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Clause 41—(Amendment Of Section 1 Of The Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, 1899)

Volume 465: debated on Monday 30 May 1949

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I beg to move, in page 33, line 2, at the end, to insert:

(2) Paragraph (e) of section twenty-two of the Housing, etc., Act, 1923 (which provides that where an advance is made under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, 1899, in respect of a house in course of construction, the advance may be made by instalments as the building of the house progresses, so that the total advance does not at any time before the completion of the house exceed fifty per cent. of the value of the work done up to that time), shall have effect with the substitution, for the reference to fifty per cent., of a reference to eighty per cent.
Under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, local authorities are empowered to make instalment payments of loans which they have agreed while a house is actually being built, so long as the value of those advances shall not at any time exceed 50 per cent. of the value of the work done. My right hon. Friend agreed - in Committee that we should increase this proportion to 80 per cent., and we have now taken the opportunity to do so.

We think it reasonable that this limit should be raised, although it seems to us that at present under Clause 4 there is an unlimited discretion left to the local authority. The Minister is not actually raising the proportion to 80 per cent.; he is lowering it from 100 per cent. However, it leaves the resulting advance at a higher figure than it was previously, and for that reason we approve of it.

I thank the Minister for putting down this Amendment in accordance with the promise he gave in Standing Committee. He will remember that we discussed this matter also in connection with an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall), which the Minister promised to consider, and I am sorry that he has not been able to cover both Amendments. Could he say something about this?

I am rather sorry that the Minister has not been able to implement his promise. Perhaps he could tell me the reason why. I think we shall find that many local authorities who have already loaned money to joint owners will find themselves in a great deal of difficulty from the legal aspect unless the situation is legalised.

My right hon. Friend considered this matter concerning joint owners very carefully, as indeed he promised to do in Committee. We found that in practice it would mean such a comprehensive amendment of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act that we could not contemplate it in this Measure. Of course, for the generality of cases there is an opportunity of securing loans under the Housing Act itself—the 1936 Housing Act—so that no hardship to the general cases would arise. Nor do I anticipate that any hardship will arise in the cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall).

Does that mean that under the Housing Act local authorities can loan money in joint names in any case? Can they do that already?

Will that automatically take care of the money already loaned by the local authorities in joint names?

It will not take care of the cases where money has been borrowed under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, but, as has been pointed out, I went into this very fully indeed and I came to the conclusion that the alterations in the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act would have to be most comprehensive if we sought to carry out this relief. The point is that it is better for the local authority to lend money under the 1936 Act where the troubles will not arise.

Can it be made known very extensively to local authorities that under the 1936 Act they are able to loan money in the names of husband and wife, or brother and sister, as the case may be, on application?

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.