I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, after the word "Act," to insert the words
a local authority purchases houses completed after the passing of this Act, or.
The object of this Amendment is to enable those who are prepared to provide houses to provide those houses, and to offer them to the local authority, who, although they have not initiated the putting up of these houses by the giving out of the contracts, will be able to purchase them. Our object is to get houses, to encourage anybody who will produce houses, as has already been said below the Gangway, to enable contractors who will produce houses in another form and at another rent, to be taken over by the local authority; to get on the same terms the advantages of the subsidy, or otherwise, as the houses that they themselves have let out to contract, and have provided.
This Amendment I commend especially to the Minister, as it will enable—we will call it private enterprise, though others say the speculative builder—the man who used to put up the houses in the past days, and who expected to get these houses sold to prospective tenants to sell them; and if not in accordance with the standard required by the local authorities, that the local authority shall not be debarred from accepting such provision of houses, and shall not be forced to accept anything that the buliding trust may put upon them. It is an additional power which I venture to hope the Minister may see his way to accept, as it gives the opportunity to those willing to help in this time of housing scarcity to do fair things in helping to solve this question.
This is really a very important Amendment. If the private builder, after putting up these small houses, finds that he has not got a private purchaser, under this Amendment the local authorities are empowered to purchase from such a speculative builder. This is a thing which is going to help the Minister of Health to achieve his object of keeping down the cost of the houses. Instead of local authorities being obliged to put this work out to tender in the face of rings and combines in the building trade, it would give the speculative builder and private enterprise a chance of putting up these houses on a small scale, and then the local authorities could take them over. Personally I have had, many years ago, a large experience of house building on my own account, and I know there are many professional men who, in the absence of work in their own profession, would he quite ready to commence in a small way to build, say, a dozen cottages, provided they could be assured that the local authority would be likely to come along and take them over at a competitive price. For these reasons, I beg to support this Amendment.
I am afraid there is little to be said in support of this Amendment. The object of this proposal is that a man should be encouraged to build a house in the hope that it will produce competition in house building with the local authority. It is suggested that if the private builder fails to find a purchaser for the houses he has erected he will be able to dump it on to the local authority. I do not think people should be encouraged to put, say, half-a-dozen houses in probably unsuitable districts, in the hope that the local authority, in its extremity, would purchase them without any regard to the general housing schemes of the district.
I do not think the Minister of Health has had much experience in regard to housing in England either past or present, and if he knew the custom that has existed for many years, I am sure he would not turn down an Amendment of this sort. Prior to 1914, the man who is called the speculative builder provided most of the houses we have in this country. A certain number were built and sold to individuals who bought them for themselves. Larger blocks of houses and houses of the smaller type now required to meet the housing shortage were built by him and sold to small people, who kept them as an investment for their money. At the present time that same builder can find a ready market for the larger houses which he sells to individuals for their own occupation, but if he builds the smaller houses needed to-day, he cannot, find any private investor to buy blocks of small houses as an investment, and yet they might be purchased from such builders for letting purposes at a lower price than any local authority can build them. These private builders keep no expensive staff. The whole superintendence of the building operations is done personally, and therefore they are in a position to meet the housing shortage better than the local authority. Again and again we have deplored the fact that we have no power to buy suitable houses from a person who builds them in order that we might let them to those who need them. I think in his reply the Minister of Health has missed the point entirely. If a municipal authority does not want such houses, they need not buy them, but I think you should give them the option of purchasing in order to let them, and in this way they would take the place of other houses which they would have to build themselves, probably in a more costly way. For these reasons, I hope my hon. Friend will carry this Amendment to a Division.
I regret that the Minister of Health has dismissed tin's Amendment in such a summary fashion. The speculative builder in the past has built most of the houses in the country. This is the last hopes of being able to provide any alternative to the schemes of the local authorities, which may develop a building trust and a combination of employers and employed hostile to the general interests of the country, and merely desirous of putting up prices. I do not say the employers are worse than the employers in this respect, but it has been said upstairs, and it has been stated in the building report, that these people intend to ration labour to the municipalities and decide what price they shall charge for the houses, and they have declared that they intend to stamp out all competition; in fact, they say that they intend to do just what they please. If a local authority finds itself up against such a trust as that with the public money behind it, why should that local authority not be allowed to employ or purchase houses from those who are willing to build them, and which are wanted for the very poorest people in the land? This Amendment is so much in harmony with all that the Minister of Health has pleaded since last April that I was amazed when I heard him say he declined to accept it, and if he will not state that he will reconsider this point on Report, I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment to a Division.
I hope hon. Members on this side of the House will vote for this Amendment. I cannot understand for what reason the right hon. Gentleman has opposed it, because it gives him a chance of getting a number of other houses built. It seems to me that the Minister of Health wishes to prevent a larger production of houses by private enterprise. This Amendment would open up a fresh source of capital for the use of the building industry, because the small speculative builders would get a supply of capita from the saving people in their district, which would otherwise net be tapped for the purpose. If the hon. Member opposite goes to a Division, I shall certainly go into the Lobby in favour of this Amendment.
I did not really understand what this. Amendment meant until a few minutes ago, and now I understand it I must say that there is something in it. I want to ask the Minister of Health if this Amendment is necessary, and whether it gives him any power which is not already possessed under the Bill by the local authorities. What is the difference between these two cases? Firstly, the case of the local authority purchasing houses under this Amendment; and, secondly, the case of a local authority, which in the words of the Bill, provides the house itself and places an order with the builder to build the houses? Is that not the same thing? Is not the whole object of this Amendment already obtainable under the Bill? If not, I think it would be a good thing to accept the Amendment.
The intention of this Amendment is to put the small builder on his feet, again. I happen to have had some experience in regard to this subject, and I know that the small builder has been entirely squeezed out in recent years. Things were bad enough for the small builder in the old days. In the first place, he had to employ an architect and a lawyer, which meant expense, and, when drawing his advances, he encountered still more expense. If a small builder has a little money of his own and in the course of the building business he requires more money, he finds it impossible to secure a mortgage, because financiers will not, as a rule, advance money on small property. I think the Minister of Health will be doing an excellent thing if he encourages this class of builder who, in the past, has supplied nearly all the houses in the country. In the majority of cases he is a working man who has worked his way up from being a bricklayer or a carpenter, and who has afterwards started for himself.
The vast majority of our small houses have been built by this class of man. If you had financed these men on a building society scale, and allowed them to draw money as the houses proceeded, and then had allowed them to sell the houses, you would in that way have enabled the working men of this country to have acquired their own houses on very easy terms. You could have advanced the money as the work went on, and allowed repayments to be made, and the man could have sold his houses at any price ho might be able to obtain. I hope that the Minister of Health will reconsider this matter, and I can assure him, if he will accept this Amendment, that it will assist him very materially in providing houses. I do not believe the scheme will find houses; but as I want to give him a fair opportunity, if I had my way I would pass this Bill.
In reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lady-wood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) I am afraid I cannot add much to his knowledge as to the difference between these two classes of houses It will be obvious to him that the essential difference is that in the one case you have had houses built according to plans prepared and approved by the local authorities and of which they have probably more knowledge than of the houses which are presented to them as complete in the other case. That is really the only substance between thorn. I think that is a difference. I candidly confess that I did not attach a great deal of importance to the Amendment. My objection is that it would, or, putting it in the most friendly way, that it might be intruding into local schemes in a way that would deface the locality. I have no objection co an Amendment which will give me more houses. I stated from the outset that I do not expect to upset the capitalist system of society with this Bill. I have told lion. Members from the be ginning that this was not my object at all. My object is to get houses. If it will satisfy the promoters of the Amendment to allow me to draft something which will give effect to this and at the same time protect the localities, I will do so.
Sir BEDDOE REES:
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, after the word "Act," to insert the words " or by any person approved of by the Minister."
The Clause would then read:
… any houses provided by a local authority themselves, or by society, body of trustees or company within the
meaning of Section 3 of the said Act or by any person approved of by the Minister—
The object is quite obvious. I can best state what I want by an illustration. I know one substantial industry owned by are individual. If he wants to build houses under this Act, he is not entitled to do so. If his business were run by a limited company, they could go to the Minister and ask to come under the Act. What I am anxious to do is to try and encourage everybody to put up houses. I am not antagonistic to the Bill. I think it is an attempt. Whether it will succeed or not time will tell. I move the Amendment in the hope that the Minister will accept it. It is a new principle. I agree that it has never appeared in a Housing Act before. That does not prove it is wrong. If we are going to make the Act a success, I think it is for us to extend the Scope of it to the furthest limit possible with safety. I think that the words "any person approved of by the Minister" gives the Minister what he needs. I cannot imagine anybody building a house to-day with the hope of making any profit out of it, even with the subsidy provided under the terms of this Bill. The bulkier may get a profit but not the man who owns it. I am speaking not for the man who is going to build a house but for the man who is to be the owner. There is the ease of the farmers and the landlords who would like to put up houses on their estates. They cannot come under this Act. If I wanted to put up two houses on my estate for farm labourers, I ought to be able to come under this Act and to claim the subsidy. But I cannot do it as the provisions now stand.
I hope the hon. Member will not press this Amendment. I think he has put it down under some misapprehension. It has been established that relations between individuals and the Ministry of Health shall be through the local authority. If every individual who cares to take advantage of the Act has to be approved by the Minister, then the Department will be overwhelmed by the volume of work. I cannot think the House would desire that that should be so. I think, and I am sure hon. Members will agree, there is no alternative to the method of allowing individual cases to be dealt with by local authorities and to become parts of the general proposal to be approved of by the Minister of Health.
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question, because my experience is entirely that of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I understand that under the present Act, if a private individual puts up a house in all respects conforming with the conditions laid down by the Act of 1923 as the type of house which, shall be put up, and, if the local authority has refused to put into operation any part of the Act he cannot obtain the-subsidy. One hesitates to bring personal instances to the notice of the Committee but in the circumstances I venture to do so. I erected a cottage for a bona fide working man. I applied to the local authorities. They refused to pay the subsidy. I asked on what grounds. Did they object to the type of house? And they said, "No. They had not put the 1923 Act into operation." Two other individuals are now trying to erect urgently-needed houses. The district in question has as great a housing need as any other district in the country. They were met with the same refusal. As I understand the Amendment, it would give the right to a private individual who wished to erect houses in the way I have described to go to the Minister and obtain the subsidy Personally, I am not familiar with ail the conditions of this Bill, but I can see no objections to that, and I think it will assist very materially a getting houses built. I would like to ask whether I am right in my interpretation of the existing Act.
I am surprised the Parliamentary Secretary has made the statement that he has. A number of working men in my constituency built seven houses for themselves. They were under the impression what the 1923 Act gave them the subsidy, but the local authority, a rural council, refused to adopt that part of the Act which gave them the right to the subsidy. They went on building, and when they had erected their houses, because the local authority itself had refused to adopt that part of the Act, they did not get the subsidy, and now they cannot get it. If the Bill be passed as it is now, and this Amendment or some other form of Amendment be not adopted, and some other councils refuse to put the Act into force, other individuals who have built their houses will not get the subsidy. The Parliamentary Secretary should give far more attention to this Amendment. I take it the object of the Mover of the Amendment is to protect the individual who is going to build a house for himself. Can the Parliamentary Secretary say that if a working man puts up a house, irrespective of what the local authority has done or has not done, he will get; this subsidy? If he cannot tell us that, we have a right to ask him to consider this or some other Amendment which is going to protect every individual.
I should like to bring another case to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary, because it occurred in his own Department. A similar case to that mentioned by the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) occurred in my Division. The local authority declined to put the Act in force, and the Minister of Health sent down an inspector and used all the powers he could to persuade the authority to put the Act into force. Now, we want to give the Ministry power to do what they themselves endeavoured to do and had not the power to do, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will see that there is something very substantial in this Amendment, and, as be is being pressed from all sides of the House, I trust he will see his way to accept it.
it is a most extraordinary thing why the Government are refusing those minor Amendments. They call themselves Socialists, and the hon. Gentleman who has spoken for the Government should be only too delighted to increase the number of the staff in his Department. It is an extraordinary thing that he should have opposed this Amendment on the ground that the applications of individuals who wish to get the financial benefit of the Bill when building their own houses would involve a large addition to the staff of the Department. Surely a real Socialist cannot say he objects to State employment. Is it really honest to say that the Labour party, which is really a Socialist party, is against State enterprise? Did not Members of the last Parliament who were on the Labour Benches daily slam private enterprise and declare that State and muni- cipal enterprise was so much better? Is it not evident that the motive behind the objection to these Amendments is that hon. Members do not want men to build their own houses? Recently it was stated by one of the Labour leaders that a working man could not afford to put up his own house. Is not that the reason why the Government do not want to give the financial benefit of this Bill to men who are willing to build their own houses? Is it not because it would remove them from the category of working men and put them into the category of capitalists? On the past of hon. Members opposite—and it is a particularly lurid past in this respect—I say I am justified in assuming that the sole object of their objecting to this Amendment is to secure State and municipal control—
I am sorry I overstepped the mark. I tried hard not to do so. What I want to point out is this, that if you are not going to give these advantages to individuals who wish to build their own houses, or if you are only going to give them providing the Council takes power under the Bill to build the houses for them, then you are opposing private enterprise, for it is private enterprise on the part of the man who wishes to build the house for himself. Cannot the hon. Gentleman now in charge of the Bill reconsider his decision on this Amendment f Cannot we forget politics on the question of housing, and on this one occasion at any rate allow these individuals, or any private person who wishes to build houses to get the benefit of this legislation? I am sure if the hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment his party will go up considerably in the estimation of the Committee.
All the objections raised to this particular Amendment, deal with the Act of 1923. If the hon. Members will look at another Amendment on the Paper in the name of
the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts) they will see that that also deals with the Act of 1923. But the Clause under discussion only applies to houses which are built for the purpose of letting, and all the speeches which have been made on this Amendment deal with the case of the working man who desires to build a house for himself but who does not come under this Clause at all. The real difficulty arises from an omission in the Act of 1923. If the local authority under that Act does not choose to put the Act into operation, no one can do so. I shall be glad to know if the Government will accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hereford to substitute for the words
a society, body of trustees or company,
any person, or body of persons, or company.
I am afraid it would not have retrospective effect. It would not be fair to ask the Minister to accept an Amendment having retrospective effect without offering him an opportunity of considering with his officials what its effect would be. The particular Amendment to which I am referring would meet the points raised by the various speakers.
