I beg to move,
That, in the opinion of this House, the Board of Guardians (Default) Act is being administered in a partisan and bureaucratic manner, elected guardians being superseded without recourse to any public inquiry, and a Report on the alleged actions and policy of the elected guardians for the Chester-le-Street Union being officially published without affording to those guardians an opportunity of rebutting such allegations before an impartial tribunal, conduct which, in the opinion of this House, is contrary to a sense of decency and elementary justice; and this House declares that the Act, being subversive of the principles of local self-government. ought to be repealed.
Hon. Members will have had an opportunity of reading the Motion and thinking of it and making up their minds where they stand in regard to it. I see one or two newspapers are making the comment that I am dragging behind me the whole of the Labour party much against their will. Far from that being the case, the party, so far as I know, and I am sure I speak for everyone concerned, are unanimously behind the
Motion. It was not chosen by me as an individual, because I represent a Scottish seat, and in this question Scotland is not so intimately concerned as other parts of the country, but the party felt that, in view of the outrage on the local guardians, the fact that this charge had been made and the way it had been made and the way these men have been misrepresented throughout the country, they ought at the first opportunity to challenge the Minister of Health on the Floor of the House of Commons, and it is because we felt that, far from being ashamed of anything the Chester-le-Street guardians have done, far from being disdainful of them, on the other band we are proud of them, that we come here on the first available opportunity and ask that a public inquiry should be held and that the blame should be put in the right quarter without fear and without favour. We have nothing to hide. No one, I think, disputes, whether Tory, Liberal or Labour, the object for which this Act was brought into being. It was because in certain. poverty-stricken districts the Labour movement had gained control. All would have been well in all those districts had those poor people not changed their political convictions. They have not done anything wrong. All they have done is to change their political convictions from Liberal and Tory to being Labour. When they changed their political complexion they committed another fearful outrage. It is not sufficient for people to change their political convictions. They even went further. They outraged things even worse than that. They elected men who held Labour opinions and who, unfortunately, did not change their opinion when they were elected to the board of guardians. If they had altered their views, they might have got a seat on the Electricity Board or been invited to Buckingham Palace, but because they have not, they must be superseded and suppressed.
Of course this action was only taken in respect to three boards, but that is because they felt that other boards have not acted quite in this way. I have no doubt that if the other poor districts change their political opinions they will be suppressed. I noticed the report of a speech by a Member of the Government Front Bench who deplored this growth of Labour opinion in local authorities and said the Conservative party will have to watch or else Labour will get control of the town councils as well, the inference obviously being that if Labour gains control of the town councils and continues to act as Labour men should, they too will be suppressed if they dare to carry out their opinions. In other words, local democracy is a grand thing, the right to vote and the right to hold Labour views is a good thing in itself but it is a criminal thing to hold those views and to practise them. This is what the Chester-le-Street Board, the Welsh Board and the West Ham Board will be convicted for if they are convicted to-night, not that they have done wrong but merely that they have held and practised Labour opinions. Even here the Minister of Health could hardly be fair to his opponents. The report was put out that the Minister of Health was so anxious to create prejudice against these men that he could not wait until the public or the House of Commons had the report but he must get it into two Tory newspapers in order to create as much misrepresentation and prejudice as possible before it came to the House of Commons at all. Even this House of Commons was not prepared to see its Parliamentary procedure so outraged.
Even at the worst, what is the crime charged against Chester-le-Street? Is there any charge made in any quarter of the House that these men have lined their pockets? Have they imitated certain people who lined their pockets out of the Marconi business? Has any one of the guardians been made richer because of these doings? Have they imitated the war profiteer by making money out of the peculiar situation thus created? Not a single person, Liberal, Tory or Labour, much as they may accuse this board of guardians, can say any of these men have added one penny to their pocket because of their action. They may have been misguided, they may have done wrong, they may be even revolutionary persons, but no one has yet charged them with reaping a single penny profit from the work they carried out. They have not had a single penny themselves. What is the charge against them? The charge is that, acting in the capacity of guardians, they decided to be a little more generous to the poor people than the Minister of Health thought they should be. That is the worst charge against them. There is no question of personal aggrandisement, no question of making money for themselves; just the charge that they thought they would be a little more generous to the poor than the Minister of Health was prepared to be. Before they were superseded, conferences were held between the Minister of Health and the local board of guardians. They asked the Minister what he would do, and the only statesmanlike suggestion that he could make was to cut down the relief, lower the scale, and to make the conditions of the poor people worse than before. That was the only suggestion that he could make to these poor men. Poor themselves but having a fellow feeling for poverty, they refused to lower the scale of relief, and they had to be superseded.
What is the scale? At the outset the report says that they do not wish to go back into previous events, but that they wish to confine themselves to happenings between the 1st May and the 30th August, 1926, yet anyone reading the report will find that of the nine or 10 pages two or three of the pages are taken up with events in 1920, 1924, 1925, although they state, that they wish to confine themselves to what happened between the 1st May, 1926, and the end of that year. To get a ease they had to search back long before that particular period. What is the outrageous crime which the superseded guardians have committed? According to the report, in May, 1926, they gave to a man and his wife 25s. a week, to children up to 14 years of age, 5s. a week, and to a child over 14, but unable to find work, 7s. 6d. a week. A single lad got 128. a week, and there was an allowance of 2s. 6d. for coal and for rent if wanted, with a maximum for the whole household of 55s. a week.
The maximum amount that could be paid was 55s. a week, and this is the crime which the Chester-le-Street guardians have committed. I do not know how comparisons work out, but as a Member of this House I am possibly, in many respects one of the poorest Members. I have my salary of £400 a year and I have never added to it one penny piece since I came to this House. I live on my £400 a year; I keep a home as best I can in Glasgow, and live as best I can when I have to be here, and I find that with an income of £400 and without a family to keep, I have to be extremely careful to make ends meet. Yet a working man is expected to keep a family and maintain himself, his wife, and family in bodily comfort on an income of 55s. a week. The emergency scale which is applied to the wives of locked-out miners enabled the wife of a locked-out miner to receive 15s. a week, and 5s. was allowed for a child. After the 30th August that was reduced.
Then comes the new Board, with their economy. They did not make a single penny of saving in official salaries or in administration. Every penny of the savings came from lowering the poor relief. The new Board said, "25s. a week for a man and wife! It is disgusting for this wealthy country to pay 25s. a week. What a shocking disgrace." We may find £60,000 for a duke and his wife to go abroad, but to find 25s. a, week for a miner and his wife is a shocking disgrace, and must be stopped. Along came the new Board with their reductions, and they condemned every man and woman, who are equally as good as any Duke, Prince or King, to live on a reduced amount. "Twenty-five shillings a week! Far too much! This country cannot afford it."
The country can afford battleships and aeroplanes. It can afford every mechanism for war, but it cannot afford 25s. a week for a man and his wife to live on. Therefore, the allowance for man and wife was reduced to 23s. a week. The widower with children had 18s., and each child is reduced from 5s. a week to 2s. a week. At election times the Tory party say, "You must vote against the Socialists or you will ruin your home life". They may say now, "Vote for the Socialists. We value home life at 2s. a week per child." That is the extent of their patriotism. That is Toryism. They say, "Look at the Clyde group. They love every country but their own." It so happens that I have never been from my constituency longer than 14 days since I was elected, but during that time I have read of almost every member of the Tory party being in France or every country but his own. I love my country so well that I devote my time to it.
Under the emergency scale, the wife of the locked-out miner got 12s. a week. Now, they say: "12s, a week for a woman. She is a fine woman. She can breed soldiers for us for the front, but she is the wife of a locked-out miner, and 12s. is too much. Therefore,, we will make it 8s." They expect a woman to live on 8s. a week, with 2s. a week for a child, and a maximum of 30s. That is the new scale of relief. I know that some people will say that it is enough or all that the country can afford. I would point out to those who say that we love other countries better than our own, that in nine weeks this House spent £900,000, according to its last estimate, in defending or in an alleged defence of 9,000 British citizens in Shanghai. In other words, if the Chester-le-Street people could get a boat and remove themselves thousands of miles to Shanghai, each person would be worth £100 per week, in addition to having a British soldier ready to fight for him: but if he remains in Chester-le-Street, the value of his wife is 12s. a week. Shanghai and Chester-le-Street ! One of the crimes committed by the late board of guardians was that they paid single men 12s. a week. A terrible crime! During the War it was a case of "single men first." Now it is a case of "single men must be starved." That is the condition into which Toryism has got us to-day.
