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Commons Chamber

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 11th May, 1943

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

British Army

Lectures, Ipswich (Cancellation)


asked the Secretary of State for War for what reason, on or about 4th April, 1943, Mr. John White, of 20, Fonnereau Road, Ipswich, was stopped from continuing a series of lectures on land and monetary reform at the British Legion Hall, to soldiers of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers sub-workshops units stationed in the district?

When it is proposed to arrange a series of lectures, the approval of the Formation Headquarters is required unless the lecturer is registered on the panel of the Regional Committee for Education in His Majesty's Forces. In this case owing to an oversight arrangements for this series of lectures were made locally without such prior approval. When the arrangements made were referred to the Formation Headquarters, in the exercise of their discretion, they decided for good and sufficient reasons that the lectures should not proceed.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this gentleman had already given 10 or 11 lectures of a very instructive nature, which were very much enjoyed by the troops; and may I also ask whether, if this gentleman applies for registration on the official list, it will be granted?

Will my right hon. Friend state the reason for which this permission was withdrawn? Was it because this gentleman was giving very instructive lectures on what I call financial humbug?

No, Sir, those were not the reasons; but I have examined the reasons and satisfied myself that they were valid.

In view of the most unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at an early date. It is a question of liberty.

Eye Injuries


asked the Secretary of State for War the number of British troops who, during the present war, have suffered injury to the eyes, resulting in the loss of sight in one or both eyes, respecticely?

I regret that the figures asked for by my hon. Friend are not readily available. But I am informed that.4 per cent, of the awards made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions are to those who have lost one eye and.16 per cent, to those who have lost two. The actual figures are 222 and 89 respectively.

War Service Grants


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will amend the procedure notified in Army Council Instructions 566/1943, whereby officers in receipt of war service grants must communicate with the Officer in Command, Army Pay Office, on any matter affecting their pay through their commanding officers and allow such officers to correspond direct with Officer in Command, Pay Office?

Before this Army Council Instruction was issued some officers in receipt of war service grants received their pay from Army agents and some from the Army Pay Office. Manchester. In order to simplify administration it was decided that all these officers should in future receive their pay through the Army Pay Office. Correspondence addressed to this Office about Army pay and allowances from any officer must go through his commanding officer. But this does not prevent an officer writing about a war service grant as hitherto direct to the Ministry of Pensions.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some cases commanding officers do not look too favourably on officers under their command making applications for war service grants, and as the Ministry of Pensions are doing everything they can to encourage officers and other ranks to make such applications, will he arrange for, perhaps, some secrecy for officers in this matter?

It does not work out that way at all. They are entitled to write to the Ministry of Pensions direct. The Ministry of Pensions have to verify the particulars, and they are verified through the commanding officer.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is not the case? Verification is done through the commanding officer. Will he say how it helps to simplify administration if somebody else has to intervene in the matter?

I should have said, in reply to the previous Supplementary Question, it is the Army Pay Office the Ministry of Pensions write to, and there is a general rule that correspondence with the Army Pay Office, on every question about pay and Army allowances, should go through the commanding officer.

Voluntary Canteens


asked the Secretary of State for War whether outside voluntary welfare canteens for the use of the Services are subject to any control with regard to the prices charged for refreshments and as to the disposal of profits?

The canteens associated in the Council of Voluntary War Work have agreed to charge prices which conform in general with prices charged by N.A.A.F.I. canteens. Such profits as they make are devoted to improving existing canteens and hostels and building new ones. Any of these canteens which are situated on or adjacent to War Department land and those serving mainly Army personnel also pay rebate for the benefit of the troops. Other voluntary canteens are not subject to any direct control on the prices they charge. Rebate on their takings is generally paid to the Army Commander concerned for distribution as far as possible to the troops using the canteens. They can be closed at the discretion of the canteen committees set up in commands and so are subject to in- direct control. I should add that I am not aware of any complaints about the prices charged by any of these canteens.

Detention Barracks (Prisoners' Medical Examination)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether any medical examination for fitness is made on admission of a prisoner to detention barracks; and, in the absence of such examination, will he take the necessary action?

A soldier sent to a detention barracks is medically examined before he leaves his unit and again on admission to the barracks.

British Prisoners Of War


asked the Secretary of State for War why Hesketh Pearson's Biography of Bernard Shaw and Siegfried Sassoon's "Memories of an Infantry Officer" cannot be sent to prisoners of war in Germany who have made requests for them; and whether he will publish a list of banned authors in the "Bookseller" or "Publishers Circular" for the guidance of persons in the export book trade?

A list of authors banned by the German authorities has been compiled as a result of experience. This list includes Bernard Shaw and Siegfried Sassoon, and a biography of Bernard Shaw would almost certainly also be confiscated by the Germans. The list is already made available to all booksellers who hold a permit to export books.

I could not answer that Question without notice, but T will look up the point.

Can the Minister do anything to see that these books are not damaged while they are in the hands of the censors, and are not returned to the publishers in a second-hand condition, as many of them are now, but are properly packed?

I will certainly consider that point, but I imagine that the publishers do not send them forward, as they have all got lists of the banned books.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the banning of the books referred to in the Question is not taken on the initiative of His Majesty's Government, but is due to the German Government?

Is there any way of conveying that to prisoners of war, who seem to be under the impression that the banning arises on this side?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a letter dated 15th March, from the prisoner of war camp P.G. 5 in Italy, states that no Red Cross parcels have been received since the beginning of February; and if he will ascertain, through the International Red Cross, what is the reason for this?

Owing to the difficulties of transport between Geneva and the Italian camps, parcels are not received regularly at the camps. I am, however, baying inquiries made about this particular camp and will then communicate with my hon. and gallant Friend. According to my present information, the supply of parcels held at the camp should have been adequate during the period referred to.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information concerning conditions at Campo PG 21, Italy, about which complaints have been received recently, particularly with reference to the supply of water?

This camp has been visited three times by a representative of the Protecting Power and once by a representative of the International Red Cross. It is in a part of a newly built barracks and is generally satisfactory except that water is usually short. Representations have been made about this to the Italian authorities.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, according to the official report of an inspection last January, which is quoted in the current issue of "Prisoner of War," conditions then were generally very unsatisfactory?

No, the information at my disposal is that the bathing and washing arrangements are modern and, indeed, almost luxurious, but that there is not enough water to put into them. That is the only complaint which has been made.

Repatriated Prisoners Of War


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the repatriation of prisoners of war now in progress with Italy, giving details of the numbers of combatant sick and wounded already repatriated by either country and the numbers of such personnel passed by commissions for repatriation, also the numbers of non-combatants on either side already repatriated or awaiting repatriation?

I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a full statement on the repatriation of prisoners referred to.

Following is the statement:

The repatriation of British and Italian sick and wounded is being carried out strictly in accordance with the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. The first part of Article 68 reads:

"Belligerents shall be required to send back to their own country, without regard to rank or numbers, after rendering them in a fit condition for transport, prisoners of war who are seriously ill or seriously wounded."

His Majesty's Government and the Italian Government set up Mixed Medical Commissions in accordance with Article 69 of the above Convention to decide which prisoners are entitled to repatriation. When the present exchanges are completed at the end of May all prisoners of war passed by these Commissions should have been repatriated. The Italian authorities have given assurances on this point. The figures are at least 700 British and 2,370 Italians.

The International Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field lays down that protected personnel—that is, chaplains, doctors, medical orderlies and others exclusively concerned with the care of sick and wounded—shall be sent back to the belligerent to which they belong. In accordance with Article 14 of the Geneva

Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,

"It shall be permissible for belligerents mutually to authorise each other, by means of special agreements, to retain in the camps doctors and medical orderlies for the purpose of caring for their prisoner compatriots."

It has been agreed with the Italian Government that a sufficient number of these personnel should be retained to care for the needs of the prisoners. When the present repatriation is completed at least 940 British and 4,370 Italian in these categories will have been repatriated. These figures should include all those entitled to repatriation and not needed to look after prisoners.

The success of the repatriations so far carried out has been largely due to the good offices of the Portuguese and Turkish Governments and to the great help given throughout by the. Portuguese Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent.

Coal Industry



asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the tonnage of coal exported from this country to all destinations during 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1942?

It would not be in the public interest to give this information, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we are not exporting any more than is absolutely necessary for the prosecution of the war.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think it would be better if I consulted him in future as to what sort of Question I should put down?



asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is meant by the gap between the production and consumption of coal; whether the building of dumps on the surface and exports are included in consumption; the present total tonnage of those dumps; whether he will give figures for similar periods in previous years; and whether dumps are being built up with a view to exporting coal when the war is ended?

The gap of 11,000,000 tons to which I referred last October was the prospective difference at the end of the coal-year between production and consumption, calculated on the basis of the trends then existing. For this purpose consumption included all coal exported, but not coal put into stock. So far as the third and fourth parts of the Question are concerned, it would not be in the public interest to give figures of the tonnage accumulated at Government stocking sites. I am attempting, wherever it is possible to spare coal not required for current consumption or for stockbuilding at consumers' premises, to build up the reserves stocked on Government account, with the sole purpose of meeting the essential war requirements that lie ahead.

As to the other parts of the Question, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman take it from me that I will consult him in future?



asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what has been the total output of the coal mines in the months June, 1942, to April, 1943, inclusive, and how this compares with the output in the months June, 1941, to April, 1942?

The production of saleable coal from the mines of this country, excluding the output of opencast workings, was 187,867,800 tons in the period June, 1942, to April, 1943, and 190,336,400 tons in the same months of 1941–2.

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether his statement holds good that he would advise consumers to stock as much coal as they possibly can this summer?

No, Sir; but certainly we want them to stock as much as they can within the limits allowed.

Is it not true that the gap was chiefly made up through the mildness of the winter, the comparative absence of enemy action over here, and the patriotic self-denial of consumers?

I will accept the last-named possibility, which refers to the action of consumers, but I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that while nobody is more grateful for the mildness of the winter than I am, it would have been the greatest folly for us to depend upon the mildness of the weather in hoping to get through it.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman saying that there is no shortage of coal at the moment?

No, Sir, that would be a very dangerous statement indeed. We have only been able to get through this last winter, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend, by the patriotic action of consumers, both domestic and industrial, and, whether some people like it or not, by a great effort on the part of producers, particularly last autumn.

Will it be possible for my right hon. and gallant Friend at some time in the future to inform us what steps he has taken to increase production?

Northern Ireland (Conscription)


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what representations have been made by Mr. de Valera with regard to the introduction of conscription in Northern Ireland; and what grounds have been put forward by him in support?

No recent representations have been made by Mr. de Valera on this subject.

I have not asked for any recent statement. Were any representations made by Mr. de Valera some little time ago with regard to conscription in Northern Ireland, and, if so, what was the nature of those representations?

The Question did not say "recent" at all. Is not my hon. Friend aware that the failure to introduce conscription in Northern Ireland as requested by the Ulster Government is mainly responsible for the large numbers of unemployed in Northern Ireland, as in default of conscription many thousands of men and women from Eire have obtained jobs in Ulster which would otherwise be available for Ulster men and women?

Was it not the fact that when the matter was first mentioned in this House the Southern Irish Parliament was especially called together? Are we to understand that no representation has been made yet to the Government?

I should like to have notice of that Question in order to be able to discover whether any particular representations were made and what was their nature.

When were representations last made, and can the hon. Gentleman say what was their nature?

Why is there always this difficulty in getting information about statements made by Mr. de Valera? In the case of other Dominions, statements by their Prime Ministers are easily conveyed to this House. Is Mr. de Valera always to be regarded as sacrosanct?

Residential Hotels (Bed Linen And Towels)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider making an issue of clothing coupons to residential hotels in order to enable them to replace worn-out bed and toilet linen?

No, Sir. Bed linen is not rationed. As regards towels, I regret that, in view of the present shortage of supplies, I cannot see my way to issue coupons to residential hotels. Guests staying in a hotel for a considerable period should be prepared to provide own towels.

Trade And Commerce

Thermos Flasks (Miners)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make thermos flasks available for purchase by miners in West Lothian so that they may carry a warm beverage to the mines where there are no canteen facilities?

