Then, as I strongly support the Bill, I shall readily yield to the privilege of listening to my hon. and learned Friend, before I begin to make any remarks on my own account.
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
The extension proposed in this Bill is one of the largest that has been proposed for many years. The area of the City of Glasgow is already about 19,000 acres, and, as far as I can make out from the figures, it is proposed by this extension to add to it very nearly 30,000 acres.
It is certainly over 20,000. It may be that, since the extension was lodged, wiser counsels, though not very wise counsels, have prevailed, and that they have cut down the enormous area that was originally proposed. I do not know exactly what is now left. I am told that it is 12,000, but even 12,000 is a colossal addition. I understand that it is 21,000 in their own statement, but I understand the original figure was much larger. Even 12,000 acres is a colossal expansion, made at the expense of well-organised and well - administered neighbouring counties. I look in the Bill for a statement of the reason for it, and the only concrete statement I find as to the reasons for the addition is that the neighbouring counties adjoin the City of Glasgow. Of course, the larger the area that is taken, the more there will be adjoining them, and that might lead them to any distance.
Yes, they have an estate in Argyllshire, called Ardgoil. They state that the areas in question are to a great extent provided with gas and water by the Corporation. One would almost think that these were benevolent donations made to the inhabitants of the adjoining areas, but in point of fact they charge us 1s. for water, while they charge the inhabitants of Glasgow 5d., and yet we would rather pay the 1s. than come; inside the boundary. It is the same with the charges for gas. These are mercantile adventures, which are very well remunerated, and it is no reason for taking in these areas that these services are supplied from a common source. That could be done, and should be done, by co-operative effort between the different areas, but that is no reason for the administration being put on one basis and in one hands.
They also say that there are other communal services. I do not know what that means, unless it means the tramways. Certainly the tramways of Glasgow extend over a very wide area, but, according to the statement of the general manager of the Glasgow Tramways, these outside areas, particularly in Lanarkshire, are the best paying parts, and when they got leave to run the tramways over these different areas, it was expressly agreed that they would never allege the existence of the tramways as a reason for annexation. Therefore, we can rule out the other communal services, if they mean the tramways, as a reason for annexation of these areas. Then it is said that there is a community of interest between the added areas and the city; but there is a community of interest between us all, and that is not a sufficient reason. Then they say that the growth and development of the added areas is largely due to the prosperity of the city, and the extension of the activities of the corporation. If that were so one would have thought the corporation would have tried to take in Clydebank. Their sewage works are there. Why do they not take in Clydebank, and give it a hand in its present troubles?
Then they say they require increased housing accommodation. They have, however, plenty of room for building in Glasgow. They have an enormous area available. On this I should like to read some extracts from the evidence of Mr. Sutherland, the Water Engineer to the Corporation, before the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Glasgow Corporation (Water, Tramways, Etc.) Bill in 1014. He was asked:
Taking first of all the city itself, how many acres of land available for building, but not covered with building, are there within the city boundary?
And his answer was:
There are 11,170 acres unbuilt but buildable land within the city boundaries.
That cannot all have disappeared since 1914. The evidence went on as follows:
When you say buildable, you have to deduct something from that for open spaces and so forth, have you not?—Yes, but we do not know how it will be utilised.
Of course, it is a rough calculation, but if you deduct 30 per cent. for that, it leaves 7.819 acres, does it not?—It does. Then we presume that it will be occupied at the rate of 50 persons to the acre, which is a low rate for urban land.
It is a low rate for urban land, of course, if you confine yourself to the actual land covered with buildings?—Yes. The reason we took such a low rate is that we do not expect people will be allowed to build in Glasgow, even within the municipality, in the same crowded manner as in the past.
That would give within the city accommodation for close on 400,000 people, would it not?—Yes, to be accurate, 390.950.
You have besides that, as the map shows, a considerable area within your limits of supply which are beyond the city boundary?—Yes.
On the same basis, how many acres of that do you reckon available for building?—25,000.
That is after deducting the 30 per cent. again?—Yes."
I think that that clearly proves that the question of building does not come into this at all. They have an unlimited area for building. They may have schemes outside, but so have we, and before our building schemes in Renfrewshire—
Yes, I represent a county area, and I think it is my duty to protect counties against being urbanised.
One reason why this and the other two Bills should not be allowed to go forward now is that there has been a serious movement against these attempts to destroy county areas. County administration is just as efficient, if not more efficient than urban administration. There has been sitting for two years in England a Royal Commission appointed for the following purpose:
To inquire as to the existing law and procedure relating to the extension of county boroughs and the creation of new county boroughs in England and Wales, and the effect of such extensions or creations on the administration of the councils of counties and of non-county boroughs, urban districts and rural districts, to investigate the relations between these several local authorities, and generally to make recommendations as to their constitution, area and functions.
That Commission has been sitting and has taken a very large body of evidence contained in about six volumes. Its Report is expected out in a comparatively short time, and although England and Wales were not specifically stated to be included in it, and Scotland was not expressly mentioned, the very same principles that apply to England and Wales apply to Scotland in this connection. The Royal Commission for England and Wales was set up consequent on proposals by the cities of Leeds and Bradford to extend their boundaries at the expense
of the adjoining county areas. They proposed to take in the whole of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which was not to be tolerated. The Bradford and Leeds proposals were simply the culmination of a series of proposals of increasing magnitude which would have led to the destruction of county government in England and Wales. Under this proposal it would be impossible to carry on the adjoining areas of Renfrewshire. They would be so depleted in area and in population that they would cease to be economic or administrative units. May I read a statement by the late Viscount Long, who was responsible for the Bill establishing county councils, which was considered at the time, and still is I maintain, a great democratic proposal giving the right to the electors in these areas to decide their own government. Lord Long stated in the Memorandum which he submitted to the Royal Commission:
I had always in mind the probable necessity for borough extensions in some cases, and a provision for that purpose was inserted in the Local Government Bill at the outset. Never for one moment, however, did I anticipate that advantage should or would bo taken of that provision for the purpose of application for extensions such as those to which we have of late years unfortunately become somewhat accustomed. My own idea of the purpose of the extension provisions was and is that there should be proper opportunity for a borough to claim a moderate adjustment of its boundaries in cases where it could be shown either that, without such extension, the proper administration of the exixsting borough area would be unfair, or that an obvious and necessary outgrowth of the borough should, in the interests of good local government, be administered therewith.
There is nothing here about the needs of local government. The local government of the adjoining counties will compare well with the City of Glasgow. He further stated:
I have naturally, as the person most responsible for the 1888 Act, taken great interest in the system of county government thereby established and I have felt some reasonable degree of pride in the satisfactory manner in which the county councils have, to my mind, carried out the many duties which were then and have subsequently been imposed upon them. I look however, with serious misgivings upon the inroads that are constantly being made upon the territorial and financial integrity of the administrative counties and I cannot help but feel that a continuance of the present policy will ultimately lead to the disintegration of county government as we know it—a most regrettable result.
If you are not content with saying that the English Commission does not apply to Scotland, the principle applies to Scotland, and it will undoubtedly be the correct course to appoint a separate Commission for Scotland to go into the matter. All extensions in England and Wales have been stopped as the result of this Commission. The reason for this was set forth in 1922 by the then Minister of Health who said that to stop them was the only reasonable thing to do—
It is obviously mere foolishness to encourage an enormous expenditure of the ratepayers' money until we are in a position to decide. Until then all this money really goes for nothing and all this expenditure is thrown away. I certainly am not going to be responsible for encouraging anything of that kind.
That is the position here. Why should we put the unfortunate ratepayers in the City of Glasgow, and also in these counties, to the colossal expenditure which will be caused if the Bill goes upstairs? If the report of the Royal Commission comes out it is doubtful if the Measure will ever become law. Why cannot hon. Members wait? Do they want to get the Bill through before the Report of the Royal Commission comes out?
The rules of reasonableness apply to Scotland. If it is rational in England it will be rational in Scotland. Another objection to including this enormous area is that these huge areas are rapidly becoming unmanageable. The best possible city and county administration is one of a comparatively small area and volume of business. You want to have a town council sitting round a table knowing when the last drains were laid down in particular areas and able to follow out the whole details of management. You cannot have that with an enormous area. I was a member of the City Council of Glasgow many years ago. Even then the volume of 'business was colossal. It was practically a wholetime job. It was an enormous amount of work to read the minutes and documents. [An HON. MEMBER: "Did you read them?"] I read most of them. It was as hard work as being in this House. You could not follow the whole volume of the business, and if you increase the area of these towns to a colossal degree what will the result be? It will be a denial of democratic government, because the town councils cannot possibly understand what is going on, and it only means a little addition to the powers of the local borough officers. It is the local borough officers in all these cases who are at the bottom of these extension schemes. Even Glasgow itself was a better city in 1911, before it got its extension, than it is now. It was better administered. The council was smaller, and consequently more efficient. It is now as large as the Parliament of many of the smaller countries in Europe. It must be very difficult for them to look after the business of so enormous an undertaking as the Glasgow Corporation.
