HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc1185-200
Mr. Mitchison

I beg to move, in page 8, line 25, after "Act" to insert: or by agreement with the owner. I believe it would be for the convenience of the Committee, Sir Rhys, if at the same time I referred to the following Amendment to this Clause in my name: In page 8, line 29, after "building," to insert: or in connection with the implementation of an undertaking for the demolition of an insanitary house given by the owner thereof in lieu of the taking by the authority of such action as aforesaid.

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

Yes, that would be for the convenience of the Committee

Mr. Mitchison

The object of these Amendments is to deal with one small practical point. Under the Bill as it stands, if an insanitary house is the subject of a demolition order, and in pursuance of that order is pulled down by the owner, the rehousing of the occupants attracts the higher rate of subsidy as an act of slum clearance. There may have been misunderstanding in some quarters that it is a slum clearance, even if it is a case of one insanitary house being pulled down on a demolition order, so perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would confirm this when he replies to the discussion?

There is another case. Assume that in the case of an insanitary house a council intends to take steps under the Housing Act and serves what is commonly known as a time and place notice on the owner. Without any demolition order being made, the owner undertakes to pull down the house. All it amounts to is that what the Housing Act intended to be done is done without the formality of a demolition order because both the owner and council agree.

This Amendment, which is in the names of my hon. Friends representing Coventry, tries to meet the situation by referring to an agreement with the owner. Perhaps that is a little wide. It might conceivably cover cases where there was an element of something else in the agreement, and it is probably better to keep strictly to what the Act intended in the case which I understand my hon. Friends representing Coventry wish to cover, which is the one I have just described.

I suggest that my Amendment to line 29 exactly covers what is intended, and I know that it meets the views of my hon. Friends representing Coventry. Although I am moving the Amendment to line 25, what I am really putting forward is the argument for my Amendment to line 29 when we reach it, when, of course, no further discussion will be necessary.

Mr. Sandys

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has raised a small point but one which, I agree, is not properly covered by the Bill. I think it would be desirable to fill in the gap in the text of the Bill. I also agree with him that the text of the Amendment to line 25 is not entirely satisfactory, but the text of his Amendment to line 29 is entirely so and I recommend the Committee to accept it when we reach it.

Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)

On behalf of my hon. Friends who, with me, represent Coventry, I would thank the Minister for what he has said and express my appreciation to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) for having moved our Amendment.

Mr. Mitchison

I should also like to thank the right hon. Gentleman. He did not however, in terms, confirm what I suggested, that there is no doubt—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say so for the record—that the demolition of a single insanitary house is an act of slum clearance and the rehousing of people from that house, therefore, attracts the higher subsidy?

Mr. Sandys

That is quite clear from the text of the Bill.

Mr. Mitchison

I thought so, too. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Powell

I beg to move, in page 8, line 29, after "building," to insert: or in connection with the demolition of an insanitary house belonging to the authority. The Amendment is designed to deal with the case in which an unfit house is in the possession of a local housing authority otherwise than as a result of the procedure under Part III of the principal Act. There is no reason why the local authority should not get the higher subsidy on houses in its possession in those circumstances which it demolishes as unfit.

Mr. Mitchison

The Opposition welcomes the improvement.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 8, line 29, after "building," insert: or in connection with the implementation of an undertaking for the demolition of an insanitary house given by the owner thereof in lieu of the taking by the authority of such action as aforesaid."—[Mr. Mitchison.]

Mr. Powell

I beg to move, in page 8, line 32, at the end to insert: from houses which are unfit for human habitation and not capable at a reasonable expense of being rendered so fit, or which are so arranged as to be congested, or, where the re-development plan was submitted to the Minister before the third day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty-five, from any house in the re-development area. The concluding words of the subsection refer to the: … the carrying out of re-development in accordance with a re-development plan within the meaning of the principal Act. These re-development plans in that sense are a rather curious animal which is now almost extinct. There was a provision in Part III of the principal Act whereby as an alternative to declaring a clearance area a local authority could deal with an area by declaring it a re-development area.

