§ Subject as hereinafter provided the provisions of all Acts applicable within the respective areas in which this Act may be in operation respecting the liability for, and the imposition and recovery by an assessing authority of, any assessment, shall subsist in full force and effect: Provided that within every such area—
- (1) The occupier of a small dwelling-house shall in no case be liable to pay occupiers' assessment there for in respect of any period prior to the commencement or subsequent to the termination of his occupancy, but any liability to pay occupiers' assessment, which would by law be imposed on a person occupying the small dwelling-house throughout the year from Whitsunday to Whitsunday, shall be imposed on any such occupier or successive occupiers during the year, whether their names appear in the valuation roll or not, to such extent or in such shares as shall be proportionate to the period or periods of their respective occupancies of the small dwelling-house:
- (2) Subject as hereinafter provided the owner of a small dwelling-house shall be responsible for all assessments liability to pay which is imposed on the occupier thereof, and all responsibility of the occupier for the same shall cease and determine, and the same shall not be recovered or recoverable by the assessing authority from the occupier, but shall be recovered by the assessing authority from such owner in the same manner as provided for under existing Acts with respect to the recovery of assessments from owners, and the assessing authority shall be entitled to recover occupiers' assessments from the owner for the year from Whitsunday to Whitsunday, notwithstanding that the house may not be occupied throughout the year:
- (3) Notwithstanding any payment by the owner of occupiers' assessments in respect of the occupancy of a small dwelling-house, if, in respect of any period, rent or other consideration shall not be received by the owner for any small dwelling-house in respect of which such payment has been made, the owner
332 shall, upon lodging, on or before dates to be fixed by the respective assessing authorities (one of which dates shall be fixed not earlier than the first or later than the twentieth day of May in each year), with the clerk to any such authority, or with such other officer as such authority may appoint for the purpose, a claim there for, which shall set forth the period or periods during which the small dwelling-house was not let, or in respect of which, though the house was let, no payment of rent or other consideration was received by him, and a declaration to the effect that no rent or other consideration was or is to be paid or given for such period or periods, be entitled to repayment from such authority of the proportionate amount of such assessment for the said period or periods: Provided that, for the purpose of any qualification or franchise which depends on payment of occupiers' assessments, an occupier shall be held to be in arrear, and his assessments to remain unpaid, to the extent of any claim there for (if relating to any period during the occupancy of the said occupier) under this Sub-section in respect of which the owner has received repayment, or which is pending at the date when notice of occupiers' assessments in arrear requires to be given under the statutes relating to such qualification or franchise.
- (4) The owner of a small dwelling-house, on receipt of a requisition from an assessing authority or such officer as they may appoint, shall within ten days thereafter furnish such authority with a return containing particulars of any period or periods in any year from Whitsunday to Whitsunday during which such small dwelling-house has been let, and of the occupier or successive occupiers thereof, with their respective periods of occupancy and the amount of rent payable and paid by them respectively;
- (5) Any owner knowingly making or causing to be made any false statement in or in connexion with any claim, declaration, or return under this Section, or failing to make any such return, shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty not exceeding fifty pounds;
- (6) Every assessing authority shall, in respect of the occupancy of small dwelling-houses, allow to owners from all occupiers' assessments levied on and recovered from them in place of the occupiers (less any repayments in pursuance of a claim under this Section) a deduction, to cover cost of collection, on the following scale (that is to say):—
In the city of Glasgow, two pounds ten shillings per centum; and elsewhere such deduction, not exceeding two pounds ten shillings per centum, as may be fixed by the sheriff on the application of the assessing authority, or any ten or more persons having an interest, after such intimation by advertisement or otherwise as he thinks fit, and after such inquiry, if any, as he may deem necessary:
Provided that, after such scale of deduction has been in operation for a period of not lass than three years, it shall be competent for the assessing authority, or for any ten or more persons having an interest, to present a petition to the sheriff for reconsideration of such scale, and the decision of the sheriff, after such intimation by advertisement or otherwise as he thinks fit, and after such inquiry, if any, as he may deem necessary, shall be final, but after the expiry of a period of not less than five years from the date of such decision, and thereafter at intervals of not less than five years from the date of the final interlocutor by the sheriff on the reconsideration of such scale, the scale may, subject to the like procedure, be resubmitted to the sheriff for reconsideration.
