HC Deb 22 May 1947 vol 437 cc2523-4
51. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Minister of Labour what is the total number of his Department's hostels; how many of these have recently been transferred from the Ministry of Supply and how many further hostels still under the Ministry of Supply are intended to be transferred; how many of them show an annual surplus over their operating costs; and what is the cost to the public over a period of 12 months, up to the last convenient date, representing the total deficit on operation of all these hostels for which he is responsible.

Mr. Isaacs

Hostels to house transferred industrial workers are administered on my behalf by the National Service Hostels Corporation, local authorities and voluntary agencies. At the end of March, 1947, the total number of such hostels was 106, of which 63 were under the control of the corporation. Fifteen were recently transferred from the Ministry of Supply and one other is to be transferred in a few months. None of these shows an annual surplus over operating costs. Grants totalling £1,371,000 were made to the corporation during the year ended 31st March, 1947, to meet the deficits on the costs, including capital charges and maintenance services, of the hostels under their control. In addition, grants totalling about £15,000 were made during 1945–47 to the various local authorities and voluntary agencies to meet the deficits on the running costs of small hostels managed by them on my behalf. Expenditure on premises and equipment of these latter hostels is normally borne by the Ministry of Works: separate figures of such costs are not available.

Mr. Cooper

Can the Minister say of the hostels recently transferred which have doubled and trebled their administrative staffs, what facilities are granted to the administrative staff to know whether they are operating successfully or not, and what incentives are given to the management to increase the efficiency of the hostels under their control?

Mr. Isaacs

I think that is very wide of the original Question. If the hon. Gentleman will give me particulars of these hostels which have doubled and trebled their administrative staffs, I will look into it.

Sir William Darling

In view of the fact that there is a loss of something like £1 million, does the Minister think that this is a very satisfactory augury for State management in other Departments?

Mr. Isaacs

There may be a monetary loss—

Sir W. Darling

There is.

Mr. Isaacs

—but these people would be in a far worse situation where there were no houses for them if these hostels on which they relied did not exist. This is to meet the present situation.

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

Would the Minister point out that the National Hostels Corporation is expected to run at a loss as a deliberate policy and that it is not a case of unskilled administration as has been suggested?

Mr. Isaacs

That is correct. It gives me the opportunity which I welcome of saying how much I appreciate the voluntary services of the members of this corporation who are placing their great skill and knowledge at our disposal.

Captain Crookshank

Losing money.