994 STANDING COMMITTEE D Thursday, July 3rd, 1919

[Mr. T P. O'CONNOR in the Chair.]

HOUSING(IRELAND)BILL
PART I.
HOUSING OF THE WORKING CLASSES.

Housing Scheme.

CLAUSE 1.
—Part III. of the Act of 1890 to take effect without adoption 53 & 54 Vict. c. 70.

1.—(1) Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890 (in this Act referred to as the Act of 1890), shall, after the commencement of this Act, extend to, and take effect in, every urban district or town in Ireland for which it has not been adopted as if it had been so adopted, and it shall be the duty of the local authority of every such urban district or town for the purposes of Part III. of the Act of 1890 to consider the needs of the district or town with respect to the provision of houses for the working classes, and within three months after the passing of this Act, and thereafter as often as occasion arises, to prepare and submit to the Local Government Board a scheme for the exercise of their powers under the said Part III.

(2) A scheme under this Section shall specify—

  • the approximate number and the nature of the houses to be provided by the local authority;
  • the approximate quantity of land to be acquired and the localities in which land is to be acquired;
  • the time within which the scheme or any part thereof is to be carried into effect;
  • and the scheme may contain such incidental, consequential, and supplemental provisions (including provisions as to the subsequent variation of the scheme) as may appear necessary or proper for the purpose of the scheme.

    (3) The Local Government Board may approve any such scheme or any part thereof without modification or subject to such modification as they think fit, and the scheme or part thereof when so approved shall be binding on the local authority; but if the Board consider the scheme inadequate they may refuse to approve the scheme and require the authority to prepare and submit to them an adequate scheme within such time as they may 995 fix, or they may approve the scheme subject to the condition that the authority prepare and submit to them a further scheme within such time as they may fix.

    (4) If the Local Government Board consider as respects any local authority that an occasion for the preparation of a new scheme has arisen they shall give notice to that effect to the local authority, and thereupon such an occasion shall be deemed to have arisen.

    (5) Where the local authorities concerned or the Local Government Board are of opinion that a scheme should be made affecting the areas of two or more local authorities, such a scheme shall be prepared by the local authorities jointly and may provide for joint action being taken by those local authorities and for the apportionment amongst the authorities of any expenses incurred in carrying the scheme into effect.

    (6) Local authorities in preparing, and the Local Government board in approving, schemes shall have regard to any proposals by other bodies and persons to provide housing accommodation.

    (7) Where any proposals as to the provision of houses for the working classes have before the passing of this Act been submitted to the Local Government Board by a local authority and those proposals have been approved by the Board, either before or after the passing of this Act, the proposals may, if the Board so direct, be treated, for any of the purposes of this Section, as if they were a scheme submitted under this Section.

    Question again proposed: In Sub-section (1), after "1890" ["referred to as the Act of 1890 "], insert the words "As amended by the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1900. [Mr. Kelly.]

    The CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. Macpherson): I beg to move "That the Committee do now adjourn." I think, in view of the discussions which have taken place both in public and in private, that it would be most convenient and appropriate that we should adjourn our meeting to-day until a day as early as possible next week. Meanwhile, I am in negotiation with the Treasury about the proposals which the Committee have brought forward, and I am also discussing them with my own officials and advisors, and I think it would save the time of the Committee if I were able to come to some conclusion. I also think it would be well if the discussion, which is hound to take place upon the financial resolution in the House, very likely tonight, takes place before the Committee meets again. I hope, in these circumstances, the Committee will now agree to this motion for the adjournment.

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    Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS: I understand that negotiations have taken place between the various parties on this Committee. It is always a suspicious circumstance when gentlemen of Irish nationality put their heads together and agree upon any subject, and I think it is essential that the English members, who are put on this Committee to watch the interests of the British Treasury, should have full information as to the negotiations that have been going on. I am absolutely in the dark as to any negotiations or conversations that have proceeded, and I do not think it is quite fair to the English members that they have not the same information as the Irish members. Therefore, I ask the Chief Secretary to let all the members of the Committee have as full information as he can as to what is going on.

