HC Deb 06 December 1966 vol 737 cc1136-7
18 and 19. Mr. Hattersley

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) if, following his inquiries, he will state how many local authorities allocate municipal tenancies on the basis of points schemes;

(2) if, following his inquiries, he will state how many local authorities impose a residence qualification on the allocation of municipal tenancies.

Mr. Mellish

The inquiries made last year were limited to a small selection of local authorities with substantial multiple occupation problems and no comprehensive information is available.

Mr. Hattersley

Does my hon. Friend agree that the rules by which councils allocate their tenancies vary from area to area in an arbitrary and unjust fashion? Is it not up to his Ministry to find out what the systems are and impose some regularisation on the worst examples of the procedure?

Mr. Mellish

Outside London about three-fifths of the local authorities we approached had residential qualifications of one year or less. Inside London, most of the London boroughs, for example, have a rule that applicants should live five years in Greater London before an application can effectively be considered. On the general argument about qualifications for the waiting list, my hon. Friend should bear in mind that in some of our big towns and cities which are concentrating on slum clearance and redevelopment, the waiting lists, by and large, are not of much value anyway.

Mr. Graham Page

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that the difficulty about the waiting lists is the secrecy maintained by local authorities? Is there any need for secrecy regarding the housing waiting lists and the points systems?

Mr. Mellish

That is not my experience. I find that local authorities generally do an extremely honourable job here. For some individual applicants on waiting lists, the medical background and so on must be kept secret. My own impression is that it is done in a very honourable and decent way.

Mrs. Braddock

Will my hon. Friend make inquiries from local authorities about whether they are meeting that request made by his Ministry to see that men discharged from the Forces are not put in the same position of having to reside in the place for two or three years before they can go on the waiting list? There are some local authorities which are not meeting that request.

Mr. Mellish

We sent a circular requesting local authorities to recognise that ex-Service men are in a special position, and we are desperately anxious that these people should be given a chance to qualify for housing before they are discharged. This is a two-way traffic. The Service authorities themselves must also help here by giving notification of those Service men who are to come out of the Forces some time before they do so. I agree that local authorities should co-operate and help here, and in the main they are doing that now.