If my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of the mines in question, I shall be glad to go into the matter with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power.

Boxinǵ Equipment


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many members of the British Boxing Board of Control are licensed to retail boxing equipment?

The information for which my hon. Friend asks would involve much research, but if he has reason to think that in any particular case the provisions of the Location of Retail Businesses Order are being infringed, I shall be very glad to look into it.

Is it not a fact that the Board of Trade are making a simple question somewhat difficult? I simply asked about the control of retailers of boxing equipment. Is is a fact that there are not more than a dozen retailers altogether? All I want to know is whether any of the dozen hold licences for retailing the equipment?

My information is that there are many more than a dozen. The first part of my answer was that the collection of the information would involve much research. I am informed that the number of retailers is very much greater than a dozen. Perhaps my hon. Friend will see me, if he has other information.

Latch Needles (Import Licences)


asked the President of the Board of Trade why import licences for latch needles for home consumption are issued only to firms who were importing latch needles during the last 12 months of peace?

Total imports of latch needles are considerably less than before the war, and I am satisfied that the fairest method is to issue licences to importers in proportion to their trade during the 12 months before the outbreak of war.

Is not the import of these articles considerably less now, because large numbers came from Germany, and at the present time a virtual monopoly is given to foreign subsidiaries of firms who were in Germany before the war? Should not British firms get their share?

The arrangements about which my hon. and gallant Friend is asking have been in operation since the beginning of the war, now more than three years. Our home production now is only about half our total requirements, and it is thought that the fairest way to make up what is required is to base it, as we do in other cases, upon the pre-war trade.

Does that mean that consumers who bought from British firms in the past are debarred from getting supplies?

Flash-Lamp Bulbs (Testing)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to amend Statutory Rule and Order No. 247 of 1943, which provides that, in the case of wholesale transactions, flash-light bulbs must be tested, so as to provide a similar condition in respect of retail transactions so that the ultimate consumer may be protected?

This Order does not provide that, in the case of wholesale transactions, flash-lamp bulbs must be tested. I am advised that the purchaser, whether wholesaler or retailer, of an untested bulb is sufficiently protected by the condition as to fitness implied by Section 14 of the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, but, to remove any possible doubt, I propose to amend the Order so as to put the wholesaler and the retailer on the same footing.

Diesel Engines (Manufacture, Oslo)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he has any information as to the manufacture of diesel engines at the Akers Mekanische Verksted, Oslo, Norway?

Yes, Sir. I have reason to believe that the diesel engine shops at this shipyard are working in connection with ship repairs which now form the principal activity of the yard. A new small vessels are also beign equipped with diesel engines.

Has the attention of my hon. Friend been called to the statement recently made by Rudolf Blohm, chief of naval construction division of the Board of Munitions in Germany, in which he said that the work of constructing submarine engines and their components is being done by German workmen in yards in occupied countries?

For various reasons, I think it is unliliely that these machines are being made in the particular yard mentioned in the Question.

In view of the bombing of German submarine yards that has been going on, is it not likely that German submarines are being made in yards wherever the Germans can get them manufactured?

Greece (Food Supplies)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he can give the latest information available as to the shipment of food supplies, and especially dried milk and vitamins for children, which are now being sent to Greece, and as to the adequacy of these supplies to prevent grave malnutrition; and whether the neutral authorities supervising their distribution continue to be satisfied that no abuse has occurred in connection therewith?

Food supplies which have reached Greece during the last three months, in pursuance of the relief scheme, comprise 28,703 tons of wheat, 8,561 tons of pulse and 1,096 tons of condensed milk. Further shipments which have left Canada but which have not yet arrived at Greek ports include approximately 32,000 tons of wheat, 6,000 tons of pulse and 600 tons of condensed milk. I have not yet been informed whether these cargoes include vitamin tablets, though we have agreed to their inclusion. As regards the state of nutrition in Greece, recent reports have shown a considerable improvement as compared with a year ago, especially in Athens. But, in the absence of definite information regarding many areas, I should hesitate to say that this improvement is equally marked throughout the country. As regards the last part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 16th March.

In view of the grave concern in this country about the starving peoples in Europe, is it not possible for the Government to change their policy, in view of the fact that the people who are suffering belong to nations which are very friendly to us? They are not enemies.

I think it does no service to the countries concerned to make out, as is done in many quarters, that there is any analogy between conditions which existed in Greece when the relief scheme was started and those which prevail now in Western and Northern Europe.

The wheat, which, so far as we are able to ensure it, is at the rate of 15,000 tons a month, is a free gift from the Canadian Government.

Is not a considerable portion of those supplies purchased by the Greek Red Cross or the Greek Government?

To the best of my recollection condensed milk is purchased with funds supplied by Greek sympathisers on the other side of the Atlantic, but the wheat is the free gift of the Canadian Government.

Aircraft Factory (Auditor-General's Report)


asked the Minister of Aircraft Production what action the Government propose to take to deal with the officials who have been responsible for the blunder of erecting a factory or building on a site composed mainly of combustible waste, which cost about £1,000,000, and, according to the statement of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, will now cost an estimated figure of a further 655,000 entirely due to this mistake?

On the information before him my right hon. and learned Friend does not accept the implications in the hon. Member's Question. The matter is, however, to be examined by the Public Accounts Committee, and I think it would be better if further discussion of the matter were postponed until the Committee's Report is available.

Railway Accommodation (First-Class Tickets)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that 130 first-class tickets were issued for the 8 a.m. train, from Newcastle to King's Cross, on Monday, 3rd May, with only seating accommodation for 70, and many of the passengers had to travel in the guard's van making up their own seating arrangements; and whether he will take steps to prevent such occurrences in future?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

The 8.5 a.m. train left Newcastle on 3rd May with the maximum number of coaches. There were go seats in first-class compartments, but 118 first-class passengers joined the train at Newcastle, and 16 others at Durham. Only 30 first-class tickets, however, were issued, the other first-class passengers were either officers of His Majesty's Forces, who travel on warrants and do not require tickets, or passengers who held return tickets. I am afraid, therefore, that the conditions of which my hon. Friend complains were unavoidable.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that both inspectors and porters appealed to people at Newcastle and at York to lift up their arm rests to allow four people to sit on one side where there were three sitting and that the selfish, unpatriotic people absolutely refused to do so?

As I understand it, I do not think they had the right to refuse. I think the inspectors should have insisted I will look into the point which my hon. Friend mentions.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary at least take steps to see that these arm rests are fastened back or otherwise take steps to take off the first-class compartments altogether, let everybody travel third class, and leave those people who are so ridiculous in travelling in wartime to be hustled about?

I said that I will look into the hon. Member's point. I think there was a breach of the instructions which have been given.

Spider Crabs, South-West Coast


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can give any information about the spider crab which is being caught on the South-west Coast in great numbers; and whether this shell-fish will be sold in London?

I have been asked to reply. I am informed that the spider crab does not find favour in this country and so is not deliberately sought after, though taken incidentally in some numbers by fishermen on the South-West coast in the course of fishing for other varieties of fish. Spider crabs provide wholesome meat, but the extraction of the edible portions is troublesome and the yield small. For these reasons and because of the lack of any popular demand, it would be uneconomic to send these fish to distant markets, and it is therefore unlikely that they will be sold in London.

Does not my right hon. Friend think there is a possibility of getting one of these spider crabs sent to me, so that I may judge what they are like?

Would the right hon. Gentleman send a spider crab to the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. Thorne) and see whether he likes it?

Agriculture (Post-War Policy)


asked the Prime Minister when the Government intend to make known their policy in regard to post-war agriculture?

His Majesty's Government have in no way altered their view as to the im- portance of maintaining a healthy and well balanced agriculture after the war as a permanent feature of national policy. It has not, however, proved possible at this stage of the war for the War Cabinet to carry its consideration of the many problems involved in the formulation of a permanent post-war agricultural policy to a point at which the intentions of the Government can be made known. I am unable to say when that point will be reached.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his answer, may I ask whether he is aware that there is considerable anxiety among farmers at the failure of the Government so far to make known their post-war agricultural policy, particularly in view of the fact of the almost unanimous agreement in the recommendations put forward by various agricultural societies in the past few months?

I am, of course, aware of the feeling in the agricultural community, and the Government are doing all they can to formulate their views with a view to making a statement as early as possible.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government's views never lead to any action, and will he ensure that adequate Government action is taken in the future?

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House and the country that this delay is not caused by any shrinking on the part of the Government in this respect?

Workmen's Compensation


asked the Prime Minister whether he will give time for a discussion on the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) and other hon. Members, calling upon the Government to take steps to raise the rates of workmen's compensation provided for in the 1925 Act by 50 per cent., and to adjust the method of calculating pre-accident earnings so that the injured workmen may be compensated on an equitable basis?

[ This House is of opinion that the scales of payment to injured workmen under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, deny a reasonable standard of living to the injured workman and his dependants and delays his restoration to full industrial employment, and calls upon the Government to take steps to raise the rates provided for in the 1925 Act by 50 per cent., and to adjust the method of calculating pre-accident earnings so that the injured workmen may be compensated on an equitable basis.]

I regret that in view of the state of Business I can hold out no present hope of an opportunity being afforded for a discussion of this subject.

Does that reply mean that there is a private arrangement between the T.U.C. and His Majesty's Government, and that Parliament is not to be given an opportunity to discuss and decide the vital question of the future of workmen's compensation?

No, Sir, it does not. It means that there is no present hope because there is more pressing business.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many industrialists and insurance companies are very favourably disposed to the scaling-up of these rates of workmen's compensation?

I am only dealing at the moment with this Question. I said I regretted that there was no possibility of time being given now. It may be possible later on.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that there is no arrangement with the T.U.C. to prevent this matter being discussed in the House?

I can give the hon. Member the assurance that the Government are free agents in their decisions.

India (Political Situation)


asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the resolution of the Ponders End Branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which has been sent to him, urging the release of the Indian leaders and the opening up of fresh negotiations and demanding the immediate dismissal of the present Secretary of State for India; and what statement he has to make?

The attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to these matters was made perfectly clear in the recent Debate in this House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India and myself, and I have nothing to add to the statements made on that occasion.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the people of India have no confidence in the Secretary of State for India, and that the same applies to the people of this country, and would it not be desirable to remove the Secretary of State for India and to release the leaders of Congress and get a settlement of the question?

No, Sir, I do not think the hon. Member is well informed as to the views of the people of India.

Atlantic Charter (Trade Unions)


asked the Prime Minister whether the provisions of the Atlantic Charter are intended to cover the rights of association in trade unions among the workers in every country on the voluntary system, without Government interference, in practice in this country?

The Atlantic Charter does not seek to explain how the broad principles proclaimed by it are to be applied.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that freedom of association in trade unions was not allowed in certain other countries belonging to the United Nations, and will he consider this problem, as there is not very much freedom for workers if they have no freedom of association in trade unions?

In view of the misgivings expressed in Great Britain and Allied countries about certain provisions of the Atlantic Charter, would the right hon. Gentleman consider opening negotiations again with Allied countries with a view to removing those misgivings?

Church Bells (Practice Ringing)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will supplement the recent decision to allow the ringing of church bells on Sundays by allowing them to be rung for practice and instruction once a week at a convenient time?

I cannot at present add anything to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in answer to a Private Notice Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) on 10th April last.

But is not this a simple and practical corollary of the recent decision? Surely it does not need much consideration?

Forestry (Government Policy)


asked the Minister without Portfolio, whether he intends to publish a White Paper on Government policy on the future of forestry; and, if so, how soon it may be expected?

The question of our future forest policy is now receiving the active consideration of the Government. A statement will be made in due course and without any avoidable delay, but I cannot say at present when, and in what form, it will be made.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to publish the Report of the Forestry Commission; and, if so, how soon it may be expected?

I have received from the Forestry Commission a Report on Post-War Forestry Policy, which is now being considered by His Majesty's Ministers. I cannot at the moment make any statement about publication.

Can my right hon. Friend say when the Government are going to let the House have some idea of the future policy of the Forestry Commission? Is he not aware that this Report has been in the possession of the Government for some time and that this Report is a statement of Government policy? Can he say what is holding it up?

