HC Deb 21 April 1964 vol 693 cc1072-3
27. Mr. Oram

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that the average loan charges for a three-bedroom dwelling in East Ham were £1 9s. 0d. per week in 1951 and £4 0s. 0d. per week in 1963; and what steps he proposes to take to relieve local authorities and their tenants of such interest burdens.

Sir K. Joseph

Without knowing the basis on which the figures were calculated, I cannot comment on them. The Government have said that, on the assumption that proper rents are charged, subject to rebates for those who need them, they will see that local authorities receive whatever subsidies they need to carry through their housing responsibilities. The current review of housing subsidies will take account of the financial outturn for the whole housing stock provided over the years, of which loan charges on new houses is but one element; the financial needs of local authorities in the light of an accelerating programme; and the capacity of tenants to pay rent.

Mr. Oram

Is the Minister aware that East Ham is a progressive housing authority which does what it can to protect its tenants? Yet, as a result of the increased interest charges, it has been necessary for East Ham to double its rents in a decade. In view of the right hon. Gentleman's party's borrowing of many Labour Party ideas on social matters in this General Election year, will not the Conservative Party borrow just one more and go in for special interest rates for housing?

Sir K. Joseph

I am also aware that the average net rent for three-bedroomed post-war houses in East Ham is now 35s. 2d., that East Ham operates a very small rent rebate scheme indeed, and that East Ham receives nearly £200,000 subsidy from the taxpayers and £50,000 from the ratepayers, and with all this East Ham should certainly be able to keep the rent reasonable if it has a proper rent rebate scheme.

Mr. M. Stewart

Is it not remarkable how much detailed information the Minister can get from a local authority when it suits him to do so?

Sir K. Joseph

If the hon. Gentleman had asked me for the same information for every housing authority in Great Britain, I should have resisted him on the same grounds as I resisted his hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun).