§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This is a short and straightforward Bill. Its single purpose is to raise the limit of the aggregate amount of advances which may be made from the Consolidated Fund to the Scottish Special Housing Association for its capital expenditure in building houses in Scotland. The Association is a wholly Exchequer-financed body and relies on these advances for all its capital expenditure. The amount of work which it can undertake is governed by the amount of capital money which is advanced to it under the provisions amended by the Bill.
309 A statutory limit for the total amount of money which could be advanced to the S.S.H.A. was first set in 1955, under Section 16 of the Requisitioned Houses and Housing Amendment Act 1955. The limit was then set at £75 million. This limit was increased to £100 million in 1957, and most recently to £110 million in 1962. Up to the end of the financial year, 1964–65, the actual amount of advances made to the Association was, in total, £101.4 million. This is well within the present maximum, but including further advances which will be required for work which had been approved, the total committed up to March 31 was £106 million. At the present rate of work by the Scottish Special Housing Association it is likely that commitments will reach the limit of £110 million before the end of this year. Parliamentary authority for advances in excess of the present limit is therefore needed before the end of the year, if the forward planning of the Association is not to be inhibited and if its building work in the future is not to be curtailed.
I do not think that your Lordships would wish me to give you any further explanation of the work of the Association, which I think is well known to all Members of your Lordships' House. The only further commendation which I think I need give to this Bill, is that it is advancing the amount of money by the same stage of £10 million as was found desirable on the last occasion. So once again we are, as was said on a previous occasion, not accepting that everything which was done by the last Administration was wrong. In this case we think they were right, and we are even doing exactly the same as they were doing—one step enough for me.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(Lord Hughes.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for his excellently brief introduction of this Bill, and to welcome it on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House. As he rightly says, I think we all know the value of the work done by the Scottish Special Housing Association, and I am quite certain that none of your Lordships would wish to see this work impeded in any way by lack of funds. The only point I have been wondering about is how long the noble Lord thinks that this new 310 financial arrangement will have to run. I do not expect him to give an answer to that to-day, but it is a point which struck me. I have much pleasure in welcoming the Bill and in wishing the Scottish Special Housing Association every success in its efforts.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, perhaps I might say, on the point made by the noble Marquess, that we hope to get through the £10 million a little faster than we got through the last £10 million.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.
§ 6.20 p.m.