman concerned is a man with a very small salary, it is hardly worth the paper this is printed on to abolish the office. If he is a gentleman with a very large salary he ought to have been abolished a long while ago. The Government surely could have found that out, yet now, with the outcry for the sweeping out of Whitehall and for a large diminution in the huge Civil Service of the country, we are, told that the Keeper of the Minute Book in Scotland is going to be abolished. I have pondered over the objects which the Government have in introducing this Bill. With all deference, I make a suggestion. This is not a Bill to secure economy, but to make the public believe the Government have been trying to get economy.
I can see, when an election is at hand, a Liberal speaker with a Liberal van going down to the agricultural districts and attacking this as a spendthrift Government that has done nothing in the way of economy. The Labour man, with his tub, will stand at the street corner and repeat the same tale, only in the vernacular. Then will come along the representative of the Coalition Ministry, with this Bill in hand. He will say, "All that you have heard is mere talk. Here is the Parliamentary Measure—the Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. You cannot deny that Parliament has done something. What has it done? It has repealed 57 and 58 Vict., c. 60, s. 206, and Edw. 7, c. 48, s. 26.
It has obtained or modified fees under 42 and 43 Vict., c. 47, s. 3. It has amended 8 Edw. 7, c. 67, s. 47, and so on. "What will be the effect on the bucolic mind? They will say, "Bless me," or something else, "I don't know what it all means, but it is clear they a done summat. This is an attempt on the part of the Government to make it clear that they have done "summat." I am afraid they are doing a great many people. I must be forgiven if I put the wrong motives on their actions, but I say, in all seriousness, that the Government cannot, with due regard to Parliamentary credit, force this Hill through the Committee stage this Session. If they do get their Second Reading this Session, they must be prepared to postpone the Committee stage until the Autumn Session or some later date. I tell them frankly that if they do not do that, the verdict of the country, and the verdict particularly of all engaged in public life outside this House, will be, "You have rushed the Measure through Parliament and have stolen our liberties away without giving us an opportunity of making any protest."
I intervene in this Debate at some disadvantage, owing to a slight physical disability. I nevertheless hope I shall succeed in making myself audible to the House. The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has in one respect over-estimated the effect of this Measure. He sees in it an attempt to revolutionise our system of Grants-in-Aid to local authorities. He sees in it a new departure, fraught with formidable consequences, and liable to overturn the close calculations of all those concerned in the administration of local affairs. I can assure him that that is not the effect, nor is it the intention, of Clause 4 of this Bill. What does Clause 4, in effect, provide? It provides that the Board of Education may limit any grants made to the local education authorities in such a manner as they may consider necessary) in order that the total grants may fall within the amount pro vided by Parliament in that year. We do not propose to change our grant system. Our grants will be administered under regulations, as they are now administered, but it will be within the recollection of the House that, when I presented the Education Estimates, I pointed out that they differed from the Estimates of previous years in that, for the first time, a limit was imposed upon expenditure for elementary and higher education. Those limits are perfectly well known to local education authorities. They are calculating their expenditure with the knowledge of those ultimate limits, and all this Clause in effect does is to give to the Hoard of Education the right of disallowing expenditure on the ground that it is likely to exceed the limits imposed on the authority. So far, therefore, from this Clause being calculated to throw into disarray the calculations of the local authorities, it has precisely the opposite effect, and will, I think, be cordially welcomed by local authorities all over the country. They will know where they are, and I may incidentally add that this provision may very well tend to relieve them to a great measure from the meticulous system of control which at present is necessary.
Now let me point out, with respect to the educational provisions—and I think this was treated largely by my hon. and gallant Friend—that the House has had very full warning of the intentions of the Government. The ration upon educational expenditure was fully explained to the House when the Education Estimates were debated. A month ago I received a very influential deputation from the London County Council asking me to relieve them of the obligation under which they were placed of enforcing attendance at day continuation schools, and on that occasion I gave to the London County Council a considered reply, which was published in the papers. Consequently, the House has had full warning of the substance of the proposal contained in Clause I of this Bill. Then, again, if we pass to Clause 2, the important proposal which makes it optional for parents either to send or not to send children between the ages of five and six to an elementary school, that is a proposal which I made in the country in a speech delivered at Kingston, immediately after the publication of the Geddes Report. I said I should regard it as a marked improvement in our educational law if the parents could be given such an option, and such an improvement I believe it to be. I have often thought that it was not only irrational, but cruel, to compel a number of small children of the age of five in country districts to walk long distances to school, sometimes arriving wet through exposure to bad weather. I have always thought it would be an improvement in our educational system if we gave parents an option to keep their children at home at that tender age. I do not believe that that option will be exercised, and I hope it will not be exercised, in the slum areas of our great towns. I believe it will be very seldom exercised in the great towns, but I think it will be exercised in the country districts, and, at any rate, we shall have an opportunity of seeing how far the parents are willing to take advantage of the liberty which is given them in this Clause.
On the contrary, the Clause expressly states that the local authority has the obligation to provide. Sub-section (2) says:
Nothing in this Section shall affect the duty of a local education authority to make provision for the education of children between the ages of five and six whoso parents desire that they shall attend school.
Every parent has a claim to have his child educated at school and at the public expense, and there is nothing in this Bill which infringes that very legitimate right.
I would like to say something about the general allegation that we have here, a reversal of educational policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] Nothing of the kind. It is perfectly true that we are in this Bill relieving the London County Council of the obligation which it has incurred in applying for an appointed day for the establishment of day continuation schools. Let me say a word about these schools. The London County Council, which has always been forward in the cause of educational progress, was honourably anxious to lead the country in this new and important development of adolescent education, and thanks very largely to the administrative energy and genius of its education officers, it succeeded in establishing a series of continuation schools and in staffing them with an admirable staff of teachers. The schools were established, they have done admirable work, and they have shown themselves to be a very powerful instrument of moral and social progress; and I do not, for a moment, wish to minimise the real sacrifice which is involved, and which must be involved, in the closure of these schools. The schools have had to contend with many exceptional difficulties, difficulties which are not inherent in a scheme of day continuation education, but which were caused by the peculiar circumstances in which the experiment was launched.
In the first place, the curriculum was naturally experimental, and consequently was in many cases not entirely adapted to the needs of the students. In the second place, a number of the children or young people who were brought into these schools had passed out of school life for a year or two before they were reclaimed for education. That is a circumstance which will not recur when the Act of 1918 is in full working, but it was a circumstance which acted, as everybody who understands education will realise, prejudicially upon the discipline of the schools when they were first started in London. Then, in the third place, owing to financial difficulties, the Government was not in a position to fix an appointed day for continuation schools in the counties bordering upon London, and therefore, on the borders between London and Essex, there was an undoubted feeling on the part of many parents, caused by the fact that on one side of the border boys and girls were subject to the liability to attend school and on the other side of the border were exempt from that liability. This grievance was very loudly trumpeted at the recent London County Council election, and had, no doubt, an important influence upon it.
Then, further—and this is perhaps more important than all—last year the London County Council took the step of limiting the continuation schools, in the interests of economy, to one age group. The Government would never have proposed this system if it had been imagined that the schools were only to be available for young people between the ages of 14 and 15. It would not have been worth establishing these schools for one age group only, and it was always intended that the schools should be available for young persons between the ages of 14 and 16. It was the hope and expectation that in the period of two years the schools would be able to exert a definite and palpable influence on the minds of the scholars. The London County Council, by abridging the period of school life to a single year, deprived the schools of more than half their value, and the reports which I have received from my inspectors show that in the continuation schools as they are now being conducted, in spite of the zeal and the ability of the teachers, we are not getting the same educational return for expenditure as might be obtained by an equivalent amount of expenditure in other forms of higher education. In the present year the London County Council is working under a ration. It will be limited in respect of its expenditure on higher education, and I venture to think, therefore, that no great educational issue is involved in the concession which the Board has made in answer to the appeal of the London County Council just after the voice of the people had been declared at the recent election.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the London County Council is working under a ration this year. Can he state the amount of that ration? Can he state whether there exists anywhere, in his office or outside it, any statement of the amount which local authorities will receive during 1922–23 for the purposes of education?
The total ration for higher education in the country is £13,000,000 in the current year. Last year I think the local education authorities all through the country—I am speaking from memory—calculated that they would spend something between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000. That was their estimate. Consequently, each local education authority can estimate pretty nearly—not to an actual penny—the limits within which it must keep its expenditure if the relations between grant on the one hand and rate contributions on the other are to be maintained. Of course, the situation will become clearer with every month that goes by.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me for interrupting him, but this is very important for all engaged in educational work outside. He tells us that the amount for the country as a whole will be £13,000,000 for higher education, but he does not give us the least idea what the amount will be for elementary or technical education.
All these figures were stated in my speech on the Estimates, and if the hon. and gallant Member will kindly refer to it, he will see that all these figures have been given to the local education authorities.
We hope, in a very short time, when we have received the estimates of the local education authorities, to be able to give them all the guidance that they will require. There are only two other points affecting the educational Clauses. My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) asked me whether I could give him an estimate of the economy which would be entailed by the passage of Clause 5 of this Bill. That is the Clause facilitating the transfer of secondary schools to local authorities, and it has been introduced in order to diminish administrative work and consequently to save money. I may, perhaps, represent the effect of the Clause most succinctly by stating that, whereas under our present procedure it takes a year generally to make such a transfer, it will now take a month. It will therefore mean a considerable abridgment of official labour and expense. Lastly, there is Clause 3, the Clause which empowers local authorities to give directions as to the remuneration of teachers in non-provided schools. That, it is true, is a new Clause, and it has been suggested by a decision of the High Court which renders it very uncertain as to whether a local education authority is empowered to interfere with the salaries paid to teachers in non-provided schools. I think it will be the general view of the House that there ought not to be one law for teachers in non-provided schools and another law for teachers in provided schools. Consequently I hope, at any rate, that Clause will pass uncontested.
It is never a very pleasant task to commend economies to this House. Economy in general is a very popular cry, but as soon as we come to the details of economies, then, it is true, we meet with difficulties on every side. I have never concealed from myself the view that a Bill of this kind, miscellaneous as it must necessarily be in nature, and exposing, therefore, a wide surface to criticism, would be, or might be, highly contentious in this House. But I did cherish the hope—and I do not think in reality it is an ill-founded hope—that the enthusiasm for economy in this House was so great that, in spite of the obvious opportunities of criticism which are presented by this Bill, the House would feel itself bound by all its solemn asservations, and by its natural enthusiasm for economy, to give the Government warm and unflinching support.
It is a matter of very great regret that this question of economy is to be exercised so largely in regard to education. One does feel that so many branches are going to be cut down or curtailed that it is going to do very serious harm to the citizens of this country. But there is one particular par[...], of this Bill which, perhaps, appeals to me more than any other, and that is the question of education of children between five and six years of age. It is, however, a matter of satisfaction that the President of the Board of Education is not carrying out to the full the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. The Geddes Committee suggested that no children up to the age of six should be compelled to go to school, but the President of the Board of Education, I am very thankful to say, has allowed it to become a voluntary measure. Economy is not exactly the reduction of expenditure, but it is efficiency in expenditure, and education is not a thing that can be looked at for the moment only. We must look ahead, and I think 10 years ahead is the very least that we have to consider. The Geddes Committee remarks that there is no appreciable difference between the child who enters school at six years of age, and one who enters at three, four, or five, in knowledge or attainments. I think the members of the Geddes Committee must have confused the two words "instruction" and "education." "Instruction" is the imparting of knowledge and the preparing for examination. Education is the unfolding of the child's capacity and preparing it for life. The saving that is going to be effected by this cut is a rather doubtful saving. The Geddes Committee suggests rather more than a million and a half. That, I think, is rather open to question when one thinks of the alternative money that will have to be spent. It is still necessary to keep the schools going. It is still necessary to keep some of the staff, because of this voluntary admission, although the immediate injury to the teachers' profession is going to be very great. We are going to have by this operation about 23,000 fewer teachers. I think the figures have been given differently to-day, but my information is 23,000. Those are efficient, well-trained teachers, who will be out of work, and thus there will be the cost of the unemployment dole.
Some of us have been very keen on the education of young children, and it has been a very great struggle at times to get the Board of Education to comply with what has seemed to us the necessary improvements in the education of the children. A pupil at a Borstal Institution costs £121 a year to keep. That is the cost of a child for nine years at school. There are at least 60,000 children affected, and probably more. This is very disastrous where the homes are small. The school has to take the place of the home and the home centre in very many large industrial towns. The school life supplies physical, moral and mental training, and the alternative is life in the streets or gutter. The health of the child is impaired, and the medical inspection of the children is put off until six years of age, which means that an extra year has to be made up in the matter of health. Then, the economic conditions under which married women have to go out to work to-day make it impossible for them to take care of their children all day long, and the children have the environment of the gutter. The voluntary attendance of children at this age is bound to be irregular and intermittent. Their habits of thought, concentration and self-control will all be affected if children are not encouraged, or compelled, to go to school between five and six. We cannot afford to spare even one year of the child's life at school if we are to face the competition of other countries in the future. America, Austria and Russia are preparing their child-life for the future. The more a country seems to be in bad straits, the more it seems at present to be preparing its child-life for the future, and I do beg the right hon. Gentleman to leave out this Clause because of its enormous effect on the life of the child in the future.
