Clause 17. — (payment of travelling expenses by county councils, etc.)

Orders of the Day — Local Government (Scotland) Bill. – in the House of Commons at on 8 February 1929.

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Mr. BENN:

I beg to move in page 22, line 1, to leave cut Sub-section (1).

I wish to put a question on this, because I understand that in Sub-section (4), which is to be left out, town and county councils come under the new rule about expenses.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I understand the hon. Member is moving to leave out Subsection (1).

Mr. BENN:

Yes. I only referred to Sub-section (4) because county and town councils are referred to as being the bodies concerned in this Clause. Subsection (1) states that the scale of expenses allowed, presumably to town councils—I am concerned only with City councils in my representative capacity—is to be prescribed by the Secretary of State. Is it a fact that the Secretary of State is now taking power to prescribe a scale of expenses for town councils not only for education but for all other purposes, because, if that is so, I am told it is going far in advance of any power which he has at present. If I am wrong, I shall be glad to be told so.

Photo of Mr William Watson Mr William Watson , Carlisle

It does not apply to a town council.

Mr. BENN:

Sub-section (4) refers to county and town councils.

Photo of Mr William Watson Mr William Watson , Carlisle

We are taking out Sub-section (4).

Mr. BENN:

The fact that it was in appeared to suggest that the whole Clause applied to town councils.

Mr. BENN:

I am assured, therefore, that there is no intention on the part of the Secretary of State to take any additional powers in prescribing the scale of expenses allowed to the councils of large cities?

Mr. BENN:

Then I am perfectly satis-field, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member has risen to move it, and I must put it, and have it negatived.

Mr. BENN:

But I ask leave to withdraw.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think I will put it. Otherwise it would be rather a bad precedent.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'and,' in line 4, stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

I beg to move, in page 22, line 4, after the word "travelling," to insert the words "time necessarily lost from ordinary employment."

From the point of view of Labour representation this is a very important Amendment. The members of this party who represent it on county councils are in general men belonging to the working class who are engaged in some form of employment, very often with private employers, and they find it a very difficult matter to get the time to go to the council meetings. Some of them are fortunate in their employers and are allowed a certain amount of liberty. They may be such valuable servants that the employer is glad to give them this liberty. Then there is the question of the man's ordinary economic circumstances, and one cannot expect private employers to allow men to go in for some form of public service at their expense. That would be to put an additional rate on the employer who was sufficiently public minded and tolerant to allow an employe an opportunity of taking part in public service. Consequently either the man himself must be prepared to pay for this or else provision must be made. Members of Parliament are given an allowance of £400 a year, and that payment was largely due to the agitation that centred round the right of every section of the community to be represented in the governing body of the nation, and whatever applies to the central body at Westminster applies with no less effect with regard to local authorities as well.

It is quite necessary, if we are going to have real democratic representation, that every section of the community should be allowed representation if they can command a sufficient number of the electors. Possibly the Secretary of State can tell us what was the cost to education authorities last year in respect of this allowance for time lost. It seems to me if you are going to alter your representation in this way, if you are taking so much of the power from the small burghs and generally increasing the powers of the county councils, unless this is going to be an instance of the attempt to get rid of one class, I do not see how in the world the Secretary of State can refuse to accept the Amendment. Unless this Measure is an attempt to deprive the working-classes of their representation, the Government are bound to make this concession. Common-sense and ordinary justice make it quite plain that the concession should be granted.

Mr. CLARK:

I desire to support the Amendment. It will be readily admitted that the entry of Labour representatives into the various public bodies has been all to the good of the community in general. I am justified in claiming that those representatives have created a more healthy influence in local government affairs. On that ground, I support the Amendment, believing that it will support and develop the healthy interest that has been created by the advent of Labour members on public bodies. Speaking from my own experience and knowledge, I have been delighted on many occasions to see the wholesome interest which ordinary working people have taken in the varied activities of public bodies, but I would say, quite frankly, that we have been seriously handicapped in the past, more so by the decision of the Government in regard to the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act. That Act has handicapped our organisations considerably, because it has prevented us from giving necessary financial assistance to men who in serving on public bodies are called upon to lose remunerative time, and can ill afford to lose it. That is one of the handicaps which the Act has enforced upon working-men representatives.

