HC Deb 04 February 1943 vol 386 cc1029-30
17. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the growing practice of demanding key-money, varying from £5 to £50, as a pre-condition to the letting of houses and flats; and what steps he has taken, or proposes to take, to stop this practice?

Mr. E. Brown

No, Sir, but the matter is fully covered by Section 8 of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920, and the First Schedule to the Act of 1939, which provide that a person shall not as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy or sub-tenancy of a controlled house require the payment of any fine, premium or other sum, or the giving of any pecuniary consideration in addition to the rent, and that any person requiring such a payment shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £100. Any contravention of these provisions should be brought at once to the notice of the local authority who have power to take legal proceedings; and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me this opportunity to make the position clear.

Mr. Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this bears very heavily upon people who are transferred by Government order and who have to move to strange places where they have no local contacts, and is he further aware that the provisions to which he has referred are inadequate to stop this practice, which is going on all over the country?

Mr. Brown

They seem to me to be fully adequate, provided the persons themselves will supply the evidence on which alone the local authority can act.

Mr. Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these people, when they are pressed to get accommodation for their families, often have to agree and, therefore, cannot give this evidence?

Mr. Brown

It is difficult to see how any law can operate if the people concerned will not co-operate with those who make the laws for their protection.

Mr. Astor

Will my right hon. Friend ask local authorities to take aggressive action on their own initiative to stop this practice?

Mr. Brown

They are unable to do that by the terms of the law unless they can provide legal evidence in order to make the law effective.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Owing to the importance of this matter, I beg to give notice that I shall raise it on the Adjournment.

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