48. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the serious delay caused in house building by the failure of the Government to introduce their Housing Bill, he will make known before the Recess the terms on which they propose State assistance shall be given to local authorities in the future, so that they may at once proceed with their schemes?
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain)
I have been asked to reply. The result of my negotiations with representatives of local authorities is an agreement for subsidy of £6 per house per annum for 20 years for an A III house. Legislation enabling the grant to be made will be introduced as soon as possible after the Easter Recess, and, in the meantime, a local authority proceeding to build with my authority would in due course participate in the proposed grant. There is therefore no reason for delay in proceeding with their schemes.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that any legislation will be necessary to prevent an artificial increase in prices as a result of the policy decided upon?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, with all respect, in view of the alterations which have taken place in the past in his Department in regard to policy, whether the policy he has announced is the settled policy of the Government, so that local authorities may go ahead without any risk of there being alterations by subsequent Government decision?
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the claim of Scotland to an additional subsidy, having regard to the peculiar difficulties of building there?
§ Mr. H. H. SPENCER
Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the Prime Minister on Friday said, in answer to the agricultural deputation, that agriculture, like every other industry, must be self-supporting?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
In reply to the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) I may say that it is, of course, the settled policy of the Government or I should not have announced it. The question as to what is to be done in regard to Scotland is still under consideration.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Does the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to the question of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) imply that schemes undertaken by local authorities will receive the £6 per head subsidy, even if building was started prior to the right hon. Gentleman taking office.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
No, Sir. That is not what I said. I said that if they now proceed to build houses with my authority, they will rank for the subsidy, provided, of course, that the Housing Bill is carried.