HC Deb 14 July 1952 vol 503 cc1804-5
49. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what special steps are being taken to provide accommodation for the families of United States Service men now arriving in this country in large numbers as a result of the establishment of United States Air Force bases in Essex, East Anglia, and elsewhere; to what extent local authorities are assisting in the provision of such accommodation; and to what extent these authorities will be furnished with extra manpower and materials to enable them to provide it without prejudice to their ordinary housing programmes.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Ernest Marples)

My right hon. Friend understands that what is required is accommodation in existing houses, boarding-houses or hotels and he has no doubt that the local authorities will provide all possible information and assistance. So far as he is aware, no question of the building of additional houses for the purpose has arisen.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is my hon. Friend aware that American Service men will welcome this change of heart on the part of the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), and hope that his solicitude for their well-being will be maintained.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will the hon. Gentleman examine some of the cases of gross over-charging which have taken place in respect of some of these American Service men and their families in the accommodation which the hon. Gentleman now says is limited to them, especially as no new accommodation is to be provided?

Mr. Marples

That is another question. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, there are rent tribunals.

Mr. Driberg

In view of the inaccurate and spiteful personal imputation in the supplementary question by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott), may I ask the Minister if he will accept my assurance that I personally, as Member for a division in which a large American air base has been established, have been doing everything I can, in co-operation with the local authorities, to make sure that these difficult problems of accommodation are solved and to mitigate the ill-will that can be caused when these difficulties arise?

Mr. Marples

The assurance of the hon. Gentleman regarding his pro-American feeling is very welcome.