HC Deb 11 May 1944 vol 399 cc2066-7
13. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Health how much housing accommodation is vacant in the areas controlled by the Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District Council and the Orpington Urban District Council; and, in view of the shortage of housing accommodation, will he give the necessary instructions to release these empty houses and to give preference to the wives and families of serving soldiers.

Mr. Willink

Two hundred and two houses are held on requisition by the Clerk of the Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District Council and of these only 32 are kept in reserve for persons who may be made homeless. The figures in Orpington are 190 and 50 respectively. I do not at this moment feel able to reduce the homeless reserve further but the figures are kept under review and developments in the war situation may enable me to revise my decision in the near future.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that many people who want housing accommodation are the very people who are suffering from enemy action? Why keep these houses empty for hypothetical use, in a set of circumstances which may never arise? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is very galling for these people, especially soldiers' wives, to see houses empty when they are not able to get accommodation?

Mr. Willink

From three years' personal experience I am very fully aware of the difficulty of balancing these needs, but they are weighed constantly.

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