HC Deb 26 March 1946 vol 421 cc227-58

Considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

CLAUSE 1.—(Exchequer contributions in respect of housing accommodation provided by local authorities.)

3.46 p.m.

Mr. Sparks (Acton)

I beg to move, in page I, line 7, after "authority ", to insert: or as a result of joint action by local authorities. I do not propose to detain the Committee long on this Amendment. I think it is most important that we should have included in this Bill a definite encouragement to local authorities, in certain areas, to promote joint action among themselves to develop housing schemes. There are local authorities, particularly within the Greater London region, who may be well advised to act in a joint capacity, in developing housing schemes. As the Committee is aware, provision is already made for joint action under Section 151 of the Housing Act, 1936. As this Clause of the Bill stands it would appear to me to rule out joint action by local authorities from the benefit of subsidy. I therefore ask my right hon. Friend to accept this Amendment because, as the Clause is now drafted, it would appear that only a local authority—that is, one local authority—will receive the benefit of subsidy proposed in the Bill. It would be a definite encouragement to broaden the scope of the provision if we include joint action by local authorities, or action by any joint housing authority they may establish to promote housing. I ask the Minister to make it clear that local authorities may act jointly in developing housing schemes and that in so doing they will receive the benefit of subsidy.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

This is one of the few Amendments proposed from the other side of the Committee that I feel inclined to support. I know that in my own part of the country there are housing authorities whose problems are very similar and it would be much better if they were able to tackle a scheme together, in a joint way.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

The Amendment is unnecessary. It merely repeats what is in the principal Act. The authority for doing this, as the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) explained is contained in Section 151 of the Housing Act, 1936. Therefore, the additional Amendments proposed are not necessary. If local authorities wish to act jointly, they have the right to put up proposals to me; if the proposals are acceptable, they will be adopted, and the ordinary housing subsidy will apply.

Mr. Sparks

In that case I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

I beg to move, in page r, line 8, after "accommodation," to insert: and in respect of each new house provided by a housing association under arrangements made with such housing association under Section ninety-four of the principal Act. This Amendment and the next Amendment on the Paper deal with the same point. I am not indeed certain whether it is necessary at all to have this Amendment. The position, as we see it, in regard to housing associations is that Clause 18 of the Bill gives the Minister certain powers with regard to special housing associations to be set up by himself; but what we are not quite certain of is the position of the existing housing associations? This Amendment seeks to make that matter clear. That will ensure that houses provided by housing associations, under arrangements with the local authorities, will be in all respects on the same footing as houses provided by the local authorities direct. It is not quite clear to me whether the words, "provided by a local authority," are sufficiently embracing to cover arrangements with housing associations. I am further prompted to raise this question, because, in the course of a Debate, in another place, on 13th March, the spokesman for the Government was asked whether existing housing associations were to be used by the Minister under this legislation, and he replied that he had not been advised on that matter. I presume that the Minister is advised now, and that he will be able now to advise us. If this Amendment is unnecessary, there is no point in pursuing the matter further, but perhaps the Minister will let us know what the position is.

Mr. Bevan

The position concerning housing associations has been explained by me on several occasions. These housing associations are established under the principal Act, and the Bill now before the Committee in no way qualifies what was stated in the principal Act. Housing associations can be formed, and can be adopted by local authorities. If the local authorities adopt them, then the housing associations will attract Exchequer grants in any circumstances, but they will attract the rate subsidy only if the local authority so wish. If it be the purpose of the Amendment to make it obligatory on the local authority, having adopted a housing association, to make the rate contribution, as well as to enable the Exchequer subsidy to be conveyed to the association, then the obvious effect would be to discourage the local authority from adopting the association in the first place.

At present a substantial number of housing associations exist, and new housing associations may be called into being. Where a local housing association was formed for the purpose of supplementing the housing exertions of the local authorities, we would very favourably consider them, but the local authorities are not always anxious to give rate subsidies to the associations. As the permission and the adoption by the local authority are prerequisites for the establishment of the housing association, if we made it obligatory on the local authority which has done so, to make the rate contribution, the local authority would say, "No, we are not going to adopt any housing association." If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has in mind that the housing associations are being hampered by the present Bill, I can give him an assurance that that is not the case. If the intention of the Amendment is to secure that the housing associations should be able to receive, without the consent of the local authority, the housing rate subsidy as well as the Exchequer subsidy, I shall have to resist it, because I am certain that hon. Members opposite do not wish to discourage the formation of housing associations.

Captain Crookshank

is it not the case that this Clause deals only with Exchequer contributions, and therefore the other issues which the right hon. Gentleman has raised do not arise at the moment?

Mr. Bevan

I was trying to cover the whole ground in one statement.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

Before we part with this Clause, there are three points I should like briefly to bring to the attention of the Committee First, I wish to ask what is intended by the word "provided ", which is to be found in line 6: in respect of each new house provided by a local authority… Taken in conjunction with the word "new ", it would appear that the intention is to equate provision of houses with construction of houses in this context, and for the purposes of this Bill. If this is so, it is a departure from the principle of the Housing Act, 1936, where the provision of houses by a local authority is somewhat more generously and exhaustively defined. Section 72 reads: (1) A local authority may provide housing accommodation for the working classes— (a) by the erection of houses on any land acquired or appropriated by them; (b) by the conversion of any buildings into houses for the working classes; (c) by acquiring houses suitable for the purpose; (d) by altering, enlarging, repairing, or improving any houses or buildings which have, or an estate or interest in which has, been acquired by the local authority. It is clear that the definition of the provision of houses in Section 72 of the Housing Act, 1936, is considerably wider than the apparent intention of this Bill, when reading the word "provided" in conjunction with the word "new." It may be that the sort of provisions specified in paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 72 (r), which I have just read, are comparable with the principle here intended, but as regards paragraph (d) it would be difficult to say that the alteration of a house could be construed as being a new house provided by the local authority. I would ask the Minister to deal with this point, because there are many of us in this Committee, not confined to any one Party, who are anxious that additional housing accommodation provided by adaptation, conversion, alteration and the like, should rank for this subsidy. That is the first point to which I would ask the Minister to give sympathetic consideration.

