§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ 11.12 a.m.
§ The Minister of Health (Sir Kingsley Wood)
I beg to move,That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments in Clauses 1, 2 and 7 standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Sir Kingsley Wood.Perhaps it would be convenient and useful at this stage of the Bill if I explained the object of the re-committal and at the same time indicated the scope of my Amendments. As I promised on the Committee stage of the Bill, I have given careful consideration to the Amendment to give to certain rural districts the special supplement of £1 in addition to the ordinary £5 10s., and have in particular carefully studied what has been said by hon. Members in all parts of the House on this matter. I want to ensure that there is no misapprehension as to the effect of Clause 1, Sub-section (3) of the Bill, and of the Motion and Amendments which stand in my name. The House may recollect that when I moved the Second Reading of the Bill I said:Clause 1 (3) contains a new provision which will authorise a supplementary Exchequer contribution of £1 for 40 years over and above the ordinary contribution of £5 10s. accompanied by an equivalent contribution of £1 from the county council—to meet the needs of a limited number of small urban areas with exceptional conditions.I also added:We are bound to lay down these conditions which may be indicated as follow: (1) a general level of working-class rents substantially below those applicable to the working classes in urban areas generally, and (2) the very limited financial resources of those districts.I concluded those observations by saying:The number of districts that will satisfy these conditions will not be large, but experience has shown a real need for special assistance of this kind."—[OFFICIAI REPORT, 15th February, 1938; col. 1736, Vol. 331.]On the Committee stage I was pressed to reconsider the limitation in the Bill of the supplements of £1 for each house from the Exchequer and the County Council to the ordinary contribution of 754 £5 10s., and I undertook to do so before the Report stage. Later on, during the Committee stage of the Bill, I was asked to extend the advantage of the special subsidy under Clause 2 of the Bill for cottages for the agricultural population to urban districts as well as to rural districts. After careful consideration, I agreed to do this, and the suggestion was adopted by the Committee. I feel that substantial subsidy for cottages for the agricultural population will enable rural districts generally to deal adequately with their housing requirements by the provision of the houses needed and at appropriate rents, but after reviewing such evidence as is available and weighing all that has been said, I have come to the conclusion that there may still remain some few rural districts which, by reason of their limited financial resources and the generally low level of ordinary working-class rents in their districts, cannot without this additional aid satisfy their full housing needs.
§ Sir K. Wood
The Bill does not apply to Scotland. Although there is no desire to exclude such cases by a statutory bar from consideration, it will be observed that it is in a special combination of circumstances that the special supplement will be given. When the special conditions are satisfied they justify, I think, the Amendments which I shall move in Committee to include rural districts on the same terms as urban districts. This Motion and the Amendments standing in my name carry that into effect with the necessary modification that the standard of rental comparison for rural districts will be that of other rural districts. I hope that the House will feel I have met what it was desired I should do in this matter.
§ 11.17 a.m.
§ Sir Percy Hurd
May I take this opportunity of thanking the Minister for the acceptance of this Amendment which is similar to one that I moved on the Committee stage and which met with a large measure of support. May I go any further at this stage?
That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments in Clauses 1, 2 and 7 standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Sir Kingsley Wood,
put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]