I agree with the last words of the President of the Board of Education, that this Bill, which is called a Bill for economy, should be passed by the House. But I did not agree with him when he said that this Bill was really an economy Bill to the extent that it went very far in the direction which, after all, from its title, we ought to expect. When I first saw that this Bill was to come before the House, 1, like many another Member, expected we were to receive some Bill which, although it might have miscellaneous provisions, and, as the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray) has said, touch practically every Department of the State, it would really effect some economy. But, so far as I can understand the Bill—and a great deal of it is impossible to understand—I see very little that will really effect any economy from the point of view of Departmental expenditure. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he replies, if he does reply, will tell us how much money this Bill is going to save this year, and in the years to come, because in educational expenditure the sum is apt to mount up in years to come. In some of the Clauses, notably Clause 2, we have some of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. I myself have been as much in favour of educational expenditure as any other Member of the House, but I think the expenditure on education is still a great deal too high. I do not say that what you actually get is too much, but what I say is that from the money that is put in there is not sufficient coming to the community. Not only in the administration, but also in education itself, great economies could be made, with benefit' to the whole community. I am going to put a proposal before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, that at the other end, that is, at the age of fourteen, he makes a year voluntary, as well as before six years of age, because a great many people of the poorer classes are unable practically to exist owing to the charge of the child, which can earn a livelihood at 14, when instead of having to keep it at school for another year, and probably learning nothing more than it already knows, it can be bringing in a wage to the community at home and keeping them in a far better state of existence.
Apart from that one provision, which is, after all, taken from the Geddes Committee's Report, the only other provision which makes for economy is in Scotland, where two or three officials are to be taken away. We are not told what are the salaries of those officials. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us nothing in regard to this Bill. We are left entirely in the dark as to what these economies are going to save. Why should he call a Bill like this an Economy Bill, if the only economy that is to take place is to be in Scotland Are there any offices or Departments in this country to be done away with? Is this Bill the only economy the Government is going to make? If it had only dealt with three or four Departments or sections, we might have hoped that another Bill was coming on with some real reforms in it, but, seeing that this Bill touches practically every Department and every policy of the State, it seems that this can be the only Bill, and there will not be another to follow it. Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to stand at the Treasury Box year after year and say that the Ministry of Transport is not going to be abolished" The Geddes Committee recommended not only that the Ministry of Transport should be abolished, but also suggested that the Ministry of Mines should be abolished, and that the Ministry of Labour should be amalgamated with the Ministry of Health. Are not the labours of any of these Ministries to cease? What is the reason why the Government will not do away with any of these Ministries? Are they afraid of losing the services of the Ministers in charge of these Departments? Is that what they are afraid of? Why should the Government get rid of sections of Departments, but not of Departments themselves—Departments that were created during the War? How can the Government expect Departments themselves to make economies if the Government themselves will not start at getting rid of the heads of Departments? If they, for instance, absolutely refuse to abolish the Ministry of Transport and let the work of that Ministry be done by other Departments that are perfectly well able to do it with the existing officials? If they will not allow this, how can any economies be effected? The Chancellor of the Exchequer should give us some real reasons, and I ask him to do so, why the Ministry of Transport cannot be abolished. Is it to be, like others, going on one, two, or three years terminating itself? If Ministers are left to terminate themselves, some of them are not likely to complete that process for the next 25 years.
Those are my criticisms of the Bill itself. I hope the House will pass it, for, after all, it is only a short step towards economy, but it is a step. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), who spoke at the beginning of the Debate and said he hoped the House would not pass the Bill. You have the Bill here. It has to be passed. What we have to do is to remember that, however small, the matter in the Bill is really going to make for economy. We cannot dismiss the Bill in that summary way by refusing to pass it. It would not do for the House of Commons—I am perfectly certain the hon. Member for Accrington (Major Gray) will agree—to turn the Bill down, for how could you expect any more suggestions of economy if you turn the Bill down that is before us now? We hope the Government will in six months' time come down to the House with another Bill, a real economy Bill. The more one looks at this Bill the less one likes the title of it, and I hope that whatever Committee takes over the Bill for consideration will change the title, for the Bill is masquerading under a wrong name. Any innocent person outside the House is likely to be mistaken into thinking the Bill a great Measure of real economy, whereas in reality there are only the most meagre economies in it. The Chancellor might tell us a great deal more of what is in it than he appears to have done. The ordinary Member who was not present when the Bill was drafted finds it practically impossible to get to the bottom of what is in it. Therefore I hope the Government will agree in Committee to allow Amendments to be made to the Bill that will make for further economies. I hope the House will make their desire in this matter plain both in Committee and on Report, and force further economies into the Bill. We should pass it now for the purpose of having the opportunity of forcing those further economies into the Bill. I suggest this Bill should be allowed to go through to-night, and that we reserve our further criticisms and our right to effect the Amendments that we may put down, and that we shall use all our strength to force these economies on the Government.
I desire to say only a few words in relation to Clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill, which deal with an Amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act as to fees, etc. Like other Members of the House I had no opportunity of seeing the Bill until this afternoon, and it has been perfectly impossible in the time at my disposal fully to understand what it means. I have not had time to consult the Chamber of Shipping. I have only been able to speak to one shipping Member in the House, the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Gould), but the fact that the Bill makes for economy, as I understand it, is a reason why I shall support it. It seems to me, however, in these Clauses with which I am dealing that it is a transfer of expenses from one section of the community to another. I do not quite like the idea of the Board of Trade determining the fees that have to be fixed for certain of the things specified. It does not make for economy, and here I agree with what has been said earlier as to expenses being shifted from the shoulders of the community to the shoulders of the shipping trade. I am not going to complain about the burden being shifted on to shipowners, but I should like to know in Committee exactly what is the effect of paragraphs (a) and (b,) in Sub-section (3), Clause 6. Shipowners are accustomed to officials going on board ship when she comes into port looking at this, objecting to the other, and making demands, but although that sort of inspection is often officious I do not know that in the main reasonable shipowners object to it, but they object to pay fees for it.
I come to Clause 7, which repeals Section 206 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and Section 26 of the) Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, which relate to the inspection of ships' provisions. I am rather astonished that this Clause has been put into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, whom I see present, will well recollect what took place in relation to his Merchant Shipping Bill of 1908 about the inspection of provisions. He and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade spent days with us over the question of the qualities and brands, etc., whether for instance split peas should be glazed or unglazed and what proportion of sugar should be brown and what crystallised. I do not think that now there is a shipowner who wishes for the abolition of these inspections. We have often been subjected to officious interference, but now that the inspection has been established for years, and is useful to both shipowners and men, I think it would be a great mistake to abolish it. To begin with, the men themselves have some guarantee that the provisions are of first-class quality, and the shipowner also has a guarantee. If a complaint is made at a foreign port before the Consul that the provisions are inferior or bad, the captain is always able to say that they were inspected by a Board of Trade officer before the ship left port. Its abolition is likely to lead to the danger of the uprising of a class of ships stores dealers— if there be no inspection—who will make a point of supplying inferior articles. The opposition to suggested abolition of this Section should come from the other side of the House, from the Labour party. As a shipowner I have always been zealous for the good treatment of our employés, especially in regard to this matter of first importance—the good quality of their food. There are owners whose sole object is to make money, who have no thought for the welfare of their men. Therefore I do ask that the Government should not insist putting into effect Clause 7.
There are other matters which are really Committee points, but I thought it would be somewhat unfair to the Minister in charge of the Bill and the Department involved if the Second Reading were carried without reference to these matters that I have put forward, so that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer might look into them and see if, in relation to Clause 7, it is not advisable to continue as we are. If that inspection is a question of cost, I am sure no reasonable shipowner will object to pay a reasonable fee. In fact, we have been paying a fee I think. Then there are foreign ships frequenting our ports and taking their victualling stores in there. I have not had time to refresh my memory since the Bill came into my hands, but I am under the impression, that at present these stores have to be inspected as well as ours. I am not certain, but I think it is so. It would be a very serious thing to let these vessels take inferior stores and encourage a type of supplies we want to keep down. Just one other remark. I may be taunted by those who may point out that these recommendations were made by two prominent shipowners on the Geddes Committee, Lord Inchcape, the head of the largest line of steamers in the world, and by Sir Joseph Maclay, also a large tramp shipowner. It will be said "These recommendations were made by these eminent men; why then should a small shipowner like the hon. Member for Dumbarton get up and take exception to them when they, in their wisdom, think they are good?" But I may be allowed to differ. I do sometimes differ even from these Friends. I am speaking my own opinion. We do not object to pay fees for inspection of our ships when we call for such, but we do object to pay for officious persons coming on board to spy out whether we are complying with the law or not, just as we should object to pay for the visit of a policeman for instance entering our premises in the hunt for some trespass of the law. I hope when the Bill gets into Committee my right hon. Friend may be able to satisfy reasonable shipowners on the matters I have placed before him.
Those of is on this side of the House for once agree with the declaration and demand of the Government. We are willing to agree with them that it is necessary that some kind of economy should be effected. The difference between ourselves, however, and the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill is on the specific point of where that economy should be effected. Experience in the field of public administration which many of us have had leads us to believe that sound economy is not to be found in the mere cutting down of expenditure, but that true economy will also be in discovering whether expenditure is well directed. It would seem that the Minister of Education has had this in mind in his Department The figures which he presented to this House in a White Paper at the time of the introduction of the Education Estimates do not quite fit in with many of the statements which
have been made this afternoon. The figures in that Paper disclose the fact that for the financial year ending March, 1922, the expenditure from the national Exchequer upon education was just over £51,000,000, and that the provision for education in the current year out of the national Exchequer is £44,000,000, or a difference of £7,000,000. It is quite true that a substantial proportion of that amount is accounted for by the proposed contribution which the teachers are to make towards their superannuation, but even when due allowance has been made upon that point, there is still a substantial reduction in the Estimates as between the two years which justifies the belief that there is seriously intended a very pronounced cutting down of expenditure at some point or another. I am sorry that the Prime Minister has just left the House, because I wanted to bring in the evidence of a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman to support; our point of view. I discovered the other day quite by accident a speech made by the Prime Minister, and I have taken the liberty of cutting from it a portion which I will quote to the House. This is what he said:
We must pay more attention to the school. The most formidable institution we are fighting in Germany is not its Generals, not the arsenals of Krupp, not the yards where they turn out submarines; but the schools of Germany. They are our most formidable competitors in business, they are our most terrible opponents in war. The educated man is a better worker and a more formidable warrior—that is, a better citizen. This was only half comprehended in this country before the War. I am glad that since then we have had Mr. Fisher's great Education Bill, which is a great step forward towards redressing the blunders of the past. Still there is a good deal to be done.
I will not refer to that great deal more which is yet to be done, but I will ask, Where is the Education Act, 1918, and where was it even before this Bill was introduced I If this Measure is accepted and passed, I venture to suggest that there will not be a single scrap of the Act of 1918 remaining worth having by the education authorities of this country. We are to have an alteration in the ago of children going to school. I believe the President of the Board of Education has put forward an alternative, but there is not a great deal of virtue in that. In comparing these matters, we have to consider the superior physical stamina of the children in the rural areas, because
they are able to go long distances with much less trouble and worry than the children living in the industrial towns. The great argument against this proposal is, that the children in our great cities and industrial areas, where we have the population in some instances crowded by hundreds to the acre, and where the children have nowhere to go outside the door of their houses except into the gutter and the street, the only brightness they experience between the ages of five and six years is found in many of our elementary schools. It has been said that, by these proposals, we are not cutting down education. The Departmental Committee on Secondary Education, with whose Report the House is fairly well acquainted, made a definite proposition to the effect that there should be an immediate doubling of secondary school accommodation. The answer to that, which has been given by the President of the Board of Education, is, that we should retain the accommodation in our secondary schools at its present standard. The same Report recommended that there should be a progressive abolition of fees in secondary schools. The reply of the President of the Board of Education and the Geddes Committee is, that the fees should be increased, and that the limited accommodation available is going to be sold to the highest bidder. As a result, it is going to be more difficult for the children of the working-class population to secure their share of the secondary education accommodation which is available.
The hon. Member is misrepresenting the case. The fact is that the existing proportion between free places and those who pay fees is going to be preserved. It is not correct to say that the places are going to be sold to the highest bidder. On the contrary, if there is at present a proportion of 32 per cent. or 28 per cent. of free places, that proportion will be maintained. Our proposals do not mean that secondary schools are not to be increased in number. There may be an increase in the next two or three years in the number of secondary schools in consequence of those who require free places. The existing pro portion between free places and those who pay fees is going to be preserved.
I will answer the right hon. Gentleman from his own lips. Last year I put a question to him on this matter. I asked was it a fact that he had sanctioned in 125 secondary schools in this country a reduction in the proportion of free places, and was it not a condition of the grant to these secondary schools of the country that 25 per cent. of those places and the accommodation available should be retained as free places? In answer to my question, the right hon. Gentleman said that in 125 schools of the country his Department had sanctioned a slackening of that provision, and in many instances as low as 15 and 12½ per cent. of the accommodation had been agreed to.
What happens very often is that a school desires to be placed on the grant list. As a condition the Board require the school to provide a certain number of free places. The school is often not in a position to satisfy the Board's full requirements, e.g., if it at once provided 25 per cent. of free places it might be financially ruined, and to prevent that happening the Board is content to allow a smaller number of free places. If we did not take that course, then the school would remain outside the grant list, and there would be no free places at all. Therefore the poor gain by the policy of the Board, and they do not lose by it.
Any amount of Ministerial embellishment on this question will not hide the fact that it is going to be more difficult in the future for the children to embrace secondary education, and there is no corresponding increase in the secondary school education to meet the needs of the population.
The Departmental Committee which issued its Report during the past 12 months recommended that secondary school accommodation should be doubled, and that the fees should be abolished. So far as elementary schools are concerned, very few new schools are being erected, and in many of them the school equipment is antiquated and they ought to be emptied altogether of their furniture, which should be set on fire in the school yard, because that is the best thing to do with it. We sat round the table at our education committees trying to work out the education schemes according to the regulations laid down by the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and when we have worked them out, and they are very presentable indeed as local schemes go, nothing can be done.
May I point out that it takes 25s. per week from every family in the country to pay interest on the War Debt, and pay for the current expenditure of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. On the other hand, if you take the cost of education, instead of being 25s. per week per family, it is only 2s. 5d. So long as that disproportion exists between the expenditure on those two services, the Members of the Labour party in this House decline to consent to a single shilling reduction upon our educational expenditure.