I want to compare one more set of figures. The worst week the ex-Chester-le-Street guardians had was in August, and on 14th August they paid out £11,745 to nearly 41,000 people. Analyse those figures. It means that in that week the superseded board of guardians paid 6s. a week to each person in receipt of relief either in money or in kind, or, in other words, 5½. a day. That was the total amount of relief paid in the very worst week during the whole lock-out. The Labour party in this Motion to-night say that, so far from apologising for the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians, they did no more than they were justly entitled to do for the poor. The guardians considered that they were responsible for seeing that every person had at least the minimum requirements in the shape of food and necessary shelter; and they acted on that. Therefore, they have no need to apologise. It is true that they gave a little preference to trade unions. [HON. MEMBERS:.
"Hear, hear !"] Yes, and the same tiling has been practised by my own parish council for the last 30 years.
What is done in my own constituency? If you are a member of the Ancient Order of Shepherds, or any other friendly society or any trade union, and have been putting by a few shillings for sickness or unemployment, you are not penalised. The parish council in my constituency have taken this line for years in respect to members of trade unions and friendly societies. They do not penalise them. And this practice has been defended by Tories, to their credit, but now when the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians carry out an ordinary humane practice and say that men ought not to be penalised because they have put by a few shillings in a trade union or a friendly society we are told that it is a great crime. We are asking in our Motion for a public inquiry. We heard a great deal about inquiries during the Campbell case. We are asking that these men who are charged shall have an opportunity of putting their case. In the auditors' report it is said that grave facts are alleged against them, but it does not state what these charges are, and, therefore, in order to give this board of guardians the same chance as the worst criminal would got, that is, the chance of a public trial, where they can put their case and have it examined, we bring forward this Motion and hope that the House of Commons, with its reputation for fairness, will pass it unanimously. If the House does not, it will show to the country that the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians have nothing to hide, but that the Tory party fear publicity on the matter.
I beg to second the Motion.
I want to thank the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) for putting this Motion down and giving me an opportunity of speaking on behalf of men who have never yet had an opportunity of speaking for themselves. Charges have been levelled against the ex-guardians of Chester-le-Street. Sensational statements have been made, and legal gentlemen have used their opportunity of enlarging upon these charges. The Minister of Health and his Parlia- mentary Secretary have made speeches in which they have alleged all these charges, knowing quite well that the people concerned have not had an opportunity of making a statement. The members of the ex-Board of guardians and the appointed guardians were moving about in and out of the same building, but they were never informed by the appointed guardians that charges were to be made against them. They were never informed that a report was to be made. The first they heard of it was when they saw the announcement in flaring posters in their own neighbourhood, and as a Britisher I submit that I could do nothing less than support and speak for the late board of guardians in such circumstances as these.
What is the deduction we have to make from a situation like this? Surely a code of honour of our opponents, say nothing of this House generally, is that if they make charges against men, elementary British justice would imply that they should inform them and give them an opportunity of speaking for themselves. In the humblest gathering in Great Britain that would have been done, to say nothing of this great Legislative Assembly. By the line that has been taken by Ministers opposite I have been forced step by step to the conclusion that there is a certain standard of honour among gentlemen, but that when you are dealing with working-class men and women of humble origin you can use any means, however dirty they may be. The fact is that the Guardians (Default) Act has proved in practice to have placed the appointed guardians above the law. They can use State money to write reports on a subject which has nothing to do with the work for which they are paid, and to make statements slandering people in the knowledge that these people cannot take advantage of a recourse to the ordinary means of defending themselves.
I learn from certain hints in Conservative newspapers that the Minister of Health is going to make a statement to-night as to the results of the investigation by the Public Prosecutor. I shall be very pleased to hear it. Either let us have the statement of the Public Prosecutor or let us have an inquiry. I do not mind telling the right hon. Gentleman that while, by the very nature of their calling, elevated as they may be, British judges are not disposed to bias on the part of the average common worker or trade unionist in particular, I certainly say this, and the Chester-le-Street Guardians say it, that they will receive more justice and decent treatment from a court of law in this country than they will receive from the Tory Government. What are the facts connected with this business? The right hon. Gentleman is a Conservative Minister. He is Minister of Health, but he is a Conservative. [Laughter.] This is evidently a very amusing thing to hon. Members opposite, but it is not amusing to very humble men and women who in a selfless way in sad and depressing circumstances have given their services for years and have now been condemned without even ordinary elementary British justice. Is it not an amusing thing? The right hon. Gentleman is a Conservative Minister. He appoints three Conservative guardians— all three 'Conservatives. They make use of Conservative newspapers and only of Conservative newspapers. So we have to assume that the right hon. Gentleman has not been acting as a Minister of the Crown, but has been acting as an agent of the Conservative headquarters in order to suit the Conservatives in Durham.
This is what happens: The local newspapers complain that they have not been allowed even to attend meetings or to have regular interviews with the appointed guardians. But we read in articles in the "Morning Post" some weeks ago that that paper has had freedom of access. When the question was asked about premature publication the right hon. Gentleman had to admit that premature publication had taken place but he has never yet expressed a word of regret for that violation of the constitutional rights of this House, and when he is asked if he is going to make an inquiry he says "No." I suggested that he did not make an inquiry because he knew how it all took place. The fact is that premature publication was given to the Report by the appointed guardians to the "Newcastle Journal "and the "Morning Post," and they, maybe to cover their tracks, distributed certain parts of it. So, when we know that there is a Conservative Minister of Health with three Conservative appointed guardians who are in close touch with Conservative newspapers, we are well within bounds in saying that the right hon. Gentleman has not been acting as a Minister of the Crown, and that the Guardians (Default) Act has been used for other purposes even than those which this House intended when the Act was passed.
But I will make this admission: The Chester-le-Street Guardians have not been the only victims in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman himself has been one of the victims. It will be within the memory of the House that within two or three days of the sensational statements in the Report, it was announced in the Press that seven areas, including 64 unions, called the black areas, were to have the same treatment applied to them as Chester-le-Street. The right hon. Gentleman repudiated that statement. What it means is that the black areas business has been used to torpedo the right hon. Gentleman's own beloved Poor Law Reform Bill, and that the appointed guardians were acting in harmony with the reactionary forces of the "Morning Post" and aiming as much at the right hon. Gentleman's Poor Law Reform Bill as at the Chester-le-Street Guardians. The right hon. Gentleman has to rise in his place to-night and defend the guardians, appointed by himself, who have been in close touch with the very forces that have been acting against him. Surely he has dug a pit and fallen into it himself.
I want to draw attention to another point. This Report is supposed to deal with the period from 30th August to 31st December, 1926. It is true that it gives a sort of meagre financial statement on the subject, but what one looks for in vain is a single paragraph that deals with the administration during the period that the Report is supposed to cover. What the Report does is to deal with the administration of the ex-guardians from 1923 to 1926. That means, and the right hon. Gentleman had better note it, that the period they deal with has been investigated by his own auditors and his own auditors examined the minutes. They did not analyse the accounts only; they analysed the minutes of the guardians that are complained of in this Report. They did more than that. They had not only an ordinary audit, but they had an. extraordinary audit. So that the criticism is not merely of the guardians but against the right hon. Gentleman's official auditors. I shall be very interested to see what will happen. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to defend his auditors against the attack of the appointed guardians, or is he going to defend his appointed guardians and leave the attack upon his official auditors unanswered? It does not matter what happens. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that if he does what hon. Gentlemen opposite want him to do, if he goes into Court against the Chester-le-Street Guardians, his official auditors will stand there with the guardians, and the right hon. Gentleman himself will not be very far off.
The House will understand the very grave things that have been said during the past few weeks. It will take some time to deal with them. It is generally understood that these charges apply to the whole union of Chester-le-Street, and that they are all substantiated in the minutes. I hope the House notes that fact: the assumption is that these charges apply to the whole union of Chester-le-Street, and that they are substantiated in every respect by the minutes. The person mainly responsible for that idea was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. There are those who were in the House on 1st March. when the Parliamentary Secretary made a statement. They will remember that I intervened, and I did so because I knew that the hon. Gentleman was making misstatements. I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT:
Sir K. WOOD: The hon. Members will find that in this Report the proceedings of the guardians themselves were certainly of a very remarkable character…The guardians themselves, I understand, arranged that on the occasion and at the time when people received Poor Law relief a collection should be taken up for the Poor Law guardians themselves.
Now that is plain from the OFFICIAL REPORT. Then I intervened and in his reply to me the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health said:
All the matters which I have quoted are quotations from the official minute books of the old board of guardians.
Then I said:
The hon. Member has made statements of opinions expressed by guardians which have nothing to do with the minute book.
The OFFICIAL REPORT continues:
Sir K. WOOD:…The quotations which I have made to-night in connection
with the position of men in relation to their unions and matters of that kind…are quotations from the minute books of the old board of guardians."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1927; col. 332, Vol. 203.]
As the House will see that includes the collection for the guardians. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
The Parliamentary Secretary as I have already pointed out said quite distinctly:
The guardians themselves, I understand, arranged that on the occasion and at the time when people receive Poor Law relief a collection should be taken up for the Poor Law guardians themselves.
