Flats (Sound Insulation)
asked the Minister of Health whether he is now satisfied that the use of eel grass has proved successful for sound insulation in respect of flat buildings.
Eel grass is a recognised material for sound insulation but not better or cheaper than certain home-produced materials.
In view of the other insulating qualities of this material, particularly in regard to heat, is my right hon. Friend prepared to recommend its use in order to save fuel as well as for the purpose of sound insulation?
No, I am not prepared to recommend the import of a material for this purpose if we have suitable home-produced material.
Evicted Families (Emergency Accommodation)
asked the Minister of Health what assistance is given by his Department to local authorities which are prepared to provide temporary accommodation for evicted families; and what conditions must be observed in order that premises may be approved by him for this purpose.
I am prepared to delegate to housing authorities power to requisition large unoccupied houses suitable for adaptation at reasonable cost to provide emergency accommodation. Expenditure incurred in providing this accommodation is reimbursed.
Would the Minister be willing to add to that provision a grant to help local authorities who wish to put up accommodation of the hutment type?
I would like to have the precise scheme before me before making a judgment.
asked the Minister of Health what proposals for the provision of temporary accommodation for evicted families have been submitted to his Department by the Harrow Urban District Council; and with what result.
Proposals have been submitted and tenders invited for the adaptation of a requisitioned property to provide emergency accommodation for six families.
Flats, Horsforth (Building Licences)
asked the Minister of Health, in view of the fact that Mr. Thackrah, 66, Karnac Road, Leeds, wishes to build 50 modern flats to let in Horsforth and is prepared to offer them to the council in order to diminish their housing waiting list, and that the housing in this, the largest village in England, is being held up owing to the restrictions relating to the issue of building licences for houses which can be built by private builders, if he will increase the quota of building licences allocated to that councl.
No, Sir. The discretion given to local authorities to issue up to one-fifth of their allocation by way of licences is the utmost concession that can be made at this time consistently with the housing policy of the Government that houses should be available at reasonable rents to those in greatest need.
Is the Minister aware that by rejecting this offer to build houses to let at a reasonable rent, he is inflicting unnecessary hardship upon the homeless people in this urban district?
What would happen is that if we inflated the housing programme in this area, it could only be done at the expense of other areas.
If there are any builders and building materials to spare in that part of the country, would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the great housing problem which faces a neighbour of Horsforth—the Leeds City Council?
As I said, once one makes a concession in one part of the country, it must always be done at the expense of somebody else unless we are able to inflate the housing programme as a whole.
asked the Minister of Health how many families have been evicted from rest centres in London during the last two months; which were the centres concerned; and why were these evictions ordered.
Three families have been evicted, one each from Argyll Road, Cadogan Gardens, and St. George's Square, for failure to pay the weekly charges. Notice of eviction has been served on 17 other families for the same reason; in 13 cases satisfactory proposals for payment have since been made, in the others the notices are still outstanding. In addition, notice of eviction has been issued in six cases because of a refusal to accept offers of permanent accommodation; in two of these, the notice was withdrawn on appeal, and in the other four the offers were accepted after the issue of the notice.
Does the Minister appreciate that the three who have actually been evicted were elected by the residents of these rest centres as chairmen, or other appropriate officers, of their residents' associations? Does he appreciate that in the working-class movement there is a word for this kind of treatment?
I also have a word for those people who are misleading these people into the hardships they are now suffering, but it is a word which one cannot use in the House of Commons. These people have not been evicted from this halfway house or rest house because they were the leaders. They were evicted because they seemed to consider that public funds should bear whatever charges they themselves want to impose upon them.
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the hardship involved in the case of the lowest income groups, he will reduce the present minimum charges for rest centre accommodation.
The charges for children have already been revised to prevent hardship.
Although the charge for board and accommodation of three guineas a week for husband, wife and child may not be oppressive in the case of a man earning £6, £7 or £8 a week, does not my right hon. Friend think that it is definitely oppressive in the case of a man earning £4 a week, especially when he has also to pay for all the other necessaries of life?
This matter is administered by the local councils, and individual hardships are taken into account.
Would my right hon. Friend look into the matter again?
This rent includes the hire of the furniture, does it not?
Yes, and other services.
In view of the very unhelpful reply, I shall endeavour to raise this matter on the Adjournment.
House Tenancies, Rural Areas
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the hardship which is being caused to working class families by the practice on the part of industrial and agricultural interests of buying occupied houses and then appealing for possession on grounds of business necessity; and if he will introduce legislation to prohibit this practice.
Representations have been made on this matter so far as premises required for agricultural purposes are concerned. The position is governed by Section 3 and paragraph (g) of the First Schedule to the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Amendment) Act, 1933, and can be considered only as a part of the general review of that legislation.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in agricultural areas it is becoming increasingly common for workers in other industries necessary to the countryside to be displaced for the purpose of housing agricultural workers; and is he also aware that this will cause disproportionate development in the economy of the countryside if it is persisted in?
I am aware that this practice is developing more in the rural areas than elsewhere for reasons that are obvious to hon. Members in all parts of the House, but we cannot deal with this problem in isolation from an Amendment to the Rent Restrictions Acts as a whole.