I do not object to the hon. Member's Amendment as it stands, but I do not think it would have very much effect. I do not suppose that many individuals are likely to desire to build houses subject to the restrictions of the Bill we are now discussing. If there are any individuals who wish to do that, then I have no objection to the Amendment, and, if it be pressed to a Division, I shall consider myself free to support it. But the real point I want to discuss is the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford.
Sir B. REES:
Would not that Amendment have precisely the same effect as if the words were put in, in page 2, of the present Bill? My Amendment really affects the Act of 1923, and I suggest that it will have precisely the same effect as the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hereford.
This is a matter which should be dealt with by the Minister in charge of the Bill. If hon. Members will look at the Act of 1923, they will see that Section 3 relates entirely to houses built under the provisions of the Act and the giving of a subsidy for 20 years or the compound sum of £75, which is what everyone wants when building a house. The Amendment we have in the name of the hon. Member for Hereford is to the effect that when the local authority chooses not to put that Section of the Act into operation and will not build cottages in the district then a company may build the cottages, but not a private individual. We want to give power to any private person, where the local authority will not build under the Act of 1923, and will not give the subsidy of £75 to build the house and to get the subsidy. I hope the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will be prepared to accept our Amendment. As far as the particular Amendment now under discussion is concerned, I really think he might also accept that.
May we deal with one Amendment at a time? I am sure that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Roberts) will receive due consideration when it is reached. I venture to assert that the Amendment now before the Committee is a grotesque proposition. It will allow a person who has built a house which he cannot sell and which he wishes to let at some very high rent—
We all know what a statutory rent is. It will only mean that if this provision comes into operation there will be a perfectly grotesque amount of correspondence with the Minister of Health and there will also be an abnegation of the normal relations between the local and the central authorities. I hope the hon. Gentleman will persist in his opposition to the Amendment. I agree that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hereford is a totally different one, and we shall be glad at the proper time to hear what there is to be said for it.
It is quite impossible, of course, to say now what the attitude of the Government will be towards the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Roberts). We-must first dispose of the Amendment before the Committee, and as to that I want to say a word or two, I cannot help thinking that hon. Members who have given their personal experiences on this matter have not spoken of houses which were built for the purpose of being let—
I venture to think that most hon. Members will think the difficulties in the path of accepting this Amendment are insurmountable. The houses built under this Clause have to be let subject to certain conditions, and one vital condition is that the tenant shall not assign, sublet, or part with the possession of the house. I assure hon. Members it would be absolutely impossible for He Minister to deal with individual cases in the way suggested in this Amendment. If any single person—a builder or otherwise—applied for the facilities suggested, there would be no power whatever of getting a guarantee from him that the special condition I ha-v mentioned would be complied with. I really feel that this Amendment is wholly impracticable. Although I agree that there may be some individual cases in which hardship might be created, as, for instance, the one that has been given in which builders individually built houses under a mistaken interpretation Of the Act, I think it is fair to remember that this Measure is not intended for the purpose of relieving people who are building or have built under a misapprehension; it is intended to be an incentive to get houses, and it really would be quite impracticable if every individual were allowed to make his application. The conditions could not be enforced, and, as the conditions go to the root of the Bill, I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
After consulting with my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), I do not wish, at this stage, to press the point which I made in my previous speech, and, indeed, it would be out of order to do so; but I should just like again to emphasise what the difficulty is. In the case of the particular local authority to which I referred—I will not give the name, though I am strongly tempted to do so—that authority refused to put into operation, or, at any rate, did not put into operation except to a very limited extent, the original Act of 1919, and it has not put into operation the Act of 1923. There is in that district a very great lack of houses indeed, partly owing, I am sorry to say, to people coming from the towns and buying up agricultural cottages and occupying them. Several landowners in the district, of whom I am one, have been anxious to build houses under the 1923 Act in order to house genuine working men, but we have been unable to obtain the subsidy, and those who have been in negotiation with the local authority have been informed that the authority have no intention of obtaining the subsidy under the 1923 Act. I maintain that that is a scandalous state of affairs, which there is a chance, during the consideration of this Bill, of getting amended, and I very much hope that the Attorney-General and the Parliamentary Secretary will, between now and the time when we come to discuss the Amendment in question, give careful consideration to the ease and see if that difficulty cannot be got over.
I think that this is a matter which should be further considered, because the difficulties in connection with it are very real. There are many rural areas where it has been impossible to provide houses, and even now, with the increased subsidy, the local authority may be either unwilling or
unable to do it. They may not have the necessary enterprise. I suggest that the Government should take this particular case into consideration. I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) should have described this proposal as grotesque. He cited the case of an individual in the middle of Manchester putting up a single house, but I do not think that that could be done under this Bill, because this Clause is governed by the words:
Where in pursuance of proposals approved by the Minister—.
and in the case of private individuals the Minister could hold them in check. Where there is a bona fide effort on the part of any owner of land anywhere to provide houses to let, subject to the approval of the Minister, I do not see any reason why that should be refused under this Clause, as well as under the 1923 Act. This Bill, after all, is for the purpose of providing houses to let, and the policy of the Government is to encourage the provision of houses for letting. If the Amendment, which is supported by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), is accepted, it will be confined to the case of houses built to sell. [HON. MEMBERS: "Both!"] The assumption is that the proposal will only be entertained by people who wish to sell or who build for themselves; but this is a case where, in rural areas, the owner wishes to build for his workmen. As this is one of the most necessitous cases in the country, I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman who is representing the Ministry of Health that he might well take this into consideration between now and Report.
I think I must say just a word in consequence of what has been said by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle), because I do not think he really quite appreciates the situation, or the difference between the two classes of cases. It must be remembered that, in the special provision that we made for dealing with these societies, bodies of trustees, public utility societies, and so forth, in the Act of last year, we had this in mind: We supposed, when that Bill was first drawn up, that subsidies were going to be paid by the Exchequer and by he local authority in approximately equal amounts; but it seemed to us that there might be cases, such as those of railways, collieries, and other cases in which the owners would he prepared to do without a subsidy from the local authority, and in which the houses might be built in the areas of a number of small authorities, so that the owners would not want, to be bothered with those local authorities at all, but would do without their subsidy, and come direct to the Ministry of Health and get the subsidy from the Ministry. This Amendment deals with Clause 2 of the Bill, and Clause 2, so far as this particular part of it is concerned, deals with that Section of the Act of last, year which provided for the case of those companies to which I have referred, Therefore, the houses which would be touched by this Amendment would not be eligible for a subsidy from the local authority; they would only be eligible for a subsidy from the Exchequer.
What I want to submit to the hon. Gentleman and to other Members of the House is that really this Amendment is not going to be of any use to the people of whom they are thinking, because they are only going to get their subsidy from the Exchequer. They would get no subsidy from the local authority, and they would be bound by these conditions, which really are very onerous indeed. It is not only a question of assigning; this owner may not sell the house. Take the case of an owner who is building houses for someone employed on his land. He may be wanting to sell the whole estate with the cottages upon it, but he could not do so without the leave of the Minister. He cannot be free to let the cottage at what rent, he likes, and there are a dozen ways in which he is restricted. For the difference between the terms he got under the Act of last year and the terms ho would get under the present Bill, it is not. I venture to say, worth his while to tie himself up with these restrictions, and he would rather come under the Act of last year. As far as the Act of last year is concerned, I agree that there has been what I consider personally to be a scandal in the case of local authorities who were not called upon to find any money, but who would not take the trouble to put up a scheme to the Ministry in order that a subsidy from the Exchequer might be available for the purpose of assisting the building of houses in their area. There is a need that these cases should be dealt with, and I hope, therefore, that the Minister will consider very carefully the Amendment which comes later on the Paper.
The next Amendment that I shall call is the one standing in the name of the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. D. G. Somerville), in page 3, line 16, after the word "shall,' to insert the words
after reference to the appropriate local authority.
On a point of Order. May I ask why the Amendment in the name of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), in page 2, line 15, to leave out the words " situated in an agricultural parish," and to insert instead thereof the words
built for the occupation of workers whose principal moans of livelihood is or has been derived from employment in agriculture.
That Amendment, surely, raises a very important point, which I think the Committee will want to discuss.
I should like to say a few words on the point of order. As you have mentioned that you have, if I may say so, not relied on your powers of selection in dealing with this Amendment, but have mentioned that it is out of order, I venture, as this case is, perhaps, from the agricultural point of view, one of the most important points in the Bill, to suggest to you that the Amendment might be put in order by omitting the words "or has been," so that it would relate to houses
built for the occupation of workers whose principal means of livelihood is derived from employment in agriculture.
I submit that there is no evidence at all that this would cost more money than would be the case under the provisions of the Bill as it now stands. There are no figures at all in regard to the number of houses which would be built under the exact provisions of the Bill, nor are there any figures as to the number of houses that would be built under the provisions of this Amendment. All that
it means is that, while both sides are agreed that there should be an additional subsidy in regard to agricultural houses, or houses in agricultural districts, we desire to raise the question, which has been referred to several times at Question Time as to whether the particular Clause of the Bill dealing with the definition of agricultural parishes is an adequate one or not. Questions as to that have been asked from time to time, and we desire to submit to the House that our proposal that it should be for bona fide agricultural workers is better than the proposal of the Government in regard to agricultural parishes. I submit that there is no evidence at all before you that this would create the slightest additional charge. Our suggestion is that this is a better mode of deciding what is an agricultural house, or providing a means for helping the agricultural worker to get the cheaper house for which he has been asking for so many years past. I venture to submit that point to you with the greatest deference, and to ask your consideration of it.
With regard to the question of selection, no one in this Committee disputes for a moment your right to select, but I am quite sure you will agree that it has always been the tradition of the Chair that the Chair should be open to representations made from any quarter of I he House as to the force or importance attached to a particular Amendment, which may not have been appreciated by the Chair before the matter was submitted to the House I assure you, Sir, that this raises a point to which enormous importance is attached by agricultural Members, and deals with what we consider to be a vital defect in the Bill. I do not wish to anticipate the speeches that some of us would like to make on the Amendment, but I submit that this is a very important point, which ought to be brought to the notice of the House.
May I suggest that this Amendment would tend rather to diminish than to increase the expenditure in agricultural parishes? The purpose of the Amendment is to confine the subsidy to houses which are to be occupied by those actually employed in agriculture, whereas the words used in the Bill as drafted enable subsidies to be given to any houses coming under the Act which may be erected in agricultural parishes. So far as the Amendment is concerned, it will not increase the cost incurred by the Government.
I have listened very carefully to the remarks which have been made. I think that hon. Members have misinterpreted me as having said that the ground on which I ruled that the Amendment was out of order was because it would increase the charge. It is out of order because it goes quite beyond the terms of the Financial Resolution, which clearly and explicitly states that
if the house is situated in an agricultural parish.
This Amendment carries it beyond those areas, and, therefore, it is out of order.
On a point of Order. May I point out to you, Sir, that if you go on with this Amendment, the, next Amendment is in page 2, line 19, and you will shut out about a page of Amendments, because you will have gone beyond the others'! The Amendment is out of Order with regard to the paging.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11), at the end, to insert the words
Provided that in any ca6e where a reduction in the contributions can be made without imposing any burden on the local rate, such reduction shall be made and to such extent as is so possible.
This is an Amendment of some substance, but one of which the significance is perhaps not apparent at first sight. Some time earlier in the Debate to-day, an hon. and gallant Gentleman behind me spoke of the possibility of the discovery of some new method of construction, or some now material, which might greatly reduce the cost of houses. I cannot help thinking myself that now that for the first time, perhaps, a number of acute minds are turning to this problem, it is very possible that we may indeed find ourselves in the presence of such a discovery before any long period. I have asked myself, supposing the case of a local authority having been put in possession of a proposition to build houses which might be satisfactory in every respect at a price far below anything we can contemplate at the moment, what would be the position with regard to the finance of this Bill I have been unable to discover that that contingency has been anticipated by the Minister at all. As far as I can see, it is not possible for him to make any alteration in the amount of the subsidy that he gives per house, although in the circumstances I have suggested the subsidy named in the Bill would be altogether too big. What would happen in that case? As far as I can see, there are two things that might happen. Either the subsidy might go in reduction of the lent below the standard contemplated in the Bill or it might go into the pockets of the local authority, and as there is nothing in the way the Bill in drafted to say the local authority shall ever reduce the rents
below what I may call the pre-War plus 40 per cent. level, I take it the local authority would put that part of the subsidy which was not required into its own pocket, In fact, the local authority would be making a profit out of the unnecessarily high subsidy provided by the Minister. I quite understand the first effect of cheaper houses will be to reduce the liability of the local authority until the £64 10s. is swept away altogether, but will it possibly go further than that? The Amendment I propose would provide that the subsidy from the Exchequer should be reduced and that neither the local authority nor the individual tenant of the house should be able to take the subsidy, which was not necessary to provide that the house should be built at all.
I am glad the mind of the right hon. Gentleman is now turning in a fresh direction. Up to now he has been afraid the houses will be too dear Now he is haunted by the dread that they may become suddenly cheap, and he wants to make provision against the catastrophic result of some invention, within the period provided for in the Bill, taking an enormous amount of money out of the taxpayers' pocket and transferring it either to the pocket of the ratepayer or to the pocket of the tenant. I am delighted at this change towards sanity in I lie leaders of the Opposition on this matter. I heartily join with them in the anticipation hat one of the very earliest results of a continuous building programme will ho the attraction to the building industry of those scientific and organising brains which have been more successful in the past in other industries than in the building trade. But I am only following very respectfully and rather timidly in the right hon. Gentleman's foot-stops. After all, he provided in the 1923 Act that a certain subsidy would be paid, and ho took no protection against the possibility of a reduction in price as the result of his building programme. He said, "You build houses and for two years We will give you a certain amount of subsidy."
I have provided that at the end of three years we will take stock and see how things are going, and if in the light of the experience of the past three years and the prospect for the future revision will be justified we will make that revision. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman, sees the difficulties which would result if I were to adopt the Amendment. He knows from experience the enormous trouble which would be associated with a system of central inspection of every scheme to see whether or not the local authority were about to make a profit on the transaction. One of my objects in dealing with the local authorities was to give them a financial interest in bringing down prices, and, believe me, if they can bring them down I Shall not regret very much, and neither will the country, that within the probable period in which they may do so they may even make a small profit on the transaction. I can conceive of no possible profit that I would accept with greater pleasure than a profit made by people who would bring down the price of houses to a point we can let them at an economic rent.
