Orders of the Day — Armed Forties (Housing Loans)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22 November 1949.

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5.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I beg to move:

That it is expedient—

(a) to authorise the Treasury, during the five years ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and fifty-five, to issue out of the Consolidated Fund sums not exceeding in the aggregate forty million pounds, to be applied as appropriations in aid of moneys provided by Parliament for those years for the provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for married persons serving in, or employed in connection with, the armed forces of the Crown, being accommodation the cost of the provision of which would otherwise fall to be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament for the defence services:

Provided that the amounts so issued for any year to defray Navy, Army or Air Force expenditure in respect of the provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for persons serving in, or employed in connection with, the Royal Navy or Royal Marines, the Army or the Air Force, as the case may be, shall not at any date exceed the aggregate of the amounts proposed to be so issued to defray that expenditure by the estimates upon which this House has, before that date, resolved to grant sums to His Majesty to defray that expenditure for that year;

(b) to authorise the Treasury, for the purpose of providing sums (or any part of sums) to be issued as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, or of providing for the replacement of all or any part of sums so issued, to raise money in any manner in which they are authorised to raise money under the National Loans Act, 1939, and to provide that any securities created and issued accordingly shall be deemed for all purposes to have been created and issued under that Act;

(c) to provide for the repayment to the Exchequer, out of moneys provided by Parliament for the defence services, of the sums issued as aforesaid, together with interest thereon;

(d) to provide for the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of sums paid into the Exchequer under the last foregoing paragraph and the application of sums so issued in redemption or repayment of debt, or, in so far as they represent interest, in payment of interest otherwise payable out of the permanent annual charge for the National Debt.

For the purpose of this Resolution the expression "approved" means approved by the Treasury, and the expression "the defence services" means the Navy, Army and Air services.

The Minister of Defence had intended to move this Motion but he has not yet arrived. The Motion authorises the Treasury, during the five years ending on 31st March, 1955, to issue out of the Consolidated Fund sums not exceeding in the aggregate £40 million to be applied as appropriations in aid of moneys provided by Parliament for the provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for married people serving in, or employed in connection with, the Armed Forces of the Crown. As is indicated, the word "approved" means approved by the Treasury.

The Motion fixes the maximum sum that can be applied. This provision applies only to Great Britain and not to Northern Ireland. The appropriations in aid will go towards the original Estimates or any Supplementary Estimates which may be agreed to by this Committee. There is a proviso to the first paragraph to the effect that no borrowed money can be spent on married quarters in any year until Parliament has approved the Estimates for that year. It is proposed to have in the Estimates for each of the three Defence Services a separate new Vote under which will be shown both the gross expenditure proposed and the loan moneys to be appropriated in aid of that expenditure.

Married quarters in Great Britain which constitute especial Service requirements and are not regarded as being available to serve the general housing needs of the community, will continue to be financed in the ordinary way from Votes, as of course will any housing accommodation which falls to be provided for Forces of the Crown that happen to be abroad. The other parts of the Motion are in what is called common form. Paragraph (b) authorises the Treasury, for the purpose of providing sums to be issued as mentioned earlier, or for providing for the replacement of all or any part of sums so issued, to raise money in any manner in which money is authorised to be raised under the National Loans Act, 1939.

This proposal is one which has already received approval in all quarters of the Committee. I have here details of a number of Questions asked over a period by Members of all parties who have realised the great need for providing proper housing accommodation both for officers and men now serving in the Forces and for those who may be attracted to serve if quarters are provided. The suggestion put forward by the Minister of Defence is, I think, one which will commend itself to Members in all parts of the Committee. This is a nonparty issue and I commend this Motion most heartily

5.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

I think that we ought to have rather more information from the Minister of Defence. This appears to be a harmless sort of Motion, but I have some doubts which I hope the Minister will clear up. I want to know why this legislation is necessary. Is it not an attempt to camouflage our expenditure on Defence? Is not one of the reasons behind this Motion the fact that now, after many protests, we have come to regard the Minister of Defence as the most profligate, spendthrift and extravagant Minister we have?

The Deputy-Chairman:

The comments of the hon. Member are not relevant to the Question. This Motion relates to the provision of married quarters for members of the Armed Forces. The hon. Gentleman must not go anything like as wide as that. He is quite out of Order.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

That, Mr. Bowles, was a sort of preliminary exploration.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I hope that the subsequent remarks of the hon. Member will be more in Order than his preliminary remarks.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Yes. Now I understand exactly where I stand. I suggest that the Committee should know whether this is an attempt to give an impression that reductions are being made in the Defence Estimates. As I understand the position, this will mean that expenditure will now be put to the account of the Consolidated Fund when, otherwise, it would have been borne on the Defence Estimates. That will give the impression that the Estimates have been reduced. In fact, the position will have been camouflaged. I ask the Minister to assure us that this is not a piece of financial jugglery similar, in a way, to the famous raid on the Road Fund. I want to be sure that this is justified from the point of view of sound business.

It seems to me to be very suspicious that this Resolution comes along as a sort of reaction to the economy campaign. I want to know exactly what is going to happen if we adopt this kind of finance. It seems to me that this time we are to some extent taking away housing and putting it on a different account, and that if the same procedure were adopted in regard to other items of military defence expenditure, for example, where we have an ambulance service and a service of doctors, we could transfer them to the Ministry of Health Vote. Where we have certain items such as coal and electricity, what is to prevent the Minister, if we pass this proposal, discovering next year that this device had been so successful that the coal and electricity required by the Army were to be borne on the Vote of the Ministry of Fuel and Power? In that case, the Minister of Defence would come along as a Minister who, on paper at any rate, appeared to have made considerable economies but in fact had not done so.

We have had various reasons given for this Resolution, and what I want to know is whether, in the campaign for increased housing, we are to regard the Minister of Defence as an ally or as an enemy. I hope we are going to regard him as coming along with the greatest enthusiasm to build houses, not only for the troops, but for other sections of the population as well. Here I want to submit to the Minister certain difficulties that arise. We heard the Minister make the case, when the Resolution was introduced, that it was necessary in the interests of morale. I should like to have a categorical assurance from the Minister that he is not forgetting the morale of other people who are also interested in defence. For example, I ask the Minister of Defence whether he is interested in the economy of the country when he is proposing to take away building labour in order to build these married quarters for the soldiers? If he were building houses, say, for miners, he would be doing something which indirectly would help the morale of the nation, but actually what he proposes to do will reduce it.

I want to ask the Minister one or two questions about Scotland, of which I gave notice on the Order Paper. Those questions I withdrew because I understood that the Minister was going to deal with the matter in the Debate this after- noon. What help can we expect from him in trying to get the necessary labour force to build these married quarters in Scotland? I am not opposed to building married quarters for any section of the community which needs them. I quite agree that, if the Minister calls up sailors, soldiers and airmen, it becomes his primary duty to have them decently housed. When we assume that that is the Minister's duty, I ask him what steps he is taking to see that there is in Scotland a proper labour force to build the married quarters required there? Is he satisfied that in Scotland at the present time there are all kinds of building workers—plasterers, joiners and bricklayers—sufficient enough for this work without encroaching on the needs of the civil population?

Here, I submit, there is a mystery which the Minister did not elucidate in his statement today. We have been given to understand that there is to be a speed-up in the building of married quarters, and that, at the same time, there is to be no depletion of the ranks of building workers who are building houses for miners, agricultural workers and other sections of the community. In Scotland we are up against a very difficult task in ensuring that this labour force is there, and I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to consider this proposition. At the present time, he is calling up apprentices in the building trades as soon as they complete their apprenticeship, when they are handed over to the Defence Forces. What becomes of them? Are they being used to any extent in building married quarters for the Army, Navy and Air Force, or is the Minister just calling up people haphazard, including good bricklayers, plasterers and joiners, and in the Armed Forces turning them into cooks?

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

On a point of Order. I understand that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is now dealing with the method of calling up people for the Army, and I also understand that this Ways and Means Resolution relates purely to the erection of houses by civilian labour. How, therefore, can the calling up of people for the Army affect that?

