HC Deb 25 November 1970 vol 807 cc404-7
9. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he intends to apply in order to determine which local authorities with problems of slum clearance, overcrowding and obsolescent housing will qualify for special Government assistance as outlined in his statement on housing finance; and if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those local authorities that will qualify for the full weight of Government assistance.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Julian Amery)

Our plans will need to be discussed with the local authority associations before detailed criteria can be decided and the effect on individual authorities assessed.

Mr. Barnes

As the Secretary of State has given the impression that the Government can both save money and improve the housing situation, what will be the position in boroughs with long waiting lists if they are not designated for Government assistance? Will they not stop building altogether?

Mr. Amery

We estimate that our proposals will help those authorities whose costs are very high, or where the rise in costs is very fast, because of slum clearance or building programmes designed to deal with serious overcrowding or obsolescence.

Mr. Lawson

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that his proposals will not penalise local authorities with good house-building records by taking from them subsidies and low rates of interest already guaranteed to them?

Mr. Amery

I do not think that any local authority will suffer seriously from this. Housing revenues will be increased by the move towards fair rents and there will be increased help for those faced with with high rises in costs, or slum clearance programmes.

10. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has now had with local authorities on housing finance; and what proposals he has made for their consideration.

37. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from local authorities since 3rd November in relation to his new policy concerning housing subsidies; and what replies he has sent.

46. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with the London Boroughs Association about his proposals for the review of housing subsidies.

86. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations have taken place with local authorities regarding cuts in housing subsidies.

Mr. Amery

I have received no representations from local authorities, but I shall shortly begin consultations with their associations.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Why cannot a more detailed statement be made to the House in view of the great importance of this whole subject? Why do we have to wait until the whole matter has been considered for many months?

Mr. Amery

We thought it right to make a broad statement of intention to the House at the earliest possible opportunity, but it would be wrong to come back to the House until we have had an opportunity to test the opinions of the locally elected representatives of the people.

Mr. Julius Silverman

Does this mean that the Government's proposals will be put to the local authorities without any prior discussion in the House? Is not that treating the House with contempt?

Mr. Amery

On the contrary, I think that it is treating the House with great respect by not taking up the time of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen until we are able to put something rather more detailed before them. Our broad statement of intent would be an inadequate basis for a good debate.

Mr. Crosland

The Government have already announced that the object of these proposals is to save between £100 million and £200 million by the mid-1970s. Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the local authority associations not merely what effect this will have on their average rents, which will be very large, but what effect a cut of this kind will have on local house-building programmes?

Mr. Amery

We shall be discussing all relevant considerations with them.

Mr. Skinner

On a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Having a late Question on the Order Paper does not automatically give the right to be called to ask a supplementary question.