Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the enactments relating to the housing of the working classes (including the amendment and revocation of building byelaws), town planning, and the acquisition of small dwellings, it is expedient to provide for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament,—
I beg to move after the word "Session" ["any Act of the present Session"] to insert the words "dealing with England and Wales."
Literally the effect of this Amendment will be to strike out Scotland from this Bill entirely. That is the only course open to those who desire to press for a separate Measure for Scotland. As the Minister of Health is probably by this time aware, Scottish Members of all parties and Scottish local authorities of all kinds consider this Bill not adequate to the needs of Scotland. I have not met any representatives of opinion in Scotland who did not feel that a separate Measure for Scotland should be presented, I cannot understand why they should not have a separate Measure. The Minister of Health, I am sure, does not want to be burdened with Scottish affairs, and the Under-Secretary for Scotland would be quite willing, I am equally sure, to take charge of a Scottish Bill. The only reason for including Scotland in this Bill is that someone hopes to have a holiday by a given time. We who represent Scotland do not want a holiday. We would rather have a separate Bill of this kind discussed by the Scottish Committee upstairs, which has had too little work to do lately. This Bill is the result of a bargain between the Minister of Health and certain large English cities. I am not complaining of the bargain. I believe a great deal of good can be done by it. Manchester and the other large cities which were consulted by the Minister have settled on a scheme which is embodied in the Bill. On the other hand, I am not aware that Scottish opinion was consulted. Did the Minister of Health consult any representative body of Scottish local authorities on this matter?
The right hon. Gentleman is not the Secretary for Scotland and yet he is in charge of a Bill which deals with Scotland. The fact is that the Minister of Health has drafted the Bill against the protests of the Under-Secretary for Scotland. The Under-Secretary for Scotland stated, so I understood his reply, that the Bill is inadequate. I understood him to admit that in the opinion of his expert advisers—he could only be speaking in this case of the expert advisers of the Scottish Office—the cost of building a house in Scotland was greater by I think £23. That is disputed by those authorities who have put up houses. They say the cost is greater, and the figure of £23 is not accepted by anyone, except those quoted by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, as being adequately representative of the cost. Supposing this Bill be passed and supposing that no houses should be built in Scotland, does the Minister really think that housing will be promoted in Scotland by this Bill? I have met during the last two days representatives of many of the Scottish local authorities—this is not a party matter—and all parties declare this to be a worthless instrument for the purpose of promoting building in Scotland. We know from the Report of the Housing Commission that at the time they made their Report the condition of housing in Scotland was deplorable. To-day it must be much worse. The Industrial Commissioners who reported on the causes of unrest after the War, in their Report put housing prominently as a cause of unrest and disturbance. The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Newbold) frankly said in his speech that he does not come here because the people of Motherwell believe in Bolshevist doctrines, but because the housing situation in his constituency is the worst in Scotland. We all know it is so. You could almost make a map of the political complexion of the various parts of this House if you made a map of the housing conditions in certain parts of the country. I want to ask the Under-Secretary for Scotland this question. I understand the capital sum represented by the subsidy of £6 for 20 years is to be in this case placed at £60 or £70.
The Under-Secretary admits that £23, or we will call it £25, as his own official experts declare, represents the increased cost of building in Scotland. Does that not mean that at least an £8 subsidy in his opinion is due? Scottish opinion does not regard that as adequate, but on his own showing £8 is due. Scottish local authorities have met and passed resolutions. The Convention of Royal Burghs met and passed resolutions with which we are all familiar, and 24 representatives of Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Dunfermline, Greenock, Aberdeen and part of Lanarkshire met and declared the following opinions:—First, that a separate Housing Bill for Scotland was necessary; second that a sum not exceeding £6 for a period not exceeding 20 years was quite inadequate, and that whatever sum was paid should be a definite figure for a guaranteed period. Further, they passed unanimously a resolution that a subsidy should be paid in respect of all the houses built. I think the case we have made out is a strong and unanswerable case. I ask any Member of the Government to give a really valid reason for not having a separate Housing Bill for Scotland. The only reason given is that put forward by the Patronage Secretary that Parliamentary time does not permit, but it is not a sufficiently strong reason for depriving Scotland of legislation suited to her needs and on which a great deal of her future prosperity must rest.
I support the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn). I appeal to English Members to believe that we are not promoting this Amendment for the purpose of securing some Scottish victory, or for the purpose of getting a larger amount of money, although we believe that to be required by Scottish needs. We believe that unless a greater contribution is made under the Bill very serious injustice will be done to Scottish housing conditions and, so far from solving the housing problem, very great danger may be created in the near future by a reproduction of the slums or the difficult conditions of the past. What are the broad facts of the Scottish housing situation? I understand that during recent times all kinds of estimates have been taken as to the cost of a house. One figure widely quoted is £425. To that problem a great deal of Scottish investigation has been directed during recent months, and competent authorities in Scotland have put the difference in the cost of the houses as compared with England as high as £122. By other authorities, apparently, the difference in the cost has been put very much lower. A few days ago, in a memorandum which was submitted from the West of Scotland, it was held that an intermediate figure of about £78 or £80 might be taken as the necessary extra cost of erecting a house in Scotland, if it was to withstand Scottish climatic and other conditions.
May I tender the Committee an explanation of the points on which the extra charge is made up? Scottish architects and other Scottish authorities take the view that the plumbing work must be heavier and more substantial in Scotland than in England. They also point to the fact that certain felting and other additional roofing work is required. Then there is separate and heavier treatment of the window work, for reasons well known to everyone who has lived in Scotland or visited it. There are also certain extra charges in the foundations, because of the usually undulating character of very large numbers of Scottish sites. All these are extra charges compared with a great deal of the property in England, and it is our case that, unless we have a larger allowance than the £6 subsidy suggested in this Bill, there will be erected in Scotland only an inferior type of house, which will soon deteriorate and involve the local authorities in heavy outlay for repairs at an early date, and will in no way fulfil the purposes of this housing scheme.
Something has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend as to representative opinion in Scotland on this point. The precise position is that this so-called Manchester agreement was arrived at by a certain restricted number of the larger authorities in England. So far as I can find out, only one large Scottish municipality appears to have been represented, and only on a most temporary basis, namely, the municipality of Glasgow. Having obtained certain information about the proposals which were to be made, the Glasgow representative, with commendable discretion, withdrew and took no further part in the proceedings. So, apparently, there is to be foisted on Scotland a scheme to which no representative Scottish body or separate persons have given any support whatever. That, I think, is a very serious state of affairs. At present there is not one large organisation, representative of the experts or local authorities in Scotland, who would say for a moment that this £6 subsidy is adequate. The Scottish Board of Health itself appears to have taken that view. What is the requisite subsidy which the Scottish people put forward? They say, at the very least, it should be £10 per annum. Others have put it as high as £12, but in any case, it must be more than the £6 embodied in this Financial Resolution. We recognise that if the Financial Resolution be passed and the Bill goes upstairs to Committee on that basis, all further effective fight on our part is at an end.
These Scottish authorities suggest £10, or something more than £6. They do so for the reasons I have described, and for another reason, to which insufficient attention has been devoted in the past discussion on this problem. Taken over the period which will be necessary for the erection of these houses, this allowance does not amount to £6 per annum, which is a very important point. In point of fact, it may not be more than £4, it may be some sum less than £6, because the terms of the Resolution say—
Not exceeding a sum equal to six pounds.
The only choice before the local authorities is this: They have either to accept this Resolution and the £6 subsidy under this Bill, and provide a type of house which is really required for Scotland, and carry the extra burden of building; or lower the standard of the housing accommodation. That is the real choice before the Scottish local authorities and the
Scottish people. [...]aving regard to the enormous weight of local rates in Scotland, and to the fact that this Bill, in application, will entail very largely increased local charges; and looking to the evidence which was submitted by the Dunedin Committee, which reported on local rating in Scotland, and indicated that local rates there could carry no higher burden—I very much fear some of the local authorities in Scotland will be compelled to fall back upon standards of houses which might stand the climate south of the Tweed—I do not know—but, in any case, are totally unsuitable for Scottish conditions. I plead most earnestly, before we do a grave wrong and injustice to the whole housing programme in Scotland, which would go right in the teeth of the evidence of the local authorities and their experts, and of the Report of the Royal Commission of 1909, that we should reconsider this matter. We should give Scotland separate treatment under this Resolution, in a separate Measure, and deal with the housing problem north of the Tweed in the way in which, undoubtedly, it ought to be handled.
I only desire to intervene very briefly in support of the arguments so eloquently directed to the Committee by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) and by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). The case for differential treatment for Scotland has not only been proved, but has been admitted by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who represents the Ministry of Health in Scotland. We are here, as Scottish Members, only insisting that the Government should carry out what they know and believe to be the desire of the people of Scotland. I do not propose to enter into details on this subject, but I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of Health to the fact that when he had a meeting with the local authorities in England, at which, I believe, there was present a representative from the City of Glasgow, that representative not only withdrew from the conference but, at the meeting on 23rd February, he said that such a subsidy—£6 per house—as was being proposed for England could not be accepted by any Scottish local authority. I understand he believed he had good reason then to suppose that a separate figure would be
adjusted for Scotland, and accordingly he withdrew from the meeting altogether. The case substantially for differentiation stands not only upon the cost of building, but upon the different system of rating in Scotland. I ask the Committee to consider the terms of the Memorandum with regard to the Financial Resolution which has been circulated by the Minister of Health, in which are indicated the special grounds on which a deficit is expected to arise in view of the expenses incurred by the local authorities in each district. Paragraph 3 of the Memorandum states:
The expenses to be incurred by local authorities in themselves providing houses will depend on several uncertain factors, namely, the cost of building during the period to the 1st October, 1925—
On the cost of building, we have got a direct admission that there is a substantial difference of cost involved in the case of housing in Scotland. Secondly, the next consideration is:
the rents which can be charged for the houses and the interest payable on capital during the period of 60 years for which building loans are sanctioned.
Let us examine for a moment the rents which can be charged for the houses. Everything depends upon what the local authority is going to get in the way of a rent for the house which it is erecting. Upon the amount which it receives the deficit which it will have to face will have to be assessed. Whereas, in England, for every £20 rent which is paid to the local authority, the local authority will be able to put the whole of that into its pocket, in Scotland the local authority will have to deduct for owners' rates £4 off every £20, namely, 20 per cent. off the actual rent which it receives. The question I want to put to my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health is, in making his calculation for Scotland, what allowance have the Scottish Office made for the difference between England and Scotland involved in a 20 per cent. reduction in respect of rates on the rent which they are receiving? It seems to me that is a point which will bring us up to a considerably larger subsidy than has been in view by a, number of hon. Members who have spoken. I do not think we, in Scotland, put the cost too high when we suggest a £12 subsidy. I am fortified in making that proposal here—I hope the hon. and gallant Gentle
man will not treat this suggestion in the same manner as he did the suggestion which was made during the last Debate, but will take it more seriously—when I inform him that this suggestion comes to me from one of the leading housing experts in Scotland, who believes that £12, at least, is necessary. This gentleman writes:
Our calculations show that a subsidy of £12 per annum for 20 years for a three-roomed house in a tenement is quite insufficient. The £12 per year might possibly suffice if it were carried on for the period of the building loan redemption fund, or even for a fixed period something less than that but it seems quite clear that 20 years at £12 is far short of what would be necessary.
I do not bring that forward as my own individual view, but as the view of one of the men best qualified to discuss this matter in Scotland, with whom I have no doubt my hon. and gallant Friend will also have to discuss the matter later on.
The result is simply going to be that in Scotland we shall not get the houses. It is cheese-paring policy; it is a foolish policy. I am perfectly certain I carry with me the views of the hon. Members who represent Scotland when I say that the question of housing is a national one. [An HON. MEMBER: "Home Rule for England."] Home Rule for England! Hear, hear! It is a national question. There are many English people who go to Scotland, and perhaps there are more Scottish people who come to England. When, however, we are dealing with housing, we are dealing with a question which affects the population as a whole; and the leading consideration is the necessity which has arisen, whether it be North of the Tweed or South of the Tweed, that we should deal with the situation having regard to the actual needs of the people, and the necessity for improving the physique of our race.
These are considerations of which I hope the Committee will take account. We are faced with a very serious situation indeed, in Scotland, and the whole of Scottish opinion is united on the subject. I do not think I ever remember a case in which we have had Scottish opinion, representing practically every district in Scotland, so absolutely united in making a case against the provisions of this Resolution and of the Bill. I also, from my experience in this House, have never yet come across a case in which the Scottish
Office, being united with the opinion in Scotland in demanding separate treatment; has allowed itself to be turned down by the Cabinet without making a more serious protest against such treatment. I suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary that it is not enough to make another brilliant speech, such as he made the other day. We want him to face the facts, and to face opinion in Scotland. I observe, over the week-end, he again visited the Conservative Club, in Edinburgh, and delivered a further speech there. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is wrong if he thinks Scottish opinion will accept the view which he put forward there. Speaking at the Conservative Club, on Friday, he said:
He was not content to split the Bill into two and waste the sunlight and the building weather which they enjoyed for so short a time, and to have a series of sterile debates merely for the sake of talking.
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman—and I am speaking for my colleagues—that we are pressing the case for Scotland, not for the sake of talking, but in order to give effect to the views of those local authorities whose voice ought to be heard in the House. We are prepared to say to him that if his Bill were divided into two, and if it could go up to the Scottish Grand Committee, he could trust the Scottish Members not to talk for talking's sake, but to try to get a thoroughly good Bill and to obtain something for Scotland.
My answer is this. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposed the £7 subsidy surely he faced that question, and is in a position to realise that in regard to finance the needs of Scotland are entitled to special consideration. In a question that affects the whole nation, it is a mistake, financially, to prevent sufficient money being available to meet the needs of the worst-housed district in the United Kingdom. I put it to him that, on the question of finance, we make our claim without any suggestion that we are imposing our will upon the people of England, but because we believe that all the people of the United Kingdom should unite together in securing, at least, better housing in the worst-housed districts, and that they are willing, along with us in Scotland, to do their share.
I intervene only for a few moments in support of the views expressed already by my colleagues from Scotland. English Members of one particular party had the opportunity of hearing this part of the Bill—the financial side—discussed upstairs, and I believe my Noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland was present there, also. So far as I know, however, no single hon. Member of either of the two parties on the Opposition side had that opportunity. Since then, we have had my hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary for Health addressing the Conservative Club in Edinburgh, and he made a reference to the "sterile Debates" in this House. I am sorry that he should have gone to Edinburgh, the capital of the country, which he is supposed to represent in this House, and made a reference of that kind to the Debates in this House. All the Scottish Members in this House are very sincere in the attitude which they are adopting with regard to this Bill. They believe honestly that they are voicing the sentiments of the people of Scotland. My hon. and gallant Friend might have spared himself from making a reference of that kind.
Our case in Scotland is that the conditions in Scotland are entirely different. My hon. and gallant Friend at that Box has himself told us that it cost more to build this type of house in Scotland than in England, and, therefore, I cannot see why he should say now that Scotland has not got a claim for a higher subsidy than is given in England. My hon. and gallant Friend in the last Debate made a very interesting and excellent speech, but it did not deal with the facts as presented by every Scottish Member who spoke. It was not merely Scottish Members from one part or another part of Scotland, but every Scottish Member, whether representative of a rural or an urban constituency. They had all the same story, and they were backed up by all sections of public opinion in Scotland. I would ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether he would not yet make an endeavour to give us a separate Scottish Bill, because all of us, even his own colleagues on the other side of the House, have pointed out that our conditions are different, and he himself has admitted that they are different, and even at this late hour I would ask him whether he cannot give us a separate Bill for separate discussion before a Scottish Grand Committee.
I hope that this Amendment will go to a division, and that we shall get the support, not only of every Scottish Member, but of English Members as well. Conditions are entirely different in the two countries, and it will be well for this House if it gives fuller consideration to these differences. I listened with the greatest interest to the Debate on the Second Reading, and also to the Debate to-day, because I had the unique experience of being present at the annual conference of the Scottish Housing and Town Planning Conference in Glasgow, when this question was first discussed by the organised local authorities. At that Conference there was no division of opinion so far as the £6 subsidy was concerned. The Scottish local authorities were unanimous that the subsidy did not touch the burning question in Scotland.
I am interested in this question from another point of view. I am a member of a county council, and I have been a member of a housing and town planning committee, which has had to deal with the Addison scheme, and has built a number of houses under that scheme, and if this scheme were to be substituted for the scheme which we have been operating, not one house will be built by our local authority. So, while the Under-Secretary for Health delivered a very interesting speech at Edinburgh, and spoke about wasting the sunshine and summer weather when houses could be built, he might as well take time now to produce a satisfactory Bill for Scotland, because he will get time, through the fact that no houses will be built under this scheme, for considering some scheme other than that which we are considering here to-day.
I have asked our district engineer, who has had control over building schemes, to give me an idea of how houses under this scheme would actually work out, and I have been provided with the following figures. He assumes that a three-apartment house in our district in Scotland cannot be erected for less than £400, and he assumes that we shall be able to borrow capital at 4½ per cent. Those are liberal assumptions, because we shall not be able to build for £400, and probably cannot get the money at 4½ per cent. We have started building houses under the last scheme which are costing from £410 to £450, and we shall not get them any cheaper under this scheme; but for the purpose of making out a definite statement as to what we can do, he is assuming that we can get the houses built at £400, and borrow the money at 4½ per cent.
It works out on a 30 years' loan in this way. We shall have to provide sinking fund and interest which will cost £24 11s. 2d. There will be feu duty at £8 per acre, which will be 16s. per house. Rates at 8s. in the £ will be £7 4s.; repairs at 15 per cent. of the rental £2 14s.; management at 5 per cent. of the rental, 18s.; insurance 8s.; empties and loss, etc. at 2½ per cent. 9s.; which makes a total of £37 0s. 2d. So far as our district is concerned, we shall not get any more than £18 for these three apartment houses, so that there will be a deficit of £19 which has got to be met in some way. The Government propose that we shall be content with a £6 subsidy. If we get the full £6, £13 will require to be found by the local ratepayers annually. That is a burden which I am sure the local ratepayers will not consent to shoulder.
I would appeal to those in charge of this Measure to consider the position as far as Scotland is concerned. I come from the burgh which has the shocking housing conditions which were stated to this House by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) when moving the rejection of this Measure. We require an enormous number of houses built in our burgh, and over the whole mining area in the West of Fife, and if we have to proceed under this scheme not one house will be built in that district for a considerable time to come. We have districts already overburdened. Not only is there a heavy education rate, but in Dunfermline district we have a road rate of over 4s. and in Kirkcaldy district a water rate of over 6s. in the £. If in addition we have to ask the local ratepayers to shoulder unlimited liability in connection with the provision of houses, not one house will be built in districts which require an enormous number of houses to be built. Therefore I join with all those who have spoken in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. and gallant Friend to reconsider the matter so far as Scotland is concerned. We who are members of local authorities are most anxious to do whatever we can to provide the houses which are so urgently required, but this scheme will not produce the houses. Therefore it will be far better to reconsider the position and give us a Scottish Measure which will receive the whole-hearted support of local authorities in Scotland.
I believe that, at the time of the Manchester Conference, the large local authorities considered that they might do better under this scheme than they did under the Addison scheme. The four-fifths of a penny brought in a considerable sum in Glasgow, something like £40,000, and the Glasgow local authority at the first glance at this Measure considered that they would gain more by a definite sum per house than by the four-fifths of a penny. But after it was more carefully considered the Glasgow local authorities, and other local authorities in Scotland, have come to the decision that in the long run we should be in a better position either with the old Addison scheme or with a subsidy of £10 per house, and they would prefer the old Addison scheme even to a subsidy of £10 per house. If this Measure is passed you will have the local authorities in Scotland refusing to operate it.
