HC Deb 18 March 1948 vol 448 cc2287-8
66. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Minister of Health whether he will freeze the selling price of houses for sale with vacant possession and so prevent profits being made out of the transactions.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 7th November last to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Central Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Wilkes), of which I am sending him a copy.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have read that reply, and that I consider it most unsatisfactory? In view of the outrageous profits which are now being made, and the threat of inflation and the social distress being caused, does not he now consider it time to take action to end all this?

Mr. Bevan

The fact that action has not been taken has never been due to any reluctance to act on my part, but to the difficulty of finding what effective action one could take. As I have explained on several occasions, there is a shortage of valuers, and there is nothing to prevent all kinds of illegal arrangements being made when there is a willing seller and a willing buyer and a shortage of houses.

Mr. Ralph Morley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I can give him instances of cases in Southampton in which in one week the price was £2,500, a fortnight later£2,750 and a fortnight after that £3,000. Cannot my right hon. Friend, in his fertile, ingenious mind, find some way of putting a stop to this racket?

Mr. Bevan

As I have explained to the House on many occasions in the past, I have examined this question microscopically, and I can find no way of checking this abuse which cannot be easily evaded, and there is nothing more ridiculous than passing laws which one cannot carry out.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

In spite of that very convincing remark, will my right hon. Friend try again? Are we to believe that his mind has failed to find a remedy for something which is a crying scandal?

Mr. Bevan

I should be very happy to consider any suggestion from any quarter of the House and have it examined, and if I can be satisfied that any scheme will be effective, I will certainly suggest to my colleagues that we should take the necessary power.

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