HC Deb 09 April 1964 vol 692 cc1302-4
Sir K. Joseph

I beg to move, in page 13, line 10 at the end to insert:

as the other one was. If the Greater London Council were not going to be a housing authority at all, I could conceive of a case for saying that it should not do this work, but it is, in fact, going to be a housing authority.

I have always been very much a borough man in argument about housing as between the L.C.C. and the boroughs but, in fact, as I understand it, the Greater London Council is likely to take over a good deal in the way of housing responsibilities, and it seems to me that the sensible thing to do is to have an arrangement whereby the Greater London Council has parallel powers with those of the boroughs and arranges with the boroughs by agreement as to how to allocate those responsibilities.

There may presumably be cases—in fact, the cases are common—where the housing authority wants to provide houses for Londoners outside the London area where there is land available. It might be a matter in which the Greater London Council is very interested. Why should it not have such responsibilities under this Part of the Bill? It seems to me that somebody has been working on the assumption that the ordinary county council authorities were not housing authorities and that the district authorities should do the work. That seems to me to be an unreal position in London. particularly at a stage when we do not know what is to be the apportionment of responsibilities between the boroughs and the Greater London Council, because they have not yet come into existence, they have not reviewed the position and have not discussed it together. Therefore, it would be silly to tie their hands by excluding them in this way. I think it is only reasonable to include them and to leave the exact apportionment of responsibilities to be worked out afterwards.

Sir K. Joseph

The Greater London Council will have very large and continuing housing responsibilities of a strategic order. It will have certain powers to provide housing within Greater London, but its major responsibility will be for overspill housing. As such, it will be the authority responsible for the co-ordination of arrangements for overspill housing, but the overspill will generally be in the areas of other authorities.

It seems natural, therefore, in the light of this, that the housing societies and the Housing Corporation should deal with the primary local housing authorities which in Greater London will be the London boroughs. That is why it seems sensible to the Government to exclude the Greater London Council from Part I of the Bill.

However, the Greater London Council will have powers of acquisition of land for housing, and if it likes to make available some of that land to the Corporation or to a housing society, it will be able to do so without specific mention or without this Amendment being made.

However, that is, as it were, peripheral to the main argument. The main argument is, as was pointed out in Committee, that the Housing Corporation's contributions will generally be relatively small in terms of the Greater London Council's work, and far more suitable, therefore, to be dealt with on a purely local basis by the London boroughs.

I shall be making much the same answer if the hon. Gentleman asks the same question on Amendment No. 78. I do not know whether we are going to have any exchange on that Amendment. There the issue is not the Housing Corporation and which authority it shall deal with, but whether the Greater London Council shall have compulsory improvement powers. The answer will be the same and it will primarily fall to the immediate housing authority, which should be the London borough. I hope, in the light of that explanation, that the Amendment will not be pressed.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.