asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, as under the present law the first rent becomes the standard rent, owners are able to charge high rents in new tenancies, first rents in some areas in houses of equal value have varied from £70 to £100; and whether he will introduce amending legislation to provide that where a standard rent has never existed, the first rent fixed shall have some relation to rateable value and the rents charged for similar houses?
I am aware of this anomaly in the Rent Restrictions Acts, and have already noted it for consideration when amending legislation is undertaken.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under the present Act a person who was an owner-occupier in 1939 could let his house in December, 1940, at £125 per annum when the rateable value of that house was only £22? Is not that an example of profiteering and taking advantage of the law of supply and demand as it operates at present?
I am not aware of that particular case, but my attention has been drawn to several others. Only a small proportion of the total number of houses in the country are affected add as I have said in my answer, I have noted the matter.
Can amending legislation be expected quite soon?
Is my right bon, Friend aware that landlords can keep getting round this Act? Will he give the matter his attention? It is a growing scandal as a result of the growing shortage of houses partly due to the lack of building and partly due to destruction.
I have already said that I have noted the point for consideration when the time comes for amending legislation.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in the end he will find it impossible to control rents adequately unless he is prepared to control prices too? Has he abandoned the idea that he once entertained of asking a Committee of this House to consider the whole question of rent restriction with a view to abolishing the anomalies that exist?
That is a very much wider question.
asked the Minister of Health, whether he will consider making it obligatory on all landlords to register with local authorities the 1914 and 1939 standard rents?
No, Sir. I do not consider that the adoption of my hon. Friend's suggestion would be of any practical advantage.
Would not the suggestion assist local authorities in their work of preventing profiteering in rents?
It might add to the difficulties. If my hon. Friend will address his mind to the number of houses built between 1914 and 1939 and the changes that have occurred, he will see that it might add to the difficulties.