HC Deb 03 April 1974 vol 871 cc1236-7
5. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in his proposals for the protection of furnished tenants, he will bear in mind the importance of avoiding damage to the tourist industry and, in particular, the owners of holiday flats.

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Reginald Freeson)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Blaker

Is the Minister aware that holiday flats play an important part in our tourist industry? Is he also aware that most owners of such flats wish to let them in the winter, thus alleviating the housing problem, provided they can be satisfied that they can regain possession at the agreed date in order that tourists who have contracted—often many months ahead—may be able to spend their holidays there?

Mr. Freeson

Yes, I am aware of this point. I am bearing it in mind in preparing the proposed legislation.

Mr. Jay

Is my hon. Friend also aware that evictions from furnished tenancies are now a main cause of the appalling housing situation in London? May we have legislation as early as possible on this vital matter?

Mr. Freeson

The legislation will be introduced very soon. I accept the point that my right hon. Friend has made. Insecurity in this field of tenure is one of the biggest single causes of homelessness, particularly in inner London, and indeed other parts of the country.

Mrs. Thatcher

What led the Minister to reject the recommendations of the Francis Committee to the effect that if he were to give security of tenure on furnished accommodation similar to that on unfurnished accommodation there would be a great danger that the supply of accommodation would dry up, leading to substantial hardship?

Mr. Freeson

No doubt we shall be able to discuss the detailed aspects of interpretations of the economic situation in the housing market when we introduce the Bill. The Labour Party made representations to the Francis Committee in favour of security of tenure for furnished tenants. Nothing that has happened since that time, particularly in inner London and other inner city areas, has led us to change our minds. On balance, notwithstanding the kind of risk to which the right hon. Lady has referred, it would be right to introduce this kind of security.