HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc226-7
9. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, if he will seek to accelerate the improvement of old houses by the installing of baths, inside water closets and hot water systems, by removing some of the many steps in the procedure which local authorities have at present to follow before proceeding with improvement area schemes.

Mr. Mellish

My right hon. Friend is anxious to see more improvement done, but the procedure could not be altered without legislation.

Mr. Allaun

Does it not call for legislation? Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that it is unnecessary and delaying that up to seven visits to each house are required under the present procedure of the 1964 Act, and up to 24 individual notices? Surely that is too much?

Mr. Mellish

This legislation has not been on the Statute Book for long and we are anxious that it should be given a fair trial and a good run. Many authorities which have accepted the arrangements are doing a first-class job. I wish some authorities which spend all their time criticising would get on and do the job. We shall need to amend the law, but not yet.

Mr. Graham Page

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in many cases the standard grant is quite insufficient to provide improvement to a dwelling and that Socialist-controlled authorities are refusing to operate the discretionary grant although this would solve many of these problems?

Mr. Mellish

Of the number of those which applied the full value in the main has not been taken up. The greatest problem is lack of information as to what the public are entitled to have. One of the problems for the Ministry is to get this over to those who want to get the work done.

Mr. Michael Foot

Does not my hon. Friend think that there will be plenty of time for legislation in future, because obviously there are not going to be any more Motions of censure for another year or two?