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Relief Works

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Prime Minister whether any, and, if so, what safeguards are insisted on to prevent private landlords from reaping the benefit of relief works such as roads, reclamation and drainage, parks and playgrounds, tramways, and railroads?

I have been asked to answer this question. Relief works are carried out by local authorities under their ordinary powers, and in the absence of express statutory authority, no provisions in regard to betterment can be enforced, but as the hon. and gallant Member is no doubt aware, there are special powers under which, in the case of roads, land may be acquired, where advantageous to the community, in excess of that needed for the actual site of the road. In some cases owners have not only given the land required for a road, but have also contributed to its cost. Land reclamation and drainage are matters within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Agriculture. As already stated, it is proposed to recover the greater part of the cost from the owners of the land affected.

Can the Lord St. Davids' Committee not give preference to these schemes that the right hon. Gentleman has outlined, and where the improvement in value will go to the local authority which has executed the work, rather to those where land has not been given by the landlord?

I think most of the cases that my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind will not come under the purview of the Lord St. Davids' Committee; so far as they do I have very little doubt that the case indicated will be borne in mind, and that public money will preferably be spent on schemes that mature for the benefit of the community rather than the ordinary individual.

Seeing the present plight of landlords, are not questions of this sort adding insult to injury?