HC Deb 21 April 1964 vol 693 cc1068-9
20. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will take steps to extend the statutory period of a notice to quit to tenants from one month to three months.

Sir. K. Joseph

No, Sir. I have no doubt that the Committee under Sir Milner Holland will be considering the effect in London of the present arrangements. It would be wise to await the Report before deciding whether any changes should be made.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Minister realise that four weeks is much too short a time for tenants to contact local authorities, estate agents, advice bureaux and other possible sources of help, particularly when they have to do so outside their working hours? Since the Milner Holland Committee is concerned only with London and this is a national problem, will the right hon. Gentleman look at it again and consider at least giving local authorities power to suspend notices to quit for a few weeks in cases where they themselves are trying to help dispossessed tenants?

Sir K. Joseph

If the tenant does not go at the end of four weeks' notice, normally the landlord seeks a court order. That provides a further period of grace. I have to balance the advantage to the tenant of which the hon. Lady has spoken with the possible danger that landlords, burdened with further restrictions, may be unwilling to let and might sell. That would be a net disadvantage to tenants and potential tenants. We have to bear that in mind. The Milner Holland Report, although limited to London, will perhaps have lessons for the whole country.

Mr. M. Stewart

Where the landlord does not seek a court order but seeks—as he can—to get the tenant out, the period of grace does not apply. Is not this an argument for supporting the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) to forbid evictions except by court order?

Sir K. Joseph

I have advised hon. Members that this is part of a very big question and that we should await the Milner Holland Committee's Report.