Scottistt Board of Health.

Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons at on 6 April 1925.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a stun, not exceeding £1,976,885, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926. for the Salaries and Expenses of the Scottish Board or Health, including Grants and other Expenses in connection with Housing, Grants to Local Authorities, etc., Grants in respect of Benefits and Expenses of Administration under the National Health Insurance Act, 1924, and certain Grants-in-Aid."—[NOTE: £580,000 has been voted on account.]

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

I feel in a somewhat difficult position in putting forward a review of what is after all a period in which my predecessor was responsible for the health and the housing of the people of Scotland. On the other hand I am emboldened by the fact that he in his turn last year was putting forward a review of the year in which I was responsible for the health and the housing of the people of Scotland. So we have the somewhat Gilbertian situation that each of us has had to defend the administration of the other, and criticise the things for which his predecessor in turn would become responsible. Such are the alternations involved in a continuous series of general elections, which no doubt all of us hope have passed for a long period. Again, we have to pass and review the activities of a modern State presenting all the problems of one of the modern States. Although on a smaller scale, still, clearly and definitely, the great movements of 'the world are as definitely under consideration in the Scottish Estimates, as they are in the consideration of the annual accounts of the United States of America. We have just been discussing the agricultural estimates and the drift of the population from the land. We will now review the statistics of the modern industrial State hit with the full blast of industrial depression which has swept over the industrial States of Western Europe.

The industrial note which has to be sounded in considering the vital statistics of Scotland this year is that the country has been in very great difficulties. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have their explanation and we on this side have ours, but at any rate the system is working with very great difficulty. We have in Scotland alone at present 181,000 people totally without work, living on relief—the insurance payments—and we have large numbers supported partially or wholly by the parish. The fear of one who is responsible for the health of a country in such conditions is that a long period of depression, and no doubt a certain degree of underfeeding which is involved in the breakdown, partial or complete, of an industrial system, will produce a corresponding depression in the health of the people, and that you will get lower vitality showing itself in the movement against us of the sickness curves. From that point of view I propose to examine the vital statistics of last year. There is the question of the efforts by the community towards betterment, which are still being maintained in suite of the depression, the efforts of the community towards improvement in housing, the greatest communal effort, perhaps, on which we are at present engaged That I wish to review, but only in its relation to the main question of how great is the depression which Scotland is labouring under, and what was the effect of that depression last year on the health of the people.

As to the size of the depression one can only say that there is a vast amount of unemployment, somewhat greater than at this time last year. The total numbers in receipt of parish relief, however, are fewer than last year. This is largely due to the action of the previous Government in increasing benefits, and lengthening the periods during which they would come under the unemployment insurance system. This has undoubtedly been a great relief to the finances of the local authorities. The expenditure for the year ended 15th May, 1924, was £1,286,000. The expenditure for the 43 weeks from 16th May, 1924, to 14th March, 1925, is only £496,000. Obviously this decrease has been a great relief to the heavily drained local authorities. As to the destitute able-bodied unemployed who were relieved in the main industrial parishes, the average weekly number in 1922 was 46,000, in 1923 it was 45,000, and in 1924 it was 27,000, and during the first three months of 1925 it was 21,000. These figures show that both in expenditure and in the number of persons in receipt of relief, the extension of the central system of relief—that is what the uncovenanted benefit amounts to—has come as a relief to the local finances, which had almost reached breaking point. The effect of the recent circular from the Ministry of Labour, which may be brought under review as tending to increase the burden of the parishes, has not been as severe as was anticipated. The number of poor persons in receipt of relief on 15th February, 1925, was 21,157, and on 15th March, 1925, it was 21,602, so that the increase over all was less than 450. Those figures certainly came rather as a surprise to me, considering the prophecies that had been made about the effect of that circular.

I shall speak for a moment about the effects of recent Acts upon housing, giving a comparison of the housing position as affected by the Acts of the Unionist Government in 1923, and the Act of the last Government in 1924. Roughly speaking, under the private enterprise Clauses of the Act of 1923, we have at present plans approved for the erection of 6,349 houses. Of these, 1,500 have been completed, and 3,300 are under construction. By the local authorities we have proposals for 7,963 houses, but of these 1,700 have been transferred to the 1924 Act, so that we have now 6,215 still approved by the local authorities under the Act of 1923. In addition, under the slum clearance section, we have so far 7,061 houses which are to be dealt with. We have thus something like 19,000 houses under the various sections of the Act of 1923. Under the Act of 1924, which is, of course, only in its initial stages, we have so far 5,388 houses approved and in addition 1,748 houses transferred from the Act of 1923. So that we have in all 7,136 houses which are approved or going ahead under the Act of 1924. Therefore, between the two Acts we have 19,000 under the Act of 1923, and 7,000 under the Act of 1924, which brings us to 26,000 houses approved and under construction up to the present. Those are the relative figures. I shall be glad to give any further figures which hon. Members desire to have.

It is the intention of the Secretary for Scotland to press on the provision of houses by whatever Act can be made to yield them. On these figures, I do not think it can be said that there has been the slightest reluctance to make the utmost use of the Act of 1924. The housing of the people of Scotland is far too important a thing for us to allow it to be held up by any suggestion of favouring one Act as against another. Consequently, we have not merely a large number of new houses approved under that Act, but 1,700 houses transferred from a previous Act to this Act of last year. In one thing we may be subject to criticism. The Secretary for Scotland has approved a certain number of houses of two rooms. That shows the desire of the present administration to work this Act to the utmost and to make sure that everything it can produce is extracted. I will give one case in point. A local authority came to us and said that they had had previously in mind the provision of 500 houses. Under the standard adopted by our predecessors they would have required 375 of three rooms, and the balance of two rooms. They heard that we were willing to negotiate with them on the subject, and they came forward with a proposal for 1,000 houses. We have got from those 1,000 houses, 400 with more than two rooms—that is to say, more houses of that type than would have been produced by our predecessors, and, in addition, 600 two-roomed houses.

That obviously is a great increase to the housing in that part of Scotland. When you find the responsible local authority putting forward their claims, and saying that these are the houses which are required to meet the demands of the people who are to live in them, then any Government Department is bound to consider very seriously such claims. All the more is it bound to do so when, as I have shown, it means, not merely an increase in the number of houses as a whole, but actually an increase in the number of three roomed houses over that which we have produced by any other plan. Politics apart, nothing would have been easier than for us to suppress completely the Act of 1924 by refusing permission to build two-roomed houses under it, but it would have led to a complete hold-up of the housing proposals of that Act. We could have suppressed the Act of my predecessor in Scotland not merely without any objection from hon. Gentlemen opposite, but with their enthusiastic approval.

Photo of Mr James Stewart Mr James Stewart , Glasgow St Rollox

What is the superficial area of these houses?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Not one of the authorities has asked for any reduction in the superficial area. It is merely a question of whether there is to be a partition or not. There has been no request that special powers should be brought into play to reduce the area necessary under the statutory provisions

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

None of them less and there will be varying sizes over that, as far as I know. None of them suggest that they want a reduction in size.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Does that apply to county or to burgh authorities?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

This particular authority was a district committee of the county, but we have also been approached by burghs which return Labour Members with proposals for a much larger percentage of two-roomed houses than we subsequently agreed to.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Are they not prohibitionists?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Not only prohibitionists but eminent gentlemen such as the hon. Gentleman seated immediately below my interlocutor (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell). Into the vexed questions which hang upon the new methods of construction I do not propose to enter. They are under consideration by a Committee of Inquiry, and we can leave them to be thrashed out at a later stage, only saying this—that not for any new method of construction is it proposed to sanction anything less than three rooms. No two-roomed houses will appear in any scheme brought forward in connection with a new method of construction.

The public health record last year was unsatisfactory. The vital statistics moved against us. Two years ago, when reviewing the public health record, I chose three sections to represent the situation, namely, the return of adult sickness as reflected in the statistics under the Insurance Act; child welfare, as represented in infantile mortality, and the community resistance to disease, as measured by the figures of deaths from tuberculosis. It seemed to me that upon these three factors we could get the bearings which would enable us to gain a fairly accurate estimate of our position. The main fact stands out that the year previous, which was the healthiest year on record in Scotland, was not repeated last year. We find that the death-rate, which had been 12.9 per 1,000, moved up to 14.4 per 1,000 for 1924. Infantile mortality, which had been 79 in the previous year moved up to 98, and the sickness statistics moved against us also, the insurance returns showing a rise of from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. all over. That leaves only one of the three bearings which I then discussed, namely, tuberculosis, and it is interesting to note that although the general death-rate moved against us the tuberculosis death-rate did not. The statistics, in that respect, were as favourable as, or slightly more favourable than, those of the year before.

What is the reason for the movement of the vital statistics against us? Agriculture has been mentioned here this evening as an all-important subject and many things are discussed in this House as being all-important, but this is literally a question of life or death, and on this question the whole of our social structure is bound to turn. I investigated the cause of the movement of the returns as far as I could, and it seems that in Scotland at any rate they have moved against us owing to an epidemic of influenza in the early part of the year. The general position is not as bad as it appears from the figures which I have just quoted. Undoubtedly anyone looking at the figures would say: "The winter of unemploy- ment is beginning to tell and the lowered vitality of the people is reflected in the increase of disease. The long depression is producing the looked-for effect." The investigations which I have been able to carry out do not quite bear out that view. Any of us would expect an increase in sickness, and if anyone had said some years ago that such a period of industrial depression could pass over without greatly increased sickness we would not have believed it. The figures in connection with the child welfare schemes have moved against us. The figures of infantile mortality, which were the lowest on record in the year in which I had control of the public health, moved up by something like 20 per cent. in the year following. I do not claim for a moment any special credit in this respect. As my predecessor said, there is no reason to suppose that these movements will not be subject to numerous variations. The general fall which has taken place in infantile mortality is, in Scotland at all events, subject to repeated variations. One of those variations my predecessor was unfortunate enough to encounter, but I do say that our claim to a faithful stewardship is not rendered any less because the statistics were better in our time.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

But the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that his party's claim to a faithful stewardship would be affected if it were shown that in the middle of rising statistics they took away facilities for care.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

In the middle of rising statistics?