I cannot say anything further at the moment, but I will take into consideration what my hon. Friend has said.

In view of the widespread deforestation now going on, is it not important that planting should be undertaken as soon as possible and that some really properly co-ordinated plan should be undertaken in order to carry out that planting?

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he intends to publish the Report at an early date, as people want to know what the Forestry Commission are doing?

National Finance

Lend-Lease (Supplies To Russia)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether goods amounting in value to £170,000,000 actually arrived in Russia from this country under Lend-Lease, or whether that figure represents only the value of goods despatched?

As I explained in my Budget Statement, the figure of £170,000,000 represented the value of military supplies, including those sent from Canada, so far despatched to the U.S.S.R. from this country under Lend-Lease.

If my right hon. Friend will read his own speech, he will perhaps recognise that he did not say "despatched."

Government Borrowing (Bank Loans)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much new money has been created by the banks since the outbreak of war?

Advances by the clearing banks to their customers have fallen by over £200,000,000 since August, 1939. As regards loans by the banks to the Government, I have previously explained that the money out of which the banks lend to the Government is, broadly speaking, derived from deposits made by customers in the ordinary course of their business, and that there is no question of banks creating credit for the purpose of lending money to the Government.

Will my right hon. Friend now answer my Question? Is it not true that the new money created by the banks since the outbreak of war to the end of September last was approximately £1,500,000,000?

Colliery Houses (Taxation)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what purpose investigations are being made by inspectors of taxes into the yearly rental value placed on houses provided by colliery undertakings to their managers and men?

I am not aware of any general investigation of this character, but I will have inquiry made if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of the cases to which she refers.

Has the Chancellor in contemplation the taxation of benefits of that kind?

Statutory Rules And Orders


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in addition to the monthly consolidated lists of Statutory Rules and Orders, he will make available monthly the Statutory Rules and Orders themselves consolidated in one cover?

No, Sir, I do not think that the public demand for a monthly consolidated edition would be sufficient to justify the additional paper, materials and labour that it would involve.

Will my hon. Friend say why there would be an increase in the paper issued, because if the orders were consolidated in one cover it would simplify matters, as it is difficult to keep pace with individual orders?

Regulations are consolidated at frequent intervals, and all Orders are consolidated annually, and to increase the number of returns would certainly need more paper.

Are they not consolidated only once each year, and that, five or six months after the close of the year?

My hon. Friend will realise that the greater number of members of the public are only interested in a very limited number of Orders.

Will my hon. Friend do his best to restrict the number of Orders, and then things will not be quite so difficult?

War-Time Missions, United States


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the total numbers of the personnel of the United Kingdom war-time Missions in the United States of America, Service as well as civilian; and the proportion of this total represented by locally recruited staff?

The total number of staff in the United Kingdom war-time Missions in the United States at the end of February, the latest date for which figures are available, was aproximately 8,750. More than four-fifths of this total was represented by locally recruited staff, and of the United Kingdom based staff a substantial part were, of course, Service, not civilian, personnel.

Will my hon. Friend give as much publicity as possible to his answer in order to do away with the impression current in this country that there are 8,000 people from this country in Washington?

Can my hon. Friend say whether there has been any substantial reduction in those employed since his right hon. and gallant Friend left the Treasury to become Postmaster-General?

Rudolf Hess


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the £15,000 worth of securities that Rudolf Hess had when he landed in Scotland are being used to pay for the keep of himself and family now in this country?

My hon. Friend is misinformed. Hess brought no British securities with him, nor is any member of his family in this country.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the man in question is still a prisoner of war in this country, and, if so, is he in any part of England?

He is still confined under the same conditions as those under which he was originally confined.

While Hess might not have brought any securities here, did he have any investments here before he came?

No, Sir, not that I am aware of; anyway he has not been able to touch any. All he brought with him were a few Mark notes, the value of which, the hon. Gentleman will understand, in this country is nil.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the man in question is still in that bungalow down in Surrey?

Secret Session

I beg to inform the House that it will be necessary for me to spy Strangers shortly so that I may make a statement to the House which the Government consider it inadvisable to make in public. When we come out of Secret Session a statement will be made in public on the war situation.

Notice taken, that Strangers were present.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 89, put the Question, "That Strangers be ordered to withdraw."

Question agreed to.

Strangers withdrew accordingly.

The House subsequently resumed in Public Session.

War Situation (Tunisian Operations)

Since this House last met a great victory has been won in North Africa. This striking success by the United Nations has, I know, sent a thrill of joy, not only through the hearts of our own people, but also through the hearts of our Allies and well-wishers all the world over. It has many messages for many lands. The country has been kept well informed of the progress of events from day to day, and I do not intend to-day to give a lengthy account of the operations. That must wait for the close of the campaign and the receipt of a full account from the Commanders in the field. It is, however, I think, appropriate that we should at our first meeting pay a tribute to the men who have driven the enemy from Tunis and Bizerta and inflicted such a crushing defeat on the Axis forces.

General Eisenhower and General Alexander, with staffs composed of men drawn from both sides of the Atlantic, have given a very practical example of Allied co-operation; and under their command the Forces of the United States, the British Commonwealth and Empire, and French North Africa have, with great courage, determination, and skill, carried out very successfully the well-laid plans of the Commanders. It is never easy to execute a plan which depends on the coordination of movements of large bodies of troops of all arms, fighting on a widely extended front of nearly 100 miles, in difficult and broken country, where the roads are few and communications are scanty. It is still harder to do this when the fighting men are drawn from several different countries, each with its own method and tradition of warfare. But in this battle drama the Americans, the British, French—both Metropolitan and Colonial troops—New Zealanders, and Indians have all played their appropriate parts. What has been accomplished could not have been done without skilful generalship, inspiring leadership, and the fine comradeship and fighting spirit of all ranks.

But this co-operation was attained not only between men of different nationalities; it was also effected most notably between the military, naval and air forces, British and American Air Forces in North Africa secured and maintained throughout these battles complete domination of the air. Throughout this period the sorties by our Air Force compared with those of the enemy were generally something like four to one. Besides the destruction wrought on the enemy's concentrations, on his bases and on his lines of communication, the close support given to the ground Forces was a factor of the utmost importance in achieving successes. I think this mutual understanding between fighters in the air and on the ground was brought in this campaign to a pitch of perfection never hitherto attained. No less necessary and invaluable work has been the work of the Navy in keeping open the long lines of supply which led from Great Britain and the United States to the shores of North Africa, while on the other side the Navy and the Air Force, working together, by the toll they took of the ships and planes by which the enemy tried to bring his supplies and reinforcements across the Sicilian Channel, cut down drastically resources which were available to meet our attack. Air-Marshal Tedder, Admiral Cunningham and the officers and men of all ranks of the nations under their command have well served the cause of the United Nations.

Before the opening of the present phase of these operations there had been, in some quarters, a certain feeling of impatience; there was a tendency to contrast the rapid advance after El Alamein with the seemingly slow progress of the campaign in Tunisia. But this was due really to a lack of understanding of the different conditions involved. It is one thing to fight in the open desert—and that requires special technique, so wonderfully exploited by the Eighth Army—and it is quite another matter to fight in the hilly, broken country of Tunisia, where there is an abundance of defensible positions, where roads are few and very bad, and the difficulties of supply and the length of communications have not always been realised, perhaps because we look at too small-scale maps. But I think, in our appreciation of this victory, we should do well to remember the services of the men who supplied those engaged in the fighting.

Naturally, the rapid advance of the Americans in the North and the breakthrough of our armour in the centre, that culminated in the capture of Bizerta and Tunis, have tended to overshadow the rest of the fighting. These advances were only possible by hard and difficult fighting in which British, French and American Forces were engaged against stubborn enemies, occupying positions of very great natural strength. Hard and bitter fighting at many points on this long front which the enemy had to hold pinned his troops down, extended him and prevented him from resisting successfully the hammer blows which fell in those areas where General Alexander had effected at the right point his most heavy concentrations of force. While fighting on the sector occupied by General Montgomery's Eighth Army has not been so spectacular as further north, active contact has been kept all the time throughout that last week, and on Tuesday the local operation south of Saouf was begun. Heavy fighting took place, but progress was slow, owing to the enormous extent of the minefields the enemy had laid. On the left flank of the Eight Army the French 19th Corps launched an attack last Tuesday aimed at securing the high ground by Zaghouan. In this difficult country progress was slow, but by the end of the week the towns of Zaghouan and Pont du Fahs had been occupied and the mopping up of the enemy in that region has been continuing ever since.

It was in the central sector that General Alexander achieved his final breakthrough, and his preliminary preparations included the strengthening of the First Army by switching round formations from the Eighth Army, including the 7th Armoured and the 4th Indian divisions. It was on Wednesday afternoon that General Anderson attacked and captured the much contested hill of Djebel bou Aoukas. With his left flank thus secured, General Anderson ordered forward the main body of his infantry, which was supported by a terrific concentration of artillery, and the whole weight of the Air Force moved forward towards their objectives between Djebel bou Aoukas and the Medjes el Bab Tunis road. When these key points were captured they opened the door through which immediately our armour passed to crush the enemy's remaining defences. That advance gathered increasing momentum, exceeded all expectations in its pace and culminated on Friday afternoon in the entry into Tunis, amid the cheers of the rejoicing population, of the Derby Yeomanry, from the First Army and of the veteran 11th Hussars of the Eight Army. The two Armies joined together in victory, and the Tricolour was run up over Tunis by French troops. The First Army covered the final 30 miles in 36 hours, leaving the enemy battered, demoralised and with little or no further organised resistance. In the words of General Alexander, it was "a real thunderbolt."

Meanwhile, in the north the Americans, whose capture of Mateur on 3rd May had been the first striking advance of the Allies, met with no less success. Aided by French units in the coastal sector, steady progress was made towards Bizerta. The entry of the American tanks into this city, at almost the same hour and minute as our armour was arriving in Tunis, marked the end of a very arduous advance in extremely difficult hilly country. On 10th May all fighting ceased in the area of the 2nd United States Corps. The German commander sent and requested an armistice. He was met with the demand for immediate and unconditional surrender, which he accepted. The House knows that among the great number of prisoners were included the Major Generals commanding the Fifth. Panzer Division, the Afrika Korps Artillery, the Flak Antiaircraft Division and the Lieut.-General commanding the Manteufel Division. In the area between Bizerta and Tunis all resistance ceased on Sunday morning, when the Divisional Commander and all that was left of the 15th Panzer Division surrendered to our own 7th Armoured Division. These two veterans of the desert have been at each other's throats for the best part of two years, but that fight is now ended.

It is estimated that from 5th May we have taken at least 50,000 prisoners, mostly Germans, and this number is continually increasing. The casualties to the First Army, amounting to some 1,200, have, considering the scale of our attack and the tenacity of the enemy's defence, not been too heavy. They bring the total for the First Army since 17th April up to 8,400, while the Eighth Army's casualties from 20th April to 3rd May are just over 2,400. The remaining Axis Forces, apart from small pockets which held out here and there, are now holding part of the high ground South of Hammen Lif, the Cape Bon Peninsula and the strip of coastal plain and hilly country as far South as Diebel men Goub, down to where the front of the Eighth Army is. In this area the Axis forces are still fighting strongly, but our advance South-Eastwards down the neck of the Cape Bon Peninsula is making good progress. Today we learn that yesterday evening Soliman was captured, and Grombalia, almost half-way down the neck on the way to where that road joins the coastal road, which is the only communication the troops have who are facing the Eighth Army in the Cape Bon Peninsula. Our tanks are driving on down that road. Thus far the battle has gone well. It is still too early to say how long the last act will last or to speculate on the enemy's hope of resistance or escape. But I think one can say that, with no towns or ports on which to base themselves, and only the Cape Bon Peninsula in their hands, their prospects are bleak. They have in front of them our victorious troops, above them our Air Force and behind them only the beaches and the sea, dominated by our naval and air forces. I know that I am expressing the views of the whole House in rendering our thanks to the men of all the United Nations who have borne their part in this splendid victory.

