HC Deb 04 February 1947 vol 432 cc1559-60
32. Mrs. Jean Mann

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the proposed rentals for Scottish Special Housing Association's houses are so much in excess of present rentals as to give concern to most local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the proposals.

Mr. Buchanan

It is the case that the Association's rent scales are on the whole higher than those of local authorities. In many cases, however, the rents of local authority houses were fixed specially low for tenants coming from unfit or overcrowded houses, whereas the houses now being built are for the general working-class population. Local authorities can, moreover, keep rents low by making an additional contribution from the rates. In view of these considerations, and the larger accommodation and better equipment now being provided, as well as the higher cost of commodities generally, the scales cannot be said to be unreasonable.

Mrs. Mann

Does not my right hon. Friend regard that reply as highly unsatisfactory? Is it not the case that local authorities will have the greatest difficulty in persuading tenants of overcrowded houses to take houses at a rent of 23s., in preference to the local authority houses at 16s. 6d.? How does he justify that increase?

Mr. Buchanan

The hon. Lady must look at the facts as they are. The local authority can make the rent lower by, in addition to the national subsidy and the local authority subsidy, a further subsidy from the local rates. The Housing Association have only power to use the two subsidies. Until a further grant is given by this House that is the position, and I think that it would be necessary to have that altered before we criticise the Association.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Is this not another example justifying the criticism of this Association by the local authorities which I expressed a fortnight ago?

Mr. Buchanan

This is nothing to do with the criticism of a fortnight ago. It relates only to rent. The issue is rents and how to fix them. The Association is limited to the State subsidy and the-local authority subsidy. The local authority can get a further subsidy from the rates. Until that position is dealt with, it must stand.

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