Then he added:
All the matters which I have quoted are quotations from the official minute books of the old board of guardians.
[HON. MEMBERS: "That was not quoted."] Surely hon. Members are not going to express doubt that the hon. Gentleman had in mind his general statement when he said:
All the matters which 1 have quoted are quotations from the official minute books of the old board of guardians.
Surely that is plain enough. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] As a matter of fact, the matter with regard to the collection by the guardians is not on the minute books at all.
Even the report of the appointed guardians says so, but the Parliamentary Secretary said it was in the minutes. [HON. MEMBERS:"NO."] It is a matter of opinion. The OFFICIAL REPORT will decide. At any rate, I am prepared to be judged by the OFFICIAL REPORT in this matter. As a matter of fact, these charges do not apply to the whole union at all. They apply to the district of Birtley, that is, to one-third of the whole union and they do not apply even to the whole of that district. They apply to one parish out of 21.
I would appeal to the hon. Gentleman's sense of fairness at any rate. I submit that the general impression which has been made in this
House and in the country and which has been supported by the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary is that these charges apply to the whole of the guardians of the union while the fact is that, in actual operation, they only apply to one parish in 21 and the charges themselves are untrue. Take this matter of the collections for the guardians. Here is what is said in the appointed guardians' report about that matter:
At Birtley the relief was paid out every Friday at the local Picture Hall in the Cooperative Society's building. When the recipients went out of the hall they had to pass near the exit a table at which sat or stood members of the local unemployed organisation (four in particular, but occasionally others). Each recipient passing was asked to remember the local guardians, and a great majority contributed money to these men.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful!"]
None of the guardians who lost their employment in the mining industry during the dispute has applied for relief.
That means, if it means anything at all, that the guardians during the time of the lock-out were maintained by contributions paid by those who 9.0 p.m. were receiving relief during that period. As a matter of fact that cannot be true. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the very simple reason that all relief was paid not in money but in kind. Is it suggested that the guardians collected vouchers from these people? So I say this is totally untrue. Of course we know where it comes from. I can tell the House that the remarkable thing about Conservatism in Durham and in the North of England generally is that it seems to have run to seed. It does not seem to have anyone to put its case. Our experience for years has been that it has been dependent upon a kind of scandal-mongering of which this is an instance. I am not going to evade anything, because I confess that I should not countenance this kind of thing and should not defend it if it took place. I therefore want to tell all the facts in so far as I have been able to get to know them. I submit that if the appointed guardians before writing this report, had done what the Minister's official auditors did—held an inquiry and given the old guardians a chance of speaking and of explaining anything that came up-they would not have written this report at all. As far as I can investigate the matter there is a rumour to this effect —that in 1925 the unemployed in Birtley, not connected with the unemployed organisation of Great Britain—they are not allied with the Labour party and are not affiliated—stood on one or two occasions, or sat if you like, and took the money from their affiliated representatives. It will be said that is only my statement; but the House merely has the word of the appointed guardians on the other side. The House may say that mine is an ex-parte statement. I submit that upon this grave matter which has been sent abroad through all the country, and throughout the world, I am afraid to the detriment of this country, there is sufficient evidence in the statement which I make, after investigation, to justify submitting this matter to a public inquiry. That is the least that can be done. Take the question of the prosecutions. The report says they prosecuted 24 persons. [An HON. MEMBER: "In one day?"] Yes, and the only 24 that were prosecuted, but, as a matter of fact, the old guardians, on the 11th August, took the first steps towards prosecuting the first four, and the ex-guardians, before they finished—it is recorded on the minutes— were the people who took steps to prosecute the 24. It had nothing to do with the appointed guardians at all, and they have not seen fit to acknowledge that fact in their general statement.
I am sorry the time is so limited, because nothing would give me greater delight than to go into all these questions. The question of the difference between the financial and non-financial members is one of the great things that has been raised, and the amazing thing is that the chairman of these appointed guardians, who makes a great song about this, is a lawyer. Everybody knows that lawyers do not make any distinction between financial and non-financial members. They have not been called "the devil's own" for nothing, and so they raise this question of the difference between financial and non-financial members. I wish I had time to deal with it. Everybody in this House knows very well that in the mining districts trade unionism has played quite a different part from that which it has played outside the mining districts. For instance, it enters more intimately into the people's own life.
The Durham Miners' Association from 1921 to 1926 paid no less than £2,600,000 in support of the people and in relief of rates, and our own unions in our district did something in addition to that. When the people came who were members of the Durham Miners' Association and asked for relief, instead of being given the regular sum, they were given the same as the trade unionists got who had got 108. or 5s. or whatever it might be from the Durham Miners' Association. They said they had not received the money, and so inquiries had to be made, and it was found that they had not paid their dues and, therefore, because of their own thriftlessness, they had not been paid the rate of money that other people had been paid. That is the explanation. It may be good or bad, but I submit that at least the people who wrote this Report ought to have called for an explanation of the situation.
Take the conspiracy charge. The suggested conspiracy charge is not a charge against the men concerned. Will the House believe this, that when they -went to consult eminent counsel, the appointed guardians did not take any of the charges that have been scattered about? They did not take a single charge that is down in this Report. If they did, I beg the right hon. Gentleman to publish the case that was stated to counsel. A conspiracy was suggested, not because of what they did first, but against the present general interpretation of the Merthyr Tydvil judgment. It was a challenge to the right hon. Gentleman's own interpretation of that judgment. I should like to have spent some time dealing with the conditions that these men and women have had to face. I should like to have shown, that time and again, I raised the conditions in regard to the training of ex-service men, who were sent to Birtley, and asked that they should be sent back to the areas from which they came. The Minister of Health at that time refused even to give them the fare to go back to their areas and thus save them from becoming a charge on the guardians.
I will conclude by saying that our people in the Chester-le-Street Division, our ex-guardians, have faced an appalling state of things during the past few years, and they have been condemned without having been given an opportunity of making an explanation of the charges brought against them. If there is any choice at all, I want to say to this House that I am proud of the men and women who have been assailed during the past few months. Decent men and good men have been assailed always in the life of this country and of other countries. There was a time when they had to face the ex-service men, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House had to face ex-service men in a spirit of generosity because of the service they had given and because they dared not do any other. They had to give these men a decent living, but now the time has come, now that we arc getting away from the War, when we can crib, cabin and cut them down and starve them. I think our people, our guardians in the Chester-le-Street Division, are worthy of defence on the grounds that I have stated, but, as far as I am concerned, they would be defended on the main ground that they have, in so far as they could, given justice to the mass of the people, who seldom receive justice from the hands of their opponents.
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from the word "House", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
the grave irregularities and partisan nature of the administration of the late board of guardians of the Chester-le-Street Union, as disclosed in the Report on their proceedings, constitute a serious menace to the decency and elementary justice which should be observed in local government, and that in putting into force, in the ease of this union, the powers of the Board of Guardians (Default) Act the Minister of Health has acted in accordance with the intentions of Parliament and in the interest of purity of local administration.
Although I admire the effrontery of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in calling attention to the administration of the Boards of Guardians (Default) Act, with special reference to the position in the Chester-le-Street Union, I find the greatest difficulty in discovering any point in his argument to which to reply. He appeared entirely to fail to realise the seriousness and the gravity of the charges which are made against the superseded Chester-le-Street Guardians. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has also given me nothing to which to reply. He has made a series of counter-allegations against the appointed guardians and
against the Minister of Health, and very apologetically, during the last few sentences of his speech, he pretended to deal with some of the allegations which are made against the suspended guardians.
If hon. Members opposite are anxious that their ease should be put before an impartial tribunal, let me remind them that the most impartial tribunal to which they could possibly present their case is instructing public opinion in the country, and this Debate, if it serves no other purpose, will, at any rate, have served to advertise the impossibility or, at any rate, the apparent inability of Socialists to retain when in office their professed ideals of political morality.
In proposing this Amendment, my hon. and learned Friend and myself hope to show, not only the moral and political dishonesty of the Chester-le-Street Guardians and the tyrannical bureaucracy of a Socialist executive, but also the very great danger which is facing this country through boards of guardians with Socialist majorities attempting to demoralise and pauperise the people; to destroy our present economic system by piling up the burden of rates and the burden of debt upon industry; and ultimately to render impossible all forms of local or national democratic government by calculated corruption and by the advent of financial ruin. Anyone who has studied with any degree of attention the efforts of the Minister of Health to assist the Chester-le-Street Guardians before they were superseded—the patient and painstaking efforts of the Minister —can have no doubt that he was fully justified, in appointing a certain gentleman on the 30th August last year—and later on certain other gentlemen—to take the places of the elected guardians.