But there is also a moral and spiritual clement. If you get these enormous sizes the citizens tend to lose their civic rights and to lose their interest. This Bill is mainly the outcome of the empty ambition to be the second biggest city in the British Empire. Mere bigness is not an adequate ground. It is very much better to have small and efficiently administered communities. We do not desire to see our towns get greater and greater. Is not the blot on our civilisation the fact of the concentration of vast masses of people into huge towns, when what we really want to aim at is more to deurbanise the population, to get new small towns, to get our interests scattered and the people living in semi-rural conditions? This will not achieve it. This will lead to greater and greater congestion. It will take in an enormous area. The original proposal was 14,000 acres from Lanark, 11,000 from Renfrew and nearly 3,000 from Dumbarton. They propose to take £210,000 of rateable area from Lanark, £320.000 from Renfrew and £72,000 from Dumbarton. The inevitable result would be the complete destruction of the northern parts of Renfrewshire, and serious depletion of the resources of those well-administered parts of other counties. The whole trend is to go against these big areas towards decentralisation, and I feel sure that, from the Report that ought to be waited for of this Royal Commission, it will be found that the principles laid down are precisely contrary to these attempts to create bureacratic aggregations of populations and power. In these circumstances I appeal to this House to postpone this Bill for at least six months to give them an opportunity of getting the benefit of the Royal Commission, when the principles therein will be found applicable to Scotland as well as to England and Wales.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I wish to speak on behalf of those who are primarily concerned in this enormous extension which has been spoken of—I mean the people who are at present living in those areas which it is proposed to add to the boundaries of the City of Glasgow. Those areas are situated in the counties of Lanark. Renfrew and Dumbarton. I have the honour to represent a portion of the great county of Lanark, the portion which is more nearly adjacent to the boundaries of Glasgow and which would be most affected if this Bill were to pass into law. We are entitled to ask what are the views of the people whom it is proposed to hand over in this way as regards their municipal government. What are the views of those people? I can speak for those with whom I am connected, and I can say this, that no one at all wants to be annexed to Glasgow in (his way. I would point out that in this Bill no estimate has been made of the probable effects of this annexation as regards increase of rates or difficulties of administration or anything of that sort. All that is left to the imagination and to the feelings of those concerned. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that in the area in Lanarkshire which it is proposed to annex there is practically nobody who desires that annexation to take place. This Bill is opposed by the following bodies: by the county council of Lanark, by the two district committees of the lower and middle ward of Lanark, and by the Lanarkshire education authority, which is much interested in this question. Public meetings have been held at Bishopbriggs, Millerston, Stepps, Mount Vernon, Garthamlock, Lambhill, Burnside, Eastfield and Carmunnock. I have at home reports of a great many of these meetings, and in every case, by an. enormous majority, it has been decided that the annexation to Glasgow is not desired.
We used to hear a great deal about the time of the Treaty of Versailles of the expression "self-determination." That I believe to be an unsound doctrine with regard to international matters, because there are many other considerations that enter in. But with regard to a matter of this sort, I maintain that self-determination must come into the consideration of such a matter, and we are bound to consider the wishes of those whose lives will be so closely affected as is the case with regard to these people. Petitions have been lodged against this Bill by all the bodies and most of the people whom I have mentioned, and there is also opposition to this Bill within the City of Glasgow itself. It is a mistake to suppose that all the citizens of Glasgow are in favour of it because the Ratepayers' Federation have already published and circulated a document in which they give reasons for their dislike and objection to this Bill passing. One cannot very much wonder at that because we know what the effect of previous annexation has been with regard to rating. On every occasion in the history of the City of Glasgow when these annexations have taken place, they have always been followed by an increase in the rates. On the last occasion when Glasgow was increased in size, in 1912, the rates at that time amounted to 3s. 6d. in the £. In 1923 they had risen to 6s. in the £. There is no doubt whatever that if this annexation is granted, and if this Bill is passed into law, one of the first things that the city will do will be to engage in all sorts of schemes which will cast greater expense on the citizens, and there will in all probability be another increase in the rates. [Interruption.] If you will allow me to go on with my speech, I am sure you will all have an opportunity of saying what you have to say in favour of this Bill.
I quoted from a certain manifesto, and I was not bound to quote the whole of it. There is nothing in it so far as I know which I might not have quoted for my own purpose. However, I shall pass over that altogether. The last annexation to the City of Glasgow took place in 1912, and when that had been obtained the Chairman of the Committee of both Houses which examined the matter expressed himself as follows. He said:
Glasgow has obtained all that which, in my view, she requires for some time to come.
That was in 1912. I would call the attention of the House to the fact that in reality there has been a lapse of only two normal years since that last annexation took place and the chairman expressed himself in that fashion. With regard to the county of Lanark, in which I am interested, may I ask the House to consider what the effect upon that county will be if this annexation be granted. There is a small slice of the middle ward which it is proposed to annex, but of course the greater part is taken from the lower ward. In the lower ward, which has its own district committor, which administers the roads and public health separately from the rest of the county, which has its own housing scheme, and which is charged under the county council with the rest of the local government, it is proposed to take 12,870 out of 24,000 acres, 167,000 of population, and £161,310 of valuation. That is what is to be taken from the lower ward in Lanarkshire if the annexation comes into effect. In other words, the effect will be. speaking of the lower ward alone, that it will lose 51 per cent. of its area, 53 per cent. of its population, and 51 per cent. of its valuation.
I ask the House to consider what a serious matter that will be. If that were to happen the lower ward might have to be abolished altogether and combined with the middle ward. That would give rise to very great complications. There are areas devoted to special water and drainage districts, and there are housing schemes, and it would be a, matter of very great difficulty indeed to combine this lower ward with the other parts of the county. It would create a great deal of confusion and expense. It is unfair to the county of Lanark to subject it to such treatment as that. These are some of the reasons which lead me to second the rejection of the Bill. No one wants it. There is no real claim on the part of the City of Glasgow, because although their tramways do run out into the county of Lanark, and other places, still on every occasion when the county of Lanark has given permission for the City of Glasgow to run its tramways into the country the stipulation has been made that that is not to be considered an argument in favour of annexation.
With regard to water, gas and other subjects of that kind, Glasgow does supply places which are outside her own boundaries with Loch Katrine water, and also with gas, but it does so at a profit. People outside the city boundaries pay 1s. in the £for their water while citizens of Glasgow pay only 5d. in the £. A profit is also made from the gas. I have tried to arrive at some figure to show the increase in rates which will be inflicted upon the people living in these districts which it is proposed to annex if this Bill is carried. But it is very difficult to arrive at comparable figures, because the rates are imposed on a different system in the city from that by which they are regulated in the county, and in the county there are great differences, because we have special water districts, special drainage districts, and special lighting and scavenging districts, and we also have districts which are not within any of these districts, and, therefore; the total rating is a very variable figure, and it i? almost impossible to give one. But there is no doubt there would be an increase in rates for the people who are annexed. The calculation which has been given to me shows that it would vary from 5d. in the £up to 2s. 10d. in the £. That is a very serious matter for those who are asked to agree to the annexation of their districts to the City of Glasgow.
In conclusion I ask the House to consider the point which has been placed before it already by my hon. and learned Friend, namely, that a Commission is sitting and has been sitting for the last two years with regard to the principles upon which these extensions should be made in England. That, of course, has only an indirect application to Scotland, but there is no doubt that if any new principle is recommended by that commission, that principle would be applied to Scotland sooner or later. The Report of that Commission is almost due. I suggest that this is the wrong time to bring forward such a proposal as this. We should wait until we know upon what principle extensions of boundaries are to be made in Great Britain in the future. Over and above that, this is a period in which our country is passing through a critical time, more especially in the district for which I speak. The coal trade, the iron trade and so on are all very much depressed. For that reason I ask the House not to give this Bill a second reading, because it would mean immense expense both to the city and those other districts which will have to oppose this Bill if it goes upstairs. This is the wrong time to do it, and the people most nearly concerned are opposed to it, and for that reason I ask the House to reject the proposal here and now.
I confess that it is a great pride to me that the first speech which I have been privileged to make in this Parliament should be in favour of a Second Reading of this Bill. It is a Bill for the extension of the boundaries of Glasgow. A remark has been made that people in Glasgow are not unanimous on this question. I do not know how the hon. and gallant Gentleman would expect the opinion of Glasgow to be taken, but if he adverts to the ordinary means of obtaining the views of the populace, namely, that of the representative members of the Glasgow Municipal Council, he will discover that out of the municipal body of 113 members, only two wove against this Bill being proceeded with, and these two were not even so courageous as my two hon. Friends who have moved the rejection of this Bill, because all that they sought was a. period of delay for consideration. That in itself ought to be a very considerable factor in determining the attitude of the House of Commons upon this question. But I do not think that anyone here will Be surprised at the promulgation of a Bill of this kind at the present time, when the House is made aware that Glasgow, of all the great cities in this kingdom, is the most densely populated for the area that it occupies. It is true, of course, that in order to extend it must take some portions of the areas of the counties which surround it. That is a circumstance which is inevitable in all extensions of any borough, and unless you are to say that no borough shall ever be extended, it is obvious that counties must suffer, under the process of extension.