Secondly, I ask whether it is right, as appears to be contemplated by this Clause, that we should completely standardise the subsidy and standardise the type of house for which it is to be provided, because in the Scottish Bill a variety is given, and the scale of subsidy is varied in respect of the size of house to be provided. I think there will be a good deal of feeling in all quarters of the Committee that it is unwise to peg down a standard subsidy to one specific standard of house, to the three-bedroom house, of which it has been said that it is too large for the childless couple, or the couple whose children have grown up, and too small for the couple with an expanding family. I hope that the Minister will be able to deal with this point when he replies.

4.00 p.m.

The last point which I wish to make is this: Are the subsidies under this Clause to be paid in respect of the provision only of houses for the accommodation of the working classes, or is it to be a wider provision of accommodation than that? I speak subject to correction, but, so far as I am aware, there is no statutory authority for the provision of housing accommodation by local authorities other than for the housing of the working classes, or for slum clearance. Unfortunately, the term "working class" is not statutorily defined except in the Eleventh Schedule to the 1936 Act, which provides a definition, for the purposes only of that Schedule, namely, the rehousing of persons of the working class displaced by statutory undertakings. We have here a real problem, concerning not only local authorities but people in the country generally. Now that it is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman to make the local authorities almost the sole agency for the provision of houses, it is most important to know whether their powers are limited to the provision of houses for the working classes and, if so, to know who are the working classes. If the definition given in the Eleventh Schedule of the 1936 Act is to be taken, that is a narrow definition and would exclude a great many people of the lower income groups, not normally considered to be members of the working classes. If they are not eligible for housing accommodation from the local authorities with the aid of this subsidy, I suggest that, as a categorical fact, they will not be able to obtain any accommodation at all

This is not a party point. It is a matter which affects the constituents of hon. Members in all parts of the Committee. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to deal with it, and to say whether, in his view, the local authorities are empowered to provide houses for people other than the working classes and, if not, who are to be excluded under the 1936 definition of the term "working class." I believe that hon. Members opposite adopted as a definition of that term, "toilers by hand and brain." I think that, in want of any statutory definition, if I am right in believing that this subsidy can only be given for the accommodation of the working classes, we should have some pretty generous definition such as that, which will prevent people of comparatively small incomes, being excluded from the benefits of the subsidy, by reason of the fact that they do not belong to what is normally termed the "working class."

Mr. Dumpleton (St. Albans)

Will the hon. Gentleman say where he gets the impression that the subsidy is limited necessarily to three-bedroom houses? As far as I can see. there is no warrant for such an assumption

Mr. Walker-Smith

Perhaps I did not put my point very clearly. It is this: There is one unified standard subsidy under this Bill, and the logical consequence of giving a unified standard subsidy is that you have a unified standardised house.

Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)

I hope that the Minister will deal with the matters which have been raised by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) because they are of considerable importance. I think it is a very great pity, if it is a fact, that this Clause is to be confined 10 new houses, as that term can be interpreted in a very narrow sense. If that is so, it is quite clear that the country would be deprived of opportunities for increasing accommodation of a good type, which can be obtained very much more quickly by means of conversion. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to say something today which will encourage local authorities who are proceeding with conversion to continue doing so. I hope that he will not say anything, on the other hand, which is likely to limit the class of people who can be given accommodation under this Bill. I do not know if it is a fact that at present local authorities are necessarily confined to providing houses for those who are called the working class, but it is not the procedure of local authorities which I know to institute any kind of means test.

Local authorities are receiving application for houses from all classes and conditions of people—bank managers and other people holding important professional posts, who find it just as difficult as the so-called working class to obtain accommodation. I think that they have a right to accommodation. Therefore, I hope that nothing will be said which will, in any way, limit the action of local authorities, and that they will be able to use their own discretion in this matter. The only guide is the need for accommodation and, subject to that test, I hope that they will be given full discretion to provide houses where they think they are most urgently required.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

I add my plea to what has already been said to the effect that conversion is not receiving as much attention as it should be receiving. I believe that the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) has an Amendment on the Paper on this point. Is this, Major Milner, the only occasion on which we can discuss the question of whether conversion and reconstruction of houses will attract subsidies under this Bill? If so, and if this is the only chance which the right hon. Gentleman has of dealing with the subject. I hope that the Committee will be given an answer on this very important matter. Before I came to the House today, I inquired about the number of people who are living in Victorian houses—

The Chairman (Major Milner)

I am sorry but discussion of existing houses would be out of Order.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

Am I then to understand that the question of conversion is out of Order?

The Chairman

The hon. and gallant Member may say that Clause r does not include that particular type of house, but if he proceeds further than that, he will be out of Order.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

I most emphatically regret that no provision is made for this type of house.

Captain Crookshank

Is it certain that a reconstructed house is not a new house? If we take off the top floor of a house, and make it into something different, it would not be an old house, but a new house as compared with the old structure which previously existed upon that site It would be transformed. It certainly would not be entirely new from the ground upwards, but some part of it would be new and, to that extent, would it not be in Order to bring that type of house under discussion.

The Chairman

The right hon. and gallant Member is asking me to allow the thin end of the wedge—or house.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

The point which I wish to make is that I regret that in this Clause no provision is made on the lines of the question which has been raised. From information which I have received, I think that, on the average, if conversion were included in this Clause that it would be possible to rehouse three times the number of people.

The Chairman

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is out of Order in going into that question.

Mr. Bevan

Obviously, I cannot reply to a number of the points which have been made as I also would be out of Order in doing so. Only two points have been raised to which it would be in Order to reply. One is that concerning the flat rate subsidy per house. That has been found by local housing authorities to be the most convenient way of paying a subsidy, because if it were sought to define the type of house which would attract a subsidy, that would limit the provisions of the housing authority, and would have the unfortunate effect of stereotyping the kind of house to be built. By having a flat rate subsidy for any type of house, the local authority can diversify its types. By giving a higher subsidy for one type or design of house against another, the differentiation in the amount of subsidy would influence the kind of house. It would be a financial influence upon the type of building which would be extremely undesirable. At present the local authority can build a small house for old people, and for young married couples, a medium house for small growing families and a larger house for large grown up families. Therefore, every type of house can be provided under the flat rate subsidy, and if the subsidy is too large, or rather too generous for the small house, it helps towards the large house for which it would be too small. So, in that way, we meet the requirements of the local housing authority.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Before the Minister leaves that point, would he say what are the circumstances which differentiate our case from the Scottish case, where the principle I have mentioned does apply?

