HC Deb 30 May 1921 vol 142 cc745-8

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of grants under Section one of the Housing (Additional Powers) Act, 1919, in respect of houses in Scotland completed, in the case of houses as respects which any assistance is provided by the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, within three years and six months, and in the case of any other houses within two years and six months of the passing of that Act, or such further period, not exceeding four months, as the Scottish Board of Health may in any special case allow, and to limit the aggregate amount of such grants in respect of houses in Scotland."—[Mr. Pratt.]


There are three purposes in this Resolution. It is proposed to extend the time during which the subsidy is to be paid to the builders to June, 1922. In giving the Third Reading to the Bill which has just been disposed of the House has extended the period during which the subsidy may be paid in England and Wales, and the Resolution asks that the same extension of time should be granted to Scotland. In the second place the Resolution asks for the further extension of twelve months in the case of those houses which are being built with the assistance of the Scottish Board of Agriculture in the crofting areas. The Committee is well aware of the special economic and social difficulties in dealing with housing problems in the crofting areas. Crofters have not only had the difficulties in regard to labour and materials which are common throughout the country, but they have special difficulties in the way of building their houses in time to earn the subsidy because they are away at the fishing during a large part of the building season of the year. They, therefore, have a claim for a longer period, on that and other grounds, and in this Bill it is proposed to give such approved schemes a further period of twelve months, so that in the case of crofters the subsidy may be paid until 23rd June, 1923, and in all other cases until 23rd June, 1922.

12 M.

In the third place, the Resolution asks that the share which is to accrue to Scotland, on the Goschen basis, of the £15,000,000 provided by the Additional Powers Act, 1919, shall be limited to £1,650,000. Therefore, although the time is extended for 12 months in the case of croftings that was not meant it will lead to any larger proportion of the total sum which Parliament has already approved of going to Scotland. I am not asking for any extra money. We are asking only for the money that has already been approved of, but we are asking that in one set of cases there should be an additional period to bring us into line with England and Wales, and in the special cases of the crofters there will be a further additional period.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE

I do not wish in any way to oppose the Resolution, but I am induced to think the Under-Secretary is a little too obvious in his request. He says that the £1,650,000 is the Scottish share of the £15,000,000 on the Goschen basis. That is all right; but then he goes on to say that of this sum it is assumed that a sum not exceeding £1,140,000 will be expended in consequence of the extension of the time proposed. Does that mean that Scotland is to sacrifice some £500,000 of her share of the £15,000,000? Surely it does not matter to anyone outside Scotland how this money is spent, so long as we do not exceed our fair share of the £15,000,000, and we could make arrangements so that this fair share should be spent on housing in Scotland. I suggest that a simple way would be to extend the period, not only for houses in crofting areas, which have peculiar claims, but also for all houses in Scotland, till 23rd June, 1923.

Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY

It will be refreshing if Scottish Members who ask politely questions respecting this Resolution, and put a reasoned case before the Committee, do not receive a reply of the kind given by the Minister of Transport to the reasoned case put by Scottish Members in the Debate which was concluded a little time ago. Those of us who represent the crofting areas in Scotland welcome this Bill, and are grateful to the Minister of Health and the Chairman of the Scottish Board of Health for what they have done in this matter. We know the difficulties of the crofters, and) this will be a welcome assistance to them in the difficult times through which they are passing. I desire to emphasise what has been said by the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Hope), and to ask whether it is indeed suggested that Scotland should sacrifice £500,000 of the aggregate sum of £1,650,000, I cannot believe that that is so. The Resolution provides for the extension of the period to three years and six months in cases in which any loan has been or is being made by the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, and to two years and six months in the case of any other houses. Perhaps I am dense, but I am not quite certain what is implied by that difference which is made between a house which is being built out of a loan provided by the Board and any other house, and I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would kindly explain what that difference is.


The figure mentioned in the White Paper is based upon our expectation as to what is possible in regard to the building of houses during the period named. It is quite possible that our expectation may be exceeded, and if that is the case we are entitled to receive up to the full sum of £1,650,000.

Lieut. - Colonel MURRAY

What happens if that aggregate sum is not reached? Does it lapse?


The position is this: Parliament granted a sum of £15,000,000 in the Act of 1919, and there was a statutory limit of time, which was twice prolonged. That sum may be claimed up to the 23rd December, 1922, in England, Wales and Scotland, and in the case of whatever approved building schemes are finished by that date the grants and subsidies will be available. In addition to that, as I have said, there is an extra twelve months for the crofting area. With regard to the question of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel A. Murray) as to the wording of the Resolution, the term of three years and six months refers to houses in the crofting area, and, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, these are schemes which receive assistance under Section 9 of the Small Landowners Act, 1911, and Section 4 of the Congested Districts Board Act, 1897. The period from the beginning to December, 1923, is 3½ years, and it has reference only to the houses in the crofting areas. The term of 2½ years is from the beginning of the period set out to December, 1923, and the next year.


May I as whether this Resolution exactly covers the hon. Gentleman's explanation? In the case of houses in respect of which assistance is provided by the Board of Agriculture in Scotland within three years and six months, surely that covers a very much larger number of houses than those in the crofting areas. The Board of Agriculture for Scotland provides assistance for a large number of crofters' holdings. I suggest that perhaps the difference between the £1,100,000 and £1,600,000 may be intended to be spent upon the second class of houses I have mentioned.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.