asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial condition in which the Sheffield Board of Guardians find themselves; if he can state whether the board of guardians in question have asked the Government to give permission for the raising of a loan or overdraft up to £60,000, to be repaid by 30th September; whether the total indebtedness of the union is £150,000; and if he will take action in the matter?
I am aware of the financial situation of the Sheffield Union and, with a view to assisting the guardians I have sanctioned a loan of £300,000, the repayment of which is to be spread over a period of five years. I have also authorised certain overdrafts pending the collection of the current rates.
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial position in which the Cannock Chase Guardians find themselves; that they have decided to suspend for three months their compulsory orders against miners for the repayment of relief on loan given out last year during the coal stoppage and if he will take action in the matter?
I do riot think that the financial position of this board of guardians is so serious as the hon. Member suggests, and I have no information as to the second part of the question, but I will make inquiries. I have authorised the guardians to borrow by way of overdraft a sum of £9,000 for the purpose of meeting their current expenditure.
When is the Prime Minister going to deal with the whole question of guardians, which he promised to do?
That question had better be addressed to the Prime Minister.
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial position of the Blaina Board of Guardians; that the assistant overseer said he did not expect to collect more than 28 per cent. of the rates of this half-year and that over 100 persons had to mortgage property to pay the last rate; if he can state the total rate in the £ for Poor Law purposes and the total rate levied for all purposes for Blaina; and if he will take action in the matter?
I presume the hon. Member has in mind the Nantyglo and Blaina Urban District. An investigation of the position is being made by officials of my Department and a deputation from the District Council is being seen this week. The total rate in the £ for the urban district for the current half-year is 12s. 9d. (exclusive of the water rate), of which 4s. is for Poor Law purposes.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious position in which all boards of guardians find themselves, and is he aware that in some localities there are as many as 175 per 1,000 of the population on Poor Law relief? Is the Government prepared to take any steps to remedy the serious position in which the guardians find themselves?
As the hon. Member is aware, I have been dealing with this question for a long time, and am in constant touch with the boards of guardians. If the necessity arises, I facilitate loans for a period to help them over the difficulty in which they find themselves at the present time. I am glad to say that, contrary to certain fears expressed, the applications for loans have been on a smaller scale than had been anticipated.
Is it not time that the right hon. Gentleman got in front of the question and did not follow it?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the loans advanced to various local authorities are exhausted in about six months, and they find themselves in the same economic position as before?
That question does not arise.