HC Deb 18 March 1920 vol 126 cc2393-6
Major LLOYD-GREAME (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Health whether he can make a statement as to the policy of the Government in connection with the Increase of Rent, etc., (Restrictions) Acts.


Yes, Sir. I have received a communication from Lord-Salisbury, the Chairman of the Committee, in the following terms:— The Committee on the Rent Restriction. Acts met for the first time on the 25th, February, and although they have held seven meetings and have examined eighteen witnesses they have not yet concluded the taking of evidence. But the evidence which the Committee have already received is sufficient to make it clear to them that the protection afforded by the Acts against eviction of tenants or unreasonable in-creases of rent should not be allowed to-lapse at the time when the present Acts expire, and accordingly it will be their duty to recommend to His Majesty's Government that, subject to considerable Amendments; the precise form and extent of which is still to be determined, the operation of the present Acts should be continued for a further substantial period. While I cannot, of course, anticipate the final conclusions of the Committee as to the Amendments of the existing Acts which they will propose, I am authorised to state that the Government are prepared to accept the recommendation of the Committee that, subject to such Amendments as may be determined' upon, the operation of the present Acts should be continued for a further period, and that a Bill for this purpose will in due course be submitted to Parliament


Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the legislation, when it is introduced, will be retrospective, so as to protect any tenants who may receive notice to quit between the present time and the time of the legislation passing?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all landlords are not rich and that there are many poor people relying for their bread and butter on very small rents, which are Substantially the same as pre-War rents, when the purchasing value of the pound was twenty shillings? Will he give such cases some consideration?


Yes. Clearly, the Act will have to cover such cases, subject to such modifications as those referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend. I am also well aware of the cases put by my hon. Friend opposite. It is clear that the modifications of the Act should be designed to meet that class of case, with a very large number of which I am familiar.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the proposed legislation of the Government will affect the occupiers of flats, say, whose rents have been increased, I can assure him, from £150 to £300, and even £450 a year, without people, having the opportunity of any recourse to appeal?


Will the right hon. Gentleman say at the same time whether the legislation of the Government will protect shopkeepers, who have been victimised even more than householders and have no protection at all?


My hon. Friend will be well aware bow involved are the effects of legislation of this kind, and what care is necessary to scrutinise every proposed extension. As a rule the commercial community are pretty well able to look after themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not the small shopkeepers!"] Both classes of cases mentioned are being considered by the Committee, and we shall receive their recommendations in due time. Beyond that I am not prepared to make any statement at present.


Will the conclusions of the Committee be in time to meet any notices to quit that may have to take effect on Lady Day?


The 30th June is defined as the date when the existing Act expires. The proposed legislation will be introduced and, I hope, passed before

that date, and it will operate. With regard to any extensions of the Act I am not prepared to make any statement.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Prime Minister promised in this House that the investigations of this Committee would include the case of shopkeepers, and having regard to that promise, is evidence being invited with regard to the increase of rent of shopkeepers?


I know that the considerations of the Committee do take account of shopkeepers, but as to evidence I cannot say without notice.