HC Deb 27 February 1951 vol 484 cc1924-31
Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to restrict the rent for garaging cars in the Metropolitan area of London. I sincerely hope that this innocent little Bill will not have such a cataclysmic effect on the discipline of this House as was produced when we discussed the appointment of an admiral, and I also sincerely hope that the House will see fit to let this Bill go through.

We all know that garage rents, especially in the London area, are extortionate, and, according to calculations which I have made, must be such that, in some cases, garage proprietors of different types are getting their capital expenditure returned somewhere in the neighbourhood of about two years. One concludes that if one were able, in most of these cases, to obtain figures of the capital expenditure involved in building these garages, it would be found that, in many of them, garage proprietors are undoubtedly receiving interest in the neighbourhood of of 50 per cent.

It has come to my notice that, particularly in the West End, the West End Association of Garages has made a basic minimum charge. It would be unfair of me in this House if I were to say straightaway that that basic minimum charge was extortionate or unfair, and I would prefer not to do that here, but I do want to point out that these garage proprietors enjoy a terrific monopolistic situation in the London area, and I think that this House might well consider some such Bill as the one I am trying to introduce.

I want to point out that with many people today, the possession of a car is by no means a criterion of wealth. The possession of a car by a good many people, especially commercial travellers and others, is an absolute necessity to enable them to earn their living. There are many of this type of person living in London, many of whom operate the oldest types of cars, upon which is levied the iniquitous horse-power tax, as compared with the general tax paid in new cars. They are thus bearing a heavy burden which has been placed on the shoulders of those least able to bear it.

The passing of this Bill would ease their burdens considerably, because many of these people cannot afford to pay the high rent charged for a garage in London and the Metropolitan area night after night, with the result that their cars may be seen left out in the streets at night in all kinds of weather, creating extra difficulties for the police in the prevention of theft. I believe that there are thousands of cars left out every night in those circumstances, in London, and that some such Measure as this will be welcomed in helping to take many of these cars off the streets. I understand that before the war there were 3,000 public or semi-public garages in London. Today, the figure is probably twice as many again. I should like to know how many of these garages are really worth the rents charged for them, and what is the real economic basis of those rents?

Since 1933 local authorities have had power to publish information for the assistance of landlords and tenants regarding their rights and duties under the Rent Restriction Acts, and proceedings have been instituted under those Acts so far as housing is concerned. When we put those Acts on the Statute Book, we set up fair rent tribunals. I believe that under this Bill we could use those tribunals, and that local authorities should be requested to keep a register of all garages, which register should be open to public inspection. This would help, not only to maintain an economic and fair rent for the garages, but to track down stolen cars in the Metropolitan Police area.

I do not think it is a difficult matter to calculate a controlled rent for a garage. It could be based on a standard rent, taking, say, 1st September, 1939, as the date of that rent. If I were asked what would be the position with regard to garages built since that date, I would say that the average economic rent for a garage in that area in 1939 should be taken as the basis for calculating the rent of new garages. The 1939 rent could, therefore, be calculated on a percentage of profit giving a fair return on the capital expenditure over a period of between five or 10 years, depending on the fabrication and the type of material used in building the garage, or, alternatively, we could use the county court and the justices.

Mr. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)

I beg to oppose this Bill because, laudable though its intentions may appear to be, it would have exactly the opposite effect to that desired by its proposer, and, indeed, to that desired by hon. Members on this side of the House. Surely, the best way to bring down the rents of garages is by building more garages so that there is not so much competition for the space available. We on this side of the House fully realise that it is not practicable at the moment to build many garages. Therefore, superficially, a method of control of price is attractive. But what would be the effect of such a Bill? It would merely mean that many people who control the letting of their garages would no longer let them as garages, but would prefer to use them for some other purpose, which would mean that the congestion in the remaining garage space would be greater than ever.

The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) suggested that there had been some great profiteering over garage accommodation in the London area. In actual fact, however—particularly in the case of large public garages—garages have put up their prices since the war less than almost any other industry. For instance, the garage in a central area which before the war was charging 2s. 6d. a night, now charges only the standard price of 3s. 6d. When we consider how much their rents and expenses have gone up since 1939, that is a very moderate increase indeed. I suggest that at the present time we do not want to see any more control, particularly of garage rents, which can only make the position worse and not better.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 12.

The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 196.

