28. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that houses on the ex-Government bungalow estate at Knowsley, Lancashire, are now (standing empty awaiting demolition; and if, in view of the shortage of housing accommodation in the area, he will now reverse his Department's decision that the land should now revert to agricultural use.
§ Mr. Deedes
There were 496 substandard dwellings on this estate, of which four have so far been demolished and a further 11 are now empty. The rural district council proposes to demolish these in pursuance of its settled intention, agreed with the county council as local planning authority, to clear the whole site by 1960. My right hon. Friend thinks that this policy is right, as he does not think that people should live in these sub-standard dwellings longer than is necessary; and if the whole site is to be cleared in five years this must be done by stages.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these temporary and sub-standard buildings provide far better accommodation than much that is available to thousands of people living on Mersey-side at the present time? These bungalows could be excellent old-age pensioners' bungalows. It is an entirely wrong time to be pulling down houses which are perfectly habitable.
§ Mr. Deedes
These houses, as I think the right hon. Gentleman agrees, are substandard and have to be demolished by 1960, and they must be demolished as they become vacant; otherwise the sites cannot be prepared.
§ Mr. Stokes
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that had there been rating of site values these houses would never have been allowed to become sub-standard and that something else would have been put in their place?