HC Deb 09 July 1957 vol 573 cc169-71
2. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will arrange to broadcast on sound and television giving a factual explanation of the effect of the Rent Act with regard to the decontrolling of rents, and security of tenants.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I gave such a broadcast on Monday, 17th June, after the nine o'clock news. The broadcast was repeated on B.B.C. television the same evening.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that since the broadcast people have been queueing up at the town halls complaining that the landlords are taking advantage of the provisions of the Act? Is he aware that in the Daily Herald this morning a number of cases are reported where the right hon. Gentleman ought to take action against the landlords? Will he do something about that?

Mr. Brooke

No, Sir. I do not think there is any case for me to take any action, nor do I think that landlords as a whole are acting unreasonably. I have already expressed to both landlords and tenants the great importance of thinking before they act.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is widespread consternation about the operation of the Act? Will he do something more to make their safeguards known to tenants?

Mr. Brooke

The answer to the next Question will indicate what is already happening to make the safeguards known. I cannot for one moment accept what the hon. Member says.

Mr. Ede

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those of us who are tenants are thinking and that our landlords are acting?

3. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he proposes to take to secure wider publicity for the Government's explanatory booklet on the effects of the new Rent Act; whether he will supply a copy to each Member of Parliament or those who request one; and whether he will arrange for old-age pensioners to receive a copy free, on production of their pension books.

Mr. H. Brooke

This booklet is already being sold as fast as it can be printed, and I doubt whether wider publicity is needed to increase its sale. I have arranged for copies of both the English and the Welsh versions to be available in the Vote Office. I do not think that it is necessary to arrange for a special issue to all old-age pensioners.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that old-age pensioners are finding that their rents are going up by between 5s. and 15s. a week, and yet they now have to pay to obtain a booklet to explain to them the intricacies of this pernicious Act? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he could at least assist old-age pensioners by providing them with the booklet free of charge so that they can ascertain if and when landlords are taking advantage of them under the new legislation?

Mr. Brooke

I do not think that the vast majority of old-age pensioners will have difficulty in getting hold of a copy of the booklet from their friends, if not otherwise, but if they have any difficulty, all they have to do is to go to the local citizens' advice bureau or town hall.

Mr. Mitchison

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, having introduced a very complicated Act, the least he could do would be to let people have a free guide to it?

Mr. Brooke

No, Sir; I do not think so. I do not think I should be in favour of distributing free millions and millions of copies of something which costs money to produce.

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