Mr. Bevan

Scotland has different traditions from England and Wales and if the hon. Member wishes to pursue that point with my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, I am certain he will get a practical and detailed reply. I am only called upon, at the moment, to deal with the provision in this Bill and not what is or is not in the Scottish Bill. There are different housing conditions in the two countries, and therefore, different practices apply.

I should like to remove the anxieties of hon. Members who fear that the words "housing the working classes "are limited, and will have a limiting effect upon the type of house that is constructed. On the contrary, we in the Ministry take a most generous definition of the working classes. Indeed, some hon. Members opposite might quality for inclusion in that definition. There is no limit whatever. I think I said on 17th October that it was part of the housing policy of the Government, to try to prevent the creation after this war, of the kind of villages and housing estates that grew up between the wars, where people of a certain kind of income, were confined together. We want diversified communities, and we are trying to create, in the modern estates, some of the agreeable features of the loveliest villages of England in the i7th and 18th centuries, where people of different income-groups all lived together almost in the same street. We want to get rid of the "stockbrokers' paradise," that grew up between the wars. Therefore, there is no limitation other than the one which the local authority imposes upon itself in the type of house which it provides or the kind of income-group for which it makes provision.

I should like to add one qualification. In the meantime, the important need is to provide a large number of houses as quickly as possible, and, therefore, we ought not to spend our precious labour and materials on the provision of large houses. Local authorities have been asked in a circular, which I sent out recently, to leave room in the layout of their estates for larger houses, so that, later, they can return to them and build the larger type of house to which reference has been made. I hope that these explanations are satisfactory to the Committee.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 4.—(Standard amount of Exchequer contributions for flats, etc., on expensive sites.)

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Braddock (Mitcham)

I beg to move, in page 3, line I, after "For," to insert "a house or."

This is a very modest Amendment, and I do not propose to go into its financial implications, because I think those are reasonably well known. This matter arose on the Second Reading of the Bill, when it was suggested that the proposals in this Clause would, in certain cases, lead to excessive costs in the provision of housing accommodation. This Amendment merely seeks to safeguard certain principles in connection with town and country planning. The Committee will agree that those principles are now well recognised and generally accepted. We take the view that this Clause, as it stands, is going to force local authorities to undertake expensive plans, disregarding reasonable town planning proposals. It that were unavoidable at present we should not grumble. We agree with what the MMinister has just said, that the all-important thing is to provide housing accommodation, but, as he wisely pointed out, we are planning for something different in development to anything we have ever known before in this country. We want to give our architects and designers opportunities of not only producing accommodation, but of producing accommodation which will present an inspiring and decent appearance in our towns and countryside. The result of this Clause, we think, will be to force the housing authorities to put up on these sites, the same sort of flat and the same sort of house, with the same sort of appearance. It seems to us that what the Minister is giving with one hand, he is immediately taking away with the other. We suggest that, if this very moderate Amendment were accepted, it would enable local authorities to make provision for building a certain number of flats on land of this sort and also to provide single houses, thus enabling our planners and architects to produce the accommodation that is necessary and at the same time enabling them to make plan; in accordance with up-to-date town planning ideas.

This is a moderate Amendment. We accept in this Bill the view that the Government are taking with regard to these expensive sites, though, personally, I should have preferred to see the subsidies operate in the reverse order—as the site gets more expensive, the subsidy should be dropped, in order to prevent building on this high-priced land. Why is land such a terrific price? Because it is in over developed and fully developed areas. Surely all modern town planning ideals tend to disperse the populations from such areas. In our opinion, there is another fallacy involved in this matter. We accept, in this Bill, the idea that flats should necessarily cost more than houses. I cannot see the slightest justification for that. I know that the financial sections of the building industry are, at the moment, pushing up the price of flats as against houses, and that the estimates which are being obtained have no real connection with the actual cost of flats We have seen the building industry, in recent years, bedevil and ruin the cost plus system, which was a very good system for providing housing accommodation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We also know that in connection with war damage repairs, owing to lack of supervision and absolute disregard of the public good, on the part of builders, the cost-plus system has been absolutely ruined in the eyes of the Ministry and the general public.

The Government must not think that the forces which have acted in that way are not capable of doing the same thing in regard to estimated work. They are in process of doing it now, and, in our opinion, the granting of these subsidies will not prevent the financial interests in the building trade from continually pushing up the price of flats and houses. We have put down this Amendment to safeguard the future of our towns, and to make it possible to adopt a reasonable and decent standard of town planning conditions. After all, such conditions are the foundation of a good housing policy. Local authorities will not be able to provide decent and proper housing conditions unless they are based on reasonable town planning conditions.

Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)

I would like to support the appeal which has been made to the Minister to accept this Amendment. I can appeal to my right hon. Friend with some degree of confidence, because this Amendment will not limit his power. On the contrary, it will extend it. The Bill provides for a special subsidy for flats on sites costing £1,500 or more, and the object of the Clause is to see that the price paid for dearer land does not mean dearer rent. This Amendment does not alter that principle in the slightest degree. It still means that dearer land will not mean dearer rent, but it gives the Minister, and the local authorities, an opportunity to make up their minds whether they will build houses or flats and, if so, in what proportion. As the Bill stands, local authorities are virtually compelled to build flats on all sites costing £1,500 or more. That is despite the fact that on all land up to £16,000 an acre it would be cheaper to build houses and flats at an overall density of 20 to the acre, instead of flats at 36 to the acre. The effect of the Amendment would be to give a free choice to local authorities to choose between houses and flats, according to the needs and requirements of the local community.

