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Clause 6—(Extension Of Powers Of Local Authorities To Give Financial Assistance Towards Acquisition, Construction, Etc, Of Houses)

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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I beg to move, in page 4, line 31, at end, add:

"(3) In relation to an advance or a guarantee in respect of any house in the administrative county of London this Section shall have effect as if for the words 'twelve hundred pounds' there were substituted the words 'thirteen hundred pounds."
This Clause deals with the amount that may be advanced by local authorities by way of financial assistance, either for the purchase of houses or for the erection of houses, and the object of the new Subsection which I am moving is to increase the limit laid down in the Clause of £1,200 to the sum of £1,300 in the case of London. It will be remembered that the amount which is in question here includes both the value of the house itself and that of the land upon which it stands, and, in view of the very heavy price of land in London, it is clear that a limit which is suitable for the rest of the country is not entirely suitable here. In selecting the figure contained in this Amendment, I have followed the precedent established by my right hon. Friend with regard to the licensing of private builders, in which case the figure for the rest of the country is a ceiling price of £1,200, but, in the case of London, this was increased to £1,300 for the reason which I have mentioned. I therefore seek to bring this provision into line with what is to be done by the Bill.

I hope that, perhaps, we can get away from this Amendment quite quickly, because there are a number of Amendments with the same purport on the Order Paper and to which the names of hon. Members opposite are appended. I am entirely sympathetic with the purpose that lies behind this Amendment. I think, however, that the words are inappropriate, and even the association of £1,300 with the upward limit of building in the metropolitan area is not itself a happy association, because it might be that, before very long, private enterprise could build houses at a greater price than that and then the relationship between the two figures would not be made. If the hon. Member will withdraw his Amendment, I will consider the point at a later stage, and will consider putting in £1,300, or a higher figure for the country as a whole.

Yes, it includes Scotland. We are very anxious to enable people to acquire their own houses at reasonable rates of interest, and we are happy to extend the application of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act to houses of greater value, and, if that is satisfactory to the Committee, I shall be prepared, at a later stage, to introduce an Amendment with a higher figure applying to the country as a whole, including Scotland.

In view of the assurance the Minister has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

In view of what has been said by the Minister, I would not oppose the suggestion by the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Douglas), but, if any question does arise, contrary to what the Minister has said, in regard to some definition of another area in the country, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would give consideration to it. We had in mind the metropolitan area, but, if the Minister is prepared to deal with it over the whole country, the point will not arise.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.