I rise, not to elaborate the points which have been put so admirably by my right hon. and hon. Friends, but to express astonishment at the attitude of the Under-Secretary for Health. He asked my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fast Fife (Mr. D. Millar) what about finance, but when the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) in his brilliant and forcible speech the other day made a great point about finance, he was told by the hon. Gentleman's colleague, the Attorney-General, that finance has nothing to do with it. It is because I disagree profoundly with that proposition that I suggest that this Amendment ought to commend itself to the Committee. We all know that it is a problem of finance in Scotland. There is no use trying to get the Scottish Minister and an English Minister to deal with the same Bill, because of the conditions
in the two countries. The view that it is a question of finance in Scotland was supported by Scottish Members in all parts of the House. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) said "It is a question of finance." The hon. Member for Kelvin Grove (Mr. W. Hutchison) said:
If the Government itself in 1919, when prices went up against them, stopped the housing scheme, how much more readily will the local authorities which are finding prices going up against them stop their housing schemes when it means unlimited liability?
The effect of this Resolution will be to confine the Bill within such financial limits that it will be impossible for the Committee upstairs to amend it and make it applicable to Scotland. The learned Attorney-General had been answered in anticipation by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh and by the hon. Member for Kelvin Grove. When hon. Members opposite fall out, perhaps honest Scotsmen will come by their own. In this demand for special treatment of Scotland all Scottish Members unite, and all Scottish local authorities unite, or rather all Scottish Members with the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for South Lanark (Captain Elliot), who now sees these questions through official spectacles of a rosy tint.
Then I have no doubt that the hon. and gallant Member will go into the Lobby and vote for the Amendment. It is true that in Edinburgh, on 21st March, he said:
The figures showed a justification—he was speaking as Under-Secretary for Health—for an increase of £1 per house over England.
After all, allowances must be made for the hon. and gallant Gentleman whose generous emotions of Scottish patriotism overcame him at a time when he had only just assumed his office, and before his judgment had been sobered by the responsibility of that office. The hon. Member for Kelvin Grove said:
I think the Measure is capable of a good deal of alteration and improvement in Committee.
But we cannot alter it in Committee unless the hon. Member for Kelvin Grove and other hon. Members opposite come into the Lobby with us and compel an alteration of the financial Resolution.
I want to address myself particularly to the way in which this Financial Resolution fits in with the situation in Glasgow. As has been stated on various occasions, the Glasgow problem is of far greater magnitude than the problem in any other part of the country, and, so far as finance is concerned, it is of such a magnitude that there is little probability of our getting the houses in anything like the lifetime of those now in this House. I have worked out the figures in my own crude way as to the cost. Taking the cost of the houses at £500 each, it works out at £35,000,000, if the total number of houses to be provided is 70,000. Taking all the charges at 5 per cent., that means that we shall be saddled with a burden of £1,750,000 annually, to which the Government will contribute £420,000, leaving the local authority to face a burden of £1,330,000 annually. That contribution from the State continues for 20 years, but we shall be dealing with the houses for a period of something like 60 years so far as the buildings are concerned, and for 80 years so far as the land is concerned. Consequently, during the whole of that period we are to be burdened annually with something over £1,000,000.
What will be the effect on the local authority? What will be the effect on the conservative opinion within our cities? The result undoubtedly will be that everything that can be done will be done by an influential section of the community to prevent this burden being placed on their shoulders. They want the houses undoubtedly, and they recognise the need for houses, but if the burden has to fall on them to anything like this extent they will determine to prevent the houses from being built, and all the time the problem will be assuming greater and greater magnitude, so that instead of our getting ahead with our object we shall defeat it. In connection with the financial provisions, note what we have to do. We have to meet this problem before the end of 1925, with the possibility of it being continued until 1926, making it on every hand impossible for us to deal with it. You say that you are to give £6 per house. As a matter of fact that has been worked out very carefully, and it is shown that all that we are likely to get throughout the country is slightly over £3 per house, and at the same time there is no chance of the rate for money falling to any great extent. If you take it at even 3½ per cent., you are leaving us with a burden that it is almost impossible for us to assume.
If you want us to get ahead with housing, if you wish to make the financial burden such that we will be able to bear it, undoubtedly you will abandon this Financial Resolution, and give us something, not perhaps quite on the lines of the Addison provisions, but something of the same nature, thereby giving an incentive to the localities to get ahead with the work. When it comes to leaving Glasgow out of account, and taking the great number of small industrial communities in our country, the rural parts, the fishing centres and the mining and steel districts, I submit that you will not get the houses built and that the present condition of affairs will continue. If the Minister of Health, the Under-Secretary for Scotland, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and others who are interested, will recognise what is at stake, they will put their heads together and give us something better than this Resolution. £13 annual loss on each of these houses or £9 annual loss on each of these houses. Suppose that we take it at the minimum of £9. It will leave these little struggling communities with a burden that they will be unable to bear. Glasgow may be able to shoulder the burden to some extent, because one penny in the pound brings in £40,000, but £40,000 will not nearly meet the annual loss, and something nearer a rate of 1s. in the pound will be needed.
If you intend to give us a chance, an incentive to go ahead with our work, you must alter these financial provisions. If you do not alter them, the Bill is dead at its inception. The smaller local authorities will certainly not undertake it, because they cannot possibly face the loss that will be incurred, and in the great industrial communities, in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, the problem is of such magnitude that you will there have the same causes operating, perhaps to a lesser extent, but undoubtedly the ultimate effect will be that no houses will be provided, and a condition of affairs, which is steadily growing worse, will continue. I appeal to the Government to give us some relaxation of their proposals, so that we may undertake the work. The necessity is recognised; the need is clamant.
I am not quite sure whether I am in order in speaking as a mere English Member. If such should be the case, I would like to point out to my hon. Friends who have spoken, that there is considerable diversity of conditions south of the Tweed. If the proposal is that a special Resolution should be sent to a Committee which deals exclusively with Scottish affairs, I would point out that for equally valid reasons special Committees might be set up to deal with the claims of all the different districts south of the Tweed. There is no line drawn across the community at the Tweed. I am not going to urge the Minister not to give the representatives from Scotland what they want. I tell him only, that if he does give them what they want, in return for some help towards the passing of this Measure rapidly through the House, he will find that my constituents in the south of England, who have conditions as to the cost of building, the number of houses required and their financial capacity, which differ from those of the great centres of the North—will also probably want a separate Committee. I would like to reply to the argument used by the last speaker who, I believe, is an authentic Scottish Member for a Scottish constituency. I do not quite understand the figures given by the hon. Member, but if they apply to Scotland alone I am, of course, ignorant on that point. The hon. Member seemed to indicate that the £6 per annum was really only worth £3. Was that on the ground of the difference as between 20 years and a longer period?
You only grant £6 for 20 years. We have got to spread that over 60 years for the houses and 80 years for the land, and it only works out at slightly over £3 for the period.
I am not at all sure that the hon. Member is right in his figures. I think if he goes into the matter a little more closely, he will find it works out at rather over £4. There is a difference in the value as between 20 years and 60 years, whether in Scotland or in England, but I do not think that is the way in which the problem will be tackled by the local authorities. We shall find most of the local authorities capitalising the sum. They will use the present capital value of £6 a year for 20 years either by way of easing their own finances, or by way of a solatium to builders. Most of them will, I think, tackle the question in that way, but, of course, is is open to the hon. Member to argue that the 20-year period is not sufficiently long.
When the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar), was addressing the Committee, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health intervened to ask the question, "What about finance?" and apparently thought that was the last word, and that there was nothing more to be said. I express the opinion that the hon. and gallant Member is thinking of this subject in terms of money when he should be thinking of it in terms of houses. We are not giving doles to the local authorities; we are giving houses to the people, and, if we offer to Scotland a sum which will not build houses in Scotland, we are not giving houses to Scotland. The Bill is not a Finance Bill in that sense at all. It is not a money grants Bill, but is a Bill for the grant of houses to people who are without houses. The Bill in effect says, "In order to get houses in England and Scotland, we will give you a certain amount of money." My point is, if that money builds houses in England but does not build houses in Scotland, then you are only mocking the people of Scotland. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary has admitted that the grant which would build a house in England would not build a house in Scotland. He stated that he had pleaded with his colleagues and with the Treasury to get a sum of money which would build houses in Scotland, but that they would not give it. In that case his duty is to resign. He has admitted that this money is no use in Scotland because you cannot get the houses built for it. Suppose Parliament were to say, "We will grant meals to necessitous children," and then, suddenly, instead of giving the meals were to give the money with which to buy the meals. Suppose the money that would buy a meal in England only sufficed to buy half a meal in Scotland, then in that case we would not be carrying out the intention at all; we would not be giving meals but only a sum of money insufficient to fulfil the intention of the grant. That is a point worthy of the consideration of my hon. and gallant Friend, and I would again say to him that he must think in terms of houses and not in terms of a money grant.
May I urge what has already been so eloquently urged, that there should be a separate Bill for Scotland? I see no valid reason why that should not be done. Such a Bill could be considered upstairs concurrently with the English Measure. There are in the House sufficient Scotsmen; they are sufficiently capable, sufficiently determined, and sufficiently verbose to get that Bill through Committee as rapidly as the English Bill would go through Committee. There would be no loss of Parliamentary time, and all Scottish Members on both sides of the House are willing to serve upon a Committee to push through such a Bill. Someone hinted the other day that the Government were afraid that the Labour Members whom they would have to face upon a Scottish Grand Committee might be a source of danger or anxiety. Has Scotland to suffer because Glasgow has sent a few wild men down to Parliament? Is the system of using Scotsmen to get through Scottish Measures and to supply the needs of Scotland to go by the board because there are in the House a few Labour Members of whom hon. Gentlemen opposite are afraid? We on these benches are not afraid of them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Join up!"] We find they have been supporting with great courage and capacity Measures which the Liberal party have been supporting for years, and we are quite sure if this Measure goes up to the Scottish Grand Committee, upon which sit these capable Labour Members, instead of having any reason to be afraid of them, hon. Members opposite will be grateful to them for their services. I appeal to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health not to be resistent and dour over this matter, but to yield, and neither he nor the House will have anything to regret.
I find myself rather saddened by the course which this Debate has taken. The speech of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Dr. Chapple), particularly, seems to bring home to us how deep is the difficulty which lies before us in this matter. When the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) quoted a passage from a speech which I had recently delivered in Edinburgh it seemed to me that he did me rather less than justice in saying that I referred to Debates in this House as "sterile Debates." My object was to avoid waste of time in Debates which were not about to serve a useful purpose, but hon. Members in all parts of the House will realise that to-night is the night of the crucial Debate on this matter. Tonight is the night when the finance, which is the essence of the Bills, is to be discussed and when those arrangements are to be made upon which there is no going back once they are settled. The Financial Resolution can only be originated in a Committee of the whole House, and it is in a Committee of the whole House that we Scotsmen have to put our case and justify it by argument, as it is impossible to justify it by voting strength. What a lamentable case has been made out this afternoon? I tremble at the thought of the discussion which would await us in Scottish Grand Committee if we were to put forward a case based on the requests which have been made this afternoon. We cannot mince matters; in this question the claim that we should have differential treatment for Scotland against England is a claim which of its very nature and essence—
I cannot give way on that point. The claim which I am asked to put forward is a claim for differential treatment for Scotland as against England. The claim of the Scottish local authorities is a claim for differential treatment for Scotland as against England. The claim of the Scottish Members is a claim for differential treatment, for Scotland as against England, and it is necessary for us to justify that claim by argument in this House, and not merely by saying that we wish to get that differential treatment.
The hon. Member for Dumfries did, I admit, bring out one point when he said that the differential treatment we desired was differential treatment in finance and not in houses. He said this was not a Finance Bill but a Housing Bill. He said, quite rightly, that I should think more of houses than of money. That is a perfectly justifiable criticism for him to make, but when financial proposals are being orginated, when we are debating a Finance Resolution, how can any hon. Member claim that finance is not germane to the subject under discussion? The Mace is beneath the Table, the Chairman of Committee sits in the Chair, and we are in Committee of the Whole House to discuss a Financial Resolution, and does the hon. Member consider that it is ridiculous for the Minister of Health or the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health to consider finance? This is the time when we must consider finance.
I am sorry if the hon. and gallant Member was not following me closely enough to correctly interpret me. I said the conditions were not equitable, if the amount of money granted to build houses in England would not build houses in Scotland. I never said we wanted differential or preferential treatment as against England; all I said was we wanted equitable treatment. We want sufficient money in Scotland to build houses in Scotland.
I am within the recollection of the Committee, and the claim put forward by the hon. Member for Dumfries is a claim for differential treatment in the matter of finance. He says that building houses in England costs less than in Scotland and that we should give a larger grant in Scotland.
I beg of the hon. Member to consider that not merely would this case have to go before the Scottish Grand Committee, where it would meet with a unanimity so striking as to give unalloyed satisfaction to the promoters of any such Measure, but I would subsequently have to justify it before the whole House. I return to the statement I made at the beginning—that in this matter we must reason most cogently and must bring forward the most powerful arguments in support of our contention. The claim put forward is a claim to strike Scotland out of the Financial Resolution and to introduce a subsequent Measure for Scotland. It is said, "Why not have a separate Bill for Scotland? Let us get away from the shackling influence of this great majority of English Members, who cramp our style and impede our progress when we attempt to bring forward reforms which all of us in Scotland desire." I put it to the senior Members of the House that we should require a Financial Resolution for that separate Bill, and that Financial Resolution would have to be discussed here on the Floor of the House in Committee. Yet that is the very situation of which hon. Members are complaining to-night. That deals conclusively with the technical part of the argument that a separate Scottish Bill would enable us to escape from the dilemma in which we find ourselves to-night. The finance of any such Measure has to be discussed on the Floor of the House, and we have got to make out our claim for any subsidy which we desire. What is the gist of the matter under discussion? It is that the subsidy which is desired for Scotland is not only insufficiently high, but that it is ludicrously inadequate. That is the claim which has been put forward for the difference, such as was brought out by the experts, not merely of the Scottish Board of Health, but agreed to by the experts of the larger and smaller local authorities, that the difference in the cost of erecting the same house in Scotland and the same house in England was a difference of £23 sterling. That is not what the dispute is about this afternoon.
Is it not a fact that the amount that the Scottish local authorities claimed as the difference to erect a similar house in Scotland was £125, and is it not a fact that the Board of Health have brought the figure down to £20, and that the Scottish local authorities will not accept such a figure?
That is exactly where I join issue with the hon. Member. If such a discrepancy existed, undoubtedly it would be necessary for us to go again into the figures, to study the figures more carefully, for us to determine where this discrepancy had arisen, but there is no such discrepancy or conflict of opinion. To erect the same house in either country leads to a difference of £23 in the cost. The difference is that the Scottish authorities claim that it should be a superior house in Scotland to what it is in England; that is where the difference of £125 comes in. I have been in this question for a long time, and I have discussed it thoroughly with the local authorities and with the experts. I have discussed it in Edinburgh, in London, and in Glasgow, and at the end of these discussions we came to this, that the difference of the estimated deficit in Scotland as against England lay in the difference of the rent that would be received from the house—lay in the fact that a superior house was desired for Scotland as against England; but on the actual cost of producing the same article in Scotland and the same article in England, the difference was of the very small order to which I have just referred.
I am sorry to intervene, but the problem in Scotland is to give the occupant of the house the same comfort and protection from the climatic conditions as he gets in a similar house in England. It is not that he needs a superior house in any other way, but he wants the comfort and the protection and the resistance to weather that a similar house gives in England, and the climatic conditions in Scotland will not allow that at the same price.
I wish my hon. Friend would put that contention before the Scottish local authorities. I only warn him of this one thing: Let him have the door open when he does it. At all costs, I would avoid any scintilla of humour in dealing with this question, because nothing could be a more fatal attitude in which to approach this enormous problem, but when it is contended that the desire is to produce a house equally resistant to weather in Scotland as against England, the cost of such a house is £23 above what it is in England, according to my figures, and nothing in the nature of £125. Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that that is what he will find in going into the figures. The claim is two-fold: First, the very important point that we should not in Scotland be satisfied with the house which is good enough for England—and there is a great deal of substance in that claim—but where the difference between myself and other hon. Members comes in is as to who is to pay for this difference. It is not a case of coming and scintillating on the Floor of this House, and making jokes on the subject, when I assure hon. Members from Scotland that there is the utmost difficulty in getting the Englishmen to live in a worse house than the people of Scotland and to pay the money for us to live in the better house. The last thing that I should desire is to approach this in a jocular spirit, but I assure hon. Members that it is a task which is not made easier by the contentions which have been brought forward this afternoon.
When I find the hon and learned Member for East Fife saying that I must attach due seriousness to the demand of the local authorities for £10 a house for 60 years, a lump sum of £600, or for £12 a house for 60 years, a lump sum of 2720, I ask the Committee as a whole, and the Scottish Members in particular, to realise that if we desire in Scotland a subsidy ten times that of the subsidy provided in England, we must justify it by arguments of an altogether different order from those which have been addressed to us so far.
The figure I mentioned was that given by the best housing expert in Edinburgh and supported on the difference in rates, with which the hon. and gallant Member has not yet dealt.
I am about to deal with that very point, but it is no argument to the English Members of the Committee to say that the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife is supported by an eminent housing expert in Edinburgh. I wish to emphasise and to reiterate this paint. It is very difficult for me to come forward to the English Treasury and press this claim when it is only supported by another Scotsman. [An HON. MEMBER: "Can no good come out of Edinburgh?"] Great good may come from Edinburgh, though I am glad to hear an hon. Member from the West of Scotland admit it. I ask the Committee to bear with me in this argument as regards Scotland, because if a separate Bill were introduced, a discussion of this nature would take place on the Financial Resolution. I am asking hon. Members to realise that when we bring forward a claim for a subsidy, it is a claim which eventually has to be passed by a Committee of the Whole House. Let me now deal with the other point that the hon. and learned Member for East Fife raised, a point of great substance, and a point which undoubtedly closely concerns both the local authorities and the people who subsequently have to deal with it in this House, the problem of the rating question in Scotland as against that in England. The hon. and learned Member for East Fife pointed out that out of a £20 rent in England a local authority would get the whole of it, but that in Scotland out of a £20 rent there would be a deduction of £4 for rates; that is to say, that, in the whole, on his house the Englishman would pay £24, and that, in the whole, on his house the Scotsman would pay £20. But where does the justification lie in this for us to put forward a claim to the English Treasury that the rates in Scotland should be borne by a grant from the Exchequer?
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I began addressing the English Members, and I subsequently referred to the Treasury, which is, of course, a United Kingdom body, but the Financial Resolution has to be got through a Committee of the Whole House, and we have to make out our case and to remember that when a claim for a larger grant from Imperial funds is made, we must substantiate it to those who contribute what is the greater amount, though not the greater proportion, of those Imperial funds.
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman misunderstood the statement of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar). What he said was that the occupying owner in Scotland had to pay £20 for rent, plus £4 for rates, while the Englishman had only to pay the £20.
Oh, no! This is one of the questions which I have gone into very carefully with the officials of my Board. It is one of the great troubles in dealing with this question, and it is, as I have said, that whereas in England the total amount paid by the occupier for a house does not include rates, for which he has subsequently to meet a demand, and which places the total amount of the money he pays upon his house in the year, that amount is less by so much in Scotland, which produces, naturally, a greater deficit to be met by the local authorities. The question of the rating system does not arise immediately in England, but let us take the point of the difference in building costs. It cannot be seriously contended that building costs do not vary to a great extent in England itself. There is not a flat rate building cost in England. We, in Scotland, have several immediate problems, but I do not think we can claim, for instance, to have an extra sum for the undulating nature of our sites to anything like the same extent to which that could be claimed, say, in Wales, with its narrow, mountainous valleys, where the claim could undoubtedly be put forward with just as great cogency as, and perhaps more than, we could argue it in Scotland.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that such a claim has indeed been urged by the Welsh Members, and that it was, as a matter of fact, turned down by the English Ministry in respect of the general argument for a flat rate throughout the country, to which argument I am now about to address myself. Let us consider what the case for a regional differentiation is. It is that costs vary between one part of the country and another, but if we once admit that principle and decide thereupon to carry out regional differentiation, it cannot stop with the national demand made by the Scottish Members. The London Members have a strong case for differentiation, the Welsh Members have a strong case, and the Members from Liverpool bring forward most unanswerable arguments about the cost of building in that city; and let us not suppose that those parts of the country which are being left out would not perhaps equally be able to discover very powerful arguments why they, too, should receive a higher subsidy than is being proposed in this Bill. Such a proposal means nothing more or less than a reimposition of control from Whitehall, to be rid of which once and for all was one of the strongest desires of the local authorities. The complaint of delays by the Central Authority, the complaint of unsuitable material, the complaint of excessive fees for various officials—all this and more was brought forward with great strength by the local authorities.