There is another Clause, which is an exceedingly serious one from the same point of view, that is Clause 4, which proposes a reduction of the grants going to the local education authorities. After all, the problem with which we are confronted is quite big enough at the present time and well understood by those engaged in the work. I have been reading the Report of the Medical Officer of the Board of Education, and it conveys the fact that in 1920 nearly 2,500,000 children were inspected in the schools of the country, and out of that number 1,166,000 were found to be defective in one or more respects. That means that 47 per cent. of the children examined in the year 1920 were found to be defective in one or another respect. That is a definite opinion published in the Report of the Education Department of the right hon. Gentleman I will make another quotation from the speech of the Prime Minister which I quoted a few moments ago. The right hon. Gentleman said:
There ought to be a more intelligent organisation of the forces which have specially in charge the health of the nation— national, municipal, medical. I doubt whether there is a first-rate country in the world where less has been done. We have enormous losses to make up for the crippled and mutilated. Their case must be particularly thought of, but we must also think of the children who are to fill up the gap in the generation that is to come. The State must see that they are built up into a strong, healthy and vigorous people. There is no surer way of strengthening this country than that. Bad health for the nation is had business for all.
These are excellent sentiments, and we should not be ashamed to see them
printed in a Labour party pamphlet. They would be quite worthy of a publication of that sort. We are in agreement with every syllable of that pronouncement, but we are also entitled to ask what contribution is the Bill before us towards that object? What contribution does it make towards the fulfilment of that declaration? Our contention is that it is going in the opposite direction, and it is making no contribution whatever to the great declaration which is therein expressed. The reduction in the Estimates for the Ministry of Health for the current year is £5,000,000 less than for the last financial year. We have had circulars galore to the local authorities of the country making recommendations as to the limitations which should be effected from the point of view of the Health Department. Health is the working people's capital; in fact, it is the only capital they have got, and unless it is maintained we shall have a national deterioration just in proportion as health is jeopardised. From a national point of view, surely a healthy community is a nation's greatest asset.
I propose to touch briefly on the particular Clause to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made no reference. Perhaps it was one of those things the Government desire not to have discussed, because it contains one of the greatest indictments that can be brought against any Government. It is in respect of its housing policy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made no reference to Clause 14. There are not sufficient houses in the country to go round. Habitations are required and demanded all over the country. Even if the existing houses were sufficiently numerous, they are deficient in quality. The quality is defective, the quantity is deficient. We are on the wrong side of the fence from both those points of view. Existing conditions are serious, and it is well known to the Government and to the Ministry of Health. I put a question the other day to the Minister of Health which disclosed the state of affairs in Bradford. I have here the official report of the Bradford Medical Officer of Health. I do not propose to read it, but I will give the House the main point in connection with this matter. The corporation of Bradford have been busily engaged for many years in closing undesirable house property. A large number of houses have been closed, but the scarcity of houses has induced the house speculators to go round and secure these dilapidated and derelict properties, and they have been letting them at high rents. The corporation considered it unwise to interfere, because, at any rate, they did provide some sort of habitation for the people. Dwellings which had been closed by the corporation are being let to ex-service men with a family at a rent of 7s. per room. In other cases single rooms are let by these house speculators at 4s. to 5s. per week. There are 2,400 ex-service men and their families in the city of Bradford living at the present time in apartments. The Minister of Health the other day refused to sanction an extension of the Bradford housing scheme because the corporation still had a few houses not quite completed, although they were working on them as fast as they could.
I have a still further indictment to bring against the Department in this connection. In 1920, according to a Report furnished to me by the Minister of Health himself, 1,800 local authorities carrying out inspections under the Housing Act discovered and reported in that one year 24,210 house totally unfit for human habitation. They also reported 247,624 houses as not reasonably fit for habitation. Here we have in one year 270,000 houses reported either unfit or not reasonably fit for human habitation, and I venture to suggest that this 24,000 is a greater total than the number of houses completed in the same year. Yet we have in this Bill a proposal which will limit the erection of houses all over the country. The Government are very largely responsible for the present chaos so far as housing is concerned. Instead of cutting down the gains of profiteers on building material—and they have in their possession Reports showing how these profiteers have exploited the community— instead of cutting down the gains of the profiteers they have cut down the amenities of the houses. They have lessened the size of the rooms. When it was found that the high rate of interest-on top of the exorbitant cost of building was landing both the Government and the local authorities with a very heavy financial burden, they put a spoke in the wheel of housing progress, and chaos has resulted in every part of the country. If a house can now be erected for £500 which
12 months ago it cost £1,000 to build, it means that there is £500 dead money in the house built which cannot be realised. The sale price of houses will be determined by the cost of erecting houses at the present time, so that there is now a large proportion of dead money in the houses that have been built all over the country. This is not economy. It cannot be turned into economy from any point of view. I will give another quotation from the Prime Minister's speech in connection with housing. The right hon. Gentleman said
What are the influences that make for the health of the people? The first is the houses in which the people live. You cannot bring up a healthy people in unhealthy homes. Why, even those who rear animals will tell you that. The problem of housing in this country is the most urgent that awaits treatment. We have talked about it, we have played with it for forty, fifty years, but it has never been really taken in hand. It has only been taken in hand in the way an untidy and slovenly housewife takes up the cleaning of her house—just that part where the visitor can see. There has been too much of that in our cities. The slums, the bad houses—they are out of eight. That is not the way to deal with a problem which affects the strength of the nation. It is hopelessly in arrear. No Government, no party, has had the courage to grapple with it in the way a good business man would grapple with some sort of rottenness which he discovered in his business, and which was wasting his assets. He would not trifle with it; he would have the thing thoroughly searched out and put right. That is what ought to be done.
Thus spoke the Prime Minister in the months before the Armistice, in his speech at Manchester, when he received the Freedom of the City. To these pronouncements on health, education, and housing we subscribe. But how much has been written and said and how little has been done upon these questions! We have at the present time 70,000 deaths of infants under 12 months per year; 4,000 mothers are dying annually from childbirth, a domestic calamity and a loss to the State at the same time. The Washington Maternity Convention, to which our Government put its hand, was intended as a serious attempt to put an end to these dangers and difficulties arising from childbirth, but the treatment of maternity is completely ignored and nothing done, so that we still have 4,000 mothers dying annually from childbirth. There are 42,000 deaths per year from tuberculosis, and the preventive work of every local authority in the country is
being hampered by lack of the finances necessary for waging the campaign against this disease. Sixty thousand children every year are leaving our elementary schools and entering into competition in the labour market, in very many cases, with their fathers and mothers Many of those 00,000 children are physically defective, and none of them have more than a smattering of education. They are leaving the elementary school and entering into the busy activities of life at a time when the real education that counts should be just beginning. Then, as regards our housing conditions, from one-third to one-fourth of our population live in conditions officially declared to be overcrowded— with more than two persons to a room.
Now the Government bring forward a Bill of this sort, shouting for economy, or what is termed economy, in health, education, housing, and other social services. The way in which this Bill cuts across municipal expenditure has been referred to by several hon. Members, and the transference of liabilities from the pocket of the State to the pocket of the local authority is also an encroachment upon the financial relationship between the State and the municipalities which will create an upheaval in municipal administration. I am not going to deal, although it is a matter of importance, with the false economy which is going to be practised in removing the inspection from merchant seamen's food. Obviously, if this Bill becomes law, any sort of food in the future can be carried in the merchant ships of this country, and the sailors who have to consume that food have no Court of Appeal and no protection in the way of inspect ion such as they have had up to the present time.
All this is a travesty upon economy and a misinterpretation of the term. Our view upon this matter can be put in a sentence. At the present time, out of every £l of national expenditure in this country, 10s. 6d. is utilised for interest on the War Debt and the provision of our fighting forces, while putting the housing, education, and health services all together, the contribution that the National Exchequer makes towards those services is less than 2s. in every £l of national expenditure. We are not going to subscribe to this gospel of economy on any such lines. It is a callous neglect of national responsibility, which will levy a heavy toll upon this country in the future in stunted lives, ill-health, and impaired physical vitality; and not only will it levy that toll upon the manhood of the nation from a mental, moral, and physical point of view, but it will pile up for future generations a tremendous financial responsibility, out of all proportion to the cost that these services would involve now.
As was to be expected, this Bill has received a good deal of criticism and opposition, not only from those who have never been particularly keen about economy, but also from those who have been loudest in their cries for economy and in the anti-waste campaign. I trust that the Government will press on the Bill and pass it through all its stages. I welcome it in so far as it gives effect to the recommendations of the Geddes Report, and I only hope that the Government will consider the propriety of inserting in the Bill some other of the recommendations of the Geddes Report which, I regret to see, they have omitted. The last speaker referred to the Bill as if it were economy at the expense of education and housing. I think he is absolutely mistaken. With regard to education, under this Bill every opportunity which is at present offered to any child or young person—and I say, advisedly, "young person"—for education is retained. It only slightly reduces the laws of compulsion in education. With regard to housing, it is a mere readjustment of the money which is provided by Parliament. The Bill makes it easier to adjust the differences with regard to housing between the local authorities and the central Government, and will, perhaps, encourage the local authorities to provide more money.
I notice that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) was very careful not to move the rejection of the Bill. He has been too much committed to economy, and knew too much actually to try to make out that the Bill was attacking housing or education. The speech of the other Member who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreditch (Dr. Addison) was most extraordinary. It was frankly pro-waste. The right hon. Gentleman's attack upon the Bill with regard to housing was most unjustifiable, because it will be within the recollection of the House that a great deal of the unfortunate delay and waste of money in regard to housing was due to his incapacity to manage affairs when he was at the Ministry of Health. Does he not remember the Building Materials Supply Department which was expressly set up by him? If he asks any local authority, certainly in Scotland, what has been the chief obstacle in the way of housing in the past, he will be told that it has been the interference of the Building Materials Supply Department which he himself set up. He was given a free hand and millions, and made little effective use of them.
I should like to enforce what several speakers have said—notably the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles —with regard to the Ministry of Transport. I regret very much that the recommendation of the Geddes Committee with regard to the abolition of the Ministry of Transport as a separate Ministry has not been inserted in the Bill. The Geddes Committee, as is well known, recommended
That the Ministry of Transport should cease as a separate Ministry and its functions should be transferred to the Board of Trade. The Road Department and the Electricity Commissioners should come under the President of the Board of Trade.
This Bill, so far from giving effect to this recommendation, does the contrary. It actually gives further powers to the Ministry of Transport, which the Geddes Committee recommended should be abolished—and who can better better express an opinion as to the value and necessity of maintaining the Ministry of Transport than the Chairman of that Committee, who had himself set up the Ministry and conducted it until a comparatively short time ago? Clause 15 of the Bill seems to me to be camouflage for the purpose of retaining the Ministry of Transport. It allows the Minister of Transport actually to make a charge to anyone who is concerned in an inquiry at the Ministry of Transport, and the Minister of Transport is to be the sole arbiter as to who is to pay the costs of the inquiry; while five guineas a day, or £1,800 a year, is to be paid to one of the officers of the Department to come down and assist in conducting it. All this is at the sole arbitration and decision of the
Minister of Transport. I cannot help thinking that this is going to be a means of allowing the Ministry of Transport to pass on to the public a great deal of their expense which could be avoided. I understand that already some £79,000 has been spent by the Electricity Commissioners in inquiries and so on, which is to be recovered from the public. There are five Electricity Commissioners, and all are not required anyhow. We have too many of these inquiries and Commissioners, and too much expense. I do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will further consider giving effect to the recommendations of the Geddes Committee with regard to the Ministry of Transport.
I trust, also, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will adhere to his intention of dividing the Bill into two. It should be sent upstairs, and I trust that he will adhere to his intention of sending to a Standing Committee that part of the Bill which refers to England, and to the Scottish Grand Committee the Clauses relating to Scotland. I do not think there is any danger that Scottish Members are going to get anything more out of the Bill than English Members. It is a question of cutting down. We shall not be allowed to get any more money. English Members need not be worried about that, and they will be awfully bored to hear everything discussed on the English education and housing provisions and then have to sit through all the Scottish housing and education provisions, many of which are different. I trust the Chancellor will adhere to his intention.
There is another point with regard to Clause 23, which deals with the position of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland. I do not quite understand what this has to do with economy and why it has been pitchforked into the Bill. But there it is. Under the Scottish Health Bill the Under-Secretary was expressly appointed ad hoc Under-Secretary for Health, the idea being that he would be in a practically independent position and would largely control housing and the other necessary health services and give up a great deal of time, which the Secretary for Scotland could not spare. We then, rightly or wrongly, objected to his being a sort of maid-of-all-work to the Secretary for Scotland because we thought, at that time any- how, that it was enough work for one man to do to look after housing and the health services in Scotland. That was finally agreed to, and it was also agreed that the Under-Secretary for Health should be ex officio Vice-President of the Board of Health, taking the chair in the absence of the Secretary for Scotland and being superior to the permanent members of the Board. I do not know what this new proposal means. I do not like the wording, which says the Secretary may direct the Under-Secretary to administer such other public services as he may direct. To my mind it should be all or nothing. Either the Under-Secretary should remain solely Under-Secretary for Health or he should be Under-Secretary fully and unreservedly and take the place of the Secretary for Scotland when he is not there. I do not agree with it being left entirely to the Secretary for Scotland to say what duties he is to pass on and what he is not. If we agree to this Clause as it stands now, what position will the Under-Secretary occupy in the Scottish Board of Health? Will he still preside and will he still control the Board in the absence of the Secretary for Scotland?
