§ 83. Sir K. WOOD
asked the Minister of Munitions whether his attention has been called to the complaints of the tenants of the hutments on the Well Hall estate, Eltham, as to the excessive amount of 943 their rent and the unsatisfactory condition of the hutments; whether such hutments complied with the provisions of the building by-laws of the London County Council; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
The answer to this Question is necessarily lengthy, and in the circumstances I hope my hon. Friend will allow me to publish the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the answer supplied to the Question:
§ My attention was recently called to the complaints of the tenants of the bungalows on the Well Hall Estate, and as a result I caused a special examination to be made. The facts are as follows:
§ The rents charged are 9s. 6d. for a bungalow of four rooms and a scullery, and 10s. where a bath is provided. These rents represent an economic return on less than 70 per cent. of the cost. From these rents a reduction of 2s. 6d. per week was allowed for a period of three months from the week beginning 31st December last, to meet the cost of extra coal, owing to complaints that some of the bungalows were cold and damp.
§ The bungalows were built in 1915–1916 to meet a war emergency for the accommodation of employés at the Arsenal. They were not actually licensed by the London County Council, but the sewers were inspected and approved by the district authority, and they comply generally with the requirements of the London Building Act as regards public health in such matters as height of rooms, size of windows, air spaces, drainage, and sanitation.
§ The examination by officials of the Department showed that in some cases there was ground for the complaint that the hutments were damp, and that some of the roads were in bad condition. Steps were at once taken, and work is now in progress to remedy the dampness and to put the roads in sufficient repair to carry the necessary traffic.
§ A body described as the Government Hutments Protection League held a meeting and passed a resolution declaring that unless the rents were reduced by 5s. a week as from 23rd December last, they would advise the tenants to refuse to pay the rents. Representations were made to 944 the Government to this effect. In reply I stated that the defects to which attention had been called were being remedied and the roads repaired in those places where they had been found to be seriously deficient. I added that until these repairs were completed, and provided that the existing rents were punctually paid, I would agree to the 2s. 6d. rebate being continued, and that I would discuss the situation with the committee before it was withdrawn.
§ The complaints made by the committee were much exaggerated, and I am glad to say that the advice they gave to the tenants not to pay rent has not been generally adopted. Further, I may add that there is a long waiting list of applicants who are anxious to become tenants of the bungalows as they fall vacant. I hope my hon. Friend will agree that everything possible has been done to meet reasonable complaints.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many hundreds of Government tenants on this particular estate have refused to pay their rent last week as a protest against the excessive rents charged by the Government and the unsatisfactory condition of the hutments, and is he prepared to receive a deputation or call a conference in order to adjust these differences?