I am really surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's attitude. This is an extremely reasonable Amendment. Surely it is only the point of view of a business man to try to protect himself both ways. We know that if the houses are built, which I do not think they will be, the country will have an immense sum of money to pay in capital expenditure and in subsidies. The Minister says these houses are going to be built. He is going to produce these men by training apprentices—and I sincerely hope he will—and he is satisfied that it is going to lie a success and that prices are coming down. Why does he object to giving the country the credit of the money which will be saved? It is not putting any additional burden on the country. It is only the possibility of relieving the country, and this means putting up the houses at a price which will very soon bring down the demand. There will be a great many more houses in the country to let and, under the 1923 Act, to Sell. Therefore surely we should save this subsidy if possible. I strongly press that the Amendment should he reconsidered.
I respectfully differ from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think we are all anxious to do everything possible; in fact, I am astonished that the Minister has not offered some premium for the purpose of setting inventive minds to work on designing new forms of construction for the purpose of bringing clown the cost. I oppose the Amendment.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. HALL:
If one had not heard speeches by the right hon. Gentleman before, one might perhaps be surprised at the way he has dealt with the matter. I am not at all surprised at it. When he talks about a return to sanity I think he had better address himself to a good many Members on his own side of the House. My right hon. Friend has brought forward an Amendment providing what should be done in the event of there being any saving. It seems to me a perfectly reasonable proposal. If you are going into a transaction, surely you always look at both sides to see whether there is likely to be a profit, and if there is going to be one, what you are going to do with it, and if, on the other hand, there is going to be a loss, how you are going to provide for it. I am sure we all hope the Minister's anticipations will be realised, but I have great doubts, and I am deadly opposed to £1,250,000,000, or anything like it, being expended on the scheme. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept this. If at the end of the three years you begin to find that the cost of the houses has been cheapened, probably because the bricklayers under a Labour Government lay a larger number of bricks a day, of which I have my doubts, surely you should take some steps to deal with any surplus that may result. I trust, therefore, my right hon. Friend will press the matter in the event of the Government not accepting the Amendment.
I should like to enter a protest against the Minister's reckless disregard of the taxpayers' money. I agree that there is a likelihood of scientific inventions and improvements in building taking place very shortly which will reduce the cost of building houses. That will not be brought about by the so-called guarantee in this Bill, which has been sufficiently exploded this afternoon, and proved to be completely non-existent, but will be brought about by such events as the present building strike, and the exorbitant terms which the building industry, masters and men, are trying to exact out of the community, and in which they are being encouraged by the right hon. Gentleman. The public will turn in time, and cheaper methods of construction will be found. In fact, I have been assured there is at the present moment a company which is prepared to bring out concrete-built houses which are a great improvement on any previous concrete houses, in that they are non-porous and completely weather-proof. It will mean a cheaper house of the dimensions of the 1923 Act, costing from £250 to £300.
If that object can be achieved, this country will be saved not millions, but hundreds of millions, provided the Amendment of my right hon. Friend is accepted. The mere saving of a few hundred millions of pounds, I know, leaves the Minister absolutely cold. He does not care a jot about that. So long as he is allowed to shovel out money, he thinks he is solving the housing problem. That is not going to solve the housing problem. The housing problem can only be solved by providing more men, more material and better methods of building houses. The mere expenditure of the taxpayers' money is not going to solve this question, and I think if this Amendment were accepted it would be of great assistance in the solution of the housing problem. Otherwise, I believe, this scheme will break down just as the Addison scheme broke down, because the public wilt find, in a very short time, that the cost of it is intolerable. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman rejects this Amendment, he is merely cutting his own throat, and giving himself a bad chance in the electoral campaign which he has promised us.
I think the financial principles enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite are perfectly sound, and if the Amendment really meant all that was read into it by him, I should support it. But, really, the Amendment rests upon the hypothesis that there will be a great cheapening of houses in three years. I believe that it is more likely the cost will go up rather than down in the next few years, and therefore I think the right hon. Gentleman is guarding against a wholly fanciful danger. The cost is much more likely to rise than to fall in consequence of his Amendment, and, as the Minister has pointed out, the profit to the local authority can only be for a very short time. We are now only dealing with the three years' period, and not with the 15 years' period. We are dealing with a contribution that can be reconsidered at the end of three years, so that I think the Amendment, although excellently designed on what ought to be first principles of sound finance, is really superfluous.
May I say one word in reply to the right hon. Gentleman? I think he did not understand what was in my mind. I did anticipate that the cost of the present houses, and, in fact, any houses which require skilled labour in their construction, will increase. The only chance to get cheaper houses is to get the kind of house which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health does not desire to see, that is, a house which does not require skilled labour to construct. If you could construct such a house, you would get houses very quickly, and the profits made by the local authorities, therefore, would not be so small as he thinks. If you got these cheap houses, you would get them in large quantities, and the local authorities might, therefore, make a large profit on them.
I have never said anything that could be interpreted in any way as indicating that I would not welcome and new form of building houses quickly, and I want to take the opportunity of publicly repudiating such a suggestion. I welcome any good methods of providing houses.
The rejection of this Amendment by the Minister is in itself remarkable, but the reason he gives for That rejection is even more remarkable still, because he has told us that the reason is that the possible profit to be made by local authorities will act as an incentive to them to build more houses. If he really believes that the making of a possible profit would provide the incentive to build houses, why is it that all through his Bill he is doing his utmost to discourage that form of building which, inevitably, must be relied upon to provide the bulk of the houses, namely, private enterprise? It is only the fact that a possible profit may be made that can form the real incentive to building houses, and the Minister, in rejecting this Amendment, has definitely shown us that he realises the truth of this statement. Therefore, I appeal to him, in the light of his recent confession, to put into operation his newly-found principle, namely, that the possible earning of a profit is the best possible incentive to the building of houses.
Supposing the houses did become suddenly cheaper, and the local authority were about to make a profit, we are told it would be only for a very short time. Does that provision apply to houses to be put up now, or merely to houses which are put up in the future?
We might see a vast quantity of houses put up in the next two years, and we should be going on paying the subsidy. Therefore, the point of the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway is not met.
The. Minister of Health explained that he is not against unskilled labour building houses. If that be so, would he consider for the purpose of the new method of bricklaying, which would considerably reduce the price of houses in the next three years, the enrolling of tens of thousands of unskilled men to build those houses? If the Minister would only give the word that he would encourage unskilled labour, it would do a great deal to solve the present problem.
We attempted a new method of building houses in Edinburgh, and employed large numbers of unskilled workers. We have bought an estate, and propose to build there sonic 2,000 houses. We have adopted a method of using slabs in the building of the houses by which we are able to use something like 80 per cent. of unskilled labour. The price of the houses, however, remains the same as before we employed unskilled labour. The reason for the employment of unskilled labour and the adoption of this method was that we could net get bricks for bricklayers. It did not mean any reduction whatever in the price of the houses, and, therefore, it seems quite right of the Minister to reject this Amendment.
The mere fact of pro-during houses where you cannot get bricklayers increases the number of houses that you want, and as you increase the number of houses very rapidly by using unskilled labour, it would naturally reduce the cost of producing them.
Might I suggest to the Minister of Health that if he really is keen to get the houses built—and it is houses we need for the poor people—he can help the unemployed ex-service men whom he has already penalised by not taking in apprentices to the building trade, by finding them work on the building of these cheap concrete houses. It is houses we want, and work for the unemployed ex-service men. Will he not, therefore, reconsider his decision in this matter?
|Division No. 157.]||AYES.||[8. 15p,m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Ferguson, H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Alnsworth, Captain Charles||Forestier-Walker, L.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Perring, William George|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Gases, Percy||Philipson, Mabel|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pielou, D. P.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Raine, W.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Becker, Harry||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Berry, Sir George||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Harland, A.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Roundel, Colonel R. F.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Samuel, A. H. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Savery, S. S.|
|Burman, J. B.||Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hope, Rt Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, North)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Spencer, H. R. (Bradford, South)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Jephcott, A. R.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomson, Sir W.Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Cope, Major William||Lamb, J. Q.||Titchfield Major the Marquess of|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lorimer, H. D.||Wells, S. F.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Whaler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||McLean, Major A.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Windsor-Clive Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wise, Sir. Fredric|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Welmer, Viscount|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Meller, R. J.||Wood, Sir. H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Nell, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Duckworth, John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Elliot, Walter E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Commander B. Eyres-Monsell and|
|England, Colonel A.||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Alden, Percy||Ammon, Charles George|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro)||Aske, Sir Robert William|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Attlee, Major Clement R.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Alstead, R.||Ayles, W. H.|
|Baker, Waiter||Hillary, A. E.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Hindie, F.||Ritson, J.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Barnes, A.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Robertson, T. A.|
|Black, J. W.||Hore-Bellsha, Major Leslie||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Romerll, H. G.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hudson, J. H.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Broad, F. A.||Isaacs, G. A.||Royle, C.|
|Bromfield, William||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Jewson, Dorothea||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Brunner, Sir J,||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W, Derby)||Scurr, John|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shaw Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Buckle, J.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Cape, Thomas||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kedward, R. M.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Clarke, A.||Kenyon, Barnet||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Climie, R.||Kirkwood, D.||Smillie, Robert|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Laverack, F. J.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Law, A.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Snell, Harry|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Lawson, John James||Spence, R.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Leach, W,||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lessing, E.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Darblshire, Charles W.||Linfield, F. C.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Livingstone, A. M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||McCrae, Sir George||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dickson, T.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Sullivan, J.|
|Dodds, S. R.||McEntee, V. L.||Sunlight, J.|
|Dukes, C.||Macfadyen, E.||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Duncan, C.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Dunnico, H.||Madan, H.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||March, S.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kincardine, E.)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Egan, W. H.||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Falconer, J.||Maxton, James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Finney, V. H.||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Middleton, G.||Tout, W. J.|
|Franklin, L. B.||Millar, J. D.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Mills, J. E.||Turner, Ben|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Mond, H.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Viant, S. P.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Morel, E. D.||Vivian, H.|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mosley, Oswald||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Muir, John W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Greenall, T.||Murray, Robert||Welsh, J. C.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murrell, Frank||Westwood, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Nichol, Robert||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||O'Grady, Captain James||Whiteley, W.|
|Groves, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Paling, W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Palmer, E. T.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kennington)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Perry, S. F.||Williams, Maj. A.S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Hardie, George D.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Phillipps, Vivian||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Pringle, W. M. R.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Raffety, F. W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Rathbone, Hugh H.||Wright, W.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Raynes, W. R.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Rendall, A.||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Warne.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfid.)||Richards, R.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 23, after the second word "Act," to insert the words "and subject to the said special conditions."
The first Amendment is consequential, and this, the second Amendment, is only a drafting Amendment, designed to make it quite clear that the proviso which begins in line 20 applies only to houses which are the subject of special conditions. That is important because there is another provision a little lower down dealing with paragraphs (a) and (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act of last year, and it would have the effect of knocking out the provision under which the local authority can make a grant by way of lump sum. I do not think that that is the intention of the Minister.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, after the word "pounds" to insert the words
or in the case of a house situated in an agricultural parish twelve pounds ten shillings.
This is really a drafting Amendment, and it is put in merely to make the proviso conform to what has been already inserted.
On reconsideration I cannot maintain that it is in order, because it is vitiated by the fact that the previous Amendment standing in the name of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) was not called, but I am going to take this opportunity of raising the question of the application of this subsidy to agricultural parishes in the form in which the Minister proposes it in the Bill. With all respect I would like to protest, as strongly as I can, against that Amendment not having been selected by the Deputy-Chairman a few minutes ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]
The Bill as it is drafted and the Amendment which has just been moved contemplate this in creased subsidy being paid to so-called agricultural parishes, but there is no provision in the Bill or in the Amendment, that this subsidy shall be paid in respect of agricultural workers.
The proposal is that in the case of houses situated in au agricultural parish, and so on, and my criticism is that there is no guarantee in those words that the subsidy shall be paid in respect of agricultural workers. Everybody who lives in an agricultural parish knows that houses are being put up continuously in agricultural parishes by week-end townsmen, who simply come down to the country to spend their weekends there.
I am quite in order in explaining why I think that this form of the Amendment is insufficient. It seems to me to be a very great defect in the Minister's proposals that no attempt is made under this Clause to confine this increased subsidy to the case of agricultural labourers. Where these week-end townspeople come into country villages—
I am very much obliged for that ruling, which enables tee to draw attention to this extraordinary anomaly. Townspeople are continually buying up country cottages, which is, I think, a very serious evil, because it reduces the supply of cottages for agricultural labourers, or else they are coming down and building houses in agricultural villages, and though nobody objects to that, it is absurd that the taxpayers' money should be devoted to that kind of house.
I am perfectly ready to discuss the question on the Motion that the Clause stand part of the Bill. I do not want to occupy the time of the Committee unduly, but in view of your ruling that I am in order, perhaps it is better to continue here. I have explained the first point, to which I wish to allude, but there is also the point, which is of even greater importance, and that is the adequacy of the subsidy as applied to agricultural labourers. My criticism is, that if you are to give it to people who are not agricultural labourers in country districts, you have no business to give it at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because they are not entitled to a particularly high subsidy. And if you are to confine it to agricultural labourers you have not made the subsidy for them high enough. I ask the Committee to consider the finance of these houses. We understand that the houses are to cost, on an average, £500. Practically speaking, a house cannot be let economically, if you are to allow for rates and taxes and repairs, at much less than 10 per cent. of the capital cost. Therefore, a house that costs £500 must have, economically, a rent in the neighbourhood of £1 a week. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to give a subsidy of 10s. a week for houses in agricultural districts. That means that the agricultural labourer will be called upon to pay a rent in the neighbourhood of 10s. a week, if the houses are to be let on economic lines. Anything in the neighbourhood of 10s. a week, even 6s. or 7s., is totally beyond the capacity of the ordinary agricultural labourer to pay.
There is nothing in the policy of the Socialist party that is going to give him more wages. I do not want to be drawn into a discussion of the Agricultural Wages Board. I shall have the privilege of discussing that with hon. Members to-morrow. There is nothing in the Agricultural Wages Bill or in any other proposal of the Government that will give agricultural labourers a living wage, and no one knows that better than the agricultural labourers themselves, as has been shown in recent by-elections. This subsidy of 10s. a week for a house in an agricultural parish—
I am sorry, but I am wrong. It is 5s. a week. I find I have been too generous to hon. Members opposite. Perhaps that is a fault on the right side, for I always like to consider my hon. Friends opposite with the most lenient eye possible. But this subsidy will not be of any earthly use to agricultural labourers. The wicked landlords, the Tory landlords, in the past housed their agricultural labourers at rents of 1s., 2s., 3s. and 4s. per week, but none of the houses that are to be built under this Bill is to come within measurable distance of that figure. Therefore, the whole of these provisions, from the point of view of the agricultural labourer, are useless, and as much a fraud and sham as the Agricultural Wages Bill.