I am glad the Government have thought it right at this stage, before the final completion of one of the greatest operations of the war, to offer our heartfelt thanks to the leaders and men of all ranks in all the Fighting Services of the Allies engaged. Because of the way they have heartened our people, they have encouraged our Allies who are still under the heel of Hitler, and, no doubt, because of their action, they have struck some measure of terror into the heart of the enemy. We must be for ever grateful to all those who have taken part in what has been a long and increasingly complicated situation. Two things stand out. The first is that, as regards the Army, there has been a measure of co-operation and comradeship in arms between the British, American and French troops without which this success would not have been given. The second is the magnificent co-operation that there has been between the Fighting Services. I have no doubt in my own mind that, had we not had overwhelming air superiority, and had we not got ever increasing strength from the Navy in the Mediterranean, the Germans would still have held those rocky heights and might have held them for months. I should like to say a word of thanks to those officers and men of the Merchant Navy who for months now have been facing storm, stress and danger in carrying over those supplies without which this great victory could not possibly have been won. I should like to say, finally, that I believe this victory will do much to hearten the men and women in all our factories who are engaged on the war effort. They themselves will feel a sense of pride that they have made their contribution. I have no doubt that the news that has been received over the week-end will spur them on to greater efforts. I hope I speak for all Members of the House when I say that our hearts are full of gratitude to and pride in these people, and we trust that in the future when they have come back they will be treated with proper justice.

On a point of Order. What Motion is before the House on which these statements have been made?

There is no Motion before the House. If there was likely to be a Debate, a Motion would have to be moved.

As a number of statements are being made on the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, I am bound to ask you, Sir, to regularise the position. Either there must be a Motion, or the discussion must cease.

It might be misunderstood if the Leader of the Opposition spoke and other Members were silent. My friends and I are satisfied with the very full statement of the Deputy Prime Minister, which expresses our feelings of heartfelt gratitude for the magnificent fight put up by the officers and men of the three Services.

I am bound to press my point. This is really a most irregular position. A statement has been made by the Deputy Prime Minister without a Motion before the House, a statement has been made by my right hon. Friend, and a number of Members are rising to make further statements, and I submit that this is a most irregular position. We ought to know whether we are to have a Debate or not.

On the point of Order, May I submit that there is no desire for any discussion in the House with regard to merits or demerits? It is simply the case that the House is associating itself with the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister expressing gratitude to our men for what they have done.

While the point of Order is being considered, may I ask the Deputy Prime Minister a question?

Perhaps I might make a suggestion. I submit that the statement of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister was, of course, perfectly in Order. It is in Order that such statements should be made by Ministers. If, however, the House wishes to have any discussion on that statement, we must put ourselves in Order, and, therefore, to enable any hon. Member who wishes to make comments to do so, I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn".

As my right hon. Friend has properly made this a testimony of thanks to the Army for its great achievement, will the House allow me to add to the expressions of pleasure and satisfaction which all who have ever served in the Army or been connected with the Army feel that the Army has, at last, come into its own? Those who have followed its fortunes knew always that its prowess would increase with its opportunities. Having been given, at length, all the facilities which an Army can desire, it has justified itself. It could not have done so, of course, without the support of the Air Force. The real lesson to be learned from this campaign is that no Army can hope to succeed without overhead support and that in the future armies must be increasingly air-borne. My right hon. Friend referred to the Navy, and, of course, our land effort, unlike the land efforts of Continental Powers, is dependent entirely upon the tonnage which we can put upon the seas and which can be protected.

This is not only a national victory. This is an Imperial victory. Troops from the Dominions and from India have played their part. This is not only a victory which is notable for its direct results, but it has shown what can be achieved by the co-operation of Britain and America, and this co-operation, so complete and wholehearted, must be of good augury for the post-war world. There was an omission from my right hon. Friend's speech, and he will pardon me if I call attention to it. It was not, I am sure, premeditated. This victory marks the resuscitation of France as a fighting Power. We have read with joy of the very valiant part played by the troops of General Giraud at Pont du Fahs and in the Northern sector. There is thus reconstituted that great alliance which brought the last war to a successful conclusion. The peace of the Western world must depend upon France, Britain and America, and it is pleasing that the Armed Forces of those three Powers are now once more united and that France is growing strong again.

May I add one word which was absent from my right hon. Friend's speech? I am sure he will not reproach me for doing so, because this sentiment is in his heart as much as in all of ours. Britain cannot only produce armies. It can, when the opportunity is afforded, produce generals also. This victory puts General Alexander upon the roll of the great commanders of history. I am sure that this message will be gratifying to the troops who have brought us decisive victory and are opening for us, under such a splendid augury, a new and final chapter of the war.

May I add a sentence to what has already been said? While we are all thrilled with pride at the successful conclusion of what will be considered, perhaps, one of the greatest military campaigns in our history, everyone knows, I think, that these campaigns are planned ahead. The success of a campaign depends on the plans laid months ahead, and I would like to express my own view which I believe is shared by the overwhelming majority of people in this country, that this campaign, while reflecting the greatest credit upon all concerned on the spot, also gives complete confidence to the country as a whole in the central war machinery, in the Prime Minister and in those military, naval and air force experts whom he has chosen as part of the war machine. I would like to put on record my opinion, which, as I have said, I believe to be shared by the overwhelming majority of our people.

May I very briefly call attention to one further omission which I noticed from the admirable statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister? I am sure we all agree heartily with him about the importance of cooperation between Great Britain, the United States and France, and I echo all that my right hon. Friend opposite said on that point. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister did mention the fact that New Zealand and Indian troops also took part in this last phase of the African campaign. What I would call the attention of the House to is this—that the kernel of this co-operation, from the early days when every other nation outside the British Empire was either hostile, or prostrate, or neutral, or non-belligerent, was that the nations of the British family held together and held the firmament of freedom intact. That is the kernel of the whole thing. There would be no fighting alliance otherwise, at the present time, and I believe the first tribute to be paid by this House is to the other nations and peoples of the British Commonwealth who stood when nobody else was able to do so in the whole world.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether his attention has been drawn to the speech by General Franco in which he offers mediation, and whether my right hon. Friend will do nothing to allow any interference on the part of this full-time Fascist?

May I offer one further tribute to a Service which has not been mentioned hitherto? We have heard that there have been 10,000 or 12,000 casualties. Those of us who have been in touch with the sufferers recognise the immense debt which we owe to the medical and nursing services. From the beginning and all through this campaign, their work has been perfectly marvellous. There has been an immense extension of the success of that work, largely owing to the services of surgical teams right at the front and the use of transport ambulances and planes, which have brought men back to full hospital services within an hour or two and thus saved innumerable lives. They would have saved more if it had been possible to make further provision of this kind. The part played by the medical and nursing services has to be recognised, because it is at the bottom of the maintenance of the morale and spirit both of the fighters themselves and of the people at home. Those who fight are immensely strengthened if they know that these efficient services are at their band in case of need. We should be grateful to the medical services for what they have done for our valiant fellows who have gained this amazing victory.

A remark of an hon. Member on the other side about co-operation reminds me of the fact, of which Ministers should be reminded, that the consequences of Stalingrad and the winter campaign of the Red Army were an essential part of the co-operation which led to this success. May I ask whether the Deputy Prime Minister saw a report that a German military spokesman said that there was not only a superiority of numbers on the side of the Allies but also very much better equipment? In view of that, is it not desirable that in the official statement the workers of this country should be associated with the Army?

I would like to ask whether the Deputy Prime Minister will consider the fact that many of the man in the Eighth Army have been absent from their homes for six years and that many of the units in the Eighth Army have been in constant engagement with the enemy for approximately 12 months. Would the Government consider, as an earnest of the tribute we are paying to the First and Eighth Armies, giving a reward to some of these soldiers in the way of home leave? I think that it could be done on reasonably small lines. If a few were given home leave, it would not only add to the great morale of the Eighth Army, but it would help the troops in this country to get into touch with men who had been in contact with the Axis forces.

It has been a great relief to me to learn that the casualties have been comparatively light in this campaign. I would like to ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether, as a gesture of our appreciation of the terrible experiences which these men have gone through, the Government will immediately consider the improvement of the pensions and allowances to those men who have been broken in the fighting.

The matter which my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has raised will, of course, be considered. He knows the immense difficulties there are in the way, particularly difficulties of shipping, and I am sure that the men would not want it if it was going in any way to interfere with subsequent operations. In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hands-worth (Commander Locker-Lampson), there can be no doubt about our position, but I am afraid if I did not answer his question it would be misunderstood elsewhere. I can only repeat what President Roosevelt said some time ago, that we are not really interested in any attempts at mediation and that our terms are "unconditional surrender."

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, "That this House do now adjourn," by leave, withdrawn.

Bill Presented

Pensions And Determination Of Needs Bill

"to amend the law with respect to the treatment of capital assets and superannuation payments for the purpose of determination of needs, with respect to the relief, maintenance and assistance of members of a household under the Poor Law Acts and Blind Persons Acts and with respect to supplementary Pensions, and to amend the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, as respects the calculation of the means of blind persons and reciprocity with the Isle of Man"; presented by Mr. Ernest Brown, supported by Mr. Ernest Bevin, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. T. Johnston; to be read a Second time upon the next Sitting Day, and to be printed. [Bill 32.]

Orders Of The Day

Town And Country Planning (Interim Development) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The splendid news we have just had of the great events which have been described to us must make it a little difficult for me and for the House to turn our minds so abruptly from those events to a topic so different from that to which I am about to propose. I am sure that throughout our discussions which concern the land of England and Wales many hon. Members' minds will be turning to that distant scene where, as we have just heard, our men have won such a splendid victory and have covered themselves with such great distinction. My joy at the news is so great that I feel almost a sense of irrelevancy at introducing this topic, but I comfort myself with the hope that the course of legislation, of which this Bill is the first step, may under Providence play its part to make this land of ours a better one for these lads when they return. I hope the House will not think me presumptuous in introducing a Bill so short a time after it has constituted my Ministry, but although I am a comparative new-corner in this matter I have been there long enough to be satisfied that I can recommend to the House that the Bill be now read a Second time.

The field of town and country planning is a very wide one, and I must say straight away that this Bill is but the forerunner of several Bills that must inevitably follow if the real new structure of town and country planning is to be erected. The object of this body of legislation which is here initiated is, I think, common ground. Our object is to secure that the land of this country shall be put to the best use in the public interest, that it shall be used to the best interests of all the people in the towns and the countryside. This object is an extremely practical one. In the past the planning of town and country has inevitably been regarded chiefly from the amenity point of view. Various admirable voluntary associations have raised their voices in effective protest against the spoliation of our land from that angle of vision and have by their protests educated public opinion to deplore the senseless waste of land and of beauty in our own island. While beauty and amenity should be, as it were, a first charge upon our activities, it should not exhaust them. It is not merely a question of what our towns and countryside are like to look at—it is a question of what they are like to live in, to be born in (which is very important)—to grow up in, to work in and to play in. I do not say that all these great questions can be settled by town and country planning alone. Other agencies must, of course, play their part. I do say, however, that the answer to these questions will be profoundly affected by the use that is made of the land of this country.

Let me give two examples of this practical aspect. Town planning can determine for the majority of workpeople how far a man is to live from his work, whether or not he is to have on top of the fatigue of his daily toil two long, tiring journeys which eat into both his pocket and his leisure. That is eminently a practical consideration. Again, I believe that a wiser lay-out of our housing estates and a better organisation of our fast traffic routes, keeping the two separate from each other, could save the lives of hundreds of children a year and save countless more from mutilation and disfigurement. It is not my view that there is any necessary conflict between beauty on the one hand and utility on the other. Indeed, beauty, health and convenience should be sought together. They do not hinder each other but they powerfully reinforce each other. Nor do I find any antagonism between the interests of town and country in this task. When the House passed the Bill setting up this Ministry, "Punch" was good enough to notice the occasion by a cartoon of myself mounted on a horse which was of the pantomime variety, with fore and hind legs of the human kind. One pair of legs was depicted as being those of a countryman and the other pair as those of a townsman. The fact was made evident that the two pairs of legs pointed in different directions, and I was depicted with the appropriately lugubrious expression which a rider would wear who was mounted on a horse whose sense of direction was so equivocal. I would say that the kindly jest was so far from my own conception of the matter that I was rather relieved to find that the picture was given the title of my hon. Friend the Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison).

