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One-Bedroom Housing

Volume 885: debated on Wednesday 5 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take action to encourage local authorities to increase their stock of one-bedroomed accommodation.

We will be issuing advice very soon to local authorties on ways to increase the stock of one-bedroomed and two-bedroomed dwellings.

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is indeed a great and an increasing shortage of one-bedroom accommodation? Does he agree that if local authorities were to increase their stock of this type of accommodation they could make better use of existing stock by transferring tenants from houses which are under-occupied, which would result in a rationalisation of the present housing situation?

I certainly endorse what my hon. Friend has said. I suggest also that in at least some circumstances it is a question not simply of building new stock but possibly of adapting existing large stock where the demand is not so great in order to increase the availability of small dwellings that way. Also, there is a much better provision in this matter in new construction by local authorities generally than there is in the private sector, and the advice which we shall be issuing will cover that aspect of the subject as well as local authorities' works.

I welcome the Minister's statement and I support the remarks of the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mrs. Taylor) since both one-bedroom and two-bedroom accommodation is very much in demand. The figures from my local authority indicate that over 100 applicants need only one-bedroom accommodation. Will the Minister please expedite his instructions to local authorities, which will assist them in this matter—which no doubt will arise in our debate tomorrow?

I certainly welcome the support from the Liberal benches and that which is given as a whole. I emphasise that the advice will be issued very shortly.

May I also welcome the promise of a circular? Might not the Minister encourage local authorities to take a more relaxed attitude towards lodgers in council accommodation, because this would help to maximise the use of the existing housing stock?

We are examining this aspect of the housing scene also as part of a general look we have initiated recently at the use of stock across the board—not only local authority housing stock but housing stock within local authority areas—to see how better it might be used for various initiatives which can be taken.