Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we want to encourage good landlords and if, as in many cases, it is the tenant who resists a decent improvement a good landlord is completely frustrated?
Yes, but tenants have certain rights in the matter and they cannot be taken away from them. There is, for example, the case of the elderly person who does not want a house to be altered in any way. Many factors are involved and previous Governments as well as this Government have taken the view that tenants have certain rights. I agree that landlords also have certain rights to have improvements made. However, by means of better education of tenants we might be able to get something done.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that resistance by tenants to improvement of their homes both by private and public landlords is becoming one of the major obstacles to the improvement of rural housing? Will he look at this matter again sympathetically because I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. King) is on a good point?
It would be fair to say that most of the tenants I have dealt with have been only too grateful for any improvements which have been suggested, but one gets the odd case in which a tenant will not have improvements done. If we can help by education we shall do so, but not by law.
Is not the resistance to improvement coming, not from tenants, but from landlords? In spite of the increased help given under the 1963 Act, they are still resisting improvements and, in the view of many of us, landlords outside improvement areas should also be subject to compulsion to make necessary improvements.
Under the 1964 Act authorities can compel owners to improve tenanted dwellings and areas in which there are tenanted blocks. It is true that certain tenants will not allow certain things to be done and this is a field for investigation.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) specifically emphasised rural districts where conditions are rather different in many cases from those with which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are familiar?