HC Deb 07 May 1957 vol 569 cc773-5
5. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many dwelling-houses are still requisitioned by Metropolitan borough councils; and when he now expects them to be de-requisitioned.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. J. R. Bevins)

16,735 houses were held under requisition by Metropolitan borough councils on 31st March, 1957, which is the latest date for which figures are available. My right hon. Friend cannot forecast the rate at which the councils will be able to release these houses between now and 31st March, 1960, when their right to possession is due to come to an end.

Mr. Lipton

Is the hon. Member aware that, with the virtual stopping of new housing in London other than for slum clearance, and with more people pouring into London from everywhere, it will be quite impossible by 1960 to provide other accommodation for people occupying all these requisitioned dwellings, of which there are 2,200 in the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth? Where are these people to go? Is the Minister not aware that the housing problem in London is getting worse?

Mr. Bevins

My right hon. Friend is aware of all the difficulties, but there has been a distinct improvement in the situation in London in the last two years. A circular has recently been issued inviting local authorities again to ask owners to accept as statutory tenants those who are at present licensees. We are perfectly satisfied with the way in which this is moving.

Mr. Gibson

In view of the fact that there is still a terrific housing problem in London, and in view of the difficulty which local authorities in the area are experiencing in providing housing for any of the people on their waiting lists, will the Government consider postponing the date in 1960 when requisitioning as such is to cease? If there are anything like the number of houses then requisitioned as there are now, the financial and other problems of all the local authorities will be almost back-breaking.

Mr. Bevins

My right hon. Friend recognises those difficulties, but during the last two years there has been a drop of about 40 per cent, in the houses held on requisition in London. Those local authorities which foresee difficulties in solving this problem by 1960 have been invited to put to my right hon. Friend a phased programme either for the purchase or for the leasing of the residue of these houses.

Mr. Mitchison

Is the Minister satisfied with the response by landlords to the invitation which is being sent to them to accept these temporary tenants as statutory tenants? Has he available, and will he give it if asked, particulars of what has happened in reply to that invitation in different Metropolitan boroughs?

Mr. Bevins

That is a slightly different question. I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that, on the whole, the response in the Metropolitan boroughs to the first invitations has been very good.

Mr. Lipton


Mr. Bevins

There was a drop of about 40 per cent, following the first invitations to owners, and my right hon. Friend is hopeful that there will be an even greater response having regard to the provisions of the Rent Bill.

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