HC Deb 02 November 1909 vol 12 cc1795-9

Every payment of an assessment by an owner under or in pursuance of the provisions of the immediately preceding Section shall, notwithstanding any deduction which the assessing authority is required to allow therefrom, be deemed a payment of the full assessment by the occupier for the purpose of any qualification or franchise which depends on such payment. Provided that where an owner who is responsible therefor omits or neglects to pay any such assessment the occupier may pay the same and deduct the amount from the rent due or accruing due to the owner, and the receipt for such assessment shall be a valid discharge of the rent to the extent of the assessment so paid. And provided further that all provisions of any Act with respect to notice to be given of occupiers' assessments in arrear shall apply to occupiers of premises capable of conferring any franchise as aforesaid, although the owners of such premises are responsible for the occupiers' assessments thereon.


With regard to this new Clause I regret that it will be necessary to divide the House, and I will explain why that course is imperative. By the Clause as it now stands, and indeed by the Clause as it stood amended in the House of Lords, machinery was provided by means of which the municipal rates charged by the boroughs could be made subject—to use the Lord Advocate's phrase—to a convenient means of collection—that is to say could be collected along with the rent by the landlord, and so payment made easier, no doubt, by the instalments. I gather that that process was effected without making any change of any kind in the conditions under which the franchise in those boroughs is exercised, and that things were left exactly as they were. On the other hand, what is now proposed to be done with regard to the parish rates is not to leave things as they were. The result of the proposed new Clause is absolutely to abolish for practical purposes the disqualification which the Franchise Statutes provide in the case of the non-payment of rates by the occupier. That may be a very good object, but it is not an object which has any part in a Bill intended to facilitate short lettings. It is one of those proposals one would be perfectly willing to discuss on its merits, but it has nothing to do with this Bill. The Lord Advocate says that we are to provide a remedy in the case of the municipal rates, leaving the municipal franchise absolutely untouched and the disqualification for non-payment of rates absolutely untouched, but what he wants to do is not to treat the parish council rating in the same way. Except in the exceptional case where the proprietor of the property becomes bankrupt, disqualification for non-payment of the rates by the tenant is absolutely wiped out. Observe what that means. A tenant may have failed month after month or one month out of 12 to pay the rent or the instalment which would have, enabled the landlord to pay the assessment. He will in the future, as in the past, doubtless omit to pay the poor rate, but the landlord's payment is taken to be the same as the tenant's, and the natural consequence of non-payment under the law is wiped out. That is changing the franchise law. At present it is the payment that qualifies the tenant; now he is never to be asked to pay. That change may be good or bad, but it is utterly irrelevant to this Bill, and unnecessary for its object. There is no difficulty in providing for the payment of the parish rate, just like the municipal rate, through the hands of the landlord now. There is no difficulty in providing the necessary machinery, as is done under the existing statute for municipal rates, whereby at the end of the year if the tenant cannot show that he has paid the full amount of the rate for the year he is disqualified, therefore the Amendment is unnecessary.


As I read this Amendment its object is to save the tenant whose landlord has not paid the rate. It simply places the Scottish workman on the same footing as the English workman in this matter.


Is it not a fact that a person with a rental over £10 who has not paid the poor rate is placed on the roll, whereas a person with a rental under £10 who has not paid is disqualified?


That is so.


Then the whole contention of the hon. Member for Edinburgh falls to the ground.

Lords Amendment: After Clause 20, insert Clause B (Saving for Removal Terms (Scotland) Acts).

Nothing in this Act shall prejudice or affect the provisions of the Removal Terms (Scotland) Act, 1886, or the Removal Terms (Scotland) Act, 1886, Amendment


This matter ought to be cleared up. The Amendment means that in future there will be a deducton from the poor rate allowed to the landlord for the trouble of collecting it, and in that respect the tenant who pays to the landlord will not have to pay the full rate. By some quibble of law such a man, because he has not paid the full rate, would be disfranchised. I understand that this Clause makes such a payment of the same value for retaining the vote as if the rate had been paid direct in full. If there be any ulterior purpose, any motive of an improper kind, it ought to be made clear. No doubt the hon. Member for West Edinburgh is very lucid and clear, but I fail to catch the bearing of his meaning. We should have a word of explanation as to how the matter exactly stands, and how a very necessary and simple change in the law is necessary and proper.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 70; Noes, 13.

Division No. 892.] AYES. [12.50 a.m.
Ainsworth, John Stirling Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Armitage, R. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Rendall, Athelstan
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Hedges, A. Paget Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Barnes, G. N. Higham, John Sharp Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Beale, W. P. Holt, Richard Durning Roe, Sir Thomas
Bennett, E. N. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Seddon, J.
Bowerman, C. W. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Seely, Colonel
Bryce, J. Annan Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Shackleton, David James
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Keating, Matthew Summerbell, T.
Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight Laidlaw, Robert Sutherland, J. E.
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Lamont, Norman Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Cleland, J. W. Levy, Sir Maurice Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Cross, Alexander M'Callum, John M. Walsh, Stephen
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Markham, Arthur Basil Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Esslemont, George Birnie Parker, James (Halifax) Wiles, Thomas
Falconer, James Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Wilkie, Alexander
Ferguson, R. C. Munro Pirle, Duncan V. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Findlay, Alexander Pointer, Joseph
Fuller, John Michael F. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.
Glover, Thomas Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Gulland, John W.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Craik, Sir Henry Valentia, Viscount
Bignold, Sir Arthur Dickson, Rt. Hon. Charles Scott Younger, George
Carlile, E. Hildred Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Clyde, James Avon Hamilton, Marquess of TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Forster and Lord Balcarres.
Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham) Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.

Act, 1890, except in so far as such provisions are inconsistent with this Act.

House agreed with Lords Amendment.

Lords Amendment: After Clause 20, insert Clause C (Saving Section 72 of Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847).

Nothing in this Act contained shall prejudice or affect the provisions of Section seventy-two of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847.

Question, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing with certain of their Amendments to the Bill.

Committee nominated of, the Lord Advocate, Mr. Clyde, Mr. Cross, Mr. Scott Dickson, and Mr. Solicitor-General for Scotland.

Three to be the quorum.

To withdraw immediately.—[Mr. Ure.]

Reason for disagreeing with Lords Amendments reported and agreed to.

To be communicated to the Lords.—[Mr. Ure.]