I beg to move,
That the Draft of the Order proposed to be made by the Secretary of State for Scotland with the approval of the Treasury under Section 33 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1935. as amended by Section 4 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1938, and as read along with the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 14th July, be approved.
I ask the House to approve of this Draft Order, which was presented on 14th July and must be approved by this House one month from the date of its presentation. It merely continues the existing rates which the Exchequer pay to the local authorities under the Housing (Financial
Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1938, and the Housing (Agricultural Population) (Scotland) Act, 1938. There are only three options before us—to terminate the Exchequer contributions, to reduce the amount of the contributions, or to continue the contributions at the existing rates. We could not increase the contribution without legislation, and therefore the natural thing to do in existing circumstances was to continue the existing contributions made by the Exchequer. As required by the Acts, we have consulted the Scottish local authorities' association about the provisions of the Order, and at our meeting with them on 12th July they intimated their concurrence with its terms. It was made clear to the association that, although the Order continues the Exchequer contribution for a period of three years, which is expressly provided by the Act, it will not in any way prejudice any case which the association might put forward after the war for the alteration of the basis of contributions or the amount of the contributions should the war end before the three years expire.