HC Deb 10 October 1946 vol 427 cc336-7
23. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider obtaining special powers to requisition blocks of flats now standing empty, and which could be used to relieve the housing shortage, in cases where local councils are unwilling to use their own requisitioning powers.

Mr. Bevan

I have already sufficient powers for requisitioning premises of the kind referred to by my hon. Friend. I have delegated them to the clerks of local authorities since those authorities are the best judges of the housing needs in their localities and have the necessary organisation for managing the properties. I am confident that these powers are in general adequately used, but if my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind I shall be happy to consider it.

Mr. Wyatt

Will my right hon. Friend explain why he did not use these powers in the case of the Duchess of Bedford fiats, which have been offered to the Kensington Town Council for requisitioning purposes and not taken up by them?

Mr. Bevan

I have explained that requisitioning powers are entrusted to the local authorities.

Mr. H. Hynd

What does the Minister propose to do about reactionary local authorities who do not use these powers?

Mr. Bevan

I have already said that, if my hon. Friends will give me cases of local authorities inadequately exercising these powers, I will look into them.

Mr. Piratin

In view of the publicity given to the case of the Duchess of Bedford flats, what does the Minister propose to do?

Mr. Bevan

It does not necessarily follow that the publicity had any basis in fact.