During the Second Reading Debate, I put these points forward, but the Minister was then unable to give a reply. I understand that my right hon. Friend claims to be a follower of the great American planner and expert, Lewis Mumford. would like to quote one passage from a book by Mr. Mumford, which deals with this issue, because I believe that the Minister is not only anxious to provide houses, but wants to provide the very best he can. If he would accept the well-founded advice of that great American, whose views are in line with our greatest Scottish and English town planners, such as Geddes, Unwin, Osborn and Abercrombie, then I believe his Bill would be a much better Bill. Mr. Mumford in his book, "Faith for Living," says: The family's basic need is for space; garden space and house space. Space for living; commodious rooms, well equipped for rest, conversation, relaxation, social intercourse; space for infants to toddle in and for runabout children to romp in; space for solitude as well as for sociability, the boudoir, or ' sulking ' room, and the quiet study for reading and writing … Life succeeds only in an environment of life, the sterile felicity of the urban apartment house—even a model apartment house, with open areas around it and plenty of sunlight—is not and never can be a substitute for living space. Here again we have reversed the order of human needs. As the number of mechanical utilities has increased within the house, its space has shrunken. So in some of our desperate efforts to repair the evils of the old slums we have created new ones. One would think that the designers of our metropolitan projects hated the family; and without being conscious of the bias, they probably do. How otherwise could they be so ignorant of its requirements; so unable imaginatively to interpret them. I appeal to the Minister to accept that philosophy, and the Amendment. It does not restrict his power; it adds to the choice given to local authorities and my right hon. Friend himself, and will bring the Bill into line with the highest conception of modern housing, thereby adding lustre to his name, and the name of the Government.

Mrs. Nichol (Bradford, North)

I want to add a word or two to the excellent speeches which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock) and my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister). I think their speeches were irresistible, but in case the Minister's heart is still hardened I would like to try to soften it. I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment, because by so doing he would be acting in accordance with the known wishes of the people of this country. It is true that about 80 per cent. of our population want houses, and for very good reasons. They have a natural instinct for houses, and that instinct is right. I have lectured and spoken at meetings and debates for young men and women in the Forces, and the subject of houses was the one thing upon which all the girls were particularly and very articulate. and on which they had made up their minds very definitely. They became dreamy-eyed at the very thought of the little houses they might get some time; but it was always a house and a garden, never a flat. That is a natural instinct. Flats are no use for bringing up families, no use for living a normal healthy life.

4.30 p.m.

I, therefore, hope the Minister will amend the Clause so that there shall be a widening of his powers. Parliament has made many mistakes about housing in the past, mistakes which are costing us dear in mental and physical misery, ill-health and general inconvenience. Now we have a grand opportunity. We do not want to make similar mistakes again, and I am certain that this Bill will go down as one of the finest housing Measures we have ever put through Parliament. If we can, we must avoid some of the bad mistakes made between the two wars, mistakes which cut down the amenities and the size. of Government houses until they are the most miserable things imaginable. These mistakes gave us terrible uniformity, and the dreariness of it all is enough to strike terror into the soul. I can think of estates in some towns in England with hundreds and hundreds of houses where there is not even a distinction in the letter boxes, never mind in anything else. This terrible uniformity drove people to buy the jerrybuilt rubbish put tip by speculative builders where at least they could grow a privet hedge and name the house "The Poplars," or brighten up the door knocker and call it "Chez Nous." It was the Geddes Axe which cut down the size and amenities of the houses and led to dreary uniformity.

Now we have, as previous speakers have said, an opportunity to make interesting developments—varied arrangement of houses, broken rooflines and all sorts of experiments in houses which are going to be magnificent and not just anything which will contain people. We want houses which are a joy and a pleasure, and which people can really call their homes. The general wish and natural instinct being for houses, I beg the Minister to widen his discretion in this matter. Give us some flats, certainly, for those who want them, but alter this Clause so that there is not a bias in favour of flats, with houses having to take a back seat. let us have as many splendid houses as is possible under this very generous and good Bill—for I am not carping at the Bill, I am only asking the Minister to amend this Clause, so that his style shall not he cramped in any way, and so that we can have a large number of houses which shall be a joy for years to come for those who live in them.

Lieutenant Herbert Hughes (Wolver-hampton, West)

I do not want to enter into the general controversy of flats versus houses—I live in a flat myself but I am in favour of mixed development—but would like to draw the attention of the Minister to the kind of difficulty in which we in the Black Country are placed under this Clause. I believe the Minister has in mind generally, under this Clause, the high cost of land in completely urban development, but we are faced with a somewhat different problem. We have sites consisting of slag heaps and undermined land.

The Chairman

The hon. and gallant Member began by saying that he did not want to enter into the controversy but that he would keep- to the subject of the Amendment and I hope that he will do so. The question of slag heaps hardly comes within the scope of the Amendment.

Lieutenant Hughes

I accept your Ruling, Major Milner. My purpose in rising was to show my sympathy for the Amendment, on the grounds not so much of general principle, as of the very practical difficulty in which we are placed in one particular area. The difficulty is that where, for general town planning reasons, houses rather than flats are a far more natural form of development, we are faced with the fact that the cost of the land is approaching the figure mentioned in this Clause by the time we have purchased it, levelled it, and developed it, and we are in the position that we cannot get an extra subsidy because—

The Chairman

This is a subject which the hon. and gallant Member might—I do not say would—be in Order to discuss on the Question "That the Clause stand part," but it would not appear to be one that he can discuss on this particular Amendment which refers to the question of houses as well as flats.

Lieutenant Hughes

The point of my remarks, to which I am coming, is that if this Amendment were carried, it would assist us to deal with the problem with which we are faced in that area. We desire to build houses on this land which, although not a highly built-up area, will come within the range of the cost level fixed in the Clause, by the time it has been levelled and developed. The town planning consideration in this part of the Black Country makes the building of fiats unsuitable. We are anxious to proceed with the building of houses, but we are finding now that the costs involved in clearing the land are running into £1,350, although a great deal was done even before the war. Now, after the war, when costs have increased, the clearing and developing of this land will bring the costs above £1,5oo per acre. If the Amendment were carried, it would assist us because we could then build houses on the sites when they have been cleared, levelled and developed.