The Deputy-Chairman:

I have listened very carefully to the hon. Gentleman, who started by asking what the Minister was going to do about the building of married quarters. He is confining himself to Scotland, as he is quite entitled to do, and he is suggesting that the calling up of people for the Forces may affect the building of houses in Scotland. I think he is quite in Order in that respect.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Thank you, Mr. Bowles; I am considerably relieved.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I think this Resolution provides for houses being built by civilian labour. It does not provide for houses being built by military labour.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I may be wrong, but, as I understand it, we are proposing to spend £40 million on married quarters for the Forces. The hon. Gentleman has, so far, confined himself to Scotland, and he is saying that in Scotland there is a threat of a serious shortage of building operatives. He is asking how the Minister will get the married quarters when, by calling men into the Forces, it may well be that there is less building labour available for building them. I think that is quite in Order.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

I have never heard my case put so admirably. From now on, Mr. Bowles, my respect for the Chair is greater than ever. I think the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) will now understand what I am driving at. I submit that at the end of my speech he will come forward as an ally in an attempt to get something satisfactory from the Minister of Defence. The noble Lord and I start from the same assumption—that, if the Minister of Defence is calling up airmen and soldiers, he must be careful that they are decently housed. We both start from that assumption, and I believe that the noble Lord and I agree that this should be as expeditious as possible.

The first question which I directed to the Minister was whether he was satisfied with regard to the labour and materials for the building of married quarters for the Armed Forces. Can these married quarters for the Armed Forces be obtained without encroaching on the urgent needs of the civilian population? I want to argue that that matter needs to be cleared up so far as Scotland is concerned. I suggest that, if the Minister of Defence is to spend £40 million, he must have a very big programme in mind. He wants to see these new houses built so as to increase the morale of the people who go into the Armed Forces. I want to know how they will be built, because the noble Lord seems to think that they will be built by military labour. Is that so?

If they are not to be built by military labour, then they have to be built by trained building workers, and, if the Minister is to make a success of his programme, I suggest to him that he should leave in the building industry the bricklayers, plasterers and joiners who will be needed to carry out that programme. The Minister in charge of housing in Scotland is already very much alarmed at the way the building labour force is being steadily depleted. I want to quote to the Minister of Defence the statement by the Under-Secretary of State, responsible for building in Scotland, at a recent meeting at Clydebank. He said: I am now more than a little concerned—I am alarmed at the rather low rate of completions during the past month or two. Last year it was a record year for the building industry and it produced "—

The Deputy-Chairman:

The hon. Gentleman must not go into too much detail on this. He can go into the fact that he alleges that there is a shortage of building labour in Scotland, but he cannot go into details like this.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

The last time I ventured to make a quotation, the Minister told me to go on quoting.

The Deputy-Chairman:

In this Debate I am telling the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

The two Ministers were engaged on the same task except that this Minister wants to increase the number of married quarters for the Defence Forces and the other Minister was interested in increasing the building force in the interests of the civilian population. To put it shortly, the Minister then said that there was an alarming drop in the number of building workers in Scotland. I have tried to get the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Defence to call a halt to this utterly ridiculous and uneconomic procedure of calling up building workers and putting them to jobs in which they are not trained.

The Deputy-Chairman:

The hon. Member cannot argue an alteration in the law. It would require legislation to exempt people from call-up. Therefore, the hon. Member should confine himself, as he was doing before, to getting an answer to the question which he put to the Minister. He should not argue the case that conscription should not apply to certain civilian workers. The only question before the Committee at the moment is whether £40 million should be provided by Parliament for the building of married quarters for members of the Armed Forces.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Precisely, Sir, but I want to know whether the Minister of Defence contemplates introducing new legislation or amending the old legislation in order to ensure getting the necessary labour force. The point I wish to impress upon him is that he will not get the houses he needs if he is going to sit idly by while people competent to build are put on other jobs in the Forces.

The Minister intimated in the statement which he made earlier today that when these houses were completed, they would be at the disposal of the civilian population. I should like to know whether it is going to work the other way about. In some parts of the country the Ministry of Defence have had housing accommodation in camps at their disposal which is now lying derelict. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say whether the accommodation not required for the Armed Forces in different parts of the country is to be used for housing the civilian population. I should also like to ask what expenditure is to be made on each house. I ask that, because we in Scotland are being asked to accept a reduced standard in housing. Are not these married Service men entitled to decent houses, or will they have to submit to the new regulations which I understand are to affect the civilian population?

Are the houses to be two, three or four-apartment houses? I submit that if we are to build two and three-apartment houses for officers in the Services, we shall have the same overcrowded conditions perpetuated in Service life. Are we not entitled to know the estimated cost per house? Are we to have brigadiers and their families put into two-apartment houses? If we are not going to put brigadiers into two-apartment houses, then we shall have to revise our ideas about the civilian population.

I have no doubt that other hon. Members are beginning to wonder how the Minister will solve this problem, and I hope he will attempt to give us some satisfactory answers to these questions. How is he going to build these married quarters if he has not a sufficient building force? Will he give an assurance that building workers will not be taken away from the urgent and pressing needs of the civilian population?

5.46 p.m.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

I welcome this Motion and the prospect of a Bill to give effect to the authorisation to borrow for the building of married quarters. The problem of how quarters are to be provided for their married people is no new problem for commanders in the Army, although it has certainly been very much accentuated in these latter days by the largely increased numbers of married personnel compared with the numbers in the past. It is further accentuated by the frequent changes of stations which fall to the lot of present-day units and individuals.

It is by no means unusual for a married soldier to be moved at short notice from a station in which he has only just settled down with his family to another station, perhaps a hutment camp, where there are no married quarters close by and where, if accommodation is available at all, it may possibly be many miles distant from the camp or hutments, as the case may be. I heard quite recently of a certain camp in the North of England—it was a hutment camp constructed during the war—where there were practically no married quarters at all. The married people in that camp—a considerable number—had to be brought in by lorry or bus from a town no less than 20 miles distant and taken back in the same way in the evening.

I need not stress the immense importance of providing married quarters in the close vicinity of the barracks or camps where the married soldiers are serving. I would particularly stress the importance of such quarters for those—usually officers, senior warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers or their equivalent ranks in the Navy—who have responsible duties to perform which keep them for long and sometimes irregular hours in camps or barracks. There was always difficulty in the past in getting buildings authorised, not only for married soldiers, but for all kinds of purposes when they had to be included in the annual Estimates of revenue expenditure. Buildings were always the first things to be cut. Whenever there was a shortage of money—and there nearly always was when it came to the point, as I am sure the Minister will know even better than I—the first things that had to go were the buildings. Sometimes items of building used to appear as projected year by year with the utmost regularity, and year by year they were put back because the money necessary for their erection was not available. I am afraid that when it came to the question of Revenue expenditure buildings were generally put low on the list.

Under the present Motion, and the Bill that is to follow it, whereby money is to be borrowed for the provision of married quarters, it seems to me that there is a real prospect of an appreciable number of these quarters being erected where they are wanted. A large number of married quarters have been, so to speak, put out of action by the old barracks which they adjoined, or of which they formed part, being practically disused in modern circumstances, mobile units having been put in camps which have no married quarters and very few other amenities.

I think the real problem of getting the quarters that we want looks like being solved and that we will be getting them by legitimate means. In the past to my personal knowledge, on some occasions—I do not say it was done on a large scale—various devices were used to ensure that buildings should be definitely begun. I know of actual cases—I can think of one in particular—in which the commander concerned employed the device of getting the foundations dug. There was a little money which enabled him, largely with military labour, to get the foundations dug for a very considerable building, which had again and again been put back low in the list of priorities. By digging the foundations it became a "continuation service," as the expression was, and it had to go on. That is the sort of device which I think was justifiable from the point of view of the com- manders themselves, but it is far better that provision should be made for necessary building and for borrowing all the money necessary for the erection of the buildings. I only hope that no means will be found of scaling down the provision of money for buildings which are most urgently necessary for all the Services to my certain knowledge.

5.53 p.m.

Photo of Dr Leslie Haden-Guest Dr Leslie Haden-Guest , Islington North

As the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) has said, the Committee should welcome this Motion providing for married quarters.' It is one of the really urgent things which require to be done in order to give some reasonable basis of stability and sense of being really looked after, to those in the Forces who are married and who require married quarters. I do not think many hon. Members can know of the extraordinarily antiquated almost archaeological curiosities which still exist. May I mention that I was actually asked when attached to Eastern Command, to certify as fit for human habitation at Eastern Command headquarters, buildings which date back to the Crimean War?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

We have got some in Scotland which date back to the Rebellion.

Dr. Guest:

That is the more reason why Scottish Members should shake off their prejudices and be anxious to get on with the provision of decent housing and decent married quarters. I was obliged to condemn those quarters as being quite unfit for human habitation.

I do not propose to deal with the arguments of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) against the building of married quarters. I would only say this. The married members of the Armed Forces are just as much entitled to the provision of houses as any other members of the community, and at the present time they have considerably less accommodation of this nature. It is always the case in London and in every large city that there are certain priorities with regard to housing. There have to be priorities. One of those priorities is to provide housing for the families of those in the Armed Forces.