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

If, when the statistics were going against you, you were definitely responsible for removing child welfare schemes or depreciating their value.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

If such an accusation could be truthfully brought against me, then no doubt that would to some extent be a subject for criticism, but I claim that the movement for increased facilities which was carried on by my predecessor was initiated by us. The grant of £10,000 for the treatment of measles was passed by us; the food and milk grants were doubled by us; this increase, we by no means intend to stop. In the present Estimates the proposal for the treatment of pneumonia and bronchitis was brought forward by us. But we claim it is not possible to discuss this subject on the narrow basis of party from year to year. This broad movement must be surveyed as a whole. The infantile mortality increase seems to have been due largely to epidemics of various kinds, and as a matter of fact we find in regard to the epidemic that the death-rate in the first quarter, which was 132 in the year under review, is 109 in the current quarter of this year. That, at any rate, is an encouraging figure. I do not think we shall have the healthiest year on record, but I hope, as we all hope, that the figures will not be so severe as they were in the previous year. As for adult sickness, I think hon. Members opposite had better remind me of my rationing, otherwise I might be trespassing too long on the time of the Committee. The person with official statistics tends to overlap into the time of private Members, and always has done.

The adult sickness is from 15 to 20 per cent. up. That holds in Scotland; it also holds in England. You might say these two countries are both affected by the great unemployment wave, but I find that the vital statistics moved in the wrong direction also in France, which is not subject to any unemployment depression at the present time, and they also moved slightly adversely in Denmark, a country which has been under discussion in the earlier part of the evening, so that, for some reason or other, oddly enough, a wave of ill-health passed across Western Europe. The returns moved seriously against us in Scotland, something like 1.5: to a lesser extent in England, something like 0.6: to a slightly lesser extent in France, about 0.3; and to a less but still appreciable extent in Denmark, something like 0.1. The very interesting speculation arises as to what it was that caused the simultaneous movement of the vital statistics in the wrong direction all over the West of Europe. Some people say it was the sunless summer. I do not know. Certainly the expense of drugs went up tremendously in Scotland. It went up over 25 per cent.; it went up £40,000 above the average requirements of the preceding four sears, and what that was due to, I do not know.

Infantile mortality has moved up, but the indications are for the first quarter of this year that it has fallen again. Sickness has gone up very seriously, as is instanced in the insured population. It has gone up 15 to 20 per cent. The use of drugs has gone up by £40,000, and the amount paid out in benefits has also gone up. Tuberculosis, on the other hand, remains stationary, or has slightly fallen. I have mentioned one or two of the steps that we are taking to ameliorate the condition of the people—the measles grant, the new grant for pneumonia and bronchitis, the investigations of one kind or another. Take the cause, for instance, of infective jaundice, which caused considerable anxiety amongst the mining population in the East and was subject to a good deal of question and answer in this House. The organism of infective jaundice has been discovered. it seems that it is not, as we had previously considered, largely a miners' disease, but it also occurs amongst members of the general community, and the Circulars which were sent out calling attention to it have resulted in the diagnosis, as due to this infective jaundice, of several conditions which were previously put down to some state of ill-health following influenza. Oddly enough, the same thing appears in dogs, where the jaundice following an infection by this organism is apparently paralleled by a similar condition which has been previously put down in dogs to a post-distemper reaction. Apparently it is a disease of rats, to which dogs are also subject, and to which human beings are also subject, and that it is not merely an industrial disease, but a disease of which there are a certain number of cases amongst the rank and file of the population. We have made it notifiable in Scotland.

It is not possible for me to review the many things which I should like to have considered. The progress, for instance, in the salvage work amongst the local authorities is an extremely interesting and, I think, quite a novel development The burgh of Falkirk has been able by installing a grinding plant and dealing with its salvage to produce 28 per cent. of the whole of the electric light consumed by the burgh out of its refuse, which shows a degree of waste more than one would have expected in the thrifty people of Falkirk. The revenue derived from the salvage of refuse since the scheme started is about £2,800, which has gone a long way to reduce the cost of the cleansing department, and Glasgow and other places are examining this further. It is merely an example of the all-embracing survey which one has to give, in considering the activities of the Board of Health, that it is necessary to commend the Burgh of Falkirk for recovering 30 per cent. of the cinders from its refuse at the same time as one praises the investigators of the Medical Research Council for having discovered the par. titular organism which produces infective jaundice.

The whole question of the movement of the population, which has been referred to in a previous Debate, is of vital interest to those who are concerned with public health. The emigration figure of 40,000 that was given is a considerable under-statement. The figure is really very much higher than that. These are the figures given by the Overseas Department, but the figures given by the Registrar for Scotland show that in 1923–24 emigration was 69,000 and immigration 9,000, that is, 60,000 of a net loss. The excess of births over deaths was 40,000, so that on those figures there were 20,000 fewer people in Scotland at the end of the year than there were at the beginning. A country which has 60,000 people going overseas, a country with 181,000 people unemployed, a country with 70,000 able-bodied people and their dependants on the parish, is a country whose labour market is certainly in a very unhealthy condition, and it is a country which should consider seriously whether it really can continue to afford the openings which it previously has afforded to all the people who desire to come- into it from overseas.

Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL:

What does the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean by "overseas"?

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Not over the border, from England?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

We are all glad to see the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) back again. We do not enter into a discussion with him, because that may lead him into illegal paths.

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

That does not say much for your great House of Commons, or your Chairman either while he sits there.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

The difficulty in discussing the Scottish vital statistics is that we cannot get the people fully to understand how enormously important they are to the life of the community. It is not generally recognised that when we talk about the declining population of France, for instance, it is not due to the low birthrate but to the high death-rate. In 1923 there were more children born in France than in England and Wales. The natural increase was very much smaller, because of the death-rate in France, which is 17.3, as against the death-rate in England and Wales, which is something in the nature of 12. Real national policy is determined by the medical officers of health and the other people who work out the amount of the new population who are going to survive. If the French took to the selling of their 75 mm. guns, and the buying of drain-pipes from Paisley, they would be a much more formidable nation from the imperial point of view than they are at present. We have these things to discuss and form an opinion upon in the few minutes of Debate, and it is almost impossible for us to give them full appreciation. The difficulty of getting the ordinary Member of Parliament, or, still more, the ordinary elector, to understand that everything hangs upon the health of the people is almost insuperable. I have done my best to put it briefly before the House, and I trust that in the discussion which is to follow we shall have this important matter thoroughly discussed and the salient facts properly brought out.

Photo of Mr James Stewart Mr James Stewart , Glasgow St Rollox

I think every Member who has been in the Committee has been deeply interested in the speech that we have just heard from the Under-Secretary for Health, and I regret that the benches in the House should be so empty. When I look below the Gangway, and discover that there is not a single representative of that great party which is so deeply interested in the welfare of the people, it gives me food for thought. And when I look on the other side, and see that the majority of Members who represent that great party in Scotland are also conspicuous by their absence, in a matter most vital to Scotland, I wonder what is wrong. It cannot be that the speech was at fault, because I am certain a more interesting speech it has not been my lot to listen to from any Member of the House on this particular question. There are some points that want elucidating—at least I think so. I want to know what the Secretary for Scotland purposes doing with regard to the ever-increasing cost in the building of houses. In 1923, in Glasgow, a house cost £370. By July last year the cost had increased to £430, and by October of last year to £473. The grant that we get from the State under the Wheatley Act is £9 10s. The £103 added on to the 1923 cost must more than wipe out that £9 10s. It means at least an additional £10 per annum to the rent. So that the £9 10s. has entirely disappeared into the pocket of some individual or individuals, and I do hope we shall hear some statement with regard to what is proposed to be done to overcome this ever-growing difficulty, to use a polite word, though I should like to use a stronger word, but will leave it at that.

The blame may not be entirely on the contractors. It may be they have excuses. In March last year bricks were selling at 42s. The bricklayers of the country made a definite promise that the price of bricks would not rise, but, despite that promise, by some means or other the price of bricks continued to rise, until before the end of the year they were 52s, per 1,000. In 1914 these same people were content, and seemingly made a profit, when bricks stood at 20s. The price has gone up more than 150 per cent. between 1914 and 1924. Under the proposals of the late Government, it was decided that a Bill should be introduced that would prevent this profiteering. That has not been done, and the Government have made no alternative proposals with regard to dealing with this question, so that for building materials of every kind, whether bricks, wood, or light castings—whatever it may be—the price is gradually ascending. They have made no suggestions to cope with this question. Last year I was under the painful necessity, because of the ever-increasing price, to refuse to allow contracts to proceed, and I should like very much for someone to tell us what their proposals are to deal with this particular evil that must of necessity affect the building of houses.