    Mr. MACPHERSON: The negotiations are really based upon the complete discussion we had on the first day, and I do not think anything else has been introduced into the discussion in any way. If my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough will look at this morning's OFFICIAL REPORT, he will find there a complete account of all the negotiations that are going on.

    Mr. LYNN: I desire to support the Motion which has been proposed by the Chief Secretary. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Middlesbrough seems to be somewhat suspicious because the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin), my nearest neighbour, and I are not engaged in fisticuffs. This is a purely business question.

    Colonel WILLIAMS: That is why I am suspicious.

    Mr. LYNN: Yes, the hon. and gallant Member wishes to make it a political rather than a business question. The trouble in the minds of some hon. Members is that we are not getting as good terms in Ireland as those that are being accorded to England and Scotland, and for that reason we want, at the very least, to be up to the English terms. Not only that, but as we are the poorer partner in the United Kingdom, and I think that will be admitted, we ought to get even more generous terms, and for that reason we want the Chief Secretary and every member of the Committee to give this thing sympathetic consideration. One great bone of contention in the days of old in Ireland was the land question, and this Imperial Parliament wisely took that question in hand, and by a very bold stroke very nearly settled it. It is now on the eve of settlement, and all we want is a little more money to settle it. This is money that has been well spent. If we ask for anything here at this stage I think we shall find we shall be doubly repaid, and I appeal strongly to hon. Members, whatever their political views may be, to 997 support this proposal, because, after all, you want a happy, prosperous, and contented people, and if you do not provide them with good houses you cannot expect contentment. Therefore, I appeal to the Committee in the meantime to give this proposal support, and thus strengthen the hands of the Chief Secretary, whom we know is anxious to do the best he can for Ireland. We do not want to rob Great Britain.

    Mr. DEVLIN: We would if we could.

    Mr. LYNN: I suppose my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division would argue that they have been robbing Ireland for a long time, but I am not going to discuss that question now, and I do not agree with my hon. Friend upon that point. I do ask hon. Members, however, to support the Chief Secretary in his efforts to get the best terms he can.

    Mr. E. KELLY: I quite agree with the Chief Secretary and the hon. Member who has just spoken that it would not be advantageous to the work of the Committee, and it would not expedite matters, if we attempted to proceed with the Bill to-day. I am perfectly sure that the time which is now being spent will ultimately expedite the passage of this Bill. I think it would be greatly to the assistance of the Committee and it would satisfy us on a very vital point, if the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to make a definite statement as to the Labourers' Acts, and the extent to which it is proposed to amend and extend those Acts in connection with this Housing Bill. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman could now state the day on which it would be convenient for him to meet the Committee next week?

    Mr. MACPHERSON: Subject to what the Chairman thinks, I should be very glad if we could meet on Monday.

    The CHAIRMAN: I am in the hands of the Committee on that point.

    Mr. MACPHERSON: With regard to the Labourers Acts, I shall devote my immediate attention to it, but the hon. Member will realise that myself and Mr. Greer, the draftsman, have a good deal to do at the present moment and I am afraid I cannot make a definite statement with regard to that part of our housing policy as early as I should like, namely, next week, but I can assure hon. Members that I am giving every consideration to this matter.

    Mr. DEVLIN: Will the right hon. Gentleman give a promise that it will be carried through concurrently with this Bill?

    Mr. MACPHERSON: I cannot say concurrently, but it will be as early as possible.

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    Mr. KELLY: I quite conceive that it would be impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to have the Bill I refer to in shape before this Bill leaves the Committee, but we should be perfectly satisfied if he gave us the outline of the Bill stating the capital sum involved, the rate of interest, and the terms of repayment. Perhaps the Chief Secretary, who has been unusually successful in getting financial questions through with expedition, and in future I hope with success, can give the Committee some such assurance before this Committee comes to an end.

