Rent Rebates (War Pensions)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 1972.

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Photo of Mr Robert Redmond Mr Robert Redmond , Bolton West 12:00 am, 18th October 1972

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities have responded to his circular 74/72 by increasing the disregard of war pensions from £2 to £3 for rent rebate purposes; how many have reduced the disregard which obtained before the passing of the Housing (Finance) Act; how many have made no change; and if he will name those authorities who have reduced the disregard.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I regret that this information is not yet available.

Photo of Mr Robert Redmond Mr Robert Redmond , Bolton West

Whilst accepting that is possibly the position, may I ask my right hon. Friend to keep the matter under careful review? Is it not absolutely appalling to think that some local authorities will reduce the disregard for war pensioners when they have been guided by the Government to keep the figure at £3?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I sympathise with my hon. Friend's view. Our Circular 74/72 instances war disability pensions as one of the aspects of the national scheme where authorities may wish to exercise their discretion to be more generous. It is suggested that local authorities which have hitherto disregarded more than £2 may wish to use this power to continue with their former practice. They have authority to disregard the whole of these provisions.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Why did not the circular make reference also to other disregards—namely, special hardship and disability allowances—that have been incurred as a result of industrial accidents? Why should there be a distinction between the two? Why does not the Minister be a little more honest in his answer to his hon. Friend and make it clear that there is a limit to how far local authorities can go in using their discretion because they come up against the financial barrier that he imposed in the Act?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I am always prepared to look at suggestions and to discuss any other pensions which might be disregarded, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not seeking to decry the priority which should be given to war disability.