§ 33. Lieut.-Colonel RAW
asked the Minister of Health whether there had been any delay in approving the Chertsey Council housing scheme at Bisley on the part of the Ministry of Health; and whether there was any foundation for allegations that, on account of the officialism of his Department, it was impossible to proceed with this housing scheme?
§ Mr. PARKER
No, Sir. There has been no delay on the part of the Ministry of Health in dealing with the scheme to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, and my right hon. Friend is satisfied that there is no foundation for the allegations made in the second part of the question. The facts are that a site of 1.785 acres was selected by the council, who entered into a provisional agreement for its purchase for £225. The site was visited at the end of May by a representative of the Housing Commissioner, who approved it as being suitable for housing, subject to the purchase being made at a price corresponding with the valuation. The Inland Revenue valuer reported on the 13th June that, in his opinion, the value of the site was £90. In view of the difference between this sum and the amount which the district council were proposing to pay, the Commissioner suggested that the district valuer should be asked to negotiate the 13 purchase on behalf of the council. Pending the settlement of the price, the lay-out of the site and plans of the houses were dealt with by the Commissioner. As the council did not, apparently, take any steps to carry out the suggestion for negotiation, the Commissioner requested the valuer to take up this matter. The valuer inter viewed the owner on the 12th July, and it was arranged that the owner should write to him after considering the offer made. Receiving no reply, the valuer sent a reminder on the 24th and on the 28th received a reply from the owner's solicitors refusing the offer. My right hon. Friend thinks it regrettable that the district council did not themselves request the valuer to undertake negotiations on their behalf until the 24th July. My right hon. Friend is anxious to expedite housing schemes in every practicable way, but he is not prepared to pay prices for land which, as in the present case, are so substantially in excess of the valuation.