HC Deb 13 February 1947 vol 433 cc507-8
29. Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Health if he will give a direction to the appropriate authorities that homeless families admitted to public assistance institutions shall not be regarded as destitute persons, and so treated, but that a family shall be accommodated together, and not separated.

Mr. Bevan

I have no power to issue such a direction. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of any case in which a family was needlessly separated, I shall be glad to make local inquiries into it.

Mr. Sparks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have already submitted cases to his Department? Is he also aware of the anxiety these families suffer when, in addition to being evicted, they have to degrade themselves to the status of paupers before they can obtain accommodation?

Mr. Bevan

I am indeed very anxious to avoid hardship and humiliation of this kind.

Mr. Wallace

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some public assistance autho- rities will not proceed in these matters because they say that a man earning a decent wage is not in fact destitute, yet these people are unable to get any accommodation?

Mr. Bevan

A public assistance authority is not entitled to refuse assistance to people in necessitous circumstances of that sort.

Mr. Lipson

On whose authority do the families go to the public assistance authority?

Mr. Bevan

I suppose it sometimes happens, if there is an eviction and no alternative accommodation, that it is physically difficult to accommodate the family together in a building, but that ought always to be temporary.