HC Deb 13 April 1921 vol 140 cc1209-10

Order for Second Reading Bill.


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

I propose only to move it formally, as I have very few minutes at my disposal. The House is aware that this is a fairly urgent measure. The chief proposal in it is the continuance of the subsidy to private builders and other persons constructing dwelling-houses. As a matter of fact, the House is, I take it, already familiar with the proposal of the Bill. It will be remembered that difficulty arose through the rejection in another place of a Bill introduced last year for extending the period during which subsidies should be paid for the building of dwelling-houses—builders' subsidies, as they were called—and this is a proposal to continue these payments for some further time, in order to carry out pledges already given in this matter. There are a number of other Clauses in the Bill left over from last year, some of which possibly, after further consideration, we may consider it no longer necessary or desirable to proceed with. Clause 1 enables the local authorities to hire unoccupied dwelling-houses during a period of three months. Of course, conditions have changed somewhat in regard to housing, as well as in relation to other matters, since these proposals were first instituted. They were originally introduced because there was an actual stringency and great difficulty in obtaining housing accommodation. There was a greater demand for houses than there is at the present moment, and it may not be thought that this provision is now so much required. It is one of the matters which may need reconsideration. The main Clause of the Bill is, of course, Clause 2, which extends for 18 months the power to pay grants to persons constructing dwelling-houses. The number of houses now building or completed under it is 32,000, and it is considered very desirable that this particular source of supply of houses should not prematurely come to an end. I was asked a supplementary question to-day with regard to these subsidies, and it rather indicated that the amount of the grant might be lessened if the cost of building fell. I think the House is anxious that the private building industry should resume its operations in this country and that we should endeavour to relieve the taxpayers and ratepayers of the obligation to provide housing as far as possible. I would point out—

It being a Quarter past Eight of the Clock, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.