HL Deb 06 March 1975 vol 357 cc1343-5

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take action to make possible the granting of short and fixed-term tenancies, both by local authorities (as recommended in paragraph 438 of the Ninth Report of the Housing Management sub-committee of the Central Housing Advisory Committee in 1969) and by private land-lords, as was suggested during the passage of the Rent Act 1974 through this House.


My Lords, there is nothing to prevent a local authority granting short-or fixed-term tenancies of accommodation in their ownership if they consider this to be the best use of the re-sources available. But my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment does not propose to take action to alter the general provisions of the 1974 Rent Act in a way which would allow landlords to create tenancies which do not have the benefit of Rent Act protection.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Baroness for her Answer. Will the Government draw the attention of local authorities to this recommendation of the Cullingworth Report— published almost six years ago—which was reported to a previous Government of the noble Baroness's Party?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, the recommendation—in fact, the whole Report— has been drawn to the attention of local authorities, but it is up to them to make their own decisions, and I should add that their first responsibility is, as always, to house the homeless and families.


My Lords, does the noble Baroness realise that, due to the fact that there are no fixed-term tenancies, or short tenancies, the number of empty houses in this country—especially in country areas —is very great? I know of one area—

Several Noble Lords: Question!


Is the noble Baroness aware that I know of one estate where over 60 houses are empty? Is the noble Baroness aware that the only reason they are empty is because there are no fixed-term tenancies?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I take the noble Viscount's word for that although it sounded rather a sweeping statement to me. But the Act has been operating for only a comparatively short time—barely six months—and that is not a sufficient period in which to collect statistics. I must repeat that the basis of the Act was to give security of tenure to tenants in furnished accommodation. This is what the Government wanted to achieve and what they have achieved.


My Lords, in view of the statement that there are over 60 houses left unoccupied for a considerable time, will Her Majesty's Government consider taking some measure whereby the owners of those houses would be called upon to let them because of the very serious position of housing accommodation in this country?

Baroness BIRK

Yes, my Lords, I think that my noble friend has made a valuable point. Perhaps the noble Lord opposite might feel that he could take it up in relation to the 60 houses.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, arising from my noble friend's Question, will the Government also indicate whether they are monitoring the effects of the 1974 Rent Act and, if so, when they intend publishing the results? Will they do so at the end of its first year of working?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I cannot go into details of that kind at this stage because, as I pointed out, the Act has been working for only six months. We are getting in evidence; but it is not possible at the present time to go further with plans for monitoring.