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Clause 1. — (Payments to Owner-Occupiers of Unfit Houses.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Housing (Slum Clearance Compensation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th December 1965.

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Photo of Mr James MacColl Mr James MacColl , Widnes 12:00 am, 15th December 1965

It is valued at the price at which it is bought and sold. If there were no problem of scarcity there would be no problem of distinction between the two.

The more that we crystallise these differences between these arbitrary classes, the more difficult we make it to have a look at the more general problem of compensation for compulsory acquisition which, as my right hon. Friend said in the earlier debate, we want to do. The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) is sniggering again. I thought that he had been cured of his sniggering during the earlier debates this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman addressed us, and no doubt with his usual modesty he gave himself high marks for his wit. I had not the privilege of hearing him.

The third difficulty is one which I know the hon. Member for Crosby feels very strongly about—that the Amendment will make a special distinction for owner-occupiers, which will create a feeling of injustice among small landlords, who, because they have let their houses to tenants, will get nothing.

A final difficulty to which I should draw the House's attention is the position of local authorities. The Association of Municipal Corporations went on record during the time of the last Government expressing their very great alarm at the proposal to extend the workings of the Bill, because of the resultant burden and the increases in costs of acquisition. I think that they would feel, rightly, some sense of injustice—no one thinks that they are enthusiastic about the Bill—if, when they had accepted it with a shrug of the shoulders, which is a reasonable view of their attitude, they suddenly found, as a result of the activities in another place, that their burden is greatly increased. They could reasonably feel that they had been treated unfairly, because these proposals which were not originally in the Bill, were not favoured by them.

We are not discussing what ought to be the final solution of the very difficult problems created by the development of slum clearance. We are discussing a Lords Amendment which makes a quite arbitrary restoration to the Bill of one group of people who are not now particularly distinct from either the people who went before them or the people who are following after them, the very latest group. That would be a very unwise thing to do——