12 n.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable that we should ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment, which will not only maintain and stimulate that desirable healthy interest in public affairs, but will give to men who have nothing but their employment to depend upon for their livelihood, encouragement to maintain the interest in public affairs which they have displayed in the past It will also enable them to attend the meetings and to apply the knowledge which they have gleaned from attendance at the meetings and from their personal experiences in their workaday lives, to the various problems that come before the public bodies of which they are members. I could give instances where men who have been elected to public bodies have been so handicapped by the fact that they were unable to afford to lose a day's employment, and to suffer the financial strain, that they have been compelled to seek relief or to ignore some of the more important meetings which otherwise they would have attended. For these reasons, I would ask the Government to accede to the proposal in the Amendment, in order that our people may have ample opportunity to devote themselves to the work of public bodies.

Mr. WILLIAM ADAMSON:

In supporting the Amendment I would remind the Secretary of State for Scotland that it is on lines exactly similar to the Amendment which I moved when the Education (Scotland) Act,. 1918, was before the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman was a Member of that Committee and he knows that on that occasion I was fortunate enough to get my Amendment incorporated in the Act. We have had ten years' experience of that provision and, speaking broadly and generally, I think it has given satisfaction in Scotland. I have never heard any complaint of the way in which the provision has been used by the education authorities. It has enabled a considerable number of representatives of the working class to take part in the work of our education authorities, with excellent results as far as education is concerned. As an evidence of the excellent results which have been achieved through the operation of the provision, I need only point out the work: which has been performed by the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood). Moreover, the provision has been very economically worked by our education authorities. Unless the Secretary of State agrees to the Amendment he will be taking away from us something that we already possess in Scotland. I hope that he is not going to make our position worse than it has been since 1918. The working classes and the middle classes, who have taken a very large share in. the work of our local bodies in Scotland, have had difficulties enough to face without having this additional difficulty imposed upon them. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the most favourable consideration to the Amendment.

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I realise that the question is one which must be examined with very great care, and I am not surprised that hon. Members opposite have expressed the view that they have expressed upon the subject. I would remind them, however, that under this Bill for the first time we are making new provisions in local government work. It is quite true that in 1918, under what were perhaps morn rosy financial circumstances, when everyone's view was that this kind of thing might be met quite readily and easily, such a provision was made in the case of the education authorities. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has said that the experience of the working of that provision has been satisfactory, and that so far as he was aware no undue or improper use has been made of the claim under the one head that is in dispute, namely, remuneration for loss of time. The Committee must have clearly in its mind what the position is under the Bill. We are carrying into the larger ambit of the local authority work outside the burghs this question of travelling expenses and per- sonal expenses. The only point in dispute is whether there shall be added to that a payment for loss of time.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that no improper use has been made of the concession for loss of time in the case of the education authorities. I am not going to say that there was improper use made of it, but it is clear that it had to be most carefully supervised, and in fact during the first periods after it came into operation the actual expenditure was very considerable. In the year 1920 the amount was £2,698; in 1920–21 it was £2,550; and in 1921–22 it dropped to £1,785. That I repeat was for the education authorities.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Has the right hon. Gentleman an analysis of those figures, showing what proportion was due to loss of wages and how much was due to travelling time and subsistence allowance? I know that in Glasgow there was a very considerable charge and that none of it was due to loss of wages. It was payment to business gentlemen for travelling and subsistence allowance, and there was no single charge for loss of time. I should imagine that the Glasgow amount in any of those years would be about a third of the £2,000 mentioned, but not a halfpenny went for lost wages.

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I was giving the figures in answer to a question.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Can you break them up and show the different items?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I have not that information now, and I do not know that it would advance the discussion materially.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

There was a case submitted to the Courts and a decision given in a stated case in regard to "time necessarily lost from ordinary employment." Those are the words of the 1918 Act. Is it the fact that payment is now made for loss of remunerative time, or would there be any objection to payment for loss of remunerative time, where it is proved that a man has actually lost wages or remuneration as a result of attending these meetings?

Mr. COWAN:

Is it not the case that the total expenses—travelling, and personal, and loss of remunerative time —for the last year for which figures are available, amounted to something like £13,000, and that of that sum only about £700 represented expenses for loss of remunerative time?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I take the last year for which there are definite figures— 1926–27. In that year travelling expenses incurred amounted to £6,768, personal expenses £5,489, and expenses for loss of remunerative time, £571. The figure for loss of remunerative time is admittedly small, and it may be said that it is a mere bagatelle in considering a problem of this kind. Let us compare it, however, with what the figure was in the first stage of the operation of this provision when it amounted to well over £2,000. We must have some sense of proportion, and what I am trying to put to hon. Members opposite and to the Committee is that we are making a fresh departure by introducing this scheme into a very much wider ambit of local government. We are doing so in order to meet what [agree to be the necessity of enabling people to attend these meetings, and in older to meet, so far as we can, the legitimate claims of men and women, to whatever class they may belong, who are at the present time—in my judgment very properly and rightly—in increasing numbers taking an active interest in municipal and local affairs. But it is to be remembered that we are proposing very great changes in this Bill. [Interruption.] I am most anxious to deal fairly with the problem, but if I am to be interrupted constantly I cannot state the case properly.

