§ 29. Major GLYN
asked the Minister of Health how many dwellings have up to the present been reconstructed under the terms of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, in the counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire?
Returns of progress under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, are obtained quarterly, and according to the latest returns, to 30th September last, no dwellings had actually been reconstructed under the Act in any of the counties referred to. The Gloucestershire County Council, however, had received applications for assistance in respect of the improvement of 14 dwellings.
§ Mr. PALING
Does that mean that applications have been sent in to county councils, and that they have taken no notice of them?
No. It must not be assumed that they have taken no notice of them. I said applications had been received and were under consideration.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of any cases that have been turned down where the tenant of a house in a rural area received wages of £3 a week?
§ 30. Major GLYN
asked the Minister of Health whether, seeing that a large number of rural dwellings could thereby be made sanitary and thoroughly suitable 1562 for habitation, he will consider extending the grant to include general repairs to cottages, where considered necessary, at a minimum cost of, say, £30, and allowing the local authority responsible to reduce the grant to one-half instead of two-thirds?
The question of the extent to which financial assistance under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, could be afforded to works of ordinary repairs or upkeep was fully discussed during the passage of the Bill through this House, when it was decided that works of such a nature could only be included for the purposes of assistance where they were incidental to and connected with the reconstruction and improvement of the buildings. I do not think that the proposal of my hon. and gallant Friend would prove sufficiently attractive to induce landlords to take advantage of it if they were thereby tied up for 20 years by the conditions laid down in the Act.
§ Major GLYN
If evidence can be brought to the right hon. Gentleman's notice that many houses would be put in order if the Act were extended in that direction, will he consider it?
§ 31. Major GLYN
asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider introducing legislation, or making regulations, that will enable the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, to be made applicable to all dwellings in rural and urban areas up to a value of £400, and that the stipulation that it only applies to dwellings to which the agricultural rent is 3s., or thereabouts, weekly should be modified so as to be governed by the Rent Restrictions Act, with power to the local authority to see that the stipulated rent is not exceeded, since at present the Act is only of use to cottages attached to farms, and under existing circumstances neither owners nor occupiers of farms can afford to spend money on the reconstruction of their cottages; and whether, as a further encouragement to the owner of a cottage to make use of the Act, a charge of 5 per cent. instead of 3 per cent. may be allowed on the amount expended by him?
The proposals of my hon. and gallant Friend would entirely alter the scope and intentions of the 1563 Act, and I am afraid that I cannot undertake to introduce the legislation which would be necessary to give effect to his suggestions.