War Workers (Billeting)

Oral Answers to Questions — Housing – in the House of Commons on 22nd October 1942.

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Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the billeting of war workers on householders is being fairly applied as between working-class householders and other householders; and, if not, whether he will cause instructions to be issued to billeting authorities to see that the burden of billeting is fairly distributed?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am confident that, in general, the difficult task of finding lodgings for war workers has been carried out reasonably. The main consideration must be the comfort of the worker and I am glad to say that up to the present it has been possible in the vast majority of cases for arrangements to be made voluntarily. If the hon. Member has any particular instances in mind and will send me details, I will look into them at once.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

Would not billeting be less of a burden if the payments were adequate?

Photo of Mr Edgar Granville Mr Edgar Granville , Eye

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the serious overcrowding in the town engaged upon vital war production, of which he has been informed, resulting in families living and sleeping together in one room, night-shift workers unable to get rest and increased applications from key workers for release to other areas, he is satisfied that the chief billeting officer and the local authority concerned have adequate powers to deal with landlords who refuse war workers with families; and whether any right of vetoing tenants resides in the hands of the Mayor?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am confident that the billeting and requisitioning powers which I have delegated to the local authority concerned, together with the powers vested in them under an Order made under Defence Regulation 68 (c), are adequate for securing for workers transferred into the area such accommodation as becomes available, and I know that lodgings for large numbers of workers and accommodation for some 400 families have been arranged by the authority. Owing to the housing shortage due to the stoppage of house-building it is not possible in this or other towns to provide family accommodation for all who desire it, but I propose to confer with the local authority concerned and with neighbouring local authorities in order to see what further action can be taken to overcome the difficulties which exist. I shall also be glad to discuss the problem with my hon. Friend and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox), who has also raised it with me. With regard to the last part of the Question, the Mayor has no powers of the kind mentioned by virtue of his office, but I understand that he was until recently a member of the Committee which deals with applications by householders for the Committee's consent to provide lodging.

Photo of Mr Edgar Granville Mr Edgar Granville , Eye

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that foundry and blast-furnace workers who, since the beginning of the war, have been engaged on heavy work for long hours and on night shifts, have been unable to get any rest during the day, and is he aware that his promise to take action will give satisfaction?