HC Deb 17 December 1968 vol 775 cc1147-8
8. Mr. Hilton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will seek to amend the Prices and Incomes Act, 1968, so as to enable him to control increases in local authority charges for services related to council dwellings, and also for rents of pram sheds, garages and other buildings which may be rented by the tenants of these dwellings.

Mr. K. Robinson

Under the present Act my right hon. Friend can prevent unreasonable increases in charges for services which an existing tenant must meet as a condition of his tenancy. Under the Prices and Incomes Acts, a reference could be made to the Prices and Incomes Board of unreasonable increases in charges for optional facilities if the evidence warranted such a reference.

Mr. Hilton

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that these increases should have been brought within the scope of the Prices and Incomes Act? Would he not further agree that an increase of 200 per cent. for the rent of a shed in which to keep the family pram is exorbitant and mercenary, especially when the particular revenue account of the Greater London Council is in the black? Does he not think that there are serious anomalies here which need action now by the Government to bring these matters within the control of the Prices and Incomes Act?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. I think that the present powers give my right hon. Friend sufficient control in the present circumstances. The increase in service charges generally proposed by the Greater London Council was not unreasonable in my right hon. Friend's opinion and appeared to be justified by increased costs. Having given his decision, my right hon. Friend could not now vary or revoke it.

Mr. Lubbock

How could an increase of 50 per cent. in the charges made for lodgers be justified by increases in costs incurred by the Greater London Council? Will the right hon. Gentleman also say whether he thinks 12 per cent. increase in service charges for garages is not too high?

Mr. Robinson

I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that when authorities submit proposals for rent increases they must state whether those increases are accompanied by increases in service charges. My right hon. Friend has no evidence that any proposed increases in charges are unreasonable, but he would certainly take action if he came across an unreasonable proposal.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that certain local authorities are trying to get round the Prices and Incomes Act by seeking to transfer from the council to the tenant certain repair charges formerly borne by the council?

Mr. Robinson

If my hon. Friend has evidence of such a case, perhaps he will let me have particulars.

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