§ Major EDMONDSON
asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to certain cases where local authorities are unnecessarily delaying the granting of the subsidy for new houses by interpreting the Regulations in respect of the grant too literally and not in the spirit which is obviously intended; and whether he will consider the desirability of making it clear to such authorities that the object of the Housing Act is to produce houses and not to retard the action of those intending to avail themselves of its advantages?
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I understand that the hon. Member's question relates to the eligibility for subsidy under the Housing, Etc., Act, 1923, of houses the construction of which was begun before the proposals of the local authority for assisting private enterprise received the approval of the Minister. The conditions on which I am prepared to authorise the payment of Exchequer subsidy in respect of such houses have been stated in reply to previous questions, and I am not aware that local authorities are responsible for any avoidable delay in dealing with applications of this nature.
§ Mr. HARDIE
asked the Minister of Health what is the total amount of subsidy paid to date by the Government to local authorities carrying out State-aided housing schemes; the total amount paid to date by the Government as interest on the sums borrowed to provide subsidies; and the total amount of interest payable on the money sunk in housing schemes?
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
The amount of the subsidies paid to date to local authorities in respect of State-aided housing schemes is £19,671,500. No payments have yet been made by the Government in respect of houses for which subsidies have been paid by local authorities out of borrowed money. It is estimated that the interest payable by local authorities in respect of schemes under the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1919, amounts to £11,000,000. I have no information as to the interest payable by the authorities in respect of schemes under the Housing Act of 1923.
§ Sir C. STARMER
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the housing subsidy has been refused to applicants 1378W who have commenced to build their houses in the belief that, so long as they fulfilled the building requirements of the local authorities, the subsidy would be paid; that many of these people are ex-service men or working-men who could not get a home without building, and relied upon the subsidy in addition to the money they could borrow from building and other societies; and that these men now find they cannot carry the liability because of the subsidy having been refused on the sole gronds that the local committee had not at the time of commencing to erect the houses approved of a scheme; and whether, seeing that the main object is to secure houses, he will obtain the necessary power to meet these cases of undoubted hardship?
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
As I have stated in reply to previous questions, I am prepared to authorise the payment of the Exchequer subsidy in respect of houses which were begun on the strength of assurances of subsidy given by the local authority, even though the authority's scheme had not been approved at the date of the assurance. I am not prepared, however, to extend this concession to houses which were commenced without any assurance of subsidy from the local authority.