HC Deb 19 January 1954 vol 522 cc812-3
20. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he has considered the proposal, details of which have been submitted, to strengthen the powers of local authorities in dealing with slum properties, the actual ownership of which is difficult to establish.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Yes, Sir, but I am not at present inclined to impose a new obligation upon all owners of property in the area of a local authority in the hope—which may well prove illusory—of establishing the identity of a limited number of them.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that further action is urgently required to kill the Brady-Waters slum racket which is now operated behind a network of companies by an impudent rogue who calls himself E. W. Leslie of 11, Baker Street, 77, Gloucester Place and other London addresses?

Mr. Macmillan

It is really no use making a law which cannot be enforced. Under Section 168 of the Housing Act, 1936, there are already powers, and I do propose, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman has no doubt observed, in the First Schedule of the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill now before the consideration of the House, to strengthen the powers of action, which is the thing that matters, in the event of not being able to trace a particular owner.

Mr. Jay

Can the Minister not do anything immediately to stop what really is an intolerable swindle? Is he aware that hundreds of families all over London are living in houses in a shocking state of repair, paying rents for years and getting no repairs done?

Mr. Macmillan

If the right hon. Gentleman would look at the First Schedule, to which I have referred, in the Bill which will soon be passed, he will find that, for that very reason, we have taken powers to deal with the owner not able to be traced by the method laid down.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the Minister aware that a great number of hon. Members are advising tenants of Brady houses in London and elsewhere not to pay their rent?