HC Deb 10 July 1923 vol 166 cc1237-68

  1. (1) Where part of a dwelling-house to which the principal Act applies is lawfully sub-let, and the part so sub-let is also a dwelling-house to which the principal Act applies then in addition to any increases permitted by paragraphs (a) to (e) of Subsection (1) of Section two of the principal Act, an amount not exceeding ten per cent. of the net rent of the dwelling-house comprised in the sub-tenancy shall be deemed to be a permitted increase in the case of that dwelling-house, and an amount equivalent to five per cent. of the net rent of the dwelling-house comprised in the sub-tenancy shall be deemed to be a permitted increase in the case of the dwelling-house comprised in the tenancy.
  2. (2) In Sub-section (6) of Section two of the principal Act the expression "landlord" shall, in relation to a sub-tenancy, be taken to include not only the person who is immediate landlord of the sub-tenant, but also the landlord of that person.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (1).

The intention of this Sub-section is to permit a further increase of rent over and above the 40 per cent. of permitted increase in the Act of 1920. The Minister may tell me, as he told me upstairs in Committee, that this Sub-section is based upon the Report of the Onslow Committee, but I would point out that the majority were not agreed. There was a good deal of difference exhibited in the Committee with regard to the question of permitting any further increase by the chief tenant or superior tenant for sub-letting. The ground that was put forward by some witnesses was that the house-owner and the chief tenant or superior tenant were entitled to get some extra rent to be divided between them for the inconvenience and the extra wear and tear entailed by more than one family living in the premises.

I wish to draw attention to the very dangerous and disastrous consequences that may follow by making it possible for families to be congregated in houses of this kind, thereby leading to overcrowding. It was on that ground that the minority members of the Committee resisted very strongly the proposal with regard to sub-tenancies. It was admitted even by the majority that the already permitted increase of 40 per cent. was more than the extra cost of materials and wages, which were very high. They have been very materially reduced. Some of the witnesses said that both wages and materials were down more than 50 per cent. Those who signed the Majority Report, and those who refused to sign, made it abundantly clear that they were satisfied that the 40 per cent. already granted, and which is continued in this Bill, was more than sufficient tee cover the extra wear and tear upon the premises where the families were two or three in number.

The householders or the houseowners are exceedingly well met when they continue to receive their 40 per cent. increase, and if they are allowed to put on another 10 per cent. in respect of houses that are occupied by two or more families, it will be very unreasonable and unfair. It is admitted that houses which were costing at the time the Committee sat £800 to £900 are now being built for £420, and houses that were costing between £600 and £700 are being built for £300. The hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) shakes his head, but I have seen the contracts being placed and the houses being built. I was a member of the Committee, and I know what the evidence was. I knew where the houses were that were being built, and the other houses are being built on the sites to-day at a much cheaper price. I hope the Minister will see his way to leave out this Subsection.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I do not think the full effect of the Subsection can be appreciated. Within a few weeks the sub-tenant will find an increase of another 10 per cent. put upon him, in addition to the 40 per cent., making 50 per cent. altogether. These buildings that are let in sub-tenancies are in a wholly different position from other houses. There are whole districts in Kentish Town, Lambeth, Islington, Hackney, Shoreditch, and the poorer districts, where these houses are let in sub-tenancies, and the rent has always been calculated on a higher level, having regard to the additional wear and tear and the additional inconvenience of having more than one family in the houses. These high rents have already had the increase of 40 per cent. put upon them, and there is no case for a further increase under conditions such as these. There is a great deal of difference in houses that were let prior to the War in sub-tenancies, and those which are being sub-let now, but which were not originally built for being so inhabited.

On the ground that the landlords have had more than their share, I ask that this additional increase be not permitted. The 40 per cent. increase was largely given on the understanding that there should be 15 per cent. increase on the net rent, and 25 per cent. increase in respect of repairs, taking into consideration that the cost of repairs amounted to 150 per cent. over and above 1914 prices. The position now is that the cost of repairs has fallen to 80 per cent. That being so, the increase of 26 per cent. of the gross rent should more than meet every claim that the landlord may have in this particular respect. I hope that the Minister will try to see the matter from that point of view. If we take the rent in 1914 as £120, the net rent being £100, and £20 being calculated for repairs, that house receives another 15 per cent. in 1920 as the increase on the net rent and an addition allowed for the repairs. The position now is that these people, as the cost of repairs has fallen to 80 per cent., have still the 15 per cent. on the net rent, and an additional amount allowed to meet the increased cost of repairs, bringing the total up to £151, compared with £120 in 1914.