I think the war has done a good deal to educate those of us who required education in this respect. The experiences of the evacuation must have made many countrymen feel that we are not making the best use of the land in the cities and towns, and I think they would rejoice at an improvement in the conditions of their new friends. I think, on the other hand, that the achievements of our farmers and farm workers in feeding us from the land still left in their possession for agricultural use should make us all, whether townsmen or countrymen, very resentful of any further waste of agricultural land. Though this Bill is not the place in which to do it, I should like to get away from the nomenclature and the ideas which inspire it and which are current in planning. When we talk about "development" in town planning we mean taking land away from agriculture, and when we dedicate land to agricultural use we describe it as "sterilising" the land. In any exact view of the first functions of land those words have precisely the opposite meaning of the truth. I hope in the meantime that interim development authorities will bear this matter in mind, and that if permission is sought to build on land of high agricultural value, they will consider whether there is not other land of lower fertility available. In this task they can avail themselves of the advice of my Regional Planning Officers, who in this regard will work in concert with the Rural Land Utilisation Officers set up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is not only a national interest, but it is a good thing for dwellers in cities that they should have, for example, vegetables and dairy produce which have been produced near their homes, and so have a chance of getting those commodities cheap and fresh.

I need not rehearse the various considerations which have compelled those who have considered the subject to adopt the idea of a national central planning authority. The House accepted the fact in the Bill passed last February which set up this Ministry and which is the cause of my being here to-day. The matter was put in this way in the Uthwatt Report, paragraph 17:
"The system which we regard as necessary for an effective reconstruction, and which we have therefore assumed, is one of national planning with a high degree of initiation and control by the central planning authority, which will have national as well as local considerations in mind, will base its action on organised research into the social and economic aspects of the use and development of land, and will have the backing of national financial resources, when necessary, for a proper execution of policy."
That summary shows that the task of the new Ministry is a vast one. It must be based on organised research into the social and economic aspects of the development and use of land. That research in itself is a formidable undertaking, and how many are the problems involved in this matter will be evident to anyone who has read those three admirable documents, the Report of the Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population, which was presided over by Sir Montague Barlow, and the Reports of the Committees presided over respectively by Lord Justice Scott and Mr. Justice Uthwatt.

Quite apart from the purely planning questions on which I have touched, these Reports and, indeed, the facts of the case raise certain legal, financial and administrative questions of great complexity and importance which require very careful and prolonged consideration. A great deal of work in this direction has, I am happy to say, been done, and this part of the work is being pressed on continuously, but much more study and research into these matters is needed before a durable structure of legislation can be erected. The Government fully realise the importance to local authorities of decisions on these matters, but while they are being arrived at there is no need for time to be lost. There is a tremendous amount of work in research and planning which can and must be done, whatever the outcome of Parliament's decisions on these other matters. By many planning authorities that work is being done and done very well indeed. Some admirable work has already been accomplished.

I suppose that no planning authority is more concerned with or more anxious for a solution of these financial problems than is the central planning authority. But while we are pursuing those solutions as hard as we can, we are at the same time hard at work upon the necessary research into the facts, and in devising the principles of the science or art—and I think it is a bit of both—of national planning which must necessarily be accomplished if I am to fulfil the functions which the House has laid upon me. It is clear that the task before us involves a complete overhaul of the law and practice of planning, as well as research, and the study of those financial and administrative questions to which I have alluded. In tackling an undertaking of this size I think the first thing to do after you have surveyed the ground is to determine your order of priority of action. Work must go on simultaneously over the whole field, but legislation must put first things first. This Bill is, in my view, clearly the first step that must be taken. The alterations in the law which it makes will be required whatever decision is come to on these other matters, and I therefore ask the House to bear with me while I try to explain provisions which are necessarily couched in technical language. I will try to put the gist of the matter as clearly as I can.

The first thing I would refer to is the Title of the Bill—the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Bill. I have found in comments which have reached my ears that the use of those words "interim development" has given to those whose duty it has not been to make a close study of the technicalities of planning quite a wrong impression of the functions of the Bill. The word "interim" has about it a somewhat temporary, stopgap sound; but that is not its meaning in connection with the Title of this Bill. Interim development is an inevitable stage in any planning machinery. It is that development which takes place between the time when the planning authority passes a resolution to plan and the final conferring of statutory force upon the planning scheme. At present about five per cent. of the area of England and Wales is subject to statutory schemes which are in force. The remainder is either not subject to a planning resolution at all or is in the stage of interim development. When this Bill is passed interim development will cover 95 per cent. of the land of England and Wales, the other five per cent. Being already subject to statutory schemes. Therefore, the words "interim development" far from being a limitation of the Bill, is that term which is appropriate to express that stage of development at which control will be exercised over 95 per cent. of England and Wales.

The objects of the Bill are twofold. The first is to extend planning control throughout England and Wales, and the second is to strengthen control over development in the interim period, that is to say, while schemes are being prepared. The first object is attained by Clause 1. There are many areas, including some which have been very badly damaged by bombs in our urban centres, which are not subject to any planning resolution at all and therefore are under no form of planning control. There are rural areas similarly situated. The effect of Clause i will be to bring under planning control some additional 10,000,000 acres of land. It is clearly right that this should be done. It is high time that such authorities as have not hitherto thought fit to pass planning resolutions should enter upon this duty, and begin as soon as they can if we are not to lose this opportunity of reconstruction which the war, with all its evils, has conferred upon us. The period of three months allowed in the Clause is thought reasonable to enable those authorities which have not hitherto undertaken the task to make the necessary arrangements for their new duties. As this inauguration of planning obligation and liability is now made universal by Statute instead of being left to the choice of authorities, it is thought that the elaborate provisions contained in the law as it stands for notices and registers can and should be dispensed with, and this is done by Subsection (2).

Clause 2 deals with two matters in the existing law which I ask the House to agree with me in thinking are out of place in the conception of national planning and post-war reconstruction. The first matter is existing buildings, and the second matter is the peace-time procedure and time limits for dealing with applications for interim development. Let me take first existing buildings, dealt with in Sub-secttion (1) In that Sub-section there is a reference to a proviso to Sub-section (3) of Sectionn 10 of the principal Act. That proviso in the older Act secured certain rights to owners of buildings which are destroyed or demolished which enable them to replace those buildings on those sites with similar buildings. In our present circumstances, this cuts right across planned reconstruction, and is therefore abolished by this Sub-section. It was appropriate enough perhaps—although I will not argue it now—in peacetime, when the demolition of buildings was rarely accidental but was done with a view to subsequent rebuilding. A provision of this sort, when the bombs of the enemy have destroyed and demolished so many buildings, would clearly cut across the conception of reconstruction if every pre-existing building retained its right of replacement.

Sub-sections (2) and (3) deal with the procedure and the time-table, and make changes on which local authorities set great store. Under the present law, that is, the Act of 1932, a man can make application in the interim period to develop land which may cover a large area. Whether he is able to carry out that development or not is irrelevant. The local authority has to deal with such an application within two months. Otherwise, the application is deemed to have been granted. If the subsequent scheme interferes with the building, certain rights of compensation arise. Such applications, which I may describe as being of a claim-staking nature, are now being made, even though the work cannot be done in our present circumstances, and the local authority is placed in a very awkward and, in my view, undesirable position, with regard to them, particularly in war-time. Not only are those authorities burdened with many duties and with very short staffs, but the penalties for failure to deal with the matter in two months are very severe on the local authority. The damage done falls upon the community.

Sub-section (2) enables the authority, if faced with such an application, to serve a notice of postponement upon the applicant unless he can show that the work would be done immediately if the application were granted. The House knows how difficult it is, while the war lasts, to get any building done. That means that, in order to show that he could proceed with the work, he would need, in most cases, to produce a licence from some Government Department to show that the building was needed in the general interests of the prosecution of the war. Sub-section (3) in effect makes the two months period work the other way round. An application is deemed to have been refused if it is not granted or otherwise dealt with in that period, instead of being deemed to have been granted, if not refused.

The object of Clause 3 is to enable an interim development authority to permit development for a limited period and then to remove the buildings at the end of that period without paying any additional compensation. Our old friend the existing building crops up again here. Owing to the destruction in our cities, it may be vital to the community that buildings of a temporary character should be provided in advance of the permanent reconstruction, such as the creation of a temporary shopping centre in a blitzed-out locality in a town. It would be in the public interest if such buildings were erected for a set period, whose duration was known in advance, while the permanent reconstruction went on, even if, in the meantime, they were placed on sites which are finally destined for a road, or an open space or used for some other purpose.

Under the law as it stands there is some doubt whether works erected under temporary permission may not legally be "existing buildings," with all the rights of replacement or of compensation in default which arise therefrom. If that is so, it would defeat the object of erecting temporary buildings for a set period. The common sense course seems to be to allow the owner to put up a building for a limited period without this burden of extra compensation falling upon the interim development authority, but the owner should retain in this respect such rights of compensation as he would otherwise have in respect of a restriction placed upon the use of the site for purposes of a scheme. I confess that the Clause looks complicated and obscure, but that is because the principal Measure to which it refers is both these things, when it deals with this topic. I have given the House the general effect of the Clause, and I will be glad to answer in Committee about the details of it.

Clause 4 gives power to the interim development authority, with the Minister's consent, to revoke or vary permission for interim development which has already been given. There are two main reasons for this. One brings us back again to the existing building, a creature of peace-time so difficult to fit into the post-war reconstruction period. The effect is that until the Bill becomes law the rights of owners to replacement of existing buildings remain. As Clause 2 is not retrospective, the interim development authorities would be compelled to grant permission to replace existing buildings, however bad that might be from the public point of view. I would remind the House that until Clause 2 is law, permissions for bad use of land may have been, or may be, given by default. It is clear that, with the vast problems of reconstruction facing local authorities and the chance of writing not on a clean slate, but on a cleaner slate than in peacetime, power to revoke or vary these permissions should exist. The problems of reconstruction which now face planning authorities are so vast as to be insoluble under that rigid peace-time procedure. A plan which is good to-day may be very bad to-morrow, because war damage may entirely alter the situation and involve the formulation of an altogether new plan. Safeguards against the abuse of the power to vary or revoke are provided by Subsections (2) and (3). Sub-section (4) deals with compensation, which is also later referred to in Clause 7.

I now come to Clause 5. In my view this Clause takes a much-needed step to make control over interim development real instead of illusory, as it now is in many cases. At present the developer, if he applies for interim development permission and is refused, can go ahead in defiance of the interim development authority and can use his land as he pleases. A certain penalty and ultimate sanction may await him, when the scheme comes into statutory operation; though that may be years ahead, because there are appeals against provisions and much procedure to be got through but the only penalty which falls upon this contumacious developer is that when the scheme comes into operation at the dis- tant date, his building may be removed without compensation. I can imagine that where the building is expensive in relation to the expense of the land, that is a very real sanction, but the boot is on the other leg when it comes to buildings which are trifling in comparison to the cost of the land.

Take the case of a petrol station. Permission to erect has been refused by the interim development authority. While the planning scheme is passing through the various stages towards completion, the petrol station, even though it offends against every principle of decent planning and may be an eyesore to the whole neighbourhood, may, in that period, recoup itself with sufficient profits. The man can view with equanimity the removal of his pumps because he will still have the land, which is much more valuable than the pumps. There are other illustrations more extreme than that of the petrol station. There is the greyhound racing track, which may be objected to by everyone in the neighbourhood. The cost of the buildings is trifling. The prospect of their distant removal without compensation is no deterrent to a man who can recoup himself with high profits in the meantime. We must give power of effective control during the interim period without waiting for an ultimate sanction at some distant date. That is what the Clause does.