I had not intended to take part in the discussion, but the noble Lord's speech compels a reply. I wish to say that if he thinks that by his speech he is doing the agricultural labourer any benefit he is in error. I say quite frankly that this Bill, whatever its defects on the urban side, does give the rural districts of the country the first real chance of getting rehousing for labour that there has been in my generation. Although the Noble Lord is now consumed with the desire to benefit the agricultural worker, it is quite impossible, if you are going to build houses in an agricultural parish, to draw a definition of that kind, without imposing very great hardship on men working in agricultural districts whose wages are very little higher than those of the agricultural labourer. My concern is not with the £12 10s., because it is not generous enough, but my concern is to try to widen the definition of an agricultural parish, in order to get inside the definition those villages which are now left out.
I beg to move in page 2, line 31, to leave out the words "and (c)."
Paragraph (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act provides, as one of the methods b3 which a local authority may assist the promotion of houses in its area, that they may:
undertake to provide, during such period as may be specified in the proposals, any part of the periodical sums payable to a building society incorporated under the Building Societies Acts, 1874 to 1894, or other body or person, by way of interest on or repayment of advances made for the purpose of building a house or purchasing
a house the construction of which was begun after the twenty-fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-three.''
It seems to me that that is a valuable provision, as an alternative method by which a local authority may assist in the provision of houses in its district, i.e., assist other persons to provide houses in its district. You have now building societies, institutions which in the past have assisted enormously in the provision of houses and have enabled people to acquire their own houses, and if you are going to cut out or reduce in any way the opportunities of their usefully taking part in the operations under this Bill, and the Act of 1923, it seems to rue that you are unnecessarily curtailing the choice of means by which the provision of houses may be assisted. The object of the Amendment is to leave out the words "and (c)," in order that it may still be open to the local authorities who wish to do so to promote the building of houses by means of calling in the aid of building societies and guaranteeing to them the repayment of the whole or part of the instalments which are due to the building societies from the person who builds or requires a house, although it is quite true that the substituted arrangement of a periodical payment does not achieve the same result from the point of view of the building society, because the fact that their tenant receives it and may or may not pay it over to them, not as sound a security to the building society as receiving it direct from the local authority.
So far as I can see, without having studied the Amendment too carefully, it is an Amendment to which I have no objection. If the Mover will receive my acceptance of it subject to my reconsideration between now and Report, I can tell him that I am inclined to accept it.
Perhaps the Attorney-General will give us a little more light upon this matter. These words were put in by the Parliamentary draftsman for some purpose, and presumably they are being left out for some purpose. Will the Attorney-General explain why the omission of the words makes no difference? To my limited understanding the omission appears to have some significance.
The real purpose of the omission is this: The words in the Bill at present are, "in accordance with the requirements of this Act," and in point of fact, the paragraph of which these words form part, takes the place of a paragraph of the Act of 1923, rendering the words "this Act" inappropriate. In fact, the words are not wanted at all. If the hon. and learned Member reads through this part of the Clause, he will see that it provides that paragraphs (a) and (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act of 1923 are to cease to have effect, and that the paragraph following is to be substituted for paragraph (b) of the said Sub-section of the Act of 1923. There is no necessity to provide that a house must be let in accordance with the requirements of the 1923 Act. If a house is let, it is sufficient to meet the obligation imposed. The words are unnecessary and embarrassing, and therefore I propose their omission.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, at the end, to insert the words
(iii) In Sub-section (4) of Section two, the words from 'and no addition thereto' to the end of the Sub-section shall cease to have effect.
Sub-section (4) of Section 2 of the Act of 1923 is as follows:
Assistance given by a local authority under this Section in respect of a house may be made subject to such conditions as the
local authority may with the approval of the Minister impose, including a condition that during such period as may be specified by the local authority the house shall not be used otherwise than as a separate dwelling-house and no addition thereto or enlargement thereof shall be made without the consent of the local authority.''
It seems to be bad enough that we should limit the size of the houses which are to be provided under this or the previous Measure, but it is a great deal worse that we should impose upon a man who has got a house a penalty if he improves or enlarges it. My proposal is that the words
and no addition thereto or enlargement thereof shall be made without the consent of the local authority
should cease to have effect so that there will be no restriction upon a man improving or enlarging his house after he has acquired it. At present he would be prevented from doing so under the provisions of the Act of 1923 as it is proposed to apply them under this Clause. The effect is not to enlarge the subsidy and once the man has the house I see no valid reason why he should not be permitted to enlarge it.
I have no doubt the object of the Mover is a most laudable one, but I would call his attention to the probable effect of the Amendment. If this Amendment were accepted, anyone who was successful in obtaining the services of a good architect could so prepare the plans of a house that the first section of it would come within the provisions of this Bill and would obtain the subsidy on that first section, and he could then proceed from that to continue the erection of the house. I am sure if the hon. Member looks at the matter from that point of view he will see how dangerous it would be to accept the Amendment.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
I hope my hon. Friend will not press this Amendment This provision was put into the 1923 Act by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain) in order to protect his subsidy from being abused in the same way as the subsidy under the Housing (Additional Powers) Act of 1919 was abused, and I think it is a necessary precaution. Although we desire houses of a larger size we do not want money to be used for building mansions and diverted from the purpose for which it is really intended.
I am rather surprised at the attitude of my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), who has made so many eloquent pleas for an extension of the size of these houses. I expected he would be in favour of increasing the size even by a side wind, but there is no accounting for the working of—[HON. MEMBERS: "The Liberal mind!"]—of certain people's minds, and this observation is not confined to this section of the Committee, but applies to other hon. Members in other parts of the Committee at other times.
Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), who has been going up and down the country and in this House asking for permission under this Bill to allow a subsidy to be paid and for larger houses to be built. Then why does he object to this Amendment? It is true, as the hon. Member for Penistone said; that this would be getting a larger house by a side wind, but the man would not get any larger subsidy on that account, and I hope the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough will explain to this Committee and to his constituents his objection to this Amendment.
|Division No. 158.]||AYES.||[8.58 p.m|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Remer, J. R.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Robertson, T. A.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Becker, Harry||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Kedward, R. M.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Burman, J. B.||Laverack, F. J.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R.(Prtsmth, S.)||Lord, Walter Greaves||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||MacDonald, R.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, South)|
|Cope, Major William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Meller, R. J.||Sunlight, J.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Millar, J. D.||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Duckworth, John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. p.|
|England, Colonel A.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Ferguson, H.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wells, S. R.|
|Gates, Percy||Perring, William George||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Philipson, Mabel||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Harland, A.||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Raine, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Rathbone, Hugh H.||Captain Viscount Curzon and Sir Kingsley Wood.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Bromfield, William||Dickie, Captain J. P.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Dicksen, T.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Dodds, S. R.|
|Alden, Percy||Brunner, Sir J.||Dukes, C.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Buchanan, G.||Duncan, C.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Buckle, J.||Dunn, J. Freeman|
|Alstead, R.||Cape, Thomas||Dunnico, H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Charleton, H. C.||Edmondson, Major A. J,|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Church, Major A. G.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Clarke, A.||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)|
|Baker, Walter||Climie, R.||Egan, W. H.|
|Banton, G.||Cluse, W. S.||Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Falconer, J.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Finney, V. H.|
|Barnes, A.||Compton, Joseph||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Batey, Joseph||Cory, Sir Clifford||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)|
|Black, J. W.||Cove, W. G.||Gavan-Duffy, Thomas|
|Bonwick, A.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Darbishire, C. W.||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Gillett, George M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Gosling, Harry|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||McCrae, Sir George||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McEntee, V. L.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Macfadyen, E.||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smillie, Robert|
|Greenall, T.||Maden, H.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||March, S.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kincardine, E.)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Snell, Harry|
|Groves, T.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Spence, R.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Maxton, James||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Middleton, G.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Mills, J. E.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mond, H.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Harbord, Arthur||Montague, Frederick||Sullivan, J.|
|Hardie, George D.||Morel, E. D.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morris, R. H.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Mosley, Oswald||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Muir, John W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Murray, Robert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hayes, John Henry||Murrell, Frank||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Naylor, T. E.||Tout, W. J.|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Nichol, Robert||Trovelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||O'Grady, Captain James||Turner, Ben|
|Henderson, W. W.(Middlesex, Enfield)||Oliver, George Harold||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hillary, A. E.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Hindle, F.||Paling, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Palmer, E. T.||Vivian, H.|
|Hobhouse, A. L.||Perry, S. F.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Hodges, Frank||Phillipps, Vivian||Warne, G. H.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Potts, John S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hudson, J. H.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Raffety, F. W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Welsh, J. C.|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Raynes, W. R.||Westwood, J.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Rea, W. Russell||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||White, H. G. (Blakenhead, E.)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn, (Merioneth)||Rendall, A.||Whiteley, W.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Richards, R.||Wignall, James|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Ritson, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kennington)|
|Kenyan, Barnet||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Williams, Maj. A.S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Robinson, w. E. (Burslem)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Romeril, H. G.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lansbury, George||Ropner, Major L.||Windsor, Walter|
|Law, A.||Rose, Frank H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Royle, C.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Lawson, John James||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Leach, W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Wright, W.|
|Lessing, E.||Scrymgeour, E.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Scurr, John|
|Lowth, T.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lunn, William||Sherwood, George Henry||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen Parkinson.|
I beg to move in page 3, line 7, after the word "parish" to insert the words
excluding the value of any permanent railway works.
The particular point in this Amendment, though it might be covered by the next Amendment requires, I submit, to be separately put, and for these reasons: It may be urged, and an abstruse case might be made out, against isolated exemptions on this question of value. The point I want to emphasise is that in this matter of agricultural policy, there is, first of all, left out one-third of the total net annual value. There are also two
standards—one the rateable value, and the other the population. The effect of inquiries I have made in 15 counties as to the population definition is that the effect of the railways going through a particular parish is particularly on the small hamlets, and the smaller the hamlet the more likely is it to be cut out of the Bill.
Perhaps the Committee will allow me to give two definite cases which will focus the point I desire to put in relation to the Amendment. There is in the Rugby division two particular hamlets. One named Combe Fields, with a population of 156, and the other named Easenhall, with a population of 199. These are large agricultural parishes with small populations, but it so happens that through both of them the London, Midland and Scottish Railway has its main line running. The result is that in Combe Fields, with a population of 156, the agricultural land pays rates of £2,312, the railway pays £5,317, and other properties £1,451. The total rates paid in that parish amount to £9,080, and the agricultural rates are only £2,312, which is less than the required percentage. This is a small hamlet typical of thousands up and down the country where the main lines of our railways run, which are cut off from the possibility of getting this extra £3 10s., so that the, matter affects the many cottages which are required. Take the other case, Easenhall. The payment there is, agricultural land, £957, the railways, £3,552, other property, £900. The total net rateable value is £5,409, so that although this is a purely agricultural parish—it is so in both cases—there is no raiway station at all and no service given by the railways of these places—Combes Fields being 2¼ miles from Brinklow Station—that is how the matter stands. On the basis of the appeal to population they are out, too. Because this railway line happens to run through these particular parishes the definition in the Bill cuts them out. I submit to the Committee as a reasonable thing that in defining the basis of rateable value the value of permanent railway works should be excluded. I do this, not merely for these two parishes, but for the rural areas generally. If rural Members will go into the particular case of their own county areas they will find that railway works have an extraordinary effect, a paradoxical effect, of cutting out the smallest hamlets in the division if it happens that these hamlets happen to have the railway lines running through them. I hope I have been clear in the particulars I have given, and I trust the Minister will give them consideration, for the trouble is one that exists throughout every county in England wherever a main line of railway goes through a small parish.
I should like to support the Amendment. I do not propose to go into particulars, but I would only say that in the Harborough Division, which I represent, there are two main railways that run through the agricultural portion. These are the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the Great Central, as well as the lines of the North Western running from Leicester to Nuneaton. Particulars that have been supplied by the Minister of Health show, I think, that there will be at least five parishes in the Harborough Division that really are absolutely rural in their character, and liable to be shut out in the list that the Minister has supplied, and this on account of the railways running through, which, of course, does not benefit the parish at all. I should like, if I may, to enforce the appeal made to the Minister to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
This is a very difficult matter, and I have been very desirous, as far as I reasonably could, of helping the agricultural districts in this matter. No matter what basis I could adopt short of providing an absolute rearrangement, I could not hit upon any basis which would not be open to some objection. Any criticisms, I quite admit, that may he levelled at the Bill in any other way, I am sure could be levelled at any proposals which I could reasonably hope to make. I will deal first of all with the proposal in the Amendment with regard to railway property. I am sure hon. Members will realise that that property in some cases contributes very largely to the local rates, and it is perfectly natural that the representatives of the districts affected by my provisions do not think this is in the interests of their constituents, but it is difficult to get the best of two worlds. Already they get the benefit in the shape of local rates from such property. I will give one or two instances. I find there is one parish in which £211 out of a total of £294 raised by the rates comes from railway property.
No, I cannot give the name. It is a case where £211 out of a total of £294 is paid by railway property. In another ease £408 out of a total of £853 is paid by such property. In other words, this class of property in these two instances represents 72 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the total rates. I find practically the same thing in regard to institutions. In one parish with 371 inhabitants 231 are in institutions, which pay £302 out of a total of £448 raised by the rates. I am sure the Committee will agree that there will be considerable difficulties in the way of administration if this Amendment be carried, if I have to engage a staff to go out and ascertain what sections of the population should be excluded from my consideration in arriving at the definition of an agricultural parish. I am sure I should meet with the greatest possible difficulties.
It should be borne in mind that if I exclude railway property, or one institution, I am sure that I should be bombarded with applications for the exclusion of other properties and institutions, and it would be very difficult to decide how far a particular property or institution benefited a particular parish in which it was situated. That is a difficult point in regard to administration which I have to avoid. I have proceeded on the assumption that it is better to take an easy understandable basis which does not necessitate the employment of a staff of investigators to give me the necessary information. The basis I have adopted is one by which I can obtain all my information from sources at my disposal, and that is why I have taken the basis adopted in the Bill. I think I can show that I have taken a very generous view of this matter. The average population for agricultural parishes is only 24 per 100 acres, whereas I have taken 33. The annual net value of agricultural land, on the other hand, in agricultural parishes is 38˙1 for England and Wales, and I have taken 33⅓. So that, both in regard to the annual value of the land and population I have taken a generous estimate in regard to agricultural districts. I may say that I am prepared to go further and accept the Amendment, which proposes to increase the ratio of population from 35 to 50, and I think that will go some way to meet the case put in favour of this Amendment.
