Housing

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st June 1978.

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Photo of Mr Bruce Douglas-Mann Mr Bruce Douglas-Mann , Merton Mitcham and Morden 12:00 am, 21st June 1978

I shall listen to the hon. Gentleman with great interest. The Conservative Opposition always give the impression to those who do not look carefully at the small print that they will sweep away the rotten Rent Act—except when they are talking to private tenants, of course. The Opposition have not given us an inkling of their policies. Perhaps the hon. Member for Hornsey will do that in his winding-up speech.

This debate has given my right hon. Friend the opportunity to announce a policy which I have been urging and anxious to see for a long time—a policy for an effective tenants' charter. The points made by my right hon. Friend which would be included in that charter were security of tenure, the right to carry out improvements, the right to improvement grants, the right to a tenancy agreement and the right to participate in and to have some influence over management. Those are rights of which council tenants have been deprived for too long. I hope that we shall be able to implement them in the near future.

I suggest that we should also include—this point was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham)—the right of enfranchisement for private tenants of self-contained property. I also urge my right hon. Friend, in his review of the Rent Acts, to consider the need to review the definition of the scarcity factor in the assessment of rents.

We heard from the hon. Members for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) and Aberdeen, West (Mr. Fairgrieve) about the impact which a large influx of people into an area can have on local housing conditions. That applies to central London and many other areas. The scarcity factor is by no means adequately taken into account by rent officers and rent assessment committees in offsetting the market rent assessed under the provisions of the Rent Act. There is an urgent need for that to be done.

I should like to see the elimination of abuses because of loopholes in the law. There is scope for abuse by both landlords and tenants. That problem needs to be put right.

The policies announced by my right hon. Friend, in contrast with the emptiness of the Opposition's proposals, make clear to anyone who has any concern about the standard and provision of housing for those in need and the provision of reasonably priced houses for those who wish to buy that it is very much in their interest that we should retain a Labour Government in office.