HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc194-6
7. Mr. Winnick

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement on the position of proposed council rent increases which were referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes.

13. Mr. Barnes

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement on the Government's proposals for phasing rent increases outlined in Command Paper No. 3590.

19. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what steps he has taken or intends to take, to reduce council rents following recent increases.

Mr. Greenwood

I explained the Government's proposals for dealing with increases in local authority rents in the reply which I gave to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) on 25th April. The Government's proposals on increases in private rents were outlined in the White Paper (Cmnd. 3590).—[Vol. 763, c. 486–493.]

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that large numbers of G.L.C. tenants are grateful that they are being saved by the Government from the proposed outrageous Tory rent increases? Is not it also important that local authorities should not feel encouraged to think that they must put 7s. 6d. on the rent?

Mr. Greenwood

I have sent a circular to local authorities urging on them the need to keep rents to the very minimum and not to regard 7s. 6d. as an ordinary level of increase. I hope that every local authority will do its utmost to keep well below that level. Some local authorities need not raise rents at all.

Mr. Barnes

Has my right hon. Friend said what the limits will be for increases in private rents? Does not he agree that some aspects of the policy set out in the White Paper, "Old Houses Into New Homes", could have very serious implications for many low-income families?

Mr. Greenwood

My hon. Friend's second point looks rather further ahead than the Question on the Order Paper. On the question of our immediate proposals about private rents, I hope that my hon. Friends will await the legislation which is due very soon.

Mr. Allason

In view of the statutory duty to balance the housing revenue account, has the Minister any proposals for a deferment of the capital repayment for authorities with large building programmes, as otherwise they cannot make both ends meet?

Mr. Greenwood

There are many ways in which local authorites can make a contribution to keeping down rents. I suggested some of them when I made my statement in the House on 25th April. I shall look very carefully at every case which comes before me and decide what is reasonable for the local authority in all the local circumstances obtaining.

Mr. Moyle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in view of all the Government have done for the ratepayers, which in my borough of Lewisham has led to a reduction in the rates of 5d. in the £, if he makes up his mind to stand no nonsense from the Tory G.L.C. he will have my enthusiastic support and that of many of my hon. Friend's?

Mr. Greenwood

I am grateful for that somewhat qualified support. Perhaps I should remind the House that it is not only in respect of rates that we have given great help. We have also given great help to council tenants through the generous subsidies provided in the 1967 Act.

Mr. Rippon

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that rates have been rising far more rapidly over the past four years than ever before, and that if there is to be any sort of limitation on rent increases it would be far better done on a percentage basis rather than with an arbitrary fixed limit?

Mr. Greenwood

I completely disagree with the suggestion in the latter half of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's question. He is completely wrong about increases in rates.