HC Deb 01 July 1920 vol 131 cc821-44

(1)The amount by which the increased rent of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies may exceed the standard rent shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be as follows, that is to say:— (b)An amount not exceeding any increase in the amount for the time being payable by the landlord in respect of rates over the corresponding amount paid in respect of the yearly, half-yearly or other period which included the third day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen, or in the case of a dwelling- nouse for which no rates were payable in respect of any period which included the date, the period which included the date on which the rates first became payable; (d)In further addition to any such amounts as aforesaid—

  1. (i)where the landlord is responsible for the whole of repairs, an amount not exceeding twenty-five per cent. of the net rent; or
  2. (ii)where the landlord is responsible for part and not the whole of the repairs, such lesser amount as may be agreed, or as may, on the application of the landlord or the tenant, be deter- 823 mined by the county court to be fair and reasonable having regard to such liability.

(2)At any time or times not being less than three months after the date of any increase permitted by paragraph (d) of the foregoing sub-section the tenant or the sanitary authority may apply to the county court for an order suspending such increase, and also any increase under paragraph (c) of that sub-section, on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation, or is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair.

The court on being satisfied by the production of a certificate of the sanitary authority or otherwise that any such ground as aforesaid is established, and on being further satisfied that the condition of the house is not due or not wholly due to the tenant's neglect or default or breach of express agreement, shall order that the increase be suspended until the court is satisfied, on the report of the sanitary authority or otherwise, that the necessary repairs (other than the repairs, if any, for which the tenant is liable) have been executed, and on the making of such order the increase shall cease to have effect until the court is so satisfied.

(3)Any transfer to a tenant of any burden or liability previously borne by the landlord shall for the purposes of this Act be treated as an alteration of rent, and where, as the result of such a transfer, the terms on which a dwelling-house is held are on the whole less favourable to the tenant than the previous terms, the rent shall be deemed to be increased, whether or not the sum periodically payable by way of rent is increased, and any increase of rent in respect of any transfer to a landlord of any burden or liability previously borne by the tenant where, as the result of such transfer, the terms on which any dwelling-house is held are on the whole more favourable to the tenant than the previous terms, shall be deemed not to be an increase of rent for the purposes of this Act: Provided that for the purposes of this section the rent shall not be deemed to be increased where the liability for rates is transferred from the landlord to the tenant, if a corresponding reduction is made in the rent.

(4)On any application to a sanitary authority for a certificate or report under this section a fee of one shilling shall be payable, but if the authority as the result of such application issues such a certificate as aforesaid, the tenant shall be entitled to deduct the fee from any subsequent payment of rent.

(5)For the purposes of this section the expression "rates" includes water rents and charges, and any increase in rates payable by the landlord shall be deemed to be payable by him until the rate is next demanded.

(6)Any question arising as to the amount of any increase of rent permissible under this section shall be determined on the application either of the landlord or the tenant by the county court, and the decision of the court shall be final and conclusive.

Lords Amendment:

In Sub-section (1,b), after the word "payable." ["the rates first became payable"], insert the word "thereafter".

Read a Second time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Dr. ADDISON

It may perhaps be for the convenience of the House if, on this first Amendment, I explain the purport of the Amendments made in another place. Many of them are of the nature of drafting amendments, and many of them Amendments which I undertook to try to get inserted in another place, and, with the exception of the one just referred to, successfully. The first Amendment is just a drafting Amendment. There is a substantial one later with regard to railways, which, I am advised, is necessary to enable the agreement arrived at with reference to railwaymen's wages to be applied. Otherwise the operation of the Act would disturb the application of the agreement. At the bottom of page 1 there is a definition of repairs which I undertook to have inserted. Then they are for the most part drafting Amendments until we come to the long Amendment in page 8, line 21, Section 6, and that was inserted after discussion with the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor with reference to Section 17, subsection (3), of the Bill passed through this House relating to cases where an application has been made to the Court and there has been a concealment or misrepresentation of fact. This carries out our undertaking in a better form, without being open to the objection to which the Clause was open as it left this House. There are one or two substantial Amendments in the Clause relating to shops and business premises. The other place altered the Clause as it left this House by making a modification with regard to the increased rental which could be charged for shops and business premises. With regard to the houses brought into the Bill for the first time, as the House will remember it is possible, where the landlord undertakes the repairs to have an increase of rent up to 40 per cent. The Amendment of their Lordships raises that amount in the case of shops and business premises up to a possible 60 per cent. The case was ma de mainly out of the evidence submitted to Lord Salis- bury's Committee, and it was correct to say, certainly, that the evidence went to show that an increase of this character would not be considered unreasonable, and of course the additional contention was made that the tenant of a shop is in a better position than the tenant of a ,dwelling-house to meet the increased rent because he puts it on to his customers. The other material alteration in the Clause was in Sub-section (3), providing that the Section shall continue in force till 24th June, 1921; that is to say, that the protection against evictions of tenants of business premises is limited to 24th June, 1921. The argument was that we are setting up a committee to inquire into the necessary changes in the law in respect of business premises, and it is presumed the Committee will have reported and that the House will have had ample time to legislate as a result of their recommendations by June next. Therefore, it was argued that the same time limit was not necessary. Other Amendments are not material, excepting one which relates to a place which may be required for a bonâfide scheme of reconstruction and improvement which is desirable in the public interest, and another Amendment which represents a real improvement in the protection of the sub-tenant. In regard to the alteration of a Clause to bring within its scope shops and business premises, the Government offered opposition in another place, but the Division was carried against us. A fair compromise might be possible, but I do not think it is worth while imperilling the Bill on that account.

