HC Deb 30 November 1948 vol 458 cc1800-1
30. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the feeling in Fife arising out of a recent decision of the county council to increase rents; and will he consult with the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the possibility of fixing a reduced interest rate or an increased subsidy in order to keep the rents down.

Mr. Woodburn

It is a matter for the discretion of local authorities to arrange an equitable rent policy for their houses, and they are free to increase or reduce rents accordingly. I have had no suggestions made that Fife do not exercise a wise and fair discretion in this matter. Borrowing is of course now governed by the Local Authorities Loans Act, 1945, and local authorities now receive loans on the most favourable terms possible.

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Secretary of State aware that in Fife, as in other parts of the country, rents are going up, and that people who are most in need of houses, particularly those threatened with, or suffering from, tuberculosis, are finding it more and more difficult to pay the rent, and in some cases have had to vacate their houses? Would the right hon. Gentleman take up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the question of a reduction in the interest rate or an increased subsidy in order to avoid the necessity for increased rents?

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Since this problem involves the whole question of the increased cost of building, what attention is the right hon. Gentleman paying to that problem, by dealing with which the matter can alone be solved.

Mr. Woodburn

I would suggest to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) that he should bring the specific cases he mentions to the notice of the Fife County Council, who I am quite sure do not know about them, otherwise they would attend to them under their own powers.

Mr. Scollan

Is there to be an opportunity for the Government to go into the whole question of rents, because we have new housing schemes in which there are varying costs for the same accommodation, and for which two or three different rents can be charged? Is it not time that the whole matter was gone into?

Mr. Woodburn

I agree that it is a difficult problem. Power already exists for the local authorities to deal with this matter. Some local authorities have dealt with it in one way; others have not dealt with it in quite the same way. It would be quite improper for the Government to impose any uniform scheme upon them.