Of course they were. I am in possession of a powerful memorandum, written by one of the chief critics with regard to housing in Scotland—one of the best informed, best thinking minds in regard to this problem—who, months before any question was put forward of a scheme for a fixed State subsidy—
We have urged this matter with all the power at our command. We have urged a subsidy on no such Brobdignagian scale as was suggested by the local authorities in their subsequent memorandum on the subject. The memorandum we put forward was for a moderate and, as we thought, justifiable addition of £23 Even that was not accepted.
We reasoned with our colleagues, and advanced arguments. We were not satisfied with reiterating—as the hon. and gallant Gentleman would have wished—in accents of varying pathos and jocularity a claim for larger sums of money. We tried to prove our case, and we say here and now that we brought out a great deal better case than has been brought out by hon. Members. I do not wish to delay the Committee indefinitely, but this is a Debate on which, not merely the Scottish case, but the regional case in general arises. There is a case, undoubtedly, for differential treatment throughout the country. There is also a case for a flat rate throughout the country. Arguments for these rival schemes have to be thoroughly canvassed and gone into, and, in the end, in spite of the disadvantages of a flat rate throughout the country, it has been decided—and there is a great deal to be said for the decision—to adopt the flat rate throughout the country.
Let us consider the situation that would arise if the flat-rate were departed from. In the first place, this whole Housing Bill would have to be withdrawn. I think my right hon. Friend will bear me out, that if any differential treatment be adopted for one part of the country, it will have to be adopted for other parts of the country. In that case, the Whitehall intervention would again arise, with all the delays, of which we became so heartily weary in the years through which we have just immediately passed. It has been suggested that a continuation of the Addison scheme is all that is wanted. The housing scheme proposed by the Royal Commission of 1917, of which such great play was made, was a housing scheme which proposed that one-third of the expense should be borne by the State and two-thirds by the rest of the community. Under the Addison scheme, £9 was to be borne by the State and £1 by the rest of the community. It was impossible that such a scheme should indefinitely continue, and it was never considered by its promoters that it should ever do so. We are faced with this very serious problem. The scheme of a higher subsidy for Scotland, as I have tried to point out, constitutionally would have to be argued, not in the Scottish Grand Committee, but on the Floor of this House. The arguments which have been brought forward are arguments based first upon the fact that under the present system the Englishman pays more rent for his house than the Scotsman, and the answer to that is that it would be impossible to suggest that an Englishman living in a higher rented house should pay a higher contribution than the Scotsman, who lives in a lower rented house. As to the claim that there is a need in Scotland for a better house, and that a correspondingly greater contribution in money should be made, it would be found extraordinarily difficult to push home in this House, the argument that it should be a better house, that the plumbing should be of better quality, that there should be three coats of plaster all over the inside of the house, where an Englishman's house takes twos that the timber construction should be on a superior scale, that there should be larger superficial area of the floors—with that we all agree, but we find, as I have found in practice, that it is an impossible thing to get Englishmen also agreed to pay on that basis.
There remains the question of why Scotland should be included in this Bill at all. I admit that protests have been made. I admit that the local authorities in many parts of the country have voiced—as they were entitled, and, indeed, bound to voice—their objections to the scheme brought forward under this Bill. We in Scotland are in a somewhat different position from England in the fact that we still have a larger proportion of houses to build for which the State accepts liability. We have got a much larger proportion of our houses to complete under the Addison-Munro schemes, and we have also a larger number of houses to get under the slum clearance scheme. Some time or other we must make a push to reduce those slums, to cut out the festering sores which lie on the face of our country. By our own efforts it must be done. Englishmen are carrying their own burden, and we have no right to demand more than our fair share. We have no right to come to them and insist that they shall provide us with a better article or at a greater cost than they are having themselves. Some time or other we must make a push. Under the provisions of this Bill, I believe, we have a chance of making a push now. Now is the time, when we have this large number of unemployed throughout the country, when, owing to the cessation of industrial building, our brickworks are more or less unemployed, when, owing to-the slackness in shipyard construction, we are able to get larger numbers of joiners and woodworkers. Now, I say, is the time to make an effort, not merely to keep pace with the increase of the population but to deal with what is the heritage of the past. I do appeal to hon. Members to do their utmost to get proposals put forward under this Bill and given a reasonable trial by the local authorities in the parts of the country from which they come. If they do that, I am certain they will find they can be worked—and worked successfully—and in that I would ask the Committee to agree to go forward on the basis of a flat-rate subsidy for the United Kingdom, realising all its difficulties, admitting all its evils, but considering that, on the whole, we have more to gain than to lose by going forward with that scheme at the present moment under present conditions.
We are considering a Rent Bill for England and Scotland. In Scotland the rates are paid on the full rent, whereas in England—I do not know if the custom is universal, but it is a widespread custom, at any rate—the rates are not paid on the true rent, but on a percentage of rent ranging from one-half down to one-third. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am speaking of cases I know. I said quite clearly I did not know if it were universal, but I certainly know of cases where it ranges from one-half to one-third. That is not the case in Scotland, and it makes a difference in the arguments of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
Upon the Second Reading of the Housing Bill, I stated my views upon this question, and I do not intend to repeat them, but I do desire to direct the attention of the Committee to what is the real question which, with all respect to the Under-Secretary, he has not really tackled. The question is whether this scheme in Scotland will get the houses for the people. The question whether Scotland is to get more or less in comparison with England is a subordinate question. What is the use of a scheme unless the local authorities will work it and houses will be built in Scotland? With them it is a pure question of business. What will be the amount of the loss which they will suffer if they carry out the large building schemes on the lines laid down by the Bill?
Perhaps hon. Members are not aware how closely the largo local authorities and the smaller ones consider problems before they enter upon obligations in connection with them. They count the cost first and last most carefully. They have had examples of heavy losses in connection with housing schemes, some formed by themselves, and others formed by the Government. They have to consider, first, what type of house is required, and what will it cost. They have also to consider what will they get for it. I am not sure whether rents are similar in Scotland to those in England, but they will have to consider what they will have to pay in respect of rates, and if the rating problem comes in they have to suffer reduction on the yield of the houses, on 20 per cent. of the rents. They have also to consider very carefully what is going to be the conditions in regard to these houses at the end of 20 years when the cost of repairs has increased, and the yield of the rental will probably be reduced. They have to make that calculation, and they say—and from what little experience I have had in connection with the housing business I agree—that they will be very unwilling to face the loss involved and to take the responsibility for their community providing for it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Capitalise the sum."] Capitalising it does not rid you of the problem. They will consider it, and see what it is going to cost the community—and they say—and some of us are inclined to agree with it and with the advice of the experts—that they are not justified in facing the loss which will be involved.
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland to face the problem as to what is going to happen if these authorities adhere to the attitude they have taken up. What is going to happen to the Housing of Scotland Bill if they are not prepared to shoulder this burden? It is not at all a question of comparison between England and Scotland. It is a question whether you will get the houses built in Scotland so far as the authorities themselves are concerned. I venture to say that this is the honest and right way of looking at the question. If working under this Bill will not produce the houses in Scotland, the sooner the Scottish Clause is struck out of it the better, in order that some other way may be devised. I listened with great attention to the arguments addressed to the House on the question of a sparate Scottish Bill. I am quite unable to see any difficulty in doing as has been done over and over again, of having a separate Bill, and sending it to Scottish Grand Committee. That does not mean that a Grand Committee is to be set up in every part of Scotland. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] The Scottish Grand Committee has been established for the very purpose of dealing with questions of this kind. It is the general rule and practice, and it is wise and prudent to put such schemes before the Scottish Members. It does not deprive the House of its power, because there is the Report stage and Third Reading.
Let me appeal to English Members who have had business experience to believe that these local authorities are sincere. The members are men who have devoted their lives very largely to questions of housing and finance in connection with it; and I ask you to believe—if you can—that they may be right in their judgment, and that we in this House, of less business experience, may be wrong! I appeal to hon. Members and say it will be a waste of time, and it will be a waste of money for you to put up houses not sufficient for the purpose. I again put the question to the Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland: Supposing these local authorities, with their sense of responsibility, adhere to the attitude they have adopted, and decline this offer, what then? The waste of a year or two probably in argument between the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the others—whether with jest or not it is for him to say—as to what they are going to do. Let us at once get to close grips with these local authorities in Scotland. Let the hon. and gallant Gentleman meet the difficulties with them and go on with a scheme which will receive the general assent of Scottish Members. I do not believe that any body of Scottish Members will be otherwise than in deep earnest about making schemes suitable for Scottish conditions.
It was not my intention to intervene in this debate, but one or two of the speeches which have been delivered by hon. Members, and notably the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, has made me, as a Scotsman, feel that the honour of my country is likely to be involved in this matter. The hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that he was going to deal with the matter as one of pure business: but what is his appeal to English Members? If you do not grant this financial preference for which we ask, we shall strike work altogether and will not do anything.
I am speaking in the presence of hon. Members who heard what was said. If I am saying what is not correct, the House is the best judge of it. The argument of the hon. Member was to the effect that he appealed to my hon. and gallant Friend on the Front Bench, and said that the main question was: how this scheme was going to get the houses! He went on to say, if you do not give us preferential treatment, it has been declared by the local authorities of Scotland that they have the right to say: "We shall not proceed under your Bill at all." Did the hon. Member not use those words?
I did not say, "How will you get them?" I said: "You will not get houses under this scheme." I expressly disclaimed any desire for preferential treatment, and said that was a subordinate and secondary question. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]
Yes, that the local authorities would not proceed because they had not enough money, and in order to give them that money you must give them preferential pecuniary treatment! Now, it is all very well for hon. Members who profess profound Caledonian patriotism like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leigh Burghs to pose as the protagonists for Scotland. But there is such a thing as standing up for Scotland on wrong grounds, and in the exaggeration of the claims of Scotland to make Scotland ridiculous in the eyes of others. I yield to no one in the strength of my adherence all my life to the best Scottish traditions, but there is such a thing as the Act of Union. We, in Scotland, like the people in England, are governed under that Act. I know quite well that some hon. Members opposite think they are pressing a specious claim when on every occasion they push forward the claim for Scottish independence of this Parliament. Over and over in relation to this I have heard hon. Members from Scotland say there was no other opinion; but I certainly believe that I am voicing the opinions of far the strongest and best part of Scotland when I put forward the contrary view. I am quite prepared to answer to my constituents when I say that any proposals for separate legislative action in England, and in Scotland, will have my constant and unfettered opposition. However, what I was thinking most about when I got up was the observations of the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. D. Millar), which was to the effect that Scotland must have some pecuniary advantage over her neighbour. I am perfectly certain that hon. Members, if they really wish to be proud of their country, would not use that as an argument, would, indeed, disdain to use such an argument on the part of Scotland in the British House of Commons. The hon. Member opposite taunted my hon. and gallant Friend with driving as hard a bargain as he could get in these terms for Scotland. For 20 years as head of the Scottish Department I did everything I could to get the best terms for my country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Question."] But when the action was judicial, and had to be subject to the opinion of those who judged as between the two countries, I was compelled to accept a fair compromise between the two countries; and I am certain that as a proud and honourable country, Scotland will disdain to ask for special favour.
I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman who represents the Scottish Department one question, and also to make a reference to what the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities said about the Act of Union. I would ask whether, since the 1919 Housing Act was passed, Scotland has received her equivalent grant? That is a point, I think, not yet made in this Debate. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman also tell me the amount paid towards local expenditure by way of subsidy under that Act of 1919?
If I took down the figures correctly, the total sum from the national Exchequer paid to Scotland during those three years was £1,630,000. I put a question to the Minister of Health to find out how much had been paid to English local authorities during the same period. It may be that my question has not yet received his consideration, but an examination of the Estimates reveals that during the year 1920–21 the sum of £3,000,000 from the national Exchequer passed to the local authorities, in 1921 a sum of £4,500,000 was actually spent, and in 1922–23 the Estimates allow a sum of £9,500,000; in other words, a total sum of £17,160,000 during the last three years to local authorities in England and Wales. On the basis suggested by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), the basis of the equivalent grant system, Scotland is entitled to receive eleven-eightieths of the sum paid to England. Applying that test of eleven-eightieths to the sum spent during the last three years or about to be spent by the local authorities of England, I find that Scotland is entitled to £2,360,000, whereas during those three years she has only actually received £1,630,000.
The point is simply that owing to the delay which we found in Scotland in building our houses the peak of our building activity has never been reached, and housing estimates, which have become stationary in England, are still rising in Scotland. We have an allocation of every house under the eleven-eightieths basis, and 550 houses in addition. The peak of our cost has not yet been reached, but the fact that we have not yet received as much money as they received in England simply means that our subsidy will go on for several years after the English subsidy comes to an end, and on that basis I think my hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that we shall not be the losers in the transaction. If there be any sign of such a loss, I should certainly bring the matter forward.
The loss will not be revealed for some 60 years. My figures are evidently not disputed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. During the last three years, therefore, Scotland has received some £750,000 less than she was entitled to under the equivalent grant system. During the whole afternoon hon. Members for the Government have argued that Scotland was not entitled to any preferential claim. Grant that argument, and on the arguments supplied by the Government and on the figures quoted by me, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has not contradicted, Scotland during the last three years has received actually £750,000 less than that to which she was entitled.
I am not concerned as to what will happen 60 years hence. My constituents in Scotland are concerned with what will happen to-morrow. To the sum of £750,000 Scotland is entitled. The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot get away from that fact. He may disguise it as he may, but Scotland in the last three years has received £750,000 less than she is entitled to compared with the local authorities in England and Wales. That is our case. If that sum were forthcoming, as it should be forthcoming, the houses would be built in Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member, I think, misunderstood the arguments advanced on this side of the House. We pleaded for consultation.
The Government in this matter took action before they consulted the local authorities. We plead that they should first of all consult the local authorities in Scotland, and then, having heard their case, submit their proposals to the British House of Commons. I am convinced that if they would do that the British House of Commons, representative of all classes, having heard their case, would say, and say rightly, that the sum involved in this Bill is an inadequate amount and is not fair to all concerned.
|Division No. 116.]||AYES.||[7.8 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Loyton, East)||Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hewett, Sir J. P.|
|Apsley, Lord||Davidson Major-General Sir J. H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Banks, Mitchell||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Ednam, Viscount||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Becker, Harry||Ellis, R. G.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hudson, Capt. A.|
|Berry, Sir George||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hughes, Collingwood|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hume, G. H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley|
|Blundell, F. N.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Flides, Henry||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Ford, Patrick Johnston||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Jarrett, G. W. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Furness, G. J.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Ganzoni, Sir John||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Garland, C. S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Gates, Percy||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Lorden, John William|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Halstead, Major D.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Maddocks, Henry|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Harrison, F. C.||Manville, Edward|
|Cope, Major William||Harvey, Major S. E.||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hawke, John Anthony||Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Nesbitt, Robert C.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sandan, Lord||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Paget, T. G.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wells, S. R.|
|Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Shepperson, E. W.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Shipwright, Captain D.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Penny, Frederick George||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Singleton, J. E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Skelton, A. N.||Wise, Frederick|
|Peto, Basil E.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Snowden, Philip||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Price, E. G.||Sparkes, H. W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Stanley, Lord||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Remer, J. R.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Remnant, Sir James||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Reynolds, W. G. W.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Gibbs.|
|Adams, D.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harbord, Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harris, Percy A.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Barnes, A.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Hillary, A. E.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Bonwick, A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hogge, James Myles||Saklatvala, S.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Irving, Dan||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Briant, Frank||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sexton, James|
|Brotherton, J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Burgess, S.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Lansbury, George||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Leach, W.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Linfield, F. C.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lowth, T.||Thornton, M.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Trevelyan C. P.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Watson, W. M. (Dunlermline)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||M'Entee, V. L.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||McLaren, Andrew||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Weir, L. M.|
|Falconer, J.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wheatley, J.|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||March, S.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Gosling, Harry||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Millar, J. D.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenall, T.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morel, E. D.||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morris, Harold||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Groves, T.||Muir, John W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Major Mackenzie Wood and|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Sir A. Sinclair.|
|Division No. 117.]||AYES.||[7.17 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Guthrie, Thomas Mauie||Nichol, Robert|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harbord, Arthur||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Barnes, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hemmerde, E. G.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hillary, A. E.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hinds, John||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Briant, Frank||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sexton, James|
|Broad, F. A.||Hogge, James Myles||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Buchanan, G.||Irving, Dan||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Burgess, S.||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Philip|
|Cairns, John||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Kenyon, Barnet||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lansbury, George||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Leach, W.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||(Linfield, F. C.||Thornton, M.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||M'Entee, V. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||McLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Weir, L. M.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wheatley, J.|
|Falconer, J.||March, S.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Fildes, Henry||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Millar, J. D.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wright, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Morel, E. D.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morris, Harold|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Muir, John W.||Major Mackenzie Wood and|
|Groves, T.||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Sir A. Sinclair.|
|Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)||Newbold, J. T. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynta||Cadogan, Major Edward||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Apsley, Lord||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Ford, Patrick Johnston|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Banks, Mitchell||Clarry, Reginald George||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Clayton, G. C.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Furness, G. J.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Becker, Harry||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cope, Major William||Garland, C. S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Gates, Percy|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Berry, Sir George||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Halstead, Major D.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hannon Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Harney, E. A.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Harrison, F. C.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Ednam, Viscount||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Ellis, R. G.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Simms, Or. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Nall, Major Joseph||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stanley, Lord|
|Hudson, Capt. A.||Nicholson, Bg.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Hume, G. H.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Paget, T. G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Pennefathcr, De Fonblanque||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Penny, Frederick George||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Peto, Basil E.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Price, E. G.||Vaughan-Morgan. Col. K. P.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Remer, J. R.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Remnant, Sir James||Wells, S. R.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)||Wise, Frederick|
|Lorden, John William||Robertson-Dospencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lorimer, H. D.||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Maddocks, Henry||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Manville, Edward||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Margesson, H. D. R.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Sandon, Lord||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Mercer, Colonel H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Gibbs.|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
The next Amendment—to insert after the word "payment" the words
to local authorities in England and Wales with a population exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand,
standing in the name of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair)—will be in order, if he leave out the words "In England and Wales," because those words raise the same subject which the Committee has just disposed of.
I beg to move, after the word "payment," to insert the words
to local authorities with a population exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand.
I know that on this matter a bargain has been entered into with certain local authorities, but the Government are not bound to impose this upon smaller authorities. In certain districts of
England, the Act, may be an excellent piece of legislation, but I can assure the Government that it will be a dead letter in Scotland as well as in many parts of England. Scottish Members have been pleading for separate treatment as betwen England and Scotland, and I hope I shall receive the support of hon. Members who advocated that principle in the case of this Amendment, because it will apply fairly to places like Manchester and places with a population of 250,000 and upwards.
I make no apology for referring to the case of the rural areas. One hon. Member stated that in the rural areas you get fresh air, but if nothing more be done for the rural areas for which I speak there will be nothing but fresh air there and no men to breathe it. It is not so much for hon. Members on the Treasury Bench to pronounce judgment on the arguments which have been respectfully submitted to the Committee, because that judgment will be pronounced in due course by the people of Scotland, who will watch carefully to see if the Bill works. I do not see how the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Elliot) can brush aside on the advise of his English officials the opinions of those large institutions in Scotland who have devoted themselves to a careful consideration of the Housing problem. Why do I say that the finance of this scheme is unworkable in a rural area? The hon. and gallant Member said that in point of fact Scotland very seldom had been separately treated. He said the only reason for the 1919 Act was the Report of the 1917 Commission. The 1917 Commission discovered that the position in Scotland was absolutely different. The Act embodying these remedies was the 1919 Act. A separate Act is required. He tells us about his fight of a few weeks ago. After all, was it only a sham fight? Was it merely carried on from Department to Department, with files being carried across from one office to another, and each Department trying to do the other down? Was that all the fight he put up? Was he speaking with his tongue in his cheek? If not I have never seen a more humble, vanquished opponent than the hon. and gallant Member. I have never heard of anyone who so humbly ate the leek, as our Welsh friends would say. He behaved like the "Times" newspaper would like the Germans to behave. He said, in effect, "I was all wrong, I am very penitent and now I am going to do my best to reason with the brethren, and to down my brother Scotsmen and to show how right the English Treasury was all along." That was his attitude.
