§ (2) In addition to any questions that may be referred to a reference committee by the County Court under this Part of this Act, provision may be made by the Regulations for the reference to and determination by a reference committee of any questions in relation to the rent payable or to be paid by a sitting tenant which may be submitted to them by the tenant and landlord.
§ (3) Every Regulation so made shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either of those Houses within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Regulations is laid before it, praying that the Regulation may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Regulation, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the word "and" ["tenant and landlord"], and to insert instead thereof the word "or."
The Clause provides that the reference may be submitted to them by the tenant and landlord, which means that both of them must combine to submit their point to the reference committee. I suggest that the tenant or the landlord should be able to approach the reference committee; that this should not depend upon concurrence between the tenant and the landlord, but that either the landlord or the tenant should have power to say, "I will not submit my point to the reference committee." I want the reference committee to be moved to activity either by the tenant or the landlord, whereas the Bill as it stands provides that both the 1302 tenant and the landlord must agree. If the landlord likes to say that he prefers to go to the Court, he has a great advantage over the tenant, and therefore may make the influence of the reference committee nugatory.
This reference committee will be extremely valuable, economical, and efficient, but they must not be committees set up merely for the convenience of the Court. I want them available for the tenant or the landlord in the first instance, so that litigation may be avoided. I am under the impression that the committees may be conciliation committees, which will enable the tenants to get justice without the necessity of having to employ lawyers and go to the expense of going to Court. There are many of these poor tenants who would rather suffer injustice than go to Court or be taken to Court. If you have these reference committees, I should like them to be available to the tenant or the landlord, and to serve the purposes of conciliation committees. I imagine that perhaps nine out of 10 cases would be settled without the intervention of the Court. I had an Amendment down to Sub-section (4). This Amendment is not consequential on that Amendment to Sub-section (4) of Clause 10. If that Amendment had been accepted Sub-section (4) would have read:In order to assist in the determination of questions arising under this part of the Act in relation to the rent, character or condition of dwelling-houses,"—etc. Reference committees may be established to which certain questions may be referred by the Court or the tenant or the landlord. That widened the scope of operations of the reference committee, which instead of being moved to activity only by the Court, might be moved to activity by the Court or the landlord or the tenant. If this Amendment is carried, then all questions, in cases of rent only, can be sent to these reference committees by the Court or the landlord or the tenant. This is a very important matter, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment.
If this Amendment were accepted the effect would be to transform completely the nature of the reference committees and convert them into rent courts. The hon. Mem- 1303 ber by this alteration gives the power to a landlord or tenant to appeal to the reference committee to decide any question in relation to the rent payable. That would be totally inconsistent with Subsection (4) of Clause 10 which has been already passed, which says that questions as to the rent, character, or condition of dwelling-houses are to be referred to the reference committee by the Court. The result of this Amendment will be that instead of the Court referring the matter to the reference committee it would be referred on the single initiative of the landlord or tenant. Therefore it can be seen that the Amendment is inconsistent with the Sub-section which has been already accepted, and therefore, in addition to being unacceptable, it is also out of order.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that that is so. This Amendment would leave the Bill in an inconsistent, position, and is therefore out of order.
§ Mr. FAIRBAIRN
On a point of Order, I submit that the first line of Sub-section (2) clearly shows that the matter is in the discretion of the Court. It does not necessarily follow that it must be referred by the Court. My hon. Friend's Amendment means that the Court shall have liberty to send the matter to the reference committee if the landlord or tenant asks. It is only a question of putting the tenant in the same position as the landlord, subject to the direction of the Court.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FOOT
On a point of Order. It is suggested by the right hon Gentleman that Sub-section (4) of Clause 10 is inconsistent with the Amendment which is now proposed. May I submit that by Sub-section (2) of Clause 12 there is an additional power given so far as the reference committee is concerned. In addition to any question which may be referred to the reference committee by the County Court under this part of the Act, provision may be made for reference and determination by the reference committee of any question as to rent payable or to be paid by a sitting tenant, that may be submitted to them by the landlord or the tenant. I submit that what is done under this Clause is in addition to what has been done previously. It may be open, under Regulation, for the landlord 1304 and tenant without the intervention of the Court to call in the aid of the reference committee.
May I point out that Sub-section (2) of Clause 12 says that, in addition to certain questions which may be referred to the reference committee by the County Court under this part of the Act, the Court may also send to the reference committee as an arbitrating body, for decision, any questions submitted to it by both the landlord and the tenant. What the hon. Member's Amendment does is to transform the arbitrating functions provided in Sub-section (2) of Clause 12 into a determination of exactly the same questions as are under Sub-section (4) of Clause 10 reserved to the Court.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
As I understand Sub-section (2) of Clause 12, the reference committees may be moved to activity by the Court, or by the tenant and the landlord coming together. My Amendment putting in the word "or" would mean that the reference committees, on questions of rent, may be appealed to by the tenant direct or the landlord direct; that is, that the tenant may ask the reference committee to hear a dispute between him and the landlord with regard to rent, or the landlord may ask the reference committee to hear a dispute between him and the tenant, and the reference committee may call upon the tenant, if the landlord appeals to them, or may call upon the landlord if the tenant appeals to them. The difference is this: If the tenant and landlord must first of all agree, the landlord has an advantage over the tenant, because the tenant may say, "I do not want to go to Court with you, but let us go to the reference committee"; but the landlord says, "No, I prefer the Court," and he takes advantage of his position, forces the tenant to Court, and gets an advantage over him. If the word "or" is inserted, the tenant can go to a reference committee. I submit that it is not the least inconsistent with Sub-section (4) of Clause 10, and has nothing to do with it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I was not quite clear until now, but the hon. Member's argument makes it quite clear to my mind that the Amendment is inconsistent with Sub-section (4)
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
On another point of Order. When Sub-section (4) was under discussion, and your Deputy was in the Chair, I rose to move an Amendment to leave out the words "the Court." The Deputy-Chairman said that you did not select that Amendment of mine, and, therefore, I could not move it.