Extensions are not only contemplated by the Statute law of this country, but are regarded as inevitable. You will find that view set forth at great length through a great variety of Statutes which provide for the consideration of the precise questions which ought to be determined before such extensions are granted. Accordingly, we must take it that it is the contemplated movement in such a country as we inhabit that great borough areas will from time to time require to be extended, when we find the law laid down as to the considerations which should move men's minds in proceeding to determine such questions. Therefore, when considerations are put forward by counties with regard to the effect upon their particular fortunes if a borough is extended, it is obvious that that becomes a question, not for the House of Commons to decide in the first place, but a question which requires to be thrashed out before a Committee of the House of Commons, because in each case it must be a question of fact as to whether the extension is justified or not, and that is a matter of evidence.
For example, take this particular Bill. It proposes to take a portion of Lanarkshire, a portion of Dumbartonshire, and a portion of Renfrewshire. My hon. Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill has become a Member fur all the Counties of Scotland, and Argyllshire has extended itself across the Firth of Clyde to embrace a county which is very well represented by two of my Friends in this House who can speak for themselves and for their constituents. What may be the fate of this Bill in Committee when inquiry takes place I do not know. Lanarkshire may be able to put up a case against extension into their area, while Dumbartonshire may not. Renfrewshire may be able to show that none of their area ought to be taken. In fact there would happen, after inquiry, that which happens after every such inquiry, namely, that no one would get all he asked and no one preserve all that he seeks to maintain, but that the Committee, after hearing the evidence, comes to a decision as to what is fair and just in all the circumstances. How can the House to-night, upon the mere statement of individual Members here, without any evidence, at all come to a conclusion as to whether Glasgow is justified in making this application or not?
Almost from time immemorial, in dealing with such questions as this, or at least for as long a time as such Bills have come before Parliament, the common practice of Parliament has been to grant a Second Beading and to send the question in issue for inquiry before Parliamentary Committees. The matter is then sifted both by a Committee of the House of Commons and by a Committee of the House of Lords, and only if they agree can the Bill be put forward with the result at which the Committees have arrived. Thereafter there is still an opportunity for this House, if it disapproves of the result at which the House of Commons Committee have arrived, on the Report stage and with the evidence before them—not upon speeches such as we are making to-night—to decide whether in fact the result at which the Committee had arrived has been justified by the evidence. In the present circumstances and with a Bill of this importance the House will be very ill-advised to turn its back upon previous practice, and, without any evidence whatever to justify it, to arrive at a conclusion on the one side or the other. Someone may say, "Is there even a prima facie case here?" I agree that if there is no prima facie case at all, it is a waste of time to send this matter to a Committee. But I ask the House to consider for a moment one or two elements which stand out in the allegations which are made by this great city.
After all, when a Bill which is brought before this House upon the practically unanimous decision of a municipality such as that which governs the fate of Glasgow to-day, making certain statements of fact which this House is asked to inquire into, it would be almost monstrous, without any inquiry at all, to reject such a petition unless you can say that the statements in the petition are frivolous and do not deserve inquiry. What is the kind of thing which impresses one as soon as one looks at this particular Bill? Let me advert again to a fact which I have already mentioned. Glasgow is the most densely populated of any of the great cities of this Kingdom. Until I tell you what that really means it is impossible to appreciate the gravamen of the assertion. The situation to-day is that the density of population in Glasgow is four times that of Edinburgh; it is three times that of Leeds, a representative of which town I see here; three times that of Sheffield; two-and-a-half times that of Birmingham; and one-and-a-half times that of Manchester or Liverpool.
When I have stated those facts alone I have stated enough to justify an application for the extension of boundaries. If a prima facie case is demanded, is there not there a prima facie case on which this House would have full justification in acting? Already, as everyone knows who is connected with Glasgow, the population is spreading over into the surrounding areas, and a great part of the people, in fact, the main part of the people to be annexed, are working in Glasgow—[An HON. MEMBER: "Are they doing wrong?"]—I am not saying that they are wrong, but I am giving reasons why you should inquire as to whether the boundary should be extended. I am not asking the House to come to a decision tonight, but to remit these allegations to a Committee for the purpose of consideration. This is something that the House has never in similar circumstances refused. [HON. MEMBERS: "Leeds and Bradford."] I shall come to the Leeds and Bradford case in a moment.
I will pursue my argument apart from these interruptions. The main body of the people who would be annexed—to use a somewhat comprehensive term—under the provisions of this Bill, are people who are working in Glasgow although living outside. Their livelihood depends upon the activities of the great City of Glasgow. The Extension Bill of 1912 was mentioned by the Seconder of the rejection Motion, and I can quite understand the argument which asks, "why should you require another extension in so short a period of time as that between 1912 and 1925." The reason is very obvious when one considers the facts. In 1912 the communities which were added to Glasgow were, in. the main, populous areas with very little vacant space, and accordingly what was done then helped very little to relieve the congestion of people in Glasgow's small area. It almost staggers the imagination when we realise that Glasgow, with over 1,000,000 of population, has 10,000 acres less area than Edinburgh, with less than half a million population. That is the congested and restricted area within which Glasgow is compelled to do its duty.
I shall come to that point in a moment, and I think I shall give my right hon. Friend a not unsatisfactory reply, but I shall finish (he argument with which. I am dealing in the first place. The congested character of the area immediately reflects upon the health statistics. No one who knows anything about the administration of public health in the municipalities of this Kingdom will doubt my remark when I say that public health administration in Glasgow is well known to have been as progressive as that of any other town. The officials who have presided over that great Department have gained an eminence and a distinction which, I am certain, no one will deny them. The effect of the density of population on public health is broadly this, that although Glasgow spends an enormous sum every year on public health—£500,000 a year, or twice as much as Birmingham—nevertheless, owing to the conditions in which the people have to live, in this restricted area, you have statistics which stagger everybody who is anxious for the welfare of this great community. The number of deaths in Glasgow, both of infants and adults, is so high as to oppress the imagination, and when you are considering the extension of the boundaries, you are compelled to take into account the effect of this congestion upon the health of the people. If they cannot find within their own area, cleaner air and wider spaces to which to move the people, it is the duty of those who have the fortunes of these people in their hands to adopt every other means to bring about that beneficial result.
Now I turn to the point to which my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) referred. He asks why Glasgow does not build houses outside its own area. That is the very thing which Glasgow is compelled to do. Some statistics have been quoted from evidence given, I think, in 1914 by Mr. Sutherland, but I have statistics upon which I am prepared to stand, which show that there is only an area of 1,400 acres in Glasgow to-day available for building, and all that space is needed for ordinary slum clearances, and the requirements of the population within the area. If there is any dispute as to which set of figures is right, that only shows the necessity of going to a body where evidence can be laid upon both sides. The speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the rejection of the Bill would have been admirable if delivered before such a Committee, and I am sure they could have earned large fees in that process, but they were entirely inappropriate to the present occasion when we are dealing purely with the question of whether or not this important question should be dealt with by a Committee. On this housing question what is the fact? The truth is that Glasgow, in order to perform its duty to its people, has been compelled to buy 833 acres outside its own area.
If my right hon. Friend were a ratepayer of Glasgow he would understand the position better. These houses are subsidised by Glasgow. Glasgow is in the process of building 8,000 houses for Glasgow citizens, and these houses they are compelled to build outside their own area The result is that Glasgow is compelled to provide a subsidy of £9 per house, even after the Government has done its duty, and that has to be made good by the ratepayers of Glasgow, while the rates upon these houses go to some body outside the area. I do not think I require to say more in order to deal with my right hon. Friend's point. Why should Glasgow become so philanthropic as to subsidise houses for the benefit of rates to be paid to another body outside its area? Wise people
before us have dealt with this matter in legislation. I find, for example, in the Housing and Town Planning (Scotland) Act, 1919, a provision on this subject. The House will understand that in certain circumstances, by petition to the Sheriff, you can get extensions of burghs in Scotland. Here are the considerations which in 1919 were laid down for the sheriffs to keep in view in coming to a decision:
In revising the boundaries of a burgh, the sheriff or sheriffs shall take into account the number of dwelling houses, whether existing or about to be erected "—
thus foreseeing this very point—
within the area proposed to be included … the density of the population, the persons for whom and the authority by whom the dwelling houses have been or are to be, erected and all the circumstances of the case, and shall thereafter determine whether that area ought to form part of the burgh and should be included therein.