I am glad to see that, in accordance with the recommendation of the Geddes Committee again, the Scottish Board of Health is to be reduced from six to three. The Geddes Committee say it is possible, and in the interests of economy it is desirable. If both the Geddes Committee and the Government say it is possible and desirable, why not do it at once? There is one vacancy now. On the Secretary of Scotland's own showing two of these five Members who remain are superfluous, and they cannot find work for them. Why not give them a good pension and let them do some other economical work outside instead of going on paying them when there is no work for them to do? It would be cheaper. I am not saying it should be done with any loss to the officials. Compensate them, but at once get back to the economy which is desirable. The hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray) said this Bill was going to damage education and no one knew what effect it was going to have on grants. I should like to give my own experience. I met a prominent member of the Midlothian education authority in Edinburgh on Saturday morning. He had seen in the "Scots- man" a full report of practically all the Clauses of this Bill dealing with Scotland, and formed the opinion at once that, with regard to education finance, it was desirable that the Bill should be passed into law as quickly as possible. There is plenty of time before the Committee stage to hear what our local authorities think about the housing Clauses. I trust the Government will pass the Bill and, if possible, extend it in the direction of economy.
The only part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech with which I agree is that part in which he referred to the Clause dealing with the Parliamentary Secretary of Health in Scotland. When this matter was discussed, there was an idea a year or two ago, in some quarters at least, that this might be a temporary appointment, that it would be ad hoc for the purposes of public health, and that the Secretary for Scotland would have the assistance of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary because of the importance of the housing and health programme which was to be undertaken. This Bill proposes that the duties of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary shall be extended, and in practice it comes to this, that Clause 23 makes this for all practical purposes a permanent appointment. Let me make it perfectly clear that I do not in the least object to that result. In common, I think, with the great majority of Scottish Members, I have long had the feeling that the Secretary for Scotland was grossly overworked and I certainly feel that there is room for a very great improvement in the system of the Scottish Office. We Scottish Members are familiar with the delay in that Department and also with the pressure under which the Secretary for Scotland normally discharges his duties. Therefore some of us, I cannot commit others, would probably approve of Parliamentary assistance. The point to which we direct attention is this, that we are discussing a Measure which aims at economy, and this Clause, far from abolishing an office which some regarded as temporary in Scotland, practically makes it permanent, by providing for the re-allocation of duty which, of course, can only point to a permanent office. Therefore, it is quite wrong to describe this as in whole or in large part an economy Measure. It would not be difficult to show, if we had time, and if a fair selection were made from the Clauses of this Bill, that we could set alongside each Clause which effects an economy a Clause which must inevitably mean much waste or, at any rate, expenditure of public money. We have had no explanation as to the precise saving which this Bill is likely to accomplish.
I would refer to only two points which would appear to be of general interest. The first is the proposal to make it purely voluntary on the part of parents to send their children to school between the ages of five and six years. They may send them at five, if they like, but they are not obliged, under the Bill, to send them until they are six. Many of us have always regarded this problem of education between the ages of five and six as not so much a problem of education as a social problem. We do not send children to school at that age in order to educate them in many cases. We only send them in order that for a period of each day they may have an environment which will contribute to their chance in life, which will perhaps teach them how to play—because that is what a great deal of that education means—which will give them healthy surroundings, and which will encourage them later to take some interest in education itself. I should have liked to have seen in this economy Measure a very clear distinction drawn in that proposal, if the Government are compelled to adopt such a proposal, between the crowded urban conditions of our large cities and towns and those conditions which are immensely different in the country districts. Here is a uniform rule. If I were pressed, I should probably say that you have nothing like the state of affairs as regards these children in the country districts that you have in the crowded centres. In the crowded centres it is perfectly clear that many parents will not send their children to school, and there will be a period between the ages of five and six regarding which we are bound to ask the Government one or two plain questions from the point of view of social legislation.
What has been the policy in this class of legislation up to the present time? Not so many years ago we had legislation dealing with child welfare, the broad theory of which was that we should provide for children up to five years of age, maternity, child-welfare and other schemes, and then at- five years of age— it is important to note this, because the limit of that class of legislation was up to the age of five years—they would be transferred to the care of the education authorities. That, of course, meant very much more than education. It meant the greater range of medical and other treatment. Under this Measure, it is beyond the shadow of doubt that a considerable number of children will get the benefit of the treatment of those welfare schemes up to five years of age, beyond which those Acts of Parliament do not go, and there will then be a lapse of one year before they are put under the education authority. During that time the presumption is that unless there is something to bridge that gulf in legislation these children will be cared for by the ordinary public health provision of the district. Surely, it is not unfair to suggest that it will be very difficult for much of that ordinary public health provision to reach such children. I foresee, particularly in the crowded districts of Scottish cities, and in other parts as well, the very greatest difficulty in maintaining that continuity of treatment between the child-welfare schemes up to five years and the beginning of the enterprise of the education authority in this matter. The Government should make this position clear, in the danger to the young life which seems to be involved.
The only other question is one which is raised in very acute form by Clause 24. I may be forgiven if I confine my argument purely to the Scottish conditions. This is a purely Scottish Clause, but the matter is also one of general application. It is a Clause dealing with the provision which is made for the clearance of slum areas and for the re-housing of the people in districts in which property has been re-constructed. If I state the position correctly, I think it amounts to this, that in the earlier Acts of Parliament, as modified and enlarged by the Act of 1919, the duty of clearing these slum areas and re-housing the people of those districts falls upon the local authority, which is, however, limited in its expenditure or in its liability to the extent of the product of a rate of four-fifths of a penny in the pound. Beyond that, the responsibility for these clearances falls upon the State. A situation of some difficulty was introduced recently when there was an interruption of the housing programme of the country. Comparatively late in the day, two sums of money were mentioned, which, in England and in Scotland, were to be applied specially for this purpose. The sum of £200,000 was to be set aside for England and the sum of £30.000 for Scotland. While we have no access to the inner details of this matter, I understand the position amounts to this, that we can make the best use we can of this £30,000 which is set aside, but under the legislation as it now stands in this matter affecting Scotland, we can get for this purpose from the Scottish ratepayers nothing in excess of the product of a rate of four-fifths of a penny in the pound. As I understand the position, you cannot get anything in excess of that sum. Therefore, legislation is necessary in order to extract something more from the Scottish ratepayers, in order, presumably, to make this £30,000 go further in the direction of treating these slum areas.
I will not detain the House by arguing the merits of that proposal one way or another, but I would direct attention to this consideration, that the slum areas in Scotland, and in all other parts of the country—and they are very bad in Scotland—must be cleared. This duty, from the point of view of public health and morality and every other consideration, cannot wait. Cause 24 in its present form indicates that the Board of Health may come along, and by some agreement with the local authority may make such contribution as it thinks fit, subject to certain conditions. I think it is beyond the shadow of doubt that more is to be expected and requested from the local authorities, and, of course, the local authority can only raise that sum by raising the local rates of the district. Where does the economy in this matter come in[...] All that has happened is that we are by this Clause transferring to the already overburdened ratepayers of these large urban districts a sum which, within certain limits, falls upon the State, upon the National Exchequer, if existing legislation is allowed to stand in its present form. That is manifestly unfair to many of these large Scottish urban centres, and it is unfair for this reason. At the present time, as every one of us knows who has any connection with Scottish administration, we in Scottish cities are being asked to bear a burden which, in part, strictly speaking, has very often no reference to our locality at all. People flocked into these cities during the War. We are prepared to provide for our own people, but we do think that to a material extent this should be a national obligation.
That point of view can be supported by statistics, and by an investigation into the social condition of these cities. The ratepayers of the locality are faced with a heavier burden if they are to continue this duty of clearing the slum areas. The proposal of this Bill is not economy. It is a mere transfer of the burden, and that is one other reason which would justify the House in rejecting this Measure. These points are a fresh reminder of the unscientific character of many of the proposals of the Geddes Committee. Some of these proposals were perfectly sound. Others ran at a solution without any understanding of the history of the problem under investigation, instead of setting to work it out administratively and locally. And the only effect of many of these Clauses will be to lead to legislative and administrative chaos, and, in the course of a few years, to prove that the Government would have saved money hand over fist if it had refused further facilities to this Bill in any shape or form.
I am afraid I cannot agree with a great deal of what my hon. Friend opposite has said. Far from leading to administrative and legislative chaos, I think that the Report of the Geddes Committee is already leading this country out of financial chaos. He is mistaken if he imagines that the Geddes Committee rammed, as he put it, not with his usual good choice of phrase, at a solution of these problems. Not only was there a most careful, prolonged and anxious consideration by them, but they actually had before them chosen representatives of every Department whose interests were in any way affected. The hon. Member advised the House to vote against this Bill because there were one or two Clauses to which he objected. There are one of two Clauses to which I object, but I, and I think the whole House, realise that this is a Bill which the Government were bound to bring forward, and which ought to receive Second Reading.
Before turning for a moment to the Clause which deals with merchant shipping, may I say a word as to the point raised by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Sir J. Hope) in regard to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland? I was rather surprised to learn that he was one of those who seek to confine the administrative scope of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland to his present severely limited province. Because a great many of us have thought for a long time past that, owing to the weight and variety of the burden laid on the shoulders of the Secretary for Scotland, it was really expedient in the public interest that he should get general assistance of a Parliamentary kind, and I rather regret that the opportunity to give that general assistance was not taken when the Parliamentary Under-Secretaryship for Health was first set up. The hon. Member for Midlothian regretted that the Bill did not point precisely to the functions which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary should perform, or that he was not given a general run over the entire subjects in the control of the Scottish Office. I do not quite agree, because those who have been privileged to do any work in a Government Department, as seen from the inside, know well that what happens is that the Parliamentary Secretary does just those tasks which his Chief sets him, and if that is the general and natural position of affairs, what can be the object of stating that position in the Bill? Whether we put these words in the Bill or not, it will inevitably happen that the Parliamentary Secretary will take those tasks which are given to him by a wise chief, and therefore I fail to follow the substance of the argument of my hon. Friend.
In reference to Clause 25, which deals with the consolidation of the police force in Scotland, there was some time ago in Scotland a proposal to take action upon the lines of this Clause, and hon. Members who represent Scottish burghs know-how great was the outcry by the burghs concerned against the proposal. This Bill only became known in Scotland today. May I give the House my experience this afternoon. I have already had an interview with the Provost of Kilmarnock on the subject. I have had a telegram from the town clerk of Kilmarnock on the subject. I learn that the town of Ayr is prepared on this occasion, and I hope not on this occasion only, to act shoulder to shoulder with Kilmarnock in the matter. I am further informed that the Town of Hamilton is taking a similar stand, and all the other burghs in Scotland affected by this are going to put their view before the Secretary for Scotland. I do not wish to prejudge anything which may be said by my right hon. Friend on the matter. I am sure that he has got an open mind. I am sure that he realises the great advantages, even from the point of view of economy, which may accrue through an efficient local force with local knowledge and local supervision and experience behind it, and I hope that he will be disposed to consider either withdrawing this particular Clause altogether, or, if he will not do that, that he will be favourably disposed to consider confining it to small burghs, burghs, say, with a population below 20,000 or 30,000. If my right hon. Friend will do that, a great deal of the objection by important burghs like Kilmarnock — [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I am glad that my hon. Friends realise the importance of Kilmarnock as a centre of electrical energy and intellectual enlightenment in Scotland—will disappear.
Under Clause 6, which deals with merchant shipping, the purpose in view is to make the Board of Trade services of inspection pay their own way. I think that we must hold that the Clause is drafted in a somewhat dangerous manner, because under this Clause there seems to be nothing whatever to prevent the Board of Trade from unnecessarily multiplying inspections, knowing that by doing so no charge will fall upon the funds of the Board of Trade, and that any amount of interference may occur, and that the shipowners who are interfered with will have to pay the cost of it all. That, of course, is not the object of the President of the Board of Trade. I hope he will be prepared to consider the matter from that point of view, so that he may not go beyond the exact recommendations of the Geddes Committee.
I must say a few words about Clause 7. One of the most useful things that the Prime Minister did at the Board of Trade was to safeguard the purity of the food supply of seamen upon their ships. It is not an expensive matter. I am told that the whole machinery for inspecting this food costs about £9,000 a year. That is a small matter for the State, but it is a great matter for the men who go down to the sea in ships to have their food supply well safeguarded. I gathered from certain indications which the Prime Minister gave this afternoon, when the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Sir W. Raeburn) was raising the question, that he, at any rate, remembers what he did when at the Board of Trade, and that he is not ill-disposed to an Amendment to omit Clause 7, so that we may not, under the cover of economy, be deprived of a small but extremely valuable safeguard to the food of merchant seamen. I propose to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, reserving the right, on matters of detail, to move Amendments. I hope that, in spite of something that was said from these Benches, the Bill will be divided into two parts, so that those parts which relate to Scotland will be considered by the Scottish Standing Committee.
Many hon. Members are bound to take exception to the procedure which has been adopted in relation to this Bill. What is the history of the Bill? It was circulated with the Votes on Saturday morning. Before the Press and before the public, certainly before the public in Scotland, had any opportunity of studying its provisions, the Second Reading is taken to-day. We have just heard from the last speaker that the Provost of Kilmarnock, having studied the Bill, has sent him a telegram to object to some of its provisions.
Is it not absurd to suggest that there has been the opportunity which should be given to this House and to the public of studying an important Bill like this before the Second Reading is taken? The Bill is an amazing Bill. None of us has had time to study it at any great length. There are several questions I wish to ask. Why is there not an explanatory memorandum to the Bill? A Bill which has so many provisions is generally accompanied by such a memorandum, and in this case it would have given hon. Members some assistance in understanding the Bill. The Bill is called the Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. I suggest that the word "economy" is introduced purely for propaganda and electoral purposes. In his opening statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave no sort of indication to the House of the economies that were to be effected. Indeed, if we are to believe the speeches that have been delivered so far, the economies will be nil, and there will be merely a transference of the burden, from the Exchequer to local authorities in some cases, with perhaps a minor economy or two here and there. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that this Bill will be divided into two parts, and that provision which relates to Scotland will be sent to the Scottish Standing Committee. I wish to protest against the practice that is growing up of introducing an omnibus Bill and then dividing it and sending the two parts to separate Committees. Those on the Treasury Bench will remember the protest made last year, when the same thing was done in respect of the Railways Bill. We were told then that the circumstances were quite exceptional, that we had reached a stage at which, unless the Bill were divided into two and each part sent to a separate Committee, the Measure would not be passed before the end of the period of control. I believe the Government then realised that the practice was not a good one. Certainly I hoped it would not be repeated.
