I beg to move, in page 5, line 29, after the word "contributions," to insert the words
or contributions of smaller amount or for a shorter period.
Under this Clause, if the treaty with the building trade is not carried out properly by the building trade, that is to say, if the necessary number of houses are not produced, or, in other words, if the augmentation of labour is not forthcoming, and under certain other conditions, the Minister has power to make an Order declaring that no contributions shall be made by the Minister in respect of any houses which have not been completed—any houses, whether subject to special conditions or not—and so far as I understand the wording, it means that if in 1927 the building trade do not produce the necessary labour the Minister may make an Order. He may not reduce the contribution. The only power he has is to cut the contribution clean off, that is to say, to remove all subsidies from houses and to stop subsidised housing. That would stop all housing for the working classes absolutely dead. I do not think that can be the intention under the Clause. Local authorities and others have been building 80,000 to 100,000 houses a year during the last two or three years.
This Bill proposes to increase the number from 100,000 to 200,000, and the treaty with labour is to get the necessary labour to complete 200,000 instead of 100,000 houses. If, for any reason, that understanding breaks down, it is most unfair to those who are waiting for houses that the Minister should only have the power to say, "We will absolutely stop all housing." Surely he ought to have power, if he wishes, at that date, when it is hard to say what the conditions may be, to say: "We will reduce the contribution. If you like we will go back to the contribution under the 1923 Act." Many local authorities did not ask for any increase of subsidy. They have been perfectly content to go on building under the 1923 Act. The right hon. Gentleman comes along, doubles the subsidy under certain conditions, leaves the same subsidy under other conditions, and says, "In return for that I want a larger amount of labour." If he has made the treaty in an unsatisfactory way, as some of us think he has done, and if he fails to get the labour, he does not say, "We will go back to the Act." He does not leave himself the power to go back to the Act. He says: "We will cut the whole thing off. We will stop housing," and the local authorities will get nothing whatever. It seems to me that can hardly be the intention. If I have understood it rightly, it cannot be desirable to leave the Minister at that date—it may not be the right hon. Gentleman—and not to give him the power to cut down the contribution and go back, if he wishes, to the contribution under the 1923 Act, under which a certain number of houses are being built and would undoubtedly continue to be built. The Amendment leaves the Minister the full power to cut it off if he wishes to do so, but it also gives him power, if he wishes, to go back to the 1923 Act or to give any other smaller subsidy.
If this Amendment were accepted, it would visit the sins of the industry on the local authority, and I am sure that is not the intention of the Mover. But may I remind the hon. Member that all he seeks is really contained in the Clause, because, in making the Order, the Minister, and afterwards Parliament, would have power to vary the contributions as they thought right and proper in the light of existing circumstances. If that be his object, I can assure him that it is covered by the Clause as it stands.
It would be interesting to know whether there is power to vary the contributions, even although prices have not increased and conditions changed. Can you, under Clause 5, cut down the contributions, simply because you are not getting a sufficiently large number of houses?
I think we should not, at any rate, alter Clause 4 in this sense for this reason: We make it quite clear to the building industry that we do not compromise with them, and that there will be no saying to them, "If you do not deliver all the houses, we may treat you less kindly." Let us have a firm understanding. We will supply the money to the extent promised here if they deliver the goods, but on no other condition.
I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Withington (Mr. Simon) will not press the Amendment. The one thing in which the local authorities are interested is certainty. One of the troubles in the past has been that when we have worked out our plans the Government. Departments have tried to change their attitude and their terms. One of the great attractions of this Bill is that it does seem to foreshadow a long programme over a long period of years and a certainty in the amount of contributions the Minister is going to guarantee to the local authorities, and I think it would be fatal to put into his hands the power to reduce the contributions under certain conditions. By all means, if certain contingencies arise, stop the grant altogether, but do not give the Minister the opportunity to reduce it.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 31, after the word "houses" to insert the words
in the absence of adequate arrangements for the necessary increase in the supply of labour and materials at reasonable prices or.
There is no reference whatever in the Bill to the augmentation in the supply of labour or materials. The Committee will
recollect that when we were discussing the Financial Resolution I proposed similar words, and they were embodied in that Resolution. I think it is of vital importance that these words should also be embodied in the Act of Parliament. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, the difficulty with which he is faced is the shortage in the supply of labour, and, until he faces that difficulty boldly, which I do not think he has done up to now, no additional houses will be built than would have been built under the Act of 1923. That is a very serious position, because, if there be not a sufficient supply of labour, it means that there will be no additional houses and that he will not be able to reduce the rents as he contemplates. Our experience of the past has clearly shown that, if there be not an available supply of labour for the necessary houses, it simply means that the increased subsidy will go in an increased cost of building. We had an experience of that under the 1919 Act, and I thought that we were going to avoid the mistakes that we then made. Not only will the cost of the houses built be increased, but it will send up the cost of all building other than house building. Commercial building will go up in sympathy, and that increased cost will be a great handicap to trade. We all hope that there will be some increase in our prosperity so far as trade is concerned, and that will still further handicap the supply of labour for house building.
No additional houses will be built under this Act unless the supply of labour is augmented. A study of the figures will show that very clearly. Under the Act of 1923 there were 133,500 houses in England and 10,000 houses in Scotland approved by the Ministry of Health and the Secretary for Scotland respectively. There were 143,500 houses, and the number built and building was roughly 49,000. If you deduct that from 143,500, it means that there are still 94,500 houses which were approved of and which would have been required to be built had this Bill not been introduced. I am not saying that by way of criticism. I am merely stating a fact. Anyone who knows the difficulties with which the right hon. Gentleman is confronted will feel that no criticism, unless helpful, should be made of his proposals. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do with regard to the additional supply of labour? A mere substitution
of houses under his Bill for the houses that would have been built under the 1923 Act will not help the houseless and homeless. We must have more labour. What does the right hon. Gentleman offer? An apprenticeship scheme, which, even supposing it be successful, will not begin to operate for three or four years. I do not think the apprenticeship scheme will at all help the building scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. We want a greater augmentation of labour, and I was going to ask the right hon. Gentleman how far in his negotiations with the building trade he got any pledge or undertaking from it with regard to those men who were being already employed in the building trade, but who were not bricklayers. In the House Building Committee's Report it is stated that
Special consideration shall, however, be given to applicants who have had previous experience of the trade (e.g., building trade labourer).
I wish to ask the Minister specifically: Has he received any estimate from the building trade as to the numbers expected, to be got from this source? Has he received any definite assurance on that head, because I am quite sure he realises, as we all realise, that the apprenticeship scheme is not doing to meet the difficulty with which he is faced?
We then come to the question of the supply of materials. There, also, we find great difficulties facing us. I was in my constituency the other day, and there we have the home of the light castings industry. I was assured that there would be plenty of material there for the schemes that are at present under consideration, but, if that be so with regard to those ironware and light casting materials which are made in Falkirk, it is not so with regard to other materials, because the House Building Committee's Report has this very significant sentence:
The Committee is of opinion that the supply of materials available at the present time do not indicate any considerable amount of reserves. It is also felt that this position tends to cause a rise in prices. As regards certain materials, particularly in the case of bricks and slates, it is probable that there is an actual shortage in these at the moment in some districts. The fact that there is at the present time a pressing demand for similar materials for building work other than housing must, it was felt, considerably affect the market as regards the prices of materials required in connection with housing schemes.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman has another Bill before the House to deal with profiteering, but, after a very close experience of this housing question, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that no Bill that the right hon. Gentleman can bring in, if there be a scarcity of labour, will prevent prices rising. I think he must realise that is so. The consequence will be that with all the good will in the world and with all the desire on the part of the trade to co-operate in the supply of houses, the right hon. Gentleman will find that prices will soar, as they soared in 1920 and 1921. I should like to press on the right hon. Gentleman that at least he ought to accept these words and put them in the Bill to show that we contemplate a sufficient supply of labour and materials in abundance at reasonable prices. This is not a Housing Bill. So long as we have the present conditions with regard to labour, this Bill is only what it states, namely, a Financial Provisions Bill to increase the amount of the subsidy, and, as I have pointed out, a mere increase in the subsidy will not give us more houses. It will only increase the cost of those that are to be built.
It has been said in the discussions of this Committee that the 15 years' programme is not in the nature of a guarantee. I look upon the 15 years' programme as very much in the nature of a guarantee. I think we ought to have a long term programme. I have advocated it, and I think the right hon. Gentleman is right in looking ahead. I look upon this guarantee by the State as a very serious obligation, but, if the State is giving this guarantee, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman: What are we getting in return? We are getting an apprenticeship scheme which will not solve the difficulty at least for years, and we are getting an expression of good will. I do not hesitate to say that that is not a square deal for the State. We ought to have something in return and that agreement ought to be put in the Bill with regard both to labour and materials. In fact, there ought to have been an agreement in the Schedule to the Bill as to the provision of both labour and material in return for the guarantee which the State is giving. The fact of the matter is this. I realise the difficulties with which the right hon. Gentleman has been confronted. Still, we cannot get away from this, that he has absolutely failed to get the means whereby these additional houses are to be provided. It is as well we should face that fact and, until the question is boldly faced by the Minister, no additional houses will be built for the next two years at least, and we shall simply be going on with the houses already authorised. Seeing that we have no guarantee which can be attached to the Bill, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, at least, accept the words of my proposition, which will give him power to negotiate with the trade and will do something to make his scheme workable. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will not feel I have been too critical, because in all these discussions anything I have done has been in an endeavour to strengthen his hands in overcoming a most difficult question.
I hoped that the insertion of these words would be quite intelligible to the hon. and learned Gentleman. If he will read the Clause carefully he will see that they are quite clear. The Sub-section, as amended. would read:
Subject as hereinafter provided, the Minister and the Scottish Board of Health may jointly make an order under this Section declaring that no contributions shall be made by the Minister or Board in respect of any houses in the absence of adequate arrangements for the necessary increase in the supply of labour and materials at reasonable prices, or which have not been completed before the date specified in the order.
The question which has been raised by my hon. Friend who has moved this Amendment is one of the most important to be considered in connection with the Bill. His object is one with which I and none of us will quarrel, nor do I feel disposed to question any statements the hon. Gentleman made and particularly those in Which he emphasised the fact that we had not got an adequate supply of men and material in order to insure the desired number of houses. As far as I am concerned, it is for us to see that we do not magnify the means into greater importance than the end. The end is the production of houses and it is the end we should have in view. I submit we ought to avoid anything which may cripple or handicap or prove an obstacle to the attainment of that end. I want to deal with two or three other Amendments affecting this question which are on the Order Paper while discussing this particular Amendment, and I hope we may be granted the latitude you, Sir, have given us on other occasions, so that we may be able to cover the field here and arrive at sonic agreement that will facilitate the passage of the Clause with which we are dealing.
