asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many dwellings have been requisitioned during the last 12 months for housing purposes.
During the year ended 29th February, 1952, 37 dwellings were requisitioned for housing purposes in England and Wales.
Is the Minister satisfied with that very small figure of houses requisitioned in the last 12 months? Is he not aware of the many houses—many, for example, within easy walking distance of this House—which have been standing empty for months and could provide homes for families?
There are nearly 85,000 premises held by this system of requisitioning and I am not anxious that that number should be increased as a normal system. I do not think it is a right system for normal purposes, although it may occasionally have to be used to meet this particular difficulty.
Is the Minister satisfied to see houses standing empty, literally for months, when they could be divided into many flats?
Requisitioning in the technical sense of the word, and I assume that the hon. Gentleman means that, is not the only method of dealing with the situation.
Has not the Minister asked local authorities to decrease the number of requisitioned properties and thus add to the difficulties of the problem?
I have asked them to decrease the number of requisitioned properties for which the Exchequer carries the whole burden and to exercise some of their rights by which they will carry some of them.