Clause 6 is very important. It gives the Minister of Town and Country Planning new powers of control over decisions of the interim development authorities in regard to interim development. The present position is, that if an interim development authority refuses an application, there is an appeal to the Minister against the refusal. If the interim development authority decides to grant a permission, there is no power on earth to prevent it. It is obvious that such a position is inconsistent with national planning, because damage can be done by wrongfully giving permission just as by refusing it. If you refuse, you do at least maintain the status quo, whereas if permission is given for something that is contrary to national reconstruction damage is done which may be irretrievable for a generation. In the past, some local authorities have permitted development which has been the cause of bitter complaint locally. I think hon. Members would agree that it is time we altered the law in this respect.

I should like to say a word or two about national reconstruction which may be jeopardised or damnified by wrongfully giving permission for interim development. I need not give the House a list of them, but there are matters like Defence, or the location of industry or national roads. Coming nearer home to my own Department, there are such desirable projects as national parks, and the preservation of our coastline. These things may be jeopardised for a generation by permission given by an interim development authority for interim development inconsistent with the maintenance of the amenities and beauties of those two areas of our country. We have had some damage already by ill-considered building on the coast, and that ought to be enough to convince the House that this power of control by the central planning authority is overdue.

I earlier mentioned Clause 7. It gives the right of compensation for abortive expenditure in two cases where the Bill confers power to prevent development which was properly begun or contracted for—in the first place, where permission is refused to complete work done before there was any need to obtain permission, that is to say, in the case of existing buildings and so on; and, secondly, where permission already granted is revoked under the powers sought under Clause 4. In this case compensation can be paid for abortive expenditure. Clause 8 makes important provisions with regard to joint committees. There are large numbers of these bodies in the country, and they are doing, on the whole, excellent work in planning up and down the country under the powers they have got. Under. Section 3 of the 1932 Act, these joint committees can prepare and adopt schemes, but it is held that this does not enable them to act as interim development authorities for the purpose of controlling interim development as we seek to do it in this Bill. Sub-section (1) of Clause 8 enables them to be appointed in this capacity. Subsection (3) introduces another change of substance with regard to these joint committees. At present a joint committee can only be appointed at the request of one of the authorities which is to be a constituent of it. Under Sub-section (3) the Minister can appoint a joint committee if he thinks it appropriate without any such request from one of the constituent bodies.

This seems to me to be an appropriate place to say a few words briefly about planning authorities in general. It is quite clear that the administrative boundaries of local authorities are rarely, except by accident, ideal for planning purposes. I take an ordinary case where an administrative boundary between two authorities is a river. If you are to plan a river, you must plan both banks at the same time, as is now being done on Merseyside, where the local authorities, realising that the river must be treated as one unit for planning purposes, have come together to plan it jointly. They have the assistance of an expert from my Department to advise them, who goes there at their own request. Planning boundaries are never, and can never, be the same as administrative boundaries. For the purposes of this Bill I have adopted the lay-out of local authorities contained in the principal Act. That is not to say that I think them in all cases to be the best authorities for planning purposes. There would clearly, for example, be frustration of planning if every county district were to narrow its view to its own boundaries. To plan effectively, you must have regard to the widest area you can and take it as a whole. I hope by the aid of this Clause, and by the cooperation of local authorities, to make the best use of the existing authorities to secure this end. But if, as a result of the various proposals put forward by associations of local government bodies, there is to be a review of the functions of local authorities, then their functions as planners of town and country must also be re-considered in any such general review.

There is this further point. This Bill greatly eases the problems of local authorities with regard to planning, and eases them for all time, I hope. It asserts for the first time a measure of control by the central planning authority over their activities. Later legislation will need to be introduced to state the will of Parliament with regard to more positive action to secure reconstruction, and it may well be that, in connection with powers of this positive character, we may require to consider afresh the authorities who are to exercise them. In the meantime I think we can do good work with this Bill as it is drafted, and we shall go ahead and see what we can do.

The remaining Clauses and the Schedules to this Bill are in the main formal and consequential, and there is nothing in them to which I need at this stage draw the attention of the House. All I have to say is to thank the House for having borne with me throughout the exposition of very technical legislation. I was able to indicate to the House at the opening of my speech a few of those hopes and aspirations which I cherish for the people through the agency of this new Ministry whose first day in the House of Commons this is. But indeed the contrast between these hopes which we all feel, and to which I feel confident we all respond, and the dry technique in the Bill is itself symbolic of the nature of this great endeavour of which this is the first step. In an old settled country like this there can be no easy road to effective planning. To reach our goal we shall have technicalities and controversies enough and to spare, now and in the future. But I hope that in arguing how these and future proposals affect private and local interests, we shall always bear in mind the object which we have in view, and that we shall also remember the duty we all of us owe to our own people as a whole, and to the incomparable land where they live, and for which they are fighting in the three elements of land, sea and air.

I do not think that my right hon. Friend need apologise for his exposition, because, as one having had in the past some little experience of town and country planning legislation, I realise how difficult it is for anybody to understand it, even those of us who have submitted legislation. Of course, with my right hon. Friend's opening words, and with his unexceptionable statement and emotions, I think we can all say we are agreed, but we are witnessing to-day another stage in the very leisurely unfolding of a slow-motion picture. There is something to be said for each step that has been taken in the past, but the sum total of progress so far can properly be described, I think, as being microscopic at times when the pace ought to be accelerated. I realise that town and country planning raises difficult and complicated and highly controversial issues.

I was responsible in 1931, as Minister of Health in a minority Labour Government, for the introduction of the first Town and Country Planning Bill. That Government came to grief before the Measure was placed on the statute Book. I am bound to say that that Bill was hardly a Bill after my own heart, but it was the most I could reasonably expect to get out of a House of Commons composed as it was at that time. After the 1931 General Election I have to confess that that the composition of the House of Commons was even less to my liking. I was one of those who was swept for the time being into an undeserved oblivion. Early in 1932, however, to herald my return to Parliament as a result of a by-election, the Coalition Government introduced something they called a Town and Country Planning Bill, rather more attenuated than it was when I had left it unfinished, and subjected to Amendments which I suggest to my right hon. Friend are partly the cause of some of the obscurities of our present legislation.

Our town and country planning legislation, although it has been cumbersome, although it has been slow in operation and execution, has achievements to its credit, and those achievements ought not to be despised, but few people who care about the objects of town and country planning legislation can be satisfied with the progress that has been made. The real reason—and I think we have got to face it, and I am not doing so in any narrow sort of controversial spirit—is that we have not yet faced up to what is a fundamental question, the actual ownership of land and the form of control of land, if any. Legislation such as there has been, has been, so to speak, tentative from the time of the first Act in 1909 onwards, and largely because we have burked this major issue. I am not going deeply into past history. Indeed, I have not time to recount even the history of the last six years, but I think that there are certain points which ought to be made.

Reference has been made by my right hon. Friend to certain reports. Their terms of reference were different, but they had certain objectives which opened out, and they must, I submit, be treated together. It was on 8th July, 1937, that the Barlow Commission was appointed to deal with the distribution of industrial population. Its Report was completed in August, 1939, just prior to the outbreak of war, and because of that new situation the Report was not published until January, 1940. That Commission was primarily concerned with the distribution of industrial population and, because of that, the question of the location of industry. After this Report was published the peace-time situation visualised by the Commission had, of course, been transformed, first by large-scale evacuation, and secondly, by severe damage in certain areas due to enemy action in the air. It was these considerations which led the Government to set up the Uthwatt Committee. Its interim Report—I want the House to watch the march of time—was published in March, 1941. Its final Report, a much larger and important document, was published in September, 1942. During the war Lord Justice Scott's Committee was appointed in October, 1941, and proceeded fairly rapidly, because its Report was published in August, 1942. Eight months have elapsed since the final documents of these various investigations were put into the hands of the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "A very busy eight months."] It may have been, but I am just pointing to the fact, which I think is undeniable. I might call it nine months, but I will not quarrel about a month. The Barlow Commission regarded the problem as being primarily industrial, not agricultural. They said that agricultural matters were outside their terms of reference. The value of the Scott Committee is that it rounded off the Barlow Report by bringing into the general sweep for consideration the agricultural problems of the future, the use of land, and life and amenities in the countryside. The Uthwatt Committee arose purely out of war damage and the problems which resulted. It was a more specialised job—a job which, given its restrictive terms of reference, was, I think, very well done.

Now, a word as to how those problems have been handled from the point of view of administration. There has been a series of metamorphoses. We started with a First Commissioner of Works. He blossomed into a Minister of Works and Buildings. The word "Buildings" was dropped, and he was glorified with the title of Minister of Works and Planning. At a later stage there came a new Minister of Town and Country Planning, whom we welcome to the House on his making his first statement to-day. Out of this giddy whirl of changes which have swept through the House in recent months, we have now a Town and Country Plan- ning (Interim Development) Bill, about the middle of May, 1943. Let us admit that in 1940, when we were fighting alone and fighting for our lives, there was no time for spinning dreams about the future. No one would pretend that there was. But the Government's confidence in ultimate victory was such that early in 1941 the Prime Minister thought fit to put me in charge of the exploration and study of post-war problems. Two and a quarter years have elapsed. Reports have been issued; not merely reports dealing with this matter, but other documents, like the Beveridge Report, Mr. Tomlinson's Report on Industrial Rehabilitation, and so on. But very little action has been taken. The Barlow Commission, the Uthwatt Committee, and the Scott Committee all came to the conclusion, with certain differences, that there ought to be a national planning authority; and on 11th February last year, shortly before my services were dispensed with, I made a statement in the House of Commons on the question of a central planning authority. I will not trouble the House with that, except to say that this was an agreed War Cabinet statement, and represented the views of His Majesty's Government, at any rate on 11th February, 1942. In the last sentences I dealt with the wider problems which were raised by the Barlow Commission, and went on to say that we intended to do everything we could to deal with that problem. Then I said:
"The necessary legislation to give effect to these decisions—
about industrial location—
"will be introduced at an early date."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th February, 1942; col. 1533, Vol. 377.]
That was in February, 1942. When the Minister of Works and Planning Bill was before the House, on Second Reading, towards the end of April, I referred again to the national planning authority; and one got the impression that we had one of sorts, although it is to me a little ill-defined, anyhow, and how far its authority goes I do not know, but I have my doubts. Statements have been made on several occasions since, in January this year, the right hon. Gentleman was brought into being officially. I spoke then, and I will not repeat the argument I used.

As regards the present Bill, I regard it as a useful Bill; I think it is a necessary Bill. It is an advance; it stretches the existing laws and the powers of the Minister. It makes certain improvements in the law which would have been difficult to effect under ordinary peace-time conditions. Therefore, the Bill is to be welcomed. I hope, and I am certain, that my right hon. Friend will exercise his powers to the full when the Bill is on the Statute Book. But the country is really awaiting decisions on the major issues. I do not agree that we can carry on the war merely by banning all controversy in this House. A little healthy controversy does this House no harm; often, it does it good. These issues must be faced sooner or later. We have been talking about them for two and a quarter years, and we have reached no decision on any big question.

There are four questions crying out for solution. The first is the future of land ownership and control. On that I can conceive that a Government composed of all the political parties is not likely to reach any agreement, other than a compromise agreement, on a question which is highly controversial; but for Heaven's sake let us know how we are going to march into the new world after the war. Where are we going to stand on this question of land ownership and control? Unless we know that, the whole outlook is quite hopeless. Secondly, people want to know about the Uthwatt Reports. They have been in the hands of the Government for some time. I fully appreciate that they raise difficulties, but the public want to know, particularly in the blitzed areas. All those local authorities are, naturally, gravely concerned. Thirdly, there is the question of how we are to achieve, leaving aside the question of ownership and control, the best use of our land and natural resources; and coupled with that is the question of the proper location of industry. I undertook in February, 1942, to have those two problems dealt with at a fairly early date.

