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Volume 389: debated on Thursday 6 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Health what response he has had to his appeal to local authorities urging them to take steps to protect the people against the evasions of the Rent Acts; and whether he can give particulars of the number of authorities which are taking effective steps in this matter and with what results?

The response has been most satisfactory. No less than 737 local authorities have asked to be supplied with copies of the poster I had prepared a short time ago drawing attention to the salient features of the Rent Restrictions Acts. Reports I have recently received from local authorities for the period 1st April to 31st December, 1942, indicate that they received 4,028 complaints relating to unfurnished lettings of which 2,505 were proved on inquiry to be unfounded. Of the remaining 1,523 cases, rent reductions were secured in 1,479, or rather more than 97 per cent., the reductions ranging from a few pence to as much as 9s. per week. Twenty-nine prosecutions were undertaken by the authorities, 28 for rent book offences and one for charging a premium. All these prosecutions were successful. As regards furnished lettings, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Mr. Holmes) on 22nd April; of which I am sending him a copy.

What action does my right hon. Friend propose to take with those councils, many of which are in rural areas where a good many of these complaints come from, who have not taken any action in response to his appeal?

Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me some information about that. I will certainly make inquiries.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that 29 prosecutions bear any substantial relation to the number of offences of this kind which are being committed, up and down the country?

Local authorities are very active in this matter and have dealt with over 4,000 complaints, which is a very large number.

How many of these local authorities are located in London?

Will the Minister instruct local authorities to display all round their areas this poster, which is the most useful poster he has ever sent out in his life?

I would not like to accept it in that way, but I will certainly see that the poster is displayed everywhere.