Amendment proposed: In page 4, line 15, to leave out from "the" to "or" in line 21 and insert:
local authority's area in which the dwelling is situated."—[Mr. Bevan.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause.
§ The Chairman
I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if this Amendment is discussed with the four Amendments immediately following, as they are all related to the same point.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
It will be in the recollection of the Committee that when we reported Progress last night I was making a few remarks about this Amendment, a circumstance which, I thought, brought rather more pleasure to me than it did to hon. Members in the Committee. I have had an opportunity of reading in the OFFICIAL REPORT what I said last night and I am impressed by the pungency with which I developed the arguments I was about to make. In those circumstances, I do not think it necessary for me to trouble the Committee by repeating them.
I should like to summarise my two main criticisms of the Clause. The first was that it leaves far too much power in the hands of the Minister. It leaves some very vital decisions about the deployment of industry at the arbitrary discretion of the Minister. The second point is that the conditions are so obscure that it is quite impossible for anyone trying to plan a housing programme to know in advance whether the authority is to receive a subsidy or not without considerably protracted negotiations with a Government Department.
Considering the way in which the right hon. Gentleman and his Parliamentary Secretary have played up the idea that they are giving more independence and 928 more discretion to local authorities, this is a curious example of where they are trying very much to tighten central Government control.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
I take it that I am in order, Sir Charles, in addressing myself to the Amendment in my name, the fourth of the Amendments to which you have referred?
§ The Chairmanindicated assent.
§ Mr. Snow
I wish to support my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) in the Amendment he has moved and to address myself in particular to the Amendment in my name, which, in short, provides for certification by the Minister of Labour should there be a shortage of manpower, in his opinion, in any given industry.
I think the Minister will not accuse me of any discourtesy to him personally if I say that what most of us on this side of the Committee are afraid of is a judgment of a Tory Minister in given circumstances of unemployment. It is this discretion of power rather than an obligation on his part that we are challenging. In the speech of the Minister on an earlier Amendment he said that the sort of case he had in mind which would fall within the power or powers given by this Clause was.… where the need for more houses arises from a major new development which is essential in the national interest and which must be carried out in an area where the local authority has only a small pool of existing houses …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1956; Vol. 548, c. 874.]If we are faced with the imposition of industry on localities such as happened in my constituency at Rugeley, what assurance is there that there will automatically be more houses provided without further additional cost? If, for instance, a new and very large generating plant is located in the province of a local authority, is not the local authority entitled to suppose that financial provision will be made by the central Government? The Minister will say that, of course, that is within his discretion. We say that it is a responsibility of the Minister of Labour where an additional labour force is to be imposed to inform or advise the Minister of Housing and Local Government that as a result more houses will be necessary.
929 Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale made use of the picturesque phrase that the Minister was giving himself powers for "capricious decision." Would that I were able to emulate that sort of phrase. My right hon. Friend said in a different way what we on this side of the Committee all feel, that the Minister has to be tied down in some way. It is to me interesting to find that since the Committee stage of this Bill began the local authority of Rugeley, which I mentioned as an illustration when discussing an earlier Amendment, has received a letter from the Department of the Minister requesting the local authority to build 100 new houses for miners which will attract the higher subsidy rate.
I am not at all clear as to the authority the Minister was using in making such a request to the local authority in anticipation of this Bill. I presume that he was justified in so doing, but it is this sort of request to a local authority which we want to remove from the area of caprice or area of decision entirely on the responsibility of the Minister. Therefore, I speak to this Amendment with a view to making the Minister of Labour provide a certification upon which the Minister of Housing and Local Government must act.
It is, apparently, necessary to provide for the provision of houses not only where there is an existing shortage for a specific industry, but where, as a result of industrial economic planning, a shortage will exist. Many of us feel that we cannot leave that matter entirely to the judgment of the Minister. There is the added complication of regional allocations which, we feel, is not flexible enough. The local regional offices of the Ministry should be able to submit a request to the Minister for allocations based on the certification of the Minister of Labour.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)
I think it might perhaps be helpful to the Committee if, at this stage, I draw attention to the exact purpose of the manner in which paragraph (d) is drawn and the assumptions on which that form of the paragraph rest. It will be seen that it provides the higher 930 rate of subsidy—not without qualification —for persons coming from outside the area of the authority building the houses. If there were no qualifications at all the absurd result would follow that every housing authority would be building houses for its neighbours and vice versa.
§ Mr. Powell
Our attention is, therefore, directed to the four qualifications in line 16 and following. The first is that the subsidy applies only where the persons come from outside in order to meet the urgent needs of industry. The second is that the arrangements for providing the houses must have been approved by the Minister, and the third, which is bound up with it, is that they must have been so approvedas being desirable by reason of special circumstances.If those last words were not there the Minister's approval would relate merely to the arrangements in accordance with which the dwelling was provided, but in giving his approval he has to consider whether there are special circumstances necessitating the provision. He may only give his approval if he is satisfied that such circumstances exist and that the urgent needs of industry are of a kind which the Minister is satisfied require the provision of houses for persons coming from outside that authority's area and, also, that they so require the housing by reason of special circumstances.
The conditions are very tightly drawn and the degree of urgency and national character of that need have to be very clearly established in order to comply with the wording of the paragraph. The fourth condition, which is a very natural and reasonable one, is that the Minister lays down conditions of giving his approval which must be complied with to attract the higher rate of subsidy.
There are two main considerations which the Committee should bear in mind. The first is that every house provided under paragraph (d) will make possible the housing of a family which may be in much less acute housing need than families on the waiting list of the local authority concerned. It might be a little strong to say that this provides for jumping the queue, but at any rate it imports a factor other than housing need according 931 to which local authorities generally allocate the houses available to them.
We should, therefore, be very jealous and draw very narrowly the conditions which would justify a situation in which persons coming from outside the area of a local authority are rehoused, although inside that local authority's area there may be many families on the waiting list who are in severe housing need.
§ Mr. Bevan
This raises a very important point. I understand that not only will there be the additional number of houses required by the influx of population in the area due to special circumstances, but also that there will be a selection of tenants for those houses. Will it be by the Minister? That is what the hon. Member means by his last statement.
Perhaps I may make it quite clear. There have been occasions when, for example, the Minister of Health found it necessary to influence a local authority to provide houses for key workers in certain areas. I remember having many deputations on the point. It was always an extremely difficult matter, because it meant the jumping of the queue in respect of key workers. Do we now understand that the additional number of houses which will attract the higher rate of subsidy will also be in a different category in respect of the fact that the Minister will influence the actual placing of tenants in them?
§ Mr. Powell
These houses are provided for the accommodation of persons coming from outside; that is implicit in the whole provision. How those persons are to be selected, who those individuals are who will go into the houses provided under that formula, are matters which will be part of the arrangements which the Minister approves and may be, if necessary, specified in the conditions which he lays down. At any rate, the Committee can be satisfied that this higher subsidy would not be payable unless those houses were, in fact, providing accommodation for persons coming from outside the area to meet the urgent needs of industry and that the arrangements and conditions were such as to ensure that those qualications were complied with.
§ Mr. Bevan
This is the first time that we have heard this interpretation. Up to now, we have understood that additional houses would be needed in the area to meet the influx of population—that we understand—and that schemes have to be made. We are now told that the Minister can, in his view, so interpret these words as to put particular tenants in the houses. That is a very serious matter indeed.
§ Mr. Powell
The right hon. Gentleman is harking back to the old days when he was Minister of Health, and there were housing allocations to each individual housing authority. If it was established to his satisfaction that there was an industrial need for more houses in total in a given area, the right hon. Gentleman increased the allocation accordingly and then it remained for the local authority to deal with that higher total of houses which it was allowed to construct.
Now we are in a different framework. The local authority is building houses to a number determined by itself to meet its general housing needs. Circumstances may arise that the local authority may be also required to provide houses—this, of course, is a voluntary arrangement; nobody can compel the local housing authority to do that; there is no power to do so—for persons coming from outside the area. In these circumstances so far as the local authority does so provide dwellings for that purpose, and subject to the conditions which are part of the scheme, those houses will attract the higher subsidy.
§ Mr. Powell
As the hon. Member has only just mentioned the point, naturally I have no information upon it. The point I am making to the Committee is that such an arrangement as this—many hon. Members opposite are seeking to extend it—inevitably means that the workers coming from outside the area, just because in the national interest they are needed in a new area, will have an 933 advantage over many families already resident there. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Committee to see that this facility is not given except where it is really required in the national interest and that the definition and appreciation of the national interest is as narrowly drawn as possible.
There is, of course, a constant movement of industry between one area and another and a constant movement of labour. If, wherever it were established that labour was moving to meet the needs of industry from one area to another, these preferential subsidy conditions came into effect the result would be that a coach and horses would be driven through the general housing duties of many local housing authorities. Therefore, it is the very essence of an arrangement like this that the national interest shall be conceived for this purpose in the very narrowest and highest terms.
The other underlying principle is that these cases will normally be those where the local authority, either by reason of its size or by reason of special circumstances, has no large pool of existing houses, so that an influx of this kind and the building of additional houses in its area would represent a very big proportional increase. That would be another factor which must be taken into account in establishing that the necessary special circumstances exist.
Obviously, there will be many large local authorities with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of established prewar and post-war houses who will be able to provide, and will, naturally, provide, for the industrial labour flowing into their areas without any special burden resulting. I ask the Committee to observe how narrowly paragraph (d) is drawn and the logical reasons which demand that it should be so narrowly drawn; and, in the interests of the duties of housing authorities generally, not seek to widen it.
I am now able to reply to the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow). The request made to his local authority was to provide additional houses for incoming miners to meet the urgent needs of the mining industry in that area. It is, of course, still a request, but it relates, as the hon. Member will observe, to incoming miners from outside the area.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Bevan
It is obvious that since last night the Department has been scratching its head about this matter, because now the umbrella is very much smaller than it was stated to be last night when the Minister made a speech on this subject. Indeed, it is not only smaller, but also full of holes today. I propose to make some further inquiries. It is always a delight to listen to the Parliamentary Secretary. He is always so lucid that the weaknesses of his own case become apparent as he proceeds.
There are several categories of arrangements for meeting the circumstances that can be met by the Clause. There is overspill, there are expanded towns, and new towns. This is a fourth category. We are not yet quite clear how the fourth category arises, but, nevertheless, there is a fourth category. In the other three categories, an additional subsidy and even an increased subsidy can be paid. There is the fourth category, a special incursion of additional labour in circumstances of national need.
We discussed that definition last night, and we arrived at a number of very interesting conclusions. The first conclusion, which has been at least in part italicised by the Parliamentary Secretary today, is that, of course, that category can be only where a nationalised concern is involved. Otherwise, there is discrimination as between one private interest and another. We have gleaned that much at last from the Government, because that is what the hon. Member has now said. He said this definition must be narrowly conceived. What he meant by narrowly conceived was, obviously, that it must be applied to a matter of overriding national interest; and that, obviously, must be where there is no competing interest elsewhere.
§ Mr. Bevan
What the hon. Member says is this. The local authority is assumed—I want the Committee to consider this assumption for a moment—to be building houses to meet general needs, and building up to its capacity. Why is it so assumed? That is what the hon. Member said. It is assumed, having regard to its normal circumstances, to be building to its capacity. I can hear what 935 the hon. Member is saying to his right hon. Friend. I can hear because of these miserable instruments, the loudspeakers. If he will scan his words in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that he said exactly that—that the local authority was building up to its capacity, and that its capacity was exceeded because of an additional incursion of labour.
How does he decide whether the local authority is already building as many houses as it should for its normal general needs? Will he give us the criterion? It is nowhere in the Bill. Obviously, that local authority, in the case we are considering, could be building fewer houses to meet its general need than it should build, and so doing in order to get additional subsidies for the additional houses. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I will try to explain it to him in words of one syllable. Perhaps he can follow it then.
We have not yet had from the right hon. Gentleman his definition of the obligations of local authorities. He confused himself the other day by saying that the local authority has the duty to build houses. There is not a single Statute in which that is laid down. It has an obligation to review. It has no obligation to build. If the right hon. Gentleman says that it has an obligation to build, then he has an obligation to see that it does build. He really must be a little bit more on the mark than this. Does the right hon. Gentleman state to the Committee that he conceives it his duty, as Minister of Housing and Local Government, to compel a local authority to build for the general needs of the population of its area to an amount he himself considers to be desirable?
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
The right hon. Gentleman again questions this duty of local authorities to provide houses. I think that he is merely quibbling. Section 71 of the Housing Act, 1936, says:It shall be the duty of every local authority to consider the housing conditions in their district and the needs of the district …and …to prepare and submit to the Minister proposals for the provision of new houses for the working classes …It is really inconceivable that Parliament would have passed an Act laying upon the local authorities the duty to review the needs of their areas and to submit 936 proposals for the provision of houses if that did not imply that there was a duty upon local authorities to provide those houses.
§ Mr. Bevan
I hope hon. Members opposite will not cheer too soon, because they are preparing a Procrustean bed for themselves.
Let us see what those words mean. They do not say the local authority shall "adequately" build. They merely say that it shall review and shall prepare and shall submit proposals to the Minister. They do not, however, impose upon the Minister the obligation to see that the local authorities will meet adequately the needs of their populations. That is the point, for a local authority could put up one house only, and then stop building. Indeed, before the war may local authorities put up none—none. Yet these powers were in existence then. Will the Minister tell the Committee that in his view every Conservative Minister of Health before the war neglected his duty?
