§ 1. Mr. Robert Howarth
asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources if he will introduce legislation to remove the obligation on certain leaseholders to collect ground rents from their neighbours on behalf of the ground landlord.
§ The Minister of Land and Natural Resources (Mr. Frederick Willey)
I am very conscious of the trouble, and even hardship, that this duty to collect ground-rents on neighbouring properties can cause, but I already have powers—under Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, and earlier legislation—that enable me to deal with the difficulty in the great majority of cases that come to my notice.
Because the existing powers to apportion these rents by Ministerial Order were too little known, I have issued a simple explanatory leaflet, and have sent copies to the Citizens Advice Bureaux around Manchester, where most of these cases occur.
§ Mr. Howarth
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that this simplified explanation of the powers he already has is only just becoming known in an area which I have the honour to represent, where this problem is acute, bearing particularly heavily on older people? I trust that where problems arise due to interpretations of the powers already held we shall have every assistance from his Ministry in trying to help those who are burdened with this problem.
§ Mr. Willey
Yes. The steps we have taken have had considerable effect. Previously we were dealing with these cases at the rate of about 130 a year. We are now dealing with these cases at the rate of about 150 a month. If my hon. Friend has cases to which he wishes to 3 call my attention, I will certainly look at them.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Does the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has answered this Question, and indeed the substance of his Answer, indicate that he has taken over from his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government responsibility for landlord and tenant questions; and, if so, when did this transfer of responsibility take place?
§ Mr. Willey
No. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware, if he reflects, that it is a specific responsibility that I have undertaken.