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Volume 480: debated on Thursday 9 November 1950

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Kingscliffe Hostel


asked the Minister of Health if he will claim the Kingscliffe Hostel, now released by the Minister of Agriculture, for use as temporary housing to help to meet the housing needs of that area pending the erection of more permanent and satisfactory homes.

This hostel has now been offered to the local authority for housing purposes.

Will the Minister expedite the taking over of the hostel to avoid damage being done to it during the remaining period?

I have expedited this, I think. We heard that the hostel was redundant on 11th October, full particulars were sent by my regional office to the Oundle and Thrapston R.D.C. on 13th October, on 2nd November it was decided to ask the Ministry of Works to allocate the hostel to the Council, on 4th November my regional office made a bid to the Ministry of Works, and on 7th November a letter was received from the Ministry of Works allocating the hostel to the local authority.

Local Authority Licences


asked the Minister of Health whether he is now able to announce the number of housing licences to be issued for municipally-built houses in the year 1951.

The allocations to local authorities, covering both municipal building and private licensing, are designed to secure that 175,000 houses are completed in England and Wales in each of the years 1951 and 1952.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are certain very important industrial towns in the North of England which had to make a slow start in their re-housing programme because of circumstances quite beyond their control and which now desire to increase the tempo because they have very grave housing needs? Will he reconsider allocations in those cases in the light of evidence submitted to him in support of these claims?

Certainly, Sir. If the authorities in these areas show that they are able to build more houses than they have done, having built less than their allocation, I will certainly look into these cases again.

Will my right hon. Friend issue a statement showing how many municipalities have failed to take tip their quota for 1950?

I could do that, but it would not be fair to the authorities concerned because it does not always follow that they have not been able to take up the allocation as a result of circumstances over which they have control. Very often it is because of a lack of labour in the area. That shows the great pressure upon the building industry at the moment. It is sometimes not wise to think that so many more houses can be built unless labour and materials are diverted from elsewhere.



asked the Minister of Health how many three-bedroom, two-bedroom and one-bedroom houses have been built since 1945; and whether he proposes any change in this ratio.

The numbers of dwellings of three, two and one bedrooms completed by local authorities up to 30th September, 1950, are 399,328, 75,141 and 24,518 respectively. Local authorities are, on my advice, now building substantially larger proportions of one and two-bedroom dwellings.

Would my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of greatly extending the number of two-bedroom houses, especially if they can be so designed that a third bedroom can be added at a later date?

As hon. Members in all parts of the House probably know, I called the attention of local authorities to this a very long time ago. My Central Housing Advisory Committee has issued advice on this matter, and last year I sent out a special and urgent circular on the question.

Is not the Minister aware of the difficulties which certain local authorities are experiencing in getting permission from his regional officers? Will he circularise his own regional officers about this?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is completely wrong. I have reported to the House of Commons about this. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not aware of it I will send him a copy of HANSARD, from which he will see that it has been made clear for a very long time indeed that the regional office does not control the design and nature of the dwellings put up by local authorities but only makes an examination to see whether the tenders are unreasonably high.

Does the local authority get a numerical increase in its housing allocation if it builds a high proportion of small houses? If not, would it not be a good idea to encourage them to build larger numbers of smaller houses?

The idea is that the local authorities should build the sort of houses that the various family groups require. That means that quite often four-bedroom houses are required as well as two bedrooms and one bedroom.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Haire) now supports a proposal which he himself voted against the other night?

That is, of course, to assume that we are hearing of one-bedroom and two-bedroom houses for the first time. As I have already shown, we have built 75,000 two-bedroom houses and over 24,000 one-bedroom houses. The Opposition are only wakening up to the facts of what has already been done.

Would the Minister agree that that circular which he sent out last year would have had a greater effect if the allocation to the local authorities were by cash rather than the number of houses?

That is a much wider question. All that this Question asks is how many houses were built.

Requisitioning Powers


asked the Minister of Health what preparations he is making to give local authorities alternative powers enabling them to requisition property for housing when the present position comes to an end.

As my hon. Friend is aware, it is proposed to extend the present powers of requisitioning; but local authorities already possess alternative powers, for instance they can themselves acquire properties, if necessary by compulsory purchase.

When the right hon. Gentleman is considering an extension of these powers, will he also consider asking local authorities to give the most sympathetic consideration to the cases of old people who are asking for the derequisitioning and return of their homes, so that they may enjoy the comfort of their houses in their declining years?

Temporary Dwellings, Abergele


asked the Minister of Health how many persons are permanently resident in movable dwellings and shacks in the Abergele district; and what steps are being taken to safeguard public health on these encampments.

I have no precise information but I understand that the number is between 250 and 300. Responsibility for safeguarding public health rests with local sanitary authorities, but if the hon. Member has information of the existence of conditions which are prejudicial to, health and will communicate with me, I will have them investigated.

Rectory, Aveton Gifford


asked the Minister of Health whether he will now grant a licence to rebuild the rectory at Aveton Gifford in the county of Devon which was destroyed by enemy action in the last war.

Allocation, Wembley


asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the increased number of applicants for houses, he will increase the allocation of houses fixed at 250 for the Wembley Borough Council for the year 1951.

In accordance with the undertaking already given to the council, the allocation will be reviewed during the year in the light of progress.

Is the Minister prepared to grant a subsidy to the local council for the building of what are termed halfway houses for evicted persons and vagrants who become the temporary responsibility of the local authority?