    Major NEWMAN: Between the hon. and gallant member who represents an English division (Colonel Williams) and the hon. Member for Belfast, I am in a position of some difficulty. I am a Member representing an English division, but an Irishman residing in Ireland when I can, and therefore I am on this Committee in two capacities. I have on the Paper a number of Amendments standing in my own name and in the name of the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. Archdale). Those Amendments he and I put down on behalf of the Irish Unionist Alliance and the Irish Land Owners' Convention. I confess that as an English Member I have no right to be called into consultation on a purely Irish matter, but at the same time I am representing those two big interests. My hon. Friend the Member for North Fermanagh could not be present to-day, and I should like to ask the Chief Secretary if he would communicate to me any arrangement that he may come to, and give me some idea, in order that I may communicate with my friends in Ireland before Monday next, otherwise I shall be in a position of great disadvantage.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I do not think there is a single Member at any disadvantage in connection with this matter. We had a very full and frank discussion on the financial Clauses of this Bill on the last day the Committee met, and I think the issue involved is absolutely clear to every hon. Member of the Committee. I do not think any decision that can be arrived at will in any way effect the Amendments standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Newman), and I have no doubt, with his usual powerful eloquence, that he will defend the landlords' interest when the proper time comes, and knowing how successful be has been in this respect in his Parliamentary performances in the past, the landlords of Ireland may feel that their interests are perfectly safe in his keeping. With regard to what my hon. Friend behind me (Colonel Williams) has said, he has put forward a rather startling proposition, and it is all the more surprising, coming from an hon. and gallant Member who, I understand, believes in Home Rule for Ireland.

    Colonel WILLIAMS: That is why I am suspicious

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    The CHAIRMAN: I think we had better keep off general topics.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I think, Mr. Chairman, you are far too simple-minded to hope that we shall avoid these things. The hon. Gentleman has laid down a startling proposition. I have not heard before that an English member of this Committee was called upon to discharge the function of being one of the judges in connection with this problem, and to be a sort of watchdog for the British Treasury.

    Colonel WILLIAMS: Excuse me, I did not say anything like that proposition. What I said was that I was equally entitled with any member to have the fullest information.

    Mr. DEVLIN: Certainly, no one denies that at all. I hope the hon. Member will come into the Committee and go out of it brimful of information, but he distinctly made the statement that he represents the British Treasury. He said he was here to protect the interests of the British Treasury.

    Mr. LYNN: So are we all.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I am not. We are here for the purpose of getting the best financial treatment for Ireland with regard to a matter that vitally affects the condition of all classes and all centres in Ireland. I was amused, also, at the assertion of my hon. Friend that he did not want to unduly tax the British Treasury. I may say that is rather a retrogressive position for an Ulster Unionist to take up, when he knows and certainly has not denied the proposition that Ireland has been robbed by the British Treasury during the past 150 years.

    Mr. LYNN: Mr. Chairman. Is it in order for us to discuss the question of the overtaxation or otherwise of Ireland? If we are to do that, and there has been over-taxation of Ireland, we in Ulster have paid two-thirds of the taxes and therefore we must have two-thirds of the grants.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I have not the slightest objection to you getting anything you can, but I am surprised that he, as an Ulster man, says that he does not want to unduly tax the British Treasury. I hope he will not ask me to believe that. I am a Belfast man myself, and I know how much reliance to place upon such a statement. If he denies that Ireland has been over-taxed, I would remind him of the fact that almost the first public appearance I made was as member of a Committee which was appointed to consider the financial relations of Ireland, and that his leader, Colonel Sanderson,—

    Mr. LYNN: Not my leader; he was before my time.

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    Mr. DEVLIN: He was a very good leader for the Unionist Party. You are the leader now.

    Mr. LYNN: He was probably a bad financier for all that.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I do not know if you can mix up good leadership. with bad finance in Belfast, or not, but Colonel Sanderson and Dr. Kane, another leader of Ulster Unionists, were on that Committee which dealt with the question of the financial relations of Ireland.

    Mr. McGUFFIN: I rise to a point of order. Is this recrimination in order at this moment? Are we to discuss the question of the financial treatment of Ireland? I have no objection to discuss it, but I do not think this is the occasion to do so.

