HC Deb 10 April 1933 vol 276 cc2173-4

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether it is his intention to intervene in the dispute which has arisen between the town council of Aberdeen and the tenants of subsidised houses from the action taken by the council under the Department of Health for Scotland Circular No. 51, 1933?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that hundreds of people in Aberdeen who are tenants of subsidised houses are being threatened with eviction for refusal to answer a means questionnaire; and whether he will make inquiries as to the possibility of reaching some agreement on the matter?


I am aware that the corporation of Aberdeen have issued a questionnaire calling for the information necessary to ascertain whether the corporation's houses are occupied by persons of the working classes. This action is in consonance with the circular issued by the Department of Health for Scotland on the instructions of my right hon. Friend recommending that local authorities should take steps to satisfy themselves that the houses provided by them are occupied by such persons. I understand that in cases where the tenant refused to answer the questionnaire the corporation have issued a formal notice terminating the tenancy. I am informed, however, that this notice has been accompanied by a letter in which the corporation indicate that if the questionnaire is returned duly completed, the corporation will be prepared to consider the granting of a new tenancy at the present rent, or, at such increase on the present rent not exceeding £5 per annum at the corporation may determine having regard to the information contained in the reply to the questionnaire. In answer to the question by my hon. Friend, the Member for North Aberdeen, I may add that it is not my right hon. Friend's intention to intervene in the matter. The general management, regulation and control of the dwelling houses provided by a local authority are, under the Housing Acts, vested in and exercised by the local authority alone.


Is the Under-Secretary aware that the action of the town council is based upon this particular circular, that 906 families have received notice to terminate their tenancies, and that considerable uneasiness is felt because this notice has been given?


I think the uneasiness caused by the notices to terminate the tenancies will be mitigated by the knowledge that, if the questionnaire is returned and if circumstances justified it, there will be no increase of rent, and that any possible increase of rent is limited to £5 a year.


Can the Under-Secretary tell us where the town council gets statutory power to compel its citizens to fill up questionnaires of this kind?


It is contained in the last sentence of my original answer.


In view of the unsatisfactory answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.