HC Deb 03 November 1955 vol 545 cc1334-6

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees)

[Queen's recommendation signified].

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for abating the pollution of the air, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of the following contributions to expenses of any local authority, that is to say—
    1. (i) four-sevenths of the approved expenses of the authority in making repayments of seven-tenths of the expenses, on adaptations to avoid contraventions of the provisions of the said Act relating to areas declared thereunder to be smoke control areas, of owners or occupiers of, or other persons interested in, private dwellings which are not new dwellings;
    2. (ii) two-fifths of the approved expenses of the authority in making, in or in connection with private dwellings owned by them or under their control not being new dwellings, adaptations to avoid such contraventions as aforesaid; and
    3. (iii) two-fifths of the approved expenses of the authority in carrying out, in or in connection with private dwellings which are not new dwellings, any such adaptations as aforesaid which have been required by notices served by them under the said provisions of the said Act;
  2. (b) any administrative expenses incurred under the said Act by the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Secretary of State; and
  3. (c) any increase attributable to the said Act in the moneys to be provided by Parliament under Part I of the Local Government Act, 1948, or the Local Government (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1954.
In this Resolution "approved" means approved by the said Minister or the Secretary of State.—[Mr. Sandys.]

9.55 p.m.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I want to ask one or two questions with a view to getting an undertaking from the Minister before the Bill reaches the Committee stage. We have had experiences of the difficulties which arise during the Committee stage once we release a Money Resolution of this character. If I remember correctly, a Select Committee which met some time ago further tightened up the Money Resolution. My hon. Friends and I have been very satisfied with the way that the Minister has dealt with the matter in winding up, and we were also pleased with the assurances he gave in regard to our proceedings in Committee.

My question is this: if expenditure is to be increased as a result of democracy operating in the Committee—and we shall be good allies of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) in his suggested Amendment—will the Minister be prepared to deal sympathetically with Amendments even if they increase the financial cost?

Mr. Sandys

I always believe in being sympathetic, but I do not like to give assurances in advance.

Mr. R. E. Winterbottom

Will the Minister tell us whether the Money Resolution provides for an adequate supply of alkali inspectors? If commonsense does not prevail during the Committee stage and we so amend the Bill as to allow local authorities to do the job with the experts they have, in view of the fact that they can co-operate, as the law at present allows them to do, in terms of regionalisation, is sufficient money provided by the Bill to allow for the huge expansion required in the alkali inspectorate in order that they can do the job in regard to the scheduled industries under the Alkali &c., Works Regulation Act?

Mr. Hobson

I have read the Financial Resolution very carefully, and I fail to see how adequate money will be provided for the purposes of the Bill. It is no good the Committee having a Financial Resolution before it if we are to have no assurances on this matter. I am told that the sum has been arrived at. It is all very well having paragraph after paragraph about the local authority contribution, but that is not in question. That is easy to calculate. It can be calculated upon the basis of grants already paid, and also upon the basis of the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside (Mr. R. E. Winterbottom) with regard to the Alkali Inspectorate, but the Bill goes much further. The Bill states that further inspectors are to be appointed. These inspectors will have to be qualified people.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is raising a Second Reading point. We are now discussing the Money Resolution.

Mr. Hobson

I am concerned whether the necessary money has been provided. The Bill says that further inspectors must be appointed.

Mr. Sandys

In paragraph 6 of the Financial Memorandum, the hon. Member will see that Expenditure on this account may ultimately amount to some £40,000 per annum. That is all administrative expenditure, which includes the hon. Member's point. I hope that he will allow us to pass the Financial Resolution before 10 o'clock.

Mr. Hobson

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has raised that point, because it is most important. It means employing 40 men at £1,000 a year, or 80 men at £500 a year. We shall not get a man to do this job at £500 a year—and 80 men would not be sufficient anyway. The minimum salary commensurate with the duties, responsibilities and technical qualifications required would be £1,000 a year, because sanitary inspectors are not capable of dealing with the matter. We have been given no assurance whatever that the Financial Resolution will provide sufficient money to cover this increased inspectorate. The right hon. Gentleman's reply now is just as ineffective as was his reply to the debate. He did not answer any of the points raised then, and he has not now. It is a matter of good grace that I resume my seat now.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.