HC Deb 17 November 1959 vol 613 cc973-4
26. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that the raising of interest rates on housing loans is forcing many local authorities to raise rents or rates; and what steps he proposes to take to avoid this necessity.

Mr. H. Brooke

I do not accept the implication that local authorities generally cannot finance the building of new houses without placing an unfair burden on their tenants or on the rates. If councils pool the substantial housing subsidies they receive and subsidise only those tenants who need subsidising, they should be able to continue building the new houses they require and let them at reasonable rents.

Mr. Allaun

Surely, the Minister is aware that widespread feeling is being aroused against the local authority scapegoat when it is really Government policy that is to blame? If the Government will not restore cheap loans, at least will the Minister be fair and honest enough to state publicly who is the culprit in this matter?

Mr. Brooke

Any local authority which cannot build at reasonable rents without putting an unreasonable burden on the rates is at liberty to apply to me for a special subsidy.

Mr. C. Royle

Is not the Minister aware that there are very many thousands of people who are not having it so good, and that invariably these are the people who need rehousing, while interest rates cause the rents of these houses and flats to be outside their ability to pay?

Mr. Brooke

I am certainly aware that some local authorities, I think very misguidedly, are holding up their building programmes because they do not want to raise the very low rents which they are at present charging to many tenants who do not require a subsidy.

Mr. Fernyhough

Since the Minister is advocating a means test for council tenants, will he apply the same formula in respect of improvement grants?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member is trying to anticipate a Question on the subject later on the Order Paper.

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