The right hon. Gentleman wants to have it both ways. He wants to say that the local authorities have a duty to build. If it is their duty to build then the Minister has the duty to see they perform their duty. Many local authorities, before the war, built no houses for general need. Does he, therefore, say that his predecessors before the war neglected their duty to make the local authorities do their duty? I ask him.
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman has been Minister of Health himself and responsible for this sphere of administration. He does not suggest, surely, that the Minister is responsible for everything that a local authority does not do, which in the Minister's opinion it ought to do. That would amount to Whitehall taking over the whole of local government.
§ Mr. Sandys
The 1936 Act, amended by the 1946 Act, clearly laid upon the local authorities the duty to provide 937 houses for those who require council houses in their areas and to submit proposals to the Minister for the provision of those houses. The duty of the Minister is to examine those proposals and either to approve them or not to approve them. It is not, however, the business of the Minister to decide exactly how many houses are needed in each local authority's area, or to build them himself if the local authority do not do so.
§ Mr. Bevan
Some duties are imposed on local authorities which it is the duty of the Minister to see carried out. There are certain provisions for the public health which have to be made, sanitation, for example, in which case the Minister can set aside the local authority unless the local authority does its duty. Then there is education. There are different duties, of different importance. There are statutory duties imposed upon local authorities which it is the duty of the Minister to see they carry out. There are other duties the local authorities should carry out, but which they can neglect; and the Minister can do nothing about it. So there is a difference between the duties, and two conceptions of them.
However, the right hon. Gentleman used the word "duty" the other day in the former sense, as though there were an obligation on the local authorities to build houses for general needs; but there is no such obligation. We are, therefore, perfectly clear now that a local authority, in the light of Clause 3 (3,d,) can, in fact, not build any houses at all for general need. But there may be an influx of population into its area. I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to clear up the mind of the Committee on this. If it is building no houses for general needs, will he lay down the number of houses it should build before the additional houses can count for additional subsidy?
Suppose, to take a theoretical case, an analogous local authority in the same area, with the same kind of population, and the same sort of industry is building 250 houses a year for general needs, but the local authority where the influx takes place is building none. Does the Minister say that it must, first, build up to 250 houses to meet its own general needs before the additional houses will rank for the higher subsidy rate?
§ Mr. Sandys
It is very difficult to follow the meanderings of the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We have discussed almost everything except the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. If the right hon. Gentleman would read the Clause before making his speech, it would be helpful. It is absurd to suggest, as the right hon. Gentleman in his very tortuous argument has suggested, that this provision would enable a local authority to provide for itself the houses it needs at the higher subsidy rate by neglecting to build houses for its own people at the general needs subsidy level, and then to get round the whole provision by drawing a subsidy of £24 for additional houses. That is what the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting.
If it did that, the additional houses would be exclusively for incoming people from outside. [HON. MEMBERS:"NO."] Of course they would be. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to it and the purpose of his Amendment is related to it. Perhaps he would read his Amendment before making a speech about it. It is wasting the time of the Committee to have to go round and round matters which have no relevance to the Clause or to the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has moved.
It is perfectly clear that the £24 subsidy under subsection (3,d relates only to persons coming from outside the area. It says:… provided by a local authority for the accommodation of persons coming from outside the area of that authority…It is quite ridiculous to suggest that in this roundabout way it would be possible for a local authority to obtain the £24 subsidy for housing its own people by means of neglecting to do so in the first place.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman has used a large number of adjectives. I am quite good at them myself. If he wants a competition in the use of adjectives, I am quite prepared to enter into it. It would be much better if he dealt with the argument. How does he assess 939 the fact that the local authority has in fact met its own general needs? He says —and it is a perfectly proper argument—that what we are to do is merely to give the higher subsidy in respect of additional people coming in, the actual bodies themselves, and that the local authority is assumed to be ready to co-operate in an enterprise of that sort—it is assumed to be ready for the Minister to put the bodies in the houses on the ground that it would get the additional subsidy.
The authority itself would, of course, provide no rate subsidy at all, so all that will happen under this proposal is that the Minister thinks that he will be able to meat the additional industrial needs of that population by persuading the local authority—he admits that he has no power to make it—to put up houses in its area only with the additional national subsidy. Let him try it; he will fail.
Those houses will be either higher rented or, if the rents have to be kept down, will have to carry a rate subsidy, and no local authority will provide an additional rate subsidy in order to keep down the rent for incomers. In fact the whole provision is eyewash.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
It is all very well to say that the local authorities will not be able or willing to do it. In fact, local authorities are doing it at present. On a subsidy of £22 1s. they are building houses for incoming miners and providing the rate contribution. They are doing it willingly, and if they were not willing to do it it would not be done. That is going on today. It is absurd to suggest that they will not be able to do for £24 what they are now doing for £22 1s.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee, but the right 940 hon. Gentleman is being very misleading in his remarks. At present, the local authorities are undertaking schemes for the building of additional houses in order to accommodate incoming miners and others in their area. They are doing that voluntarily, which means that they are voluntarily making a rate contribution. Is there any reason to suppose that when they are given a subsidy of £24 instead of £22 1s. they will cease to be willing to make the same rate of contribution as they are voluntarily making now?
§ Mr. Bevan
There is every reason to suppose that they will not. In fact, we are having protests from all over the country. Not only will they not make an additional rate subsidy, but the higher rates of interest now being charged are inhibiting local authorities from providing houses. We have resolutions from local authority associations. There is one from the Association of Municipal Corporations, dated 31st January, referring to what happened in October. It says:Since that time the Association has received many letters from borough councils of all shades of political opinion expressing anxiety regarding the Government's new housing policy. At their last meeting the housing committee of the Association reviewed the provisions of the Housing Subsidies Bill now before Parliament and placed on record their serious concern at the possible adverse effect which the rising rates of interest on loans raised by local authorities and the intention of the Government to withdraw within a year or two all housing subsidies for general housing, may have upon the ability of housing authorities to carry out their statutory obligations to provide for the housing needs of the people.In the face of decisions of that kind from all over the country the right hon. Gentleman calmly gets up and says, "There is no reason to suppose that local authorities will not continue to do in the future what they have done in the past." He says that I am guilty of tortuous reasoning, but the right hon. Gentleman is being specifically told that the provisions of his Measure, in addition to the high interest rates, are inhibiting local authorities from meeting the sort of conditions that are set out in Clause 3.
It is no use the right hon. Gentleman losing his temper with me because he has got himself into trouble, and it is no use his trying to shelter the paucity of his policy behind high falutin' adjectives. If the Committee stage is to proceed as peacefully as it has proceeded up to now, 941 the right hon. Gentleman will have to restrain his desire to use these adjectives. We have not done badly so far, but I warn him. We made a very unusual arrangement about the Committee stage of the Bill, an arrangement which I have never seen made before. It is that the Opposition has limited itself to a certain time-table. We have kept to it rigidly and honourably, but I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman that there are three ways in which the Committee stage of a Measure can be conducted.
One is by the Government curtailing discussion and imposing a time-table, with all the bitterness and sense of frustration which that creates. One is not to have a time-table, but to rely on the Closure and all-night sittings, which we have striven to avoid. The third is by having a reasonable debate on the Measure in Committee without all the bad temper which arises from all-night sittings. But that implies a readiness on the part of the Government to listen to the argument and to make reasonable concessions. We have not had one yet.
§ right hon. Gentleman has adopted. Here we are on this side of the Committee representing the point of view of the overwhelming majority of local authorities. We represent, I am quite certain, the overwhelming majority of the people of the country. We are faced with a Bill for which the country was never prepared in the recent Election. The Minister represents a very small minority of the population in this Measure, yet we on this side of the Committee are having no concession of any kind at all. We strove a few days ago to obtain a concession for old people, but we got none.
§ We shall keep our bargain as far as we can, but the bargain always implied serious consideration of the Bill and the readiness of the right hon. Gentleman to listen to the argument. It always implied, also, that if we could make our case we should have something from him. We have had nothing. Unless the right hon. Gentleman mends his ways, the Bill will not have as smooth a passage from now on as it has had up to now.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 241, Noes 204.945
|Division No. 95.]||AYES||[4.25 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Cary, Sir Robert||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Channon, H.||Godber, J. B.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Gomme-Dunoan, Col. A.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Gower, H. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Cole, Norman||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Ashton, H.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Green, A.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Balniel, Lord||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grimond, J.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimston, Sr Robert (Westbury)|
|Barber, Anthony||Cunningham, Knox||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R.G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Currie, G. B. H.||Gurden, Harold|
|Barter, John||Davidson, Viscountess||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||D'Avigdor-Coldsmid, Sir Henry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Beamish, Mai. Tufton||Deedes, W. F.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, 8.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Drayson, G. B.||Hay, John|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Head, Rt. Hon, A. H.|
|Biggs-Oavison, j. A.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Heath, Edward|
|Bishop, F. p.||Duthie, W. S.||Henderson, John (Cathoart)|
|Body, R. F.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Errington, Sir Eric||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Erroll, F. J.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fell, A.||Holt, A. F.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Finlay, Graeme||Hope, Lord John|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Fisher, Nigel||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fort, R.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Freeth, D. K.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Howard, John (Test)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Gammans, L. D.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewlsham, N.)|
|Carr, Robert||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Maitland, Hon. Patrlok (Lanark)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh,W.)||Marshall, Douglas||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Mathew, R.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Speir, R. M.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Mawby, R. L.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, s.)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Bye)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Molson, A. H. E.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Mott-Radelyffe, C. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Storey, S.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Nairn, D. L. S.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Keegan, D.||Neave, Alrey||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Nicholls, Harmar||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon,S.)|
|Lagden, G. W.||Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Oakshott, H. D.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Leavey, J. A.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Osborne, C.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Page, R. G.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pitman, I. J.||Wade, D. W.|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pott, H. P.||Walker-Smith, D. C,|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Powell, J. Enoch||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Profumo, J. D.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Ramsden, J. E.||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rawlinson, Peter||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Redmayne, M.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Remnant, Hon. P,||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Renton, D. L. M.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Robertson, Sir David||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Roper, Sir Harold||Mr. Legh and|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Colonel J. H. Harrison.|
|Maddan, Martin||Russell, R. S.|
|Alnsley, J. W.||Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Hastings, S.|
|Albu, A. H.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hayman, F. H.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Healey, Denis|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Cronin, J. D.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Anderson, Frank||Daines, P.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Holman, P.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Holmes, Horace|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)|
|Bartley, P.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Deer, G.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Beswick, F.||Dodds, N. N.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Dye, S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Blackburn, F.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Edelman, M.||Hunter, A. E.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Irving, S. (Dartford)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon, G. A.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Janner, B.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fernyhough, E.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fienburgh, W.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fletcher, Eric||Jeger, Mrs.Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs.S.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Forman, J. C.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Gibson, C. W.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Greenwood, Anthony||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Carmichael, J.||Grey, C. F.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Kenyon, C.|
|Champion, A. J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hale, Leslie||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Clunie, J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hannan, W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Llndgren, G. S.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Logan, D. G.||Parker, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Mabon, Dr. J. D.||Parkin, B. T.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Paton, J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|MoGhee, H. G.||Pearson, A.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|McInnes, J.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thornton, E.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Popplewell, E.||Timmons, J.|
|McLeavy, Frank||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Probert, A. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Mahon, S.||Proctor, W. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rankin, John||Weitzman, D.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Reid, William||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Rhodes, H.||West, D. G.|
|Mason, Roy||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Messer, Sir F.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wigg, George|
|Mikardo, Ian||Ross, William||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Royle, C.||Willey, Frederick|
|Monslow, w.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Moody, A. S.||Short, E. W.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tlllery)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mort, D. L.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Moss, R.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Moyle, A.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Snow, J. W.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Sorensen, R. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Oram, A. E.||Sparks, J. A.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Owen, W. J.||Steele, T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbur,)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Stones, W. (Consett)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Mr. J. H. R. Rogers and|
|Mr. J. Taylor.|
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Godfrey Nicholson)
I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if the Amendment to Clause 3, in page 4, line 23, in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is discussed with the next six Amendments on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I beg to move, in page 4, line 23, to leave out "some other area" and to insert:outside that area or by some other local authority for the purpose of accommodating persons coming from that area and in either case for the relief of congestion or overpopulation within that area or.This Amendment relates to subsection (3, e.) So far, we have been discussing the previous paragraphs in that subsection and the one most closely connected with it is paragraph (c). This Amendment proposes that when relieving congestion or over-population in an area by building outside that area, it should be immaterial whether the building is done by the exporting or by the importing authority, because in paragraph (e) the building has to be done by the exporting authority.
My Amendment is a little wider, but broadly similar to the two following Amendments both in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) and some hon. Friends of mine and some hon. Friends of his. The only difference between this 946 Amendment and those two Amendments is that the hon. Gentleman would insist that the additional category to be included by these Amendments should be a group of houses, and that there should be an interval of not less than five miles between the place where they are put up and the boundary of the exporting authority. I feel sure that we can rely on the support of the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends because the difference is much too trifling to matter.
The second and the third of this series of Amendments are somewhat similar. They relate to the same type of point, but they are cases where there is a definite relation of agency between the exporting and the importing authority; that is to say, cases which would be covered by the Amendment which I have moved but, within those cases, only circumstances where the importing authority is doing the work on behalf of the exporting authority. The two other Amendments deal with a rather different type of point, to which I will refer later.
Apart altogether from any general consideration, it appears that the Government are willing to provide the higher subsidy in any case where a local authority of a congested or over-populated area builds in another area. Then follow a number of qualifying words. If the qualifying words are in either case complied with, and the building goes on not in 947 the congested or over-populated area but in some other area, always in relief of the congestion or over-population, it makes no difference in principle which is the actual building authority. It may be the exporting authority, it may be the importing authority.