I am sorry the Under-Secretary did not deal more with the question of alterna- tive houses. The one alternative house that is most prominently before the minds of the country is the Weir house. We have recently had a Report with regard to the Weir house presented by responsible people, engineers in connection with the local authorities of Scotland, and they have come unanimously to the conclusion that the Weir houses at the prices that have obtained, that is, practically the prices of to-day, are more costly for erection than brick houses, not making allowance for the fact that, of necessity, there must be more money spent on the maintenance of these so-called steel houses in the way of painting. Then, as to the period of their life, there is doubt as to whether they will last even 20 years, or 30 years, and I think the maximum life that has been given to these houses by experts is something like 30 years. Alternative proposals of that kind, I am sorry to say—and I say it with real sorrow—have failed us in Scotland in this matter of housing.

I turn to a most important matter, and that is the question of the action of the Government in regard to reducing the standard of houses that was fixed by their predecessors. In Scotland we bad a committee sitting for some years. They reported about 1917. It was not. a committee composed of agitators, like some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. It was made up of business men, men with some scientific knowledge in regard to housing, and men with medical knowledge. Their Report was entirely against the erection of what are known in Scotland as two-room houses. There was a Minority Report as well as a Majority Report, but the great majority were absolutely against any further building of houses of that kind: the minority were only slightly less favourable. We have now reached the stage when we are going back on those proposals. There is a proposal, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary has said, for building 1,000 houses in a part of Lanarkshire by one of the councils there. Of that 1,000 houses that the council is going to build, 400 only are to be three-room houses, and 600 of the two-room type. Why! there is no Member of this House, not one of the Scottish Members, who has not deplored the standard of housing that exists in Scotland. They know that it is inadequate. They know that it is injurious to health. They know that, while for the moment we may be spending a little less money and letting houses at a little less rent, the cost must ultimately be paid.

There are 1,000,037 houses in Scotland. Of that number 548,000 are one and two-room houses. That is to say, that 52 per cent. of the houses in Scotland to-day are either of a one or two-room type, and 48 per cent. of the population live under those conditions. The result, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary has very well pointed out, is that we have the highest death-rate in the British Isles; of infantile mortality; of the general death-rate, and everything in that direction. The highest sickness rate of any part of the British Isles obtains in that great country of Scotland. We do not escape the expenditure. We have got to spend the money in sanatoria, in hospitals, and in the economic loss occasioned by men who are lying sick, so that we gain no advantage whatever in that direction. You have reduced the standard of the houses. Let me give an illustration of what is taking place, as I have done before on the few occasions on which I have addressed the House, by using my own city. It is not by any means the worst, though it is the largest. In other parts of Lanarkshire, Linlithgowshire, and Stirlingshire you get these conditions; here they are actually worse than what they are in Glasgow.

9.0 P.M.

Quite recently the medical officer of health for Glasgow published a Report dealing with this very subject. In that Report he condemns root-and-branch the building of any more two-room houses. He points out that there are 40,000 houses in Glasgow—slightly under, but I give it in round figures—in which there are living more than three persons to a room. The standard anywhere is two per room in Scotland. It is not apparently considered injurious that there should be more than three in each room. This represents a population of not less than 140,000 people living in overcrowded conditions that are inimical to their health. No wonder the Parliamentary Under-Secretary spends nearly three-quarters of a million of money co health administration. That is 1s. in the pound, regardless of the fact that we get Fifty-Fifty, and that a great deal of our expenditure comes from the State. I would beg the Secretary for Scotland and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, when they go into these questions, to see if they cannot reconsider this matter of the lowering of the standard of houses in Scotland. It is true that there are a number of people on the local authorities who think that their duty is to act in the way they are doing, and to use the old argument, which we have heard before, that the people must live near their work and that the people cannot afford to pay the rent suggested. It is not true that the people must live near their work. As a matter of fact, they do not at present live near their work. In the vicinity of Glasgow they travel from Bridgeton to Dalmuir, to Paisley, and to Dumbarton in the course of following their employment. This takes them to the Fairfield Works and to the Singer Manufacturing Company's Works. It is not true that they need to live near their work and, as a matter of fact, they do not. They follow their work, and do not necessarily live near it. I hope that as a result of our discussion here this evening that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary will, even at this late hour, reconsider the position and force the various localities to take some steps to raise the standard of housing in Scotland. He, as well as myself, believes, I think, and with the same intensity as I do, that the low standard of housing in Scotland is the one blot, the worst blot of all, upon our nation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman can, in his capacity and in the position that he has the honour to occupy for the time being, use his influence and force to far greater effect than I could, because the people who govern the various localities throughout the country are much more in sympathy with his point of view than they were with mine. If he will act in that way, and use his influence to point out that money is not being saved by the authorities but ultimately lost, then what he says will undoubtedly have a great effect.

There is another thing I want to mention, the employment of direct labour. Those hon. Members who read the "Glasgow Herald" will perhaps have lead the report of recent proceedings in Glasgow City Council. There a discussion took place in regard to the employment of direct labour in housing. One of the members, Bailie Welsh, made a plea on behalf of direct labour, not wholly because of the economy, but because they would get houses more speedily erected under that system. He was opposed by members of the so-called Moderate party, but the convenor of the Housing Committee, Bailie Welsh, traversing the figures of Bailie Morton, said that they had saved upon one housing scheme to the extent of £200 per house. It was stated then that that was not strictly correct, for the actual saving was £180 per house. That means £17 difference in rent. What we get from the State aria the contribution by the local authorities represents £13 10s. How is it not in the interest of the State? Are you not going to save money if you can produce these louses cheaper? I might say in passing in regard to that, that not only were these houses built cheaper, taking them at £186, but they were admittedly superior houses, so far as construction, workmanship and finish were concerned than houses of similar design built under private contract. That has not been denied, and so I would beg the hon. and gallant Gentleman to use his influence, where he can, to save the money of the State and of the community by urging on local authorities to try the other method if they cannot by private enterprise get houses at prices commensurate with the rents which must be charged. This problem of housing transcends every other problem. Everything else he has spoken of hinges upon it. Bad housing, had health; bad housing, waste of money: bad housing, a lowering of the standard of life in every direction. I ask the hon. Member to give effect to what I have been urging.

One remark to which I wish to draw attention was concerned with the lower vitality of the people. A statement was made to us by the Minister of War, within the last fortnight I think, that in the course of recruiting it was found that out of every eight men who offered themselves five had to be rejected. If that be true of the country as a whole, how much more is it true of the district the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Parliamentary Under-Secretary represents, and of the division that I have the honour to represent? Stunted men, stunted women, rickety children, and disease of every kind predominate, and if it is desired to do something to tackle that situation, we ought to help forward the building of houses. We ought to remove the disgrace attaching to the fact that, despite having had housing schemes since 1919 we have not, up to now, built sufficient houses to meet one year's requirements, and the prospects, instead of improving, are diminishing.

Here is a great problem and a great opportunity, and I would ask the Minister to use the sympathy that I know he has, and the intelligence that I know he has, to deal with it in a way that will make for the benefit of our people in every direction. It will pay us in the physical benefits that it will confer, and it will pay us from the moral standard, it will increase the intelligence of the people, and perhaps it might have this effect—the Clyde and the Clyde district might not be quite as red as they are if you were wise enough to adopt the course that I suggest.

Photo of Mr James Kidd Mr James Kidd , Linlithgowshire

We have listened to an interesting speech from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health. The hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart), himself a former Under-Secretary, seemed to be rather troubled about the question of two-room houses. I entirely agree with him, as everybody must, that we ought to have more accommodation than is represented by two rooms. On the other hand, he will be the first to agree that there are many cases where a two-room house does serve. If the family is large, then more than two rooms are called for, because one does not wish to have any mixture of the sexes, one does not want to have children brought up under conditions where there is a want of regard for delicacy; but he will realise that there must be many cases where the two-room house is very much more attractive and much more satisfactory to the occupant. In any case, in a time of stress like the present I think the Under-Secretary did well, not on his own judgment, not expressing his own mind, as I understood him, to defer to the wishes of the local authorities on that particular point. If in a time of stress the Board of Health and the local authorities found themselves in conflict, the objective sought by the Labour party in particular would not be realised as quickly as if the Board of Health were in happy accord with the local authori- ties. The Member for St. Rollox made reference to profiteering. One does not want to go into this matter of profiteering, because one would need to examine ail the constituent contributions to the price, and might raise controversy with Members opposite, and one wants to avoid that.

Photo of Mr James Kidd Mr James Kidd , Linlithgowshire

Take the cost of the timber in a house. The price of that may not be fixed by people in this country. Take the wages arising from the material having to be sent here. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) might find himself in conflict with me on some of these matters, and we want to avoid that. What we want is houses, not controversy. I suggest to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary that the best way of avoiding profiteering is to leave the building industry alone. The more it is left alone by the Government the less profiteering there will be, the cheaper building you will have, the more houses and the better houses. If I came out as a social enthusiast wanting more houses and better houses in the shortest possible time, I would on every occasion beg of the authorities to keep the hand of the Government, either the central government or the delegated government, out of industry.

