Clause 1. — (Rent Limit of Controlled Houses.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Rent Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th March 1957.

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Photo of Mr Charles Gibson Mr Charles Gibson , Wandsworth Clapham 12:00 am, 26th March 1957

I do not understand the arguments put forward by the Minister for rejecting this Amendment. They seem to me to be as unreal as the arguments we used to get from the first Parliamentary Secretary when this Bill was introduced. It may be the fruits of keeping bad company, but we expect more humanity in the minds of those who are handling this question, especially from one who lives near the Vale of Health, as does the right hon. Gentleman.

The Minister suggested that the Bill was an attempt to bring order out of chaos. All I can say is that he has not been to many meetings at which people have been asking questions about the Measure. They will be in a dreadful muddle when it becomes operative because, as the Minister knows and as we have heard again this afternoon, there is still no agreement amongst the lawyers as to what certain parts of it mean.

We are asking that there should be some machinery not only to guarantee the landlord a fair rent, but to give the tenant a sense of justice and fair play. That is precisely what the rent tribunals have done. During the Committee stage, some of us gave the number of cases heard by the tribunals. In some cases the tribunals raised the rent; in many more they reduced the rent after careful and expert consideration of all the facts. It seems to me that there could hardly be anything fairer than the way in which the rent tribunals have performed their work.

Of course, this Amendment would mean that many landlords would not get double the gross rateable value as the rent for their houses because their houses would not be worth it. The House ought to know that during the Committee stage it was admitted from the Government side that even the landlord of a house which is unfit to live in, which is known to be unlit to live in, but which has not yet reached the stage where it becomes part of an order for slum clearance, can charge double the gross rateable value, and, if he says that he will carry out all the repairs, he can charge 2¼ times the gross rateable value.