§ (2) The operation of paragraph (2) of Section two hundred and thirty-four of the Public Health Act 1875 (which relates to the exercise of borrowing powers) shall be suspended during the period of two years immediately following the commencement of this Act and paragraph (3) of the said Section shall cease to have effect.
§ (3) The unapplied balance of any loan raised for any purpose by a local authority before the commencement of this Act (not being a loan advanced by the Public Works Loans Commissioners) may with the consent of the Minister be applied to any other purpose for which the authority have power to borrow money and if so applied shall be deemed to have been duly borrowed for that purpose at the time when the loan of which it formed part was raised:
§ Provided that if the loan was raised by a Metropolitan borough council for a purpose which required the consent of the London County Council the consent of that council shall be required in addition to that of the Minister of Health to the application of the unapplied balance.
§ (4) Where any local authority owing to circumstances arising out of the War have been unable to make the required provision by means of a sinking fund or otherwise for the due discharge of any loan the authority may submit to the Minister a scheme making provision for the discharge 2368 of the loan whether by extending or varying the period within which the loan may be discharged or otherwise and the Minister may if he thinks fit approve any such scheme either with or without modifications.
§ Any scheme approved by the Minister under this Sub-section shall have effect as if enacted in this Act:
§ Provided that nothing in any scheme shall in any manner prejudice or affect the security rights or remedies of any mortgagee or other person from whom the loan was raised.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).
I believe that Clause 15 was one of those Clauses about which the Minister said he did not mind whether it was in or not. Sub-section (2) is one of those which whittles away the safeguards of the local authorities. The paragraphs of the Public Health Act which are referred to are as follows:(2) The sum borrowed shall not at any time exceed with the balances of all the outstanding loans contracted by the local authority under the Sanitary Acts and this Act in the whole assessable value for two years of the premises assessable within the district in respect of which such money may be borrowed;(3) Where the sum proposed to be borrowed in such balances (if any) would exceed the assessable value for one year of such premises the Local Government Board shall not give their sanction to such loan until one of their inspectors has held a local inquiry and reported to the said Board.Here we are whittling away these safeguards at a time when you want them specially. It is highly wrong to do that and I warn the hon. Gentleman that if he creates these charges he will cause a very great rise of rates. It is not him but it is the local authorities who may increase it and the local authority will seize the advantage. There is no doubt that some local authorities have applied to the right hon. Gentleman to have this done at a time when they should strengthen rather than weaken these safeguards.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The Minister of Health will have his hands full if he is supposed to indulge in all these nefarious practices. It is not possible to do all these things. The whole point is that in respect of housing the limit of borrowing is two years' assessable value and we have proposed here to give time in which the local authority may have the 2369 power to raise the loan irrespective of the limit as to two years' assessable value owing to the fact that there has been no real assessment since the War. We must give time for that assessment to take place on the improved value bearing in mind the decrease in the value of money. It is only to cover that period and to allow the reassessment.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move in Subsection (3) ofter the word "Minister" ["may with the consent of the Minister"] to insert the words "if the Treasury so approve."
One does get rather suspicious of a Minister of Health dealing with loans and with money matters. I have very great respect for the Treasury and I think the Treasury would exercise a wholesome influence on him and keep him within certain bounds. We have put similar words in other parts of the Bill particularly in Clause 4 and I think it is in the interest of economy that these words should be put in.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not know what the Minister of Health would do if everybody made such suggestions as those of my hon. Friend. The Local Government Board has dealt with loans as everybody knows for the last two generations and has not carried out any wicked transactions. The real point is that if the local authority were to submit details of all sums for which they require sanction the work would be an administrative impossibility. There might be small sums of £5 for electricity or for tramway purposes and it would simply be an impossibility for the Treasury to deal with all these sums. You would want another Treasury with an immense staff.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (4) leave out the words "making provision for the discharge of the loan whether by extending or varying the period within which the loan may be discharged or otherwise" and insert instead thereof the words "varying any statutory provision requiring the loan to be discharged within any particular time or in any particular manner."—[Dr. Addison.]