HC Deb 16 October 1952 vol 505 cc467-8

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

Mr. T. Fraser

I should like a Government spokesman to answer a question on Clause 4. The second part of subsection (2) sets out the manner in which the assistance to be given by the Secretary of State to the local authorities will be paid. The wording is quite different from that of the 1938 Act. In other words, the provision contained in the 1938 Act is repealed and the new provision is inserted.

The provision in this subsection, which lays it down that the assistance in the case of the Highlands and Islands shall be seven-eighths and in the rest of the country three-quarters, is exactly the same as the provision in the 1938 Act. In the 1950 Act, which consolidated the 1938 Act, that measure of assistance was to be given in respect of: … the estimated average annual payments falling to be made by the local authority in respect of the charges on account of loans raised by them for the purposes of payments made under the said section, or which would have fallen to be made if the sums so expended by them had been raised by means of loans. That is a quotation from Section 104 (2) of the Act of 1950.

Clause 4 (2) of this Bill says: For the purposes of this subsection the annual loan charges referable to the amount paid by way of assistance shall (whatever may be the manner in which the local authority have provided or intend to provide the money requisite for giving the assistance) be the annual sum which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, would fall to be provided by the local authority. There must be some reason for the change. It seems to me that the Secretary of State is arming himself with a power which he did not have before. It may be that I am wrong and that he did have that power before and that, although his name was not mentioned in the 1938 Act, it was implied. It may be that he determined the amount of the annual burden for which he gave assistance at that time. I am wondering if the Secretary of State or one of the Under-Secretaries could give the Committee the reason for the change made at this time.

Mr. J. Stuart

The method adopted here is the improvement grant system which operates in the 1949 Act. As I understand it, there is no change from that Act. As the hon. Member knows, its object is to provide Exchequer contributions to assist local authorities to give grants under Clause 3 to private persons building new houses. As far as I am aware, there is no change and the method is the same as that which was enacted in 1949.

Mr. Fraser

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. It is a great pity that he did not pick up some other provisions of the 1949 Act. It will be remembered that when we provided public moneys there, we sought to give some protection to the people occupying the houses by means of the Rent Restrictions Acts. Unfortunately he has not adopted all the provisions of that Act.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.