I was very much interested in the remarks of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary with reference to vital statistics. I like his frankness, and I like his analysis, and I like what I thought was his very fair deductions. He was perfectly frank in stating that the vital statistics are against us. Without being dogmatic, he warned the Committee not to jump to the conclusion that our people are now beginning to show the effects of the unhappy industrial conditions under which they have lived, and which we all deplore. He justified that warning, I think, by the reference he made to tuberculosis. I am sure every Member of the Committee was delighted to learn that not only had the figures under that particular head not increased, but that they were either stationary or tending to diminish. It would be presumptuous on my part to pretend to be a judge on this medical point, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary can be, but it does appear to me that the situation as to tuberculosis can perhaps be accepted as a test of whether our people have suffered from this long-sustained unemployment, or whether the fact 'of the vital statistics going against us are not to be explained by some other cause. The Under-Secretary was frank in stating that the vital statistics were against us. He was encouraging to us in letting us know how tuberculosis stood, and the information he was able to give in regard to tuberculosis seemed to me to prove his point that, whatever it was that might be the explanation of the bad curve in the vital statistics, it applied also to Denmark, to England, to France and to Scotland. These facts, taken together with the further facts as to the position with regard to tuberculosis, seem to bear out the view of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary that we could not account for the adverse position of the vital statistics simply by the state of unemployment.

Having said all that, it seems almost unkind that I should raise any point against the Scottish Board of Health, but I will not do so in any captious spirit. I hear, however, that the Scottish Board of Health are a little slack in paying their debts. Of course, we are all Scotsmen, and we have a common feeling on a point of this kind. I hold no brief for any particular creditor of the Board of Health, but I ask the Under-Secretary to keep this point before him. If a builder happens to have an accumulation of balances which restrict his ability to get on with his work very much indeed, I beg of the Under-Secretary to see to it that builders in that position are not allowed to remain without their money any longer than is at all possible, and immediately the Department is satisfied that the work has been done in a satisfactory way after examination the money should be paid at the earliest possible moment. It may be that other hon. Members have had a similar experience to that which I have had in my own constituency as to the liability of the parish council, a liability from which they cannot escape, but which with the assistance of the Minister of Health they might escape. I am alluding to the case of a man in my constituency who deserted his wife. The desertion has lasted for quite a number of years. The parish council have paid hundreds of pounds for the maintenance of the wife and children of this man. Now this man who has deserted his wife and family is attached to a certain Approved Society, and he moves about in a very mysterious way. Under these circumstances the parish council ask the Minister of Health to direct the Approved Society to give them this man's address, but they refuse to do so. In a case of desertion of this kind where the money is being paid by a public authority, and where the debt represents the burden upon the ratepayers, we are not asking the Minister of Health to act, as a detective agent, but that Department ought not to act as aiders and abetters in something approaching a crime. This is an actual instance which has occurred in my own county, and I believe other Scottish Members have had similar experiences. I would ask the Under-Secretary to see if he can in some way deal with a deserter who leaves the burden of his wife and children to be borne by the parish council.

Mr. R. MITCHELL:

If in the earlier part of this Debate the Secretary for Scotland has suffered from undue criticism I am afraid the Under-Secretary for Health is very liable to suffer from undue adulation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has presented to us this evening a statement ranging over a very wide field of the various activities of his Department. I want to confine my remarks to one item in the Estimates. In the first place we heard a good deal about the treatment of tuberculosis, and I am surprised to find that while £290,000 is set aside for the purpose of the treatment of tuberculosis cases, there is no reference to any sum for the purpose of taking steps to prevent tuberculosis. I am still more surprised to think that at this time there should be an attempted reduction in the amount of money set aside for grappling with this terrific problem. I have chosen this subject, not because I have any expert knowledge upon it but because I happen to have been present in another capacity at the beginning of the campaign against tuberculosis in Glasgow along with the late Under-Secretary for Health for Scotland, and we have seen it grow from its very early beginnings. We have seen what can be done by local authorities in the treatment of patients, and what can be done by a local authority if it is given substantial funds to eradicate these nests of disease. I am sorry to say that we have seen very little reference in these Estimates to anything being done towards the prevention of the ever-recurring numbers who suffer from this disease. As a matter of fact, there is actually a decrease of £20,000. I believe that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would only transmute as he can these dead figures in these Estimates into terms of human suffering and anxiety that he would not ask the Committee to sanction a reduction of £20,000 for the treatment of tuberculosis, and he would be willing to ask for a grant on very much the same lines as last year. This disease has been tackled from its early beginnings, and every year there has been an increase in expenditure for this object, and this has always been attended by a corresponding increase in the effectiveness of the treatment. Why, then, should there be a reduction of £20,000 in this Estimate?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

It might save discussion if I answer that point at once. The reduction which has been alluded to is owing to over-budgeting last year. There is really no reduction at all in the amount to be spent, and the balance for last year cannot be used this year.

Mr. MITCHELL:

Then I understand, although I am not highly skilled in these technical matters of Parliament, that the balance cannot be used in the subsequent year. Very well, if the balance from last year cannot be used, how is it there still remains a reduction in this year's Estimates of £20,000? Even granting that the same amount is to be available, I would plead with the hon. and gallant Gentleman to recognise that this must by its very nature be an ever-increasing expenditure until you pass over the apex and feel you have actually grappled with the problem. It is not a question of figures of accidents involving a limb or portion of a limb, it is a, thing which goes right down to the very roots of civic administration of crowded life in cities. It is the biggest social challenge we have. Cholera and smallpox have been practically eradicated. It is only two generations ago since ecclesiastics were telling the people that cholera and smallpox were specially sent by an all-loving Father to draw the attention of the victims to their sins. Sanitation has developed enormously; money has been expended, and the result is that even in our crowded cities cholera has been eradi- cated and smallpox practically eliminated. I believe we can do the same with tuberculosis, and the experience of the last 14 years shows it can be done if we have the social courage to grapple with the problem. Anything that has been done up to now is trifling. Judged intensively, I admit it seems a great deal, but judged extensively according to the enormous seriousness of the problem, it is trifling. We actually are dealing only with the existing victims, and what money we expend in trying to cure existing victims will be, spent again next year for the purpose of curing the next set of victims who are now being sent out into the world. Tuberculosis has been called a disease of sunlessness. Undoubtedly it is a disease of sleeplessness, and if you have housing conditions in which children, to whom sleep is the most essential thing of existence, instead of having sleep by which they can make good the wastage of their bodies—[An HON. MEMBER:" Why did you vote for Summer Time?"]—for thousands of children it is better that they should be breathing the air of the streets than the rooms in which they have to sleep. So long as you have houses in which children have to pass the night in semi-asphyxiation because the air is already polluted by those who have inhabited the room, instead of being invigorated by pure air you will have an increasing tendency to attack by this disease.

We refer to Glasgow because we know it better. We Glasgow folk are very fond of criticising our own town. We seem to love her so well that we know she will not be offended by pointing out her faults. Since my stay in London I have seen in this great, boasting city areas which for sheer street filth and housing conditions would not be tolerated even in the city of Glasgow. I confess that my experience during the last few weeks has been rather to mollify my criticisms of my own city after what I have seen in the surroundings of this great place. But this disease is a disease of poverty. The well-to-do person in a good house first of all has not the same tendency, or if he has the tendency he is protected by the size of his house and the locality. If he is infected, he is able to go to the country or to be isolated and receive treatment in his house and all that skill and science can provide for him. The poor begin handicapped. They begin from early days in an atmosphere which reduces their vitality and power to resist disease. When they have the disease they are so crowded together that they cannot be isolated. When they are sent out and cured, there is no after treatment available for them. There is practically at present no surgical treatment available except the voluntary hospitals. When they are cured, but still liable to recurrence of the trouble, they are sent back to crowded, congested homes to be the generators of new disease among those who live with them and, at last, to fall back to the position in which they were.

Glasgow statistics show definitely that this is a disease of poverty. For example, we have all heard about two-thirds of Glasgow's population in houses of one and two rooms. Thirteen per cent. of the people live in single ends and have provided 18 per cent. of the consumption cases in Glasgow. Sixteen per cent. of the population of Glasgow live in houses of four rooms and over. They provide only 8 per cent. of the phthisical cases. Now that it is a notifiable disease, we know definitely about those cases. What you have is this. Those people who live in houses of four apartments and over, while providing a larger ratio of the population, nevertheless provide less than a hall of the phthisical cases of the smaller proportion of the population which lives in single apartments. Moreover, the ordinary normal death-rate of people living in four-apartment houses is only 50 per cent. of the people who live in single apartments. Is that not a terrible thing? Here in a great city, after 19 centuries of the Christian outlook on things, we are content to regard a population so divided that the people who are in a certain material circumstance know that they have twice the chance of life that their brothers and sisters have who are on a lower material plane. That, to me, is a most terrible thing. It is a most awful challenge to every particle of our statesmanship, our humanitarianism, our humanity and our religion, whatever it may be.

When you come to phthisis you find the death rate in four apartments and over is only 36 compared with 100. The folk in this House are pretty well-to-do. Where can their happiness in their own material prosperity be, when they know that their fellows are put under such handicaps as these? Further, the expectation of life, in males living in one-apartment houses, is, at 10 years of age, 47, while for males in four-apartment houses it is 53. In the case of women it is even worse. Poverty is a terrible burden to womenfolk. In the case of the woman in a one-apartment house it is 46 years, while it is 58 years in a four-apartment house. The whole thing is a question of poverty. The whole of the housing question is a question of poverty. Why does the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who, from his youth up, has held, in the estimation of his fellow-citizens in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, so high a place, not only for his mental ability, but for the sure touch of his instinct—why is it that, at a time like this, when house-building is not keeping pace with the marriage rate, he cannot bring his party, which has an unprecedented majority in, this House and a practically unanimous House in the other place, to grapple with the problem of providing for every human unit at least the minimum that he and I know is absolutely essential for the physical, mental, and moral development of our own children?

