HC Deb 18 June 1975 vol 893 cc1376-7
7. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the effect of recent legislation on the availability of furnished accommodation for letting in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Hugh D. Brown)

No clear indication is yet available of the effect of the Rent Act 1974 on the supply of furnished accommodation in Scotland. I am keeping in touch with the situation and I shall look closely at the results of relevant research commissioned by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Galbraith

The Minister must be aware that many people who would like to let their houses for short periods are afraid to do so. Therefore, people who would like to rent houses for short periods are not obtaining them. What is the purpose of this legislation, which hurts the very people whom it was intended to help? Is this not another typical example of what the Government are always doing? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The Government want to help the tenant but they end up by hurting him.

I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman is laughing about. If he wanted to rent a furnished house he would not be able to do so. Just take that stupid grin off your face.

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Galbraith

I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker. I was referring to the right hon. Gentleman.

Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman allow contracts freely entered into to remain binding so as to help the person who wants to let a house for a short time and the person who wants to rent one for a short time?

Mr. Brown

I have no intention of going to Hell. I had a big enough job getting here.

The 1974 Act achieved its objective in giving full security to tenants of nonresident landlords, who formerly lacked it. The privately-rented sector declined over the years even when the Conservative Government were in power. That has created problems, especially for students, amongst other groups in the community. We are looking into that aspect.

Mr. Welsh

Looking at this matter, is the Secretary of State aware that the majority of Scots must rely on the available public housing? Will he therefore confirm or deny the allegation that the City of Glasgow has built only eight houses in the first two months of this year to service a waiting list of 40,000 people?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman exaggerates, as usual. I do not accept that figure. I remind members of the Scottish National Party that there is no limit to the public expenditure available for new housing in Scotland. I am encouraged by the increase in the number of starts, approvals and completions of new houses for the people of Scotland.