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment has raised a very important question, but I am not quite sure that the concession just announced will meet the ease. The whole foundation of the Bill is the provision of houses at cheap rents for those who cannot afford to pay the higher rents. This is not a Bill for house building, but it is one to provide a subsidy in relief of rent for those who cannot afford to pay the higher rents now being charged. The essence of this Clause is that there should be a larger allowance to the agricultural labourer because his wages are much lower than those in ordinary industrial work, and he is in fact not in a position to pay the same amount of rent as his co-worker in other industries. The position as it has been left by the Minister of Health is that he does not base his case upon rent, and he is not going to give this assistance because the labourer is poor, but because he happens to live in one parish and not in another. Take the case of the railway which goes through some parishes, and the case which has been given where railway property contributes 72 per cent. of the total rates. That does not affect the wages of the agricultural labourer who remains just as poor and has just as small a wage even though a railway runs through his parish.
Take the case raised in the other Amendments which no doubt the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. E. Brown) is going to move. What difference does it make to an agricultural labourer earning 25s. a week whether there is or is not a lunatic asylum in his parish, because his income remains the same, and it makes no difference if there happens to be any of these fanciful amenities to a parish which raise the rateable value. You may have a railway, waterworks, lunatic asylums or any other institutions, and they may raise the rateable value of the parish, but they do not make it any easier for the agricultural labourer to pay the rent of his house.
We know that some of these institutions employ a good many men. I live for part of the year in a large agricultural county where the men warders from these institutions swarm into the agricultural parishes and get hold of the cottages, and this makes it more difficult for the agricultural worker to get a cottage at any price. The only possible Amendment the right hon. Gentleman can make—and I ask him to reconsider this matter between now and the Report stage—is to make this higher allowance apply to all agricultural workers. This artificial distinction about the railways and the rateable value does not have the slightest effect upon the agricultural labourer. I am sure the whole House is anxious to provide a cottage at a rent which the agricultural worker can afford to pay, and it is not treating the matter fairly to make one agricultural labourer pay a higher rent or have an allowance of £9 whilst another agricultural labourer on a farm in another parish may get an allowance of £12. The thing will not work and it will create jealousies in all the country parishes. I do not know whether the Mover of this Amendment is going to press it to a Division or not, and it is not always easy to know what is going to happen in the case of Amendments from that quarter. I want the Minister to consider the matter between now and the Report stage. We are anxious that if this Bill is to go through that it should be a success. If the Bill is going through let it be passed in such a form as will remove inequalities. Here we have an opportunity of making it fairer. I ask him to consider the matter with a view to doing that.
As far as I am concerned that is what I was going to do. All I am concerned with is my duty to my own constituents, and I shall do that quite regardless of what Members in other parts of the Committee think of my action. I have raised the point, because all I wish to do is to make this Bill work, and I think it can be made to work. Take the point about public buildings. We have all kinds of public buildings in our constituencies. There is in the Tiverton division the parish of Exminster, which is purely agricultural, with a population of 2,711. Of that population there are 197 officials and families and 1,327 inmates of an asylum there. Because that asylum is in that parish this parish will not be an agricultural parish. In Warwick and Leamington there happens to be Warwick County Asylum. You have the village of Hatton with a population of 1,524.
In that asylum there are 1,200 people and official families. The result is that if is out. Now take Prince-town in Devonshire, which happens to have, in the parish of Lydford, a prison with 250 officials and families and 1,121 prisoners. Because that happens to be in that parish, the parish is not an agricultural parish for the purpose of the Bill. With regard to the other points, I am sincerely grateful to the Minister for accepting the Amendment with regard to raising the number of 35 persons per 100 acres to 50. You had the paradox that the railway cuts out small families. The population basis cuts out the large village in most of the rural district councils. I am not concerned with the jealousy between one agricultural worker and another. I am concerned with the administrative difficulty inside the rural district council. There are 31 villages in a certain district council. Ten will come out under this definition; two, I have already mentioned, because of railways, and eight because the population is more than 35 and less than 50. Seven of them are below 50. I will just taken one parish to show. In the parish of Brinklow, Rugby, there is an area of 1,487 acres, arid the population average per acre is .5. The right hon. Gentleman's concession will bring this and others like it within the Bill, and I want to thank him for it. I want to press on him between now and the Report stage to see if he cannot give these other cases consideration. I do urge upon the Minister to consider if ha can not only agree to this concession, and give us at lease the railway one, which is universal and not local, and he will be doing a very great thing to help the working of his Bill in agricultural parishes. I personally wish him very great success in the agricultural parishes.
I think I owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. E. Brown) for not having attacked my constituency. I would like to reinforce the appeal made to my right hon. Friend to consider the question of the individual agricultural labourer as opposed to the parish as a whole or a district council. I would like to point out to him, on the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby concerning railways, that where a railway passes through a rural district council the benefit of rates derived from that railway goes to the council as a whole, and if any individual parish is excluded from the subsidy because of the rateable value obtained from that railway, that parish is going to be penalised though the district council gets the benefit of the rates. I think that is a point of substance in considering the rateable value part of this definition of an agricultural parish. I also want to call attention to another aspect of the rateable value question which has been touched upon by one of the speakers. In my constituency I have an agricultural parish which contain the following institutions and buildings: a powder factory belonging to the Government, a hospital belonging to the Ministry of Pensions, an epileptic colony, a Poor Law hospital belonging to Liverpool, and an isolation hospital; and the inmates of these various institutions outnumber the inhabitants of that agricul- tural parish in the ratio of two to one. It is useless, in my opinion, for the Minister to say that an individual inhabitant of that parish derives benefit from the fact that the rates are paid by these various institutions when he cannot have a contribution for housing which will enable him to get a house at a reasonable rent.
Another parish in my constituency is Aintree. When people go to that parish by special train, they may think that they are in the City of Liverpool, and they are probably under the impression that the racecourse at Aintree is part of the City of Liverpool. The great body of houses in Aintree are within the City of Liverpool, but the racecourse is in the rural district of Sefton, where there is an aeroplane station as well, and these two institutions—the national institution, where the Grand National is run, and the aeroplane station—make up a very large part of the rateable value of the Parish of Aintree. It is no consolation to the individual agricultural labourer, who wishes to get a cheap house, to be told that he has in his midst that great national institution—the Grand National racecourse—and that, therefore, he cannot have a cheap house. If the Minister will turn to the files in his office he will find a large number of protests from the Parish of Scarisbrick, and a large number of letters from myself, against the establishment of a fever hospital for the County Borough of Southport, at a cost of £70,000, in its midst. That district is not only penalised by having a fever hospital, which it does not want, but on that account it is not going to allowed to get the houses it requires because of the provisions which apply to rural districts in this Bill.
There is another point I should like to urge upon the Minister. Ever since this Bill has been adumbrated, in our part of Lancashire there has been absolute competition for men who have any acquaintance with the building industry, and various builders, large and small, have been paying a penny or twopence or threepence or fourpence more than the trade union rate in order to get men. As soon as this Bill becomes law great corporations like Liverpool and Manchester will draw off nearly all the available labour for their own housing schemes, and the only way that we in rural parishes will be able to get any houses built will be by being able to outbid to some slight extent the big corporations because we get a larger subsidy. Therefore I would urge the right hon. Gentleman strongly to reconsider this matter and see whether he cannot arrive at some definition of an agricultural parish which will not, like his present definition, draw a rough and ready line of rateable value and population, which really has no relation whatever to the needs of the individuals who live in those agricultural parishes. I am not tied to the words of my Amendment on the Paper, but I do ask the Minister to reconsider this matter.
I understand we are discussing, and I think very wisely, if I may say so, this and the next three Amendments on the Paper in order to save time. I should like to say a word on the subject in general. I am sorry I cannot agree with the suggestion of my right hon. Friend opposite that it would be possible to work this Clause having regard to whether inmates of houses from time to time are or are not agricultural labourers. It sounds very attractive, but I am satisfied it will not do. After all, it would work both ways. I agree that at present the agricultural labourer has a much lower wage than persons engaged in any other industry. I hope in course of time that may be modified and altered, and that there will not be the same discrepancy between agricultural labourers and other workers in rural parishes. But to go on that basis and only to apply the subsidy to houses occupied by agricultural workers would be difficult. What about the man working in the parish as a blacksmith or as a miller? Is the subsidy to be on a lower level for houses inhabited by those men, and is it to vary from month to month or year to year according to who is the inmate of the house? We are thrown back on the line which the Minister has been discussing in response to the Amendment on the Paper. I am glad to say that I rather sympathise with what the Minister has said as to the first Amendment—the one which is technically before the Committee—that if he began to make a reduction with regard to permanent railway works he would find it extraordinarily difficult to draw the line. We know how unfairly public works are rated by the rating authorities in rural districts. Their ratable value bears a high proportion to the rest of the ratable value, and, perhaps, the authorities will in consequence see their way to cut down the unfair rating of these bodies.
I feel with regard to the second Amendment that I should find it extraordinarily difficult to administer it. It means that if you make a reduction in the case of each parish accordingly as the public or private institutions which are erected there being of any special advantage to the parish, the task of the advisers to the Minister would be most horrible if they had to go through parish by parish and make up their mind, what institution confers advantage and what institution does not confer advantage on the parish and make a reduction in the ratable value in one case and not in the other. But when we come to the other two Amendments we are on easier lines, and I am glad to learn that the Minister of Health is going to accept the third Amendment and put in 50 instead of 35. As to the fourth Amendment I think that, too, might be accepted without landing the Minister in the same sort of difficulty as the first and second Amendment would do. My hon. Friend spoke with regard to asylums. It seems to me that to weigh the population of a parish by the persons sent there for their own good and compulsorily detained in lunatic asylums or convict prisons is an extraordinary way of arriving at the true character of a parish. These persons are not allowed out. They are not an effective part of the population of the parish from the point of view of dealing with the village shops. They have a certain number of keepers to look after them, but that number is small is comparison with the number of convicts or lunatics. If I remember rightly when my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby brought this matter up first in the form of a supplementary question in this House the Minister of Health definitely undertook to give the matter consideration and see whether he could act on the hon. Member's suggestion. It seems to me that it ought to be possible to accept now the fourth of these Amendments at any rate, to insert the words
excluding the inmates of any public or private hospital or institution.
If the Minister really desires to have better words—and I can conceive that better words might be devised—I am
sure the House would be willing to accept such better words on Report. Take the case of Dartmoor. Anyone who knows the nature of the country surrounding that great convict prison knows that, if anything in the world is rural, that is, and yet, because a certain number of convicts are detained in Dartmoor prison, the parish in which the prison happens to be can no longer be regarded as a rural parish. I am sure the Minister recognises that difficulty, and I suggest that, in order to show his recognition, he should do one of two things—either accept this fourth Amendment now, substituting other words later if he likes, or give the Committee a free vote upon it, again with the option of substituting other words if he can find better words to define exactly what is meant. These persons who are compulsorily detained in His Majesty's institutions or in public asylums really ought not to be counted as the permanent population of a rural district.
This discussion is an illustration of the very useful examination which a Committee of the Whole House can give to a Bill, with the object of showing whether its provisions are really workable. There is one question that I want to ask the Minister in connection with the various suggestions that have been made for arriving at the rateable value of an agricultural parish or rural area. Supposing that a large asylum or institution is suddenly planted in a parish which, up to that time, has been an agricultural parish, and which, by reason of the incursion of the new institution, ceases to be an agricultural parish, that fact will not alter or improve to the extent of a single penny a week the position of any person requiring a house. Is the subsidy to cease to he paid then, or does it continue to be paid? Is it a case of once an agricultural parish always an agricultural parish? It appears to me that in this Bill that point is considerably in doubt, and before we accept any of these Amendments, and particularly the one referred to by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, we ought to know what the exact effect of the Bill is, and what it will he if these Amendments are accepted.
I trust that, before the Minister of Health accepts the proposal put forward by hon. Mem- bers opposite, he will give the matter careful consideration. That proposal is that the individual agricultural labourer should be subsidised. That is what it amounts to—that, because the English agricultural labourer is very badly paid, because he only gets 25s. a week, therefore he should be subsidised. To show the difficulty into which that gets us, may I point out that, if it is to be a subsidy, not by kind but by cash—
I certainly never intended anything of that kind. I was only speaking of the agricultural labourer as the section of the population of a rural parish which most needs benefit. I was not speaking merely in an individual sense.
Other proposals that have been made go a little further. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) proposed that the subsidy should be paid to agricultural labourers because of their poverty, because of their inability to pay a higher rent. Let us see what happens now. It is to be by industry. The agricultural labourer gets 25s. a week in an agricultural village, and his house is going to be subsidised to the extent of £12 10s.; but his neighbour, who is not an agricultural worker, is going to be called upon, through tho local rates, to assist in subsidising his poorer neighbour. Obviously, we cannot have that. It is simply a reversion to the old idea of subsidising poverty by class or by industry.
Will the hon. Member allow me to say that that is the essence of the Bill—that every roan who is a little above the class which is to receive the benefit of the subsidy on these houses is called upon to pay the subsidy of his poorer neighbour?
Let us be quite fair. The Minister of Health is endeavouring to remedy troubles and grievances that have been accumulating for hundreds of years, and I suppose that no Minister could produce a Measure which is going to be watertight and free from, shall I say, little finicky difficulties such as the right hon. Gentleman is raising. The point I am making is that you cannot go into a village and say to one man, "Your house will get a subsidy of £12 10s.," while the house of his neighbour will not get the subsidy. Whatever difficulties may lie before the Minister of Health, I suggest to him that he ought never to accept the proposal offered to him by the right hon. Member for Twickenham. Further, a proposal which is going to give a subsidy to a sweated industry is very dangerous. Instead of abolishing useless charges in the industry of agriculture—and there are many—it is now proposed to subsidise the agricultural labourer's cottage, which is presently provided by the farmer or by the estate. That will not be a subsidy to the agricultural labourer, but to the farmer or to the estate. I suggest to the Minister that he should be very careful before he begins to introduce anything of that kind.
On the other hand, I do not agree with him when he says that institutions—he did not use these words, but this is the idea—in a rural parish are an unmixed blessing, in that the local authorities get the benefit of the rates. That is true, but there is another side to it. The rural parish may get a sanatorium or an inebriates' home, or something of that kind, dumped down in it. The local authority cannot prevent that, but here are people who come in and acquire residence. I do not know about England, but I do know that in Scotland they can acquire residence after three years. Someone says it is the same in England. Here we have the local authorities in some of these districts piling up their Poor Law rates because of these institutions, over which they have not the slightest control, and I think it is adding insult to injury to say that, once an institution, or a sanatorium, or an inebriates' home, or something of the kind, is dumped down in a rural parish, while the local ratepayers are going to have their rates piled up because of that institution, they should, in addition, be deprived of this extra subsidy of £3 10s.