Let me say, as must be quite obvious to every hon. Member, including, I hope, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, that if people in the Forces who are married are given quarters adjacent to the places where they are working—and incidentally they should be not only adjacent to the stations to which they are attached but also reasonably adjacent to town and shopping facilities and so forth—the difficulties of housing will be relieved in a good many towns. I do not know whether the hon. Member for South Ayrshire finds that people who belong to the Armed Forces are competing for accommodation with the ordinary civilian population in his Division, but that certainly is the case in London to a very considerable extent. It would be a great relief to many housing authorities if this difficulty with regard to the provision of housing for the Armed Forces were met in this way.

What the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield said about transport is correct. I recently had the opportunity to visit a considerable number of the areas in this country where troops are employed, and in some of those places the men have had to be brought in for considerable distances because of the lack of housing. It is obvious that if transport is employed, time and money is wasted unnecessarily and the Estimates are inflated, which I am sure the hon. Member for South Ayrshire does not wish.

It seems to me that to oppose this Motion is not only unnecessary but almost ridiculous. We have an Army, a Navy and an Air Force, and we must have them. Most of us support the maintenance of those Forces, and it is absolutely essential that the married personnel in them should have that decent accommodation which every human being ought to have. I am sure that even the hon. Member for South Ayrshire will agree that those in the Armed Forces are human beings, and deserve ordinary human treatment. I suggest that these frivolous suggestions of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire are directed, not towards helping to solve the housing difficulty but merely towards damaging the possibilities of our maintaining Armed Forces at all, because of his well-known pacifist convictions. He would like to see us without any Army, Navy or Air Force, in order, perhaps, that we may be open to visits from some of his friends from elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

May I ask the hon. Member to explain exactly what he means by my friends elsewhere?

Dr. Guest:

I mean people from abroad with whom, I presume, the hon. Member is in contact, and who might desire to come in and invade this country.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Who does the hon. Member mean?

Dr. Guest:

I leave that to the hon. Gentleman's own intelligence.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

On a point of Order, Mr. Bowles. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to accuse my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) of being in contact with friends abroad who are anxious to invade this country?

The Deputy-Chairman:

I must say that I did not hear the hon. Member say that. I was reading something. I think it had better not be repeated.

Dr. Guest:

I will not repeat that. I must confess that I was only talking about ideological contact, and nothing else. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I mean that quite seriously. I suggest that we should not allow ourselves to be side-tracked by any propaganda of that kind against what is an essential and necessary duty of the country to provide proper married quarters. I believe that the Committee will feel that the provision of married quarters is very desirable, that it ought to have been done many years ago, and that it will create the very greatest possible benefit not only in the Forces but among the civilian population, because we shall be accommodating individuals who otherwise would have to be provided for in competition with the very urgent and severe housing needs of many civilians. I strongly support this Motion.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

Because I wanted to listen to some of the Debate, I did not avail myself of the custom—of course, it is only a -custom and not a Rule—'that a Member of this Front Bench should speak after the Minister has spoken. I think there is nothing between the Government and ourselves on this Resolution. I was immensely amused and intensely pleased to see that there was a difference of opinion between an hon. Member opposite—the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest)—and some of his hon. Friends, who adopted the attitude towards him which they usually adopt towards me. It is always interesting for members of my party to see that state of affairs. I am not surprised at it, because the Socialist Party has always consisted of two sections, one patriotic, like the hon. Member for North Islington, and one, shall we say; less interested in defence matters.

The Deputy-Chairman:

The noble Lord had better leave that point.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I presume I can make a reference to this. May I put a point of Order? Is that permitted?

The Deputy-Chairman:

Yes.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I presume I may make a reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for North Islington. I understand you are suggesting, Mr. Bowles, that I am not allowed to comment on it.

The Deputy-Chairman:

The noble Lord knows what he said. I ordered the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) not to continue talking in the same way as that in which he was talking. The noble Lord is referring to some members of the Labour Party being patriotic and some not. That is a quite long way from the Resolution which we are discussing. The noble Lord has made his statement: he must not go on with it.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

Is it not in Order, on an occasion like this, to refer to the attitude of hon. Members as being that some are in favour of the Resolution, because they are in favour of the defence of the country, and some are not in favour of it?

The Deputy-Chairman:

I think that might be in Order, but the noble Lord should not refer at all to an hon. Member as being unpatriotic.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I intend to persist in my point of Order, as I am perfectly entitled to do. The Deputy-Chairman says I was out of Order. I am asking for your guidance, Mr. Bowles, so that I may make my speech without being out of Order, and I ask whether it would be in Order to refer to the fact that some hon. Members are more in favour of the defence of this country than others.

The Deputy-Chairman:

That would be in Order, but it would not be in Order to refer to any hon. Member as being unpatriotic. I think that would be an unparliamentary word.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Bowles. I will, therefore, alter the form of my sentence and say that it is interesting to me to observe, not for the first time, that some hon. Members are more in favour of this Defence Estimate than are others because they are more in favour of the defence of the country than are others. If that is out of Order, I hope you will tell me so, Mr. Bowles.

Having got over that slight difficulty, which arose from the last speech, and, I hope, having now satisfied you, Mr. Bowles, that I am most anxious to keep in Order—and I hope I shall do nothing else to cause you inconvenience by causing you to have to call attention to the fact that I am out of Order—perhaps I may say a few more words about this Resolution. I hope this will be in Order; I am rather diffident now about saying anything about anything.

The Deputy-Chairman:

The noble Lord is going a little too far. He is implying a reflection on the Chair in almost every aside he utters. I hope he will confine himself to the Resolution.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I hope I may be permitted to say I am rather diffident about saying anything, because it is obviously a very narrow Resolution. Is that out of Order?

The Deputy-Chairman:

The noble Lord has had the benefit of having been here much longer than anybody else and surely he knows better than anyone what is out of Order. He should know how to address the Chair more respectfully. In his comments on whether anything is out of Order or not and the comment that he is diffident about saying anything, he is being slightly unpleasant to the Chair.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

What I intended to imply, Mr. Bowles, is that this is a comparatively narrow Resolution. May I raise this point of Order? May I say that I am sure you will agree, Mr. Bowles, that it is always in Order to ask whether it would be in Order to pursue a certain line?

The Deputy-Chairman:

It is also a hypothetical question, and, therefore, I will decide it when it occurs.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

May I have your advice, Mr. Bowles, as to whether we are discussing a Resolution about housing for the Armed Forces or what is the Resolution because, with all his long experience, the noble Lord has still to begin his speech on married quarters.

The Deputy-Chairman:

The noble Lord has himself said that he realises it is a narrow subject and he was then about to confine himself to it.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I hope I shall say nothing to offend anyone now that I turn to the Resolution. After all these unfortunate events, I feel quite timid. However, we are very near to the end of this Parliament.

Photo of Mr James Harrison Mr James Harrison , Nottingham East

On a point of Order. Do you think, Mr. Bowles, that the comments repeatedly being made by the noble Lord are not casting a definite reflection on the Chair itself?

The Deputy-Chairman:

I have already dealt with that matter, within the hearing of the hon. Member. I think the noble Lord had better continue with his speech.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

As the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) said, it is a question of lack of experience, on whose part I do not know.

The points I want to make are these. In the first place, while we on this side of the House are in agreement with the Government in bringing this Resolution forward, we suggest that it would have been better had it been brought forward earlier. There might be a perfectly proper reply to that and I should not object to its being made. I must ask why housing is in the state in which it is today. I think the Minister of Defence will agree with these considerations which I venture to present—through you, Mr. Bowles—on the subject of the state housing is in at the present time.

I think it is due to three main reasons, as I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) pointed out in his speech. First, as a result of the war, a great many married quarters which hitherto had been in good order have fallen into disrepair. I always try to be fair however, and I remember that on the last occasion I spoke, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) was good enough, as I very much appreciated, to pay tribute to the sincerity with which I put forward my views. I quite agree that between the wars there was not enough attention given to this question of housing, for the very reasons mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend. As was said by the Under-Secretary in his opening speech, it was extremely difficult in those days to get money for housing, because in any Defence Estimate that was the first thing to be cut. [An HON. MEMBER: "Under the Tories "]—From time immemorial. It has been extremely difficult for the Defence Departments to obtain money for such necessary things as housing, because they have been cut out by the Treasury.

