HC Deb 26 November 1969 vol 792 cc564-70
The Deputy Chairman

The next Amendment selected is Amendment No. 5, with which it may be convenient for the Committee to discuss Amendment No. 9, in the Schedule, page 7, line 5, leave out from 'of' 'to 'one' in line 7.

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 4, line 36, leave out 'or 1971 '.

The Clause provides that when a fair rent has been fixed by a rent officer for a private tenancy it shall not be recoverable for two years if it is fixed during 1970, and one year if it is fixed during 1971. It was the Labour Government of 1965 which put on the Statute Book the procedure for fixing a fair rent. The Government have claimed that it is a rent fair both to landlord and tenant.

The principle of fair rent was first breached in the Housing Act, 1969, under which landlords who carry out improvements to dwelling houses must wait in some cases four years, and in others as much as six years, before receiving what has already been declared to be a fair rent. Those were special cases, but now in the Bill the principle of fairness is breached with respect to all private tenancies. The provisions of the Clause, coupled with the Schedule, forbid a landlord recovering from the tenant for a period of time the rent fixed as fair by an independent person—the rent officer —and perhaps even an independent committee—the rent assessment committee.

Our Amendment says in effect that if the Government's policies make it necessary that a tenant shall not be charged the fair rent for a period of a year, and the Government are likely to remain in office for that period, we had better have that provision, but that a year is long enough. The Bill should not extend its effect beyond 1970, and rents declared to be fair rents in 1971 should be recoverable by the landlord at once. If the Bill is necessary, it is the Government's actions that have made it so. It should not require the landlord to pay for the Government's failures of policy.

10.15 p.m.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Denis Howell)

The Amendment seeks to remove the protection which the Government think that tenants of private landlords need in 1971 and possibly 1972. Under our proposals, the fair rent increase;: agreed have to be phased, and I do not think that the Opposition are proposing that a fair rent should be paid at once and in full, for the obvious reason that, in this part of the Bill and by the new proposals for rent officers and so on, we are trying to strike a fair balance between landlord and tenant.

But we recognise that, because one has has to take account of the starting point of the operation—the rent being paid before the fair rent was established—after the fair rent has been established, unfortunately, as some of my hon. Friends would think, the difference between the existing rent and the fair rent is very steep in many cases and it would, therefore, be monstrous to say that there should be no phasing and no protection against the automatic implementation of the fair rent.

If we omitted the words "or 1971", the effect would be that, although one third of the increase would be paid in 1970, the other two-thirds would have to be paid in 1971, or, if the new fair rent was registered in 1971, the whole increase would have to be paid on that account. This would be a monstrous pro-

posal in the case of many tenants whose budgets are geared to their existing rent. Although we believe it right, since we enunciated the principle of fair rents— something the Opposition did not attempt to do when in office—and are trying to get the balance right, to do it in a reasonable and civilised manner, and it would create considerable hardship in the lives of many tenants and their families if we did not allow for phasing of the kind I have mentioned.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press the Amendment, because it shows a complete disregard for the considerable hardship that many tenants would face if the whole increase were imposed in one go. If a small or relatively small increase is agreed, then, of course, the landlord will be able to have it in one year, but if it is a steep increase, it is clear that we should give the tenant some protection. Not to do so would be to create considerable difficulties in many cases and would also affect the prices and incomes policy and the policy towards rents and so on which we judge to be necessary. If phasing is right at the moment, I cannot believe that it can be wrong in 1971. If it is right in 1969 and 1970, it must also be right in 1971 and therefore I cannot accept the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 124, Noes 189.

