7 MARCH 1896, Page 3

An interesting discussion took place in the House of Corn.

mons on Wednesday in regard to Sir A. Hickman's Bill allowing local authorities, if they were satisfied as to the security, to advance not more than 2150 to working men earn- ing not more than 23 a week, for the purpose of acquiring their houses. The working man must in every case provide a quarter of the purchase-money, and the loan was to be re- deemable in thirty years at 3 per cent, per annum. The arguments advanced in favour of the scheme were that the moral and physical position of the working man would be much improved by ownership, and a blow dealt to Socialism. The Bill was opposed by Sir Charles Dilke, who moved as an amen dment that any measure of the kind ought to vest the freehold in the community and not in the individual. Mr. Haldane opposed the Bill, also apparently on Collectivist principles, and argued that it would in any case only benefit a very small number of working men. He also declared that theBuilding Societies could do the work quite as cheaply as the local authority, as they could now borrow at 21 per cent. on first-class security. That morning he had had to do with a transaction where 211,000 was raised at 21 per cent,—surely a most exceptional mortgage. The two front Benches, how- ever, blessed the measure—Mr. Chaplin, as he present head of the Local Government Board, and Sir Henry Fowler as a former one—and in the end the Bill was carried by a majority of 185 (270 to 91), and referred to a Select Committee.