HC Deb 23 March 1965 vol 709 cc312-5
14. Mr. David Price

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will introduce legislation to amend the Housing Act, 1957, in order that market value may become the basis of assessment for the payment of compensation for all properties compulsorily acquired.

Mr. MacColl

My right hon. Friend is keeping these compensation provisions under review, but he does not think the public should generally pay market value for houses which are not fit to be lived in. Market value is paid for all other property.

Mr. Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in my Borough of Eastleigh and a number of others, clearance orders are being placed on owner-occupied houses on which recently the local authorities have granted mortgages and that on 13th December this year the provisions of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act, 1957, will come to an end? Will the Government consider renewing those powers, which would make a great deal of difference to the people concerned and make it easier for local authorities to get ahead with the problem of twilight houses?

Mr. MacColl

As far as I know, there is not likely to be any official Bill to extend the powers of that Act. My right hon. Friend has not had any formal representations in the case of Eastleigh about the clearance area there. If he does, he will have the duty of deciding whether the houses are fit or not. It would, therefore, not be right for me to comment on the rather paradoxical situation that has arisen in Eastleigh.

Mr. Graham Page

The hon. Gentleman said that there was no official Bill. Does this mean that these provisions are definitely coming to an end in December this year?

Mr. MacColl

There is a Bill in the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) which deals with the situation.

18. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that some owners who purchased their houses before the publication of local redevelopment schemes are being compelled, under compulsory purchase order, to accept a lower sum than the original purchase price, and that this constitutes an injustice to people who have invested their life savings in their house; and whether he will take action to remedy this situation.

Mr. Mellish

So far as my right hon. Friend is aware this is a problem only where the houses are found to be unfit for occupation. It would be wrong for the public to have to pay for buildings in this condition.

Sir A. Meyer

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that very often houses regarded by authorities as being unfit for human habitation are none the less considered by their present occupants to be perfectly fit and that an authority's decision may constitute a hardship to certain individuals? As the Minister is evidently considering a vast extension of compulsory purchase powers, will be bear in mind that this possible hardship is latent? Will he not allow his natural prejudice against owner-occupiers to condone an extension of this hardship?

Mr. Mellish

If any one authority considers that it has in any way misled any particular owner-occupier and that hardship is involved, if that local authority will contact my right hon. Friend, we shall be prepared to consider any individual case on its merits.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

Is my hon. Friend aware of the growing practice among property owners of selling off bad property in areas which are known to be about to be development areas in the hope of cashing in, and that people buy these houses in the hope of getting to the top of the housing list by having a form of key money taken from them?

Mr. Mellish

Yes, Sir.

Mr. David Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that with the best will in the world local authorities have considerable legal disabilities about paying any sort of compensation when a house is purchased under a clearance order, that they cannot always do the just thing and that an amendment to the law is needed?

Mr. Mellish

I was asked about compensation and I say again that we are concerned only with paying site value for a house which is found to be unfit for human occupation. It may be that the owner-occupier bought the house just before it was compulsorily acquired and there may be individual hardship which we would be prepared to consider, but we believe in the principle of paying only site value and no more for such property.