Clause 6 assumes that a sub-let house would cost more for repairs than a house let as a whole. If it costs, say, 25 per cent. more, I suggest that the landlord's 40 per cent. is more than met by the provision already made. Still taking the gross rent in 1914 as £120, and allowing £20 for repairs in 1914, if sub-let £100 and £25 for repairs, or a total of £125; in 1923 the position is that there has been added 15 per cent. on the net rents, 80 per cent. being allowed for repairs, giving an additional £45, which gives £160 as the rent, as against £120 in 1914. The increase of 33⅓ per cent. would more than meet the cost of repairs. I suggest that there is no case made out on the figures for the increase of 50 per cent. for houses sub-let since 1914, and there is certainly no case in principle for it. Houses sub-let were always let at a higher rent because of the additional wear and tear and the additional inconvenience that arises. To put on this additional 10 per cent., over and above the 40 per cent., is to impose another 10 per cent. on tenants who, in the main, are the poorest type of tenants. On the other hand, the landlord has his 15 per cent., and, having regard to the very considerable fall in the cost of repairs—150 per cent. in 1920 over 1914, as against 80 per cent. now—it is making a present that is far too generous.


Many of the observations of the last speaker have been directed, not to the Amendment under discussion, but to an Amendment in his own name which is not now before the House. The Mover of the Amendment had two arguments. The first was that the landlord was already getting so large an increase of rent that it was not fair to give him anything more. I submit that that is an entirely irrelevant argument. We have already had a long discussion on the general question whether the permitted increase of rent should be allowed to remain or should be reduced. All the arguments that have been used on this Amendment are really directed to that general question. What we have to consider now is the question whether, where premises are sublet, it is fair that some extra rent should be demanded from the sub-tenant and divided between the tenant and the landlord. It is quite true that the Clause here is based on the recommendations of the majority of the Onslow Committee. They pointed out that there is a special wear and tear of buildings when they are sublet, and that the cost to the landlord is thereby increased. That is the foundation of the claim on behalf of the landlord that he should share in the increase of rent which will be permitted under this Clause. What is the tenant's claim? It is of a slightly different kind, but it was admitted by the last speaker that the tenant is put to special inconvenience by the fact that part of his premises is sublet and that people live in such close proximity to him. That was the whole case put by the Onslow Committee, and in respect of which they recommended a provision similar to that in the Bill. I come now to the second argument of the Mover of the Amendment. He says he is against this provision, because it will lead to overcrowding. His argument was that the more you charge for premises the more people are likely to crowd into them. I should have thought that the reverse was the case.

Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

When wages are low it will not permit people to pay a high rent for a house, and they sub-let.


An increase of rent does not cause people to flock into houses. An increase of rent cannot lead to overcrowding. The hon. and gallant Member must have some confusion in his mind on the matter.

Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

I did not develop that argument because I thought that it was apparent to everyone. If the rent of a house is increased there is an inducement for the tenant to get two or three families into the house in order to share the rent.


I am afraid that the explanation will not make the matter any clearer to the House. What is the hon. and gallant Member's position? If these premises are sub-let a higher rent will be charged. Surely that is a hindrance to a sub-tenant taking the premises. I do not think there is much in this matter of overcrowding, which is not due to the rent being a little more or a little less but primarily due to the fact that there is a shortage of houses. When we have the shortage made up the overcrowding will no longer take place. It is true that if there was a sufficiency of houses the question of wages or the amount that a tenant can afford to spend upon rent may have something to do with his decision whether he shall go into sublet premises or take a house for himself. This matter was considered in Committee at some length. The Committee came to the conclusion that the Clause should be retained, and I hope that the House will support them in that view.

Captain W. BENN

First of all we should remember in dealing with this Amendment, that we are dealing with the poorest class of tenants, people who have to occupy, to the extent of two or three families, one house and a small house at that—a condition of affairs which no Minister of Health can contemplate with satisfaction. The Minister has not used one argument which was used by the Onslow Committee and quoted upstairs, namely, that structural alterations have to be made which would justify an increase of rent. It seems to me that the Onslow Committee went wrong at that point, inasmuch as there is already, under the principal Act, a permission to increase the rent up to a certain percentage of the cost of structural alterations. On that point they seem to have overlooked the provisions of the principal Act. The Minister of Health today has used two arguments. The first is that we have already decided that 40 per cent. is a reasonable increase in the ordinary rent, and therefore that it is logical in these particular and special cases to permit a further increase. But on this side of the House many of us deny that in all cases 40 per cent. is a reasonable increase. We hold that it is an unreasonable increase in some cases, and that it is no argument for permitting a further unreasonable increase now. If the 40 per cent. makes a sufficient allowance for the additional cost which is involved in these sub-tenancies, surely that is an argument for not making any further addition to the 40 per cent. The second point of the Minister of Health I was totally at a loss to understand. Surely if rents are increased that promotes overcrowding. People with a limited income have to pay what rent they can afford to pay. If you raise the rent of a house by one-third it might be necessary to put three families into that house instead of two, because the income of the three families would be required to pay the landlord's rent. The argument of the Minister on this point struck me with amazement. The Amendment deserves the support of the House.