Again and again the elected guardians have been assisted by the Minister on a definite promise to reform their ways. I will go briefly through the history of the negotiations of the Ministry of Health with the superseded guardians. Early in the negotiations a deputation was received by the Minister of Health, and promised, as a condition of receiving further assistance, to make a reduction in the scale of relief. They gave that very definite assurance to the Minister, but they did nothing of the sort. They went back to Chester-le-Street and the question was balloted on by the miners. In December, 19Z5, the guardians again found themselves without funds. Further financial assistance was again required, and an undertaking was given again that there would be a reduction In the scale of relief. Not many weeks afterwards, I am not certain that it was not a few days afterwards, it was ascertained that a higher scale of relief than that which they had promised to apply was being automatically applied by the guardians. In June, 1926, a further deputation gave further undertakings to the Minister of Health and again broke faith, granting relief at variance with the assurances they had given. In July,, 1926, the guardians' treasurer refused financial assistance. The Minister of Health made an offer which was conditional on the suspension of unlawful relief. A promise was given that unlawful relief would cease, but only a short time afterwards three relieving officers were suspended for refusing to grant that relief.
It is impossible for a Minister to advance money to guardians who continually prove their unreliability and untrust-worthiness. Promises were broken time after time, and, as I have said, no one who has studied the question with any attention can doubt that the Minister was fully justified in superseding the elected guardians. So much, though quite briefly, for the direct dealings of the guardians with the Minister of Health.
I want to draw attention to the somewhat sensational tenets of applied Socialism as shown at Chester-le-Street. Every Member will no doubt have read the White Paper issued by the Ministry of Health. They will remember that there were 59 elected guardians, 47 of whom belonged to the Labour party, leaving 12 independent members. We on this side feel justified in asking if hon. Members opposite do not think it is contrary to a sense of decency and elementary justice that the guardians should exclude the independent members, and become a committee of a political party administering public funds and stifling the voice of the political minority? From time to time we hear plaintive appeals from hon. Members opposite on behalf of the rights of minorities. Here is a startling instance of the suppression of a political minority which does not agree with the-views of hon. Members opposite.
Another novel, and as we think contemptible, principle, is the spending of public funds with only one's political supporters. I will not attempt to deal at great length with the accusations that are made, but I want hon. Members opposite to realise their gravity and seriousness. There was discrimination against applicants for relief, a complete denial of the principle of impartial public administration. Quite apart from the maladministration of the Chester-le-Street Guardians, two questions of very great importance are raised by the Motion and the Amendment. There is, first, the grave danger of Socialist efforts to demoralise the community, and there are secondly the efforts which are being made by a subversive element to undermine the authority of local government and to ruin industry by excessive rates.
I will deal quite shortly with the demoralising effect of Socialist principles on the people of this country. One of the four postulates of domocracy is a high standard both of honesty and of honour. Unless a community is morally sound, democracy must necessarily become a ghastly failure. I remember reading something which I will quote to the House:
A noble democracy is the ideal form of polity, but a corrupt democracy is the vilest and most hopeless.
Aequisitiveness is one of the most powerful instincts of the human mind. We have all heard of that noble emotion which has been described as divine discontent. It is a perfectly laudable ambition that every man and woman should wish to make his or her way in the world, that everyone should wish to see his or her children having a better start in the race of life than was possible for themselves. It was upon this acquisitive instinct which is devastating in its destructiveness when developed beyond control that the Chester-le-Street Guardians played in their endeavours to degrade and demoralise the people.
I want to give one or two more instances of the application of Socialist principles to illustrate what I mean by the demoralising effect on the people. It is mentioned in the White Paper that relieving officers were instructed to grant relief with a total disregard of the needs of those whom they were giving relief to. They were ordered to grant illegal relief as a subsidy to their wages, and
it is this calculated demoralisation of the people by maladministration of the Poor Law which raises afresh this very serious question of the pauperisation of the community. It is a very old question and one with which the Poor Law has made attempts to deal for many years. As far back as the downfall of the feudal system and the dissolution of the monastries a book was written from which I have extracted this passage:
These abbeys did but maintain the poor which they had made, for some vagrants, accounting the abbey alms their own inheritance, served an apprenticeship, and afterwards brought journey work to no other trade than begging.
Since the days described in that passage the administration of the Poor Law has been administered with alternate waves of sentiment and severity. At the end of the 18th century, as a result of a more liberal application of the Poor Law, rates rose, until by 1832 rates per head of the population amounted to no less than 20s. per head. At the end of the 19th century there was a remarkable revival of the spirit of independence which spread among the working classes of this country, owing to the more careful administration of the Poor Law. Friendly societies and building societies were formed, co-operative societies sprang into existence and trade unions grew on every hand, but the value of the de-pauperisation which was so beneficially affecting the country in those days was entirely ruined by the first growth of the Socialist party in this country. There is another quotation I should like to make and it is as follows:
Remember, you can have just as many paupers as you choose to pay for, and that to assist from the rates when application is made, just because it is made, may mean the damning of an individual's whole life to the recipient, and instead of an independent, self-restrained man, you may make him a rate-dependent creature.
Mr. Burns, a little later on stated:
Every loafer at the street corner who-lives on it says, 'Three cheers for out-relief. Out-relief means the complete prostitution and degradation of those whom we ought to raise and educate by better means.
Too much has the "dole" habit been fostered by hon. Members opposite Too much has the Socialist politician, eager for votes at any price, promised large payment of public money to those who would give him their votes. Too
often does the euphonism "social reform" cover what is neither more or less than a gigantic piece of corrupt bribery in the attempt to purchase votes of the thriftless by the promise of a raid upon the savings of the thrifty. I would ask hon. Members to remember the passage in the Report of the Ministry of Health where it is mentioned that 24 Durham miners were prosecuted in one day in attempting to get relief by bribery. The people of Durham are true and loyal citizens, but in time of great difficulty, being human beings as we are, they are not immune from the temptations which were put in their way by the Chester-le-Street guardians. There are Durham men serving in the Durham Light Infantry defending British interests and defending British men and women in Shanghai from the perils and dangers for which the Russian friends of hon. Members opposite are largely responsible. They are doing their best to look after the interests of these British people, while the home front which they have left is being sold by their Socialist pseudo friends.
The second question raised by this Debate is the enormous burden of rates upon industry. The overhead charges in the export industries of this country are so high that in many instances we have the greatest difficulty in competing in foreign markets. Next to wages, rates amount to the heaviest overhead charges. Every ton of coal which is mined in Durham or elsewhere contributes something from its cost price to medical and dental welfare, and to education and pensions. It is quite right that it should, and under Conservative administration, very largely, the expenditure on social services has multiplied by 15 times during the last 30 years. We on these benches are perfectly willing that a reasonable amount should be contributed by rates and taxes to social benefits in the country, but hon. Members opposite continually attempt to describe a vicious circle which starts in unemployment and goes round to higher rates, and then goes round still further to heavier burdens on industry, and then goes back to the beginning and starts with more unemployment and more rates and further burdens on industry and so on.
The wild extravagance of the Socialist party and their continual efforts to borrow at the expense of the community, placing a burden on industry which even now it is hardly able to bear, can only bring financial bankruptcy and ruin to this country.
We ask this House to express the opinion that it is not prepared to watch the Socialists, whether in local or national administration of the country, attempting to demoralise and pauperise the people. Secondly, we ask the House to say that it is not willing to stand by and see almost certain financial ruin brought to this country by the wild extravagance advocated by hon. Members opposite.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think it will be agreed that local government becomes impossible unless those who govern and those who are governed are prepared to act honestly. The whole history of the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians, right up to August of last year, when they were removed by the Minister of Health and were prevented from doing any further injury to their district, shows that there has been a deep conspiracy to make use of the machinery of local government in order to carry out political aims which are quite outside the ambit of local government. These men, unlike the description which has been given of them by the Mover of this Resolution, have not made mistakes out of a humanitarian desire to help people in distress, but out of a desire to adopt a deliberate policy which has always been advocated by hon. Members opposite, namely, work or maintenance on full trade union wages.
That is what they have advocated. That is the road to the Labour party's millennium and they pursue it in this way. They fix a sum for wages which they say should be paid even if the industry is not in a position to pay it. they then tell the employers, "If you do not pay these wages the Government will have to subsidise you and pay the difference." If the Government will not subsidise them, then they are threatened with the most appalling results. Hon. Members who this afternoon were so anxious about humanitarian principles in the Army were in May of last year prepared to use the most frightful means by way of a general strike to starve all the people in this country.
What do we find? In August of last year when these guardians were removed and three other guardians were put in their place, this particular board of guardians was in debt to the tune of £185,000.
