HC Deb 01 March 1966 vol 725 cc1084-5
8. Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is satisfied that local authorities have sufficient powers to ensure that houses which are left vacant and become a nuisance to adjoining properties and dangerous to children are made secure and weatherproof within a reasonable period of time; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellish

The powers in the Public Health Acts are generally sufficient to enable local authorities to deal with these houses. A few authorities have obtained, or are seeking, rather wider powers in local Acts. But my right hon. Friend is not aware that there is a problem which calls for general legislation.

Mr. Howarth

Is my hon. Friend aware that in many towns such as Bolton this is an increasing problem and that they would like to have compulsory powers to enable them to force owners to seal up these houses before they become a danger to children and a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish?

Mr. Mellish

The Minister is open to persuasion on this, and if it can be shown to be a widespread problem he is prepared to consider proposals for strengthening the powers of local authorities.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is my hon. Friend aware that if the Minister goes ahead with his proposal to rate empty properties it will help to end this nuisance, will relieve the rates, and will make property-owners who are holding out for a high price and keeping houses empty which are badly needed put them on the market?