asked the Minister of Health whether he will ensure that disabled ex-service men are given the same priority for houses by local authorities as is now given to persons bombed out of their homes?
The need for accommodation for persons rendered homeless by enemy action may arise at any time, and local authorities must be in a position to deal with the situation immediately. For this reason it has been considered necessary in certain areas to maintain a reserve of houses, the number of which is under constant review. Subject to this, local authorities endeavour to give consideration in regard to any accommodation which may be available to cases of exceptional hardship among which the men to whom my hon. Friend refers obviously take a high place.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of men who have been discharged from the Army owing to injuries caused by enemy action find that they are put at the bottom of the list when being considered for new houses, and priority is given to people who have been bombed out? Should it not be a question of "First come first served"?
I think people who have been bombed out must have first priority in these cases. A Member of this House called my attention to a particular case in the constituency represented by him only three weeks ago, complaining about certain houses, and within a week those houses were wanted.
Cannot my right hon. Friend give this matter further consideration, because it is most unfair when a man who has had to give up his house on being called up comes back to find that it has been ruined and he has no place to which to go?
I have shown by my answer that I am most sympathetic to these cases, and I know that the local authorities are.
I do not press for a reply to-day, but will the Minister consider whether, instead of providing for the hypothetical eventuality of bombed-out people, it would not be better to use those houses for disabled men and war workers?
The answer to my hon. Friend is that there has been nothing hypothetical about the raids on many towns in this country, and if anything happened in the Chislehurst Division and there was not accommodation for the bombed-out persons, my hon. Friend would be the first to complain.