HL Deb 17 July 1923 vol 54 cc1111-8

Order of the Day read for receiving the Report of Amendments.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(The Earl of Onslow.)


My Lords, on this Motion I have to say that the noble Lord, Lord Pentland, in his speech upon the Second Reading of the Bill, raised certain specific points regarding Scotland. He stated that the conditions of building in Scotland were not recognised under the Bill, and that by custom, tradition and practice the cost of housing in Scotland has been higher house for house than in this country. He went on to argue that the subsidy of £6 per house was not sufficient to give the same encouragement to building in Scotland. The question as to whether Scotland was entitled to a higher subsidy had my most careful consideration before the introduction of the Bill. The English plan was selected for the purpose of comparison, and the expert officers of the local authorities arrived at a cost for Scotland of £38 10s. a house in excess of that for England. After making full allowance for differences of climate, I was of opinion that the highest amount that could possibly be claimed for Scotland was £23 per house, made up of the cost of various items with which the noble Lord will be familiar in view of his long experience as Secretary for Scotland, his intimate knowledge of local conditions, and the explanations which have already been made on the subject.

Even as regards the item of the £23 a house, I have very great difficulty in holding that Scotland as a whole is entitled to differential treatment; for, while the climate of the extreme north of Scotland is such that it may require a more substantial form of building than the climate of the south of England, there is but little difference between the climate of the Clyde and such places as Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and the north of England generally. If Scotland's claim were to be conceded it would involve regional treatment throughout the United Kingdom, and that is a system which the Government, after full consideration, decided should not be adopted. To differentiate would involve the scrutiny of every housing scheme by the central Department. That would mean great delay and the continuance of that departmental interference which caused so many complaints of former schemes.

In regard to the second point raised by the noble Lord that what is desired is 11/80ths of houses and not 11/80ths of money, as he is aware there is no limitation that Scotland should receive 11/80ths of the number of houses built in England. All that was laid down was the time limit within which houses must be built in order to participate in the State subsidy, and as many houses as could be built within the period we laid down would so participate. Under that scheme 176,000 houses are to be built in England; 11/80ths of that number would be a little more than 24,000, while the number of houses to be built in Scotland will be over 25,000. Under the provisions of the new Bill it is proposed that this subsidy will I be payable in respect of houses erected during the period up to October 1, 1925, with power to the Board to grant an extension to June 1, 1926. Whatever number of houses can be built within that period will be entitled to rank for subsidy even though they may exceed 11/80ths of the number built in England.

In the third place, the noble Lord claims that because of the difference in the Bating Law in Scotland, under which the local rates are divided between the owner and the occupier and are not paid wholly, as in England, by the tenant, the net return on the houses built in Scotland will be less than in England. But it is not clear that this is necessarily the case. The net return will depend upon the rents paid. While no accurate information appears to be obtainable, it may be noted that according to a statement by the National Housing and Town Planning Council the average rental of the houses erected by local authorities in England under the scheme of 1919 was £20 16s. The average rental of houses built under the corresponding Scottish Act is about £27. Making allowance for the deductions from the Scottish rental of owners' rates, it seems likely that the net return is probably slightly more in Scotland than in England on houses erected tinder that scheme. In any event it would be difficult to make the plea that the English taxpayer should be called upon to share the burden of a higher subsidy for Scotland merely because the rating system of the two countries is different.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for having so kindly answered the criticisms which I ventured to make at an earlier stage on one or two of the Scottish points in this Bill. In spite of what he says I still think that rating must operate as a discouragement to local authorities. Of course, it is rather in the region of prophecy than of fact and we must test it by experience instead of by anything we can say at this moment. I am very glad to hear that he is hopeful that the subsidy will be sufficient and that he has obtained some mitigation of the disparity which I venture to think is operative in Scotland as a discouragement. There is nothing more with which I need trouble your Lordships at the present moment except to thank the noble Viscount again for what he has said.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 6:

Repeal of superseded enactments subject to saving for existing liabilities.