These are the very conditions which the Committee, when it comes to deal with this matter, will have to consider, and it is appropriate that the Committee should have the opportunity of considering them upon evidence rather than that we should try to arrive at a decision to-night without any evidence at all before us. There are many other considerations, with which I am not going to weary the House, but I think I have put before the House sufficient at least for them to arrive at the conclusion that there is a prima facie case for sending this particular Bill to a Committee in order that the Committee may investigate it. If the Committee reports in favour of the Bill, it will still be competent to this House, and my right hon. Friend, to make their arguments upon the evidence and to try again to have the Bill rejected.
There has been another issue raised, with which I should like to deal for a moment. It is said that a Commission is at present sitting, which is dealing with this very matter, and that it would be inappropriate if the House were to allow any Bill to go forward for inquiry until that Commission has reported. That Commission has been sitting for two years, and no man alive knows when it is going to report. If there is an answer to that, I shall be very glad to hear it, but one does not have very much hope, from the previous proceedings of the Commission, of getting a very rapid answer. I do not say that by way of reflection on the Commission, because I know it has a very difficult problem to deal with. I saw that my hon. Friend was very much disturbed and was encountering rather heavy weather when he dealt with the precise remit to this Commission, because, as he agreed, it is specifically confined to dealing with England and Wales. There is not a word in regard to Scotland in it, and, in fact, the view of the Commission is that, since they are not dealing with Scotland, they need not invite any Scottish evidence, and that Scotland is not concerned at all. It is the first time that I have seen any attitude taken by a Scottish Member in this House which indicated that in every case what was good enough for England was good enough for us. That may possibly be a sign of grace upon his part, but, so far as I am concerned, I am entirely against anything which this Commission does being regarded as determining our Scottish case. If there is one reason more than another it is this, that the conditions in England are totally different, and that the question which this Commission was set up to determine is a totally different question from that which we are considering now.
My hon. and learned Friend shakes his head, and I will proceed to make good my point. The Commission was set up because of a difficulty that arose in regard to Leeds and Bradford. It arose out of a totally different procedure, which applies to England and not to Scotland. It is competent in England for a borough to approach the Minister of Health with a petition for extension. He then institutes a local inquiry, and, after the inquiry, he comes to a judgment. In that case the Minister of Health, after a local inquiry, came to a judgment in favour of the extension of Leeds and Bradford, and he made a certain suggestion. The matter came up to this House on that procedure, which is not applicable to Scotland at all, and the House rejected the suggestion of the Minister of Health. What this particular Commission was set up to do was to find a means, and report to the House upon the question, whereby you could help the Minister of Health, in these judgments which he had to form, by arranging a system under which he would not have to come up and make those suggestions to the House only to have them rejected. That is why it is applied purely to England and Wales and not to Scotland, because we have no procedure in Scotland at all comparable to that which there is in England in this respect. I have only to advert to this fact to show how inapposite it is. Quite recently there were similar applications from Clydebank and Renfrew. These have not been turned adrift. It has not—
On a point of Order. I should like to call attention to the fact that since this Debate opened, the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) has been persistently interrupting and interfering with my colleague, the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne).
My right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik), who appears to have an enthusiastic objection to this Bill, will no doubt state his view. Whatever be the facts about that matter, and whatever explanations may be given, it is intolerable that we should take the view that, because of some Commission which is sitting with regard to an English question, every burgh in Scotland, no matter how congested or what its conditions are, is to await such Commission's report before it can get the necessary means of redress. That is a proposition to which I certainly would never surrender. I say that I have shown at least a very good prima facie case for this Bill. I do not ask anybody to accept it as a solid fact, because it has not been investigated. All that I seek is the necessary investigation, and do not let the House believe that, in committing any new areas to the care of Glasgow, they are committing them to any backward and reactionary community. I do not think I am taking too much pride in a city with which I am very intimately connected. There has been no more stirring and enterprising community than the city of Glasgow and none which, I am sure, has gained more the admiration of the world for the civic progress which it has achieved. I venture, in conclusion, to say that, to me, it is quite unbelievable that such a community, in such circumstances, should have a Bill rejected by this House without even the opportunity of inquiring into its allegations.
The question was raised earlier in the discussion as to how far Glasgow was united in support of this Measure. Probably the best evidence of its unity is to be found in the fact that I rise to support the case so eloquently and ably put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home). I want to confess that I had some hesitation and so had the majority of Glasgow Members in giving their whole-hearted support to this Measure, but our hesitation was due to something that is outwith the four corners of the Bill. We objected to certain acts of administration on the part of the magistrates of the city, and I have no doubt the late Secretary for Scotland (Mr. W. Adameon)—who, I understand, intends to follow me in this discussion—will make more of this point than I intend to do. Our objection was to areas being brought into territory which gives to the people less freedom in regard to public meetings than is enjoyed by the people beyond the city boundaries. I do not know that that is an objection to the Bill which would appeal to the Mover or Seconder of its rejection, but it is a criticism on Glasgow which we felt very strongly justified in making. Having considered the matter very carefully, we came to the conclusion that the case for the Bill was so overwhelmingly strong that no sense of irritation that we might have would justify us, as representatives of the city, in placing any impediment in the way of its progress.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken pointed to the congested character of the City of Glasgow. On former occasions, when addressing this House on the problem of housing, I have had to paint in very strong language the housing conditions of the city that I represent. I think I am justified in saying that every Member for the city and every Member of this House who knows the city would agree that no language I could use with regard to its housing conditions would be an exaggeration of the situation there. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead referred to the fact that Glasgow has a density of population of 57 as compared with the City of Birmingham's 21. I need not emphasise that point, but I would like to tell the House that in 1919, at the request of the Coalition Government of that time, a statement of Glasgow's requirements in housing was prepared, not by a Labour majority, but by a Conseravtive majority and by the permanent officials of the city. According to that statement, in 1919 there was a shortage of houses in Glasgow of no fewer than 57,000. It was estimated in addition that to meet the annual requirements of the city, arising from an expansion of its population, and the natural decay of property, that an additional 5,000 houses per annum would be required. Since 1919 not more than 7,000 houses have been erected in the city, so that, accepting the accuracy of that statement as a basis, the housing shortage of Glasgow at the moment cannot be far short of 70,000. In the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead it was shown that the land available within the city boundaries for house building would not accommodate more than 16,000 or 17,000 houses. Then you have this very strong point in favour of the Bill, that 70,000 houses are required in the city and that there is not room in the city at the moment for the erection of more than probably a fourth part of the numbers required.
May I on this question of housing remind the House of another factor in the situation in our unfortunate city—I mean unfortunate in this respect while fortunate in many other respects. According to the report of the medical officer of health we have 40,000 houses at the moment that are overcrowded to the extent of three or more persons per room. The Member for St. Rollox (Mr. J. Stewart) tells me that I am stating it rather moderately when I put it that way; that they are overcrowded to the extent of more than three persons to a room. I ask people who are familiar with housing conditions in England to remember what is involved in overcrowding to the extent of the figures I have quoted. Within the city there is barely room for the slum clearance schemes that would enable us to deal with that problem alone. As has been already pointed out, the Corporation has been compelled to go outside its borders to purchase estates and to proceed to erect houses even under conditions which compel them to subsidise these houses, while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir Robert Home) pointed out that other local authorities will be entitled to draw the rates. The Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot), in that wonderfully forcible and fighting speech with which he seconded the rejection of the Bill, tried to paint the difficulties and injustices that would be encountered and done to the neighbouring localities by the operations of this Bill. He pointed particularly to his own locality. He said, "Our rates will go up from something between 5d. to, I think, 2s. 10d. in the £," and he intended, I suppose, to impress the House that in that way Glasgow would be getting something to which Glasgow was not entitled. I want to tell the House that in the part of the constituency so ably represented by the hon. Member most adjacent to the city is an area called Hogganfield Loch. Glasgow purchased a considerable area of that ground and spent many thousand pounds in laying out that loch as a healthy recreation place for the city and the country. It has been provided by the Glasgow ratepayers, and it is enjoyed by the area represented by the hon. Gentleman. I put it to him that it is not outwith the bounds of reason that people who have been so well provided for by the City of Glasgow should be asked to pay a few pence annually towards the maintenance of Glasgow's generous provision.
May I interrupt? That is a property of the city outside its boundaries. If this transfer is made and if that area is taken within the city, then the rates, instead of being payable to the county of Lanarkshire, will be payable to the city, but compensation will have to be given on that account to the county of Lanark for depriving them of that large rating area. I am very familiar with the place.
The hon. Member makes two points. First is that the rates will be payable to the city of Glasgow. His second point is that the Bill is so considerate of the interests of the outside areas that, according to his own admission, has been made to secure that none of these areas will lose financially by Glasgow being granted what Glasgow needs for the purpose of public health. I think the interjection by the hon. Gentleman rather strengthens the case which I have to make against the Amendment. It is remarkable that the leadership of the opposition to this Bill should come from Argyllshire. I hope Members on this side of the House are sufficiently familiar with the geography of Scotland to know that the area represented by the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire i? not in immediate danger from anything that is proposed in this Bill. Therefore, I cannot understand the opposition of the hon. Member to this proposal. I cannot forget that, at one time, he was a distinguished representative in this House of the city of Glasgow, and it may be that he has still rankling in his mind the fear that, if this policy be pursued—and he is yet a comparatively young man—it may yet occur to the city of Glasgow, as a means of restoring to the city his valuable services, to propose the annexation of the territory he now represents; but if it will do anything to remove his opposition to this Bill, I think I can go the length of giving an undertaking on behalf of the city, that for the duration of his representation of Argyllshire, Glasgow will not propose to include that territory within the city boundary. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is only for a couple of years!")
