HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1595-7

I beg to move, in page 8, line 41, to leave out the words "the Minister certifies that."

I desire by this and a subsequent Amendment to take away the discretion which the Minister at present has, under Clause 7, to certify whether a local authority has or has not failed to take the necessary steps to promote by private enterprise the construction of houses under the 1923 Act or this Act. I want it to be a question of fact, so that if a local authority has failed, if it is clear that it is not going to carry out the Act, it shall be an obligation on the Minister to certify to that effect, and thereupon the person in the area of the local authority shall be able to come to the Minister as under the 1923 Act.


I cannot accept this Amendment. If I did so, I am afraid that I should destroy the whole purpose of this provision. It is clear that someone must judge whether or not the local authority does its duty. Who is to judge? Certainly not the local authority; certainly not the person appealing against the local authority. The only other person I know of is the Minister.


I am leaving it to the Minister to decide whether the local authority has failed, but I am saying that if the local authority has failed, he shall issue a certificate. As the Clause now stands, the Minister may judge if the local authority has failed There is no obligation on the Minister, however satisfied he may be, that the local authority has failed.


We may be dealing here with large sums of money, and we cannot simply say that the Minister shall issue a certificate that Wiltshire has been in default, and that, therefore, everyone who has a claim against Wiltshire will get £ for 20 years, or whatever it be. In the name of capable administration, the Clause should be left as it is.


The matter, is not as simple as the Noble Lord suggests. I am glad to hear that the Minister intends to stick to the words of the Clause. On first looking at the Clause I thought that the words which the Noble Lord seeks to omit were unnecessary, but on closer examination I came to the conclusion that if the Clause is to be accepted, it is necessary for the words to remain in. If there be one person more than another whom we want to encourage it is the person who builds his own house, and solves his own housing difficulty. If the Amendment were carried, such a person's position would be an extremely difficult one. The Clause helps him to make an application straightaway to the Minister, and immediately he obtains a certificate, he is fully protected.


The last speaker is quite wrong in thinking that my Noble Friend who moved this Amendment has any hostility to the person who builds his own house. The whole question at issue is whether this Clause, as it is printed, strengthens the position of the private individual, or whether his position would not be strengthened if the words of this Amendment and of a subsequent Amendment were omitted. The subsequent Amendment would compel the Minister to issue a certificate. I have not sufficient knowledge of the question to judge between my Noble Friend and the Minister, but what my Noble Friend has in mind is that it might be held by a subsequent Minister of Health that where a local authority has allowed the building of one or two houses in a locality, that authority has taken the necessary steps to promote the construction of houses. His suggestion is that the Clause, as it stands, would make it harder for a private individual to obtain a certificate from the Minister where the local authority has failed to do its duty, than would the Clause with the suggested words left out. If the Amendment were carried, all that the private individual would have to do would be to ask the Minister for the subsidy on the ground that the local authority had failed to carry out the Act. The House must judge whether the view of the Minister or that of my Noble Friend is in the best interests of the private person who builds his own house.

Amendment negatived.