The conditions for doing so were that at least one-third of the houses in it should be unfit, and that the houses should be not fewer than 50. It was a kind of rudimentary form half-way between slum clearance and comprehensive development as we now have it under the planning Acts. It happens that one scheme of this character was submitted before the war and that since the war four such schemes have been submitted, making a total of five in all. It further happens that the four post-war schemes relate entirely to unfit houses whereas the pre-war scheme includes a number of fit houses, although it falls, of course, within the definition which I have just given to the Committee.

It seems right that these schemes which have already been submitted and which are overwhelmingly of the nature of true slum clearance should be included within the ambit of the definition for the purposes of Clause 3 (3, a). On the other hand, there is every reason why the redevelopment procedure should not, if used in the future, attract the subsidy. It is not in itself a satisfactory way of proceeding with either slum clearance or comprehensive development. To use a technical term, it is really too grey for the former and too restricted for the latter.

The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that the schemes already submitted shall qualify for the higher subsidy but that in future this obsolescent, if not obsolete, form of replanning shall not attract the higher rate of subsidy to houses which, in our view, ought to be dealt with by the other and more effective methods now available.

Mr. MacColl

This Amendment, moved so blandly by the Parliamentary Secretary, is a pitiful end to a sordid and shabby operation which has been undertaken during the Committee stage of the Bill. This is much more than the Parliamentary Secretary suggested. He talked as if it were just a minor drafting Amendment which everyone would accept. It is in fact a retreat even from the moderate position which had already been taken on the question of redevelopment.

When we discussed a couple of days ago whether or not comprehensive redevelopment should attract subsidy at that stage the Bill included what is commonly known as the 1935 redevelopment procedure as attracting subsidy. Indeed so much so that I quoted in the course of the discussion a letter written by the hon. Gentleman's predecessor to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Viant) about the East Kilburn redevelopment scheme in which he said that in order to attract the subsidy the scheme would have to take place either as slum clearance or redevelopment.

So at that stage in the operations of the Ministerial mind it was proposed to allow this method of getting redevelopment with subsidy and it is since then apparently that there has been a change of policy. That letter was written after the Second Reading, and now this particular procedure is to be rejected. The hon. Gentleman said—and he has behind him the solid weight of the Departmental records and I am sure he must be right—that only one redevelopment scheme was started before the war.

Mr. Powell

Outstanding now and which was submitted before the war; not yet carried out.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. MacColl

The hon. Gentleman's records certainly beat me about what is outstanding and what is not. I can remember two. They were the Bethnal Green scheme and the Paddington scheme. I do not know whether the Bethnal Green scheme is completed, but I do not wish to say anything about it. The Paddington scheme has changed its form, because the property has been acquired by the London County Council, the Paddington Borough Council having proved itself incompetent to undertake the work. I was brought up on that, because I was a member of the council at the time we were wrestling with the problem.

There arose this curious situation: off the Harrow Road in Paddington was an area called the Clarendon Street area which everybody except the experts recognised as being one of the vilest pieces of bad housing in the country. Even in evidence before the Royal Commission on Housing in the 1890s it was being cited as an example of awfully bad housing with the social problems of what are commonly called slums.

It so happens that these houses were tolerably well built, although totally unfitted for the large number of people crammed into them. They were wind and water tight and satisfied medical officers of health that they were fit for human habitation and at no stage could they be represented under the old Housing Acts as slum clearance areas.

Not very far away in the same Borough there was some mews property, the kind of mews property which has been rented at enormous rents as a fashionable type of society dwelling. This could fairly be regarded as slums, because the angle of the light was not of the correct number of degrees and for one or two other quite technical points of that sort. Because of those technical conditions, it so happens that the mews property was bad and was technically slum property and therefore the clearance area procedure could be used. However, this great mass of horrifying property could not be tackled, be- cause of the medical decision that it was not unfit. The mews property was not too bad for the upper classes to live in it.

