HC Deb 11 May 1971 vol 817 cc214-5

3.50 p.m.

Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to extend to council tenants similar protection against eviction as is given to tenants of priunfurnished rented accommodation by the Rent Act, 1968. Hon. Members will be aware that it is possible at present under the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, for a local authority to obtain an eviction from a magistrates' court without offering any reason. The same is true of people in housing associations and trust housing. As the law stands, therefore, it is possible for a local authority to evict tenants for the most spurious of reasons, although it must be added in fairness that only a small minority of authorities would act in this way.

However, there have been cases where local authorities have acted in an unreasonable fashion. The most recent example in my experience is that of a local authority which passed a resolution saying that, if a tenant or any member of his family was convicted of vandalism, the family would be evicted. In this case the local authority was not only proposing to punish the culprit twice for the same offence. It was also seeking to punish all the other innocent members of his family by making them homeless. While it is only fair to add that the council concerned is having second thoughts, the fact is that not only did it pass such a resolution but it would have been able to enforce it in the courts.

In my view, the time is long overdue for council tenants to have rather more protection in law than they have at present. My Bill seeks to provide such protection by specifying the grounds on which a court may make an order for recovery of possession of any dwelling. Briefly, the grounds are as follows: (a) that the rent has not been duly paid; (b) that the tenancy agreement has been broken; (c) that the tenant has created a nuisance in the neighbourhood or has used the premises for illegal or immoral purposes; (d) that there has been unauthorised sub-letting; and (e) that the local authority needs the dwelling to comply with its statutory duties under various Acts.

From what I have said, I hope that it will be understood that I realise full well that local authorities must be equipped to carry out their duties under the Housing Acts. I do not feel that the proposals contained in the Bill conflict with that in any way.

The Government may very well welcome a Bill of this sort, bearing in mind their intended legislation—which I hasten to add that I detest—to put the rents of council tenants on the same basis as private tenants.

I commend the Bill and hope that I shall be given leave to bring it in.

Question put and agreed to,

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. David Stoddart, Mr. Frank Allaun, Mr. Norman Atkinson, Mr. Michael Cocks, Mr. Neil Kinnock, Mr. Dick Leonard, Mr. William Molloy, Mr. Stanley Orme, and Mr. James Wellbeloved.

Back to