I have great sympathy with what has been said as to Clause 2, which abolishes the duty of parents, to cause children under six years of age to attend school. There are cases in outlying rural districts where the children have to go long distances in the winter and in bad weather, and unquestionably it is bad for their health that they should be required to go such distance between the ages of five and six years. Looking at it from that point of view, I welcome the provision in the Bill. I pass to one or two of the Scottish provisions of the Bill. Perhaps when the Secretary for Scotland replies he will inform the House, in relation to Clause 27, why the office of Keeper of the Minute Book and Record of Edictal Citations was picked out for abolition. Why was this office only picked out for abolition? It may be a very good office to abolish. No doubt it is. Why did not the Government go a
bit further? Why, for instance, did they not wander in the direction of the Court of Session? I have no knowledge of the law, but I am told by friends who have that knowledge that there is a redundance of judges in the Court of Session now—that proportionately there is a greater number of judges in the Court of Session in Scotland than there is in the High Court in England. I should like to know whether inquiry has been made with a view to ascertaining if economies cannot be effected in connection with the Court of Session in Edinburgh. With regard to the office of the Under-Secretary for Scotland, I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw). It is quite true that in a Government Department the Under-Secretary does the work which is delegated to him by the Secretary of State, and, if that be so, I wish to ask whether the words
so far as the said Secretary may direct
are in fact necessary in the Clause? If they are not, I see no reason why they should not be omitted. Clause 24 of the Bill has been adequately dealt with by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Graham). I protest with all the vigour at my command against this Clause. It merely means that burdens now borne by the Exchequer are, in future, to be borne by the local authorities. If that is what the Clause means, it should have no place in the Bill at all. Even if it only partly means that it should have no place in the Bill.
Amidst all the minor economies that are to be brought about by this Bill—and SO far as I can see they will only be minor economies—-there is no provision to bring about a major economy, namely, to abolish the Ministry of Transport. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that no economy would be effected by the abolition of that Ministry. He said further he had given reasons why no economy would be effected by its abolition. Those of us who desire to see the Ministry abolished do not agree with that view. We believe that economies will be achieved in this way, and we can give instances. In the first place, staffs could be reduced. If the Ministry were a Department of the Board of Trade, there would be no inducement to keep in being large staffs of officials who are now engaged in what I venture to describe as the useless work of demanding, receiving and checking statistics from the railway companies— statistics which lead nowhere and are valueless both to the companies and the State. I could give figures showing the burden which the compilation of these statistics entails upon the companies and upon the State. I hope when the Bill reaches its Committee stage Amendments will be moved having for their object the abolition of what may have been a useful Ministry, but one which should now be relegated to the limbo of past things.
I object to the provision in Clause 15 which allows a Secretary of State, the Minister of Health, or the Minister of Transport, in connection with the cost of an inquiry, to include in the costs, in respect of the services of any officer, a sum not exceeding five guineas a day. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that in such an inquiry as that held recently in respect of the tramways of Edinburgh, an official of the Ministry of Transport proceeding there for the inquiry would be entitled to be paid a sum not exceeding five guineas a day by the Edinburgh Corporation. If so, it is perfectly absurd. It puts upon a local authority a burden which the State itself is not bearing at the present moment, and makes the local authority pay something for which it is getting no worth whatever. Under Sub-section (2) where the Minister of Transport is authorised or required to hold an inquiry he may direct how and by whom the costs incurred relative to such an inquiry are to be paid. That is bureaucracy gone mad. What is the reason for it? It is purely and simply for window-dressing purposes. The money has to be paid by someone, and as far as one can see the responsibility is merely taken from the Exchequer and put upon the local authority. If one had time to study the provisions of the Bill, as a Bill of this nature deserves to be studied, one would doubtless find many other grounds for criticism. I hope there is some economy effected by the Bill—I will welcome it if there is—but we have had nothing from the Front Bench indicating where the economies are. I hope before the Debate closes the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or some Minister with a knowledge of the facts, will submit to the House clearly and definitely the amounts and details of the real economies in national finance which are to be effected by this Measure.
It may be convenient if I, at this stage, should endeavour to deal with some of the criticisms which have been offered by my Scottish colleagues regarding the Scottish part of this Bill. I apologise to the House for the state of my voice, due to circumstances over which I have no control, but I will endeavour to be brief and also to be audible. I am not going to deal with what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardine (Lieut.-Colonel A Murray) regarding the Ministry of Transport because I understand the Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry will deal with the criticisms that have been passed upon its continued existence. I confine myself to what I conceive to be my proper province, namely, the Scottish provisions of the Bill which have been criticised during the past. hour. The hon. and gallant Member for Kincardine complained of the procedure which had been adopted with regard to the introduction of the Bill and in particular with regard to the introduction of the Clauses affecting Scotland. He suggested there had not been time for Scottish local authorities and others concerned to consider and make up their minds with regard to their attitude towards these provisions. One would think all these proposals were novelties; that they were heard of for the first time when the Bill was printed and circulated. I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend, in the first place, that there will be adequate opportunity, between the Second Beading Debate and the Committee stage of the Bill, for all concerned to formulate their criticisms and forward their representations, and that none of these are foreclosed by the Division which the House is invited to take to-night.
I will deal with that in a moment. I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend, in the second place, apart from that consideration—which seems to me a forcible one—that the major portion of the Bill consists of Clauses giving effect to the proposals of the Geddes Committee which have been before the country for many months. and with regard to which there has been considerable clamour against the Government in the direction of compelling them to give effect to the recommendations. Many of the Clauses—I think I am right in saying most of them—purport to, and indeed do, give effect to those recommendations which have been common property for many months back. My hon. and gallant Friend went on to suggest, as I understood him, that this Bill should not go to the Scottish Grand Committee. I do not know whether he is prepared to admit that that was the tenor of his speech. Does he or does he not desire, so far as the Scottish part of the Bill is concerned, that it should go to the Scottish Grand Committee?
Then I do not know what he means by the "growing practice" of dividing Bills into two. The only precedent I know of for dividing a Bill into two parts was in the case of the Railways Bill. I know something about that, because I had the honour of conducting one part of that Bill upstairs. I have yet to learn that any disadvantage to the public interest resulted from the conduct of that Bill before two separate Committees. So far as this Bill is concerned, I think I have my hon. Friend's consent that, notwithstanding that he deprecates a practice which he calls a "growing practice"—to which I demur—this particular part of the Bill should go to the Scottish Grand Committee.
My hon. and gallant Friend then proceeded to the Clause of the Bill which deals with the Record of Edictal Citations in Scotland. He asked, with rhetorical effect, why we were singling out this particular Department for abolition. The answer is a simple one. A Committee sat some years ago on minor legal appointments, and one of its recommendations was that, on a fitting opportunity, the Keeper of this office and the Clerk should suffer extinction. The Clerk has retired, I think—at any rate, there is a vacancy in the Clerk's position, and I do not propose to fill it up. With regard to the office of Keeper, when he surrenders his office by retirement or otherwise, it is not proposed to fill it. The reason for that economy—I beg the House to observe that it is an economy—as I shall explain in a moment —is that it is giving effect to the recommendations of a responsible Departmental Committee. It will result in a saving of £500 a year to the public funds. I have been asked about figures. There is one. It is very difficult to compute the exact savings which will be effected by the various proposals in this Bill. There will be a saving, however, so far as this office is concerned, of £300 in the Keeper's salary and £200 in that of the Clerk.
I would remind him of the provisions in regard to the Board of Health. It is said, why not abolish these members now 2 When these members are abolished, they will be a saving to the State of some £3,000 a year. It is not an immediate saving but a prospective saving. If it is desirable to go further, and if the House or the Committee wish to effect these savings at an earlier date, I shall be quite prepared to meet that point when it is taken. My hon. and gallant Friend went on to deal with the position of the Parliamentary Under - Secretary for Health. He raised a purely Committee point when he referred to the words, "so far as the said Secretary may direct." If that point is raised in Committee, I will deal with it. The hon. and gallant Member for Midlothian (Sir J. Hope) dealt mainly with the position and the office of Parliamentary Under - Secretary for Health. There, again, the arguments were those which might very well be taken in Committee upstairs. He asked what economies had been effected by the provisions in the Bill in this regard. I cannot point to any immediate economy, but it is convenient and fitting to take advantage of this Bill to bring about what I regard as a useful reform in Scottish administration. When this proposal was made in 1919, it will be in the recollection of many of my Scottish colleagues present that I opposed it from the point of view that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary in question might have certain difficulties to face in connection with the office, seeing that, with the exception of financial transactions involving the Treasury, questions of general policy and questions of public interest which might be raised in this House, the Board of Health in Edinburgh really enjoy self-control or, if you like, Scottish Home Rule, and were left to direct their own affairs without interference from London. My view was turned down. The experiment has now been tried, and while I freely admit the loyal and useful service which my hon. Friend has given me during those years, I think, having regard to the fact that housing activities have been curtailed by the financial stringency of the time, and that the duties devolving on my office as Secretary for Scotland have largely increased in many directions, the time has come to assimilate the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health to the office of Parliamentary Secretary with which in many other Departments we are familiar, and to extend his activities and —the House will forgive a personal reference—to afford some relief to an official who has quite enough to do as it is because there are so many Boards under his charge.
As regards the particular form of the Clause, I shall be prepared to reconsider that, if necessary, during the Committee stage. My hon. and gallant Friend asked why the Secretary for Scotland should have the arranging of the matters dealt with by his Under-Secretary. As has been pointed out in several quarters, that is quite a usual arrangement and, in an office where one also has the advantage of the services of the Lord Advocate, it is much more convenient that the precise duties of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland— as I hope he will be termed in future— should be decided and allocated by the person who has the best opportunity of knowing how he can be most usefully employed, namely, the Secretary for Scotland. The hon. and gallant Gentle- man said, "Why not reduce the number of the members of the Board of Health here and now?" There would be great difficulty in doing that. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said there was no work for them to do. He is quite mistaken in that: there is ample work for all these members to do at the present time.
I should prefer to say that the Government, recognising the financial stringency of the time, which will exist for some time to come, were constrained to adopt this course as being the best in the circumstances. If there were no question of financial stringency, I should not have proposed this alteration. It would be contrary to precedent to turn these gentlemen out into the street now, even with pensionable rights or any other financial arrangement which might be suggested, especially as we are dealing with officials of high responsibility and standing, whose names are household words throughout Scot-land. The hon. and gallant Gentleman further asked whether the Parliamentary Under-Secretary would remain the Vice-President of the Board of Health in the event of the changes proposed in this Bill coming into effect. My answer is, yes, because Sub-section (1) of Section (3) of the Act has not been repealed. Although the ambit of his duties will be extended, he will still continue to be Vice President of the Board of Health, as he is at the present moment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) made certain criticisms of the Bill from the Scottish point of view, and dealt with the question of the education of children between the ages of five and six. He will remember that the Bill gives effect to a recommendation of the Geddes Committee. We were very often told that we should give effect to all these recommendations in their fulness, but when any attempt is made to carry out that proposal somebody at once objects. I ask the House to bear in mind, first, that this gives effect to a distinct recommendation of the Geddes Committee and, secondly, that this is a proposal which is not confined to Scot- land, but extends to England as well. I think it would be highly inconvenient that on one side of the border you should have a different system in operation, where the same social considerations prevail, from the system in operation on the other side of the border. It may be desirable that these children should be sent in certain instances to school between the ages of five and six, but I will say that my experience is that the present Scottish educational authorities, and before them school boards, were always reluctant to enforce a penalty against a parent who failed to send a child of five years of age to school. That obligation is now removed, but my hon. Friend will observe that the obligation remains on the education authorities if any parent desires to send a child of this age to school. My hon. Friend went on to deal with the housing provisions of the Bill, and, in particular, with the Clause which deals with slum areas.
The House and my hon. Friend will observe that the Clause which he criticised deals with slum areas and with nothing else—that no other part of the housing problem is included in the Clause. At the present time the system is this, that where there is a decision to clear a slum area, the entire expense arising from the carrying out of the proposal, apart from the produce of a rate of four-fifths of a penny, must be borne by the public funds. The public funds allocated to Scotland for thi3 purpose are £30,000, and my hon. Friend will at once see that, by introducing a proposal that the local authorities should co-operate with the Board of Health in this matter and should, if they feel so disposed—I ask him to mark those words—contribute to the abolition of a slum area, we enable that sum to go very much further than it could possibly go under the existing law. It will therefore result in a larger clearance of slum areas, of which I know he is in favour, than could possibly be achieved under the law as it exists in Scotland to-day. My hon. Friend will bear in mind, when he speaks about the burdens on the ratepayers, that that is a burden which a local authority may or may not impose upon the ratepayers. It is entirely in their discretion. They may come into any such scheme, or they may remain outside, and any further burden laid on the ratepayers in this connection will be laid by the local authority which is entirely answerable to them, at the elections when they take place, for their administration in this matter. I quite appreciate that that runs counter to his theories, and to the theories of the Labour party, which I have often heard advanced, that this ought to be a national as distinct from a local obligation. While that is so, I beg the House to observe that the net effect of this Clause will be to effect larger clearances of slum areas than could be effected under existing circumstances to-day. I have only one word to say, in conclusion, with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw). He agreed with me, I understood, in regard to the office of Parliamentary Secretary for Scotland, but he disagreed, so far as Scotland is concerned, with the proposed consolidation of the police forces. I think his argument was that, so long as Kilmarnock and Ayr are left unaffected, it does not much matter what happens in the other burghs in Scotland.
