HC Deb 11 June 1980 vol 986 cc729-31
Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 167 in page 35, line 7, at end insert— '(4) In case 8 of Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act for the words "if the dwelling-house is let on or subject to a controlled tenancy after 7th November 1956" there shall be substituted the words "if the dwelling-house was on 7th November 1956 let on or subject to a controlled tenancy, after the last-mentioned date.".'. This is a technical amendment made necessary by the abolition of controlled tenancies by clause 40. The amendment makes it clear that the proviso shall continue to apply to controlled tenancies converted to rent regulation by the Bill. I commend the amendment to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

I beg to move amendment No. 245, in page 35, line 7, at end insert— '(4) This section shall not come into effect before 1st January 1984.'. This amendment would normally have attracted a major speech from me because it deals with an important principle. It deals with the remaining houses in Scotland still subject to controlled tenancies which are now brought into the scope of regulated tenancies, which cover the majority of houses in Scotland.

We drew attention to this issue in the consultation paper that reviewed the Rent Acts in 1977. The issue is the problem of the diminishing number of houses in Scotland. Nevertheless, because of the proposals by the Government we think that it would be pushing it to bring within the rigmarole of rent procedures the diminishing number of houses which, because of their age and the age of the tenants, will disappear in a few years.

It is a matter of regret that, even after a long debate in Committee, we have had no assurances or encouragement from the Under-Secretary. Perhaps now that he has had time to reflect on the matter he will give an assurance that he will draw the attention of rent officers, in accordance with the suggestion of the Scottish Consumers Council, to the need to advise social work departments about such cases and to be particularly sympathetic in the handling of the cases in the rent regulation machinery. If the hon. Gentleman will give that assurance, I shall be happy.

Mr. Rifkind

About 3,000 houses are involved in this matter. They have had their rents pegged at 1957 levels, in many cases at about £10 or £12 a year. It is clearly absurd that such rents should be permitted, even given the poor quality of much of the housing concerned.

For reasons that the hon. Gentleman anticipated, it is not possible for me to recommend acceptance of the amendment, but I shall be happy to see what we can do to ensure that rent officers and others give advice to tenants who may be affected by the proposed change.

Mr. Brown

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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