§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees)—[Queen's Recommendation signified.]
§ [Sir RHYS HOPKIN MORRIS in the Chair]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make additional provision for payments in respect of certain unfit houses subject to compulsory purchase, clearance, demolition or closing orders, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any increase in the sums payable under any other enactment out of moneys so provided which is attributable to any provision of the said Act of the present Session providing—
A. That where a house which has been wholly or partly occupied as a private dwelling by (or by a member of the family of) a person who acquired an interest in that house by purchase for value during the period commencing with the first day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, and ending immediately before the thirteenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-five, has, at any time during the ten years commencing with the said thirteenth day of December, been purchased at site value in pursuance of a compulsory purchase order or vacated in pursuance of a clearance order, demolition order or closing order, and at the date when the house was purchased compulsorily or, as the case may be. vacated the person aforesaid or a member of his family was still entitled to an interest in the house, the appropriate authority shall make in respect of that interest a payment of the specified amount;
B. That where, on or after the said thirteenth day of December, a house has been purchased at site value in pursuance of a compulsory purchase order or vacated in pursuance of a clearance order or demolition order, and that house was occupied at the date of the making of the order wholly or partly for the purposes of a business, the appropriate authority shall make in respect of any interest in that house which, at the date when the house was purchased compulsorily or, as the case may be, vacated, was held by the person entitled to the receipts of the business a payment of the specified amount;
C. For the variation, for the purposes of any payment made on or after the said thirteenth day of December under section forty-two of the Housing Act, 1936, of the multipliers specified with respect to rateable value in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of that section;
D. That where a house has, on or after the said thirteenth day of December, been vacated in pursuance of a demolition order or closing order or purchased compulsorily
under section three of the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954, and, leaving out of account any defects in respect of any such matters as are mentioned in paragraphs (b) to (h) of subsection (1) of section nine of the said Act of 1954, the house has been well maintained, the appropriate authority shall make to any person by whom or at whose expense the work to which the good maintenance of the house is attributable was carried out the like payment as would have fallen to be so made under the said section forty-two if the house had been a house to which that section applies and directions had been given by the Minister of Housing and Local Government for the making of a payment thereunder.
In this Resolution—
appropriate authority" means the authority by whom the compulsory purchase, clearance, demolition or closing order in question was made;
clearance order" means an order under section twenty-six of the Housing Act, 1936;
closing order" means an order under section ten of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1953;
demolition order" means an order under section eleven of the Housing Act, 1936;
house" includes any building constructed or adapted wholly or partly as, or for the purposes of, a dwelling;
site value" in relation to the compulsory purchase of a house, means compensation in respect thereof assessed in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of section sixteen, or subsection (2) or (3) of section forty, of the Housing Act, 1936;
specified amount", in relation to a payment in respect of an interest in a house, means an amount equal to the difference between:—
being in each case the compensation payable apart from any payment under section thirty-one or thirty-five of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1954.—[Mr. Sandys.]
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
There are one or two questions I want to ask about the Money Resolution, because frankly I did not understand, for instance, the Minister's agreement in principle to the discussion of some Amendment which would extend quite considerably, and no 2281 doubt meritoriously, the class of persons who would benefit under Clause 1. It looks to me as if this is a very tightly drawn Resolution.
In that connection, what is the position if it is sought to move backwards the date of 13th December, 1955? That could be done in two relations. If it were moved back so as to shorten the material period, it would reduce the class of persons who would benefit. If, on the other hand, it were moved back in relation to the period of compensation, which is at present 10 years, it would have the opposite effect. I should like to know what is intended. I cannot ask the right hon. Gentleman or the hon. Gentleman to rule on the Money Resolution; I can only ask them about their intentions.
Then again, are any Amendments possible on the rest of the Money Resolution which would enlarge the benefits intended to be conferred, that is to say, the additional payments, or the class of persons who will receive them? This Money Resolution seems to follow the terms of the Bill so closely that this may be difficult or impossible. If I can be assured that this is not as tight as I suppose it to be, many of my objections to it would disappear. At first sight, however, this looks to me to be the kind of mischievous Money Resolution about which there were disputes between the Government and the House before the war. It seems to be the kind of Money Resolution which makes any proper consideration in Committee exceedingly difficult. In a case where a Government subsidy is being granted I do not understand why there should be so much strictness—if I am right in supposing it is there—when it is simply a question of the Exchequer equalisation grant.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I see the hon. Gentleman shaking his head, and for once I would welcome disagreement with him on that point, because I hope the Money Resolution is wider than it seems to be. Am I right in supposing, therefore, that it debars any attempt to move Amendments in Committee which will involve any Exchequer subsidy whatever other than what is in existence already under other Acts?
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
There is another point arising out of what my hon. and learned Friend has said. It may turn out in discussion in Committee that if some people are getting too much under the Bill, many deserving people are not getting enough, and that the full compensation values defined in the Fourth Schedule to the Housing Act are not sufficient. Does the Parliamentary Secretary think it likely that an Amendment will be possible enabling a somewhat more generous basis of compensation to be included in the Bill?
The operative words in the Money Resolution seems to be at the end of paragraph A where it states thatthe appropriate authority shall make …a payment of the specified amount.Precisely what is the limit of that definition of the specified amount I do not pretend to be sufficiently an expert to understand, so could the hon. Gentleman help us on that point?
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Powell
I shall endeavour to answer briefly the questions I have been asked. The hon. and learned Genteman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) said, quite rightly, that the date 13th December has two significances. First, it is the terminal date of the material period and the Money Resolution freezes 13th December in that function. I think I am right in saying that no hon. Member, in the course of the Second Reading debate, has disagreed with that date.
The other function of 13th December is to be a qualifying date for occupation of a house in order that the owner-occupier may receive the higher compensation. In that context, the date 13th December does not appear in the Financial Resolution, and it would, therefore, be possible to discuss Amendments involving an earlier date, or some relaxation of the conditions attaching to occupation on 13th December.
The hon. and learned Gentleman asked me whether the remaining paragraphs of the Money Resolution left any room for discussion in Committee. I can assure him that they do. There is nothing in paragraph B of the Money Resolution which specifies a minimum period of 10 years for future business occupation, so that that qualification in the Bill—I take it as an example quite at random— 2283 is one of many details which this Money Resolution will leave open for discussion.
The hon. and learned Gentleman also asked me whether the Financial Resolution excludes any new Exchequer subsidy to meet the cost on the public resulting from the Bill. He was, incidentally, under a misapprehension in thinking that equalisation grant is the only existing Exchequer grant which is involved, because the planning grants are also involved. The answer to his question is and must be "No," because the principle of the Bill to which the House has just agreed, defeating the Amendment proposing the opposite principle, is that no new Exchequer grant should be payable in specific aid of the new charge upon the public.
Finally, in answer to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl), he will find a definition of the "specified amount," which he saw mentioned in paragraph A, in the definition section of the Money Resolution, where the definition of the amount is set out approximately in the terms of the Bill.
§ Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.