Orders of the Day — Ministry of Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 8th December 1920.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leslie Wilson Lieut-Colonel Leslie Wilson , Reading

My hon. and gallant Friend stated the case quite clearly for this Clause. The object of the Clause is to provide houses for ex-service men who are in urgent need of them at present. Every hon. Member knows of cases in which housing accommodation is urgently required at once. This Amendment would enable a local authority to hire compulsorily houses which need to be reconstructed before they can be made suitable for occupation. I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment. The words "without reconstruction" have a definite substantial meaning. They are used already in the Housing and Town Planning Act. I can assure my hon. Friends that these words will not have the effect which they fear, namely, that repairs and alterations such as they have suggested with regard to partitions, sanitary arrangements, or whatever may be of a minor character, cannot be done by the local authorities. The Schedule of the Bill, Clause 7, states that in fixing the amount of rent to be paid, regard shall be had to any money which may have been or may be required to be spent by the local authorities in putting the house in a condition reasonably fit for human habitation. Under the Amendment which was accepted by the House just now, a larger type of house can be taken by the local authority and, considering the fact that it can only be occupied for two or two and a half years, it would be most unreasonable that the ratepayers' money should be spent on conversion. The minor alterations which have been referred to and which are necessary can be done. There still remains the power with the housing authority to acquire any property, and this would not stop them acquiring the houses mentioned by the Mover of the Amendment. They can do anything that is reasonable in the nature of the minor alterations for the two and a half years.