The case for the extension of the boundaries of the city of Glasgow is so strong, that unless an eminently strong case against this proposal can be submitted to this House, we are entitled, at least, to get a Second Beading of this Bill. I put it that no very strong case has been made out against it. The principal argument relied on has been the Commission which is dealing with this problem for England and Wales. I submit there is a real need for the whole question of local government and its future to be considered and dealt with at the earliest possible moment. I quite agree with that, but I think it would be most unfair to hold back the just claims of a city like Glasgow until that has been done. I am sure that neither the Mover nor Seconder of the rejection of this Bill would submit for a single moment that that is a thing which should hurriedly be accomplished, if we are to begin afresh with the whole problem of local government, as I think we should. But I submit that the case of Glasgow is so strong, that it should not be asked to stand still in its present deplorable condition until we have produced a new plan of local government.
The other point is this. The hon. Member, I think, who seconded the rejection, seemed to suggest that the county areas were going to be seriously injured by the carrying out of these proposals, and the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire quoted at length from a statement made by the late Lord Long about the unfairness of doing anything that would interfere with the financial integrity of the counties, through the extension of the burghs. I put it that Glasgow is, undoubtedly, the financial and industrial centre—I will not go the length of saying the intellectual centre—but it is, undoubtedly, the centre of the area with which we are dealing here, and anything which cripples Glasgow will cripple the financial integrity of these county areas much more than they can possibly suffer by anything contained in this Bill. To allow Glasgow to get healthier, to save that 50 per cent. on its health administration, to which the right hon. Member for Hillhead referred; to allow it to grow, and become greater and greater, is decidedly in the interest of the counties which depend so largely on its prosperity.
I can only emphasise the appeal that has been made by the right hon. Member for Hillhead to allow us to get a Second Heading of this Bill. It is all right to say that we ought to go in for a policy of de-urbanising our huge centres. In what way can you scatter the population other than in the way proposed by this Measure? If you are to give us more space, if yon believe a million people should not be compelled to dwell on 19.000 acres of land, then the first step is to recognise the just basis of the demand we are making on the House to-night. I appeal to the House in the interest of the public health of the city, and of the prior people who are affected by (he congestion which we can describe statistically, but which we can never impress adequately on the minds of people who are not familiar with it from intimate experience—I appeal, on behalf of those people, to the House to give us a Second Heading of this Bill and allow the Committee upstairs to adjust these little differences—Committee points, really—that have been raised by those who are opposing the Bill. If you do that, you will bo only carrying out what has been the traditional policy of this House, and I think you will be performing an act of social justice.
It is with much temerity that I rise to-night for the first time to address the House, but I feel that I shall receive the usual courtesy, and, shall I say, sympathy on this trying occasion. I speak in support of the Amendment which has been proposed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten). Glasgow is a great city; she is the second city of the Empire, and in no respect overshadowed by her sister city on the East coast lying north of the Tweed. Glasgow's greatness is not due to the energy or activity of her present administrators. It is due to the wisdom and the prudence of the administrators of the last two or three generations. But greatness is not always free from evil. Greatness is apt to promote a spirit of avarice, and to encourage hasty and imprudent action, and in this Bill we have a very good example of greed, and a very glaring example of attempting to rush legislation. Glasgow is anxious to extend her boundaries, and asks for legislation which will enable her legally to confiscate large areas of land from the adjacent counties, to tear away certain villages and districts from the county government under which they have flourished and which they have enjoyed for generations, and from which they have no desire to separate.
I myself am a Glasgow man, but I do not hesitate for a moment to come to the aid of the weaker localities in this respect. The City of Glasgow, in my opinion, is posing as a fairy godmother who is casting gold and treasures and rich gifts at the feet of the children she wants to adopt. But in reality Glasgow is a pirate king who, when once the prize is won and the unsuspecting maiden is safely abroad the lugger, would enslave and fetter her to a system of government and high taxation unsuitable for rural districts. It strikes me very forcibly that Glasgow is asking for this large extension chiefly out of sentiment. Her idea in going in for this expansion is that she wishes to remain for all time the second city in the Empire. We have got to remember that the county districts and villages have also their own point of view and sentiments, and the wishes and views of these places ought to be respected and consulted. With the exception of one village, I think I am right in saying that all the districts and all the villages which Glasgow proposes to annex are practically to a man and woman strongly and bitterly opposed to annexation. I feel quite sure of this, that my hon. Friends on the opposite side of the House will agree with me when I say that the wishes of the people ought to be consulted, because, after all, it is the voice of the people that rules.
Glasgow, I think, cannot grumble at the treatment which she has received during the last few generations. About 14 years ago she received a huge increase in her boundaries. Surely her population has not grown to such an alarming extent that she requires a large additional area of 22,000 acres. If so, then the city fathers cannot be accused of being very far-sighted, or of having a very far-sighted policy. To my mind, Glasgow's hands are very full at the present time. She has 19,000 acres of land. She has a population of over one million to look after, and considering the trying times through which we are passing, I do not think it is in the interest of the community that greater responsibility should be placed upon the city council of Glasgow. I do not think that Glasgow has distinguished herself in helping to solve the housing problem, nor do I think that she has distinguished herself specially in helping to deal with unemployment. She has been labouring under great difficulties—like other cities—but I do not think that she has handled her trials and tribulations any better, or possibly as well, as many of the county authorities. I do not think that Glasgow can be accused of modesty in any shape or form. She has, as I have said, already 19,000 acres, and she is asking for an additional 22,000 acres. Certainly, Glasgow does not do things by halves!
Glasgow, to my mind, is wooing the simple country maiden with the tempting lure of introducing cheaper gas, cheaper water, cheaper electricity, cheaper tram-cars. And when, after the honeymoon, the bride comes home, she will find out that her marriage settlement consists of a debt of £24,000,000, and that she has a municipal rate of 6s. in the £, which her devoted husband refuses to pay. The county councils are not opposing this Bill on its merits. Later they will put forward care fill and ample arguments against the Bill. For the moment they merely wish to defer it until the Report of the Royal Commission which is now sitting. There will only be a few months' delay, and it seems to me to be a pity to waste the ratepayers' money and waste the energy and activities of the authorities when every economy is necessary in order to mitigate the great distress that the people of this country are going through. I hope the House will oppose this Bill until the Royal Commission has made its Report; that the House will not hand over villages in Lanarkshire, Dumbarton, and Renfrewshire to the tender mercies of the Glasgow City Council until they have studied the Report which, when drawn up, will be put into their hands.
Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL:
It seems rather strange that I should have the opportunity of following the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down for the second time, and should have the pleasure in this House of emphasising my appreciation of the very able and eloquent contribution which he has made to this debate. This Bill has been promoted by the City of Glasgow. The hon. Member who opposed it said that he could find in it no reason for passing. The reason for the Bill is the great need of space. Glasgow can say, to paraphrase the Prime Minister's peroration of the other day
Give space in our time, O Lord.
From its very needs and original constitution it has felt itself always expanding, and always being restricted. It has had, for many years, a very largely-increasing population, and a very largely-increasing industry, and an ever-thriving commercial prosperity. It was surrounded by a number of boroughs which had themselves sprung up and developed in a similar way. Glasgow was in the position of being ringed round with a series of smaller towns, and the time came when she had to expand her borders.
Before, however, she could reach the county areas and the open spaces which she needed most, she had, first of all, to absorb already congested areas and those
boroughs which had been thriving there for so many years. After that period she comes forward to the House with this Bill to permit her to take for the benefit of her inhabitants open spaces, not built up, not already congested, but giving her the opportunity of spreading herself out. The right hon. Gentleman who seconded the rejection of this Bill quoted from a manifesto issued by the Glasgow Ratepayers' Federation. He said it was a manifesto which had been sent against the Bill. That is not so. It contains information which gives definite reasons why the annexation should take place. It says:
These areas get Glasgow water, gas, drainage and tramways. People live there whose business is in the city. Glasgow has built houses there, and intends to build more. City parks and hospitals are there. Police, health and sanitation should be the same as in the city. They should be within the city education authority, and the city should collect rates and make assessments there.
