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Rent Control (Legislation)

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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14.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act is due to expire at the end of the year, he will take steps to re-enact its provisions together with others designed to give tenants greater protection from eviction.

21.

asked the Minister of Health if it is his intention to renew at the end of the year the Rent Tribunals Act; and if he will consider extending the provisions of the Act to cover unfurnished rooms and flats.

The Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946, will, subject to the approval of Parliament of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, be continued in operation until the end of 1948, but the extension of its scope would require separate legislation for which no time is at present available.

Would it require a great deal of Parliamentary time to introduce a short, non-controversial Bill to strengthen this useful Act, and at the same time bring within its provisions the thousands of working class and middle class tenants of newly converted unfurnished flats and premises who at present enjoy no protection at all?

I am afraid a Bill is not made less controversial because it is shorter, and I am afraid that the Government cannot find time for this Bill at the present time. Had they been able to find time it would have been included in the Gracious Speech.

27.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the manner in which the purpose of the Rent Restriction Acts is being defeated by the demand for premiums, in some cases amounting to £200 for a flat; and will he consider immediate legislation whereby such demands shall be made illegal.

Such demands are in many cases illegal under the existing provisions of the Rent Restrictions Acts. There is no early prospect of the legislation which would be required to extend these provisions.

Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to give some consideration to the urgency of this matter, if possible, during this Session?

I have already said that matters concerning the legislation for this Session are for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Having regard to the fact that the Rent Restriction Acts have been described upon the highest judicial authority as a jungle of meaningless verbiage, will the right hon. Gentleman, even now, consider the preparation of a consolidating and amending Act which will turn them into something which expert lawyers can begin to understand?

I think the House will not find us far behind in preparing legislation to amend the Rent Restrictions Acts. The limiting factor is the availability of Parliamentary time.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Acts already make illegal the payment of key-money or premiums, but we have the greatest difficulty in bringing cases to court because those who pay premiums will not come forward and say so?