§ 7. Mr. Swingler
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs how many local authorities have been compelled to raise municipal rents in the last twelve months; to what extent their action has been caused by high interest charges; and what steps he is taking to make the provision of homes at reasonable rents financially possible.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I have no comprehensive information about rent increases in the last twelve months; but I am quite sure that municipal rents are not generally beyond the means of tenants. They certainly need not be if the authorities will allow rebates as and where needed. Authorities can provide homes at reasonable rents if they will adopt sensible rent policies.
§ Mr. Swingler
If the Minister has not got the detailed information, how does he know that the rents are not beyond the means of the tenants? Is he aware that many local authorities have made substantial increases in municipal rents in the last twelve months? Does he recognise that this is due to the very high rate of interest on housing loans? Will he not recognise, in view of his speech last week, that this is likely to prove the principal obstacle to many progressive local authorities in trying to expand their housing programmes?
§ Sir K. Joseph
No, I do not accept that at all. I have undertaken to keep subsidies under review. The rent-paying capacity has in general increased over the years, and provided local authorities 782 allow, by rebates, for those whose rent-paying capacity has not increased, this should not inhibit substantial progress on the housing front.