It has to be done as part of a scheme, it has to be done in relief of congestion or over-population, but it is immaterial which of the two authorities does the building and to carry the matter a stage further, exactly what are the arrangements between the two authorities concerned. In some parts of the country, particularly in Lancashire, we get this kind of case: on the one hand, the congested and over-populated area authority sends its population out and provides houses for it in the receiving area and, on the other hand, the local authority of the receiving area provides houses for exactly the same type of person in exactly the same circumstances. The only difference between the two groups of cases is which authority does the actual building, and in that connection there may be, there probably will be, financial arrangements between the two authorities concerned.
I suggest to the Minister that he ought to make the task of local authorities in these circumstances as easy as possible. If the right hon. Gentleman refuses this Amendment the houses in this type of case will have to be provided by the exporting authority, with whom the importing authority will probably come to some arrangement. It is bound to, because the houses, as buildings, will remain in the area of the importing authority.
I fancy that I shall be told that this is the case of the exporting authority, and that if we look at paragraph (c) we shall find the case of the importing authority. Unfortunately, when one comes to a comparison of the two paragraphs, they do not by any means cover the same sort of case. Paragraph (c) is the one that we are not discussing at the moment, and I will only say enough to indicate that it contemplates large-scale development, for the Town Development Act, 1952, is not really concerned with anything else, and the Minister's approval is required. One presumes that that Act, and what is being done under it, is a clear indication of the 948 Minister's intention about the paragraph. I am merely referring to what is contemplated under it.
When we come to paragraph (e) we find that something rather different and uncertain and not what is really required is provided by the paragraph as it stands. Apart from the point as to which is the building authority and which of the two in what circumstances should receive the subsidy, there is another point. What we are really trying to deal with in the paragraph is the mischief of congestion or over-population in one of those towns which have not got any room at all on which to build. Anyone who has been through our industrial districts can find examples without any difficulty.
I will give one instance. I remember going to Salford many years ago. I travelled from Manchester through an area with the picturesque name of Irlam-o'-th'-Heights. I found there no heights but only slums. Salford was grossly congested and over-populated. Even in those days the long-standing difficulty of Salford was that it could not possibly cope with its housing problems within its own area. It had not even enough room to turn round like a little dog which is beginning to lie down. It had no decanting area available within its boundary, and thus it had somehow or other to deal with its problems by building outside.
Salford is not the only such place. The difficulty which was acute in Salford then has now become the difficulty of the London County Council, which has practically no room in which to turn round and it has to ooze over its borders into all sorts of places. Congested areas of that kind have, in those circumstances, to be dealt with by exporting population, but surely it ought to be left to the local authorities themselves, subject to a degree of Ministerial control, to decide what to do about this kind of thing. An authority may be able to make a number of comparatively small arrangements which would go a long way to meet its difficulties. Unfortunately, such small arrangements do not seem to be covered in the Bill.
Again, an authority might wish to make a large-scale arrangement. I agree that if the authority of the congested area is making a large-scale exportation, it may 949 be that in some cases it will be similar to development for the purposes of a new town. However, the new towns are social experiments on a very considerable scale. The new town of Corby, in my constituency, is to have a population of 40,000. That is one of the smaller new towns. I believe that in some cases the populations reach about 80,000. The new towns always have the character, which was not provided for in the legislation, that some industrial development goes with them, and this is very much larger in some cases than in others. Glenrothes, Cwmbran, Peterlee and Corby are obvious cases of industry closely linked with population. Some new towns are rather more residential, but even in those cases considerable industry is growing up.
What I have in mind, and the thing for which we ought to provide the highest subsidy, is something on a smaller scale than that, something which is definitely for the relief of congestion or overpopulation, often just over the border of the exporting authority and quite close to it. That is the sort of thing that is happening in Lancashire. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look at this rather broadly. If we take a large authority like the London County Council—I sometimes think that it cannot count less than 10,000 at a time, at any rate when it is dealing with population—it will probably bring itself within this sort of Clause, although I am not certain because of the industrial point, but smaller authorities, of which Salford is an example, may have exactly the same sort of difficulties and may even be worse off, but will never be brought within these provisions. When Salford pushes some of its population perhaps just over its borders or ten or twenty miles away, who will say whether Salford is causing development of a new town character? It is much too narrow to limit it in that way.
I may be met with the answer that one has to be very careful about this or one will be postponing the general needs of the receiving district in the interests of the needs of the incoming population. I do not believe that is a really serious difficulty. I should have thought that the point was who had to pay for it in the long run, and one can reasonably expect the exporting authority to have some contribution 950 to make in return for the relief of its difficulties.
Be that as it may, I would remind the Committee that, in substance, the Bill is not giving large additional subsidies. I am well aware that there is a small increase in some cases. Broadly speaking, the main object and effect of the Bill is to cut the general need subsidies, and what the Opposition are doing is trying to salve something from the wreck. From that point of view, I should have thought that there was every case for giving special facilities for this kind of thing, because a large town may be able to make these arrangements but a small town will not be able to do so. The suburban growth of outer London, as distinct from inner London, has no doubt been carried too far. We are wise to have new towns and a Green Belt.
Altogether to deny development of that character to some of the congested and over-populated areas in the industrial districts of the North and in other parts of the country seems to be the sort of injustice that one commits by giving way to the powerful and making hay of the weak. Even if that is a slightly exaggerated form of putting it, I am sure that I am right in saying that they ought to have encouragement in these matters.
I will refer very briefly to the two Amendments which I did not mention. They are, in page 4, line 23, to leave out from the second "area" to "or" in line 27; and in line 24, to leave out from "development" to "or" in line 27. The object of the first is to leave out these qualifications at the end of the paragraph. The other makes a smaller alteration. They are really ways of giving effect to the sort of point which I have just been putting to the Minister. I need not say more about them except that the language of the Clause seems to be an instance where the Minister is giving himself rather wide discretion; or else he will find that his intentions are, in fact, more cramped than he supposes from the language of the Bill.
I urge him to reconsider the whole of the paragraphs, I hope to accept the first, or, failing that, the two parallel Amendments on the first point, and also carefully to consider whether the general words at the end are required and whether the matter could not be more simply expressed.
§ The Temporary Chairman
There is a mistake on the Notice Paper. The word "in" should be inserted before the phrase, "some other area." That is the form in which the Question will be put.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I apologise for that clerical error, Mr. Nicholson, and for omitting to mention it in moving the Amendment.
§ Mr. Robert Jenkins (Dulwich)
I desire to speak about my two Amendments which are being considered with the one which has been moved by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). They are closely interdependent and one is consequential upon the other. To some extent I want to follow and support the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering. The whole of subsection (3, e) deals with overspill. The Minister in effect has said that he is prepared to pay an additional subsidy for a dwelling if it isprovided by the local authority of a congested or over-populated area in some other area as part of a scheme of comprehensive development the general character of which is in the opinion of the Minister similar to development for the purposes of a new town under the New Towns Act, 1946. …In other words, if a local authority exports a large number of its people to a new town or creates a new town, an additional subsidy is possible.
However, it is not clear how the Minister will judge whether an exporting authority building a certain number of houses, building up a certain community outside its own boundaries, is doing so for the purposes of a new town under the New Towns Act, 1946. We wish to see added to that paragraph the Amendment, in page 4, line 27, after"1946"to insert:or(ii) as one of a group of houses erected by the said local authority at a distance of not less than five miles from the boundary of their area for the relief of congestion or over-population within their area.It is not suggested that the Minister should make a contribution to a local authority which merely just spills over its own boundaries into a neighbouring local authority. It is not the idea that the Minister should give an extra subsidy if houses are built exactly on the perimeter of the local authority, but only if 952 there is a distance of five miles between the new estate and the perimeter of the local authority which is exporting its population.
I shall be brief, but I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister will have regard to this point. These two Amendments are completely non-party. They have been suggested by the Association of Municipal Corporations, which has given a considerable amount of thought to the effect of the Bill. Notwithstanding what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said this afternoon about the Association passing resolutions condemning the Bill, it is doing its very best, with the advice it can give, to make the Bill more workable and, incidentally, more fair.
The paragraph deals with only part of the problem. For instance, one of the preceding paragraphs deals with the question of industry. Some district estates are associated with industry, but a large number of local housing authorities, as has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, have to overspill because of their lack of building land. Some are too small and their financial resources are too small for them to set up some large development which would come within the New Towns Act, 1946. They will want to build, say, between 200 and 2,000 houses.
I cannot believe that, as the paragraph stands and unless there were some close association between what was built, say 2,000 houses, and a real development corporation—and unless that local authority in addition to building houses built schools, halls and the other things that go to make up a new town—the Minister could possibly bring himself to say that such houses would qualify for a subsidy. It is for that reason that the Amendment is put forward.
If a small local authority has to overspill, but not to the extent of a new town, it cannot get the additional subsidy, although in proportion to its financial resources it may be doing just as much as a large town like London to deal with overspill.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I agree with so much of what the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) says that I should like to get this point clear. The two Amendments with which he is particularly dealing would not quite cover that 953 point, but it would be covered by the Amendment in page 4, line 23, to leave out from the second "area" to "or" in line 27, and the Amendment in line 24, to leave out from "development" to "or" in line 27, which leave out the restrictive words relating to new towns. I see the hon. Member nodding agreement, and I take it that he is supporting those two Amendments.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Jenkins
There is just one other point I wish to make. If we visualise a situation on which an exporting authority buys land five miles from its own borders and puts up, say, 300 houses, it does not, under the Bill as at present drafted get the subsidy. The importing authority not only gets the value of having an increased population but it also takes the rateable value and any subsidy that would be payable to the exporting authority. In other words, the exporting authority loses the subsidy and its population.
In many cases there is every reason to suppose—I am advised that it is so—that if that took place on a reasonably large scale, the authority would in fact lose the Exchequer equalisation grant because of the number of persons going out of its area into the adjoining area. That is the position, I am advised.
The better a local authority does its job from the point of view of housing, the more it is likely to be penalised, and I would urge my right hon. Friend to do something about this matter. I know that he is keen on getting the maximum number of houses built and upon getting slums cleared but this provision is not effecting that. I am trying to make the point that the more keen a small local authority is on getting rid of over-population and overspill, the more restrictive is the effect of this Clause; and a local authority would hesitate to act in that way because it would receive no subsidy if it did. I ask the Minister to give the same consideration in this matter to the small local authorities as to the large authorities who are in fact setting up new towns. I ask him to consider the wording of the Amendments in the name of my hon. Friends and myself.
§ Mr. Percy Daines (East Ham, North)
There has been so much agreement that I sincerely hope that the Minister will continue it, and that for the first time we 954 shall receive a concession from him. I wish to put the case for the borough which I represent, and I do not apologise for doing so, because I think the argument is applicable in a number of other cases. In my borough we have no building sites left at all. It is a case of overspill or nothing.
We have 6,000 applicants on our live register and 600 people living in prefabs on land which must be given up, on Wanstead Flats, etc. We estimate that, arising from the change so far as requisitioned property is concerned, there will be another 300 families. What we find ourselves up against time and again is that other authorities do not want to make arrangements with us: they resist us by every legal means possible. Therefore the chances of boroughs such as mine making arrangements with importing authorities are very remote. It comes down to the fact that our people may go out—and we find this in the case of the new towns—but because of the pressure of rents, which is wrapped up in this problem, they begin to come back again in no small numbers.
The argument has been advanced by the Minister, particularly during the debate on Second Reading, that there is a reservoir of pre-war houses at low rents which will equate and bring down the new rents which must be charged if there is no subsidy at all. But that does not always apply. There are a number of boroughs and districts in the same position as my own authority, but let me take the case of my own authority. We find that our pre-war housing comprises only 7.8 per thousand as against the figure for the county boroughs of 356. It is perfectly obvious that even with the existing increase in charges and the interest rates and so on, we shall, if we go on building, have to charge very heavy rents indeed.
When the people of East London, particularly in my borough, have moved out to some existing housing scheme perhaps fifteen to twenty miles away, inevitably they come back to work, and the position of those people will be quite unthinkable. They are bound to face a very heavy bill each week for fares. I do not want to be unduly controversial but I noticed that the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) said that it was the intention of the Minister to build more houses—that is the only point 955 on which I differ with the hon. Gentleman—but I appeal to the Minister to realise that here is a big chance, if he proposes to behave in a reasonable way and to give a concession, for him to make a concession on this issue, which affects the lives of so many people in my constituency.
§ Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)
I wish to invite my right hon. Friend to look at the very special case of Manchester and to see how we are affected. Under the terms of this paragraph Manchester would be entitled to the higher rate of subsidy for dwellings built outside its area as part of a development of new town proportions. Manchester has been prevented by Ministerial decision from undertaking the development of new towns on particular sites at Mobberley and Lymm and has been compelled to look round to find all sorts of odd sites all over the place in order to house the people whom we would much rather have in a new town. The city is already building 4,777 houses in different places outside its borders and is negotiating for the building of another 14,000. It appears to me that Manchester will be severely handicapped by the terms of this paragraph because Ministerial decisions have prevented the building of new towns.
It is true that Manchester receives a subsidy of £22 10s. for houses built outside its area to replace slum houses, but only £10 for the other houses. On the other hand, local authorities in receiving areas get £24 irrespective of the houses they build. That seems rather unfair. I am sure my right hon. Friend will appreciate that it is impossible to allocate every house built outside the city for people who have been living in slums. We have to meet the needs of many other people. For example, in Manchester there are 13,000 families living in lodgings who have been put on the housing lists. As the Bill stands at present, local authorities outside will get £24 whereas Manchester will get only £10 for housing of a similar kind.
