§ (1) Where, upon an application by any party to a contract for the construction of any building or work or for the supply of any materials for any building or work entered into before the fourth day of August, nineteen hundred and fourteen, the Court is satisfied that, owing to the prevention or restriction of, or the delay in, the supply or delivery of materials, or the diversion or insufficiency of labour, 1584 occasioned by the present War, the contract cannot be enforced according to its terms without serious hardship, the Court may. after considering all the circumstances of the case and the position of all the parties to the contract and any offer which may have been made by any party for a variation of the contract, suspend or annul the contract on such conditions (if any) as the Court may think fit.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1) to add the following Sub-section:
"(2) Where upon any application by any party to a contract the Court is satisfied that, owing to any restriction or direction imposed or given by or in pursuance of any Regulation made under any Enactment relating to the Defence of the Realm, any term of the contract cannot be enforced without serious hardship, the Court may, after considering 1585 the circumstances of the case and the position of all the parties to the contract and any offer which may have been made by any party for the variation of the contract, suspend or annul the contract or stay any proceedings for the enforcement of the contract or any term thereof or any rights arising thereunder on such conditions (if any) as the Court may think fit."
This Amendment is merely transferring to the end of Clause 1, with the addition of some words supplementing, without in substance adding to, the remedy given, the words which at present form Sub-section (2) of Clause 2. Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 refers to building contracts, and Sub-section (2) to contracts affected by Regulations made under the Defence of the Realm Act, while Clause 2 will be left to deal solely with contracts of tenancy. This, I suggest, is a logical and orderly scheme.
§ Mr. PETO
This Amendment is in fulfilment of an undertaking which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the hon. Member for Warwick in the Committee stage, in which he said that he would make Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 a separate Clause. I, however, quite agree that it comes much more appropriately in Clause 1, and, so far as I am concerned, I do not see any objection to that as carrying out the undertaking which was given; but I should like to know, if the Solicitor-General will tell me, what is the exact meaning of those last words which are added? It seems to me that, so far as my lay mind can follow them, that they rather strengthen the provision, and rather assist in doing justice in all cases of contracts that are interfered with. I should like, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman will explain, the meaning of the words, "or any term thereof," for I should be glad to understand what they involve. I do not wish to object; all I am anxious about is that nothing shall be done to alter a provision which is certainly regarded of very considerable importance.
Mr. T. WILSON
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether the Clause refers to the case of colliery houses, in regard to which the custom prevails of having a fifty, sixty, or ninety years' lease? Have they to go to the Court before they can interfere with the property?
§ Sir G. HEWART
I will reply first of all to my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Peto). I do not appreciate his difficulty in regard to the words "or any term thereof" which form part of the addition that I propose to the Clause. The words "or any term thereof" are governed by the words "for the enforcement of." The Court, in dealing with a contract under this Subsection, is empowered to suspend or annul a contract, and also to apply a remedy by staying proceedings for the enforcement of the contract, whether as a whole or in part. With regard to the question asked by my hon. Friend below the Gangway (Mr. Tyson Wilson), I do not think that this Clause has anything to do with that particular matter.
§ Amendment agreed to.