58. Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Minister of Health whether he has received representations from a large number of local authorities protesting against the withholding from use of many empty houses, and requesting power to compel their occupation in view of the serious shortage of housing accommodation; and, if be cannot reconsider his refusal to promote a Bill to give them these powers, will he consider the introduction of a temporary Measure providing for the rating of such houses so long as there is a shortage of house accommodation in their district, in order to protect the local 1899 authorities from the loss in revenue caused by these houses being withheld from occupation?
§ Sir A. MOND
I have received some representations from local authorities on this subject. As regards the last part of the question, I am afraid I can only refer to the replies which I recently gave to similar questions by the hon. Members for Heywood and Radcliffe Division and the Dartford Division.
Are there not some local authorities who have this power already, and is it not possible to extend that?
§ Sir A. MOND
I have been looking into that matter. The Corporation of London have certain powers under an Act for levying a rate on empty houses. What my hon. Friend asks me to do is to give power for the levying of rates on persons who do not wish to let their houses, which is a very different question. It would be psychologically impossible to find out the psychology of the owner in every district.
Will the right hon. Gentleman apply to the provinces that which already applies to the City of London?