The capacity to produce houses depends on more than one factor. It depends, first, on the labour and material supply and it also depends on something else. Taking the personnel of the industry, the hon. Member for Stirling Burghs (Sir G. McCrae) has appealed to me to say where I expect to get the labour from. There is, first of all, the provision of apprentices, to which he has referred. He said, in regard to that, we could not expect to get much by way of return from those apprentices during the first three or four years. I am more optimistic than the hon. Member in regard to that. It will be remembered that, when I was replying on a former occasion to a suggestion that we should try to employ untrained labour, I stated that that would rather retard than expedite the production of houses. I am told that, in ordinary practice, the apprentice bricklayer learns very very little during his first 12 months of service. I intend to take steps, immediately the Bill goes through, to make the apprentice bricklayer a more effective bricklayer than he usually is, by the ordinary process of training. I intend to make an appeal, and I have already taken steps to do so, for the co-operation of the education authorities in this respect. What is in my mind is, that we ought to have the very best class of training for our apprentices, and we ought to have it given in a manner which will enable us to get an output from the apprentices in the shortest possible time. In some schemes in the country already the employer has granted facilities for apprentices to attend training centres during two half-days a week. That has had very satisfactory results, and I intend to introduce a scheme as far as possible to make that general. Such training would be given partly in the local technical schools but largely, I hope, without much expenditure, on the actual job, where highly-skilled teachers will be on the spot where the apprentice goes to work, and they will train him as rapidly as possible in the craft for which he is intended. I have not had an opportunity of submitting this to the National Building Committee or to those who are likely to deal with it, but I have consulted the men's leaders and—this is a very important point—the leaders of the men have assured me that they will cheerfully co-operate with us in any such scheme. They say they have never had any objection to the proper training of apprentices. What they have objected to has been the deterioration of their craft by the introduction of untrained men. I have no doubt also that the employers will grant the necessary facilities for carrying on work of that kind and that that practical work can be supplemented either in the local technical schools or by evening classes.
I think it might be possible, and while I cannot speak without an opportunity of consultation, I am very hopeful that it may be possible that the apprentices who have received this special instruction will be passed by a test more rapidly into the industry than they would be if they had not had this practical assistance. The hon. Gentleman asked me if I had formed any estimate as to the number of bricklayers' labourers available and as to the facilities that will be provided for their passing into the position of fully fledged craftsmen. I have not been able to obtain any data which would justify me in presenting an estimate to the House, but here again I have, during the past few weeks, consulted with people who can be most helpful to us in this respect, and they assure me that where it can be shown that a man is capable of doing skilled work, without impeding the work of the other skilled workers, that man will have an opportunity to do so.
Then I think I might expect to get labour from other sources. There are skilled men who left the building industry owing to the lack of security of employment in days gone by, and who now, with the guarantee of continuous employment, might be attracted back to their original trade. I think we might expect something also, although perhaps not very much, from returned emigrants. People do not want to leave their native land if they have a reasonable prospect of obtaining there something approaching the standard of living they can get in foreign countries. We have sent abroad tens of thousands of skilled men during recent years, I regret to say, but I am hopeful that from these men we may obtain a large number now that they are secured against unemployment.
The output of houses does not depend alone on the number of skilled men. You have to take methods of production into account in estimating the number of tradesmen you require. If you have a better organisation of the industry itself, an organisation that will allow capital to be used more effectively than it is to-day, that will allow labour to be used more effectively than it is to-day, then right at the outset, without any other improvement, we might get an increased output of houses for the same number of men. There is another thing I would mention, the available labour for house building will depend to some extent on the demand for commercial buildings, and if there should be a reduction in the demand for those buildings the number of men available for working class houses will be correspondingly increased. No section of the House desires it, but if there were a slump in commercial building, and we had all the labour we required for the building of working class houses, no one would say that in view of those conditions we should stereotype the number of apprentices we are to take into the trade.
I have no objection to a boom in commercial building, or in any other branch of the industry. So far as I can contribute to it I shall be very glad to do so. But in the view of those people who know the most important consideration is the probability of entirely new methods of construction and new material. I read in the newspaper the other day that the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) had been studying bricklaying and that he had been able to lay six bricks a minute. I have not had an opportunity of confirming that statement, but a little arithmetical exercise will enable the Committee to understand that if the right hon. Gentleman could maintain that output for seven hours he would lay something like 2,500 to 3,000 bricks per day. I should not expect the right hon. Gentleman to do that, because he has not had the training and probably his fingers have been used for more delicate purposes, but if the right hon. Gentleman could lay six bricks a minute, a skilled man who was accustomed to the work ought to be able to maintain that speed for seven hours. That would mean that the number of bricks laid would be approximately 10 times the number of bricks which it is said a bricklayer lays to-day.
If new bricklaying methods can be discovered—and I am speaking quite seriously when I say that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some new method may be discovered by which a bricklayer can do ten men's work at bricklaying—then, clearly, it would be unreasonable to say that we must recruit the bricklaying industry at the rate that we must recruit it if the present output were maintained. There are many other methods. I do not want to go into them in detail, but I will mention one or two. To-morrow morning I am to inspect a system of building houses largely by steel and timber, which is the product of one of our eminent business men. It is not some fantastic scheme devised by a dreamer, but one submitted by a man who has built up a great reputation in the business world. I have had submitted to me within the last few days, material for erecting houses by one of the best known business men in the country, which he claims would give us more substantial houses, more beautiful houses, houses in a tithe of the time that we now use in producing houses, and cheaper houses, without the service of either bricklayer or plasterer, and with very little service from some of the best known crafts. [An HON. MEMBER: "What was the material?"] It is not necessary to mention the material, but if the material can stand the scientific test, hon. Members may take it from me that it is a material that will be eminently satisfactory in the construction of houses. I have no technical and scientific knowledge to enable me to pass judgment on the value of the material, but taking it at its face value it seems quite possible that it should be successful and there is no reason why it should not succeed. If it does succeed then, quite clearly, the building industry would still require to recruit its personnel, not by taking men into the bricklaying or the joinery and plastering side of the industry but by taking them into the manufacturing of this new material and the building by this new material. We must take all these things into account.
The hon. Member mentioned one point, and it is a point in which the building industry place great interest, and that is, the relation of labour and materials. When I go to the men and I say, "We want you rapidly to recruit your ranks," they invariably say to me, "We can only do it at the rate that you increase the output of materials." These two things must always tend to approximate, otherwise you have men unemployed for lack of materials, or you have the manufacturers of materials afraid that prices will fall because of over-production of the commodity on which they are engaged. Therefore, we have to try to balance the output of men and materials, and that is one of the main purposes for which our national building committees are being set up, and one of the things to which they must turn their thoughts right from the beginning of operations. Moreover, we have to balance the various crafts in the building industry. We may have too many plumbers and not sufficient bricklayers and, consequently, we may have plumbers idle and waiting for the bricklayers, or vice versa. We have to take these things as part of one settled scheme.
Therefore, I came to the conclusion, and I think hon. Members will agree with me, that the most hopeful way of getting these things carefully balanced was mainly by getting the industry itself to provide the proper machinery for doing the work, to give the industry the assistance which the local authorities and the education authorities can give them in carrying out the scheme, and to say to the industry, "You have to satisfy us that you are providing adequate materials and adequate men, and you have also to ensure to us an output of the number of houses stated in the programme which we have laid down." To meet this view, I have drafted an Amendment which I think I can reasonably ask the Committee to accept. In page 5, line 42, at the end, to insert:
whether the deficiency is due to the absence of adequate arrangements for the increase in the supply of building
labour (including any necessary augmentation of the number of apprentices employed) or for the necessary increase in the supply of materials at reasonable prices or from any other cause.
In a general way, without tying ourselves down to particular numbers, if we accept the basis of what we call the "treaty"—the agreement or the understanding with the building industry—that the output of houses is the primary consideration, I think these words cover all that is intended by the Amendment which has been moved. I hope the Committee will see its way to accept this alternative Amendment.
The Minister and Board may make an order under this Section in either of the following cases—
(a) if, in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, or in any third succeeding year, the Minister and Board are satisfied that the total number of houses which have been completed in the two years last preceding and in respect of which contributions are payable, is less than two-thirds of the number set opposite to those two years in the First Schedule to this Act.
The suggestion in the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is to add the provision, if the houses are not completed because there was not sufficient material or sufficient labour or for any other cause. That does not add one iota to the value of the power which the Minister has to stop contributions under the Act, nor does it provide any answer to the criticisms by the hon. Member in regard to the progress that the Minister has been making which would enable him to assure the Committee that there is a likelihood of there being a sufficiency of materials or a sufficiency of labour. The right hon. Gentleman's suggested Amendment says
including any necessary augmentation of the number of apprentices employed.
I do not understand this to mean that the proportion of apprentices, in the ratio of one apprentice to every three craftsmen, is to be altered. The Minister has made a careful and lengthy statement, but he gives the Committee no assurance that he is going to have a sufficiency of labour with which to build these houses. He is hopeful, and I am very glad that he is hopeful; but although
the Minister may be able to live on hope, I do not see how the Committee can live on hope. Hope is not going to build houses. We want something more than hope. He must build houses with labour and materials. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my having laid six bricks a minute. That is true.
They were laid with mortar. I will explain. It is a new plan for laying bricks, and I understand that the Minister of Health has sent down an inspector on his behalf, as he was not able to go himself. Somebody wrote to me, and asked if I would go down, and see how non-expert ex-service men were laying bricks in the building of cottages. I went, and I saw the work in operation. It applies only to simple, straightforward bricklaying. You erect at the corner of each wall an angle with a groove in it; then a board or plank is slipped into the groove, and, instead of having all the trouble of plumbing to the wall—one often sees bricklayers from time to time plumbing, to see whether they are keeping straight—you put the brick against the wall, apply the mortar, and the brick plumbs itself automatically. It. may not be the highest form of bricklaying, I do not say it is; but I saw two cottages which had been built by this method, and two others in the course of erection, and I had the opportunity of laying a few bricks myself I do not profess to be a trade union bricklayer, but I say quite frankly that I saw ex-service men, who were not members of the Bricklayers' Union, and who were quite inexpert, laying bricks. I do not want to exaggerate—I was told they laid bricks at nearly 3,000 a day—but I will say that they were laying bricks at 2,000 a day. I am sure that the gentleman who invited me to go down will be delighted to show the new method to any Member of this House who likes to go and see it.
I do not say that that is going to solve the difficulty, but it may be one of the new methods which may prove successful. Then there is the proposal, mentioned by the Minister of Health, which has been made by a well-known business man who has a new scheme for building houses at a cost of something like £280 to £300 per house. If the Minister is hopeful that these schemes are likely to be successful, either the one or the other, we do not need the enormous subsidy that is proposed in the Bill. He is giving these subsidies on the basis that we are going forward with the ordinary method of building houses.
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. It is clear that if there is going to be a new scheme which will enable an equally good house to be built for £280, the subsidy in this Bill will be absurd.
The right hon. Gentleman, according to his Schedule, is going to build so many houses, not at the end of three years, but each year. But we have not got any bricklayers practically to enable him to build anything like the number of houses set out in the Schedule. If he is going to apply this new scheme, then it would be foolish to have the proposed subsidy, which is equal to a capital value of £240, given in the case of houses which are only to cost £280. That would be ridiculous. The right hon. Gentleman until this moment never suggested any other method of building except the ordinary building method. Until to-day we never heard that he was taking a part, or that the celebrated business man was doing so. His previous speeches indicated the ordinary method of building, with ordinary trade union labour.
We asked him over and over again where he was going to get the labour from and we have never been able to get any answer. To-day we hear that he is going to get the education authorities to give a training to apprentices. These houses are going to be built all over the country, and all over the country the apprentices will be building small cottage property. How is he going to arrange with the education authorities? Is he going to have a Vote put down on the Education Vote in this House to provide for the extra cost? I do not say that this is a bad plan. I think that it is a very good plan, but we have had no details. We have been given no idea of the cost. The right hon. Gentleman may be very powerful, but he cannot utilise public money without a Vote of this House. This is the first time we have heard that the right hon. Gentleman is going to put, through his apprenticeship scheme.