I ask my right hon. Friend to recognise the very special position of Manchester which seems to me to be rather more difficult than that of most local authorities. I hope that he will be able to produce a new paragraph, or include some 956 form of words giving him power in suitable cases to approve the granting of the higher subsidy where a local authority has to build outside its area and the operation does not come within the scope of new town development. Alternatively, my right hon. Friend would help Manchester by giving approval for some sites for new towns.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
For many days the Minister and his hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench have been resisting the arguments put forward from this side of the Committee, but it may be that, as a result of the interventions of two of his hon. Friends in the persons of the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) and the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson), we might make a little more progress than we have been making during the past few days. At all events, we say to those two hon. Gentlemen that we hope to give them the opportunity to carry their arguments to their logical conclusion. We hope that, if necessary, when the time comes they will accompany us for once in a while to the Division Lobby where they will be in really good company.
My hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) opened the door for me in the debate on this group of Amendments. I was delighted to find that my constituency of Salford had been graced in the past by his presence. I am quite sure that Salford must have benefited by that in days gone by. He talked of Salford in the past, and perhaps I might be permitted to say something else about my own constituency, as has been done so often by other hon. Members in the course of these debates.
We in Salford pride ourselves, justifiably I think, that in our scheme for overspill with a neighbouring body at Worsley in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Thornton) we were the inspiration of the 1952 Town Development Act. As a result of that experiment between Salford and Worsley we really set something going, and by that Act many other authorities have been enabled to get down to the question of overspill. I would say in passing that when we entered into that scheme with a neighbouring authority we were not thinking only in terms of slum clearance, but of blitz sufferers, overcrowding, new 957 families, prefabricated houses which were decaying and, ultimately, of derequisitioned houses. In fact, we were thinking of the whole gamut of housing needs, and that is why we entered into that plan with our neighbouring authorities.
I suggest to the Minister that if he allows the Clause to remain as at present drafted he will wreck these magnificent schemes. We are greatly indebted to the smaller neighbouring authority of Worsley for all it has done. So far, 1,200 houses have been built in that area for Salford people, and the ultimate scheme was to have been for 4,500 houses.
Will the Minister tell us where he draws the line between that kind of development and a new town? The provision of 4,500 houses could mean the housing of 15,000 or 16,000 people. Many of the new towns are working on a basis of about 30,000 or 40,000 people. Is the Minister definitely saying that he is prepared to draw a line between 16,000 and perhaps 30,000, and that the smaller population does not come within the meaning of a new town whereas the larger of the two populations does?
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that that is not the conurbation of Greater London or of South-East Lancashire. He knows those districts well, and we all know that one cannot move from one authority to another unless one knows it very well. Why should the Minister fix the line in the way that he is doing, thus preventing people from obtaining houses which they would otherwise get?
Although I refer to the scheme which is now in operation, the first of these two Amendments would also bring in other ideas which we have. We in Salford are at the moment in negotiation with the Tyldesley Urban District Council. In that case, it would not be a question of the importing authority building houses for the exporting authority. Salford would be purchasing land in Tyldesley on which to build houses for Salford residents.
The aim of this Amendment is to cover both systems, and, by so doing, to provide houses for the people. I wish to hold out to the Minister a qute new incentive and one that might even tempt him. The more overspill cases in my constituency of Salford, West, the more 958 the votes cast for me at a General Election diminish. The vast majority of the people who have the advantage of overspill are the people who vote for me at elections. They are going to places where there is either an overwhelming Labour or Tory majority and where their presence will not make the slightest difference. But it will make an awful difference to me. I have been in the House of Commons for nearly 11 years, but it is much more important that the people living in miserable conditions in Salford should be properly housed than that I should continue to be a Member of the House.
§ Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)
I rise to preserve the theme of harmony that we have had at least for the last half hour or so. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will be impressed by the fact that there is obviously a quite genuine depth of feeling on both sides of the Committee that a little more needs to be done in this connection than is being done in the Bill as at present drafted.
I am not certain that I would follow the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) all the way to the end of his remarks, because I think that it would be a great pity if it were to be thought that populations could be moved about in relation to voting strength. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion was a frivolous one, but it is one which outside the House is sometimes more seriously thought about than it ought to be. People sometimes think that things are done in that sort of way.
I want to speak particularly about the borough which I represent and of which by accident at this moment in time I happen to be the only representative in this Committee. The Borough of Walthamstow is, of course, very seriously concerned with this problem, and, not being able to tackle it alone, it has made arrangements with eight or, it may be, nine other boroughs in its part of the world in an endeavour to overcome these difficulties.
After negotiation, the boroughs managed to acquire certain land in rural Essex. They were encouraged by the Minister to acquire that land. It was not acquired without a great deal of opposition, but the boroughs banded together and after many vicissitudes they seemed to be within sight of a large overspill 959 scheme which would help them all. Unless something is done to save it that scheme cannot continue, and the very valuable co-operation which has been built up between these nine boroughs in tackling their housing problem will prove fruitless. There will be no point in continuing it.
I appreciate that the Minister would naturally prefer to see new town schemes, as such, but these things are not always possible; indeed, they take a long time to prepare—and in this part of London, at the moment, the need is much more urgent. This is the only reasonably quick way in which the housing needs of these nine boroughs of which I have first-hand experience—and there are presumably many others in a similar situation in other parts of the country—can be met. If the Minister can make some additional concession here in the light of what is quite clearly the feeling of both sides of the Committee, he will be doing a great deal for his own reputation and, which is much more important, he will be doing a great deal for the many thousands who, despite all the progress that has been made in housing, are still in need of homes of their own.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
My name is associated with two of the Amendments which we are now discussing. It appears under the name of the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) in relation to the Amendment which proposes that the higher subsidy shall be paid in the case of houses which are built within five miles of a congested area, in order to relieve it, and also in the list of names supporting the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), which is of a broader character. In view of the unusual harmony which has existed in the Committee this afternoon I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the broader Amendment, but, even if he is unable to do that, I hope that he will have no hesitation at all in accepting the less demanding Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Dulwich.
Like previous speakers, I propose to illustrate the case for the Amendment by speaking of my own constituency. Experiences have been recited to us in connection with towns like Manchester and Salford—with which I am familiar—and 960 smaller towns in the Lancashire area. I want to deal not only with the problem of Slough but of the neighbouring area of Eton. The two areas are complementary. I speak of them with some confidence because the Minister has a knowledge and experience of them. When I speak of Slough I am thinking not only of that town; I know that it is typical of many towns which have developed rapidly in recent years. Luton is another example.
Until recently these towns have been what are termed "importing areas." I very much dislike terms such as "importing" and "exporting." They make it seem as though we are dealing with raw materials and goods rather than human beings. We must always remember that we are dealing here with a problem which may mean human happiness or human suffering. Slough has been an importing town because to it have come populations from all over the British Islands, attracted by its trading estate. They have come especially from the depressed areas of South Wales, Lancashire, Scotland, the north-east coast and Belfast. In thirty years the town's population has grown from a mere 17,000 to nearly 70,000. Not satisfied with that, it is now taking in an overspill population of 70,000 from London.
Until now it has been described as an importing area, but a change is taking place. The whole area is becoming built-up, owing to the rapid increase of the town, but because we had no drainage we could not build for a long time, and 40 per cent. of the public housing in the town is now under construction or under contract. That has been done so thoroughly that there is now no land upon which houses can be built. In consequence, Slough has changed from an importing to an exporting authority. The effect of this has been serious for many of those people who are employed in Slough. We did have a rule that, even if someone did not live in our borough, if he had worked in it for four years he could be placed on our housing waiting list—but because we have no land upon which we can build we have had to exclude most of those who would have had the benefit of that qualification in the past. Workers are travelling long distances to Slough. Only last week I received a letter from a worker who travels each day from East Ham to Slough 961 and back. Many people travel twenty or thirty miles, although the majority live in the neighbouring authorities of the Eton Rural District Council and the Eton Urban District Council.
I emphasise the fact that it is not only a matter of there being a need to provide houses for these people; there is a new, growing, industrial centre, essential to the export industry, in which workers can be employed but where they cannot have houses. This is an enormously important matter from the point of view of industry as well as of mere housing accommodation. In that situation the need is to be able to build estates near Slough—or, in the case of Luton, near Luton—which would not be new towns but comparatively small estates.
I am pleading that the higher subsidy under the Bill should be made available for those estates. I have proposed, locally, that a conference should be held between representatives of the Slough Borough Council, the Eton Rural District Council, and the Eton Urban District Council, and that they should together work out this problem—because it affects Eton as well as Slough. Many of the workers employed in Slough are living in one or other of the Eton local authority areas.
Such a conference would be able to consider three alternative schemes for a solution of this problem. It could consider building by the congested town in the area of another local authority. We have already had one instance of that in the estate which has been built at Wexham, which is in the Eton rural area, and for which the Slough Borough Council is responsible. Secondly, the estate could be built by another authority taking full responsibility for it. Thirdly, it could be built by another authority on behalf of the congested area.
As the right hon. Gentleman is piloting a Bill to deal not only with slum areas but specifically with overspill, the terms of it should be sufficiently wide to cover all three alternatives which I have just put before him. The Clause might permit a higher subsidy in the case of a congested town which built in another area. It might, though not necessarily always, cover the estate built by another authority taking the full responsibility. It would 962 not necessarily cover an estate built by another authority on behalf of a congested area.
I ask the Minister to accept the Amendments, which will enable the Bill really to fulfil one or two limited purposes in dealing with the overspill problem. I hope that the fact, which is very unusual, that speaker after speaker from both sides has made the same plea to the Minister, will induce him to make a concession in regard to the Amendments.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
We have had a most encouraging display of unanimity from both sides of the Committee about the inadequate provisions in the Bill to meet the problem of overcrowded areas which want to get rid of their slums but have nowhere to put the occupants of them.
I share the distaste expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) at the way in which jargon has descended upon these matters. Words and phrases like "overspill," and "exporting and importing authorities" create an atmosphere of expert detachment, whereas we should really be concerned with the hideous conditions of living of ordinary families which the representations from this side of the Committee, and I am bound to say from the Government side too, are designed to ameliorate.
I hope that the Minister will reconsider the provisions of the Bill for the payment of subsidy to exporting authorities. As the Bill stands, subsidies are provided quite inadequately in the limited class of case under subsection (3, (e). Too little consideration has been given to this basic difficulty of new town development. Many councils have been unable to persuade any other authority to participate, and that has been the experience in West Ham. A number of approaches for marriage have been made by the borough to various authorities, but I am sorry to say that all the advances were rejected. Now, like the last rose of summer, West Ham has been left "blooming alone."
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
West Ham has tried to deal with the problem itself and has been forced to embark upon a programme 963 of acquiring land at Stanford-le-Hope for the purpose of erecting there an out-borough estate. It is proposed to build 1,500 houses within the terms of paragraph (e) asthe local authority of a congested or over-populated area.There is a substantial case for saying that this is "part of a scheme of comprehensive development" within the meaning of the paragraph.
I would ask the Minister whether it is the view of his Ministry that because this scheme is limited in size and nature to a housing estate it is not eligible for subsidy within paragraph (e)? I fear that his answer may be that it is not eligible but I should be most grateful to be told. This is a matter of considerable importance, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will answer this specific question during the debate.
If the answer is that the plan for the erection of these 1,500 houses is to rank only for the £10 subsidy, the cost to the West Ham Council, over and above that which was contemplated when the scheme was first considered, and indeed approved by the Ministry, will be as much as £51,000. The increase of rents to compensate for the loss of subsidies will be about 4s. 7d. a week. The effect would be to put this new and vital housing development out of the reach of a great many people in my constituency who desperately need housing accommodation.
An additional trouble, certainly in the initial stages, would be that this development would not be connected with industrial development in the immediate neighbourhood. There would be the additional burden for the tenants of fares for travelling, at a time when fares are notoriously on the increase. The hard facts of pounds, shillings and pence would put this housing out of the reach of families who most desperately need to be rehoused.
The history of this matter is a little astonishing and justifies the authorities in complaining about Departmental vicissitudes and apparently unreasonable changes of policy by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. The Minister confirmed the compulsory purchase order for the land at Stanford-le-Hope, and approved the application by West Ham Council for this development 964 in preference to applications by the London County Council and by Thurrock Council. By that act of approval the present Minister's predecessor recognised that the development at Stanford-le-Hope was a proper contribution to a solution of West Ham's housing needs and of London's overspill.
I emphasise the position in my constituency because it makes such a clear case. The provision of estates like that which is proposed by West Ham is linked directly with the task of slum clearance. If West Ham's slum clearance programme is to be carried out it is essential that means should be made available to the council for out-borough development of this kind. Without such development our slum clearance programme cannot go further.
I submit, therefore, that if the present Minister is sincere about this alleged campaign—"crusade"is, I think, the honourable word used in connection with slum clearance—and unless he is quite cynical about it, better provision for proper and adequate subsidies for these out-borough estates is quite essential.
The Minister has conceded the point that I now seek to make in relation to West Ham in the terms of a letter from his predecessor to the London County Council rejecting the county council's application for planning permission for this scheme, but accepting and approving West Ham's application. I submit that what was said in that letter is quite contrary to the present provisions of the Bill. The Minister said:West Ham had a large waiting list and the possibilities of rehousing in their once densely-developed borough were limited to vacant war-damaged sites which are rapidly being used up. The council must deal with their considerable problem of slum clearance in the near future but could not do so unless they had land outside the borough on which to house the people displaced. They would need this land within the next two or three years—This was the Minister writing, not a representative of the constituency in this House. The Minister went on to say:While he does not underestimate the size of the London County Council's housing problems he is impressed by the immediacy of need of the West Ham County Borough Council for housing land which will enable them to make an effective attack on their problem of slum clearance. In the light of this and the considerations set out above the Minister thinks it right to permit the … development proposed by the West Ham Council.
