HC Deb 03 February 1970 vol 795 cc191-2
5. Mr. Rossi

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what is the average subsidy on new council houses from the Government and from rates, respectively.

Mr. Freeson

On a dwelling costing £4,100 and completed in 1969–70, the basic Exchequer subsidy is £148 for 60 years. Some dwellings also qualify for high flats subsidy of up to £26 a year and expensive site subsidy of as much as £40 a year or more. The average rate subsidy cannot be estimated because it varies so sharply and depends on how far rents are pooled.

Mr. Rossi

I repeat the question that I asked the Minister of State for Housing in the debate on 16th November last at column 1194, namely, whether the figures published by the Housing Research Foundation are accurate, that the average subsidy for new council dwellings outside London is £200 per annum and within London £400 per annum? In view of those figures, does the Minister agree that those well able to afford a fair rent should be made to do so?

Mr. Freeson

The hon. Gentleman is making the House suffer from undue repetition, because the answer was given then and it has been given again today. The figure stands at the level that I have already quoted: £148 for 60 years plus these exceptional subsidies to which I also referred on high buildings and on high site costs. The hon. Gentleman overlooks one important factor which I touched on at the end of my original reply, namely, the effect that rent pooling has on properties. It is a gross exaggeration when people constantly say that the majority of council house dwellers in this country are being subsidised. Vast numbers are in fact helping to subsidise their fellow tenants.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Answers, too, are getting lengthy.

Mr. Heffer

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the proposals of the Opposition for the withdrawal or reduction of housing subsidies were put into effect, it would means an immediate increase in rents to a very high level for council house dwellers throughout the country?

Mr. Freeson

It is not just a question of whether the proposals would increase rents. I regret to say that in some parts of the country there are indications that people are being pressurised out of accepting alternative accommodation in slum clearance schemes because they can no longer, under new rent structures, afford the rents being proposed.