There is to-day no building labour unemployed in this country. I asked the right hon. Gentleman some time ago, in regard to certain schemes of local authorities to build houses which have been approved by the Minister of Health, how they were going on, and how many builders were unemployed, and here is the answer. Hull, 984 houses sanctioned. Three hundred and forty-one have been commenced and 64 completed, and there are only eight unemployed bricklayers in Hull. In Norwich there are two houses completed out of 447, and not a single bricklayer unemployed, according to the right hon. Gentleman. In West Bromwich there are 17 completed out of 271 houses, and there is only one bricklayer available to get on with this work. In Workington, where I think I sanctioned 50 houses, not one has yet been commenced, and none can be commenced, because there is no labour available. Birmingham, we all know, is a standing example. The report of the town council states that they have scoured the whole countryside and a number of small towns and villages, and cannot get building labour to get on with the number of houses already authorised. The Birmingham Corporation can employ several hundred more men if they can get them. Now the right hon. Gentleman is going to increase the building programme. There are being built under the Chamberlain Act something like 60,000 houses in the course of a year.
The smaller the number the better the argument for my purpose. Will the right hon. Gentleman say 50,000 or 40,000? Let us say that 50,000 houses are being built every year under the Chamberlain Act. The result is that the whole building trade of the country is drained. There are no bricklayers, no plasterers, no slaters, available for those houses, to say nothing of the commercial building. The right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that commer- cial building is to stop. All the available labour is at present absorbed. Has the right hon. Gentleman found out yet how much extra labour it would take to add 100,000 houses to the building programme each year, which is what the right hon. Gentleman expects to do? That would mean 20,000 more bricklayers, 7,000 more plasterers, and 1,700 more slaters. They do not exist. The right hon. Gentleman expresses the hope that he will get them. They do not exist in the country, but he suggests that some of them would like to come back from other trades.
The demand has been there for the last three months while the Chamberlain houses were being built. There is the demand for a greater number of extra bricklayers, plasterers and slaters, greater to-day than it has been for the last six months, when the Chamberlain houses began to he built. Why any men would be more likely to come back from the engineering or any other trade in the month of October or December, 1924, than they were in the month of June or May, 1924, I do not know, for the demand was the same in May and June and the vacancies were the same. As for those who have left the country they are not coming back at the present time, and as long as trade remains good in the United States, as long as they are able to earn higher wages in America, why should they come back? I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman can give me figures to show that there is a reasonable certainty of the increased number of men who are required for his programme. There must be 20,000 more bricklayers. That is the figure of his own Department. Not much difference will be made by a few hundreds coming back. There may be a seasonal flow backwards and forwards between this country and the United States in order to get higher wages for certain periods. But that is no good.
It is exactly the same with regard to material. There is no satisfactory assur- ance from any section of the building trade or from the material manufacturing trade that they are going to supply the materials, bricks or anything else at, as the right hon. Gentleman told us in one of his speeches, the figure at which they were selling on the 1st January this year. I asked a member of a large brickmaking firm what that meant. The reply was: "It is perfectly true that we did make an arrangement with the Minister that provided that the Government"—and this is a proviso which has not been mentioned—"does not attempt to fetter the industry by vexatious legislation, no attempt will be male by any member of the federation to increase the pukes riding in January, 1924, except so far as wages and raw material might rise." But this is the point. This was strictly in reference to the Ministerial housing scheme and nothing else. If we have the price of bricks—that is the point we must know—going up by 7s. a ton, and there is a demand for them all over the country, do you think you are going to get them at the original price to build these houses? You cannot ask the trade to sell them for less than they can get from other people.
Is the right hon. Gentleman going to stop the brick-making trade altogether. Is he going to say, "Unless you give me the necessary number of bricks to enable the local authority to build these houses at the price ruling on the let January, 1924, you shall not sell another brick to anybody else." That is a very tall order. Hon. Members below the Gangway know something of Free Trade. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he is going to prevent firms which are making bricks selling them at whatever price they like, unless they give him what he requires at the price of the 1st January. This is a very important question, and this is, perhaps, the last opportunity of getting an answer from the right hon. Gentleman. He has not given an answer before, either as to the question of labour or the question of materials. All he has done this afternoon is to give us hope and nothing else. He hopes that men will come back from America. He hopes that more men will go into the trade. He hopes to get bricks and he, more or less, interjected a threat that he would not allow the firms to sell the bricks to anybody else if they did not sell them to him.
Is that all he has got to say when he goes up and down the country publishing statements in pamphlets and leaflets that he is going to build 2½ million houses, and I go up and down the country and say that he cannot get the labour and that he cannot build the houses under this scheme, and that it is, in effect, raising false hopes under false pretences in the minds of the people who think they are going to get these houses? I have said so on platforms, and I say it again here. The right hon. Gentleman has not satisfied the House of Commons, and he has not satisfied the country either, that he can get the necessary labour or the necessary material to build these houses. If he can, there shall be nobody more pleased than I. We all on these benches want, the. houses just as much as the right hon. Gentleman. We want to see people living in them. We want to see that those people who hope for houses will not have to live on hope only, but we do not want to see the British House of Commons pass an Act of Parliament which will raise hopes in the hearts of 2½ million families that they are going to get houses, when all the time the right hon. Gentleman cannot give one single assurance that he van build a single house under this Bill.
We are in desperate danger of embarking on a Second Reading Debate which however excellent to listen to, is entirely in-appropriate to the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has repeated most of what he said in his speech on the Second Reading, and has added interesting embellishments explaining the pictures we have been delighted to see in the illustrated journals, showing him in the work of eager industrial performances. Otherwise, what does it all come to? It comes to a statement by the Minister that he will get the labour for his Bill, and a statement by the late Minister that the present Minister will not get the labour for his Bill. The one speaks in hope and the other in dejection. At this stage we do not propose to decide our votes either on hopes or dejection, but to try to see whether we can insert words which will make the Bill work better, even if the Bill itself is not satisfactory; and we will reserve our general criticism of the Bill to the appropriate time. I find that the suggested Amendment and the speech accompanying it one of the most satisfactory things in the course of the Committee stage. I think it was well worth while having the Committee stage taken on the Floor of the House, if only to get that expression from the Minister. Members of this House are too much committed to the idea that the Minister of Health for the next three years will be exactly the same individual as the right hon. Gentleman who at present occupies that office. I do not say that I should object to that on primary grounds, but it may be a subject of objection. In any case what we are doing is this, surely.
The House gave what we call the Chamberlain scheme two years to run, at the end of which time it was to come to an end. The House is giving very little more than two years for this scheme to run. The House can criticise it at any moment during those two years. We are now putting in words which will assist the House to demand of any Minister to break it if it is not working at the end of two years. Surely that is a good thing to do. I do not want the same Government, but I should not at all object to the same Minister in office if he was carrying out the principles which he has laid down this afternoon—by using every means, by training, by the use of the education authorities, which he could do without another Bill, merely by an estimate. The Education Estimates were down £3,600,000 this year. Perhaps under a Labour Government they will go up next year for thin purpose. The Minister has suggested, what we know, that there is a possibility in the immediate future of producing houses far more cheaply and by different methods and by the use of different materials. I am as confident as I am that I am standing here, that at least by 1939, when this programme is closed, the municipalities will not be building brick boxes as outlined under this scheme, and I am very doubtful whether they will be doing so on a very large scale after the three years.
The last speaker said that nothing was being given to anyone by the Minister's Amendment. Something is very definitely being given by the Minister's Amendment, which is practically an incorporation of the words of my hon. Friend behind me. This is a warning and a statement in public to the organised building trust that if they will not put their house in order and will not, not only arrange for the building when it is wanted, but arrange for the training of the building before it is wanted, in order that it may be available when wanted, and also arrange for the appropriate number of apprentices, then this House has decided that their contract and their treaty shall come to an end. That is why it is eminently worth while putting in that Amendment. I would suggest to the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Oliver) that he might see his way, especially considering the present confusion of the building industry, and in view of the fact that we may adopt other types and courses of building, to accept the Minister's Amendment as a definite and very real concession.
I want to avoid the danger of taking part in a Second Reading Debate, because I realise that this is the Committee stage. There is one aspect of the statement made by the Minister of Health upon which I wish to comment. That is his reference to the possibility of substitutes for building. It is very desirable that the remainder of the Debate on the Bill should not be coloured by unwarranted hopes in that direction. The idea of substitutes for house building is not a new one. Thirty or forty years ago people were talking about steel and concrete and wooden houses, but they have never come to anything, and to-day all these substitutes are still in an experimental stage. I am prepared to grant that if a satisfactory substitute, say, concrete or wood or steel, for bricks was discovered, no combination of workmen could stand in the way of it. It would not be desirable that any combination of workmen or of employers should stand in the way of progress. But there are very great dangers. There are concrete buildings now. Some of them are passably good, but quite a number of experiments in concrete building have been a very great failure, indeed.
On the eastern outskirts of London I could take hon. Members to large numbers of working-class houses made of concrete and constructed seven or eight years ago. You could put your fist in between the concrete and the window frames, and owing to the bad mixture of the concrete—it is almost impossible to avoid bad mixture in the preparation of concrete blocks—it is possible to pick and crumble away the corners of the blocks. Other objections could be urged in regard to concrete. I do not say that they could not be overcome. Probably they could. But we ought to go very carefully before we base arguments in regard to this Bill upon what is a mere experiment. With regard to steel being used for the building of working-class cottages, I can foresee one very great objection. It might not appeal to some hon. Members opposite. The test of all these substitutes is this: Would you be prepared to live in such houses? If not, why not? We may not agree, but I hold the view that we are all equal in flesh and blood, even though we may not be equal in mental and spiritual attributes. So far as steel is concerned, in small cottage building, if you have your woodwork inside your steel houses, I maintain that unless you have some new method about which I know nothing, if at the end of a row of cottages you started knocking a nail in the wall, all about it would be known at the end of the row and half-way round the next street. Practical objections may be urged. These things should be borne in mind, and too great hopes should not be built on the idea of substitute labour.
I would remind the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) that between 1920 and the present time no fewer than 20,000 bricklayers have left the Bricklayers' Union in this country. Some of them have gone abroad. Most of them have either been absorbed in other industries temporarily, or have been demoralised by the bad conditions due to unemployment and so forth. A good number of these men, I am sure, would be available for bringing back into the industry, provided that reasonably decent conditions were secured in the industry. On the general question of apprenticeship, I hold that you could not teach dilutees more quickly than you could teach apprentices, provided you give scientific training in your teaching. Whether or not it is practicable to take teachers from the education authorities I do not know, but I believe that there is a possibility of re-organising the industry, for one of the great disadvantages in the development of the industry in the past, one of the reasons why apprentices have not been available, is that the training has not been satisfactory training. The building industry has been too much in the hands of small men, who have taken advantage of the cheap apprentice labour in order to make them general errand boys and so forth, leaving them to pick up their technical training. If what I have suggested is done, I am sure that you will find that the men engaged in the industry to-day will be only too pleased to encourage their sons, when there are guarantees of reasonable conditions in an industry which they regard as great and important and one of which to be proud.
Most hon. Members who have followed the course of this Bill will agree that at the moment we are dealing with the most vital matter in connection with the scheme. All the Acts of Parliament and all the money in the world will not make this scheme succeed unless the Minister of Health has the men to build the houses. I was rather surprised at the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman), who expressed great satisfaction at what had taken place this afternoon and at the Amendment suggested by the Minister of Health. To that suggested Amendment I attach little or no importance, because no words in an Act of Parliament will bring the men that we want. Secondly, I am looking at what is likely to happen in the next three years. I am not particularly concerned with what is going to happen at the end of the three years, or with the Minister's programme of 15 years, or with all the talk about 2,500,000 houses. I have heard all that talk before.