§ Mr. Powell
If I may intervene, I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that in so far as houses are provided to rehouse people displaced from slum dwellings they qualify for the higher rate of subsidy; so on that score there is no need for anxiety.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
Is the Minister now saying that so long as the West Ham Council can satisfy the Minister that this estate in Stanford-le-Hope of 1,500 houses is connected with its slum clearance programme it will attract the higher subsidy?
§ Mr. Powellindicated assent.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I should like to have some definition of this. There is undoubtedly provision for slum clearance in the Bill. But I understand that intimations have been given to the West Ham Council that this estate at Stanford-le-Hope is not to carry the higher subsidy. If the Minister now tells me that I am wrong, I shall be delighted to give way. I invite the Parliamentary Secretary, if necessary after consultation, to give a specific ruling about this matter.
§ Mr. Powell
It is in relation to persons rehoused from slum dwellings—to provide accommodation for persons displaced from slum dwellings as defined——
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
The Committee must keep to some semblance of order in this debate.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for his intervention. What I am saying is that this out-borough development is essentially linked with the provision of accommodation for those living in blitzed areas which are being cleared and also in areas of 966 slum clearance. Unfortunately, in my constituency, they are all mingled together. The flying bomb was no discriminator in these matters. I do ask for a quite clear ruling on this point before the debate goes very much further. I gather that the Parliamentary Secretary is encouraging me to think that all is well—that the Stanford-le-Hope estate of 1,500 houses will carry the full subsidy. Is that so or is it not? Could I have a specific answer to that question?
§ Mr. Powell
The hon. and learned Member was talking a lot about West Ham's difficulty in getting on with its programme of slum clearance, and quoted a letter from my right hon. Friend's predecessor. I reminded him that accommodation provided to rehouse persons displaced in the course of slum clearance attracts the higher rate of subsidy.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
The hon. Gentleman really cannot ride off on that. He has put the theoretical position to the Committee.
May I repeat my question? Will that apply in the specific case of Stanford-le-Hope, where authority has been given by the Minister for the building of 1,500 houses? He has drawn my attention to certain provisions of the Bill, but will that estate carry a full subsidy? I am sorry that the Parliamentary Secretary has not answered that question. The Committee will have taken note of his undertaking, but I ask the question for the third time. The hon. Gentleman can, through the usual channels, get in touch with those who may be informed of the particular matter, his Parliamentary Private Secretary being apparently a little more alert at the moment than appeared to be the case at certain stages of yesterday's debate. Before the debate has long continued may we have a specific answer to my question, because it is not a question relating only to my limited constituency interest but is of widespread significance, and I think that the Committee is entitled to a reply.
§ Mr. Powell
I refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the provisions of Clause 3 (3,a), together with the interpretation Clause, Clause 11. It will depend on whether or not the houses in this or any other scheme fall within the limits of that definition. The hon. and learned 967 Member was talking as though the absence of the higher subsidy would impede the progress of slum clearance, and I was pointing out that where slum clearance is concerned the higher rate of subsidy is payable.
§ Mr. Bevan
I do not think that we can leave it at that. We had a very protracted discussion about this matter yesterday. What we want to know is this. If houses which are not slum houses are removed in connection with a slum clearance scheme do the houses that are substituted for the houses which are not slum houses carry the higher rate of subsidy? Clause 3 (3, a) says:provided by a local authority for the purposes of slum clearance or re-development.Our point yesterday was this. There may be a number of houses which may not be slums but are taken down by a local authority in the course of redevelopment, and we wanted those houses also to qualify for the higher rate of subsidy. We were told quite clearly that the only houses which would rank for the higher rates would be those that were substituted for slums. It does not matter where they are put provided they are in substitution of slum dwellings pulled down. That is how I understand it.
§ Mr. Bevan
We should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether houses to replace houses which are not slum houses but which are pulled down in connection with a slum clearance scheme—as well as the slums themselves —will qualify for the higher rate of subsidy. That is the question—may we have an answer?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I understood that the hon. and learned Member had brought his remarks to a conclusion.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I shall not detain the Committee much longer. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has assisted me in presenting the matter in a direct fashion. The Committee has not had an answer from the Government Front Bench on this point. It is all very well to draw our attention to Clause 11, but I ask again 968 whether, in that kind of provision in connection with a slum clearance programme, a borough development of the kind to which I have referred will attract the higher subsidy. It is quite a clear question, and we are entitled to an answer.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
There is obviously a real difficulty here both in the matter of interpretation and of the Minister's intention. I have already, at an earlier stage in the consideration of the Bill, made my point concerning borough council of the constituency which I represent. It finds itself in great difficulty, and I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey). We are all associated, in these boroughs, in this joint venture whereby our local authorities have acquired property outside our boroughs in Essex, and a great deal of thought and imagination has been put into it.
One cannot represent a constituency in that part of outer London for very long without becoming aware that the need for houses is still the greatest social need in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tell that to the Minister."] I think that my right hon. Friend and his predecessor have shown by their actions that they are more than well aware of that fact. Hundreds of thousands of people who have been rehoused by the efforts of my right hon. Friend and his predecessor have every reason to know that that is so.
However, there is still a considerable amount to be done and I find myself in a difficulty. People come to see me about their housing problems, and, although it is not my responsibility, I arrange for them to be interviewed by the chairman of the housing committee.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. The hon. Member seems to be directing his argument to the Second Reading.
§ Mr. Iremonger
In that case, Sir Rhys, I shall quickly remove myself from that ground.
I am pointing to the difficulties of boroughs in relation to the Amendment now under consideration, because they are 969 trying to provide houses for people on their housing lists which they can never provide in their boroughs because they have not got the ground on which to build. To get over that difficulty some boroughs in Essex, of which my constituency is a part of one, have bought land outside the borough boundaries. They are now in a position of having undertaken to build houses which they would not have undertaken to build if they had thought that they would not attract the full subsidy, and now they find that they are not. As a result, they will have to charge higher rents than they intended in the first place. Their tenants will find that not only will they have to pay higher rents, but they will be faced with a higher cost of living because they will have to travel further to their work.
It would be very helpful if the Minister could clarify this position about his intentions in regard to redevelopment as opposed to slum clearance. In addition, I should like to know whether the Minister will now say that houses built in new development areas as part of any redevelopment plan will attract higher subsidies, even though he did not in the first place intend that to be so. In my constituency, at any rate, it will cause great embarrassment and confusion in the plans which have been made by the local authority if the higher subsidy is not paid.
§ Mr. Bevan
The argument is now becoming rather wide, and we on these benches wanted an answer from the right hon. Gentleman on the question of overspill. I think we should meet the other point later. We would rather at this stage have a reply about the Amendments to which we have been addressing ourselves.
§ Mr. John Parker (Dagenham)
There is a point which has not yet been put and to which my Amendment is addressed. I should like to associate myself with all the other Members for Metropolitan Essex who are pressing the Government on this matter, but there is a distinction between some of the Metropolitan Essex constituencies and others. West Ham and East Ham are long developed areas, and there are many slum areas there which need clearing. But there are other areas, like my own constituency of Dagenham, which resemble the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough 970 (Mr. Brockway), where there are practically no slums but where, between the wars and since, the area has been built up. A large number of people have entered and we are nearly full now, with the result that the local authority has to try to find estates outside its boundaries in order to house people on its housing list.
We have 4,000 people on our housing list; there is no room to build for more than a very small number, and those houses are, in fact, being built. When they have been built, the area will be full. That is true of a large number of boroughs in Metropolitan Essex. It is true of Ilford, Barking, Walthamstow, Leyton and Romford, and it will soon be true of Hornchurch and Thurrock. Very few of those areas have slums to be cleared, but all of them have this problem of housing their surplus population.
I fully agree with the point made by the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger). If we have to put an estate a long way outside the boundaries and that estate has no special subsidy, there will be heavy expenses for people travelling to and from their work, in addition to the high rents, which will make it impossible for people who want those houses to take them.
Let me take the case of Dagenham. We have bought, with the authority of the Minister, a small estate in Canvey Island. There is no industry in Canvey Island. The people who will be rehoused there will have to travel to the new town of Basildon or to Dagenham to their jobs. They will have to pay heavy fares on top of high rents.
Also, we have gone into association with other boroughs, including Walthamstow, to build one big estate and take a certain number of houses each, in order to have some comprehensive development. No doubt, many comprehensive development schemes of that kind can be arranged. But will they rank for a special grant under the Bill? Can the Minister make that clear?
Under this Bill, the Government discriminates against the small local authority which wants to develop an estate somewhere else, which wants to start not a slum clearance scheme but a scheme to provide for an overflow of its surplus population. No doubt, a large town can go ahead and 971 have such a scheme; it would, no doubt, be possible for the Minister to approve of Manchester doing this sort of thing, but I do not see how a small town will be able to undertake a development scheme outside its boundaries.
I therefore hope that the Minister will deal not only with the question of slum clearance, but also with the important problem of the great many boroughs which need to have overspill for which there appears to be no arrangement in the Bill.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Powell
The group of Amendments which the Committee is considering together covers two points. One is a minor point with which I want to deal briefly at the outset and the other is the major issue on which the greater part of the debate has centred.
The minor point is that some of these Amendments would enable paragraph (e) to cover comprehensive development similar to development for the purposes of a new town, if it were undertaken not only by the exporting authority but by the importing authority or by some third authority. It is very difficult to conceive a case in which the importing authority, which is normally a rural district but at any rate anything but a great town or city, would be in a position to undertake development of a kind which could be on a par with the development of a new town by a development corporation. Nor is it likely, and it is very doubtful whether it is desirable, that such a service should be performed on a brokerage basis by yet a third authority which would build in an area not its own to meet the needs of an area not its own.
This sort of development will occur where a great town, with great resources and great housing and development experience, undertakes the enterprise of establishing what is comparable to a new town, and it is not readily to be conceived that that could occur otherwise than where the developing authority was the exporting authority.
The main effect which most of these Amendments have, and the main concern of hon. Members who have spoken in the debate has been to widen the application of paragraph (e) to include any out-boundary development.
§ Mr. Powell
The effect would be to widen it to include all development, all provision of houses, undertaken by a housing authority outside its own boundaries; or, in the case of the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) and others, provided it were at a distance of five miles.
It is important that the Committee should clearly recognise what is the essential difference between new town development and development which can be regarded as comparable to it, on the one hand, and the building of estates outside a borough or town development, on the other hand. The definition of town development which, where it is carried out by the receiving authority, as the Committee will remember, attracts the higher subsidy under paragraph (c), is in Section 1 of the 1952 Act; and it is developmentundertaken primarily for the purpose of providing accommodation for residential purposes";and then follow the descriptive words,(with or without accommodation for the carrying on of industrial or other activities, and with all appropriate public services, facilities for public worship, recreation and amenity, and other requirements).One therefore has four grades of out-county development. There is the simple estate, with a minimum of non-housing development included in it; there is town development with the appropriate public services, etc., in the words which I quoted, but without industrial concomitant; there is town development in the fuller sense, where there is an industrial factor; and, finally, there is the true new town which is conceived literally as a new town and laid out on the full scale, planned to the full development envisaged, with the whole range of facilities for employment and for leisure which are found in a normal fully developed town.
What is being asked here is that we should apply the higher rate of subsidy payable to an exporting authority not to the last category only but to all cases of housing provision outside the authority's boundary. But the Committee has already decided—and we had a full discussion on this aspect of the matter yesterday—that where the building falls 973 under the heading of town development, the higher subsidy should be payable only where it is undertaken by the receiving authority; and, therefore, all the more that where it is mere estate development it should attract the higher subsidy only where the housing is provided by the receiving authority.
May I remind the Committee of the underlying reason for which that is so, and within the scope and principle of the Bill must be so. At the risk of wearying the Committee, I would again repeat that the underlying presumption of the Bill is that the great majority of local housing authorities will be able to continue to build as far as necessary to meet their general housing needs without undue rate burden or unduly high rates, on the assumption that they pool the subsidies which they receive on their whole existing and future stock of houses.
On that assumption there is no difference between the position of a housing authority which goes on building to meet its general needs within its boundaries and one which, for various reasons, goes outside its boundaries. It is still building for its general housing needs and it is still in a position, like any other authority, to pool the subsidies which it receives. Indeed, if we were to extend this paragraph we should be making an unfair discrimination in favour of authorities which happened to have no development land remaining within their boundaries. There would be two authorities, one with building land within its boundaries and one without, and the former would be unable to receive the higher subsidy whereas the latter would receive it; but both would be building for the same needs and under the same financial conditions.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, Southwest)
Is it not within the Parliamentary Secretary's recollection that the basic assumption on which he is building his case was a general assumption and that it has been admitted, even from the Treasury Bench, that that general assumption will not necessarily apply in every case?
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
There is another fundamental point which the Parliamentary Secretary seems to have forgotten. In out-county building one big difference arises. The big difference between 974 a scheme inside a county and a scheme outside is that the local authority building outside loses the rateable value of the land outside the area, but it may be called upon to make some contribution towards the local services in the area it is helping to build.
§ Mr. Parker
What about the position of such a borough as my own, where two-thirds of the houses belong to the L.C.C. and cannot possibly be included in a pool of rents?
