- (a) Where the landlord has since the fourth day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen incurred, or hereafter incurs, expenditure on the improvement or structural alteration of the dwelling-house (not including expenditure on decoration or repairs), an amount calculated at a rate per annum not exceeding six, or in the case of such expenditure incurred after the passing of this Act, eight per cent. of the amount so expended;
- (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;
- (c) In addition to any such amounts as aforesaid, an amount equal to fifteen per cent. of the net rent:
- Provided that, except in the case of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies but the enactments repealed by this Act did not apply. the amount of such addition shall not during a period of one year after the passing of this Act exceed five per cent.;
- (i) Where the dwelling-house is one to which Section fourteen of the Housing, Town Planning, etc., Act. 1909, applies, or where in any other case the tenant is not under any express liability for repairs, an amount equal to twenty-five per cent. of the net rent; or
- (ii) Where the tenant is under an express liability 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, be determined by the County Court to be fair and reasonable having regard to such liability.
§ (2) At any time or times after the date of any increase permitted by paragraph (d) of the foregoing Sub-section the tenant 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 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 hot 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 1795 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.
§ (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.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move, in Subsection (1, a), after the word "repairs" ["decoration or repairs"], to insert the words "and any expenditure incurred in road-making and paving".
This Amendment is designed to meet what I think is a difficulty. The local authorities are only able to take over streets when they are more than two-thirds built upon. In the country, and particularly in London, there are scores of roads which are not two-thirds built upon, and they are in a defective condition, but the local authorities cannot take them over. If they are left in that condition, mud accumulates in the winter time, and dust in the summer time, to the inconvenience of the occupants of the houses. Such roads are a source of ill-health, and seeing that their improvement would mean capital expenditure, that will not be incurred unless some 1796 return is made on it. Roads and paving are very necessary to make houses convenient to the public. I proposed this Amendment in Committee, but was not successful in getting it put into the Bill. I hope the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to give the point some consideration.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Dr. Addison)
As my hon. Friend the proposer of the Amendment has said, it was not accepted in Committee for reasons which were then stated, and I do not think it ought to be put in now. I quite agree there is a primâ facie ease, but it must be borne in mind that we are now specifically allowing an increase of rent in respect of alterations and improvements, while in the case put by the hon. Gentleman practically no repairs or improvements have been undertaken since 1914. Therefore it would not be fair to charge the tenant for improvements which had not been made. We must also remember that in fixing the rent of dwellings the owner takes into account any expenditure which will be likely to be incurred in respect of road-making. During the War it was not possible to get these improvements and alterations effected, but nevertheless the owner of the property has been in receipt of whatever he has put on in respect of these improvements which he has not carried out. It would not be fair, therefore, to deal with this particular matter in the way proposed.
§ Colonel GRETTON
This is expenditure which must be incurred in many cases, as the houses are built with the obligation to make and maintain the roadways. It is a matter usually of contracts. If the expenditure has been incurred, then the matter should, I submit, receive a little further consideration from the right hon. Gentleman before he decides to refuse the Amendment.
The gist of the right hon. Gentleman's reply was that there had been no road-making. In the case of structural alterations the landlord is allowed to charge additional rent, and I do not see why an allowance should not be made here.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I know as an administrator that in many cases rent has been charged for road-making which 1797 has not been done, even when ordered by the local council. Therefore I do not think it would be right to accept the Amendment, seeing that the owners have taken the matter into consideration and have been receiving whatever they charged for the road-making.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1, b) to add the words "or in the case of a dwelling-house for which no rates were payable in respect of any period which included the said date, the period which included the date on which the rates first became payable".
This is an Amendment which I agreed in Committee to insert, as to houses which did not pay the rates in 1914, and it is to fix the time at which the rates begin, and that is taken as when the house first began to pay rates.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out paragraph (c).
As this Amendment raises the general question of the increases to be accorded under the Bill, I may, perhaps, be allowed a little latitude in explaining its purpose. Many of us, not merely on Second Reading, but also in Committee, indicated that we believed that in the long run houses would require to come to an economic rental and that unless that was achieved there could only be some form of subsidy or other economic disease to which we were opposed, but we also made it clear that in our view the cumulative burden which is imposed on tenants under this Bill is altogether too severe. In moving the deletion of this 15 per cent., which applies to increased mortgage interest and other items, I think it is fair to point out that there are three other heads of increase which are conceded to landlords before we touch this question at all. In the first place, they have been given either 6 or 8 per cent. of the amount expended on structural repairs or alterations, spread over a yearly increase in the rent; in the second place, they have been given, or will be given if a later part of the Bill is adopted, 25 per cent. down in respect of repairs; and in the third place, under this Bill in the Clause which the House has just adopted, there is transferred to house tenants in this country all increases in 1798 owners' rates since August, 1914. It is unnecessary to mention that the first two items of themselves would constitute a considerable addition to the rent, but when we take into account all increases in owners' rates since August, 1914, and remember that these rates are rising, that is a third line of increase which adds a very great burden and compels us to look at the one Clause of this Bill upon which we can fasten by way of trying to reduce the cumulative increase. We have fastened at the moment on this 15 per cent. because we believe you are going under this Bill not merely to add 40 per cent. to house rents in this country, but also the increase of owners' rates to which I have referred.
Competent assessors in Scotland have pointed out that a house in Glasgow, for example, which was entered in the valuation lists at £10 in 1914 will fall to pay, everything included, in the year 1921–22 not less than £22, and that is a very striking figure, which is applied to what I might call the poorest class of house property. The same return has made it clear that if we go to the other end of the scale and take a house at £90, the increase in owner's rates in Glasgow for the period in question has been not less than £18, and the presumption is that that is under this measure transferred to the burden on the tenant. We feel very strongly that while we must more or less come to economic conditions in house letting at the earliest possible moment, this increase is altogether too severe, and that it is necessary from a national point of view, from the point of view of the tenant, and I believe also without substantial injustice to the landlord, to try to reduce this amount. The sphere in which we believe at the moment the reduction may most effectively be introduced is in this sphere of the 15 per cent.
It may be argued by the Minister of Health that the 15 per cent. is required in view of increased mortgage interest and so on, but I think we are bound to set against that the other tendencies and proposals of the Bill and to say that even if this is excluded the landlord has 25 per cent. now from what he may obtain by way of allowances under the head of repairs. Many hon. Members on the Committee who did not share our views with reference to this Amendment conceded that the cumulative increase under the Bill was too severe, and they thought something could be 1799 accomplished to spread the burden over a certain number of years, or, at all events, to reduce the aggregate amount. I feel that repairs are urgently necessary. They must be overtaken, and I also concede that some fund must be provided from which these repairs may be executed, but that follows later. I want to make it clear that we are not discussing that at the moment, and we are not entitled to prejudice the consideration of this Amendment by the argument that repairs cannot be overtaken unless a very substantial increase is accorded to the landlord. On the broad ground that the cumulative increase is really out of proportion to what we should allow at the present time as part of the process towards obtaining economic rents, I beg to move this deletion, and I trust that hon. Members will support us in a course with which many of them in Committee expressed sympathy.
§ Dr. ADDISON
My hon. Friend has put his case to the House with moderation, but, if I may say so, I think his arguments were perhaps necessarily a little beside the point. The proposal in this paragraph (c) is a very simple one. It is that in respect of property which was previously under the provisions of the various Rent Restriction Acts we should allow during the first year, on account of the increased rate of money, an extra ½per cent., which represents 5 per cent. increase on the net rent. That is all that the law provides with respect to the increased money charges on property already under the provisions of these Acts. Nobody will pretend that during the course of this time anybody who wants to build a house can borrow money at ½ per cent. increase over the rate at which he could have borrowed it at previously. In respect of the properties which are above £75 a year in London which come under these Acts for the first time in this Bill, it allows an increase of 15 per cent. during the first year, but the other property is only 5 per cent. during the first year. How is that 15 per cent. made up? I may say that this is a recommendation of Lord Salisbury's Committee. Five per cent. of it represents ½ per cent. increase on borrowed money, and the next 5 per cent. represents another ½ per cent.; 1800 that is to say, that 10 per cent. out of the 15 per cent, is equivalent to an increase of 1 per cent. of money lent on mortgage, and that is all that it represents. I am certain that the experience of everyone in the House is that a man who can borrow money on mortgage for this class of property at only 1 per cent. more than he had to pay for it some time ago is a fortunate person. At all events, nobody could say it is excessive. The remaining 5 per cent. is for the man in respect of his own money that is in the property. That only applies to houses which come under these Acts for the first time, but in respect of property already under, the total increase in respect of this heading during the first year is 5 per cent.
My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment quoted from a Report by the Corporation of Glasgow in which it is shown that a house for which a person was paying £13 3s. 4d., including his share of rates, in 1914 may at the end of the time be £22 4s., which looks an alarming increase, but the point I wish to make is this, that that is not due to the Rent Restriction Acts, but to the local rates, and there is no particular reason why we should alter what is fair and right, and even necessary, in respect of anybody who has to get money to build houses because the rates go up in varying degrees in different localities. More than two-thirds of that increase there quoted was on account of the increase of the total rates and would have occurred notwithstanding this proposal, so that in that respect it does not represent at all events the operations of these Acts. What does this proposal amount to? Supposing we take it at the maximum, which is 5 per cent. in the first year on any house that is already under the Acts, and supposing you take such a house for 9s. a week, the 5 per cent. is on the 9s. less any rates which that included in 1914, and that figure is called the net rent. Supposing the rates were 2s. in 1914, this would be a 5 per cent. increase on 7s., which amounts to about 2½d. or 3d. a week. In respect of a house which comes under the Bill for the first time, which is a house of more than 30s. a week rent, so that it is not a poor tenant such as those to which the hon. Member referred, the 15 per cent. would apply. This provision of 5 per cent. in respect of property previously brought in, and 15 per cent. in respect of new property, was 1801 put in because people cannot borrow money to build houses or obtain money to support this class of property under previous rates of interest. We have to recognise facts, and, unless we face them, we shall destroy the very foundations of the finance for all this class of property. Therefore, I think it is not reasonable that we should mix it up with any question of local rates, and I hope the House will not agree with the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move in Sub-section (1, c) after the word "apply" to insert the wordsbut not including any house referred to in paragraph (ii) of Sub-section (2) of Section twelve of this Act if the standard rent or rateable value was less than that mentioned in the aforesaid Sub-section.The object of this Amendment is to try to rectify what appears to be an anomaly in the Bill. This particular Amendment was moved in Committee, but, owing to the Minister's unavoidable absence, the decision on the matter had to be delayed until the Report stage. As the Bill stands at present, houses which were formerly under the previous Acts are only to receive an increase of 5 per cent. during the first twelve months, and houses brought within the Bill for the first time are to receive an increase of 15 per cent. Houses brought within the Bill for the first time, apart from the houses of a higher rental, also include houses which are partially used as shops, and the result of the Bill at present is that a house at a rental, say, of £10, because it is purely used as a dwelling-house, will only have an increase of 5 per cent. in the first year, whereas alongside it you will get a house, also used as a shop, paying a rental of £10 a year, liable to the full increase of 15 per cent. That does not seem very just or very wise, as it will lead to a great deal of discontent in a large number of cities, because people who live in houses partly used as shops will have their rent increased more than persons living next door, whose actual net rent is the same. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment, which really is intended to rectify what, I believe, was a slip in the drafting of the Bill.
