HC Deb 28 June 1967 vol 749 cc481-3
1. Mr. Dewar

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he can give of the number of controlled tenancies in Scotland; and whether he will introduce legislation to bring these properties within the provisions of the Rent Act, 1965.

35. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to assist those people who own controlled houses and receive a rent too low to effect satisfactory repairs.

44. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has regarding the average level of rents paid by controlled tenants in Scotland; and whether he will now take steps to bring these tenancies within the scope of the Rent Act, 1965.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)

The number of controlled tenancies in Scotland is of the order of 200,000. A limited survey in 1963 indicated an average rent of about six shillings a week. Under the Rent Act, 1965, my right hon. Friend may make orders to convert controlled tenancies into regulated tenancies, but the machinery of rent officers and rent assessment committees cannot yet cope with more than the 100,000 existing regulated tenancies.

Mr. Dewar

Will my hon. Friend undertake to keep the matter under constant review? As the figures just quoted show, there is a large number of people—by no stretch of the imagination potential Rachmans—who cannot even recover their repair bills in a frozen rent structure which is considered to be unsatisfactory for 90 per cent. of the tenancies in Scotland.

Dr. Mabon

My hon. Friend is making a commentary on the situation which has existed for many years. It is rather a pity that a fair and sensible rent policy was not adopted some time ago but had to wait until the 1965 Act before the machinery could be set up. It is not possible to remove all the anomalies at once, but we shall certainly bear in mind my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Hunter

I am pleased that my hon. Friend is considering bringing more controlled houses into the rent regulation scheme. I hope that he will keep in mind that many property owners with one or two small houses to let are suffering great hardship. Does he agree that an annual rent of £10 3s. for an assessed rental value of £57 is far too low, and that relief should be given to the landlords concerned and money granted to them to allow them to pay for repairs and meet other expenses?

Dr. Mabon

I accept that my hon. Friend's example is remarkable, but, alas, it is repeated in several places throughout Scotland. We had to take this in two stages and only began the process in March, 1966. Both my hon. Friends will agree that we are getting the priority right, namely, dealing first with regulated tenancies and then with the controlled tenancies. We are getting on as quickly as we can.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Would not the Minister agree, judging from the complaints I have sent him from constituents, that landlords of controlled tenants who are getting a rent of £4 a year are in an intolerable position of injustice, and that something should be done about it as a matter of urgency?

Dr. Mabon

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are dealing with the matter as speedily as we can—I hope a little more speedily than the hon. Gentleman was on this occasion in arriving to put his supplementary question. It is a great pity that we did not have a fair and sensible rent policy, and machinery to go with it, until 1965. That is my criticism, which I think is fair and must be recognised.

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