The cost of these sites should never fall on the shoulders of a local authority because the local authority is not the body responsible for the tremendous industrial difficulty, chaos and devastation which obtain in many of the Black Country areas today, and which are a hangover from the Industrial Revolution. The industrialists paid no attention to the needs of the population in the area, and we are now faced with the problem that the local authority is the body which has to clear these slag heaps. Anyone who has travelled from Birmingham to Wolverhampton will know the very desolate area I have in mind. The local authority want to clear it and to build houses on it, but the costs are prohibitive. So far from their being able to build houses to let at anything like the 1os. a week rent that the Minister has indicated should be the average rent in the country, the net rent figure would work out at something more like 15s. a week. If this Amendment were carried it would greatly assist us in dealing with our problem. The building of flats on' sites like these where subsidence is extremely probable—though not for mining reasons—is not a practical proposition. I support the Amendment on the grounds that if it were carried we could clear this land, do some town planning in an area where it is very badly needed, and build houses to take the place of the waste and desolation which exist today.

Mr. Sparks

I hope the Minister will resist the Amendment because I think it is based upon a misconception and, if I may say so, a complete misunderstanding of the problems which face great cities like London and others throughout the country. As I understand it, the Clause relates specifically to the problem of built-up areas of that kind. It does not attempt to prevent the development of houses, or the mixed development of houses and flats; it provides for a mixed form of development provided there is a minimum of three storey blocks of flats within the scheme. If the Amendment is carried it will considerably accentuate the housing problem in London and the Greater London area. It is all very well to talk about expensive sites, and about placing houses on them rather than building flats, but first I would say that we have an appalling housing problem in all of the London and Greater London boroughs. It is a problem that cannot be solved by placing houses on expensive sites.

To illustrate what I mean, let me take the London area. In the London region, to say nothing of the Greater London area, we have 118 sq. miles, forming the most important centre of the nation. Situated in that area are the most important docks of the country, bringing vast volumes of goods and traffic to London. Built around them are commercial houses and warehouses. London is the centre of our transport system, and around this great industrial centre has grown up a large population, dependent for its livelihood on these great economic activities. In the Greater London area there are other industrial developments as well. In the centre of this great economic concentration there is a very difficult housing problem. Land is scarce and very difficult to get, and the high cost of land indicates its scarcity. I am talking now of the built-up area in London. Land is dear because there is not much of it in the locality, and the law of supply and demand operates in regard to the price of land as it does with other things. Therefore, land being scarce and difficult to get, when once it is acquired, the maximum possible use must be made of it for housing purposes.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

Would the hon. Gentleman insist that on sites of one acre or less, flats only should be erected, because I know of many sites in London of smaller size than one acre, where it would be impossible to put up a block of flats?

Mr. Sparks

It depends of course upon the site. We have in Acton a piece of land of 10 acres, on which we propose to put up 320 flats. If this proposal is carried, and it is suggested that we should build houses on this land instead of flats, we shall only be able to build 120 houses, at the rate of 12 to the acre, as against 320 flats. We have 3,500 people on our register who want accommodation. There is very little land in Acton, and this is about the last hit of land we can use for housing development. The problem then is, that those who support this Amendment say 120 houses, while those who are in favour of the Clause as it stands say 32o flats. If we are to build houses, what shall we say to the people who want accommodation in Acton? They work in Acton, their livelihoods are in that vicinity. It is all very well to say that they should go outside 20 or 3o miles, but it is far easier said than done. It is a very difficult job to uproot people from urban areas and tell them to go outside and live somewhere else. When I was speaking to the Minister of Town and Country Planning some time ago about this problem, he told me that there had been a survey in a certain area in London to find out from London people which they would prefer, a house and a garden some distance out in the Greater London area, or a flat in London itself, and nine people out of 10 opted for a flat in London rather than a house and garden miles outside

Mr. McAllister

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any record of this survey, who carried it out and whether it was ever published, because the figures which he gives are in flat contradiction to those produced by every other survey on the subject?

Mr. Sparks

I do not know what survey the right hon. Gentleman was referring to. I said I had discussed the matter with the Minister of Town and Country Planning, who is, as I am, interested in the subject, and he gave me that information. I did not ask him for precise data, but I am prepared to accept it from the right hon. Gentleman as being somewhere near the truth. Not only that, but I have had considerable experience of this problem in my own locality in Acton, and I know it is easier said than done to tell people to go 20 or 3o miles away from where they live and work. You may get a few to do it, but the bulk of the people are attracted to the area in which they live and work.

4.45 P.m.

London City is a centre which has grown up over centuries. Queen Elizabeth tried to prevent the growth and development of London, but was never able to accomplish it. London has grown as a result of centuries of economic activity centred in the area, and if we arc to disperse our populations to the wide open spaces, we must disperse our industries too. But we cannot disperse the docks, commercial houses and warehouses, we cannot disperse the transport concentration. Here it is in London, and we have the problem to face in London of providing the maximum of accommodation for the people who need houses. This Clause is designed specifically to help London and the Greater London area, which have a serious housing problem to face, and it also affects the other large towns and cities of our country. It is a means to enable them to make the maximum use of the land at their disposal, to accommodate the largest possible number of families within a town planning scheme.

The hon. Gentleman behind me, when he was moving his Amendment, said that if the Clause is carried as it stands it will encourage local authorities to disregard town planning proposals. It will do nothing of the kind. The Minister of Town and Country Planning decides whether there shall be a housing scheme or not, and he has regard for town planning standards. He will not agree to housing schemes or blocks of flats which are contrary to good planning: In the London area the density is laid down as 100 per acre. It seems to be high, but definite densities are given in accordance with the characteristics of the area and the needs of the people, and regard is had to these conditions whenever the Minister gives his consent or otherwise; he bases his decision upon town planning standards. Therefore, to say that to leave the Clause as it is will encourage local authorities to crowd all their areas with blocks of flats is not true. The Minister of Town and Country Planning will see to it that whatever plans are put forward conform to general town planning standards.

I feel strongly about this Clause because I feel sure, despite the good intentions of those who support the Amendment, that their proposal would make it very much more difficult for us in London, and in the Greater London area, to deal with our housing problem. We must have accommodation as quickly as we can get it. We must make the maximum use of the little land available in accordance with recognised planning standards, knowing that the Minister of Town and Country Planning is the authority who will decide, yes or no, on any scheme that is put forward. He will pot act detrimentally to any town planning scheme, and it is something we need badly in the London area. If this generous subsidy for the development of blocks of flats is to be compromised, it will make the solution of the London housing problem much more difficult than it already is.