I say that on that point I disagree with the Minister, and I would suggest that, before closing his mind on this point—and it is a very large one—he should reserve to himself the decision, and not, finally decide until he comes to the House on the Report stage. He has had the benefit of what has been said in all quarters of the Committee, and if he makes up his mind, after further consultation with his Department, that there is no way out of these difficulties other than that he has proposed, there is nothing else for us to do but to accept it. But if after having heard the discussion to-night he comes to the conclusion that there are other ways out, I think it will facilitate the passing of the Bill and make it much more popular in rural districts if he will accept the Amendment. Before he comes to the Report stage I would suggest that when he gives the figures of the number of parishes which would come in under the Bill he should not confine them to England and Wales, but should let us know how many parishes in Scotland would come in for the subsidy. He told us there were 24 to the 100 acres on the average in England. He ought to be able to give us the figures for Scotland too, so that we shall know exactly what we are voting for.
It is difficult to know exactly what the hon. Member does want. He started by saying he did not want the agricultural labourer subsidised, but he went on to support the views we take on this side.
No, I did not. I distinctly said I hoped the individual agricultural labourer, as a labourer, in the parish would not be subsidised. The other proposal is that he should be subsidised by the parish.
Our point is that you are arranging to subsidise agricultural labourers in certain cases and not in others. We say the way of subsidising is not fair, because if you take two agricultural labourers receiving precisely the same wages, in precisely the same occupation, because in one parish there happens to be built, now or in the future, some institution, or a railway running through it, you are going to treat them differently. The whole idea of the Bill is to subsidise the agricultural labourer. It is quite clear to anyone who knows anything about rural districts that unless the subsidy is given you will not get houses built in rural districts. It is impossible to do it. May I remind the Minister of the Conference of the Rural District Councils Association, in which it was put very strongly to him that if this extra subsidy was given in this unfair way it would simply mean that you would get no cottages in the purely agricultural districts, where they were most needed. I suggest that we should have a Division on this point and see who is in favour of supporting agriculturists and who is against it.
It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction that the Minister has promised to give favourable consideration to these Amendments because, after all, the question is not how small a portion of the land of England could be devoted to agricultural housing, but how large a portion, and when we realise the great importance of keeping our agricultural workers on the land we realise that every effort should be maintained to secure good housing for them. Housing legislation for the last 50 years has really done nothing, or very little, for rural housing. Last year we gave a subsidy which resulted in a few houses being built. This Bill gives something. It gives a subsidy of £12 10s., which certainly helps. But if we do not allow these Amendments, it will restrict the Bill in its usefulness. I hope the Minister will be able to accept them.
I am indeed glad to be able to join my voice to those who have preceded me as representing an urban constituency. So far as I am aware, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. T. Johnston) is about the only Member representing a fairly urban constituency who has taken part in the portion of the Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is rural!"] At any rate, I should like to speak as representing an urban constituency. It is obvious to me, after listening to the discussion, that the Bill as drawn is likely to bear hardly upon agriculture. It is often said in the country that the interests of urban and rural constituencies are quite different. The interests of the country are really all one, and there is no question of town versus country about this at all. It is as necessary for the welfare of the country that the agricultural labourer should be well off as it is for the town dweller. I would ask the Minister between now and Report to think out better instances than he has so far been able to think out. He has distinguished himself, so far as I am concerned—and I have watched him closely—by paying only cursory attention to the remarks which have been made on the subject. He has been very occupied in animated conversation. I am only stating an absolute fact which anyone sitting on this side can see for himself. He has been very occupied while the discussion has been going on. He heard very little of the speech of the hon. Member for Stirling, and I would suggest that the instances he has given us to-night are not very impressive. I asked him the name of the parish of which he gave an instance. He could not do that. Why not? Could he not give us the name of the county, for instance? It would give us a better idea as to the value of an instance when he brings it into the discussion. I would ask him between now and Report to bring us concrete instances and to be able to give us the name of the county, if he likes, but I suggest the parish, unless he is afraid the instance is not quite so good as he thinks it is.
I should like to support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell). I think they are worthy of the most serious attention of the House and of hon. Members opposite. It seems to me to be thoroughly unfair for a great city to dump its institutions down in the middle of a rural area and thereby put that rural area out of court so far as its chance of getting a subsidy is concerned. The hon. Member for Stirling suggested that we were being invited to give a subsidy to a sweated industry. Is that all the sympathy he can spare for the agricultural worker, the worst paid worker in the country? It is just as well that the country should know its friends, and when the hon. Member goes to the country and says: "We are not going to do anything to make your conditions better because they are pretty bad at present and we think we might bring extra pressure to bear on the country as a whole if we keep you down." That will not do his party very much good with the agricultural workers.
Before dealing with the subject of this Amendment, I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to one remark made by the right hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Acland), when he made an appeal to the Minister of Health to leave this Amendment to a free vote of the Committee. On that I should like to ask, who is bound and who is free? I am perfectly clear that we on this side are free. As to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, is it possible that they find the yoke is heavy? With regard to the point we are discussing, I should like to ask the Committee to consider what is the real purpose of this extra subsidy. Is this extra money to be given because of the alleged—it is probably true to a certain extent—extra cost of building in distant areas from towns, or is it given in order to do something for the agricultural labourer? If the latter, which I believe is the real intention, then I want to say with confidence that the proposals of the Government under this Bill will do nothing whatever for the agricultural labourer. If this subsidy is intended for the agricultural labourer, because of the difficulties of the agricultural labourer at the present time, then I want to ask the Minister why he will not provide that this subsidy shall go to help the agricultural labourer.
I do not believe it has ever been said in these Debates at what rents the right hon. Gentleman considers the houses with the larger subsidy can he let according to his scheme. It is very important that we should know it. I do not think I have ever heard definitely what the Minister thinks will be the actual rent that will be received by the rural district council in an agricultural parish which receives the larger subsidy, and which also pays the amount out of the rates, because from calculations by friends of mine who are capable of making such calculations, it appears that the rent, at any rate, will not be anything under 5s. 6d. or 6s. a week. Is that a rent the agricultural labourer can pay? Houses have been built in agricultural districts under the last two schemes. Agricultural workers have not been living in the houses built under the Addison scheme. Very worthy people, no doubt, are living in them, but not the agricultural workers. In the houses under the private enterprise scheme agricultural workers are not living, and are not likely to live. This scheme holds out some hope to the agricultural worker, but, like hope deferred, it will make their hearts sick.
If hon. Members opposite think that agricultural workers are going to look with pleasure at the present time to paying 6s. 6d. a week for a house, they are very much mistaken. In the past they have paid, not an economic rent, but a rent ranging from 1s. 6d. to 3s. Houses in the past have been provided by the landowner. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] That is an absolute fact. They have been provided as part of the equipment of a holding, and not let at an economic rent. The consequence is that you have these houses let to the agricultural workers at from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. a week all over the country, and through legislation, for which I am not going to thrown blame about, the landowner has been so impoverished that he can no longer afford it. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to laugh, but they do not know anything about the subject. People cannot go on receiving 2 per cent. or 2½ per cent., or nothing, on their money, and pay Income Tax and Super-tax of 6s. in the £.
I should not have travelled one inch wide of the Amendment if it had not been for the temptation held out by hon. Members opposite; but I suppose it is our duty to resist temptation as far as possible. I come back to the point that agricultural workers have not received houses under past schemes subsidised by the State.
May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in discussing questions of the £12 10s.? Has not that already been decided? Is not the question before us what is an agricultural parish?
I am very sorry, but I had no intention of allowing my arguments to range too far. I do not think they have ranged further than previous statements made on all sides of the Committee. They have certainly not ranged any further than those of the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston).
As I am not allowed to continue dealing with the arguments raised by others, I will conclude by saying it does not appear to me to matter very much what sort of restrictions you put, how you select one agricultural parish from another, if you refrain from accepting the principle that these houses are to be provided for agricultural workers. The Minister should have power to sanction and give a subsidy in agricultural parishes, whatever the rateable value, whatever the size of the village, when he is satisfied that these houses are needed for agricultural workers, and that the local council will provide them for that purpose.
I hope neither in length of eloquence nor range of subject to challenge the hon. Gentleman opposite in the few remarks I shall make on the question at issue. Like the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon), I am the only urban Member, I think, who has taken part in the discussion on this side, and, although I agree with much that he has said, I should like completely to dissociate myself from his attack on the Minister of Health, which, I think, was quite an unfair attack. When, in the process of time, the Noble Lord's party finds itself in office, and he himself is in the position of running a complicated Bill, he will find it rather more necessary to take legal advice.
I can assure you, Mr. Entwistle, it was only a passing remark excited by an observation on the apposite side. On the main point at issue, I submit that if there is any alternative between the two schemes, one on the main lines on which the Bill is built, and the other the suggestions which have been made from the Front Bench opposite, one to include special subsidies to agricultural parishes and the other to try to subsidise the houses of individual agricultural labourers, I am entirely in agreement with the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston). There is no possibility of working subsidies spread over 40 years and controlled by the Minister of Health for cottages which may or may not from time to time be inhabited by men who are or have been agricultural labourers. Therefore, I should rule that out of any discussion on the Amendments before the Committee.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend to accept all the four Amendments, or if he cannot see his way to accept them to allow the House a free vote. If he then finds that the general sense of the house is in favour of these Amendments on the Report stage the House would be willing to consider any verbal alterations that may be necessary. It seems to me that the case has been made out overwhelmingly, especially in the brilliant speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. E. Brown) and the speech of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell). We keep appealing to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider things on the Report stage. There are now about twenty Amendments, at least, which he has promised to reconsider on the Report stage. The result will be that the Report stage, which may not come for a week or two, will be as long as the Committee stage; that we wish to avoid.
We have sufficient facts before us now of which to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman for the acceptance of these Amendments, tentatively, or to allow the Committee freely to divide. In any event, my friends and I propose to divide. The only difference between ourselves and hon. Members opposite is that they keep a Socialist Government in power when they are wrong, and we keep them in power when they are right. I know that my right hon. Friend has very much at heart the redemption of the deplorable conditions of housing in rural areas, which has been reported on and condemned by Committee after Committee, so long ago as 1908, when we used to frame Bills at the time when I was sitting on the Front Government Bench. [Laughter.] Bills which were sedulously opposed or obstructed by hon. Members now in opposition, who are cheering me. If subsidies are to be given, these are the people who need the subsidies more than any other body of people. It seems to me monstrous, and I cannot see how we can face the country, if we say that we have voted for one particular agricultural parish to be allowed to have fairly decent houses built, with a decent subsidy, and that another parish which is equally agricultural, through no fault of its own, is to be deprived of the subsidy. It is an indefensible proposition, and I know that in heart the right hon. Gentleman is with me. I do ask him to accept the four Amendments now, reserving to himself the right of putting them into such form as would be suitable, and we could agree to the necessary verbal alterations on the Report stage.
May I remind the Committee of what the result would be if I responded to the eloquent appeal made by the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman). Take the Amendment, which seeks to insert the words, "excluding all property in the occupation of the Crown," etc. Supposing I accept that in its entirety, and exclude Crown lands, then what would be the effect? I should immediately exclude from participation a large number of parishes that come in at present. Speaking from memory, I think that I should, in Wiltshire for example, exclude five parishes which are eligible for the grant. I mention that merely to show the difficulties with which we have to contend. These administrative difficulties are matters to which all sections of the Committee, I am sure, will give some attention, whatever their political or constituency bias in regard to the scheme of the Bill. I have gone into this matter very carefully, and I have made what I thought was a very reasonable and generous offer. The hon. Member, after I had made it, stated that of eight parishes in which he was personally interested, the concession would meet the case of seven.
Yes, but it is just as important to the people whom I would exclude if I accepted the Amendments. It is not practicable to give the higher subsidy, merely because the applicant for the house is an agricultural labourer. You must accept some basis, and if you do, you will always have hard cases. I want the Committee to be reasonable in this matter. If there is any particular kind of institution, which would not lead us, say, from an asylum to a hospital or from a prison to some ether institution, and so on, which can be excluded without creating any of these administrative difficulties, and which would bring relief to particular parishes or to parishes generally, then I will consider whether that institution, if we can find it, can be dealt with on the Report stage. I think that that is as far as the Committee might reasonably ask me to go.
There is a slight difference in this case. This is not the case of individual hardship. The question of railways is universal in its application throughout the country. It cuts out innumerable little hamlets.
If I said that I would take railways would I not have immediately the advocates of some other form of property. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I have said that I will ascertain whether there is any form of property, institution or otherwise, which I could, without raising administrative difficulties, treat as an additional concession.
