HC Deb 10 December 1919 vol 122 cc1581-3

Section 18 of the Improvement of Land Act, 1864, shall not have effect in the case of landowners in Scotland making applications for loans for the construction or reconstruction of houses for the working classes."—[Sir J. Hope.]

Brought up, and read the first time.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir JOHN HOPE

I beg to move "That the Clause be read a second time."

This Clause is designed to remove obstacles in the way of the erection of houses in Scotland. I apologise for bringing it up at this hour of the morning, but it is rather important to Scottish Members, and they have not so far intervened much in the Debate. When Scotland was under the English Board of Agriculture, heirs in tail desiring to build houses and

hold good until they were annulled. There has been no answer to that.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 31; Noes, 72.

to get loans for the purpose were allowed to apply to the Public Works Loan Commissioners or to public statutory companies. When the administration of the Board of Agriculture was moved to Scotland, and Scotland had its own Board of Agriculture, the rule was enforced that heirs in tail in possession could not borrow money without going through the form of a long process of appealing to the Court of Session. This costs money, and has the effect of deterring landowners from borrowing money in order to make improvements of various kinds. I submit that no obstacle should stand in the way of private enterprise in building houses, and this is a mere technical point which the Government can easily remove by agreeing to this Clause. It would hurt no one, but would save some money in legal expenses. There is no question of public money involved. It is merely removing a technical reading of the law which at present is different in England and Scotland. I quite understand that it may not be possible for the Government to accept. this Clause to-night, as the Law Officers for Scotland are not in the House, but I hope they will give the Clause consideration, and be, able to accept it on the Report stage.


My hon. Friend has made an excellent suggestion, but it could not be decided this evening, or rather this morning. Perhaps it had better be carried forward to the Report stage. As he has indicated, it is an important subject, but as the proposal is not on the Order Paper I have not had an opportunity of considering it. On the Report stage, if he bring it up, I will undertake to give it full consideration.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.