HC Deb 31 May 1960 vol 624 cc1152-4
18. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that an applicant for a house in Basildon new town has had his application shelved by the Development Corporation through being unemployed as a result of an industrial dispute at the firm of Bonallack; and what instructions he has issued to development corporations regarding their action in such cases.

23. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that the Basildon Development Corporation has refused houses to six employees of Bonallack, Body Makers, to whom they had been allocated, because the persons concerned are involved in a wage dispute; and what instructions he has issued to development corporations regarding their action in such cases.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Sir Keith Joseph)

The Development Corporation has not refused houses to any employees of this firm.

It is the practice of corporations to make sure that prospective tenants are employed in the new town; but I understand that in the case to which the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay) refers, the Corporation agreed, as soon as the special circumstances were brought to its notice, that the applicant's prospects of getting a house should not be prejudiced.

No instructions have been issued to development corporations about such cases, and it seems to me best to leave it to the corporations to deal with them as they arise.

Mr. Gourlay

Is it not a fact that one of the applicants was advised by the Corporation that he would be housed on 6th June and that last week he was advised that, unless he could satisfy the Corporation that he was in employment last Friday, he would not be allocated a house? Does not this resemble a point of strike-breaking, approved by his Department?

Sir K. Joseph

No, it does not. The procedure is that the development corporation of a new town, in order to satisfy itself that the essential feature of a new town—namely, the twinning of housing and local employment—is effective, inquires two weeks before a house is available whether the man concerned is employed. It does not inquire why a man is not employed. The man's position in this case is safeguarded.

Mr. Parker

Is the hon. Member aware that in order to obtain houses men have to have jobs in the new town? They put themselves down for a house and obtain a job there, and take lodgings in the new town to fill the job until the house is available. They put themselves on the housing list. There is then a trade dispute and they are thrown out of work. The result is that people who were about to get a house do not get it because, technically, they are not employed by the firm. This means that six people are in the position of having pressure put on them to go back to work or to give up all chance of getting a house.

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Member is not correct. A man is employed for this purpose of a new town inquiry until he either is dismissed or quits the job. An industrial dispute is not relevant. Since this strike began the Corporation has supplied houses to nine employees of this firm.

Mr. Gourlay

The vital point is that all those persons were in fact employed by Bonallack's and that Bonallack's have taken the course of sending these men their cards with a view to forcing them back to work in order to get houses. Had this happened last December we could have had a position in which forty employees were being forced to go without houses because of this principle.

Sir K. Joseph

No one is being denied a house because he has taken part in an industrial dispute. If he is dismissed or quits, then surely the new town corporation is entitled to inquire whether there is a prospect in the near future of his having employment in the new town.