I have tried to show that I do not under-estimate the wide range and the vital importance of the issues involved. I realise the difficulty of concentrating attention on issues which are not directly connected with the prosecution of the war. I felt that peculiarly myself during the whole of 1941. I appreciate that, with a National Government, established to bring the war to a victorious end, the primary job is winning the war—an ambition which.all of us passionately share. I realise also the difficulty of representatives of different political parties, with different outlooks, reaching the greatest common measure of agreement unless they exercise infinite patience. For active politicians the path of coalition is a very hard and a very stony one. On the other hand, I must put this point of view, because I do not agree about ruling all controversy off the Floor of this House. I must put this point of view, as one who has given considerable thought to post-war problems. Unless, long before the end of hostilities, the broad lines of policy on the issues which are bound to arise in this Debate have been laid down and agreed, and the necessary legislation passed in the years after the war, the future efficiency of these little Islands will be greatly imperilled, and what beauty and amenities are still left to us seriously threatened, or even in large measure destroyed. These little Islands are all that we have on which we can tread. We live on the land, by the land, by the ships that we build in our shipyards, and so on. If before the war is over we have not made our plans for long-term economic recovery, and made very stringent regulations to prevent the defilement of what is left of the British, countryside, the outlook will be serious.

While I accept the Billalthough we may talk about it on the Committee stage—I ask the Government to accept the implications of their past declarations and actions, without delay. My plea is a simple one. I want bold measures, and I want them early—for two reasons. I ask for the salvation of Britain from the despoilers. I ask for the best use of our lands, our harbours, our natural resources, for the prosperity and welfare of our people. This, I think, our people are entitled to expect.

In the first place, I want to congratulate the Minister upon being active in bringing in his first Measure. But planning is not only legislation. Planning is a physical thing; it is some work which has got to be done. It does not matter what legislation we pass in this House: it will not make any difference to the town or country unless the architects are informed and allowed to get to work. The nation's architects are available. There are thousands of them ready, willing, and able to go right on with this work, without in any way interfering with our war effort. They are standing by, anxious to go ahead. And due to this, frankly, I am worried by the Bill which indicates how the mind of the Ministry is working. I would like for a few minutes to look at the background of this Bill, It comes from a new Ministry. This is that Ministry's first effort, and it has yet to make its departmental tradition. This Bill is the lineal descendant of the 1932 Town and Country Planning Act. Its parents are members of the same Department that produced that Act and, as we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), it comes from a Ministry that has passed along through several Departments. It has moved so often you could hardly find out where it was for a time.

This Bill in substance is almost a reproduction of the earlier Act, with a little more added to it. The principal Act did not create a record of glory. It has been adversely criticised by many men from both large and small local authorities who have had the task of trying to administer it. The Scott Report sets aside a special chapter to criticise the 1932 Act, and justly so, for after 10 years, seven of them during peace-time, only 5 per cent. of our country is under complete control, and but 70 per cent. is under an interim development Order. It will not be very impressive for the Minister to try and paint a pretty picture of its results, for anyone who journeys around the perimeter of any large town or built-up area throughout the country can see for himself the dreary suburbia which universally exists. That has really to be stopped. The former countryside has been steadily defaced, and though it is prejudging the issue, I do not believe the present Bill will do very much to stop it, due to certain overriding conditions brought about by the war, and we have to look at this as purely a war-time Measure, for the Minister has told us it is but the first of many.

I believe that although the Minister is particularly anxious to get ahead in this matter, he has to a certain extent lost sight of certain of the vitals of this national planning situation. The principal Act was ineffectual for several reasons, and even if these are now all removed, the Bill will still not do much to meet the present wartime realities. It states, for example, "that areas not already under Resolution shall (now) be deemed to have been duly passed by the local authority" and "to have been approved by the Minister." This, I fear, is but little more than a pious hope and will continue so until we can get the Government's lead on many points of planning policy, so that men can get ahead and do the actual planning. It is no use saying that they are going to make their plans, if they do not know the governing conditions for which they are to plan. It is no use asking a man to design a house if you do not tell him the use and kind of house you desire. Local authorities will not be able actually to make progress until the Government have announced their general overriding principles which are the root that will control the trunk of our post-war planning. Ten regional advisers have been appointed, we were told by the Minister, and these advisers may be very good planners, but I believe that their knowledge of architecture is strictly limited. I understand—and I think I am justified in calling attention to this—that the Minister has received complaints about these advisers having little if any architectural knowledge, and as the Parliamentary Secretary is here, I do not think I can do better than quote from one of his own speeches on the point:
"The principal reason for the failure of planning hitherto has been the failure to recognise the importance of architecture."
Thus we have 10 advisers appointed to work with the local authorities I know of, and none famous for his architectural record, and I do not know that we can really look to them with any great hope that they are going to help our local authorities with the building side of their planning problems. In such circumstances these appointments are a little disturbing. The 1932 Act, which we all admit has pot completed what it set out to do, is now being turned out again with additional variations, and aided by a few official advisers who we know are really not unduly capable of giving advice on architectural matters, and yet the major planning work of our towns in future should certainly be of a good architectural character. We all remember the wide and indiscriminate destruction of beauty spots after the last war, and that good agricultural land that was destroyed because there was no legal machinery to stop it for no preventative measures existed. It is clearly desirable now that by placing all the land under interim development Orders this Bill sets out to do that it will stop this sort of thing being repeated this time and that it will prevent private persons or local authorities again perpetrating such acts of vandalism and equally that it will stop them staking claims that might put them in line to collecting compensation later. But, really, is not this Bill something like using a sledge hammer to crack a monkey nut? Why take up the precious time of Parliament at this period of the war with a matter of this kind? Are we not being asked to do something which really could be accomplished in a much simpler way. Why not follow the example of the Minister of Works? It is impossible during the war to build without getting a permit from him, and why not introduce, purely as a war Measure, a short Order in Council, a standstill Order, on the existing 32 town and country planning Act? That would easily provide for anything that we can do under this Bill. The Ministry could then get on with the work needed for the actual planning itself.

I suppose that when my hon. Friend winds up the Debate he will attempt to justify taking up time by bringing in this Bill, but anyone who had had practical planning experience knows that what is so sorely needed is a statement of the main items of the policy of the Government. Without such a statement, practically nothing can be done. There are a few vital and indispensable matters which must be explained to the nation and debated in this House, such as the stabilisation or not or some alteration of land treatment, its control and cost. There should be some definite information as to the policy of the Government as to what is proposed with regard to the financial aid that will be given to local authorities; without that it is literally impossible to make much progress. The poorest parts of our country are the ones which invariably need the greatest amount of financial help in their town planning work. What is the position going to be as regards the location of our industrial population? What is going to be done about that very important part of our post-war planning? We must know something about the policy concern- ing green belts, arterial roads, national parks and coastlines. These are the things for which the country is awaiting a lead. It is not waiting for interim development Orders but for real considered guidance on these essential fundamental matters. All the interim development Orders in the world will not make it possible for any practical planner to make a plan without these. You cannot lay out a new housing estate, large factory groups or even playing fields without that information, for, without, they might be placed within a green belt or on an arterial road. That information needs to be forthcoming and a lead and guidance from the Government are anxiously looked for, and this Bill does not help us much in any of these matters. Again local authorities will not know how much they can spend until they receive some idea from the Government as to the money which is to be given to them as an aid. Without all this, real planning will be at a standstill. Until we know about the settled policy on fundamental matters, such as the control of land and the Government's financial contributions, the work on the map itself, so to speak, cannot be started.

The war is marching on, and I believe that it will take not less than 18 months from the time that these principles are laid before this House and when actual building could be started. We are going to require our building industry to help materially with re-employment, and there is little doubt that there is 18 months' intensive work of many varieties between the time Parliament get these principles and the time when they can be translated into practical use. May I hope that the Minister, now that he has introduced this Bill, will be able to get it through all its stages as quickly as possible and that he will then concentrate on the real measures of planning which require to be decided and for which both the country as a whole and practically all the local authorities are most anxiously waiting?

I listened with considerable pleasure and encouragement to the speech with which the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill to the House, and, in a sense, introduced himself. I felt after listening to what he said that, at any rate, the root of the matter was in him. If our town and country planning during the past quarter of a century does us little or no credit—and I am afraid that is only too true—it is at least not because we are without good models. The charm of our old towns and cities is only surpassed by the varied and satisfying beauty of our countryside. Both these are assets of the greatest value in our national life; the destruction by war and the devastation caused by ill-advised development are alike deplorable. We are not to blame for the former, but we shall certainly be very much to blame if we allow the latter to continue.

During the last 20 years or so miles of ugly ribbon development have been created. I suffer from this every time I go back to my home, but I notice particularly, that as soon as this ugliness lies behind one, the countryside at once asserts its claim to beauty. I notice furthermore that this beauty has been increased by the intensified farming of the past few years. The preservation of such national assets as these is worth a considerable sacrifice, and any Measure designed to prevent their destruction deserves our warm support. But prevention is not enough. The often quoted saying that "God made the country, and man made the town," to which has been added the conjecture that "the devil made the suburbs," is perhaps a statement without much thought. The last conjecture, one cannot help suspecting, has some truth in it. But the distinction between town and country which is made in the original saying is not really true. For in our small Island, at any rate, man has made the country as well as the town, and neither town nor country is a static museum piece. When we say that we want to preserve our town and our country, we do not mean that we want to keep it just as it is, for it is the living expression of our national life, and life involves continual growth and continual change.

As we all know only too well, much rebuilding is needed now in our towns, and especially in coastal towns like my own constituency and coastal towns of the. East and South-East. I noted with great pleasure what the Minister of Labour had to say on that subject on 31st March in this House, and I hope his words will be taken to heart. But the problem is nearly as urgent in the country. We all say that we want our rural population to be preserved and to grow and our young. people want new houses in which to create new homes. These two problems are problems of very great urgency. As was pointed out by the last speaker, preparation must precede building. At least six months or in some cases as much as 18 months are needed from the word, "Go" to the laying of the first brick. These plans ought to be made now, for we need to get off the mark as soon as the pistol fires, or perhaps I should say, in this instance, as soon as the pistol ceases fire. It is most urgent that we should get on with our plans and preparations, and I ask for an assurance that this Bill, which in many respects is admirable, will not mean delay in that respect. There was some indication in my right hon. Friend's speech that this was the beginning of simplification of methods for builders, so that they will no longer have to deal with half-a-dozen Ministries in addition to local authorities. I hope that is true and that we shall be able to speed up matters.

Now may I say a few words about the provisions of the Bill itself? In the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill it is said that it is intended to control all areas in England and Wales. I would like to know whether that means that the Minister has to take cognisance of the whole of our country from shore to shore so that he will have to deal with coast erosion and land reclamation. I would like to be quite clear on that point and I would also like to ask, if it does not actually mean "shore to shore" in that sense, what is meant by the words, "all areas"? The first Clause of the Bill gives me some misgivings, because it says all these areas are to be deemed to be subject to a resolution to prepare a scheme. If so and if schemes do not in fact exist, it is difficult to see how delay is to be avoided under that Clause. In Clause 2 (3B) there is a question apparently of automatic refusal of applications without consideration. It seems a little hard to justify automatic refusal without consideration and if I have rightly interpreted the meaning of this Clause I would like to ask whether applications which are automatically refused without consideration, can be remade later.

In Clause 7 power of recovery is given against the interim development authority. Does that mean that the authority has to face this repayment, or can authorities have recourse to the Government in cases where they have to make the payment? I must mention again my old enemy which reappears in Clause 10. I think it is said to be "common form" but that is no justification if it is not common sense. It ought not to be necessary to take action under a Rule which has to wait 40 days for confirmation or otherwise. No action ought to be taken until 40 days have elapsed, and I would like to hear something about that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies. I welcome the idea which lies behind this Bill and I hope the Minister will succeed in realising it. I also hope for assurances that the urgency of preparing plans for building is fully recognised and that delay will be avoided.

This is, in one sense, a pleasant occasion for me. I was glad to be here to listen to my right hon. Friend bringing before this House, for the first time, consideration of matters arising out of the new Ministry of Town and Country Planning the creation of which we all welcome and the continuance of which, like other Ministries created in war-time, is guaranteed through the peace. I was also very glad to hear the first part of the Minister's speech when he pronounced so definitely on the need for planning and some of the methods by which planning may be brought about. Having said that, however, I have to confess that it is rather dismal to see this House devoting its first serious attention to post-war town and country planning upon a miserable sprat of a Bill like this, and to say, as a comparatively junior Member, I deplore the fact that so little interest in this vital matter is being taken by hon. and right hon. Members of this House.

