HC Deb 26 November 1964 vol 702 cc1683-4

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Allason

The Act of 1955 is referred to in this Clause. It provided, among other things, measures for de-requisitioning voluntarily, and this was to be welcomed because local authorities would not have to provide another house for the tenant concerned. Here, the landlord, the local authority, and the tenant jointly agreed that a statutory tenancy should be set up.

This was amended by the 1957 Act, also referred to in the Clause, which provided that the statutory tenancy would continue until 1st April, 1965, and this made the proposition a bit more attractive. More landlords agreed to this procedure, and we had the net result that a negotiated and agreed tenancy was set up at a low rent—a rent of twice the gross value—which was below the market rent. This was given in consideration of a cash bonus to the landlord for a fixed period and was, in fact, virtually a tenancy at a low rent for a fixed period.

2.0 a.m.

The effect of this Clause is that this tenancy is extended for 12 months, and we have not heard a word yet of the justification for the breach of this contract. The Minister, in his Second Reading speech, said that the sole reason for the Bill was to stop evictions. I submit that this has nothing whatever to do with this Clause. If the Clause does not form part of the Bill the prevention of evictions continues exactly as before. Here we have another tenancy which expires on 1st April, 1965, and is caught under Clauses 1 and 2.

Here, for some obscure reason, no justification has been put forward at all for extending this tenancy for 12 months. This is definitely a breach of an agreement, and I am sure that no Ministers would wish to stand at that Box and announce that they intend to breach any agreement.

Mr. MacColl

I do not want to be provoked at this time of night into going into the story of the 1955 Act. What I thought about that Act and its nature is on record. It never looked practical that it would be possible to remove control from those houses in 10 years. I certainly never thought that it would be possible. In the event it has been shown not to be possible, because the position is that the market in London for housing is extremely bad now, as bad, probably, as it has been for some time. There is really no argument about that, and this is purely a London problem. This does not, as do some other matters we have been dealing with, affect other parts of the country where the housing position is easier. The fact is that these people are in the houses; there is no alternative accommodation available for them; it is not possible for the local authorities to rehouse them.

All one can say about it is that it gives my hon. Friend a breathing space, an opportunity of thinking what is his next move. I do not envy him in doing that. It is a difficult situation. This is the only thing to do about it.

Mr. Graham Page

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's argument, but the houses which are of a rateable value not exceeding £40, when they come out of the control of the 1955 Act, will surely become controlled in the ordinary way, so that if they are brought out of control in accordance with the bargain—if the hon. Gentleman will permit the word—made with the owner of the time in accordance with the Statute which was to last for 10 years, they will still be, if of the lower value, controlled; the tenants will still be protected. If they are above that value of £40 then they will be protected under the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman cannot suggest that this Clause has anything to do with the Bill. The tenants will either be protected when they come out of the protection of the 1955 Act under the ordinary rent control or else they will be protected under the Bill. There seems to be no reason for extending the 1955 Statute for another 12 months.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.