§ 3. Mrs. Dunwoody
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any new proposals to deal with housing need among single people.
§ The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)
The Government's housing policies—and in particular the proposals in our Housing Bill—will assist all categories of housing need.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
The Secretary of State's answer will come as a considerable surprise to most people. Would he like to live in cardboard box under Waterloo bridge? If not, what will he do to rehouse people who are living like that?
§ Mr. Ridley
I imagine that the hon. Lady will strongly support the Housing Bill, which introduces assured tenancies, amended rules on shorthold, and fair rent tenancies to encourage more private landlords to come forward. It also encourages building societies by giving them extra powers to provide accommodation for rent, and encourages the housing association movement to build large numbers of social houses to rent, with Government subsidies to keep those rents low. In the light of that tremendous effort to help the housing shortage, I am surprised that the hon. Lady asked such a stupid question.
§ Mr. Heddle
I acknowledge the enormous initiatives in the Housing Bill, but does my right hon. Friend agree that many of the single homeless could be adequately housed in pubic sector properties that are currently too large for their tenants? Does he also agree that perhaps many local authorities are not using the tenants' charter provisions of a previous Act to best effect for the single homeless?
§ Mr. Ridley
Yes, Sir. There are well over 100,000 empty council houses and well over 500,000 empty private dwellings. The Government's policy is to bring the maximum number into use to ease the housing shortage.