§ Any officer or man of His Majesty's forces who is the tenant of any premises 621 under a tenancy from year to year, or for any longer period, may apply to the county court, or in Scotland the sheriff court, for the district in which he usually resides, or in which such premises are situate, in such manner as may be prescribed by rules or directions under the principal Act for leave to determine such tenancy, and upon any such application being made, the court may in its absolute discretion, after considering all the circumstances of the case and the position of all the parties, by order authorise the applicant to determine the tenancy by such notice and upon such conditions as the court thinks fit, and thereupon such tenancy may, notwithstanding any provision in the tenancy agreement or lease, be determined accordingly.
§ Amendment proposed [8th May]: At the end of the Clause, to add the words, "Provided that if in the case of any tenancy to which this Section applies the landlord shall give notice in writing to the tenant offering to determine such tenancy at the expiration of three months from the date of the notice and the tenant shall not, within one calendar month after the date of the notice, accept such offer then this Section shall cease to apply to such tenancy."—[Sir G. Cave.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Mr. HOGGE
On that point, Sir, can we have some explanation from the Solicitor-General as to what this Amendment means? I am perfectly certain that none of us understand what this is. I have not got the Bill, nor a copy of the Lords Amendments. I do not think it is necessary to take this at so late a stage in the sitting. I want to know what the Amendment means, if the Solicitor-General will kindly tell us.
§ Sir G. CAVE
With very great pleasure. I think no one in the House objects to the Bill, and this is the only Amendment on the Paper. Clause 2 gives the power to a Court, on an application, to enable a soldier to determine his tenancy of premises which he, perhaps, may not be able to keep up during the War. It was said by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Denniss), who put down this Amendment, that if a case of that sort occurred that the landlord might be in this position. He might have another tenant who came along and who would take the house if the soldier left it. The landlord ought to be able to say to the soldier "I have my chance to let the house, 622 make your selection now whether you will apply under this Act for the termination of the tenancy, and then I shall know where I am." The effect of that is, that if the landlord gives notice to the soldier tenant, asking him to elect whether or not he will determine the tenancy, and the soldier refuses, the landlord shall have the power to apply.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Let me make it clear. The Bill gives to the soldier-tenant a very special power to go to the Court and ask it to determine his tenancy because he is going to the War. That will only last a few months, I hope. The point is, he may be called upon at any moment to elect whether he will use this power or not. As a matter of fact, it will be only used at once, really as soon as the Bill passes. In most cases, the men are going out and they ought to elect at once. The point is that they may be called on to elect within three months.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not think the landlord should be entitled to force him to elect until he has actually got his new tenant. That is surely a fair compromise. If he has an actual tenant, who can come in and take the house, the landlord should be entitled to say to the soldier, "You must elect," but he ought not have the power, without evidence of having another tenant, to say to the soldier "you must elect." The Committee as the Solicitor-General knows, will agree to the point readily, but it is not quite fair to take it in an empty House.
My point is that a landlord ought not to be entitled, without having in his possession an offer from somebody else to take the house on, to ask the soldier to elect. All landlords are not good landlords. I know the average landlord is not prepared to take up such a position. Some would, however, and, when they want to make money, they might easily compel the soldier to elect even when they had not got a succeeding tenant and had 623 to find him. If the Solicitor-General will accept my suggestion, that the landlord must have in his possession another tenant, before he compels the soldier to elect, I will agree to the Amendment. I think that is a fair offer to make.
§ Sir G. CAVE
This is not my Amendment. I accepted it because I thought 624 there was a general desire. I do not press it. It is not my wish, really. I am sorry my hon. Friend the mover (Mr. Denniss) is not here. I told him I would do my best. I have done so, and I will not press it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Bill reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the clock upon Tuesday evening, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Thirteen minutes before One a.m., Wednesday, 10th May.