HC Deb 25 June 1928 vol 219 cc8-10
2 and 3. Mr. SANDEMAN

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India (1) whether he is aware that since the passing of the Cantonment Act now in force house rent in nearly every station in Northern India has steadily risen; and what steps, if any, are being taken to prevent house rental from exceeding reasonable limits;

(2) why, although several lacs of rupees have been spent on anti-malarial measures and in making the barracks of British troops in Lahore cantonments mosquito proof, no steps whatever have been taken to make the houses of officers there mosquito proof also?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

I have received no recent information, but am making inquiries. I should explain that it has not been the practice in the past to provide officers with Government quarters as a matter of course. As a general rule they occupy privately rented bungalows, and their relations with the owners are the ordinary relations between tenant and landlord. In most cases they receive lodging allowance to assist them to meet the expense. The present policy arms at bringing the housing of officers under direct official control, and as it develops the Government will acquire wider powers than it now possesses of standardising the conditions of housing; but the transition will necessarily take time.


Is it not a fact that the Government have power now to take over these houses, and that if they took over a few of these houses the rapacious landlord would be curbed, and is it not also a fact that the Air Force and civil servants, who have perhaps a greater pull, do not suffer from the same question of having to pay exorbitant rents?


As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's question, to the best of my belief—though I should like to look into the matter—the Government possess no legal power to take over these houses. In the old days they did, but since then the law has been altered, and the relations between the officers and the landlords, as I have stated in my answer are the ordinary relations between landlord and tenant. With regard to the second part of the question, I should like to have notice of it.

Colonel APPLIN

Is my Noble Friend aware that in a cantonment the landlord provides bungalows for officers and for officers only, and that there is a tacit understanding between him and the cantonment authorities that these bungalows shall be let to officers and to no one else; and in these circumstances will my Noble Friend not take steps to see that officers do get bungalows at a fair rent which have both piped water and mosquito proof rooms?


I think my hon. and gallant Friend is out-of-date in his information. That was so I believe, before the recent Cantonment Act was passed, but I am informed that now, under the law—though I give this information with reserve, because I should have to look into it—it is open to the landlord to occupy the house himself or to let it to someone else, besides officers.


Does the Noble Lord not think the Indian landlords should be encouraged to set a better example than is set here by seizing houses in Westminster, Kensington, and other areas?


I do not think that can possibly arise out of the question on the Paper. It is a very interesting point, but I do not know what houses in Westminster have to do with cantonments in India.


Is my Noble Lord aware that even in Government supplied quarters officers have to pay rent for them, and the lodging allowance is nothing like sufficient to meet the rent?


Perhaps, if my hon. and gallant Friend feels strongly on this point, he will put down another question.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that, although a good supply of piped water is now available in most cantonments in Northern India, the majority of the landlords have not connected their houses with this supply; and what steps are being taken to compel them to do so?


I am not aware that there has been any general complaint of this kind, but if my hon. Friend wishes and will give me particulars, I will have further inquiry made.

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