§ Mr. Powell
I think that my answer to the hon. Member for Islington, Southwest (Mr. A. Evans) is most in point. It is admitted that there will be a minority of local authorities—we believe it will be a very small minority—which, for various reasons, even after pooling their rents, cannot be expected to meet their general housing needs with the £10 subsidy or without subsidy at all. But there is no reason to think that that minority in any way coincides with local authorities which happen to have to build outside their boundaries in order to meet their housing needs. At another point in Committee we discuss the provisions of the Bill for dealing with cases in which local authorities cannot meet their general housing needs without undue burden or unreasonable rents.
Perhaps I may come to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and repeated by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren)— the loss of rateable value. It is alleged that there is this difference between a housing authority which develops inside and one which develops outside its boundaries: that the latter loses the rateable value or, rather, does not gain the extra rateable value which accrues from the construction of houses. But, of course, it does not have to provide the associated services either. It does not have to provide any of the services for the inhabitants of those houses. Although it does not acquire the rateable value it does not acquire the burdens either. If it had built those houses inside its boundaries it would have had to provide the whole range of local government services for those who live there.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he will recollect that the rate burden is imposed for housing purposes as well as services purposes. 975 It has hitherto included a compulsory rate contribution and, very often, a supplementary one. It will now include, we hope, some contribution from the rates.
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, it is true that a small fraction of the total rate burden which goes on local authority services is attributable to the rate subsidy in respect of housing, but in general the local authority which builds outside its area is rid of the obligation to provide services for the persons who are accommodated outside its area. Broadly, that is the case.
What, then, is the justification for giving this special subsidy to the exporting authority in the case in which the development is equivalent to the creation of a new town? The answer is that when a new town or anything analogous to it is developed, at the outset there must be an immense amount of unremunerative expenditure, which is not directly connected with the provision for housing need. There is the lay-out on a much wider scale than would be necessary in estate development. There is provision for industry, not as an adjunct, but sufficient as the new town develops to provide employment for all those who will live in it.
The developing authority in this case has to meet burdens which do not fall upon the exporting authority in any of the other types of development outside its boundaries. There is the further fact that usually building costs will be higher by reason of the grass roots nature of the development in a new town area than normally they would be in the case of an ordinary estate development, or town development.
I was asked a question about the application of the higher rate of subsidy in respect of slum clearance.
§ Mr. Bevan
Before the hon. Gentleman goes on to that, let us be quite clear about this. We have had a very long discussion, in which hon. Members on all sides of the Committee have taken part. Are we to gather from the extremely ingenious argument to which we have listened that an exporting authority which has no additional building land inside its area but has to build houses outside its area is now a rather luckier authority than an authority which has additional land within its area? It is apparently 976 an advantage not to have sites within the authority's area.
§ Mr. Powell
No, that exporting authority only attracts the higher rate of subsidy for the houses it builds if it builds them in circumstances analogous to new town development in which it is obliged to incur a very heavy initial cost not shared by any other type of development. So it is far from an advantage to be undertaking that particular kind of decentralisation.
I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) whether the higher slum clearance rate of subsidy did not also apply to comprehensive development. I think the same question was asked by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker). This matter was debated at length by the Committee yesterday and the Committee decided that comprehensive development, as defined in the ambit of the planning Acts, was not within the scope of redevelopment for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this subsection.
On the narrower point of the position in West Ham, that authority has 2,854 slum houses and its plan is to deal with about 1,200 of those in the next five years. If it displaces 1,500 families from those slum houses it will get 1,500 subsidies of £22 1s. wherever the houses are built to house those people. That subsidy will also be paid on any houses which have to be demolished in order to give an appropriate clearance area in the sense of Part III of the Housing Act, 1936. The demand which will be created by the work of slum clearance in that constituency will be met by higher rates of subsidy wherever the houses in replacement are built.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
That, I take it, will include all those houses in areas technically known as "grey land" whether they are actually slum houses or not?
§ Mr. Powell
That is correct.
I would advise the Committee that to widen the scope of this paragraph beyond that of development analogous to new towns would be both inconsistent with the underlying principle and assumption of the Bill and also unfair to other local authorities with an equal housing need which are able to meet it within their 977 boundaries. I would, therefore, advise the Committee to reject this series of Amendments.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I should like to raise a small problem with which the Parliamentary Secretary has not dealt. I admit that my Amendment does not cover it entirely, but that Amendment was put down merely as a peg on which to base a case. It would require to be supported by the last Amendment proposed to line 23.
During the past few years in my constituency and some other towns in northeast Cheshire, a small number of houses have been provided by local authorities for overspill from Salford. Those houses have been attracting the usual subsidy and there has been a contribution towards the rate fund from Cheshire County Council. This has been a sort of good neighbour scheme under which each year a few houses have been erected for the people of Salford. So far as I see there is no provision in this Bill by which such a scheme could continue to attract any subsidy and I should like to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say about that.
In addition, my constituency is likely to be a reception area for a fairly large overspill scheme from Manchester. I take it that a scheme for about 4,000 houses would be entirely covered by paragraph (e) as it stands. The houses would be built by the exporting authority and I take it that the scheme would be a development considered as similar to that under the New Towns Act. If I am correct in my assumption that this matter would be covered by paragraph (e), the fears of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) about the scheme in Worsley would be alleviated.
§ Mr. Powell
It depends upon the nature of the scheme. The mere size of a scheme does not, as such, either exclude it or bring within the scope of paragraph (e). It must be a scheme which can be fairly regarded as comparable with a new town. Of course, size would be a factor because it would be difficult for a small number of houses to be comparable to a new town, but the hon. Member should not assume that unless the nature of the scheme itself—in its detail and whole structure—can be fairly regarded as 978 analogous to a new town it will fall within paragraph (e).
§ Mr. Blackburn
The scheme would include all the qualifications which the Parliamentary Secretary read as being necessary under the New Towns Act. Therefore, am I correct in my assumption that it would rank for subsidy?
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
In his closing sentences, the Parliamentary Secretary sought to argue that if the Amendment to which I have appended my name were conceded, it would place the authority which has to build houses in the area of another local authority at an advantage as against the local authority which builds the same type of house within its own area.
Will the hon. Gentleman address himself to this point? The authority which has to build its houses in another authority's area, while having to meet the cost of building the houses, would not get for itself the additional rateable value, which would be obtained by the authority which builds the houses within its area. Indeed, the export of a number of its population to a neighbouring area might conceivably affect its Exchequer equalisation grant because of a reduction in population.
It seems quite unreasonable, therefore, to argue that the local authority which builds its houses outside its own area would have an advantage over the authority which builds within its own area. The disadvantage of not securing the additional rateable value of the new houses and the distinct possibility of a loss of Exchequer equalisation grant seem to me to be perfectly sound reasons why the Amendment which carries my name should be accepted.
§ Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)
I listened very carefully to the Parliamentary Secretary, but it seems that he quite fails to appreciate the reason why the small local authorities seek land outside their borders other than through the Town Development Act and the new towns and expanded towns arrangements. When the hon. Gentleman suggests that the new estates that these local authorities want to build are in exactly the same category as houses built within the areas of other borough authorities, he fails to realise the extent of this problem of land.
979 These small, congested boroughs are trying to relieve over-population, which is supposed to be one of the purposes of the Bill—there is no question about it. They have been forced to buy land outside their boroughs because under the Town Development Act and the provisions for the new and expanded towns, although they have taken some of the surplus populations from the industrial areas, they have not in the main taken people from the housing waiting lists of the local authorities concerned. The only way in which the small, congested authorities, such as those in Middlesex and the others to which reference has been made, can have a sizeable building estate is by purchasing the land and building the houses themselves.
To do that demands considerable effort and a great deal of negotiation. As has been pointed out, there is in other areas great opposition to local authorities obtaining land. All this adds up to the fact that if only the reduced subsidy is given, many of these authorities will say that it simply is not worth their while to proceed with their schemes. That is the point with which the Amendments are concerned.
If the Minister wants to relieve overpopulation, here is one of the most effective ways of doing it. Unless he gives the higher subsidy these authorities, after all their efforts and struggles, who feel that they have achieved something in acquiring the land, will say, "We are just not going on. It is £10 today, it will be nothing tomorrow, and fresh difficulties will be put in our way. We will abandon the whole thing." That is the essential difference between local authorities which build outside their areas and those which build within their areas, where these particular difficulties of acquiring land and of finance do not obtain.
I ask the Minister to consider our proposals from that viewpoint. In view of all that has been said today, can he not consider the Amendments again and do something to help the relief of overpopulation, which it is the declared intention of the Bill to achieve?
§ Mr. Lindgren
We have had a good discussion on this group of Amendments, and I would draw the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to an unusual feature of our discussion. Hitherto during the Committee 980 stage we have been looking at empty benches opposite. There were times yesterday when not a single Member of the party opposite was present. Today, we have had a reasonable attendance by hon. Members opposite. Many of them have made speeches, speeches which have been exactly in line with those made by my hon. Friends on this side, and yet the Parliamentary Secretary has failed to make any concession whatever.
I have called attention to this afternoon's unity because the previous stages of the Bill have been a rather one-sided battle; we have been hitting fairly hard at the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary. Time and time again, when we have made points, we have been told, particularly by the Parliamentary Secretary, "I would call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the basic principles of the Bill are slum clearance and dealing with overspill." This afternoon, however, the Parliamentary Secretary has "blown the gaff," because he has shown that that is not at all the purpose of the Bill.
All the cases which have been dealt with by hon. Members on the Parliamentary Secretary's own side of the Committee and those dealt with by my hon. Friends on this side have been cases of overspill, in which a local authority has no land within its confines on which to build and its population has to be decanted. The Parliamentary Secretary said, in effect, "All we are going to deal with is overspill in large-scale development, where it is on a basis of dealing with 40,000, 50,000 or 60,000 people." The normal overspill of an ordinary municipal borough or even of a small county borough is not being dealt with.
It may be that Manchester or London, for example, would come within the field of action, but we must look further. Not only are the Government cutting out subsidies for housing purposes; they are breaking up existing legislation. Under the arrangements for the expanded towns to deal with overspill, hardly anything is being done outside the Borough of Swindon and the urban district of Bletchley. When the London County Council was prepared to accept schemes with local authorities under the Town Development Act, the Ministry killed them in two ways. First, the Ministry refused to give sufficient grants to assist with the extension 981 of facilities for water, sewerage, lighting, playing fields and the rest, which are necessary in the areas.
The Bletchley scheme was started under a Labour Government and commitments were entered into by the Labour Government, which the present Government could not evade, with the Bletchley Urban District Council. Although certain concessions have been given, the Government are now making it almost impossible for schemes to proceed because the interest rates so increase the charges to be borne by the existing ratepayers in the area that the schemes are being given up. Accordingly, we can now rule out the Town Development Act. In the first place the Government refused to give adequate grants for essential services; and, secondly, the rates of interest cause added difficulty, even to local authorities who are prepared to consider schemes.
When the arrangements for the new towns were being worked out it was intended that there should be a new town development corporation to undertake the estate development in any area the local authority of which had not sufficient resources, not enough officials or too little money, to be responsible for it. The New Towns Act was not intended to apply to boroughs which could competently undertake their own expansion. Those towns are the expanding towns, and the Borough of Swindon is one of them.
What has happened since the present Government have been in office? In the four and a half years they have been in office no new towns have been designated. It was the Labour Government who introduced and passed the necessary legislation. Until it was on the Statute Book, no new town building could be done, and the Labour Government started the work of the new towns from scratch. The Act was passed in 1946, and between 1946 and 1951 the Labour Government made all the arrangements for 14 new towns. The present Government have not designated one. They have, however, interfered with the machinery devised for the development of the new towns.
The hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) was talking today about the problems of Manchester. The Labour Government made an arrangement for the 982 designation of a new town—Congleton— to deal with overspill from Manchester. What have the present Government done? After their first action of putting up the interest rates to satisfy the bankers, they adopted a policy by which there will be in future no new towns except for the relief of such crowded places as Manchester, London and Birmingham, because they are considered the best able to undertake new town development.
This involves what we in local government circles have always tried to avoid. We have never liked out-county building, and avoided it if we could. There are always difficulties when a local authority's policy involves another local authority, or the usurpation, as it were, of another local authority's duties and powers. Local authorities do not like usurping one another's powers, even in building. The Government's policy means that London County Council, Birmingham City Council, Manchester City Council, in dealing with their overspill problems, will have, each of them, perhaps, to take over a couple of rural districts and an urban district and usurp the powers of the local authorities in those areas.
The intention under the New Towns Act was to avoid interference with local authority powers, and that was why the device of the development corporation was adopted. It was the intention that there should be a development corporation for a new town, a corporation of business men to deal with the estate development, while the normal local government functions were to be left to the local government units in the area.
We now know that, whatever the Government may say about it, this Bill is not to deal with slums, because in so far as it relates to the expansion of towns, it will permit those expansions only on a large scale. There can be only "substantial" expansions, as the Minister put it, and that means that it will assist only such cities as London, Birmingham and Manchester. The ordinary boroughs will get nothing out of the Bill.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) has a case which illustrates the fact that the Bill will not help in these respects. A previous Minister of Housing and Local Government had authorised a compulsory purchase order in favour of West Ham 983 and against the London County Council, because it was desirable to have some slum clearance in West Ham. Now, families displaced by a slum clearance scheme must go to houses in new housing schemes, even outside the borough in which the slum clearance is being done.
We have heard some talk about how people will be better off in new areas. It is true, of course, that if, for instance, London County Council houses some of its people in Essex, or Kent, or Surrey, or Hertfordshire, it will be saved some costs on education, but the local authority receiving the overspill will have additional educational costs. There are other factors, too. The people who are thus moved away from their former homes have to pay more in fares to go to their work, and that is in reality an addition to their rent.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Yes. I was speaking of people who retained their jobs which they had when they lived in their former homes. They may, perhaps, give up those jobs and get new jobs nearer their new homes. Men who do that often have to take a lower rate of pay.
