asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the constitution and operational methods of rent scrutiny boards in Wales on whether, location by location, the chairmen and members of these boards in Wales will devote full or part time to their duties; and what fee or payment will be made to the chairmen and members of these Welsh rent scrutiny boards.
Each of the seven boards in Wales will have a chairman and at least six other members chosen from the rent assessment panel. There will be no full-time appointments. Fees, depending upon membership status, will be paid for each sitting. The method of operation is a matter for the chairman to decide in consultation with the panel president.
That answer is unsatisfactory. Why has the Secretary of State missed out any question of a right of appeal being available to council house tenants? Is it right, in terms of both legal and natural justice, that such a right should be denied to the council house tenant? Will the Secretary of State consider affording to those tenants the right of the issue of an order of certiorari which is available when a person who is dissatisfied with a decision seeks to take the issue before a magistrates' court for a verdict? If this is not done, I believe that Ministers will be treating the Welsh people and the law with contempt, because a right of appeal should be given to everybody.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not going into the legal complexities of his second point. However, I must point out that if the council house tenant disagrees with the council the right of appeal is to the rent assessment panel.
When the hon. Gentleman notifies or instructs rent scrutiny boards, will he at least tell them to hold their meetings in public so that people may see what is being done in the fixing of their rents?
It is not my understanding that they will meet in public but, as I have already said, there is the question of an appeal against a rent suggested by the council concerned.
I do not wish to enter into political wrangles about the merits of the Housing Finance Act, a piece of legislation which the Opposition deplore, but does the Minister think it fair that where parents in council houses take in their own sons and daughters and families while waiting for houses to be allocated, those parents should have to incur sub-tenancy fees, which in Swansea amount to 75p a week? Is he further aware that even after the sub-tenants have left the extra rent payment continues? How do the Government justify this charge? Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that these families are being charged £39 a year simply for being good parents and for behaving like normal members of families?