HC Deb 05 May 1970 vol 801 cc182-3
15. Mr. Lomas

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many slums were demolished from 1964 to 1969.

Mr. Greenwood

385,270 houses in England were demolished or closed as a result of slum clearance action in the period 1964–69.

Mr. Lomas

Are not these again an example of how this Government really care about the whole question of housing? Can my right hon. Friend give the figures for 1959 to 1964? Can he also say what encouragement is being given to local authorities to speed up slum clearance programmes?

Mr. Greenwood

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. The average for 1960 to 1963 in England was 58,000 a year. From 1964 to 1969 the average was 64,000. My hon. Friend will no doubt know that I have written to all local authorities asking them to let me know what are their plans for the next five years. For 1970–1973 the average should be 82,000 if local authorities keep to their programmes. I think my hon. Friend will remember that in the Housing Act passed last year we improved the provisions for owner-occupiers in slum clearance areas and also the disbursement of well-maintained payments.

Mr. Charles Morrison

Instead of indulging in self-satisfaction, is it not time the Minister took account of the fact that there are still about 5 million people living in condemned housing in this country, and that if the Government had lived up to their housing promises 1 million of them would now be rehoused?

Mr. Greenwood

It is not self-satisfaction but simply dissatisfaction with what hon. Gentlemen opposite were able to achieve in their period in Government. The fact that slum clearance was running at so low a rate during that time was a disgrace of those years. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was present in any of our debates on the Housing Act, 1969, but he will realise that one of the main reasons for introducing that legislation was to deal with slum clearance problems.

Mr. Bagier

Does my right lion. Friend agree that the latest figures could be much better if he did not have to write to corporations like Sunderland asking them to increase the number of houses to be built for slum clearance?

Mr. Greenwood

Yes, Sir. I am afraid that there are many local authorities in that category.

Mr. Peyton

Is the right hon. Gentleman's forecast to be described as a promise or a pledge? Does it have the approval of the Prime Minister?

Mr. Greenwood

That is a question I cannot answer, because my forecast is based on returns from Conservative local authorities.