What the Government are saying to the ratepayers is, "You must pay increased rates to build houses 30 or 40 or 50 miles away for other people." Tenants of council houses in the London area may have to pay as much as 5s. a week more rent to finance the building of houses far away for other people and so that they can be let at reasonable rents.
The Government are saying that the local authorities, whether they want to or not, must pool rents and subsidies, but this is spreading the pool rather wide. Where will the pool end? Will it so spread that at last all the resources of all the local authorities in England and Wales
§ are pooled and averaged out between them? The Government are running into enough trouble with the local authorities already without seeking any more. The Urban District Councils' Association has already condemned them, and the A.M.C. has condemned them. In all my experience of local government I have not known that association to condemn any Government. It has sometimes been a little rough in its language to the Government, or about the Government, but I have never known it wholly to condemn a Government before.
§ In spite of the fact that there has been unanimity of opinion among hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have spoken in this debate, the Government seem determined not to accept the Amendment. Unless the Government are prepared to make some concession to us, I shall have to ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to press the matter to a Division. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have gallantly criticised the Government today, and who have asked the Government to make some amendments to the Bill, to put their words into deeds and to join us in the Division Lobby, so that the Government may understand that not only are we on these benches against the Bill, not only are the local authority associations against the Bill, not only are the people of the country against the Bill, but even certain Conservative Members of Parliament are against the Bill, because of the conditions they know in the areas they represent in this House of Commons.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Are we to take it from the silence of the Minister that it is the intention of the Government that the good-neighbour scheme should come to an end?
§ Question put, That the words "in some other area" stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 250, Noes 208.987
|Division No. 96.]||AYES||[6.40 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Banks, Col. C.||Biggs-Davison, J. A.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Barber, Anthony||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Barlow, Sir John||Bishop, F. P.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Barter, John||Body, R. F.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W.J.||Baxter, Sir Beverley||Bossom, Sir A. C.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)|
|Ashton, H.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Balniel, Lord||Bidgood, J. C.||Brooman-White, R. C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Neave, Airey|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R.A.(SaffronWalden)||Holt, A. F.||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hope, Lord John||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Carr, Robert||Horobin, Sir Ian||Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Clarke, Brig.Terence(Portsmouth,W.)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Test)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Osborne, C.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Page, R. G.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K,||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Panned, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Pott, H. P.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hyde, Montgomery||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Iremonger, T. L.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Davies, Rt.Hon.Clement(Montgomery)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Deedes, W. F.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Redmayne, M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Keegan, D.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Kerr, H. W.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Kershaw, J. A.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Eccles, Ht. Hon. Sir David||Kirk, P. M.||Russell, R. S.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Lagden, G. W.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lambton, viscount||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Leather, E. H. C.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Fell, A.||Leavey, J. A.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Speir, R. M.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Fort, R.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Freeth, D. K.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Storey, s.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Longden, Gilbert||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Teeling, W.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||McAdden, S. J.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Gower, H. R||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg.Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Green, A.||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Gresham Cooke, R,||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Grimond, J.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maddan, Martin||Vosper, D. F.|
|Gurden, Harold||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Wade, D. W.|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Harvey, Air Cdr. A. V. (Macolesfd)||Marples, A. E.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas||Whitelaw,W.S.J.(Penrith & Border)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Mathew, R.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hay, John||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Wils, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Mawby, R. L.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Heath, Edward||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Bartley, P.||Boardman, H.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bo
||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Benson, G.||Bowles, F. G.|
|Anderson, Frank||Beswick, F.||Boyd, T. C.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brockway, A. F.|
|Balfour, A.||Blackburn, F.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hubbard, T. F.||Probert, A. R.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rankin, John|
|Burke, W. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reeves, J.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reid, William|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, A. E.||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Carmichael, J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Irving, S. (Dartford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Janner, B.||Ross, William|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Royle, C.|
|Clunie, J.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs.S.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Colliok, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Skeffington, A.M.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Kenyon, C.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Daines, P.||King, Dr. H. M.||Steele, T.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lawson, G. M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)|
|Davies Ernest (Enfield E.)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lindgren, G. S.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Dye, S||Logan, D. G.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacColl, J. E.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||McGhee, H. G.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McInnes, J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McLeavy, Frank||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mahon, S.||Thornton, E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Timmons, J.|
|Fienburgh, W,||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Forman, J. C.||Mason, Roy||Viant, S. P.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Galtskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Messer, Sir F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mikardo, Ian||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mitchison, G. R.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Monslow, W.||West, D. G.|
|Grey, C. F.||Moody, A. S.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Moss, R.||Wigg, George|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Moyle, A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Willey, Frederick|
|Hannan, W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Hastings, S.||Owen, W. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Padley, W. E.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Healey, Denis||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hobson, C. R,||Parker, J.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Holman, P.||Paton, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Holmes, Horace||Pearson, A.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Popplewell, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Mr. Short and Mr. Deer.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
Question put and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
I hope that the Minister will still reconsider the Clause. It imposes very serious obligations upon local authorities. My own local authority, Birmingham, has a tremendous overspill problem. Within the next very few years no more new building land in the city will be available. Consequently, some provision will have to be made for Birmingham applicants for houses to go outside the city.
988 It is estimated that we should have to provide for 50,000 families outside the city boundary. That is an overspill problem of not merely a large town but what amounts to another city. The question is: where are we going to put the people? So far, the Minister has not been very helpful in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill is intended to provide primarily for slum clearance. He should bear in mind that slum clearance of itself creates an overspill problem.
We are finding in Birmingham that, even when we rebuild as densely as we 989 can, we can only rehouse three out of every five tenants displaced by slum clearance. It means that if one clears an area where 5,000 families are living one has to find fresh building land for 2,000 of those families even after providing for a dense redevelopment in the area. Even if it is correct to say that the Bill is intended to deal with slum clearance, it creates an overspill problem which must be dealt with and people like those whom I have mentioned have to be rehoused outside the local authority's area.
No single method of tackling overspill can deal with the problem. Even if the Government provide for a new town for the Midlands conurbation, that of itself will not solve the problem. I cannot think of a place in the Midlands where one can build a new town for 50,000 or even 30,000 families.
There are three methods of tackling the problem. One is to build a new town, the other is to provide for other local authorities to take the new tenants, and the third is to enable cities like Birmingham to build outside their area. In Birmingham, we have been in contact with certain local authorities who are prepared to accept our tenants, provided that Birmingham takes the responsibility of building for and housing the tenants. In view of the hight rate of interest and other obligations it is quite understandable that some of the small local authorities are not prepared to accept this burden. Unfortunately, these negotiations are now bedevilled by the financial terms and provisions of this Bill. I hope that the Minister will look at the Clause again and consider what can be done to assist areas like Birmingham to provide for their overspill.
§ Mr. E. Johnson
I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to yet one other point which is of special interest to many of us, namely, the question of temporary bungalows, to which reference is made in subsection (3,b) of this Clause. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend said that he could not agree to take power to designate as unsatisfactory those temporary bungalows usually known as "prefabs" which have been erected in various parts of the country. He said that they were good houses and were suitable for small families.
990 I would agree entirely that these "prefabs" are still very much better houses than many of the slum houses. However, they were meant to last only ten years. They are rapidly becoming unsatisfactory temporary housing accommodation. Many more will be extremely unsatisfactory by 1965, which is the year in which those on public open spaces have to be pulled down under the provisions of the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954.
I understand that subsection (3, b) covers those houses and that the Clause need not have anything added to it to enable my right hon. Friend to designate these "prefabs" as being in a category which covers houses built for rehousing and attracting a subsidy of £22 1s. I hope that that is correct and that my right hon. Friend will be able to confirm it.
Another point which I should like to clear up concerns prefabricated houses built upon public open spaces. There are 1,530 of these in Manchester, 738 of them in my constituency. Indeed, I have 12½ per cent. of all the "prefabs" on public open spaces in the county and, therefore, I am interested to know what will happen. They have to be removed by 1965 under the Housing Repairs and Rents Act. I should like to know from my right hon. Friend whether, when that happens, the houses which have to be built to accommodate the people who are living in these "prefabs" will attract a subsidy of £22 1s. If my right hon. Friend can reassure me on that matter it will give great satisfaction to the people of Manchester.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I should like to say a few words about slum clearance and the rate of subsidy. Slum clearance should be much more a national problem than a local problem and should be dealt with on a national basis. I agree that there is a subsidy of £22 1s., compared with £10 for ordinary housing provision, but the problem of slum clearance arises chiefly in the urban districts, in those districts which have in the main contributed to the industrial wealth of the country in the past. The problem of slum clearance has not arisen because of some crime which the present inhabitants of these towns have committed.
Now, these people have placed upon them the heavy burden of clearing the slums. I can best illustrate the matter by 991 giving an example from my own constituency. According to returns in a Ministry publication, the proportion of sub-standard houses to the total hereditaments in the three non-county boroughs in my constituency are 25 per cent., 21 per cent., and 15 per cent. Those percentages give some idea of the problem created by slum dwellings.
I took the figures for two municipal boroughs in the same county which are chiefly residential. The figures there were 1.7 per cent. and 1.05 per cent. I have compared those figures with some seaside resorts, taking four examples, two county boroughs and two non-county boroughs. For the county boroughs the percentage was 0.15 per cent. and 0.6 per cent. and for the non-county boroughs it was 0.28 per cent. and 0.044 per cent. Therefore, the burden of dealing with this problem is being spread most unevenly throughout the country, and in my opinion it should be dealt with much more on a national scale than considered as a small problem for each local authority.
On the Amendments to paragraph (e) I asked a specific question about the good neighbour policy which has been pursued by an authority in my own constituency and by other neighbouring authorities. I asked whether it was the intention of the Government that this should be brought to an end and I think I am entitled to have a reply.
Finally, I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the problem of overspill between now and the Report stage to ensure that there are sufficient provisions in the Bill to deal with the many facets of the problem that will arise in that connection.
§ Mr. D. Jones
Paragraph (b) of subsection (3) enables the Minister to designate for the purposes of the higher subsidy certain classes of unsatisfactory temporary housing accommodation. It is general in its terms and except for camps, which are specifically mentioned, neither Parliament nor the local authorities which will have to operate the proposed law, know what it is intended to cover. The war and the post-war period have produced a variety of temporary accommodation such as camps, temporary hutments, a wide variety of prefabricated bungalows and requisitioned dwellings.
992 I seek to particularise two classes of this accommodation where the local authority is bound to rehouse the occupants within a known period. The first consists of requisitioned houses where the owner is unwilling to accept the licensee as his tenant, and the local authority is unable to acquire the property either by purchase or lease on reasonable terms. In these circumstances, the local authority is required by the Requisitioned Houses and Housing (Amendment) Act, 1955, to relinquish requisition of the property by 1960. As the licensee cannot remain in the property as a statutory tenant at that time, and the local authority has been unable to acquire the ownership of the property, it has no alternative in the majority of cases but to rehouse the licensee.
The second class consists of temporary housing accommodation erected on open spaces. Here again the local authority is unable to rehouse the people resident in those temporary buildings. The Minister has said as regards both these classes that the local authority needs no stimulus by way of increased subsidy to encourage it to remove the dwellings in question, and that there is already stimulus in the existing law which will require the local authority to do something about rehousing the tenants before 1960 or 1965 as the case may be.
The Association of Municipal Corporations takes the view that housing subsidies ought not to depend solely on stimulus. Post-war housing has up to now been in the nature of a partnership between the Government and the local authority, and since by reason of recent Acts of Parliament local authorities have a special and urgent problem of rehousing which cannot be postponed, they should be given special financial assistance.
These two classes are likely to be particularly onerous for the local authorities concerned, and I share the hope of my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn) that the Minister will reconsider this point between now and the conclusion of the proceedings on this Bill in order to make it possible for local authorities to meet their obligations under recent legislation without undue strain.
§ Mr. Graeme Finlay (Epping)
I want to address a few remarks on the subject of the success or otherwise of the policies 993 of decongestion by the Government in relation to London. We know that by means of new towns and expanded towns, as well as various other analogous means which have been under discussion in this Committee, some decongestion is going on.
Just before Christmas, my right hon. Friend gave an Answer to the House indicating that about 19,000 houses had been let to people who were on London's housing waiting lists. If we multiply that figure by four, as being about the average number of inhabitants in a house in a new town, we find that 76,000 people have been absorbed from London by the new towns. But, of course, the new towns have built a larger number of houses than that, and it is nearer to 5,000 which have been occupied by inhabitants who have not come from the London area, so that we get about 20,000 people who have not been absorbed from that area.
When we look at the population figures for London we realise that London, which shrank in the war, started to expand immediately afterwards and went on expanding steadily between 1946 and 1950. In 1951, for the first time, it started to contract again, when the population went down by 67,000 to 8,350,380 from the figure of 8,417,380 at which it stood in 1950. Thereafter, in 1952, it went up again, and in 1953 and in 1954 it contracted slightly, so that from the peak figure of 8,417,380 in 1950 it is now in 1954, the last figure available, 8,319,220, which is about 100,000 less than it was at the peak.
