HC Deb 21 July 1953 vol 518 cc203-4
42. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government why he is compelling the Blackburn local authority to derequisition, by December, 1953, all houses held by them on requisition, in view of the fact that there are still 3,600 persons on the waiting list for houses.

Mr. Marples

My right hon. Friend has asked all local authorities to implement the recommendations of the working party, a copy of whose report I am sending to the hon. Member.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have read the working party report, and it is quite clear that house-letting sub-committees to local authorities ought to be allowed discretion in this matter to derequisition properties where this can be done without lengthening the waiting list for council houses, but that in the case of Blackburn the local house-letting sub-committee has been arbitrarily overridden by the Principal Regional Officer of the Ministry and told that they must derequisition despite this long waiting list and despite its strong protest?

Mr. Marples

The working party included representatives of the local authorities and the report was unanimous. Whilst the local authorities have a duty to rehouse the people on the waiting list since the end of the war, it is time that they paid some consideration to people who have possibly invested their life savings in houses.

Mrs. Braddock

In view of the fact that the Ministry themselves need to give authority before a house can be derequisitioned, will the Minister see that in all these cases they are perfectly satisfied that those who have occupied the houses have been offered, and accepted, suitable alternative accommodation before agreement is given to derequisition?

Mr. Marples

My right hon. Friend hopes that with the increased tempo of council building local authorities will be able to rehouse quite easily those people in requisitioned houses.

Mr. Chetwynd

What legal authority has the hon. Gentleman's Department for this action? If a local authority cannot rehouse its people, can the Minister compel them in any other way to do so?

Mr. Marples

The duty of rehousing the people is laid on the local authority by, I think, the 1936 Act.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Do we gather from the Minister's reply that his Ministry wants local authorities to derequisition houses only when the owner of the house can put forward a good case on grounds of hardship?

Mr. Marples

No. My right hon. Friend wants to derequisition houses in accordance with the unanimous report of the working party.

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