There have been all sorts of high hopes, no doubt expressed on perfectly sincere grounds, but I think that the Committee will be doing a good thing if they direct their attention to what is going to happen to this scheme during the next three years. If you were a business man approaching the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, what earthly prospect would you think there is that the right hon. Gentleman will produce the houses mentioned in the Schedule of this Bill? Where are the men coming from? The right hon. Gentleman opposite talks about apprenticeship schemes and about bringing in the education authorities, and all the rest of it, but, even on the showing of the report of the trade itself, the men thus produced would not be available for some years to come. According to the report of the building trade, it takes longer to make a bricklayer than to make a doctor, a solicitor or a university graduate. That being so, where is the right hon. Gentleman to get his houses during the next three years? I remember the right hon. Gentleman asking the Minister with great force why an adult person should not be trained in the building trade. Only a few days ago he asked the Minister of Health, "Will you allow the local authorities of this country, if they cannot get sufficient labour, to train the necessary men, themselves?" The answer was, "No." Why then does the right hon. Gentleman express satisfaction this afternoon?
I want to know why, with dyer a million unemployed on the one hand and a great scarcity in the building trade on the other, men cannot be trained for this purpose. What is the objection? The people of the country will want to know why adequate steps are not being taken in this respect, and the scheme of the Minister will, in my judgment, fail because he has not secured the necessary dilution—there is no reason why we should not use that word—in the building trade. When the Minister was negotiating with the building trade the Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote an article in an American newspaper in which he said that in his judgment there was a reasonable prospect of dilution being obtained in return for the 15 years' guarantee. Why has it not been obtained? Why are we pretending that there is any earthly hope for this scheme during the next three years when, wherever one goes throughout the country, there are notices asking for more men. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to make us believe that by an Amendment or by a device in a Bill something is going to be done. Nothing will be done until you have the men to do it and the Minister would be acting wisely if he again approached the trade. He is not asking the building unions to build houses for people in Park Lane. He is asking them to increase the number of personnel in order to build cottages for their own fellow workers. Why cannot they do it and why should not they do it? Until the right hon. Gentleman does something in that direction all the Amendments and all the Bills in the world will not secure houses.
My mind goes back 20 years to the time when I attended a technical school, and, with all respect to the Minister, I think he has been treating the Committee as though we were a lot of apprentices. On the Second Reading of this Bill the Minister definitely said he was not going to interfere with the building industry, but was going to leave it to masters and men to work out their own programme and their own plans. He also said he was going to bring in a Bill to secure that the prices of building materials should not be more than the prices ruling in January last. I feel the Amendment suggested by the Minister is not going to be effective, and, in view of what he said in the Second Reading Debate, I should like him to accept an Amendment to his Amendment by including the words
if a local authority has failed to secure that the cost of the houses to be built will not exceed the cost ruling in January, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, for similar houses.
That would cover both prices of material and rates of wages. I do not wish to bring any ill-feeling into this Debate, but I understand a good deal more than most hon. Members about the present building dispute. I think the Minister admitted on Second Reading that while he was preparing his draft the men approached him with requests that he should accept the principle of "wet-time" and that kind of thing, and he told us on the Second Reading that he refused to entertain the proposal, but left it to the trade itself as a matter outside his scope. If my Amendment were accepted all arguments and quarrelling as to rates of wages and prices of materials would be left to the trade itself, and these words would really be a warning to all who contemplate engaging in house building that they would have to work out their prices in accordance with the prices prevailing in January last for the next three years at any rate. I do not think that any clever artistic fram-
ing of Clauses will do any good so long as the Minister says he is not going to interfere in the trade. I agree with a good deal of what was said by the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague). I remember 20 years ago, when I was a pupil, all sorts of ideas such as he describes were formulated. It may be that some day some scheme may be evolved, but, for the time being, I am quite definite in my conviction, as I said in connection with my proposal as to the size of bricks, that we shall have the brick problem with us so long as we have the house-building problem. I would therefore press the Committee to agree to my Amendment to the right lion. Gentleman's Amendment.
No; the Minister has suggested that he proposes to move this Amendment in place of three other Amendments. The hon. Member will be entitled to ask the Minister to incorporate the words he suggests in the Amendment or to move those words as an Amendment to the Amendment when it comes before the Committee.
I will ask the Minister to embody these words in his Amendment. I appeal to the Committee to realise that all these Amendments dealing with the augmentation of labour and the price of materials are fruitless. What we are concerned with is to ensure that the cost of building these houses shall be kept at the price to which the House of Commons is prepared to agree, and I suggest that in the programmes of the next two years if a total authority cannot secure tenders at a price equivalent to the price ruling for similar houses last January the contribution should be withheld from such local authority. That would be a definite and practical instruction to the local authority, and it would then be up to the local authorities to obtain the houses at the prices ruling in January last.
This discussion is in danger of becoming discursive and perhaps prolonged, and in view of the large number of Amendments on the Paper, I am sure the Minister desires a curtailment in the number of Second Heading speeches which are being delivered. I do not propose to discuss the general question. My right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) has expressed the view which we on this side of the House take as to the inadequacy of the arrangements proposed for the supply of labour. We must live on the hope which the Minister himself has expressed. I only rise in order to suggest to the Minister that although the time for considering his Amendment has not yet arrived, it would be in the interests of the Bill that the Amendment which he is prepared to insert on the suggestion of hon. Members below the Gangway should not be added to the Bill. As my right hon. Friend has said, the Amendment does not add anything to the Bill, and I do not suppose the Minister himself thinks it adds very much. I gather that he intends to propose it because he feels the force of the criticism made from below the Gangway and from elsewhere that it is necessary to include something in tire Bill to show that he appreciates the difficulty of providing labour or material in sufficient quantities to produce the houses scheduled in the Bill. The Amendment as suggested by the Minister is, however, unsatisfactory.
Clause 4 is intended to be a sort of notice to all parties who have joined in these rather vague and elusive guarantees that, unless the houses are produced, the Minister will withdraw the subsidy. It is intended as a spur to those who are to provide the houses and a notice that, unless they do so, they cannot count upon the subsidy. If the Minister's Amendment be accepted, his power to withdraw the subsidy will be affected to the extent that it will be necessary for him, presumably, to show that inadequate arrange- ments have been made for the necessary increases in the supply of labour and the exact interpretation of the epithets employed may lead to serious differences of opinion, making it difficult or impossible for the Minister to put his Order into execution. If, on the other hand, these words be not added, the Minister will retain the powers he possesses under the Bill as it is drawn to withdraw the subsidy if he is satisfied that the number of houses is not being produced. That is a very clear test, and I think the Minister will notice the difference between having a clear arithmetical test and a test of a shifting and vague character dependent upon the different interpretations which may be put upon such epithets as "adequate" and "reasonable." Reasonableness and adequacy require standards by which they can be judged, and it is not desirable, even with the best motives, to include such words in the Bill. We have already included in the Bill a number of provisions which mean less than they are intended to mean and which are clothed in vague terms. In fact this Bill is becoming more a manifesto than a Bill.
I am not complaining of the spirit in which the Minister proposes to add these words or of the spirit of his statement, except that he has not told us, as some of us hoped he would be able to tell us, that he has a certainty of being able to provide the necessary labour and material. I think he is putting in these words to show that he is sensible of the danger in which he may find himself in a year or 18 months, and he wants the building industry to know that, unless it plays up the contribution will not be made. What I want him to do is to realise the danger of putting in words which are vague and capable of different interpretations, and which quite likely may fetter him or his successor in coming to a clear conclusion as to whether the emergency has arisen upon which he may withdraw the subsidies. If the right hon. Gentleman, having made his speech to the Committee this evening and having accepted in principle the criticisms of the hon. Member below the Gangway, will leave it at that, I suggest that all that is useful has been done by this discussion, and that it would be better to agree not to attempt any of these words, which really effect a great deal less than is intended and may possibly lead to some difficulty in the future.
On a point of Order. I understand that three Amendments are now being discussed together, one of which is in my name. If that be so, may I have an opportunity of saying something before the discussion closes?
The three Amendments now under discussion are the ones in the name of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Sir G. McCrae), which has been moved, the Amendment in the name of the same hon. Gentleman, in page 5, line 42, at end, to insert a new paragraph (b), and an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. P. Oliver), in page 5, line 34, at end, to insert a new paragraph (a).
The hon. and gallant Member's Amendment, in page 5, line 33, to leave out the word "may," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall," I propose to call.
There are two Amendments in my name, the one to which you have just referred, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, and one in page 5, line 35, to leave out paragraph (a) and to insert a new paragraph (a). May I ask whether either of these is under discussion?
The Amendments which are now under discussion relate solely to matters of labour and material supply, and the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) is one dealing with the annual revision, which is quite a different point. May I ask the Committee to come to an early decision on the matter which is now under discussion? I will not follow certain speakers who have raised very large questions, because we are dealing only with the conditions under which the Government liability to pay contributions shall be terminated. It has been suggested that, we should set out what has been called a warning to the industry, and in the Amendment suggested by my right hon. Friend that point was met, and also any other points under which it might be competent for the Minister to make an order, because where the deficiency is due to labour or material the only point raised in the Amendment suggested by my right hon. Friend—
Is the hon. Member not aware that those words can only mean in their proper interpretation something in the nature of a deficiency of materials or supplies, and if the Attorney-General were here, he would tell him that the words would be construed in that sense? They are limiting words.
I hope the Committee will accept the Amendment of my right hon. Friend in place of the three Amendments to which reference has been made. It may be true that they are in general terms, but the Committee must bear in mind that the object of considering this is to determine whether the Minister shall make an order, and it will not be merely for the Minister to decide that for himself. That, of course, will have to come before the House, and the House will then consider whether, not merely these considerations which have been emphasised in this Debate, but other considerations, are such as to entitle the House to bring the agreement to an end. I hope the hon. Members who have the three Amendments in question on the Paper will withdraw them, when my right hon. Friend will move his Amendment at the appropriate place.
I should not have intervened had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague), who, I understand, represents, or is connected with, the building trade, and I should like to ask the Committee not to take too much notice of his speech. I can bring evidence that there are going to be substantial efforts made to substitute the ordinary building by a fresh process of building, which will probably very seriously influence the situation. On Saturday I was down in my constituency, and I was very much surprised to find a notice in the local paper, in very thickly leaded type, that the Royal Agricultural Society's show-ground, with other sites within the city of Leicester, had been purchased by a syndicate, which was going to put up at least 1,500 houses at a cost of £250 each, without any subsidy whatever from the Government, and that those houses were to be let at a sum of 9s. a week each. There was to be no application, I was informed, for the subsidy. The full details of the project were not put into the paper, but we have here a private enterprise which is going to invest £375,000 in the erection of 1,500 houses at £250 each, and I put it to the Committee that no syndicate of private builders are going to invest any such sum as that unless they are very fully persuaded in their own minds that they are going to get a fair and adequate return for their money.
If the hon. Gentleman who has spoken is firmly convinced from his experience of the trade that no houses erected of concrete will be of any permanent value, his opinion is altogether different from the opinion of these people, who are prepared to back up theirs by the provision of this very large amount of capital. This proposal has been a kind of bombshell to the city of Leicester. The City Council has been going on painfully building houses with the labour that is available, and all that I desire to do is to point the attention of the Committee to this fact, which cannot be got over, and to suggest that the future of the Bill should be taken into consideration with this fact clearly in mind, so that in the investment of this huge sum of money, which I calculate will come to £1,350,000,000, spread over the 60 years, and that in the initial stages, during the first 15 years, will cause to be provided the sum of £1,200,000,000 to be handed over to the builders, this new situation which has arisen, and which, if successful in Leicester, no doubt will be imitated all over the country and may have a very potent influence on the proposals which are being brought forward, may be taken into account. I hope the Committee will be interested to know this fact, and will bear it in mind in any future consideration of this subject.