Then came, as one of the few good things from the pre-war Tory Governments, the Housing Act, 1935. That introduced the re-development procedure which enabled the property to be tackled precisely because of the bad arrangement and overcrowding which had made it so frightful. My recollection—this is a long time ago—is that we prepared it for a development area and drew up plans. I cannot remember how far we got, but that does not matter, because I am only using it as an illustration; but I reject the suggestion that one can do all one wants by the use of purely medical decisions about unfitness under the Housing Acts while paying no attention to the wider social problems of really bad property.

That is the great issue which divides us. I say to the Government and to the right hon. Gentleman who finds it a subject of happy amusement that just as the Government tried to inflate their housing programme at the expense of other important work, what they intend to do is at all costs to knock down any derelict house that can be found and say that they are clearing the slums, when in fact they are leaving the most difficult areas because one cannot touch them, because one cannot get the subsidy to re-house the people in them. This is no place or time to start an argument about comprehensive development—we have had that argument—but what possible case can there be for the Government to change their mind now and to take this procedure out of the Bill? It is not good enough for the Parliamentary Secretary to say—because it is not so good as comprehensive development and we can get more under comprehensive development—whose hand held the dagger which "slit the throat" of comprehensive development. The Parliamentary Secretary encouraged the party opposite against giving subsidies for comprehensive development.

If comprehensive development had been allowed, we should not need to keep redevelopment in the Bill. Because it has been taken out of subsidy, we need this poor little second-best. It is a pitiable thing with which to end up the Bill. It is not a matter of the number of cases, which may not be great, but I have given one illustration to show the kind of case that has happened. I say that, even for the sake of such cases, it would be worth while to keep it in the Bill, and I cannot understand why the Government have decided to act in this mean way.

Mr. Gibson

I wish to support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). I remember the Bethnal Green scheme, when we trudged around streets, courts and alleys before we decided to schedule it as a redevelopment area. Areas of that kind may contain dark and evil-smelling alleys and miserable courts. In my own borough there was one called "Paradise Court" but it was a fearful place for people to live.

Merely to pull down houses in that court would not solve the problem of redevelopment Under this procedure we were able to take in a much wider area and sometimes to pull down what was technically a sound house It was possible to clear some streets in order to provide reasonable facilities for redevelopment. As a result of this Amendment such a course of action will no longer be possible.

It is a thousand pities that the Government, who have already broken the hearts of a good many people who are really keen about housing reform, should, at the tail end of this Bill, put in an Amendment which will abolish one of the few opportunities we might have had of doing some redevelopment where houses and streets are badly overcrowded, and not merely in the case of slum houses in the medical sense; where walls are falling in or there is no light or sanitary convenience or where the floors are rotting.

Members of housing authorities who desire to do something to make their town a reasonable place in which to live will be severely handicapped, and the chance of having fine towns will become more remote. That illustrates what an awful Bill this is from the point of view of those people who want to see our towns and cities made into places fit for the workers to live in. It is a pity that the Government have brought forward the Amendment, and I hope that the Committee will reject it.

Mr. Sandys

I will reply to the further remarks made by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) and the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson). The hon. Member for Clapham seems to misunderstand the situation. The Bill does not repeal in any way the powers of local authorities to carry out redevelopment under Sections 34 and 35 of the 1936 Act. In that respect their powers remain exactly as they are today. What the Bill does not do is to give a slum clearance subsidy to all houses built to rehouse people displaced in the whole of a redevelopment area, for the simple reason that the subsidy we are talking about is for slum clearance purposes and, as my hon. Friend pointed out, one of the provisions of the 1936 Act is that only one-third of the houses in the area in question need be unfit for the area to be deemed a redevelopment area for the purposes of that Act. Any unfit house which may exist in an area redeveloped under Sections 34 and 35 of the Act will, of course, qualify for the £22 subsidy under the Bill.

The procedure laid down in the 1936 Act has proved to be slow, complicated and generally unsatisfactory. That is why it has become virtually a dead letter. Since the Town and Country Planning Acts were passed areas of comprehensive redevelopment have been introduced, and the procedure for declaring areas of redevelopment under the 1936 Act has ceased to be used. There are just five outstanding cases, to which my hon. Friend has referred, and we felt that it was fair that as they were already, so to speak, in the pipeline, they should be picked up by the provisions of the Bill.

