Rural Housing.

Oral Answers to Questions — Town Planning. – in the House of Commons on 12th November 1936.

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Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in nearly every rural and semi-rural area in the Home Counties the greatest difficulty is experienced by agricultural labourers and others of the lower-paid wage-earners in obtaining cottages at a rent which is within their resources, and that the difficulty has been increased in recent years by the tendency on the part of speculators and others to purchase agricultural cottages of a picturesque character as residences for people of a different class, and also by the demolition of old cottage property under the Housing Acts, without the provision by the local authority of alternative accommodation at the same rent; and if he will circularise all local housing authorities in the Home Counties, calling their urgent attention to this matter?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am aware of the difficulties referred to by my right hon. and noble Friend. Every opportunity is taken of impressing upon local authorities the need to take the fullest advantage of their powers under the Housing Acts. The number of new houses completed in the area to which he refers under the Act of 1930 is about equivalent to the number of houses demolished, but if my right hon. and noble Friend has any particular district in mind I shall be glad to have inquiries made.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this position is the subject of much concern to doctors, medical officers of health, clergy, social workers and the like? Increased building has led to no reduction in rents and there are no more houses available.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I could not accept that as a general statement. If my noble Friend has any particular district in mind, I shall be very glad to inquire into it.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it applies to the whole of the rural districts of Sussex and Surrey?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this difficulty is not confined to the Home Counties?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelly

Would it not be far better to raise the wages to the level of the good house than reduce the house to the level of low wages?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great deal of this trouble is caused by houses being condemned which are quite fit for use?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

My hon. and gallant Friend will know that I have taken many steps to impress upon local authorities the necessity of avoiding that wherever possible. I am glad to say that more houses have been dealt with by way of reconstruction during the last few months than we have ever had in a similar period in the history of the country.