HC Deb 25 July 1972 vol 841 cc1529-31
Q4. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech of the Secretary of State for the Environment in Worcester on Saturday, 8th July, regarding higher rents represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister


Mr. Allaun

But did not the speech contradict what the Prime Minister said here last Thursday, that he could not guarantee that rent increases would be under 5 per cent. because the scheme would be carried out by the local authorities? Is it not a fact that the local authorities will not fix rents in the future but, for the first time in housing history, will be forced to make a profit out of their council tenants?

The Prime Minister

What I said was that local circumstances vary. As the House knows, various local authorities have a figure for rent increase now of less than £1, and this is because of the situation of rents in their area. Where some are near the fair rent, obviously they have less distance to do. Many others took the first step already last April and they therefore have less distance to go. I said that it is impossible in the circumstances to reach an overall conclusion about local authorities as a whole.

Mr. Redmond

Will my right hon. Friend accept that three of my constituents in Bolton last Saturday morning asked me how the Government would protect their rebates due under the Housing Finance Bill as the Bolton Corporation has said that it will not operate it? Can he give these people any reassurance?

The Prime Minister

This is an integral part of the whole scheme. I have said, as regards any conclusions of individual local authorities, that we had better wait till the date approaches.

Mr. Harold Wilson

When the Prime Minister said last week that this was a matter for the local authorities, did he realise that the local authorities are not free agents in this matter under the Government's scheme? Is he telling us that, when the Bill and the White Paper were brought to him, he did not as Prime Minister ask what would be the estimate of the increase in rents involved under the scheme? Did he allow the Bill to go forward without even asking whether it would be 3 per cent. or 30 per cent.?

The Prime Minister

I have explained to the right hon. Gentleman that the circumstances in local authorities vary and I have said that I would let him have approximate figures, so far as they can be calculated by the Department of the Environment, for each group of the community, showing how they would be affected. Those figures have been compiled and are almost complete. I shall let the right hon. Gentleman have them at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman have them put in the Library or publish them in the Official Report?

The Prime Minister

I am quite prepared to publish them in the Official Report.

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