I am sure that the Minister, at least in his moments of reflection, would he relieved if he could know that the rents of properties would in future be fixed upon a reasonable basis. Some of the nightmares that he must now he enduring from the possibility of unreasonable rents being demanded when the Bill is in operation would be avoided if he could so arrange his Bill that rents were fixed upon a reasonable basis.
Our Amendment suggests a way by which the rent of the type of property that we are considering should be fixed upon a reasonable basis by an impartial tribunal of specialists. One would have thought that the Minister would be ready to accept it if only to cover this small category of properties. The Amendment applies only to those houses which have been let for the first time since the operation of the 1954 Act. It goes hack no further than that. Therefore, the rents which have been fixed for those properties for the first time were fixed impartially by the tribunals, which had power to raise or lower the rents as they thought reasonable.
The Amendment applies also to houses which are let for the first time in the future. There will be difficulties about houses of that type when they become empty and pass out of control and are let for the first time under the new basis. One would have thought that the Minister would be happy that the rents of those houses could be determined by an impartial tribunal, and I hope that he will see the sense of the Amendment.
I suppose that some 8,000 or 9,000 houses have already been dealt with in this manner since the 1954 Act came into operation. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) spoke of some 4,000 of them in 1955, and it is a fair assumption that another 4,000 or so were dealt with in 1956. We are dealing, therefore, with roughly 8,000 houses, the rents of which have been fixed by the tribunals over those two years, and we are dealing with the houses which will be let for the first time in the future. In dealing with this small category of houses, the Minister has the opportunity——