HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc1893-4
41. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement on the initial effect of the Housing Repairs and Rents Act on the checking of decay of older houses.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. W. F. Deedes)

My right hon. Friend is glad to say that there has recently been a great increase of interest in this question. In the seven months after the Act came into force, about 15,000 improvement grants were approved, as compared with about 12,000 in the previous five years. About 1,100 local authorities are now operating the scheme.

Mr. Dodds

Does not the Minister appreciate that what he has said concerns a very small number of houses throughout the country? Is he not aware that various property owners' organisations have stated that the Act is failing? Does he not agree with that?

Mr. Deedes

I pointed out to the hon. Gentleman that we have in fact during the last seven months been doing 10 times better than we did in the preceding five years.

Mr. Paget

Would the hon. Gentleman tell us whether it is not a fact that fewer men are engaged on repairs today than was the case six months or even 12 months ago? Will he say whether the effect of this Act has not been to transfer the already insufficient repair capacity from repairs that really needed doing to repairs which were simply done in order to qualify for an increase of rent?

Mr. Deedes

No, Sir; I cannot at all accept the implications of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Question.

Mr. Paget

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm my facts? Are there fewer people employed?