The question is sufficiently serious to deserve some further attention. The right hon. Gentleman has not dealt at all adequately with the points put before him. In the first place, he believes that the Majority Report of the Onslow Committee must be taken as conclusive on this matter. In that relation it is only fair to observe that in many other important matters with which this Bill deals the Onslow Committee's Report has been been turned down. The Onslow Report made very different recommendations in regard to decontrol from those which the Government have been forced to adopt. The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled simply to say that the matter is concluded because the Onslow Committee have so reported. The question really is whether the basis upon which the Onslow Committee came to this decision is a sound basis or not. Is there any justification in the fact that a house is sub-let in enabling, first of all, the main landlord to obtain a higher increase of rent than he otherwise would have, and in allowing the tenant himself, in the position of a landlord, to exact more from the sub-tenant?

There are many cases in which you have sub-tenancies, where there would be less wear and tear than if you had one family occupying the house. You may suppose a case where a tenant has accepted as his sub-tenants a newly married couple and, in that case, there is likely to be less wear and tear than in a case where the house is occupied by a tenant with a very large family. Consequently, the basis of this differentiation is altogether unsound, and we should look at the matter from the wider point of view and ask whether, under existing conditions, there is any case at all for allowing a further increase of rent. It is admitted on the Ministerial side that the increases permitted under the principal Act were intended to be adequate to cover the various charges which then fell upon the owner in respect of repairs and so forth. It is now admitted that those increases are maintained in spite of a fall in costs and there can be no ground for a further increase such as is now suggested in this Clause. I know the hon. Baronet the Member for Dumbartonshire (Sir W. Raeburn) has a different idea with regard to this matter of sub-letting and he says there has been a great deal of profiteering.


I will express my views upon that subject, if I get an opportunity.


I refer to what the hon. Baronet has already said in connection with the new Clause, which he moved as an Amendment to this Bill. The justification which he put forward was, that there had been an enormous amount of profiteering in regard to sub-tenancies, and that, as a matter of fact, the tenant had been able to charge increases of rent far beyond anything contemplated or permitted by the principal Act. The hon. Baronet's idea was, that the main landlord should be entitled to recoup himself to some extent for that profiteering. The Clause as it stands now does not deal with that situation at all. It means you are going to encourage the profiteers to charge more. If there has been profiteering as is alleged, you are going to allow the profiteer to charge 10 per cent. more and encourage the principal landlord to connive at that profiteering by allowing him to have a share of the loot. The Clause, as it stands, says not only is the tenant entitled to charge his sub-tenant on the increases permitted in paragraphs (a) to (e) of Sub-section (1), Section 2 of the principal Act, but he is to be entitled to charge 10 per cent. more of the net rent of the dwelling-house. Net rent is defined in the principal Act, and it is very important we should bear in mind exactly what that definition is. Paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 12 of the principal Act states: The expression 'net rent' means where the landlord at the time by reference to which the standard rent is calculated, paid the rates chargeable on, or which but for the provisions of any Act would be chargeable on the occupier, the standard rent less the amount of such rates, and in any other case the standard rent. To disengage that paragraph from the verbiage with which it is overloaded the expression "net rent" is meant to imply the standard rent less the amount of such rates as would be paid in respect of the house. Then we come to the expression "standard rent" which means the rent at which the house was let on the 3rd of August, 1914, or if it was not then let the rent at which it was last let before that date, or in the case of a dwelling-house first let after the 3rd of August, 1914, the rent at which it was first let. The great majority of the cases of these sub-tenancies have arisen since 3rd August, 1914. It is precisely because there was no standard rent in relation to these sub-tenancies as there was in regard to other tenancies, that there has been the profiteering to which the hon. Baronet objects. Consequently, the net rent which we have for the purposes of this Clause is really a profiteering rent. It is undoubtedly true that from 1915 onwards, in all these cases where sub-tenancies had become rife, you had profiteering going on in an increasing degree. What the Government is asking the House to do under this Clause is to sanction all the profiteering since 1915 and to say to the profiteer, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; take another 10 per cent." I do not think that is a proposition to which the House ought to assent, and I do not think that is what the hon. Baronet would consider right.

I could understand having recourse to the reference committees provided under Part II because you have here no standard rent which is of any assistance in determining the just value of the sub-tenancy. You are on a profiteering basis in relation to the net rent here. You say: "As there has been profiteering in the past, let us put on another 10 per cent., and, in order to reconcile the principal landlord to the idea of his tenants making money, let him have 5 per cent. extra." Not only is this Clause not going to discourage profiteering, but it is going to continue and encourage and increase profiteering, and, therefore, it is contrary to the whole spirit and intention of the Rent Restrictions Acts. The Minister said overcrowding has no relevancy to this question, and that the fact that there were larger numbers of sub-tenancies now was not a matter that the House should have in mind when deciding the merits of this particular Clause. I submit that is a very important matter. Everybody agrees that these sub-tenancies are enormously increasing, firstly, because of the failure of two Governments to supply houses, and, secondly, because of the great fall in wages during the last two years. Had more houses been built at a reasonable rent, there would not have been so many sub-tenancies, and, owing to the fall in wages, large numbers who otherwise would have separate houses are compelled by their means to go into sub-let houses. In relation to these poor people, compelled by privation to live under overcrowded conditions, you further penalise them by increasing their rents under this Bill. On both these grounds it is unfair to allow this additional charge.