On the point of time, may I say that it is necessary that the Bill should become law to-morrow. The matter has been closely investigated by the Government's legal advisers, and the position is this: The existing Statute continues in force until 1st July. I am informed that the 1st July means midnight on 1st July, and not midnight on 30th June, and that in the event of the Act receiving the Royal Assent on 2nd July it becomes operative as from the commencement of that day: that is to say, as from a minute past midnight to-night. There will, therefore, be no hiatus. It is of the first necessity that we should obtain the Royal Assent to-morrow. I hope, therefore, that, notwithstanding the differences which arose in connection with the question we have just discussed, nothing will be done to imperil the passage of the Bill. With regard to the first Amendment, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Lords.

Mr. HAYDAY

Members are in a difficulty. It has been impossible to obtain copies of the Lords Amendments in the Vote Office. I am informed that a comparatively small number were supplied and that they ran out rapidly. A number of us cannot obtain them. Is there any way out of the difficulty? A small supply of 50 or 60 copies for a House composed of 700 Members is quite insufficient.

Mr. SPEAKER

I am very sorry, but I understand that what happened was that the Lords Amendments did not come down until late yesterday. The printers were set to work as soon as possible, and turned out as many copies as they could in the time.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

I was one of the fortunate few who were able to get a copy of the Amendments, but we might as well not debate these Amendments as debate them without having the Amendments before us, because you have to go through the Amendments very carefully, and read them with the Bill, to see what they mean. What would happen if we did not pass this Bill to-night? Would the world so far as landlord and tenant are concerned come to an end? Should we have an immediate rush of evictions, or would it not be better to postpone the discussion of the Bill until we are able to see what we are discussing, so that we may discuss and vote more intelligently than we are likely to be able to do when we cannot know what we are talking about? The first Amendment is fairly easy to understand, but look at the next one! Above all, look at the Amendment dealing with "wholly or partly," and you will see that unless hon. Members have the words before them, and put them into the Clause, they will be wholly unable to see what the Amendment means. Then there is another Amendment, to leave out "more" and to insert "not less," which it is impossible to understand. In these circumstances we might risk the awful cataclysm of having a hiatus between a dying Act and a re-birth rather than stultify ourselves by debating words which we are utterly unable to understand.

12 M.

Mr. SPEAKER

The House has just decided that the Lords Amendments should be considered.

Question put, "That this House doth

Lords Amendment:

At end of Sub-section (1, d) insert (e) In the case of dwelling-houses let by a railway company to persons in the employment of the company, such additional amount, if any, as is required in order to give effect to the agreement dated the first

agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 42.