That does not seem very much like opposition. The hon. and gallant Gentleman made what I suggest is a very gravely wrong use of certain figures. This manifesto contains figures showing that in 1912 the rates were 3s. 6d., and in 1923 were 6s., and he endeavoured to lead the House to believe that the rise from 3s. 6d. to 6s. was due to the annexation which had taken place in the year 1912. As a matter of fact, he missed out a most important line in that table, and if the opponents of the Bill are reduced to that method of argument they must have a very poor case. This Ratepayers' Federation, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman alleged was antagonistic to the Bill, states that the rates in 1912 were 3s. 6d., and in 1914, after the amalgamation, they were 3s. 11d.; but it was the period from 1914 to 1922–23 that raised them from 3s. 11d. to 6s. That was a period when rates everywhere rose on account of the War, and to argue, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman ventured to do, that that rise in rates was due to an amalgamation two years before the War broke out seems to me altogether beyond the bounds of a reasonable interpretation of the document.
May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman? He interrupted me when I was on this point. I quoted from this paper, a copy of which
he has in his hand, and I will quote from it again. It says:
Previous annexations have been followed by higher rates and expenses of administration.
Then there follows the table. I did not give all the intervening years, but I took two years which bear out that contention, namely, that after annexation had taken place there was a very considerable rise in rates, and I think I was quite fair in what I did.
I am sorry I cannot accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's distinction. He did not quote the passage which he alleges now he did quote. He quoted the year 1912, and then the year 1923, and omitted the intervening year, 1914, a year memorable to civic administrators as the year when the great advances began.
I cannot understand by what peculiar whim opposition to this Bill comes from the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten). He himself owes much to the fact that he lived and was bred in a wide and vast area. He knows Glasgow, though he left it, and he knows the needs of Glasgow, he knows the situation in Glasgow. He owes the splendour of his physical stature to the fact that he was brought up on Firth of Clyde. He owes his intellectual training and his learning to the fact that he attended on the slopes of Gilmore Hill. Raving made a not inconsiderable fortune by the practice of the learned profession in the City of Glasgow he went east, where the population is just a third in density compared with what it is in the west. Having wooed and won a constituency in Glasgow, he came to London: and having lost the constituency in Glasgow he now returns here as Member Cor a wild area in which he can put his foot down in any part of a hundred miles and declare:
My foot is on my electoral heath.
My name's Macquisten!
For the hon. and learned Gentleman to come to this House and "chivy" men who still live in Glasgow, and administer Glasgow-, about building over the last remaining few acres of their city, which
is already over-populated by a teeming population, is like coming to the City of London and saying, "You shall not build any more houses outwith your area until you have put Weir steel houses in Hyde Park." To suggest to the most congested city in the whole of Great Britain that the remaining lungs should be used for further building seems to me to be not in accord with the hon. and learned Gentleman's own administrative experience in the town council.
What we want is space. We do not want more buildings in Glasgow. When I go to cities in England, I am filled with envy of the great wide areas occupied by workmen's houses; and when I see how English cities have spread over a vast expanse, when I see people travelling to and fro on their multitudinous bicycles, I feel "Why cannot the English members help us in Glasgow," we, with our city built upon many, many hills. The Psalmist said that it was the grace of Jerusalem that she was compactly built together; but the scientist does not agree with the Psalmist. Glasgow is too compactly built together, and we want to get out. Give us space, give us area, let us extend our boundaries. Do not force us to send our people out of our city to live in another area, under another administration, in houses built by and partially at the expense of their city. I know some of these areas are already built on. I know the counties do not want to lose those areas which give them a substantial rateable value. But those parts which Glasgow proposes to annex which are already built upon are really dormitories of the citizens of Glasgow, they are places where 95 per cent. of the inhabitants have all their interest in Glagsow, earn their money in Glasgow, have the use of all Glasgow's enterprises, come into Glasgow for their entertainment, come into Glasgow for their libraries, for art galleries, and for everything, but go out, very naturally and properly, in order that their children may be brought up in airy places.
Glasgow has a terrific problem to solve in its overcrowded areas. I was in one of them last Sunday week, a narrow street, where there are closes in which 36 families are living. Between the frontage of that and the frontage of the neighbouring street there is no air space, save enough to cause a draught without giving proper ventilation. I went there, and I found little children singing "Ring a ring of roses," children who never see flowers at all until they sell them on the, street. Glasgow is at long last going to tackle this problem of its congestion. Is it not too much to ask that that great city, in tacking that problem, should have to sacrifice its own citizens to another hand?
There is one other. The extension of Glasgow as laid out in this Bill will link it up with a series of boroughs down the side of the Clyde. It will mean that Glasgow, Renfrew, Paisley, and Clydebank will all be linked up, and it will cut out the county area, shutting in a peninsula in an island of local government, and this will lead to the next stage in the evolution of a great city and a system of federation whereby great communal enterprises will be carried out with joint control and joint interest, and thereby promoting the interests of all the boroughs and indirectly the counties as well. I do not hesitate to ask those who represent widespread English cities to help Glasgow by sending this Bill for inquiry to a Committee where any injustice can be put right, and if there is any megalomania it can be restrained and where any greed can be adjusted. I ask those representing cities where there are broad acres and where the houses are scattered to come to the help of a great city which is asking for a 100 per cent. addition to its area, only 4 per cent. to its population, and only 5 per cent. to its valuation. We are only asking for space in order that. Glasgow may spread itself out for the physical development of the next generation of citizens.
I tremble to think what hon. Members opposite will say in regard to a proposition on this Measure coming from the representative of the North Biding of Yorkshire. I am speaking on behalf of the County Councils Association, of which I am the Vice-Chairman and spokesman in this House. I cannot agree with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir B. Home) that there is no analogy between a Scottish Bill and an English Bill of the same character. I submit that the principles are identical, and what is good in regard to local government extension in England is equally good for Scotland, and the reverse holds good in exactly the same way. I apologise for interfering in a domestic matter connected with Scotland, but I hope I shall not be treated like the man who interfered in a quarrel between a man and his wife when both the parties turned upon him and rent him in pieces.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead was not pleased with our objection because he said he wanted land for the purpose of housing. On the Royal Commission on London Government we had to deal with exactly the same problem. The London County Council, as is well known, have bought sites at Becontree and Dagenham, but the majority report found that that was no justification for the London County Council extending its boundaries a distance of something like four miles, which I understand is very nearly the same distance as in this case of Glasgow. I would like to be allowed to say a word or two with regard to the Royal Commission on Local Government of which I nave the honour to be a member. The House will understand that I can only refer to such matters as are published. I want to point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead evidently had not read what our reference was, because he led hon. Members to infer that we were only considering the question of procedure, while as a matter of fact procedure is only one of the many matters which have come before us and upon which we have taken evidence.
The larger question we are now considering is the question of the creation and extension of county boroughs. The Royal Commission came into being incidentally with regard to questions raised by Leeds and Bradford. I had the honour of being invited, together with the late Sir Ryland Adkins, who was for many years a Member of this House, to meet the then Minister of Health, and we were accompanied by Sir Robert Fox, the then Town Clerk of Leeds, who was one of the most capable town clerks that ever served any municipality, but who, to our great regret, passed away a short time ago. We spent a great deal of time trying to arrive at a formula in regard to this matter, and when we were unable to do so this Commission was set up. I can assure the House that the idea which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead gave to us is entirely erroneous. Our Report will be presented with very little delay, and I have every reason to believe that in a very few months that Report will be in the hands of the public and of Members of this House.
But surely the first necessity for an extension of the area of a municipality is to prove community of interests with that part which you propose to take in, and also that it is an overspill from the municipality itself. The part which' it is proposed should be taken in is, I understand, entirely agricultural, and it can in no way be said that there is community of interests. I was in Glasgow yesterday on a very profitable business, and so far as I could gather the objections which are raised are that the area proposed to be taken in will make the municipality too large for good local government. We have had a good deal of evidence upon this matter of huge municipalities. There does come a time when, if you have your municipalities too large, you will have all the affairs conducted by the officials, because it will be imposible for the members themselves to give that amount of time and take the interest in those various local matters which they can do if a municipality is not so large.
But the counties are in a different position, and there is no analogy between county and municipal government. I do not hesitate to say that county government is head and shoulders above the government of any municipality. I would like to say a word or two in reference to rating. Why are these people outside to be called upon to pay the heavy rates which will be imposed upon them when these areas are taken over by the municipality. I suppose the usual bribe will be put forward about differential rating. A more demoralising method it is impossible to conceive, and I hope that in the Report of the Royal Commission there will be something which may have the effect of dealing with this matter. I want to call the attention of the House to the fact that at a time like this it will be lamentable as was pointed out by the hon. and gallant Member for North Lanark (Sir A. Sprot) if enormous expenditure is incurred by taking a Bill like this upstairs. You will have counsel, who are paid enormous fees, quite out of proportion to the services they render, and you will have experts brought down, who, again, are given very large fees. I have no great opinion of experts. We remember the saying of Lord Bramwell, that there are liars, great liars, and expert witnesses; and, be added, the expert is the worst of the three.
In all seriousness I would ask the House to give attention to the question of respecting the local feeling in the areas that are to be taken in. Surely, those who live in a place have a right to object to being included in a municipality which they do not desire to join, and I say quite candidly that I believe that, if this Bill gets upstairs, it will be wrecked by the decision arrived at in the Committee presided over by Lord Kintore, who said:
The wishes of the people who are proposed to be included are to prevail.