I put forward a further objection to the Clause. We have the benefit of the assistance this afternoon of the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir Leslie Scott), and I suggest to him that some clearer way might have been found of stating the Government's intentions than this Subsection. It is almost impossible to conceive the selection of any words less appropriate to the matter. I read this Sub-section at least four times before I could clearly understand what the Government intended to do, and certain legal friends of mine have found themselves equally embarrassed in dealing with it. If you are enacting a Clause which creates such difficulty to people who have had some legal training, you are going to create considerable embarrassment among those people who are affected and who have not any legal trading. That is an important matter from the point of view of landlords, tenants and sub-tenants. We heard a great deal on an earlier Amendment about poor people who did not know how to fill up notices. How will the people affected know their rights under this Clause? How will they know what is to be "deemed to be the permitted increase"? Why "deemed"? Why introduce these strange words at all? Then there is the expression "the permitted increase in the case of a dwelling house comprised in the sub-tenancy." From the point of view of the layman, what is the dwelling house comprised in the sub-tenancy?

I have already read to the House the provision relating to net rent, and I ask how many people can clearly understand net rent as defined in the principal Act? The people immediately affected will have the greatest difficulty in knowing what they are entitled to under this Clause, and there are bound to be mistakes and if there are mistakes there will inevitably be litigation. Then you will have the Courts of Law interpreting a Clause which is admittedly as obscure as a Clause could be drawn. Nobody knows what the interpretation will be. You have here a Clause which combines in itself nearly every defect which a Clause can have. It is bad on the merits because there is no case for it arising out of the special conditions of sub-letting at the present time, and there is no excuse for giving permission further to increase rents. It is bad on the merits because it will encourage and increase overcrowding, and it is bad in point of form, because it is so obscure that those affected will not understand it, and it gives rise to the greatest risks as to the final interpretation which the Courts will place upon it.


Knowing as I do the amount of work which is still before the House I have no intention of taking up too much time in replying to hon. Members opposite, but I am bound to make some reply to some of the statements which have been made. We have only had one hon. Member from Scotland taking part in the Debate, but he does not seem to know much about our Scottish practice in these matters when he talks about a 40 per cent. increase having been allowed. May I say, for the information of the House, that the 47½ per cent. increase has been whittled down to 13½ per cent. in Scotland? The landlord pays his tenant's flat rates and then is supposed to recover them. The corporation and the authorities look to the landlord for the rates, and he gets 2½ per cent. for the agreeable job of recovering them from the tenants. Then the landlord has to pay rates on his ownership, which is not the case in England. Look at the advances that have taken place. Look at the rate at which these rates have gone up—and we are faced now in Glasgow with another 6d. in the £, I understand, for education—so that that has brought the total increase that the Scottish landlord can get down from 47½ per cent. to 13½ per cent., out of which he has to pay his repairs, and other things. My hon. Friend says that the repairs are now down to a cost of 80 per cent. above pre-War. I have had a good deal to do with repairs lately, and I know that when I have asked my contractors, both in Surrey here and in Dumbartonshire, I can get no quotations less than 110 per cent. above pre-War. I do not know whether or not some fortunate people may have got it down to 80 per cent., but I have not been able to do so.

To return to the hon. Member who used to represent a constituency in Glasgow, but who now speaks for an English constituency, I knew very well that he would trot out this argument. He says that I have been up against profiteering, but that I am now supporting the Government in encouraging profiteering, in licensing profiteering. He says I have said, "It is such a good thing that now we will legalise it and give the landlord his share of it." That is not the basis upon which this Clause is here at all. Any of us, especially those who have had their houses sublet by their tenants, know the extra wear and tear to which those houses are subjected when sublet, and I do not think the extra 5 per cent. allowed the landlord is more than trifling. It is nonsense to talk about this as an encouragement to overcrowding. Anyone who has been watching this subletting operation knows what exorbitant rents those tenants have charged their tenants. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) last night said that the worst tyrants were the tenants rather than the landlords, and he is right. I quoted formerly the great case of Kerr v. Bryde, in which Bryde had two rooms, and sublet one at more rent than he was paying, or, rather, that he did not pay, but at more rent than he was due his landlord for the whole house.


Under this Clause he could charge 10 per cent. more.