§ (7) Section thirty-one of the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854, Subsection six of Section nine of the Representation of the People Act, 1884, and Sections three hundred and forty-five and three hundred and forty-six of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, and the corresponding Sections of any local Act, shall not apply to a small dwelling-house.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
I beg to move to leave out paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), 334 and (5), and to insert instead thereof the following:—
When any payment of assessments relates to more than one assessment the amount so paid shall be accounted for by the owner to and be applied by the assessing authority rateably towards payment of all the assessments included in the payment;
- (1) The occupier of a small dwelling-house shall be liable to pay the assessments in respect only of the period of his actual occupancy thereof, and that whether his name appears in the valuation roll or not;
- (2) The occupier of a small dwelling-house, in addition to being liable to pay to the owner the agreed-upon rent thereof, shall also pay to such owner the amount of assessments for which he is liable to the assessing authority in respect of his occupancy of such house, and the cumulo amount so payable shall be recoverable by the owner from such occupier in the same way as rent, and every payment thereof, or to account thereof, by an occupier to an owner shall be deemed payment to the assessing authority of such assessments in the proportion to the amount paid which the total assessments for which such occupier is liable bears to the total amount payable by him as aforesaid in respect of his said occupancy. Any instalment of assessments for which an occupier is liable in respect of his occupancy of a small dwelling-house and payable upon a date occurring after the fifteenth day of May in any year before the date or dates of imposing the assessments of the year from and after the said fifteenth day of May, shall be calculated, levied, and payable on the basis of the corresponding assessments for the immediately preceding year.
(3) The owner of a small dwelling-house shall be responsible to the assessing authorities for the assessments for which the occupier is liable in respect of his occupancy of such house, but only in so far as rent and assessments have been paid to him by such occupier, and the assessing authority may recover the same from such owner under a deduction to cover the cost of collection at the rate of two pounds ten shillings per centum, and the owner shall be bound to pay over to the assessing authority, or their appointed officer, the assessments so paid to him subject to such deduction at the periods and in the instalments fixed by the assessing authority.
335 On or before the twenty-fifth day of May in each year the owner shall transmit to the assessing authority or their appointed officer a statement giving the name and address of each occupier of the small dwelling-houses of which he is owner, the total rent and assessments payable, and the total amount paid to him by each occupier during the year;
Such statement shall be in such form as shall be prescribed by the assessing authority, provided that the assessing authority shall first apply to the Secretary for Scotland for approval thereof, and he shall order such intimation of the application by advertisement in one or more newspapers published in the burgh as he shall think proper, and shall consider all objections lodged within a specified time by any persons interested, and thereafter approve of the form of statement, with or without modifications as he may determine.
(4) Every payment by an owner to an assessing body of assessments or instalments of assesments for which an occupier is liable in respect of his occupancy of a small dwelling-house shall, notwithstanding any deduction which the assessing authority is required to allow therefrom, be deemed payment pro tanto of such rate to the assessing authority as if no deduction had been made. Provided that—
This Amendment raises, I think, the only controversial question in the Bill. It provides, in the first place, that the occupier shall only in future be liable for the occupier's assessments for the period during which he is in actual occupancy of the dwelling-house. Sub-section (2) of the Bill says,
- (a) When an owner who is responsible there for fails to pay such assessments or instalments of assessments to the assessing authority, the occupier may pay the same to the assessing authority and deduct the amount so paid from any rent of such house payable by him to the owner, and the receipt of the assessing authority for such amount shall be a valid discharge pro tanto of such rent, and if no rent be payable the occupier shall be entitled to recover such amount from the owner;
- (b) Every owner of a small dwelling-house shall at the commencement of the occupancy thereof of each occupier in each year beginning on the fifteenth day of May, deliver to such occupier a statement or certificate specifying the respective amounts of rent and assessments payable by him in respect of his occupancy; and in the receipt granted for any payment by or on behalf of such occupier in name of rent, the
