HC Deb 12 March 1957 vol 566 cc960-1
18. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what was the number of applicants on the housing lists of local authorities in England and Wales on 31st December, 1956.

Mr. H. Brooke

These figures are not available. Even if they were, they would not be reliable as an index of housing need.

Mr. Fernyhough

When the right hon. Gentleman says that these figures are not available, does he not realise that what he means is that he has not taken the trouble to obtain them? All he need have done was to have consulted the local authorities. Does he not realise that the figure runs into hundreds of thousands? Does he appreciate what that means in human anxiety and worry? Will he do something to give those people some hope by restoring the subsidy and reducing interest rates, thus making it possible for local authorities again to build for general needs?

Mr. Brooke

Having been a member of two local authorities for many years, I am well aware that those on the housing lists vary from those in urgent need of homes to those who are reasonably housed, but simply feel that they would like a new council house or flat.

Mr. G. Wilson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the country districts in particular it is quite normal for people to put down their names on more than one housing list?

Mr. Mitchison

Has the right hon. Gentleman, in his capacity of Minister of Housing, made any estimate of the extent of housing need in the country? If so, what does he make it and what is it?

Mr. Brooke

What I am doing at the moment is replying to the Question on the Order Paper. I am reminded of the Answer which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) gave to a similar Question when he was Minister of Health. On that occasion he said that any such figure would be valueless.

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