HC Deb 14 June 1972 vol 838 cc1503-4
29. Mr. Bidwell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what additional capital resources have been made available for housing the elderly as a result of the increased sale of council houses.

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Member is confusing two separate matters. I want to see local authorities both building to meet the housing needs of the elderly and selling council houses to meet the needs and wishes of those of their tenants who want to own their homes.

Mr. Bidwell

It is clear that the Question has been dodged. Since the traditional policies of housing municipalisation intertwine the provision for the aged with existing council tenancies and so on, will not there be a tendency to allow old people to fend for themselves? Is it not clear that the Government's aim is not only to run down the whole of public control of housing in this respect but also public provision for the elderly?

Mr. Eyre

To refer to the hon. Gentleman's Question, it is true that more resources are received by the local authority, and this is potentially one of the good results of selling. As to the need to build for the elderly, in each case it is for the local authorities to decide. Now that they have an improved framework in which to operate, there is no question of limiting the resources available to borrowing as there was under the previous Government.

Mr. Costain

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that it would help to house the elderly and to reduce land and house prices if planning authorities would give permission, regardless of density, for additional accommodation for the elderly to live adjacent to their children? Will he discuss that with planning authorities?

Mr. Eyre

Yes, Sir, and I agree with my hon. Friend's point that density in planning permissions is relevant in this case. But the main factors my hon. Friend mentioned about the building programme are matters which can be decided by the local authority. We are encouraging them to progress along that line.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the hon. Gentleman have urgent consultations with the Secretary of State for Social Services in the light of major reorganisations in local government and the Health Service and, under the Seebohm Report, of welfare services? The question of housing the elderly runs across all three, and geriatric wards and Part III homes. There is an urgent need for the right hon. Gentleman's Department to co-ordinate all those efforts.

Mr. Eyre

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this matter. There are special needs in this area which are receiving urgent attention and are being specially studied.