If we take into account the arrangements which have been made by the new towns and by the expanded schemes under the Town Development Act of 1952 in a town such as Bletchley, to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) referred, we wonder to what extent this process is being effective. I have certain figures which indicate the growth of industry since the war. In 1945, the licences which were granted to factories in Development Areas by the Board of Trade amounted to 62 per cent. whereas the London region received only 2 per cent. In 1954 the trend was reversed. The Development Areas were getting only 18 per cent. and the London region was getting 29 per cent. So there is a process which has to be watched carefully if the policies of the 994 Minister are to command success and if our great conglomeration of Metropolitan London is to be eased of its strain. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend what is being done in this connection.
For example, the London County Council can get special Exchequer grants in respect of sterilising land where there are factory sites, and so on. What coordination is there of licensing as between the Department of my right hon. Friend and the Board of Trade? Is the planning permission which is required before a business can set up inside the Greater London area granted, and is that a sufficiently effective barrier to control the process? If it is not, London will become an unmanageable Frankenstein. I should like to hear something about the general success of the broad strategy of my right hon. Friend in this matter.
§ Mr. Sandys
My hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Finlay) raised some rather wide issues in his short and very concise speech and I do not think I should be in order in pursuing them, although I think that his remarks were as relevant to the matters under discussion as some of the earlier speeches in the debate.
Perhaps I may be allowed, in reply to him, to say that the most energetic efforts are being made by the local authorities concerned and by myself to see that new industry does not come into the Greater London area at the same time as we are trying to export population to the new towns and the expanded towns outside. In approving the County of London Plan, I specifically cut out many acres of land which the L.C.C. proposed to allocate to industry and I tightened in every sort of way the possibilities of converting residential property into commercial or industrial use. The L.C.C. are also taking steps to devote an increasing amount of money to buying and sterilising industrial property which is wrongly located.
All this will not be done in a day and the magnitude of the problem is bound to appal anybody who has to deal with it, but none the less I have no doubt that strenuous and conscientious efforts are being made in the right direction and in the direction which my hon. Friend desires.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)rose——995
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think I ought to go far into the point, because that would be an abuse of the time of the Committee.
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn) emphasised the importance of dealing with this question on a national scale. The hon. Member for The Hartlepools referred to the difficulty which might arise under recent legislation, in particular the Requisitioned Houses and Housing (Amendment) Act. I dealt with that earlier, and I sincerely believe that the changes which will be brought about by the Bill should make it no more difficult for local authorities to carry out their obligations under that Act.
§ Mr. D. Jones
The right hon. Gentleman appreciates that that impression is not shared by any of the local authority associations. They have said that in their view it will make it more difficult.
§ Mr. Sandys
I argued the point earlier. I cannot see how the Bill can affect their position, for the simple reason that the policy underlying the Requisitioned Houses and Housing (Amendment) Act rests not upon the assumption that the great majority of the people now living in requisitioned houses will be rehoused elsewhere, but on the assumption that a substantial proportion of those requisitioned houses will continue to be occupied by the present licensees as a result either of agreements to rent the houses from the owners or, alternatively, of arrangements to buy the houses from the owners. It is only in such a way that a problem of that magnitude can be dealt with, and I made that abundantly clear during the passage of that Act. I also referred to it the other day.
The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde said that the problem of slum clearance should be dealt with on a national scale. It is very easy to use those broad phrases, but what exactly he means I do not know. I cannot conceive that the manner in which we are dealing with it is other than dealing with it on a national scale.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Much more should be provided by public funds rather than the burden being placed on those local authorities which have the greatest problems. The subsidy should be higher.
§ Mr. Sandys
Building a house to replace slum clearance does not cost more, by and large, than building a house for general needs. There is no financial difficulty about building a house to replace a slum. The reason that we are giving the larger subsidy is not because of any increased cost involved. Sometimes it costs a little more, sometimes a little less, when one has allowed for realising the value of the materials of the house which is demolished. It costs roughly the same to build a new house on a bare site as to pull down a house, sell the materials and rebuild on that site. The reasons for which we are providing a larger subsidy for slum clearance is not any extra cost involved to the local authority but a desire to encourage local authorities to concentrate to a greater extent than has been the case hitherto on the problem of clearing the slums.
The hon. Member asked whether we wished what he described as "a good neighbour policy" among local authorities in his area to come to an end. Of course we do not. Naturally, we wish any satisfactory arrangements for co-operation between local authorities to continue, and the Bill in no way precludes this.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Surely it precludes it in the very example which I gave, where my authority and an authority in northeast Cheshire have been building a few houses for Salford overspill. The Bill contains no provision for any subsidy for the building of houses for that purpose.
§ Mr. Sandys
The ordinary subsidies will be available as would be available if it were done under any other arrangement.
§ Mr. Sandys
These houses are not placed in a different category from other houses because they are built by some arrangement for co-operation between local authorities, but we should naturally like any of these arrangements which are working satisfactorily to continue.
997 The hon. Member for Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) said that some local authorities around Birmingham are willing to accept overspill population from the City of Birmingham provided that Birmingham Corporation undertakes the building of the houses needed. He asked what would be the subsidy position for those houses. If they are to be owned by the receiving authority—that is, the authority in the area in which they are to be built—they will attract the £24 subsidy. If, on the other hand, they are to be owned by the City of Birmingham, they will form part of Birmingham's total housing pool and Birmingham will be able to allocate tenants to those houses in exactly the same way as they allocate tenants to their own houses within the city. There would, therefore, be no justification for treating those houses differently from homes built within the city and perhaps only a mile or so away.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to tell me under which paragraph of the subsection those houses would attract the higher subsidy if they were owned not by Birmingham but by the local authority on the spot?
§ Mr. Sandys
Perhaps I should have qualified my remarks by saying, provided they are carried out with the approval of the Minister in the area of that authority under subsection 3 (3, c)—that is, houses provided in accordance with a scheme of town development.
§ Mr. Sandys
The hon. and learned Gentleman has not told me exactly which scheme he has in mind, but provided it is a scheme of that kind the houses would qualify for the higher subsidy if they were owned by the receiving authority. If, as I believe is the practice in most cases, they will be owned by the City of Birmingham, who will build them, own them and dispose of them for the purpose of allocating tenants to them, they will not be treated differently from any other houses which Birmingham builds for its population.
§ Mr. J. Silverman
Will the Minister say what is the logical distinction between a 998 house where Birmingham does the building and a house where the local authority does the building? Both provide for the same class of tenant. Why should one attract a subsidy and not the other, simply because Birmingham is not able to make satisfactory arrangements with the local authority and has to do the building itself?
§ Mr. Sandys
It should attract subsidy if it is built and owned by the receiving authority, because it is unreasonable to expect the receiving authority, which may be a small rural district with comparatively few houses of its own—and this may be a substantial scheme which may altogether alter the plans of the authority's housing pool—to average out the rents and possibly have to increase rents for its comparatively few local inhabitants in order to make it possible to build houses for Birmingham and to charge the incoming population reasonable rents.
That might be the case if the authority had to carry out this large expansion out of all proportion to its normal building programme with the £10 subsidy. That is why in these cases we have thought it right to pay the highest rate of subsidy of £24. Where Birmingham itself is building a comparatively small number of additional houses just over its border, which, for all practical purposes, are houses built by Birmingham for Birmingham people, there seems to be no justification for paying an increased subsidy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) raised the question of prefabricated temporary houses. I said on an earlier occasion that I would have a further look at the position. If these are to be dealt with in the Bill, they fall to be dealt with in Clause 3 (3, b). That refers to housesprovided by a local authority for the purposes of rehousing persons coming from such camps or other unsatisfactory temporary housing accommodation as the Minister may designate for the purposes of this paragraph.They come into the category of temporary housing accommodation. If they are so unsatisfactory—and by that I mean really unsatisfactory for some reason; I do not regard the general run of temporary prefabricated houses as being unsatisfactory—that they are not capable of being repaired at a reasonable cost, the houses built to rehouse people from 999 those temporary prefabricated houses will qualify for the £22 subsidy.
The other class into which I undertook to look was those prefabricated temporary houses which are now built on open spaces and which local authorities from time to time may wish to pull down. There are statutory time limits within which these houses have to be pulled down. We all recognise, as I said earlier, that we would like to see the removal of these houses from the cities' open spaces —which, in most cases, are none too numerous—as soon as practical, having regard, at the same time, to the housing position in that area. In other words, I do not wish to take action which in any way will compel local authorities, in areas where there is acute housing shortage, to pull down satisfactory houses, even though on open spaces, before the authorities themselves think that is desirable within the limits of what the law provides.
What I am prepared to do—and this is a matter which requires no amendment of the Bill—is to say to the Committee that, in practice, under this Clause I intend to designate temporary prefabricated houses which local authorities decide to remove from open spaces. That does go some way towards meeting the point put by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, but I could not, of course, for the reasons I have already explained, consider designating for higher subsidy temporary prefabricated houses which are away from open spaces and which are still satisfactory, because the only effect of that would be to stimulate local authorities to pull down houses which for small families are really satisfactory accommodation.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I should like to make one observation on the Minister's last point, which is of some importance. If the local authority itself thinks that the temporary "prefabs" are in an unsatisfactory condition, is that enough to qualify for the subsidy? The right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that it is the local authorities who, by statute, are judges of what is an insanitary house, or unfit accommodation, for a number of other purposes. I hope he will not say that he would require to interfere with a discretion in the matter which, I am sure he will agree, would be honestly exercised.
§ Mr. Sandys
I always hesitate to answer a rather detailed point "off the cuff," but I think that it would be right that local authorities should have the same degree of discretion in deciding whether a prefabricated temporary house is unsatisfactory as they have in deciding whether it is unfit. In all cases they are subject to confirmation by the Minister, whose inspector goes into these matters. I see no reason why they should not be treated in the same kind of way.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
Would the Minister consider designating caravans as unsatisfactory temporary accommodation? Many caravan camps have sprung up in recent years.
§ Mr. Sparks
The right hon. Gentleman said that he was prepared to consider a subsidy on the removal of temporary dwellings from parks and open spaces, but not in other cases. Is he aware that in London and many other big cities and towns prefabricated houses have been put on the sites of dwellings which were two to seven-storey flats? Many local authorities had to use such vacant sites, because there was nowhere else to put such houses. Most of those authorities have very heavy housing lists and a severe housing problem. They intended to demolish those prefabricated houses and restore the two to seven-storey flats so that six families could be housed in the place of the one in the "prefab." Will the right hon. Gentleman seriously reconsider that point, which is very important?
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
The hon. Member overrates the relief which the local authority would get if his suggestion were adopted. There may be six or seven storeys to this building that he would like to put where one "prefab" is standing so that it would house six or seven families. I am not saying that we accept his suggestion, but the local authority would get an additional subsidy only in respect of the rehousing of one family out of an unsatisfactory house.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I do not propose to take the time of the Committee for more than a minute or two. We have had a very full discussion on a number of 1001 points in the Clause, and particularly on subsection (3). What strikes me about it is that not one hon. Member has made a speech in support of members of the Government except the members of the Government themselves, who have cordially and loyally supported one another. From their own back benches they have had nothing but criticism, and the bitterness of the criticism has varied with the personality of the hon. Member and with the depth of the grievances to which he felt bound to give vent. That is not a good beginning for what, on any showing, will be a difficult Clause to administer.
I keep on watching right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite slipping back into the grievous fallacy that they are giving a substantial increase of subsidy in some of these cases. All that they are doing is cutting housing subsidies in general and refraining from cutting in some cases. It is true that, on a rather complicated hypothesis which could not possibly affect more than a small number of dwellings, one or two may come out a £ or two better, but, by and large, the object of the Bill is to cut the housing subsidies, with a view to removing the general subsidy completely in a year or two. These are the exceptions to it.
It is clear that these exceptions do not go nearly far enough. They will allow some of the business of exporting surplus population for various purposes to preserve its existing subsidy in some cases, but will not cover the efforts that have been made by the very local authorities who are in the greatest difficulties in this matter. It is the comparatively small local authorities, pressed and crushed within their narrow boundaries with a surplus population that they have no room to house or to decant, who find difficulties at present. They will be uncommonly hard hit by the removal in a year or so of the subsidy and its present reduction.
They will not be helped by the Clause. There are some concessions, illogical and one-sided, which may help in certain circumstances some of the larger authorities, but only if, and in so far as, they comply with what the Minister thinks is the right way to do it. The effect of the Clause is, once more, to take away the initiative and discretion which local 1002 authorities have always had in the past, and to put one more rope around them, tied by the Minister.
I cannot refrain from a word about the "urgent needs of industry." This is a most perilous phrase. It will allow the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who is no doubt a member of the Government in consultation with his colleagues, to decide what the urgent needs of industry are. Quite frankly, we know too much of the associations of the Tory Party in the past with big business and we are told too little about the sources of Tory Party funds to be happy about any provision in a Bill which leaves the decision on a phrase of that sort to the discretion of a Tory Minister.
For that reason alone we cordially dislike the wording of the Clause. We have done our best to make the Clause more reasonable by Amendment, to remove some of its inconsistencies and to give back to local authorities a little of the discretion which the Minister of Housing and Local Government ought to preserve instead of reduce. We have failed at every point. The only concession we have had from the Minister—and he was driven to rely on it as an instance of his reasonableness—was a mere matter of postponing the operation of the reductions for a period so short that he could not possibly have made any in that period. Otherwise, he has not made a single concession, not only to us, but, in the case of this Clause, to his hon. Friends, who represented the views not only of their constituencies but, in one important matter, of the Association of Municipal Corporations.
If that is not perverse obstinacy in a Government what is it? At the end, what have we to say? We are offered something, the preservation of some subsidies in certain circumstances. We think it is a niggling gift, ill worded, ill-conceived and insufficiently thought out; but, still, it is a gift. We are not going to refuse it and we are not going to divide against the Clause, insufficient though we think it is.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.