6.—(1) Sections seven and nineteen of the Housing, Town Planning, Etc., Act, 1919, and any enactments amending those sections, and Section eight of the Housing Act, 1921, are hereby repealed; but, "save as hereinafter in this section provided, this repeal shall not affect the validity of any regulations made thereunder or the power to amend such regulations, or any liability of the Minister to pay any 6um which under the said sections and regulations he has undertaken to pay, or the terms and conditions on which the Public Works Commissioners may lend for the purposes of a scheme towards the losses of which the Minister is liable to contribute under the said Section seven.


The Amendment which stands in my name upon this clause is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 9, lines 11 and 12, leave out ("thereunder") and insert ("under the said section").—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 14:

By-laws respecting houses divided into separate tenements.

14.—(1) Section twenty-six of the Housing, Town Planning, Etc. Act, 1919 (which relates to by-laws respecting houses divided into separate tenements), shall, in its application to the administrative county of London, have effect—

(a)as if after paragraph (i) of subsection (1) of that section there were inserted the following paragraph:— (j) for the taking of precautions in the case of any infectious disease;

(b)as if in paragraph (a) of subsection (10) of that section for the words "for those purposes" there were substituted the words "under Section ninety-four of the Public Health ('London) Act, 1891."

(2) Bye-laws made by the London County Council in pursuance of the said section as so amended, may provide that the bye-laws shall, either generally or as respects any particular metropolitan borough or any part thereof, have effect subject to such modifications, limitations or exceptions as may be specified in the bye-laws.

LORD ASKWITH moved to leave out paragraph (b). The noble Lord said: My Lords, any decision of the House as to the deletion of this paragraph (b) was deferred pending a meeting which it was suggested should take place under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Onslow. I must thank Lord Onslow, on behalf of the parties, for having at once taken steps to get them to meet together, and I am glad to report that after discussion of the difficulty an arrangement has been made which is incorporated in the two Amendments that stand in my name on the Paper. The difficulty I refer to arose between the London County Council representatives and the standing joint committee of the boroughs. That committee represents twenty-eight boroughs, and the members of it have since held a meeting to endorse the heads of agreement. At that meeting direct representatives of twenty-five of the London boroughs were present.

The effect of the Amendments will be that the mandatory liabilities which existed under the Act of 1891 to make by-laws will become optional with regard to the by-laws dealing with houses other than those intended to be used by the working classes, and that the concurrent jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Boroughs and of the County Council will come to an end. The borough councils will still retain the right to make by-laws for houses not used or intended to be used for the working classes, a power which they have had since the Act of 1891. This agreement really simplifies the practice of the parties in making by-laws for London. It does not prevent by-laws being made for houses not intended to be occupied by the working classes, which would have been the effect of the Bill as it came to this House, nor does it oblige boroughs to make by-laws if they do not wish to have them. In certain boroughs there is a necessity for by-laws; in others there is not; and if my Amendments are adopted the Bill will leave the matter to the discretion of the councils.

I do not think that any cause of difference will arise between the County Council and the borough councils on the matter. It is clear that considerable misunderstanding arose as to the arrangements that were made prior to the clause being inserted in the House of Commons, and although some Parliamentary objection was got rid of, yet there was not time, and perhaps not sufficient opportunity given, to ascertain the views of the boroughs, which caused them to object to the clause as inserted in the Bill. Now an arrangement has been made which, I hope, will prove to be satisfactory, and which I ask your Lordships to endorse by adopting the Amendments that I move. In my second Amendment, to insert a new subsection, I wish to make a small verbal alteration by inserting the words "come into force "after" as so amended "in the third line.

Amendment moved— Page 15, lines 32 to 36, leave out paragraph (b).—(Lord Askwith.)


I have great pleasure in accepting the Amendments of my noble friend on behalf of the Government with the verbal alteration he suggests.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendment moved—

Page 15, line 43, at end insert the following new subsection: ("(3) As soon as any byelaws made by the London County Council in pursuance of the said section as so amended come into force, all byelaws made by the council of any metropolitan borough under Section ninety-four of the Public Health (London) Act, 1.891, shall cease to have effect, but the council of a metropolitan borough shall themselves have power at any time after such byelaws have been made by the London County Council to make byelaws under the said Section ninety-four with respect to any houses or parts of houses in their area let in lodgings or occupied by members of more than one family to which the byelaws made by the London County Council do not apply.")—(Lord Ashwith.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 21:

Power to make town planning schemes in special cases.