That is the test of statesmanship—not to give driblets, but to lay down the minimum that we ourselves know is essential for our children, and then to see that our statesmanship shall not end until, for every child that is born into this nation, there shall be at least that minimum provided. How can he allow, at this moment, landlords to stand in the way of building houses? Why should he allow the makers of material to stand in the way of building houses? Why should he allow the holders of money to stand in the way of building houses? Why should he allow trade unions to stand in the way of building houses? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Directly I mention trade unions, every hon. Member opposite cheers. That is the only section of vested interests with which hon. Gentlemen opposite have attempted to grapple. They have allowed, and we have allowed, to our sin and shame, the land of the people, upon which they all depend for existence, to be taken from them and monopolised by a few, who withhold it from them in order that they may extract more from the people. We have allowed the people to be fed with adulterated food; we have allowed people to make profits out of every need of the poor. We have never hesitated, even in the methods of moving them from place to place, to go and buy land at exorbitant rates, and build roads at the expense of the people, and then see the edges of the road rise in value from £5to £250. We have used the poor always—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I do not see how the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health can have any control over those matters.

Mr. MITCHELL:

I am sorry if I have departed from the line. Everything that we do in connection with tuberculosis—all our X-Ray treatment, all our heliotherapy, all our sanatoria, all our centres—what are they doing? They are simply providing temporary palliatives against a great, malign influence which is at work so long as we allow the people of our country to be housed as they are. There are people in the City of Glasgow whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department permits to live in houses which his Department would not allow to be used for the breeding of pigs. The local authority of the City of Glasgow, under directions from the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department, is more strict with the houses in which people will breed pigs than it is with the houses in which men and women are to breed new men and women to be citizens of this State. I ask him, therefore, not to reduce the tuberculosis grant, but to increase it, so that there may be methods of dealing with the disease surgically, methods of dealing with the disease in children—we have nothing now but the voluntary hospitals—methods whereby people may be taken and sent, not from Scotland into the villages of this country, but to villages and centres in their own land, methods whereby there may be after-treatment, methods whereby there may be a period of isolation, methods whereby the economic circumstances that drive the victims back to their homes before they are properly cured, may be relieved by supplementary grants.

I do beg this of the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the sake of his great party, which has received the vote of con- fidence of the people. No Government can come into power in this country save by the votes of the poor people and the artisan people. It is perfectly obvious that the Conservative party in the House of Commons has received their faith. They have believed in that side of the House; they have not believed in us; we have not received their faith as other hon. Gentlemen have. But it is a terrible thing to receive that faith from poor folk, because it implies a tremendous responsibility, and it is a horrible thing to cheat anybody. It is a terrible thing to deceive anybody who has put trust in you; but it is immeasurably worse to deceive poor folk who, in their misery and helplessness, have given their faith to a great party because that great party has promised to do something to alleviate their suffering. I am disappointed, in looking at these Estimates, to find so little being done in Scotland in this matter of tuberculosis prevention, and so little for child welfare. My only glimmer of encouragement comes from the preceding page, where I find Grants towards Housing Expenses, £1,040,500. That is a preventive which does not recur. The rest comes on year by year, as we know in Glasgow so well, for we spend about 1,500,000 every year in mopping up the mess that is caused by bad social conditions. I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be as gallant in his statesmanship as he had been in another sphere.

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I should like to associate myself with those who have expressed appreciation of the Under-Secretary's statement at the beginning of our sitting. He brought forward very many interesting facts, and it is difficult, in the short time which, by a self-denying ordinance, the members of this party have imposed upon themselves, to go over anything like the ground which he has covered. I propose to speak rather on one or two technical points, on which I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman for some information. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell) has spoken about tuberculosis, and tuberculosis is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest diseases that we have to fight. I am sure we were all gratified to know that statistics show that the death-rate was not any more severe last year than in previous years, but I am afraid we cannot find much upon which to congratulate ourselves in regard to the general incidence of the disease.

I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he has given any consideration to the introduction of the Spahlinger treatment. We are in a very unfortunate position as regards any real cure—any real cure for pulmonary tuberculosis. It is practically a matter of nursing and hygienic treatment at the present time. In this Spahlinger treatment we have at least a very real hope. With some other medical Members of the House I saw a number of cases treated with the new serum and vaccine last week in London and I was very much impressed by them. I know there are very great difficulties in the way at present, but I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to encourage his Department to co-operate with the Ministry of Health in endeavouring to get some method of having this treatment given to sufferers, because we want to get something done. I do not think we should wait until the treatment is finally and absolutely guaranteed to cure. We should be prepared to see if we cannot assist in determining whether or not it is an effective remedy, which I believe it is. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley spoke also about other forms of tuberculosis than pulmonary. I should like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he will encourage in this connection treatment by helio-therapy. I think the light treatment of tuberculosis is going to be very important, especially in regard to what is called surgical tuberculosis, which includes practically all other forms than those associated with the lungs. In the city hospital at Edinburgh there is now installed a light treatment, and it is proving very effective. I hope the Board will encourage other centres to instal this form of artificial sunlight.

I should also like to call attention to a somewhat neglected form of tuberculosis, that is lupus, or tuberculosis of the skin. It is a very terrible form of the disease, which commonly affects young women, most frequently in the face, and, if it is not checked, it creates a tragedy which is much worse than death. The light treatment of skin tuberculosis has been developed to a very great extent in London. We in Scotland have been rather behind in this matter. There is now a modification of the Finsen light installation at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and the Board of Health would do a very useful work in encouraging local authorities to see that this method of treating this terrible form of the disease is encouraged.

The subject of tuberculous milk is one hi which I am very much interested. Is it not a terrible thing that at this time of day we are actually having milk sold which little children have to consume and which contains live tubercle bacilli? Recently in Edinburgh 403 samples of milk were taken, and 33 of them, or 8.1 per cent., were found to contain live tubercle bacilli, and the figures in other towns are very similar. About 8 per cent. of tuberculous milk is being circulated. The tuberculosis officer for Edinburgh, giving the figures for 1922, says that 30 per cent. of all gland cases, 18 per cent. of all meningial cases, 50 per cent. of all abdominal tuberculosis cases, 58 per cent, of cases of tuberculosis of bones and joints, and 50 per cent. of lupus cases were due to the bovine bacillus, which is practically always transmitted through milk. This shows the very great importance of the subject. I am glad the Board of Health in Scotland has realised its importance, and I want to emphasise the matter now so that they may be encouraged to bring in at the very earliest moment the Tuberculosis Order of 1914. They have the power to do that on 1st September of this year, and I think it is their present intention, but I hope nothing will prevent their doing that in association with the reintroduction of the English Order of 1915, by the Ministry of Health, because it is a very serious state of things that we should be having this milk circulated. The grading system which was introduced by the Ministry of Health was very useful, because it called attention to the fact that milk was not all of the same quality, but the effect has been that the ungraded milk is now of a poorer and more dangerous quality than the average milk before the grading system was introduced. It is a cheaper milk, and it is given to the very poorest and least resistant of children. Therefore it is high time that the circulation of tuberculous milk should be brought to an end.

Photo of Sir Henry Craik Sir Henry Craik , Combined Scottish Universities

To what extent does the medical profession agree that tuberculous milk is really responsible for tuberculosis?

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

The bovine tubercle, which is almost entirely transmitted through milk, does not cause pulmonary tuberculosis. It does not affect the lungs but it may cause any other of the various forms I have mentioned, which are very often called by the general term of surgical tuberculosis.

Photo of Sir Henry Craik Sir Henry Craik , Combined Scottish Universities

To what extent does the medical profession think it is really responsible for tuberculosis?

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I have already given the figures. I think if the right hon. Gentleman will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, ho will see that I have given, from the Report of the Edinburgh Medical Officer of Health, the proportion of tuberculosis due to the bovine tubercle.

I should like to refer to the rather unpleasant subject of venereal diseases. I wish to ask if anything has been done to carry out the recommendations of the local authorities whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman received in a deputation in July, 1923, with a view to giving more power to local authorities to deal with this subject. Probably legislation would be requred for drastic treatment, and that cannot be discussed now, but there are possibilities in connection with the 1897 Act whereby these diseases might be scheduled. I should like to call attention to the seriousness of the problem. In the year ending May, 1923, the total attendances at the clinics in Scotland were 289,945, involving 22,800 people. These do not, of course, cover all the cases. I would ask also if the new centres, which have been frequently asked for, have, been opened, and especially if anything has been done in regard to the seaports, which are known to require special treatment. Another point in connection with these diseases is the importance of securing the attendance of patients until they are finally cured. It is, of course, a very delicate and difficult subject, and it is not easy to find a solution. The treatment of venereal disease, however, is a very great expense to the community, and during the year 1922–23 30 per cent. of those under treatment left before the full course was completed, 23 per cent. had completed the course but left before they were finally tested, and 39 per cent. only remained until the treatment was completed and until they were finally pronounced cured. That means that a great deal of the very expensive treatment given to these people is more or less thrown away. It is a difficult problem, but I think the Board of Health, by following up these absent cases and assisting the local authorities to follow them up, might do something in the interests of the patients of the general community and, ultimately, of economy, until we have new legislation embodying the least objectionable method of compulsion. Twelve per cent. of the cases of syphillis are congenital, and these are largely cases of children—the most pathetic cases of all. I would like to ask the hon. and gallant Member if his Department ever look into the question of trying, if possible, to have separate accommodation for the children. It is very desirable that the children who come for treatment should not mix with the adults. In many centres there is not that separation which we would wish. We would desire that these children should not know that they were attending that particular section of any institution. In most cases of venereal disease a final cure can be secured, and, fortunately, we generally get that for the children.