Sir W. LANE MITCHELL
Is it in order for an hon. Member to begin to argue all over again a point which has been decided?
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
If it is now plain that my Amendment on Clause 12 is inconsistent with Sub-section (4) of Clause 10, but I had an Amendment on that Subsection which was not called, and that deprived me of the advantage of moving an Amendment to Clause 12, I want to know how I can get redress. Your Deputy in the Chair would not call me, although I rose to a point of Order, but if the words "in court" had been left out, would this Amendment then have been in order?
Major-General Sir R. HUTCHINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the word "either" ["either of those Houses"], and to insert instead thereof the word "each."
I understand this is the first of two Amendments, which together will carry out the intention of the original Amendments on the Paper, which, I have privately taken the opportunity of pointing out to the hon. Member, would, if moved exactly as they stand on the Paper, make nonsense of the Clause. I think he has now amended the Amendment in such a way as to make sense of the Clause: as amended.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the wordsannulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Regulation, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder,1306 and to insert instead thereof the wordsconfirmed, His Majesty in Council may confirm the Regulation, and the Regulation shall have the force of law.Without agreeing with my right hon. Friend that the Amendment as originally drafted made nonsense of the Clause, I willingly insert the words in the form in which they are desired by his technical advisers. The Sub-section then will read as follows:Every Regulation so made shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by each of those Houses within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Regulation is laid before it, praying that the Regulation may be confirmed, His Majesty in Council may confirm the Regulation, and the Regulation shall have the force of law.In this form the words carry out our intention, are acceptable to my right hon Friend, and are in accordance with similar words in the Act.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
On a point of Order. I have an Amendment down to reinsert in this Sub-section words which the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill took out in Committee. If he is now going to accept this Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, can I still go on with my Amendment? As the matter now stands, under the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend the House may either annul or confirm the Resolution. If the words "or modify" are put in they will give a third alternative. The right hon. Gentleman is taking away from the House the power to modify. The Minister, in Committee upstairs, said he had learnt a lesson from the Nurses Registration Bill and therefore he is going to deprive the House of its right to modify any Rule or Regulation laid on the Table of the House. That, I submit, is an encroachment on our rights and privileges.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I was not in the House, and I was not a party to the arrangement. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman now whether he is prepared to accept the words "or modify," so as to give the third alternative. These words constitute a real privilege of this House. It is a privilege which has been enjoyed by the House ever since we started legislation by reference. When 1307 this Bill passed its Second Reading, the Sub-section provided that the Regulation should be laid on the Table of both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it had met, and if an Address were presented by the Houses or either of them within 21 days, the Regulation might be annulled or modified. Thus it gave the House the right to modify the Regulation, but upstairs the right hon. Gentleman declared that he proposed to deprive the House of that right. I want to suggest to him that the words should be reinserted in, my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment, so as to retain the rights and privileges of this House.
The hon. Member has confused the whole issue in this case. The original proposition which we discussed in Committee was quite a different one from that which we are now considering. Under that proposition, the Regulations might be modified or annulled by a Resolution of either House. The hon. Member is quite unfair in his account of what I said upstairs, a correct account of which I will now give to the House. What I pointed out to the Committee was that experience under the Nurses Registration Act showed that a provision which gave to either House a power of modification by Resolution might reduce matters to this absurd deadlock, that one House might pass a modification in one sense, and the other House might pass a modification in exactly the opposite sense, so that there would be a deadlock from which there would be no way out. It was in order to remove that absurdity that in Committee I moved to omit the provision about modification. Now we have a different state of affairs. The Regulations can only become operative if an Address is presented to His Majesty by each House praying that the Regulations may be confirmed, and, therefore, if either House objects to any particular Regulation, all it has to do is to omit to pass an Address praying that that particular Regulation may be confirmed. In that case the Regulation in question will not, of course become operative, and it would then be for the Minister, having ascertained what the view of the House was, to consider what the proper procedure should be and to produce another Regulation.
§ Captain W. BENN
I think the boon given to the right hon. Baronet is smaller and more meagre than I supposed at the time. In the case of these Regulations, an Address is to be presented to His Majesty praying that the Regulations be confirmed, but does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that for each Regulation a separate Address shall be presented? Of course that could not possibly be done. There will be one Address relating to all the Regulations, and the right hon. Baronet, if he is still here, in return for the revolt which he has led, will have got for us the privilege of saying that we will reject the whole, or we will take what the Government cares to give us. The hon. Member for Dumfriesshire (Dr. Chapple) seems to me to have made a point of substance in saying that we are losing power. What we have really got to now is that the Government will be in the position of presenting a set of Regulations, and we shall have no power except to say that we will take them exactly as they are presented, or, otherwise, to lose our opportunity.
§ Amendment agreed to.