HC Deb 03 December 1973 vol 865 cc890-1
7. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the number of council tenants in Wales who pay a lodger's supplement to their normal council rent.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

None, Sir. Since the introduction of the Housing Finance Act 1972, rents apply to dwellings and not to the occupants ; there is no longer such a thing as a lodger's supplement.

Mr. Williams

Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that through sheer ministerial incompetence many council house tenants whose lodgers have left have continued to pay a lodger's supplement because the Minister has wrongly interpreted his own Act? Will he explain why it took him until 29th October to discover that the tenants could be relieved of this charge? Will he apologise to the House, particularly to my hon. Friends and myself, for the fact that he has consistently said in letters that the charge could not be removed? What apology, and, more importantly, compensation, does he offer to those council tenants who, for more than a year, have unnecessarily and often in hardship had to continue paying this charge?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

As usual, the hon. Gentleman is in a bit of a muddle. Under the Housing Act 1972, if, when the fair rent is determined for a particular dwelling, the tenant is found to be paying more than the fair rent, whether because a former lodger's supplement had been absorbed into the rent or for any other reason, the tenant is entitled to a refund of the excess.

Mr. McBride

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the rent scrutiny boards, following receipt of information from the local authorities, should be instructed to rebate this legally made charge, which is a fault of the Tory Government and of incompetent Ministers sitting on the Government Front Bench?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

East is as bad as west, but this matter is well known by the rent scrutiny boards, which are independent bodies.

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