HC Deb 22 July 1919 vol 118 cc1306-9

  1. (1) Where in pursuance of a housing scheme to which this Section applies new buildings are constructed, or public streets and roads are laid out and constructed, in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Local Government Board, the provisions of any building bylaws shall not apply to the new buildings and new streets carried out in pursuance of the scheme so far as those provisions are inconsistent with the plans and specifications approved by the Local Government Board, and notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act any street laid out and constructed in accordance with such plans and specifications may be taken over and thereafter maintained by the local authority.
  2. (2) Where the Local Government Board have approved plans and specification which in certain respects are inconsistent with the provisions of any building by-laws which are in force in the district in which the works are to be executed, any proposals for the erection therein of houses and the laving out and construction of new streets which do not form part of a housing scheme to which this Section on applies may, notwithstanding those provisions, be carried out if the local authority are satisfied that they will involve departures from such provisions only to the like extent as in the case of the plans and specifications so approved, and that where such plans and specifications have been approved subject to any conditions, the like conditions will lie complied with in the case of proposals to which this Sub-section. applies.

Lords Amendment:

In Sub-section (1), leave out the word "curried" ["new buildings and streets carried out "], and insert instead thereof the? words constructed and laid. —Agreed to.

Lords Amendment:

In Sub-section (1), leave out the word "may" ["plans and specifications may be taken"] and insert instead thereof word "'shall."


This Amendment is also a privilege Amendment. It takes away from the local authority the discretion of decision, and compels them, whether they like it or not, to undertake the liability.


This Amendment is objected to, and as it is a case of the privilege of the House, I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment:

At end of Sub-section (1), insert the words Provided that as regards the Administrative County of London, the Board shall not approve any plans and specifications inconsistent with the provisions of any building by-laws in force in the county except after consultation with the London County Council on the general question of the relaxation of such provisions in connection with housing schemes.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.


I am sorry that we are not disagreeing with this Amendment. A similar Amendment was proposed in this House on the Report stage, and the only addition is nine words at the end; it is practically identical with what was rejected. The then President of the Local Government Board—now the Minister for Health—on that occasion said he was unable to accept the Amendment because there were other Amendments which raised similar considerations which had reference to housing and which wanted some of these matters based on statutory injunction, consultation, reference and advertisement, until the whole process became so cumbrous and complicated that you could not do it. Fnally the right hon. Gentleman said: I cannot accept the proposal that we should be under a statutory obligation to do this kind of thing in every case. There is another point to be borne in mind. When the London County Council have had a building scheme or a housing scheme they have practically abrogated the London Building Act, but now we are going to let them impose this on the boroughs and on the County of London, and we are thereby going to retard very seriously the work of housing, if we are to insist on consultations with the London County Council with regard to their Building Acts. There are twenty-eight London building authorities, each of which will have some scheme or schemes, and the time that will be lost in consultation with the London County Council will be serious. I have served on the London County Council and therefore I know, and I hope that this Amendment will be opposed; otherwise it will retard building in London. I would not mind cosulting the Local Governtment Board or the Ministry of Health, but not the county council, in view of the delay which would result. 1 hope the right ht hon. Gentleman will resist this Amendment.


While I do not depart from a single word I said when the Amendment was before this House, I would like to point out that in that case it was proposed we should consult the London County Council in every case, whereas now the proposal is only to consult it on the general question of the relaxation of provisions. They are the building authority, and I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that, in regard to a general comprehensive scheme, we should discuss it with the county council.


1 am very anxious that we should get out of this rut in to which we have got over the by-laws system. No doubt that system did a great deal for the improvement of housing in the old days. It was an improvement on the system of Cobdenite chaos which existed in Victorian times. When we are going in for town planning the, in many cases, old-obsolete by-laws are merely instruments of bureaucratic tyranny against all reasonable progress in town planning and building. The sooner we can. get rid of some of the tyranny of the by-law system the better. Therefore I hope we shall not always be brought up in London against the London Building Act—one of the most complicated and minute body of by-laws ever brought together. 1 hope that this does not mean that there are going to be continued consultations with the county council.


Hear, hear !


Have one consultation, by ail means. Get rid of the London Building Act for ever, and get on. to a more progressive, enlightened, and better state of things. I am rather sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has agreed to this Amendment, because it looks as if there is a hankering after the old state of things. One knows what surveyors are, and how they cling to the by-laws. Whenever they get a by law saying that a street must be 42 ft. wide, they regard that as the last word in laying out houses. It is not. We have to get ahead of these by-laws. I hope, if we agree to this, that it will not be abused and that hon. Members of this House will watch the working of this provision very carefully and will see that the London County Council is not always insisting-upon the rigid application of the London Building Act.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendments:

In Sub-section (2), leave out the words which are ["by-laws which" are in force in the district.''] — Agreed to.

After the word "authority" ["if the local authority are satisfied"], insert the words or on appeal the Local Government Board —Agreed to.

After Sub-section (3), insert new Subsection

(4) Subject to any conditions which may be prescribed by the Local Government Board, the provisions of any building by-laws shall not apply to any new buildings and new streets constructed and laid out by a county councilor local authority in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries under Small Holdings and Allotment Acts. 1908and 1910, or any Act amending the same.

—Agreed to.