It was not there a case of overcrowding. This man and his wife who took the sublet needed a house, and they had to take what Bryde was pleased to charge, and he charged them what I have said. What I regret is that it has not been possible for the Government to bring in some restrictions on subletting. No landlord, or any friend of mine, at least, wants to see a house sublet by his tenant to a family of six, seven or eight people. He wants it put a stop to, and in a great many cases we put in our leases or lets that there is to be no subletting, but where there is no such stipulation we have no control whatever over what the tenant gets in that way. I know the difficulty of preventing it by legislation, because there is a very large business done in letting houses for the summer months, and in subletting, and I can quite understand that there was an insuperable difficulty in the way of the Government, in a temporary Measure like this, dealing with that question.

It is not on account of the greed of the landlords that the Government are doing this. They are giving a very inadequate provision in many cases, and saying that when a tenant does sublet and is getting a benefit thereby, the landlord should have something for the extra work entailed of putting the house in repair, and so on. Therefore, I have satisfaction in supporting this Clause. Let us disabuse our minds entirely of the belief that the landlords of Scotland, at any rate, are asking for an increase of rent. As I have said, the figures I have got show that this whole increase is 13½ per cent.


The hon. Baronet the Member for Dumbartonshire (Sir W. Raeburn) has been at great pains to prove to the House that the landlords in Scotland in particular have has the 40 per cent. increase of rent whittled down to 13½ per cent., but I am bound to say that he has submitted no evidence to justify that statement. With regard to the question of rating in Scotland, he forgot to tell the House that the rating system is precisely similar to that which was in operation before these Acts were passed, and, therefore, the landlord is in no worse position now, in that regard, than he was then. It is true that the landlords in Scotland pay a portion of the rates, but they have done so prior to the passing of these Acts, and I cannot see at all how they suffer because of any provisions of the Acts which we are now discussing.


May I point out the tremendous rise in the rates?


The illustration which the hon. Baronet gave of Glasgow was the worst possible illustration he could have given, because there has been no rise at all in the rates in Glasgow, although there has undoubtedly been a very serious increase in the valuation, which may have meant a rise of some kind. As a matter of fact, Glasgow is not so heavily rated as are a very large number of other industrial centres throughout the country. The question of rating in Scotland and the differential treatment as between landlord and tenant in this connection appear to be somewhat irrelevant to the matter under review, however, and I want to approach it from the point of view upon which I thought the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) was about to embark, but which he stopped short of doing. I do so with great diffidence, because it seems to me to involve a clear understanding of the Clause we are now discussing. I join at once with the hon. Member for Penistone in appealing for clarity in provisions which affect so very large a number of people. What is a sub-tenancy? Presumably it is the occupation of a portion of a house which in full is occupied by a tenant.

7.0 P.M.

Let us assume a case of a dwelling-house with 12 or 15 rooms, occupied by a tenant-in-chief, but sub-let, not to one sub-tenant with, say, a large family, because I observe that the hon. Baronet the Member for Dumbartonshire does not care at all for any encumbrances of that kind. They were all very well in the days before the War, but to have children nowadays seems to be a serious disadvantage. You have your dwelling-house, and you sub-let, not to one tenant, but to three or four young married couples, and they live, we will say, one couple in two rooms, another in three rooms, and another couple in four rooms, and so on. What is the position of those sub-tenants under this particular Clause? Does it mean that a 10 per cent. increase is placed on the complete tenancy, which is apportioned between the various sub-tenants, 5 per cent. of which goes to the landlord, or does it mean that each particular subtenant pays a 10 per cent. increase over the increases already provided for, 5 per cent. of which goes in each case to the landlord? I am justified in assuming that the latter is the correct view, because the Clause says: Where part of a dwelling-house to which the principal Act applies is lawfully sub-let, and the part so sub-let is also a dwelling-house to which the principal Act applies.… an amount not exceeding 10 per cent. of the net rent of the dwelling-house comprised in the sub-tenancy. and so on. What is a "dwelling-house comprised in the sub-tenancy"? Surely a dwelling-house comprised in the sub-tenancy is each part of the dwelling-house occupied by a sub-tenant. And so, as I say, you may have four, or five, or a whole series of sub-tenants, all living in separate rooms in a dwelling-house of 12, 15, or 20 rooms. To digress for a moment, let me say that you are going to perpetuate a system with which I am sure the hon. Baronet the Member for Dumbartonshire is perfectly familiar, since he knows so much about Glasgow, which obtains in the Cowcaddens district of Glasgow, where the poor people all pay very high rents under what is known as a sub-letting system, which is a disgrace to civilisation. That is, however, a social question. I am concerned with explaining to the tenant, and to the sub-tenant, and, for that matter, to the landlord, what is their precise position in this matter. My submission is, with very great respect to the draftsman of this Clause and the right hon. Gentleman himself, that the Clause is far from clear, and that, as at present drafted, it would appear to be that there is to be, not merely a 10 per cent. increase—which may or may not be legitimate or judicious under the circumstances—5 per cent. of which goes to the landlord and 5 per cent. to the tenant-in-chief, but a whole series of 10 per cents. and 5 per cents. spread over a whole series of subtenants. That is my submission, and I ask that the right hon. Gentleman should face that issue as squarely as he possibly can. May I deal with a question which has given rise to some controversy, namely, whether the increase in rent, whether it be 10 per cent. as such, or a series of 10 per cents., which will lead to overcrowding or not? My view is that it is a very great inducement indeed to a landlord and to a tenant-in-chief to sub-let a dwelling-house if, by that means, there are to be derived greater emoluments from the possession of the house. They would much rather let the house to a series of tenants if greater profits are to be derived from that process than retain the house for one tenant or, say, a tenant and a subtenant, if there is no advantage to be derived by doing so. I submit that you are going to perpetuate a bad system, and to intensify overcrowding, and that you are not explaining to those chiefly concerned what is their precise legal position in the matter.