    The CHAIRMAN: Perhaps the hon. Member for the Falls Division will not consider it necessary to continue it.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I did not raise the question, but if a hare is started I like to follow it. The hon. Member started the discussion and I want to develop it by stating here and now to this Committee, which will ultimately have to determine this question before it is absolutely determined by Parliament, that we are not only entitled, in dealing with this housing question, to a fail-arrangement, but to generous treatment at the hands of the British Treasury. At the time when Mr. Lloyd George offered to give twenty millions for the purpose of a great housing scheme in Ireland, Ireland was not paying nearly as much as she is now paying to the British Treasury, and it was proved by one of the Members of the Committee yesterday that the proposal which that right hon. Gentleman then made would not be satisfactory now from a financial point of view. I hope that the Chief Secretary will realise that upon this question of adequate housing for the people it cannot be done without a fairly generous arrangement. At the meeting yesterday, the Committee which met the Chief Secretary, were a body of Irishmen representing all creeds and classes, and we agreed in pressing that this urgent housing reform could only be solved if we received from the British Treasury the treatment which we ought to get to solve this question adequately. Unless we get such treatment, the Government will be face to face with a very serious position.

    Sir M. DOCKRELL: I only desire to make some remarks to reinforce the case that we have a right to strengthen the hands of the Chief Secretary when he is considering this matter, being the only Member present representing Dublin, and having been all my life conversant with the appalling housing conditions in that city, I can recommend to the Chief Secretary that that portion of the case calls for instant and generous treatment. 1001 I would remind him with regard to the rebellion which arose in Dublin that the appalling housing conditions that obtained there were largely responsible for the condition of unrest which prevailed not only in the metropolis of Ireland but in every part of the country. That is an argument which the Chief Secretary can wield with very great force to-day, and I refer to it for the purpose of reinforcing the arguments which the Chief Secretary can use with the Treasury. I therefore support the Motion for the adjournment. With regard to what has been said about English constituencies and Irish constituencies, we who represent Irish constituents and are conversant with all the facts are as well entitled to speak as any member who is here to-day.

    Mr. MOLES: I have a good deal of sympathy with what I may call the protest of my hon. and gallant Friend in regard to obtaining information, but if he will take the trouble to look at the Official Report he will know as much as any of us or all of us with regard to this supposed tremendous conspiracy. Nothing has been done which has not been disclosed here. Members freely exchanged their views setting out the local details and the difficulties we saw in the way of the financial provisions of the Bill. And we sought to obtain from the Chief Secretary in more detail the grounds upon which he had framed the financial provisions of the Bill. We really have got "no forrader" in our business. So soon as we have, of course, whatever may be done must take the form of Amendments and these Amendments, and the reasons for them, must be disclosed to every Member of this Committee. I am sure he will not object to that. When you get into a condition of difficulty you sometimes make more progress by informal discussion than by formal debate. That is where we are at at the moment. My hon. Friend the Member for the Falls knows all the tricks of the trade and he seizes on all occasions to make a political point against us, even when he is acting in conjunction with us in any matter such as this.

    The CHAIRMAN: Perhaps the hon. Member will say "arts" instead of "tricks," and "co-operation" instead of "collusion."

    Mr. MOLES: I will take any phrase that you suggest is fair; I took the words from the hon. Gentleman's vocabulary, and I am sure the hon. Member will not object. I cannot conceive any reason why he should put forward as an argument the fact that he sat on a Commission on the financial relations of Ireland, because I have myself heard him say in the House that he knows nothing about finance.

    Mr. DEVLIN: I have never said anything of the sort. The hon. Gentleman ought to be accurate sometimes.

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    Mr. MOLES: May I express the hope that my hon. Friend will be accurate all the time. He is wrong in this particular matter. You, sir, with your intimate knowledge of political discussion for the last half century, know what happened with regard to the famous Childers Commission. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I will not take twenty seconds in replying to the hon. Member; you have heard one side and in justice you must hear the other. When, for the first time, the theory was set up of the over-taxation of Ireland, two eminent financial experts in a minority report showed that instead of Ireland having been overtaxed to the amount of three hundred million, Ireland on the same system of accountancy owed the Imperial Treasury over four hundred million. Dr. Brougham Leech, certainly the greatest Irish financial expert, invited Mr. Childers to discuss this question, but he fled from the challenge, and, what is more remarkable, no Government from that day to this has attempted to treat Ireland on the terms of that Commission support. What we are now concerned with is the question of adjournment at the moment. We are all agreed that it is very desirable to adjourn in order that the Chief Secretary may discuss the matter with the Treasury, and then advance a step further. He has got to realise that when we get to this matter of finance the Irish Members get together, and we are as "Where the mountains of Mourne Sweep down to the sea." We are entitled to have that demand satisfied. That is really the position, and the further delay that is necessary requires us to support the motion for adjournment.