There are other reasons which have not been mentioned, and which I think should be mentioned when considering this Resolution, which made the position very much worse than it was before the war. First, I think I am right in saying—and the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that there are something like 200,000 more men in the Armed Forces than there were. I think there are 100,000 more in the Army.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

Secondly, a very much larger proportion, particularly of the Army and I think of the Forces generally, are married. A point constantly made by two of my hon. and gallant Friends is that good housing is a first priority in order to obtain a sufficiency of recruits. From that point of view we are, therefore, extremely pleased that at long last—and I think it is at long last—the Government have accepted the views which we have put forward and I hope, so far as the other side are concerned, accepted them almost unanimously.

There are only three other questions I want to ask. I do not know whether it is in Order to deal with this point at length, but I hope it will be in Order to ask a question on it. As I understand it, these proposals do not apply to the provision of married quarters overseas, as that is to continue to be regarded as a defence commitment rather than as a contribution to the general housing programme. Now, I do not know how far it is in Order to suggest that the form of the Motion should be altered, but I think I should have the assent of my hon. Friends behind me in saying that it is as important to improve the housing of the men overseas in camps—for example, the Suez camp—as to improve the housing of the men in this country.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

May I make that point clear, as it will save time, perhaps. Of course, we are anxious to bring this arrangement on to exactly the same basis of housing as that provided for ordinary citizens in this country, and we propose to provide the housing to that extent by loan. We should not have the arrangements extended—the Treasury will check it—to houses erected in such places that they would form a part of defence works, and might not be of value permanently as part of the housing accommodation of the country. The same view is taken about housing abroad. We shall not cease to go on providing housing abroad, but it will be part of the defence works to be provided and will come out of the annual defence expenditure.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

That does not really meet the point I was putting, although I am obliged to the Minister of Defence for answering so clearly. This, of course, comes exactly within the category of what I have been saying, that in the past—and this is not a party question, but a point which, I think, will be generally agreed—all the Ministers responsible for the Defence Services have had the greatest difficulty in getting houses provided, so to speak, through the Treasury, because the Treasury has always come along and said, "You will have to cut your Estimates. You have got a lot of things down which are not immediately necessary from the defence point of view. Cut your housing." That is why, in the past, housing has been so shamefully neglected in the Services. If it is not possible for me to suggest altering the Motion, I must say that, personally, I should very much like to see the existing housing position of our men overseas improved. For instance, the housing accommodation in the Suez Canal zone is really calamitous, and there are many other instances, and yet our establishment at Suez is more or less permanent.

The second point I want to make is this. I will put it very shortly, and I am sorry to keep the Committee so long. I would press for an assurance that the provision of a Ministry of Health certificate, before one can borrow, that the married quarters to be built would be suitable for civilian houses when no longer required for the Forces, should not be interpreted too strictly. I think that is important, because as it seems to me—I may be quite wrong, and I am open to correction by the Minister—the effect of a literal interpretation upon the rules might mean that the extension of married quarters at camps such as Bordon might not rank for borrowing, because they would not be suitable for civilian housing, and because it might be argued that evacuation of barracks would not make it possible to permit civilian tenancy of any such unoccupied Service quarters because they were in a garrison area. I hope that that is a point which the right hon. Gentleman will be able to answer. I think it is a point worth consideration.

My last point is this, and ca va sans dire. I apologise for my pronunciation. I must be very careful in what I say lest I say anything that is out of Order, but I think a French quotation is in Order. I hope ca va sans dire that it used to be in Order. I hope it goes without saying—if I may say so, so that there may be no question that I am out of Order—that in what I am going to say it goes without saying that married quarters will be provided for officers as well as N.C.O.s, because today—if anybody wanted to make the point, which, I am sure, nobody would—the old argument that officers were in a privileged position no longer applies, because today very many of the officers have to go through the ranks, and a number of young officers who are married are married on very small salaries indeed.

Those are the points I wanted to put. May I say, in conclusion, how successful I have been since you, Mr. Diamond, have been in the Chair?

6.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

I shall be very brief, and I certainly shall not be bellicose in what I say, because I wish to show more respect for the Chair than the previous speaker the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). I hope that the children will not follow the so-called Father of the House

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

On a point of Order. Is it really in Order for the hon. Gentleman to say I have not shown respect for the Chair? The Deputy-Chairman did not say I had not shown respect for the Chair, but that I should not persist in my points of Order.

Photo of Mr Jack Diamond Mr Jack Diamond , Manchester, Blackley

It is the duty of the Chair to draw the attention of any Member to the fact that he is out of Order if and when he is out of Order.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

I am not sure, Mr. Diamond, whether you were here when the previous incidents occurred. I think that perhaps some of us on the back benches hear a bit more than is always heard in the Chair, but I certainly think that at the beginning of the speech of the noble Lord we saw a rather disgraceful exhibition—

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

On a point of Order. What on earth has this to do with the Motion? The hon. Member has just said that he saw a disgraceful exhibition. The Deputy-Chairman interrupted me on a matter of Order when I was referring to something that had occurred on the benches opposite which was out of Order—and now the hon. Gentleman is doing exactly the same thing as that which was out of Order.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

Further to that point of Order. Am I not entitled to my quota of points of Order as is the noble Lord?

Photo of Mr Jack Diamond Mr Jack Diamond , Manchester, Blackley

I should be obliged if the hon. Gentleman would address himself to the Motion before the Committee.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

I just want to say that I welcome this Motion for the reason that it is a step in the direction of improving the housing of the families of the Armed Forces, and putting it on the same basis as that of the civil population. I think that is an excellent thing. It is wrong that we should consider the provision of married quarters for the families of the soldiers, sailors and airmen on any other basis of priorities or anything else than that on which we consider the question of housing the families of the country. I understand quite well the concern shown earlier on by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), but I think he has come in on the wrong Debate or the wrong Motion, and that what he is really objecting to is not this Motion but something else. I know what he is concerned about.

Nobody could object to this Motion if only because it will be a contribution to the solution of the housing problem of the civil population. There is absolutely no doubt about that. I can vouch for the fact that the progress of the building of married quarters for the Royal Air Force in my own constituency has made some contribution towards solving the housing problem there. The more married quarters are built for the families of the Armed Forces the more, obviously, that will lessen the requirements and the length of the housing lists which confront the local authorities. So any step which puts the building of houses for the Armed Forces on exactly the same basis of need and priority as that of the houses for the civil population is a good thing, because the Armed Forces are composed of citizens in uniform who are entitled to the same services.

6.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Gandar-Dower Mr Eric Gandar-Dower , Caithness and Sutherland

The previous Government business has been disposed of very speedily, so perhaps the Committee can spare a moment or two to examine this Resolution, if only to show universal appreciation of its necessity. The Financial Secretary is adept at persuading the Committee to vote money; he does it charmingly and pleasantly, and he has had a good deal of practice at it under this Government. This, of all the Resolutions he has had to propose, is one with which no section of the Committee can possibly find fault, and it is a very sad thing that on this issue such a childish background should have developed to the Debate. We can be pacifists, like the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), without being unpatriotic, and I am certain that no hon. Member receives instructions from any other part of the world.

I welcome this Resolution because I hate conscription, and I feel that this will get us back very largely to voluntary enlistment. If a man entering the Services can be assured of a home for himself, his wife and his family the Services will become much more attractive. The statistics on infidelity and divorce, which we all deplore, arise greatly through the separation of man and wife, and this Committee is performing a very important task in helping to keep man and wife together.

In Scotland, married quarters are sorely needed, because in the vast country areas those that exist are indeed a very long way from being good. I have the utmost desire to support the Financial Secretary and the Minister of Defence on this Resolution. I am anxious to keep in Order, although with no finesse, but I should like to say that I am sorry that when men are called up to the Services they cannot use their building skill and ability in erecting buildings while serving. That only makes it necessary to regard the call-up of building operatives as a very serious matter indeed.

6.22 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

I think all the Committee welcome any measure likely to increase the housing accommodation in this country. Nevertheless, we have a right to ask ourselves, as did my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), whether this Measure will increase the supply of houses, at least in Scotland. We have pressed this matter in this Committee, in the Scottish Grand Committee, and elsewhere for many months, and have been told consistently that it is impossible to get any more houses built in Scotland because there is not the labour available. If that be true, it will seem that this Financial Resolution means nothing, because men are still being taken from the building industry and put into other industries. We want a definite assurance that the houses to be built as a result of passing this Resolution will not be included in the present allocation for Scotland as a whole, but will mean additional housing.

