HC Deb 05 February 1963 vol 671 cc223-4
20. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that since 1951 the purchasing power of the £ sterling has depreciated by 27 per cent., the index of retail prices has increased by 47 per cent., expenditure on private house building has increased by 816 per cent., and expenditure on local authority housing until 1961 had decreased by 11 per cent. and as this is making it difficult for councils such as West Ham to carry out their slum clearances, war damage reconstruction and normal house building development, what action he proposes to take to assist the county borough of West Ham in developing its housing programme.

Sir K. Joseph

As to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him on 29th January. As to the second part, I do not think West Ham lack adequate resources to carry on with their slum clearance and housing programmes. They can apply for the special supplemental housing subsidy which was introduced in the Housing Act, 1961, and which is designed to help local authorities whose housing operations are putting an unduly high burden on the rates.

Mr. Lewis

I appreciate that West Ham is a progressive council which has done a wonderful job notwithstanding the obstacles placed in its way by the Government. However, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that if there were low rates of interest and if this progressive council were given further financial aid and assistance it could build even more houses for those who are in urgent need? As he has claimed that it is his policy and desire that there should be more houses for those in urgent need, will he not consider that to see whether something further can be done?

Sir K. Joseph

West Ham can try to make use of the extra rate subsidy available to those who need it. I await its application.