Division No. 171.] AYES. [11.54 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C. Forrest, Walter Murray, John {Leeds, West)
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Murray, Major William (Dumfries)
Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S. Fraser, Major Sir Keith Neal, Arthur
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Frece, Sir Walter de Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bagley, Captain E. Ashton Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C. Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.
Baird, John Lawrence Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gilbert, James Daniel Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel John Perring, William George
Barker, Major Robert H. Gould, James C. Pollock, Sir Ernest M
Barnett, Major R. W. Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Pratt, John William
Barnston, Major Harry Green, Albert (Derby) Purchase, H. G.
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.) Raper, A. Baldwin
Betterton, Henry B. Greenwood, William (Stockport) Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.
Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland Gritten, W. G. Howard Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Blair, Reginald Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Borwick, Major G. O. Hanna, George Boyle Rogers, Sir Hallewell
Breese, Major Charles E. Haslam, Lewis Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Bridgeman, William Clive Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston) Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.
Bruton, Sir James Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford) Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Hood, Joseph Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's) Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central) Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian) Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.
Casey, T. W. Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere. Steel, Major S. Strang
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Stevens, Marshall
Coates, Major Sir Edward F. Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G. Sturrock, J. Leng
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B. Sugden, W. H.
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Jephcott, A. R. Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely) Johnstone, Joseph Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Cope, Major Wm. Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Courthope, Major George L. Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey) Watson, Captain John Bertrand
Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid) Lane-Fox, G. R. Whitla, Sir William
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale) Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.) Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Dawes, Commander Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd) Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)
Edge, Captain William Lister, Sir R. Ashton Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Lorden, John William Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Lort-Williams, J. Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M. Loseby, Captain C. E. Wood, Sir H K. (Woolwich, West)
Falcon, Captain Michael M'Lean Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. Young, Lieut.-com. E. H. (Norwich)
Farquharson, Major A. C. Marriott, John Arthur Ransome
Fildes, Henry Mitchell, William Lane TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ford, Patrick Johnston Molson, Major John Elsdale Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr.
Forestier-Walker, L. Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash Parker.
NOES.
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Royce, William Stapleton
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Hartshorn, Vernon Sexton, James
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hirst, G. H. Shaw, Thomas (Preston)
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Hogge, James Myles Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Briant, Frank Kiley, James D. Sitch, Charles H.
Bromfield, William Lawson, John J. Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Cape, Thomas Lunn, William Spencer, George A.
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Mills, John Edmund Swan, J. E.
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Morgan, Major D. Watts Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O (Anglesey)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross) Thomas, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Glanville, Harold James O'Grady, Captain James Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) Robertson, John Colonel Wedgwood and Mr. Hayday.

day of March nineteen hundred and twenty, relating to rates of pay and conditions of employment of certain persons in employment of railway companies, or any agreement, whether made before or after the passing of this Act, extending or modifying that agreement.

Read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Dr. ADDISON

rose—

HON. MEMBERS

Agreed!

Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME

Is the right hon. Gentleman correct in saying that it is absolutely essential that we should deal with this Bill to-night?

Mr. SPEAKER

The House has already decided that matter, and the hon. Member must give his attention to the question now before the House.

Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME

What is the effect if this Clause be not passed to-night. Clause 1 states that any notice given since 25th March last is ineffective in so far as it contravenes the provisions of this Bill. No matter at what date the Bill comes into operation, such a notice is ineffective, otherwise the whole of Clause 1 means nothing.

Mr. SPEAKER

The hon. Member is not discussing the Amendment now before the House. That Amendment has no relevance to Clause 1, but deals with Clause 2.

Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME

On that point, may I submit that the whole of these Amendments refer to Clause 1. The Bill is governed by that Clause, and it is perfectly impossible to consider any Amendment or any Clause of this Bill unless we know what is the interpretation of Clause 1. If it be the fact that no notice or no action taken by virtue of or in default of this Bill is effective because of Clause 1, then it is immaterial on what date it is passed. I submit that this particular Section of the Act is equally effective if carried into force ten days hence, because—

Mr. SPEAKER

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to get behind the decision of the House, which was clearly expressed a little while ago.

Mr. BILLING

Would it be in order, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister in Charge of the Bill to proceed with the explanation which he was about to offer when a limited section of the House called out "Agreed"? Many hon. Members would like to hear what the right hon. Gentleman was about to say.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

Surely, Sir, in discussing this Amendment on Clause 1, we are entitled to ask the Minister how it is affected by the time limitation in the Bill? We are further entitled to ask for an explanation of the Clause dealing with the matter?

Mr. SPEAKER

The Clause has nothing to do with this Amendment. The House has already decided that we shall go on with the Bill to-night. Therefore, I must ask the House to proceed. When the Minister rose to explain what was the particular Amendment he was received with cries of "Agreed" from all parts of the House. The Minister then sat down. If the House wish to have any explanation they can have it.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

Very respectfully, Sir, the House has decided to go on with the Lords' Amendments, but we do not know how long it intends to sit. Surely it is a very material question as to whether or not we are going to discuss them till noon to-day?

