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Volume 387: debated on Thursday 25 March 1943

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Building Material (Chalk)


asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the desirability of encouraging the building of houses of chalk in certain suitable districts, in view of the availability of material on the spot and small amount of skilled labour required?

The possibilities of building houses in chalk will doubtless be considered, along with other methods, by the inter-Departmental Committee on building materials and construction methods, whose appointment I announced in my reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for South Battersea (Mr. Selley) on 19th November last, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

If I send my right hon. Friend some of the correspondence I have received on this subject, will he have the matter further looked into?

Why has there been this delay, in view of the fact that thousands of houses in my constituency and through the South of England have been built of chalk in the past? In view of the great lack of working-class houses, why is this matter still under consideration, after three and a half years?

Because we want to be sure that we are taking a modern view of people's desires, as to type and design of cottages.

Will the Minister consider the preparation of model by-laws as to design, for local authorities, so that the best type of houses will be built?

We shall have to consider all those things when we get the report of the Committee.

Post-War Schemes (Land Acquisition)


asked the Minister of Health whether his Department is permitting local authorities to acquire land now for their post-war housing schemes at prices in excess of the value of such land on 31st March, 1939?

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the circular I have recently issued to local authorities on the subject, from which he will see that I have made it clear that the proposed purchase price should not be in excess of the 1939 value.

Service Men's Houses (Possession)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that men who are serving in the Forces and have let their houses on an annual tenancy or for a short term of years are unable to regain possession after the expiration of the period on the ground that the houses are controlled under the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act; and will he consider introducing legislation so that the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act does not apply in such cases?

No, Sir. I would, however point out that under Section 3 of the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Amendment) Act, 1933, and Section 3 of the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1939, an owner can obtain from the court an order for possession of his house for occupation as a residence for himself without proof of alternative accommodation, unless the court is satisfied that greater hardship would be caused by granting the order than by refusing to grant it. If my hon. Friend has any cases of special difficulty in mind, perhaps he would send me particulars.

Does the Minister consider that those men who have been serving overseas, and have often gone voluntarily to serve, are at a disadvantage compared with the men who stayed at home, and would he not give first consideration to them?

I should be very glad to do anything for their advantage, but I do not see that any special difficulty arises under the present law. If my hon. Friend has any information on the point, I should be glad to have it.

Post-War Development


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether the pre-war regulations as to the number of houses to the acre will continue to apply in post-war housing development schemes?

There were no statutory regulations before the war governing the number of houses to the acre. The provisions to be made by a planning scheme must depend on the circumstances and requirements of the particular locality.

Could my right hon. Friend look into this and make recommendations so that the recommendations and suggestions of the Ministry of Health can be scientifically considered? It is not quite satisfactory at the present time.

Is it not true that large numbers of local authorities did establish a rule that not more than so many houses to the acre could be built?

There were provisions to that effect in town-planning schemes, and they will be continued.

Would not this problem solve itself if the Minister had the good sense to introduce a thorough-going tax on site values?