HC Deb 06 December 1962 vol 668 cc1487-8
26. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware that mobility of labour is being obstructed by the Rent Act; and if he will amend the Section of the Act which decontrols a house on a change of tenancy.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)

No, Sir. A return to control would only make it more difficult for anyone to find a house to rent.

Mr. Allaun

Does not the Minister realise that a man living in a rented house today is as tied to it as though it were a tied cottage and that the Rent Act has destroyed the possibility of choice of house? Does he understand the predicament of an unemployed worker who cannot get a job except by moving with his family to another town, which means leaving a controlled house for a decontrolled house at a rent three or more times as much?

Sir K. Joseph

I do not for a moment deny that we want a great deal more accommodation to let, but the hon. Gentleman does not seem to realise that houses are empty for people to move to only if, when the previous tenants move out or die, the landlord does not immediately sell them. Under the rent restriction Acts, landlords almost invariably sold houses which were vacated. Now, about four out of five houses which are vacated are kept in the market for rent, though, I agree, at higher prices. Therefore, since the Rent Act, there has been relatively more accommodation to rent.

Mr. Allaun

Yes, but on the Minister's own reasoning, a man might have been able to buy a house on mortgage, on the "never-never", with a reasonable mortgage repayment, but now such payments are twice or three times as high as they were, with the result that he is blocked from doing anything in that way.

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman always seems to forget that the paying capacity has gone up with the general level of prices in most cases.

Mr. M. Stewart

Does the Minister realise that the paying capacity has not gone up comparatively with the rise of rents since the Rent Act and that the survey of his own Ministry showed that out of a block of houses decontrolled under the Rent Act fewer had become available for rent and more were remaining empty?

Sir K. Joseph

No, the hon. Gentleman is not quoting accurately. I have Professor Donnison's report on this in which he says that, compared with before the Rent Act, four out of five houses now are still available to be rented when they are vacated.

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