336 owner shall specify the respective amounts of rent and assessments included therein;
- (c) Nothing in this Act shall deprive any assessing authority of any power to exempt any occupier of a small dwelling-house from payment, in whole or in part, on the ground of his poverty or inability to pay, of any assessment for which he is liable or that has become payable by him in respect of his occupancy of such house; and upon production to the owner of such house of a certificate by the assessing authority or its appropriate officer of such exemption such occupier shall not be bound to pay to the owner, and the owner shall not be entitled to recover from him such assessment or proportion thereof; nor shall such owner be liable to pay to the assessing authority the assessment, from, the payment of which such occupier has been so exempted;
- (d) For the purposes of the Registration Acts and all Acts which regulate the payment of any assessment, in so far as it affects the right of an occupier to be registered as a voter at any election, payment by the occupier of a small dwelling-house in accordance with the provisions of this Act of an assessment in respect of a complete year as from and after the fifteenth day of May, shall be deemed the payment of such assessment required by such Act or Acts to be made by such occupier in respect of that year.Subject as hereinafter provided the owner of a small dwelling-house shall be responsible for all assessments liability to pay which is imposed on the occupier thereof, and all responsibility of the occupier for the same shall cease and determine,That last phrase is quite unqualified, and therefore the result of it in law would be that the occupier would no longer be liable for the occupier's share of the assessments, 337 either to the assessing authority or to the owner. Then it is said,and the same shall not be recovered or recoverable by the assessing authority from the occupier, but shall be recovered by the assessing authority from such owner in the same manner as provided for under existing Acts with respect to the recovery of assessments from owners, and the assessing authority shall be entitled to recover occupiers' assessments from the owner for the year from Whitsunday to Whitsunday, notwithstanding that the house may not be occupied throughout the year.The result of that, according to my reading of it, would be that the occupier hereafter would be free from all responsibility whatever to anyone, either to the owner or to the assessing authority, so far as the assessments are concerned, and that the owner shall be bound to pay these occupiers' assessments, whether the house is occupied or not. That latter part is qualified to a certain extent by Sub-section (3), which provides that, while the owner will have to pay the full occupier's assessments in the first place to the assessing body, he shall be entitled to recover from that assessing body the proportion of assessments in respect of which, though the house was let, no payment of rent or other consideration was received by him, and provided he makes a declaration to the effect that no rent or other consideration was or is to be paid or given for such period. At least it seems the result is this. It is to be paid or given for such period or periods. If he has a contract with a tenant under which such rent or other consideration was in law due, he was not to be entitled to recover this assessment. Then it is provided that certain returns to be made by the owner in Sub-section (4) and Sub-section (5) shall be liable to penalty. The result will be this: that the owner will be made responsible to the fullest extent for all occupier's assessments and will not only be made responsible, but will have to pay them. In the first instance, he will only be entitled to get them back if he can show he has received no rent or other consideration, and that no rent or other consideration is to be paid or given to him. Therefore, if he has a contract under which rent or other consideration is to be paid he will not be entitled to recover. I do not know what the experience of English Members may be, but I am quite sure the experience of Scottish Members is this that in every burgh and particularly in the 338 larger burghs it has been found necessary to give a great number of exemptions to the poorer ratepayers because in respect of their very strained circumstances they are not able to pay the municipal assessment.
Thousands of pounds are remitted each year in that way in Glasgow, and I am informed on unimpeachable authority that thousands of pounds are also remitted in Edinburgh. I have no doubt that this applies generally. The only way in which the landlord can recover the assessment so paid from the occupier is by adding it to the rent. In some previous Bills a requirement was made that rent and rates should be separately demanded; that with the-request of the landlord to the occupier the amounts of the rent and rates should be separately stated. But that is no longer so, and the result will be that for some tenements that come under this Bill the owner will be compelled to add it to his rent. He will have to do that beginning on the 15th May, when it is uncertain what the rates will be, because the rates for assessment are not fixed until later in the year. There may be a rise; there may be a fall.
