HC Deb 02 July 1942 vol 381 cc487-8
21. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that the big increase in prices of houses above pre-war prices is not confined to certain areas but is widespread, that the normal increase is 60 per cent. and frequently 200 per cent. and over, he will without further delay establish, a system of price control for house property?

22. Mr. Vernon Bartlett

asked the Minister of Health whether, in order to put a stop to profiteering, he will take measures to forbid the sale of house property for more than 10 per cent. above the price paid at the last sale?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)

The figures which I have obtained from the Valuation Department show not only that the increase to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) refers is less than he suggests, but that it is confined to the limited number of houses in reception areas which are sold with vacant possession for occupation by the purchaser. Owing to the Rent Restriction Acts the selling price of houses generally has not increased and in the vulnerable areas sales are taking place at a figure considerably below the previous purchase price. I have reexamined the problem recently, and in view of its limited nature and of the powers of billeting and requisitioning which enable me to meet the needs of people who are required to move in connection with the war effort, I do not consider that I should be justified at present in asking Parliament for the new powers which would be necessary.

Mr. Lipson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this evil exists in certain reception areas, and will he give further consideration to the matter and put a stop to this profiteering in house property?

Mr. Brown

I cannot accept that assumption. My hon. Friend wants it both ways.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Has the Minister also considered the position in the East End of London, which is not a reception area, where, I understand, this evil is very rampant and very serious?

Mr. Brown

If my hon. Friend has evidence of that sort, I wish he would give it to me.

Mr. A. Edwards

Does the Minister realise that the deliberate inflationary policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer tends to create these evils?

Mr. Brown

My hon. Friend will not expect me to answer that question.

Mr. Bartlett

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that a great number of people who have gone to these reception areas have been bombed out of their own homes elsewhere and that they are very genuine cases?

Mr. Brown

I have had a look at all the elements of the problem. They are many and varied and not so clear-cut as my hon. Friend seems to suggest.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the Minister aware that the matter cannot be lightly dismissed?

Mr. Lipson

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.