HC Deb 02 July 1957 vol 572 cc880-1
40. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what arrangements he has made for expert advice to be available to tenants preparing lists of items of disrepair for the attention of landlords.

Mr. H. Brooke

Such advice should not ordinarily be necessary. The tenant has to state only the things which, in his opinion, need to be put right. He does not need to specify the nature of the repairs to be carried out.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that local authority journals are expressing grave doubt about this very situation and are stating clearly that, in their view, expert advice will be needed? Is it not a matter of great doubt whether a tenant can, for example, specify dampness as an item of disrepair, because of the framing of the Act, and is it not, therefore, absolutely vital that technical advice should be available and that the right hon. Gentleman should pay for it?

Mr. Brooke

No; I think that we shall get on all right, whatever anyone forecasts in local government journals. The Act is not yet in operation, and, therefore, no one can tell precisely how it is working. The form is a very simple one, and I should have thought that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred there would no difficulty whatever in the tenant filling it up. If he does make a mistake, it is always possible for him to fill in a second form.

Mr. Mitchison

But the right hon. Gentleman himself stressed the need for expert advice to tenants in dealing with landlords under this Act. Is he not going to take any steps to provide it?

Mr. Brooke

We are now dealing with the particular matter of the disrepair form. Of course, the resources of the citizens' advice bureaux and other bodies are available to tenants concerning the Act as a whole, but in this case all that a tenant has to do is to put down on paper what is wrong with his house. If he is not aware of what is wrong, there is no expert advice which can call his attention to it.

Mr. Lindgren

Would it not make for economy if tenants were able to put down what was right?

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will the Minister answer the simple question, are tenants able to claim dampness as one of the defects which they can put on the list?

Mr. Brooke

I do not think it is for me to interpret the Act in response to this Question. What is stated on the form is: I hereby give you notice that in my opinion the above-mentioned premises are in disrepair by reason of the defects set out below and that those defects ought reasonably to be remedied by you, having due regard to the age, character and locality of the premises.