Mr. SPEAKER

We could have made some progress, at all events, in the time that has been taken up in discussing a point already decided. Therefore, I really must ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman not to renew the controversy that was decided twenty minutes ago by a substantial majority of the House.

Dr. ADDISON

This particular Amendment is necessary in order that the agreements made between the railway companies and their employés may be given effect to, and modified from time to time. Otherwise they would run counter to some of the other provisions of the Bill which are stereotyped and general. It is necessary to make this exception.

Major BARNES

This Clause singles out one section of the community and places an additional burden upon those people in the form of an increase of rent which will not apply to the remainder of the community. This Amendment is intended to be inserted at the end of Section 2 which provides for certain increases to be allowed, first on account of the rates—an increase of 15 per cent.—secondly in the rent itself, and thirdly 25 per cent. on account of repairs. In the case of railwaymen a further increase is to be made. We are told that this is in order to give effect to a certain agreement. We have been given to under- stand that in this particular railway agreement—as to which we certainly ought to have fuller information—there are conditions which provide for an addition to the rent of the houses occupied by railway employees. As far as this House knows, and as far as the general public understand, this agreement did not take into account additions on account of the rent, and therefore it comes as a surprise to us on this side of the House, at any rate, that there is this provision allowing additional rent to be charged to employees on account of advances in wages. Still, if we are assured that there is a provision of that sort in the agreement and it is necessary to give effect to it, that fact may well affect our decision to-day.

Mr. BILLING

Is it not generally accepted that the reason for the increase of wages is the ever-increasing cost of living both as regards food and rent. I do not agree that wage increases are generally anticipatory; that labour when it sees a likelihood of an increase on food or rent anticipate it by demanding more wages. Increases generally follow from some form of direct action and in this way the vicious circle proceeds. It seems an extraordinary thing to me in this House presumably a democratic assembly as distinct from the autocratic body from which comes the Amendment now under consideration should have left it to that autocratic assembly to discover such a weakness as this in a legislative measure we have passed. It is very rarely that I find myself in agreement with the Government and still more that I find I can support anything done in another place. If the question of rent, or that of wages, is to be put on an economic basis if wages are increased then under this agreement a certain proportion of that increase is to be given in return for the habitation of railway property by the men. That seems to be quite reasonable. In this case I think the other place is not only right in making this Amendment but the Government are right in pressing it. I am very glad to have heard what has been said by the Minister, because they enable us to enter the Lobby on this occasion with a clear idea of what we are doing.

Mr. HARTSHORN

The Clause in the agreement on which this Amendment is based has evidently been under discussion in another place and it would be a convenience for this House to know the actual provisions involved.

Dr. ADDISON

I cannot read to the House the Clause in the agreement to which this refers, because I have not a copy of it by me. But the wages agreement, in the case of the railway employés who live in houses owned by the railway companies, provides that a certain amount is to be assessed in respect of the value of the tenement they occupy and it is in order to make that operative that this Amendment is necessary and should be inserted.

Mr. W. GRAHAM

I am exceedingly 10th to take up the time of the House, but I confess that this Clause leaves us in a position of considerable difficulty. I would venture to reinforce what has been said already by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) as to the series of increases authorised under this Bill, amounting in the agregate to 40 per cent. on the present rental. As I understand it, this Amendment will authorise a still further increase. Is that increase to be over and above the increases put into the Bill. I think we should be told what is the exact position.

Dr ADDISON

If the hon Member will read the Amendment he will see the words are "such additional sum, if any, as is required in order to give effect to the agreement. If no additional sum be required, then there will be no increase.

Mr. RAFFAN

But will it result in an increase on the rents stated in the Bill?

Dr. ADDISON

Not unless the agreed amount which was not covered by the particular section mentioned in the Clause be part of the agreement. If it be part of the agreement it will apply, and only then.

Mr. LUNN

There is, I know, a good deal of repetition on most points in this House. I well remember the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. During that it was said over and over again that no wage agreement had been come to in recent times which took into consideration anything with regard to rent. If the Board of Trade figures are taken with regard to the increased cost of living, there is nothing mentioned with regard to rent. Therefore, we ought to have some further explanation of this agreement. I believe there is no other industry in the kingdom that has had any consideration given to rent in any application for an advance in wages. I wish to invite the right hon. Gentleman to give the House a full explanation of why this particular industry is singled out for special treatment without such an explanation, I think the House would be justified in rejecting this Amendment.

Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT

This is one of the worst examples of legislation by reference that I have ever seen. It is reference, not to a Statute, which we can look up in the Library, but to some document which the House has not before it, and which the Minister has not before him. Before we are asked to pass a Clause like this—as to the meaning of which, I venture to think, very few hon. Members have any idea—I think the Minister ought to have supplied himself with the document in question, so that he might be in a position to read it to the House. My objection, however, might be met if the right hon. gentleman could give me an assurance on one point. The onus here is against the railwaymen. It is provided that there is to be a special increase in their rents. If the right hon. Gentleman can assure me that the increase is assented to officially by the railwaymen's Union, it would help me in this matter. I should also like to ask whether this Amendment was put forward in the Lords by the Government, or whether it was put forward privately.

Dr. ADDISON

It was put forward by the Government. As regards the agreement, both the railwaymen and the companies were parties to it. It was an agreement between them, and I can assure my hon. friend that no increase of rent could be applied under this to any railwaymen unless the railwaymen themselves had agreed to it.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

Can we not have an explanation from the only man in this House who does understand this Amendment—that is to say, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, whom I am glad to see in his place? I think he ought to read the agreement and give us a concrete case, showing what would be the effect of this Amendment on the rent, say, of an ordinary signalman. We could then come to a conclusion at once. As it is, we do not know in the least what the provenance of this Clause is. We are told that it is the Government, but the Government contains a number of estimable Gentlemen, and I want to know which of them it is. Does it come from the Ministry of Transport? If it is a well-thought-out policy of the Government, and if the hon. Gentleman will give us a concrete instance, showing that it does not make the case worse for the ordinary railwayman than it is at the present time, we naturally will accept it. But when an Amendment, passed in another place appears on the face of it to enable the rent of a railwayman's cottage to be raised, where the rent of another mans cottage is not raised, it is asking a little too much to expect us to vote on it at twelve o'clock at night.

Lieut.-Commander WILLIAMS

I have tried to follow this Amendment with what patience is possible to one who cannot have the opportunity of reading it, and I am still very vague as to who, exactly, is going to pay, whether all railwaymen can, under this Amendment, have an increase of rent placed upon them, and what is their exact position under this Bill. Again, sup-posing that the cost of living should go down considerably—in which case, I gather, the wages of the railwaymen, who have a sliding scale, would go down also—would the percentage by which. their rent had been increased go down correspondingly? These are perfectly relevant points, and, as I gather that the Minister thinks out all these things with great consideration, I am sure he will be able to answer them, particularly as he has the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport to assist him. It does seem, to those who take an interest in these matters, to need some clearing up.

Mr. JOHNSTONE

I think this is a little simpler than it appears to be. If hon. Members will read Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 in connection with this Amendment, perhaps it will make matters clear to them. Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 says: The amount by which the increased rent of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies may exceed the standard rent shall; subject to the provisions of this Act, be as follows, that is to say:— … and then the Amendment proceeds: In the case of dwelling-houses let by a railway company to persons in the employment of the company, such additional amount, if any, as is required in order to give effect to the agreement. … My impression is that an agreement has been entered into between the railway companies and their employés which is binding on both parties, and that the rent will be increased beyond the standard rent in accordance with that agreement, if any increase is required. In order to determine this question it is not really essential that we should know what the terms of the agreement are, though I should have preferred to see it or hear it read. The agreement is an agreed article between the two parties affected, and any increase of rent can only take effect if it is in accordance with that agreement. That is my impression of the Amendment, and I should be glad to know from the Minister if that is the right interpretation. If it is, it seems to me that the matter is perfectly clear, and that the interests of the railway employés are not in the slightest degree penalised by this Amendment, but are really protected to a certain extent, because they are only called upon to pay an increase of rent if that is required by the agreement.

Mr. SPENCER

I should like to ask whether the officials of the Railwaymen's Union have been consulted with regard to this Amendment, and whether they themselves are agreed as to the effect it would have upon any agreement which has been entered into between the railwaymen and the company. I do not feel that it is quite so simple as my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone) has suggested. He omitted to read a good deal of important and relevant matter in the Clause, namely, paragraphs (a), b) and (c). Those paragraphs provide that a certain amount may be added for structural repairs and alterations, and in respect of rates, as well as 15 per cent. in respect of rent.

Mr. SPEAKER

I would point out to the hon. Member that those paragraphs do not apply, because this is an alternative. If the hon. Member will look at the Amendment, he will see that it is a separate alternative paragraphs (e), and that, therefore, paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) do not apply.

