§ 23. Major KINDERSLEY
asked the Minister of Health if he is now in a position to make an announcement regarding the future arrangements as to the housing subsidy?
Yes, Sir. After consultation with the representatives of local authorities in accordance with Section 5 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924, it is proposed to issue an order altering the contributions payable. The alterations in England and Wales will be as follow:
As regards houses to which the Housing etc. Act, 1923, applies no further contributions will be payable.
As regards houses to which the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924, applies the annual Exchequer contribution will be reduced by £1 10s. per house.
These alterations will apply 'to any houses completed after 30th September, 1929, the present rates of Exchequer contribution being available for all houses completed up to that date.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Will the Minister sympathetically consider extending the time limit in the case of slum clearance schemes—that is to say, where houses are being built for rehousing under slum clearance schemes?
The hon. Member must be under a misapprehension. These provisions do not apply to houses built under slum clearance schemes.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Is the right hon. Gentleman giving sympathetic consideration to the representations made by the London County Council for a special subsidy to meet the difficulty of finding tenements in the centre of London, which are very costly owing to the expensive nature of the sites but which are required owing to the cost of transport?
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Is it not a fact that, where there are voluntary schemes for the re-housing of tenants who are losing their homes owing to slum clearance, those schemes are getting a subsidy; and will the Minister extend the time, so that, in cases where there is any difficulty about the completion of such schemes, those concerned will be sure of the full subsidy?
I do not understand what the hon. Member means by voluntary schemes. In every slum clearance scheme, some provision has to be made for re-housing the people. Under those arrangements, the provisions of the Act referred to do not apply.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think hon. Members had better wait until the Minister moves a Motion on this subject in the House.
§ 28. Mr. WELLOCK
asked the Minister of Health if, in coming to a decision upon the housing subsidy, he will take into account the gradual fall in wages during recent years and the impossibility of paying the present high rents from such Wages; and if he is yet in a position to state his future policy regarding the housing subsidy?
I can assure the hon. Member that all relevant considerations were taken into account in arriving at the decision on housing subsidy which has just been announced.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
Is the Minister aware that we have only just begun to touch the slum problem; and that people in the slums who have larger families than those outside the slums simply cannot 1383 afford to pay the increased rents that will be entailed by a reduction of the subsidy?
§ Mr. THURTLE
Will the right hon. Gentleman also take into account the fact that at the present time there is still acute overcrowding in places like London?
§ 78. Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is yet in a position to state the future intentions of the Government with regard to housing subsidies in Scotland?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
It is proposed, after consultation with the representatives of local authorities as required by the Statute, to make an Order in terms of Section 5 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924, providing that the existing contributions by the State in Scotland will be payable in respect of houses completed by 30th September, 1929. In respect of houses completed after that date, the contribution under the Housing, etc., Act, 1923, will be reduced to 4 per house per annum for 20 years, and under the Housing (Financial Provisions), Act, 1924, will be reduced to £7 10s. (in rural areas as defined in the Act, to £11) per house per annum for 40 years.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Did the Secretary of State for Scotland not discover, after consultation with the local authorities in Scotland, that they were extremely unfavourable to this proposal to reduce the subsidy for housing?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Does the answer which the right hon. Gentleman has given include the subsidy to houses under the Rural Workers Act?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Yes, Sir, the rural areas defined in the Act will have a reduction to £11. In answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell), I would say that of course I have taken into consideration all the circumstances. I heard representatives from the local authorities, and, after considering their views, I have come to this conclusion.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
May I ask whether the local authorities in Scotland have not expressed themselves as unfavourable to this proposal, and, in view of their representations, will the right hon. Gentleman not be prepared to reconsider the matter?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
In answer to the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr), it is entirely dependent, of course, upon the local authorities. In answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shin-well), while the view expressed by the local authorities was that they would desire to retain and continue the subsidy, I am satisfied that they were not unprepared for the decision which has now been made. I should like to say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), that this reduction does not affect the Act for the improvement of rural housing.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Arising out of that answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), does the right hon. Gentleman mean that it does not affect the subsidies granted under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, but does affect the subsidies granted in rural areas under the 1923 and 1924 Acts?
§ Mr. BARR
Referring to the answer just given, if the progress is at the present rate, will it give a fair chance to the authorities to have the equal quota with the full subsidy in England, and, if there should not be the equal quota, will provision be taken in the next stage to make up to Scotland what she loses in this regard?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
If the progress approaches anything like what has been accomplished in the past year, I am satisfied that we shall be able to make the progress the hon. Gentleman desires, but it must be understood that we have attained a period when we have had the 1385 full subsidy in Scotland and England has not had it, and obviously we must 'begin to make a reduction.