Having tried their policy of striking and forcing the ratepayers in this district to pay as much money as they had got, they afterwards borrowed money from the bank. Having exhausted that source, they then applied to the Minister of Health for loans, and having got as much as they could from him, they found themselves in August last in an absolute state of bankruptcy. I know the Socialist policy is based upon idealism, but when you apply it you find the people are reduced to a state of slavery once again. The Mover of the Amendment has referred to the conduct of the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians when they appointed on 6th May, at the beginning of the general strike, a sub-committee of five persons, with power to add to their number. That was on 6th May. What did they do on the very next day? On 7th May they passed a further resolution:
that the remaining members of the Labour party on the board be added to the committee.
We are charged by the Resolution which is now before us with acting in a partisan and bureaucratic manner. All I can say is that when the people come to judge between the conduct of the Socialist members of the Chester-le-Street Guardians and the conduct of the Government in removing those people under the powers which Parliament gave to the Minister of Health last year, I think there is very little doubt which way the opinion of the people will go. It has been complained that the Chester-le-Street Guardians have had no opportunity of answering the allegations which have been made against them. Really, these charges answer themselves, because they are all contained in the minutes of the board. These guardians are convicted out of their own mouths and their own minutes convict them. If one wanted any further instances, one has only to look at the Labour guardians'
case which is set out in the "Daily Herald" of 12th March last. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it!"] I will read it later on. Let me take one case, and it is a case of subsidising wages. It is a minute which merely shows what was decided on the 21st June, 1923. It is as follows:
That men in employment in receipt of low wages shall have them made up to the maximum of £2 10s. per week.
There is following this a note heading which says:
With regard to the latter part of the resolution the clerk pointed out that it was illegal to subsidise wages.
In spite of the legal adviser to the board pointing out this illegality, the guardians still pursued their own way. Again, on 17th July, 1924, they paid to collier members in the union the full rate of 50s. a week, but they provided that other men who are not colliers shall not receive the benefit of the rent of their houses. Why should they differentiate between colliers and other working men. We on this side of the House have been charged with acting in a partisan spirit,. but what I have just given is a very clear instance of the partisan spirit shown by this board of guardians. on the 2nd July, 1925, came the resolution which is one of the worst aspects of this matter, namely, that trade unionists, while work was short and they were in debt to their union or had ceased to be members of their union, should not receive benefit for the first six weeks, and after that they should go on to a lower basis of relief.
It is about two-thirds of the way down on page 10 of the Report. What did the "Daily Herald" say about that. This is the defence set out in the
"Daily Herald" by their advisers:
Miners in arrears would not, of course, receive benefits from the fund, and the board did not consider it proper to pay the full scale to people who, through their own neglect, were unable to claim from their trade union as much as their careful and thrifty fellows.
All I can say is that, if this board had had a little more regard for the careful and thrifty ratepayers of the Chester-le-Street Union, they would not have got themselves into the fix in which they are at present.
Again, why should a board of guardians interfere in the private affairs of any man who comes to them claiming relief? [Interruption.] Their duty is to inquire into the man's position and to find out what relief he is in need of. It is nothing to do with them whether he is a member of a trade union or not. These people, instead of showing themselves reasonable and fair men, anxious to carry out their duties in a proper way, have, in my opinion, shown themselves to be animated by a spirit of meanness and vindictiveness. I should like just to say one word with regard to the presence of these four unemployed workmen who were standing when the relief was being paid out. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) denies that the guardians had received any money at all. That, I think, is clearly incorrect, but I should like to ask the hon. Member why should these four men have been there at all? What were they doing when this money—not kind—was being paid out? Why should they call out to the people, as they came up after having received their money, "Do not forget the guardians; remember the guardians"?
The hon. Member puts to me the question why they should be there and call out. The simple statement is that they did not do anything of the kind. They never asked. [An HON. MEMBER: "How do you know?"] I know for the simple reason that I have made an investigation. They were not there. They could not get money, because the vouchers were paid in kind; and when they were there in 1925, they acted simply for the unemployed, and took the pennies at the door from those persons. They were not connected in any way with the Labour party. We maintain our own people and our own representatives, just as the Conservative party do theirs.
The White Paper showed that the average weekly money payments started at over £1,000 a week, and came down to about £800 a week. What does the "Daily Herald" report say about this? It says:
What an amusing experience eminent K.C. 's must have had, considering the case of recipients of Poor Law relief giving their mites to representatives of the board who were also out of work.
That, I think, is a clear admission that they were receiving money. They were only mites, but they were receiving money. The Report further states:
In no single instance can it be shown that any guardian ever asked himself, or requested that the person receiving relief should be asked, to contribute to any fund out of the relief received, for the purpose of paying him or her anything in the form of expenses or anything else.
The defence, therefore, to this charge is not a denial that any money has been received, but simply that they did not receive it directly, but got other people to go and receive it for them. Lastly, I would like to ask hon. Members why, if these charges are untrue, they have waited eight months before bringing this Resolution before the House. When the guardians were removed, in August of last year, that was their opportunity to bring this charge. They must have known then that there was something serious in the air. If any friends of mine who were guardians were removed, I should not like to sit still and let this cloud hang over them for eight months. It is only when the White Paper is produced, and you all realise, and the country realises, the gravity of what these people have done, when you realise the damage that has been done to your own political future— [Interruption]—then you stand up and show this hot indignation at the conduct of the Government in saving this district from its people's own representatives. I second the Amendment.
The hon. and gallant Member who moved this Amendment accused my Friends of not having dealt with the points in the Report in the course of their speeches: but he himself was very careful to spend all the time which a generous House allotted to him in practising that which he unjustly condemned in my Friends. He spent his time in lecturing the party for whom I speak on the demoralising influence of acquisitiveness. Rumour has it that he is very closely connected with a family who have succeeded in acquiring some millions of the wealth of this country, and I agree with him—
I agree with him that acquisitiveness must have a demoralising influence when a millionaire will rise in this House and denounce guardians for giving to a destitute woman 15s. a week. [Interruption.] I cannot congratulate the Minister of Health on his handling of the -question we are discussing to-night. The Report is a jumble of points dealing with events prior to and during the industrial trouble of 1926. As has been already pointed out, it is presented to this House in a way calculated to impress us, and to impress the country, with the view that it deals only with the events arising and the trouble accruing from the mining stoppage during the latter part of last year. The Minister of Health allowed this Report to be rushed into the public Press in a manner which justly brought upon him the condemnation of this. House. He did not even wait to give Parliament the ordinary courtesy of presenting to it a Report that had been prepared for Parliament. He evidently regarded the Tory Press as being more important than Parliament, and so he gave to the Tory Press the privilege of presenting to us, in the first instance, a Report that had been prepared for our special benefit.
These charges have been paraded in the country as if they were proved facts. There is not one of those charges that has been proved. The right hon. Gentleman may have some evidence to present to this House to-night, but it will require evidence out of this Report to prove against the guardians of Chester-le-Street a single act for which they or their supporters require to blush. I propose, as far as time will allow, to deal with the charges in the Report. The right hon. Gentleman and his supporters will not deny the legality of the action of the board of guardians in granting relief to the destitute dependants of people who were affected by the coal stoppage. The guardians of Chester-le-Street had not only the right but the duty imposed upon them to grant the necessary relief during the coal dispute, and I want to emphasise that the guardians had no right to differentiate between ordinary destitution and emergency destitution, that the dependants of miners who were entitled to relief had the same claim on that relief, were entitled to the same consideration, and should in justice have had the same scale as the recipients of ordinary relief. The fact that the guardians were miners or members of the Labour party was entirely beside the question. It mattered not what the occupation of the guardian was, or what his political view was. Parliament had placed on him an obligation and a duty towards these destitute people, and it was his business to carry out that duty.
Not only that, but if the right hon. Gentleman who has been charging these guardians with faithlessness to their duty had practised in his Department the policy that is expected of him by Parliament, he would have made it his business to see that the destitute dependants of the miners in Durham were treated at least as generously as the destitute dependants or the recipients of relief of any other section of the community. Neither does it touch the question, as is pointed out in this Report, that one-half of the population of Durham were requiring parochial relief. My hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has already pointed out that this was a district that had come through an almost unparalleled period of industrial depression. For five years, from 1921 to 1926, it had been plagued with unemployment. During that period, as he reminded the House, the Durham Miners' Union had been compelled to pay out in relief to their members over £2,500,000. When the coal stoppage took place, it was naturally to be expected that a community so pauperised by the general depression should be in almost immediate need of relief from the guardians when their meagre incomes from the mines had stopped. But I wish to point out that at no time did the dependants of the miners in the Chester-le-Street Union receive the same scale of relief as the recipients of ordinary relief, and I submit—I do not think the other side will question this— that were it not for the fact that we had the industrial depression and we had ourselves submerged by this enormous expenditure in Durham, these guardians would not be to-night in the dock. They are in the dock, not for their treatment of ordinary destitution; they are in the dock on a charge of having more than generously treated the dependants of the miners during the industrial struggle, I pointed out at the beginning that this report is a jumble of charges dealing with events that occurred long before the industrial trouble of last year, and I would emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend that the events of 1923, 1924 and 1925, which are included in this report, have already received the approval of the Minister of Health, and have already been approved by the official auditors appointed to advise his Department.
