HC Deb 27 March 1941 vol 370 cc679-80
22. Mr. Frankel

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in various localities where there have been increases in the population as the result of transfer of civil servants and others, there is a continual rise in rent charges; and whether steps will be taken to prevent unjustifiable increases of this nature?

Mr. E. Brown

I am aware that high rents are being charged for furnished let-tings in some parts of the country. Persons who charge extortionate rents for furnished lettings are liable under the Rent Restrictions Acts to a fine not exceeding 100. I have urged local authorities to make the utmost use of their statutory power to prosecute in these cases and a number of prosecutions are impending. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any cases which have come to his notice, I will at once take them up with the local authorities concerned.

Mr. Frankel

Is the Minister taking any action with regard to those local authorities which are not using the powers that they now possess?

Mr. Brown

A circular was sent to all local authorities—Circular 2164 of 50th September, 1940—pointing out the facts and making clear their legal powers.

Mr. Frankel

But that was in 1940. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose taking any further action with regard to the local authorities who still take no action arising out of that circular?

Mr. Brown

I must have information about that before I can act. If the hon. Member knows of any such authority, perhaps he will let me know.

Mr. G. Macdonald

Does the Minister give any guidance to local authorities as to what are extortionate rents?

Mr. Silverman

Will not the Minister consider that point? Under the Rent Restrictions Acts, where houses are empty, a standard rent is fixed, and the other protection is bound to be abortive if there is no measure by which to judge whether rents are exorbitant or not.

Mr. Brown

Perhaps I may send a copy of the circular to the hon. Gentleman, and he will see that the point is covered in the terms of the circular.

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