Mr. SPENCER

I am coming to the one thing which is giving us a great deal of difficulty and perturbing our minds considerably. That is the expression "additional amount." That expression leads us to believe that it is an amount over and above the three or four amounts which I have already mentioned.

Mr. SPEAKER

If the hon. Member will look at the first two lines of Clause 2, I think it will be quite clear to him that the additional amount is the difference between the increased rent and the standard rent.

Captain W. BENN

On that point I suggest that it is extremely desirable that we should know from the representative of the Ministry of Transport whether, in fact, the agreement has provided for these increases in respect of repairs and rates which are mentioned in the earlier paragraphs. Of course, I accept your reading of the Clause, but I am not sure that it is quite clear in the Bill. I think it would be desirable that we should have from the representative of the Ministry of Transport information as to whether this amount due to increased rates and repairs is taken into account.

Mr. SPENCER

We should also like to hear whether the interpretation which, Sir, you have put upon it coincides with the interpretation which the Minister would put upon it?

Colonel WEDGWOOD

On a point of order. Paragraph (d) begins: "In further addition to any such amounts as aforesaid." Obviously (a), (b), and (c) are not alternative but cumulative, and (e), when added to the Bill, will be not alternative but cumulative.

Mr. SPEAKER

I think that is where the hon. Member is mistaken, Paragraph (e) stands by itself. If you want to read (e), you can read it without reading (d). None of the others necessarily forms part of (e). That is a separate heading altogether.

Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT

On the point of Order—

Mr. SPEAKER

It is not a point of Order.

Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT

If it is not a point of Order, Sir, I venture to have a different opinion. I read the Bill as it stands differently from what you do. The Minister is really responsible and I would like to have an assurance from him that this may not conceivably impose an additional charge to the ones in the other Sub-sections. I submit that (b) forms an additional increase to that of (a) and this further Sub-section may also in certain circumstances be an additional increase in the rent.

Dr. ADDISON

I desire no discrimination between railway company employés and any other tenants of houses covered by the Bill. Houses owned by railway companies and occupied by railwaymen are assessed at so much. The amount varies in different districts and it may well be that there are cases which are not covered in accordance with the terms of the agreement by the hard and fast limitation which the Bill otherwise imposes. It is in order to have the agreements strictly carried out that this is necessary. I can assure my hon. Friend that a railwayman is in no worse position than anybody else. Tins is purely and simply in order to make the agreement operative. My hon. Friend opposite misses out the essential words "if any." No increases can be imposed on railwaymen unless such increases are provided for in the agreement.

Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT

The right hon. Gentleman has not really answered the question. This Sub-section proposes an increase. Supposing there be an increase, is that to be in addition to the increase in the previous Sub-section? That is the point. Does the Minister know the meaning of his own Bill? Will he please answer the question: If any increase fall due under this Sub-section, will it be an increase in addition to the increases in the other Sub-sections?

Mr. SWAN

The more explanations we get, the less understandable this becomes. We have not yet got an explanation from the Minister of Transport as to what really is the agreement. But there is another department involved and that is the Board of Trade, who ought to be here to explain how much this will increase the cost of living to the railway men, and to what extent the community is involved by the railwaymen having increased wages. If this policy is to be pursued it looks like feeding a hungry dog with its own tail. I beg to move that the words "additional amount" be left out of this Clause.

Mr. HAYDAY

Does this really mean that under certain Clauses of the Bill railways are permitted to increase rents by a certain percentage? Does it mean that the wages of the tenant of a Railway Company would be increased by the amount by which his rent would be raised? That is how it appears to me.

Mr. NEAL

I am always ready to give any explanation within my power, and I only hesitated to attempt to supplement anything which I think has been made clear by the Minister of Health. Lest my silence should be interpreted as discourtesy to hon. Members who appealed to me, may I say one or two words in further explanation. In the month of March last there were communications between the National Union of Railwaymen and other organisations representing railway servants and the railway companies as to the increased wages which were being sought by the railwaymen. One of the difficulties which arose, as I understand it, was that some of those men had, as part of their remuneration, houses or station accommodation found for them, while others had not. That was a factor which caused unequal treatment in the same classes of workmen on the lines. In order to get rid of that, all railwaymen were to be put upon exactly the same financial position. But that involved that those who had been occupying houses at less than the proper economic value should now pay an economic rent. In other words, there was an increase of rent, the nominal rent becoming a real rent. They got their quid pro quo by the increased remuneration given. That is the agreement which the National Union of Railwaymen and other organisations representing the railwaymen agreed to. It is an agreement which, without the sanction of this amendment, might be said to be outside the scope of the Bill.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Colonel WEDGWOOD

On a point of Order. An Amendment has been moved▀×

Mr. SPEAKER

No Amendment is possible.

