§ 76. General Sir George Jeffreys
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is aware, in respect of the allowance for maintenance expenditure, that the present system under which not more than £100 may be expended without special licence on any one item of Schedule A assessment, operates very unfairly in the case of agricultural holdings, as a farm comprising several houses and buildings assessed jointly can only get the same allowance as a single cottage; and whether he will take steps to do away with this anomaly?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. Hicks)
I cannot admit that because a licence has to be applied for, the system operates unfairly. The test is whether the work is permitted. Maintenance licences covering expenditure in excess of £100 in a period of 12 months are freely granted on the recommendation of the county war agricultural executive committees for essential work to farm buildings and houses?
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
Is it not quite illogical to allow the same sum for property worth many thousands of pounds and property worth only a few hundred pounds?
§ 77. Sir G. Jeffreys
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is aware that owners, architects and builders are still compelled to apply to his Department for a building licence where it is proposed to expend more than £100 on the property included in any one Schedule A assessment; and that, while local authorities can now carry 1151 out essential work costing £250 in the case of a house and £200 in the case of a flat without a licence, whether he will place both parties on the same plane of freedom from applying for a licence?
§ Mr. Hicks
In view of the shortage of labour and materials my Noble Friend is not at present proposing to alter the procedure, now operating in respect of all types of property, under which private persons must apply for a licence where it is proposed to expend more than £100 in a period of 12 months. Moreover, if the limit were raised as suggested, it would in many cases enable a private owner to carry out non-essential work. It is, of course, the policy of the Ministry to grant licences for essential work to dwellings in all proper cases, on the same basis as that authorised for local authorities.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
Is my hon. Friend aware that great difficulties are put in the way of getting licences? Would it not be more logical and sensible if a lump sum was allowed for the whole property rather than this level amount of £100 on every assessment?
§ Mr. Hicks
In regard to any dwelling which it is necessary to repair, if an individual will make application to the local authority and a certificate of essentiality is agreed to by them on the same basis as if the local authority had carried out the work themselves, then in every case we grant a licence. There must, however, be control over unnecessary expenditure.
§ Sir William Davison
Is it not a fact that local authorities say that they must have choice of tenants and that often the private owner is unable to replace his tenant himself?