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

The Secretary of State has nothing to grumble at and need not be so exacting. The whole amount for all Scotland is not one-third of Lord Birkenhead's pension.

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I am anxious so far as I can to place a complete picture before the Committee. We must remember that we are here taking a new step to meet this problem. It may be that the reform is long overdue, but, at the same time, it has to be considered that even today, in face of the proposals which I am making, there are very great differences of opinion among those very local authorities to whom we are giving these powers. I think we should be wise not to spoil a case which we are all anxious to see legitimately made, by trying to force the pace. It is obvious, I think, from the figures which I have just given that the two main features are the actual travelling expenses and the actual personal expenses. The other payment raises very great difficulties, and, when it is extended beyond the ambit of this one particular service, and applied to other big services, then the picture is very much widened. I have every sympathy with the point of view put by hon. Members opposite, but we are going a long way in introducing the system of payment of travelling: expenses and personal expenses in connection with these reformed bodies in Scotland. I hope that by doing so we are meeting the main legitimate claim and providing the necessary opportunity for those whom we all desire to see taking their part on these bodies.

Photo of Sir Robert Hamilton Sir Robert Hamilton , Orkney and Shetland

We should ask ourselves here, are we taking any step which is likely to exclude a useful person from these local bodies? I cannot help thinking that if the Amendment be rejected, the result may be the exclusion from the new local bodies of someone who ought to be there; and, if that is to be the result, we on these benches are un hesitatingly in favour of the Amendment. The Secretary of State has said that he is taking a new step. But we must have regard to the new steps which he is causing the members of local bodies to take. He is causing them to take many new steps and he is bound to make provision to meet the requirements of the new centralisation. Much of the work which was done in the districts before, will now be done at headquarters, and much more travelling will be involved. For that reason the right hon. Gentleman has had. to provide for the payment of travelling and subsistence expenses. Those are the major items. I think the figure which he gave me in answer to a question, was that a provision of £40,000 would be required to cover this expense, but the amount involved in the Amendment is a mere trifle. We have had the, figure of £571 given for the education authorities and if this payment were made on the same lines as the payments for travelling and subsistence expenses, it would not mean more than £2,000 or £3,000 for the whole of Scotland. That is a small figure to take if you get even one right man on the local authorities.

The Under-Secretary made a moving appeal the other day in which he said the object of the Bill was to bring all the different streams, in connection with local administration, into one broad river. Surely, then, it would be a mistake to take any action which would exclude any moving power, any elements, any interests in local government from that broad river. It has been said that this payment would introduce a new principle. But we have had it before. We had it in the case of the education authorities. I say it will be introducing a new principle if the right hon. Gentleman takes away, what we already have, just because the duties of education authorities are going to be placed on the newly constituted councils. If the Amendment be not accepted, the right hon. Gentleman will be taking away something which Scotland already has; something which has been proved satisfactory in the past, and which has given us the services on these education bodies of people who otherwise would not have been able to sit there.

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I should suggest that this is not a matter which merely concerns the party represented on these benches, because people all over Scotland, in considering this Bill, have been concerned about the aspect of it that is represented in. this Amendment and the fact that it is going to make an alteration of a democratic character in the local bodies in Scotland; and if, as we are very often reminded, hon. Members opposite claim to represent the working classes of Scotland, and it we have still Conservative working men, surely the matter is not one which is confined to the party on these benches. I think it. ought to be remembered, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) has said, that working men have been enabled, especially in the burghs, to take a part in the management of their own towns, for one reason, because the meetings have been held at night. These men have been able to do their ordinary day's work and then go to their town council meeting at night and take a full part in the activities of the management of their burgh. The main functions of these burghs are now to be transferred to the county councils, and these meetings necessarily will be held during the day; and if there is substance in the proposition which was put forward yesterday that the burghal representatives on the county councils will be appropriate representatives of the burghs and will be able to maintain their interest in the county councils, it is obvious that that opportunity should be open to every member of the town council and not merely to those of the leisured class.