The House divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 36.

Division No. 172.] AYES. [12.40 a.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C. Farquharson, Major A. C. Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James Fildes, Henry Murray, John (Leeds, West)
Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S. Ford, Patrick Johnston Murray, Major William (Dumfries)
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Forestier-Walker, L. Neal, Arthur
Bagley, Captain E. Ashton Forrest, Waiter Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)
Baird, John Lawrence Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Fraser, Major Sir Keith Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Freece, Sir Walter de Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Barker, Major Robert H. Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C. Pollock, Sir Ernest M.
Barnett, Major R. W. Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Purchase, H. G.
Barnston, Major Harry Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel John Raper, A. Baldwin
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Gould, James C. Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.
Betterton, Henry B. Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Billing, Noel Pemberton- Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P. Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland Green, Albert (Derby) Rogers, Sir Hallewell
Blair, Reginald Greenwood, William (Stockport) Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Borwick, Major G. O. Gritten, W. G. Howard Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.
Bridgeman, William Clive Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Bruton, Sir James Haslam, Lewis Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston) Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hood, Joseph Steel, Major S. Strang
Casey, T. W. Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central) Stevens, Marshall
Coates, Major Sir Edward F. Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian) Sturrock, J. Leng
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere Sugden, W. H.
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely) Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G. Ward, William Dudley (Southampton
Cope, Major Wm. Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B. Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Johnstone, Joseph Watson, Captain John Bertrand
Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid) Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Whitla, Sir William
Curzon, Commander Viscount Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey) Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.) Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)
Dawes, Commander Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd) Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry Lister, Sir R. Ashton Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Edge, Captain William Lorden, John William Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Lort-Williams, J. Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)
Elliot, Capt. Waiter E. (Lanark) Loseby, Captain C. E.
Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M. M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Falcon, Captain Michael Molson, Major John Elsdale Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Parker.
NOES.
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Hartshorn, Vernon Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hayday, Arthur Sitch, Charles H.
Briant, Frank Hirst, G. H. Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bromfield, William Hogge, James Myles Spencer, George A.
Cape, Thomas Lawson, John J. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Lunn, William Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Morgan, Major D. Watts Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.
Glanville, Harold James Raffan, Peter Wilson Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Robertson, John
Grundy, T. W. Royce, William Stapleton TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Sexton, James Major Barnes and Mr. Swan.
Hanna, George Boyle Shaw, Thomas (Preston)

Lords Amendment:

In Sub-section (2), leave out the words "due or not wholly" ["house is not due or wholly due "], and insert instead thereof the words "wholly or partly."

Read a Second time.

Dr. ADDISON

I beg to move "That this House doth agree with so much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to leave out the words "due or not wholly."

As the Amendment is now printed, it would mean that where a case is brought to Court in which there has been some damage to a house on the part of a tenant, the whole of the increase of the rent might be sanctioned, although a considerable part of the lack of repairs might be due to the landlord not having discharged his full responsibility. The landlord would therefore be exempted from the penalty of his neglect which would follow from the increase being suspended. So it is in the interest of the tenant that these words should not be inserted. Therefore, in order that the case may be decided on its merits before the Court, and to relieve the tenant of what may be a quite unfair burden, I move that we agree with the Amendment to omit "due or not wholly," and disagree with the Amendment to insert the words "wholly or partly."

Colonel WEDGWOOD

As I read this Amendment, it is wholly against the tenant. You have a Sub-section which reads: At any time or times not being less than three months after the date of any increase permitted by paragraph (d) of the foregoing sub-section the tenant or the sanitary authority may apply to the county court for an order suspending such increase, and also any increase under paragraph (c) of that sub-section on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair. The court on being satisfied by the production of a certificate of the sanitary authority or otherwise that any such ground as aforesaid is established and on being further satisfied that the condition of the house is not due or not wholly due to the tenant's neglect. This is how the Clause stood before it went to the House of Lords. That is to say, the landlord had to show that the disreputable state of the house was not due, or not wholly due, to the tenant. The alteration made in the House of Lords substitutes for those words that the condition of the house is not wholly or partly due to the tenant's neglect. In putting that Amendment in, I ask the House to observe that "wholly or partly" are alternative and, as it is easier to prove always the part than the whole, we may as well miss out the words "wholly or "entirely and leave the Clause that the condition of the house is not partly due to the tenant's neglect. That is exactly what the Amendment of the Lords means. It is almost impossible for any tenant to prove that some part of the condition of the house is not due to his neglect. A window-pane may have been broken. He may have leant against one of the partition walls. A child may have broken the handle of the door.