Of course the conditions are different. For one thing, private enterprise is no use for erecting houses in Scotland. It does not function any longer. It is not a commercial proposition. No one would set about buying land and putting up houses like this in Caithness for profit. What is the good of talking about private enterprise in this connection? Hon. Members on the Labour Benches want the Addison scheme back. An hon. Member said that some of the arguments are weak, but I will quote facts. A standard house costs £750. I have the facts written down here. The actual cost in Caithness of a Government house, I understand, is £780. Local authorities would have to borrow from the Public Works Loans Board at 61 per cent. The hon. and learned Member who talked about a local authority going on strike should be asked, "Is there any strike in refusing to build houses at a loss of £25 or £21 10s.?" It cannot be done. No local authority could possibly build houses on these terms. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley), in his forcible speech, referred to the ignorance of the Minister of Health. I would not follow him in that, but I do say that the Minister of Health does not know the conditions in Scotland. He can take it from those who know—from the local bodies—that this Bill will not work in Scotland and will remain a dead letter. The hon and gallant Gentleman said that we want a superior article. We do not want a superior article. All we want is an article that will house the people adequately. It is absurd to say that a house built in Caithness—
I would remind the hon. Member that the question of whether the Bill is to apply to Scotland was decided on the last Amendment, and that all we are concerned with now is the question of the size of the area to which the Bill is to apply.
It is one Bill, and I am dealing with the constituency which I know best. I am dealing with the rural areas, and I am giving concrete illustrations of fact from the experience of my constituency. What we want and what everybody in England and Wales wants is adequate accommodation. We do not want any advantage over Englishmen or Welshmen. We want the problem to be treated on broad national lines. We claimed just now separate treatment for Scotland, but I am not claiming that any further. If you will stick to the present scheme, to your fiat-rate scheme, no housing will, in fact, be done in large areas of the country outside Scotland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman took great credit for the wider powers which are being granted to local bodies, but we want powers which are wider still. To take an instance from my own constituency, £50,000 has been provided in Caithness for houses for 35 to 40 families. If that could have been spent under the control or on the advice, if you like, of the local authorities, in improving existing housing, in enlarging the houses for the crofters' or fishermen's growing families, it would have conferred a benefit not on 35 or 40 families, but on two or three hundred families. We want good, strong, weatherproof housing — much better houses than we have put up recently. If money were available to carry out these improvements, infinitely greater benefit would be conferred on a far larger number of families in the country.
There is another financial question, the application of Clause 10. I deal with the part of the rural areas I know best. This Clause purports to give power to local authorities to compel recalcitrant landlords to put houses in order. I can only describe the houses which a certain landlord put up in Caithness during recent years—wooden houses, with knots starting out of the wood, leaving holes in the outside covering of the houses, and inside the houses a little piece of felt and a little thin wood lining. They have put up these houses in exposed parts, open to the biting north-east winds and the hail and snow. The cattle are under the same roof. Such houses are now being built in Caithness. There are no drains around the houses, and a man and his wife told me that they could not sleep in their house because of the insects which came from the cattle. In one house they were flooded out. I will give the Committee the name of that landlord. It was the Board of Agriculture for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is responsible in this House. This Clause, again, cannot apply to houses that are too small. It cannot apply to smallholders because the smallholders, in regard to their houses, have no landlords. They are made landholders, and therefore, if the county authority comes down on the landlord, you refer them to the tenant, and the tenant has not the means to put these houses in order. The hon. and gallant Member knows perfectly well that this Bill is not adequate far the needs of Scotland, and in the last resort he falls back on this argument, that if you try to adjust the Measure reasonably, over various districts in that country, so that houses can be built in all districts, there will be delay. But how much better to have a little delay in those parts in which this Bill is quite incapable of doing good—how much better than an Act which is doomed to be stillborn and to have no effect whatever, and to confer no benefit on the people for whom it is supposed to provide.
There is no justification for any attempt to delude people in rural areas, including the people in Scotland. I have no wish to block the useful portions of the Bill, but I cannot vote for a Financial Resolution which will sterilize the Bill so far as the rural areas are concerned. On this matter, all those people who represent the interests of rural areas must stand together. Some Members opposite hope for improvement in Committee, but what is the use of hoping for that if you pass a Financial Resolution which limits the power of the Committee to amend the Bill? It will do nothing to check the flow of the population into the great cities, or to check the stream of emigration which is going on. I would venture to remind the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that it is on these country-bred strains that the vigour and virility of the British race on land and sea depends.
I have a great deal of sympathy with what has been said in the speech to which we have just listened. I, on the other hand, rise to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill how we are to justify to our constituents a vote given which would provide houses for other parts of the country and none for ourselves. I have failed to detect in the very energetic speech of the hon. Member for Caithness any trace of the distinguishing trait of the Scot of which we have heard earlier in the Debate. He, by his Amendment, wishes to limit the advantages of the Bill to the great municipalities and yet, at the same time, leave his constituents liable to pay their share of the subsidies paid to them. I, on the other hand, find great difficulty in supporting a scheme which will compel the people who live in provincial districts to pay taxes towards houses for other districts and of which they can get no share. I listened very carefully to the speech on the Second Reading of this Bill made by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and it is true that in one or two observations which were made by him he
suggested that the scheme was not entirely a comprehensive scheme. If I can be assured by him that he will bring in some Measure to deal with the housing in poorer parts of our rural districts, I should be quite content. As it is, the Bill is as complete a block to the building of houses in the truly rural districts as if the Amendment now under discussion were carried. No houses can be built by rural district councils as the Bill stands. I do not wish to speak to the Committee at any length, or to mislead the Committee, but I would like to call the attention of the Minister to the fact that the Attorney-General in one sentence did deal with the rural question. I should like to ask whether the Minister really means what be says and on what figures he relies. The Attorney-General said:
Of course it was necessary to consider the financial aspect with regard to rural areas. We have had worked out for us very carefully what the cost will be and we have the figures, and they show that it could be possible with this scheme for the local authority in a rural area to erect a house and find just a little less by way of subsidy than the State has to find in order to make tire scheme a success, and the rent which is taken in order to arrive at that calculation is an average rent of 5s. 6d. per week."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 25th April, 1923; col. 169, Vol. 163.]
May I say, in regard to that, that these figures are to my mind absolutely unintelligible and impossible? I should not be exaggerating, I think, if I were to state that to build a house in a country district far removed from a central population costs rather more than it would—in fact, I might say considerably more—in a centre where building is somewhat easy and materials more accessible. If we take £425 for the cost of a rural cottage to-day including drainage and land, and the last-named is a negligible amount. I say without hesitation the Committee will agree that the figure is a passable one. The local authority would be the district council and they would have to borrow money and would have at least 5 per cent. to pay and that amounts to £21 5s. a year. They would have to borrow for 60 years. They would have to have a sinking fund, and that fund has been calculated for me at a little less than ½ per cent. I take a figure for this of £1 15c. 6d., and again I say it is a most passable figure. Then repairs, voids, collection and all outgoings amount to
25 per cent. on a net rental of 5s. a week or £3 5s. That costs a total of £26 5s. 6d., and, taking the rent at 5s. per week—on which I shall have something to say—that brings it to £13, or a net loss up to this point of £13 5s. 6d. a year. I venture to say that in these agricultural districts a rent of 5s. per week, and rates in addition is absolutely out of the question for farm workers who are receiving only 26s. a week wages. They cannot pay more than 3s. If they are to pay 5s. a week and rates, you must take the rates at 1s. a week. The house will be rated at at least £5, and rates at 8s. to 12s. in the £1, say at 10s,. makes 50s. a year or 1s. a week. The above calculation is at 5s. a week—this with rates is 6s. a week—and if you take the extreme rent. of 3s. that the farm worker can pay, there is a loss of the difference of 6s. and 3s., or 3s. a week. That is in round figures of £7 15s. a year which added to the £13 5s. 6d. makes £21 a year. In this Bill there is a subsidy of £6 a year for 20 years. The local authority have to borrow for 60 years. For this period the is really only equal to £4 and not £3 a year as stated by the previous speaker. Deducting £4 from £21, we have a loss of £17 a year on every house built. How is it possible for a rural local authority to build houses on these terms, and the necessity in some of our rural districts is as great as in the towns? I ask the Minister in charge, what encouragement is given to local authorities, to the farmers and to the farm workers? What advantages are they possibly going to get?
This question which is now before the Committee is a question that was mentioned more than once in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill. It is a question which, during the two days of that Debate, was pressed upon the Government as a question which not only interested the Members of this House who sit for rural areas, but interests all of us who want to see a national scheme for assisting housing in this country made what it should be. I therefore deny that it is a subject which only interests members for rural areas. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General was given the task of winding up the Debate for the Government upon the Second Reading of the Bill, and in the course of his speech he made an observation to which I should like to call the attention of the Committee. He first said that
Lancashire had contributed valuable consent to the scheme. He then said Manchester, in particular—I am referring to Column 618 of the OFFICIAL. REPORT—not only gave its name to the scheme which we have embodied in this Bill, but the Manchester authorities had given assurances of their willingness to co-operate and help to make it a success. He said:
The point made against the Bill is that the local authorities will refuse to work it.
He added that
—not, the Committee will observe, all local authorities—
Local authorities, including Manchester, have assured us of their intention to work the Bill and work it on the lines of the scheme and do their best to make it successful."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1923, col. 618, Vol. 163.]
I do not doubt that at all. We all know that the Minister responsible has been most careful and skilled in approaching some local authorities, and the assistance which he has got from great local authorities like Manchester is very valuable. The whole point of the criticism is this, that the situation which Manchester has had to deal with was quite different, from the point of finance, from the situation which the smaller rural authorities would have to deal with. As hon. Members pointed out in calculating whether or not a particular local authority could be expected to work this scheme, we have to remember the local authority calculates on some contribution towards the cost of it in the form of rent which the house will bear, and I do not think the figure I gave has been challenged, that a house which is let for 5s. in the country certainly may be expected to be let for 7s. 6d. in the great towns. That being the point, when the Attorney-General had reached that part of his speech, I ventured to interrupt and to say this:
The question which I asked was not about the great municipalities, but what was the assurance that the rural authorities, the authorities with the smaller rateable value, would be able to work it?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1923; col. 618, Vol. 163.]
Then the Attorney-General, following a device not unknown to lawyers, said that he was coming to that point. It was not his fault that he never reached it. He hardly calculated upon what followed in
the Debate. But it is necessary to say that the House was deeply concerned to know what the answer was which the Government had to this question, and really up to the present we have had no answer at all. It is obviously quite unjust, as well as most inefficient, that we should spend our time in debating and carrying through a Bill of this sort, which does not profess to deal with the whole problem if it is to work gross injustice and inequality as between one area and another. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment has shown us fairly enough that his heart is in the Highlands. He spoke specially from the Scottish point of view, but I rather apprehend that Caithness does not contain any towns containing 250,000 people. Therefore, my hon. and gallant Friend's interest in the matter was entirely disinterested. But there is much more than a Scottish phase. It is a question whether the medicine the Government ask us to accept as a healing draught is going to do any good at all in quite half the areas. I have been told—I do not know whether it is right—that there was a time when even the great municipalities were asking for this £6, not for 20 years, but for a longer period, and that eventually they saw their way to agree that £6 for 20 years was enough.
That supports what I have been saying. If the scheme is one that fails as regards finance to satisfy the great municipalities it cannot provide adequate assistance for rural areas. The figures which the hon. and learned Gentleman just quoted are really worthy to be quoted in a slightly different form again. The Attorney-General speaking for the Government the other night was speaking with information or instructions that even in rural areas the figures which have been worked out showed that if the Government would bear the burden of £6 for 20 years the burden which would fall on the rural authorities would be something less than the other half. With the figures in my possession I am quite unable to see how that can be so. Let me take the case of a cottage which lets at even 5s. 6d. a week. If you may assume such a cottage, which may be a parlour cottage in the country—if you build a cottage that in the country is going to secure a rent of 5s. 6d. a week, it will not be unfair to assume that it will cost £500 to build. If it costs £500 to build and if you work out the interest on the money and on the sinking fund in order to replace it, it would appear that the loss which has got to be borne either by the State or the rural authority will work out at £16 5s. 6d. for 60 years. It is not the case that the State is going to pay this £6 for 60 years. The State is going to pay the £6 for 20 years. If you put aside £2 to form a Sinking Fund the position is that while the State will be contributing £4 in 60 years the balance will fall on the rural areas. These figures are not such an encouragement to the rural areas as is at all likely to enable them to work a scheme of this kind. There is this broad distinction between the present scheme and some of the former schemes. Under the Addison scheme you sought to compel areas to build. You put upon them the duty of surveying their areas and drawing up their schemes, and you proceeded to use all your power to force them to build. This is a scheme which offers assistance to the local authorities. They may take it or leave it, and it is therefore vital to a scheme of this sort that such terms will be offered as are likely to result in the production of houses. These are matters which interest the Committee and the whole country, and I hope very much that the Minister may be able to say not indeed as the hon. Gentleman suggested that in some other way and at some future time he is to introduce another Bill, but that this Bill may be so modified—he was good enough to say that he leaves the door open for modification of it—that this Bill will be such as will really give satisfactory assistance in the solving of this problem.
I support the Amendment moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness for the several reasons pointed out already. I was listening very intently to what the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Cautley) said, that he did not see why this Amendment had been moved in the way it had, but I am very glad he remained to bless some of the points which have been made. He also emphasised some of the defects in the present Housing Bill. As one representing an industrial district, where the need for housing is very urgent—in the Rhondda Valley the need is for something like 5,000 houses—we shall be very interested to know if we are to get a reply from the Minister of Health to the point put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) as to who are the local authorities, outside of the areas indicated in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health. He has named Manchester and one or two other authorities who are in favour of and are supporting the provisions in regard to the £6 with the term not to exceed 20 years. Conference after conference has been held all through Wales. Nearly all the local authorities have been represented there. We have had a very strong deputation as recently as last week pointing out that they have never been consulted at all. Let me point out that Cardiff, where an hon. Member who is a member of the Government lives, is building, not what I would call a superior house, but a house of very modest dimensions, and in their last contract they only secured the price at £430 per house, on level ground where the sites were convenient and where the haulage and other things were all favourable. In every case prices have gone up, at least in all the large industrial districts in South Wales that I know.
Like Scottish Members, we have had letters and conferences to emphasise the fact that the local authorities will not be able to build a single house in the big industrial centres of Wales under the provisions of this Bill. It will be absolutely a dead letter. I can say from my own experience that the few houses we have attempted to build in the Rhondda Valley have cost £680 per house, and the next will not be very much cheaper. That being so, the Committee will at once see that we can have no hope from this Bill. We have a large industrial population where the need is for 5,000 houses. There is nothing we can look forward to in this Bill that will case that situation as far as our people are concerned. There was a conference here last week, and there have been conferences in the great centres of South Wales calling upon us to emphasise to the Minister of Health how inadequate these provisions are and to appeal to him to do something that will help immediately to grapple with the situation. We are looking forward that something may be done, but so far as we can see at the present moment, as far as the provisions of this Bill are concerned, we shall not be able to move one iota from where we stand at the present moment.
I should like to emphasise what was said by the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Cautley) in regard to the rural areas. There is a distinct conflict on the question of fact, and I think that ought to be cleared up on the Report stage. My hon. Friend gave clear and definite figures, which I followed very carefully. I am already familiar with them, and I should like, so far as my knowledge goes, to confirm these figures. The hon. Member also quoted a statement by the learned Attorney-General—which was, no doubt, given in quite good faith—as to the rural authority where the rent was 5s. 6d. That, I presume, means the total rent paid by the tenant, and then the rural authority would clear itself by paying a little less than the Government contribution of £6. My hon. Friend's figure was £17. There is a wide difference, indeed, between something less than £6 and £17. That is not accounted for by the difference in rent between the 3s. and the 5s. 6d. I hope the Minister of Health will examine these figures very carefully before the Report stage and be able to tell us which of these calculations is correct.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) used the expression that the same scheme cannot fit for urban and rural areas. That is always the trouble with a flat-rate. The moment you get into a question of a flat-rate your flat-rate is an average. Clearly that only suits those areas somewhere near the average position, while those which are away from the average, such as the rural districts, are not affected. There is so much tendency here to condemn the scheme because it, does not cover all the ground, but I do not think we, in the rural areas, should like to deprive the urban communities of a scheme which suited them because that particular scheme did not happen to suit us. I do not wish in the least to take up that attitude, nor to join in condemning this scheme entirely from the rural standpoint because it does not do what we want. On the other hand, I am bound to say that all the taxpayers in the rural areas are going to contribute to this scheme, and I agree that in some way or other it should be, if possible, in connection with this Bill.
The housing problem is really as urgent in the rural districts as it is in the urban, but I should feel on very much stronger ground if I thought any of the critics could get up and propose a solution. It is easy to say, "Alter the Bill, and do something which will affect the rural districts, and the rural districts alone," but there is no definite rent in the rural districts. My hon. Friend the Member for East Grinstead spoke the absolute truth when he said that a labourer getting 26s. a week could not pay more than 3s. in rent, and that some of them could not pay 3s. in rent. There are some people who can pay more than that, and in that case the loss would be proportionately diminished. There you get a considerable variety in rents. We had a dispute just now as between England and Scotland. Everybody knows where England ends and Scotland begins. You have a clear boundary line there, but when you come to the question between the urban and rural districts the character of them varies enormously. You have so-called rural authorities which are almost entirely urban, and you have other districts which are purely rural, but very impoverished, and with very low rateable value.
You must either have one or the other. You must either have a flat-rate Bill, or you must go into every kind of refinement to get a Bill which will fit all the conditions of the different districts. It seems to me extraordinarily difficult, but I hope that between now and the Report stage of this Financial Resolution the right hon. Gentleman will give most careful consideration to this point. My right hon. Friend will remember that it is this Financial Resolution which fixes this point. Once we get it settled in this Resolution, and finally on the Report stage of the Resolution, that the contribution which can be given out of money provided by Parliament is to be limited to the figure mentioned in the Resolution, it will be out of order even to suggest on the Committee stage that anything beyond that can be given in any way. I understand that the Report stage of this Financial Resolution is to be taken next Wednesday, and if the matter cannot be settled to-day, it must be settled on Wednesday. There is only one day intervening.
I earnestly appeal to the Minister of Health to give the most careful consideration to this question. It is quite true he did say, on the Second Reading, that he only regarded this as part of a larger scheme, and as making a beginning in doing something which would be of infinitely greater value and import to the country than this particular Bill alone. Even admitting that, it is bad from many points of view. It is bad from the Groverment's own point of view, because it is from the rural districts that they draw a very large proportion of their support. I admit the Government have done more than many Governments have for a long time to help the rural districts. I should feel very dissatisfied, however, and I think the rural districts would also feel very dissatisfied, if a Measure of this kind were passed to which they had to contribute, and if they felt it would be impossible, under the scheme as it stands, for the rural districts to get any houses built. I hope the Government will give their most close attention to this matter between now and Wednesday, and, without departing from the flat-rate system, will do something which will give the rural districts an interest in the Bill.
The spokesman for the rural interest on the other side of the Committee has, I think, admitted the case that has been urged against the present Bill, namely, that it is going to do nothing whatever for the exclusively rural and agricultural areas. I do not think he has been able to assist the Committee with any very striking constructive suggestions, and he really asks the Minister of Health to propose some. I do not think that is a very helpful attitude. I rise to ask the Minister if we may now have the details of the calculation arrived at by the right hon. and learned Attorney-General. I put a Question on the Paper to-day—it is a written Question—asking for the details of that calculation. No answer has reached me yet, but, as the Question was asked, the Minister probably has all the figures at his command. Therefore, it will be very desirable at this stage that those figures should be given.