§ Dr. ADDISON
This Amendment would introduce, I suggest, needless com- 1802 plexity in the operation of these Acts. The fact is, that certain definitions were embodied in the previous Acts under which premises were brought in, and if you look at Sub-section (2), paragraph (ii), of Clause 12 it will be seen thatthe application of this Act to any house or part of a house shall not be excluded by reason only that part of the premise is used as a shop.Those places where the house has been used partly as a dwelling-house and partly as a shop come into the operation of the Bill for the first time, as my hon. and gallant Friend said, but we have taken a clear line generally throughout the Bill, whereby property which comes under these Acts for the first time may be charged an extra 15 per cent. during the first year in respect of mortgage interest, and so on. Either the premises were in the Act before or they were not. If they were in before, 5 per cent. is charged; if not, 15 per cent. is charged. My hon. and gallant Friend seeks to make a dwelling-house, say, of £76 a year in London bear a 15 per cent. increase, but a house of £50 a year with a shop, which also comes in for the first time, shall not bear any part of the 15 per cent. I suggest that a person who rents a business premises with part as a dwelling-house is on that account probably better able to pay the 15 per cent. than a person who is a mere tenant, and has no means whatever of passing on any of his charge to anybody else. There is an Amendment later on relating to business premises, which possibly is also controversial, but I think to introduce this retrospective discrimination—because that is what it comes to—so that places below the previous limit should only pay 5 per cent., and, if above the fresh limit. 15 per cent. in respect of business premises, would be hopeless to disentangle. It is a clear, logical and fair way of proceeding to say that the 5 per cent. shall apply only to those previously covered, and the 15 per cent. to those not previously covered. It is a logical and easily understood distinction, and I hope the House will assist me in maintaining it.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1, c) to add the wordsProvided also, that where there is no mortgage on the house the total increase 1803 under this paragraph shall not exceed 5 per cent.The Minister, in discussing a previous Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), explained that 10 per cent. of the 15 per cent. was to cover the increase of 1 per cent. in the mortgage interest. I can quite understand there is a considerable justification for that, and I do not propose to dispute that point for a moment. I can also quite understand that the 5 per cent. is intended to be some compensation to the landlord for the restrictions placed upon him under this Bill, and for the alteration in the general value of property; but, as this paragraph is framed at present, the landlord who has mortgaged his property gets the extra 10 per cent. in order to pay the increase on the mortgage, while the landlord who has no mortgage on his property gets the 10 per cent. for apparently no reason at all. The hon. Member in front of me (Mr. Lorden) laughs, but perhaps he will let me proceed. I can quite understand the 10 per cent. in his case may be said to be compensation, because he has put the whole of his money into property, whereas the other man has borrowed somebody else's. But if you are going to pursue that argument, so far as I can see you come to the very illogical conclusion that anybody who has put his money into any kind of investment which has decreased in value owing to the war is to receive some sort of compensation. I do not know if the Minister proposes to compensate every investor in stocks and shares because they have depreciated as a result of the war, but that seems to be the logical outcome.
There is another matter in connection with this, and that is that this particular paragraph, of all four paragraphs, does not, to the man-in-the-street, justify itself. According to the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to move to the Schedule, all the other three paragraphs give some reason why the increase is to take place. In the first case, it sets out the amount that is spent on alterations. The second sets out the increase in the rates, and another the repairs. This particular one does not say anything, but refers the unfortunate tenant to an Act of Parliament, which, perhaps, he has not seen and never will see. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to consider the reframing of that 1804 particular portion of his Schedule, so as to explain that to the ordinary man-in-the-street. There is no reference whatever to any increase in mortgage, but simply a reference to an Act of Parliament which, as I may say, the ordinary person has never seen and probably will never see. On that account, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider this Amendment. I quite realise that if the Amendment were put into operation in the case of two tenants side by side, one would be better off than the other if he happened to be living in a house not mortgaged. I quite realise the objection which the Minister will raise on that point, but I feel he has given no sufficient explanation at present as to why the landlord of a house which is mortgaged and the landlord of a house not mortgaged should be treated in exactly the same way.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Dr. ADDISON
My hon. and gallant Friend evidently wishes us to say that if a man has spent his own money in building a house he is to be worse off than if he spent anybody else's in building it. That does not seem to me to be either common-sense or equity. What are we out to do? We are taking a step, which everyone recognises is essential, though we are a long way from it, to make house-building self-supporting. That is what we are seeking to do, and could anything be imagined which would be a greater handicap to house-building than to say that if you have got money enough yourself to build houses, and you build houses with it, you receive 1 per cent. Less than if you have not got money enough yourself, and have to borrow from some-body else? Could you possibly imagine a greater handicap to the encouragement of building than a proposal of that kind? It would destroy any reasonable hope that anyone with money would ever put it into house-building, which is what we want to encourage, and in every case it would have to be made clear whether the man had borrowed the money to build a house, or whether it was his own money.You might have half a dozen houses in the same row, some of which the persons concerned built for themselves, and some of which had been built with borrowed 1805 money. I suggest the Amendment is quite unworkable and grossly unjust.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (1, d, i), after the word "for" [is "responsible for repairs"], insert the words "the whole of the ".—[Dr. Addison.]
§ Mr. HOOD
I beg to move, in Subsection (1, d, i), to leave out the words "twenty-five" ["twenty-five per cent."], and to insert instead thereof the word "twenty".
I think it will be within the knowledge of hon. Members that during the War many houses had very little or no repairs done to them. Therefore the landlord in that respect is not prejudiced under this Clause. As I understand it, it is not usual, or at any rate it is infrequent, to do repairs to various classes of property at intervals of less than five years. Calculating that under this Clause the landlord would get in that five years an amount equal to the rent of a year and a quarter. My proposal is to reduce that amount from 25 per cent. so that the land-lard would get, not a year and a quarter's rent, but the rent of one year.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Various Amendments, of which this is the first, have been put on the Paper, raising the general question as to whether the 25 per cent. should stand or whether another figure should be substituted for it. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, what your ruling might be, or what the wish of the House might be, but we are dealing with a point on which I do not want to make the same speech twice.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This raises the whole question. If the House decide to keep the 25 per cent., then that makes an end of all the other Amendments.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I make the observation I did in the hope that we might get a general discussion on this Amendment. In Lord Salisbury's report a great deal of attention was given to this subject, which is one thoroughly familiar to most people. This increased rent is proposed in respect of property which is in repair, or is to be put into repair. There is no question, I think, that the cost of these repairs is at least 2½ or 3 1806 times as much as it was before the War. There is no doubt also that owing to the high cost a large number of houses are falling into a state of serious disrepair. This only intensifies the urgency of the housing problem. I think it is most necessary, therefore, that we should determine to take such steps as we can to secure that what houses are good enough to be kept in repair shall be put or kept in repair, because pro tanto this increases the housing accommodation available and makes it of a better kind. The hon. Member opposite, who was a member of Lord Salisbury's Committee, has suggested that this increase should be spread over some years. There is an Amendment on the Paper which later raises that issue, but the Government have decided to, ask the House to support the proposal that is here. It is well that we should face this business at the very beginning, because I am perfectly certain unless we do face this point, notwithstanding the unpopularity which of a certainty attaches to the Minister of Health, and may attach to other people for this increase, we shall not get the repairs executed; and that is the thing you have got to look at. If, for example, 20 per cent., 10 per cent., or 5 per cent. were substituted for the 25 per cent., what then? Nobody denies the increased cost of repairs, or suggests that houses can be put in repair for smaller sums. Neither of these propositions is denied, and the question is, What is the most likely way of getting the repairs done? That is the only practical question remaining.
