Oral Answers to Questions — Council Housing (One-Parent Families)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1975.

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Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire 12:00 am, 7th May 1975

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment in view of the fact that some housing authorities are declining to allocate council houses to one parent families, if he will give guidance to the authorities on this matter.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

I would deplore such a policy and would willingly investigate specific cases reported to me. Much guidance has been given to local authorities about responding to special needs. In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, I am considering the question of further advice on one-parent families as part of the follow-up to the Finer Report.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I thank the Minister for that helpful answer. Is he aware that the cases of women with children who have been deserted by their husbands are perhaps the most difficult but are the cases in which local authorities sometimes do not give enough help. We welcome the Minister's intention to help local authorities in the art of compassion.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

I certainly accept that there are difficulties surrounding certain points schemes and certain systems of allocation which perhaps unintentionally, and because of their history, result in single-parent families being treated less fairly than families which have both parents still resident with the children.

This will fall to be dealt with generally as part of the examination of housing management matters to which we shall pay particular and increasing attention in the course of this year. Meanwhile I shall be glad to take up particular cases, and if the general policies as distinct from individual applications being refused, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred are being pursued we shall do our best to persuade authorities to act otherwise.

Photo of Mrs Helene Hayman Mrs Helene Hayman , Welwyn and Hatfield

Is my hon. Friend aware that the news of the possibility of a circular to local authorities on the recommendations on housing of the Finer Report will be very welcome? However, does he agreed that there are problems for one-parent families not only in the local authority housing sector but in private housing too? Will he undertake not to neglect the building societies in his discussions on the Finer Report? Will he have discussions with them about their attitudes towards particularly the question of their foreclosing of mortgages without informing wives?

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

All these matters and others which are relevant will certainly fall to be discussed and pursued in the wake of the Finer Committee's report. As for other aspects, we shall be considering during the course of this year ways in which social ownership and control and direct municipalisation can be be pursued. We shall seek hopefully to assist one-parent families and to meet other special needs in the course of this examination and other consultation.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Bain Mrs Margaret Bain , Dunbartonshire East

Will the Minister undertake to consult the Scottish Office on this matter? There have been recent examples of one-parent families in Scotland being severely exploited by private landlords in that they have had to pay exorbitant rents for slum accommodation which is totally unsuitable for raising a family.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

I undertake to keep in contact with the Scottish Office, as I continually do, on matters that are of common interest to the United Kingdom and Scotland. I am delighted to hear that we are not recommended to break all ties between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.