HC Deb 03 March 1938 vol 332 cc1377-8

8.7 p.m.

Captain Conant

I beg to move, in page 6, line 26, to leave out "forty-one," and to insert "forty-three."

The two following Amendments in my name on the Order Paper are consequential to this Amendment. The Clause, as drafted at present, provides for the review of contributions every three years, and the Amendment provides for the review at the end of every five years. I think there is a close relationship between the amount of subsidy which is given, the period of time in which it is operative, and the cost of building. There is a danger that if one gives a comparatively generous subsidy for a short period, it may lead to an increase in building costs and so make the building of cheap houses an impossibility. For that reason, I propose that the period of three years, which is the time for which the subsidy is guaranteed, should be extended to five years. If that were done, it would make more certain the supply of cheap houses, which is the purpose of the Bill.

8.9 p.m.

Sir K. Wood

I appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's motive in moving this Amendment. He said that the question whether we would get cheap houses would depend upon the length of the period before the subsidy was reviewed, but I am afraid that is not the case. In the Bill, I have followed the precedents which were set by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) in what is described in my notes as the Greenwood Act, 1930, and by my distinguished predecessor. In both cases it was thought that the review of the position should be made after a period of three years, and I think that is a reasonable period. Five years is a long way off, which ever way one looks at it. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not press his Amendment, but will be content in the knowledge that in three years time we shall all be here in out respective places. I have no doubt that from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, the sooner they can consider this matter again, the better, and from my point of view, I think three years experience will be sufficient.

8.11 p.m.

Mr. Greenwood

For once, I am in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, and I hope that my hon. Friends will not think I am unfaithful to them when I say that. As a matter of fact, this Amendment is a purely academic one, since the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health will not be in that position in 1941. In view of the fact that in some respects the subsidies which are to be given will be less advantageous than the subsidies that have been given, it is reasonable, from my point of view, that the period should be kept down. I know the difficulty of rising prices. If the subsidy were established for a long term of years, it might become unjust either for the State or for the local authorities. Prices may rise, and I imagine that His Majesty's Government, after three years of rising prices, would want to increase the subsidy. I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment can have consulted his hon. Friends, and certainly he did not consult hon. Members on this side. I think that the Bill, for what it is worth—and hon. Members know my view—should contain a provision for this review of contributions, and that the review should take place every three years, and not every five years.

Captain Conant

In view of the statement of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.