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New Clause—(Revival Of Power To Make Byelaws As To Number Of Persons Permitted To Occupy Working-Class Houses)

Volume 465: debated on Monday 30 May 1949

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Paragraph ( a) of subsection (1) of section six of the principal Act (which included amongst the purposes for which byelaws with respect to working-class houses may be made under that subsection the fixing of the number of persons who may occupy such a house and the separation of the sexes therein, and which ceased to have effect as from the appointed day within the meaning of Part IV of that Act) shall again have effect, but the operation of byelaws made for the purposes specified in that paragraph shall be limited to houses let as lodgings or occupied by members of more than one family.—[ Mr. Blenkinsop.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The local authorities had powers under the 1925 Housing Act to make by-laws with regard to the number of persons living in houses let as lodgings or occupied by members of more than one family. This power was extended to separate dwellings by the 1935 Housing Act. The overcrowding provisions of the 1935 and 1936 Acts were regarded as superseding this particular by-law on the operative date when the overcrowding provisions of these Acts came into operation, and the by-law ceased to be effective. Certain local authorities have represented to us that they would find this by-law valuable at this time in view of the number of houses taken over and used as hostels with, in some cases, severe overcrowding. We therefore restore in this new Clause the power to make by-laws.

Whenever there is a dance to be executed in a white sheet, the Parliamentary Secretary comes forward gracefully and does it. I can compliment him on the grace and vigour with which the exercise has been conducted upon this occasion. It is, of course, an example of the difficulty in which the Government find themselves owing to the lack of housing accommodation. They are not able to maintain the beneficial provisions incorporated during the 20 years of so-called Tory misrule and acted upon during that time, when the overcrowding figure was very rapidly coming into operation all over the country. This is no longer possible, and the Minister is, very rightly, taking power to grant to local authorities the limited and local power to allow a greater degree of overcrowding than that which they previously had. The difficulty in which we are placed is clearly all the greater when the figure which was then suggested as an overcrowding figure was one which everyone agreed was higher than any of us could wish. While it may be necessary to include this new Clause in the Bill, it is an action which I think the House as a whole must deplore.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.