Duty to Keep Housing Revenue Account

Part of Clause 71 – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 7th November 1989.

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Mr. Fern:

I do not know. I hope that the Minister will explain what he means, because this is the yardstick on which the Government will work. I should find it difficult to spotlight the ordinary person by using that yardstick. Can he guarantee that when he comes to define ordinary people, rents will not be out of the reach of those people?

It is morally wrong that better-off council tenants should be paying, through their rents, for the welfare benefits given to other tenants. Private and housing association tenants will not be put in that position. It will place council tenants in the difficult position of having to pay a little extra. This is particularly bad as better-off council tenants are a long way from being well off. There is no such thing as a well-off council tenant. A well-off person is one who owns his own property with only a small mortgage and there are few like that these days. To say that we are subsidising council tenants is untrue. It has never been true and it will not be true. It is another case of the poor subsidising the poor.

We have here greater central Government control over local authorities' housing activities, thus once more stifling local initiative—something at which Whitehall has been very good, especially since 1979. I can see that the Bill will do nothing to alleviate the growing housing shortage. lf the Minister can explain one or two of those points, I for one shall have my eyes opened.