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New Towns (Property Insurance)

Volume 480: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1950

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20.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning why only six insurance companies are permitted to insure houses in Welwyn Garden City by the Welwyn and Hatfield Corporation.

21.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he is aware of the principle adopted by the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation of non-discrimination in the matter of insurance of leasehold properties within its jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the Government's policy in this matter in so far as it affects development corporations and other public bodies where similar problems arise.

Insurance of property in the new towns is a matter of day-to-day administration, which I leave to the Development Corporations.

Is the Minister aware of the disquiet which exists locally, in view of the fact that two of the lucky insurance companies are connected with members of the Government's Development Corporation?

This is a matter of day-to-day administration, in which, normally, I should not interfere, but I am told that, in Welwyn Garden City before the Development Corporation was set up, they were all limited to the Royal Exchange. Now there has been a certain extension of the field, which I should have thought was a good thing.

Is the Minister aware that my Question, which he has answered at the same time as Question No. 20, asked for this information in regard to Development Corporations and other public bodies, where similar problems arise? May I have an answer to the last part of my Question?

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that originally I put the Question down to the Prime Minister, being aware that other Government Departments were involved. The Prime Minister advised me that the Question would be answered by the Minister of Town and Country Planning. My Question has not been so answered. May I have your protection against the evasions of the right hon. Gentleman?

That is not a point of order. I cannot help it if the hon. Member is not satisfied with the answer. That is not my business.

In view of the fact that public money is involved here, would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the sort of restriction now imposed is quite appropriate; and that, while it may well be appropriate in cases of private property, in cases involving public money the same considerations do not apply?

I am not quite clear to which restriction the right hon. Gentleman is referring.

I am referring to the restriction to a certain number of insurance companies, which might be appropriate in cases of private property, but which I should have thought was not appropriate where public money is concerned.

I will have a look at it again, but I do not want to interfere—and I think it would be wrong—in the detailed administration of these bodies.