HC Deb 25 July 1967 vol 751 cc301-3
16. Mr. Longden

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he proposes to make the order bringing all controlled rents within the ambit of the Rent Act, 1965.

47. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what plans he has to remove controls from existing controlled tenancies.

51. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he will lay regulations allowing landlords to apply to a rent officer for a fair rent in such a case as that of an unfurnished five-roomed flat in the Greater London Area let to a tenant controlled since 1939 and now paying a rent of 37s. 6d. a week, exclusive of rates.

Mr. Greenwood

I have no proposals for enlarging the field of rent regulation. I think that much more extended experience of this new system is needed before a full appreciation can be made. I intend to concentrate attention on improving the organisation, including changes to adapt it to the expected load of work, and on measures for encouraging and helping people to make good use of the Act.

Mr. Longden

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many small investors—too few numerically, I dare say, to worry the Government politically, but far too many if justice is to be considered—who are receiving an income which is insufficient to cover their outgoings, let alone to yield a reasonable return? When will he do something about this?

Mr. Greenwood

I think the House would agree that there can be hardships on both sides in cases of this kind. The consideration which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned is one that we have in mind in the review we are to make on older properties.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is the Minister aware that the Conservative clamour for higher rents will be noted by tenants everywhere? Will he instead, through Press and television, advise these tens of thousands of decontrolled tenants who are paying exorbitant rents to go to the rent officer?

Mr. Greenwood

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said. He will be glad to know that I am having a simple leaflet of advice made available which can be issued with rent officers' decisions.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is it not only social justice that landlords should be allowed to go before the rent officer to make their case? Is the Minister aware that there are rents in the Greater London Area for some of these rent-controlled private flats which are about a third of what is being paid for like flats?

Mr. Greenwood

I know there are difficulties of this kind, but the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that a proposal of this kind would lead to a radical change in the structure of housing finance. Our experience of the working of the Rent Act is not sufficient to justify jumping to the conclusion which many hon. Members would like us to accept.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many properties are moving out of control anyhow? Will he give an assurance that he will completely resist any attempt to speed this up?

Mr. Greenwood

The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that it is estimated that about 10 per cent. of controlled tenancies are moving out of control every year.

Mr. Graham Page

That 10 per cent. is a very small number. Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the widening gap between controlled rents and regulated rents which are fair rents, according to the Statute, for similar properties makes it impossible for the landlords of controlled properties to keep them in repair? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the availability of rent officers outside London to deal with these cases? Would he think about the matter seriously?

Mr. Greenwood

Ten per cent. may be a small figure, but it is still one-tenth. The point that the hon. Gentleman made at the conclusion of his question was answered in my reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden).

Mr. Longden

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the answer, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter of the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.