I wish to refer to a topic which has not yet been alluded to during the Debate. I thought the remarks of the noble Lord were rather unfortunate. I noticed that he seemed to be referring to me during the course of those remarks, but having had 16 years in the Forces, I think I can say that I am as willing as anybody to look after my country.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I was referring to the attack which had been made on the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). Reference to that attack has now been ruled out of Order.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

I merely wanted to enlighten the noble Lord on that, because he is always well informed on these matters.

The question of married quarters was first raised, in any volume, in 1946. I have received letters from men who had been in the Services a long time, warning me about certain aspects of this matter, and I think this warning ought to be borne in mind. It would be a bad thing if, in carrying out the proposals of this Resolution, we segregated the Armed Forces from the civilian population. I have always felt that the civilian population and the Armed Forces should be mixed to the greatest possible extent. For instance, in a naval port the Service men should live with the civilian population, and not be separated from them. Anybody with experience of married quarters in the Forces knows that frequently there is a considerable amount of unhappiness in married quarters because of the difficult relations between the various ranks and the effect that it has on the attitude of one wife to another.

That was a common feature in the past which made many girls very unhappy. We must avoid that, and we must also avoid creating conditions in which the Service man looks upon himself as being different from a civilian. That is a bad thing, and I should like to know to what extent my right hon. Friend intends to co-operate with local authorities in this respect. I should prefer to have arrangements such as are made in mining areas when miners are moved, so that local authorities are given a special allocation of houses for Service people. I am sure this problem could be dealt with more satisfactorily in many cases. I raise this matter because it is important, and because I know from correspondence I received a. day or two ago that it is a question which is regarded with concern by some members of the Forces at the present moment.

6.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

I do not intervene in this Debate because I am opposed to the building of proper quarters for members of the Armed Forces. It is a right and proper task of any Government to provide the finest accommodation for its employees. Nevertheless, when discussing housing it would be wrong not to intervene, in view of the very serious housing problem in Scotland. There seems to be a complete misunderstanding about the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). I am satisfied that when he was discussing housing for the Armed Forces, it was not on the basis of his pacifist views but largely on the basis of the housing problem in Scotland, and certainly not because of any desire to deny to men in the Armed Forces the very best housing conditions the Government can provide.

We are entitled to ask the Minister of Defence and his Service colleagues what arrangements they have in mind in preparing this housing scheme. Have any arrangements been made with local authorities in Scotland? What proportion of the amount already allocated for civilian housing will have to be handed over to the Government so that it may be taken over by the Armed Forces? I ask that because it is a serious question in some parts of Scotland. In Glasgow there has always been a regiment of one kind or another. Is it the intention of the Government to ask for a portion of the Glasgow Corporation's housing sites to be utilised exclusively for the Armed Forces? That is an important point.

Secondly, if that is to be the case, what arrangements are to be made for building personnel to be directed to that part of the building industry in Scotland? I ask that question because some protests were made today about the very shocking housing conditions for married people in the Armed Forces. I am quite prepared to accept the view that the married quarters are very bad indeed, but I think that it would be wrong in a city like Glasgow, where overcrowding and shocking housing conditions still remain, for building labour to be given over exclusively to providing and looking after married quarters for the Armed Forces.

The question of priority has been raised. I think that the person in the Armed Forces who makes a claim for housing accommodation for his family is entitled to the same consideration as the civilian, but it does not follow that a person who gets married quarters in the Armed Forces is entitled to priority in the city of Glasgow; otherwise he can join the Forces at any minute, be drafted to Glasgow, and immediately get housing quarters in preference to people who have been applicants for houses for 10 or 12 years. That would cause ill-feeling between the civilian population and the Armed Forces, which would be quite unnecessary.

Has the Minister considered discussing this problem with the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, so that in the planning of priority no attempt is made to continue the delaying process for those who need houses in favour of those who may join the Army at an early date? I have examined the figures, and I think that on a rough calculation something like 6,000 houses may be built in a year for the Armed Forces. That may vary according to the rise and fall of building prices, but I think that 6,000 is not a bad guess. This will involve spending something like £8 million per annum. I want to know what proportion will be allocated to Scotland and what proportion to England.

I also want to know what is to be the type of house; are the married quarters to be closely associated with the civilian population, and is there to be a distinction between the type of houses for officers and those for other ranks. I am prepared to admit that officers are required in the Army because of their greater knowledge of the technique of fighting, but I think that if we are to build up a decent community there should be no distinction in the type of places in which the Army live. I know that may be contrary to the idea of some hon. Members who have distinctive ideas about the Armed Forces, and that idea also prevails in regard to the civilian community. There are people who live in the West End and people who live in the East End. The Government are attempting to abolish that distinction, and I want to know if it is proposed to build two-apartment houses for the private, three-apartment houses for the sergeant, and four-apartment houses, or a special bungalow, for the officer. We are entitled to know that before we spend public money.

Can the Minister and those associated with him use the ability of people who are in the building industry and who are called into the Forces in the provision of these married quarters? I am prepared to accept that every person who joins the Army or any of the Forces must qualify in fighting efficiency. But what happens today? He goes through his necessary drills and because of certain attainments he may ultimately be directed to the band. Surely, if the Army, Navy and Air Force can find time to direct people to the band—all very necessary in this dull world of ours—a strong case can be made out for sending a person who has been connected with the building industry to help in the building of houses for himself and his friends in the Forces. If we cannot get a situation of that kind developed, we must at some other time,—because it would be out of Order now—ask for a complete review of the method of calling up people to the Armed Forces.

I hope that toy contribution, along with that of my colleagues, although it may be slightly critical, it will not be regarded as an objection to the idea of the Government giving the very best quarters possible to the people who join the Forces. I am sorry that the noble Lord the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has gone.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Combined Scottish Universities

The right hon. Gentleman is coming back.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

Yes, but he does not know the nice things that I am going to say about him. I hope that he will read them in HANSARD. AS a matter of fact, what I am about to say could be applied universally. I am glad that the Opposition welcome this Resolution and it is no use their telling us that they welcome it because of the dilapidations which took place during the war. One hon. Member told us that many of these houses were built during the period of the Crimean War. I am glad that the noble Lord and some of his hon. Friends in the year 1949 are at least prepared to give this Government credit for doing something worth while during their time of office.

6.38 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton , Sudbury

We all heard with appreciation the closing remarks of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael). He perhaps misunderstood the situation slightly when he was making his remarks about accommodation in Glasgow. I have a good deal of acquaintance with accommodation in Glasgow, and I can, of course, fully support what he said about the bad civilian accommodation there. I think, however, that he must remember that at least the families there do live together, and if there are no family quarters for married soldiers posted to Glasgow, who have to go there whether they like it or not, that means family separation.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman be surprised to know that there are thousands, not hundreds, of families in Glasgow broken up because of their inability to find housing accommodation, who are living with "in-laws" of all kinds?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton , Sudbury

That is a strong point. I was not aware that there were a large number of families in that position. Nevertheless I should like to stress the point that the provision of married quarters is not merely a case of seeing that good accommodation is given to married soldiers, but also of seeing that families can live together, because there are many stations where at present that is not possible. I welcome this Resolution very much indeed because I have had a large amount of experience in this matter of the housing of soldiers

I have always been very shocked and disgusted in the past at the scanty consideration given to this subject. The reason is quite clear. I do not think it is the case so much now, but the nation in the past has always tended to grudge any expenditure on its Defence Forces. It has not been possible to cut down on a soldier's pay, because that is laid down in the book, or on his rations, but the one thing on which it has been possible to cut down has been accommodation—a soldier has had to carry on in the existing accommodation, however inadequate and bad it might be. I used to resent that very much when I was responsible for military accommodation, and in no way was it worse than in the case of married quarters.

As has been said, we have married quarters built at every stage in our history. We have heard about quarters that date back to the Crimean War, some of which are shockingly bad compared to modern standards. It has been found impossible to replace these quarters, and reconstruction was very often out of the question for technical reasons. In this connection, I suggest that much could be done by reconstructing derelict buildings in some of the cities where military units are stationed and turning them into flats. I hope this aspect will be borne in mind in the general improvement to our military married quarters, because I think that an economy could be made in that way. I am thinking particularly of a city like Portsmouth, although in that case, perhaps, everything possible by way of reconstruction has already been done.

