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Hostel, Staverton

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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33.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the hardship caused to residents at the National Service Hostel at Staverton, near Cheltenham, by the increase in the charge of 5s. per week; and if he will arrange for an investigation into its administration, with a view to seeing if economies can be effected, which will make the increase unnecessary.

I cannot accept that the increase in charges at industrial hostels has caused any special hardship. Except for the reduction in charge at the sub-standard hostels, there is no differentiation in charge between different hostels.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this means an increase to these people in the cost of living of 5s. a week at a time when the Chancellor has asked that there shall be no increase in wages; and are not the Government interested in the administration of these hostels which have been subsidised at the rate of £1,800,000 per year?

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has not really got the point. The Government have been subsidising these hostels, and the charges in the hostels compare very favourably with the charges in private homes, but the Government ought not to be asked to go on subsidising this special set of workers, and they are now being asked to pay an economic price.

I have asked not for an increase in the subsidy but for an inquiry into the administration. What is the objection to an inquiry into the administration?

These men now pay 35s. a week, which is much less than they would have to pay in private homes in this country for the same facilities. In view of that, I do not think that an inquiry is really warranted.

In view of the supplementary answers the right hon. Gentleman has given, is he aware that 35s. a week is already substantially in excess of the price a farmer in this country is allowed to charge per week for keeping a man; and how does he expect these men to keep a home in some other town and also pay 35s. a week to a hostel.

I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman missed part of my main answer, which was that the substandard hostels have a much lower charge, and most of the sub-standard hostels are in the agricultural areas.

The right hon. Gentleman said that 35s. is substantially less than the charge made in private homes. Is he not aware that farmers have private homes and that they are allowed to charge only 35s.?

I was referring to charges in industrial hostels which are situated in industrial areas. I think that 35s. is less than the charge in the usual urban area.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that the residents in these hostels get only two meals a day and three meals on Sundays; that they have to get extra meals outside for which they pay—1s. 4d. at midday, and 8d. for a snack at supper time—which brings their expenditure up to £2 7s. 8d. per week; and will my right hon. Friend inquire into that?

I do not accept those conclusions. I have been round many of these hostels, and I must say that the State is giving the residents of these hostels a very good deal indeed.