I, in common with a great number of others, start with the main difficulty of really understanding what the Clause means. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell the House if this is right. I understand that if there is a tenant and he has sub-tenants, just because he has sub-tenants he can start straight away and add 10 per cent. to the rent of each of those sub-tenants. Also, I understand that just because there are sub-tenants, and the tenant is therefore entitled to increase their rent by this 10 per cent., the landlord is also, by that fact, entitled to increase the rent he receives, not by half of what the tenant receives from one sub-tenant, but by the accumulated halves of what the tenant receives from all his sub-tenants. That seems to me to be the literal construction of the Clause.

The first question I ask is this: What is the object in view? Is the reason, as was put by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Sir W. Raeburn), because the landlord is subjected to great expense because of repairs, etc., and because he is subjected to great risks by reason of the fact that the tenant may put in an unruly sub-tenant? If that were the object I should have expected to see the compensation in the way of increased rent given to the landlord. I certainly am surprised to see the landlord being compensated for this extra cost and extra risk by the person who let him in for it, namely, the tenant, who is receiving 10 per cent., while the landlord is only receiving 5 per Cent. It certainly is an enigma. I think the only other answer is that it is desirable to encourage tenants further to sub-let. Upon what material has that desire arisen? Has it been found that the tenants at the present moment, without getting this increase at all, have been letting and sub-letting? I understood that one of the complaints against the Act, as it at present works, is that, there is too much sub-letting and too much profiteering. We are now told, however, "because sub-letting is contrary to the policy of the Act, and because profiteering is to be condemned, therefore we will pass this Clause, which encourages a bad thing—sub-letting—and gives 10 per cent. more to the profiteer." That is how it stands.

There is a third matter to which I would direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The 10 per cent. increase is to the net rent. I can see a great deal of work for lawyers as to what is meant by the "net rent." As the law at present stands, where there was a dwelling-house cut up into apartments after the passing of the original Act, then the net rent would be the standard rent of the dwelling house, and the County Court Judge would apportionate it to the various apartments. Where, however, a house does not answer to that description, as a great number of houses now do not, I should take the net rent to be—there is no other way of getting at it—the actual rent that the tenant receives from the sub-tenant. If that rent is 20 per cent., or 30 or 40 per cent. higher than it should be, the only effect of the Clause is to add the 10 per cent. to that amount. There is one other point. I understand that if a tenant has cut up his dwelling-house into three floors—floors A, B, and C—and sub-lets floor A, he is regarded by 10 per cent. If he sub-lets floor B, he is regarded by another 10 per cent.; but if he sublets floors A, B, and C, so far from being rewarded, he is turned out. That is an anomaly which is rather difficult to answer. The only conceivable answer to it is this—and here comes in the question of overcrowding—"We desire to discourage tenants from subletting the whole house, because that is proof that they really do not want the house, and they are merely speculating; but we wish to encourage tenants to sub-let as much as they possibly can, screwing themselves into one room, and by that means affording accommodation by multiplying overcrowding." There can be no other way out of it. If the desire be not to multiply overcrowding, why do you place a premium on a tenant occupying one room himself, and letting out as many of the other rooms as he can? The more he lets out, and the more people he crowds into that house, the bigger is to be his reward. For all those reasons, I think the Clause is, to begin with, very meaningless. When, by an operation of the brain, you do discover some real substance in the Clause, it drives us to credit the Government with objects in justification of which they have given no reasons whatever.


