Orders of the Day — Supply.

– in the House of Commons on 20th June 1934.

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Again considered in Committee.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question,

That a sum, not exceeding £13,639,924, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Health, including Grants and other Expenses in connection with Housing, certain Grants to Local Authorities, etc., Grants in Aid in respect of Benefits and Expenses of Administration under the National Health Insurance Acts, certain Expenses in connection with the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Acts, and other Services.

Question again proposed.

10.56 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ernest Pickering Mr Ernest Pickering , Leicester West

I do not know exactly what my position is in this Debate. There is a good deal that I should like to say, and I do not see how I can say it. I am anxious to see the Minister ginger-up local authorities in the matter of slum clearance, and I would emphasise the point that you cannot separate, as they have been separated to some extent, the problems of re-housing and slum clearance. The law insists that houses shall be found for those who are cleared out of the slums, but even if that were done, and done at a rent which would be within the means of those who were cleared out, that would by no means meet the whole problem, because there are not enough houses. That means that new slum areas are being made by reason of overcrowding. We need new houses, and I hope that the Minister will do all in his power to encourage slum clearance and to encourage local authorities, who already have wide powers, to increase the number of houses.

The Minister says that he has placed before himself the ideal of getting houses built for an inclusive rent of about 13s. Unfortunately, very few houses have been built to let, and that is one difficulty. It is no use pointing to the fact that many new houses have been built. I see those new houses, and the builders are very busy, but the houses are not being built to let, and, even if they were, a rent of 13s. is too much. It is more than most people can pay. I do not want to trespass beyond the boundary of the Debate, but I want to know how far it is within the Minister's power and ability to encourage a scheme which might lower the inclusive rent to less than 13s., which is far more than the average poor working man can pay. There are those who think that it is possible so to co-ordinate the activities of the Ministry of Health, local authorities, public utility societies and private enterprise as to produce at least 60,000 houses a year, to be let at an inclusive rent of 10s., or with the aid of the subsidy, where the subsidy was applied, at 7s. 6d.

It being Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.