§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether sympathetic consideration can be given to the requirements of ex-Service men in Bournemouth and elsewhere, who are unable to obtain new houses through private builders owing to present restrictions; whether they are aware of the inadequate progress of housing in Bournemouth, and that not one single house was erected by the local authority during the last period; when the ration of 4 to 1 is likely to be achieved in that area, and whether better facilities can now be given to private builders.]
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, sympathetic consideration is being given to the housing requirements of ex-Servicemen, in common with others in urgent need of accommodation. I am sending the noble Lord a copy of Circular 109/45 issued by the Ministry of Health to local authorities a year ago on the subject of housing for men in His Majesty's Forces. As regards housing progress in Bournemouth, the local authority have tenders approved for 96 permanent houses, all of which are under construction; and they have plans for a substantial further number to be started in the near future; 276 temporary houses are also to be erected in the borough, and the Council have already developed and handed over to the Ministry of Works, which is responsible for erecting the houses, sites for all of these.
It is true that private developers have so far made better progress with permanent housing than the local authority, having started sooner; but houses so 930 erected are available only to those ex-Servicemen or others with money to buy them—or if any are to let, with money to pay substantial rents; and my right honourable friend the Minister of Health is determined that most of the houses to be erected in this period of acute shortage shall be allocated according to the needs of applicants and not according to their means. As regards giving better facilities to private builders, your Lordships will be aware that the Ministry of Health have recently issued a circular, of which also I am sending the noble Lord a copy, authorities local authorities to make arrangements with small builders or with builders owning their own land, under which they can build for the local authority with a minimum of trouble; and I understand that the Council is already considering proposals under the circular.
§ LORD LYLE OF WESTBOURNE
My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his reply, may I ask, arising out of that reply, whether it is not a fact that the only real way of surmounting these tremendous housing difficulties is to give private enterprise free rein, and further, whether it is not a fact that the sole reason why the Minister of Health does not adopt this course is that he knows that if he did so it would be proved by facts that his ill-conceived theories are badly founded.
§ LORD CROFT
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, may I ask him if he has looked up the past history? Is it not a fact that over a long period of years in this same county borough something like 800 houses a year were built by private enterprise? That compares very favourably with the figures the noble Lord has just given.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I do not agree at all with the propositions submitted by the noble Lord. I think the principles upon which the Minister of Health is operating are the only principles by which the housing requirements of the people will adequately be met.