I am sure, without any question of whether we represent rural or urban areas, anyone who knows what is happening in the country must regret the fact that this Bill looks as though it is going to do nothing whatever in the exclusively rural and agricultural districts. We all know what is happening there. Houses are not being built. There is, in many cases, gross overcrowding, and the difficulty of getting the building; on to anything like an economic basis is very great. You have a vicious circle. You have wages scandalously low, which take into account, to some extent, the fact that these rural cottages are let at uneconomic rents—2s. 6d., 1s. 6d., 1s. The system is assuredly a very bad one, but this Bill, quite clearly, it not going to do anything for that situation.
I entirely agree with the figures given by the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Cautley). I know a little about the circumstances of a rural area, in a totally different part of the country from that which the hon. Member represents, but his figures were singularly close to the figures that my experience confirms. He showed, quite conclusively, this loss which is going to bear upon these rural district authorities. Even if that calculation be wrong, and we do not yet know what the Government's calculation is, there are two points which make it quite clear that the rural areas are not going to get anything out of the Bill. In what rural or agricultural area are you going to get 5s. 6d. a week? For cottages let to week-enders you may, perhaps, get it; you may perhaps get it in some semi-urban areas. That is the first difficulty.
The second difficulty, which is quite insuperable, is this. So far as I know anything about these rural district councils they have not the faintest intention of undertaking any building of this kind if it is going to put an extra burden on the rates. I should like to know of any rural district council, in a truly rural area, which has assured the Minister that it is prepared to work this scheme. I could give him in return the names of some rural district councils which I know will not work the scheme if it means any addition to the rates, and as it clearly must do so I do not believe that rural district councils are going to work it at all. After all they have some justification. The Government comes forward and says that the rural ratepayer is so impoverished that it is necessary to give a subsidy of from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 to relieve the burden in the rural districts. In these circumstances can you expect these authorities to impose upon themselves the considerable extra burden which the building of these houses would produce?
I think that the Bill will be of some use to the towns and with that hope I voted for it, but, it is clear that it is going to do nothing or the rural districts, except tax them for the benefit of the towns. There is one matter which I have suggested for the consideration of the Minister of Health which though a small one is of importance. That is that in these specially rural districts where new houses are built they should be relieved from any assessments to Income Tax under Schedule A. It would not amount to a great addition but any addition which would help is worth having. If these houses are so urgently needed in rural areas it seems to me a foolish policy to tax them. Houses under £20 a year are exempt from inhabited house duty, and a house put up in a rural district with a limited rent—
I feared that I was wandering somewhat beyond the scope of the subject under discussion, but I only intended to make a reference to that suggestion, but I think that the case is proved abundantly that while this Bill may do something for the towns it cannot do anything whatever for exclusively agricultural areas.
This Financial Resolution which we are now discussing is one of the most important matters in connection with the Bill, on which its success or failure will very largely depend. A very generous, and in the opinion of most people, a most extravagant offer, was made to the local authorities in connection with the old scheme. But I remember that when it was said to local authorities that everything would be paid for them in connection with housing except the proceeds of a penny rate, there wan considerable difficulty in getting local authorities to act even in such circumstances. I recall one large authority which even when this most generous provision had been in operation for 12 months had not actually framed a scheme at all, and it was the subject of question and answer in the House as to whether that authority should not be declared a defaulter. If that was the position in connection with the old financial scheme, I fear very much as to the result of the present financial proposal.
I have here a document issued to-night by the London County Council, in which they take exception to the financial proposals of my right hon. Friend, and state as a matter of urgency and emergency for this House that even in London it would be impossible with the present proposals to do very much, and they give figures which have evidently been the subject of careful calculation showing what would be the loss so far as the local authorities are concerned even in London in connection with the present scheme. That is a matter of considerable importance, having regard to the position of London and its attitude towards this Bill. If that is the position of a great rich county like London, and if even they feel that they cannot work the scheme under the present financial proposals, what must be the position in rural areas and in large industrial centres of a low rateable value? That is of course a very difficult position, but it is difficult because we have adopted in a flat-rate system, and it must not be said that critics are merely critical if they take exception to the very financial proposal which has brought the difficulty about.
My right hon. Friend might, at any rate, consider between now and Wednesday whether he should not introduce some extra Clause in this Bill giving powers to local authorities to apply to him on proving certain matters, such as the rateable value and the rent which they are likely to get for houses, and that on considering the case he should be permitted by the Bill to increase the subsidy. It seems to me that this is the only practical way out of the difficulty, and that unless some practical step like that is taken very little housing is likely to be done in many parts of the country. No Member desires that this state of affairs should be brought about. This is the weakest part of my right hon. Friend's Bill and the part which needs most attention from the House. When we have parted with this portion of the proposal, the power of the House to improve the Bill, though it may be considerable in certain directions, will be very much weakened by the Resolutions which we will shortly pass. In that spirit, which is not unduly critical of my right hon. Friend's proposal, for I know his difficulties, I venture to urge upon him that he should give his very careful consideration between now and next Wednesday to the suggestion which has been made.
I am glad to support the Amendment, because the more we can limit the operation of this Measure the better it is for the country. The financial proposals are of a distinctly retrograde character. No one can deny that the 1919 Act was an inspiration to municipalities. It set up a higher standard of housing. But this Measure indicates to them that it is not at all necessary, in this retrogade age, to house our people under model conditions. Therefore, I am glad to support an Amendment which would restrict the operation of the Measure to municipalities with a population of more than 250,000 people. The flat rate, in the nature of things, is bound to be inequitable. It cannot take cognisance of different conditions in the country. It has been proved to demonstration that rural and small industrial villages will be much more heavily burdened by the proposals of the Bill than the great municipalities. But even the great municipalities will hesitate before proceeding to face the colossal losses which are indicated in the Measure. Hon. Members opposite have asked us to submit some alternative proposition. The alternative proposition is that the municipalities throughout the country, and the Government, should halve all losses. Local authorities should be called upon to find only the proceeds of a penny rate, as in the previous Measure. If that were arranged it would undoubtedly be an inducement to local authorities to proceed. That there is likely to be difficulty in administering the Bill as it stands we learn from the latest edition of "The Builder," a journal which is by no means sympathetic to the point of view held on the Labour benches. This journal describes
the Measure as "a contemptible political compromise," and it says:
The figures are so inadequate that one can only express astonishment that the Minister of Health should have had the effrontery to produce it. It gives no guarantee that slums will not be erected.
The journal concludes its article by stating that any Government which can produce such a Measure is a public danger, no matter how much the Bill may be altered in its passage through the House. When such views are expressed by an organ which is frequently found supporting strongly the Conservative point of view, one can imagine what the views must be of journals of much more moderate opinion. We urge upon the Minister to adopt the suggestions which have been made from all parts of the House—that he should amend his views and give some hope to the local authorities and the country that the losses will be borne to a greater degree by the State. The Bill is founded upon an alleged compromise reached between the Ministry and some of the larger municipalities. As a member of a local authority, I deny the title of the Association of Municipal Corporations, which is largely a town clerks' association, to commit the municipalities which they are supposed to represent. You cannot commit a municipality until you have submitted the whole of the facts and data to it and taken a vote upon them. This compromise will bind no municipality in the Kingdom. It was concerned only with some larger authorities, and they must have been very easily satisfied. They are to receive but £6 per house, but that is really only £4 over the period of the loan. The period of the loan for building is 60 years, for land 80 years, for sewers 30 years, and for the roads 20 years. In the case of the £425 house at Manchester, which was the basis of the negotiations, 90 per cent. of the cost is represented by land and buildings, and only 10 per cent. by roads and sewers. So that 90 per cent. of the loan charges are payable over a period of 60 years and upwards.
The Government aid is for 20 years only, and at the end the local authority has to pay the whole of the loss. Municipalities with foresight will desire to safeguard themselves after the 20 years has expired, and therefore will invest at least £2 out of this £6 for the ensuing 20 years. Therefore, it is true to say that £4 for the whole period of the loan would be the maximum sum to be granted to local authorities. In industrial villages and in the rural areas, where the rentals are naturally much lower than those obtainable in the towns, and where the cost of building, certainly in Northumbrian villages, is greater than in great centres of population, the loss would certainly reach as much as £12 a year under the very best conditions. The great grievance I have is the endowment of so-called private enterprise. It is called "private enterprise" by a stretching of the English language. It cannot be private enterprise if the State subsidises it. What has this form of private enterprise achieved for the British people? It has been a terrible failure. There is no sphere of so-called private enterprise throughout our industrial history in which there has been a record of greater failure than in this of house building for the working classes. It has given us the congested town, the long rows of monotonous flats, and all those disabilities under which the workers—
The Bill makes abundant provision for the speculative builder and gives little encouragement to the municipalities. The speculative builder is encouraged to build flats, which we regard as monstrosities in the north of England. These increase the congestion of building unnecessarily. They deprive vast numbers of people in industrial areas of the possibility of enjoying domestic comfort in the best sense of the word.
Now the hon. Member has suddenly put himself out of order. There is no question before us as to the type of buildings, but whether the subsidy should be given to the larger local authorities or to private enterprise.
The measure of support which the Bill will give to the speculative builder should be one of the reasons why hon. Members should vote against it. The municipality must first of all satisfy the Minister that there is a need. Backward local authorities will take no such steps. Independent of results, the municipalities should have been supported as against the speculative builder, because they possess the machinery for the erection of houses; they have the experience of the last Measure, and, after all, did erect 200,000 houses of a superior type. So far as we in the north are concerned, the rentals charged for self-contained houses—semi-detached villas with gardens in many cases—built by municipalities, were often lower than those charged by speculative builders for flats in the same localities. I am alluding to pre-War building. The municipalities have raised the standard of housing, and in the nature of things they are bound to be able to do so, because they can call to their assistance the city architect, the city engineer, town planning experts, and others. They have had, more than all, a distinct influence in reducing and stabilising rents. Workers' homes erected by speculators and private persons are liable to frequent rises of rent. With an improvement in the amenities of districts, rents rapidly rise, but rents for municipal property remain stationary, except as regards changes in rates. If the Government were prepared to deal with the building rings and the trusts; if they were to take the necessary legislative powers at the same time as they pass this Bill, and if they were to advise the country of their intention, then we need not fear that the erection of houses for the working classes would be any great financial burden on the country. The arrest of house building has been largely due to the rampant action of building rings and the trusts. If we were to take the necessary steps for dealing with them, there would be no fear—
I should like to conclude my remarks by saying, from my experience as chairman of the housing committee of the Corporation of Newcastle-on-Tyne, that there may be a considerable amount of building in our great industrial areas; in the lesser industrial areas there will be little or none, in the rural areas none at all. I believe a great "fillip" will be given to private persons and speculative builders to create a lower type of house than that to which the working class are entitled. Had we not been so far removed from a General Election, the Minister of Health would not have dared to produce a Measure of this character. On the day when the Minister was appointed to his high office I was glad to congratulate him, and, as a fellow-worker in the municipal vineyard, I felt a glow of conscious pride that one who had done such able service had become lord of the vineyard. I received a great shock when this Measure was brought to light. I think it is St. Paul who advises us that with the froward we learn frowardness and with the gentle, gentleness. Had he been Chaplain of this House he might have advised hon. Members that with the anti-housers you will learn anti-housing. It is a source of great grief to me that one with such a record should have produced so reactionary a Measure.
I cannot help thinking that the complexion of this Debate on both sides of the Chamber has been unnecessarily gloomy. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. C. Roberts) said he could not see that the Bill would do anything whatever for the country districts. I have the good fortune to live in a country district although I represent an industrial area, and, in my opinion, that is altogether too gloomy a prognostication. It is true the agricultural labourer with the miserable wage which he at present receives, is unable to pay the rent for one of these new houses. But everyone who lives in a country district knows that there are men in superior positions—or else agricultural labourers with grown-up families earning wages and increasing the family income—who can pay the rents of these houses. There are people such as tradespeople, postmen, policemen, roadmen and so forth, who earn considerably more than agricultural wages and who could pay for houses such as are proposed under the Bill. There are in every village, men living in the smallest cottages paying 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week who could well afford to take one of the new houses. If they do so, there will be a chance for the agricultural labourers to get the smaller and cheaper houses. Therefore, in the country districts, although the new houses will not, in the majority of cases, accommodate agricultural labourers, yet they will enable those labourers to secure better housing. The whole thing comes back to the question of the price at which the houses can be built. Hon. Members have suggested £500 and even £700 as a possible figure. If houses are to cost anything like that, the whole scheme will be waterlogged from the start. I submit that the cost of a house should not be more than £350 at the outside, and if you can reduce the cost to £350, including parlour, then the—
I am afraid the hon. Member is going beyond this very limited Amendment which, as I have already pointed out, deals only with the question of whether the subsidy should be confined to the larger municipalities or not. The general questions of the subsidy and the price of the houses do not arise.
I am sorry, but I was endeavouring to answer points which had been made earlier. I conclude by saying that if the price can be reduced to £350 then the loss will not be more than can be made good by the subsidy. I would inform the Committee that the City of Leeds did not ask for even a £6 subsidy, but would have been perfectly content with a £4 subsidy, and to-day there are non-parlour houses being built in the City of Leeds at £285 and parlour houses at £320. What the City of Leeds can do a great many other places can do.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY:
The hon. and gallant Member for North East Leeds (Major Birchall) has introduced into the Debate a note of cheery optimism for which I venture to think the Minister of Health, at least, must be extremely grateful, but I cannot agree with all that has fallen from the lips of my hon. and gallant Friend. It has been said that this Bill will serve very little useful purpose, even in the large municipalities of this country. If that be so in the case of England, it will certainly be so in the case of Scotland, and if it is to serve no useful purpose in the case of the large municipalities in Scotland, then I venture to emphasise what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), who spoke for the Highlands of Scotland, that very little will be achieved in the rural areas of Scotland under this Financial Resolution if it is carried as it stands on the Paper to-day. My hon. and gallant Friend has laid stress upon the situation as affected by this Bill, so far as relates to the Highlands of Scotland, but there are other parts of Scotland in which the situation, if the Resolution is allowed to stand, will be equally serious. It has been suggested by the right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) and others who have spoken that there are great difficulties in meeting the case, that rents vary, that rateable values vary in different districts throughout the country, and that the case, therefore, is a very difficult one to meet if it be held that the fiat rate which now forms the basis of the Resolution should be discarded, but I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should not close his mind to-night to this Amendment, but that he should take steps between this and the Report stage to see whether the case of rural areas cannot be met.
So far as I know the cases in the part of Scotland which I inhabit and which I represent, I venture to say quite sincerely to the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill will be perfectly useless and that no houses will be built under it, because the local authorities in the areas of low rateable value will be unable, on behalf of the constituents whom they represent, to shoulder the burden. I recollect that when what is known as the Addison scheme was going through this House in the last Parliament, I urged upon the Minister then in charge of the Bill that for rural areas in Scotland much more would probably be achieved by allowing and assisting the reconstruction of existing houses than in embarking on large schemes of building new houses with the aid of the Government subsidy, and even now, at this late hour, I would urge upon the Minister of Health that he consult with his Scottish colleague, the Secretary for Scotland, to see whether something could not be done, at probably a cheaper cost to the State and the local authorities, to help the housing problem in the rural areas of Scotland by assisting in the reconstruction of existing houses. I urge upon the Minister that he should give to this particular problem that is raised by this Amendment very careful and further consideration between this and the Report stage of the Resolution.
The Amendment which has been the subject of the Debate is, as you, Mr. Chairman, have pointed out, strictly limited in scope, and it is rather a good illustration, I think, of the difficulty of the subject that hon. Members who have tried to put into the form of an Amendment something in the nature of a constructive suggestion by way of alternative to what is in the Bill at once land themselves into difficulties, which shows that they have not really thought out the question. What would be the result of this Amendment, if it were carried? The first result would be that it would cut off all assistance for those public utility societies which come under Clause 3, and the second result would be that it would cut off all chance of assisting the existing public utility societies, for whom we hope to do something under Sub-section (2) of Clause 6. How it would leave the authorities which have less than 250,000 population I do not quite know. Apparently they would have no assistance either, but, of course, I am perfectly aware that that is not the intention of the hon. Members who moved the Amendment, and I refer to it now only because it is so much easier to say, "Your proposition is full of defects, and I could make a great deal better Bill of it if only I had the making of it," than really to do it.
My difficulty is not so much to defend my proposition from the accusations that have been made against it that it does not deal equally with the local authorities—I admit that frankly; of course, it does not—as to see how you can find a better scheme or one that will make for greater equality and be less open to criticism. We are really dealing here with a question even broader in its scope than that which we were debating earlier in the afternoon. That was a matter of Scotland versus England, but the problem which we are discussing now is really the same, and it really raises what is at the root of the whole part of the Bill, which deals with the question of subsidies. Once you have agreed that a subsidy is to be given, what is the system upon which you are to give it? We have gone in this Bill for a flat rate, and all the criticisms that have been made are really criticisms directed against the flat rate at all. The right hon. Member for the Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has, I think, fairly clearly suggested, both to-night and on the Second Reading of the Bill, that he would prefer to go back to what he calls the Addison terms.
It is not what I said, and, therefore, I should be sorry to think it was what I implied. I said it was no use having terms which would not produce the houses, and I contrasted the terms of the Addison plan with these terms, and I said that, whatever might be said for the flat rate as being suitable for the towns, it did not follow that the flat rate would be suitable for the country.
I will come to that presently. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that this Housing Bill of ours will not produce houses, and that the Addison scheme did produce houses; I took him to suggest, naturally, that we should return to the Addison terms. All I can say is, that if that is not what he meant, then he did not succeed in conveying to me what his meaning really was. There is an Amendment later with another proposition suggesting a similar objection to the one before us just now. What we have before us now is an attempt to draw an arbitrary line with a certain figure of population. I need only point out that Bristol would fall on one side of the line and Cardiff on the other to show the difficulties you will get into when you try to draw an arbitrary line of that kind. I can imagine the right hon. Gentleman opposite getting up a cartload of cases to show the absurd distinction which would then exist and the difficulty of justifying it. I do not want now to discuss the later Amendment to the effect that you are to have an aggregate sum for the United Kingdom, but I think it must be obvious that that is a matter—
The fact is you cannot really draw a line so that the subsidy on this side of the line shall be so much and the subsidy on the other side shall be less or more. There is only one practical alternative plan to that proposed in the Bill, anti that is that you should share the loss. Of course you can work according to the Addison plan and share a loss; but the Addison plan had this unfortunate attribute, that the loss was shared unequally. As my right hon. Friend said, in some cases, the loss was nine parts to the State and only one part to the local authority. It would be possible to say as we have said in dealing with the question of slum areas, that you shall estimate the loss in each case, and then halve it between the State and the local authorities. That would be a possible plan, but that is open to serious objection. The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), in speaking on this question on the Second Reading, intimated that he should strongly approve of the general line which I had taken on the question of giving the local authorities the utmost possible latitude. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, suggested that only by taking that line with the local authorities should we get this matter dealt with in a businesslike way at all. It is absolutely impossible in Whitehall to keep ourselves acquainted with all the local differences, prejudices, and preferences. We must in dealing with the local authorities leave them to decide, as far as possible, according to their own knowledge of the circumstances.
It seems to be postulated by some hon. Members that the annual loss should be divided equally between the State and the local authority. But in this we should have to exercise the most minute and complete control over every single item of expenditure. Again, we should have to do what my right hon. Friend opposite so much deprecated about the Addison scheme, that is engage an army of officials; and, again, we should have to draw up rules and regulations under which every local authority would be controlled. We should plunge at once into an atmosphere of bureaucracy and should again find ourselves confronted with the same sort of difficulties which caused us so much trouble before. Therefore it is in view of considerations like that, that we have found ourselves forced to go back to a flat rate. Having accepted the flat rate, of course, the next question is whether that flat rate is sufficient. It clearly cannot be quite advantageous for every authority because ex hypothesi the conditions do vary. We have got to strike a sort of balance. A great deal of the—well, I will not say criticism—but of comment has been upon the fact that a bargain, as it is called, had been struck with only a certain number of local authorities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Well, I do not know what authority you could get who would be more representative of the municipalities than the Association of Municipal Corporations. I do not think you would get a more representative body than we had at that conference.