Division No. 42.] AYES [4.5 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mainwaring, W. H.
Adams, H. R. Freeman, John (Watford) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Allan, Arthur (Bosworth) Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N Mann, Mrs. Jean
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Manuel, A. C.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Gibson, C. W. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Gilzean, A. Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
Awbery, S. S. Glanville, James (Consett) Mellish, R. J.
Ayles, W. H. Granville, Edgar (Eye) Messer, F.
Bacon, Miss Alice Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Middleton, Mrs. L.
Baird, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Mikardo, Ian
Balfour, A. Grenfell, D. R. Mitchison, G. R.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Grey, C. F. Moeran, E. W.
Bartley, P. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Monslow, W.
Benn, Wedgwood Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llaneffy) Moody, A. S.
Benson, G. Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Beswick, F Gunter, R. J. Morley, R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Bins, G. H. C. Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Blackburn, A. R. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, w.) Mort, D. L.
Blenkinsop, A. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Moyle, A.
Blyton, W. R. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Murray, J. D.
Boardman, H. Hamilton, W. W. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Booth, A. Hannan, W. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Bottomley, A. G. Hardman, D. R O'Brien, T.
Bowden, H. W. Hardy, E. A. Oliver, G. H
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Hargreaves, A. Orbach, M.
Brockway, A. F. Harrison, J. Padley, W. E.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hastings, S. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hayman, F. H. Pannell, T. C.
Brown, George (Belper) Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Tipton) Pargiter, G. A.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Herbison, Miss M. Paton, J.
Burke, W. A. Hewitson, Capt. M. Pearson, A.
Burton, Miss E. Hobson, C. R. Peart, T. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Holman, P. Poole, C.
Callaghan, L. J. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Popplewell, E.
Carmichael, J. Houghton, D. Proctor, W. T.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hoy, J. Pryde, D. J.
Champion, A. J. Hubbard, T. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Rankin, J.
Clunie, J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Rees, Mrs. D.
Cocks, F. S Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Coldrick, W. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Reld, William (Camlachie)
Collick, P. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Rhodes, H.
Collindridge, F. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Richards, R.
Cook, T. F. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Robens, A.
Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Janner, B. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Cooper, John (Deptford) Jay, D. P. T. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Cove, W. G. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jenkins, R. H. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Crawley, A. Johnson, James (Rugby) Rogers, George (Kensington, N)
Crosland, C. A. R. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Grossman, R. H. S Jones, David (Hartlepool) Royle, C.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Daines, P. Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Shackleton, E. A. A
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Keenan, W. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Kenyon, C. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
de Freitas, G. Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E. Simmons, C. J.
Deer, G. Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Slater, J.
Delargy, H. J. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Diamond, J. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Dodds, N. N. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Snow, J. W.
Driberg, [...]r. E. N. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Sorensen, R. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lindgren, G. S. Sparks, J. A.
Edelman, M. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Steele, T.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) McAllister, G. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) MacColl, J. E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) McGhee, H. G. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) McGovern, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Ewart, R. McInnes, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Fernyhough, E. Mack, J. D. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Field, Capt. W. J. McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Finch, H. J. Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) McLeavy, F. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Follick, M. MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Foot, M. M. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Forman, J. C. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thurtle, Ernest
Timmons, J. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W Wilson, Rt. Hon Harold (Huyton)
Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Wigg, G. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Tomney, F. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Vernon, W. F. Wilkes, L. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Viant, S. P. Wilkins, W. A. Wyatt, W. L.
Wallace, H. W. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland) Yates, V. F.
Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland) Younger, Hon. K.
Wells, Percy (Faversham) Williams, David (Neath)
West, D. G. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.) Williams, Ronald (Wigan) Mr. Harold Davies and
White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint) Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly) Mr Donnelly
White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.) Williams, W. T (Hammersmith, S.)
Alport, C. J. M Head, Brig. A. H. Odey, G. W.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Heath, Edward Ormsby-Gore, Hon W. D.
Arbuthnot, John Henderson, John (Cathcarl) Osborne, C.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Higgs, J. M. C. Perkins, W. R. D.
Baldwin, A. E. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Beamish, Major Tufton Hill, Dr Charles (Luton) Pickthorn, K.
Bell, R. M. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Powell, J. Enoch
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Hirst, Geoffrey Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Profumo, J. D.
Birch, Nigel Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Raikes, H. V.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,.) Rayner, Brig. R.
Bossom, A. C. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Renton, D. L. M.
Bower, Norman Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hurd, A. R. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hutchison, Lt.-Com Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Robson-Brown, W
Brains, B. R. Hutchison, Colonel James Roper, Sir Harold
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Ropner, Col. L
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Jeffreys, General Sir George Russell, R. S.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Jennings, R. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Johnson, Major Howard (Kemptown) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Bullock, Capt. M. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Scott, Donald
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Kaberry, D. Smiles, Lt.-Col Sir Walter
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Keeling, E. H. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Butcher, H. W. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Kinley, J. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Channon, H. Lambert, Hon. G. Snadden, W. McN
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Spence, H. R (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Lennox-Boyd, A T Stanley, Capt. Hon, Richard (N Fylde)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Lindsay, Martin Stevens, G. P
Corbett, Lt.-Col Uvedale (Ludlow) Linstead, H. N. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. c. Llewellyn, D. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crouch, R. F. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Storey, S.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Davidson, Viscountess Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Studholme, H. G.
Davies, Nigel (Epping) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Summers, G. S.
Deedes, W. F. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Teevan, T. L.
Digby, S. W. McAdden, S. J. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M. McKibbin, A. Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Drewe, C Maclay, Hon. John Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Maclean, Fitzroy Tilney, John
Dunglass, Lord MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.> Touche, G. C.
Duthie, W. S. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Turner, H. F. L.
Elliot, Rt. Hon W. E. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Turton, R. H.
Fisher, Nigel Maitland, Cmdr. J W Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Manningham-Buller, R. E. Vosper, D. F.
Fort, R Marples, A. E. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Foster, John Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Maudling R. Watkinson, H.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Medlicott, Brig. F. Webbe, Sir Harold
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Mellor, Sir John Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Gammans, L. D. Molson, A. H. E. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Wills, G.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Nabarro, G. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Nicholson, G. York, C.
Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S Nugent, G. R. H.
Harvey Air-Codre A. V. (Macclesfield) Nutting, Anthony TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hay, John Oakshott, H. D. Mr. Errol and
Mr. Harmar Nicholls.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Harold Davies, Mr. Mikardo, Mr. Snow, Mr. George Darling, Mr. Donnelly, Mr. Driberg, Mr. Reeves, Lieut.-Colonel Lipton and Mr. James Johnson.