HC Deb 23 November 1920 vol 135 cc277-9

Section four of the Act of 1908 (which relates to agreements as to compensation for improvements comprised in Part III of the First Schedule to that Act) shall be repealed:

Provided that this Section shall not affect the operation of any agreement entered into before the commencement of this Act.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

I beg to move to leave out the words Provided that this Section shall not affect the operation of any agreement entered into before the commencement of this Act. I desire to remove what would be an injustice in this Clause. Under Section 4 of the Act of 1908 it is provided that where any agreement in writing secures any improvement under the First Schedule for fair and reasonable compensation, having regard to the circumstances existing at the time of making the agreement that compensation shall be substituted for the compensation under this Act. What I suggest is that the circumstances at the time of making the agreement under the Act of 1908 cannot be compared with the circumstances of the present day. The cost of everything has gone up to such an extent that the schedules substituting compensation are grossly inadequate, and they should not be confined to agreements made after the passing of this Act. For these reasons I move this Amendment, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept it.

Major M. WOOD

I beg to second the Amendment. Not only have many of these valuable manures gone up in price, but a great number of them are practically unobtainable.


I do not think it is possible for the Government to accept the suggestion which is made in this Amendment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will observe that this Clause is founded upon a paragraph in the Selborne Report. I can understand an argument that you might leave out the Section altogether, but what the hon. and gallant Member is proposing to do is to make this repeal retrospective. Supposing landlords and tenants have made agreements with one another under which the landlord has consented to certain improvements being undertaken by the tenant and they are effected on certain terms. Under those circumstances could the hon. and gallant Member go so far as to say that such an agreement should be made inoperative in order that the tenant may get a great deal more than if he carried out his improvements on the certain basis, and that he should receive so much compensation and more. It seems hard that the landlord should have put upon him an increased burden of this kind. The hon. Member might say that if the Amendment had not been made there would be a possibility of getting a great deal more out of the landlord, but, on the other hand, the landlord might have said, "I would never have agreed unless I had some idea as to what my liability would be." There is a possibility of a very much larger claim being made, and I think we should keep in these words in order to safeguard the position of the landlord. It is quite impossible to leave out these words because they are necessary to maintain the status quo under the fresh system which is coming into force.

Amendment negatived.