On a point of Order. There is another Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. P. Oliver) and others dealing with apprentices.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:
I beg to move, in page 5, line 32, at the end, to insert the words
other than houses in respect of which a local authority have before that date, with the approval of the Minister, either themselves commenced election or entered into a contract therefor.
This Clause deals with the circumstances under which the Minister may make an order declaring that no contributions shall be made, and the purpose of my Amendment is to exclude from any such order houses which have already been commenced or sanctioned by local authorities and approved by the Minister. It seems to me to be such an obviously common-sense Amendment that I believe the Minister will feel compelled to accept it.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, to leave out from the word "houses" to the end, and to insert instead thereof the words
approved by the Minister or die Board, the erection of which has been commenced, or in respect of which a contract has been entered into before that date.
I hope the Minister and the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) will see their way to substitute the Amendment which I am moving, for this reason. The Amendment of the hon. Member deals only with houses that are being built by e local authority. It is very undesirable, as I think the Minister will agree, that where a public: utility society or a private company has had houses definitely approved, they should be penalised any more than the local authority. I think they will agree that these words should be made general, so as to apply to any houses approved by the Minister. That is the sole object of the words I have put down.
My intention was that the Amendment I accepted should cover what the Noble Lord has suggested, and, perhaps, in the circumstances, as it will be necessary to give the matter some consideration, the Noble Lord will leave it to me to see that an Amendment is inserted to meet the purpose of both these Amendments.
I am bound to object to the Amendment, and to bring personal experience to the notice of the Committee upon this point. I have personal experience of a firm of builders in Lancashire, who were building about 500 or 1,000 houses for the Manchester Corporation, withdrawing all their bricklayers from commercial building, and putting them on to these houses, in order to lay a foot of brickwork so as to bring them within such a Clause as we are considering, and thereby obtain the advantage of the terms. What the Minister now proposes is absolutely undercutting the whole Bill in so far as the right to withdraw contributions in certain eventualities is concerned.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 32, at the end, to insert the words
The order shall be published in the 'London Gazette' and the Edinburgh Gazette,' but the date specified in the order shall not be earlier than nine months after the date of publication of the order.
This Amendment is to safeguard the position of local authorities. There is nothing in the Clause to ensure that the local authority has due notice of any order issued by the Minister for the withdrawal of the contributions. That is the first point. I should like the Minister to assure me that local authorities shall have due notice of an order. My second point is that there are two dates mentioned in this Clause, namely, the date of the order itself, and the date specified in the order. The date specified in the order is the date after which no further contributions will be payable. What I am suggesting in my Amendment is that it would better safeguard local authorities if there were some definite ascertainable time between the date of the order and the date specified in the order, after which no further contributions would be payable. It is very important that the local authorities should have an opportunity of knowing how long they have to finish houses, so that they may not be deprived of their contributions, and, by making some exertion for a short period of time, they may be able to earn those contributions. Therefore, I urge an
Amendment of this sort to ensure these two things, first of all due official notice of the order, and, secondly, as ascertainable time between the date of the order and the date specified in the order, so that the local authorities may have due notice, the object of the Bill being to produce houses, and not to take away the contributions front the local authorities.
I suggest to the hon. Member that, on the first point, the Amendment is not necessary. The order is required to be placed before Parliament, and, therefore, its existence will be known to the whole world. I am quite satisfied that the reports of Parliamentary proceedings have a wider circulation than the medium proposed in this Amendment. As regards the second point, if the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (3) of this Clause, he will see that the date has to be specified in the order. It is left to Parliament to fix the date, and I am sure Parliament will take the reasonable view that the hon. Member takes, that we should not plunge a local authority, that has been doing its best, into difficulties because certain circumstances have arisen.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 33, to leave out the word "may," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall."
The making of an Order should not be left to the discretion of the Minister. Either a sufficient number of houses is not being erected under a scheme, or the cost of the houses erected is excessive and extravagant. Those two causes are so important that, I submit, the circumstances ought to be brought before Parliament, which should be consulted as to whether the scheme is to be continued under the new circumstances, or wound up, and the Order made by the Minister accepted. The Attorney-General may have something to say on this matter. I am not a lawyer, and do not profess to be. It is the old controversy between "may" and "shall." I know legal authorities sometimes say that "may " in an Act of Parliament means "shall," but if we mean "shall," then "shall " should be put in the Bill, and the Bill be made mandatory. It should not be left to the discretion of the Minister. The Minister has discretion as to the making of an Order in Sub-section (1), but in Sub-section (2) Parliament should be informed whether the Order is to be made, or even if the Order is not to be made. These two reasons are fundamental, and surely no one, however able and however well-intentioned, ought to be given this discretion.
Perhaps it will satisfy the hon. and gallant Gentleman if I show him that, if his Amendment were carried, it would have exactly the opposite effect from the one he has stated. He said he is anxious that Parliament should be consulted with regard to the making of an Order. If this Amendment were carried, it would not be necessary to consult Parliament at all, because the Minister is given his instructions now that he "shall" make the Order, and even although a local authority had only one house short of the number stated in the Schedule, and although it was perfectly obvious that if the Order came before Parliament, Parliament would reject it and the country would not tolerate it—even it all these circumstances were to exist, if this Amendment were carried, the Minister is here and now instructed that he "shall" make an Order. Speaking from memory, there is a further Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member in which he says that that Order would continue to operate unless a Resolution were passed by Parliament cancelling it. So that he is taking the whole power of Parliament and handing it over to the Minister, while arguing at the same time that Parliament should be consulted.
I submit that the Minister is quite wrong. It. is the old question of "may" and "shall." I think the whole Committee are agreed that if the scheme breaks down, the Minister has, over and over again, threatened the building trade that he will make an Order to put an end to the contributions.
Quite. Whether the Minister makes an Order under "may" or "shall" the Order equally comes under Clause 6, which says:
Before any order is made by the Minister and the Scottish Board of Health under this Act, a draft of the proposed order shall he laid before the Commons House of Parliament.
The point is this: By virtue of the word "may," which my hon. and gallant Friend seeks to leave out, in order to insert "shall," there is a discretion left to the Minister, who may submit the matter to Parliament, but if the word "shall" is inserted, then the Minister must make the Order. The matter, however, is provided for by Clause 6, and this carries out the undertaking given by the Minister over and over again, that if the building trade, so to speak, do not come up to the scratch, then he will make the order.
If this alteration be made in Sub-section (2) of the Clause so that it is provided that the Minister "shall" make an order, then it will make the Clause inconsistent with Clause 6. I do not think my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham, if I may say so, is quite right in what he said in this respect.
I am obliged to my hon. and learned Friend, but if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will look further they will see that the proposed Amendment is entirely inconsistent with the two following paragraphs. Quite apart, however, from the question of the Clause, and of more importance, is the question of the cases that may arise, for it may so happen—it is quite conceivable—that for some reason the projected schemes are not fulfilled, and it is not desirable, without knowing all the particular circumstances of the case, that the Minister "shall" be hound to make an order. However, there is a desire that this matter should be more fully discussed, and we shall try to find an opportunity for that, and I urge upon my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Gretton) under these circumstances not to press his Amendment.
The learned Attorney-General took a certain case, and I am glad to hear that he agrees that there is relevance in what has been put forward from this side on this particular matter. What I want is that Parliament shall be called into consultation in relation to these orders which are set out in the latter part of the Clause, and that it shall be clearly stated and brought before Parliament, and that Parliament shall have the power to control the action of the Minister. In view of the suggested consideration between now and Report, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 34, at the end, to insert the words
(a) if at any time after the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, the number of apprentices in each of the following trades, namely, bricklayers and masons, carpenters and joiners, slaters and tilers, plasterers, and plumbers, is less than one to every three craftsmen.
I should like some assurance from the, Minister in relation to this Amendment before I withdraw it. I should like an assurance, at any rate, on one or two points. There is one , point in which, I think, his proposed Amendment is far from effective as compared with the proposal not only of myself, but of my hon. friends (Mr. Simon) and (Mr. Alstead). In my Amendment there is a specific date. I have attempted to lay down that if there were a sufficient supply of houses produced by that date then this Order should not have effect Where there is not a sufficient supply of houses the contribution should be withdrawn. In the proposed wording of the Minister, it is necessary, in the first place, that there should be a deficiency of houses which may be caused by a deficiency of material or labour or some other reason—I think a rather important distinction. I should like the Minister to envisage what may happen at the end of the first year in
1927. Let us imagine what will happen then. At that period, according to the Schedule, as we have it in the Bill at the present time, there ought to be erected as a maximum 190,000 houses during the two years, or a minimum two-thirds of that number, that is to say 127,000. That is 90,000 houses approximately within the two years 1925–6. I have no doubt at all that these houses will be erected, It is a very moderate programme indeed. It is possible that at the end of 1926, or the beginning of 1927, you will have your required number of houses according to the scheme and, therefore, the Ministry cannot reconsider any scheme they have accepted.
You may have the requisite number of houses, but it may be obvious that you are under-staffed in apprentices and other labour for the great advance in 1927–8, and subsequent years. It may be quite possible at the end of the first period, though you may have your houses and no deficiency, that your labour is so inadequate that the scheme must sooner or later fall to the ground, and an extended programme be impossible. That is a matter which, I think, the Minister might well reconsider in this connection. In the wording that he has drafted there is one other point which I wish to make This is undoubtedly a limiting Clause. It would seem necessary to call in here the Attorney-General, who, perhaps, will give us the benefit of his opinion. If the Amendment of the Minister be accepted, it will limit the power of the Minister, and the time to terminate the Government contributions to places where a deficiency of houses is due to a deficiency in building material, the supply of labour, and similar cases. That is the interpretation under this Clause. It is the recognised way of interpreting documents, and it will be found that this Clause, so far from extending the powers of the Minister, actually limits those powers. If this Clause does so limit the powers of the Minister, I do not think we ought to be asked to accept it in lieu of some wider Clause, and I should like an assurance upon that point.
The Mover of the Amendment has said that his desire is that one of the conditions should be such as to provide for a supply of men and materials on a certain date. That is what I hope to do by my Amendment. It is true that the date in the Amendment is one on which we shall consider whether or not the building industry has kept its agreement, but I hope my hon. Friend will not press the date given, 31st March, 1926. The point has been made as to whether these words add anything effective to what is now in the Bill. I doubt it, and for this reason: The Bill as it stands now lays down (he conditions on which an Order can be made. The first, broadly, is that if the trade has not given us the number of houses promised; or that they have not given us those houses at the price promised. If the Ministry have these two conditions, I think there will he no difficulty in the question of the date. I might contemplate certain circumstances in which it will have been possible to comply with these conditions, and still may not have given us the spirit that has been promised. We may for sonic reason have a stoppage in commercial building. We might get during those two years a flow of labour from other quarters temporarily into the provision of houses. In that way we should get our quota for that period. But it is perfectly clear that in the future a certain number would be with drawn from house building, and that they would not have a sufficient number of recruits to provide the houses for the following period. It is to meet that contingency that these words were introduced as far as an essential and sufficient supply of labour and materials on a certain date are concerned, and we are assured by the building industry that this is provided for in my Amendment.
