HC Deb 17 November 1958 vol 595 cc821-3
13. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many applications for increased grants for higher rents under the Rent Act, 1957, have been approved by the National Assistance Board.

19. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons receiving National Assistance grants have been granted increases to meet the higher rentals charged them in consequence of the provisions of the 1957 Rent Act; and what is the actual or approximate average increase so granted.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am informed by the National Assistance Board that rather more than 300,000 weekly National Assistance grants have been increased, by an average of 6s. 8d., to provide for rent increases under the Rent Act, 1957. It is not, however, known how many of the recipients of these grants are still receiving assistance.

Mr. Lipton

In the light of that reply, is it not true that, allowing for new applications and cessations, the National Assistance Board is providing a subvention to landlords and property companies of something like £50,000 to £60,000 a week? Has the right hon. Gentleman had many letters of appreciation from grateful landlords and property companies?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I should not like, without great consideration, to accept the hon. Member's mathematics. On the main issue which he raised, the fact is that this is relief given to persons on National Assistance, and it is our view that such relief is more fairly given by the community through the Assistance Board than on an individual basis by a person's landlord.

Mr. Janner

Do I understand the Minister to say that this was in respect of relief given to assist indigent or needy persons? Is it not a fact that this money is not being given to relieve these people themselves but is indirectly being given because the Government introduced an Act which enabled landlords to charge more and the Government are now subsidising those landlords? Will the Minister be good enough to have another word with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing to see what can be done about the matter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The National Assistance Board, in discharge of the duty imposed upon it by Act of Parliament, makes assistance payments only to those persons whose means bring them within scales laid down by Parliament. There is no question of payment to anybody else.