HC Deb 02 August 1972 vol 842 cc138-9W
Mr. Leonard

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what requests he has received from minority groups in local authorities for permission for reduced rents to be imposed under Clause 62(4) of the Housing Finance Bill; and what is his practice with regard to such requests.

Mr. Amery

Representations have been received from minority groups of councillors of two local authorities. The practice in such cases is to consider the supporting data supplied by the applicant in conjunction with any further information which may be needed from the authority and any representations which the authority may wish to make. The powers under the section can be exercised only where the authority would otherwise be likely to have to increase the rents of 2 per cent. or more of their dwellings substantially above fair rents.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will seek to provide legislative guidance to members of local authorities as to their liability to surcharge if they abstain from voting on the question of whether the Housing Finance Bill should be implemented.

Mr. Amery

No. In view of the Secretary of State's appellate jurisdiction it would not be proper to issue such guidance.

Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many of his staff in the Department are now wholly, or partly, engaged in dealing with interpretative queries from local authorities concerning the Housing Finance Bill; what is his estimate of the cost of this work; and if he will make a statement;

(2) how many interpretative queries concerning the Housing Finance Bill have been received from local authorities, verbally and in writing, respectively; and if he will classify the queries under appropriate headings.

Mr. Eyre

About 15 officers may deal with such queries, although in many cases this constitutes a small part of their duties. Since no record is kept of either the number of inquiries or the time spent dealing with them it is not possible to classify them or estimate the cost.