HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 c1220

11.36 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

I beg to move, That the Housing (Payments for Well-Maintained Houses) Order, 1956, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th September, be approved. The 1936 Housing Act provided two bases on which payments might be made to the owners or occupiers of slum houses which had nevertheless been well maintained. The second of those bases measured the amounts which might reasonably have been spent on such a house over the previous five years by the yardstick of its rateable value.

The Slum Clearance (Compensation) Act which was passed this year provided for the Minister, by Order, to alter the multiples by which rateable value is multiplied for the purpose which I have mentioned. The Order which is before the House accordingly multiplies each of the two multipliers by three, that is to say, it increases the multiplier from 1½ to 4½ in the case of the landlord and from three to nine in the case of the owner-occupier.

The reason for that is very briefly stated ; that is, that since 1939, or, rather, since the date of the Housing Act, 1936, cost of maintaining a house has roughly increased three times. It is probable that today the building costs are somewhat more than three times what they were in 1939, but one has to bear in mind that the purpose of these payments is to compensate for what has been spent over the previous five years.

Taking the average of building costs over the last Ave years it is not unreasonable to take three as the multiple by which those costs have increased as compared with before the war. Therefore, if the multipliers in the 1936 Act are increased threefold, the landlord or the owner-occupier will be put back into the same position in which the principal Act intended that he should be.

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