Perhaps I ought to make some reply to the speeches of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) and the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell), who raised a very specific, and, I quite admit, a very important point. The point that was raised, and which was, I think, particularly developed by the hon. Member for Linlithgow, was, how will the standard rent, or the net rent, of a sub-tenancy be determined? The hon. Member for Linlithgow suggested that there were two ways in which it might be determined. One way would be an apportionment of the rent of the whole dwelling-house, that part of the rent being appropriated to the sub-tenancy which was appropriate to the size or proportion which that sub-tenancy bore to the whole tenancy; and another way would be to treat the sub-tenancy as a separate dwelling-house, with a standard, or net rent, of its own. He read the Rent Clause to mean the latter way, but if he will refer to the Report of the Onslow Committee, from which I will quote, on page 18, he will see that the passage, which deals with this particular subject and upon which this Clause was based, begins as follows: It is also an undoubted fact that tenants who sub-let part of their house do so to get more than the apportioned value of the part sub-let in order to compensate themselves for the inconvenience which cannot be separated from sub-letting. That clearly shows that in the minds of the Onslow Committee—who, of course, were giving a great deal of attention to this matter, and were having much evidence before them, and who, I think we may suppose, were well acquainted with the details of it—the net rent of the sub-tenancy was the apportioned amount of the total rent of the whole dwelling-house.


If the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting, I should like to point out that I had that quotation to which he referred before me. May I point out to him that it only makes reference to a tenant, and to one sub-tenant. It does not refer to sub-tenants, but only to a sub-tenant, and it obviously implies the sub-letting of a part of a house to one sub-tenant, and not to a number.


I do not quite follow why that should make any difference. If there were more than one sub-tenancy there would be an apportioned value to each sub-tenancy, and the total rent of the whole dwelling-house would be sub-divided among the different sub-tenancies, giving the proper proportion to each, according to the amount of space taken up. I do not see that that makes any difference. It might very well be said that those words which I have quoted, although they show what was in the minds of the Onslow Committee, need not necessarily be taken as the last word on the subject, since they are not a judicial pronouncement, and, of course, that is so. I have an idea that there is a case recorded, on appeal, which finally decided this matter, and in the same sense as the Onslow Committee had in their minds. I tried to get the case before the House, but unfortunately I have not been able to get it here. I have it in my mind, however, that that would be the way in which the net rent of the sub-tenancies would be determined. If that be so, then the particular objection—which I can quite recognise to be a serious objection—to the Clause, namely, that it gives 10 per cent. to a rent that has already been considerably increased, falls to the ground.


I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Sir W. Raeburn) is not in the House, because I wanted to protest against the statements he made with regard to the reduction of from 40 per cent. to 13½ per cent. Although the statement was challenged four times, he refused to hive any explanation of it. I do not know whether it is in Order, but I want to say that the statement is absolutely untrue.


The hon. Member is not entitled to say that, but he can say that the statement was absolutely incorrect.


It is the same thing. Not only has he failed in the House when challenged to bring forward arguments to prove his statement, but in the Committee a similar charge also failed. I have amongst my friends the owners of property and factors of houses in Scotland, and I have taken the trouble since the hon. Member for Dumbarton was challenged to write to Glasgow and other districts and have discovered again that his statement is incorrect. The statement he made in regard to the sub-tenants and their children I found to be true, and I want this information to be given to hon. Members here, just as he was trying to bring his incorrect statement to the notice of English Members. I have made efforts to get a place to live in London to be near the House of Commons, and I have found when wandering round the likeliest places that as soon as I got a response to my ring at the door the question that was put to me first was: "Have you any family?" Getting tired of that at one door I replied to the question that I had some fine dogs, and the lady went into ecstasies, and asked me if I was in favour of the Bill now being brought forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London for the protection of animals. I made it quite plain that the first thing in life is to look after the children. The whole of the arguments used by the hon. Member for Dumbarton to-day is based on incorrect information, and his statements in regard to property in Scotland are also incorrect.

I want to make an appeal to the Minister in charge of this Bill that he should withdraw this Clause. If a Clause such as this is allowed to go forward I know what is going to happen in cities like Glasgow. The present system in Glasgow lends itself to cases of which we have just had a report, of 12 persons living in a room 12 feet square. What is going to happen is this: Just as wages come down, and young married couples with a constant increase of their family demanding more to be spent on the growing family find less is left with which to pay rent, it happens that instead of the people under a proper system getting into bigger houses as they get on and their families increase, they are compelled, owing to economic conditions, to start to divide their house with the increased family in order to keep off paying more rent. Take the people at certain works in. Glasgow who earn 30s. a week and have to keep then families on that. Life under these conditions is a constant sub-letting of the houses one to another. If this Clause is allowed to go through it is going to be used by the builders before another year is out as an argument for not building houses. They will say since the people have got into this system of living as subtenants to each other, since the houses have been divided up, there is no more demand now, and we will not go on building houses because there is no demand for them, the people having settled down into this sub-letting system. I appeal, therefore, to the Minister in charge to withdraw this Clause instead of trying to make inroads upon all that is worst in human nature for a gain of 10 per cent., to wipe out the Clause and put his energies into the building of houses, and not into passing such a Clause as this through the House.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put"

The House divided: Ayes, 246; Noes, 138.

