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lumbus, Ohio, and I appreciate how frustrating could be a list of nine steps such as the following, now necessary in Britain:
1. Approval of the site selected must be obtained from a planning authority (either the county council or a planning committee).
2. The site planned must be submitted to the regional planning officer.
3. Any claims of the land by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport, Air Ministry, the Admiralty, the War Office, etc., must be investigated.
4. The district Valuer enters into negotiations with the owner of the site. If an agreement cannot be reached, a public inquiry for compulsory purchase may be necessary,
5. Authority for the purchase must be obtained from the regional officer of the Ministry of Health.
6. Council must prepare a survey and submit plans of lay-out to Ministry of Health.
7. Detailed building plan must be submitted to Ministry of Health.
8. Authority must be obtained from Ministry for Council to invite building tenders.
9. Ministry of Health must approve tender Council has accepted.
Only when this stage is reached, very often from 18 months to 2 years from the time the site was selected, is building allowed to begin.
This is the impasse in Britain, the original home of private enter. prise, reached in 100 years of the expansion of state intervention and control as far as the land and housing are concerned. Let's look at the steps quickly.
1. Passage of the Lodging House Act of 1851, giving the councils of the borroughs throughout England power to erect lodging houses or to purchase existing lodging houses and manage them under the supervision of local boards of health.
2. In 1871, legislation to enable the Government authorities to inspect districts, schedule them for improvement if found insanitary, and build new houses with Government aid to replace them if necessary.
3. In 1885, a statute known as the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1885, whose general aim was "provision of suitable dwellings for the working classes." The authorities in rural areas were given power to provide homes for the laboring classes and the cities to provide land for working-class dwellings.
All these measures sound innocent enough, but they are the cornerstones from which the present policy in England has sprung.
In the years 1851 to 1892 the Liberal Party had been in office for 25 years and the Conservative Party about 16 years. Between them, they practically laid the foundations of the Socialist program today, although it was not evident to the average Briton that precedents had been set which would serve, in an emergency, as a broad highway to that nationalization of land as was recommended in the 1848 Communist manifesto, the basic document of modern socialism.
A material forward step was taken in 1909 and 1910 when the famous Peoples Budget of Mr. David Lloyd George, Prime Minister in the Liberal Government, became effective and taxed land values at such an adverse rate that building by private enterprise was discouraged. The country had built 87,000 houses the year immediately
before this budget became parliamentary policy, and the first year after, it built only 10,000.
During the 4 years before that policy became effective, Great Britain had averaged 118,800 new houses a year. During the 4 years after that policy became the law of the land, the average number of new houses built a year was only 72,385. In other words, they lost the incentive which would have built 50,000 more houses each yeara considerable fall-off in Britain, in a country then with a population of over 30,000,000.
In terms of our own economy, it would have meant about 200,000 fewer houses a year. The shortage was never made good. It was one of the reasons why Great Britain had recourse to Government assistance in solving its housing problems after World War I.
Although the Conservatives saw in the land taxes at that time an immediate threat to individual ownership of small property and the first faint whisper of ultimate land nationalization, they did not choose to maintain their stand or their position in later years when the powerful trade-unions demanded increasing assistance by the Government in housing.
It is increasingly clear that the people of Great Britain today can thank the Conservative Party as well as the farther-left political groups for the alteration of Britain's traditional policy of encouraging small proprietorship and home ownership.
It is shocking to realize that in the parliamentary debate on the present housing bill, the Conservative opposition does not make the record against the proposals, because as one MP said:
As far as many of the provisions are concerned, it would be quixotic, because they would be voting against provisions which were already in the statute book and which were put there by a government with a conservative majority.
After the 1918 armistice, Mr. Lloyd George was Prime Minister in the coalition government which launched a homes-for-heroes campaign. By July 1, 1919, the state had been vested with overruling compulsory powers for land to be acquired for building purposes. Through it the local authorities of the cities, with the approval of the Ministry of Health, could exercise powers never before reached in a free country. Under the act they could
1. Let or sell the land, or parts of it, to bodies or persons for the creation of wage-earner dwellings, factories, and the like, thus obtaining the advantages of estate, or subdivision development which was formerly possible only to private enterprise.
