HC Deb 16 December 1970 vol 808 cc1342-3
34. Mr. Idris Owen

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will institute a departmental study of the advantages of low-cost housing as an alternative to the Parker-Morris Standard imposed on local authorities at present, which puts the cost of council housing beyond the reach of the lower-paid.

Mr. Amery

I have carefully considered departing from the Parker-Morris Standards but have concluded that any resulting savings would be more than offset by earlier obsolescence. Under our proposed reform of housing finance, rent rebates will be available to tenants who cannot afford a fair rent for the accommodation they need.

Mr. Owen

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is not always in the best interests of the young people whom we are trying to house to offer them homes which it is beyond their means to afford, for that will inevitably lead to a continuation of the ever-burdensome high level of subsidisation which the nation will eventually not be able to afford? Does he agree that everybody likes to have homes of a more luxurious character?

Mr. Amery

I think my hon. Friend will accept that it would be a mistake in the public sector to lower standards and produce obsolescence earlier than we can avoid. There is a good deal of building in the private sector below the Parker-Morris Standards, and this may meet the needs of the kind of families he has in mind, particularly as we improve mortgage opportunities.

Mr. Leonard

Is the Minister aware that the first part of that answer will be widely welcomed on this side of the House? Is he also aware that the proper way to assist lower-paid people with housing is to accept that the level of Government assistance going towards housing should be increased rather than reduced by the £200 million foreshadowed in his right hon. Friend's statement?

Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman should turn his awareness to the fact that the rent rebate scheme which we propose will follow that which has been adopted by a number of local authorities already and, as we develop it, will meet the needs of those who really are in need, instead of calling on the taxpayer to subsidise those who are not.