asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider bringing in the necessary legislation to empower county councils to exercise the powers vested in local housing authorities so as to enable them to deal with the overspill population from surrounding cities and towns, and to enable county authorities to assist financially and otherwise in solving the housing problems in county districts.
The question of the most appropriate authority for building satellite and new towns is at present under examination by the committee appointed by my right hon. Firend the Minister of Town and Country Planning, under the Chairmanship of Lord Reith, and my hon. Friend will not expect me to express a view on this point in advance of the committee's report.
:Is the Minister aware of the anxiety that is being felt by county authorities who wish to assist him and the Government in dealing with the housing problem; and will he take the earliest opportunity in view of the urgency of this matter to take advantage of the assistance that they can give him?
I am aware of the anxiety of county councils to exercise housing powers, and I am equally aware of the anxiety of other local authorities that the county councils should not exercise these powers.
asked the Minister of Health whether he will now issue a White Paper giving the same information as in Cmd. 6609, issued in the last Parliament but revised to show the present plans of His Majesty's Government.
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on 17th October, when I said that I would not commit myself to anything except detailed monthly progress reports, and that these reports would start with the New Year.
:Can the Minister say why it was possible for the present Prime Minister and the Lord President of the Council to commit themselves to such a White Paper, when they have had the advantage of the advice of the right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, and yet they are not prepared to commit themselves at the present time?
I am afraid the supplementary question is so obscure that I do not follow it.
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the difficulties of which he has been informed by letter, he is prepared at a convenient time to extend the powers contained in the Private Street Works Act, 1892, and Section 150 of the Public Health Act, 1875, to entitle local authori ties to require developers of housing estates to give security for the completion of the streets thereon to the satisfaction of the local authority, and to enable local authorities, in appropriate cases, to require developers to make up the streets finally in lieu of the frontagers.
While I cannot give any undertaking about legislation to amend the law relating to private streets, this suggestion will be borne in mind.
asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider a limited increase in rents in order to enable landlords to carry out repairs which now cost considerably more than when the Rent Restriction Acts were passed.
:I can hold out no prospect of legislation to give effect to this suggestion.
Is the Minister aware that there are a large number of landlords who are not fulfilling their obligations under the present Rent Acts in respect of repairs, and can he take steps to see to it that local authorities inform tenants of their rights under these Acts?
I hope that the supplementary question of my hon. Friend will have the effect of drawing the attention of local authorities to this matter.
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to speak louder. No one, I think, at this corner of the House could hear his reply.
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that housing sites in Macclesfield are now complete; and if he will state when the first temporary houses will be delivered.
:I am informed that the development works are not yet completed and that there should be no delay in the delivery of the houses when the site is ready for them.
:Could the Minister speed up the deliveries of these temporary houses to St. Marylebone, where sites have been ready for many months?
:Yes, but the temporary housing programme is still suffering from the lack of initiative of the previous Government.
:Will the Minister issue a time and progress schedule to all the places where these houses have been approved, so that the local authorities can know when they will arrive?
Local authorities are much more interested in the arrival of the houses than in a time and progress schedule.
:That is exactly what I said.
North-Eastern Housing Association
asked the Minister of Health what are his intentions towards the North-Eastern Housing Association; and will he discontinue the activities of that association and transfer all houses controlled by the association to the local authority in the area in which they are situate.
The question to which my hon. Friend refers is at present under consideration, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.
When will my right hon. Friend be in a position to make a statement on this subject?
I hope very shortly.