There is no doubt that throughout Scotland there is a very general feeling that the result of this Bill will be to exclude working people from these bodies. In the large burghs the work is going to be enormous. There are going to be very many more committees and a great many sub-committees, and it is going to be almost a whole-time job. Apart from political considerations altogether, I think hon. Members opposite will agree that it is very desirable that no efficient individual capable of representing his fellows should be shut out from being their representative on these bodies by economic considerations. That surely is a democratic principle which will appeal to hon. Members opposite and which should have a peculiar appeal to the people of Scotland, because the reason that these burgh councils have arranged to meet at night is obviously that no person should be shut out because of his economic position; and we know very well that some of the ablest members of the local governing bodies in Scotland, irrespective of party altogether, have been men who did a hard day's work and who could not afford to do without the remuneration which they got from that work by attending meetings during the day.

Therefore, I say that whatever the merits of this Bill may be, and even granting all that has been said by the party opposite, if it is going to mean that both in the larger burghs and in the county councils a class is going to be shut out which has done a great deal for local government in Scotland, then the Measure will fail to be approved by public opinion in our country; and I suggest that even in the Government's own interests, in the interests of their own Members in Scotland, who will be met on this point by a great storm of opposition and objec- tion, they should, especially in view of the figures which have been given, which show that the privilege already given has by no means been abused, allow this Amendment to be adopted. After all, we have confidence in the sturdy-character of our people in Scotland. We know that those who elect them would elect men of character and honesty, and there is no fear that this concession would be taken advantage of. I suggest, therefore, that the Government should accept the Amendment in the interests of the whole country.

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

I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but one has been impressed by the arguments which have been made, both from the other side and by the Secretary of State for Scotland. As I understand the position as it is now, the proposal in the Bill is to extend to another section of those who are going to have authority, as members of the county council, a privilege which they did not previously hold, and they are now going to get their travelling allowances and other allowances, though there is to be nothing for loss of remunerative employment. On the other hand, the new education committee is going to be deprived of something which the old education authority had. They used to get both these allowances which are now to be given to the new county council, and, in addition, they got loss of remunerative time. The figures given by the Secretary of State with regard to the expenditure were, to my mind, striking. It is certainly of great interest to realise that the amount spent as compensation for remunerative time on the education authorities bears such a small proportion to the total expenditure, and it appears to me that, if we are going to deprive those who are going to be on the new education committee and the new organisation of something which the education committee had in the past, then we are making a retrograde step. I would, therefore, urge in the first place that anyhow the privileges which were allowed to the education authority in the past should be continued in the new Measure to the education committee on the new county authority.

There remains, of course, the question of the other portion of the county authority who are not members of the education committee. There is a good deal of force in the argument of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels), and also of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton), that the new work does undoubtedly bring in new factors and increase the need for the extension of these travelling allowances, but I do not think there is the same case made out for the extension of the privilege of compensation for the loss of remunerative time to those other members of the county council. I feel that their case stands entirely separate. I appeal very strongly to the Government to give to the education committee that compensation for loss of remunerative time which was hitherto given to the old education authority, and I would ask that, as regards the other part of the county authority, they should be content in the meantime with the new allowances which are given them; and in the course of one or two years it may be found perhaps necessary to extend to them also compensation for the loss of remunerative time.

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

The hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris) suggested that we should be content for a year or two with the concession that has been granted by the Government to our fellow countrymen who will be taking part in the administration of this new Measure. There is a saying: Live old horse, and you'll get corn, but the horse cannot live without the corn; just the same as Man shall not live by bread alone, which is a perfectly true saying, but it also follows that man shall not live without the bread; and it will be quite impossible for the folk whom I represent in this House to be able to stand for these bodies now, because this Bill, when it comes into force, which I have no doubt it will, will make it quite impossible for working men and women in Scotland to be represented on these bodies directly. They will have to depend on the folk who can afford the time, because this will now be a full-time job. If you have the town council work, the parish council work, and the education authority work all combined into one local authority, it will make it a full-time job.

I would add my support to the appeal that has been made to the Secretary of State for Scotland. Here is a glorious opportunity again for him to prove to the people of Scotland that he is not going to curtail the democratic ideals of Scotland, or to disfranchise our folk, but that he is going to give them ample opportunity. The reason for bringing in this Bill was because of the changed circumstances that have occurred. A revolution is taking place to this extent, that education in the working class is proving that ability to administer the laws in Scotland is no longer a preserve for a certain section of the community, because my class, the working class, have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are as capable of administering the laws of the country as they are of making the laws of the country. Therefore, on their behalf I appeal to the Committee to regard this just as the case of Members of Parliament. It is, in fact, more a full-time job than a Member of Parliament, because we are only here part-time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] There are months in the year when this House is up, whereas the town council and this new organisation will be sitting all the year round. Therefore, it is the more necessary that they should be compensated to enable them to be free even from a considerate employer who may allow them to be away from work. This will be a job that will occupy all the time of any man who is prepared to take it up and give of his best. Circumstances will arise that will demand all the attention of the men who will take on this job.