I am coming to that question directly. I am only saying that, so far as the authorities were represented by the Association of Municipal Corporations, and the other corporations there, the figure which was settled upon was a figure named by themselves, and accepted by me. To call it a compromise or a bargain is, I think, a misdescription altogether. It was not a bargain except in the sense in which the husband and wife disagreed as to the painting of the door, and ultimately the compromise agreed upon by the two was green—which was what the wife wanted at first. I accepted it. I did so particularly on behalf of what I may call two sections, that is the smaller industrial areas, and the rural areas. It would, I think, be perfectly preposterous to suggest that every time any kind of subsidy is handed out from the Exchequer we should examine what are the rates in every particular locality, and, if they are extra there, fix the subsidy accordingly. That does not seem to me to be the way to go about it. These particular industrial areas are termed necessitous areas. [An HON. MEMBER: "So they are."] Let them make their claim on that ground.
In regard to the rural areas, I confess that I do see that the rural areas are in a rather different position from any of the others of which I have spoken. I have always thought that the circumstances in connection with rural or agricultural areas in housing, at any rate, differed in two important respects from the urban and city areas. First of all, the problem here is a stationary one. It is not, a problem which involves an annual increase of population. You have got in the villages a state of things under which so far as I know—I am not speaking as if every village were the same, but of a great many villages—a considerable number of houses were built many, many years ago. These have got into a thoroughly bad condition, and ought to be pulled down. But they cannot be pulled down because there is no place for the people to go. The situation is aggravated temporarily by the tremendous pressure coming from the towns from people who can not find accommodation there, and have gone into the villages. They have added to the congestion there, and in many cases they have made what was certainly bad before, ten times worse. That is one difference. The other difference, of course, is the well-known one that the rents of the houses in agricultural areas inhabited by agricultural labourers have never been economic rents. They have always been far below the economic return on capital, and certainly it would seem a little hard that that state of things should be attempted to be remedied at a time when the country is oppressed with such an enormous problem as we have before us in housing from one end of the country to the other.
I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-East Leeds (Major Birchall) in saying that somewhat too gloomy a picture has been painted of what can be done in rural areas under this Bill. We have had a number of calculations which have been brought forward, showing that the loss in the case of these houses in the country is something like £25 a year instead of £12. What sort of subsidy would be necessary in order to enable the local authority in such a case as that to provide the houses I do not know, but evidently it would have to be a great deal more than some hon. Gentlemen have calculated who have complained that the subsidy is inadequate as it stands. Of course, it really all depends upon what figures you start from. My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General the other night said that he had got a calculation which showed that it was possible for a local authority to build a house in certain agricultural areas, and that the loss upon that house would involve that local authority in something less in the way of subsidy than the figure we propose to give in the Bill. I do not want to have it thought that I am building my case upon any such calculation as that. The figures must differ from place to place throughout the country, and my right hon. Friend, in saying that, did not mean it to be understood that that was what we believed was going to happen in every agricultural area throughout the country. What he said was that it would be possible that such a house might be built under such circumstances as that, and I have no doubt there are cases where the subsidy will be quite adequate.
I am bound to recognise that when you have a subsidy which is going to be distributed on the basis of a flat rate, it is natural to suppose that where it is more favourable to the local authority, they will take greater advantage of it, and I admit it is not going to produce the building of houses at an equal rate in every locality throughout the country. I will admit, too, that the rural areas as a whole will have greater difficulty in building houses under this Bill than in other areas, precisely for the reason mentioned by my hon. Friends, that the rents are not economic rents, but are as low as 5s., 4s., 3s., and even as low as 2s., a week.
Of course, you cannot expect to provide for that case, and that illustrates exactly what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman), that it is impossible to see how you can at the same time, and under the same proposals, have a proposition which will be proper and adequate for the town, and which will, at the same time, suit the country. The two things are so different in many ways that I do not think it is possible, but what I do say is this—and I call attention once more to what I said on the Second Reading of the Bill—after all, this proposition of the subsidy is a temporary one. It is one that deals with a comparatively short period of time when you think of the time that these conditions have lasted. I said that it was not the whole policy; it was the beginning of a policy. I said it was impossible to suppose that this or any other Bill would provide all the houses that were required to make up the shortage which has accumulated for so many years. I say, again, that is the way I regard this question. I regard this only as a beginning. I do not for one moment contemplate that the building of houses can stop in 1925, and I would go as far as to say this: If it is found that, under this Bill, by reason of conditions which are not due to extravagance, which are not due to inefficiency on the part of local authorities—if it is found that, owing to conditions which are outside their control altogether, it has not been found possible to erect houses where they are urgently required, then I do consider that in any further legislation, if further legislation there be, those districts would have a claim upon the consideration of the Government which would be superior to the claim of those whose needs have been largely met.
Let me say one other thing before I sit down. It has been assumed all through that it is merely a question of these houses being provided by the local authorities, but anybody who knows the conditions of the country, knows that in the past houses have been frequently built by private individuals, by the landlord, and by the squire, partly because he wanted accommodation for the people who worked upon his estate, partly because of his general sense of duty towards the community in which he lived. I do not see why that process should not go on. I do not see why, if local authorities give the subsidy to anyone who desires to build a house from such motives as that in a village, they should not do so under this Bill, and I, for my part, do not see why this subsidy, even where it cannot give a local authority opportunity to build houses without incurring a serious loss, should not give sufficient stimulus to bring back those motives which prompted landlords to build houses in the old days. Somewhat of a similar consideration was present to my mind when the hon. and gallant Member for East Rhondda (Lieut.-Colonel Watts-Morgan) was speaking about the conditions in South Wales. There you have, as he said, a need for a great number of new houses. As an hon. Member said, in an eloquent speech in the course of the Debate on Second Reading, you want in South Wales to build, not merely a few houses on the outskirts of existing villages, but to get new sites altogether, and build houses under better conditions than are possible now. Colliery-owners are doing a great deal to build houses in many parts of England, and, I believe, in some parts of Wales. It does seem to me it is rather up to them to try to take advantage of the assistance which we can give them under this Bill, and to make that contribution themselves towards the solution of this problem which so many other employers are doing in other places.
I had been hoping that while the Minister of Health was speaking we should have heard some indication that in framing the Bill he had discussed the problems of house building with some other representatives of local authorities than those represented on the Association of Municipal Corporations. It is obvious, from the discussion we have had to-day, that there is very considerable feeling among representatives of rural district councils and urban district councils that they were not consulted in the framing of this Bill. After all, the Rural District Councils Association and the Urban District Councils Association are the two bodies that represent those people upon whom the special difficulties with which the right hon. Gentleman has just been dealing will fall most hardly. During the week-end I have been seeing a large number of the urban district councillors in my constituency, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that those who most violently supported the Government during the recent by-election, they are now most violently attacking them for the very inadequate Measures they have produced. The Mitcham Division covers the areas of three urban district councils, and it gives some indication of the difficulties with which urban district councils are faced when one analyses the exact effect of the proposals in this Bill on that area. The Urban District of Mitcham consists of 35,000 people, and is the poorest urban district in the righest county in England. So poor is it, that under the provisions adumbrated by Lord Ullswater in the recent Royal Commission on Greater London, it would receive from the equalisation scheme he proposed a benefit of 12.8 pence, although Bermondsey, admittedly one of the poorest boroughs in London, would only get 12.2 pence.
Mitcham, at the present time, requires 1,100 houses to complete the requirements it foreshadowed under the Addison scheme. A clergyman said to me yesterday that he knew in the parish of Mitcham whole streets which were worse than anything he had seen in Southwark or Poplar, and he had had considerable experience of both those boroughs. If we build these 1,100 houses in Mitcham and proceed on the assumption, on which I think the municipal corporations do, that the loss would be equally divided between the State and the municipality, we should then have to shoulder in Mitcham an annual loss during the first 20 years of £6,600, the equivalent of a 10d. rate. Can it be imagined that any municipality or urban district in this country is going to levy itself with a 10d. rate to deal with the housing question? Therefore, it seems to me that this Bill should be redrafted in such a way as would enable the poorer districts to have their burden shared by the richer districts. By forcing on these small urban districts, consisting entirely of poor people, as does the one I have just given as an instance; by compelling them to shoulder the whole burden of their particular area you are putting back the work of housing reform in the districts where it is most needed. I hope that between now and Wednesday there will be some response to the appeals that have been made, not only from this side, but from the other side of the Committee, to get this properly dealt with. I am afraid the Committee must have felt that there was something akin to despair in the closing part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech when he said that if this did not produce the houses, the people who cannot build houses under this Bill must have the best chance under the next scheme. It is a great pity that we cannot impress on the Government the necessity of dealing with housing in this Bill. The existing Bill is the one before this country, and the country is expecting from the Ministry and from this House some speedy solution of the evils from which it now suffers.
Last August, as Chairman of the Housing Committee of Epsom, I had to meet 173 applicants for houses, all of them ex-service men living in rooms or in overcrowded conditions. We had 30 houses for which they had to ballot, and there were pregnant women sitting watching their husbands ballot for the houses, hoping that he would get one, because his success or failure in that ballot would determine whether their children were to be born in a home or in the workhouse. That is going on all over the country week after week and is creating a feeling in this country that I wonder a Conservative Government allows to grow in the way it does. Can it be imagined that if three minutes before "zero time" anyone had gone along the ranks and said to the men in France, "You may be risking your lives to-day, but it will depend on the luck of a ballot whether your child is born in a home or in the workhouse," anyone would have believed that this country would have so far forgotten its promises as to allow such a state of things to exist? These small local authorities are generally too small adequately to administer a district, but their very smallness makes this problem an increasingly heavy one with them, and we are placing on the members of local authorities a burden of responsibility it is unfair to ask them to shoulder. After all, in the districts they are the people who stand to be shot at. The man who wants a house goes to them, and he does not understand, I am afraid, very often the difficulties this House places in the way of local authorities in dealing with this particular issue. I can only hope that this House will show by its vote on this particular Amendment that it does desire that these small authorities shall not be placed in this insufferable position, but that they shall be given a real and fair chance to deal with the appalling social problem that confronts ton many of them.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has spoken apparently with some knowledge of what urban district councils are saying and thinking. I speak as President of the Urban District Councils Association, and what he says is wrong. If he really thinks that the urban district councils are afraid of what is thrown on them by this Bill he is perfectly wrong. The Minister of Health told the Committee a few minutes ago that this Bill, if it becomes an Act, will have to be worked with the local authorities, and if they cannot work it the Act will fail. Speaking as President, I am sorry that in consulting other authorities he did not consult the Association of urban district councils. He apparently only consulted certain municipal councils. I am sorry, because if he had consulted them he would have been told that with regard to this flat rate there was a difficulty, that even in urban district councils this flat rate would operate somewhat unfairly, and they would have put up to him certain amendments for his consideration. They have asked me to put two amendments down, and I have done so; but I am told now that they are out of order and that it will not be possible to discuss them. I am very sorry, because I do think that if hon. Members will read my Amendment to insert words after the word "years" ["not exceeding twenty years"] and my previous Amendment to leave out the words "not exceeding a sum"—
The hon. and gallant Gentleman really must not pursue that line of argument. Either his Amendments are in order or they are not. If they are not, they must not be discussed, and he must not regret that they are not being discussed.
At any rate, we have had the admission that the right hon. Gentleman is afraid that this Bill if it becomes an Act will not work in certain districts in England, not alone in urban but in some rural districts, and that certain measures will have to be brought in at a later stage. I am sorry. If he had taken into consideration what these associations, urban and rural, were anxious to tell him, it would not have been necessary for him to make that rather sad confession that, probably shortly, he would have to bring in another amending Bill.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
There has been an extraordinary expression of feeling from all sides of the House, as to the weakness of this Financial Resolution, from hon. Members representing Scotland, Wales, rural and urban England and the municipalities, and they have all raised objections to the working of these particular financial arrangements. The Minister of Health admitted that they were far from perfect, but he asked what we suggested in their place. With regard to the alternative it is impossible under the rules of the House for hon. Members to put down an alternative which would meet the case by means of increasing the flat rate of £6 to some larger sum which would enable urban and rural local authorities and municipalities to build the houses which are so urgently wanted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) said the rural authorities would not raise any objection if they felt that the urban districts were going to benefit, but they are not.
The Minister of Health referred to the Municipal Corporations Association, but there seems to me to be some misunderstanding in regard to what he stated. He said that there was no question of a compromise in regard to what was in the Bill because it was a suggestion made by them, and accepted by him. I submit that there has been a serious misunderstanding, because I have here a copy of the minutes of the Municipal Corporations Association meeting giving a report of this Conference with the Minister of Health. They quote from the official document issued by the Ministry, which states that, after considerable discussion, the Minister agreed to offer a subsidy of £6 per house per annum for 20 years to be available for a house of five rooms, and this was accepted by them as one which would enable them to press forward the building of houses with the utmost vigour. I submit that that statement is at variance with what the right hon. Gentleman told the Committee, for he informed the Committee that the Association suggested this amount, and that he accepted it.
In January last the local authorities, as represented by the Municipal Corporations Association, pressed upon the Minister the need of a grant of £6 per house per annum during the whole of the loan period. That was the proposition of the Municipal Corporations Association, which was confirmed by various conferences at Manchester and Leeds with the full assent of that association. Finally, after further negotiations, a small committee representing Manchester and certain large cities associated with the Municipal Corporations Association accepted the compromise. That compromise has never been before the local authorities themselves. I have received letters from various local authorities protesting that the sum suggested is totally inadequate. I have received a letter from the town clerk of Walsall saying that at a largely attended meeting at Birmingham on Wednesday representing borough, urban, and rural authorities in the West Midlands, the resolution passed by the Walsall authority as to the inadequacy of this grant was unanimously carried. I think the Minister of Health will be well advised, if he really desires the hearty co-operation of municipal and local authorities throughout the country, to further consider before Wednesday next the representations which have been made to him from all parts of this House as to the inadequacy of the sum which he is proposing.
The Minister of Health has asked us what we can propose that is better, and he suggested that the alternative was a 1d. rate and the flat rate of £6. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to alter the £6 grant to £7 or £8. The Resolution says "not exceeding a sum of £6." If altered to "a sum not exceeding £7 or £8" the right hon. Gentleman would still have power to vary the amount according to the particular needs of certain districts. The Minister suggested that what I have put forward would mean setting up a huge army of local inspectors, but you could have regional areas, which I admit is a rough and ready form of justice, but if you had four or five regions you would reduce the injustice which would occur if you have only one flat rate for the whole of the United Kingdom. You have the regional arrangement under which the trades unions deal with wages and costs. Then there is the 50–50 arrangement, which is the very scheme the right hon. Gentleman has adopted for dealing with slum clearances. I think the 50–50 arrangement would not involve a huge army of officials or that interference from Whitehall which the Minister suggested.
Consider what has happened under Departments of the Ministry of Health. Already you have grants for infant welfare and maternity, and the feeding of school children under the Education authority. All these are based on certain percentages, and yet you have not that interference from headquarters which the right hon. Gentleman has foreshadowed. For these grants you have certain well-defined Regulations, and, provided they are kept, the arrangements work admirably under the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education. For these reasons I submit to the Committee that there is a precedent in existence working smoothly, without an undue amount of interference, whereby the difficulty of the flat rate could be overcome, and under which local authorities would be able to exert themselves to the utmost to provide the houses, which we all admit are so urgently needed.
I thought the speech of the Minister of Health was even more gloomy than the discussion that preceded it, for he suggested that we had to fall back on the tied house which the landlord, out of charity, might provide: and that the collieries or the works might build houses for their workmen. I thought the day had gone by for the erection of tied houses, and that the workman should be free to live where he likes. The difficulties and the objections to tied houses are acknowledged on all sides. People have been waiting for houses since 1915 and you are now asking them to wait for another two years. The patience of those who have been without houses has been extraordinary, a patience that many of us would not have exercised under similar circumstances. I do appeal to the Minister that he should, between now and Wednesday, see whether he cannot introduce Amendments, or, if necessary, withdraw this Financial Resolution and submit a fresh one, either on the basis of a regional grant, according to the needs of well-defined areas, or on a 50–50 basis. It would enable local authorities to go ahead with full speed to provide these houses for which people have been waiting all too long.
The question is, Is the Bill going to produce houses? A flat rate has an appearance of equity. True equity consists in pro
viding houses in the measure of the need of the locality. You speak of a flat rate, and it may save the Ministry a great deal of trouble. It is necessary that the Ministry should not be over-burdened with staff and expense, but if it does not provide houses, nothing has been achieved. What is the reply of the Minister? I think his speech on the Second Reading was a dispiriting performance. Those who heard his speech must have felt that there were not many houses between the front and back page of the Bill. Those who heard his speech must have been convinced that the Minister of Health had the best anticipations, but a very meagre supply of dwellings from these proposals. He admits that the problem as between town and country is different, and that the rent is different, but he goes on to say:
After all, what could you expect? This is only a human work. We are only human beings, and if I cannot provide rural dwellings in this Bill it is not my fault; it is the ordinary imperfections of human nature.
That is not what we want. We want houses for the rural districts. We want houses for Scotland, and we do not see them in this Bill. I have looked up what this Bill will do for the urban district of Newburn-on-Tyne, which contains an historic village called Walbottle. At Walbottle the rateable value is £78, and a penny rate, according to the local guide book, provides £350. It is one of the worst-housed places in the country, and the need for houses runs into tens of hundreds. The produce of a penny rate, if the subsidy was £6, would be about 60 houses. Could anyone pretend that this Bill would provide sufficient houses for a district like that, or many others? The Minister happened to refer to the Rhondda Valley. Many Welsh Members could speak with full knowledge on this, but I happen to have the figures of the house-building in the. Rhondda Valley—the number of new houses passed for occupation. The Minister said the colliery owners were glad to build houses for their people, and that in Wales they will supply whatever is needed. These are figures for the Rhondda Valley. In 1909 the number of new houses passed for occupation was 1,025. That was the year of the bad Budget. In 1910, 926 houses were provided. In 1899, under a Tory Administration, the number was only 157. The
new houses passed for occupation in 1916 numbered 129; in 1917, again during the War, the number was 26; in 1918, 10, and in 1919, 1, while in 1920 the number was again 1. Those are the figures, and that is the effort on which the Minister of Health is proposing to rely to supply housing needs for the Rhondda Valley—one house in two successive years. In short, the specific is a subsidy for the town. If you provide for the industrial worker the rural worker can depend upon the good nature of someone to provide houses. That is not our conception of housing. To summarize, Sir, in conclusion, I should like to say this about the Amendments. Our Amendment must
receive the support of all those who have housing needs at heart. The Minister of Health will not allow this Amendment to be voted on without the party Whips. It should receive the support of Scottish Members, who believe that arrangements for the subsidy are inadequate for Scotland, and it should receive the support of all rural Members, and Members for small urban districts, on whom will fall the burden of carrying out this work. The arrangements made in the Bill will not work to provide houses.
|Division No. 118.]||AYES.||[9.57 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Harris, Percy A.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hastings, Patrick||Parkinson, John Allan (Wigan)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Hillary, A. E.||Richards, R.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Hinds, John||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Bonwick, A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hogge, James Myles||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Saklatvala, S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Brotherton, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Sexton, James|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Burgess, S.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Cairns, John||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Snell, Harry|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenyon, Barnet||Snowden, Philip|
|Chapple, W. A.||Lansbury, George||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Leach, W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Lee, F.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Linfield, F. C.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lowth, T.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Thornton, M.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||M'Entee, V. L.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Duncan, C.||McLaren, Andrew||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Falconer, J.||March, S.||Weir, L. M.|
|Gosling, Harry||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Wheatley, J.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Greenall, T.||Millar, J. D.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morel, E. D.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Groves, T.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mosley, Oswald||Wright, W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Muir, John W.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hancock, John George||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Newbold, J. T. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harney, E. A.||Nichol, Robert||Sir A., Sinclair and Major|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Banks, Mitchell||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Birchall, Major J. Dearman|
|Apsley, Lord||Barnett, Major Richard W.||Blades, Sir George Rowland|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Barnston, Major Harry||Blundell, F. N.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Becker, Harry||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Brass, Captain W.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Berry, Sir George||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hawke, John Anthony||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Peto, Basil E.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Remer, J. R.|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Robertson- Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Houfton, John Plowright||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hudson, Capt. A.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hume, G. H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hurd, Percy A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Cope, Major William||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sandon, Lord|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Jephcott, A. R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Skelton, A. N.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lamb, J. Q.||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Stanley, Lord|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lorimer, H. D.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Maddocks, Henry||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Manville, Edward||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mercer, Colonel H.||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Taibot||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Furness, G. J.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wells, S. R.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Garland, C. S.||Murchison, C. K.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Gates, Percy||Nall, Major Joseph||Whitla, Sir William|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Wise, Frederick|
|Crenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Haistead, Major D.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Paget, T. G.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harrison, F. C.||Penny, Frederick George||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Gibbs.|
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (a).
