HC Deb 13 February 1961 vol 634 cc909-10
11. Mr. Hilton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many Forestry Commission houses are occupied by industrial employees of the Commission; what proportion of the in- dustrial grades employed by the Commission occupy Commission houses; and how rents of Forestry Commission houses compare with rents of council houses in the same area.

Mr. Soames

About 3,400 Forestry Commission houses are tenanted by industrial employees of the Commission; this represents 30 per cent. of the Commission's total industrial staff. The rents of these houses are usually very close to those of similar houses owned by local authorities in the same areas.

Mr. Hilton

I know that the right hon. Gentleman has not been in his present office for very long, but is he aware that many Forestry Commission houses are situated in very remote areas and lack modern amenities? Is he further aware that they have service tenancies, or are tied cottages, so that the workers have no right to remain in their cottages once their employment with the Commission ends? Is it not unreasonable to charge them rents similar to those of council houses in the same area? Will the Minister look into the matter in order to see whether more realistic rents can be charged for these Forestry Commission houses?

Mr. Soames

The rents for the more modern houses are naturally higher than those for the older ones. A considerable modernisation programme has been going on, and within the next five years we hope that all the Commission's houses will be modernised. In Norfolk, which I think the hon. Member has in mind, the average weekly rent of a sample of local authority houses was found to be 23s. 6d" while, on the average, tenants of similar Forestry Commission houses were charged 17s. 6d. a week, which is 6s. below the local authority average.

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