I am astonished at the last remark made by the Minister. He now suggests that the words proposed will not have a limiting effect. He says that at. present you have two grounds on which the Minister may make an Order; firstly, on the ground that the houses have not been delivered, and, secondly, on the ground that they have been delivered at an exorbitant price. I suggest two extra conditions, that if there is not enough labour or material there should be this limit, hut the Minister is not providing for anything of that kind. He simply says that, as regards the first of the circumstances mentioned in the Bill—when the houses have not been delivered—he should be able to make an Order where the houses have not been delivered owing to a shortage of labour or material. The Amendment is quite definite and provides for a continuance of this scheme subject to definite conditions as to apprentices, and I should like to support it for this reason. I should like to see something in the Bill which is quite clear and definite, and not merely a manifesto instead of a piece of legislation.
I want to ask the Minister a question about apprenticeship. The right hon. Gentleman said he was taking special steps to see that a number of apprentices was increased, and increased more rapidly than under the existing arrangements. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he had discussed this matter, not with the National Housebuilding Committee or the building industry, but with the men's leaders. He told us that he wished to enlist the assistance of the local education authorities, but that is no new proposal, and that is a scheme which has already been considered. The difficulty in the way is that the local education authority very strongly object to using their resources, even with the ordinary percent age grant, for pure craft trade. The Minister does not indicate how he proposes to do any of these things. He says that he has discussed this matter with the men's leaders, but not with the education authorities, and not even with the President of the Board of Education. He says that this is what he would like to do, but when he does it he will find that there is a very considerable difference of opinion about it. He has, however, taken one step. He has spoken to the men's leaders, and he also says that he hopes that if a scheme of training like this is undertaken the period of apprenticeship will be short, although he has no agreement to that effect and he does not say that he has discussed that particular point. Does the right lion. Gentleman mean that he has discussed with the men's leaders how to increase the num her of apprentices, and that he did not mention the only thing that really meters, and over which the leaders of the men have control, that is the period of apprenticeship demanded by trade union Rules? Surely when he brings forward an educational scheme, and says that he has only discussed it with the men's leaders and has not discussed the one point upon which they can assist him, it is rather a remarkable way of proceeding
We are really discussing the question of how to get the houses erected, and how to augment the supply of labour. This is the first opportunity I have had of speaking on this Bill. I would like to mention that I have served my apprenticeship in the building industry, and I have been the vice-chairman of the National Conciliation Board of the Building Trade. I have given very careful consideration to this Amendment, and it is evident that those responsible for it have started off on the assumption that the number of those engaged in the various grades in the industry at the present time are exactly in their relative proportions, and they desire to multiply them by three, and that is to be done by the date stated in the Amendment. I wish to point out that at the present moment the numbers required in the industry are in the proportion needed. There are, as a matter of fact, carpenters and joiners unemployed at the present time, quite apart from any strike or lock-out. There are slaters unemployed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] I am speaking with an intimate knowledge of the industry, and I know. Stonemasons and bricklayers were unobtainable, but I want to point out that, if this Amendment be incorporated in the Bill, you will simply drive the builder out of the business, because in accepting the contract you will provide that he has to supplement the number of apprentices, but not in the exact proportion in which they are needed in the respective trades, with the result that the contractor is going to have a surplus of carpenters and joiners over and above the number required. The result will be that in practice this Amendment will not work out in the interests of the community in the sense that it is going to give you more houses, but it is going to be a handicap as far as those engaged in the industry are concerned. The only hope of supplementing the labour obtainable is by obtaining the goodwill of those engaged in the industry either as em- ployers or operatives. If the operatives, apart, from the employers, see that this proposal is going to flood the number of men engaged in particular trades they are going to hold aloof from working the scheme, and on these grounds I appeal to those responsible for putting forward this Amendment to withdraw it, because it is not going to assist in supplementing the labour which is required.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 35, to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert instead thereof the words
(a) if, in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-six or in any succeeding year, the Minister and Board are satisfied that the total number of houses which have bean completed in the year last preceding and in respect of which contributions are payable is less than two-thirds of the number set opposite to that year in the First Schedule to this Act (being the maximum number completed in that year in respect of which contribution may be lawfully made).
This Amendment will give reasonable assistance to the Minister in defining the position with regard to contributions. Should he at any time find the amount of labour to be inadequate, or should he be unable to obtain co-operation, it would enable him to Come to a decision with regard to the contribution each year instead of every third year. That would necessitate altering the Schedule by putting down the number for each year instead of lumping them together as is
the case now.
The effect of this Amendment would be to make an annual revision an obligation on us, instead of the triennial revision now provided for. I submit to the Committee that it would not be reasonable that we should be deprived of the opportunity of having sonic period over which we could take an average. Houses are not things that you can turn out at the rate of so many per hour, and I think the three years for which we have provided is about the shortest reasonable period that. we could have inserted in the Bill. The proposal contained in this Amendment would not only he a breach of the understanding with the building industry, but would be a breach of the understanding with the local authorities, and I hope that the Amendment. will not be pressed.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 38, after the word "houses," to insert the words
for England and Wales or for Scotland.
Tins Amendment raises a point of considerable importance. We are dealing here with a transaction of extraordinary size. We are dealing with the expenditure of no less than £1,000,000,000 of public money, and it is urgently necessary to make sure that the scheme actually has a chance to accomplish what, no doubt, the Minister intends. One of the objects of the scheme is that it should provide a certain compulsitur over the building trade. I take it that it is not merely a scheme for shovelling out so much public money. The Minister desires to expend a very large sum of money with the abject of dovetailing a completed scheme together, of which the gist and essence is contained in the First Schedule to this Bill. The First Schedule lays down the number of houses which are to be delivered by the building trade in every accounting period. It may be, and I think it is, rather an unusual thing for us to realise that this Schedule provides, not merely for the houses which are to be supplied in England, but also for the houses which are to be supplied in Scotland, and that there is no differentiation whatever, nor any suggestion of any allocation, as between the two countries. I should like to point out to the Minister, firstly, that the guarantee which he claims to have got for England is by no means so firm a guarantee, if, indeed, it be a guarantee at all, in the case of Scotland. The Report of the Building Trades Committee, on which the Minister founds himself, has a separate section at the end dealing with the position in Scotland, and one finds there a very different resolution from the firm resolution, ending with the guarantee, which is really the bones of the Building Trade Committee's Report. The only resolution which was specifically passed dealing with this question in regard to Scotland was as follows:—
Subject to satisfactory conditions and guarantees the building and materials industries in Scotland are prepared to do the utmost to help the Government in the proposed housing scheme.
There is no word or suggestion of any fixed estimate such as has been delivered to the Minister in dealing with the United Kingdom as a whole, and, further, it states that
The Committee desires to add that it is in sympathy with all the views and proposals indicated in the other sections of the House Building Report.
"In sympathy" is a very much weaker statement than the statements which have been made dealing with the situation as it applies to the United Kingdom as a whole. The guarantee should apply, surely, with much greater force in Scotland than it does in England. The housing conditions, and, indeed, all the conditions, are lamentably worse in Scotland than in England. If they need remedying anywhere, they need remedying in Scotland. If they are falling behind anywhere, they are falling behind in Scotland. If there is a shortage of labour anywhere, there is a shortage of labour in Scotland. The shortage is greater, the need is greater, and, therefore, the need for this compulsitur over the building trade is greater in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom. Let me point out that we are not dealing here with a mere suggestion brought forward by the Opposition. Let me point out the view of the Government on this matter—the statement made by the responsible Minister on the Second Beading of this Bill. The Under-Secretary for Health, on the Second Reading of the Bill, gave the following pledge to the House:
If I understand the Bill aright, it contains provision for a total of 2,500,000 houses to be built in the course of 15 years. Of that number something like 500,000 are to he allotted to Scotland, a much greater number than in proportion to its population because of the particular circumstances that affect housing in Scotland in a greater degree than in England."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1924; cols. 150 and 157, Vol. 175.]
There is not a word, not a whisper, of that in the Bill. There has never been a suggestion from the responsible Minister that that is the Minister's intention, or that he intends to take any steps to carry out this pledge, which was given on the Second Reading of the Bill only last month on the Floor of the House by the. Minister responsible. I submit that we are entitled to claim that the Government should put into this Bill what they have said on the Floor of the House. We are
not acting unreasonably in asking them to implement their verbal pledge by legislation, and to that one must have some words enacting that the quota of houses must be delivered by the building industry in Scotland as well us in England. It would be madness for us to leave this Bill to go through as it is, because, in such circumstances, of the 190,000 houses that it is proposed to build in the first two years, 180,000, or, indeed, the whole 190,000, might be built in England. That is what the Minister has brought forward—a legislative proposal suggesting that a certain number of houses should be built, and if they are all built in the part of the country which needs them least, we shall have no power whatever of breaking our agreement, or even of calling the attention of the trade to the fact that it is falling behind as compared with its agreement. Everything that the Minister has said this afternoon strengthens and reinforces the case that I am now trying to make, and the Attorney-General has pointed out that "may" means "may" and "shall" means "shall." The passing of such an Amendment as this would not compel the Government to make any order, but would merely leave it in their power to say to the building trade: "You are falling behind with your proposals as far as regards Scotland, and, if you do not take steps to augment the supply of building labour in Scotland, then we shall have the right"—not the necessity—"to determine the scheme and call some new scheme into operation." I have tried to set out the position with re Bard to the number of houses in Scotland in an amended Schedule which the Committee will find later on the Paper. I have set out, firstly, the number of houses which would be built in Scotland according to the pledge—which I think was a somewhat rash pledge—given by the Minister, and, secondly, according to the allocation which would give bare justice as between the two countries. I would especially ask my colleagues from Scotland to consider the proportions of the Goschen basis on which the taxation is collected, and to note that, unless we obtain at least the number of houses in proportion to the Goschen basis, the Bill of the Minister will lead to this incredible anomaly, namely, that money would be raised from the worst housed part of the kingdom to subsidise building in the better housed part of the kingdom.
I put it to the Committee as a whole that we are still carrying out building under the Addison scheme which is necessary to bring our allocation up to the Goschen basis. We had an extension of the number of houses for a year beyond England in carrying out the building of our Addison houses, and we have, or shall need, another extension of a year. We have had from the Secretary of Scotland the statement that when the period of grace expires, on the 19th August this year, we shall still have 2,000 houses to complete under the Addison scheme, and we have been able to obtain from the Treasury the assurance that, the whole of that will he carried out, and that the State will pay every penny of the deficit on those houses. The hon. Member has asked, what about the scheme that was introduced when we were sitting on the benches opposite—the other subsidy scheme? I would point out to him that this is a 15-year programme, while we were dealing with a two-year programme. We were dealing with an admittedly experimental situation, and, what is more, we had our safety-valve, we had a balance in our scheme which is not present in this scheme. We had a slum clearance scheme under which, as the hon. Gentleman may be interested to know, I secured an allocation eight times as large as our due proportion in comparison with England. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] That was absolutely just; it was absolutely. necessary. That was a carefully balanced scheme, and, as Scotland was falling behind on the subsidy houses, we prevailed upon the Treasury to allot us a larger and larger sum to balance that under the slum clearance proposals.