    Lieut.-Commander WILLIAMS: I merely rise, as I wish the adjournment to take place as soon as possible, to know this. Do I understand rightly that the financial part of this Bill is likely to come up in the House this afternoon or evening.

    Mr. MACPHERSON: I see that it is the second Order on to-day's Paper, and therefore there is a probability that it will be taken this evening.

    Captain DIXON: Before the Committee adjourns I want to make one thing clear to the Chief Secretary and English Members. There is a great suspicion that there has been some form of agreement between the Ulster Members and the Nationalist Members of this Committee. I want to say that there has been no formal agreement. I do not think the Nationalist Members and ourselves on political matters would ever come to any agreement about which the fullest information was not given to everybody. I believe that there may be agreement on the part of every Irish Member when it comes to the question of the welfare of Ireland. We are here to do our very best for our own people, 1003 and when it comes to a question of getting money out of the British Treasury, I for one will go for every penny I can get. But there has been no collusion between us. We have acted absolutely straightforward, and I want the Chief Secretary to bear that in mind. I would only further remark that if our arguments yesterday became heated where Irishmen are concerned they are almost bound to become heated occasionally. I do wish the Chief Secretary would rid his mind of any idea that we were combining in the favourite snort of baiting the Chief Secretary. There was nothing of the kind in our minds. We were simply out to do the very best we could, and I am quite satisfied that if the Chief Secretary gets these reasonable terms we are asking from the financial point of view, he will have the combined forces of Ireland behind him.

    Major NEWMAN: There are four pages of new Clauses on the Paper in the name of the Chief Secretary. They appear there for the first time to-day. Do I understand he -is going to stand by them?

    Mr. MACPHERSON: Yes. I do not think I should have put them down unless I was going to stand by them.

    The CHAIRMAN: May I say that, of course, the Committee will have its full rights of discussing any financial proposals, even those put by the Chief Secretary in agreement with Members from Ireland? I, as Chairman, will, of course, see that full freedom of discussion is given to Members from all parts of the country, and I hope no distinction will be made between English and Irish Members on this Committee. I think English Members are just as imbued with the idea of dealing fairly with Ireland on this very vital question as Members from Ireland. Might I suggest 12 o'clock as the hour of meeting on Monday, as a good many Members will be absent in the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Better have Tuesday."] Would the Committee prefer Tuesday, as some of our Members have to go to their homes in the country?

    Mr. MACPHERSON: What about Monday afternoon?

    The CHAIRMAN: Will that be taken as a compromise?

    Major NEWMAN: There is only the Post Office Vote upstairs on that day.

    The CHAIRMAN: Will four o'clock on Monday afternoon suit the Committee?

    Hon. MEMBERS: Agreed.

    Question, "That the Committee do now adjourn," put and agreed to.

    Adjourned accordingly at Three minutes after Twelve o'clock until Four o'clock on Monday.

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    THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE.

    O'Connor, Mr. T. P. (Chairman)

    Attorney General for Ireland, The

    Beauchamp, Sir Edward

    Brassey, Major

    Breese, Major

    Broad, Mr.

    Burn, Mr.

    Campion, Colonel

    Coote, Mr. William

    Devlin, Mr.

    Dixon, Captain

    Dockrell, Sir Maurice

    Donald, Mr.

    Donnelly, Mr.

    Harbison, Mr.

    Kelly, Mr. Edward

    Lynn, Mr.

    Macpherson, Mr.

    Malone, Lieutenant-Colonel

    M'Guffin, Mr.

    Moles, Mr.

    Murchison, Mr.

    Murray, Mr. John

    Neal, Mr.

    Newman, Major

    Nicholson, Mr. Reginald

    Pownall, Lieutenant-Colonel

    Redmond, Captain

    Seager, Sir William

    Swan, Mr.

    Whitla, Sir William

    Williams, Colonel Penry

    Williams, Lieutenant-Commander

    Willoughby, Lieutenant-Colonel

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