Legal Aid (Rent Assessment Committee Proceedings)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1966.

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Photo of Mr William Wells Mr William Wells , Walsall North 12:00 am, 20th July 1966

asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the high proportion of landlords appearing before rent assessment committees who either are represented by solicitors or counsel or who call expert witnesses, he will hasten his review of this problem with a view to amending the regulations under the Legal Aid and Advice Acts so as to provide for the grant of legal aid in cases to be determined by these committees.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor will continue to watch this matter. But, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government indicated yesterday in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker), it is doubtful whether the extension of legal aid to these proceedings is really the answer to this problem. What would seem to be most needed where a party is without adequate means is the assistance of a surveyor. This, as my right hon. Friend indicated, he is considering.

Photo of Mr William Wells Mr William Wells , Walsall North

Will my right hon. and learned Friend remember that the present position is loading the dice heavily in favour of property companies and tending to frustrate the purpose of rent control, and that second-best is better than nothing at all?

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

It is the availability of a competent and expert witness which could, I think, render the greatest assistance to the tenant, and it is along these lines that we are thinking.