§ 45. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what steps he is taking to assist local authorities whose housing programmes are restricted by the interest rate charged for loans from the Public Works Loan Board or from the money market.
The recent Housing Act has improved subsidies for the authorities in greatest financial need. Authorities can further help themselves by making sure that they are charging 205 reasonable rents and using Exchequer subsidy to help only those tenants who genuinely need it.
§ Mr. Milne
Is the Minister aware that, in reply to a previous Question, he said that there were only two difficulties facing the Borough of Blythe in its housing programme? Is he further aware that in the borough, a £2,000 house which in 1955 needed £5,040 on loan charges over 60 years, now needs £8,520, an increase of £3,480 and that this represents an increase of the weekly equivalent of £1 2s. 3d? How can the Minister say that our housing problems are being tackled if these are the difficulties that local authorities have to face?
I did not suggest that they were the only two problems, but they are two important problems which confront the local authorities. On the general proposition of the council, that interest rates for housing should be lowered, all I can say is that that would be a breach in the Government's credit policy which they are not prepared to undertake.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is it not a fact that cities with such terrible housing lists as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, far from benefiting under the Housing Act, will suffer a lower subidy? They will enjoy £8 a year instead of £22 a year subsidy. Secondly, is the Minister aware that these restricted programmes plus increased council house rents are causing widespread discontent with local authorities for which the Government are entirely responsible owing to their increased charges? Many of these councils are Labour-controlled and the Government are making them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Are not the Government making them the scapegoat for their own sins?
In reply to the first point, this House approved the principle that there should be a differential rate of subsidy between those authorities with the greater resources and those with the smaller resources, and that is an entirely fair principle. In regard to the hon. Member's second point, and, in particular, his reference to rents, I find it difficult to reconcile what he has said with the fact that in his own constituency the rent of a postwar three-bedroom house is 25s. 4d. and of a pre-war three-bedroom house 19s. 11d.