2. Mrs. Butler
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what evidence he now has to show that recent rent legislation has been effective in increasing house room.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
The Rent Act has, plainly, encouraged owners to repair, convert and modernise houses, and all this has helped both to increase house room and to improve it. The Act at the same time encouraged tenants who were over-housed to move to accommodation of a size better suited to their needs, and this also has helped. But it would unfortunately have been impossible to collect statistics of all the improvements in the housing situation which are due to the Act.
Is the Minister aware that the result in Wood Green and Tottenham has been that the local authorities have had to use their resources to rehouse Rent Act cases while families on the housing waiting list who might otherwise have been rehoused are still living in grossly overcrowded conditions? In the absence of any statistics to support it, will he now withdraw his claim that the Rent Act has helped the housing situation?
§ Mr. Brooke
No. There is no doubt that the Rent Act has stimulated conversions, diminished under-occupation and, above all, led to a great increase in expenditure on repairing houses which were going downhill into slums.
§ 28. Mr. Darling
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of the growing number of tenants, now unprotected, who are being evicted owing to unreasonable demands for increased rents, if he will now review the whole operation of the Rent Act, 1957, with a view to introducing amending legislation.
§ Mr. Darling
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these difficulties are growing and that, for instance, a London property company has recently bought a large block of private flats in my constituency merely in order to exploit the housing shortage in the city, with the consequence that, under threat of eviction, unprotected tenants have had demands requiring them to pay exorbitant rents? In view of the fact that this is contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman said was the spirit of the Act, will he tell us how to put the spirit of the Act into operation and make these landlords negotiate reasonable rent increases?
§ Mr. Brooke
Landlords can ask any rents they like, but that does not mean that they will be able to get them. If several tenants in a block of flats feel that the landlord is asking an exorbitant rent, I advise them to get together to employ professional advice and negotiate better terms.
§ Mr. Darling
In view of that unsatisfactory Answer, I give notice that I shall try to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.