We have had a very long discussion for the greater part of the evening. We have had the case of Scotland, if I may say so, very effectively put, and I venture to suggest that other parts of the country do not come out of the scheme from a financial point of view precisely in a satisfactory way. I happen to be a London Member and I venture to point out to the Minister of Health that the Greater London area represents a population very much larger than the whole of Scotland. Scotland has a population of 4,500,000, while in Greater London there are 7,000,000, but the authorities in London are by no means satisfied with the financial proposals of this Bill. I put it to this Committee, that if the Committee is not satisfied that the scheme is to be practicable from the financial point of view, it would be an advantage if it did not come to a Third Reading. The Act of 1919 was comprehensive and large and dealt in every direction with the housing question. Where it broke down, if it did break down, was in its financial proposals. It was producing the houses. The houses had actually been going up under its provisions during the last three or four years. Why these houses came to be stopped was not because of the provisions of the scheme, but because the last Government came to the conclusion that its financial provisions were too generous. Whatever may be said in favour of the new scheme contained in this Bill no one would accuse its financial provisions of being too generous. They have apparently been worked out in careful collaboration with some of the great municipal centres, principally Manchester and Leeds. I would suggest to the Minister of Health that it is unwise, if he is to have these conferences, to have only a few privileged authorities present.
If the Minister is going to follow in the future the policy of consulting local authorities before he introduces legislation into the House of Commons, he ought to be satisfied that those he consults really represent the local authorities throughout the country, not only in Scotland, but also in England, and that the Metropolis, where. I venture to say, the problem is more serious, more difficult and larger than in other parts of the counry, should be a party to such conferences. I see there is a report coming before the London County Council to-morrow, which represents 4,500,000 people, where a resolution is to be put forward approving the action of the Finance Committee in making representations to the Minister of Health in favour of amending Clause 1 of the Housing Bill so as to obtain, mark my words, adequate financial assistance. London is not satisfied, and I would say to him that I think there is every justification for it. A very eloquent case was put up in various parts of the Committee for rural areas, and especially for Scotland, because of the high cost of construction, but in London the cost of construction, owing to the higher rate of wages paid in the building trade—the cost of production per cubic foot in London is larger practically than in any other part of the country. The higher wages are due to the fact, generally admitted, that London being a metropolis, the cost of living is greater and the wages, as agreed upon between the Federation of the Building Trades and the various trade unions, are higher.
One thing I want to suggest to the Committee as being most unsatisfactory is that there is no guarantee that the Treasury will make an allowance that will satisfy the demands felt throughout the country. After all, Ministers come and go. They have a way of changing. I remember in the last Government Dr. Addison gave way to the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond). Dr. Addison put forward very generous terms. When his successor came into office, those terms were thrown over. I would point out to the Committee that the term of office of the right hon. gentleman the Minister of Health now occupied by the right hon. Gentleman who is so distinguished an ornament of the Front Bench—that his predecessors' terms of office were remarkably small, and we ought to have some guarantee to the local authorities who have to embark on these schemes that the terms are not only generous but are not to be changed. These financial provisions make an allowance of £6 per house. You cannot deal adequately with the housing problem without making comprehensive arrangements. You cannot turn out houses like sausages from a machine. You have to lay out the land, you have to put down the roads and arrange the necessary drainage schemes. If you attempt to have a financial scheme that is not elastic, you will find local authorities involved in the same difficulties as under the preceding Act of Parliament. They bought land, made roads, made the necessary drainage schemes, laid out the estate, and when everything was ready to build the houses the right hon. Member for West Swansea refused to give the necessary financial assistance from the Treasury. Under this scheme I would suggest to the Committee we have no guarantee that you will not have a recurrence of the same thing, and therefore the provisions made in this Clause that the grant should be per house and not per the whole of the estate development is unsatisfactory, and I venture to say impracticable and unworkable.
There is another very serious fault, that the grant is only for 20 years. The loan period for house construction is 60 years, for land 80 years. Therefore, at the end of 20 years London, like other authorities, will find itself landed with a deficit. It may be said that the rate of interest will fall, but against that the cost of repairs will rise. [HON. MEMBERS: "The houses will fall."] Anyone who has had practical experience of housing knows that the cost of repairs naturally goes up as the house becomes old. The cost of repairs, in the early days, is comparatively small, but at the end of 20 years it is a very considerable charge on the rent received from the house.
There is another, and more serious aspect. At the present moment rents are high. The rents on the various estates owned by the London County Council are now at a very high rate, and are based on the wages which were fixed just after the War. Unfortunately, during the last 12 months, wages have been steadily falling. In many cases those now being paid make it quite impossible, even with the very low standard of house now being put up, for the ordinary working man to pay the rent—on the estate built by the London County Council, at Becontree, near London, there is a rent strike, because of the very high rents—and there is the possibility that at the end of 20 years, when the Government grant is withdrawn, it will be necessary very considerably to reduce the rents. There is a third aspect. At the present time there are no empties amongst any of the municipal houses throughout the country. So great is the demand that every house is occupied as soon as it is built. In normal times there is always a certain percentage of empties, due to the movement of the population. At the end of 20 years it will be necessary to charge up on to the rent a certain sum to allow for the natural movement of the population, and to make proper provision for empties. Therefore, at the end of 20 years, the various local authorities will find themselves having to carry the burden out of the rates for any loss on these houses, although the charges will be increased by there being a certain amount of empties and a very large increase in the cost of repairs, while it will be difficult to keep the very high standard of rent now being charged for the municipal house.
For that reason, the only practicable scheme to make this Bill workable from a financial point of view is for the Government to guarantee to the local authorities a loss, whether £6 or more, for the whole of the loan period. Twenty years is an entirely fictitious figure, selected, for some reason we have never been able to fathom, by the Minister of Health. [An HON. MEMBER: "The age of a house!"] My hon. Friend suggests it is the age of a house. I think that is a libel on these houses. I believe in municipal houses. The houses put up by the London authorities—I do not know what happens in Scotland—will, I hope, last for a considerable period longer than 20 years. The practical proposal I suggest to the Minister is to bow to the general feeling of the country, and to become a real partner with the local authorities in any loss that may ensue from the cost of building these houses.
There is one other matter to which I should like to refer from the financial point of view. The Minister of Health, on the ground of economy, in order to make this scheme workable, has limited his grant to a small, non-parlour type of house. The London County Council has the advantage of a very highly trained staff—architect, engineer, and valuer—who have had many years' experience of housing, not only since the War, but before it. They have got out a report, which I have here, in which they point out that if this scheme is to be a financial success, and if the loss is not going to be greater than £6 for a house, there must be diversity of accommodation. The report points out:
That it is essential, in any development on a large scale of an estate, that there shall be a sufficient diversity of accommodation provided for the housing of families of varying sizes, and also to enable tenants to transfer to larger houses as the families increase. Though the erection of larger houses involves larger expenditure, as a rule it is the smaller house which involves the largest loss.
So by increasing the size of the house you would remove part of the larger loss from the local authorities. That is a strong reason, if you are going to work
this financial scheme, for allowing diversity of type which permits the inclusion of parlour houses. We have also support on that point from the Tudor Walters Committee which was appointed to study the housing problem purely from the financial point of view. Their Report points out that it is not a sound economic policy to reduce the cost of building by cutting down unduly the size of the rooms, because the smaller the size of the rooms the higher must be the cost per cubic foot of space provided, because the smaller the rooms the greater must be the proportionate area of containing walls. While the expense of the room, for fireplace, chimney, door, etc., remains the same, the cost in proportion to floor space rises. I would suggest that, if we are going to adhere to this very inadequate grant, we must allow greater variety of type, because the smaller the type of house, especially the non-parlour type, the greater the cost as compared with the larger type in proportion to the floor space provided.
For these reasons, if we cannot have more satisfactory financial provision than this Clause provides, it would be better that the Bill should not become an Act of Parliament, and it would be better to return to the old scheme, which, after all, did produce houses and broke down only because its financial provisions were too generous. But the fact that the financial provisions of the last Act of Parliament were too generous is no justification for making the new financial provisions so unsatisfactory that if they are not increased they will not result in the houses which are so badly wanted, especially in London, being erected. Nor are you trying to deal with slum clearances in London and throughout the country. If you are going to deal with them on a large scale you must have provision for rehousing. You cannot pull down houses and destroy the slums unless you have somewhere to rehouse the people while you are doing so.
This Clause, which provides £6 per tenement, is the Clause to which the local authorities will have to look for fresh houses to take the place of the slums that are cleared away. Everybody knows, and no one better than the Minister of Health, that it is impossible to take away the people from these congested areas and rehouse them entirely outside the district.
If these financial provisions do not hold good, we shall go back to the old Act, and if the Minister could put the provisions of the Act of 1919 into operation, the local authorities would be going full speed ahead and providing the necessary houses. You cannot pull down slums in any of the great cities unless you provide the necessary houses in which to put the people. That has been our experience in the Brady Street area. Anyone who has gone into the question of building block dwellings knows that the loss will be very much more than £12 per tenement.
On a point of Order. I want to draw attention to the fact that paragraph (b) of the Resolution calls attention to the question of rehousing. Is it in order on an Amendment to strike out paragraph (a) to refer to rehousing, which is dealt wholly in paragraph (b)?
May I call attention to the fact that in the Resolution the two things are quite separate and are dealt with under a different provision? The provision of new houses is dealt with by means of subsidy in paragraph (a). The clearances of slums and rehousing of the people are dealt with under a different paragraph, which provides that half the estimated annual loss is borne by the State.
I can answer that question. Most of our houses are slums. The slum question is so large that you cannot deal with it merely by pulling down the slums. You merely drive the people into some other area in the neighbourhood, and create further slums. If you are to cure the slum evil you must build further houses. In the County of London alone, quite apart from Greater London and Richmond, where there are congested areas, there are 1,900 groups of houses which are insanitary or congested, and they contain no fewer than 184,000 people. There are also, apart from that, 365,000 people in the County of London, living in individual houses which are, in the words of a medical officer of health,
of defective construction, in a decayed and dilapidated condition, and should be piffled down.
I did not intend to quote figures had it not been for the interruption of the hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Becker) and the suggestion that you can deal with slums merely by pulling down the houses. I think the interruption justified me in quoting the figures.
I will not discuss the point further. I am anxious that this
Bill, if it is to become an Act, should go through as soon as possible. No one knows the question better than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, who was an active member of the Housing Committee of the London County Council, and he will support me when I say that the problem in London is so large that it is only by a generous comprehensive scheme you can materially improve the position. A report came before the Housing Committee of which the Noble Lord was vice-chairman, to the following effect:
There seems little doubt that the building carried out since 1919 has not been sufficient to provide anything towards reducing the shortage of houses, and probably has not been sufficient to meet the normal growth in demand during that period.
That was under the previous Act with its generous proposals and with financial provisions which made up all deficiencies over a penny rate. If the last Measure did not enable local authorities to keep pace with the normal growth of the population, how can the Minister expect this scheme, with its inadequate provision over a short period, to make up the deficiency? If this Bill is going to be substituted for the Act of 1919, it must be entirely recast on more generous terms which will enable the local authorities to tackle the problem on large and comprehensive lines so that, during the next few years, we may not merely he able to provide individual houses, but may be able to meet the normal growth of the population and also do something to decrease the terrible overcrowding that exists and to clear the slums.
I confess I listened with some interest and curiosity to see what were the points which could be raised on this particular Amendment. The hon. Member has given three reasons why he thinks this paragraph should be omitted. The first is that London is not satisfied with the flat rate of £6 per house provided in the Bill. That only illustrates the extraordinary difficulty you have the moment you depart from the principle of the flat rate. I must leave it to the hon. Member to explain to his county council how it is he has just voted for an Amendment which, if carried, would have confined London to the £6 subsidy.
The second point which the hon. Gentleman took up was the question of the 20 years. That is a new point, and I propose, therefore, to take this opportunity of saying a word on the general considerations which induced us to confine our subsidy to a period of 20 years, instead of taking it for the whole period of the loan, namely, 60 years. What is the £6 subsidy to represent? The combined subsidy, which is going to be provided partly from the Exchequer and partly from the rates, is to make up the difference between the market value of the house and its actual cost, and, therefore, it is represented by no tangible asset at all, and it is for that reason that it seemed to us advisable that we should endeavour to get rid of this liability at the earliest possible date, because there really is nothing in the house to represent it. I think it would be wise, perhaps, of the local authorities if they were to follow our example in that respect, and although the hon. Member seemed to think that London will find itself, as he expressed it, saddled with these extra charges for 20 years, I am sure he fully appreciates that there is no difficulty at all in so arranging the loan that the whole of the deficiency estimated to arise over the 60 years is, in fact, paid off at the end of the 20 years.
After then it would be a self-supporting scheme. It would increase the loss during that period when you would be getting the subsidy from the Exchequer, and when you ceased to get the subsidy from the Exchequer, then the loss would be so much less. That is what I am suggesting, and that is what I think would be a way of getting over the difficulty.
The answer to that is that it depends on what the estimated annual loss is going to be, but if the annual loss were just double the subsidy, that is to say, if the annual loss were £12 instead of £6, for 20 years, the relation would be exactly 50–50.
Does that include the commutation of the succeeding 40 years? What difference would it make in the loss over the first 20 years if the whole of the succeeding 40 years were commuted into it?
I am sure the hon. Member sees that it really does not very much matter whether you call it £6 for 20 years or £4 for 60 years The actual equivalent in the capital value is the same in both cases, and therefore, if the loss is, in fact, estimated to be the same for the local authorities as it is for the Exchequer, then what they pay off, if they pay off in the first 20 years, will be exactly equal to the amount of subsidy given by the Exchequer. The only other point is the question of the type of houses to be provided. I cannot see why it is necessary to raise that on this Financial Resolution, because there is every possibility, after the Financial Resolution, of raising the question of the type and size of the houses in the Standing Committee upstairs. Amendments can be moved to alter the dimensions which are specified in the Bill, and there is nothing in this Resolution which ties you down to any particular type or size, and nothing, therefore, which makes it necessary for us to decide that question now.
I am rather surprised that on the discussion of this Financial Resolution the right hon. Gentleman has not submitted to the Committee some financial statement on which he bases his £6 subsidy. The whole of the discussion on the various Estimates has centred on the adequacy or inadequacy of the sum mentioned in the. Bill. I can hardly believe that the right hon. Gentleman and his permanent officials have left him in the state in which he has left the Committee which he has addressed. I should have thought that it was comparatively easy to prepare an estimate of the revenue and expenditure of the housing proposals in the Bill, and to have shown from that statement of revenue and expenditure almost accurately what the loss will be, and in that way justify—if it can be justified—the limitation of the subsidy to £6 and its duration to 20 years. May I try to present to the right hon. Gentleman something roughly prepared in the nature of a statement, which I think he ought to have submitted to the Committee? The first thing he Should have told us was what was the estimated cost of the house. I mentioned in the discussion on the Second Reading of this Bill that the houses proposed here would probably cost on an average not less than £500 each, and I have heard Members since, in the course of discussion, put it as high as £520. I think I would be safe in assuming that tha right hon. Gentleman himself intends, or, at any rate, the Committee has been led to believe he intends, when the Measure goes into Committee upstairs, to raise the minimum standard of the house, and, consequently, the cost of its construction. So that when I put the price at £500, I am making little allowance for the increase in size promised by the right hon. Gentleman, and making no allowance at all for the operations of the trusts which control the prices of building material.
I would like the right hon. Gentleman, apart from this discussion, to tell us whether, when his Bill gets into operation, if the trusts send up the cost of construction beyond £500, it is his intention to tackle the trusts, or will he follow the policy adopted by the late Government, and stop the construction of houses? Taking the price at £500, we have a basis on which we can make a calculation. I suppose the Committee is familiar with the fact that in housing schemes you have two systems, either of which you may adopt in paying off the loan. The one usually adopted in England was the annuity system, and it was adopted under the Dr. Addison scheme. In the annuity system, you calculate the total sum to be repaid on interest and principal, divided by 60, and make a 60th part the annual burden on the house. Taking that system, I find that the annual burden on the house for sinking fund and interest will be £26 8s. 4d. In allowing £5 for repairs spread over each of the 20 years, I do not think I am exceeding the amount that will be required, and in leaving for management, insurance, site, etc., a sum of £2 10s., I think I am also taking a very moderate figure. If I add to that the total rates on the house, and put those at the very modest estimate of £15, I get a total of £48 18s. 4d. If I deduct the subsidy of £6, there remains £42 18s. 4d. to be raised.
Then we get to the question of what the rent of such a house should be. The right hon. Gentleman tried to justify the very small size of the houses on the plea that the class of people for whom they were intended were the very poorest of the poor, who deserved our earliest attention. If the contention of the Attorney-General was well founded, then here is a class of people who cannot afford to pay a very high rent. I have drawn a line at 10s. per week rent, and I have heard 5s. and 4s. mentioned on the opposite side of the House. If I take £26 for rent and rates from such people it will be at least 25 per cent. of their total income, a percentage which I make bold to say not a single Member on the other side of the House pays out of his income for housing accommodation. If I take £26, there is a loss to be made good by the local authority of £16 18s. 4d. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to submit a financial statement showing the loss to be left to the local authority, and, consequently, more in accordance with his case. If I take practically £17 as the loss on each house, a figure, by the way, which was estimated by one of the hon. Members sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman in the course of the discussion to-night, and I apply it to the requirements of the city of which I am one of the representatives, Glasgow, which requires 70,000 houses, I find that on those 70,000 houses for Glasgow—and the claim of the Government is that this Bill will "deliver the goods"—there will be an annual loss of £1,190,000 to be made up by the ratepayers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] That is the annual loss for the first 20 years. At the end of the 20 years I would remind hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House the houses will require more subsidising than in the first 20 years. The sum of £5 will not look at the repairs of a house that has been 20 years in existence; just at the time, too, when the subsidy is most needed the right hon. Gentleman is recommending that it be withdrawn.
Let me draw the attention of the Committee to what I said on the subject of finance on the Second Reading. That is the enormous part that interest on capital plays in this housing problem. Would it surprise hon. Members to learn that every house that costs £500 costs us £1,085, or the price of two more houses, in interest alone? They pay this to the people on whom they are dependent for the capital—
Pursuing this line we get some amazing figures. Before the monied classes will allow the working classes to have a million houses, the working classes must guarantee in interest alone on such houses one thousand millions, and if we are to raise the whole standard of working house accommodation to the very low standard provided by this Bill we would require no less than four million houses. Before we could get these we should require to guarantee in interest on the capital £4,000,000,000. Consequently it is practically impossible to get these houses. I submit, to the right hon. Gentleman that, just as he found it necessary to appoint a Committee to investigate the control of prices of building materials by trusts, he might go further and appoint another Committee which would consider the effect which interest on finance has on the housing accommodation of the country.
It was observed by my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) in his speech last week on the Second Reading of this Bill, that the crux of this housing question was finance. The Attorney-General in his reply on that occasion disputed that assertion, but the finance that has been provided in this Resolution is so meagre that on the right hon. Gentleman's own figures the housing question, so far from being settled by these proposals, will hardly be disturbed in any sense whatever. The right hon. Gentleman himself said there had been 215,000 houses built within the last four years, but he acknowledged that 161,000 of those houses were actually due and required to provide for the increase of population, leaving only 54,000 houses as a real net increase to meet the enormous deficiency of 800,000 houses that was shown to be required in 1919 by the local authorities who made special inquiries and reported to that effect. Fifty-four thousand houses towards 800,000, leaving 746,000! The right hon. Gentleman's proposal under the finance of this Bill is to provide 120,000 more houses in the next two years. On his own showing, it requires 85,000 houses for two years to meet the requirements of the increase of population, so that he is only providing the difference between 85,000 and 120,000 towards increasing the supply of houses in this country. Treating the figures in that way, which I contend is the only reasonable way in which to treat them, his net balance of 35,000 houses, being the difference between 85,900 which are needed in order to provide for increased population and 120,000 provided in the Bill—that 35,000 taken from the 746,000 deficiency leaves 711,000 still to be provided.
