First off, welcome to the forum - I think it's a very helpful bunch of people here, though of course we are a "bit" biased towards Avalon, which, unless you are extremely lucky or well-off, is not going to be a brand you consider as a beginner's guitar (unless you can pick up a bargain second-hand Silver Series).
For a beginner guitarist, I would say that second-hand is definitely the best way to go, especially if you have an experienced guitar-playing friend you can take along to check out and play any guitar. You will be able to get a lot more for your money. Guitars tend to lose about 30-40% of their value as soon as they leave the shop while depreciation on a second-hand guitar is often minimal. With acoustics, perhaps more so than with electrics, you really do get what you pay for and there can be quite a difference between a new budget Â£80 guitar and a rrp Â£200 box with a few dings in it which you might pick up for not much more. You may get some good advice in shops and they are great for trying out as many different brands and types as possible - and try the same models in different shops too - it is rare for two guitars of the same model to play identically: some will be better than others. That said, currently, there are good bargains to be had used as people are forced to sell to keep afloat - sad, I know, but it really is a buyer's market. But whether buying new or used, don't forget to haggle - even if buying new, expect to be able to get 5-15%, even 20%, off the advertised price and/or some accessories (strings, straps, picks etc) too.
You don't say what your budget is, nor the sort of stuff your hubby wants to play eg does he aim to be a strummer, a fingerpicker or a flatpicker, oer even a combination of each. All have a bearing on the best guitar to get to help him develop and keep him interested. And that's without adding in all the additional variables such as cutaways, scale length, player build, size of hands and any shoulder/back problems(!). Everyone is different though and there are few hard and fast rules as to what suits different people. Ideally he needs to play any instrument himself, but if you want to surprise him, this may not be an option, unless you are buying new and have a friendly local music shop who will let you buy on a 24 hour approval period.
As for makes, I'm not too hot on lower end guitars, having only switched to acoustic after 25 years of electric playing, so I was in a position to start higher up the quality chain. Starting at the bottom end, Yamaha are always worth a look at - I have never seen a duff review and I've owned two Yamaha electrics and played a few acoustics, all of which were very playable. Have heard generally good things about Tanglewoods and some mid-range Fenders too. If you want to go slightly higher, Epiphones are nice guitars, especially when you pay the extra to get one set up properly by a decent guitar tech if it hasn't been done already. Like I say, no idea of your budget, but Recording King, Blueridge, Freshman and Eastman are all comparatively new to the UK market and some of these boast solid woods throughout, rather than laminates, which will improve the tone no end. I've played some VERY nice Stonebridges too and as you go higher in their ranges they get even better. Still sub-Â£500 on the used market might bag you a used Martin 15 series and there are also some nice Guilds, Taylors and Takamines in this range, both new and used, but from my own experience, the neck profiles are a matter of personal taste, so get your husband to try some out. Youtube will be your friend too - just tap in the name of a guitar which interests you and you will usually find loads of examples and reviews, both professional and amateur.
I'm sure there will be others here who can chime in with some more info, but if I might end with one final bit of advice: get him into music shops playing as many as he can, even guitars beyond your price range, so you have an idea what he likes and he doesn't just buy the first guitar he tries. Good luck in your search - lovely to see someone's other half encouraging them, too.