HC Deb 17 May 1972 vol 837 cc511-3
17. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the provisions of the law which govern the responsibilities of a local authority to rehouse people displaced by clearance programmes.

Mr. Amery

Section 130 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, imposes on local authorities an obligation to ensure that suitable alternative accommodation is available for persons displaced from residential property cleared under planning powers. There is also a rehousing obligation in Section 42(3) of the Housing Act, 1957, covering displacements from slum clearance areas. Further obligations are contained in Section 22 of the New Towns Act, 1965, Section 32(3) of the Housing Act, 1969, and Section 144 of the Housing Act, 1957, covering acquisitions for new town purposes, acquisitions in general improvements areas and acquisitions by statutory undertakers, respectively.

Miss Lestor

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply but can he clarify the position regarding the closure of hostels? Notwithstanding his letter to me of 4th April regarding the closure of Colnbrook hostel, where a large number of people working in my constituency live, and his assurance that those who have been living there for more than two years would be rehoused, the overwhelming majority are not being considered by the local council for rehousing.

Mr. Amery

I have already written to the hon. Lady about Colnbrook hostel and have drawn the attention of the four local authorities concerned to the need to provide single person accommodation in the area. I shall be glad to receive further representations from the hon. Lady and take further action.

Mr. Rowlands

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at another aspect of local authority responsibility for rehousing in the case of tenants who are often kept in deplorable conditions because their landlords are contesting clearance orders? Should not the position be changed so that the local authority could rehouse tenants immediately a clearance order is made, at the same time preventing other tenants from being taken into the property, rather than that it should have to keep these people—as is the case in my constituency—living in deplorable conditions while the landlord has a quarrel with the local authority over the clearance order?

Mr. Amery

It is open to the local authority to offer alternative housing while argument is going on, if there should be argument or an appeal. It would be wrong to take steps to close houses without going through the proper procedure.