HC Deb 09 March 1939 vol 344 cc2330-1
33. Mrs. Tate

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the shortage of accommodation in rural areas for the urban population which will be evacuated in the event of war, he will issue special instructions to county councils and rural district councils to make fuller use of the subsidies available for the building of new houses under the Housing Act, 1938, in preference to relying on subsidies granted under the Slum Clearance Act, which has resulted in the destruction of many cottages which can in no way be described as slums?

Mr. Elliot

The subsidies available under the Housing Act, 1938, are for the replacement of dwellings which are no longer fit for human habitation, the relief of overcrowding and the provision of houses required for agricultural workers. The extent to which new houses are required for any or all of these purposes must, in the first instance, be decided by the individual local authorities in the light of the circumstances obtaining in their areas. I have had a series of conferences with local authorities for the purpose of urging them to take full advantage of the subsidies available for houses in rural areas.

44. Mr. Day

asked the Minister of Health whether he can give particulars, according to the latest estimates he has, as to the number of houses required for rural districts to replace houses at present unfit for human habitation; and what steps are being taken at present to provide more houses for rural workers?

Mr. Elliot

I estimate that in addition to some 33,000 houses built, building or about to be put in hand by the rural district councils, they will need to provide a further 23,000 houses for the replacement of those which are unfit. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I have to-day given to my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate).

Mr. Day

What steps do the Government propose to take to deal with the urgent problem of supplying houses to replace the 23,000 unfit houses?

Mr. Elliot

I have often stated in the House that large subsidies are offered by the Government for this purpose, and I have had conferences with the local authorities urging them to get on with this work as soon as possible.