HC Deb 30 November 1948 vol 458 cc1805-7
39. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he will issue an explanatory White Paper regarding the payment of betterment charges, with particular reference to charges now being made to persons desiring to build a home.

The Minister of Town and Country Planning (Mr. Silkin)

The Central Land Board have already published a pamphlet D.1.A. setting out the principles upon which development charge is determined and the arrangements for payment. They have also published a pamphlet, "House 1," giving to buyers and sellers of land for building a house advice in the light of the liability to a development charge; and a further pamphlet, "House 2," is about to be published explaining the arrangements which have been made for those who bought a plot for a house before 1st July, 1948. I have sent the hon. Member copies of these pamphlets.

Mr. Bossom

Does the Minister realise that the charges now being sent to these people who wish to build houses are causing them great consternation? They buy a piece of land and expect to build a house, and then get these charges. Would the right hon. Gentleman consider issuing a pamphlet explaining fully all these involved statements? The pamphlets published do not explain such matters to these people?

Mr. Silkin

If the hon. Member will read these pamphlets, I am sure he will understand them, and if he understands them I am quite satisfied that most other people will.

Mrs. Leah Manning rose

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mrs. Manning

I am sorry to interrupt the birthday greetings to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who has just come in to the Chamber, but may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that the ordinary men and women do find it extremely difficult to understand these official pronouncements, as instanced by the difficulties we had over the War Damage Commission pronouncements, it would not be possible to circulate to local newspapers the particular pamphlets he has mentioned? Such newspapers are widely read and their editors are used to interpreting official documents in language people can understand.

Mr. Silkin

I would recommend hon. Members to read these pamphlets. I can assure them that they are in very simple language.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even among architects and surveyors there are a great many people who are completely confused about these regulations and that there is need for greater simplicity?

Mr. Silkin

I do not think that there is any confusion today among architects and surveyors. It may be for the benefit of the House if I put these pamphlets in the Library and then I think that hon. Members would be satisfied that they are in the simplest possible language.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what troubles people is not the language of these pamphlets, but the injustice of them?

Mr. Silkin

That is simply not true. The pamphlets provide for exemption to a very considerable extent from development charge in respect of a number of these cases.

Mr. Bossom

The Minister tried to say that all professional men in the country understand these pamphlets. I can give him the information that they do not. Therefore, will he please give a simple explanation of what he is trying to get at?

Mr. Silkin

Of course, every professional man does not understand them, as is obvious from these questions. but most people do.