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Estate Agents (Registration Fees)

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1952

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asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of the practice of some estate agents who take considerable sums in registration fees without at the time having accommodation of the type required on their books; and if he will introduce legislation to prohibit estate agents charging registration fees in respect of types of accommodation not at the time on their books.

I have no information about the practice to which the hon. Members refers. The Government cannot undertake to introduce legislation with regard to it.

Does that mean that the Minister did not read the evidence I submitted to him before his secretary returned it to me?

No, Sir, it means we have quite a heavy legislative programme and we cannot introduce a Bill about it.

Is it not a fact that I sent evidence to the right hon. Gentleman of a practice which amounts to absolute racketeering, the knowledge of which is known to many people on both sides of the House, and even if the right hon. Gentleman cannot provide housing accommodation, at least he can stop the exploitation of home-seeking people until such times as he provides houses for them?

It is difficult to try and answer courteously in view of the way in which the hon. Gentleman asked his supplementary question, but this matter is very difficult and cannot be dealt with without legislation. There is a very heavy legislative programme, and it will not be possible to obtain an opportunity of dealing with it at any rate in this Session.

Is the Minister aware that the practice complained of is entirely contrary to the code of conduct and practice of all the senior professional associations, and that any hon. Member who wishes to avoid being caught like the hon. Member has only to refrain from giving his business to a bucket shop?