I do not often appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland, but I do make this appeal on behalf of the men and women who are anxious to get their class directly represented, because when I cast my eye over what is happening at the present moment, what do I find? Even in our own movement direct working class representation is being made well nigh impossible, because our folk cannot afford the time off their work. This is making it impossible. It was possible for our folk to be on the town council, because it met at night. It was possible for our folk to be on the parish council again, because it met at night, in the country districts in par- ticular. It was possible for our folk to be on the education authority, and so on, because it met at night, and our folk could divide themselves on the three different authorities. Now, instead of it being a three men's job, it is to be a one man's job, so that the men and women for whom I am speaking are to be disfranchised, unless it is made possible for them to do the work by making payment for time lost, and that will be all the time. I want to call the attention of the country to the small amount of expenses that has been paid to Scotland. All put together, it is one-third of Lord Birkenhead's pension. We are not asking anything that is outrageous, but something that will enable the country to get the benefit of all the latent ability that is in the great working class movement. This is a chance to enable expression to be given to that ability, and to provide a safety valve.

Photo of Commander Guy Fanshawe Commander Guy Fanshawe , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

I consider that there is a very great principle underlying this Amendment. We must look upon this matter, not from the financial side only, but if we are going to look at it from the financial side, first of all may I remind the Committee once again that this principle was established in the Education Act, 1918, and it has not, in point of fact, I believe, ever been abused. I agree wholeheartedly that a great many of our political opponents have done very good service on local government bodies. I think, further, that if you are going to have an entirely sound local government body, it is necessary to bring into that body all shades of opinion. In my own constituency, for instance, if the voice of the miner could not be heard in the local government body that body would be necessarily weakened in that respect. It is one of the things that we can say in this House of Commons, that whatever question arises, there is somebody or a section of the House, at any rate, that is entirely competent to carry on a debate on the subject, because of firsthand knowledge.

Further, I consider that in this Bill we are not taking a retrograde step as far as any alterations that we are making in the machine are concerned. I beg the Secretary of State for Scotland to see to it most carefully that no retrograde step is taken in manning the machine which at the present time he is seeking to set up. It is not a matter of finance, and I am perfectly certain that, if the Secretary of State for Scotland agrees with the Amendment, and I personally hope that he will, he will have no difficulty in arranging for some scale of remuneration to be given to workers who have to give up some hours of a day's work when attending local government business. I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Brigadier-General Charteris) that we can only continue this so far as education is concerned. If a right principle is involved, it is no use patching it up. You must either go the whole way or not advance one step. I believe it is right to advance.

Mr. COWAN:

If there were a large sum involved, I could understand the hesitancy of the Secretary of State in accepting the Amendment, but I have the assurance that in a proper arrangement the increased expense would not amount to more than 5 per cent. of that which he is now prepared to grant. The Secretary of State will agree that perhaps the greatest asset he would like to have on his side when he launches this new scheme is the good will of the people of Scotland, and if he does not assent to the proposition put forward I am afraid that it will militate against the success of the scheme. We are all aware that in England this remunerative time expense has not been granted, but I would point out to the Secretary of State that this is another opportunity for showing very clearly that he is not tied to the chariot wheels of England and that this is a matter which concerns Scotland only. It makes no increased demand on the Treasury. it will be met by Scottish money, by Scottish people, and, though up to the present time the Secretary of State has not been able to give an affirmative answer to this request, I think, in view of the expressions of opinion from all parts of the Committee, he would be well advised to reconsider the matter, and, if he cannot assent now to reconsider it, to see what can be done on the Report stage. I am sure that by so doing he will obtain the good will of the people of Scotland and make a success of the Measure.