The owner will require to take care that his rent is big enough to provide for the contingency of there being an increased rate. He will also have to make his rent so large that he will cover any loss he may incur through having to pay more than he recovers, because the only commission he is allowed to receive under this Bill—under all previous Bills commissions up to 10 per cent. were permitted—is a commission of 2½ per cent., to cover the cost of collection. I ask Members of the party below the Gangway opposite whether they approve of a principle which will result in every small dwelling-house which falls under this Bill being put, so far as the landlord is concerned, into this position: that he will require to add the rates to the rent, plus something which will keep him quite safe if he does not recover the full rate. They are asked by the Government to pass a Bill which will inevitably result in the rents of small dwelling-houses being increased. I do not know whether it is in accordance with the views of the Labour party, or of the Socialist party, that a Bill should be passed which will have the inevitable result of making the landlord raise the rents of all his poorer tenants. The landlord has no power to recover the rates which he pays to the assessing body. He has no power to recover those 339 rates from the occupier unless he adds them to the rent and recovers them as rent. That is an odd way of contributing to the solving of the housing problem. Does that meet with the views of those who complain of too high rents? What would be said of a Tory Government if they proposed to pass a measure of that kind, which will compel a landlord to add to the rent of every small dwelling-house in future in order to secure him for the rates he will have to pay, for any trouble and expense he may have in collecting them, and for any deficit he may have to make good. If he follows out this Bill he can only do it, supposing the rent is £10 and the rates are £1, by saying that as I have to pay the rates I will put £1 on the rent, and as I have to meet contingencies I will put on 10s. in addition. The rent will be £11 10s. He will be rated not on Ms £10, but on the £11 10s. He will pay on the occupier's rent as well as on the rent he recovers. That will add materially to the rent of the house, and we are asked to pass this Bill for the purpose of bringing about that result, amongst other things. These two evils will follow, as I think, that it will be impossible in Scotch boroughs after this Bill passes, if it does pass, so far as the smaller dwelling houses are concerned—I agree the Bill is so framed that the smaller dwelling houses will include all the houses occupied by the working classes, and probably those occupied by some who do not technically come under the term, though I do not think it is a very accurate term to employ—to grant exemption on the ground of poverty. If the occupier is willing to pay his rent the landlord must pay the full rates to the assessing authority, and he will be bound to take care that he recovers then from the occupier. He cannot give exemption unless out of his own pocket. Do you think that is right? I should think not. Accordingly thousands of pounds will be taken from the occupying classes of small dwelling houses—I hesitate to say how many in Glasgow. You are going to put upon the rent fund paid by the smaller tenants in these boroughs many thousands pounds which will ultimately have to come out of the pockets of the working class occupiers. We take no exception to the first six Clauses of the Bill. They deal with what has long been felt to be a grievance—namely, that houses were let, say in February or March, for a period beginning the following 15th May for a 340 year after that, and it was felt by working men, and with good reason, that, as their place of employment might vary during that fifteen or sixteen months, the house which was suitable and convenient at the beginning of the term became very inconvenient if they had to change their place of employment and go to some other place. But we are opposed to this seventh Clause on the ground I have stated, and also on the ground that it introduces into a House Letting Bill a large change in the representation law, which has existed in Scotland for many years. I do not object to altering the representation law, but do it in a businesslike and a fair way. Do not try to gerrymander it by abolishing plural voting and introducing this system. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Barnes) has championed this Bill on the ground that it is going largely to add to the electorate. I am not so sure that it will do that. We will see how it works out. If you are going to deal with the representation of the people deal with it where it should be dealt with, in a representation Bill, and we will have some inequalities redressed on the other side. We do not want one Member in one place representing 1,000 electors, and in another 20,000.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
And one vote one value. But we are dealing with a House Letting Bill. That is what this Bill ought to be. While we criticise the Government, we are not without a scheme. It is specifically set forth in the words I propose to insert. It would make the occupier liable for the period in which he was in occupancy, and it would make him liable for the rates right through, but it would not interfere with the franchise in any way. It would allow exemption to be given where exemption was required on the ground of poverty. It would not have the effect which this Bill would have of increasing rents all round. It has been as carefully framed as we could frame it in order to make the Bill workable. Having consulted a number of authorities on the matter, I am advised that the effect of the Amendment would be to enable the missive grievance to be removed. It would give working-class people what they want so far as not tying them to houses for long periods in the way I have described is concerned, and it would leave the assessing bodies as they are now. It would not compel landlords to raise rents 341 all round in order to keep their own pockets right. This Bill might have been law long ago but for the resolution of certain parties to make it far more a franchise Bill than a House Letting Bill. I am informed, on the best authority I can get, that the proposition I make will result in the grievance complained of being done away with. If that is so, why not accept it? Some of the Friends of hon. Gentlemen opposite have spoken of the Bill as one which would have the effect of making hon. Members on this side lose their Beats. If you have confidence in your leaders you ought to take that view of it. If you have confidence in what they say you will get the franchise before the next election comes about, but apparently you will not do much good with it so far as I can see. I do not say that the seventh Clause is proposed for the purpose, but I say it would have the inevitable result of introducing something which is not appropriate to a House Letting Bill. I ask the House to accept the Amendment because it will remedy the evil complained of and leave the franchise untouched. It will not be the means of introducing a reform Bill in the form of a House Letting Bill.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Ure)
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that in his judgment this Bill was not designed to introduce short lets, or to destroy the missive, but to affect his Constituency and his return to this House.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
I did not say that. I said that one of the right hon. Gentleman's friends spoke of it as if that were the intention. I never thought it.