2. By special powers they were given the right to buy houses and alter them to make them suitable for the working classes.
The act did not make the outlook of the private builder any easier; he was faced by high building costs and a shortage of labor. Dr. Addison, Minister of Health in the coalition government, admitted in the House of Commons on November 21, 1919, that
They [the private builders) are not building houses. They know very well that the cost to them to build a house will not enable them to let it at an economic rent, and because of that they are not building, and never will build, so long as that state of things prevails.
It was proposed at this time to give the private builder a subsidy, and an act of Parliament was passed to do this on December 23, 1919.
It authorized the provision of grants to persons constructing houses in certain circumstances, the aggregate amount of the grants not exceeding $60,000,000. The original subsidy was increased 6 months later so that private builders were given as much as $920 to $1,040 a house in subsidies.
Meanwhile, the building of houses by the local authorities of cities had shown itself to be much more costly than the original estimates. It was originally estimated that the capital cost of building half a million houses in England and 35,000 in Scotland would be $1,720,000,000, based on an estimate of $3,200 per house in England and $3,400 in Scotland.
But when the housing bill was before Parliament, it was estimated that the net deficit to be met out of the public funds for loan charges would be $30,000,000 additional, annually, at a charge of $60 per house. The original plan to have the local authorities of cities borrow the money without using the credit of the Government had proved to be so costly and capital so difficult to procure on this basis, that the Government had to be responsible for the deficiency.
Dr. Addison, still Minister of Health, admitted in the House of Commons on August 3, 1920:
A house which in 1913 cost $1,000 to build would now cost from $3,200 to $4,000.
The trade unions at this time were critized by Mr. Lloyd George, who wrote:
When bricks are laid at the rate of 300 a day whereas they could be laid quite easily at the rate of 900 a day according to experts, you cannot build houses very fast.
Scared by the increasing burden of subsidies needed for building the wage-earners' houses, the Government in 1921 recommended certain limitations.
Sir Alfred Mond in the House of Commons said that a definite limit should be fixed immediately to the number of houses erected by the municipalities under the present policy of the Central Government's being responsible for the deficit. He stressed, however, that the Government was carrying out a work of supreme importance which private enterprise could not possibly carry out. He admitted in the same breath that grave financial difficulties now confronted the nation as a result of this policy.
We have now a permanent burden for 60 years of $40,000,000 said Sir Alfred. It is an enormous, a laudable, and an unprecedented contribution from the Exchequer.
When they went into World War II they had an annual expenditure of subsidies of $125,000,000 a year.
It is a burden which still lies heavily on the shoulders of the British people in 1949.
A general election in 1922 returned a Conservative Government to power to hold office from November 1922 to January, 1924. The Minister of Health in this Government was Mr. Neville Chamberlain. The chief provision of his housing program was that the local authority of a city could contribute annual grants for 20 years to promote the building of working-class dwellings by private enterprise.
Mr. Chamberlain said that his bill hoped to lay the foundations of two lines of policy-(1) the encouragement of private enterprise, and (2) the stimulation of the desire of people to own their own homes. His measure provided also for the local authority of the city to make loans to builders up to 90 percent of the value of the houses they were going to build.
Yet it was the Conservatives and not the Socialists who in 1927 canceled the subsidy which Mr. Chamberlain had granted to private enterprise leaving intact the subsidies to the local authorities. In fact, throughout these interwar years the Conservatives tended to accept and carry on legislation which the Socialists had introduced.
An outstanding example of this was the Greenwood Act of 1930 when Mr. Arthur Greenwood became Minister of Health in that Labor administration. After originally opposing it, the Conservatives took it over the following year when they came into office and proceeded to work it with full subsidy.
This act was mainly concerned with the clearance of slums and the rehousing of the displaced slum dwellers in new estates or subdivisions, under municipal ownership.
val ownership. The subsidy averaged about $60 a year per house, the municipalities paying varying amounts according to the income of the family and the unmber of children. This meant that the total weekly payment made by the tenant for rent and rates or taxes was only $1.20.
