HC Deb 02 February 1960 vol 616 cc790-2
39 and 40. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (1) what limit he has fixed to the total which may be granted to any one landlord under the House Purchase and Housing Act, 1959; and

(2) what arrangements he prescribes for means tests in respect of grants under the House Purchase and Housing Act, 1959.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)

The Act gives landlords and owner-occupiers the right to a grant of up to £155 for each dwelling improved, subject to compliance with certain simple conditions. There is no power in the Act to impose further limitations on the lines suggested, nor would I consider them desirable.

Mr. Fernyhough

The Minister has not answered question No. 40 at all. I want to know if he thinks it justifiable under this Act to give any one landlord a sum of over £30,000, as has been given to Lord Cowdray, and £1,203 to the Duke of Norfolk, at a time when at the Dispatch Box the Minister tells local authorities to impose a means test for council house tenants?

Mr. Brooke

I have no specific knowledge of the cases the hon. Member has mentioned, but I am entitled to ask him—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—whether he supported the Labour Government in 1949 in advising local authorities that an applicant's financial resources are wholly irrelevant in considering the applicant's qualifications.

Mr. Fernyhough

I should like to answer the Minister. Certainly I did. [Interruption.] It is as well that the right hon. Gentleman should know that a Labour Government provided councils with very generous subsidies and we do not mind if there is fair play between landlords and tenants.

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is my fault, but there was so much noise that I could not keep the Minister in order. I think we should maintain a interrogatory form of progress.

Mr. Fernyhough

I should like to continue to enlighten the Minister.

41. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what is the number of the grants made to owner occupiers and landlords, respectively, under the House Purchase and Housing Act, 1959, and the respective amounts involved.

Mr. H. Brooke

The information furnished to me by local authorities does not distinguish between grants to owner-occupiers and grants to landlords.

Mr. Fernyhough

The purpose of my Question was to ask the Minister to get this information. That is the purpose of his being there, to supply us with information in answer to questions which we put. It would be a simple matter if he wanted to get the information. Is he afraid that if he got it it would be useful to me but would produce difficulties for him?

Mr. Brooke

I have been considering obtaining that information, but the tenor of the hon. Member's Question appears to be that a result would be achieved which would show the principal sufferers to be the tenants.

Mr. M. Stewart

Will the Minister now get the information?

Mr. Brooke

That is exactly what I am considering. I am extremely anxious to stimulate the obtaining of these grants by landlords as well as by owner occupiers.

Mr. Speaker

The Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Mr. Short

On a point of order. Before the Colonial Secretary makes his statement, may I raise this point? The Minister of Housing and Local Government made a rather alarming statement. He said that he was getting certain information and then went on to impute to my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) a certain motive by talking about the tenor of his Question. Is it in order for a Minister to refuse to give information simply because he does not like the tenor of the Question?

Mr. Speaker

To do so would not be in order, but I did not hear the Minister declining to give information on that ground.

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