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman merely shows what a hopeless basis this is upon which to grant the subsidy. What would be the difficulty? You would merely require the clerk of the local authority to certify that, of the council houses so many were in the occupation of agricultural labourers. That is all that would be required. The right hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Acland) and the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) say that it is impossible to adopt the suggestion made from this side, but there is no administrative difficulty about it at all. You merely ask the local authority to certify every year, when it is applying for the subsidy, how many of the houses are occupied by agricultural labourers, and then you have done all that you want to do. The moment that you try to classify agricultural or non-agricultural parishes you get involved in hopeless difficulties which will cause grave injustice to many parishes, however you draw your definition.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has not given us all that we asked. There are other Amendments on which, I am afraid, we shall have to divide against him—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—whatever we may think of the company in which we may find ourselves. As the Minister of Health recognises genuinely the difficulty, and as he is willing to put into the Bill the concession which he has made as to the number in the parish, and as he has promised to bring up some Amendment on Report—if it is unsatisfactory we can divide upon it—I hope that the
|Division No. 159.]||AYES.||[10.28 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gates, Percy||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Gretton, Colonel John||Perring, William George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Raine, W.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reid, D. P (County Down)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Harland, A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burman, J. B.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hood, Sir Joseph||Savery, S. S.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, North)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, South)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Stewart, Maj. R. S.(Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jephcott, A. R.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Cope, Major William||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn, N.)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lamb, J. Q.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomson, Sir W.Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lane-Fox, George R.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Laverack, F. J.||Waddington, R.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Linfield, F. C.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Wells, S. R.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Lord, Walter Greaves||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lumley, L. R.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||MacDonald, R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Deans, Richard Storry||McLean, Major A.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Elliot, Walter E.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|England, Colonel A.||Meller, R. J.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Mr. Blundell and Mr. S. Roberts.|
|Ferguson, H.||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Harney, E. A.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Potts, John S.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Alstead, R.||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Raffan, P. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Haycock, A. W.||Raffety, F. W.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hayday, Arthur||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Ayles, W. H.||Hayes, John Henry||Rathbone, Hugh H.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A.(Burnley)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Banton, G.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Rendall, A.|
|Barnes, A.||Hillary, A. E.||Richards, R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hindle, F.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Black, J. W.||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hobhouse, A. L.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Bonwick, A.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hodges, Frank||Robertson, T. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hoffman, P. C.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Bromfield, William||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hudson, J. H.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Isaacs, G. A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Royle, C.|
|Buckle, J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jewson, Dorothea||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Scurr, John|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jones, Henry Haydn, (Merioneth)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Clarke, A.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Climie, R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartiepools)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Compton, Joseph||Kedward, R. M.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Keens, T.||Smillie, Robert|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Darbyshire, C. W.||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Law, A.||Spence, R.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lawson, John James||Spero, Dr G. E.|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Leach, W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Dickson, T.||Lessing, E.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Dodds, S. R.||Lowth, T.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Duckworth, John||Lunn, William||Sullivan, J.|
|Dukes, C.||McCrae, Sir George||Sunlight, J.|
|Duncan, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||McEntee, V. L.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Dunnico, H.||Macfadyen, E.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Egan, W. H.||Maden, H.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||March, S.||Thurtle, E.|
|Falconer, J.||Marley, James||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Finney, V. H.||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Franklin, L. B.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Tout, W. J.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Maxton, James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Turner, Ben|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Middleton, G.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Millar, J. D.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gillett, George M.||Mills, J. E.||Vivian, H.|
|Gorman, William||Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Mond, H.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Montague, Frederick||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Greenall, T.||Morel, E. D.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morris, R. H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Morrison, R. C, (Tottenham, N.)||Webb, Rt. Hen. Sidney|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mosley, Oswald||Welsh, J. C.|
|Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Muir, John W.||Westwood, J.|
|Groves, T.||Murray, Robert||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murrell, Frank||White, H. G (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Guest, Capt.Hn.F.E.(Glouestr., Stroud)||Naylor, T. E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Nichol, Robert||Wignall, James|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Harbison, Thomas James S.||Paling, W.||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Palmer, E. T.||Williams,. Maj. A.S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Hardie, George D.||Perry, S. F.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||Wright, W.||Mr. Warne and Mr. Allen|
|Windsor, Walter||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)||Parkinson.|
Does the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell) desire formally to move the next Amendment on the Paper?—[In page 3, line 7, to leave out from the word "basis" to end of Sub-section, and to insert instead thereof the words
excluding all property in the occupation of the Crown, and all public or private hospitals and institutions and buildings erected for the public service or for public purposes conferring no special advantage on the parish concerned."]
|Division No. 160.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Dawson, Sir Philip||Kay, Sir R. Newbald|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Deans, Richard Storry||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Duckworth, John||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Lane-Fox, George R.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Laverack, F. J.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Elliot, Walter E.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Elvedon, Viscount||Linfield, F. C.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Eyres-monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Lord, Waiter Greaves|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godiray||Lumley, L. R.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Ferguson, H.||MacDonald, R.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Forestier-Walker, L.||McLean, Major A.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gates, Percy||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Meller, R. J.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gould, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Burman, J. B.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gretton, Colonel John||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Oman Sir Charles William C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Harland, A.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Clayton, G. C.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Perring, William George|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cope, Major William||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Raine, W.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn, N.)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Romer, J. R.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Rhys, Hon. C. A, U.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Ropier, Major L.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Howard, Hon. D.(Cumberland, North)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Daikeith, Earl of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Savery, S. S.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Jephcott, A. R.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Thomson, Sir W.Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)||Tichfield, Major the Marquess of||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, South)||Waddington, F.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Starmer, Sir Charles||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Stewart, Ma). R. S.(Stockton-on-Tees)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wells, S. R.|
|Sutcliffe, T.||Weston, John Wakefield||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.||Mr. Blundell and Mr. Lamb.|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Grenfell, D. F. (Glamorgan)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis||Maxton, James|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Meyler, Lieut-Colonel H. M.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Middleton, G.|
|Allen, F. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Groves, T.||Millar, J. D.|
|Alstead, R.||Grundy, T. W.||Mills, J. E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Guest, Capt.Hn.F.E.(Gloucstr.,Stroud)||Mitchell, R.M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Mond, H.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Montague, Frederick|
|Baker, Walter||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Morel, E. D.|
|Ranters, G.||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Morris, R. H.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Harbord, Arthur||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hardie, George D.||Morrison, F. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Barnes, A.||Harney, E. A.||Muir, John W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Murray, Robert|
|Black, J. W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Murrell, Frank|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Nichol, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Nixon, H.|
|Broad, F. A.||Haycock, A. W.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Bromfield, William||Hayday, Arthur||Oliver, George Harold|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hayes, John Henry||Oliver, P. M (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Paling, W.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Perry, S. F.|
|Buckle, J.||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hillary, A. E.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Cape, Thomas||Hindle, F.||Potts, John S.|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Hirst, G. H.||Pringle, W. M, R.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Raffan, P. W.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Raffety, F. W.|
|Clarke, A.||Hodges, Frank||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Climie, R.||Hoffman, P. C.||Rathbone, Hugh H.|
|Close, W. S.||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hudson, J. H.||Rea, W. Russell|
|Compton, Joseph||Isaacs, G. A.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Rendall, A.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Richards, R.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jewson, Dorothea||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Robertson, T. A.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Robinson, S W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Dickson, T.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Dodds, S. R.||Kedward, R. M.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Dukes, C.||Keens, T.||Royle, C.|
|Duncan, C.||Kenyon, Barnet||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Kirkwood, D.||Samuel, H. Waiter (Swansea, West)|
|Donnico, H.||Lansbury, George||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Law, A.||Scurr, John|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Sexton, James|
|Egan, W. H.||Lawson, John James||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Leach, W.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|England, Colonel A.||Lessing, E.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Falconer, J.||Lowth, T.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Finney, V. H.||Lunn, William||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Franklin, L. B.||McCrae, Sir George||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Smillie, Robert|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||McEntee, V. L.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Macfadyen, E.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Mackinder, W.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Snell, Harry|
|Gorman, William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Spence, F.|
|Gosling, Harry||Madan, H.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||March, S.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marley, James||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greenall, T.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kincld'ne, E.)||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Sullivan, J.||Vivian, H.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Sunlight, J.||Wallhead, Richard C.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E,)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)|
|Tattersall, J. L.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Williams, Maj. A.S. (kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Warne, G. H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Thornton, Maxwell R.||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)||Windsor, Walter|
|Thurtle, E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Tillett, Benjamin||Welsh, J. C.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Westwood, J.||Wright, W.|
|Tout, W. J.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Turner, Ben||Whiteley, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Varley, Frank B.||Wignall, James||Sir Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen|
|Viant, S. P.||Williams, A. (York, W. B., Sowerby)||Parkinson.|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 16, after the word
"shall" to insert the words
after reference to the appropriate local authority.''
In bringing forward this Amendment I do not cast any reflection upon the ornament on the Front Bench, but it is a very important question as to whether a parish is to be taken as a rural parish should be, referred to some local authority, such as the London County Council.
It is a very big responsibility for the Minister, and I think it should be decided by some local authority which has real knowledge of the circumstances. In several of the last Amendments we had very animated discussions as to what constitutes a rural district and how question of an institution or a railway in a particular village affected the question. Under this Clause as it is drawn in the Bill the Minister is the sole arbiter, and I think before this final decision is given the local authority should be asked to give their opinion on the matter.
I want to suggest to the hon. Member that there is really no need for the insertion of those words. In actual fact the Minister could not determine without consulting the local authorities. He would apply to local authorities for the facts, and on that statement he would make his judgment. If the hon. Member could have suggested any other way in which it was possible for the Minister to determine, I might be disposed to consider it. I see no reason for it.
Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should try by the Report stage to find some means of assistance with regard to his own judgment. It is admitted by the, Minister that there is bound to be hardship on one line or the other and in regard to many individuals, hardship with regard to agricultural parishes. The Minister claims in the Bill as now drawn that he should have the absolute decision, and no appeal of any kind is given to anybody. I suggest that, before arriving at a decision, he should at least consult the county council; that he should have a reference to them and a report from them whether or not they consider the particular parish an agricultural parish. They would be removed from local feeling such as might affect the parish council or even the district council. They would take a much larger view of the whole question than the local bodies would be likely to do. Take a parish in the County of Yorkshire. Surely the County Council of Yorkshire would be able to give the right hon. Gentleman a better opinion whether a particular parish is or is not an agricultural parish than anything that he could get out of his own head or even out of the heads of his staff? I hope he will consider this point. I have not a form of words ready, but I am sure if he desires to make this a workable Bill he must carry with him the county councils. Let him see whether he cannot arrive at some form of words which will enable the matter to be referred to the county council.
This is not a question of opinion at all. It is a question of fact. Can the right hon. Gentleman give a solitary reason for my coming to any other decision than I have done?
I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, at the end, to insert the words
In an agricultural parish no more than eight houses shall be built to the acre.
The aim of this Amendment is to provide that every house built under this scheme shall have at least on the average one-eighth of an acre of ground as garden. I know of many agricultural workers who would rather live in a poor house with a good garden than in a good house with no garden at all. I think I have taken quite enough of the time of the Committee this evening, and so I will content myself with merely saying, with regard to this Amendment, that I have put questions to the Minister with regard to the advice now given to local authorities when building houses. The advice given is that they should only build eight houses to the acre, and the object of my Amendment is to give that advice statutory force because too often such advice is disregarded by what I may call without offence pre-Victorian rural district councils. I want to see a good garden given to every agricultural labourer's home, for nothing is more likely to make him contented.
I should like very strongly to support this Amendment. There is nothing more important in regard to the housing of the people of this country than ample gardens, and I would point out that this proposal is not going to add appreciably to the cost of the houses, because the cost of agricultural land is so small that, with eight houses to the acre, the land will represent but a very small portion of the cost of the house. In the village in which I live, a little slum was erected about 20 years ago, in a totally unnecessary way, by a small builder, and I am sure that that must be the experience of many hon. Members. It is largely through lack of imagination and enterprise. A man buys an acre or two of land and crowds 12, 15 or 20 houses upon it, when there is plenty of land all round, very often without even going to the trouble of asking the neighbouring landowners to sell him a little more land in order that he may extend his houses. That is the cause of some of the worst housing in our countryside. This Amendment would make that sort of thing impossible, and at practically no increase in cost. I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept it.
I propose to accept this Amendment, but I think the Committee will agree that I shall be safer in bringing up a new Clause on the Report stage giving effect to the proposal. I do not agree with those who say that in adopting that course I am providing facilities for increased oratory at a later stage, because I am sure the good sense of the House will prevail when they see the Clause. I want to take this Amendment in conjunction with another which I propose to accept, limiting the number of houses to be erected in an urban district to 12 to the acre. I would point out that, as has been mentioned by the Mover of the Amendment, this is not any departure from the policy that is now adopted by progressive local authorities. In urban districts at present propressive authorities do not exceed, or only very rarely exceed, 12 houses to the acre. The advice of the Ministry of Health to them is that they should not exceed that number unless there are special reasons for doing so, and they can-got build more than 20 to the acre without our consent. In the Clause which I shall submit to the House I will limit the number to 12 without the consent of the Ministry of Health, and, as I have said, to eight in a rural district. What weighs with me is that we are embarking on a scheme which I think we all hope will result in the erection of a large number of houses, and I think chat a proper layout is at least as important as the size of the houses; and I hope that one of the results of this Bill will be to give us a good lay-out in the case of these working-class houses. I regard this Amendment as a contribution to the Bill, and I accept it.
The right hon. Gentleman tells us he is accepting the Amendment to limit it to eight houses to the acre in agricultural parishes and he is going to accept another Amendment which will limit it to twelve in urban districts. What limitation is there to agricultural parishes which be does not look upon as agricultural, which come within the terms of the Bill?
I should like to submit a point in connection with land for
cottages—the importance, as far as possible, of arranging that larger areas still should be available for cottages. I had the privilege of sitting on the Housing Committee in 1906–7, and it might be of interest if I quoted a paragraph from our Report, indicating the value the Committee attached to the question of land attached to cottages:
There is abundant evidence to show that the difficulty of rent would be largely diminished by the addition of land to the cottage. The labourers and others who gave evidence before the Housing Commission of 1885 on the subject said the men could pay higher rents, and would he pleased to do so, if land, arable or pasture were attached to the dwelling. One witness of considerable experience, while admitting the difficulty of paying rent for good cottages alone, said it was easier to pay a fair rent for land and cottage together. He considered the two to be so necessary that he declined to consider them apart. The above evidence as to the great value to the labourers of small plots of land to supplement their wages has been amply confirmed by the evidence received by this Committee.
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whenever he is dealing with the rural problem of housing to try to secure that these groups of cottages should not be confined to areas where there are small gardens of the type my hon. Friend has in mind, but where it is also possible for these labourers to get hold of a quarter, a half or even an acre of land if they desire it. I am conscious that all labourers do not desire it, but the key, to a large extent, to the agricultural problem is to provide the land step by step from a quarter of an acre, if necessary, up to two or three acres. The agricultural problem in regard to housing should be thought of in that connection. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to bear that in mind.
There is one very small point, but a very material point in connection with this I would like to submit to the Minister, and that is with regard to the question of roads. The wider you spread the houses, while we have every sympathy with this, the more difficult will the problem of roads become and the extra the burden on the rates. I have every sympathy with the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Vivian), but we ought not to lose sight of possible difficulties with regard to the roads.
I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will give pause before committing himself to the actual wording of an Amendment such as this. I am sure nobody will accuse me of being backward in this direction. I only ask the Committee to recognise what they are doing. We accept, generally, 12 houses to the acre as being ideal for health, apart from allotments or fields to work. It is not proposed to have eight to the acre because of conditions of health. The villagers like to have their few houses close together. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Perhaps hon. Members who are questioning that statement do not know village life. As a housing reformer, and as a medical officer of health who knows village life, I repeat that villagers themselves like to live closely together, largely for the sake of their womenfolk, their children and themselves, so as to be near the school, the church, some of them, and near one or two shops and public-houses in the village. I am all in favour of those houses not being crowded together too much—12 to the acre—and of having attached to them, in a convenient site, a proper holding for them to cultivate, as well as their garden, but the proper site to get a holding will not be round the village street or round the cluster of houses on the green. A single field divided up amongst the villagers may afford better tilling than to have strips at the backs of their houses. So long as there is a proper provision of land available for those who live in those houses, it is quite unnecessary to insist on the houses being so arranged that you have got to have only eight to the acre.
