HC Deb 06 February 1947 vol 432 cc1944-5
18. Mr. Assheton

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the hardship suffered by house-owners who are unable to obtain possession of their own house owing to requisitioning by local authorities; and for how long it is intended to permit local authorities to retain these wartime powers which prevent a householder being able to live in his own home.

Mr. Bevan

I am aware that in some instances hardship is caused. So far as practicable, however, houses are released to owners who wish to occupy them personally. I am unable at present to set a term to the period during which it will be necessary to operate these powers.

Mr. Assheton

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate when he may be able to make a further statement on this matter, because the power which he is now exercising is certainly one of the most tyrannical powers that it is possible to exercise in time of peace?

Mr. Bevan

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that in London, in particular, the housing shortage is still acute and these powers are still necessary.

Mr. Gerald Williams

In cases where houses have been requisitioned and not used for six months or even a year, has the house owner no redress?

Mr. Bevan

I do not know what instances the hon. Gentleman has in mind, but if he will send them to me, I will have them looked into. I should imagine that it is usually because the houses have to be repaired.

Major Bramall

While accepting the right hon. Gentleman's statement, may I ask whether he has any powers to compel local authorities to return a house to a house owner when the house owner himself is being accommodated in other requisitioned accommodation because his own house has been requisitioned?

Mr. Bevan

If the hon. and gallant Member will look at my reply, he will see that I have already said that where requisitioned premises can be derequisitioned for the personal occupation of the owner, we are seeking to do so.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Is my right hon. Friend aware that more extensive requisitioning by local authorities would be widely welcomed by the public?

Mr. Bevan

I am aware that the requisitioning powers are preventing far more hardship than they are causing.