HC Deb 26 June 1974 vol 875 cc1665-7
Mr. Millan

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 6, line 25. leave out may ' and insert 'shall, subject to the following provisions of this section'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment it may be convenient to discuss Government Amendments Nos. 3 and 4.

It may also be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 5, in page 6, line 37, at end insert— '(1A) Improvement grants shall be paid by local authorities within a period of one month of the approval by them of the works'.

Mr. Millan

The Government amendments meet an undertaking I gave in Committee to introduce proper amendments to provide that a local authority should not delay paying an improvement grant after the work had been completed and had been passed to its satisfaction. The effect of the amendment is that the payment will be made within a month after that. This will mean that people who have spent money will have that money refunded by the local authority in good time, thus obviating delays which occasionally arise in some local authority areas.

The three amendments to which I speak are preferable in wording to the other amendment, but the intention is the same.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

This is one of the important amendments about which we were able to make progress in Committee. I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work lie did in putting forward the case. We brought to the Minister's attention several instances where there had been long delays in payment of improvement grants in cases where individuals had received tradesmen's bills which they were not able to meet. We achieved a great deal in Committee.

Some of my hon. Friends have objected to the Division on the previous amendment. They are wrong. They may object to the fact that we had a Division on an important amendment on an issue raised by hon. Members who were not present in Committee but who put down an amendment on Report and arrived late for our proceedings.

Mr. David Steel

This amendment was not discussed in Committee. It was an important amendment. I am surprised that the hon. Member takes that view.

Mr. Taylor

I did not intend to offend the hon. Member. If he had been present in Committee he could have moved that amendment and many other important amendments. I hope that all our Scottish colleagues will take the opportunity in future Committees to try to get important changes in important legislation of this nature.

This is an important amendment. I congratulate the Minister on his achievement and thank the Government for this concession.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Dunbartonshire, East)

I should like to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the mover of the amendment. In Committee the Minister accepted the argument in principle. He did not like the language. He has now happily been able to introduce suitably elegant language. We thank him. When one looks at the Paper and observes the amendments and the words involved in them, this one looks innocuous and trivial.

Although the words appear minor, we shall be ensuring that thousands of people in Scotland are paid their grants within a reasonable period. That is very important. In many cases the sums involved will represent the largest single investment that those people will ever make, apart from purchasing their houses. We are grateful to the Minister for having brought in such a valuable amendment to meet the points we made in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 3, in page 6, line 26, leave out ' after' and insert ' within one month of'.

No. 4, in page 6, line 31, leave out on' and insert 'within one month of'.—[Mr. Millan.]

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