§ 51. Mrs. L. Jeger
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why increased rent allowances are being paid by the National Assistance Board on be half of five tenants in a tenement, of which he knows the name, when more than 30 certificates of disrepair have been issued in respect of identical flats in the same block; and what steps he is taking to ensure that further public money is not disbursed to landlords who do not comply with the conditions of the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954.
§ Mr. Peake
The decision on the amount of assistance to be granted in a particular case is by statute a. matter for the Board and their officers, and I have no power to intervene. I am however informed by the Board that it is satisfied that, in the circumstances of the cases referred to, the decision to increase the allowance for rent was justified.
§ Mrs. Jeger
Is the Minister aware that every tenant in this block who asked for a certificate of disrepair was issued with one, and that in these five cases of old and sick people the reason certificates were not issued was that they were not applied for? How can the Minister justify the payment of this increased allowance to the landlords in respect of property which is manifestly not entitled to an increase under the Act?
§ Mr. Peake
As I have said, this is a matter under the statute for the Board, 1718 and the Board informed me that it was satisfied that, in the circumstances of the cases referred to, a decision to increase the allowance was justified. It does not necessarily follow that all the flats in a block are in a similar state of repair or disrepair at any given moment, and I would remind the hon. Lady that the National Assistance Board has for more than 20 years been dealing with the difficult question of what is the permissible rent under the Rent Restrictions Acts, and doing it, I think, to the general satisfaction.
§ Mrs. Jeger
Is the Minister aware that these certificates of disrepair were issued in respect of the condition of the lavatories and the staircases and the shared washhouses in this tenement block, and that, therefore, there can be no question that these five flats are in any different condition from those in respect of which no increases are being paid? Is the Minister able to point out to the Board that in all the cases where tenants are paying their own rent in this block, not one is paying an increased rent, and that it is only when the money is coming from Government funds that the landlord is getting the increase?
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Whilst appreciating that the National Assistance Board has wide experience in these matters, surely the Minister is not condoning any step in which the Board is voting public money for anything which is not legally due?
Mr. Glenvil Hall
Are we to understand that the first time these facts were brought to the notice of the Minister was when my hon. Friend pointed them out to him?