§ Mr. Molson
I beg to move, in page 2, line 36, at the end, to insert:provided that no land shall be acquired for temporary housing which it is not intended to use ultimately for permanent housing.The Minister said that he recognised that difficulty is likely to arise for the local authorities in finding suitable places for the erection of the temporary houses, without getting in the way of the erection of permanent houses and without interfering with general planning considerations. In an earlier Amendment, which 302 I supported, we were suggesting that, in cases where there are already the services available, it would be convenient if the temporary houses were erected upon these sites. In the Second Reading Debate on 1st August, my right hon. and learned Friend used words which I would like to have explained. He said:Action must be taken to secure the necessary sites, whether they are sites eventually to be used for permanent houses or sites which will be used only for these bungalows."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st August, 1944; Vol. 402, c. 1269.]Obviously it is an extravagance of manpower, labour and material if roads and sewers and services are to be provided for sites which it is intended only to use for the temporary houses, which perhaps in 10 years' time or so will be replaced by permanent houses. It is for that reason that I move the Amendment. I do not wish unduly to restrict the necessary discretion and liberty of the local authorities in order to make all reasonable and practical use of the powers given to them by this Bill. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will agree that the House of Commons could not light-heartedly agree to any proposal which would mean that costly roads and services should be provided merely for the use to be erected temporarily.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Willink
I am very happy indeed to have an opportunity of giving certain assurances with regard to the matters mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson). As I think he anticipates, however, I am bound to resist this Amendment phrased as it is. It is, of course, severely restrictive of the discretion of local authorities, as he well realises, and we feel that local authorities should have the opportunity of making their own proposition with regard to the sites to be used, which would then be for approval on my behalf in agreement with the Regional Planning Officer to cover the principles of town and country planning. We do expect that the majority of the sites selected and approved will be such as will eventually be used for permanent housing, but there may well be exceptions. The extravagance to which my hon. Friend refers, of course, does not arise with regard to a site which has been used in the past for housing but at the end of the ten years 303 may not be, and that may well be a type of site which will be proposed in urban areas to a quite reasonably substantial extent. We certainly have it in mind that extravagance with regard to sites, servicing, drains, sewers, and everything of that kind shall be taken into account to the fullest possible extent. My own Department, with the Ministry of Town and Country Planning and the Ministry of Works, have been considering these matters and, when the Bill becomes law, guidance on these points will be circulated to local authorities.
§ Mr. H. Lawson
I hope that the point of view the Minister has put will not preclude the use which local authorities can make of this Bill to try and reclaim open spaces in towns. It seems to me there is a proposal that bomb-damaged sites should be used very largely for erecting these Portal bungalows, and one of the things we should try to do in our development of towns, particularly blitzed towns, is to try to use bomb-damaged sites as a nucleus for reclaiming land from building for open spaces inside our towns. I think all town planners agree that it is necessary. So I am glad the Minister has resisted this Amendment, and I hope he will give local authorities every encouragement to use these bomb-damaged sites for temporary houses so that in ten years' time they can be reclaimed as open spaces or, if necessary, used for the erection of public buildings or factories which it is proposed under the new Town Planning Bill they should be given power to do. So I do not want to feel that the Minister, even if he does not accept the Amendment, will accept some part of the spirit of the Amendment. I think we should use this necessity for the provision of bungalows, which are going to use a lot of land and only accommodate a few people, as a means towards starting that very desirable process of acquiring and reclaiming open spaces in the centres of our big towns.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths
I would like to look at this Amendment. I want to be quite clear about it. I was sorry that an urgent message prevented me from staying to hear the reply of the Minister, and I hope he did not think me discourteous in leaving. The Amendment says "acquired for temporary housing," and the mover does 304 not want the Minister to use any land for building temporary houses, no matter to whom that land belongs, because local authorities have the land and they do not intend putting permanent buildings on it. I was wondering whether. the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) wished that no land should be used unless it was to be used in future.
§ Mr. Molson
It does not say so; it says "acquired," and in the case of the local authorities, to which he referred before, they already possess that land and this Amendment would not affect that in any way.
