HC Deb 04 April 1973 vol 854 cc418-20
5. Mr. Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total additional rent paid by local authority tenants in Scotland in 1972; and what he estimates the further total increase to be in 1973.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)

This information is not available, and there is no basis for making estimates. It would be necessary to make assumptions about such matters as the state of housing revenue accounts, the composition of families of tenants and levels of earnings. The Housing Act 1972 restricts the amounts per year by which local authorities can increase rents.

Mr. Ewing

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he does not know the effect that the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1972 has had on local authority tenants in Scotland and that he is not worried about the effect that the Act will have in Scotland in future years? Is he aware that many large burghs are now estimating that the total increase in rent revenue paid by local authority tenants will verge on £1 million per annum and that this can only come out of the pockets of local authority tenants at a time when they are being asked to hold back on wage demands?

Mr. Campbell

As I have said, there are restrictions on the increases which can be made in rents each year. There are also the rebate and rent allowance schemes. The figures are not available for 1972 and estimates cannot be made because all the facts are not yet available. I can, however, give figures for previous years. In 1969 the average percentage increase in local authority standard rents was 18.2, in 1970 it was 14.8 per cent. and in 1971 it was 6.8 per cent. In the case of Glasgow the average increase in the six years from November 1964 to November 1970 was 193 per cent. and in the two years from November 1970 to November 1972 it was 0.1 per cent.

Mr. MacArthur

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how much less in rent will be paid by the many tenants who will benefit from the Government's generous rent rebate scheme? Will my right hon. Friend either circulate or publish figures in HANSARD showing what effect the Act will have on reducing rate poundages throughout Scotland?

Mr. Campbell

We have given some estimates already. There are large numbers of tenants who will benefit from the rebate and allowance schemes. But we cannot make further accurate estimates without knowing about the circumstances of individual families. This information will become available in due course. When it is available we shall inform the House.

Mr. Sillars

May I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the percentage figures of increases which he read out and ask him whether I am right in thinking that he disapproved of them and would not tolerate them under his own Government?

Mr. Campbell

I was giving the House the facts which are available and also undertaking that when similar information becomes available, as it will later in the year, it will be made known to the House.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

My right hon. Friend will recall that at the last count the average council house family in Scotland paid about four-sevenths of the proportion of its income on housing which the average council house family in England paid. What is the ratio today? Has my right hon. Friend any information?

Mr. Campbell

Not without notice. But the facts have been made plain as they were by the Allen Committee which reported on rates some time ago. Rates have been very high in Scotland while rents in the public sector have been low, and this was not so in England.

Mr. Robert Hughes

When will the right hon. Gentleman stop dodging the issue and admit frankly that the vast majority of local authority tenants in Scotland will pay greatly increased rents despite the rebate scheme?

Mr. Campbell

The annual rent increase which is permissible is laid down in the Act, so increases can take place only by gradual steps. I remind the hon. Gentleman that during the 5½ years in which his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was Secretary of State the average local authority rent in Scotland was doubled precisely.

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