I would like to deal with the scale of relief that is alleged by the other side to be one that should not have been properly granted by the responsible people. The sum per head that was paid to the recipients of both sections on the 12th May is exactly identical, but whereas the recipients of ordinary relief received an allowance for coal and for rent, the recipients of emergency relief were granted no such allowance. When we come to the 30th August we find that, while the scale of relief for ordinary destitution remained the same, the scale of relief to the dependants of miners had been reduced. The woman, instead of getting 15s. a week, had her allowance now reduced to 12s., and the children's scale of relief was reduced from 5s. to 4s. a week. I do not know what the Members on the other side may regard as extreme action in the treatment of the poor, but if I were an elector in the Chester-le-Street Union, I would have great difficulty in bringing myself to vote for a Labour candidate who reduced from 15s. to 12s. a week the allowance to a woman during the fourth terrible month of that industrial dispute. But when you come to the 30th November, when the people's guardians had gone, and the Minister's guardians have taken their place, we find a state of affairs for which, I submit, any civilised community ought to blush. The 12s. a week to the wife is now reduced to 8s., and the allowance for the child, apart from any feeding obtained at school, is reduced to 2s. a week. So that, at the present cost of living, the guardians, appointed by the Conservative Minister of Health to protect the poor people who require his protection most, consider that a woman ought to be able to maintain herself and three children on 14s. a week. In my opinion, the man who to-day would force a woman to maintain herself and three children on 14s. a week ought to be taken out to a public place and horsewhipped, and the-Cabinet Minister who approved of that policy ought to be associated in the punishment.
It is suggested that these guardians granted relief indiscriminately without any regard at all to the interests of the ratepayers, and were thinking only of their friends in dealing out these hundreds of thousands of pounds. But is it not a remarkable fact—and again I am quoting from the Report— that, whereas, under the old guardians, the number of persons who received relief was 37,000, after all the efforts of the new guardians had been exhausted, they were only able to reduce that number to 35,000, and that in the month of November. After they had combed out-every possible case in which even a man who could lay down that scale for a woman and three children could find an excuse for deletion; when they had gone through the whole 37,000 cases, they had to be content with writing off the names of 2,000 persons, almost entirely young men, and in that way justifying the very careful selection that must have been made by the late guardians before they granted relief. We are told, as evidence in support of their indiscriminate action, that applicants were not asked to produce their cooperative books, so that the guardians would have a reasonable opportunity of judging whether there was actual destitution. I would remind the House that the guardians here, and the applicants for relief were well known to one another. [Laughter.] The very reason for the existence of guardians, and particularly of guardians such as are elected by an industrial community—the very justification for their election is their very intimate knowledge of the people. It is not disputed in the Report that every one of these applicants had to appear before the Committee. When the applicant appeared before the Committee, the members knew his family affairs in a manner in which they could not be understood by people who came from outside the district or who belonged to another class in society.
The evidence of the honesty of the statements made by the applicants, and the evidence in support of the action of the Committee in not adopting a prying curiosity into their most intimate family-affairs, is to be found in the report itself. You are dealing here with approximately 40,000 recipients of relief. Only 24 out of the 40,000 have been proceeded against for obtaining money by false pretences. I wonder is there any other section of the British community from whom you could select 40,000 persons and find among that vast multitude only 24 who had obtained money by false pretences? As has been already pointed out in the Debate proceedings against the 24 were initiated, not by the guardians appointed by the Minister of Health, but by the guardians who were superseded by the Minister of Health. Since the appointed guardians came on, they have discovered, after exhaustive investigation, 34 persons more who admit that their statements were not entirely accurate. Take the two groups together, and you find there are 58 persons, out of 40,000 recipients, during a period of unprecedented difficulty, when there must have been imposed upon the guardians trials that they were not subjected to in dealing with ordinary relief, and, during that terrible time, exhaustive inquiry by people who arc very, very keenly interested in obtaining evidence has been only able to reveal the existence of 58 persons out of that vast multitude whose statements were not perfectly accurate.
When we come to the sum of money, it is an even greater revelation. If we admit that the whole of the money obtained by these 58 persons was money of which the ratepayers were defrauded, it amounts to this. The total sum taken by these 58 persons was £580,, and the total amount disbursed during the period when that £580 was obtained amounted to £250,000. One of the other charges— and we are told that we have not replied to it—is that an Emergency Committee was set up from which the non-Labour members of the union were excluded, and the last speaker made an eloquent appeal to our sense of justice as to how this could happen and democracy survive. I would point out to him, and I think my information will not be disputed, that the 12 non-Labour guardians were excluded, not because they were outside the ranks of the Labour party, because they excluded themselves by never attending to the business for which they were elected.
And that is more than can be said for most of the charges here. There is on record the fact that the rural district council had to protest to these men about their negligence in regard to the duties for which they had been selected. The Labour members were co-opted in the ordinary way. In the main the 12 non-Labour members were not available. They were colliery managers and officials who were engaged at their ordinary employment during the dispute. They were not available for this work at all. The Labour members were the members who were available. The emergency committee co-opted those whose services could be had. They ignored the people who in ordinary times had neglected their duties and who during that difficult time were engaged in their ordinary occupations. But, even although this charge were true, is there anything extraordinary about it? I was a member of the Corporation of Glasgow prior to coming into this House in 1922. During that period our industrial localities were heavily hit by unemployment. We were invited by the Government of the day to pool our brains in an effort to contribute locally to a solution of that problem. The Corporation of Glasgow in 1921 and 1922, acting through its Conservative majority, refused to allow a Labour member to sit on the unemployment committee, and I submit that there was much less reason for keeping Labour members from the unemployment committee, dealing with schemes of work, than there was for keeping the admitted enemies of the common people from acting on the Board in the circumstances that existed in Chester-le-Street.
Another charge is that lines were given to the co-operative societies only, to the exclusion of private traders. My information is that this only took place in the Birtley district. The Birtley parish is only a very small part of the entire unit and there was a sound reason for adopting this policy. The relief here was given in kind in the form of lines which were to be given to the traders in return for goods. The poor came back time and again to the guardians and told them that from these traders they were not getting full value for their lines. They appealed to the guardians for protection, and the guardians, again doing their duty, sent the poor to the stores where they were- sure to be- treated on lines of common honesty. We are also told in the Report that the guardians acted unjustly in dismissing or suspending certain relieving officers. The fact is that the relieving officers refused even to interview single persons who claimed to foe destitute, and who were not in the dispute at all. The relieving officers, acting for this union, actually refused to grant an interview to, these young and starving men. I understand that one of them went so far as to keep a policeman at the entrance to his office, and I understand that two others put notices outside their windows that these young men were not to apply and that their cases would not be considered. The guardians begged the relieving, officers to treat each case on its merits and, at least, grant an interview to a man who claimed to be starving. The relieving officers refused to do so, and the guardians had no choice.—they would nave been cowards if they had done anything else—but to take the very human course of suspending the-relieving officers, and appointing competent men.
I submit that there is not a single charge in the Report—a Report which has been broadcast for political purposes all over the land—which has been proved or that could be proved if a public inquiry were granted. The best evidence of our belief in our case is that we demand an inquiry. Is it not due to the 40,000 honest persons who are receiving relief in Chester-le-Street that when charges are made against them they should have an opportunity of refuting those charges? Is it not due to the guardians who have given their time and their services generously and gratuitously for years that they should be given an opportunity of disproving the allegations made against them, and which are broad-east over the country as if the charges had been proved? We are actually asked to believe that this is the Report, of an unbiased judge. As has been well pointed out, the Minister of Health can Jay no claim to being free from bias in a matter such as this.
The right hon. Gentleman believes that all local government should be Tory government and that if local government is not Tory government there should be no local government at all. The whole policy of the Government is this, that when a district deserts Toryism it is to be disfranchised and deprived of the benefits of elected government. Socialist guardians are to be tested by Tory standards. If they treat the poor better than the Tories would treat the poor, they are to be dismissed from office. That is to be the test of their suitability for office. They are elected because the poor believe that they will get more generous treatment from them than they would get from the Tories. If the poor did not believe that, there would be no sense in ousting the Tories and replacing them by Socialist local governors.
