§ Mr. JOHN WILLIAMS
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he could inform the House of the total number of applicants in England and Wales who have borrowed under the provisions of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, and the total amount advanced by the Public Works Loans Commissioners to local authorities, and also the names of authorities in Wales which have adopted the Act, the number of applicants who have borrowed in each case, and the total amounts advanced to each authority; could he state the reasons why the provisions of the Act had not been more widely adopted, and would he consider the advisability of introducing a Bill to amend the same; and would he issue a circular to municipal authorities in South Wales drawing their attention to the advisability of adopting the present Act?867W
§ Mr. BURNS
I have no precise information as to the total number of applicants in England and Wales, or in Wales only, who have borrowed under the provisions of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, 1899, but the Local Government Board have sanctioned the borrowing by local authorities of a sum of £154,687, to enable them to make advances in respect of the purchase of 875 houses. In addition to this the Board have also sanctioned loans to local authorities amounting to £16,566, for the purpose of providing funds from which to meet prospective applications for advances. The London County Council have advanced £2,880 in respect of the purchase of fifteen houses, and have sanctioned the borrowing by Metropolitan borough councils of £5,945 to enable them to make advances in respect of the purchase of thirty-two houses. The total amount advanced by the Public Works Loan Commissioners is £142,168. The Board have not complete information as to what authorities in Wales have decided to take proceedings under the Act, but I may point out that all county councils and county borough councils are local authorities for the purposes of the Act, and the councils of urban and rural districts may, subject, in the cases of councils of districts with a population at the last Census of less than 10,000, to the consent of the county council, pass resolutions undertaking to act under the Act. It is not, however, compulsory upon them to notify the fact to the Local Government Board. The Board have sanctioned the borrowing by two authorities only in Wales of money for the purpose of making advances—namely, Pontardawe Rural District Council and Llanelly Urban District Council. The amounts sanctioned were £5,639 in respect of thirty houses, and £535 in respect of three houses. The amounts advanced to these two authorities by the Public Works Loan Commissioners were £4,193 and £535 respectively. The fact that the Act has not been more generally utilised will no doubt be ascribed to various causes, but my own view is that there are not many places where the principle of the Act can be usefully put into operation. In these circumstances, I am not able to suggest amendments of the Act as proposed by the hon. Member, and I do not think that a circular drawing attention to its provisions would help.