I quite understand the arguments which have been advanced by hon. Members opposite in favour of extending a special subsidy to all comprehensive redevelopment areas under the Town and Country Planning Acts, but we have already had fairly lengthy discussions upon that subject and it has nothing to do with the Amendment. The Committee has taken a decision upon the matter. There is no case whatsoever for giving a new lease of life to the unsatisfactory and obsolescent procedure under the 1936 Act. The immediate effect of allowing the slum clearance subsidy to be available for areas which might contain no more than 33 per cent. of slum houses would be to encourage local authorities, in order to get more subsidy, to revive this procedure, which they all regard as most unsatisfactory.

It would be wrong to approach the matter in that way. If the Committee, or the House on Report stage, thinks it right that areas of redevelopment as a whole, fit as well as unfit houses, should qualify for slum clearance subsidy, the right thing to do is to amend the appropriate part of the Bill. We should not introduce it in a rather back-door way, which will only revive and encourage a most unsatisfactory procedure. I am sure that on reflection all hon. Members will agree that this would not be a desirable procedure.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Gibson

I rise only to get the record right. The Minister talked about houses in these areas, which, he said, were areas with only 33⅓ per cent. slum houses. Of course, there had to be something much more than that, such as bad arrangement not only of houses but of streets, and serious overcrowding. It must be clear that that was part of the procedure under the redevelopment plan.

Mr. Mitchison

Here we are again, "extending the higher rate of subsidy." I picked out that rich and fruity phrase from the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. The Government, having made up their mind to cut the housing subsidy except in cases where even the Tory Government has not the face to cut them, want to know whether this is one of those cases or not. That is what we are considering.

Let us see how the matter stands. There is no doubt that for individual or grouped insanitary houses, the Government have not the face to cut the existing subsidy. It is equally clear that the Government will not have any nonsense about planning. I well remember, from the days when the Government party were in Opposition, that their ideal was chaos as far as possible, the jungle of free competition and disorderly arrangement. We understand that, and we are not altogether surprised that the Government rejected any suggestion about including comprehensive development and turned deaf ears to even the pleas of the blitzed cities in that matter.

This is a much smaller matter. The right hon. Gentleman and his Parliamentary Secretary get up, and, as it were, sniff at redevelopment. I quite agree that if they had left in the proper alternative of comprehensive development there would not be very much to be said for this proposal, but they are using the existing subsidies in some cases in order to try to direct such few activities as councils still have enough money to exercise. Having shut the direction of comprehensive development and of proper redevelopment, the Government have left in, as a mere matter of form, insanitary houses in a clearance area, or insanitary houses, or houses so arranged as to be congested inside a redevelopment area. If that were all, there is no substantial difference between the two classes of provision, but the Government are excluding the possibility of—to quote the redevelopment section— redeveloping the area as a whole. The object of these redevelopment provisions and the way in which they have been used—perhaps not enough, but they have been used—has been to redevelop bad areas as a whole.

I still remember the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor paying lip-service to what had been done in Birmingham. What we are trying to do, in face of the determination of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on Government benches never to take the blinkers off but to look at the problem house by house, is to beg them, if they will not accept comprehensive development, at least to let the poor councils who want to develop areas as a whole, have every encouragement to do it. Otherwise the Government will shut the door to proper redevelopment as a whole, proper provision for open spaces and proper provision for amenities of all kinds.

In fact, the Government will step right back, out of the area of some degree of municipal planning, to the time when nobody thought we need arrange anything except the immediate building or house with which we were concerned at the moment. That is really the backward step that they are trying to force councils to take here.

Let me remind the Committee that the decision to have a redevelopment area at all is one that must be taken by the council and must be founded on the belief of the council that the particular area cannot be dealt with in a patchwork, house-by-house manner, but must be redeveloped as a whole. Why on earth, in this year of grace, should councils be deterred from doing just that? It is nonsense for the right hon. Gentleman to say that they have statutory liberty to do it. Of course they have statutory liberty to do it, but what he is trying to do by this discrimination in subsidies is to discourage them from doing it just as far as he can.

