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Hostel, Hornchurch (Evictions)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that this afternoon and to-morrow morning a number of homeless people are to be evicted by the Essex County Council from St. George's Hostel, Hornchurch; that no alternative accommodation is to be found for the men; that the women and children are only to be accommodated if they leave the district and agree that their husbands shall not visit them in their new accommodation: and since this action is not in accordance with the statutory and other duties which fall on the County Council, what immediate action he proposes to take in the matter.

As I informed the hon. and learned Member yesterday, I understand that the county council have notified certain families that temporary accommodation will no longer be available for them at St. George's Hostel, Horn-church, and that, except for two men, they have been offered alternative accommodation at Abridge. I am asking the county council to reconsider the rule I understand they have made about visiting at Abridge.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in this hostel at the time of the last General Election no fewer than 30 people were left off the electoral list and now, within a few days of the county council elections, in the division, where there was only a majority of five, some 30 or 40 voters are to be evicted? Will he represent to the council that, quite apart from the hardship involved by people going to live at a hostel at Abridge, where there are not even doors to the cubicles, this is a most improper political act at this time?

The hon. and learned Member did write and give me that information but, of course, it has to be remembered that the decision to make this move has not just been taken; it was taken by the county council after consultation with my predecessor nearly a year ago. In point of fact, I have no responsibility in this matter at all beyond making certain that the county council do not fail to carry out or exceed, as the case may be, their statutory powers. On my present information I have no grounds of complaint about that at all, but I can give them advice if they agree to take it and I have asked that they should look into the question about visiting.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree, first, that it is a violation of their statutory power not to provide accommodation for these two men, one of whom is, I understand, suffering from tuberculosis and the other is a wounded ex-Service man? Secondly, does he not think it a little odd if, as he said, it was decided a year ago, that this action should be carried out on the eve of a county council election?