In reply to those who complain that this means taking labour away from civilian building, I would point out that we are concerned here with British families who have to be housed somewhere. We are improving the housing accommodation of the nation as a whole just as much in building married quarters for soldiers as in providing accommodation for civilians—it is all part of the nation's housing problem.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh North

If the quantity of houses to be built is not increased, surely this means that those people who have been waiting from 12 to 15 years for a house will now have to wait even longer?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton , Sudbury

It is sometime since I was an active serving soldier, but I know that in my day it was a long time before a married soldier was able to get married quarters. I think that a soldier has to exercise a good deal of patience before he can get married quarters.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

Is not the answer that in some cases these unfortunate soldiers have been abroad for many years separated from their families? Ought not some priority to be given to them to get housing accommodation?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton Lieut-Colonel Roland Hamilton , Sudbury

That is the point I was trying to make. Married soldiers and officers have to endure separation, in any case, by serving their term at foreign stations. They have to spend a considerable time abroad separated from their families, and facilities ought to be given to them to live with their families when they are serving in this country.

6.45 p.m.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I am glad that point has been mentioned. We cannot hope, in present circumstances, to get complete equality in housing. I quite realise the point made by the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis), who objects to people jumping the queue. We all object to that, but we cannot expect to see complete equality. There is a very strong case to be made out for soldiers, sailors and airmen, and the officers of the three Services, who have to spend so many years serving abroad separated from their families, to be given an opportunity to live with their families when they are serving at home.

Some hon. Members seem to be under the impression that the Forces are depriving the country of a certain amount of building labour. As I understand it, men who are required urgently for building work are being deferred. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If I am wrong, perhaps I shall be corrected. I also understand that apprentices are deferred.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

There is no general exemption under the 1947–48 Act for building operatives. Deferment is a matter for the appropriate authorities to consider in relation to the position of the man concerning his apprenticeship and his trade.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

If a man has finished his apprenticeship, is he not automatically called up?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

They are called up from time to time, as they can be fitted in, at the expiration of their apprenticeship.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

The point is, then, that they are eventually called up?

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

Many aspersions have been made about accommodation built during the Crimean War. I think it is the fact that the House of Commons was built at that time. A house is not poor just because it was built at that time; it depends on what has been done to it since. Many Members may take pride in living in houses built long before that time.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assure us that under this scheme houses will be built more quickly in outlying districts—that is, districts away from military and naval centres—where permanent staff are attached to Auxiliary and Territorial Army units. At present, it is very difficult for these people to find anywhere to live with their families. It must be remembered that this is an important part of the Auxiliary and Territorial Forces scheme. I am fully in agreement with this Motion, but I submit this one reservation: that all these good intentions are useless unless they achieve their end, and that what we want to see is the houses being built.

6.50 p.m.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

First of all may I apologise to the Committee sincerely for taking part in this Debate, as I only came into it when it was half way through? In the same sense I ought to apologise because I left the previous Debate before it was finished. In doing so, I am reminded of the story of Lamb who, when he was a civil servant, was reminded how late he arrived for work and replied, "Yes, but think how early I go."

I have had considerable correspondence with the Secretary of State for War in connection with married quarters in Hornchurch and with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Air in regard to the depot at Warley. One problem, which has not been dealt with so far, is how to get people not only into married quarters, but also out of them. Today, pressure is exerted on time-expired members of the Forces who occupy married quarters, who have nowhere else to go and are compelled to live in them because no other accommodation is available. When considering the provision of married quarters we have to consider the total amount of accommodation available. We cannot make more accommodation available for soldiers if, at the same time, we do not increase the total amount of accommodation throughout the country as a whole.

There is a particular difficulty to which I want to draw the attention of the Committee, and I wish to address an appeal to hon. Members opposite as my own council is Conservative controlled. They have a rule which imposes an eight-year residence limit, which means that no retired professional soldier can ever hope for any accommodation. The same rule applies in many other local authorities, with the result that people have to stay as long as they can in married quarters. One of our constant difficulties in Hornchurch is caused by appeals to people who live in married quarters, who have nowhere else to go and no possibility of qualifying on any housing lists.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

Is it not a fact that most councils which have that rule have an exception that they will treat those who have been in the Regular Forces on a separate basis altogether? That is true of many Conservative controlled councils of which I have knowledge.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

The hon. Member's progressive influence has been used with those councils with which he is most closely in touch. I would ask him to make an appeal, on behalf of the Armed Forces, to his Conservative friends in Hornchurch so that there might be some hope of retired soldiers getting some accommodation in that area.

We have recently decided that there shall be no further private building. The class of people which corresponds to those who have most private building done, is the officer class. It is much more easy for officers, other things being equal, to get billets in private homes. If there is to be a co-ordinated Service programme of building, I urge the Minister to see that foremost priority should be given to building houses for other ranks. Until the "other rank" problem is solved, the officer problem should be left until later, in the same way that private building for wealthier people is being left at the moment.

6.54 p.m.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I regret to have to intervene, but I must say something about the closing remarks of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). I beg the Minister to realise that if he wants to get the Regular Forces working properly, he must take good care of officers as well as other ranks. I am not suggesting that officers should have priority over other ranks where their cases are equal, but I do say that officers should have a fair chance of having their cases considered if they are deserving.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what will be the number of the houses built under this proposal? Although I welcome the Motion, I think there is great danger of our raising false hopes. I hope he will tell us whether the Government will build more houses than have been built for the Forces to date. If there is no prospect of that, I hope he will say so, because the Forces will be looking at this proposal and the legislation which will follow it with considerable interest. They will expect great things of it, and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to tell them what they ought to expect. I hope we shall be told what is the right hon. Gentleman's attitude to the suggestion which has been made about bringing in local authorities.

I should like to support the plea made on behalf of those coming out of the Armed Forces. If something can be done in the forthcoming legislation to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation for those coming into the civilian field after long service in the Forces, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not fail to do it. Perhaps that is not strictly within the ambit of this Motion; nevertheless, I take the opportunity of asking the Government to try to rectify the grievous situation of men who have served their country for many years and who find, at the end of their service, that they have nowhere to live.

6.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I apologise to the Committee for not being here at the beginning of the Debate to introduce the discussion on the Motion. It was only urgent Government business that did not allow me to be here on time, although I did not expect the Debate to start as early as 5.20 p.m. However, I am indebted to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary for having expounded the basic financial provisions of the scheme which will be put into legislative form if the Committee pass the Motion today.

On the whole, I have no great reason to complain of the reception which Members on both sides have given to the Motion. The Service Departments have been spurred to find the best possible solution of the housing difficulties of the Fighting Services largely by expressions of opinion from Members on both sides of the House. I need quote only two such expressions, made in March last. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) said: … the question of the housing of troops and officers and N.C.Os. has been neglected not by one Government, not by a Socialist or a Tory Government, but literally for hundreds of years. I am trying to put this matter on a non-party basis, and I say that there is no reason why we should not try to tackle it today. I entirely accept that. The same day my right hon. Friend the Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger) said: I think that in this country we ought to claim from the Minister of Health a certain proportion of houses for the Services, and particularly for the Army. After all, they are houses in England, and what does it matter whether they are occupied by civilians or soldiers and their families? They are all part of the community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 10th March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 1437–1523.]

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

As the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me, perhaps he will remember that I made the same remark that he has recalled on more than one occasion.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I have not been dissatisfied with the general reception of this Resolution. I wanted to remind the Committee that we have been very anxious to do what we now propose and which has been approved by Members on both sides. What is the problem? It is, first, that our forces are somewhat larger than they were before the war; secondly, as was said by the noble Lord, there is in the present make-up of the Forces and likely to be in the future, a rather higher percentage of men entitled to married quarters in the Services; and, thirdly, we have not in the past, extending over the last 50 or 60 years, made sufficient provision for the very minimum of accommodation for the married members of the Services.

Broadly speaking, the present situation is that we have need for about 59,000 to 60,000 married quarters for the three Services in this country. We have at the present time only about 29,000 houses, of which those of a permanent character actually provided since the war number about 3,000. The other 26,000 may be described as being of all kinds and conditions. Some of them are fairly decent houses, which were erected in the more modern camps before the war, especially by the Royal Air Force. Some of them are very unsatisfactory and some are temporary married quarters, which have been improvised out of this, that or the other relic or hutment.

We still have a need for 30,000 permanent houses in this country. From the pace at which we have been going in the' last two or three years, during which we have provided 3,000 houses for the services, it can be seen that it is going to be at least 10 years or a longer period before we get to our minimum requirements for married quarters unless something is done to speed it up. Then comes the question, how is it to be done? My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) charges me with being the most profligate Minister in the Government. He says I am trying to work a quick one or to work a trick upon the Committee by turning this kind of expenditure into loan form, instead of making it annual expenditure. What sort of progress would be made in civil housing if local authorities had to provide houses out of current revenue? Is it reasonable to expect the Fighting Services to make the same kind of progress in their requirements, which are for human beings, too, if they are to be confined to a practice of paying for the married quarters each year out of revenue?