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

The Committee will realise that I agree that this is a matter in which all sides of the Com- mittee are deeply interested, and, as I have already said, I personally do not desire to do anything which will militate against the service upon these bodies of those whom we all desire to see working upon them. We are, in the proposal which we have already made, taking a very big step in giving in all our public local services the opportunity for the payment of travelling and personal expenses. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan), who has just sat down, has made a very fair appeal to me to consider this matter, and all I can say is that of course it does raise a question of first-class importance. Quite obviously, it is of such importance that if any further advance is to be made it must be given very careful consideration. Therefore, it would be impossible to accept the Amendment at the present stage. I have been impressed by the unanimity of the views which have been expressed by my colleagues, and I will undertake very carefully to reconsider the question between now and the Report stage of the Bill. I hope that hon. Members will realise that I am anxious to arrive at a settlement which will be in accord with the general views of my countrymen. I have been guided in this matter in the past by the numerous expressions of opinion which I have received. Hon. Members will realise that there are in some cases divisions of opinion in Scotland on this subject. After this Debate, and the expressions of views which have come from all parts of the Committee, we shall have a better idea how the proposal would be received. I have been impressed by the points of view which have been put, and I will undertake to consider, with my colleagues on the Front Bench, the whole of this problem between now and the Report stage.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

I rise to a point of Order. Am I right in assuming that, if nothing is put in the Bill now, it will be impossible to amend the Bill on the Report stage by increasing the charge?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

I rose on the point, because it is an important one. While fully accepting the good way in which my colleagues have been met, may I suggest that it would be better to accept some Amendment and put it in now on the clear understanding that it is not the final form, but only something which will enable the Government to give- effect to the views expressed when it is reconsidered. That is the only reason. We do not refuse what has been offered, but we wish to safeguard the House when it comes to reconsider the Bill.

Photo of Mr William Watson Mr William Watson , Carlisle

I am anxious to avoid any difficulties, but I do not think the Government can commit them selves by having an Amendment put into the Clause at the present time. If the Government find themselves able, on reconsideration, to agree with the views expressed there will net be the slightest difficulty in recommitting the Clause by agreement, or, it could be done by a new Clause.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

If the Government will agree to a recommittal, that meets my point.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

It is important that this matter on its reconsideration should have the support of the Government. I wish to refer to what has been said by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood). I agree that this principle should go the whole way; but I do not agree with the proposition which he made as regards the House of Commons that the Members are off work when the House is not sitting. I have a full-time job whether I am in London or in Dundee.

Lieut.-Colonel MOORE:

I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland on the promise which he has given to reconsider this matter, and I for one would ask him to reconsider the matter as a whole. The reconstituted county councils are sure to have many committees, and the representatives of burghs are likely to find themselves on many of these committees, with the result that perhaps two or three times a week they may be compelled to attend at considerable expense to themselves. It would absolutely cut them out from the public service, in which we all want to see them taking part. We are a democratic country, and we want to see every section of society taking a fair share and having an equal opportunity in public life. In many burghs there is not a single representative of the working-class or wage-earning class on the councils, and working-men ought to be made enabled to take part in their proceedings. This is a matter of great importance. We would not have the wit and wisdom that we have in this House of Commons if it were not for the fact that so many Members have matriculated in the school of municipal life. This experience opens out to everyone who enjoys it a fresh view of life. When they get into municipal life, they find out its problems, and they learn what are the problems of the wider administration of the country. I believe the insertion of this provision will be good for the administraton of Scotland and good for the people of Scotland, and I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has agreed to accept it.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

After the very favourable way in which this proposal has been received by all parties in the Committee, and also by the Secretary of State for Scotland, I wish to say that it might be possible to get better words in which to express the principle than those of the Amendment, and we on this side of the Committee will not press the Amendment to a Division but will give the Government the necessary time to consider the proposal.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland will not yield too readily to this demand, because I am very doubtful if it is at all consistent with the general view of the electors. It is all very well that public men should meet together and put each other in slightly better position than they would otherwise be in; but, if this matter were submitted to the electors of Scot-land, I believe it would not be approved.

It being One of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 12th December, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

Division No. 188.]AYES.[1.5 p.m.
Applin. Colonel R. V. K.Berry, Sir GeorgeBriscoe, Richard George
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Betterton, Henry B.Brittain, Sir Harry
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBourne, Captain Robert CroftBrocklebank, C. E. R.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Bowyer. Captain G. E. W.Broun-Lindsay, Major H.
Barnett, Major Sir RichardBrass, Captain W.Brown, Brlg.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. HBrassey, Sir LeonardBuckingham, Sir H.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

I said that I wished to withdraw the Amendment.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member did not move the Amendment.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions on any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given and the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at One o'clock at this day's sitting.

Amendment made:

In page 22, line 25, leave out Subsection (4).—[Sir J. Gilmour.]