This same low cost to the tenant was maintained by the Conservative Government for the next 8 years. In view of the extensive slumclearance schemes the Greenwood Act naturally increased the area of government control by the growth of compulsory acquisition. A quarter of a million houses were built under this act.
One of the main developments of this act was that the local authorities of the cities were compelled to deliberately select for rehousing the largest and poorest families who had been accustomed to living in slum conditions. Accordingly they were faced during the early 1930's with a management problem of the acutest difficulty. As a result, during this interwar period the local authorities of British cities spent more than $2,000,000,000 on housing.
With this against a background of facts, costs and statutes and with Government housing accepted policy for municipalities and the Central Government, Great Britain entered into her hour of trial, World War II. Already deeply in debt on this experimentation and far behind in her supply of housing, she suffered the loss of 300,000 dwellings at the hand of the enemy from without.
Without hesitation, the Labor Socialist Government, coming into power in 1945, moved on down the road of controlled building, control and planning of all land use, and public ownership of housing accommodations. As I pointed out earlier, the Ministry of Health's official figures to the end of 1948 showed that only 368,000 permanent houses had been built in Britain since the war. This is little more than oneninth of the total 3,000,000 houses which it is authoritatively estimated are still needed. It is worth noting that during the 5 years preceding the outbreak of the war, the average annual building figure amounted to 334,000, almost as many per year as have been built in the 31/2 years since the war ended. As I said a while ago, during the 8 years before World War II, the British built 2,500,000 new houses, and threefourths of them were done by private enterprise, for private ownership. This was the experience which the planners, the Socialists, chose to throw to the winds, with their provisions for four houses to be built for government ownership to every one which could be built for private ownership.
I might say that the one to be built for private ownership is practically out of the picture now because of the red tape, the machinery, the permits, the problem of development charges in connection with the land, and so forth, which have caused private building for private ownership, either for rent or for sale, to practically cease.
It is significant, I think, that last year the Federation of Master Builders proposed a program to Mr. Bevan, the Minister of Health, by which some 50,000 people could have been housed almost immediately. Builders and timber merchants in the United States had made arrangements to send enough timber to build 10,000 houses, with the purchase price frozen for a minimum of 5 years, and thus not a dollar would have had to leave Britain-so short of dollars at this time-in payment. Builders throughout the country, I am told, had their sites ready and labor and materials available.
Incidentally, they estimate that they have over a hundred thousand sites with all the improvements in, which were done prior to World War II, which could be used and are not now being used.
All that was needed was permission to import.timber. This offer was flatly turned down by those who are in complete control of Britain's housing today.
Private builders are restricted in the cost of the homes which they can put up, while those planed for Government ownership have no such limits, and even the temporary housing which the Government is putting up is costing nearly twice as much per square foot as the amount to which the builders for private ownership are restricted. In the recent parliamentary debate on the housing bill, the Minister of Health, Mr. Bevan, was asked if he was considering the request from one of the rural district councils for relaxation of the controls on building by private enterprise. The request was that the local authorities should be allowed some latitude in determining the ratio between private enterprise and Government housing in a particular locality, in order that local circumstances may be taken into consideration. Mr. Bevan replied that it was contrary to the Government's policy to reduce the number of houses to be built by the Government in order to license more home building for private ownership.
When I was there a year and a half ago, I had lunch with Tom Blaisdell and Mr. Bevan and others, and Mr. Bevan, a very colorful character, said, “I know you are interested in the home ownership program in the United States. We are not interested here. We are going to build houses for those who need them, not for those who can pay for them,” which was a clear and amazing statement of doctrine and conviction, and I would remind you that he is in complete charge of all of the planning activities, all of the subsidies, all of the housing permits, and all of the housing materials.
While I wanted to bring to your attention especially the story of the failure to meet the housing demand on the part of the socialistic planners of housing, I do want to point out also some of the more farreaching provisions which are now in the British Government housing program and which show how rapidly controls and planning schemes can expand and succeed in an ever-increasing area of the life of the community.
We all know that one of the primary rights of property ownershipand it is a right of the small proprietor as well as of the large one