HC Deb 18 October 1972 vol 843 cc237-40
2. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities have now indicated to him that they do not intend to implement the Housing Finance Act; and what action he now proposes to take.

12. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list In the OFFICIAL REPORT the local authorities who have intimated to him that they will not implement the Housing Finance Act.

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

Thirteen local authorities have informed me that they will not implement the Housing Finance Act, or at least certain parts of it. I will, with permission, circulate their names in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have already given notice to 11 of these authorities that my right hon. friend is considering making an order declaring them to be in default.

Mr. Rost

Do not these encouraging figures indicate that, despite the deliberate attacks by the Labour Party, designed to frustrate the implementation of the "Fair Rents Act" and to encourage local councils to disobey the law, the majority of councils have seen the sense, the fairness and the advantage of the Act, particularly in so far as it will help the poorer sections of the community to obtain rent rebates?

Mr. Amery

Yes, Sir. But, in fairness to the Opposition, I remind my hon. Friend that the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) has always urged councils to obey the law and that the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on one occasion said that he was in favour of that. I was pleased to see that Salford Council has been influenced to take the right decision, no doubt as a result of the intervention of the hon. Member for Salford, East.

Mr. Lipton

Since when and by whose authority has the Housing Finance Act been designated the "Fair Rents Act"? How much money is being spent to advertise this bit of spuriously titled legislation?

Mr. Amery

There is a Question later on the Order Paper about the advertising, so perhaps I would be out of order to answer it now. As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate better than most people, the public determine these things and people have called it "the Fair Rents Act".

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Does the total of 13 include the town council of Carnforth, which has now agreed to implement the Act, partly because the councillors are law-abiding citizens and partly because they do not wish to deprive the rent payers, particularly pensioners and others in need, of the generous rebate provisions of the Act?

Mr. Amery

I had already appreciated that they were implementing it.

Mr. William Hamilton

Since the Government are anxious to have a prices and incomes policy and want price increases to be limited to 4 per cent., or at most 5 per cent., a year, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to ensure that no local authority increases rents in any one year by more than 5 per cent.?

Mr. Amery

One of the considerations which most concerns the Government, the CBI and the TUC is the need to help the lower-paid workers, and the rebate and allowances provisions of the Act make a direct contribution to this without in any way modifying the general wage structure.

Following is the information:

The local authorities listed below have informed the Secretary of State of their intention not to implement all or parts of the Housing Finance Act:

  • Barrow-in-Furness County Borough Council.
  • Carlisle County Borough Council.
  • Doncaster County Borough Council.
  • Walsall County Borough Council.
  • West Bromwich County Borough Council.
  • Camden London Borough Council.
  • Eccles Borough Council.
  • Bedworth Urban District Council.
  • Clay Cross Urban District Council.
  • Conisbrough Urban District Council.
  • Halstead Urban District Council.
  • Newton-le-Willows Urban District Council.
  • Skelmersdale and Holland Urban District Council.

32. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state approximately how many tenants' rents he estimates he will increase by an average of a further 50p next April under the Housing Finance Act, and how many additional tenants' rents by a similar sum next October; and if, in view of the rise in the cost of living involved, he will now withdraw the requirement to impose these rent increases.

Mr. Amery

It is not possible to make such estimates. I have no plans to act on the lines suggested in the second half of the Question, more particularly in view of the fact that the rebates and allowances provided under the Act help to stabilise the cost of living for the lower paid.

Mr. Allaun

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the House of Commons Library staff have been informed that these estimates are readily available in his office? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as these are unnecessary and deliberate increases in the cost of living he should listen to the call of the TUC to suspend all these further rent increases next year?

Mr. Amery

I have, as I always do, read with attention the hon. Gentleman's comments in public on these matters. He seems to have disregarded the fact that a number of tenants will have reached fair rents before next April or October and will not be called upon to pay anything like a 50p increase, and some no increase at all.

Mr. Simon Mahon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this arrangement is causing a great deal of distress to many people? Will he at least deny the alarming and irresponsible rumour that is per- colating around Merseyside that the Government will eventually allocate the tenancy of a house to the highest wage earner in that house? Will he deny that categorically now?

Mr. Amery

The allocation of council houses is entirely a matter for the local authority.

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