I would like to call attention in connection with the same unpleasant subject to the cases of Ophthalmia Neonatorum. It is disappointing to find from the weekly health returns that these cases are frequently occurring. It is well known that they need not occur. The treatment for prevention is extremely simple, and in many cases on the birth of a child this prophylactic treatment is given as a routine in institutions and by private practitioners. I am aware that the Board has taken disciplinary action against certain Poor Law officers where this disease has occurred and I would like to ask whether any steps have been taken when the notification of this disease has come in private cases, to trace the circumstances and see whether negligence has occurred We know that a great proportion of the blindness in this country is clue to this disease, and it is very desirable, when it is entirely preventable, that the Board should be a little more stringent, and see that intimation of it does not appear in our weekly health statistics.

With regard to maternity mortality, I should like to ask whether the Under-Secretary has any comments to make on the report of the Departmental Committee which sat on this subject, and which completed its work last year. We have a relatively high maternal mortality in Scotland, and we should be glad to know whether he has any comment to make on the Report of the Committee.

In regard to infantile mortality, we have not the figures for last year, but the previous year gives the very strange result that Aberdeen has the heaviest mortality of any city in Scotland. It is one of the curiosities of statistics, because there does not seem any good reason why Aberdeen should be in this unenviable position. The mortality figures were, for the year 1923, 104 in Aberdeen, 98 in Dundee, 90 in Glasgow and 82 in Edinburgh. The higher rate in Dundee has generally been ascribed to the number of married women who work in factories, while the housing conditions in Glasgow account for the high infant mortality in that city. Between 30 and 40 per cent. of the cases of infantile mortality are due to premature birth and congenital debility, that is, the child is born too soon or in a weakly and miserable state. That is practically always due to the condition of the mother. These two causes are the most important of the causes of infantile mortality, and the condition of the mother before the child is born is thus of fundamental importance. There, again, we see the influence of housing conditions. The mother has to remain in the house all day, sometimes up three or four stairs, she is in a bad atmosphere, not well fed, and very much overworked.

I should like also in that connection to ask about child welfare and antenatal centres. In many towns in Scotland these centres are not properly accommodated. They are far too crowded, and the conditions are such that the women very often are not encouraged to attend. I should like to see the Board insisting on local authorities giving a little more attention to that matter. What has happened rather is that the Board has refused to sanction the opening and extension of these centres in many cases. It is very false economy for the Board of Health to have to refuse sanction to open or to extend these centres on any ground of economy. It is very bad economy to save expense in this way.

I should like to deal with many other questions, but I am afraid I have exceeded my allotted time, and I do not

10.0 P.m. wish to be selfish and take up the time of others. I should like before closing, however, to ask the Under-Secretary a question with regard to the £10,000 allotted with respect to measles. What has been done with it? Has the whole amount been spent, or how much has been spent? With regard also to the nutrition of school children, I find that, in the year 1923, 16,200 children were officialy certified as having a state of nutrition below the average, and 600 were certified as having very poor nutrition. The hope was expressed that if the financial condition of the country improved, these figures would improve. Has the financial condition of the country improved, and, if so, has there been any reflex in regard to these school children? I would like to ask also whether the country has ever been in a financial position sufficient to justify practically 17,000 children being underfed and half-starved. I do not think that has ever been justified, and I certainly think that a proper Government is one which would allow no financial situation to justify the neglect of children, and the causing of them to suffer cruelly by our economic and social system.

Mr. W. M. WATSON:

This is one of the rare occasions when we have an opportunity of discussing problems which directly affect our country. To-night we have been discussing two of the most important problems, agriculture and public health, which vitally affect Scotland. The statements that have been made have shown that we require to make much more rapid progress in the future than we have been making in the past. The Under-Secretary gave us a most interesting statement in regard to the public health of Scotland. That statement is not what we would like it to be, I am satisfied that he has not given us in that statement all the information that he might give us He attributed the increase in sickness that has taken place during the past year very largely to the epidemic of influenza, but I believe that if the problem was sifted to the bottom, he would discover that there are a few other causes operating in Scotland, which have been operating for a considerable number of years, and which are very largely responsible for the amount of sickness there is in that country. These two causes are housing and tuberculosis and other diseases which are brought on by a considerable amount of unemployment. The hon. and gallant Member referred to the unemployment existing in Scotland and hinted that it might have some effect upon public health. I am certain that the prolonged period of unemployment in Scotland has had an influence on the health in Scotland, and between unemployment and bad housing we have two prolific causes of bad public health.

This is also an occasion on which many Members get an opportunity of airing grievances which are peculiar to their own constituencies, and I want to bring to the notice of the hon. and gallant Gentleman a condition of affairs existing in my constituency of which he has a good deal of knowledge himself. I refer to the housing conditions at Rosyth. They are not the ordinary conditions which prevail in various parts of the country. Before I deal with what is known as the garden city, I wish to refer to the conditions existing in what is known as bungalow city, Rosyth. It is not exactly what I should call a bungalow city. It was described by the Under-Secretary for the Scottish Board of Health as a collection of ramshackle edifices. It was constructed to house the navvies who came to construct the dockyard at Rosyth. I believe that these houses had been used in another part. of the country and were brought to Rosyth to house the workers there. From the beginning it was understood that they were to be merely temporary shelters and that as rapidly as possible they would disappear. It is true that we have not as many to-day as we have had, but there are still considerably over two hundred of these tin structures standing Just outside the dockyard gates, a condition of affairs which is not creditable either to the Scottish Board of Health or to the Admiralty.

The Admiralty, I believe, in the first instance, was responsible for these houses being erected, and I believe that the Admiralty to a very large extent is responsible for their continued existence. But the Scottish Board of Health has some right to look after the welfare and the health of those who are condemned to live in these particular houses. The Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health visited these structures two years ago, and I hope that he has not forgotten the impression that was made upon him. He expressed his feelings at a meeting at which I was present on the same day, and he had nothing very creditable to say for those particular houses. Is it the intention of his Department to proceed with the erection of new houses at Rosyth, so that these tin houses may be got rid of? At the annual meeting of the Scottish National Housing Company, the chairman stated that he understood that 50 new houses were to be erected at Rosyth, and I would like to know if there is any hope that new houses will be constructed so that these tin shanties may be got rid of, and, if so, is there any intention to experiment with housing at Rosyth? I notice that in the speech to which I have already referred, by the chairman of the National Scottish Housing Company, it was stated that there was a likelihood of two-apartment houses being erected at Rosyth, and not only that, but that there were to be experiments with certain materials so that houses could be erected at lower prices than those which have ruled at Rosyth up to the present. Are we to have some of the Weir houses for example? I hope we are not going to have steel houses erected at Rosyth to take the place of these houses that have been left.

I would remind the Under-Secretary that when he spoke at Dunfermline, following his visit to Rosyth, he expressed the feeling that he was most uncomfortable. He had a sort of responsibility as a Scotsman and as an official of the Scottish Board of Health for the manner in which the workers at Rosyth had been housed, and he reminded us at that meeting that in England they had a higher standard of housing than we have had in Scotland, and he felt that it was unreasonable to ask workers to come from southern dockyards to Rosyth and to put them into houses such as he had seen at bungalow city that day. I would remind him that we who are interested in Rosyth do not wish to see the standard lowered in the case of the new houses. The permanent houses which have been erected at the garden city are houses of more than two apartments. They have three, four and five apartments, and I hope that, if it is the intention of the Scottish Board of Health to sanction the erection of more houses, we are not going to have two-apartment houses erected there. I hope that we are going to maintain the standard which has been set up in the garden city.

There are one or two other matters to which I wish to refer. The Secretary for Scotland was not long in his place when I had to draw his attention to a number of grievances at Rosyth—grievances on the part of tenants who have had some difficulty with the factors of the Scottish Housing Company. There is a very close connection between the Scottish Board of Health and the Scottish National Housing Company. The Board of Health, acting for the Admiralty, has to find the money for the erection of the houses at Rosyth, or, at any rate, the bulk of the money. The Board of Health has advanced to the Scottish National Housing Company over £900,000 for the erection of houses at Rosyth, so that the Board has a very direct connection and interest in the housing conditions at Rosyth. I suggest that if the Secretary for Scotland has any influence with the company, something like a Whitley Council might be set up in connection with the housing, just as there is a Council inside the dockyard for dealing with grievances there. I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should be pestered from time to time with grievances connected with housing at Rosyth when there could be set up a committee of representatives of the Housing Company and of the tenants which could discuss difficulties from time to time.

There is no reason why there should be any more friction at Rosyth than elsewhere, except this—that the houses at Rosyth were erected during the War, and that they were not constructed as houses used formerly to be constructed in Scot land. In the first place, there is not accommodation equal to that which we used to have in our houses with the same number of apartments. If you compare the three-apartment house at Rosyth with the two-apartment house that used to be erected by private enterprise, you find that there is more actual accommodation in the two-apartment house than in the three-apartment house at Rosyth and elsewhere. In the ordinary three-apartment house before the War you had actually mote accommodation than you have in the five-apartment houses erected during the War and since. During the War, I believe during 1917 and 1918, we had 1,000 houses rushed up at Rosyth in order to find accommodation for the men who were being brought from the southern dockyards, and I am convinced that a considerable amount of jerry-building went on at Rosyth, with the result that from time to time there are disputes between the tenants and the factor of the Housing Company about troubles in connection with the housing. I want to ask whether something cannot be done to overcome these grievances.

