HC Deb 20 June 1951 vol 489 cc517-8
51. Mr. Ian Harvey

asked the Minister of Defence what discussions he has had with the Minister of Local Government and Planning with regard to the housing claims of married men leaving the Services having regard to their lack of territorial qualifications.

Mr. Shinwell

The Departments concerned are in constant touch on this subject. Housing authorities have been advised that it is the Government's aim that serving and ex-Service men with families should have all possible consideration. As regards men whose service involves separation from their families, the following formula has been recommended for application by local authorities: Heads of families who, on national service grounds, are absent from their families on duty shall be counted as part of the family for the purpose of determining housing priority, but in allotting accommodation no provision shall necessarily be made for the head of the family unless his return home is imminent.

Mr. Harvey

Does the Minister realise that many men coming out of the Forces find themselves quite unable to get accom- modation because local authorities are not paying attention to the specific points he has raised? Will he take rather more vigorous steps to see that those points are brought home to local authorities?

Mr. Shinwell

We have been pressing on with this. I have full sympathy with the claims of these men and their families and will do everything possible to help in this direction, but the hon. Member must remember that this is a matter primarily for the local authorities and we cannot compel them to do what we wish.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Although the right hon. Gentleman cannot use compulsion, is he aware that there are still local authorities who refuse to put the names of serving men on their housing lists because they lack residential qualification? If they are following the colours, how can they have residential qualification? Will he try to get the local authorities to reverse their decision?

Mr. Shinwell

Fortunately, the number of these recalcitrant local authorities is few.

Mr. Fernyhough

Does my right hon. Friend realise that if we met the request of the Opposition it would mean more interference from Whitehall with local authorities?

Mr. Shinwell

We have no desire to interfere with local authorities, but we must have regard to the legitimate and just claims of the Service men.

Sir I. Fraser

In view of the change in Ministerial responsibility for housing from the Minister of Health to the Minister of Local Government and Planning, will the Minister of Defence represent to the Minister who is now in charge of housing that he should use his influence to revive the conception of a moderate and reasonable preference for serving and ex-Service men in the matter of housing?

Mr. Shinwell

All things considered I am satisfied that my two right hon. Friends will do all they can. I have reason to believe that they are sympathetic.

Mr. Bossom

Would the Minister be practical in this situation and get his right hon. Friend to give the local authorities the right to make provisions for these people?

Mr. Shinwell

Local authorities have the right; they can do as they please.