§ Mr. Molson
I would like to express my gratitude to my right hon. and learned Friend for having cleared up this matter and having promised that in the guidance which will be issued to the local authorities in the administration of this Bill, the importance of economy, and so on, will be emphasised. I am entirely satisfied with the assurance he has given, and I beg to ask leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Willink
I beg to move in page 2, line 36, at the end, to insert:(3) In paragraph (b) of the proviso to Subsection (4) of Section one hundred and three of the principal Act (which provides that, without prejudice to the powers conferred on a metropolitan borough council by that Act with-respect to the provision of housing accommodation within their borough, the London County Council shall be a local authority for the purposes of Part V of the principal Act as respects any part of the administrative county of London, other than the City of London, for the purpose of providing such housing accommodation as is mentioned in subparagraphs (i) to (iii) of that paragraph the following sub-paragraph shall be inserted, that is to say—(iv) temporary accommodation in structures made available under Section one of the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act, 1944.The purpose of this somewhat complicated Amendment is to enable the London County Council to put up bungalows under this Bill within the county of London. The present powers of the London County Council would cover the erection of bungalows under the Bill outside the county, but their powers within 305 the county are closely restricted to the provision of houses for slum clearance, the relief of overcrowding, or for redevelopment. The Amendment has this effect—which is quite simple whether or not it appears complicated—that it will enable the London County Council to erect bungalows within the county as well as outside. The functions of the Metropolitan boroughs, of course, include the erection of bungalows within their own boroughs.
§ Mr. Silkin
It seems extraordinary that this Amendment should have to be put down at all. I take it that it was always contemplated that the London County Council would play a great part in the erection of these bungalows. I presume this is an oversight on the part of my right hon. Friend, that he has forgotten to give the necessary powers, and I am very glad he is putting it right.
I am not quite sure about this. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is giving the London County Council power to erect bungalows within the county, but the borough councils have power to erect them, too. Is that likely to be a satisfactory arrangement? For instance, suppose a borough council has earmarked, but not yet acquired, land for permanent post-war housing in accordance with the development plan of the London County Council for permanent houses themselves, and the London County Council come along and say that they want this land for the erection of their quota of the Portal houses. I cannot help thinking that it may give rise to friction in the borough council areas where the County Council wishes to come in and build Portal houses. I intervened before on this matter, but then I had not read this Amendment. It is starred, but it was not on the Order Paper yesterday. I should like to know what conversations my right hon. Friend has had with the Metropolitan Boroughs on this subject to see whether they are satisfied with this arrangement which has been made. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) has seen this Amendment before. I do not know whether there have been any consultations with the Metropolitan Boroughs to see whether this system which is suggested now will, in fact, work.
§ Mr. Willink
I think I can give all the assurances which my hon. and gallant Friend will wish to have in this matter. It is, of course, the fact that the dual responsibility within the county of London of the London County Council and the Metropolitan Boroughs has long existed over a wide field—the field, in fact, that I have already mentioned of the London County Council within the administrative county. The experience of my Department has been that it does not, in fact, give rise to the difficulties which the apprehensive might expect. A modus operandi has been reached as between the London County Council and the Metropolitan Boroughs in this matter, and it is within my own knowledge that the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee and the London County Council have discussed this matter of the relative burden and the concurrent powers of the two authorities within the county. To my mind it is particularly desirable that the London County Council should have this power within the administrative county. The burden falling on individual metropolitan boroughs has varied very greatly in scale, and any extent to which the London County Council can, under such agreement as is reached between them and the metropolitan boroughs, contribute in this respect, will, of course, have the effect of sharing the burden to which some of my hon. Friends opposite were referring a short time ago over the whole county, instead of leaving it lying upon a particular borough council. I am not apprehensive about difficulty arising, and I hope the Committee will agree that the London County Council should have these powers. I am only sorry there was such short notice of the Amendment.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend give this assurance, that in the event of an application by the London County Council to build bungalows in any borough being objected to by the borough in question, he will take into serious consideration such objection on the part of the borough?
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 5 and 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.