I wish to refer also to another matter which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider sympathetically, and that is the question of the rents. I am aware that these houses have been subsidised and that subsidies were inevitable. If you require to subsidise houses that are built now in the circumstances of the moment, there was much more justification for subsidising houses during the period of the War. I want to remind the Secretary for Scotland that these houses were built during the War. Under the first development scheme undertaken at Rosyth houses were built at something in the neighbourhood of £300, but before the end of 1918 the cost of building the same type of house had increased to £1,200 and £1,300. Those were quite abnormal conditions, and there is no reason why the rents which have been fixed for the houses should be continued at their present high rate. I consider that rents of £18, £20 or £22 for three-apartment houses or of over £40 for five-apartment houses—which is the rent of the newest houses—is far too much. These are points to which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give consideration, and I hope he will try to help this hard-hit community. During the period of the War wages were high, and things were going well, but there have been reductions in the wages of dockyard workers just as in other wages, with the result that these people are not able to pay the high rents which have been fixed at Rosyth. I also wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the burgh authorities of Dunfermline have undertaken a great many services at the instigation of the Admiralty, and I hope he will do something to assist them to get over some of their present difficulties. Representations have been made to his Department in connection with works undertaken by the town council, and I hope they will receive his most sympathetic consideration.

Photo of Brigadier-General John Charteris Brigadier-General John Charteris , Dumfriesshire

I wish to refer to the same subject as that with which the previous speaker has dealt. I desire to call attention to the question of housing, both in the rural areas and in the great cities. Regarding the rural areas, I think the Secretary for Scotland might direct his attention to the question of whether or not it is possible to ease the existing congestion in the rural areas by causing such corporations as the great railways to provide houses for their own employés. In one portion of my own constituency there is no doubt that the railways by not housing their employés are causing congestion. Not only are they unprepared to take this step on their own initiative but they have not accepted an offer which was made to them of free land and other facilities. They use the argument, and there is something to be said for it, that their employés, in common with all other citizens, are entitled to take advantage of the existing houses. But when we realise the difficulties of house-building and the fact that these railways and other corporations have facilities for locating their men with due convenience in regard to their work, and have also facilities for the rapid execution of the work, then I think pressure might be brought to bear upon them to take this step and to help on the general interest of rural houses. I do not enter into the relative merits of the 1923 and 1924 Acts, except to say that in so far as Scotland is concerned, neither Act appears to have been capable of causing Scotland to exert her full force in the matter of housing. The proportion of houses which Scotland has built in comparison with England is, of course, low, and the result is as unpleasant to hon. Members on this side of the House as to hon. Members on the other side, in that the Scottish taxpayer is paying a proportion of taxes which goes to his greatly respected English brethren across the Border.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

But we beat them last Saturday.

Photo of Brigadier-General John Charteris Brigadier-General John Charteris , Dumfriesshire

les, and if hon. Members opposite co-operate, we can equal if not beat them in every friendly contest. I think the Secretary for Scotland should endeavour to see if that matter cannot be put right. I am told that whereas England has built or sanctioned over 241,000 houses, Scotland's figure is only 12,000. That is a rather deplorable' result, and if the right hon. Gentleman, were to devote his attention to finding some means of meeting that problem, we might find Scotland playing a part more worthy of her in the effort to solve the national housing problem.

I now ask the Committee to consider for a moment the question of town planning. The present tendency is to devote the whole effort of government to meeting congestion and to solving the housing problem apart from the actual congestion by building one-storey or two-storey houses of the bungalow type. That is not the whole solution. Of course it is a ready palliative for some Bart of the evil, but I feel sure that in the great cities, in the great industrial areas, there is a very definite limit to the extent to which this means can be used. It seems to me that it is not practical politics to put the members of an industrial community all out in the suburbs at a distance from their work and from the amenities of life to which they are accustomed, and I believe that the Secretary for Scotland would do well to devote his attention to the problem of whether, in some measure anyhow, these difficulties could not be met by greatly improved—so greatly improved that they would hardly be recognised—steel tenement dwellings running up to many storeys.

I understand that the Minister of Health in England has sanctioned a plan of the London County Council to build a nine-storey block of flats in St. Pancras, and I believe the figure that works out there for a housing unit, in the sense of the same accommodation as is provided in the ordinary Weir bungalow, comes to something not far from £160, in comparison with the Weir bungalow figure of £350, I believe that a similar type of house, if built in the great cities of Scotland, and particularly in Glasgow, would be the readiest and most effective way of meeting the congestion which now exists in that city. I do not believe that these great tenements need require brick in their construction. Of course, the framework is of steel, and even if the filling is not concrete, because that might require too much expert labour, I believe that by using stamped steel, such as is used in some of the smaller bungalows, in the walls of these great tenements round the steel framework, we should get a tenement building rapidly constructed, affording good and ample accommodation for the people, and get it much more readily and conveniently placed than is possible with bungalows erected on the Weir system.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Has the hon. and gallant Member ever stayed in a tenement building such as that?

Photo of Brigadier-General John Charteris Brigadier-General John Charteris , Dumfriesshire

I have never been in Heaven, but I am allowed to discuss it. You decry these buildings as tenements in Glasgow. In London we search for them and pay high rents for them as flats—even mansion flats.

There is another point which I think might be worthy of consideration, in regard to the congestion in Glasgow. It would be interesting if one could trace how far that congestion is due to causes within the city itself and how far it is due to immigration. I think the Secretary for Scotland might possibly have very interesting statistics prepared to see how far the immigration, for instance, from Ireland, is causing congestion in Glasgow, and it seems to me to be a question well worthy of consideration whether, in view of the great congestion in Glasgow, it might not be possible to take some steps to prevent the undue immigration, anyhow so long as the housing problem continues in its present condition. There remains the problem in what are not actually the rural and not actually the big industrial centres —I mean the smaller towns in Scotland. There are in those smaller towns many slum areas which are a positive disgrace to Scotland and to civilisation, and I believe that steps could and should be taken to force local authorities there to meet the problem which is in front of them with greater energy and greater self-reliance than they have done up to the present. I have heard the suggestion made that the authorities should be taken in hand and ordered to fulfil a certain quota of building. I do not consider that practical, but I believe that if the Secretary for Scotland brought pressure to bear on those local authorities, municipalities, and burgh councils, they would be prepared to do much more than they are doing at present. This problem of housing is, to my mind, the one which most closely affects the welfare of Scotland, and I think that something more is required to meet the problem as it exists to-day.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

When the question of increased costs in the construction of houses was presented so ably by the hon. and gallant Gentleman's predecessor in office, the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart), he was answered, to some extent, by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Kidd) making the proposition that the best way to advance the question of keeping down the costs was to have no interference at all with the building trade. Now more than one section of the Press within recent years has devoted specialised articles, and presented therein very telling facts concerning trusts that undoubtedly have sought specially to profit by the fact that the Government has been subsidising these houses. One of the cases quite recently brought under the notice of the Minister of Health was that of the Light Castings' Association. He replied that it would have his attention, but we showed that, under the articles and conditions of that organisation, it was specifically laid down that there was to be a restriction of output. There was a substantial advance in prices even before the anticipated rise of wages had taken place. We have heard nothing further on that, and the hon. and gallant Member to-night, in presenting his statement, which, otherwise, we all recognise was of the utmost importance, it was very noticeable that that phase of it was not dealt with.

Another aspect that has received some particular consideration in this Debate, as on a previous occasion, is the matter of dwellings with one and two rooms. The "raising of the standard" is the phraseology with which we are familiar in this House. We can all theoretically endorse the idea that a one or two-roomed dwelling is not by any means what ought to be provided, but it is only one of those remarkable conditions which fit in with the situation generally recounted by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell), and the fact that stares us in the face is the inability of these poor people to find the rent that is asked for, and the desirability of these people, according to their own view, to be near the works where they are employed. Glasgow, I admit, on the latter point has, perhaps, a different situation to face, but Dundee is certainly in the category of including the two points, and let it be once more stated here, so that there shall be no misunderstanding, that, so far as Dundee was concerned, not only were the two Members returned from Dundee about two years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not now!"]—I am not saying now, but that two Members from Dundee were definitely committed to support the call of the Dundee Town Council, containing a large body of Labour Members, also committed, and the Labour Member himself was the convenor of the Housing Committee who came here specifically to ask for, and obtain, an interview of the Minister of Health, and to recount the unchallengeable facts, which no one here was able to dispute, concerning the city of Dundee. I want to make that clear. It was because of the Labour men on the Dundee City Council. I do not suppose that any man in the council, for that matter, have any objection to raising the standard to the ideal. We want to see to that. But you have this peculiar situation—and this is one of the important points that have had to be brought up, and that must not be forgotten now: that these poor people have already been contributing to subsidising the people who were in far better circumstances, and who unfortunately got preferential treatment as to these houses which ought to have been made avaliable for the poorer people.

You get, then, a situation such as this in Dundee. It is a point which strengthens what I am driving at now, than even when preparations had been made by a very energetic city council for the transfer of a number of these people who occupied the area which is commonly known as the Blue Mountains—the blue aspect of it is the fact of a number of public houses being next door to each other—and that is a point which the hon. Member for Paisley, who generally speaks on this particular question, did not mention in the detailed programme which he put forward—when we are trying to transfer these people over to the better houses, that at this very moment the Council has this difficulty: that those people cannot afford to pay for even the two-room houses which are now being made available. There is this also peculiar situation: that the other folk now who are able to pay are making applications, and cannot at the moment get the houses because they are really intended to meet the requirements of the people in that specially congested locality. These are the facts about Dundee, and the representatives of Edinburgh and the other cities have been able to speak on the circumstances obtaining there.

