Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this question, I want to put to him a point of view which 1 hope will receive his sympathetic consideration, because the Bill now before the House seeks to abolish rent tribunals and the Amendment now under discussion seeks to continue them.
The point of view that I hold, after an examination of rent tribunals, is that they have performed a very useful purpose, and that, while in 1949 and again in 1954, the people used to go into this business with great trepidation, having regard to the results of the consideration given to applications, the rent tribunals have now to a very large degree satisfied the people who have made application to them. We find that approximately 90 per cent. of the applications resulted in the rents being reduced; the other 10 per cent. of applicants had their rents increased, and that has happened in the last few years.
I am not concerned about that and am not finding fault with the decisions given by the rent tribunals. What I am concerned with at the moment—and there are other hon. Members on this side of the House who come from mining areas—is that the people living in the mining areas are suffering to a very large extent from damage to their property caused by mining subsidence, and they are reluctantly compelled to go to the rent tribunal to get a reasonable rent fixed. If in this Bill the Minister is to take away from them their right to go to the rent tribunal, these people will be placed at a great disadvantage in comparison with people living in normal property.
Therefore, I think the Minister ought to have regard to the unfortunate position in which these people are placed. It is quite true that they may be able to go to the local authority and get a certificate of disrepair, but, unfortunately, if they do, the landlord cannot repair the property because of the shocking state it is in, and the tenants are compelled to go elsewhere. They have no recourse to any tribunal. They may be able to go to the county court, but imagine a tenant living in a house—of which there are many in my division—where he can neither open the windows nor shut the doors, and has to go to bed without locking up because the condition of the property is so bad that he cannot do so.
Therefore, the Minister should have regard to the conditions under which some of our people are living. Instead, he is attempting to take away something which—I was about to say that people have enjoyed, but they have not enjoyed it—has afforded to them a great deal of protection, namely, the protection hitherto afforded to them of making application to the rent tribunals. I will not repeat the argument advanced by my hon. and right hon. Friends, but I make a special plea to the right hon. Gentleman, to his Parliamentary Secretary and to his Department to give sympathetic consideration to this point before finally rejecting the Amendment.