Catalogue description Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour, Later Ministry of Labour and National Service: Commissioners for Special Areas, Later Development Areas, Registered Files (DA, F and 99,000 Series)

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of MH 61
Reference: MH 61
Title: Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour, Later Ministry of Labour and National Service: Commissioners for Special Areas, Later Development Areas, Registered Files (DA, F and 99,000 Series)

This series contains files of the Ministry of Labour and successor and the Ministry of Health relating to the administration of the Special Areas Acts 1934 to 1937. The last of these Acts expired in 1946. In 1951 the few remaining active files became the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. The subjects which the files deal with include the definition of special areas, boundary agreements, medical services, public health, work schemes and housing projects. Finance files, where they exist (prefixed by the letter F), have been associated with the appropriate main file.

Date: 1934-1960
Related material:

For further papers relating to special areas see:

MH 57

For minutes and papers of the Special Areas Loans Advisory Committee (Portal Committee), see T 187

BT 104

HLG 11

HLG 30

LAB 23

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: 99,000 file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Health, 1919-1968

Ministry of Housing and Local Government, 1951-1970

Ministry of Labour, 1916-1939

Ministry of Labour and National Service, 1939-1959

Physical description: 93 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

The Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act, 1935 (25 Geo 5, cl) was the first of three Acts of Parliament which were designed to develop and improve certain areas which had been specially affected by industrial depression.

This Act provided for the appointment of two Commissioners (one for England and Wales, the other for Scotland) whose functions were to assist and co-operate with Government Departments, local authorities, voluntary organisations, etc. in improving the areas, particularly by providing work for those hitherto unemployed. The Commissioners were not empowered to assist in any undertaking carried on for the purpose of gain, nor to make any grant or loan to a local authority in cases where a specific grant was already payable by a Government Department.

The Commissioner for England and Wales was appointed by the Ministry of Labour with the consent of the Treasury. He was assisted by Deputy Commissioners. The Ministry of Health worked closely with the commissioner's staff to secure the provision of adequate medical services, to encourage hospital building and to alleviate problems of local administration. A Special Areas Fund was established under the control and management of the Treasury, and there was paid into the Fund, for the financial year ending 31 March 1935, the sum of two million pounds "out of moneys provided by Parliament".

The remaining sections of the Act dealt with the powers of Commissioners as to acquisition of land; supplementary provisions as to small holdings and allotments; the application of the Act to Scotland and the power to transfer the Commissioner's functions to other Government Departments on expiry of the Act. The Act was to continue in force until 31 March 1937.

The First Schedule listed the Special Areas. In brief, they were the Tyneside area of Northumberland; practically all the administrative county of Durham; certain districts in Cumberland and most of South Wales. Other schedules dealt with points of procedure to be observed by the Commissioners and their staff, and with the making of Compulsory Purchase Orders. The Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1936 (1 Ed 8 c4), extended this Act until 31 May 1937.

The Special Areas Reconstruction (Agreement) Act, 1936 (26 Geo 5 and 1 Edw 8. c19) authorised the Treasury to make an agreement with a company to be incorporated by the name of the Special Areas Reconstruction Association Limited, and to make payments to the company in accordance with that agreement. The object of the company was to provide financial facilities to persons setting up or carrying on business in the special areas as specified in the First Schedule to the 1934 Special Areas Act.

The Act is a very short one and consists entirely of financial provisions. The chief matters to be covered by the agreement between the company and the Treasury are listed in the Schedule to the Act.

The Special Areas (Amendment) Act, 1937 (1 Edw 8 and 1 Geo 6, c31) extended the Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act, 1934 to enable further assistance to be given to the Special Areas and continued the principal act until 31 March 1939. This new Act empowered the Commissioners to let factories in the depressed areas and to give financial aid to new industrial undertakings there. The Commissioners were also empowered to contribute to expenses incurred by local authorities on the repair and improvement of roads in the special areas, and by owners or occupiers of agricultural land who undertook drainage work. They could also give financial assistance for provision of factories in certain other areas. The Treasury was also given power to make loans to new industrial undertakings, provided that the sums so paid did not exceed an aggregate of two million pounds.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research