If you are to get the repairs done you must provide, at all events, say, a sufficient percentage to enable those concerned to find the money in the interval to repair the houses or to borrow on the increased rent they are getting. If you spread the thing over three years, and make it 5 per cent. in the first year, and 10 per cent. in the two subsequent years, it will mean that large numbers of small owners of houses, those, say, with one or two houses, who are quite impecunious persons, and dependent upon their houses for their living—a very precarious living for a good many just now—would not do the repairs, that they will wait until the whole of the three years have gone before they do any repairs, or, at all events, they will leave it for a long time. It is of the utmost importance that we should stop this decay in houses which are worth keeping up. 1807 Therefore I think it highly dangerous and detrimental to the interests of housing if we can postpone the operation of this provision or spread it over a long period. Other Amendments will raise various aspects of this question—as to how the repairs are to be executed, what is to be the standard of repairs, and so on. But the main question now is: what provision should we insert in the Bill to enable people to carry out the repairs? Secondly, ought we to do it here and now, or spread it out? These are the two questions. The 25 per cent. represents on an average the increased cost of repairs, which is nearly 2½times that of pre-War times. My experience suggests to me that 25 per cent. is not an outside figure at all. What the House should continually bear in mind is, that this 25 per cent. is not an increase on the rent which the tenant will normally pay to the landlord. It is not 25 per cent. on what is called the standard rent; it is the rent minus the allowance for rates—and that is all the difference! The amount in the case of the ordinary house represents about 18 per cent. on the average of the ordinary standard rent. That is a distinction which must not be forgotten. This may be an unpopular proposal, as I said on the Second Reading, but I am sure it is a necessary proposal, and I hope the House will support me.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I gather from your ruling on this Amendment, Mr. Speaker, that we are likely to consider the whole question of the allowances for repairs on this occasion. In view of that, I take it, that it will not be necessary to move subsequent Amendments on the Paper. For myself, I am quite content to discuss the question of the Amendment which is now before us, namely, that we should reduce this sum from 25 per cent. to a lesser amount. In the Committee stage of the Bill we on these Labour Benches frankly recognised that the repairs policy was perhaps the most important part of this measure. We have also recognised that it is in the interests of the tenant that repairs should be overtaken at the earliest possible moment. Quite frankly, however, all we can do with the diminished opposition this afternoon is to try to shape this Bill in order to make it—we think rightly—more just to the tenants than it is 1808 now. I should be very reluctant indeed to embark on any policy which was going to make it difficult for small proprietors especially to repair their property. On the Second Reading we heard that a good deal of property was mortgaged, and that many proprietors were incapacitated from earning their living, were getting very little from their property, and were entitled to all the protection and to all the justice we can give them in this House. That by no means exhausts this question.
We pointed out at the same time that in all cases the rent fixing was done by prudent proprietors with the possibility of repairs in front of them, and beyond question the rents had been fixed on the basis of repairs which during the War, and for a considerable period before the War, had not been done. But the fact is that in many—in a majority of cases—a very large number of proprietors who had that protection have executed no repairs at all. I am not blaming them for that. In many cases it was physically impossible. They could not get labour or materials. A hundred and one more urgent needs came from the War.
We must, however, keep that clearly in mind in considering the question of repairs; that for five or ten years at the very least a very large number of proprietors, quite automatically—for I do not say they sought benefit; it is none the less true they obtained it—obtained a real advantage in not being called upon to execute the repairs which were provided for in the rent of the properties they had let to their tenants. We cannot omit that consideration in the discussion of this question.
The other proposal which we made in Committee, and discussed at considerable length, was a proposal to modify the incidence or burden of this Bill in the direction of making the aggregate allowance for repairs 15 per cent., and spread it over three years—an average of 5 per cent. per annum. A great deal of ridicule was poured upon that proposal from two points of view. In the first place, it was said that unless a substantial sum was given no repairs would be undertaken, and no arrangements made to execute them. Surely, however, hon. Members can see that it does not very much matter at the present time what you 1809 give the proprietors. You might give them 50 or 70 per cent., but you can neither get labour nor material in a very large number of cases to execute the repairs. In short, it is a physical impossibility, so that the aggregate amount which you offer must be undermined to that extent. In the second place, the Secretary for Scotland argued that the amount suggested would not buy paper, paint, or paste, and he sought to turn the proposal out of court on that head. What we actually proposed was 15 per cent. in all. It is spread over three years, but it is inevitable that the landlord gets it. He gets that now in addition to the 15 per cent. he has obtained under the previous Section, and over and above the allowance for structural alterations which he may obtain, and, still more, over and above the undeniable advantage he gains from the transfer of the whole increase of landlord's rates from August, 1914, to the shoulders of the tenant. We have always contended that it is idle on the part of the Government to consider one Amendment or one provision under this increase by itself. We must look to the aggregate effect of these increases and try to ascertain whether this means 40 per cent. or something more. I think I am entitled to plead the great increase in local assessments by way of a passing argument. I take it that both the Salisbury Committee and the Committee have kept in view what house tenants have to carry in the next three or four years under this legislation. I do not think any rating authority has seriously disputed that the burden will be more than 40 per cent. when we regard the local rates.
I have already conceded that sooner or later house rents must come to an economic level. I believe the reply to this is a subsidy, to which I am opposed. I say this Bill is too violent in its operation. We have got nothing on the point of structural alterations, we have been defeated on the 15 per cent. and as regards the increased mortgage interest, and we have no concession from the point of view of the transfer of the landlord's rates, and therefore we are bound, in justice to the tenant, to fasten upon this Section, and try and spread the repairs over two or three years. So far from penalising the repairs, I believe they can be overtaken from the already accumulated benefits. The 20 per cent., or the 15 per cent., or 1810 the 25 per cent., whatever the allowance is under this Section, does not stand alone, and the other things must be kept in mind. On these grounds I hope the Government will make this Bill more easy for great sections of the community with fixed incomes, and the enormous number of soldiers and sailors dependants who have only a pension. I am not without hope that even yet the Government will agree to modify the burden under this Bill, and make this measure easier for the masses of the people than I am afraid it is at present.
It seems to me that under this proposal the landlord gets his 25 per cent. whether he does the repairs or not. That is to say, he gets it provided he does not allow the house to fall into such a state of disrepair that the tenant can go to the County Court and get a suspension. I see it is proposed at the end of the Amendments in the Schedule that the tenant can only apply for such a suspension after the increase has been in force three months. Therefore, whatever state of repair the house may be in, the landlord can still reap considerable advantage from this increase. I want to know if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to make this increase in some way conditional upon the repairs actually being carried out. The carrying out of the repairs is an important matter. That is what this Bill is intended to promote, but it is clear that as it stands it does nothing of the sort, and it gives the same treatment to the good landlord as it does to the avaricious landlord. If this point cannot be cleared up, I should be compelled to vote for the reduction of this amount to 20 per cent.
§ Mr. HALLAS
In proposing what he admits to be an unpopular measure, I think my hon. Friend will agree that we are not acting on this side in a very popular manner this afternoon. When I signed the reservation to the Salisbury Committee's Report agreeing to a total increase of 30 per cent. in the rents, there followed a tornado of communications in my direction condemning me, so far as the owners were concerned, that the percentage was not enough, and condemning me, so far as the tenants were concerned, that the amount was too much, and from both sides I have received a great many abusive communications. I have been told I have lost almost the whole of my 1811 support in the particular Division I represent because I have agreed that a 30 per cent. increase should be permitted under this Bill. Consequently, the question of popularity applies to both sides in this particular.
We have to consider two matters. We have to consider the point of the amount and the method by which that amount should be collected. The question of a 25 per cent. increase for repairs seems to call forth the emphatic comment that it is wrong to consider the cost of repairs from the point of view of repairs remaining to be executed. We should consider the cost of repairs also from the point of view of the large sums paid by tenants during many years with respect to repairs that have not been executed. I submit in all seriousness that almost every owner in the country is in duty bound to put his house into a proper state of habitability without charging a single extra penny with respect to the rents he has already received. When I made the statement in Committee upstairs that there were many houses that have not been repaired for five, ten, or even fifteen years, I seemed to invoke considerable surprise. May I turn for a moment to the report of the evidence of the Rent Restrictions Act—I mean Lord Salisbury's Committee, and I refer particularly to the evidence of one witness, namely, the representative of the Property Owners' Association of Birmingham? I put to him this question: "Would you be surprised to learn that there are a great many houses of that class at rents ranging from 4s. to 9s. a week in Birmingham that have not been papered for twenty years?" The answer I received was: "I know dozens myself." I further said: "And that in many cases the paper is hanging in strips from the walls,' and he answered, "Yes." I was content myself to place the maximum at fifteen years, but I received an assent from this witness that there had been even a period of 20 years during which houses have not been whitened or papered or put into a decent condition of repair.
Not only do we object to the total amount that is to be imposed by this Bill, but we object to the method. It has been impossible to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the importance of the psychological aspect of this question. It surely is a very different proposition 1812 to impose an increase of 10 per cent. one year, and the same amount for the second and the third year, which is different from placing the whole burden of the increase upon the tenant at once. We want to see this Act come into operation with the least possible friction. We are as anxious as any other section of this House to promote peace and contentment in the country, but we cannot for a moment believe that there will be any other result but the most serious trouble by the imposition of such an increase of rent as this at one fell swoop. It means in a word that so far as the great mass of the property in this country is concerned the increase in rent and rates the tenants are going to pay is very nearly double the amount of the rent that was paid before the War. That is going to be followed by an industrial movement for increases in wages to enable the tenant to pay. It is going to be followed by a general increase in the cost of living, and thus the operation within the vicious circle continues. It is an axiom of economic law, which cannot be denied, that as rents go up so must wages. We believe that if the increases were gradually imposed there would be much less likelihood of strikes, industrial unrest, and troubles of that character. The whole process would be more just, and we insist upon the statement that a 30 per cent. increase as a total would amply suffice for all requirements.
§ Mr. LORDEN
The hon. Member for the Duddeston Division of Birmingham (Mr. Hallas) said something with regard to paper hanging in strips on the walls and places not being repaired for 15 years. I have always heard that Birmingham was a model municipality, and I cannot imagine where their sanitary authorities are that have allowed that state of things to exist. It seems to me to show some want of business or neglect to allow such things to happen. I have a return in my hand from Birmingham showing how this 25 per cent. would work, or even the increase during the period. It refers to a house rented at 6s. a week before the War. The net rent is £12 10s., and the amount for repairs £2 10s. I accept for the moment that the increase of cost of repairs is as two-and-a-half to one, which is suggested by the Salisbury Committee. Anybody who knows anything about building does not attach the least impor- 1813 tance to that statement, because the proportion is nearer four times. The men are getting treble the wages they were receiving before the War, and they are not producing more than half the work. I speak with knowledge on this subject, and I say that two-and-a-half times is not sufficient. This report shows distinctly that a house rented like the one I have mentioned pays £3 15s. extra for repairs for the first year, to which must be added the extra half per cent. increase in mortgage interest which equals 15s. upon a £150 mortgage. This makes a total of £4 10s. The 30 per cent. will give an interest of £3 15s., which is less than experience shows to be the fact. Under the Order he is entitled to charge another 10 per cent. I am taking the whole of the charges. You cannot deal with them in sections. Those who take on the 15 per cent. must add the 25 per cent. in order to arrive at a comparable figure. The expenses will be £4 10s., plus 15s. a total of 5 guineas, and the authorised increase will be £3 15s., plus £1 5s., a total of £5, leaving a deficiency and not allowing anything for increased management expenses. These figures concern cases where people are dealing with large blocks of property.
