§ 8. Mrs. Anne Campbell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average rent paid by tenants of private landlords; and what was the equivalent figure for 1978–79 in actual and real terms. 
§ Mr. Robert B. Jones
The average weekly rent paid by tenants of private landlords in England is £60.00. The average weekly rent in 1978–79 was £6.30—equivalent to £17.00 a week at 1993–94 prices.
§ Mrs. Campbell
Does the Minister accept that as a result of Government policies there has been a massive increase in private sector rents, which has caused a huge increase in the cost of housing benefit in the past five years from £1.1 billion to £4.9 billion?
§ Mr. Jones
We are anxious to ensure choice in housing for the people of Britain, and that means a healthy private rented sector. It follows from not being able to get a decent return that landlords will not come forward. If Opposition Members argue for rent controls, they must bear the consequences. For example, in 1974, when rent control was extended to furnished lettings, the number of such lettings fell by 400,000 and were therefore unavailable to people.