HC Deb 23 October 1956 vol 558 cc470-1
22. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement on the housing of the elderly arising from the recent inquiry.

27. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what steps he is taking to increase the provision of old people's bungalows.

Mr. Sandys

About 1,300 local authorities and several important voluntary organisations, have given me information about the accommodation which they are providing for elderly persons. In addition, officials of my Department, and of the Ministry of Health, have visited and reported upon 25 selected housing schemes of different kinds. I have also discussed this whole problem with the Central Housing Advisory Committee.

Local authorities must, of course, decide for themselves what proportion of their house-building effort should be devoted to each section of their population. However, as a result of the inquiry, I have decided to draw their attention to the importance of catering for the special requirements of elderly persons. A circular embodying a number of specific suggestions is being prepared and will be issued shortly.

Dame Irene Ward

While thanking my right hon. Friend very warmly for the inquiry he has carried out and the decision he has taken, may I ask, in view of the fact that local authorities always assert that finance is part of their difficulty in building for the elderly, whether before producing his rent control policy my right hon. Friend will take steps to ensure that local authorities have the finance to enable them to build for elderly people, thus helping the release of houses? What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to deal with the financial situation which, I am sure, was disclosed in the discussions with local authorities?

Mr. Sandys

The question of rent control does not, of course, affect council houses. We discussed the question of the housing subsidy and my hon. Friend put forward various suggestions, which were debated fully, during the passage of the Housing Subsidies Bill earlier in the year.

Mr. Brockway

Whilst appreciating the sentiment that the right hon. Gentleman has expressed, both today and when this matter was last discussed, may I ask how it is possible for local authorities, under present financial conditions, to extend the building of bungalows for the aged? Is it not the case that the higher interest rates are making it impossible to carry out this building and, in some cases, are causing local authorities to increase the rents of the aged? Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore consider making a grant for this purpose?

Mr. Sandys

There are certain suggestions regarding the provision of bungalows for elderly people in the circular which I am in process of preparing.

Mr. Mitchison

Will the right hon. Gentleman now withdraw the cut he made in the housing subsidies in these cases?

Mr. Sandys

That is not at present in contemplation.