With regard to the definition that is now put in, this remarkable change of mind of the Government since the Bill was first drafted—or will they say that they forgot all about it—is simply one more step in the Tories' rapid road backwards into chaos and darkness.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 185, Noes 145.

Division No. 102.] AYES [9.35 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Mawby, R. L.
Ashton, H. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Atkins, H. E. Gurden, Harold Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Molson, A. H. E.
Baldwin, A. E. Harris, Reader (Heston) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Balniel, Lord Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Nairn, D. L. S.
Barber, Anthony Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Neave, Airey
Barter, John Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'eh)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Beamish, MaJ. Tufton Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Oakshott, H. D.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Hinchingbrooke, Viscount O'Neill, Hn. Phellm (Co. Antrim, N.)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hirst, Geoffrey Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Holland-Martin, C. J. Osborne, C.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Holt, A. F. Page, R. G.
Bishop, F. P. Horobin, Sr Ian Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Black, C. W. Howard, John (Test) Partridge, E.
Body, R. F. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Brooman-White, R, C. Hulbert, Sir Norman Pott, H. P.
Bryan, P. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Powell, J. Enoch
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Iremonger, T. L. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Profumo, J. D.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (SatfronWaiden) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Raikes, Sir Victor
Campbell, Sir David Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rawlinson, Peter
Carr, Robert Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Redmayne, M.
Cary, Sir Robert Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Renton, D. L. M.
Channon, H. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Joynson-Hicks, Sir Leonard Robinson, sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Keegan, D. Roper, Sir Harold
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Kerby, Capt. H. B. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. 0. E. Kerr, H. W. Russell, R. S.
Cunningham, Knox Kershaw, J. A. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Dance, J. c. G. Kirk, P. M. Shepherd, William
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lancaster, Col. C- G. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Deedes, W. F. Leather, E. H. C. Spearman, A. C. M.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Leavey, J. A. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Doughty, C. J. A. Legge-Bourke, MaJ. E. A. H. Storey, S.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Legh, Hon Peter (Petersfield) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Studholme, H. G.
Duthie, w. S. Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Summers, G, S. (Aylesbury)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Linstead, Sir H. N. Sumner, W. D M. (Orpington)
Errington, Sir Eric Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Teeling, W.
Farey-Jones, F. W. Lloyd-George, Maj- Rt. Hon. G. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Fell, A. Longden, Gilbert Touche, Sir Gordon
Finlay, Graeme Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Turner, H. F. L.
Fisher, Nigel Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Turton Rt. Hon. R. H.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Macdonald, Sir Peter Vickers. Miss J. H.
Foster, John Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Vosper, D. F.
Freeth, D. K. Mackie, J. H. (Calloway) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Wall, Major Patrick
George, J. C. (Pollok) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Godber, J. B. Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Penrith & Border)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Macpher8on, Niall (Dumfries) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Cough, C. F. H. Maddan, Martin Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Gower, H. R. Maitland, Cdr, J. F. W. (Hornoastle) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Graham, Sir Fergus Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Woollam, John Victor
Grant-Ferris Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gresham Cooke, R. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Grimond, J. Marples, A. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. R. Thompson and Mr. Wilh.
Ainsley, J. W. Hamilton, W. W. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Albu, A. H. Hannan, W. Pargiter, G. A.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Parker, J.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hastings, S. Parkin, B. T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hayman, F. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss Alice Healey, Denis Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Baird, J. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Probert, A. R.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Hobson, c. R. Proctor, W. T.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Holman, P. Reeves, J.
Benson, C. Holmes, Horace Rhodes, H.
Beswick, F. Houghton, Douglas Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hubbard, T. F. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Boardman, H. Hunter, A. E. Ross, William
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Royle, C.
Bowles, F. G. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Shinwell, Rt. Hon, E.
Boyd, T. C. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Short, E. W.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Irving, S. (Dartford) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Brockway, A. F. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Janner, B. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Burke, W. A. Jeger, George (Goole) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Burton, Miss F. E. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Snow, J. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Sorensen, R. W.
Butler, Mrs, Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Sparks, J. A.
Callaghan, L. J. Lawson, G. M. Steele, T.
Chapman, w. D. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)
Clunie, J. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Stones, W. (Consett)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Lindgren, G- S. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Mabon, Dr. J. D. Sylvester, G. 0.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda MacColl, J. E. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) McKay, John (Wallsend) Themas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Cronin, J. D. McLeavy, Frank Thornton, E.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Timmons, J.
Deer, G. Mahon, S. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
de Freitas, Geoffrey Mann, Mrs. Jean Weitzman, D.
Dodds, N. N. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. West, D. G.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mitchison, G. R. Wheeldon, W. E.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Moody, A. S, White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.) Willey, Frederick
Fienburgh, W. Mort, D. L. Williams, David (Neath)
Fletcher, Eric Moyle, A. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Gibson, C. W. Oliver, G. H. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Oram, A. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Grey, C. F. Owen, W. J. Winterbottom, Richard
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Padley, W. E. Zilliacus, K.
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Palmer, A. M. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Wilkins.