We on this side of the House—[HON.MEMBERS: "Time!"]—1 will not take more than a minute now—are not advocating anything in the way of reckless expenditure. We do not believe that any recklessness was displayed by the Chester-le-Street Board of Guardians. We lay it down as a Socialistic principle that if the comfort of any section of the community can be increased without thereby reducing the comfort of another section of the community, that there is a net gain of comfort which ought to be adopted. This Report sets out to prove that the board of guardians at Chester-le-Street benefited a section of the community. It makes no effort to prove that any other section of the community has suffered to the extent of a slice of bread by the action of the board of guardians. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will not object if I deal with just one more point, and it is the important point with regard to the subsidising of wages.
I have his assent, for which I am very grateful. A great deal of play is made of the fact that the guardians of Chester-le-Street subsidised the wages of those who were receiving from the employers a weekly income less than they would receive if they were unemployed. I submit that they displayed a sound public policy; that it is a bad business that there should be a greater reward for going idle than for working. But if there is any scandal in this matter it is on the side of those who made the subsidising of wages necessary. The guardians only did this, they made it as profitable to be employed as to be unemployed. Am I to accept as the Tory policy that a man who is employed should reeeive a smaller weekly income than he would receive if he were unemployed? Is that the Tory policy? It is the Tory policy as applied to one section only, but it is never applied to the working classes, and I submit that we ought to be grateful to the Chester-le-Street Guardians who had the good sound public sense to see that the people who were employed were rewarded for their industry and not encouraged to adopt idleness as a means of obtaining their income. In conclusion, I maintain that these serious charges should be withdrawn unless the people who make them are prepared to submit proof to an impartial tribunal. If the Government refuse a public inquiry then the country will believe that the Government is wrong. The two elections which have taken place since the Report was issued may not have been as favourable to my party as I could desire, but for the first time since 1924 the candidates supported by the Conservative party found themselves at the bottom of the poll.
There is one advantage which one can at once claim for the Debate that has taken place this evening, and that is that we know now exactly where we are with regard to the policy of the Labour party in connection with the administration of Poor relief. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has justified the subsidising of wages. He has justified every action which has been made the subject of a -charge in the Report which has been published. We may assume, therefore, that it is the definite and deliberate policy of the Socialist party, if they should obtain a majority upon a board of guardians, to use the money of the ratepayers for the purpose of assisting their own political friends, for distinguishing between one working man and another according to what trade union he belongs to, deliberately casting aside the usual means of ascertaining whether statements made by applicants for relief are justified, and to use the money of the ratepayers for the purpose of the redistribution of wealth in their areas.
I do not think that I shall be doing any injustice to the hon. Member who put down this Motion if I say that he was not so much concerned with the supersession of the guardians as he was with the report of the appointed guardians; further, that he was influenced by the idea that the best means of defence is offence, and that he hoped to divert attention from the amazing and remarkable proceedings of the late board of guardians by accusing the Minister of Health of the Very iniquities which had been laid to the charge of the guardians themselves. I observed in his speech, as well as in that of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, the general assumption that the supersession of the guardians had taken place upon the charges that are made in the report of the appointed guardians. Again and again we were told that the crime which had been committed by the guardians and for which they had been superseded was that they had given a scale of relief to the people in their area, and in particular to the dependants of miners, which was higher than the Minister of Health was prepared to tolerate. If that be the honest belief of hon. Members opposite, they are entirely mistaken.
I want, in the first instance, to go with some particularity into the events which immediately preceded the supersession of the guardians, because the House will see, when I give them the facts, that the real reason why the supersession of the guardians had to take place under the Guardians (Default) Act was that these guardians persistently, in spite of repeated warnings from me and repeated assurances and promises on their part that they would amend their ways, insisted on giving illegal relief. Let me give the House a brief history of what happened. I may say that I had had considerable trouble with this board before the time of the general strike. They had in my opinion been extravagant in their administration and they had not been as careful as they should have been to keep the various promises which they had given me even before that time. But 1 want only to take the history of what happened after the month of May, when I issued Circular 703. At that time the guardians had already an overdraft of £50,000. Being at the end of their resources they were obliged to depend upon what advances they could get from their treasurers, the local banks.
Of course they had to come to me for sanction, before they could obtain these
overdrafts and during that month they applied for and obtained from me two more sanctions for overdrafts of £10,000 each. That did not last them very long, and on 4th June they applied for further sanctions. I then thought, as they were paying relief at considerably higher rates than those which I had suggested in my Circular as the normal maxima that it was time to put some more pressure upon them. I told them I required from them what proposals they could make to me for a reduction in their expenditure and I pointed out that they were at that time, apparently, ignoring the warning which I had given them in that circular that to pay any relief to men on strike was contrary to the law as it had been laid down. That produced a deputation. They came to see me on 11th June and they protested against any conditions whatever being imposed on their obtaining these further sanctions. But they did promise that when they went back they would recommend the guardians to withdraw a resolution that had been passed authorising the granting of illegal relief —that is, relief to single men who were miners and who were on strike. [HON. MEMBERS: "Locked out."] On that assurance to me, they got, in two successive weeks, sanctions for two overdrafts of £10,000 each. On 25th June my inspector reported to me that, in spite of the assurance they had given, single miners were being granted two amounts of 6s. each per week. Therefore when they made application for a further sanction I wrote and pointed out that they had not kept their promise. I said:
The Minister is informed by the General Inspector that the guardians are relieving single strikers in lodgings by grunting 6s. twice a week to all who state that they are destitute. This would appear to be a breach of the undertaking given to the Minister. The Minister will not, of course, be prepared to consider favourably any proposal for further financial facilities unless the guardians undertake to leave such cases to apply to the relieving officers to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law as laid down in the Merthyr Tydvil judgment.
In reply to that, I had a letter from the guardians saying that they agreed to carry out the suggestions which I had made, and that they would leave to the relieving officers entirely the question of relieving single destitute miners. On that, I gave two further sanctions, one
for £10,000 and the other for £9,000. Of course, these were soon exhausted, and once more a deputation came to the Ministry—on 22nd July—and in the course of conversation it was admitted that the relieving officers were anxious to obey the law, but found it extremely difficult to do so when guardians went to public meetings and said that they had given the relieving officers instructions to grant relief to these men. It was admitted that the relieving officers were, in fact, giving relief to large numbers of single miners. That was the second breach of assurances that had been given.
They had given me an assurance that they would stop it, and because of that assurance they had obtained from me sanctions for further overdrafts which I would not have given but for that assurance.
As a result of the information given to me by the deputation themselves I then sent a letter to the relieving officers reminding them once more of what the law was, and pointing out that they were personally responsible for carrying out their work in accordance with the law. I wrote again to the guardians, and said if they were prepared now to withdraw their opposition to the relieving officers complying with the law, then I was ready to give them further sanction for a loan. As a matter of fact, on the 30th July, the banks having by now refused to advance any more money to this board of guardians, a Goschen loan of £16,000 was given to them. What was the result of that? On the 13th August, having got this £16,000, the guardians passed this resolution:
That, in the opinion of this board, its action in relieving single persons is legal and proper, that the board regrets inability either to desist from such policy or to find the necessary money to carry it out, and calls upon the Ministry of Health to immediately produce such funds.
I think the House will admit that my patience was very prolonged in continuing to deal with people who behaved in that way. I wrote a letter to the relieving officers directing them to comply with the law, but once more I offered to give a further advance to the guardians if they themselves would 'Comply with the law. On the 23rd August the guardians had a meeting, at which they decided that they would leave the question of relief entirely to the relieving officers, and on the 24th August they got another Goschen loan of £25,000. Two days afterwards, they suspended three relieving officers for obeying my instructions and refusing relief to single miners who were not destitute. They accompanied that action by a further demand for another £35,000, and four days afterwards I superseded them. The question which the House should ask is not why I superseded these guardians, but how it was that, after such repeated evidence of their inability to keep any promises that they made, after such repeated demonstrations of their unreliability and of their persistence in illegal actions, I went on advancing them money, about which there was some doubt if it could ever be recovered, and why I did not put into action at an earlier stage the powers I possessed. I feel that that is a much more difficult question to answer than the former one. The reason is simply this, that, contrary to the ideas of hon. Members opposite, I was extremely reluctant to use the powers of the Boards of Guardians (Default) Act. That Act was brought in to deal with a particular case, the case of West Ham, and at that time I hoped it would not be necessary to use it again. I brought it in, as I said at the time, when I was moving the Second Reading in this House, not to destroy local government, but to save it. I regarded it as something only to be used in the very last extremity, when every other resource had been tried.
