HC Deb 08 December 1920 vol 135 cc2204-6

7.0 P.M.

Where any grant under Section one of the Housing (Additional Powers) Act, 1919, as amended by any enactment, has been or shall be made towards the construction of a house, then, notwithstanding anything in Sub-section (9)' of Section twelve of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920, the provisions of the last cited Act shall apply to that house, or any part thereof, if let as a separate dwelling, and every such house or part of a house shall be deemed to be a dwelling-house to which the last cited Act applies.—[Mr. Charles Edwards.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I am afraid that what was said by the hon. and gallant Member, representing the Government, just now in reference to new Clauses does not give us very much encouragement. Paragraph (a) of Cause 1 of this Bill says: This Section shall not apply to any house erected after or in the course of erection on the 2nd day of April, 1919. The object of this new Clause is to bring houses that have been built under the Government subsidy scheme within the Rent Restrictions Act. At present there is no restriction whatever on the rent which may be charged or the price which may be put upon these houses for sale. If it is right to restrict the rent to be charged on a house in the building of which the Government has had no hand, surely it is also right to bring under the same restriction houses partly built by Government grants. That is the chief purpose of this Clause. There have been charges of gross profiteering in regard to houses built with the aid of Government grants. We were told the other day that some hundreds of pounds had been made by people who had built these houses for gain. These dwellings are being built, and are then held up, sometimes for a considerable period, until a purchaser comes forward who will give the price demanded. The only purpose of the first Clause in this Bill is to bring into use houses that have been vacant or uninhabited for at least three months. If these new houses are brought under the Rent Restrictions Act it will have some effect, also, upon the prices asked.


I beg to second the motion.


This new Clause is, to all intents and purposes an Amendment of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act. I could argue the merits or demerits of the proposal at some little length, but I would point out to the House that to adopt this Clause would really be a retrograde step. Instead of adding to the number of houses available for the people it would diminish it. The Standing Committee upstairs accepted a provision that Clause 1 should not apply to the new houses. By this new Clause the hon. Member is proposing to adopt an entirely different point of view to that taken by the Committee. I do not wish to argue the Clause so much on its merits as from the point of view put by my right hon. Friend, namely, that the Government feels bound, in view of the statements made on the Second Reading and in Committee upstairs, to offer its opposition to all these new Clauses proposed to-day in the House. I therefore regret that it is quite impossible for the Government to accept the Clause.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.