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Housing (Evictions)

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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Q1.

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the continuing increase in the number of evictions under the Rent Acts and other parts of the law in relation to housing, if he will instruct the Minister of Housing, the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Minister of Agriculture and other affected Ministers to consult together with a view to amending the law to end all evictions from houses until satisfactory alternative accommodation is provided.

Will the Prime Minister, in view of that Answer, suggest some other way of dealing with a problem which is one of the greatest social evils in this country at the moment? Is he aware that hundreds of people are homeless and that I have with me a list of twenty-four—[Laughter.]—has the Prime Minister ever heard a more disgraceful scene than the supporters behind him laughing at evictions?

I was saying that there are twenty-four cases in my constituency at this moment, of which I have sent details to the Minister of Housing, of women in the anguish of mental breakdown through families being dispersed. Will the right hon. Gentleman do something about what is the greatest scandal among our people at the present time?

With regard to the particular Question, my right hon. Friend has told me about the letters which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has sent to him concerning cases at Slough. Of course, my right hon. Friend will himself be replying to the hon. Gentleman. I understand that very few of these twenty-four cases have any direct connection with the Rent Act.

With regard to the larger question, its ultimate solution can only be by carrying forward with vigour the great housing progress we have made in the last ten years.

Does the Prime Minister understand that whatever the reasons for which people are evicted it is the Rent Act which makes it impossible for them to find anywhere else to go? Is he aware that since the Rent Act was passed—and this is admitted by the Minister of Housing—under-occupation of property is increasing and there is no increase in the amount of property to let coming on to the market? Since the Rent Act has failed in the objects claimed for it and is producing these undoubted hardships, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should look at it again?

I do not consider that the repeal of the Rent Act would serve the purposes which the hon. Gentleman has in view. It is much more likely to lead to yet greater sales of houses and less houses for rent.

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I give notice that I will raise this matter at the earliest possible opportunity on the Adjournment, and I hope that the Prime Minister will be here to answer the debate.