HC Deb 26 June 1969 vol 785 cc1860-2
Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 112, in page 42, line 19 after second 'Act', insert— 'and in particular with a view to determining what action to take for the provision of land upon which dwellings may be built for those who may, as a result of the performance of the functions aforesaid, be displaced from residential accommodation or be unable to obtain suitable residential accommodation'. We now come to part VI of the Bill, of which the first Clause is No. 71. The Clause is of considerable importance because it sets a duty on every local authority to carry out a review of the position in its own district. It states that an inspection of its district shall … be made from time to time with a view to determining what action to take in the performance of their functions … and then gives a list of these functions under various Acts and the Bill.

The most important thing to the public is to know whether those who may be put out of their homes by reason of the exercise of the functions of the local authorities under these Measures will be properly provided for. From experience, I have found that, in many cases, local authorities do not think far enough ahead in the provision of housing for those who may be displaced by very sound schemes—schemes which everyone would applaud, but which will displace a number of people. Not until the compulsory purchase order is submitted to the Minister do some local authorities think about how they are to rehouse those who will be displaced—for example, by clearance. And, of course, a number may be displaced under the new procedure for a general improvement area.

It would be worth calling the attention of the local authorities to this aspect of their functions and pointing out that they should look ahead and think, in particular, when carrying out the inspection, who is to be displaced, whose homes are to be taken from them by any of the schemes they envisage for the future.

I have known occasions where the local authorities, having declared a clearance area and then submitted a clearance order to the Minister with an assurance that they will have sufficient houses for rehousing those displaced, have lingered over the implementation of the order, perhaps for years, so that, by the time they have got to the point of demolition, they have already put people into the houses they originally had set aside for those to be displaced when they assured the Minister that they had houses for rehabilitation.

We meet this sort of problem regularly in our constituencies—the length of the housing waiting lists, the terror of some people when they hear that the local authority is contemplating a great improvement in an area which may affect them The more that we can call attention to that and insist on local authorities looking ahead on that basis with a view to rehousing people who may lose their homes, the better.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Greenwood

I thank the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) for having moved the Amendment, because it gives me an opportunity of stressing the importance of this matter. But I hope to be able to prove to his satisfaction that the Amendment is un- necessary. Already, a general duty is imposed on local authorities by section 91 of the Housing Act, 1957, which requires them to consider the need for further housing accommodation in their district. They are required to take into account information brought to their notice by surveys and inspections. Paragraph 8 of Part II of Schedule 7 to the Bill amends Section 91 so that for the future they will be required to take into account inspections carried out under this Clause.

It is, therefore, unnecessary to make the Amendment, but we shall be giving guidance to local authorities once the Bill is on the Statute Book. That will perhaps be the appropriate point to bring it to their attention.

Mr. Graham Page

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he said. On that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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