Captain Crookshank

The Minister seems to be getting a good deal of contrary advice from behind him. This subject of flats versus houses has been discussed many times in this House and indeed, I have no doubt, in every debating society throughout the country. It is a most fascinating topic, on which one can come to no precise conclusion because it depends so much upon the circumstances. There were, however, two questions I wanted to put to the Minister arising out of what has been said. The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) said that under this Clause local authorities must build flats if they acquire expensive sites. That is what he says, but that is not my reading of the Clause at all, and I would like the Minister to say which of us is right. I had thought that this Clause enabled, in certain circumstances, a measure of mixed development, and, therefore, I asked in my speech on the Second Reading, though it was not convenient for the Minister to answer, how far in these areas there could be an admixture of flats and houses because, if I was right in thinking that there could be a certain measure of mixed development, then pro tanto it demolishes the anti-flat argument put up by the hon. Member for Rutherglen.

Mr. McAllister

It is true that Subsection (2) provides for a certain number of houses in proportion to flats, but it is very rigorously restricted by the Subsection itself, so that the most optimistic estimate can provide only one house for every four flats. The reason I said that local authorities have to build flats and not houses is that the subsidy which is intended to cover the cost of the site also has to take into consideration the fact that flats are very much dearer.

Captain Crookshank

I am very much interested in what the hon. Member has said, because he definitely said before that local authorities, under this Bill, have to build flats on expensive sites. I questioned that, and he now agrees that does not necessarily follow. The first statement was uncalled for, wrong and inaccurate, and I am glad he has now retracted in the cloud of words with which he has now interrupted my speech. I gather I shall probably be confirmed in my opinion as to the first point. The second point was a surprise to me, and I do not think it can be right, although it may be in some areas. The hon. and gallant Member for West Wolverhampton (Lieutenant Herbert Hughes) was speaking about the necessity in his part of the country of clearing areas, slag heaps and so forth, which was going to be very expensive, in order that housing developments could take place on those sites. I agree that if slag heaps and so on are to be removed, it will be a very expensive affair, but I did not understand anything of that kind came within this Clause, and I shall be glad to know whether it does. I thought that what was referred to here, on a site the cost of which as developed exceeds £1,500 was to be read in the same sense as in the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum, where it says: Where blocks of flats are provided on sites, the cost of which as developed with roads, and sewers, etc., exceeds £1,500 per acre. Development with roads and sewers is a different matter from removing a slag heap and doing something to the resulting levelled area. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell me whether my interpretation of this Clause or that of his hon. and gallant Friend is right. Subject to that, I do not propose to go into this argument of whether flats or houses are better. The real answer is that in some areas there must be flats. As the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. sparks) pointed out, there is no option. In other areas houses are wanted. I was very worried at the Minister's apparent desire to build blocks of flats in rural areas, because I should not have thought that was so necessary; but in congested urban areas with sites at high costs it is necessary. It is also necessary to save the workers long journeys. It is a point to which insufficient attention has been paid for years. There is great wear and tear on the human frame as a result of morning and evening journeys. However comfortable the means of conveyance may be, one has to keep one's eye on the clock and be sure one will get a particular bus or train. That is what wears people out. The answer is that you must have flats and you must have houses, and I think you can, in certain circumstances, have both

Mr. Bevan

I do not propose to enter at any length into the relative merits of houses as o aganist flats or flats as against houses. Some very seductive speeches were made in moving the Amendment to prevail upon me to accept it, but I must tell the Committee it would be impossible for me to accept it. I could not permit the local authority to be able to attract a Treasury grant in such circumstances as would arise if the Amendment were accepted, because then the amount of money provided by the Treasury would be determined solely by the caprice of the local authority, and we would be in the difficulty of having to provide the money wherever the local authority decides they are going to put up a house on an expensive piece of land. The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister) quoted against me an author for whom I have very great respect—Lewis Mumford—but my hon. Friend will recall that that distinguished author, in the book "The Culture of Cities," specifically says that cities should be organised on the basis of their function and not on an a priori consideration. The cities of mediaeval times, and many of our modern cities, obey purely functional considerations.

The difficulty is that many of our towns arc organised derivatorily—not on the basis of the functions of the population, but upon some conceptions people have formed about what is tasteful, what is leisurely and what expresses the success of individuals who live in them. That is why we have this suburban sprawl. That is why we have people living out in the wilds in some of these cottages on the assumption that having a cottage means having a love nest. It very often happens that many of these urban cottages simply result in domestic slavery for many of the women who have to work in them. The whole thing is wrongly conceived. We push the sites out on the assumption that people always want to live in a small house, and then we have to dig tunnels to reach them when they have got there, and they must be brought to their work much more quickly. We have a complex and diversified society and we must provide complex and diversified amenities. There are large numbers of people who want to live in flats in the centres of cities and who find these flats supplying all their needs. In our society there are often, for example, men and women who are professional workers, husband and wife, who go out to work and go back home to service flats, but who cannot afford a house in the suburbs.

Mr. Kinley (Bootle)

If they can, they go out.

Mr. Bevan

But they do not always go out. It is not true. It often happens that they spend some years in a service flat, and when they want a family they go out. It is not the service flat which makes them want to go out. Common services will be provided in many of these London flats. My hon. Friends, far from wanting to supply amenities that are necessary for the modern population, want a 'population stereotyped in accordance with some preconception which they consider to be awn planning, and want to make the individuals fit into the houses. What we are supplying in this Clause is a financial instrument by which the local authority, particularly in the London area, can meet the real needs of the population, and not the academic needs that some people construct on the basis of their prejudices. I wish that some of my hon. Friends would lot regard their own idiosyncrasies as town planning inspirations

5.0 p.m.

