§ 27. Mr. HASLAM
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that many occupiers of houses owned by the municipality of Sheffield are in arrears with their rent, and that the County Borough Council of Sheffield are making large remissions of these arrears; and if he has received a Report from his inspectors on the matter?
I have no recent information as to the arrears rents of tenants of houses erected by the Sheffield City Council beyond that reported in the Press. My Department is only directly concerned with rents of houses erected under the Housing Act of 1919. The last audited accounts furnished by the council are for the year to 31st March, 1926, and in those accounts the net rental income in respect of houses erected under the Housing Act of 1919 was shown as £52,530. The amount written off in the year as irrecoverable was £529 and the balance of rents uncollected at the end of the year was £2,792.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
Does my right hon. Friend not see that this practice of the local authorities of remitting the rents of houses which in effect belong to the ratepayers, which rents ought to go to the relief of the rates, means a fresh imposition on the rates?
§ Mr. PALING
Does not the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman prove that there were no large remissions of arrears in this case?
I think it proves that there were no large remissions of arrears in the particular year to which I referred.
Mr. A. HOPKINSON
Is it not a fact that where there are arrears of rent remitted in regard to houses built under the 1919 Act, a good deal of the charge may come on the Exchequer, and not on the ratepayers at all?
Any remission of rents under the 1919 Act would have to come before me and receive my sanction.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Was it not the case that provision was made under circumstances over which nobody had any control for rents, which could not be collected, in the financial arrangements originally made?
I do not know that there were any special circumstances in Sheffield which differentiated it in that respect from other towns.