If I misapprehended the argument of the hon. Member, I apologise. He will remember that this Clause really follows, as several of the other Clauses in the Bill do, the Geddes Committee recommendations, and that it also applies to England. Further, as my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate reminds me, it follows the recommendations of the Desborough Committee. So far as local authorities in Scotland are concerned, they will have ample opportunity before the Committee stage of conveying to me anything they may wish to say on the matter. The Provost of Kilmarnock has already, by aeroplane or otherwise, reached my hon. Friend and conveyed his recommendations to him. The proposals in the Bill embody an exceedingly careful scheme for the consolidation of these forces. I do not think anyone who has studied the problem in Scotland or in England would seek to justify to-day the continuance of these small police forces in small boroughs and counties. It is no new proposal to consolidate them, but without going into the details, I ask the House to believe that the most careful consideration and exploration will take place under the provisions of this Bill before any change is introduced. For example, the Secretary for Scotland must be satisfied that the proposal is a reasonable one, and before taking action upon it he must, if required, hold a local inquiry into the circumstances and form a decision with the result of that inquiry before him. I appreciate that many small boroughs and counties will take exception to the proposal, but it is in the public interest, and the details can be thrashed out in the Committee stage. I do not want to take up the time of the House further, because both private Members and Ministers desire to submit their views before the Debate concludes. I content myself by saying that these Scottish proposals, whether considered by Grand Committee upstairs as part of the whole Bill or by the Scottish Grand Committee, can be fully thrashed out in an even more appropriate place, I venture to submit, than in the House of Commons, which is invited merely to give a Second Reading to the Bill.
From the speeches we have heard this evening criticising this Bill, one would think that strict national economy was very little needed. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardine (Lieut. - Colonel A. Murray) said this Bill is an amazing Bill, but the reason for this Bill is the Geddes Report. Without passing a Bill such as this, it is impossible to carry out many of the recommendations of that Report, and I think the bulk of opinion in the country has shown that it is very largely in favour of the great majority of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. From the Labour Benches we have heard several speeches denouncing economy in housing and in education. I am all in favour of expenditure on both. I think there is no subject which demands the attention of Parliament more than that of providing the people with proper housing, but are we not going to work in that direction better by trying to effect practical economies in directions in which they can be effected without doing any harm? Take, for instance, this education question. Is it not a sound thing to trust the people to send their children, who are between the ages of five and six, to school if they want to send them? I know very well that in the country districts there are many mothers who at present do not at all like being in the position of being liable to be called up before a Court because they have not sent their small child of five years old in bad, wet weather to school. I think the wise thing is to give educational facilities to children of five years of age, but to leave it to the parent to judge whether he or she will send them to school or not.
I have no doubt good work will be done by consolidating the police forces of our small burghs, but I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw) when he says that our large burghs of, say, 30,000 will resent being merged into the country district, and I hope in Committee the Minister in charge of this Bill will consider the case of those larger burghs which my hon. Friend described. While we all recognise the great work which has been done by the Scottish Office, I think people in Scotland will consider it is a wise step now to enlarge the work of the Minister for Public Health, so that he can now take his position as a Minister of Scottish affaire, and thereby allow our Scottish affairs to receive the full and adequate attention which we in Scotland want them to have.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
I chink it somewhat significant that in the closing stages of this Debate we should have the first particulars from the Front Bench as to the actual economy which is to be effected by this Bill. Naturally, it should come from Scotland, and it is somewhat surprising that the Secretary for Scotland should point to the £300 paid to the Keeper and £200 to his Clerk, making £500, as the great saving which is going to be effected immediately by this Economy Bill. We are told there is to be a subsequent £3,000 saving some time in the future. If that be, apparently, all that the Secretary for Scotland can show as the saving effected by this part of the Bill, we may be assured that the savings on other parts will be still less.
That was not my argument at all. I said that these were savings which could be immediately computed. There is very great difficulty in computing savings under other heads, but they will be material.
We still get no tangible statement as to the real savings. Other savings are possible, other savings may mature, but I take it that what the House desires to know is the actual saving that will take place under this Bill. I suggest that, apart from those mentioned, the savings, so-called, are merely transfers of a burden, at present borne by the Treasury, on to the shoulders of the rate payers. In so far as they are transfers, they are not savings nor economies in the real sense of the word. Take the question of education. The President of the Board of Education referred to the White Paper dealing with the Estimates he introduced some little time ago. There, there is a showing of a saving to the Treasury of nearly £1,000,000, comparing this year's expenditure with last year's. But where is that £1,000,000 to be found? If it is really to be a saving, it means £1,000,000 less spent on the educational services, and therefore the economy is merely a starving of education. On the other hand, I submit that education authorities who are not prepared to follow the advice of the Geddes Committee, and cut down the educational facilities they have given during recent years, but continue to spend the money, will have to find it themselves, and, therefore, this £1,000,000 will be simply a transfer from the Exchequer to the ratepayers. I wish the Prime Minister were here. He received a deputation a few weeks ago from necessitous areas, from local authorities in England and Wales representing all the large industrial centres. They made a strong case, which met with sympathetic consideration, as to the way in which local rates were piling up, and getting to breaking point. Figures were given —I only quote one—showing how the cost of the manufacture of steel is affected by local rates. Take one works, of which I have some knowledge. Local rates advanced! from a cost of 8d. a ton on their output in 1914 to 5s. 4d. a ton on their output to-day. The Government say that they want to get down the cost of production, and effect real economy, and yet they pile on to local rates a burden which, up till now, has been borne by the Treasury.
In educational matters there is a larger variation in the burden of rating than in any other question, not because of the locality, because local education autho- rities are bound hand and foot by Regulations of the President of the Board of Education. It is not a question of wasting expenditure, but it is a question entirely dependent on the local population, and where you have a big child population in an industrial area, there you necessarily have a much heavier charge for educational services. When you have the appalling differences in educational rates, such as 1s. 6d. this year at Blackpool, compared with 5s. and more at Tottenham; when you have variations from 1s. 6d. to 2s. in residential areas, and up to 4s. and 5s. in large industrial areas, it is hardly the time to come to this House and say, "We are going to practise the economies of the Geddes Report by transferring from the shoulders of those better able to bear it the burden of education of our poorer children in large industrial areas." I suggest it is a mean economy to practise this apparent saving at the expense of districts, already heavily overburdened, which are clamouring now to the Treasury for assistance. Instead of getting assistance they are to have their rates increased by this Bill. So it is with regard to the Clause on housing, and I wish to join in the protest made that here you have in this Bill in effect three or four large Measures which cut right across the whole financial position of our local authorities. It is a Bill which was only printed last week, and the local authorities have not yet seen it.
The hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray) mentioned how the London County Council had been called together, and had got into telephonic communication with its members in this House, to protest against the disastrous effect which this Bill would have on the London County Council. What is true of the London County Council is likewise true of the other education authorities throughout the length and breadth of the land. When they see these provisions, they will be up in arms, because, uncertain as their position has been, it will be rendered much more difficult in the future. The President of the Board of Education suggested that education authorities had come to him with open arms and thanked him for the new system of grants, which was so clear and so plain. That was not the experience of the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington, or of many of us who are in touch with local authorities and some of us who are mem- bers of those authorities. I know-that in my own district the education authorities have been striving for weeks and months to find out exactly what is their position. I have put several questions to the President of the Board of Education, and he has told me that grants will be made in accordance with a formula which has been in force for some time. Yet when it is pointed out to him that the total national grant from the Exchequer to the local authorities will be reduced by nearly one million, and when he is asked how that million is to be saved, he tells us to-day, in the course of Debate, that that will have to be determined when the Estimates of the local authorities come in. How can the local authorities, whose year is already far advanced, frame their Estimates adequately when they do not even know now what will be the basis on which they will receive the grants from the Treasury?
In the Clause dealing with education the position is left still more uncertain, because the sum is to be determined according to the circumstances by the Minister and what he may consider it necessary that they shall receive. I submit that before next year this matter should be very carefully considered. Clause 14, dealing with housing, is a reversal of the Act passed by this House in 1919. The Minister of Health, in dealing with this question, said he could not understand how it ever happened that the Clause limiting the local authorities' expenditure to a penny rate got into the Act. That limit of 1d. was put in to cover the slums. Why? Because the experience of everyone connected with local authorities in the past has been that the slum problem has remained untouched because of the burden which was going to be put on to the local ratepayers if it was tackled. Realising the failure of the local authority, on account of the lack of adequate financial assistance, to deal with this slum problem—for it cannot be dealt with on economic lines—the Committee acted as I shall show. No one can go on with a scheme under private enterprise to clear away the slums and rehouse the people and make a profit at it. Realising by the experience of the past that that is absolutely impossible, realising the seriousness of it, and that the Ministry of Health had on hand at the time over 270,000 houses which were condemned by medical officers of health because they were unfit for human habitation, realising that the only way the matter could be attended to was by giving assistance from the Treasury, the Committee upstairs put in this Clause limiting the expenditure of the local authority to a penny rate, and that is the Clause which the Minister now asks this House to repeal. That is a complete reversal of what the Government accepted in 1919, and which this House, the right hon. Gentleman himself included, agreed to without a Division on the Third Reading.
A stronger case, I submit, should be made out. The Minister of Health twitted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoredit[...]h (Dr. Addison) and asked him how many slums were abolished under his régime? The reply was "none." How can you abolish slums when you have a shortage of half-a-million of houses in the country? How can any local authority, no matter how-wishful to do this thing, do it? How can they seek or issue closing orders when they have thousands and thousands of their people without a house of any description? The effect of the first Measure was that it was possible for the local authorities to take some advantage of the clearance scheme provided by the Act. Now it is to be scrapped, and the slums are to remain as they were The Secretary for Scotland shakes his head. He put forward a most ingenious argument. Whatever, in theory, he said may be effected by this Bill we can, in practice, close more slums, because under the scheme you were limited to a penny rate and nothing could be done: but by the new scheme there is £30,000 allocated to Scotland and this will go much further because the local authorities will combine with the Government in getting something done. Why is the limit £30,000? There was no limit in the Act itself. The Government come down and say, "We are only allowing £30,000 to Scotland and £200,000 for the whole of the country, to be allocated for these purposes." They, of course, can limit the effect of this Act. But it is hardly a fair argument to say. "Because we have stultified our own Act by refusing a grant of money, therefore we must scrap it and leave it to the local authority to find out of their revenue the money required. You cast upon the local authority a burden that is far beyond their limited resources, and if they could not do this work when their rates were about 5s. to 10s. in the £what chance is there of doing anything now that the rates are 20s. to 30s. in the £?It is foolish to secure economy by denying the local authorities opportunities which were promised in 1919. Surely, that is not the way to redeem the pledges of 1918? Then what about restricting the amount and cutting down the grants given for the feeding of the school children? If the children have to be fed, it will have to come out of the ratepayers' pocket instead of out of the Treasury. Again, you are piling expenses on to the local ratepayers and putting a burden on to industry which you say you want to free. This Bill is brought in in the name of economy, an economy which is simply a transfer from the national exchequer to the overburdened ratepayers, from the rich to the poor, to the undoing of that social reform which was promised in 1919.
I cannot emulate the eloquence of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but if I cannot possibly emulate that, I can claim to emulate his zeal for housing, without perhaps his frenzied determination. The Bill before us to-night has as many faults in as many ways as a Bill can have if viewed from an ideal standpoint I think that the President of the Board of Education this afternoon, in his reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Gray), failed to convince the House in regard to the effect of the Clauses in this Bill in regard to education if they were carried out. Clause 4, for instance, may have the effect which the President adumbrated of instituting a ration for local education authorities. As a matter of fact, under Clause 4, as it stands, the President of the Board of Education might go very much further, for there is nothing whatever to prevent him from suddenly, in the current year, authorising a very large programme of new work in the case of one local authority, and, as the result of that, cutting down the grant to another local authority which is keeping well within the limit of the programme laid down for them by a previous authorisation of the Board, and under a previous authority.
The President of the Board of Education intervenes to say that the appalling powers which I have mentioned are in his hands at the present time. There is no limit to his power in openly withdrawing from the local education authority in the middle of the financial year the grant which they have been led to believe they are authorised to receive.
Perhaps I have not made myself quite clear in respect to that. The Board of Education had the right to disapprove of any proposed expenditure on educational grounds. This Clause 4 makes it clear that it is in my power to disallow expenditure on educational grounds, or equally to disallow on the ground that it is expenditure which will exceed the amount which Parliament has already imposed upon the local authorities.
I quite understand the mind of the President of the Board of Education on this question, but it is important that he should find out how far this goes. I submit that under the wording of the Clause if the Minister for Education last March authorised a particular local authority to undertake a particular scheme, and recognised that scheme as ranking for grant from the Board of Education, under this Clause he could at the eleventh month of the current financial year withdraw his authorisation and restrict his grant, on the ground that meanwhile he had authorised another local education authority at the other end of the country to greatly exceed its estimate. I realise that the Minister does not mean to do that, but under the Clause as it stands it could be done. It does not say that the Board of Education should limit any grants in respect of work hereafter authorised, or of schemes either. This proposal applies to every scheme for the last two or three years.
I make that point because I wish to make it clear to the House that this Bill has been, I think, hurriedly, and I am quite sure, badly drafted. I know that is a point of detail for the Committee, but I would point out that opposition to this Bill has come from all sections of the House, and I would like to tell my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington (Major Gray) that the gravamen of the charge against the Government is that under this Bill the Home Secretary, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Education take into their hands complete power to make economies where they can make them, and to regulate as they like the grants to local authorities. That is, undoubtedly, putting into the hands of those Ministers a power which this House, in ordinary circumstances, would be very reluctant to grant. That, I think, is the gravamen of the charge against this Bill. We are now approaching the moment when we are about to vote.
