The National Assistance rent rule which is prescribed in Regulations empowers the National Assistance Board to provide for mortgage interest but not for repayments of capital. The rule has been in existence since 1948 and it would be wrong to treat repayments of capital in the same way as mortgage interest. The Board has discretionary powers, however, which it can use where necessary to prevent hardship where a recipient of national assistance has to continue making refunds of mortgage capital.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the plight of many deserted wives whose husbands refuse to make repayments on the mortgage and who also have to pay rates? Will he try to find some way of helping people in this unfortunate position, perhaps by instructing local offices of the National Assistance Board to be more generous in their provision?
I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern in this matter. I have been in correspondence with him about it. In addition to cases of deserted wives, we have widows, the sick, and so forth, who are also concerned. But, as I pointed out, in exceptional cases the Board tries to relieve hardship for these people. My hon. Friend's supplementary question will be drawn to the Board's attention.