§ Clause 685, page 37, line 21, at end insert ("if it appears to the Minister that it is likely to be so required within five years,")
§ The Commons propose to amend this Amendment as follows:
§ Leave out ("five") and insert ("ten").
My Lords, this is a. matter of somewhat greater substance. It is an Amendment to a concession made by the Government to meet my noble friend Viscount Bertie of Theme. Under the clause as originally drafted local authorities were given power to buy land for housing purposes, although they might not contemplate actually using it for housing purposes within any limited period. The noble Viscount pointed out that this was undesirable, and that although there was obviously a case for buying land ahead there ought to be some limitation to prevent speculation in, land and the holding of land for long periods previous to its being used for the purposes for which it was acquired. I think it was generally agreed that there was a good case for such limitation.
In regard to the period of five years, which was the period actually agreed, it was pointed out in another place that there were certain cases where that limitation might result in considerable expense to certain local authorities. Where a large local authority might be contemplating a very large housing 962 scheme there might be circumstances where the period over which the building scheme was to take place would be considerably longer than five years, and in such a case, the acquisition of the land necessary for the first half of the programme would, it was believed, put up the cost of the land required for the second half of the programme. This is the sort of case which would not very frequently occur, but it is difficult to make provision for all the variety of housing conditions to be found all over the country, and there must be some form of compromise. In another place it was agreed that ten years would be a suitable period. I hope your Lordships, in view of what I have said about these very large housing schemes and the difficulties which local authorities have in avoiding unnecessary expense, will agree with the Commons.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Viscount Gage.)
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
My Lords, as the noble Viscount has told you, I was presented with a gift horse which I was told was going to be five years old. For that there has now been substituted one ten years old. I have no desire to delay the Bill and therefore I shall not oppose the alteration to ten years. Perhaps I may be allowed to add that I have never been in sympathy with land speculators, and I only asked the Government to put in some time limit in order to protect property owners of proper standing.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.