I know hon. Members opposite are in their element on an occasion like this, and, naturally, they do not wish to curtail this Debate. Personally, I wish we were drawing near to the end of it. I wish to say that, while it is true that to grant these powers to Ministers is a grave decision on the part of this House, yet if hon. Members, who have had anything to do with these local matters or with education schemes during the last few years, will consider the present situation, I think they will agree that it is absolutely impossible to expect any administrative economies to be made in those schemes unless we hand over to the Ministers very wide powers in regard to regulating grants to local authorities according to the needs of each local authority. When we come to the question of slums, which the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) has spoken about so eloquently, I say that the proposals of this Bill are the only possible way of dealing with that problem. The Ministry of Health should have full power to make agreements with the local authorities, under which he has freedom to make block grants according to the actually ascertained probable loss on those schemes, the need of the local authorities, and the power and ability of the local authorities to make the rents more or less cover the cost of their schemes. That is the only way in which you can make the best use of the money at your disposal. It is no use saying, Why do you not let the local authorities have unlimited powers under the Housing Act? The reason is, that neither the Government nor the local authorities have got the money to expend on those schemes, and hon. Members know that quite well.
The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough says that we are throwing the burden on to the local authorities, but we have often found local authorities trying to undertake schemes at the present time which they ought to have undertaken 15 years ago. Neither the Government nor the local authorities has got the money necessary for these schemes, and by giving the Minister of Health power to make the amount of the subsidy go the farthest possible, I believe you are adopting the best policy towards the abolition of the slums. Contrary to what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Accrington, I believe the London County Council are in favour of the Minister of Health having these wide powers. We all understand clearly the objection which the House has to granting these wide powers to Ministers, but where you have such a situation as this, where what has been called bureaucratic action has succeeded in getting the country to embark on vast expenditure, it is only by giving Ministers a free hand in regard to that expenditure that you will be able to cut the Gordian knot of your entanglement at the present moment. Any vote on this Bill on the Second Reading will not be on its particular provisions, but it will be a vote of confidence or want of confidence in the particular Ministers and the Government as a whole who will have to administer this Act. On that ground I do not think there is anything we can do except to support the Second Reading of this Bill.
I do not propose to go into Committee points, nor do I wish to object to the passing of this Bill, meagre as it is in its effort towards economy, and almost useless as it will be in actual saving. For what it is, let us accept it. Neither do I propose to object to the suggestion that the Bill should be divided into parts, each to be sent to a different Committee. The first part could go to one Committee, the second and third parts to another Committee; and the Scottish part to the Scottish Committee,
and if that were done, there might be some chance of getting it through. But it would be better to refer the Preamble to still another Committee, because within the limit of that Preamble the new Clauses which hon. Members can very properly bring forward would find a place. It is to the words
make other provision with a view to promoting economy and efficiency in public administration
that I want to refer. There is nothing in this Bill to give effect to the very important recommendations not only of the Geddes Committee, but those which hon. Members of this House have made in various ways during the last two years. There is not one word about the Ministry of Labour, and not one word about cutting down the Unemployment Insurance scheme whereby able-bodied women, with no home cares of any kind, who refuse employment which is waiting for them, are still able to exist on what may be termed public charity.
I do not propose to go at length into the question of the disposal of the Ministry of Labour. Sufficient it should be to transfer such remnants of that Ministry as are really necessary to the Board of Trade. To continue that Department in its present circumstances, with the name of the Ministry of Labour, when all that it does is to tinker not with labour but with unemployment is surely absurd. Another startling omission from this Bill is that there is not one word with reference to the long-deferred and long overdue abolition of the Ministry of Transport. It is within the memory of the House that, in the economy Debate on the Geddes Report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that one proposal in relation to the Ministry of Transport would be to combine it with the Post Office in a Ministry of Ways and Communications. That sinister suggestion has not been pursued either by the Minister who made it or, as far as I am aware, by any one on the Government benches since that day. The Ministry of Transport, however, as it exists to-day, can very well be parcelled out, so far as its essential branches are concerned, and, in a very large degree, can be reduced. It is dealing, on the one hand, with road developments, which would be very much better associated with the Office of Works. It is dealing, on another hand, with public safety as regards railways and tramways, and that is essentially the care of the Home Office. I see no reason why the Home Office should not undertake the public safety branch of the Ministry of Transport, and, indeed, also the Department of Mines, which, again, is largely concerned with public safety. The remainder of the Ministry of Transport, with the possible exception of some part of the statistical section, which could go to the Board of Trade, is of no use and can be dispensed with.
There is, however, no reference even to the well-known fact, admitted by the Government within recent months, that they do not now really need a Minister of Transport as provided for in the original Act. The House will remember that, when Sir Eric Geddes resigned that office, there was considerable doubt as to what to do with it, and it was given to a Noble Lord in the other House, without remuneration, this being intended as a stop-gap measure, in order to cover legal points. Why is there nothing in this Bill to abolish the Minister, if not to abolish the Department? These may be called wild ideas, but, nevertheless, they are far-reaching ideas, which can be embodied in new Clauses when the Committee stage of the Bill is reached.
There is another matter. Within the last few years, what used to be the Local Government Board has been increased immensely, and has been raised to what we know as the Ministry of Health. Its real function, indeed, its only useful function, is concerned with local government, and local government is largely of the same nature as matters of public safety, which come under the Home Office. Therefore, this Bill gives the House an opportunity to consider the amalgamation of the Home Office and the Ministry of Health under one Minister with two Parliamentary Secretaries, one in this House and one in the other House, charged with the public safety functions of the Mines Department and the Ministry of Transport, with greatly reduced staffs. The Board of Trade may well take over the essential part of the Ministry of Labour. Then, at last, we shall have made a start in reducing the swollen postwar Departments of State, and we may, indeed, feel that we are getting somewhere towards economy in national expenditure. To suggest, however, that the text of this Bill is in any way adequately related to its title is ludicrous in the extreme. Such as it is, nevertheless, let us pass it. But if the fact that a Measure of this kind, with its glaring omissions, is put down as one of 12 so-called Departmental Measures to be considered on a Monday, having only been printed on the previous Saturday, be an indication of the Government's intentions as regard effecting real economies in the public service, then, indeed, may the taxpayer well despair of the economy intentions of the present Government. I only hope that in referring this Bill to Committees upstairs, we shall not object to it being divided between two Committees, but that we may even yet induce the Minister in charge to divide it into three or four Committees. Then at least we may have some chance of considering the many new Clauses which ought to be brought forward within the limits of the Preamble of the Bill.
Anyone who criticises this Bill will lay himself open to the charge from the Government that he is against economy. If there were anything in that charge it would be one that could equally be made against the Government, because there are many other recommendations of the Geddes Committee which might equally well have been embodied in the Bill, but which are wanting. We have already heard about the Transport Ministry. I can give another. There is the Department of Overseas Trade, which the Geddes Committee recommended ought to be abolished, and yet the Government are allowing it to continue and to spend about £350,000 in this financial year. That is an example of the way the Government treat the recommendations of the Geddes Committee. I hope if some of us do not treat all the recommendations as sacrosanct, the Government will, before they criticise us for doing so, remember how they have treated some of the recommendations themselves. I will give another example. Clause 8 deals with the question of fees in respect of registration of business names. That is due to an Act which was passed a year or two ago to compel aliens engaged in business to disclose the fact that they are aliens. That was the real intention of the Act, as far as I gather, and in order to identify one in a thousand traders, this Act has been responsible for the greatest harassment of any against traders.
Although I have no doubt there was a real reason for its passing when it was passed, the reason has long gone out of existence. The Geddes Committee considered this also, and expressed the opinion that there was no longer any necessity for having the Act on the Statute Book, and they recommended its abolition. I should like to know why it is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not embodied that recommendation, and provided for the repeal of the Act altogether. I had understood the Board of trade had set up an inquiry to consider this very point with a view to the repeal of the Act, but, in spite of that, here we have a Bill which is going to lose an opportunity of repealing the Act, and to continue in office a number of officials who have long outlived their usefulness.
I wish to direct attention to a question of some importance which relates to Scotland. It seems to me that Clause 22 may have some considerable consequences later on. I regret very much that the question of Scottish education should be embodied in the same Bill as one dealing with English education, because the educational ideas of Scotland are entirely different from those of England, and to attempt to deal with the two questions in one Bill is undoubtedly to attempt to reconcile ideas which at present cannot be reconciled. At the present time there is a statutory obligation on all education authorities in Scotland to provide free, without payment of fees of any kind, primary, elementary, and secondary education for all children. That is far in advance of what England has. This Bill is going to take away that obligation, and substitute something else. Although this obligation was only made statutory recently, it has been in operation for some time. In the county which I know best, Banffshire, it has been in operation for a very long time. It was in operation before the Act of 1918, and as long as I can remember. What will be the result of Clause 22 (3)? This Sub-section is going to add to the statutory provision another Proviso, which says, that it will not be necessary to provide this free education for all, but that arrangements will be made for an education authority to pay the fees of particular individual children. That seems to be creating an invidious distinction between children, because under this new provision, if it is passed, it will be necessary in certain counties that the parents should go to the authorities in forma pauperis and ask for special assistance. That is a retrograde and reactionary move, and I hope it will disappear from the Bill before it goes upon the Statute Book.
I should like the Secretary for Scotland to address his mind particularly to this point, which I should have liked to put to him had I been able to address the House before he spoke. What will be the effect of this particular provision on a county like Banffshire, which has been providing this particular education for a generation? If it continues to provide free secondary education irrespective of what is contained in this Bill—because they will still have the power to do so—is that going to affect the grants which are to be given to Banffshire'! I have taken the case of Banffshire because it is a county which has been giving free secondary education for, perhaps, a generation. I understand that at present the principle upon which grants are given in Scotland is the principle of the block grant, and not that of percentages. Will the powers that are to be given in this Bill be used by the Secretary for Scotland so as to compel counties like Banffshire to give up the system which they have been pursuing for so many years, and adopt some other principle which may cut down the educational facilities in that county? If it does not do that, of course there is no economy in this prevision, because it is not going to relieve the Exchequer of a single penny. It may have the effect of adding a little more to the rates of the counties, but it cannot relieve the Exchequer. Therefore, in regard to this provision, like many others, we shall find that it is not an economy Measure at all, and that the only possible effect it can have is to put the burden of responsibility on to other shoulders. We have had numerous instances of legislation by this Government which has simply and solely had that effect. When the Government have been accused of extravagance they have tried to get others to relieve them of their liabilities, and the amount which is spent is the same as it was before. I will reserve what I have to say on other matters until we come to the Committee stage. I would have liked, however, to have something from the Secretary for Scotland about the recommendations of the Geddes Committee with regard to the Judiciary in Scotland. Statements were made by the Committee on that point and, if they were justified, there was great scope for economy there, but nothing had been done. I hope that before the Bill passes a Second Reading we shall have this question, which is an important one, dealt with by some member of the Government able to speak with authority on the point.
Mr. J. JONES:
On this matter of economy nobody is more entitled to speak with authority than those who have to practise it. So far as we are concerned, this Bill represents the monumental intelligence of those who have been preaching economy. It reminds me of the story of the Scotsman who, in order to save money, used the wart on the back of his neck as a collar stud. But, unfortunately, septic poisoning set in and the economist lost his life. Now we find that even the friends of the economists are turning upon them. The mountain is in labour, and we are discussing the mouse. Those of us who belong to the common working classes want to know why all your economy stunts begin at the bottom. Why do they not start at the top? Hon. Members opposite could make sacrifices on behalf of the nation. The House itself could make sacrifices. All the big people in the country could make sacrifices. But, no. When you want to practise economy you begin with the people who have least opportunity of hitting back. You begin with the children in the matter of education. Our children in the East End of London, in the great mass of cases, have nowhere to play but in the streets. But now the age is to be extended before they can enter a school, and they have got to play another year in the streets. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] All that is optional. But those who are out for economy in local districts, and think less about their children than they do about the rates, now have the right to say that the children shall stay in the gutter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] You talk about non-provided. I do not care whether they are provided or non-provided. From the standpoint of economics or from the standpoint of rates to be paid, I stand for the same thing, for the non-provided as well as for the provided schools. This does not provide for that.
We are talking about economy, and I am trying to be as economical as possible in the use of language, having nothing else to use. In the matter of housing, in the district I have the honour to represent we have thousands of applications for houses and we are able to provide them only by hundreds. Yet we have been informed that our schemes must be cut down. To all intents and purposes the housing problem to-day, as a result of the economy arrangements of the Government, is more intense than it was in the days before the War. Whatever we do, we cannot solve the problem from the standpoint of the conditions laid down in this Bill, We can afford to meet any situation so far as it concerns those in high places. I have seen economy practised during the past couple of weeks. I have seen it in the picture papers, for I have not been able to visit the places personally. I have seen it at Wimbledon and at Ascot and at Henley, and next Friday, in the newspapers, I shall see more economy at the Royal garden party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!"] I have a right to say it, and I am going to say it. The people who in this House are always preaching economy are every day exhausting the possibilities of luxury. They are the people who go to the Royal garden parties, dressed up in clothes that cost more than the working man can earn in a year. I am going to give you some Hyde Park now, if I am allowed to do so.
My remarks are relevant to the matter of economy, and the Bill before us is a Bill for economy, according to its title. What I say is, that if you are to talk about economy, begin at the top. Who pays for all these royal functions? Who pays for all this national expenditure? Who pays for the joy rides round the world that great people are allowed to have, while you are trying to rob our children of education. You have paid £500,000 for a young gentleman to have a trip round the Empire. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!" and "Sit down!"]
The hon. Member is now criticising what has been the action of the House in voting the money to which he is referring. He is not in order in criticising the action of the House.
It is this same House which is trying to rob the children of this country of a real education. Hon. Members can vote money for any purpose which they think desirable, but when it comes to the people who want something done for them, the money cannot be found and the nation is said to be too poor. But if it is something in the interests of their own class, this House can find money all the time. So I oppose this Bill from a point of view different from that of many hon. Members. I protest most emphatically against the class legislation for which this House is responsible. They can always find money for their own class, and they can never find money for the common people of this country.