In the Minister's Bill—and, indeed, it is one of the greatest defects of the Bill—he has wrecked the slum clearance proposals by allotting 60 per cent. for new houses while only allowing 50 per cent. for slum clearance—a proposal which I could not conceive anyone bringing forward unless I saw it actually here in the Bill before me. That, again, means, of course, that from the poorest of the poor their pennies and farthings will be wrung to subsidise well-off people who can afford to pay 14s. or 15s. a week for villas on the outskirts of our great towns. What I am concerned about is to make sure—[Interruption.] Hon. Members are, no doubt, very anxious that the Bill should pass, and, indeed, so am I. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have a platform like this on which to do our campaigning in the forthcoming year. I am trying to injure my case in the forthcoming election, because if I could go to Shettleston, Gorbals or Camlachie and tell them that the Minister has refused my proposal to make sure that for every £1 they contribute in taxation they shall get back £1, and that he has said, "You shall pay 30s. in taxation and only get in housing, you shall pay 10s. subsidy to the men who live in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, and you in Gorbals, Camlachie and Shettleston will sit there and rot in your stinking tenements because it is not my intention to alter the suggestion which I have brought forward," I promise myself some hours, and indeed some weeks, of very entertaining campaigning. [Interruption.] Do not let it be suggested that that. will be accounted to the Labour Government for righteousness. I think hon. Members from Scotland will appreciate the situation into which we have drifted in that country, and the fact that it is very difficult for us to carry out the scheme, not for lack of finance, not for lack of good will, but simply for lack of labour. I have put forward two suggestions to the Minister in the Schedule. The first is the suggestion which the Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland, himself put forward, that we should have houses in the proportion of one in Scotland for four in England. I put forward the other suggestion, that we should have our eleven-eightieths, and that means for the first two years that we should have 26,000 houses. The Minister has laid it down that the building trade is only to complete 2,000, which comes to something like 17,000 houses, and that is the programme left for the Minister by the Tory Government when it went out of office. Is he going to say he has come here for £1,000,000,000 of public money and cannot even guarantee to complete the programme the wretched, miserable, reactionary party left?
It is far more important to realise the description which will be given of the Minister's proposals if and when they come to be, considered by the local authorities of Scotland and by the nation as a whole. I believe Members from English constituencies also will agree in this, that Glasgow is the running sore of the Empire just now. The housing conditions in Glasgow are a disgrace to the Empire of Great Britain. The House as a whole would be willing to make some great effort to deal with the housing situation that exists in certain plague spots of the country, of which I regret to say Western Scotland is one, and if they realise that in spite of the great efforts that we are making, in spite of the enormous expenditure of public money, in spite of the great Bill which the Labour Government has brought forward as its attempt to deal with and to solve the housing difficulty, we are not even going to get as many houses as the programme the Tory Government laid down, I believe there will be an outburst of indignation which will sweep the Government out of existence. [Interruption.] I am more interested in houses than in which group of men sit on that side. I will tell you another thing as a Scotsman. I am more interested in money, and I am not anxious to see the people of Scotland taxed to a higher degree than under this scheme they are going to receive any return for. That is what the legislation introduced by the Minister lays down, and, if the Government resist this Amendment, and indeed they have shown no sign of accepting it, they can only be resisting it because of the fact that they do not believe they will get the houses. There is no reason why they should not at least guarantee us our eleven-eightieths unless they believe that by guaranteeing it they would wreck the Bill.
I listened to the brave words of the Minister this afternoon. He said, when he was resisting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Simon), "Do not let us compromise with the building trade. Let us tell them, 'If you do not deliver the houses, we are going to stop. You have to deliver the houses.' " He says he has taken no power, and he is about to resist the steps we are taking to give him power, to say that to the building trade in his own country and in his own constituency. We say, "Deliver the houses, not merely in Leeds or in Sheffield, but in Shettleston." The Minister says, "No, I cannot be bothered with Shettleston. We cannot have a great scheme like this stopped because of some petty little consideration such as this." If we are not to have our proportion, that means that we shall be paying for houses which we do not receive. We in Scotland need our whole proportion, and could well do with a proportion over and above what we have been granted in the Bill, and, indeed, as high a proportion as that promised by the Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland. You cannot expect complete unanimity in any United Kingdom Government on the subject, but I claim that my Scottish colleagues will bear me out. Therefore, I am anxious to see whether, even at this late hour of the progress of the Bill, the Minister cannot find it in his heart to accept the Amendment. These words do not put any compulsion on him. They merely give him the power. If it says, "You may make an Order," that will go a long way to carrying out what I believe was in his mind when he brought forward the scheme, that we should not merely expend a certain amount of public money, but that in the expenditure of it we should acquire a certain power over the building trade of the country which we should be able to use to make sure that labour was brought into the industry to carry out the needs of the country, which at present it is unable to carry out, not because of the lack of money but because of the lack of men, and to some extent of material.
I do not observe much in the way of general fundamental principles in following the wanderings of Members of the Opposition. I think this attempt to divide us up logically, not merely into England and Scotland, but into areas and towns, and probably wards, is the latest form of Unionism. I am rather pleased to see, and my optimism is confirmed as I see leading Members opposite, as the discussion of this Bill progresses, turning their minds more and more to the idea that we are going to get houses under the Bill and away from the idea, that we heard so much of in the earlier stages, that it was going to stop the building industry. In reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument, may I say that this Amendment would be a complete departure from the agreements that we have entered into. Taking the building agreement first, it was a national agreement. Scotland was represented at the various conferences with the building industry, and the Scottish building representatives never suggested that we should enter into a separate agreement with them. What applied to the builders applied also to the manufacturers. When we came to deal with the local authorities, again it was a national agreement that we reached, and the Scottish local authorities were represented at the conference.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite right in saying that the needs of Scotland axe much greater than the needs of any part of England and Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] You may get small parts of England and Wales in Which the conditions are equally bad, but for a mass of insanitary houses I do not think you will get anything in Great Britain which will compare with Scotland, and particularly with certain parts of Glasgow. I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will also agree with me in this. We have been talking a good deal to-day about the adequate provision of men and materials, but the shortage of men and materials is greater in Scotland than in any other part of the country, and there is a natural explanation. Scottish houses, until quite recently, were almost invariably built of stone, and we have very few brick works and bricklayers in the country. We have now completely changed the form of construction, but it will take us some years to overtake England in the production of men and of material.
If this Amendment were carried, I am satisfied that it would injure Scotland and not help her. The hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks about splitting up the number of houses provided for in the Schedule. These are minimum and not maximum numbers. England and Wales will not object if you can so rapidly augment the supply of men and materials in Scotland as to get even more than your quota in the earlier years. I should say the hon. and gallant Gentleman would spend his time much better, instead of painting those fanciful appeals that he can make to the electors of all parts of Scotland outside Kelvin-grove, in joining—[Interruption.] I congratulate him on the success with which he contested Kelvingrove, but do not let him imagine that because of his victory there the same appeal will be successful if applied to all parts of Scotland. He himself knows, by unfortunate experience, that it would not. If you adopted this Amendment, how could you reasonably object to a similar Amendment from Wales? How could you reasonably oppose a similar Amendment for the rural areas of England? Indeed, to carry this out logically you would divide up Scotland and leave out the districts which had fairly decent housing conditions, and you would say, "In the rationing of housing, you must wait until these backyard portions have been provided for." You would work yourself down into such a crippled state that in trying to provide for everyone you would end by really providing for no one. Further, is the hon. and gallant Gentleman going to follow up the Amendment logically and say that if Scotland does not produce its quota of houses by 1927 an Order to stop the scheme in Scotland shall be made by the Minister? If he is going to do that, from my knowledge of Scotland, I have no hesitation in prophesying that, unless we get assistance from new methods of production, we cannot overtake it in Scotland within the three years. We can over-take the programme in my opinion without any extraordinary effort if we take the country as a whole. But, as he knows, we have to make up a leeway in Scotland that does not exist in England and Wales. He would be doing this for Scotland, that at the end of 1927, if his Amendment were adopted, housebuilding would stop in Scotland while it was flourishing in England and Wales. I am sure the hon. and Gallant Member does not want that to happen, and I hope the Committee will regard this as a national agreement with both the building industry and the local authorities, and pass it as a national agreement.
I should like to make a few remarks on the speeches just delivered by the Minister in charge of the Bill and by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Captain Elliot). I wish to say that I am in almost entire agreement with most of the remarks made by my hon. and gallant Friend, and, I think, if he will consider his speech in the morning, he will come to the conclusion that he was advocating a separate Bill for Scotland. I think he himself was responsible for including the Scottish Bill in the English Bill. At that time I ventured to say that was a bad thing for Scotland. I am sure my colleagues from Scotland hold the same view. To-day, I find my hon. and gallant Friend making it perfectly plain to anybody who listened that the conditions in Scotland are different. The lack of material and labour is greater, and everything connected with the housing trouble is as different as it can be from what it is in England. I am quite in agreement with him that we ought to have something more definite from the Minister. We all realise that, particularly in the western area of Scotland, there is a colossal demand for houses. Might I also put in a plea for the crofting counties. My right Friend the Minister for Health in this Bill has not said a single word with regard to the difficulty of housing in the North of Scotland. In every other Bill there has always been special legislation for the crofter counties. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend whether it is the intention of the Government to include any provision for crofting houses. Unless we get some assurance on that point, either from him or from the Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland, we shall do what we can to oppose the remaining stages of the Bill.
I am in agreement with my right hon. Friend in this. He starts on common ground with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove. They both admit that there is a. shortage of men and materials in Scotland. If you start from that premise, it stands to reason you cannot expect to get the same amount of houses built in Scotland as in England. Under this Clause, there is a penalty imposed upon any country which does not produce within a limited time two-thirds of the houses. Two-thirds is very large. It may be 90,000 for Scotland, if we are going to believe the statement of my right hon. Friend. It is admitted that there is no material and not sufficient men to produce such a number of houses. If we cannot produce the two-thirds in Scotland, then, under this Clause, we are penalised, and no money is to be given. If these are the facts, I do not think I, for one, can support my hon. and gallant Friend. We are all anxious in all parts of the House to get as large a number of houses as possible. I should like very much to see eleven-eightieths. I should like to see the 500,000 which the Under-Secretary for Health has promised us. At the same time, I must take cognisance of what is in the Act of Parliament, and I am content to rely on the Minister of Health, who is a Scottish Member, to see that everything possible will be done to secure that the number of houses for Scotland is as large as possible.
I have sympathy with the Mover of this Amendment, who, as a Scottish Member, seeing Scotland has to pay its share towards the gigantic cost of this Bill, tries to secure that Scotland should have its fair proportion of houses. What amuses me is the attitude of the Minister. His only argument against my hon. and gallant Friend is that to agree to this Amendment would be contrary to his agreement. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that representatives of the building industry in Scotland were present at the conference in which the agreement was made, but apparently they did not undertake to do their bit. I think my hon. and gallant Friend is perfectly justified in pointing out to his compatriots that, under this Bill as it now stands, Scotland will have to take a share, but the Government refuses to guarantee that it will get its share of houses. There is another thing, and that is the absolute silence of the Scottish Members on the back benches on this question. I could imagine what would have happened if a proposal of this sort had been brought forward by a wicked Tory Government. Why, even the Clyde quartette are not here to voice their indignation. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) put in a cursory appearance at the bar and listened to the right hon. Gentleman making his speech, but he did not think it worth while coming into the House to raise his protest, not even when the Minister said, if it was necessary to insist on a definite number of houses for Scotland, it would be equally necessary to insist on a definite number of houses for several parts of England. An hon. Member suggested West Ham. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs did not even come in to protest against the comparison between Scotland and West Ham. We have heard of extinct volcanoes, but I do not think we have had such an instance of lions being turned into lambs.