When the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell) was speaking he was told by the Chairman that he was going beyond the scope of our dealing with matters to-night. But when the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Edinburgh was dealing with the question of diseases, being one of the medical fraternity, in the course of his remarks he brought out several diseases. I think we are entitled just to push that to some little extent, and I think I would be perfectly in order in respect to this matter. We hear a lot about housing the people. With all due credit for giving that question attention, I want to submit—and I think it is appropriate that it should come from this side of the House, and I would have expected it to be emphasised before now—that housing is not a root question, it is a branch question. If you are going to deal with root questions concerning diseases, and the awful conditions that are prevalent in our industrial cities, in places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, you have got to face some of these political factors, of powerful, selfish interests which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has undertaken to cut his way through. I hope he is going to tackle it, because there is no settling of the housing question unless that is done.

The Report of the Royal Commission on Venereal Disease shows the linking-up of that question with another aspect of the matter to which I have referred in connection with that particular locality of Dundee. If you are to deal with that matter in a thoroughly aggressive fashion on the lines of the Member for Paisley, you have the biggest job that any party in this country can tackle, and none of them up to now have had the courage to face it. It is one of the biggest questions we have to deal with, and it is painful to sit here and listen to Members recounting this, that and the other thing and leaving out this particular point. Here there is a specific means of demoralising and brutalising people and of wasting their wages, which, God knows! are miserably poor, and any such money going into the Exchequer for the upkeep of the country is being obtained, as money from this source is at a cost of three or four times its worth to the country. No matter who may be the right hon. Gentleman sitting on the Treasury Bench, you will never get this housing question solved until you deal with this other problem in thorough-going fashion. In one locality you will find a family so circumstanced that it would seem as though little or no money were going into the house, when as a matter of fact there is £3 or £4 a week going in; and in the same tenement you will find people occupying an apartment of the same size with a clean and tidy home and every provision made for themselves. You can have the finest houses you can make in a locality—one-room or two-room or three-room houses—transformed into slums, as some of them are being transformed into slums, owing to the state of affairs that I am trying now to drive home to the attention of the Committee.

Photo of Mr James Stuart Mr James Stuart , Moray and Nairnshire

One aspect of the housing question I would like to refer to, because it has not been dealt with to any great extent, is housing in rural areas. In the case of a housing scheme for a large city, a site is bought and preparations are made to build so many houses to the acre, but in rural areas the houses are more scattered, and the costs of building them are necessarily so much higher. For this reason I think it is important to remind the Minister that there must be many houses, or shells of houses, which, with a certain expenditure of money, could be re-equipped and remodelled and brought up to date. If assistance could be given towards improvements of the nature such as I have suggested then a great deal might be done to remove the difficulties which occur in regard to rural housing at the present time. I also wish to refer to the grants towards the cost of demonstration houses which are made to the local authorities including county councils towards expenses incurred in providing houses illustrating new methods of construction. For that purpose the sum of £7,000 has been allotted. I cannot help thinking, with only that sum at their disposal, it will not be possible to give assistance towards erecting very many of these houses, and I should like to know whether a sufficient number of demonstration houses are going to be erected in rural areas.

I sin not sure that when this money is sub-divided it will supply a sufficient sum to erect demonstration houses at the rate of one for every county. It is very important, if any real progress is to be made with these alternative methods of construction, that every opportunity should be given to the rural as well as to urban areas in order to give every assistance to all those who are interested to see these houses. I hope that the county councils of Scotland are being encouraged to take steps to erect demonstration houses. This is a matter which should not be left to the county councils to take the initiative, but they should be urged to do their duty in this respect, and do all they can to improve housing because of the terrible conditions which exist in many parts of the country, and particularly in the rural areas which I trust will not be overlooked

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

After the very friendly tone of the Debate this afternoon, perhaps it may seem very rash for me to get up again. Having succeeded in my previous remarks in extracting encomiums from both sides of the Committee, I am reminded of the saying that it would indeed be a rash man who, "having escaped from the Cave of the Cyclops, goes back for his hat." Let me see what can be done in reply to the various questions which have been raised, in the short time at my disposal. My predecessor in office, in one of those speeches with which he interests the House from time to time, expressed very pointedly the difficulties he felt in consenting to what he, called a lowering of the standard of housing in any way. I can only repeat that I do not consider the building of a new house is a lowering of the standard of housing, or the building of a house is the lowering of accommodation.

The fact that there are 40,000 houses in Glasgow with more than three people to a room seems an overwhelming argument that we should build more houses, and build all the houses we can get through the local authorities, rather than say to them, "We must get such and such accommodation." An hon. Member below the Gangway, who was a colleague of mine, put this question into his Election address. I also find the local authorities putting the case forward, and deputations coming from local authorities containing a large number of labour representatives, introduced by stalwarts like the late Member for Dundee (Mr. Morel), and the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour). It seems to me it would be carrying bureaucracy to a ridiculous extent if I said I should refuse to carry out their wishes when such efforts have resulted in getting in one single instance 50 houses more, in addition to 600 of a smaller type.

On the other question which my hon. predecessor put as to the price which, undoubtedly, is showing a tendency to harden against us, that is due to a variety of causes. As he himself said, prices rose even during the time his Government were in power, although he had succeeded in getting a promise that materials would be on sale at the original price. The rise of prices was greater during the period of his administration than it was during the earlier period of ours. I think the only way in which one could 'deal with that is not by passing more laws, but by getting more stuff, more material, more labour, a great range of alternative methods and alternative materials for construction. I cannot believe that by passing laws in this country it is really possible to control prices of material without bringing back Government control at every stage and instant of the process. The only thing we can do at present is—as the late Minister of Health has determined to do and as the previous Under-Secretary had determined to do—namely, to do our best not to sanction houses at those high prices, and to press on the opening up of new brickyards, the reinforcing of the labour ranks by the-apprenticeship scheme devised by him which we are doing our utmost to work, and also by bringing into play alternative devices. These do have the effect, at any rate, of producing an alternative which brings into play economic forces as against mere political forces.

Another of my predecessors, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Kidd) brought forward a, case where he said that the Department aided and abetted the wife deserter to escape the proper consequences of his crime. I can only say that the question of obtaining addresses through the approved societies is a question of high Cabinet policy. Hon. Members might not believe me when I say this. They may think it is a new device of an Under-Secretary to escape inconvenient questions. But I do assure the Committee that the question of finding people through the insurance scheme is a, question which was settled by the Liberal Government when it brought the Insurance Acts first into play, and could not be reversed without the decision of at least two Ministers and probably the whole Cabinet itself, and great as are the evils which flow from the one wife deserter in Linlithgow. I fear that the Cabinet would not, thank me for adding another problem to those they have to consider.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Is that the practice generally, when names are asked for? Are they refused in other cases, as well as to parish councils?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

We have to refuse. These are confidential matters, and it is-not possible to enter upon a policy of revealing information which has been given in confidence, whoever it might be that asked for it. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. R. Mitchell) in an eloquent speech, was, I think, a little led away by the fact that there was an apparent reduction in the Vote with regard to tuberculosis. That, as I pointed out at the time, and I should like to stress it now, is merely a question of closer budgeting. There is no reduction what- ever in the amount that is to be spent. The hon. Member suggests that more money should be spent, but I would remind him that in this matter we have to go hand in hand with the local authorities, and it is only possible for us to progress in so far as we find ourselves able to meet a corresponding advance on their side. We are fully alive to the importance of this question, and certainly no reduction in the facilities for the treatment of tuberculosis would ever be sanctioned by me in so far as anything I could possibly say could oppose it. The hon. Member's suggestions could not be followed out solely by administrative action, but would also require legislative action, and, therefore, I am afraid it would be out of order for the Committee now to deal with that question.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels) brought forward a number of interesting technical points for discussion, in particular the question of treatment of tuberculosis by light—helio-herapy—and the Finsen treatment for lupus. On the question of treatment by light, we have two officers of the Board investigating the matter at present. The whole subject of the use of light rays in the treatment of disease is one of the most fascinating and stimulating subjects that can possibly be conceived, and certainly we shall do our best to see that it is thoroughly explored, and that the full advantages of it are taken for our country of Scotland.

The question of the grievances of the tenants at Rosyth were, as the hon. Member who referred to them will recollect, investigated by a Committee set up in the time of my predecessor. That Committee came to the conclusion that the terms of tenancy there were fair and reasonable. We have difficulty in dealing with the bungalow houses—with what is known, in more colloquial language, as "Tin-town"—at Rosyth, for the same reason that has been mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour). The question of getting the rent is so difficult for these poor people that, if you provide them with a cheap house, it is almost impossible to get them out of it. The difficulty of getting people out of "Tin-town" into other houses is simply and solely, not that we do not provide the other houses, but that, when they are provided, the people resist by every means in their power any attempt to get them out of their tin bungalows into ordinary houses. However, these 50 houses have been sanctioned, and they will be built, and we hope to build them by various methods, so as to make sure that they can be let at rents which poor people can pay for them.

I am afraid I am not able to touch upon the subjects which have been raised by hon. Members on my own side of the Committee, because, owing to the progress of the Debate, I was rather later in rising than I had intended, and even then I am afraid I cut out one hon. Member who was anxious to speak. I am sorry on that account, and I hope the Committee will forgive me if I resume my seat now. If there are any questions with which I have not dealt, I shall be very pleased to discuss them personally or by letter with the hon. Members concerned.

It being Eleven, of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.