HC Deb 09 April 1973 vol 854 cc917-8
13. Mr. Coleman

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is now in a position to indicate the total additional rent paid by local authority tenants in Wales during 1972 as a result of the Housing Finance Act, and estimate the further total increase to these tenants in 1973.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

No. Information about rent levels will be published by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers andAccountants later this year. It is too soon to make estimates about rent increases in 1973.

Mr. Coleman

Is the Minister aware that that is a shocking answer? Will be say whether, in the light of the assistance that the Government are giving to the building societies, the tenants of council houses and other rented accommodation in Wales can expect some aid to prevent rising rents? Will he further say that the economies foreshadowed by his right hon. and learned Friend in making the announcement about mortgages will not fall on housing in Wales?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Tenants whose incomes are low and who are not able to afford increases in rent may well pay less rent as a consequence of the rent rebate scheme.

Mr. McBride

Does the Minister realise that these increases are unjustified and run contrary to the Government's counter-inflation policy? Is he so callous that he has entirely forgotten the tragedy which these rent increases cause in working-class households? Will he act in a humanitarian way and say that the Government will do away with the Act?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The help given to tenants of the sort to whom the hon. Member refers will be far more substantial than before. The increase in the needs allowance for calculating rent rebates will mean that many tenants entitled to rebate will pay even less rent in future.

Sir A. Meyer

Is it not a fact that the Labour Party, for purely party political purposes, is deliberately spreading false ideas which are preventing a great many tenants who could claim the rebate from doing so?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This does not really surprise me because the Labour Party has been doing that for the last 100 years.