All we are asking the Committee to give us in this Resolution is authority to finance by loan suitable houses for the Services in this country of a type which, if ever they are not required for military service, will be available for use by the civilian community. This is covered by loan expenditure instead of annual capital expenditure.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I do not think that the hon. Member has been here very long.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I have been here quite a time. Is it not a case that in any district where there are Service men, there is sufficient housing accommodation at the present time if a little reconstruction is carried out, provided the Service people are rationed in the same way as working class people are rationed in their accommodation?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I do not think that the hon. Member has studied the question for more than a few moments if that is the view of the general situation which he holds.

Having given the Committee a general picture, I imagine hon. Members are entitled to have some idea of how quickly we can progress. I should like to progress much more quickly than I am afraid we are going to do, but the Committee must remember that the Government have had to make a general cut in the capital investment programme, which affects building. We cannot claim greater priority for the Services nor expect special treatment compared with any other section. Therefore, what we aim to do in future is to handle the whole problem by joint consultation with the Service Ministers, the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland. As my hon. Friends from Scotland have put this specific point more than anybody else, I should like to inform them that we have complete co-operation from the Minister of Health in England and Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland in what we are proposing to do tonight.

The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) is entitled to an answer to his question. I should say that we propose to start about 6,500 married quarters for the Services in the year 1950–51. We hope thereafter, because of the new provisions, to complete an average over the next five years of about 5,000 married quarters in this country.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

For all the Services?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Yes. What we want to do is to reach the target of married quarters' requirements in about half the period likely in any other circumstances.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for answering my question, I wonder whether he would slightly enlarge upon it, and tell us if any houses are going to be built within the respective Service Estimates, because as I understand this proposal it is only for building houses outside defence or actual barrack areas. Is there going to be any building inside defence or barrack areas in addition to what he has given?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I indicated earlier that this scheme is subject to the condition that the houses are of a kind and in a position which would make them available to the civilian population if at any time we did not require them for defence purposes. In very outlying stations where houses may need to be provided, which would clearly have to be regarded as part of the regular defence works, they would not be likely to be of value to the civilian authority, and we should be content to carry them on the annual capital expenditure account. I have included such houses in the general figures which I have put forward.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

If there are these additional houses in defence areas will they be additional to the 6,500 which are to be started this year and the average of 5,000 a year after that? If they are houses of that kind will they have to be taken from the total number?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It is almost impossible at this stage to be exact upon that. Many of these schemes will have to be considered by each of the Service Ministers concerned to see what he is going to do in particular cases. After all, he is responsible in each case for administration and thus for housing policies of this kind. I would warn the Committee that the building of Service houses, as is the case with local authority houses, has got to be considered in the light of the general labour and material provision available for the whole of the country. It will be our endeavour to keep to the figures I have mentioned, and, if it is possible to add to the houses which are being built, it will be done. I cannot give a specific promise tonight, but it will be a matter for each of the Service Ministers.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I should like to put a point quite shortly to the right hon. Gentleman. We want to be very clear about it and I am very glad that one of my hon. Friends has raised it. As I understand the last sentence of the right hon. Gentleman, it would seem that where there are isolated places and the housing would not come under the Bill and would therefore not be available to civilian use, the chances of getting such houses built would be very much less than is the case today. It is a very important point.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the overall amount would be governed by this Estimate.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The houses would be much more likely to be built, because under this Resolution we should not have to find the full amount of capital expenditure for housing within our Defence Vote. Therefore, there would not be that special deterrent, the "usual sort of thing "of which the noble Lord complained, and which has meant in the past that the Works Vote and the Housing Vote was easy to cut when one had to reduce a Service Estimate.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

I am not quite clear yet upon this point. When the Minister of Health announces a housing programme for the country, of say, 200,000 houses, will the 5,000 houses for the Services be a part of that 200,000? Will the total be 205,000 for the year, or only 195,000 for the civilian population and 5,000 for the Services? I am not clear whether the plan of married quarters for the Services is additional to the programme announced by the Minister of Health or not.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

While we should keep always in the forefront the need for constant consultation about housing with the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, any overall plan that they may announce for house building in this country will include what is being done under this Resolution for the Services. It would be inclusive. There is nothing terrifying about that. My hon. Friends will see that we can only move within the maximum available fund of capital, materials and labour.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

On this matter of labour, I understand that because of certain restrictions in trade unions we cannot use building trade labour when the men are in the Army. In other words, people who are in the building industry and are called up, cannot be directed to building after they have had their training. If this is the case, surely it is time that Ministers responsible for housing took steps to overcome the difficulty so that labour is not wasted away on other things than what it can do best.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I hope that the hon. Member will excuse me for saying that I think he is making rather too much of that sort of problem. The call-up to which he refers applies only to a limited section of the community at a certain age and for a certain period. It is absolutely essential, if we are to satisfy the universality principle in National Service that they should be called up. When they are with the Colours they must be given their actual military training, but an attempt is made at all times in the Services to give opportunities for the kind of work to which men are best suited, having regard to what they have done or intend to do when they return to civil life. Beyond that answer I could not go.

I have been asked a number of questions tonight and I am not sure whether I can answer them all. I will do my best. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) wants to know whether I am an enemy or an ally in regard to the general provision of houses. I have always been an ally of the provision of housing all my long political life, which has been just as long a political life as that of my hon. Friend. All that I am claiming is that the houses that we intend to provide for the men who are serving their country in this form of service, and for their wives, shall be just as good, and the men shall be at least as well treated, as in the case of those who are serving their country in the mines and fields, for whom we have already given special priorities in our general housing provision. My hon. Friend wanted me to answer a question about the size of the houses, while the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) raised the same point. It is essential, from the point of view of their responsibility for administration that the Service Ministers should be answerable to the House of Commons about the size of these houses.

I want to be frank with my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and others, having regard to things which have been said on both sides of the House about the position of officers in regard to their pay and allowances. Because of the high prices they have been forced to pay for accommodation in the last three or four years, it would be quite wrong if we did not make adequate provision for officers in the Services, especially for those who are among the lowest paid, many of whom have growing families to keep. The Service Ministers, following the general policy, will use their judgment about the allocation between officers and other ranks in regard to houses, and it will be for the House of Commons in Committee on the Service Estimates to express views and make any criticisms on the Service Estimates as submitted.

A point was made, I think by my hon. Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis), about the desirability that Service people who are on shore from the Navy for the time being, and who are allocated to a district by the other two Services, should live as far as possible in general accommodation with other civilians. On the other hand, one of my other Scottish hon. Friends was most anxious to know whether or not we were going to take any sites, in our general housing provision, from those all ready allocated to or taken up by local authorities. We would like to have as much contact between the married families of the Services and their civilian neighbours as possible. We do not propose however in any way to take away or to interfere with sites which have been allocated to local authorities and approved and licensed under the various schemes approved by the Ministry of Health or the Scottish Department of Health.

I say this. There will be the fullest consultation with the local authority in every local area where houses are built for the Services. It is true that, as this is a Crown scheme, it is not subject to the local bylaws, but there will be such consultation that it can be guaranteed that the houses will never contravene the general idea of the bylaws.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

Then there will be no compulsory power to take possession of land such as the Services had during the war, in such a case as Bellahouston Park? They will not walk into an area and say, "We want this for married quarters "?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

If my hon. Friend is thinking that the Secretary of State for Air, who is listening to this Debate, would go and ask for a piece of Bellahouston Park in order to make a housing scheme, I can assure him that the Minister would never dream of doing such a thing without prior consultation with the local authority. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend and the other Service Ministers would be so concerned about the general amenities of the people that they would not make any such proposition. It may well be that in some of the outlying districts where a community was beginning to grow up round a camp, as was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler), we should have to requisition or purchase land, but it would not be for interfering with the existing amenities of the people or the local authorities.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

I do not want it to go out that my right hon. Friend would ever dream of taking Bellahouston Park and build houses on it, because there would be an outcry at once. The only point I am making is that the park was taken by compulsory powers. If it is desired to build houses in Glasgow the Services will have the greatest possible co-operation of the local authority, but in the event of a breakdown in the negotiations, will my right hon. Friend or the Service Ministers have power subsequently to say that, as the negotiations have failed, they will take possession of the land? That is the kind of thing I wish to avoid.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

If after long and proper negotiation something which the Crown required was being quite unreasonably withheld from one of the Services of the Crown, we should require to exercise compulsory powers, but I am sure that such powers in respect of the provision of housing would never be injuriously or wrongfully used. I am sure that I can give that assurance.

