HC Deb 17 December 1980 vol 996 cc284-5
18. Mr. Lennox-Boyd

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many inquiries his Department has received since the date of Royal Assent about the new shorthold provisions of the Housing Act.

Mr. Stanley

No figures are available in the form requested. However, since the commencement of the shorthold provisions of the Housing Act on 28 November, the Department has received more than 9,500 requests for copies of its booklet "Shorthold Tenancies".

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Does my hon. Friend agree that his reply indicates that there is already a substantial amount of interest in the provisions of the Housing Act by those who are in a position to help to alleviate the housing problem? Will he further agree that that interest contrasts strangely with the policy of Labour Members who seek to frighten those would-be landlords, thereby, one can only conclude, delaying even further the housing of some people who are presently without homes?

Mr. Stanley

My hon. Friend is right. There is a considerable demand for the use of our shorthold provisions under the Housing Act 1980, and it is clear that it would be greater still were it not for the totally irresponsible commitment of the Labour Party to repeal it.

Mr. Dobson

Has the Minister taken the opportunity to read the predictions of the Tory-controlled London Boroughs Association to the effect that the introduction of shorthold in the London area will at best produce about 800 to 3,000 dwellings in shorthold use?

Mr. Stanley

I assure the hon. Gentleman that shorthold is a form of tenure that is available nationally, and I believe that there will be a significant national response.

Mr. Heddle

Will my hon. Friend acknowledge that while the shorthold provisions of the Housing Act will help to provide the right to rent for homeless families this Christmas, and perhaps next year, they also hold the key to job mobility? Will he intensify his Department's campaign to make the shorthold provisions more readily available to landlords and tenants alike?

Mr. Stanley

I assure my hon. Friend that the shorthold provisions will make a major contribution towards mobility, as will the new provisions making it easier for owner-occupiers to let part of their houses. The House may be interested to know that since 28 November we have separately, and in addition, received over 900 applications for our Department of Environment booklet which gives guidance to resident landlords wishing to let part of their houses.

Mr. Winnick

Bearing in mind the fact that there is a private landlords' lobby on the Tory Benches, does the Minister believe that the shorthold provision will be as popular and successful as the Conservative's Rent Act of 1957?

Mr. Stanley

I cannot think why the hon. Gentleman, who from time to time expresses concern about housing need, finds that there is something odious about meeting that need in the private sector. At present, it is highly desirable to make the best possible use of available accommodation, whether it is in the private or the public sector.