Sir W. DAVISON

He may have fallen off his bicycle.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

Really if you are going to leave the words as the other House has done, that the landlord can clear himself from any penalty under this Sub-section by saying that the condition of the house is wholly or partly due to the tenant's fault, you might as well cancel the whole of Sub-section (2) at once, because it is absolutely useless to the tenant as a protection against insanitary houses. I know the right hon. Gentleman is very anxious to get the houses of this country into a sanitary state. This Clause was put in originally in order to secure through the operation of this Bill some little improvement in the sanitation of the houses and people. It was an admirable idea to prevent the landlord getting an increase of rent if the house was in a state of neglect. It was a very useful lever to protect the tenant.

Dr. ADDISON

That is the whole point. I argued that we should disagree with the second part of the Lords Amendment for the very reason which the hon. Member has just been advancing.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

I am very sorry I could not understand the right hon. Gentleman. As I understand it now he is willing to leave out the words "due or not" and leave the word "wholly" in.

Dr. ADDISON

I propose we should leave out the words "due or not" and not have the words "wholly or partly" inserted for the reason the hon. and gallant Gentleman has explained to the House.

Colonel WEDGEWOOD

In that case the Clause will read, the condition of the house is not due to the tenant's neglect. That, I think, is absolutely satisfactory.

Mr. HAYDAY

I take exactly the opposite view. I was going to appeal to the Minister to reject the Lords Amendment and adhere to the wording of the Clause as it stands in the Bill, because it is just as easy by a stretch of imagination to say, "Well, this part of the house, this neglect is due to the tenant." Yes, but with the words in as they stand now, "not due or wholly due" the Clause certainly strengthens the tenant's position and gives a much wider scope for the authorities who may have to determine the matter to discriminate perhaps rather more in the direction of protecting the tenant, as is really intended by the Bill. This being so, I really would urge that there is no point in rejecting this part of the Lords Amendment and I do not think they would feel very much aggrieved if we were to reject the whole and leave the Clause as it is. It would be very much appreciated, although it may not appear very much in the House at the moment, but it means very much to the tenants if the words as they are at present in the Bill are allowed to stand.

Dr. ADDISON

As far as I am concerned the course which I have advised the House to take is solely directed in the interests of the tenant, and I am advised that the words "due or not wholly" would give rise to legal controversy. I propose that it would be necessary to show that the damage was due to the tenant's neglect, and therefore the whole onus of proof would be on the landlord as against the tenant. If you add the words "due or not wholly," it would give rise to considerable litigation. I move this in the interests of the tenant.

Question, "That this House doth agree with so much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to leave out the words 'due or not wholly'" put, and agreed to.

So much of the Lords Amendment as proposed to insert the words "wholly or partly," disagreed with.

Lords Amendment:

In Sub-section (3), leave out the word "more" ["on the whole more favourable"] and insert instead thereof the words "not less."

Dr. ADDISON

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is not a great alteration. It corrects a mistake, and secures this provision to the tenant.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment:

At the end of Sub-section (4), insert the words "For the purposes of this section the expression 'repairs' means any repairs required for the purpose of keeping premises in good and tenantable repair, and any premises in such a state shall be deemed to be in a reasonable state of repair, and the landlord shall be deemed to be responsible for any repairs for which the tenant is under no express liability."

Agreed to.

Lords Amendment:

Leave out Sub-section (5).

Dr. ADDISON

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is only transferring to a more suitable part of the Bill this portion, which is a definition of the expression "rates." It occurs again later on—on page 12 of the Bill.

1.0 A.M.

Colonel WEDGWOOD

Does it alter the fact that the landlord should be deemed to pay the rates up to the next rate demanded?

Dr. ADDISON

It does not alter it in any way at all.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendments: In Sub-section (6), leave out the words "as to the amount of any increase of rent permissible"; after the word "under" ["under this section"] insert the words "Sub-section (1), (2), or (3) of"—

Agreed to.