I hold in my hand a paper from Derby, which shows that a large number of houses are held by small people in small numbers. There are 1,755 persons who own one house, 594 own two houses, 235 own three houses, and 244 own four houses. There are thus 2,828 people who own four houses and less. These people are going to be hit very hard. They will not have sufficient to pay for the repairs as they come along. What does it mean to a man with a house rented at £12 10s. a year? You are not going to put it on the rent plus rates. You are putting it on the net rent. Take that at £10 per year; the owner will have £2 10s. in one year for repairs. It does not want much imagination to consider how much can be done to a house for £2 10s.; and that is only for one year. He would have to spend £10 on a house before he could get any real repairs done. The money is being given out in doles. It is an extraordinary thing that while labour is entitled to its wages increases, while its wages are being doubled and trebled, and in some cases, for unskilled labour, quadrupled, the poor person who owns a 1814 house, on which he depends partly for his living, will have to spend the whole of the increase in repairs, and will also have to live on practically nothing for, at any rate, one year. You are giving, in fact, a very small increase for repairs; 25 per cent. is the lowest possible amount that could be put on. It will by no means cover the cost of repairs. There is another point with regard to the three months' extension. Some speakers talk as if owners are going to make a huge fortune out of that extension. But three months is perfectly ridiculous. They could never do anything in three months. I doubt very much if they will be able to do much in twelve months. I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that the very minimum he can grant is 25 per cent., and I hope the House will not agree to any alteration at all in that.
§ Mr. MYERS
The point made by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Murray) has not been answered by any speaker. The hon. Member declared that the rent of a house is based upon certain expenditure being incurred for repairs year by year. For a period of years landlords and owners of cottage property have taken their rent and have not carried out their side of the bargain, and now that there is an accumulation of arrears of repairs, substantial consideration is to be extended to them on that account. The hon. Member who last spoke (Mr. Lorden) made rather extravagant statements with regard to the people who are carrying out the repairs. He claimed that they have trebled their wages, and do not do more than half the work they used to do. I do not think the hon. Member will find much support for that statement. Even if the question of repairs is recognised, it is going to be exceedingly difficult to carry them out, for the simple reason that there is only a certain total of labour available in the country, and the Minister of Health is strongly appealing that it should be utilised, as far as possible, for the erection of new houses. I am inclined to agree that his appeal in that direction is meeting with a very poor response, as all over the country business and other premises seem to be roping in all the available labour. Having regard to the fact that the labour is required for new houses, even if owners of cottage property are willing to carry out repairs, it 1815 will be exceedingly difficult for them to secure the necessary workers. I would ask whether any property owner in this House, or, indeed, whether any hon. Member would declare that, under normal conditions, extending over a period of years, anything approaching 25 per cent. of the net rent has been expended on repairs. It is safe to say that, under normal conditions, nothing approaching that figure has been put down by owners of cottage property for repairs, and therefore I object to this penalty for repairs being put upon the tenant.
It is part of that vicious principle which suggests that everything can be passed on to the consumer. We are dealing with this question of the excessive cost of repairs on that basis. Assuming that an owner of property requires to have repairs done, he has to pay higher charges for materials, but there is no question of tackling this evil of high prices at its source. It is simply a matter of accepting existing conditions and passing the extra charges on to the tenant. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt has before him the Report of the Committee on Trusts. In that Report it is specifically stated that prices are tremendously inflated for nearly all things needed for building operations and for the repairs of houses. These things are controlled and manipulated by the trusts of the country. The builder has to go to the sources of supply for the materials he requires. He makes no question of challenging that agency. He accepts these things as they are and passes the imposition on to the owners, who in turn pass them on to the tenants of the house property. I would suggest that while this 25 per cent. cannot be justified on any ground set forth till now, it will be still more difficult to justify it if we take into consideration some of the causes of the increased price of materials. There is one further point in connection with this matter of repairs. The principle governing repairs is not general in all parts of the country. We can go into one part and there we find in connection with cottage property that the owner of the property accepts responsibility for some of the internal amenities of the house, while in other parts of the country the property owner keeps himself more specifically to the external requirements of the building. Having regard to all 1816 these circumstances, I join in the appeal to the responsible Minister to take ail these questions into serious consideration with a view to some modification being accepted in regard to this 25 per cent. increase.
§ Lieut.-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE
We have been given to understand that the whole of this proposed increase of 25 per cent. is to be spent on repairs. I gathered on the Second Reading there was to be inserted some provision to ensure that the repairs should be carried out, and I would join with the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Captain Coote) in the hope that the Minister for Health will see a Clause is inserted to ensure that this increase of rent shall not merely be a premium to bad landlords.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I would remind the hon. Member who spoke last that in Committee we accepted two important provisions, the object of which was to secure the very point he mentions. If the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (2) of this Clause he will find words have been inserted providing that on appeal the increase of rent may be suspended if the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair, and later on, in order that the responsibility for appealing should not rest solely on the shoulders of the tenant, we inserted a provision enabling the sanitary authority also to certify that repairs have not been executed. These are two very important alterations made with a view to covering the point advanced by the last speaker.
There is another point which should not be lost sight of, and that is the necessity for allowing landlords time in which to carry out the repairs. With the best will in the world, that work cannot be carried out in a short time, because there is difficulty in securing both labour and material. I should like to deny what has been said by one of the previous speakers about the condition of houses in Birmingham. I know a great deal about small house property in that city, and I venture to assert that the majority of the houses have been kept in a fair state of epair—quite as good a state of repair as could be expected—during the War. There are comparatively few in the condition described by the hon. Member. In my opinion, the time allowed 1817 by this Bill for carrying out the repairs is not sufficient. It ought to be very much extended. The majority of good landlords wish to carry out repairs; they will wish to spend the 25 per cent. increase which they are to be allowed on the rent on that very purpose, but we must give
§ them reasonable time in which to do it, otherwise they may decline to accept the obligation.
§ Question put, "That the words 'twenty-five' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 190; Noes, 49.1819
|Division No. 148.]||AYES.||[5.45 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Astor, Viscountess||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Llv'p'l, W. D'by)||Parker, James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Haslam, Lewis||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Percy, Charles|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hills, Major John Waller||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hinds, John||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Blane, T. A.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Jesson, C.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Briggs, Harold||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Kiley, James D.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Casey, T. W.||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Lloyd, George Butler||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lorden, John William||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Macmaster, Donald||Turton, E. R.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Mallalieu, F. W.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Dawes, Commander||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Edge, Captain William||Mitchell, W. Lane||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Morrison, Hugh||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mount, William Arthur||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Foreman, Henry||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Gardiner, James||Nall, Major Joseph||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Younger, Sir George|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Nield, Sir Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Briant, Frank||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Greer, Harry|
|Bromfield, William||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hallas, Eldred|
|Hancock, John George||Martin, Captain A. E.||Simm, M. T.|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Mosley, Oswald||Swan, J. E.|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Taylor, J.|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Myers, Thomas||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hood, Joseph||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||Tootill, Robert|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Irving, Dan||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Robertson, John||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Rose, Frank H.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Seddon, J. A.||Mr. Lawson and Mr. R. Richardson.|
§ Dr. ADDISON
I beg to move, in Subsection (1, d, ii) to leave out the words, "tenant is under an express liability," and to insert instead thereof the words, "landlord is responsible".
This is merely a drafting Amendment, for the purpose of bringing the paragraph into accord with previous paragraphs.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, d, ii) after the word "repairs," ["for part and not the whole of the repairs"], to insert the words, "or where the tenant has voluntarily carried out any repairs for which the landlord is liable".
This paragraph, as just amended by the Minister, allows the landlord, where he is only partly responsible for the repairs, to receive less compensation than he would otherwise receive under paragraph (d). There have been many cases, particularly during the War, where, although the landlord was entirely responsible for the repairs, the tenant has executed them, because, for some reason, he has been in a better position to do so. The result is that the house, as it stands at present, is in better condition than would otherwise have been the case if the tenant had left the landlord to execute the repairs, and the landlord, owing to the War, had been unable to do so. As the paragraph stands at present, however, where a tenant, of his own free will, has spent money on executing repairs for which he was not legally responsible, he is to receive no compensation or consideration. I maintain that a tenant who has carried out repairs, and thereby put his house into better condition, should receive some compensation. Otherwise, the 25 per cent. which the landlord is going to get is not going to be spent, in such a case, on repairs, because the 1820 state of the house will not justify it—not through anything that the landlord has done, but because of something which has been done by the tenant. In cases of that kind it is only fair that the tenant should receive some compensation, and it would be left to the Court to decide what the amount shall be.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I think this Amendment would make it exceedingly difficult to administer the Act. We have recognised existing agreements under which the landlord is responsible for repairs, and agreements under which the tenant is responsible for repairs, and also cases where there is a special agreement between the two parties. This is a case in which the tenant has done something, as many tenants do, which is not within the letter of any agreement, and it is suggested, I take it, that the County Court shall take the matter into consideration and allot varying proportions of the increase in rent to the different parties. I think it would be exceedingly difficult, and would raise all kinds of controversial questions. The Bill makes definite and specific provision for the three main classes of cases. Probably most of us, at one time or another, have done something in the way of repairs which normally would fall under the responsibility of the landlord, but we have not made a claim on the landlord. We wanted the thing done promptly, and that was the consideration that we got out of it. I think it would be quite hopeless to bring all these odds and ends of details into the County Court, and make various difficult calculations as to the apportionment of this 25 per cent. I think the Bill is quite straightforward, and recognises the different kinds of agreements and what the parties are required to do under them. What they voluntarily do on either side, outside any agreement, should not 1821 really, I think, be brought before the Court. It would make matters exceedingly difficult, and needlessly complicated.
