HC Deb 01 November 1909 vol 12 cc1515-9

Sub-Section (3).—Where a closing order has become operative, the local authority shall serve notice of the order on every occupying tenant of the dwelling-house in respect of which the order is made, and within such period as is specified in the notice, not being less than seven days after the service of the notice, the order shall be obeyed by him, and he and his family shall cease to inhabit the dwelling-house, and in default he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty shillings for every day during which the default continues.

House disagreed with Lords Amendment to leave out "seven" ["not being less than seven days after the service of the notice"], and to insert instead thereof "fourteen."

Sub-section (4).—The local authority may make to every such tenant such reasonable allowance on account of his expense in removing, as may be determined by the local authority with the consent of the owner of the dwelling-house, or if the owner of the dwelling-house fails to con sent to the sum determined by the local authority, as may be fixed by a court of summary jurisdiction, and the amount of the said allowance shall be recoverable by the local authority from the owner of the dwelling-house as a civil debt in manner provided by the Summary Jurisdiction Acts.

Lords Amendment: Insert words providing that the tenant may "be ordered to quit the dwelling-house within such time as may be specified in the order."


We think it is far better that a person who is ordered to quit should quit than be liable to a pecuniary fine.

House agreed with Lords Amendment.

Lords Amendment: Insert at the beginning of Sub-section (4): "Unless the dwelling-house has been made unfit for habitation by the wilful act or default of the tenant or of any person for whom as between himself and the owner or landlord he is responsible."


Here we have a peculiar instance in which the Committee of the House of Commons and also the House of Lords agreed that where you have a tenant who deliberately damages his house it would be advantageous to penalise him for the damage done. There are circumstances where the local authorities are allowed to grant compensation to people who are turned out of their houses when public improvements take place or a demolition order is issued. We contend in these cases a person loses, and should receive compensation from the local authority for removal expenses or some gratuity which is paid like that given by the county council. I think it is a reasonable and just encouragement to people who do keep their houses in order to give them a gratuity, and if those who wreck their houses are fined it will act as a proper deterrent.

House agreed with the Lords Amendment.

Sub-section (7).—A room habitually used as a sleeping place, the surface of the floor of which is more than three feet below the surface of the part of the street adjoining or nearest to the room, shall for the pur- poses of this Section be deemed to be a dwelling-house so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation, if the room either—

  1. (a) is not sufficiently protected against dampness, effluvia, or exhalation; or
  2. (b) is not sufficiently ventilated; or
  3. (c) is not in every part thereof at least seven feet in height from floor to ceiling; or
  4. (d) is not, to the extent of one foot at least in height, above the level of the surface of the part of the street adjoining or nearest to the room; or
  5. (e) has not one or more windows opening directly into the external air, with a total area clear of the sash frames equal to at least one-tenth of the floor area of the room, and so constructed that one-half at least of each window of the room can be opened, the opening in each case extending to the top of the window; or
  6. (f) is not provided along the entire frontage thereof with an open area properly paved, at least four feet wide in every part thereof: Provided that in the area there may be placed steps necessary for access to the room, and over and across the area there may be steps necessary for access to any buildings above the room, if the steps are so placed in each case as not to be over or across any external window.
This Sub-section shall not come into operation until the first day of July nineteen hundred and ten.

Mr. BURNS moved to agree with the Lords Amendment to leave out the lines "so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation."


Would the right hon. Gentleman explain why he proposes to agree with the Lords in this Amendment? This provision enables the local authority to act, and I would like to know in what respect he considers the Amendment of the Lords is superior to the Bill as originally drafted? It seems to me that the Bill as originally drafted was preferable.


I think I speak with the entire approval of the hon. Member who moved this Clause in the Grand Committee upstairs when I say that it will enable us to deal with the difficulty contemplated by the Clause, and to make bye-laws and regulations dealing with matters of light, effluvia, and ventilation. In basements and cellar dwellings the varying conditions both as to the actual situations in town and country of this kind of accommodation is better dealt with by bye-laws and regulations than by statutory prohibition. I think Lord St. Aldwyn, who moved in the House of Lords that bye-laws and regulations should take the place of statutory regulations to enable us to get at objectionable cases, was right in thinking that it could be better done by bye-laws than by statute. I trust the House will take the assurance from me that we can best deal with basement and cellar accommodation by bye-laws and regulations.


Do we understand the right hon. Gentleman will make such regulations?


Oh, certainly.


Why leave out these few lines and keep in the rest? I do not understand why these lines should come out and the rest of the Clause remain in.


Look at the next Amendment.


All necessary precautions are taken in the Amendment which follows.

House agreed with Lords Amendment to leave out in paragraph (c), Sub-section (7), "in every part thereof," and to insert instead thereof "on an average."

Lords Amendment: Leave out paragraphs (e) and (f), and insert, "Does not comply with such regulations as the local authority with the consent of the Local Government Board may prescribe for securing the proper ventilation and lighting of such rooms, and the protection thereof against dampness, effluvia, or exhalation: Provided that if the local authority, after being required to do so by the Local Government Board, fail to make such regulations, or such regulations as the Board approve, the Board may themselves make them, and the regulations so made shall have effect as if they had been made by the local authority with the consent of the Board.

"Provided that a closing order made in respect of a room to which this Sub-section applies shall not prevent the room being used for purposes other than those of a sleeping place."


It is now desired to amend this Amendment by the addition of the following words: "If the occupier of the room after notice of an order has been served upon him fails to comply with the order, the order to be complied therewith may, on summary conviction, be made against him."

This is an instance in which it is desirable to get out the occupier. If the occupier fails to comply the court of summary jurisdiction may make an order and force him to do so by a penalty under the Summary Jurisdiction Act.


How many days notice will the occupier have before it is attempted to get him out?


He will have the usual notice. It is only one room. It is not a house.


It does not matter if it was only half a room.