I rise to support the Minister for Health. My reason for not liking this Amendment is that I think it would work out very badly for Scotland. I take that view very largely for the reason that the task of getting any good number of houses for Scotland within a reasonable time is a very much more serious one than it is for England. According to the inquiries which I have made, and everybody seems to be agreed, it is much more difficult to get labour and material, and therefore it will be much more difficult for Scotland, if a quota be given to her, to be able to complete them in the time. What will be the result if the Amendment be adopted? You would have a separate quota for Scotland. If Scotland failed to get the number, you might have the whole contributions from Scotland, as provided in the Clause, cancelled. Is that a condition which anyone desires to see. My right hon. Friend seems to assume that it is otherwise. It seems to me to be perfectly clear in the Bill and the Amend- ment that if Scotland does not compete you must have the Scottish contribution cancelled
Not necessarily, It has got to be applied for by the Scottish Board of Health. It is a joint order made by the Scottish and English Ministers, and we have already passed words making it purely permissive. It is purely permissive at the will of the Scottish Minister.
It scorns to suggest to me that an order would be of no value whatever. I am not prepared to expose Scotland to the risk of being treated separately in this way. The other point to which I wish to refer is this. He seemed to think that under the Bill as it stands you might be in this position that all the houses for England would be built and none for Scotland, and Scotland would be bound to contribute to the houses for England. But suppose he got his quota for Scotland, Scotland would be in the same position. There is nothing in the Amendment which says that Scotland shall not contribute. From that point of view also—an important point of view I agree—the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member would be quite helpless so far as Scottish interests are concerned. I believe that the real interest of Scotland is that building should be a national concern, and I believe that Scotland will be better under an undivided number of houses than if she had a separate Bill.
This is an interesting position we have reached. I entirely agree that Scotland should have its proper quota. So ought England Apparently, this Amendment is a permissive one and leaves the Minister to make some unholy deal behind Parliament and behind the House of Commons as to what is to be the quota of Scotland and England. Is that a position in which we ought to leave this matter? I suggest that the Minister in this case is right in opposing this particular form of Amendment, and he is wrong in not taking care to secure that Scotland shall have her valid proportion of houses. The truth is that England, Wales and Scotland are very doubtful of the success of this Bill. The only chance the Minister has is to carry the whole thing forward in a kind of hotch-potch, no one knowing where they are, listening to vague promises and his optimistic hopes that we shall get something out of the Bill and that houses will be built. I would suggest that there is another form of Amendment which might be made. What is required is a Bill for Scotland. Let us convert this Bill into a Bill for Scotland. We have already got one in England which is working very well, and perhaps the one now before the Committee would better suit Scotland. We in England at any rate do not care for it.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say one word with regard to the position which I, as an unfortunate Englishman, occupy in looking at this particular matter. I have not the honour to be a Scotsman or a Welshman. Hon. Members for Scottish constituencies above and below the Gangway, by their speeches on this Amendment, have shown that they are unanimously in favour of having a quota for Scotland and a corresponding quota for England, although it will make it a little more difficult for the right hon. Gentleman to get his Housing Bill through, for you might get more houses in Scotland overlapping the quota and a number in England below the proper minimum, or the case might be vice versa. At any rate, this Amendment does raise a point which must be decided at some time, and that is as to the proper relationship both in regard to finance and in regard to housing of England and Scotland under the provisions of the Bill. It is quite possible that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that the condition of Scotland, as far as housing is concerned, is much worse than the condition of England, and he might feel bound to build more houses in Scotland and fewer in England. Of course, it might be the other way, but I am out for fair play between the two countries, and I think that there should be something in the Bill to provide that Scotland should not be taxed for an inordinate number of houses being built in England, and should only be taxed if there were an overplus of houses built in Scotland. I am reminded that this is the United Kingdom, but after the union, when we came to consider the financial relations between the two countries, we began to realise what Scotsmen were, and we found we had to be very careful to tie them up to ensure that they did not get more than their proper share of the plunder. If under this scheme a million houses were to be built in Scotland and 1,500,000 in England, that would be an impossible position from the financial point of view, and I do not think that even Scotsmen would approve of it. I hold, however, we should accept this Amendment in order to lay down the position that there must be a certain quota fixed and financial relations equalised between England and Scotland. Therefore, if my hon. and gallant Friend thinks fit to press this matter to a Division I shall support him, in view of the fact that the Minister of Health has not dealt with this question in his Bill, although it is a matter which must be dealt with sooner or later.
Sir BEDDOE REES:
If there were the slightest chance of this Amendment being carried I should, as a Welsh Member, move that Wales be excluded from the Bill and that England should be left alone. We need houses in Wales as much as you do in Scotland, but I do not want to assert on behalf of Wales that our conditions are worse there than in Scotland; indeed, I would be ashamed if that were the case. But because the authorities in Wales have been more active and more progressive in this matter, that is no reason why Wales should suffer loss, or why Scotland should be given an undue advantage.
Sir W. LANE MITCHELL:
Ever since the first Housing Bill was introduced claims have been put forward on behalf of Scotland for full consideration in regard to housing, and for a considerable period of years the housing trouble has been very acute in Scotland, where they have had No Rent manifestoes and movements of that kind. In spite of the deficit of houses in Scotland the Members from Clydeside do not appear to have thought it necessary to be present to support this demand for a certain quota for Scotland. I think the housing question on the Clyde is a disgrace to everyone connected with it. There certainly ought to be some speeding up, and the Clyde Members ought to have made it their business to be here and take part in this discussion and to see that their country gets its full share of advantage under this Bill. I certainly shall go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
|Division No. 173.]||AYES.||[7.25 p.m.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Forestier-Walker, L.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Frece, Sir Walter de||Nichol, Robert|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gates, Percy||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pease, William Edwin|
|Becker, Harry||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Perring, William George|
|Berry, Sir George||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Remer, J. R.|
|Blundell. F. N.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Harland, A.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Hartington, Marquess of||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Harvey, C. M. B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Henn, Sir Sydney H||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Burman, J. B.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Savery, S. S.|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Somerville, A. A.(Windsor)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Stanley, Lord|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland, Northn.)||Stuart, Hon. J.(Moray and Nairn)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hughes, Collingwood||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Cobb. Sir Cyril||Jephcott, A. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cope, Major William||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lamb, J. Q.||Wells, S. R.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lane-Fox, George R.||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Lumley, L. R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||MacDonald, R.||wise, sir Fredric|
|Deans, Richard Storry||McLean, Major A.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Elliot, Walter E.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Meller, R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Falle. Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Colonel Gibbs and Major Sir Harry|
|Ferguson, H.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Barnston.|
|FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Burnle, Major J. (Bootle )||Dunn, J. Freeman|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Alden, Percy||Cape, Thomas||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillisbro')||Chapple, Dr. William A.||Egan, W. H.|
|Alstead, R.||Charleton, H. C.||Falconer, J.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Church, Major A. G.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L|
|Ayles, W. H.||Clarke, A.||Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.|
|Baker, Walter||Climie, R.||Franklin, L. B.|
|Banton, G.||Cluse, W. S.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Gavan-Duffy, Thomas|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Comyns-Carr, A. S.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)|
|Batey, Joseph||Costello, L. W. J.||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Birkett, W. N.||Cove, W. G.||Gillett, George M.|
|Black, J. W.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Gosling, Harry|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Crittall, V. G.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)|
|Bonwick, A.||Darbishire, C. W.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Briant, Frank||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Greenall, T.|
|Bromfield, William||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Dickson, T.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Dodds, S. R.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Dukes, C.||Groves, T.|
|Buckle, J.||Duncan, C.||Grundy, T. W.|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Maden, H.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||March, S.||Snell, Harry|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Marley, James||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Martin, F. (Aberdeen & Klnc'dine,E.)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hardie, George D.||Maxton, James||Spence, R.|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Middleton, G.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Millar, J. D.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mitchell, R. M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mond, H.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Montague, Frederick||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Morel, E. D.||Sullivan, J.|
|Henderson, W. W.(Middlesex,Enfield)||Morris, R. H.||Sunlight, J.|
|Hillary, A. E.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Terrington, Lady|
|Hindle, F.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Muir, John W.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Hobhouse, A. L.||Murray, Robert||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hodges, Frank||Naylor, T. E.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Nichol, Robert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Oliver, George Harold||Toole, J.|
|Hudson, J. H.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Owen, Major G.||Turner, Ben|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Paling, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Palmer, E. T.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Viant, S. P.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Perry, S. F.||Vivian, H.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wailhead, Richard C.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Phillipps, Vivian||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Potts, John S.||Warne, G. H.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pringle, W. M. R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Purcell, A. A.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F.W. (Bradford, E.)||Raffan, P. W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Raffety, F. W.||Welsh. J. C.|
|Kedward, R. M.||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Westwood, J.|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Rea, W. Russell||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||White, H, G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Richards, R.||Whiteley, W.|
|Lansbury, George||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wignall, James|
|Laverack, F. J.||Ritson, J.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Law, A.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Williams, Dr J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Lawson, John James||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B.(Kennington)|
|Leach, W.||Romeril, H. G.||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent,Sevenoaks)|
|Lessing, E.||Scrymgeour, E.||Williams. T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Linfield, F. C.||Scurr, John||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Loverseed, J. F.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Windsor, Walter|
|Lunn, William||Sherwood, George Henry||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|McCrae, Sir George||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wright, W.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Simon, E. D.(Manchester,Withington)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|M'Entee, V. L.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Mackinder, W.||Smillie, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Alien|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Parkinson.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 42, at the end, to insert the words
(b) if the Minister and Board are of opinion that adequate arrangements have not been made for the necessary supply of labour and materials at reasonable prices.
This Amendment is very witch in the same terms as the one that I moved earlier in the Debate. I only move it formally now so as to give the Minister an opportunity of saying, I understand, that he is going to accept it.
I want to ask the Committee to accept the Amendment which I have already read, with one or two verbal alterations: In page 5, line 42, at the end, to insert the words
Whether the deficiency is due to the absence of adequate arrangements for the necessary increase in the supply of labour
(including any necessary augmentation in the number of apprentices employed) or for the necessary increase in the supply of materials at reasonable prices or arising from any other cause whatsoever.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 42, at the to insert the words
Whether the deficiency is due to the absence of adequate arrangements for the necessary increase in the supply of labour (including any necessary augmentation in the number of apprentices employed) or for the necessary increase in the supply of materials at reasonable prices or arising from any other cause whatsoever.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, at the end to insert the words
or in the event of the cost of the houses to be built exceeding the cost prevailing in January, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, for similar houses.
I have already ventilated my point of view, and hope the Minister will accept my Amendment.
I regard this as a very serious matter. Hon. Members have been discussing at great length the number of apprentices and the cost of materials on a certain date. The Minister has tried very hard to meet the difficulty, but I submit that in this Clause, which we ought not to leave to the, trade to fight out among themselves the cost of production, whether it be the question of materials or labour, we ought to lay upon them the responsibility to supply houses at a fixed price, based on prices ruling in Januaray, 1924.
On a point of Order. May I suggest that it is extremely inconvenient to the Committee to consider manuscript Amendments dealing with so many points as that which has been moved by the Minister, and then to be asked to consider a further manuscript Amendment, the effect of which the Committee cannot understand? May I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if any further Amendments of this manuscript kind could be considered at a later stage?
May I appeal to the hon. Member not to press his Amendment. It is not my duty to help the Minister, but the Minister has suggested a form of Amendment which has been accepted by all parties. We have been sitting for four hours, and we have not got through one Clause. There has been, I will not say a definite arrangement, but an understanding come to, through the usual channels, that we should endeavour to complete the Committee stage of the Bill to-night. If we go on for a very long time, it means that we shall be sitting here until 2 or 3 o'clock to-morrow morning. I do hope, therefore, that hon. Members will not be too lengthy in their remarks and that they will not move unnecessary Amendments.