§ Mr. URE
The view referred to is one which I do not share for reasons which will appear in the sequel. Really, I am extremely anxious to secure the continued presence of my right hon. Friend in this House. In some instances it is almost necessary for the proper conduct of Scottish business that we should have him here. For my part, I will do nothing with the Bill to injure his chances of returning to this House. Let the House remember that we are not now discussing the principle of the Bill. We are all agreed about the principle of the Bill, and the Clauses which precedes the one in question embody the principle of the Bill. What we are now concerned with is the necessary adjustment which we must make upon this measure in order to fit it in with the rating system in Scotland, and in order that we 342 may innovate to the smallest possible extent upon our franchise system. The right hon. Gentleman and I are both agreed that you cannot introduce short lets and destroy the missive system without innovating to some extent—to what extent no man can tell: to a small extent, I think—upon the franchise system. But the extraordinary thing is this—the House will scarcely believe it, I am sure—that what my right hon. Friend has been inveighing against for the last ten minutes has been the law of Scotland for twenty years. Since 1892, whenever a man let a dwelling-house, I do not care what his rent was, for less than a period of a year, the owner was responsible for the rates, and in the case of the very small dwelling-houses the owner was responsible and not the occupier. The owner took the place of the occupier.
§ Mr. URE
I said so—very small dwelling-houses. That is the law of Scotland and wherever you have a let of less than a year, I do not care what the rental is, then the owner was responsible and not the occupier for the rates. I assert first that this Bill will not increase the rents of small holders. I assert, secondly, that it will not in the slightest degree affect the right of an injured occupier to secure exemption from rates, and I also assert that there is no possible clause that any person can devise which will make less inroad on the franchise than the clause now inserted in the Bill. The plan of the Bill is that the owner shall be responsible for the rates, and in the case of a small house, notice is given to the occupier of the assessment for the year, and he can go to the assessment authority and say that he should like exemption, just as was done in 1892. The small man's rights and privileges are not in the slightest degree affected by this Bill. Where the owner is getting rates as well as rent he collects them together once a week, a fortnight, or a month as the case may be. The owner is liable to the assessing authority, in the first instance for the rates upon the small dwelling-house, but if at the end of the year he has not recovered from the occupier the amount of rates which he himself has paid, he makes a claim for repayment to the assessing authority and gets back what he paid for the occupier.
That is the complete scheme. Up to that point we are at one. But when 343 you reach the period after the 15th May the collector of the poor rates is then enjoined to give a list of those occupiers who have not paid their rates, and every occupier gets a notice to the affect that if he does not pay his poor-rate by the 20th June in that case he will lose his electoral rights. The Clause of the Bill makes full provision for that; it leaves that absolutely untouched. The collector finds out the owner, who claims repayment of the rates because he has not got it from the occupier, and he puts the occupier's name on his list, gives him notice, and if the rate is not paid, then the occupier is struck off the electoral roll. Does that make any inroad on the franchise law? To no extent whatever. The roll is made up once a year. On the roll the occupier's name stands opposite the dwelling which he occupies. At the end of May if the rates are unpaid in respect of his dwelling-house he will go off the roll. It does not matter if a man has been in a succession of dwelling-houses; he will never get notice except in respect of the dwelling-house opposite which his name appears on the roll.