Let the House see what the position was. Here was this board of guardians going on giving relief in a manner which was contrary to the law. They had completely exhausted their own resources, and they were coming to me week after week and demanding that I should produce funds to enable them to go on giving illegal relief. What could I have done? If I was to go on doing that I should have been condoning illegality. Any Minister, to whatever party he belongs, no matter what he may say in opposition, would have been obliged to act exactly as I have acted. If any proof of that is needed I ask the House to remember that this supersession took place on 30th August last; and in spite of the fact that the House was sitting all through the Autumn Session, and has been sitting for seven weeks in this Session, not a single member of the party opposite has ever challenged my action, has every brought forward any Motion, or taken any steps, to condemn the action which I then took —until to-day, when an hon. Member on the back benches puts down a Motion in the hope, which perhaps is not unjustified, that if followers give a lead the leaders are pretty certain to follow.
Let us come to the second part of the charge against me. I am told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) that I gave the Report of the guardians to the Tory Press. It has been repeated to-night by both hon. Gentlemen. I am rather surprised they should have said it to-night, because I have already specifically denied that charge in this House. It is unusual for a Member to give the lie direct to another hon. Member of this House, even if he be of the opposite party, who sits on the Front Bench.
I am surprised to learn that I charged the right hon. Gentleman with giving it to the Press. [HON. MEMBERS: "You did!"] I charged him with allowing it to get to the Press. [HON. MEMBERS: "You said he gave it!"]
I have the words as written down at the time. He said that I gave it to the Tory Press. [Interruption.] I am sufficiently satisfied after what the right hon. Gentleman has now said. No one regretted more than I did that the Report appeared in any paper before it was in the hands of hon. Members in this House. [Interruption.] Members of the House should be the first to see any such document. But I cannot admit that anybody was injured by the publication, except that it was an affront to the dignity of this House. Actually, neither the guardians themselves nor the party opposite were in any way injured by the premature publication of the Report—which in any case was to be published. Why do hon. Members opposite say that this Report was published without giving the guardians any opportunity of replying? They have had plenty of opportunities of replying, and the proof is that they have replied. I have got their reply here.
It is rather interesting to recall what happened. When this Report was published there was at once a meeting of the ex-guardians, from which the Press were excluded. It lasted for an hour and 40 minutes, at the end of which time the chairman stated that they were not going to issue any reply at that moment. as they wanted to consider their reply carefully. Three days after they issued this carefully-prepared reply. Apparently the reply was not good enough, or not considered good enough by the Labour party, because about a week afterwards the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street sent an invitation to the chairman and the members of the ex-board of guardians to come up to London to consult with the National Labour party and a legal adviser to see whether they could not concoct a better one.
We are still waiting for that better one. The real grievance is, not that the guardians were given no opportunity of replying, but that even with the assistance of the National Labour party and the legal adviser, they were unable to produce any reply which was good enough to put before the public. I am not altogether surprised that the nature of the reply did not seem entirely satisfactory to the Labour party, because let the House note this, that not one single one of the charges made in the published Report of the appointed guardians is denied by the ex-guardians in their carefully considered reply. Some of them are justified, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite has attempted to justify them this evening, but not a single one of them is denied, and they cannot be denied because, as the Parliamentary Secretary-has stated, the great majority of them are actually taken from the resolutions and minutes of the guardians themselves.
I was not surprised that the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street attempted to make the defence of these resolutions that they were not passed by the main board of guardians but by district committees, but it would seem that the ex-guardians-in their carefully considered reply, which took them one hour and 40 minutes on. the first day and goodness knows how long afterwards, had no thought of making that defence.
If I conveyed any such idea to the House, I did not mean to say that they were not passed by the guardians. What I pointed out was that they were passed by the district of Birtley and the charges simply and solely were concerned with the Birtley district.
Then the hon. Gentleman's argument was very much weaker than I thought it was. In the Report of the appointed guardians, Birtley is taken as being the most illuminating of the various minutes and resolutions which had been before them. It was not the only one, and I dare say if they had published a much longer Report we should have found similar things going on The hon. Member made a triumphant reply to that particular charge which in my opinion was not the worst recorded against the board, and is generally known as "Remember the guardians." He said that it could not be true because all the relief was given in kind and it would not have been possible for the guardians to receive money. But the hon. Member has been investigating this case and he must know that though relief in kind was given after May, between August, 1925, and May, 1926, relief was not given in kind only, but a largo part was given in cash, and it was at that period that the incident occurred which has been so much commented upon and is not denied in the reply of the ex-guardians. It is said that in no single instance can it be said that any guardian asked or requested that persons should be asked to contribute to the relief of the guardians themselves.
The Report says that there stood at the entrance to the room four individuals, representing the local unemployed organisation, who asked those who had received the relief as they went out to "Remember the guardians."[An HON. MEMBER: Why not?"] I do not see why I should suppress and hush up this Report, and if had refused to publish the Report I have received from the appointed guardians, hon. Members and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been the first to demand that it should be given to the House, or they would have said that I was suppressing something which was favourable to the ex-guardians. 1 know this secrecy is part of the regular policy of the Labour party, and when-
ever there is a sign of independence of thought shown in that party it is promptly followed by expulsion. [Interruption.] The right of free speech is: refused both in and out of this House. The Press was-muzzled during the general strike, and hon. Members shout out that newspapers are lying when they publish facts which do not square with their views. These guardians have abused the position of trust in which they have been placed, and I intend as long as I am Minister of Health to use the powers which have been given to me by the Act to deal with those who abuse their position for party purposes. In using those powers with which I have been entrusted in the way I have done, I ask this House to declare that I have not acted with partiality or injustice but with a patience and a tolerance which deserved a better response.
|Division No. 61.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardie, George D.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Ammon. Charles George||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, G. H.||Smillie, Robert|
|Barker. G. (Monmouth, Abartillery)||Hirst. W. (Bradford. South)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Barr, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Kelghley)|
|Batey. Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Beckett. John (Gateshead)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buchanan. G.||Kelly, W. T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clowes, S.||Kirkwood, D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, John James||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Clynes. Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee. F.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Compton, Joseph||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Connolly, M.||Lowth. T.||Townend, A. E.|
|Cove. W. G.||Lunn. William||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mackinder, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies. Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maxton, James||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dennison, R.||Morrison. R. c. (Tottenham, North)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Duncan, C.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Dunnico, H.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilcatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, W.|
|Gardner, I. P.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Parkinson. John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Pcthick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Graham. D M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercillffe)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenall. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Riley, Ben||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Groves. T.||Ritson. J.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robinson, W.C (Yorks, W. R., Eiland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Scurr, John||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Hayes.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sexton, James|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Duckworth, John||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Albery, Irving James||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||England, Colonel A.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Erskine. Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Locker-Lampson, Com.O. (Handsw'th)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent,Dover)||Fairfax, Captain J, G.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Astor, Viscountess||Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Lougher, Lewis|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Atkinson, C.||Fenby, T. D.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fermoy, Lord||Lynn, Sir Robert J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fielden, E. B.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Balnlet, Lord||Finburgh, S.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Ford, Sir P. J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Forrest, W.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Foster, Sir Harry S.||McLean. Major A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macquiston, F. A.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mac Robert, Alexander M.|
|Berry, Sir George||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Malone. Major P. B.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gates, Percy||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gault, Lieut-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Bird. Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lioyd||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Meller, R. J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Goff, Sir Park||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Gower, Sir Robert||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mitchell. S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Brass, Captain W.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon, B. M.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Morris, R. H.|
|Brown. Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastb'rne)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Hall. Capt. W. D.A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Burman, J. S.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Barton, Colonel H. W.||Hammersley, S. S.||Nicholson. O. (Westminster)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Harland, A.||O'Connor, T.J. (Bedford, Luton|
|Campbell, E. T.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Owen, Major G.|
|Casseis, J. D.||Hawke, John Anthony||Pennefather. Sir John|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxfd, Henley)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Henderson, Lieut-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cayzer. Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hills, Major John Waller||Peto. G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hogg, Rt. Hon.Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Clarry. Reginald George||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Radford, E. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Raine, W.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Ramsden, E.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Horlick. Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Reid. D. D. (County Down)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.||Remer, J. R.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney.N.)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hnntingfield, Lord||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cope, Major William||Hurst. Gerald B.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Couper, J. B.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||lliffe, Sir Edward M.||Rye, F. G.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Jacob, A. E.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Jephcott, A. R.||Sanders, Si- Robert A.|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shaw. R. G. (Yorks. W.R., Sowerby)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Shepperson. E. W.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Slmon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Skelton, A. N.||Templeton, W. P.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n&Kinc'dine, C.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Smithers, Waldron||Tinne, J. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Winterton, Rt- Hon. Earl|
|Sprot, Sir Alexander||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Wise. Sir Fredric|
|Stanley,Col. Hon. G. F.(WilI'sden, E.)||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'sland)||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Storry-Deans, R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Stott. Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Watts, Dr. T.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Wells, S. R.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Styles, Captain H. Walter||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairvmnle-|
|Sugden. Sir Wilfrid||Wiggins, William Martin||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Tasker, R. Inigo.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Major Ropner and Mr. Grace.|