HC Deb 01 July 1948 vol 452 cc2350-1
33. Mr. Keeling

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to secure that before licences are given for the erection of houses by private persons the proposed elevations and materials shall be subject to architectural advice and approval.

35. Mr. Derek Walker-Smith

asked the Minister of Health whether he proposes to make it a condition of the issue of licences for private buildings that the houses shall conform to the standards and requirements of the Housebuilders Registration Council.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer the hon. Members to Circular 34/47, copies of which I am sending to them. Local authorities will be reminded of the need to ensure a good standard of construction and amenity.

Mr. Keeling

Is the Minister aware that if something much more effective than that is not done we shall have the same degradation of both town and country that occurred in the 100 years before the war as a result of Tory, Liberal and Labour misrule and bad taste? Why does not the Minister use the powers which he has, under Section 14 (3, c) of the last Town and Country Planning Act, to require local planning authorities to consult architectural opinion?

Mr. Bevan

I shall bear in mind what the hon. Member has said. I shall be only too pleased to exercise such controls as are necessary to produce good housing standards.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Would the right hon. Gentleman say specifically whether these houses will have to conform to the standard specification referred to in my Question, which involves the giving of a certificate to that effect?

Mr. Bevan

It is not intended to do that at the moment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have given every encouragement to the Housebuilders' Registration Council—rather more than was given in the past, I think. This is a matter for some discipline by the builders themselves, and by the local authorities, but if there are likely to be abuses I will certainly take action to prevent them.

Mr. Driberg

When my right hon. Friend says that local authorities have power to require "good standards of construction and amenities," can he say whether "amenities" in that context includes decent design or merely refers to baths, h. and c., and so on?

Mr. Bevan

I am afraid it does not include design. We have no Ministry of Fine Arts.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that his colleague the Minister of Town and Country Planning has ample powers of supervision and control of external appearance and design?

Mr. Bevan

I am very glad to be able to welcome this urgency from hon. Members opposite to impose more controls.