May I point out to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton (Lieutenant Herbert Hughes) that the difficulty here is that if the local authority has a great deal of. expensive clearing to do, unfortunately this Bill cannot deal with it? As the right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) said, that is an entirely different matter. The Bill starts to subsidise only when the land has been cleared, but where there is subsidence, there is an additional subsidy provided in another part of the Bill. In this case, however, if an authority has very expensive sites, and in consequence of developing those expensive sites its housing rate goes above the average rate for that class of local authority, there is another provision in the Bill which enables it to attract additional help. The local authority is not entitled to disregard expensive development on that account, since if its rates are raised, additional subsidy is obtained. Therefore, I hope my hon. Friends on this side will not regard me as the enemy of effective town planning, merely because I do not share some of the suppositions that have been advanced. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks), these schemes accord with the town planning principles as laid down by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. These schemes have to be approved by that Ministry. I believe we are making more generous provision in this Bill for effective town planning than has ever before been made in the history of this country.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. I enthusiastically support his practical wish to construct flats, but there are places in which, if one constructed a flat, it would be as unseemly as it would be for the right hon. Gentleman to wear one brown shoe and one black shoe. In those places, would it not be quite unreasonable to force the local authorities to build flats?

Mr. Bevan

The local authority is not forced to build flats; it is free to do what it wishes. If it desires to attract the subsidy for flat construction, it has to build a certain proportion of flats. I cannot answer the hypothetical cases which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has in mind, but if he will tell me about them, I will look into them.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

I had never expected to see the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health standing before us in the guise which he has assumed this afternoon. In the earlier part of his speech, he gave money as one of the reasons for resisting this very excellent Amendment. Surely, that shows how quickly almost any one of us can change, although I had thought that the right hon. Gentleman, even as a Minister, would show some little independence of character. He is, however, absolutely and entirely under the heel of the Treasury. I have no doubt that, although his resistance to this Amendment may cause unhappiness and sadness to many, he gave the Patronage Secretary a good deal of happiness in the earlier part of his speech. I thought the right hon. Gentleman was not as fair as he might have been in some of his references to prejudices about the town versus the countryside. I did not hear the first speech that was made in favour of the Amendment, but I had the good fortune to come into the Chamber in the middle of the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for North Bradford (Mrs. Nichol). I have no reason to attack people simply because they wish to live in a flat or because they wish to live in a cottage. I would prefer to live in the country always, but that is not a prejudice. Nor is it a prejudice if I want to live in a flat. It is a difference of opinion, which has nothing to do with prejudice. All of us have our likes and dislikes. The Minister is going a bit too far when he labels as prejudices those differences of opinion.

The Amendment is a very reasonable one, and the only thing which the Minister had against it was the question of money. Of course, there are areas in the centre of London where there must be flats. I think the hon. Members who brought forward the Amendment might have carried it a little further, and said that money should be no hindrance whatever towards getting houses wherever it is possible to do so. In certain areas in big cities there must be flats, but the Clause which it is now sought to amend does not apply only to London. It applies to the whole country. We ought to have a very much better reply from the Minister, and he ought to tell us whether, if the Amendment is withdrawn, there is some other means whereby he can meet the obvious wish of many Members who do not wish to encourage the building of flats only. The Minister spoke about town and country planning. It is essential that there should be reorganised planning, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman met the point that, although many people wish to live close to their work and find it better and easier to do so, there is no reason why, in these days of cheap travel and easy means of transport, when the supplies are available, people who wish to live in a comparatively rural area should not have the same facilities as those who desire to live huddled up in a series of flats one above the other. I have great sympathy with the Amendment.

Mr. Sparks

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious travel problem in London at the present time? To encourage people to live outside London and come to London to work would be to accentuate the traffic problem, which it is now beyond the possibilities of the London Passenger Transport Board system to cope with adequately.

Mr. Williams

I support the proposal in the Amendment. Perhaps the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) will carry on his argument with his own friends. I listened to his speech about London with great interest, and if I had not known about the problem long before, his very interesting speech would have made me thoroughly aware of it. I was not speaking only about London, but of the whole of the country, with which the Bill tries to deal. We have put forward our various points of view. The Minister has clearly told us that he will not meet us. I know he does not like me to remind him, but it is very easy for him to get into trouble and difficulty. We ought to have rather more consideration from him. He ought to be persuaded by his own back benchers to look further into this matter and see whether he cannot find the Chancellor ' the Exchequer in an amenable frame of mind and willing to give a little more money for cottages such as are wanted by many happy families, including those of many Socialist Members of Parliament.

Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge)

I support the Amendment. I am one of those whose idiosyncrasies take the form of town planning. I have been joined by a goodly company at conference after conference of the Labour Party, where we have been told that many surveys have shown the common man's desire for a house. We have been told that there would be decentralisation, and that instead of people being dragged behind wagons to work, their work would be taken to the pleasant places where the people would in future live and work. In fact, we have had painted before our eyes a vision of decentralisation. I was rather surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) say how anxious people are to live near their work, so anxious that they are willing to be placed 320 to the acre instead of 12o; in other words, that they are willing to die—

Mr. Sparks

On a point of Order. I did riot say that at all. I said that we were developing a housing scheme in Acton—[An HON. MEMBER: "That is not a point of Order."]—No, but in view of the fact that the hon. Lady has misquoted what I said, I surely I am entitled to put her right.

Mrs. Mann

I understood my hon. Friend to say that his locality could get 32o flats to the acre, and were going to get them, rather than 120.

Mr. Sparks

I did not say that at all. I said that we were developing a housing scheme in Acton to provide for 320 flats, and that if we were to build houses instead of flats we should be able to build only 120 on the site. It is impossible to get 320 flats on an acre of ground. You just would not get them on there, anyhow.

5.15 p.m.

Mrs. Mann

I have been chairman of the Housing Committee of Glasgow, the most congested' city in Great Britain. Its infant mortality exceeded that of Tokyo. From that example we now know that nothing is saved by crowding people together into a small space. We also know, as hon. Members will be aware who have read the 1937 Report of the Ridley Commission, that Glasgow, second city in Great Britain, had more than 3,000 empty flats in the centre of the city. They were modern flats, and all above £35 per annum. They were left empty because people had a choice, not of staying near their work and being crammed together, but of going out to bungalows in the country. The Ridley Committee therefore recommended the decontrol of all rents of £35 per annum upwards. The most luxurious block of Hats built in Glasgow was Kelvin Court. The owners actually had to reduce the rents below the economic level in order to entice people to live in them.