Our county councils have a right to be allowed to continue to carry on that good work which they have done. They have made good since 1888, when the county councils were established, and no one has any right to come here and take away from the county councils that territory which they require for the carrying out of their work, when the people themselves ask that they shall remain under the county council. Therefore, I ask, in the name of the County Councils' Association, that this Bill be rejected upon its Second Reading, and that the great expense be not incurred of sending it upstairs.
I should not have risen to address the House for the first time on this occasion had it not been that the subject under discussion is one of grave importance for the city of Glasgow, from one of the divisions of which I have had the honour to be returned to this House. While I represent the Maryhill Division, I look to all Members from the city of Glasgow, irrespectively of their division or their party, to support and advance the interest of the city on this occasion. It is customary, as I have observed from some maiden speeches, to crave the indulgence of the House on such an occasion, but I must say that I feel some confidence in coming before the House, because I feel that there is such a friendly atmosphere here, especially to-night.
We have had almost a unanimous feeling exhibited that this Bill should have its Second Reading. I can well appreciate the feelings of the Mover of the Amendment, my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten), because I know that the sympathies he has in his heart are with the city, while his allegiance and his duties to the county draw him in another direction. He is torn between the two. He has referred to the Royal Commission which is at present sitting, and it has been referred to by various other speakers. But we all know—it is hardly necessary to repeat—that this Commission has no reference whatever to Scotland, and Scottish Members who have spoken have made it quite clear that on no account will they recognise the legislation as being applicable, to Scotland. The last speaker evidently got to the point when he went direct to Glasgow to see for himself. It was once said by a visitor to Glasgow—I think it was after a Corporation banquet—that Glasgow was the intellectual centre of England. Apparently the hon. Member has acquired some of those ideas himself. It may be somewhat discouraging for us to remember that the gentleman who made that remark came from Russia. That was some years ago. Nowadays perhaps we have not the same high opinion of people of that nationality.
I should like to comment on one remark made by the hon. Member for Lanark, who accused Glasgow of being grasping and greedy. Glasgow is not either grasping or greedy. Glasgow only asks for elbow room—room to move and breathe and have her being. I and the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Minister of Health are the only two Members who reside in the divisions we represent—and for that reason I can speak with assurance and with personal knowledge of the condition of the industrial centre of Maryhill and its neighbourhood. It has been mentioned that there are areas where it is almost dark amid the blaze of noon. Why should any man arrogate to himself a claim to dispute the right of these human creatures to get the fresh air of which we are all entitled to have our share? Why should a man who requires to go and live outside the present borders of Glasgow be deprived of his citizenship, a pride and privilege which everyone who has it is highly proud of? In the area of Glasgow there are 3,200 acres undeveloped. There are only 1,400 acres for ordinary house purposes. There are 300 acres reserved for hospitals, etc., 400 acres for industrial work, and we have also included football pitches which we have acquired, and we are satisfied that our people should have the opportunity and privilege of having their relaxations after their work. It has not been mentioned by opponents of the Bill that the City of Glasgow entered into negotiations with the counties of Lanark, Renfrew, and Dumbarton in July, 1924, which were again repeated on the 19th January, 1925, when the City of Glasgow intimated that they were prepared for reasonable modifications. The meeting, however, was abortive, the counties not being able to entertain the Corporation's proposal. That showed that the Corporation were desirous in every way possible to arrange an amicable adjustment of any difficulty so long as the counties recognised the necessity of the city for expansion.
The delay that has been suggested of waiting until the Report of the Royal Commission, I claim, is dangerous and would be disastrous. The summer is almost upon us and we would consequently lose all opportunity for the erection of houses. We have heard in times gone past of these various ideas of asking us to wait and see. We have waited and we have seen. The next decade was, "Push and go." Well, that has been pushed, and it has gone. What we want to do is to do this thing and get on with our building, so that we can relieve the congestion that is so pressing us and is worse in Glasgow than anywhere else in the country. I ask the House to-night to give this question their not only serious but very grave consideration. The question of the lives of many people and of the youth and childhood of this generation is at stake if our borders are not to be increased. We ask for it. now and want it now. We do not want delay, and I ask that you should support the Second Reading of this Bill so that we may have it sent forward to Committee where it can be more fully discussed.
I rise as a Glasgow Member, and wish to say at once that I always find myself in a minority. On this occasion I again find myself even in a minority with my own colleagues in the city. I cannot say that I agree with the County ease, but even from the City of Glasgow point of view some criticism ought to be passed here. It is not fair to assume that because a man disagrees with his Glasgow colleagues he has lost his civic pride or civic patriotism. I am a native of the city, and know the problem of density equally if not better than most of the Members of this House. I have not had the learning of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell), but I sat in the Corporation for four years, with an advantage that only one other Member of this House can claim. I think I was the first on the Glasgow Town Council to try to perform the feat of working at the bench and being a member of the Glasgow Town Council. I want to suggest to Members of the Labour party that it is not merely a question of passing this Bill. You can pass this Bill and pay the price of democracy and abolish democratic control if you care to. But you should retain democratic control over the institutions that we create.
Parliament, in its payment of Members and travelling expenses, has recognised that the miner, the man from the cotton factory, the man from whatever sphere of life, has the right to take part in the deliberations here equally with the rich landlord. What has happened in the councils? I served for four years, and I was employed with an employer of the very best type who allowed me off time, which I had to pay for, and being a young, single man, different from now. then I could well afford it. My parents were prepared to help me, too, in the sacrifice. But what happened? The minimum I could do was 14 hours per week. That was during my first two years. After that it increased, and just before I came to this House I was on the verge of becoming a magistrate. If I had accepted that post, as I had a right to accept it, equally with the well-to-do members of the council, I could not have carried out the duties, because the time required was beyond the power of an ordinary workman to give. I want to suggest that it is not enough for a man who occupies the position of Lord Provost, and others, to speak of an extension of burghs, because in these large centres it is becoming a mania for those at the head of the local government to increase their areas provided they can see themselves controlling ever-enlarging districts.
There is this other point in connection with democratic government which must be safeguarded. I served on the Glasgow Corporation, and I find that this happened. It may be argued against me by my colleagues that Glasgow to-day has 35? Labour members, and 39 Labour members equally as good as I, but our field of choice is limited to small business men, solicitors and trade union officials, while the ordinary worker at the bench who is entitled to be on public bodies is to-day debarred. That applies equally well to the county, just as it does to the City of Glasgow. Therefore I would put it to Glasgow Members: "What is to hinder you building your houses outside the City, without bringing these districts inside the City?" The hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Couper) should be better informed. You are not going to put City slum dwellers in the new areas. If you have houses in the new areas they would be built at rents which will prevent the dweller in the slums from occupying them for the next 10 years.
I occupy a house built by the City of Glasgow. Practically all the houses which the City of Glasgow has built, with one small exception, are built at rents which no workman can reasonably be expected to pay. I am in a house of the very cheapest class, a tenement house built by the corporation, and in this connection may I say that no one appreciates more than I the effects of the convenor of the Housing Committee, Bailie Morton, and one of his assistants, Bailie Welsh. The rent of that house is £26 a year or 10s. a week. When you add poor rate and local rates the rent at which it is let comes to £l per week. The shipyard workers' wages run from about £2 to £2 5s. per week. Therefore, hon. Members should not make speeches about transporting the slum dweller into the open country, when they know that it is not going to be done.
My own view is that the Corporation of the City of Glasgow will lose considerably on these districts. Take the latest acquisition to the City of Glasgow—Mosspark. I submit that the Glasgow Corporation loses money on Mosspark, apart from its subsidy, because the Glasgow Corporation has to give police, sanitation, health and other services, and Mosspark or the new town which they have built inside the city is saving more on social services than it is paying in rates. May I put it to those Members who are talking about these people outside the city that they are going to create a preferential set of people living in the city. I want to prevent that. In the Bill, Millerston, Mount Vernon, and all the other places have for the next five years to be exempted from paying the same rates as the City of Glasgow. But hon. Gentlemen who have spoken know as well as I do that for the next five years the ratepayers of those places are going to demand all the social services without paying a single penny. And it is not for five years only, as the Glasgow Corporation for the sake of the Bill will make it ten years. For the next ten years, therefore, you will ask the poor people in my Division to pay high rates so as to give the people outside the city all the social services, though they are not paying for them.
