HC Deb 01 August 1961 vol 645 cc1139-40
32. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what special action he is taking to assist local authorities in areas where immigration has made housing problems more difficult.

Mr. Brooke

I have taken steps in the Housing Bill now before Parliament to give local authorities additional powers which will help them to deal with houses let in lodgings where the arrival of new immigrants may have added to existing difficulties. Local authorities assist the re-housing of settled immigrant families in the course of their ordinary housing activities.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that will not make a ha'p'orth of difference to the local authorities? Whatever views may be held of the Government's immigration policy, if they have one, is not this a further example of how the Government create a problem, do nothing to solve it, and then pass the buck to the local authorities most directly concerned?

Mr. Brooke

I hope that the council of the borough which the hon. Member represents, and which I am hoping to visit in the course of my slum clearance tour, will make vigorous use of the powers under Part II of the Housing Bill when it becomes law. Surely the hon. Member is not suggesting that we should give differential housing assistance in cases of coloured immigrants? Surely anything of that sort would exacerbate the kind of racial tension which is just what we want to avoid.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the question of immigration should surely be related to immigrants from any part of the world and not necessarily coloured immigrants? In Birmingham and London there are immigrants from the North-East, from Lancashire and other places, all of whom present great housing difficulties for the local population?

Mr. Brooke

Yes, I am not in my own mind making any distinction on the ground of colour.

Mr. Denis Howell

Is the Minister aware that those local authorities which are trying to tackle this problem of relieving the country of a certain amount of racial tension all very much deplore the fact that in this question of housing let in lodgings, which is the one focal point where most of the trouble arises from overcrowding, particularly of coloured and Irish immigrants, the Minister has lost a wonderful opportunity of assisting people who are trying to do good? Why will he not allow local authorities to have the power to regulate the number of lodgers who go into a house before these lodgings deteriorate into common lodging houses?

Mr. Brooke

If the hon. Member will read the provisions of the Housing Bill, he will find that it gives the local authorities very much what they are anxious to have. It brings about an enormous improvement in the existing powers of local authorities.

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