I believe I have covered practically all the points put to me in the Debate. I can only conclude by saying that I have welcomed very much the majority of the comments which have been made and I have also welcomed the criticism which has been made. The points which have been made will be carefully watched by my Service colleagues in the administration of the scheme.

Photo of Commander Sir John Maitland Commander Sir John Maitland , Horncastle

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, I should like to ask him a question. I apologise for not having been here the whole time. It is important to ask him this question. About three weeks ago the Civil Lord, in answer to a Question, laid it down as Admiralty policy that it was not the policy of His Majesty's Government to build married quarters for naval ratings in the home ports. It seems to me that the circumstances have been altered by these proposals. Will the Minister of Defence tell us whether it is now proposed to treat the matter on a wider basis and to reconsider that decision by the Government?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The requirements of the Navy under this scheme will be about 3,200 houses. How that is to be administered locally is entirely the responsibility of the First Lord or his representative in the House under the terms of the White Paper. As I have given the information that the Navy will require about 3,200 houses, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be entitled to ask the First Lord or his representative exactly where they will provide them.

7.24 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

When I asked a question, the Minister commented that I had not been present during the whole of the discussion. Like many other hon. Members, I have other commitments, and I had to see a deputation. However, I have heard sufficient to realise that this problem is not sufficiently understood by the Minister. The Minister says that he wants Service men who are defending the country to get equal treatment with those who are defending the country in the mines, in the engineering shops and so on. All right, but is the Minister aware that a young married civilian couple cannot get a house because housing is rationed for the workers? That is a very important fact. The Minister says that he has powers to take over land compulsorily if there is any hitch after much discussion with the local authorities.

Thousands upon thousands of workers are defending the country in the mines and in the engineering shops and they are living in conditions which are simply appalling, and if we had squads of men razing thousands of these houses to the ground, we should be doing a service to the country and to the people. In any district where soldiers are stationed and married soldiers are looking for quarters, sufficient housing accommodation could be found if the Minister cared to use his powers. What has the Minister so say to the fact that we may have a soldier, his wife and his children unable to get accommodation and yet in the vicinity we may have a couple occupying a house of 10, 15 or 20 rooms? If the workers who are defending the country in the mines and the engineering shops are rationed for housing—married couples without children cannot get houses because they are rationed on the basis of so many adults for three, four, or five rooms—

The Deputy-Chairman:

The Resolution is confined to married quarters for Service personnel.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I am talking about married quarters. I guarantee to go to Portsmouth with the Minister and show him where, with the least reconstruction and with proper rationing of housing, there is an abundance of accommodation for every Service family. I will take him to Glasgow, Edinburgh or any of these places and show him that, with proper rationing of housing accommodation, with the least bit of reconstruction and without taking labour away from the building of houses for workers, there is—

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

On a point of Order, Mr. Bowles. I understood your Rulings when I and others were speaking were to the effect that we were concerned with houses for married couples in the Forces. How can the rationing of accommodation for the civilian population, to which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is referring, have anything to do with the Resolution?

The Deputy-Chairman:

I have been considering it very carefully and I think that the hon. Member for West Fife is in Order. The Resolution——

The Deputy-Chairman:

Order—refers to: The provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for married persons. I gather that what the hon. Member is arguing is that there are houses which can be requisitioned by the Minister of Defence in order to house married couples in the Services.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

The Minister himself said that he wants the men in the Services to get treatment as desirable as that given to the men who are serving the country in the mines and in the engineering shops. I agree with that. Married men in the Services should be able to get married quarters with the least possible delay so that when they are at home they can live with their wives and children. Everyone agrees with that, but the important thing is that in this country thousands upon thousands of men who are serving their country in the pits and in the engineering shops cannot get houses.

The Deputy-Chairman:

We are not concerned with men serving in the pits or in agriculture, but purely and simply with men serving in the Forces. In my opinion the hon. Member for West Fife is in Order when he says that there is vacant accommodation or partially bombed accommodation which can with the use of a little labour be converted into housing for the troops and their wives, but he must not talk too much about the mines.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

I wanted the Minister to make sure that the men for whom he is responsible would get accommodation more rapidly than those to whom he referred, who are defending the country in civilian jobs. The Minister can get that accommodation. If he has any doubts about it, I am prepared to put myself at his service and locate the necessary accommodation if he is prepared to use the great powers which he has. Without in any way disturbing the labour which is engaged in building houses for the others to whom he has referred, the Minister can in the shortest possible time get accommodation for every married couple in the Services.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I should be prepared to accept help or advice from any quarter of the Committee in order to get a development of our housing provisions for the Armed Forces. However, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) does not seem to realise that the Service authorities have been grappling with this problem for four years, and in the course of those years have actually made a number of conversions of the kind he is talking about. Service families are entitled to be given exactly the same kind of priority, in types of housing as well as location, as we have been prepared to give to the miners, the agricultural workers and the like. We are only asking for the same treatment and we must insist upon it.

7.31 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

The Ruling which you have just given, Mr. Bowles, I do not dispute, and I am sorry if I was in conflict with the Chair earlier. It raises a point of immense importance, however. Indeed, the accuracy of your Ruling has been shown by what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. I did not realise—and it was no doubt ignorant of me—that the Government already possess power to requisition housing. That in no way alters the value of this provision, but in view of that I shall be expressing the views of my hon. Friends who are interested in these matters if, in view of the deplorable shortage of housing for married members of the Forces, I raise this point: has any effort been made by the right hon. Gentleman to requisition houses from the local authorities? If he possesses that power, when a local authority puts up houses why should not members of the Forces have priority? I think they should have it. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us that some efforts have been made, but if he cannot answer I shall raise this on the Second Reading of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

That would not be my proposal at any time. Where local authorities have long waiting lists of civilians, and have their civilian schemes approved, it certainly would not be right politically to try to exercise requisitioning powers against them on behalf of the Services. We are standing up to the problem ourselves, negotiating with the Minister of Health and with the Secretary of State for Scotland for a proper position within the general provision of houses in the country. Beyond that I do not think we ought to go.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I was trying to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question at the end of his speech in regard to a point on which I may have misunderstood him. I thought I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that, in reviewing the programme for the building of married quarters for the Defence Forces over the next five years, certain cuts have had to be made in view of the economic situation. That rather shocked me because I remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying: … No cuts are being made in the programmes for the building of married quarters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1949; Vol. 468, c. 1348.] From that statement I thought no cuts were being made in the building of these married quarters and that this scheme had been fixed for some time.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Perhaps I was not as clear as I should have been. What I intended to convey was that, because of the general reduction of the capital investment programme, there must be a ceiling limit upon the provision made in respect of housing in general.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

The right hon. Gentleman did not mean to contradict that or to amend anything?

Resolved:

That it is expedient—

(a) to authorise the Treasury, during the five years ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and fifty-five, to issue out of the Consolidated Fund sums not exceeding in the aggregate forty million pounds, to be applied as appropriations in aid of moneys provided by Parliament for those years for the provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for married persons serving in, or employed in connection with, the armed forces of the Crown, being accommodation the cost of the provision of which would otherwise fall to be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament for the defence services:

Provided that the amount so issued for any year to defray Navy, Army or Air Force expenditure in respect of the provision of approved housing accommodation in Great Britain for persons serving in, or employed in connection with, the Royal Navy or Royal Marines, the Army or the Air Force, as the case may be, shall not at any date exceed the aggregate of the amounts proposed to be so issued to defray that expenditure by the estimates upon which this House has, before that date, resolved to grant sums to His Majesty to defray that expenditure for that year;

(b) to authorise the Treasury, for the purpose of providing sums (or any part of sums) to be issued as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, or of providing for the replacement of all or any part of sums so issued, to raise money in any manner in which they are authorised to raise money under the National Loans Act, 1939, and to provide that any securities created and issued accordingly shall be deemed for all purposes to have been created and issued under that Act;

(c) to provide for the repayment to the Exchequer, out of moneys provided by Parliament for the defence services, of the sums issued as aforesaid, together with interest thereon;

(d) to provide for the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of sums paid into the Exchequer under the last foregoing paragraph and the application of sums so issued in redemption or repayment of debt, or, in so far as they represent interest, in payment of interest otherwise payable out of the permanent annual charge for the National Debt.

For the purpose of this Resolution the expression "approved" means approved by the Treasury, and the expression "the defence services" means the Navy, Army and Air services.

Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.

Committee to sit again Tomorrow.