In a leading article in the "Times" of Tuesday, on housing in Germany,
which bears the appearance of coming from an official pen, Whitehaven is
sited as an example of housing conditions in this country, even in small towns
that call for more extensive legislative powers.
The point of the complaint is the over crowding of the houses upon an
area at first well planned and open. It is not suggested that the Whitehaven
Town Council should embark on the admittedly large expenditure that would
require to eradicate at once all overcrowding, but rather that the conditions are
impossible of satisfactory treatment with present powers.
In Germany the States and the municipalities own land, and not only
look after the housing of their own officials and workmen, but to see the proper
laying out of building land and the erections that are made upon it.
Practically we do that now in this country, without owning land; and landowners
themselves look after the same things.
The mischief that is now the subject of lament was unfortunately done
in days before modern ideas of sanitation, and wholesome living was dependent
on housing, had been recognized. It will take time to remedy it as things are;
but if the example of Whitehaven can be made use of in high quarters to
further national relief from the effects of urban land hunger, Whitehaven will have
the satisfaction of the martyrs.
At present the discussion of the relief possible does not promise any
very speedy action. The bearing of the comparison with Germany seems to be
with a view to showing that Germany and not England is the land for the working
man, and that Protection and not Free Trade is the way to his material
prosperity. The British working man will be hard to convince that this is so; the
effort may urge him to insist on a very different remedy.