HC Deb 17 June 1920 vol 130 cc1446-8

asked the Prime Minister whether the Ministry of Health, in raising the Government subsidy to be paid to builders of houses by £100 per house in the case of houses commenced after the 1st April, 1920, and by £50 in the case of houses commenced before that date, has defeated the intention of this House in voting £15,000,000 on 11th December, 1919, on the basis of a White Paper produced by the Ministry of Health which showed that the grant would average £150 per house, and therefore provide a total of 100,000 houses; and whether this House will be given an opportunity of considering this alteration in the rate of the subsidy before any payments are made on the higher basis given in the Ministry of Health's memorandum of May, 1920?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Dr. Addison)

I have been asked to answer this question. I cannot accept the suggestion in the first part of the question. I am glad to say that the effect has been precisely the contrary. The amount per house of the subsidy was not fixed by the Act, but was left to be determined by the Minister of Health and the Treasury. In view of the increase in the cost of building since the amount of the subsidy was originally fixed, it was found necessary, after careful consideration, to increase the amounts by £100 in each case. An opportunity for discussion will arise upon the Estimates of the Ministry of Health.


Is it not a fact that there was a White Paper issued when this Section was agreed to, that in that White Paper the very definite figures of £160, £140, and £130 were mentioned, and that it was on the strength of those figures that the Section was given?


Does the right hon. Gentleman attach any connection between the announcement of the subsidy and the rise in the cost of building?


I do not think the announcement of the subsidy affected the price of building; it was affected by much greater considerations. The increase in the cost of labour and materials since the original proposal is more than the amount by which the subsidy has been increased.


Is it not the fact that the White Paper was before the House, and that it was on the strength of that that the Section was agreed to?


The House decided in accordance with the provisions of the Bill.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that within twenty-four hours of the Government's announcement of the new subsidy all building materials and labour went up by over 20 per cent?


No, Sir, I am not aware of that. I am afraid the hon. Member is misinformed.


If I furnish the right hon. Gentleman with the material, will he take some action?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Treasury had been consulted by the Ministry of Health on the question of raising the building subsidy by £100 per house; what was the additional charge involved; and whether the Treasury approved of the increase?


The Treasury was consulted on, and agreed to, the recent increase in the subsidy to private persons constructing houses under the Housing (Additional Powers) Act, 1919. It is hoped that the raising of the subsidy will lead to a considerable increase in the number of applications, but no estimate of any value can be given. There is no reason to anticipate that the limit of £15,000,000 set by the Act will be reached.

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