HC Deb 05 March 1957 vol 566 cc173-4
39. Mr. Marquand

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that shortage of housing is impeding the recruitment of urgently needed skilled labour for the industries of Tees-side; and whether he will grant subsidies to the local author-ties of the area, under the provisions of Section 3 (3, d) of the Housing Subsidies Act, 1956, in respect of houses built for key workers.

Mr. H. Brooke

I know that more houses are required for incoming workers, but I do not think that special circumstances exist to warrant the payment of subsidy under Section 3 (3, d).

Mr. Marquand

What special circumstances will have to exist before the right hon. Gentleman takes action? Does not he know that the local newspapers in that area are constantly full of advertisements for skilled labour, and that the Minister of Labour told me, speaking at the Dispatch Box recently, that there were many outstanding vacancies for skilled labour? Was not the Section put into the Act by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor to meet exactly that type of circumstance, where there are vacancies in one area and many redundancies in other parts of the country?

Mr. Brooke

The special circumstances were described to the House by my predecessor on 31st January, 1956. I do not think that they apply in this case, but I am now considering an application from one urban district council for the discretionary subsidy under Section 5.

Mr. Marquand

In considering it only for one area is not the Minister making the Act a dead letter. Will he look again at the problem on Tees-side?

Mr. Brooke

I am not restricting in any way the number of houses which local authorities can build.

Mr. D. Jones

Surely the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that local authorities on Tees-side are cutting down on their housing programmes because the financial burden is far too heavy for the local ratepayers to bear, and that in spite of the fact that industrial development on Tees-side is creating a large number of vacancies? Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to wait until he finds that thousands of people on Tees-side have nowhere to live?

Mr. Brooke

If I felt there was an unreasonable burden I would use my powers to relieve it. As I have already told the House, I am considering an application from one urban district council.

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