When we are talking about preferential treatment let us be fair. My view is that it would be a dreadful responsibility, and more than I would care to undertake, for any hon. Member, whether he was county or town, to come to this House and do anything that even slightly retards the giving of decent houses to our people in Glasgow. The responsibility would be too great. I think that the Corporation ought to build the houses outside the city, and it ought not to hand them over to the county. I believe that townships ought to be set up and developed on modern lines. Garden cities should be built out, and towns ought to be given their own local rating and responsibility. Of course, that cannot be done in a week. I think that the Government, my party and the whole House should accept the responsibility and see that something is done immediately. I wish the opponents of this Bill would learn their own case against it. I have been surprised at their lack of knowledge. An inquiry was held last year—not 10 years ago, nor five years ago, but last year. What was it about? It was an inquiry into the question whether it was possible to make Glasgow into one great parish council area. Let me explain to Members who do not know that in Glasgow there are four or five different, parish councils, or what are in England termed boards of guardians. The Corporation of Glasgow decided to petition to have them all brought into one administrative area. An inquiry Commission was set up, the Commission consisting of people not interested at all. One of them was the Liberal Member for Inverness Burghs and another was the hon. Member for South Edinburgh. I forget who was the chairman, but he was neutral. They went into the question of parish councils, and without calling upon those who were to put the case against them, without hearing the Glasgow Corporation, they dismissed the Corporation's case, largely on the ground that the bringing of all the parish areas into one administrative area was unworkable and not likely to lead to democratic control.
That was a neutral Commission which sat only last year, and it related only to parish government. When you add municipal government to parish government you have the case demonstrated more strongly than evey. I think that the counties are terribly selfish in the matter. They fear that they are going to be asked to pay a penny or two more in rates. Because of the opposition of my own colleagues I do not intend to go into the Lobby against the Bill, but I want to say honestly and candidly that the passing of this Bill will not solve the problem of density in Glasgow. I wish it could. One has to think of the fact that the Glasgow Corporation bought ground in my district some time ago, and there is, as yet, not a stone upon it and not a single man at work, and yet they are building outside the city, the reason apparently being to intimidate people into agreeing with this Bill. They are not acting, I think, in a correct or proper way, but, on the other hand, Glasgow's problems are great. My division is, I think, the worst in the whole country as regards overcrowding. I believe the only place that equals my division is the district of Cowcaddens which is part of St. Rollox and certainly next to that, is the Gorbals part of my division. The density is fearful. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) spoke of 36 families in one close. In South Wellington Street, a street which is well known to the Pensions Ministry, where nearly every one fought for King and country and sacrificed life or limb, there are in one close nearly 70 families, living in a place where artificial light is necessary morning, noon and night. That is a fearful thing to say about my city. It is not a tribute to those who are asking for this extension. It indicates mismanagement in the past and I would be wrong if I allowed this Measure to pass without some criticism. On the other hand, if there is even the millioneth part of a chance of doing anything to abolish South Wellington Street and to take my good people—the best people in the world—out of those horrible surroundings to decent surroundings then I would be taking upon myself a responsibility greater than I could carry, if I hindered that chance in any way.
I am sure the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) will not accuse me of any superficial or hypocritical meaning if I tell him that I thoroughly admired the speech he has just delivered. He has often roused us by his independence of thought and, not less, by his depth of feeling, but I do not think he ever showed those qualities more conspicuously than to-night. I hope he will not think less of me because I hold opinions so different from his and stand in such a different attitude from him, if I tell him that with a great deal of what he said I am absolutely in agreement. I am not going to repeat many of the arguments which have been used against this Bill with regard to rates and burdens, because I would rather base my position on broader grounds. I know I am speaking rather bodily in taking up an attitude of opposition to such doughty defenders as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir E. Home) and the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley). The former spoke in somewhat excessive and exaggerated language, and I notice he has not thought it worth his while to remain in his place and hear his arguments answered. I committed to memory some of the words which the right hon. Gentleman used, such as "unbelievable," "monstrous." "incredible," "intolerable," and these words he used in regard to those who might not take precisely his view on this question. May I say that the hon. Member for Shettleston defended the Bill with much more strength than my right hon. Friend when he appealed to oar human feelings. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) spoke with something of irony upon the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten), who moved the rejection of the Bill, might have made large fees by opposing the Bill in Committee. That jibe might have been left out, and it would have been in better taste, if he will allow me to say so, to have left it out. I cannot boast of any such powers, but I am sometimes inclined to think that, powerful as his legal advocacy is, his use of exaggerated language and his denunciation of the moral characters of those who take different views from his, are a weakness rather than a strength. The first strong argument of the right hon. Gentleman, an argument which he seemed to think was unanswerable, was that the Glasgow Town Council has unanimously decided in favour of this Bill. Have we to look for an answer to that to anything but the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) who has told us how there might be unanimity—
The best answer to my right hon. Friend's argument will be found, I was saying, in the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals, to which he did not, apparently, think it worth while to listen. Another argument that he used was this: He said, "How can you keep us within this wretched, close area, where we have a million population, when we want to expand over 22,000 acres? "Does he really think that that is a common-sense argument? Can they not build as much as they like over those 22,000 acres? Does he think there is an impassable line drawn round the municipality? To listen to him or to the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell) one would have thought that this was a forbidden area, and that the inhabitants of Glasgow could scarcely walk, much less think of building houses, outside the boundaries of the city. The hon. Member for Gorbals, far better than I can, showed the utter futility of that argu- merit. Then my right hon. Friend said: "Why not allow this to go to a Committee?" Well, we know what a Committee means in the way of expense, and we know that, if you have these constant Committees and inquiries, you interfere with the regularity and soundness of county administration. These authorities are never at rest, and they never know what is coming next.
Is it the case that this matter is one only of facts, as my right hon. Friend urged? There is far more than facts, there is a matter of principle, and I contend that it is not by constant private Bills, proposing to make changes so momentous as this, that the whole face of the country should be changed. It is only a little over 30 years since local county government was established in Scotland. It has done good work. County council government in Scotland has had a trial for 30 years. It has done its work well. This House carefully framed the County Council Act. That ought not to be undermined and changed by applications in Private Bills. I am a native of Glasgow. I have known it for many years more than any man sitting in this House. I love every stone of it. I am not sure that it will gain by extension. I am quite sure that if you extend your government too far, however good it is, you will increase the bureaucratic element. As my hon. Friend said, I am sure a great deal falls into the hands of officials who are the masters in the long run. I am afraid that will be the result. Not only have I known Glasgow, but for 20 years I had charge of a large part of national administration in Scotland, and I know how much is to be gained by the encouragement of those small municipalities and county areas in a sense of their self-conscious unity. If you get so big a centre that people forget their local patriotism and forget to follow each detail of their administration, you lose the power of local government. I knew in the Education Department how enormously helpful it was to have small local areas with a self-conscious unity.
I do not want to delay the House on this matter, and I only intervene because of the intervention of my colleague, the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). I understand that it is quite good form in this House to pay compliments and tributes to your political opponents, and on this occasion it will be quite in order for me to say that the hon. Member for Gorbals, as one of my political opponents on this occasion, has made the most excellent speech which has been made to-night, in a very, very bad cause. I differ from him with the most profound regret. In agreeing to support this Bill, I have present in my mind all the prejudices in addition to the reasons that he has for coming to the decision to oppose it. I am not at all disposed in any friendly spirit to the great Tory majority which administers the affairs of Glasgow at the present moment. I do not like their methods of running their city. I do not like their attitude towards their political opponents. I object to the way in which they have approached Members of this House in reference to this Bill. I have the same objection as he has to the too wide extension of a community for civic administration, and I want to see, ultimately, some scheme produced which will limit the excessive growth of our big cities.
But all the practical considerations compel me to support this Bill to-night, overcoming my political prejudices, my natural antagonisms, and my general theories of what ought to be done in the long run, because I am perfectly satisfied that this is the thing that ought to be done in the short run. All speakers have referred to the housing question, and it is a fact that the counties of Renfrew and Lanark, which are mainly going to have their territory taken over by this proposed extension, have got their housing problems for their own towns. They have plenty of space for it. South Lanarkshire is a great, wide, practically unpopulated area Lanarkshire has any amount of scope for extension in that direction, but neither Lanarkshire nor Renfrewshire is going to house the people of Glasgow. The people who have the responsibility for that are the Corporation of the City of Glasgow, and the Corporation have already bought sites in this area over which they are now asking permission to take administrative control. They are providing themselves with the means, which they have not got inside the City boundaries, of rehousing their population. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals says what is absolutely true, that the slum dwellers of his constituency and my constituency will not get the new houses in the extended area, but they will get the houses that are left by the people who go out to the districts; and that is all that the working classes can hope to get at the present time—the handed-down houses of the people who go outside.
I want the space, and I want it at once, and this seems to be the only way I know at this particular date, without waiting for Commissions, or anything else, in the far distant future. This is the practical step that I can take to-night to do something to save some of the infants' deaths, which, in one of the municipal wards I represent in this House, extend to-day to
the number of 136 out of every 1,000 children. Hundreds more, unfortunately, survive as mental and physical defectives. Inside the city of Glasgow, to day, we have got 66 per cent. of all the mentally defective children and all the physically defective children in the whole of Scotland. I want the space, I want it to-night, and not when a Commission has reported, and I am asking my colleagues on these benches to give us in Glasgow the space that is necessary for the health and welfare of our community.