21. Where it appears to the Minister that on account of the special architectural historic or artistic interest attaching to a locality it is expedient that with a view to preserving the existing character and to protecting the existing features of the locality a town planning scheme should be made with respect to any area comprising that locality, the Minister may, notwithstanding that the land or any part thereof is already developed, authorise a town planning scheme to he made with respect to that area prescribing the space about buildings, or limiting the number of buildings to be erected, or prescribing the height or character of buildings, and, (subject as aforesaid, the Town Planning Acts. 1909 to 1923. shall apply accordingly.

VISCOUNT ASTOR had an Amendment on the Paper to move, after "interest to insert" or residential amenities." The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I have several Amendments on the Paper, and I realise that all the Amendments to the Second Schedule which stand in my name ought not to be moved at so late a stage. Unfortunately, the friends with whom I was co-operating did not have the Amendments drafted in sufficient time for me to bring them forward in Committee, and I realise that it would be unfair to ask the Government or your Lordships' House to make such material alterations and extensions to the Bill at this stage as my Amendments would involve. Therefore I do not propose to move the Amendments to the Second Schedule which stand in my name. With regard to my Amendment to Clause 21, if the noble Karl tells me that it goes too far and that the same objection applies, I do not wish to move it, because I do not want to hamper the passage of this Bill. This Amendment, however, is in rather a different position to my Amendments to the Schedule. It is an Amendment to a new clause which was moved on the Committee Stage, and therefore I could not have put it down sooner. If, however, the noble Earl tells me that he cannot accept it, although I think it is a logical addition to the new clause—Clause 21—I will not take up the time of your Lordships' House by-explaining it.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his action and his offer to withdraw these Amendments which I think your Lordships would agree are somewhat radical and drastic Amendments to introduce on the Report stage of this Bill. I wish that I could meet my noble friend with regard to his Amendment on Clause 21, but I fear there would be considerable difficulty in doing so for the same reason that I should have found it difficult, or indeed impossible, to accept those Amendments on the Schedule. The clause which was moved by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, was designed to meet special cases like those of Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon, or other towns of antiquarian interest and architectural beauty, and it would not, I think, be desirable to graft on to it the Amendment which my noble friend has put upon the Paper. There would not be many towns where some case could not be made out for special residential amenities, and if you are going to include residential amenities—a rather wide term—you must remember that they are not the only considerations which might be urged in regard to town planning. They are, of course, of importance, but there are other matters that also are of importance. There is, for instance, the preservation of any special industry, or of business facilities, and considerations of that kind. I venture to suggest that this is scarcely the place to introduce so far-reaching an Amendment, and I shall be very grateful to my noble friend if he does not press his Amendment.


The noble Viscount does not move his Amendment.

Application to Scotland.

23. This Act shall apply to Scotland, subject to the following modifications:— (2) References to Section seven, Section ten, Section nineteen, Section twenty-eight and Section forty-six of the Housing, Town Planning, Etc. Act, 1919, shall he construed as references to Section five, Section nine, Section sixteen, Section twenty-five and Section thirty-two respectively of the Housing, Town Planning, Etc. (Scotland) Act, 1919, and the reference to Section one hundred and eighty-four of the Public Health Act, 1875, shall be construed as a reference to Section three hundred and eighteen of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892.

VISCOUNT NOVAR moved, at the end of paragraph (2), to insert "and the reference to the Town-Planning Acts, 1909 to 1923, shall be construed as a reference to the Town-Planning (Scotland) Acts, 1909 to 1923." The noble Viscount said: This Amendment is required in order to make the new clause moved in Committee by the Earl of Crawford apply to Scotland. My other Amendment on line 31 to leave out the word "and" is necessary in consequence.

Amendments moved— Page 19, line 31, leave out ("and") Page 19, line 35, at end insert ("and the reference to the Town Planning Acts, 1909 to 1923, shall be construed as a reference to the Town Planning (Scotland) Acts, 1909 to 1923").—(Viscount Novar.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

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