HC Deb 05 February 1969 vol 777 cc387-9
17. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total cost of housing subsidies; what estimate he has made of the effect on the average council house rent of their abolition; what proposals he has received advocating such a course; and what reply he has sent.

Dr. Mabon

The cost of Government subsidies for local authority houses is of the order of £20 million a year, equivalent on average to some 10s. per house per week. We have received no proposals for abolishing these subsidies.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. Gentlemen opposite have made a proposal of this sort, and that if all subsidies are abolished the answer to Question No. 6 would indicate that that would mean an average increase in the rent of 30s. a week? Will he resist this kind of proposition?

Dr. Mabon

In reply to the last part of the Question, Yes, Sir. If my hon. Friend recollects the earlier answers to Questions, he will find that £42 plus £28 would then be transferred on to the existing rent of £45.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Does the Minister recognise that his hon. Friend has got the views of the Leader of the Opposition completely wrong on this? He has, for example, completely neglected the question of rent rebate schemes, and has not the Secretary of State authorised considerable increases in rents for the Scottish Special Housing Association and the new towns?

Dr. Mabon

These are governed by the Prices and Incomes Act, and many authorities, particularly Conservative authorities, would like to impose substantially heavier increases. It would be useful if the Leader of the Opposition could make up his mind what he means about abolishing housing subsidies.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the leader of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has come out for abolition of housing subsidies, and where the leader leads the rest follow?

Dr. Mabon

I have no doubt that when the Leader of the Opposition again visits the Midlands he will probably adopt this as a new policy.

Mr. Galbraith

Is there not a lot of hot air about this, and cannot be agree on all sides of the House that we want those people who can afford to pay an economic rent to pay an economic rent, and those people who cannot afford to pay an economic rent to get a rebate?

Dr. Mabon

When the hon. Gentleman was in the Scottish Office he regarded this as a hot potato; he is the one who is responsible for most of the hot air on the subject.