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Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

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asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the increased number of unemployed men in the building industry and of the continued shortage of houses and overcrowding in certain areas, he will bring pressure to bear on local authorities to speed up house-building where such shortage and overcrowding exists?

Local authorities are for the most part making good progress with house-building. As the hon. Member was informed in answer to his question on 15th December last, my right hon. Friend thinks that the local authorities are, generally speaking, fulfilling their duties under the Housing Acts with energy and efficiency, and I would again express willingness to make inquiries into any particular case which the hon. Member may have in mind.

Is not the answer which the hon. Member has just given to me an admission that certain authorities are not doing their duty; and is it not common sense that where there is overcrowding and houses are needed, and they are not doing their duty, the right hon. Gentleman should make some representations to them, and will he put that point to his right hon. Friend?

Yes, Sir, and if any case of that kind is brought to our notice, my right hon. Friend immediately makes representations.


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that many local authorities are being compelled to raise the rents of their municipal houses owing to the inadequate subsidy provided by the Government for the abatement of overcrowding and the rehousing of persons from unfit dwellings; and will he introduce early legislation to increase the subsidy and obviate hardship to working-class tenants?

With regard to the first part of the question, my right hon. Friend is not aware of any general increase in the rents of municipal houses. With regard to the second part, my right hon. Friend has no reason to suppose that the rates of Exchequer subsidy for slum clearance and overcrowding which were fixed by Parliament only a year ago are inadequate for their purpose.

Can the Minister inform the House from what source he anticipates that the reduced subsidy, which will amount approximately to £5 per house, is going to be met? Is it not clear that it will have to be met from the general rate of the local authority or by increasing rents to the tenants? Will he, therefore, give further consideration to the matter, because he result will be a slowing down of the building of houses which are to deal with the evil of overcrowding?

If I can produce evidence in respect of the Birmingham City Council and other local authorities in the Midlands, will consideration be given to it?

My right hon. Friend will be glad to consider any representations which the hon. Member makes.