I wish to associate myself with the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Tones). The hon. Member speaks for a class which at the present moment is feeling severely the effects of the aftermath of the War—and the peace—and he will understand me when I say I am not alone in feeling very strongly with him. If I may speak of the Bill for a few moments, it seems to me that it is mis-named the "Economy Bill." It is going to save no money at all. The proposed operations of this Bill remind one very much of the Passport Office. We are told the Passport Office costs nothing, because some score of thousands a year paid in salaries in the Passport Office are paid by the travelling public who go there for visas. Under this Bill, owners of vessels are going to be charged for the carrying out of the inspections ordered by Act of Parliament; people are to be charged for entering the British Museum on certain days, and the Secretary of State is to have complete discretion as to the days and the charges. A charge is to be made for registering petroleum testing installations and altogether under this Bill we are going to give the bureaucracy, a remarkably free hand. Under previous Acts, when the amount of a charge to be made to the subject was not specifically mentioned, there was a provision whereby such charge was required to be made by Order in Council, which gave some opportunity for revision by the House of Commons. In this Bill everything is left to the discretion of the Treasury or the Secretary of State, under whose jurisdiction this new taxation comes. This is called economy. Certain users of public institutions and services—shipowners and the like—are to pay fees, and then the Government say, "Look at the money we are saving the country!" We know that money paid by the public is not money saved. It may be possible to juggle with the figures of the Treasury when the next Budget comes along, but the people will have to pay all the time, and this applies with greater force where ratepayers and local authorities are concerned.
I particularly protest against two items in this Bill. It is going to hit an industry which at the present moment is suffering-very severely owing to the general condition oil slump in the world markets—and (hat is the shipping industry. Clause 6 has already been severely criticised by two hon. Members, who spoke with great knowledge of the shipping industry. It imposes a number of new charges upon shipowners and shipmasters. Fees will have to be paid upon all engagements and discharges of seamen, and presumably the object is to make the shipping industry pay for the horde of officials which the Board of Trade will then have to keep up. It is just the same principle as in the Passport Office. The shipping industry is going through a terrible time at present, and any extra burden means more ships laid up—a number of ships are now being run at a loss—and means more distress through unemployment to the seamen, and still more to the officers, who do not come under the Unemployment Insurance Act.
As to Clause 11. I cannot for the life of me understand what it means It refers to the fees charged by Consular officers under the Consular Salaries and Fees Act 1891. It gives power to the Secretary of State, by Order in Council—I suppose to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs— to levy such charges for similar duties carried out by Foreign Office officials. I turn to the Act of 1891, but there is not one word there about fees or the actual services for which fees are charged. Under that Act power is given by Order in Council to levy certain fees for certain services not specified, but there is nothing as to the fees or the services. If any Minister replies, I should be glad if he will explain what this means to the subject, and what he will have to pay. This really is taxation to an unknown amount at the absolute discretion of the Secretary of State. There has been a great deal said in this House about the loss of control over taxation by the House, and this Bill is surely the culminating example of that loss of control.
This is the great Economy Bill, and no doubt it is the result of the very anxious meetings of the Cabinet to try and save the country from insolvency. No one knows what we are going to save—if anything at all. Most of the savings will be only apparent savings. This will only be a shifting of the burden. While we are saving on these candle-ends, cutting down the salaries of the rat-catchers and making other pettifogging economies under this Bill, we continue to waste money on expenditure that will do no good At the present moment we are starting building two useless—in the opinion of many people connected with the Admiralty perfectly useless— "Dreadnoughts." That is after all that took place at Washington and the scrapping of other ships. No one whom I have ever met in naval circles in recent times after the War can explain how these ships are going to be used. We are wasting £12,000,000 a year on an Army in garrisoning Constantinople, which will do no good whatever.
I do not want to transgress your ruling, but when the Government explain to us that they cannot afford more than half-a-crown on any slum house for slum clearances, I think I am entitled to point out that they are squandering money in outlying parts of the earth.
I will not enter into any more details of protest here against these mean, petty little savings that are largely at the expense of poor people and against these ludicrous attempts at economy by charging extra for burying dead bodies. There are other matters into which I do not want to go, though we are squandering money on useless and even harmful adventures abroad.
If this is all the Government can do in economy, had they not better let somebody eke try? Is this the beginning of the great General Election campaign and the first plank of the Government's platform when they go to the country for a renewal of their mandate? Is this what the Colonial Secretary is going to talk about to the citizens of Dundee? When he goes on to the hustings, is he going to wave this aloft and say, "Look what we have saved!. We have put up the charge for burying dead bodies; we have joined up with the Montrose police and sacked your chief constable; we will permit you not to send your children to school under six years if you do not want to"? If so, Heaven help them! Personally—and I believe I have many millions of my fellow-countrymen with me in this—I am convinced that we shall not get economy under the present Government at all. They can bring in as many Bills as they like, and call them Economy Bills, but economy will not follow. The truth is, that they have the War mind and the War mentality. They made their little reputations in a war which was won by other people, and they are not going to economise as long as thy are in office. The only hope of solvency for this country is to get rid of them, and to get rid of them quickly.
The course of this Debate has shown the wisdom of the suggestion I made to the Prime Minister at Question time, that this Bill contained half a dozen Bills, each if which would require a whole day for its Second Reading. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not estimate to us how much he was to save by this Bill, and the only way in which we can estimate is by the number of pages in the Bill. Including the Schedule, there are 22 pages, and seven refer to Scotland, and if we are to calculate on that basis one-third of the economies in this Bill fall on Scotland. The only figure we have got was given by the Secretary for Scotland—£500 from some official in Edinburgh. The Bill itself is what would be regarded in mid-Victorian language as a crazy quilt, and it almost deserves the title of crazy with a more distinctive meaning. I join in the protest that has been made, over and over again, about forcing this Bill through the House at one sitting. The hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) prevented a General Election in order to save this country from hasty legislation and to reform the House of Lords, and here, although a General Election is not to take place, we are forcing this legislation through the House of Commons.
I wish particularly to refer to the Scottish part of the Bill I agree with the provision giving the option to parents to keep their children from school up to the age of six, but I think the problem is different in the towns, where it would he a pity, perhaps, to give this liberty, but it is a very good provision for the country districts. Some years ago I made the suggestion myself, when at one time I occupied a dual capacity as chairman of a school board and medical officer of health. In some parts of the country, as medical officer, I pro- tested against sending children, even under seven, for two or three miles to school over bad roads, or in some places no roads at all, as being dangerous to health, but as chairman of the school board I was requiring them to be sent to school. I was in that difficulty, and I am very glad that this concession is now being made. Apart from the question of economy altogether, so far as rural areas are concerned, it is a decided advance in the interests of the health of the children. I join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood) in his suggestion of doubts as to the wisdom of this provision in regard to secondary education in Clause 22. I am afraid of the look of it. It is difficult to understand it, and I am sorry the Secretary for Scotland did not explain it.
It is one of the most important Sections of the Bill, and I do not know at all why the Secretary for Scotland did not think it worth while to explain this portion of the Bill, and the effect it was likely to have on secondary education in Scotland. He did not even say what saving it was likely to effect. My fear is that it is going to torpedo secondary education in the rural parts of Scotland, and especially in the Highlands, where it is impossible from local resources to have a complete system of secondary education, and the whole tendency of this Bill is that the burden of secondary education shall fall on local rates. Those Members who say to-night that this Bill is going to economise will find that although they are saving it from the Imperial pocket, the local authority will have to pay through the nose for local education. It is the fundamental tendency of this Bill to leave the local authorities to carry the burden.
I should like to say a word about the Scottish Judiciary. The Bill tells us that there are certain reductions to be made in the Board of Health for Scotland. There may be some reason. I do not know. But why on earth was not the axe applied to the Judiciary in Scotland? The Geddes Report has made some very strong remarks upon the redundancy of judges. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary for Scotland are both lawyers. I should be sorry to suggest that they have acted on the principle that "Corbies do not peck out corbies' een," but with a light heart and heavy hand they have come down on the Board of Health. But the Ark of the Covenant, the Courts of Session, they have not touched, notwithstanding the Geddes Report. The Government have not touched the Sheriffs Principal, although they receive salaries ranging from £700 to £2,000 per annum for practically doing nothing. They reduce the jobs for doctors, but not for lawyers. The Geddes Committee said with regard to the Judiciary in Scotland:
We recommend that an independent Committee, comprising members conversant with Scottish legal procedure, should be appointed to consider the possibility of reforms in Scottish judicial arrangements, with a view to economy.
Therefore—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, Divide!"]—the Committee ought to have been appointed long ago, so that it could have reported long ago and the results put into this Bill.
|Division No. 210.]||AYES.||[11.8 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Betterton, Henry B.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Birchail, J. Dearman||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Borwick, Major G. O.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briggs, Harold||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Cope, Major William|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bruton, Sir James||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Casey, T. W.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Bennett:, Sir Thomas Jewell||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Howard, Major S. G.||Reid, D. D.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hurd, Percy A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jephcott, A. R.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Royds, Lieut-Colonel Edmund|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Kidd, James||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Lindsay, William Arthur||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Forrest, Walter||Lloyd, George Butler||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lorden, John William||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Stephenson, Lieut Colonel H. K.|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Stewart, Gershom|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Grenfell Edward Charles||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morris, Richard||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Morrison, Hugh||Taylor, J.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Nall, Major Joseph||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Neal, Arthur||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'I.W.D'by)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Parker, James||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Haslam, Lewis||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Williams. C. (Tavistock)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) '||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Hilder, Lieut-Colonel Frank||Perring, William George||Windsor, Viscount|
|Hinds, John||Phillpps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Wise, Frederick|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Polson, Sir Thomas A.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Younger, Sir George|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Pratt, John William|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Moss[...]ey)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Purchase, H. G.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||McCurdy.|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hay ward, Evan||Robertson, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Wi[...]nes)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sexton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Irving, Dan||Sutton, John Edward|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cairns, John||Kennedy, Thomas||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kiley, James Daniel||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davies A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lawson, John James||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Foot, Isaac||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gillis, William||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas||Mr. Walter Smith and Mr. T.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Griffiths.|
|Halls, Walter||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Division No. 211.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Grenteil Edward Charles||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gretton, Colonel John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Perring, William George|
|Atkey, A. R.||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hailwood, Augustine||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Pratt, John William|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Hretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Beau champ, Sir Edward||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C (Kent)||Rces, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Bell, Lieut-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Haslam, Lewis||Reid, D. D.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Remer, J. R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hilder, Lieut-Colonel Frank||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hinds, John||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rodger, A. K.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Briggs, Harold||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hopkins, John W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sunders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Bruton Sir James||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Houfton, John Plowright||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Casey, T. W.||Howard, Major S. G.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Lady wood)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Coats. Sir Stuart||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Slarkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cope, Major William||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Kidd, James||Stewart, Gershom|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Taylor, J.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Lorden, John William||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wroxham)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Ednam, Viscount||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. '||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Townley, Maximilian G|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Manville, Edward||Turton Edmund Russborough|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston upon-Hull)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Molson. Major John Eisdale||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Morltz||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Morrison, Hugh||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Forrest, Walter||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Eraser, Major Sir Keith||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wise, Frederick|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Nall, Major Joseph||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Neal, Arthur||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Younger, Sir George|
|Gilmour, Lieut. Colonel Sir John||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Grant, James Augustus||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Parker, James||McCurdy.|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Cowan. D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwetlty)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Foot, Isaac||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Galbraith, Samuel||Hogge, James Myles|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gillis, William||Irving, Dan|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Bromfield, William||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Grundy, T. W.||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Cairns, John||Hall. F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Cape, Thomas||Halls, Walter||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Lawson, John James||Rose, Frank H.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Lunn, William||Royce, William Stapleton||Wilson, Jamis (D[...]dley)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sexton, James||Wintringham. Margaret|
|Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Sitch, Charles H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Myers. Thomas||Sutton, John Edward|
|Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Swan, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Mr. Walter Smith and Mr. T.|
|Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Tillett, Benjamin||Griffiths.|
|Robertson, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Division No. 212.]||AYES||[11.25 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Grundy, T. W.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Halls, Walter||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hayday, Arthur||Robertson, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Sexton, James|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kennedy, Thomas||Swan, J. E.|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthv. Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West?|
|Cape, Thomas||Klley, James Daniel||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lawson, John James||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lloyd, George Butler||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Maclean, Rt. Hn Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wood, Major MM. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness Ross)|
|Foot, Isaac||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gillie, William||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Mr. Walter Smith and Mr. T.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Griffiths.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dawson, Sir Philip||Haslam, Lewis|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Doyle, N. Grattan||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Armitage, Robert||Edge, Captain Sir William||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Ednam, Viscount||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Atkey, A. R.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hinds, John|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godlray||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.J|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Foreman, Sir Henry||Horne. Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Forestier-Walker, L.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Forrest, Walter||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Hurd, Percy A|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Frece, Sir Waiter de||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Jephcote A. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gee, Captain Robert||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Briggs, Harold||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Glimourt Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brown, Brig-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Grant, James Augustus||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Bruton, Sir James||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Kidd, James|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Gre[...]g, Colonel Sir James William||Law. Alfred J (Rochdale)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Grenfell Edward Charles||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Casey, T, w.||Gretton, Colonel John||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Lorden, John William|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hailwood, Augustine||McLaren Hon. H. D. (Leicester)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l.w. D'by)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Cope, Major William||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Manville, Edward|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Mitchell, Sir William Lane|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Remer, J. R.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Morrison, Hugh||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Taylor, J.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Rodger, A. K.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Neal, Arthur||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Parker, James||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Oxbridge, Mddx.)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. v.|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Perring, William George||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Pllditch, Sir Philip||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wise, Frederick|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Steel, Major S. Strang||Younger, Sir George|
|Pratt, John William||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Stewart, Gershom||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Sturrock, J. Leng||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||McCurdy.|
|Reid. D. D.|
Resolution agreed to.