HC Deb 06 June 1940 vol 361 cc983-4
10. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that tenants of council houses at Wolverhampton are being evicted from their houses for keeping fowls in breach of by-laws; and whether, in view of the importance, under present conditions, of preserving all sources of food supply, he will use his powers and good offices to alter the position?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The only by-law in force in Wolverhampton on the subject requires poultry kept within 300 feet of a dwelling-house to be kept in a cleanly and wholesome condition. Subject to this there is no prohibition in the local by-laws of keeping poultry anywhere. One instance in which the Wolverhampton Town Council proposed to terminate the tenancy of one of their houses has been brought to my notice, but I do not understand that it was for a breach of by-laws. The council are, under the Housing Acts, responsible for the management of their housing estates, and I understand the action they took was probably for breach of a term of the tenancy.

In a circular to all local authorities, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy, my predecessor made the suggestion that in the interests of food production they should consider the removal or relaxation of any restrictions against poultry keeping imposed under the Housing Acts. I am informed that the Wolverhampton Town Council did not see their way to adopt that suggestion, but I am at present considering, in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, what further steps can usefully be taken to facilitate poultry keeping wherever the poultry can be fed on household waste or swill.

Mr. Mander

Does not my right hon. Friend think it is very wrong that at the present time any steps should be taken by local councils to prevent food production, and will he consider the advisability of making regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act preventing any council taking steps of this kind?

Mr. MacDonald

I think that my answer made it clear that the local authority in question have not taken any such steps.