This £6 per house will never provide anything more than the right hon. Gentleman himself has estimated, and my contention is that it will provide much less. On what principle is this £6 per house to be given? First, to private builders; secondly, to local authorities, providing they satisfy the right hon. Gentleman that private building speculators have not been interfered with, which is a most derogatory position in which to put municipalities, and one which will not encourage the building of good houses in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) applied two tests to this Bill, which, in my opinion, were very good tests indeed. The first was: Will the Bill help to get the houses? That depends upon what you call help. It is a very modest kind of assistance that this Bill will provide on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, because it is only 120,000 in two years, and of that total 85,000 will be required to meet the ordinary increase of population. The second test applied by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley: Will the Bill provide house at rents which the class of people they are intended for can pay?
What kind of people are to be provided for? On this point one cannot do better than draw from one's own experience. In the town which I represent, the medical officer has stated that 20 per cent. of the better class of workers' houses are occupied by two or more families each. That is the first problem. If these houses are to be of any service at all, they should be of a kind to meet the requirements of the people, who are now, for the first time in their experience, living with two or three families in one house. You should erect the kind of house which these people have been accustomed to, and which they require. What is the kind of house which the Minister of Health proposes under this scheme? It is one with 850 superficial feet, and he actually suggests that a meagre superficial area like that is sufficient to provide a parlour as well. I am quite prepared to admit that there is a good deal of nonsense talked about parlours. If there is not ground space enough for a house with a parlour, and if the floor space is not sufficient to provide a good parlour, it is far better that the house should have a good big living room and a good working scullery, even if you have to dispense with the parlour altogether. I submit that a house with three bedrooms on one floor, as is contemplated, cannot possibly have rooms sufficiently large on such a superficial minimum area as 850 feet.
I submit that the minimum for a non-parlour house is 950 superficial feet, and, where a parlour is required, at least 150 superficial feet should be added. What about the rents? I have tried to describe the kind of people that are being herded together, more than one family in a house, people who never before have been subjected to such experience. What rents can they pay? Can they pay the rents of these houses? My hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) gave some figures with regard to the cost. Taking into account the land, street works, and drainage, houses even of 850 superficial feet could not, in my judgment, be built in a town similar to my own, which has some 300,000 inhabitatnts, for less than £500. That, at 5 per cent., is £25 for a start. Then there are the rates at 16s. in the £, amounting to £17, and, if you reckon the small sum of £5 for repairs, that makes £47 altogether. Deducting the Government subsidy of £6 and the local subsidy of another £6, you have left £35 per year, or 13s. 6d. per week. That scheme will not work. The houses will not be built in many instances, because many municipal and local authorities will refuse to build them under the conditions, and others will realise that those for whom the houses are intended cannot pay these rents we have not finished with this matter. The crux of the question is finance, and the right hon. Gentleman has never faced that question. There is also the question of materials. A Committee is to be appointed. If similar action were taken with respect to the control of building materials as was taken during the War, the matter could be put on a fair and square basis. I know it has been said that we cannot go back to the old system of control. The great mistake that was made before was that prices of building materials were fixed for the municipalities and not for private enterprise, with the result that building materials were supplied for picture palaces, garages, big warehouses, or for whatever they could get the best prices, leaving it impossible for the municipalities to work. If action were taken with regard to building materials similar to that which was taken with regard to munitions of war, then the thing could be easily done. In my own town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 80 per cent. of the textiles were turned out under the costing system, which left no chance whatever of plunder.
I am just finishing now. I want to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, who has had a very elaborate testimonial from the Attorney-General for his municipal experience. I do not know the right hon. Gentleman's work sufficiently intimately to endorse that testimony. I do know that Birmingham, from 1880 and for the following 25 years, lived on its reputation as a municipality. I know that the right hon. Gentleman entered upon his municipal experience with a great name; and he also had the advantage of the magnificent example of the Bourneville colony very near. But the present scheme will not solve the housing problem. It will not touch the fringe of the housing problem. If the right hon. Gentleman does not want to go down as another failure among those who have preceded him in dealing with this housing problem, then he must scrap this Bill entirely and bring in a better one.
It is not my intention, unless undue provocation is offered to me, to take up the attention or time of the Committee. I think it important, before we part with the consideration of the paragraph now under discussion, that the Committee should have something more definite in the form of an estimate of the cost of this part of the scheme. It has been the custom of the Committee of this House to demand from Ministers, when Financial Resolutions were under discussion, some approximate cost of the scheme for which the Minister is responsible. I recollect that when the Addison scheme was before the last Parliament, an estimate was then given of the full cost. We were told then particulars of the houses that were to be provided, and an estimate was given of the liability of the State. At the present time, neither one nor the other is given. Under the Addison scheme it was understood that 500,000 houses were to be built and the estimate then given of the capital liability of the State was £10,000,000. It is interesting, therefore, to recollect, in relation to that estimate, what has exactly happened in respect to the building of houses and the liability of the State. Something like 200,000 houses have been provided—less than half the number anticipated—and the liability of the State—[Interruption.] I can quite understand why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) should not be anxious to hear these views. He was one of the gentlemen responsible for the estimate.
The annual liability. I was assuming the Committee were familiar with the point. It shows I was not desiring to mislead the Committee in any way. If I had suggested that that was the capital liability, it would be minimising it to an extraordinary extent. That is a practice which is not common on the part of the Opposition. But the fact is that we had 200,000 houses costing £10,000,000 a year. If we turn to the financial statement of the Minister of Health now placed before us, we have simply a series of hypotheses, not a single definite statement of what can be done. He says 200,000 working-class houses have been built during the last four years, and that if this average were maintained during the period provided by the Bill, something like 120,000 houses would be eligible for the grant, and that the charge to the Exchequer would be £720,000 per annum for 20 years.
I am not proposing the Bill, nor am I in a position to make an official estimate. I am asking the Minister to give us a correct estimate first, of the number of houses he expects to be built, and second, what will be the cost to the Exchequer. We find, again, it goes on to say, that if 120,000 houses were built and the rate amounted to £5 per house, the charge falling on the rates would be £600,000 per annum for 20 years. To put that forward as an estimate in regard to this Bill is totally inadequate, and this is an estimate the House should not accept. Further details should be demanded from the Government, and apart from these details we should decline to vote this Resolution. Even if you had 120,000 houses under this Bill, it would be no solution of the problem at all. A hundred and twenty thousand houses during the period contemplated under the Bill does not make good what may be described as the annual shortage. In these circumstances this is simply a mockery and a sham. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) spoke in admiration of the Addison scheme because it had provided the houses, but he went on to say it did not make up the annual shortage. I do not think that is an eulogy of that particular scheme; but we are to be in exactly the same position under this scheme, probably worse. It proves clearly that the whole subsidy system is a fraud and a sham. Under the Addison scheme you had an enormous inflation of all prices. Everything connected with building went up. Everybody, in other words, started to plunder the Exchequer. When you announce these subsidies, you are offering an invitation to everybody to have a little bit. That is what is going to happen now. You will have prices going up in the same way, and instead of getting the houses you will have an embargo upon houses in the shape of increased prices. We had a Committee to watch prices; have they ever been any good? They simply fold their hands and watch the operation going on. Even although you took statutory powers, it would not do any good. These people would do it.
I have a clear remedy in my own mind, but I should be out of order at the present time if I ventured to put it forward. We are not considering an alternative scheme, but the scheme which the Government have put before the Committee, and only upon that scheme are the Committee entitled to pronounce an opinion. With the experience of the Addison scheme, we have it clearly before us that subsidies are not going to solve this problem, but are only going to be a means of enabling the profiteers of all classes to plunder the public. This is a new substitute for the doctrine of tranquillity. We read of
A little more sleep, a little more slumber.
The Government's policy on housing is:
A little more loot, and a little more plunder.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] It is perfectly true, and hon. Members opposite who are jeering at that will find it is true before they are very much older. This is purely a shop-window proposal. It does for the window for a moment, but it is a dummy, like so many other articles that are put in shop windows. It is not the goods. It is put up to tide over the present difficulties of the Government, and to enable them, possibly, to survive the present Session, and to get over the rent restriction proposals, when, indeed, they see the light. As regards providing the houses, however, or solving the housing problem, there is not a single step forward in these proposals. If the Minister of Health really intended them to be bonâ fide substantial proposals, he would have put a clear estimate before the Committee. It is because there are no figures before the Committee upon which they can pronounce, that I hold this to be a sham, a fraud, and a delusion.
I am not going to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in his speech, and I say, at once, that I am going to support the Government. I say that at once, in case there should be any misunderstanding, because I propose to criticise this Financial Resolution, but I am going to support the Government because I think it is better than nothing. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken said that I should fear the publication of the statistics of the last housing scheme. Quite the contrary. If the hon. Gentleman had quoted them correctly I should have been very delighted that the Committee should have had them in their memory while considering the proposals now before them. He suggested that the estimate was that there should be an expenditure of £10,000,000, but he forgot to remind the Committee that that was £10,000,000 a year.
Of course, I accept the statement of the hon. Gentleman that he had that clearly in his mind. The difficulty was that he did not state it clearly to the Committee, because he said it was a capital liability and not an annual liability. It is a very hugh liability. I deplore the extent of it, but at least, it did produce 228,000 houses, which is some achievement, if you consider the time at which it was produced.
The hon. and gallant Member says that, and I dare say he is right, but that was not the point that was being made. I want to deal with this Resolution so far as it relates to rural housing. Unfortunately I was unable to be present during the whole of the Debate, but I understand that there has been some discussion on the subject and that the Minister has not been able to give a definite undertaking on the subject. I hope that the Government may reconsider their position with regard to rural housing. If hon. Members will look at the financial paper which has been issued they will see in paragraph 6 a statement with regard to rural housing, which seems to be entirely disingenuous. I am sure that that is not my right hon. Friend's intention. It is suggested there that if 120,000 houses were built and the rate of contribution amounted on the average to as much as £5 per year then the total charge would be £600,000 a year. As a matter of arithmetic that is correct, but it was not put in there in order to teach members of this Committee a simple sum in arithmetic. It was intended, I suppose, to suggest that the local authorities were not likely to have to increase the Government subsidy of £6 per house by more than £5 per house. I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he thinks that a single house can be built under this Bill in a rural area on a subsidy from the State of £6 for 20 years which, we ought to remember, is only equivalent to £4 for the 60 years for which the loan would run, plus a subsidy not exceeding £5 from the local authority. It is purely illusory to think that houses will be built in rural areas upon those conditions.
What can a labourer, with 26s. or 28s. a week, pay by way of rent and rates? [HON. MEMBERS: "25s.!"] I am thankful to say that that is not general. It is exceptional, and I hope always will be, but take it if you like at from 25s. to 30s. a week, what rent and rates can such a labourer really pay? Can he pay more than 3s. a week? I do not think he can. If he cannot, then there is going to be a loss on every house built for a labourer of £21 a year. That is on the assumption that you can borrow at 5 per cent.—and remember that the Local Loans Commissioners were charging 6½ per cent. only a year ago—that the rates only amount to 1s. per week per house, that you can build a house, buy the land, make the road if a road is needed—sometimes there are no road charges—and pay drainage charges and water charges, all at a cost of from £425 to £450 for a non-parlour house. Then there is going to be a loss per annum of £21 per house after charging the occupant 3s. a week for rent and rates. Where is that £21 to come from? The £21 under this Resolution is to be contributed to the extent of £6 a year for 20 years by the State. That is equivalent only to £4 per year for the period of the loan, 60 years, so that it means that the local authority has got to make up the difference of £17 per year per house. How many houses are to be built by the small local rural authorities for the workmen upon those conditions? I ask the Government, as I believe that they are sincere in desiring to deal, not merely with urban, but with rural difficulties. I ask the Government to reconsider this Financial Resolution before the Report stage. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has immense experience in urban districts. I am sure that he has negotiated with the larger local authorities, the big cities which can borrow cheaply and even build more cheaply than the rural districts. Has he considered sufficiently the demand in the rural districts? Has he considered sufficiently the financial position of the rural districts with from 5,000 inhabitants to 10,000 inhabitants, in which houses are rotting and falling to pieces because new houses cannot be built economically? In the old times the landowner built houses for his workmen, not economically, not expecting to get a rent, but because he thought it was his duty.
I think so. The landowner can no longer do it. Taxes, the War, and other things have reduced, not his willingness, but his means, and the duty hitherto fulfilled by the landowner must fall upon someone else. Houses built in the past are not sufficient to-day for the country side, and frequently they are not up to the standard of comfort that, a man has the right to expect. They must be replaced by some one. By whom? You cannot ask the farmer to do it; he has no means to do it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] Does anyone who knows anything about the matter say "question." The farmer cannot do it, much as he would like to. Who else is to do it? I say that this Bill ought to have sufficiently wide scope to enable those houses to be built partly by the State and partly by the local authority. The sole question is, therefore, is the State taking upon itself a sufficient share of the burden? I think it is not, and that is why I am speaking. What is the share? Of the £21 economic loss per annum, which is to result upon the conditions I have just stated, the State is to bear £4 and the local authority £17. What is the local authority? It represents the landowner, the farmer, the workman, the small village shopkeeper, and the small village industrialist. Can they spend the £17 that is necessary if these houses are to be built? I do not believe that they can. I believe you are over-burdening a class which cannot stand more liabilities, whether in rates or taxation. I ask the Minister to consider carefully, between now and Wednesday next, whether he cannot do something more for rural housing. I do not say this scheme cannot work for urban housing. I think it can. You have got there people from whom you can raise the money which is necessary, either by rates or taxes, but in the smaller country districts you have not got those people, and you are either going to have, the Bill fail entirely in its object of providing houses in the rural districts, or you will have to make a greater contribution from the State to those in the rural localities who will otherwise have to bear the cost of the houses. I understand my right hon. Friend has said to-night that this Bill is a beginning. If he were to say that this Bill is only a beginning and that within a year he will bring forward a further Measure to deal with rural housing as a separate problem, I should, myself, be content, but if there is a complete non possumus on behalf of the Government then, although I regard this Bill as an instalment and as better than nothing, yet I cannot say that anyone interested in the rural districts can possibly be satisfied.
If any justification were required for pressing this Amendment to a Division, that justification is contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. As the right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Government responsible for a great deal of the housing muddle since 1918, it is like Satan reproving sin to hear the admonitions he has addressed to the present Minister of Health. He has, however, intimated that, in spite of his objections to the Bill, he intends to vote with the Government. Is that an indication that he desires to play the part of the prodigal son? I do not know whether he expects the fatted calf to be slain, and whether he expects to get a slice of it. In any case, the whole position as he has presented it has already been discussed on previous Amendments. So far as we are concerned, we object to the Bill, as we object to the financial proposals it contains. As has been pointed out by speaker after speaker, this Bill will not solve the housing problem, and the houses it is supposed to provide will scarcely suffice to keep pace with the increase in population. Any attempt by the Minister to justify the Bill or its totally inadequate financial provisions, must fail. It is not only as regards the rural areas that the Bill will require to provide a larger subsidy. In its present form, it places a heavy burden on the whole community, and it fails to deal with the whole housing problem throughout the country, with the clearance of slum areas, with the erection of new houses to meet the increase of population, or with the provision of houses to make up for the shortage during and since the War. The Minister and the Government seem to imagine that the Bill is something for which the people of the country must give them all credit. If hon. Members opposite give him credit. I am convinced that the people in the country for whom these houses are supposed to be built will not give him credit. We are determined to oppose the proposals of the Government. The Minister of Health nods his head. He understands why we consider those proposals are totally inadequate. We have had Commission after Commission sitting on housing questions, studying the condition of people in the towns and the rural districts, in the highlands and islands of Scotland, and, in spite of all the Committees and the promises that have been made prior to two General Elections, this is all that can be brought forward in five years of Coalition and Conservative Governments.
I consider that this particular question is something that comes from the previous Government. It is the ideas that come from the Coalition Government that are now being presented to us. It is the mixing up of a section of one party with a section of another party, but the two ideas have not mixed at all, and this is the result. The poor people in the country have got to suffer for the total inadequacy of the Government's proposition. If you desire to have tranquillity, you must have a contented people, and you are not going to have contentment in the country with the houses that this money is proposing to erect—120,000 houses in two years' time, yet we were told in 1918 that the erection of houses was the first plank in the reconstruction programme of the Government which was then seeking the suffrages of the electors. It has taken five years to build 200,000 of the 800,000 houses they proposed at that time, and now we are expected to believe that we shall have an additional 120,000. I am convinced, in my own mind, that you will not have anything near that total in the two years covered by these proposals.
I hope the hon. and gallant Member is not going to the extent of his wealth. If the Government really intended to grapple with this housing question, instead of coming forward at this moment with talk of subsidies, the heaviest part of which will really have to be borne by the localities themselves, they would take their courage in their hands, and take control of all the building material in the country, and the sources of all the building material. [An HON. MEMBER: "And labour."] Labour as well, I quite agree, if the Government will also, in taking control of labour, see to it that many of those in the West End of London who are not doing useful work are put to do it. [An HON. MEMBER: "You will not let ex-service men work."] After the Debate on ex-service men which took place recently, I think hon. Members opposite should be the last to mention that subject.
Hon. Members opposite drew me away from the point. I hope they will have patience, because I have only one or two more pearls to cast before them. [Interruption.] Not only could the Government take control of the building materials, but of the land as well. This Government, however, has not the courage, and the last Government had not the courage, to take the building material and the land upon which the houses are to be erected. If the Government would do something in that regard, there would be no occasion for a subsidy from the Government or from the local authorities. The material would be there, costing could be done along proper lines, as was done during the War in the prduction of munitions. The houses could be erected at economic rents. That—and that only—is the way in which we believe the housing shortage can be met, and the people housed, not in the shoddy manner in which this Government Bill desires us to house the people, but housed in dwellings which would give decency and comfort, and enable them to bring up children in a healthy manner, such as is quite impossible under this Bill.
|Division No. 119.]||AYES.||[11.44 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Camplon, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Apsley, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Furness, G. J.|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Clayton, G. C.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Garland, C. S.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Gates, Percy|
|Banks, Mitchell||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gaunt, Bear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Cope, Major William||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)|
|Becker, Harry||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Berry, Sir George||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Halstead, Major D.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Harrison, F. C.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Ellis, R. G.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Button, H. S.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Forestier-Walker, L.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Hume, G. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Stanley, Lord|
|Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Paget, T. G.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Penny, Frederick George||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Peto, Basil E.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Pielou, D. P.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Remer, J. R.||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Rentoul, G. S.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Lorden, John William||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Lorimer, H. D.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Robertson- Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)||Wells, S. R.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rounded, Colonel R. F.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Manville, Edward||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Wise, Frederick|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mercer, Colonel H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Sandon, Lord||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Shepperson, E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Murchison, C. K.||Skelton, A. N.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Gibbs.|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Adams, D.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harbord, Arthur||Saklatvala, S.|
|Barnes, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hastings, Patrick||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Sexton, James|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hinds, John||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Briant, Frank||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Snell, Harry|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Philip|
|Burgess, S.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cairns, John||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Chapple, W. A.||Leach, W.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Linfield, F. C.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Thornton, M.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||M'Entee, V. L.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||McLaren, Andrew||Weir, L. M.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||March, S.||Wheatley, J.|
|Duncan, C.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Millar, J. D.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Falconer, J.||Newbold, J. T. W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Foot, Isaac||Nichol, Robert||Wright, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greenall, T.||Phillipps, Vivian||Sir Arthur Marshall and Mr. Neil|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Pringle, W. M. R.||Maclean.|
|Groves, T.||Richards, R.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.