Question put and agreed to.

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

9.45 p.m.

Mr. D. Jones

I want to raise two small points. Subsection (1) defines the operations of the local authority under the Housing Acts which are deemed to constitute slum clearance or redevelopment for the purpose of Clause 3 (3, a). I hope that the Minister will be prepared to consider the extension of the subsection in order to enable the higher rate of subsidy to be paid in respect of housing provided to accommodate persons displaced from houses which are the subject of action by local authorities under the public health legislation or local Act powers because the house is in imminent danger of collapse.

Section 75 of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, and Section 58 of the Public Health Act, 1936, together with a number of provisions in local Acts, confer on the local authority special powers for dealing by an emergency procedure with houses which are a danger either to passers-by in the street or to the occupants of the premises concerned or adjoining premises. When those powers are used it virtually means that the house has passed the stage when action under the Housing Acts for a demolition order would be appropriate, because immediate action is needed.

Since those houses are usually in a worse and certainly a more dangerous condition than those referred to in subsection (1) of the Clause, it is suggested that it would be reasonable for the Minister to secure that the benefits of the higher rate of subsidy are paid when those houses have to be demolished and their occupants rehoused.

It is no answer to say, in respect of buildings of that kind, that the local authority might exercise its powers under the Housing Acts for the demolition of the property. The Public Health Act powers are emergency powers, whereas the powers under the Housing Acts involve a long and rather complicated procedure, and afford a recalcitrant owner considerable opportunities for obstructive tactics. If a house is falling down into the street it is essential that the most expeditious powers should be available, and that the local authority should not be deprived of the higher subsidy because it uses them.

I hope the Minister will consider those two points, and see whether he can make the higher rate of subsidy available when those powers have to be used.

Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)

It was my intention to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the point that has been made by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones). The procedure under the Housing Acts, as the Committee is aware, is very lengthy. Twenty-one days has to elapse after the time of giving notice of intention to apply for a demolition order and then at least another twenty-eight days before the house has to be vacated. In Manchester many houses are in a bad condition. Such houses sometimes fall down before the normal procedure under the Housing Acts can be put into operation. Not only are such houses unfit, but, as the hon. Member for The Hartlepools has pointed out, they are positively dangerous.

would add to what the hon. Member has said that in Manchester we are able to pull down these houses not only under the provisions of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, and the Public Health Act, 1936, to which he referred; in the case of Manchester, we can deal with them under our own local legislation. It seems unfair that a local authority does not get a subsidy for pulling down houses under these conditions; and it would be little more expensive to allow the £22 subsidy to apply in cases of that kind.

Furthermore, payment of the subsidy would ensure that there was no delay in pulling down the houses. There would be no inclination by an authority to wait to go through this rather lengthy procedure to get the subsidy when it could act and still get the subsidy, knowing that the house would be removed. I ask my right hon. Friend to look into these points and see whether they can in any way be included in the Bill.

Mr. Powell

Many of the houses to which both the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) have referred are such as could be, and probably often are, dealt with under the Housing Acts by demolition orders. Nevertheless, without making any commitment, the point shall be looked at.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.