HC Deb 06 July 1950 vol 477 cc621-2
11. Mr. M. Philips Price

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of a case which has recently arisen in Gloucestershire concerning the conditions under which local authorities let houses to agricultural workers, particulars of which have been sent to him, he will make it clear to what extent the regulations of his Department compel local authorities to let certain houses only to persons engaged in agriculture.

Mr. Bevan

While the payment of agricultural subsidy is conditional on the reservation of a specified number of houses for members of the agricultural population, the selection of tenants is a matter which has been placed by Statute in the hands of the local authority. I would, however, deprecate action by a local authority to evict a particular tenant merely because he changes his occupation.

Mr. Price

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his statement, may I ask him if he will inform the local authority what both of us have in mind about these facts? Will he make them clear?

Mr. Bevan

I think my views on this matter have already been brought to the attention of the local authorities.

Mr. Snow

Has that been done recently, as I have in my division, a similar case?

Mr. Bevan

Yes, this has been done within the last few weeks. I think that a local authority is not behaving properly when it behaves in this way.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if steps are not taken to stop people taking these cottages as so-called agricultural workers, there will be no benefit to the agricultural community at all?

Mr. Bevan

No, but priorities for agricultural workers given in the last few years have, in many parts of the country, been very greatly to the advantage of the agricultural industry. Indeed, in some instances priorities have had to be refused because of the needs of other applicants for houses.

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