In the Bill I have safeguarded him in every possible way, and the House will see the extent to which we have interfered with the franchise laws. First, everybody who claims exemption from rates is struck off the roll, everybody who receives parochial relief is struck off, and everybody who has not been an occupant for twelve months prior to 31st July in any one year receives no vote. How, then, am I introducing innovations into the franchise law in this Bill? The House will see to no extent whatever. But the right hon. Gentleman does. By the first part of his new Clause the occupant is only to be responsible for the rates for the period of his occupancy. Good and well, I agree; but with the last part he says that an occupier shall be deemed to be in arrears upon his assessment if he has not paid the assessment for the whole year. So that he is struck off the roll if he does not pay the rates for the whole year in respect of a house.
How could we tolerate a Clause of that kind? There is an innovation in the franchise with a vengeance. He insists on the occupier being liable for the assessment for the whole year, though he may have been in occupation for a week or fortnight. That appears to be absolutely contradictory. Accordingly, I say that whilst my Clause, so far as I can see, makes no 344 innovation on the franchise law, my right hon. and learned Friend's Clause does. I do not say it would be effective. I know it would be highly ineffective, and the reason is plain. You may declare that the occupier shall be deemed to be in arrear of the assessment for the whole year, but unless the collector gives notice to the effect that he is in arrear, and he could not in the circumstances we are now considering, then in that case, deeming the occupier to be in arrear would not have the slightest value whatever. I end as I began. I think my right hon. Friend really ought to be grateful to me for he form in which I have framed this Clause. We have tried many editions of this Clause. I say that this final edition of the Clause is the very best that can be devised to make no inroad upon our rating system, and to make the least possible inroad upon our franchise.
§ Mr. WILKIE
As one of the victims in this question I would like to point out that when this agitation was started many years ago we did not care a rap about the rating question. It was the missive question we wanted to deal with. We are asking the House to give us in Scotland what the workmen in England have had so long. That is all we are asking. All this mystification of rates and collection and everything else is done away with south of the Tweed and we do not see why it should not be done away with north of the Tweed. So far as this Bill causing any increase in rent in Glasgow, from experience I say, that the people who increased the rent were the owners of the land who charged so much for it that we could not get houses for the working classes at a reasonable rate. That question will not be affected by this Bill. The question of rents is an economic question, and the landlord will charge rents according to the demand for their houses.
§ Mr. CLYDE
It would have been a great advantage if the lines adopted by the Lord Advocate in explaining his proposals had been identical in Committee and now on Report. The explanations given to-day vary very markedly from the explanations given in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying we ought to be grateful to him. I am afraid I cannot offer him any gratitude. While he professes now to make no change in the franchise law and that the power to grant exemptions not only remains, but is still 345 operative, I can find neither of these results in his Clause, nor did he make that profession in Committee. Personally I am much more interested in the question of exemption than in the other. So far as the power to grant exemptions is concerned, I agree there is nothing in this Bill which says that a municipal authority or other rating body shall not grant exemptions on the ground of poverty. But although that power is not in terms taken away, all possible operative effect is gone. I will not merely assert; I will give my grounds for that statement. I understood the Lord Advocate to say that in his Clause there is no separation of rent and rates as between the owner and the tenant; that there is neither difference in the mode of collection nor differentiation in the demand made; that the assumption of the Clause, on the contrary, is that so far as the occupier's liability remains, it remains in this form—that the owner of the house will exact from the occupier in the name of rent enough to recoup him, less the 2½ per cent. for what he has to pay. Granted that the power to exempt exists, how will it work out in the following ordinary case? A tenant enters into possession on 15th May. The proprietor knows that for the year in question he will have to pay full occupier's rates if the house is let all the year, and he fixes the rent accordingly. He goes for his first term's rent at the end of a week, month, or quarter, as the case may be. The tenant says to him: "Oh, but I have an exemption." The owner answers: "I cannot help that; I have to pay the occupier's assessment, exemption or not."
