HC Deb 31 May 1960 vol 624 cc1149-50
6. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs how many of the 80,000 houses provided with a bath, hot-water system and other improvements in 1959 were owner-occupiers' or council houses and how many private landlords' houses; and approximately haw many years it will take to provide a bath for every family if this rate is maintained.

Mr. H. Brooke

I regret that information in the form asked for in the first part of the Question is not available for grant-aided improvements approved before 1st January, 1960. As to the second part, I can make no estimate, as the position is changing all the time. In the first quarter of this year, the rate at which applications for improvement grants were approved shows an increase to over 110,000 a year.

Mr. Allaun

Do not the Ministry's own figures show that only one half of 1 per cent. of private landlords have taken advantage of these improvement grants? Do not these figures show that most private landlords have failed, and, on the basis of last year's figures, will it not take more than forty years before every family in our country has a bath and an inside toilet, and, what is even worse, last year's rate is not likely to be maintained, since this resulted from the new grants which the Government have made?

Mr. Brooke

As I said, the rate is going up all the time, and this year's rate is considerably higher than last year's. In fact, we know that in the first few months of 1960, one-third, or I should say 30 per cent., of all the privately-owned dwellings that were approved for improvement grant purposes were owned by private landlords and not owner-occupied. That is encouraging, so far as it goes.

11. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what further proposals he has to encourage landlords to take advantage of the improvement grants.

Mr. H. Brooke

Helped by the House Purchase and Housing Act, 1959, the rate at which improvements are being undertaken with the aid of grant is now more than three times what it was a year ago. I want to see the rate go on increasing, and for this purpose I am taking steps by publicity to get the grant schemes more and more widely known.

Mrs. Slater

Does that mean that the publicity will be through the local authorities, or in what form is the Minister likely to use this publicity? As my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) has pointed out, if we go on only three times better than last year, it will take a good many years before all the people of this country have baths and inside lavatories, when we could save houses which might otherwise become slums.

Mr. Brooke

I agree with the hon. Lady that this is very important. The rate is improving, and the publicity arrangements include a new film which we have made and which is available for showing. They also include demonstrations of improved houses, and displays at agricultural shows, so as to interest people in the country, as well as at the larger annual exhibitions. Every further opportunity for publicity that I can get I shall take.

Dr. Stross

Could the right hon. Gentleman arrange for this film to be shown on television, so that some millions of people could thereby see it, and encourage the landlords to take some action?

Mr. Brooke

A shorter film has been shown on television.