HC Deb 25 November 1970 vol 807 cc413-5
34 and 35. Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is the number of slums at present in Hull and the present estimated rate of clearance; and what rate of slum clearance he has estimated as a result of his proposals for housing subsidies;

(2) what estimate he has made in the years from 1970–71 to 1975–76 in the yearly increase in grants to be paid to Hull Corporation for slum clearance following his refashioning of housing subsidies.

Mr. Channon

Information on the number of slums and the present rate of clearance can be obtained from the city council. My right hon. Friend's plans for the reform of housing finance need to be discussed in detail with the local authority associations before their effect on individual authorities can be assessed.

Mr. McNamara

I was very interested to hear what the hon. Gentleman has said. I, too, have been able to obtain the figures from the Hull City Council, but I thought that the Minister might have wanted them to formulate a policy. Is he aware that every statement that we have had from his Department today indicates that he and his colleagues do not know where they are going and how much money they will have to spend, and that many of my constituents will be living in miserable slums a lot longer before they go into more expensive housing as a result of the Government's policies?

Mr. Channon

What the hon. Member says is entirely untrue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sure that the hon. Member believes it to be true. The effects of what he says are entirely fallacious. The result of my right hon. Friend's housing finance policy will be to direct more help to the areas with special problems.

Mr. James Johnson

Does not the Minister know that the question of houses is a special case for Hull? In our city we are almost like Amsterdam—built over a swamp. If the Minister put a spade into my garden he would find the water table was less than 6 feet below the surface. The city is in a shocking condition, especially in the area near the Fish Dock, and needs special consideration in this context.

Mr. Channon

I agree that Hull has a serious problem and I understand the concern of both hon. Members about conditions in the city. I repeat that under my right hon. Friend's proposals the areas with special problems will be the areas that get most help.

Mr. Crosland

Is the Minister seriously maintaining that the cut in subsidies in the mid-1970s which the Chancellor has already foreshadowed will have no serious and damaging effect on the level of rents or upon public house-building programmes?

Mr. Channon

It seems difficult to make this clear to the right hon. Gentleman; it is not for the want of trying on my part. I am saying that my right hon. Friend's proposals will direct most help to those areas most in need and to those people most in need—which is what the last Government failed to do.