HC Deb 27 August 1914 vol 66 cc166-9
95. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that there is considerable misconception as to the effect of the moratorium on rent; with a view to removing misunderstanding can he say whether the moratorium extends to rent which accrued or became due prior to 4th August where the liability exceeds £5, subject to interest at 6 per cent. for the period covered by the moratorium during which it remains unpaid; whether the moratorium also applies to rent accruing and payable for periods subsequent to 4th August, when such rent is payable in respect of contracts, leases, or agreements made before 4th August; and can there be no distraint or successful action taken for rent above £5 which is affected by the moratorium during the moratorium period?


The effect of the moratorium proclaimed on 6th August last, so far as rent is concerned, may be expressed as follows:—

  1. 1. The moratorium does not apply unless the contract, lease, or agreement under which the rent arises was made before 4th August last.
  2. 2. If the contract, lease, or agreement was made before 4th August last, the moratorium applies only to a liability for unpaid rent, which, when incurred, exceeded £5, and which is due and payable before 4th September next.
  3. 3. The effect of the moratorium, when it applies, is to make rent which was payable on or before 4th August payable on 4th September, and to make rent which would have been payable on some date between 4th August and 4th September to be payable one month later than the dale when it was originally due.
  4. 4. Distress for rent is a way of recovering rent that is payable; consequently the moratorium, by postponing date of payment, thereby postpones the date of any right to distrain. The remedy of distress will be further affected by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Bill introduced yesterday.

96. Sir J. D. REES

asked the Attorney-General who has to bear the costs of an action brought during the operation of the moratorium, when the defendant is entitled to the benefits thereof and tenders the amount claimed prior to the expiration of the moratorium or of any extension thereof?


The case put by the hon. Gentleman appears to be governed by the ordinary rule that a plaintiff who does not succeed in his action is liable to pay the costs.

105. Mr. LEACH

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is the intention of the Government to extend the operation of moratorium beyond the 4th of September?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)

I can at present add nothing to my statement of yesterday.

107. Mr. WING

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend the moratorium to mortgages on property, in view of the effect of threatened notice of withdrawals?


The hon. Member will find that the matter is fully dealt with in the Bill I have introduced in connection with the enforcement of processes for the recovery of debts. The Bill deals with foreclosure and the realisation of securities.

110. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government are negotiating with the bankers to extend the present moratorium, the object of which is mainly to protect them against responsibilities accruing out of business with foreign countries; whether he is aware that in many cases the banks, while themselves taking full advantage of this measure, are restricting the facilities to British merchants for carrying on their foreign business even with non-belligerent countries; and, if so, whether he will make it a condition of any fresh guarantees or arrangements that the bankers will continue all reasonable facilities as hitherto granted to traders?


I have been in communication with the banks and others in connection with these matters, and I hope that the arrangements made will prove satisfactory. For the moment I can add nothing to what I stated yesterday on this matter.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the fact that rent is subject to moratorium, he will consider the desirability of extending the moratorium to rates in all cases where the owner of property who is receiving no rent is liable for rates?


I think that powers given to Courts by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Bill, which I introduced yesterday, enabling processes for the recovery of debts (including, amongst other things, payments on account of rates) to be postponed at the absolute discretion of the Court, will prove a better method of dealing with the case put than an extension of the moratorium.

114. Sir J. D. REES

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any and, if so, what steps will be taken to relieve the importers of foreign and colonial raw produce such as cotton, jute, seeds, hides, etc., who have at the expiry of the moratorium to pay the drafts of the shippers drawn against produce which has since been confiscated and for which they receive no payment, so that ruin confronts them and those firms and persons concerned with their solvency if the moratorium ends before normal conditions are reestablished; whether relief for those merchants who import goods for use not only in this country but also in Continental countries is necessary to the continued existence of many of our home industries; and whether such merchants will receive support in view of the fact that the outbreak of war caught them with goods already in the hands of enemies whose acceptances, though now worthless, nevertheless continue to mature, with goods in British vessels in enemy ports and in enemy ships in neutral ports, and with goods in British possessions sold for shipment to what are now enemy countries with which contracts are cancelled?


I feel that it would be premature at present to make any statement as to what action the Government may consider necessary at the expiry of the moratorium, but I can assure the hon. Member that this and all other questions then arising will be most carefully considered.