HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1551-3

It shall be the duty of a local authority on submitting proposals for the provision of houses for the purposes of this Act to satisfy the Minister—

  1. (a) that they have taken into account the requirements of any town-planning scheme likely to be made in respect of or in the neighbourhood of the area in which the houses are to be provided; and
  2. (b) that the rate of density of the houses, ascertained in such manner as the Minister may determine, will not, except with the consent of the Minister, exceed eight per acre in an agricultural parish and twelve per acre elsewhere.—[Mr. Wheatley.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Wheatley)

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

The object of this Clause is to give effect to purposes which were indicated in Clauses or Amendments moved during the Committee stage by the hon. and gallant member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), and other hon. Members below the Gangway. The first part of the New Clause deals with town-planning schemes and the second with the question of density, and as these have been fully discussed during the Committee proceedings I do not intend to say anything further in explanation of them.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

As the Mover of the Amendment to which this new Clause is the response, I should like to say that there is a difference between the two proposals. The original suggestion was that any scheme of housing brought before the Department should not be prejudicial to any town planning which might be required later on. Under this Clause all the promoters of a scheme have to do is to satisfy the Minister that they have taken into account the requirements of any town-planning scheme likely to be made. I think it is not so efficient a method of carrying out the ideal at which we aim, but if we can have a promise from the Minister that the words "taking into account " mean something more than merely looking at a scheme, I shall be prepared to accept the new Clause. I should like to know how the Minister interprets those words.


I the hon. and gallant Member will see that it is intended that the local authorities should give due consideration to these requirements.


We are grateful to the minister for having accepted the proposal contained in our Amendments in the spirit in which it was made. I differ from the hon. and gallant Member opposite, and I think the Minister's new Clause goes even further than his proposal did, because it includes all houses and not merely schemes of 25 houses or more.


I should like to thank the Minister for what he has done in this Clause in relation to the rural areas. It will greatly assist the rural district councils in attempting to build cottages in rural England to have this provision enabling them to ensure that there shall be so much ground to each house.


I trust when the Minister is applying the provision with regard to density to urban areas he will not be too severe on the authorities who make applications. I took the trouble of communicating with the town clerk of Leicester with regard to this matter, and he has sent me a letter, which I received this morning, in which he says: As you are aware, in Leicester there is a Considerable amount of unbuilt upon land fronting main streets. This land would not at its cost support 12 houses to the acre, and 18 or 20 would be nearer the figure. The streets in that case are all ready for building. I do not propose to move an Amendment, but, I should like an assurance from the Minister that in all such cases where there are special circumstances, where the streets are made up and it is not a newly developed estate, such applications will be considered.


I desire to ask the Minister in what sense he proposes to interpret the words "likely to be made." There are many small towns where they have no intention at, all of making town- planning schemes. Compulsion does not apply to the small towns in regard to town-planning schemes, and some of their housing projects might very well be arranged so as to stand in the way of the advance of town planning. I desire to see compulsion and proposals much wider than the present proposals in town-planning legislation, but, in the absence of that, the Minister should assist by interpreting these words in a generous way and drawing the attention of the authorities of the smaller towns to the importance of town-planning schemes.


With regard to the point which has been raised by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Black), it is clearly the intention of this Clause to give the Minister power where there are special circumstances which make it practicable to build more than 12, to allow the local authority to do so. As regards the point raised by the last speaker, there are no legal powers of compulsion on areas of less than 20,000 inhabitants in regard to town planning, and that matter is clearly outside the scope of this Bill. This Clause, however, will promote town planning in the smaller towns, and the Department will do all it can to help in that matter.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.