HC Deb 27 May 1977 vol 932 cc724-5W
Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the law in relation to lack of security of tenure at moorings for houseboats, in the light of the postion of 26 families resident at Swan Island Harbour, Strawberry Vale, Twickenham, who are liable to become homeless, having been given notice to quit their moorings if they do not sign a new mooring agreement containing certain conditions unacceptable to them.

Mr. Armstrong

I certainly appreciate the difficulties which can face those who live in houseboats because of the lack of statutory rights of security of tenure on moorings. Because of my concern I have given the most careful consideration to the ways in which their position might be improved and the effects of possible remedies. But I am bound to say that I still consider that legislating in this field would be of doubtful use to residents. Because of the great variety of contractual arrangements which exist, the problems of definition, and the need to ensure that the ability of the water authorities to carry out their statutory duties was not impaired, legislation would inevitably be very complex and might well therefore be to a great extent unworkable in practice. I am also concerned not to precipitate any further drying up of the supply of moorings.

As far as the position of the houseboat residents at Swan Island Harbour is concerned, I have carefully studied the letter which the hon. Member forwarded to me. I would hope that there was some scope for negotiation about the new terms of the mooring contract which has been offered to residents and that no precipitate action would be taken while this possi-

Date Rent Rebates Rent Allowances Financial year ending Rate Rebates
March 1970 350 March 1970 808
March 1971 350 March 1971 795
March 1972 270 March 1972 806
May 1973 700 48 March 1973 905
April 1974 840 132 March 1974 910
April 1975 870 161 March 1975 2,300
April 1976 970 203 March 1976 2,580
January 1977 990 201
It is estimated from the Family Expenditure Survey that 25 to 30 per cent. of rent rebates granted in 1975 were claimed by families with dependent children, and that 5 to 15 per cent. of allowances granted to privately renting unfurnished tenants were claimed by families with children.
From a sample survey undertaken by the Department in 1975–76 it is estimated that 15 to 20 per cent. of households in England and Wales receiving rate rebates are households with dependent children.
* Householders receiving supplementary benefit are excluded.
† Numbers of rent allowances include both furnished and unfurnished cases.

Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing the level of income at which rent and rate rebates are phased out for a married couple with two children, as a percentage of average male manual earnings, and in each year since commencement of these schemes.

Mr. Armstrong

The Question cannot be answered in the form requested because the income level at which rebates would cease to be payable varies with the rent and rates paid, among other factors.