That is the Bill, and if you are going to save that, you must make another Clause. The owner has to pay the full rate at the end of the year if the house has been let for the whole year, and he pays less than the whole occupier's rate only if the house is not let for the whole of the year. The tenant says he has applied for, and got, an exemption for the rate, and the owner replies: "That may be, but you have no exemption for the rent, and as I have got to pay that assessment at the end of the year I can show you no mercy at all; you pay the full rent." It is all very well for the Lord Advocate to make the assertions he does. Nominally, what he says may be true, but in a real sense as regards the liability of the tenant for the rent, which has one way or another to cover the rate, his statement has—with great respect—no meaning at all. If the exemption is intended to be preserved 346 what I think will be required is this: This exemption, to be effective in favour of the tenant, ought to operate between him and the owner as part discharge of the rent that he has got to pay, and it ought to discharge that rent to the extent and in such proportion of amount as really represents the proportion of the period of the ratepaying occupancy. In these circumstances the right hon. Gentleman's assurance would be well founded: without them it has no foundation at all.
The right hon. Gentleman said what was perfectly true, that ever since the Borough Police Act of 1892, if you had a small house let for less than a year then the responsibility for the occupier's rate fell upon the owner. But the right hon. Gentleman did not go on to say—which after all is the crux of the whole problem—that nobody would let a house for a short period. That, in point of fact, is what has created the complaint that the tenant of the small house in Scotland has for long been suffering. It is no use to tell that it has been law for a long time; that is the real explanation of the present grievance. You are really going to make that grievance take another form. Now a word upon the franchise question. To hear the Lord Advocate one would really have thought that at the present time the assessment, which is to be paid by the occupier, if paid for something less than a year, meant disqualification. But, of course, it is in the whole year's rent. Let the right hon. Gentleman take the case of two tenants whose history during the year is different. One tenant occupies a small dwelling-house the whole year, from 15th May to 15th May. If he fails to pay his rent—which includes the rate—for any part of the year that occupier avoids disqualification only on condition that he pays the whole rate for all the year, and that means all the rate for the whole of the year. Take another case where a small tenant begins his occupancy not in May, but about June or July, about the time he gets on to the valuation roll, and he is there until, let us say, for one month. That unhappy man, if he did not pay one month's rent in full, although he paid all the other eleven months, would be disqualified under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.
Therefore, so far as disqualification is concerned, you put a premium on the gentleman who moves often, and particularly the gentleman who times 347 his move to suit the first payment of rent after he gets upon the valuation roll. That is reducing the whole system to chaos, and makes the whole system depend upon the chance whether a man has to move to follow his job often or not, to move to follow his job, and, above all, on the further chance whether a man when in occupancy of a premises in respect of which he is on the valuation roll happened for that short period to be able to pay his rent or not. Under the Clause which my right hon. Friend has moved, both those disadvantages would be avoided. You may say anything else you please against the Clause, but the man who pays his rent for a year under my hon. Friend's Clause, including the rates, would be absolutely safe against disqualification, and therefore it is out of the question to say my hon. Friend's proposal would result in injustice so far as the franchise is concerned. Let there be no doubt about it, those who vote in favour of the Bill, as the Lord Advocate now presents it, are deliberately establishing a system in which the whole temptation and the whole influence of the circumstances you establish are open to the landlord to raise the rent to cover the rates. That will be the inevitable result of passing the Bill as proposed, and, secondly, the equally certain result is that that measure of mercy which really can be got by the occupant as regards payment of his rates loses all efficiency to him, and leaves him absolutely to the tender mercies of the house factor, and the house factor alone.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
I was very much surprised to hear the Lord Advocate say that exemptions were still possible and likely under this Bill. The Lord Advocate has not much experience of municipal government. I have had a good deal, and I know how those responsible in many cases regard exemption. I do not remember at the moment a single case of exemption being granted where the owner is responsible for the rates. You will not find any municipality in Scotland at all likely to give this exemption if the obligation is on the owner and not on the occupier to pay rates, and therefore I think the conclusions of my right hon. Friend are more or less correct. You will undoubtedly have a tendency to advance rent to cover rates. Only this morning I had a letter from a house factor in Ayr, who informed me what the losses were which he had to pay in the non-calculation of the rates on small dwelling-houses last year. They were very large indeed. That experience, which is common, is pretty sure to compel those factors and owners to add not only the rate they expect to pay, but also considerable sums in addition for the risks they run. My object in rising was to controvert the statement of the Lord Advocate that it was certain that these poverty remissions would continue, because I do not believe they will if you transfer these obligations from the occupier to the owner.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 133; Noes, 50.349
