HC Deb 20 April 1939 vol 346 cc480-1
20. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Minister of Health the number of vacant dwellings, houses and flats, and their rateable value in Manchester and Liverpool on the latest date these records were last taken, and at the same date what number of dwellings were owned by these authorities, and further, what number at the same date were in construction and contemplated under the slum clearance and overcrowding schemes, respectively?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Bernays)

I understand that on 1st April, 1938, there were in Manchester 4,406 vacant dwellings of a rateable value of about £80,000. At that date the corporation owned 28,398 dwellings and had 4,427 under construction or in contemplation for slum clearance or for the abatement of overcrowding. No figures are available of the number of vacant dwellings in Liverpool. The corporation of Liverpool own about 39,000 dwellings and have about 15,500 under construction or in contemplation, of which about 5,000 are for the abatement of overcrowding, and the remainder for slum clearance.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Will the Ministry of Health consider the desirability of relieving local authorities of their statutory obligations in the matter of slum clearance and overcrowding where there are an adequate number of empty houses in the district?

Mr. Bernays

Four-fifths of the house building is done by private enterprise, and it is, therefore, for private enterprise to study the market.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Am I to understand that the hon. Gentleman thinks that private enterprise will see that local authorities carry out their statutory obligations?

Mr. Bernays

I did not say that.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is it not realised that several thousands of empty houses would be needed if people are to move from one to the other?

Mr. H. Morrison

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the moral to be drawn from the question is that this House should sanction the rating of empty property, so as to bring empty dwellings into use?

Mr. Craven-Ellis

How can the rating of empty properties solve the problem?

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