Division No. 17.] AYES [10.19 p.m.
Ailason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dodds-Parker, Douglas Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Eden, Sir John Kershaw, Anthony
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Bainiel, Lord Eyre, Reginald Kitson, Timothy
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Farr, John Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Biffen, John Fortescue, Tim Lane, David
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Foster, Sir John Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Body, Richard Glover, Sir Douglas Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Boyd Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Cower, Raymond MacArthur, Ian
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Grant, Anthony Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Brewis, John Grant-Ferris, Sir Robert McMaster, Stanley
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) McNair-Wilson, Michael
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Griffiths Eldon, St. Edmunds) Maddan, Martin
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Gurden, Harold Maginnis, John E.
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hal-Davis, A. G. F. Mawby, Ray
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Campbell, Gordo I (Moray & Nairn) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Carlisle, Mark Hastings, Stephen Miscampbell, Norman
Chataway, Christopher Hawkins, Paul Monro, Hector
Cooke, Robert Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Montgomery, Fergus
Corfield, F. V. Heseltine, Michael More, Jasper
Costain, A. P. Higgins, Terence L. Morgan, Ceraint (Denbigh)
Crowder, F. P. Hill, J. E. B. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Currie, C. B. H. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Dalkeith, Earl of Holland, Philip Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Dance, James Hornby, Richard Neave, Airey
Dean, Paul Hunt, John Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Nott, John
Page, Graham (Crosby) Silvester, Frederick Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Sinclair, Sir George Ward, Christopher (Swindon)
Percival, Ian Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Ward, Dame Irene
Pike, Miss Mervyn Smith, John (London & w'minster) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pink, R. Bonner Stainton, Keith Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Pounder, Rafton Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Wiggin, A. W.
Prior, J. M. L. Summers, Sir Spencer Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Pym, Francis Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Temple, John M. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Worsley, Marcus
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Tilney, John Wylie, N. R.
Russell, Sir Ronald van Straubenzee, W. R.
St. John-Stevas, Norman Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John TELLERS FOR THE AVES:
Scott-Hopkins, James Waddington, David Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Walker, Peter (Worcester) Mr. Walter Clegg.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Golding, John Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Alldritt, Walter Gregory, Arnold Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Anderson, Donald Grey, Charles (Durham) Millan, Bruce
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Miller, Dr. M. S.
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Baxter, William Hamling, William Molloy, William
Beaney, Alan Hannan, William Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Bence, Cyril Harper, Joseph Morris, John (Aberavon)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Moyle, Roland
Binns, John Haseldine, Norman Neal, Harold
Blackburn, F. Hazell, Bert Newens, Stan
Blenkinsop, Arthur Henig, Stanley Norwood, Christopher
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Oakes, Gordon
Booth, Albert Hilton, W. S. O'Halloran, Michael
Boston, Terence Horner, John Orbach, Maurice
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Howeil, Denis (Small Heath) Oswald, Thomas
Hoyden, James Howie, W. Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Hoy, Rt. Hn. James Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Huckfield, Leslie Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Park, Trevor
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hunter, Adam Pavitt, Laurence
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Cant, R. B. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Carmichael. Neil Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Chapman, Donald Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Eiwyn(W.Ham,S.) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Coleman, Donald Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Probert, Arthur
Concannon, J. D. Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Richard, Ivor
Conlan, Bernard Judd, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crawshaw, Richard Keoley, Richard Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Dalyell, Tam Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Lawler, Wallace Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Lawson, George Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Leadbitter, Ted Ryan, John
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Lee, John (Reading) Silverman, Julius
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lestor, Miss Joan Small, William
Dempsey, James Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Spriggs, Leslie
Dewar, Donald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Swain, Thomas
Dickens, James Loughin, Charles Taverne, Dick
Doig, Peter Lubbock, Eric Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Dunnett, Jack Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Tinn, James
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Urwin, T. W.
Eadie, Alex Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Varley, Eric G.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McBride, Neil Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McCann, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
English, Michael MacColl, James Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ensor, David MacDermot, Niall Watkins, David (Consett)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McElhone, Frank Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) McGuire, Michael Weitzman, David
Faulds, Andrew Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) Wellbeloved, James
Fernybough, E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Finch, Harold Mackie, John Wilkins, W. A.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Maclennan, Robert Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Fletcher, Rt.Hn.SirEric(lslington,E.) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McNamara, J. Kevin Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacPhersnn, Malcolm Winnick, David
Ford, Ben Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Forrester, John Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Woof, Robert
Fowler, Gerry Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfie!d,E.)
Freeson, Reginald Manuel, Archie TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Calpern, Sir Myer Mapp, Charles Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Gardner, Tony Marks, Kenneth Mr. R. F. H. Dobson.
Mr. Denis Howell

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 5, leave out lines 1 to 4 and insert: 'Where a tenant under a regulated tenancy of a dwelling, or a person who might succeed him as a statutory tenant, becomes the tenant under a new regulated tenancy of the dwelling and, whether before or after he becomes the tenant under the new regulated tenancy, a rent for the dwelling is registered, then, if the provisions of subsection (1) of this section apply—'. This is a technical Amendment, dealing with a very involved situation. [Laughter.] I am glad that I carry hon. Gentlemen with me on that at this late hour. It deals with dwellings that were subject to contractual arrangements then become statutory and then go back to contractual. There is a possibility of a loophole which I am sure we would all like to plug.

Mr. Graham Page

Having referred to our Amendments as "vague" on one occasion and "imprecise" on another, is the Minister of State not a little bit embarrassed to have to come forward with this Amendment, to stop up a loophole?

Amendment agreed to.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Denis Howell

I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 5, line 23, leave out 'or paragraph 6' and insert '6 or 8'.

Nothing that I say is vague or imprecise.Amendments Nos.7 and 8 deal

with very technical matters and are put down to stop overlapping.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: No. 8, in page 5, line 24, leave out 'or paragraph 6' and insert '6 or 8'.—[Mr. Denis Howell.]

Clause 5, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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