asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the Kingston-on-Thames Corporation have houses ready for occupation which they are refusing to let; one instance is that of Mr. F. C. Widdicombe, of Bridge Cottage, Wooburn, Bucks, employed at Mount Pleasant post office; that the applicant, an ex-service man, applied to this authority on 30th March to be accepted as a tenant of one of the corporation's houses; that he was informed on 31st March that the houses are offered for sale and were not to let; and, in view of the fact that Mr. Widdicombe had to accept accommodation at Wooburn after demobilisation because of the impossibility of obtaining it nearer London, and that the requirements of the Post Office authorities necessitate that he should live nearer the post office at which he is employed, will he issue an order to this and other local authorities to the effect that where houses are ready for occupation suitable applicants should be permitted to occupy them regardless of whether the property is for sale or not?
I have inquired fully into this case and I am satisfied that it is one in which the local authority are able to dispose of the houses by early sale to intending occupiers; and it is in accordance with the policy of the Government that they should do so. I shall keep in touch with the local authority to ensure that as little delay as possible occurs in securing the occupation of the houses.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the exact number of houses for which grants have been made in aid of buildings which have been held empty for sale for periods extending over 18 months, and does he consider that this state of things is a fair reflex of the desires and promises of the Government?
I am not aware of any-such cases. I do not believe they can exist. There are a very small number of houses empty in this case. One has been sold, and I am assured by the local authorities that they expect to dispose of the others at a very early date.