In the first place, this Bill is out at heel. When the Uthwatt Committee was established in 1941 it was given terms of reference, which included an immediate investigation into, among other things, steps to be taken to prevent post-war development being prejudiced in the meantime. When that Committee published their Interim Report in April, 1941, they recommended that certain steps should be taken in the direction of preventing prejudicial work and those steps were considered by the Government. The Government, however, did not see fit to follow the method suggested by the Uthwatt Committee and announced, through, the then Minister of Works and Planning in July, 1941, that any further safeguards required for the time being could be provided by strengthening the provisions of the Planning Acts. Presumably a Bill of the kind we are considering to-day, was then drafted and, having been drafted two years ago, it has since been drifting from one Minister to another and from one Ministry to another. Now, after two years, we get this tattered and out-at-heel Measure, which might have been acceptable if it had been put forward two years ago.

Not only is the Bill out at heel but it is also out of time. The Minister in introducing it described it as the forerunner of other measures. I would draw the attention of the House to the proper order of dealing with post-war planning. The Uthwatt Committee, when they advised on this matter, said:
"In the legislation which we assume would be introduced at an early date on the subject by a central planning authority, provision should be made for vesting in that authority power to control building and other developments throughout the whole country by reference to national planning considerations and with a view to work being undertaken which might be prejudicial to reconstruction."
That is the procession as outlined by the Committee. First of all, an effective planning central authority; secondly, a master plan, giving the main considerations on national grounds that are to be applied to this country and, finally, a method of closing up the gaps, by powers lo prevent wrongful development. Obviously, a master plan could not be created in a day. That is the procession —the Lord Mayor's coach; the panoply of uniforms and, bringing up the rear, the corporation dust-cart. Here we have turned the procession the wrong way round. This Bill, designed to fill up the gaps, has put the Corporation dust-cart in front of the procession. This Bill is completely out of time and, I suggest, is also out of date. It is, in its own terms, to be understood by this House only with reference to the Act of 1932. It is in the whole of its format, tied to legislation which has been proved deficient and defective and, in fact, a lamentable failure.

The state of planning at present has been mentioned by the Minister and others. We know that only 5 per cent. of the land of England and Wales is subject to statutory planning considerations and, if we bring in Scotland as well—they are a bit behindhand—it comes down to 3 per cent. That represents the areas covered by authorities which are financially capable and energetic and desirous of getting on with town and country planning. In fact you may describe them as the cream. Then, in England, something under three-quarters, and in Wales something over a third of the land is covered by resolutions to plan, producing this interim stage. They represent the authorities which either had not the means or lacked the desire to go ahead with effective planning. Let us not forget that, before the war started, they had all had 64½ years in which to put the Town and County Planning Act into operation. This Bill does nothing but put the Minister of Town and Country Planning in the same position as the laggard and poor authorities. Therefore, I submit that it is out of date. I suggest also that it is out of step with the needs of to-day. Preceding speakers have emphasised that the needs of to-day are to plan ahead and to start doing it now. Building cannot start without local plans and local plans cannot be effective, from a point of view which receives acceptance throughout the whole House, unless they are dependent upon a general national plan. As the Minister said, such a national over-riding plan, bearing in mind considerations of the location of industry, the extent to which the blitzed towns are to be rebuilt, the movement of population and the needs of transport and services is a formidable task.

Is not that all the more reason why it should be grasped now? The hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) said that, once you have your plans completed, it will be 18 months before the building begins to go up. Other news these days is very good. One might even reasonably hope that that period might see the end of hostilities. What a terrible position we would find ourselves in if we had to end the war without being ready to meet the situation. Whether we plan or not, whether the Ministry shows more energy than it has done, whether the House legislates for it properly, as soon as hostilities are over the buildings will go up. We have plans ready for the labour—we are planning already for 1,250,000 to be employed in the building industry at the 'end of hostilities—and there are also, I believe, plans afoot to provide the materials for them. There is money available. The War Damage Commis- sion will have some hundreds of millions. The savings of the people are mounting week by week. The men will come back from the Forces and they will have the resources. The labour will be there, and the demand will come which no Government can resist. We must have homes and we are going to have them. Unless we have the plans ready for that moment, we will have at the end of the war the same, perhaps even more chaotic conditions than we had after the last war—more chaotic because the needs of our blitzed towns have complicated the position.

I have suggested that this miserable Bill is out at heel, out of time, out of date and out of step, and for those reasons and many others I suggest that it ought to be out of court. After all, the Government have had nine months in which to consider the major problems, such as those dealt with in the Uthwatt Report, and the Minister has had three months, and yet all we get is this miserable little effort. The House will grant it its passage but only, I feel sure, upon the implied term that the Minister, having relieved his desk of this ancient draft, will then be able to get down to the real job and will come to the House very quickly to say what the Government's proposals are with regard to the matters that we all want o see prepared and planned now.

I dissent entirely from the last speaker's remarks in our common desire to get ahead with proper planning. This is a small Bill. The Minister has pointed out that it is an interim Bill dealing with interim planning, but it does not therefore deserve the name of "miserable." When you are dealing with a particular plan and have decided to work it out by stages, you must have room for the measures which are necessary to fill in and to stop gaps. I take it that this is a stop-gap Measure which is necessary before we proceed to the later stages of planning. The history of the movement is quite clear. Many of us have been concerned with it from the very first, and one notices two things about the first Act in which the term "town planning" was introduced on to the Statute Book by John Burns' Housing and Town Planning Act, 1909. It was only town planning until the principal Act of 1932, which used the words "town and country planning." The second was that it had been mainly negative and not positive planning. But the first Measure necessary in planning, the use of the land, must be negative to prevent further mischief being done against the public interest before we can decide what can positively be done. Right mention has been made by two or three speakers of the fact that the question of the land lies at the basis of it. Several of our colleagues hold the doctrine that land ought not to be private property but should belong entirely to the State. But, whatever happens, let us recognise that land is private property and is rightfully owned, however it has been acquired.

I think we are getting rather wide of the actual Bill.

The interim development Orders deal with the actual coercion of the use of private property in land, and, as has been wisely said, private property is the essence of a free people, and, if planning measures interfere with property, which is the essence of a free people, let us recognise that we have to be extremely tender towards the owners of land of one kind or another, and such speeches as the last do not show any tenderness whatever. The slowness of this procedure is really due to the fact that the development which is being interfered with and controlled has hitherto been considered the right use by owners, and we have to consider these interim measures in that sense. Therefore I do not share the criticisms made of successive Governments in the slow development of this process of planning. It seems to me that, if we are to get sound planning, we must go pari passu with sound public opinion. We have our eyes fixed on the Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven, which we want to see promoted in our generation. At the same time that is not the opinion of the great mass of the people. They take particular interest in their own objects and desires, but have no idea of general planning, and there is a severe danger from all this planning legislation if it goes ahead of public opinion too quickly.

The Bill depends largely upon the work of local authorities, and that is the proper way of trying to bridge over the gap between the enthusiasts in and out of the House, among whom I number myself, and the common people, who have the decision to make through their representatives in Parliament and otherwise. We have, therefore, to see to what extent the local authorities are really fit people to carry out these measures. The 1919 Act first of all gave power to have joint town planning committees, and it is largely, I take it, on those joint committees that the Minister really rested his case for the Bill. As an old medical officer of health, I have considerable experience of joint committees of various kinds, and I have not been impressed with their value. They bring us up against the old difficulty of serving two masters. To get a common policy and keen action from a joint committee as a whole is very much like the difficulty of getting the co-ordination of the Fighting Services in actual warfare, to which we have rightly heard such tribute to-day. It can be done and is done in the Fighting Services, and it is done in several joint committees where there are two or three strong commanding personalities who join them together. I therefore hope that we may possibly see a solution of our planning difficulties through joint town planning committees.

Of the 1,465 local authorities which are at present responsible for preparing planning schemes, 1,195 have prepared or are preparing schemes, but many of them are unable to take the larger view. That only reinforces the general view of how important it is for us in the post-war years to try and promote the credit of service in local government. Not nearly enough is done in that way. If we want to improve the service of local government, we want to educate the rising generation in its value and public opinion generally to the great credit that is due to those who serve in local government and give up their time to it. If we can stress the great possibilities of doing national service in establishing peace after the war in several ways through local government, we shall do a great deal towards getting more efficient planning not only in this but in other directions.

I have always tried to suggest to the different bodies of which I have been a member that there are really three separate phases in planning. The difficulty arises largely from the fact that we mix up these three phases. The first is a national phase. That includes such things as national parks and coastlines, com- munications, highways and railways, and different aspects of national service. That is the first phase of planning, which must be laid down from the centre. The second phase can only be planned after the first phase has been established. That phase deals with the region or the area. For that we want the county councils, the county borough councils and joint committees lo Lake part. There is great objection from local authorities to regionalisation, but it is essential for this purpose, We must not forget the third phase, because a large amount of criticism arises from our forgetting it; it is concerned with the people living on the spot who are concerned with the actual planning of their neighbourhood— houses, parks, shops and so on. That is the matter that can and should be entrusted largely to the local councils. We cannot expect them to do it on the right lines until they have had edicts on the central phase and the regional phase. These three phases are not only definite in idea but definite in time, and I hope we shall be able to improve our planning by establishing our procedure on those three lines.

Another point I should like to urge upon the House is that although one is keen on planning in the direction that one believes one should plan, let us beware of too much standardisation and of too much detailed planning for eternity. Not only do ideas change but architecture changes. An hon. Member suggested that we should commit everything to the architect, but architects change remarkably in their ideas of what is right, proper, expedient and beautiful, even in our own lifetime. They are changing now, and if we are going to fix the ideas of our plans now—and many of them will last for centuries—we must beware of making them too fixed and not sufficiently mobile. What would have happened, for instance, if we had had a plan for London definitely fixed up before the days of the railways? Towns had grown up with the idea of foot and horse traffic, foot traffic for the local needs and horse traffic for communications. Then the railways came, and they could only establish themselves at different points round what was then London. Mr. Gladstone proposed that even then there should be undertaken the big job of getting one central station for the whole of London, but it was found impracticable to do it. We are very glad that that idea did not come to fruition, because I am sure that it is more suitable to have what we now have, not only the nine railway stations in different parts of London, but the communications between them which have only become possible during the last two or three decades.

On that showing it would surely be better to have a single station in the heart of London.

One might say that through short-sightedness a single station in the center—

These interim plans deal very much with the future lay-out of towns. What would happen if we planned now, and in 10, 20 or 30 years' time most of our communications were carried on by air? Our present plans will be liable to be upset very much, especially when we live in an era when auto-gyros might drop down on this House and elsewhere. It is a question of going slow. In laying out the future towns we have the great examples of actual diagrams of future development, where they started from a clean slate, in the garden cities of Letch-worth and Welwyn, where there are all the requirements for a complete life for the whole community. There are a few lessons to be drawn from them. First, there is the requirement for ideal development of the single freehold. That need not necessarily be in the hands of the local authority, because in these two cases it was in the hands of private enterprise—philanthropic private enterprise, it is true, but it was private enterprise. Then there is the question whether industries should follow residents or residents follow industries. In the end what we want is that the residents for the most part will follow industries. We have to fix up industry, but unfortunately when dealing with development in the early stage we have first to get industry there by showing that there are enough people to work the industry, or we have to begin with a few residents and after that the proper siting of industry must begin. These things are dealt with in the Barlow Report.

We also have to recognise that if we are to have a complete town for the life of the people, we want not only the factories for industry, but factories for the wives and daughters. There is a great deal to be considered in the laying-out of the factories for the single city. It is essential that wherever we are planning, interim development should require that ribbon building should be avoided and that the buildings should be arranged in such a way as to make a unit for all the life of the town. Otherwise we shall lay up endless trouble not only for the people who may build haphazard now but for the next generation. We have, therefore, a whole posse of problems to deal with. I am delighted that we have this useful little Measure to deal with the difficulties, so that we can undertake the bigger Measures. I congratulate my right hon. Friend in undertaking this office and wish him, as I fully expect he will have, the greatest possible success in carrying through the further measures that are required for carrying out our planning.

Mr. Mander
(Wolverhampton, East)