I do not want to labour the point. I thought it was generally accepted that 90 per cent. of the people of the country preferred a house with a garden. We are always hearing that they must be near their work, but I thought that, under a coordinated plan the Board of Trade was to give guidance about the location of industry so that industrialists would be invited outwards from our great cities, leaving more space. At the same time, our people were to go outwards with the industries. I well remember, when I was chairman of Glasgow Housing Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) telling us that in no circumstances would Bridgeton people desert him. About six months afterwards they packed up and deserted him because Stewart and Lloyd's had opened up at Corby. Everyone in Bridgeton who could do so got a job in Corby and not only left Bridgeton but left Scotland itself.

I want to bring the Debate back to the Clause, which says: Where a house (not being a flat in a block of flats)— (a) is provided on a site the cost of which as developed … exceeds one thousand five hundred pounds per acre. The Clause describes the inner ring of practically all our cities. It is there that sites are expensive. The Minister wants to make the most of that ground and to get the most people on it, within the limits laid down by town planning. One has a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. However, he should, I think, keep in mind the other effect of the centralisation of people and industry which is likely to come about later. I want to ask him and to ask my hon. Friends in this House, what kind of cities shall we have if the inner rings are representative of nothing else than blocks of flats? London has been quoted extensively today. In walking along any of the streets in the inner ring, is it not delightful when one leaves the high blocks and comes on, say, a terracing of houses? Is not the break of a crescent here and there in our cities refreshing and delightful? Yet the Bill encourages, nay compels, nothing but the blocking up of the skyline with unrelieved blocks of flats. I hope the Minister will reconsider it.

However, I have this consolation, as one of the idiosyncratic town planners, combined with the practical experience of a civic administrator, that very few local authorities will proceed under this Bill to build blocks of flats, firstly, because it is the most expensive form of building, even taking into consideration this generous subsidy; secondly, because it takes longer to clear the sites for building blocks of flats than one could build an entire development of cottages. It takes so long that the time in this Bill will be utterly useless for the large cities. They simply cannot proceed administratively on the long delays they know will take place in clearing sites before they can proceed with their blocks of flats on a subsidy which is ending in 1947. So with these words, I say, "God bless that quick ending of the subsidy," for there will be very few blocks of flats.

Lady Megan Lloyd-George (Anglesey)

I would ask the Minister to reconsider the whole of this question. Will he not con- sider the very real feeling there is on this matter, which is obvious from the speeches made from both sides of the Committee today? Will he not consider, between now and Report stage, some form of words or some Amendment which would meet this demand on the part of hon. Members? The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of idiosyncrasies and preconceived notions, and he spoke of town planners as though they were cranks. There may be cranks amongst them; I do not say there are not.

Mr. Bevan

Would the hon. Lady allow me to interrupt her? We are all entitled to describe ourselves as town planners.

Lady Megan Lloyd-George

I agree, but the right hon. Gentleman rather included in his definition a great many town planners who are acknowledged to be great experts on this matter. As a matter of fact, there is considerable evidence available on this and there is no doubt as to where the wishes of the majority of the people of this country lie. There have been many surveys made, and a good deal of evidence has been collected by many organisations which cover a large cross-section of the population. I would only mention one. It is the evidence given before the Dudley Committee on the design of dwellings, which reported some time ago. It was very interesting, in view of what the Minister has said about the blessings of living in flats, to read the reasons given to the Dudley Committee as to the unpopularity of flats amongst the majority of people whom they consulted.

The principal reasons were: first, noise; second, the lack of privacy—the fact that there was no private garden. And here is one fact which has not been mentioned, the difficulty of supervising children when they are playing. That is a very real problem for a housewife who has no nurse to do it for her. These are all very practical reasons. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not determine the needs of the community on the cost and availability of the land. If he does that, what becomes of town planning? Let us face that issue. He will be flying in the faces of all the experts and, it seems to me, that we shall be rebuilding our cities on the bad old centralisation plan of the prewar years. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter.

The Minister asked in his speech, "All this talk about people migrating into the country—is it really something that has happened?" I think it was an hon. Gentleman opposite who said that about one million people had moved out to the countryside between the two wars. The hon. lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) has just mentioned what has been happening in Glasgow; that although good, well-equipped flats have been built there, yet they remained empty because people did not wish to live in them. You will find that the great majority of black-coated workers live outside London. They do so because they want to; they can afford to do so, therefore they are able to make up their own minds. You will find that when the workers earn a little more and save enough they, too, will migrate. Why should not the people, if the great majority really wish to live outside the great cities, do so? We ought to organise our transport—cheap transport—so that the needs of the people in this respect should he met. That, I think, we have always to consider as part of any town planning scheme.

I do not say for a moment that it is not necessary to have flats.. There are certain areas where it may be necessary. There are certain classes of people who may desire to live in flats; elderly couples, whose families have grown up, perhaps single women or single men. We do not want to have an over-emphasis; we want a judicious admixture of flats and houses. I do not, even at this stage, accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being flat minded. It is perfectly true that his oratory soars many storeys up and reaches high levels, but I think no one would accuse him of a drab uniformity at any moment. Therefore, I appeal to him most strongly, because I believe he has an open mind on these things, to reconsider this matter and see that we do not go back to the bad old days of centralised planning.

Squadron-Leader Fleming (Manchester, Withington)

I quite agree with the hon. Member for Anglesey (Lady M. Lloyd George) that this Clause applies to the whole of England, not merely to London. Nevertheless, 1 was very forcibly struck by what was Said by the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) about the congestion in his area. I am rather surprised that the Minister has forgotten what happened in Manchester, where we had several congested areas, and we did a certain amount of slum clearance. When it came to rehousing those people some 15 or more years ago, it was decided to take over an area outside the City boundaries at Wythenshawe. That has now been developed into an enormous area, and the Division it is in is practically the largest in the North of England. My own, which is next door, is the largest in Manchester. We found, during the years of the development of that estate, that at first there was a certain amount of opposition from the people who worked in the centre of Manchester to going outside, and I received letters myself—

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