HC Deb 07 March 1963 vol 673 cc625-7
17. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of the continued hardship caused by high rentals for domestic accommodation, if he will now seek to empower local authorities to institute fair rent tribunals or to adopt other means of curbing excessive rents where it can be demonstrated that the demand for accommodation is far greater than the supply.

35. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will seek to extend the powers of rent tribunals to fix rents for unfurnished lettings.

Sir K. Joseph

I announced in my recent White Paper (Cmnd. 1952) that I intend to carry out a survey of the housing in London, where the pressure on housing is as acute as anywhere in England and Wales. I propose to await the results of that before reaching any conclusions. Meanwhile, as the White Paper showed, I am seeking both to increase the supply of houses for Londoners and to reduce the demand. Re-imposition of rent control would help neither.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the Minister appreciate that, quite apart from whatever value may be attached to this inquiry, there is information at hand in the local councils to indicate the burden of excessive rents? Under these circumstances, will he at least consider granting permissive powers to borough councils to institute fair rent tribunals to take action to curb excessive rents?

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. The real need is for more housing, and that is what the Government intend to achieve. In the extreme case where rents are exhorbitant and threaten homelessness, the local authority has power to invoke the compulsory purchase order procedure.

Mr. Lipton

Does the Minister realise that the compulsory purchase order procedure is long, complicated, and expensive? Now that rents have reached fantastic heights, especially in London where so many people are homeless, has not the time arrived for some kind of appeal against extortionate rents? Did not the right hon. Gentleman promise the L.C.C. deputation last December that he was going to give favourable consideration to the suggestion it made along these lines?

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. I promised to undertake to study how to reduce the pressure on housing in London, and the new Town and Country Planning Bill is one part of that undertaking.

Mr. Sorensen

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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