HL Deb 21 July 1921 vol 45 cc1212-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill to which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading proposes to do two things. In the first place it proposes to put Scotland in precisely the same statutory position, so far as the terminal dates for the construction of ordinary subsidised houses arc concerned, as England. In the second place, it makes special provision for a class of houses peculiar to Scotland—the houses of the small landowners or crofters who, owing to their remote situation and the difficulties they have in obtaining material and in finding sufficient time to devote to the construction of their houses, have not hitherto been able to benefit by the provision of the State subsidy.

A scheme has been arranged under which crofters and others who come within the scope of the Bill, on completion of houses in accordance with a standard prescribed by the Scottish Board of Health and the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, and designed specially to meet the needs of these crofters and others, will receive subsidies of £100, £110 and £130, according to the size of the house. These subsidies are substantially less than the subsidies under ordinary private builders' scheme, but, in addition thereto, crofters and others building under the present scheme will receive loans from the Board of Agriculture which will be advanced to them on special terms, and as the work proceeds. This arrangement, I need hardly say, is a great advantage to the crofter, whose financial resources are, as a rule, of a most, limited character.

I should perhaps add that there are really two classes of smallholders. The Bill, as originally drafted, provided for the case of the existing holder, who was entitled to receive a joint loan from the Board of Agriculture and subsidy from the Board of Health. As amended in another place, it has now the effect of making the subsidy available for new holders also. A scheme for a joint subsidy and, loan to these new holders will be drawn up. It will then be open to these new holders to choose whether they prefer a joint loan and subsidy or a loan only.

In considering this Bill, your Lordships will no doubt have in mind the announcements made recently with regard to the housing policy of the Government, and I think it is desirable that I should state briefly what the effect of the present Bill will be when taken in conjunction with the declared policy of the Government. In the first place the fall powers conferred by the Bill with regard to crofter housing will be exercised, and in these cases there will be no cessation up till September of the issue of certificates conferring the right to subsidy. As regards ordinary houses, the Government, as your Lordships are aware, have decided that the subsidy will only be paid if the private builder has begun them before July 1, 1921, under a certificate, or the., promise of a certificate, by a local authority; with the further concession that the Scottish Board of Health may at their discretion pay the subsidy where commitments have been entered into, if the work is started within six weeks of July 14, 1921.

This decision of the Government places a definite limit on the number of privately erected houses which can potentially rank for subsidy. The present. Bill will therefore only affect the time granted for the completion of the houses in respect of which subsidy is payable, and will make that time the same for Scotland as it now is for England and Wales. In other words, private builders who have either already passed the preliminary stages successfully, or who obtain certificates before the expiry of the six weeks from July 14, will be able to claim subsidy if the construction of the houses is completed by June 23 next, instead of by December 23 of this year. It is anticipated that this lengthening of the period for construction will set free a certain amount of labour for housing schemes of local authorities and public utility societies. Clause 2 of the Bill does no more than appropriate to Scotland £1,650,000, being her share of the £15,000,000 already authorised by Parliament for the purpose of subsidising private builders. I should add that this Bill has been certified as a Money Bill. I beg to move that the Bill he read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Lord Stanmore.)

On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.