HC Deb 18 November 1970 vol 806 cc1223-4
32. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to extend the fair rent system.

Mr. Peter Walker

As I announced on 3rd November, I propose that the fair rent principle should be extended to council dwellings and that controlled tenancies in the private sector should more rapidly be brought into the fair rent system. My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Housing and Construction, will shortly embark on consultations with the local authority associations on the details of these broad proposals.

Mr. Allason

Has my right hon. Friend any intention of extending the fair rent principle to furnished dwellings? Will he particularly take into account the desirability of transferring the duties of furnished rent tribunals to the fair rent system?

Mr. Walker

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Francis Committee is reporting on the problem of furnished dwellings, either at the end of the year or early in the coming year. I wish to review the position of furnished dwellings after I have seen that report.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to extend the rent differential to all local authority houses irrespective of low income areas and everything else, in which case the administration may be very heavy? What about the liberty of local authorities to make their own decisions?

Mr. Walker

I believe that the position whereby local authorities have the liberty to keep on providing houses for those in need without many of the financial limitations that affect those local authorities at the moment will be a very important freedom.

Mr. Marsh

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the content of the Question asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) is directly in line with Labour Party policy? We hope that he will pursue it. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it strange that he should be moving before he has the report of the Francis Committee, and will he tell us the time scale involved?

Mr. Walker

The only announcement I have made so far is about unfurnished accommodation. I have made no announcement on furnished accommodation because we are awaiting the Francis Committee's report.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is it not a fact that the Government will take all dwellings out of rent control, even houses without inside water, a bath and a lavatory? Is not it monstrous that hundreds of thousands of tenants in slums will be decontrolled in this way?

Mr. Walker

As a result of fixing a fair rent for properties without proper amenities and in bad condition, the rents could be lower than controlled rents.