HC Deb 08 July 1943 vol 390 cc2243-5
35. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health what advice or instructions he has given to local authorities in the preparation of their post-war housing programme; and to what extent they are now authorised to proceed in their preparations?

Mr. E. Brown

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of a circular which I sent to local authorities on 4th March, 1943, in which I suggested that there were in each local government area sites which, whatever the future local or national plan, are bound to be suitable housing sites. I asked them to decide, in consultation with the Regional Planning Officer and, where agricultural land is involved, with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, on sufficient of such sites for a one year programme. I informed them, with the ready approval of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that I was able to sanction the raising of loans for the purpose and I indicated my willingness to entertain compulsory purchase orders. Further, I requested the authorities to begin immediately after the selection of the sites on the preliminary work of surveying and of preparing the general layout so that it can be further filled in when the manual of post-war house plans and design is issued. I emphasized that local authorities must be ready to go ahead with a substantial programme immediately conditions permit. Up to date replies from 586 local authorities whose proposals relate to the provision of nearly 130,000 houses have been received.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that there is some doubt among local authorities as to how far his circular authorises them to move, and will he draw up another circular which will put it beyond doubt?

Mr. Brown

I cannot imagine that there is any doubt, but I will make inquiries among representatives of local authorities, and if there is we will clear it up.

Earl Winterton

Is the Minister aware that he might find, when local authorities have reported on this subject, that the undecided war between the Minister of Town and Country Planning and himself would interfere a great deal with them?

Mr. Brown

There is no war between myself and my right hon. Friend but the happiest co-operation.

Mr. McEntee

Will the local authorities know how to get sanction from seven different Government Departments before going on with any scheme, and will the right hon. Gentleman take steps with his colleagues to reduce the number of Departments which have to give sanction for the building of houses?

Mr. Brown

We shall do our best, but I think my answer to a previous Question is germane—that Parliament has decided that certain Ministers have certain functions. Those functions will have to be carried out.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Does the Minister consider that 12 months is a sufficient length of time for the local authorities to plan ahead to meet housing requirements?

Mr. Brown

No, Sir, They are asked to do two things—the first as in the circular to which I referred in answer to the Question put by my hon. Friend, so as to be able to proceed as quickly as possible after the war with their short-term programme, but they are asked also to prepare a long-term programme covering their total potential needs.

Mr. De la Bère

Long-term chaos.