§ 5. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that many local authorities are being forced by the removal of the general housing subsidy to confine their new houses to accommodating slum-clearance tenants; and if he will therefore restore the general housing subsidy so that overcrowded families and young married couples may have a chance of acquiring a house.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
I do not accept the suggestion that many local authorities cannot build houses for general needs without subsidy. Most authorities should be able to let new houses at rents the tenants can afford, provided, of course, that they charge reasonable rents for their existing houses. Those authorities who would be faced with unreasonably high rents and rates as a result of further building can apply for the special discretionary subsidy.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is the Minister aware that, as a result of his policy, thousands of families who have been for sixteen years on the housing lists, however overcrowded and desperate their situation, have no chance at all, and that some of these families even have to board out one or more of their children at night with neighbours? Since most of these people cannot afford to buy a house, what does the Minister advise them to do?
§ Mr. Brooke
I entirely agree that there are still very serious housing conditions in a number of the big cities. What I regret is that some of these big cities continue to subsidise tenants who do not need the subsidy, thereby retaining them in council houses which ought to become available for people on the waiting lists.
§ Mr. C. Hughes
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this situation could be relaxed and alleviated if he 1149 were to modify the formula for building council houses for special need? Will the 'Minister look at it again, because, as my hon. Friend says, the situation is extremely serious in many parts of the country?
§ Mr. Brooke
There is no formula for councils building houses for special needs. There are subsidy arrangements, and there is a discretionary subsidy for those which have to charge excessively high rents and excessively high rates. It is up to the local authorities, in my view, to use the subsidies wisely, and not to pay them out to people who do not need them.