HC Deb 15 December 1953 vol 522 cc198-9
53. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will take steps to extend the powers of local authorities to trace owners of slum property, in view of the difficulties encountered by local authorities in taking legal action against such owners operating under assumed names from accommodation addresses.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I do not see how the tracing of owners could be facilitated by further legislation, although I should be happy to examine any suggestions the hon. and gallant Member has to make. The First Schedule to the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill aims at expediting slum clearance action where the owner cannot be found by providing for the service of notice on occupiers or for affixing it to the building.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that a system of serving notices on occupiers is already in operation in other respects and does not expedite matters? Is he aware that this system of ghost landlords of slum properties, operated by men like Waters, is causing immense inconvenience to local authorities as well as considerable hardship to the unfortunate tenants? Will he consider any means available to him to bring this evil racket to an end?

Mr. Macmillan

That is why I have tried in the proposals in the Bill to strengthen the powers, and if the hon. and gallant Member can think of any new restraint which will be useful to local authorities, I shall be most happy to consult with him.

Mr. Lewis

The Minister has suggested that if my hon. and gallant Friend has any ideas to suggest he will listen to them. Can we take it that if any local borough council can put forward practicable suggestions to him he will act upon them?

Mr. Macmillan

Yes, Sir. If the hon. Gentleman would come with his hon. and gallant Friend, that would double my pleasure.