I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have given this matter a little more favourable consideration. We all recognise that every tenant, for his own convenience and comfort, does a great many things which he ought to look to his landlord to do for him. During the past three or four years, however, a class of cases has arisen, which have been, perhaps more numerous than the right hon. Gentleman appreciates, in which the landlord has refused to do things which he ought to have done, and the tenants have done them simply because they were not able to carry on without them. There have been a number of cases within my own knowledge in which, owing to the fact that rents were limited by the Act, landlords have refused to do things which came well within their province, and have practically forced the people in occupation to carry out such repairs. Whether the exact form of words suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend would meet these cases, I do not know, but they seem to me to be sufficiently numerous to justify some attempt to deal with them. I rather hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have been able, if not to accept this particular form of words, to introduce some words into the Bill, either here or in another place, which would enable a tenant, who can demonstrate that during the last two or three years he has carried out what were really landlord's repairs, and put the property into decent condition, to come before the County Court and get some relief.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I rather hope the right hon. Gentleman will further examine the question, and see whether words cannot be drafted to deal with this point. In broad equity, it seems clear, that where a tenant has carried out repairs for which the landlord ordinarily is responsible, the 6.0 P.M. landlord should not get the full 25 per cent. that is going to be allowed, and the Court should be able to take into account, apart from any written agreement, the actual facts which have taken place. That is all I suggest should be done, namely, that you should put in words empowering the Court to 1822 take into account, apart from legal agreements, actual occurrences which have taken place in respect of the carrying out of these repairs. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will examine the matter with the Government draftsman, and see that words are inserted, if necessary in another place, to cover the point.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I can quite imagine a very extraordinary set of circumstances arising if these words are put in. I had a case before me not very long ago, where a man had taken to himself a second wife, and she did not approve of the papers on the wall. The place had all been papered within three years. How are you going to differentiate between these difficulties? Here is a difficulty that arises to my mind at once, and it arises where people do not like these things. It was not my property, but I was concerned with some others in the management of it, and we said, "What is it going to cost?" The tenant said, "£50." We said, "The house does not want doing, but you evidently want to make the place nice, and we will allow you £20 towards the repairs." How are you going to deal with a case like that? The Bill is complicated enough already, and you are going to have enough litigation about it. Every tenant who thinks he will get sixpence off his rent, will go to the County Court, and you will have to enlarge your County Courts, and add to the number, because you are going to make bad blood between landlord and tenant more than ever before. I hope we shall not have any further complications put into this already over-complicated Bill.
§ Mr. BRIANT
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to reconsider the question. Anyone who is familiar with small property, as I am, knows a great many cases where a man is a handy man in himself. He has got tired of asking the landlord. The landlord gives reasons, sometimes perfectly justifiable—lack of labour for instance—and sometimes quite unjustifiable, for postponing necessary repairs. I can give instances where in despair, tenants have bought paper and paint and whitewash and done the work themselves, being anxious to keep the house neat and respectable. I think some allowance should be made for this class of man who has looked after his own house. I see the difficulty of devising 1823 words, but it is so important that a man should be protected who has done work which should rightly fall upon the landlord's shoulders, that I hope the Minister will reconsider the whole question with a view to seeing if something could not be devised by which these cases—and they are real cases and there are many of them—should be met in some way.
§ Dr. ADDISON
In response to the numerous appeals which have been made to me, I may say that I discussed this in great detail with the draftsman. I see the point my hon. Friend has put, and I also see that in many cases the tenant might do repairs which were perhaps not required, and you would have a great complexity of cases arising which would make a lot of work without any material return. I do not think the point is of sufficient importance to keep us very long. I will discuss it again, but I must say my impression was, and still is, that the introduction of any such words as these would raise many more difficulties than it would settle. I will look into it again and see whether we can devise any form of words.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not look into it again. The matter seems to me to be very clear. In the first place I doubt very much whether the Amendment is in order, because it proposes to give compensation to a tenant who during the War has done something which he was not legally bound to do. That is outside the scope of the title of the Bill. The Bill deals with the increase of rent and matters with which the landlord has to do. It does not give compensation to tenants for work which they have voluntarily done and which they might not have been legally compelled to do. As to the landlord charging this 25 per cent. when the work is not necessary, Sub-section (a) of the Clause provides thatThe tenant may apply to the County Court for an order suspending or reducing such increase on the ground that such expenditure is or was unnecessary in whole or in part, and the Court may make an order accordingly.If you are going to say to the tenant, "If you have made any improvements or whitewashed the ceiling during the War and you were not legally bound to do so, you can go to the County Court judge and claim compensation," not only will you 1824 open up a vista of endless litigation, but you will be doing something which I believe is outside the scope of the Bill, and it would be doing a great wrong to a number of people who apparently are considered by hon. Members opposite—I think one of them used the expression—avaricious landlords, whereas, as a matter of fact, if you take the bulk of the landlords of the country, and especially those to whom the Bill applies, they are far worse off than the tenants, and if the word "avaricious" is to be applied to anyone it is to the tenant, who is probably getting three times the wages he got before the War and refuses to the landlord the small amount of justice which he would get under this Bill.
§ Mr. SWAN
I hope the Minister of Health will give this serious consideration. I can speak from personal experience in mining areas, knowing the kind of property there is there. I know large numbers of men who have been compelled to do repairs which the landlord would not carry out, because in the first place the property was not considered, even by the local authorities, as fit for human habitation and was not worth repairing. But because of the great dearth of houses the local authorities tolerated them. Then we have the kind of property belonging to owners who are not philanthropists as the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) suggests, but who have altogether a different conception as to the sanitary and health conveniences of the property from those held by the occupiers of the houses. I know certain owners of slum property which will be tolerated in the future who considered the property was a sanatorium, but the occupiers had a different opinion. The owner would not do the ceilings. They took steps themselves to stop the rain coming through. I am sure many hon. Members could give innumerable cases where that has been done. The present tenant followed men who considered that the house was a very eeconomical one; in fact it was not only a dwelling-house, but it was a convenient place for the study of astronomy. But the new occupier did not care to study astronomy while lying in bed and looking through the roof. He preferred to put a new ceiling up. This is common throughout the mining areas. Would the right hon. Gentleman not consider that an individual with a different point of view 1825 from that of the previous occupier who put a ceiling up was not entitled to some consideration? These are the things we are continually faced with owing to the scarcity of houses and the difficulty presented to local authorities in supplying decent houses. This kind of property will continue for years to come, and if the owners know that where repairs have been done by the occupiers they are going to have some consideration the probability is that they will not increase the rent to the amount which is permissible in a former Clause. On these grounds I hope consideration will be given to the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I really hope the Minister of Health will not further consider the matter. My recollection is that under the Acts dealing with the housing of the working classes in regard to property of the value of £50 or under the landlord has the legal liability to repair. If, therefore, he omits to perform his duty and the tenant does it he has a perfect right in the law at present to recover against the landlord. Surely that is all that you want. I cannot for the life of me see the need for considering the Amendment or increasing the difficulties of the Bill. If people understood what the law was these supposed grievances would not be raised.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
It will be poor comfort to a small tenant to be told that if he understood what the law was he
§ would be at liberty to bring an action against a rich landlord. I sincerely hope the Minister of Health will accept this Amendment. I am sure on the face of it no one can dispute its justice. The only question is whether it will give rise to practical difficulty in working I do not believe it would. I have read the Clause over very carefully with these words in, and it seems to me quite clear that in the great majority of cases it would be a matter of arrangement between the landlord and the tenant how much should be allowed off the rent the repairs which had been done. These repairs have been done by tenants, especially what are called decorative repairs, on a large scale during the War. I supported the Minister in the last Division because I am sure for a good landlord the increase of 25 per cent. is not an atom more than it will cost him to do the repairs that he is bound to do, but if these words are not put in it will very unfortunately result that a bad landlord will have an advantage over a good landlord, because the bad landlord who has not done the repairs and has left them for the tenant to do will pocket the money, while the good landlord will have to spend that money in doing the repairs. I very earnestly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment.