I had not intended to intervene in this Debate, but after the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), who claims to have full knowledge of the rural worker, I cannot allow his remarks to go unchallenged. I know what I am talking about. He said that the rural workers wanted to have their houses together and their allotments away from their houses. I flatly contradict that statement. I would rather have six houses to the acre than eight houses as suggested in the Amendment, which hon. Members opposite refuse to allow to be withdrawn. One thing that the labourer does want is a garden close to his house. Does the hon. and gallant Member want the labourer to have to walk half a mile when his day's work is done in order to cultivate his allotment? I hope the Minister of Health will not accept the suggestion of 12 houses to the acre. We do not want such slum conditions in rural areas we want plenty of air, and plenty of garden, so that the labourer can grow vegetables for himself and family.
The right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept the Amendment on the understanding that it is withdrawn, but the Opposition refuse to allow it to be withdrawn. I suggest that we should insert the words now and alter them on Report, if necessary. That will not worsen the position, and it will have this advantage, that it will not put the Committee in a false position by our having to vote against an Amendment with which we are in agreement.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 18, to leave out sub-section (3), and to insert instead thereof the following new sub-section:
(3) This Section and the contributions payable by the Minister thereunder shall apply to houses provided by a county council under Section eight of The Housing, Town Planning, etc. Act, 1919, for persons in their employment or paid by them or by a statutory committee thereof in like manner as they apply to houses provided by a local authority.
This Amendment has been passed unanimously by the County Councils' Association, and I have been requested on their behalf to bring it forward. The Bill proposes that any houses put up by a county council shall not enjoy the same subsidy as is given to ether houses put up by the other local authorities in the same area. I do not claim that the county council will need to erect a very large number of houses in order to provide for its officials and policemen and other employés. It does not appear to be fair to differentiate between the county council and the rural district council. A man working on the roads may be employed by the rural district council, and if they desire to erect a house for him the full subsidy would be allowed, but if the same man were employed by the county council, and they desired to put up a house for him, they would have to take the reduced subsidy. Why should this differentiation be made? If it is persisted in it will be
an inducement to the county councils not to provide houses, although to the extent to which they do provide houses the situation will be relieved. If the Amendment is not: accepted there will be an inducement to the county councils to get the rural district councils to do for them what they might do for themselves.
In considering this Amendment, the Committee should have regard to the purpose of the additional subsidy of £3 10s. It was included because the agricultural labourers have received such low wages, and have been accustomed to pay such low rents that, if any houses were to be built for them, an additional subsidy was necessary. In our view it would be an unwarrantable expenditure of money for the Exchequer to extend the scope of the additional subsidy to the employés of county councils who are, for the most part, in receipt of wages considerably superior to those of agricultural labourers. We feel that we should be extending the scope of the Bill unduly if we accepted this Amendment. After all, the county policeman to-day is in an economic position vastly superior to that of the agricultural worker; and to suggest that the county council, in order to enable the policeman, with his high wages, to enjoy the relatively low rent, which is the only rent the agricultural worker can pay, should give the additional subsidy of £3 10s., is to ask the Exchequer to bear a burden which it would not be justified in accepting. I, therefore, hope that the hon. Member will not press the Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 25, at the end, to insert
(4) In Sub-section (1) of Section three of The Housing, etc., Act, 1923, for the words a society, body of trustees or company, to which this Section applies,' shall be substituted the words 'any person, or body of persons, or company,' and Subsection (2) of the said Section is hereby repealed.
This Amendment was alluded to earlier in the Debate and the attention of the Government was drawn to a very important point in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) and in the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). I do not wish to go over the ground that they traversed so
ably, but the Committee would like to hear a statement from the Government as to their attitude towards the Amendment. In case any hon. Member was not present when the right hon. Member for Twickenham made his speech, I would say that the Amendment is designed to remedy a defect which has shown itself in the Act of 1923, whereby private individuals, who happen to live in a district where the local authority has refused to apply the Act, have been prevented from obtaining a subsidy under the Act.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 3, after the word "company" to insert the words
and the words substituted shall have effect retrospectively to the date of the Act coming into force.
There is no disagreement between myself and my hon. Friends opposite on this Amendment. It has been our misfortune, or the misfortune of some of our constituents, that we have had to approach the Ministry with regard to the effect of the delinquencies of local authorities on men who have erected their houses. In more than one constituency men who have little knowledge of the Act have been led, to believe through the newspapers that when the Act was passed, in whatever part of England or Wales they lived, they were entitled to receive a certain subsidy if they erected houses that complied with the conditions laid down. At various places in my own constituency men have sent in plans, which were inspected by the surveyor of a certain rural district council, and when these plans were accepted as complying with the provisions of the 1923 Act, and the men proceeded to build, they thought that they were to receive the subsidy when the houses were completed. If a rural district council failed to adopt the Act, these men were deprived of the advantages of the Act. This might mean cases such as one which has actually arisen, where one side of a road belongs to an authority that is carrying out the provisions of the Act, while the other side of the road belongs to an authority which is not carrying out the provisions of the Act. A man who erects a house on the one side of the road gets a subsidy: a man who erects a house on the other side gets no subsidy. The original intention of the framers of the Act was that any man who erected a house for himself, and complied
with the conditions laid down should get the subsidy. They expected undoubtedly that the authorities could readily adopt the Act. In some cases the authorities did nut do so, and had to be pressed by the Ministry, but I suggest that no man who has complied with the conditions should be made to suffer because certain authorities were opposed to the provisions of the Measure, and had to be forced to operate it. There is another ground on which I advocate this proposal, and that is the expenditure which has been incurred by these men. If the Amendment in its original form be accepted, it means all future houses built will get the benefit, but my Amendment to the Amendment makes the provision retrospective, and is limited both as to time and as to money, because only the houses which have been built would get it. Therefore it distinctly lays down a clear-cut limit. If the Government look into the matter, they will find that the amount of money they would have to pay as their share would be very limited and it would remove a sense of injustice which rankles in the minds of those men who should have had the full advantage of the Act.
Before dealing with the Amendment, I would appeal to the House in the interests of frail humanity to allow us to finish Clause 2 of the Bill as speedily as possible, and we will then say it is sufficient for the day. With regard to the Amendment, it is intended to bring relief to people who are resident within areas which have reactionary local authorities, who will not deal with housing under the 1923 Act, and are not likely to do so under the Act of 1924. I would like to remind the sponsors of the Amendment that in such cases, of course, the person applying for assistance would have to depend entirely—
I think, if you will allow me, Mr. Chairman, to make a statement on the whole question, it will be found to be the more convenient course. I propose to ask the Committee to withdraw the Amendment and the Amendment to the Amendment. Then I will consider, between now and the Report stage of the Bill, the insertion of words that will, at any rate, give assistance in the manner indicated, and for the reason indicated, to houses to he built in future. I will make that promise definitely, and will consider the retrospective side of it, but on that I cannot make any promise.
In this Amendment it is proposed practically to delete the word "society" entirely, and to substitute for it the term "a body of persons." I have a certain parental responsibility for the term "public utility society." I think I was the first to get it inserted in an Act of Parliament, and it was utilised in the Housing Act, 1990. I would like to ask the Minister to make sure that the word "society" is retained in this Bill, and I cannot understand why the movers of the Amendment should seek to leave it out. The Amendment deliberately excludes the very society for which the Clause originally was purposely drawn. If a society is a body of persons, why is not a company a body of persons? A society is a limited liability concern in the same way in which a company is. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am speaking of something that I know, and I suggest that it would probably be found at law that the term "a body of persons" no more covers a limited society than it does a limited company, and if the movers of the Amendment think they have included a society in the term "body of persons," I suggest that they have included a company as well, and that, therefore, the wend "company" in the Amendment is not necessary. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not permit the word "society" to be left out, and I suggest that the fact that it is being deliberately left out, when it has been retained in all the previous Acts, is in itself somewhat suggestive that the movers of the Amendment intend to exclude these societies. There is no Housing Act that has been passed since 1909 that has not included the word "society," so why deliberately exclude it now?
I was associated with the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) in pressing the Amendment, to which the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. G. Spencer) alluded, and I agree with what he has said, except that I do not think it is feasible to make the provision retrospective. I should personally be inclined to advise my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer), who does not seem to be in the House at the moment, to withdraw the Amendment, if I understand that the Minister is, if I may so put it, thoroughly sympathetic to the real grievance or difficulty that has arisen under the Act as it stands. If we may have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he will himself deal with this question by an Amendment on the Report stage of the Bill, I think this Amendment could be withdrawn, but I should like an assurance that he is prepared to deal with the matter, and I hope we may take it that he has accepted the position that the present situation is impossible and must be amended.
Sir B. REES:
I still think the Amendment would be better in Clause 2. We should like the Minister to consider between now and the Report stage whether words cannot be introduced which will give us all that we ask. If we have an assurance that the matter will be reconsidered in the light of discussion, and that the point would be dealt with between now and the Report stage, that will meet our case.
On behalf of those who have put down this Amendment, we are grateful to the Minister for the way he regards it. With respect to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Totnes (Mr. Vivian), there was no intention at all to move out the word "society." I hope the Minister will put it down in the New Clause that is to be drawn. There is one thing I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider, which I, not having had the advantage of the legal advice which he has, have not been able to find out where or how to put. The point is this: the private builder who is content with the £6 Chamberlain subsidy—if I may put it in that way—does not want the £6 yearly for 20 years; he wants the equivalent value. That is what would help him. That is what he will get if the local authorities have the opportunity of being able to give him £75 or £100, which would mean the capital value of the Government subsidy. I hope some way will be seen to do this, because this concession which the Minister is making will not act very fruitfully unless this is done. I do not think the question is one of the actual authorities. They, for various reasons, may be a little afraid of transactions with the Ministry in view of the experiences of the past, or for other reasons.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give some answer to the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Vivian). The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts) says that those who are responsible for this Amendment have no idea of excluding socieites. I observe that the words at the end of the Amendment are
and Sub-section (2) of the said Section is hereby repealed.
What are the words of Sub-section (2)—
This Section applies to any society, body of trustees, or company established for the purposes of, or amongst whose objects and powers are included those of Controlling …
I do not think that it is the policy of the Government or of this Committee to eliminate societies or to hamper them in doing this kind of work. In this matter it seems to me that the method chosen by the supporters of the Amendment is unhappily chosen, and their object can be achieved without depriving societies of the benefits of this Bill.
Surely we are entitled to an answer from the Minister of Health on the point which I have raised. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Amendment is going to be withdrawn."] Yes, it is to be withdrawn on the understanding that certain action will be taken, but I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to deal with the point which I put to him.
The intention is that no body of persons or society shall be deprived of any benefit and even in areas where they do not choose to put this Bill when it becomes an Act into force will get the advantages offered by it.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 26, to leave out the word "provided", and to insert instead thereof the word "commenced."
This is in the nature of a drafting Amendment and I want the Minister of Health to say what is really intended. In the Act of 1923 there was a Clause containing the words completed before such and such a date. If the right hon. Gentleman now means "completed" I am quite willing to put in that word. The words used by the: Minister on this point were:
I felt in framing these proposals that it would not be fair to reward any local authority which had withheld building in anticipation of this Bill.
I imagine that in such a case the proper word to use is "commenced."
The point raised by my hon. and learned Friend is really met by the Amendment which stands next on the Paper in the Minister's name. The words in the original Clause were undoubtedly ambiguous and the Amendment will make the position clear. It is proposed to insert after the word "Minister" the words
before the passing of this Act, if the contract for the construction of the houses was entered into or, in the case of houses constructed otherwise than under contract, the construction was begun.
I think that will make the point clear.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 27, after the word "Minister" to insert the words
before the passing of this Act, if the contract for the construction of the houses was entered into or, in the case of houses constructed otherwise than under contract, the construction was begun.
I need not repeat what I have just said. I think this is really more favourable to the local authorities, and I hope the Committee will accept the words.
May I ask the Minister what really is the position of a local authority which has had a fairly large scheme approved and has commenced the work in a certain section. What happens to the houses under the remainder of the scheme? Has it to clear off these Chamberlain houses before it comes under the 1924 Act?
I was going to raise the same point. I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his dealing with this matter. It is one of very great importance to local authorities throughout the country. There is a great number of schemes which have been embarked upon under the 1923 Act. Some have been approved and work has commenced upon them, while in regard to others no work has been done. The authorities in some cases have consulted the Ministry of Health or the Board of Health in regard to the schemes, and they wish now to be assured that the course which the Minister is proposing covers schemes for which contracts in whole or in part have been accepted. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear to the Committee that he is prepared to cover the cases of all schemes as to the whole or any part of which contracts were entered into before the 1st November.
I beg to thank the Minister for the way he has met this Amendment, because there are undoubtedly authorities which, if this proposal had not been accepted, would have been seriously prejudiced as against more dilatory neighbours. I should like the Minister to give the Committee an assurance that in every case where part of a scheme was contracted for but not commenced the local authority will be entitled to enjoy the benefit of this Bill and not be penalised in comparison with local authorities which have delayed putting housing legislation into operation. We want too to secure something like continuity of policy in this matter.
I rise to oppose this Amendment. Hon. Members opposite are frequently declaring that we are giving too much in subsidies, and yet the moment a subsidy is authorised, hon. Members in every part of the. House are seeking to increase the burden on the State by proposals of a more or less retrospective character. I think it would be far better to start afresh with schemes introduced under this Bill and not to go back on old schemes.
No doubt the Minister has gone far to meet us, but he has not answered the point I put to him as to the position of schemes on which construction has not actually commenced. There are cases, particularly in Scotland, in which extensive schemes have been brought forward and approved by the Board of Health, but of which large portions have not yet been contracted for. I want to make sure that no loss will be suffered by local authorities who have brought forward schemes for approval but have not yet entered into contracts in regard to portions of them. If we get that assurance it will go far to provide us with the continuity of policy which is so much desired.
Perhaps I had better make it quite plain—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—that there are two cases—[HON. MEMBERS: "We cannot hear a word!"] I was saying that there are two cases, one in which a contract has been entered into that cannot be extended. If that contract has been entered into, the date is the date on which that contract was entered into. That is one class of case. There is another class of case where there is no contract but the work is done by a local authority, and where there is a general scheme, and as part of the scheme the first houses have been commenced. The date when those houses have been commenced is to apply to cover the whole scheme of which they form part. That is to say, that in the case of a contract, the date of the actual contract, neither more nor less, is material. As to a scheme which is undertaken otherwise than by contract, the date when the first houses under the scheme are commenced is the date which applies to the whole scheme of which they form a part.