HC Deb 26 May 1965 vol 713 cc584-5
7. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average subsidy both from Exchequer and rates per house per week paid in respect of local authority housing.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

During 1963–64 the average weekly subsidies for each local authority house were 11s. 9d. from the Exchequer, including 2s. from Exchequer equalisation grant, and 8s. 9d. from local rates.

Mr. Galbraith

Does the Under-Secretary of State think it a very satisfactory state of affairs when the Exchequer subsidy is 11s. 9d., the local rate subsidy is 8s. 9d., and the rent paid by the tenant is around 14s.? Is there not a waste of public money and ratepayers' money when the rent is so low, and will he ask his right hon. Friend to look into this situation?

Dr. Mabon

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that this was a year when members of his own party were the stewards, so that if any strictures are to be passed they must be passed on them. I am sorry that the figures for 1964–65 are not available. Perhaps they would show, from the hon. Gentleman's point of view, a less disappointing position. It is certainly my right hon. Friend's intention to remind local authorities of their statutory obligations—these obligations, I might say, not having been changed by the party opposite when in power.

Mr. G. Campbell

Within these figures is there not a considerable disparity between different areas? While many local authorities have responsible rent policies, is the Secretary of State urging certain others—mainly where there are Labour Party majorities—to adopt policies that would reduce the rate subsidy? Is not this a further case where some of the right hon. Gentleman's allies are not very reliable?

Dr. Mabon

I regret to say that the hon. Gentleman does not know the facts when he reflects on the nature of the majorities in the towns where rents are low and, consequently, the rate subsidy appears to be high. If he looks more closely at the rent returns for Scotland, lie will see that what he has just said is not true.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Would not the Minister of State agree that the facts are quite clearly shown in the rating review, which is published annually? Would he indicate the steps he proposes to take against local authorities which refuse to take any action to bring about a just situation? He may try to encourage them, but what steps has he in mind to take if they refuse to take any action whatsoever?

Dr. Mabon

It is not the case that my right hon. Friend is completely oblivious to any problems that exist in Scotland in this regard. He has certain obligations, under Statute, which were imposed on right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power, and he will try to exercise them, I hope, a little more effectively than they did.