§ Question put: "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 51; Noes, 198.1827
|Division No. 149.]||AYES.||[6.15 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Robertson, John|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Rose, Frank H.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Irving, Dan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jephcott, A. R.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Briant, Frank||Jesson, C.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lawson, John J.||Taylor, J.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thomson. F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Tootill, Robert|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hancock, John George||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Major Henderson and Captain Coote.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Barrand, A. R.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brassey, Major H. L. C.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Breese, Major Charles E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Betterton, Henry B.||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Briggs, Harold|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Blane, T. A.||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hurd, Percy A.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Casey, T. W.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Cautley, Henry S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsev)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kiley, James D.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Dawes, Commander||Lloyd, George Butler||Seddon, J. A.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Simm, M. T.|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Lorden, John William||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Macmaster, Donald||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Foreman, Henry||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Forrest, Walter||Mallalieu, F. W.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Gardiner, James||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Martin, Captain A. E.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mitchell, William Lane||Turton, E. R.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N)||Morrison, Hugh||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Greer, Harry||Mosley, Oswald||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Mount, William Arthur||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nall, Major Joseph||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Parker, James||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hinds, John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Percy, Charles||Younger, Sir George|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Hood, Joseph||Perring, William George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1, d, ii) to add the wordsProvided that the cumulative increase in net rent payable in any one year in respect of any dwelling-house under Sub-sections (a), (c), and (d), shall not exceed thirty-three and one-third per cent. exclusive of any increase on account of rates.My Amendment does not affect the eventual amount of the increase of rent that is to be allowed, but it does affect the time at which the cumulative increases of rent shall become due, and I move it entirely in response to a speech made by the Minister of Health in Committee. Speaking on an Amendment of a similar character moved by the hon. Member who 1828 moved the last Amendment (Major Henderson),he said:I take it that what my hon. Friends are aiming at is that, notwithstanding the provisions in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d), all these things added together in respect of increases in rent shall not, at all events in the first year, amount to more than so much.He went on to say:There is a good deal to say for that proposal. It is really a question as to the way in which the increases should become incident upon the tenant. That is really the point in question, and perhaps my hon. Friends will allow me to explore that between now and the Report stage, or, if necessary, to refer to it later on in Committee if any appropriate place occurs. I am quite sure that this Amendment as it stands would not do at all. I see the general purpose of it, which is to say, 'Notwithstanding all these increases, 1829 which we accept, only a certain proportion is to come in the first year.' The balance may come in the second year. Perhaps my hon. Friends will allow me to think it over, and either suggest another Clause, if I can frame one, or bring up something on the Report stage."—[0FriciAL REPORT (Standing Committee B), 14th June, 1920, cols. 91–92.]I am now bringing something on the Report stage. Apart altogether from the working-class houses, we are bringing into the operation of this Bill property in London up to £105 a year ratable value, and I suggest that in case of what may be called the lower middle class tenants to put on at one moment the whole of the increase of rent due under the Sections which we have just passed would cause very grave embarrassment, particularly to the tenants of houses between £50 and £105. Take the case of the man who has been accustomed to pay £105 for his house. He comes under the operation of this legislation for the first time, and he may suddenly be faced with an increase of 40 per cent., plus a certain percentage under Section (a), and plus the increase of rates. We all know the type of man who lives in this particular class of house. Probably he is the junior professional man. He is in many cases the man with a fixed income, and suddenly to increase his rent by one-half is a very large jump, which would upset his family budget completely. Therefore, I do think that we ought to insert some limitation of the cumulative increases under these Sections that may take place in the first year. There is a great deal to be said for that, and I hope the Government will see their way to accept the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the object of this Bill is to make house building self-supporting. I do not think that is so, because it will not have that effect. Any Rent Restriction Act will continue the present paralysis in regard to houses. We are forced to pass this Bill, because unless we do so we shall have very great evil resulting, even greater than the cessation of house building. We shall have people turned out of houses and real commotion up and down the country, unless we continue these War-time restrictions in respect of houses. It is regrettable, but we are forced to legislate an evil lest a worse evil arises. When that is the basis of this Bill we should insure, if we can, that the increase we allow shall not be unnecessarily burdensome. In Scotland in particular, where the rating system is 1830 different, there is the gravest apprehension, in many cases a reasonable apprehension, that the combined effect of all these increases allowed in this Bill will be oppressive in their character, and will constitute such an increase as will prove burdensome to many classes of tenants. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that the increase shall not exceed one-third in any one year. Landlords and tenants will then know exactly where they are, and the increase seems to be a reasonable one in the first year.
§ Sir F. LOWE
On a point of Order. May I submit that the Amendment is entirely inconsistent with the portion of the Clause which we have already passed. We have said already that certain increases shall be allowed. It is possible that those all added together might exceed one-third in a year. Therefore this Amendment would nullify what has already been done.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that the hon. Member is laying down too hard and fast a rule in seeking to prevent the hon. Member from moving this Amendment. It has always been the custom of the House to allow a discussion on an Amendment of this character, and I propose to accept this one, but I think that I would be justified in not allowing further Amendments cutting away what the House has already decided.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am very glad to hear your ruling, because this is not in any sense a sentimental or worthless Amendment, but one which raises an entirely new point of principle. The object is to prevent a poor tenant being absolutely overwhelmed in the first year by the whole of the increase allowed by the Bill coming upon him at one and the same time. The position is somewhat similar to the position under the Peace Treaty if I may draw the analogy. The German Government have repeatedly asked for a sum to be specified as a fixed indemnity. We may think that right or wrong, but undoubtedly the tenant, as does the German, wants to know where he stands. If all the increases permitted by this Bill were to take place at one and the same time, the total increase would be, I think, 42½ per cent. Therefore the Amendment proposes an abatement for the first year in the case of all houses to which all these 1831 increases would apply of about 10 per cent. I submit that is not an unreasonable proposition. I am hopeful that the Government will consider it favourably, because of the very strong language in Committee of my right hon. Friend (Dr. Addison) with regard to this point. He was as definite as Ministers of the Crown ever allow themselves to be on any question in promising that he would give most favourable consideration to this question, and if this Amendment does not meet the case in its wording, I feel sure that if the right hon. Gentleman meant what he said on that occasion he will consider putting in words to meet the point to cover what is a real danger and probably a real obstacle to the success of this Bill. Hon. Members on both sides say they want to make this Bill work. The Government know very well that various threats have been put forward. I am not arguing that we should bow to these threats. Nobody should bow to threats either of passive or active resistance, but at the same time I submit that the probable effect of the Bill must be considered, because it is not properly understood. This Amendment would give those time to look around who feel that they may suffer from a grievance.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not wish to qualify in any way what I said in Committee on this point. I have examined this question very sympathetically to see if something should be done, and I have also realised, as the Mover of this Amendment has realised, though I do not think that the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Coote) has done so, that the class of houses to which this Amendment must be applied, and the only class of houses, are those which are brought in for the first time. My hon. and gallant Friend speaks of poor tenants being overwhelmed. It is true that there are plenty of poor tenants who live in the bigger houses, perhaps poorer than some of those in smaller houses, but I take it he was not using the words in the general sense, or suggesting that the 10s. a week house would be in any way affected by this Amendment. That is not so. Those houses are already in, and they can only be subject, with one exception, to a maximum rise of 30 per cent. during the first year. The exception is where in paragraph (a) the landlord has since the 4th day of August, 1914, carried out structural improvements or alterations. In that case 1832 I think we could fairly assume that there are very few cases where that has happened. During the course of the War, and even since, there have not been many cases where the small classes of property owners have been able to do any more than keep the houses in repair. I wish that they had been able to do that. The fact that they have not been able to do it is one of the reasons for this Bill. The number of cases where an increase could be charged in respect of material alterations or improvements is practically negligible, so in the case of all these houses the maximum rise under this Act is 30 per cent. Therefore this applies only in the Metropolitan area to houses between £75 a year and £105.
I did look into this question, and found, as my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment found, that it could only be put forward in the case of the new houses. You could not make it general in its operation. The only question is with regard to the new houses, "Will you have the increase 33½ per cent. or 40 per cent.?" That does not raise any questions of ambiguity. We include houses of that kind for the first time, because Lord Salisbury's Committee found that tenants of these houses could be subject to unreasonable eviction, or increases of rent, not of 40 per cent., but 100 per cent., and sometimes more. Therefore we fix 40 per cent. as the figure which ought to cover repairs, etc., and is reasonable in the circumstances. Frankly, I do not think there is as much in this point as I thought there was when I discussed it in Committee. I think that my hon. Friend who moved it sees that. It does not raise any question of general principle; it does not propose to alter the way the figures are made up. I think that the great safeguard these houses are now getting for the first time is cheaply purchased, in the circumstances of the moment, at 40 per cent. by the people who are brought in and relieved of anxiety as to evictions or much greater exactions, and I think that the House, on the whole, should adhere to the figures, which were examined very carefully by the Committee.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the word "three" ["three months"] and to insert instead thereof the word "nine." 1833 The period of three months which is provided is one in which it would be utterly impossible for the small owner to carry out repairs. It really comes to this. You will have the owner saying: "I will not have time to accumulate enough to put the house into repair." It is extremely important that you should give these owners a longer time to accumulate some funds. There is another point. However much you desire to have these repairs done in nine months, you cannot get them done. There are not the workers to carry out these repairs. I will give one reason. It is that the Government are having such a lot of repairs done totheir buildings all over the place, and they are monopolising a very large number of the mechanics who should be on other buildings. The proposal of the Bill is likely only to create trouble. The Bill will become inoperative altogether, if the period is retained as three months, in the case of a very large percentage of owners, and particularly of the small people who own one, two, three or four houses, on the proceeds of which they are trying to live. I am extremely anxious to see the Bill become an Act, but I want it to become a workable Act.
§ Sir F. LOWE
I beg to second the Amendment. I think the period of three months is wholly inadequate, and that you cannot possibly expect to get the repairs done in that time. We all know how scarce labour and material are. However willing a landlord might be to carry out repairs, it would be a practical impossibility for him to do so. There is to be considered the effect upon the building of new houses if you abstract all the labour and all the material necessary to repair hundreds or thousands of houses in three months. I know the Minister of Health is anxious to do all that he can for the building of new houses. I should have thought that he would not have put this obstacle in the way of that being done. Personally, I think it would be much wiser to make the term one year, instead of the nine months suggested by the Amendment, because the object is to get the repairs carried out generally.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I quite agree that there will be a large number of owners who, with the allowance which we have already sanctioned, will not have 1834 accumulated enough in three months, owing to the increased cost of repairs, fully to discharge the cost of doing the repairs, but they will have obtained a surety that they will be entitled to higher rents if the repairs are carried out, and thereby I believe they will be able to get sufficient credit. How long is it reasonable to ask tenants in such cases where repairs are wanted to go on paying the increased rent before the repairs are done? All we provide here is that the landlord shall have time to turn round. If, at the end of three months, either the tenant or the local authority goes to the court, the Clause provides that the court may suspend the increase for a time. If the repairs are done then the increase will go on again. I quite agree as to the state of the labour market. It does not materially improve housing accommodation to get existing property repaired, but it is a great advantage to have it done. Having regard to the other provisions of the Clause, and to the fact that otherwise a tenant would be going on paying an increased 25 per cent. for nine or twelve months in a large number of cases in respect of repairs which had not been executed, I think the proposal of the Bill is a fair compromise.
§ Mr. SWAN
I hope the Minister of Health will not accept the Amendment. We have no burning ambition to see the Act carried out; we opposed the concession of the grant for repairs. If the tenant has to pay for repairs it is only reasonable that they should be carried out. In many cases those repairs ought to have been executed long ago.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the words, "and also any increase under paragraph (c) of that Sub-section."