|Division No. 409.]||AYES.||[11.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Dawes, James Arthur||Higham, John Sharp|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hinds, John|
|Adamson, William||Devlin, Joseph||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Doris, William||Hodge, John|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Esslemont, George Birnie||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||John, Edward Thomas|
|Barnes, G. N.||Field, William||Johnson, W.|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Barton, William||France, G. A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Gill, Alfred Henry||Keating, Matthew|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Bentham, G. J.||Greig, Colonel James William||Kilbride, Denis|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hancock, J. G.||Lansbury, George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hardie, J. Kier (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Clynes, John R.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Cowan, W. H.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||M'Callum, John M.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kircaldy)||Hayden, John Patrick||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Henry, Sir Charles||Meagher, Michael|
|Millar, James Duncan||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Munro, Robert||Robinson, Sidney||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roe, Sir Thomas||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|O'Grady, James||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Scanlan, Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Pearson, Hon Wretman H. M.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sheehy, David||Wilson, W. T. (Westhougton)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Shortt, Edward||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Young, William (Perthshire, E.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Sutherland, John E.|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Helmstey, Viscount||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Stanley, Hon, G. F. (Preston)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horner, Andrew Long||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Clyde, James Avon||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Malcolm, Ian||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir G. Younger and Captain Gilmour.|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
Question, That the word "ten" stand part of the Clause, put and agreed to.
§ Amendments made: In Sub-section (2), at the end, insert the words "and for that purpose to issue to the owner through their collector or other officer appointed by them any notice, schedule, demand note, or intimation which, under existing Acts, may be issued in respect of the year's assessments to the occupier."
§ In Sub-section (3), leave out the word "therefore" ["a claim therefore"] and insert instead thereof the words "for repayment."
§ Leave out the words "was received by him, and a declaration to the effect that no rent or consideration was or is to be," and insert instead thereof the words "has been."
§ After the word "periods" ["proportionate amount of such assessment for the said period or periods"] insert the words "without prejudice to the right of the authority to make adjustments with the owner in respect of any such rent or other consideration subsequently recovered by him."
§ Mr. BARNES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), after the word "that" ["Provided that"], to insert the words "except in the City of Glasgow" ["after such scale of deduction has been made"].
350 The object of the Amendment is to make this particular Sub-section harmonise with the previous Sub-section, which provided that in Glasgow a fixed sum of 2½ per cent. is to be deducted by the landlord, and that elsewhere there shall be flexibility, the sheriff to have the power at the end of a certain period, to fix the particular sum to be deducted. In the Bill as originally drafted this element of flexibility was omitted so far as Glasgow was concerned, and I want to put the Bill now in exactly the same terms as formerly. I believe a bargain has been made by the assessment authority in Glasgow with the house-owners, and I think we should have some regard to local wishes. It should not be a conclusive argument in favour of this, but I have been told, and I believe it to be the fact, that the assessment authority has in this instance made a very good bargain. I would therefore allow the 2½ per cent. to stand so far as the City of Glasgow is concerned.
§ Further Amendments made: In same Sub-section leave out the words "sheriff for reconsideration of such scale and the decision of the" ["sheriff after such intimation"].
§ Leave out the words "be final," and insert instead thereof the words "fix and decide a scale of deduction accordingly."
§ At end of Sub-section (6) insert the words, "Provided further that the sheriff shall not fix either for Glasgow or for any other area a scale of deduction exceeding two pounds ten shillings per centum, and it shall not be competent to appeal from any decision of the sheriff under this Section."
§ Leave out the words "the corresponding Sections of any local Act shall not apply to a small dwelling-house," and insert instead thereof the words "provisions of local Acts specified in Part I. of the Schedule to this Act, shall not apply to a small dwelling-house, and the provisions of local Acts specified in Part II. of that Schedule in their application to a small dwelling-house shall be subject to the modifications therein prescribed, and any corresponding provisions of other local Acts shall be read and construed subject to the like alterations so far as necessary in order to give full effect to the purposes of this Act."—[Mr. Ure.]