HC Deb 17 February 1971 vol 811 cc1826-7
29. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take to improve the position of tenants of furnished accommodation, following his consideration of the report of the Francis Committee.

49. Mr. Money

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he now expects to receive the recommendations of the Francis Committee in respect of furnished tenancies.

Mr. Peter Walker

The Francis Committee's report on the working of the Rent Act has been received and will be published as soon as possible. I am now considering what action needs to be taken but I have nothing to say at this stage.

Mr. Barnes

Would not the Secretary of State agree that there are two improvements which tenants of furnished property desperately need; first, that there should be some security of tenure comparable with that of unfurnished tenancies, except, perhaps, where there is the landlord in the same house; secondly, that they should have the benefits of the rent rebate scheme which the Govern- ment are proposing? Do the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend realise that in the big cities there are many people whose permanent home is a furnished or partly furnished flat and that they need something doing for them?

Mr. Walker

I appreciate the problems, and when the report is published, hon. Members on both sides of the House will find that it has many constructive suggestions for tackling the problems. It is a complicated report and I ask hon. Members to await its publication and to see what action we take.

Mr. Marsh

In the light of his answer, will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the very detailed account of the report recently appearing in a London evening newspaper, by Mr. Des Wilson, was untrue and gave a misleading picture of the report; and, if it were not untrue, how can he tell the House that we have to wait until the report is published when it is clearly available to the Press?

Mr. Walker

Mr. Des Wilson was primarily concerned with only one aspect, and mainly with the view of the minority part of the report. The details of the report have not been published in the Press to my knowledge. There is a great deal in it which hon. Members should await.

Mr. Allason

Will my right hon. Friend abolish furnished rent tribunals and transfer the duty of assessing the rent for furnished property to the existing fair rents system?

Mr. Walker

I note my hon. Friend's comment, but I ask him to await full publication of the report, which is complicated and detailed. The Government will then issue a full statement of their views.