I am rather surprised there has been nothing done in regard to this, because in Committee the learned Attorney-General said:I would suggest in regard to this that it should be postponed in order that we might consider the last three lines of this particular Sub-section.I rather anticipated some Amendment on the Paper dealing with the matter. As the Bill stands, the mortgage interest can be increased, and the owner has to bear the expense of that without getting any return whatsoever in the way of an 1835 increased income. It has been distinctly pointed out that the 5 and 10 per cent. were put on to cover the increase on mortgage interest. It does not cover it. There is a complaint in one of the newspapers even to-day pointing out that in many cases this Bill does not in any way help those who have agreements running, and you will find tenancies of houses with rentals between £36 and £105 are held by agreements for at least three years in most cases. It seems unreasonable that you should give with one hand and take away with another.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ D. ADDISON
I do not think that this will help the Clause. It might introduce a good many controversies as to what should be regarded as decorations, and there would be endless complications. People generally understand what is meant by "a reasonable state of repair". After all, this is a Sub-section which would be interpreted by a County Court judge. He would deal with it as a common-sense person, and decide a case on its merits. The words we have adopted are those generally used in Acts dealing with such matters.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (2) to add the words "from some cause other than subsidence in a mining district."
If the want of repair is due to subsidence in a mining district, that should be no reason for prohibiting the landlord from getting the increase of rent to which he would otherwise be entitled. There are a great many houses in mining districts which are otherwise in a proper state of repair and where the landlords have done all they can to keep them in order, but which, owing to subsidence are injured in some way. As 1836 the Clause stands, the tenant might be able to say, "I do not complain that you have not papered and painted the house, but it is cracked owing to subsidence, and therefore I say it is not in a reasonable state of repair, and you ought not to be allowed to increase the rent." That is felt as a great hardship by a large number of small people who have a house or two in the mining districts. I think it is a greater hardship because the Government have stood in the way of dealing with this question of subsidence ever since last Session. There was an attempt to deal with the general law on subsidence, but the Government objected to the Bill brought in and said that they would deal with the question themselves. They have not done so. The position is that these properties are injured from circumstances entirely beyond the power of their owners to control, and you are now going to put those owners in the position of being taken into the County Court, not because the house is unfit for human habitation or because it is otherwise out of repair, but because it has been injured by subsidence. It will be no answer for the landlord to say that it is fit for habitation and that he has done what was reasonable to put it into a state of repair. The object of this Amendment is to protect the small owner, and I hope the Government will accept it, and also that before very long they will deal with the question of subsidence as a whole, and, meanwhile, they have no right to place upon the owner of this property a double hardship.
§ Dr. ADDISON
This Amendment deals with the case where a house in a mining district has more or less collapsed and is in a state that you cannot repair it.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The Amendment says, notwithstanding that position, the landlord is to be allowed to charge an increase of rent in respect of repairs, although he cannot put the house in repair.
§ Dr. ADDISON
That is the effect of the Amendment. In the case of an unrepairable house, increased rent is to be charged, according to the Amendment, for repairs which cannot be effected.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. MYERS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the wordsif the house is over-crowded to the extent of more than two persons per room, or if the house contains three rooms or less, or if the house is one in respect of which a closing order has been made under Sections 15 to 17 of the Housing and Town Planning Act, etc., 1909, and such closing Order has not been determined.This Amendment raises the whole question as to whether the low type of cottage property which exists in this country should be excepted from the provisions of this Bill. The Amendment does not interfere with any increase of rent which comes from the cost of repairs. It does challenge the position as to whether the poor type of house which exists all over the country should be penalised further. Any addition to the rent for a large number of houses in this country is adding one injustice to another. The census of 1911 set forth the fact that one-tenth of the entire population are living in the overcrowded condition of more than two persons per room. That standard of overcrowding is set up by those responsible for the census return. Most Members of the House are acquainted with the very serious defects which have arisen from the point of view of public health, domestic discomfort and the like, from the overcrowded condition under which a large section of our population live. Comparisons have been made by medical men in various parts of the country and the investigations have disclosed the fact that in many of these areas where these overcrowding conditions prevail the stature and weight of our children are tremendously lower than in the case of similar aged children in areas where better housing conditions prevail. In the manufacturing towns all over the north of England there are the back to back houses. I read a statement in the Press not long ago that 75 per cent. of the entire working class population of Bradford lived in the back to back type of house. I am acquainted with a large number of houses of this character which are in existence in the city of Leeds. In the borough where I happen to reside one- 1838 half of the entire houses are of the back to back type, and we know the conditions which prevail in houses of that character. It might be convenient to some hon. Members to find dining room, sitting room, scullery, nursery, and washhouse all combined in one, but it is tremendously irritating to the average working man when he comes into one of those places on a dirty wet day, and it has certain effects in other directions to which social reform agencies have had to direct attention. Those back to back houses in the industrial towns have existed for half a century and in some cases longer. They have paid for themselves many times over in the rent gathered and those houses to-day would sell in the open market for a considerably higher sum than they cost to erect in the first instance, not because they are worth that sum as pieces of bricks and mortar, but purely from the point of view of the War-time scarcity of housing accommodation. We say, having regard to the objectionable circumstances which surround houses of this character, where people are overcrowded, we ought not to put on an additional penalty in the shape of an increase of rent.
The Amendment further provides that the exception shall be exercised in those houses which contain three rooms and under. That part of the Amendment is directed to working-class dwellings of a character which is well understood. It may be urged that there is a class of house, say a three-roomed flat in London, which would come under these conditions. That is not the house which is aimed at, and if that argument is advanced we should be prepared to accept some modifying provision which would rule out that class of property. There are about 8,000,000 dwellings in England and Wales and over a quarter of those are dwellings of three rooms and under. In Great Britain as a whole over 10,250,000 of people out of over 40,000,000 live in houses of three rooms and under. Houses of three rooms and under which are recognised working-class dwellings have either only one living room or only one sleeping room, and whichever of those conditions apply it is an undesirable state of things. Those of us who have had the privilege, or rather the penalty, of residing and living in houses of this character know exactly the penalty that is imposed upon our working-class popu- 1839 lation who have to live in them. The latter part of the Amendment deals with the question of closing orders. Under the provisions of the Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909 and the Inspection Regulations, some good work has been and is being done, but some of the work would hardly come inside that observation. In some cases the operation of the Inspection Regulations perpetuate an undesirable type of cottage property. Certain repairs are said to be necessary, and when those have been carried out, the house has been declared officially fit for habitation. But even then it is very often not a desirable kind of house.
In 1913 and 1914 over 22,000 closing orders were made against houses in England and Wales. These orders are determined when the houses are made fit for habitation, and having regard to the operation of the War, the repairs that were necessary to these houses in which 22,000 closing orders were made have not been carried out, and it is safe to say that at this moment a large proportion of these houses are still occupied. They stand condemned, just as back-to-back houses stand condemned, by Act of Parliament, and they ought not to be brought within this Act and a further penalty imposed upon the people who have to occupy such houses in the way of an additional rent. There are anything up to a quarter of the working-class houses in this country to-day which it would be a penalty to occupy if they were absolutely rent-free, and if that indictment is considered extreme, I would call to my assistance the Ministry of Health to present to us all the statistics that they have tabulated from the point of view of the adverse effect of bad housing on the health of the community. Infantile mortality is at bottom caused by bad housing, and the great problem of tuberculosis has been established to be one of bad housing; even the great Dr. Koch himself made the pronouncement that it is the overcrowded dwellings of the poor that we have to regard as the real breeding places of tuberculosis, and it is out of them that the disease always crops up anew.
If these are facts which are suggested by medical testimony, surely the objectionable conditions of these houses are sufficient without imposing any additional penalty on the people who live 1840 in them. This House has endeavoured as far as possible to protect the working-class community from a certain type of profiteer, the profiteer who deals in certain commodities which the working people purchase. The working people are at present purchasing housing accommodation of a very inferior type, judged by both the standard of domestic comfort and the conditions of health that come from them, and even if the penalty which is imposed on the working people is not adequately understood by them, that is no reason for suggesting that the penalty is not there. In all the circumstances of the case, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should take into serious consideration this type of cottage property and not assist, as this Bill is going to do, to restore slumdom as a business proposition and give a new lease of life to a great quantity of undesirable cottage property in the country.
§ Mr. SWAN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am sure it will get the sincere sympathy of the Minister in charge of the Bill. It would be a very serious thing if people who, through no fault of their own, have been compelled to live in these overcrowded houses and have had to trudge the country up and down to try and get accommodation are to have another penalty imposed on them by an increase in the rent. In 1914 in the county of Durham we had 28 per cent. of overcrowding. In my local area it was the highest in the county, namely, 43 per cent., and in the neighbouring urban district it was 41 per cent. That state of overcrowding has not diminished, but has been intensified, because there have been no houses put up, and to suggest increasing the rent of these back-to-back houses would be nothing less than criminal. I hope we shall have reasonable consideration given to this Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman on humanitarian grounds and that it will be made incumbent on the local authorities to see that these houses are closed and replaced by good houses.
§ Dr. ADDISON
My hon. Friends have raised a very important question. I do not suggest that their remarks went beyond what the case merits, but I suggest that they went beyond the effect of 1841 their own Amendment and certainly of the Bill. I agree that it would be a mistake of the first order to do anything at all in this Bill or any other Bill which would perpetuate the continuance of slumdom. That is a proposition which no one would question, and certainly as Minister of Health I count myself as second to none in my enthusiasm in that regard. Therefore I need say nothing as to the evil of that class of dwelling, but the question here is whether you are going to allow that undesirable or condemned or semi-condemned property shall bring to its tenants this increased charge whilst the property itself is an abomination. I say that an examination of the Clause as it stands, with what we have already passed in regard to repairs, should really remove the fears of my hon. Friends. We do not want that to happen, of course, and I can assure them that that fear was quite in our minds in framing this Clause. In the first place, if a Closing Order has been made against the property, even if it has not been made effective owing to the shortage of accommodation generally, no local authority or county-court judge would say that that was a reasonable case for an increase in the rent owing to repairs having been executed, because they have not been executed. The next safeguard is that it will be the duty of the sanitary authority carefully to watch the operation of the Act and to see that no property which they have condemned or which they are prepared to condemn, and which is not put in a proper state of repair, should be able to take advantage of the provisions of the Act. So far as the definition of the number of rooms which a house may contain is concerned, I think my hon. Friend will agree that you might have a perfectly well-equipped little place with a couple of old people living in it, and in a perfect state of repair, and that that should not be a case exempted from the Act. As to the definition of the number of persons per room, that again would lead to infinite complication. Generally, however, the case is the risk of buyers of slum property putting on an increased charge when they ought not to. The Clause is so drafted as to secure that a slum is not a desirable property and could not come under the Bill; and, finally, I claim that no reasonable county-court judge would allow an increase of rent in respect of 1842 such property that had not been repaired. Therefore I think my hon. Friends' fears are quite groundless and the Amendment unnecessary.
§ Captain LOSEBY
I think the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment have put some of us in rather a false position. I know we shall be pilloried in voting against the Amendment on the ground that we support the continuation of the appalling state of affairs in certain dwelling-houses in particular parts of the world. I happen to know that the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Myers), and who referred to my own constituency, is not exaggerating, and I know that in East Bradford some of the back-to-back houses and others are too appalling for words. I do not dissociate myself from one word that he said about that, and if by supporting his Amendment I thought we could do anything to render impossible the continuation of that state of affairs, I would support it. I would only say, however, that I think the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health went right to the point, and that my hon. Friends opposite must look to another Bill for a remedy for this particular state of affairs. So far as protection is possible under this Bill, I think we have it in Sub-section (2). We do not help things if, having said that no landlord can get this increase if a house is not fit for human habitation, we say to a man who is prepared to do certain repairs, "Yes, you may do those repairs, but you shall get no economic return for them." It would inevitably mean that such repairs as are possible, and will be done in these dwelling-houses, would, if this Amendment were accepted, not be carried into effect. I am only afraid they would go from bad to worse. I sympathise sincerely with the Mover and the Seconder, in whose motives I most profoundly believe, but I am afraid the Amendment would not meet the case, and, therefore, I for one shall vote against it.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I sincerely hope that Members who sympathise with the Mover of the Amendment will show that sympathy in the Division Lobby. While I am very enthusiastic for improved houses, and up against the things which have been mentioned by my hon. Friend, I know that the low ideas and the grievances of a century cannot be remedied in a day. If there were sufficient suitable 1843 houses, people would not dwell in the houses under consideration and pay rent for them. My soul is vexed when I hear people sometimes speak of a house being fit for human habitation. I can take you to large masses of the population who are living in houses that were condemned as unfit for human habitation 50 years ago, and are occupied still. They have paid for themselves over and over again. It cannot be pleaded that it is a case of the lone widow who has her all invested in house property. It is property owned by rich corporations, and to give them the opportunity of increasing the rent is only prolonging the life of property that ought to have been swept out of existence long ago. The expenditure on Sanatoria that has got to be met is because of this bad housing. Members need not be afraid of being put in a false position. They will only be put in a false position when they place it in the power of landlords who own these houses to increase rent, when the houses ought to have been swept away long ago.
Mr. T. THOMSON
Every hon. Member will sympathise with the object of the Amendment, and I would appeal to the Minister to see whether he cannot go part of the way to meet the object and purpose of the Amendment. As he has said, two parts of the Amendment are fairly met already, because if a closing order has been made against any of these houses I do not think any Court would hold that to be a house reasonably fit for human habitation. I think he has fairly met the House on the question of three rooms, because undoubtedly there are any number of proper houses where only two people live which you could not reasonably close because of three rooms. But when you come to the question of overcrowding, and taking the standard which his own Department has set up, that is, over two people per room, there you get a condition of thing, which is absolutely in keeping with the Clause which has passed through Committee That Clause says that rent shall not be increased where the house is not reasonably fit for human habitation. It does not cover the question of overcrowding, but I submit that a house with more than two people per room is as unfit for human habitation as a house which is structurally unfit. Therefore, logically, I submit that the right hon. Gentleman cannot refuse 1844 to incorporate into this Clause this-further protection against putting a premium on the continuation of property which is not reasonably fit for human habitation. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot find words which will meet the spirit of the Amendment, in so far as it deals with the important question of overcrowding, which is a tremendous curse, and a tremendous hindrance to the health and well-being of our large industrial towns.
I rise to say a word or two in support of the object and principles of this Amendment, although not perhaps accepting every word of it. I think everything that strengthens the Bill in the direction of discouraging slum property or overcrowded dwellings ought to receive sympathetic consideration. The principle has already been accepted in the Bill that in the case of houses not reasonably fit for human habitation the landlords should not be permitted to increase the rent. I am not at all sure the principle is a very sound one, because cheapness is an attraction to some people, and I am not at all sure that the principle should have been embodied in the Bill that increased rent should not be allowed in the case of slum property. All people are not keen sanitarians, and some people are quite willing to go into slum houses if they can get them cheaper. However, the principle has been embodied in the Bill that increases on the' rent of some slum property shall not be allowed, and, therefore, I think it should be emphasised in this way, and that the property included should be more specifically mentioned, as indicated in the Amendment. It is not necessary to stress the evils of overcrowded and slum dwellings. We know that tuberculosis is really a house disease, and it is only in houses of that type that, generally speaking, we get it. Therefore it is incumbent on the Minister of Health to do everything in his power to discourage people from dwelling in property of that kind. Seeing that the principle is embodied in the Bill, and believing the Amendment will strengthen the Clause, I am prepared to. support the Amendment.
§ Captain ELLIOT
It is very difficult to understand this long manuscript Amendment handed in at the last moment, and I think it is a great pity that we have to 1845 consider what the Labour party regard as an important Amendment in this form. Do I understand aright that it is actually proposed that if a man has an overcrowded house he is to be able to say to the landlord that there shall be no increase of rent? If so, it seems to me that it is a reactionary step. If he can take in lodgers and overcrowd his house, he can say there shall be no increase in the rent. I have no doubt it is due to my own stupidity that I do not properly understand the Amendment, but I wish
§ to show how difficult it is to understand a long manuscript Amendment handed in on the Report stage. I should like one of the Labour Members to say whether my interpretation is correct, namely, that a man overcrowding his house can forbid a landlord on that account to raise the rent. It seems to me to be a premium on overcrowding.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 36; Noes, 192.1847
|Division No. 150.]||AYES.||[7.45 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hallas, Eldred||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hancock, John George||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hanna, George Boyle||Robertson, John|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Briant, Frank||Hogge, James Myles||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Briggs, Harold||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tootill, Robert|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lawson, John J.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Donald, Thompson||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Mr. Myers and Mr. Swan.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Fell, Sir Arthur||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Foreman, Henry||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Forestier-Walker, L.||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Forrest, Walter||Lorden, John William|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Freece, Sir Walter de||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lynn, R. J.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gardiner, James||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Glanville, Harold James||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Grant, James A.||Martin, Captain A. E.|
|Blane, T. A.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Greig, Colonel James William||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Morison, Thomas Brash|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Haslam, Lewis||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hills, Major John Waller||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Casey, T. W.||Hinds, John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hood, Joseph||Parker, James|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Jephcott, A. R.||Perring, William George|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Dawes, Commander||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
|Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Taylor, J.||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Seddon, J. A.||Tickler, Thomas George||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Townley, Maximilian G.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Simm, M. T.||Tryon, Major George Clement||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)||Turton, E. R.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Steel, Major S. Strang||Vickers, Douglas||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Stephenson, Colonel H. K.||Waddington, R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Stewart, Gershom||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Strauss, Edward Anthony||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Sugden, W. H.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sutherland, Sir William||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Morison)
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to insert the wordsProvided 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.This Amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend is more or less of a formal character, and is intended to carry out the promise he made in Committee. The effect of it is to allow the landlord to transfer the liability for rates to the tenant, so that after the transfer the tenant will pay the rates directly to the local authority; but it is provided that in that case the rent is reduced by the amount of the rates, so that the tenant is no worse off. The Amendment does not alter the liabilities or responsibilities which affect either landlord or tenant.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I beg to move, in Subsection (5), to leave out the words, "payable by" ["shall be deemed to be payable by him"] and to insert instead thereof the words, "repayable to."
I desired to move this in Committee, but I was not quite prepared with chapter or verse from the Salisbury Report. The Salisbury Report provides for one week's notice of increase of rates, after this Bill become law. The summary of principal recommendations says:18 (a). An authorised increase of rent to cover an increase of rates should be due and recoverable after one week's notice to the tenant.(b) The landlord shall have power to carry the increase of rent into the next ratal period until the new rate is made, or until the full amount of the increase has been recovered from the tenant, whichever is the earlier.1848 Sub-section (5) of Clause 2 of the Bill says: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.These words, "payable by" seem to necessitate some slight alteration. The point is that the rates should be repayable to the landlords. It may be the intention of the Bill, but the language is certainly very involved. I beg to move in order to make the matter clear.
§ Mr. PERRING
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so in order to give the Minister an opportunity to reply. I understand that rates are made and levied every half-year in the majority of cases, though in some cases for the year. If this Bill passes, say, by the 24th of June, it will be in the middle of a rate made from 1st April to 1st October. The effect would be that rates, if payable by the landlord, will not be recoverable from the tenant, and the landlord will be called upon to pay the increased rates of the current half-year's charges. In many parts of London and the provinces the rates have been increased in the current half-year by 25 per cent. The effect of that would be that in the last quarter of the current half-year, from 1st of July to 1st of October, the landlord will have to pay that 25 per cent. increase, and not be able to recover it from the tenant. If the Minister in charge of the Bill can assure me that that is not so, I have nothing more to say. In respect, however of property which is rated on £60, £70, or £100 a year, the difference, which may be a matter of £10 for the three months, would be charged on the landlord, and would not be recoverable from the tenant.
§ Mr. MORISON
I understand the point of the Mover of the Amendment is to make certain that the landlord shall not have to pay the increase in the rates for which he is not otherwise liable. I wish to assure my hon. Friend that the Bill as it stands is quite correct, and has been framed in order to give full effect to the recommendations of the Committee. If hon. Members will look at Sub-section (1, b), they will see that it is there expressly provided that any increase in the rates for the time being payable by the landlord may be passed on to the tenant. Therefore it seems quite clear that the Bill is correct.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I only wanted an expression of opinion on this point from the Minister, because it was far from clear. Under these circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.