Division No. 282.] AYES. [7.22 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Fraser, Major Sir Keith Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Frece, Sir Walter de Nield, Sir Herbert
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East) Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Furness, G. J. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W. Gardiner, James Paget, T. G.
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Garland, C. S. Parker, Owen (Kettering)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gates, Percy Pease, William Edwin
Barnston, Major Harry Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R. Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Becker, Harry Goff, Sir R. Park Penny, Frederick George
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Gretton, Colonel John Perring, William George
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Peto, Basil E.
Berry, Sir George Gwynne, Rupert S. Pielou, D. P.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Pilditch, Sir Philip
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Blundell, F. N. Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Halstead, Major D. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham) Privett, F. J.
Brass, Captain W. Harrison, F. C. Rae, Sir Henry N.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Harvey, Major S. E. Raeburn, Sir William H.
Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham) Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South) Raine, W.
Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.) Henn, Sir Sydney H. Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.
Bruford, R. Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Rees, Sir Beddoe
Buckingham, Sir H. Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Reid, D. D. (County Down)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hiley, Sir Ernest Rentoul, G. S.
Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Reynolds, W. G. W.
Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.
Butt, Sir Alfred Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Button, H. S. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Cadogan, Major Edward Hood, Sir Joseph Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hopkins, John W. W. Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)
Cassels, J. D. Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Robertson-Despencer, Major (Islgtn, W)
Cautley, Henry Strother Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.) Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Rogerson, Capt. J. E.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Hudson, Capt. A. Rothschild, Lionel de
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin) Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hurd, Percy A. Ruggles-Brise, Major E.
Chilcott, Sir Warden Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Churchman, Sir Arthur Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove) Russell, William (Bolton)
Clarry, Reginald George Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney
Clayton, G. C. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Jephcott, A. R. Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul Sanderson, Sir Frank B.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Cope, Major William Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South) Kelley, Major Sir Frederick A. Shepperson, E. W.
Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel Shipwright, Captain D.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry King, Capt. Henry Douglas Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.
Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page Lamb, J. Q. Singleton, J. E.
Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North) Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R. Skelton, A. N.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton) Lorden, John William Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Lort-Williams, J. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Lougher, L. Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Lowe, Sir Francis William Stanley, Lord
Dawson, Sir Philip Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)
Dixon, Capt. H. (Belfast, E.) Lumley, L. R. Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth
Doyle, N. Grattan Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Strauss, Edward Anthony
Edmondson, Major A. J. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Margesson, H. D. R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Ellis, R. G. Marks, Sir George Croydon Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
England, Lieut.-Colonel A. Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Mercer, Colonel H. Titchfield, Marquess of
Erskine-Bolst, Captain C. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Tubbs, S. W.
Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Bolton M. Molloy, Major L. G. S. Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Falcon, Captain Michael Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Waring, Major Walter
Flanagan, W. H. Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton) Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Ford, Patrick Johnston Nall, Major Joseph Wells, S. R.
Foreman, Sir Henry Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley) Weston, Colonel John Wakefield
Forestier-Walker, L. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster) White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond) Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon) Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Wise, Frederick Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Wolmer, Viscount Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel
the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Hardie, George D. Potts, John S.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Harney, E. A. Pringle, W. M. R.
Alexander A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hastings, Patrick Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Attlee, C. R. Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart) Riley, Ben
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hayday, Arthur Ritson, J.
Barnes, A. Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill) Roberts, C. H. (Derby)
Batey, Joseph Hemmerde, E. G. Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Herriotts, J. Royce, William Stapleton
Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield) Hill, A. Saklatvala, S.
Bonwick, A. Hillary, A. E. Scrymgeour, E.
Broad, F. A. Hirst, G. H. Sexton, James
Bromfield, William Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Shakespeare, G. H.
Brotherton, J. Irving, Dan Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Buckie, J. Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Shinwell, Emanuel
Burgess, S. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Burnie, Major J. (Bootle) Jones, J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, J. Hope
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon) Sinclair, Sir A.
Chapple, W. A. Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Sitch, Charles H.
Charleton, H. C. Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools) Smillie, Robert
Clarke, Sir E. C. Kenyon, Barnet Smith, T. (Pontefract)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Snowden, Philip
Collison, Levi Lawson, John James Spoor, B. G.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Leach, W. Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh) Lee, F. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Duffy, T. Gavan Linfield, F. C. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Duncan, C. Lowth, T. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Dunnico, H. Lunn, William Thornton, M.
Ede, James Chuter M'Entee, V. L. Trevelyan, C. P.
Edmonds, G. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Wallhead, Richard C.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Marshall, Sir Arthur H. Warne, G. H.
Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.) Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Entwistle, Major C. F. Middleton, G. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Evans, Ernest (Cardigan) Millar, J. D. Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Fairbairn, R. R. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Falconer, J. Mosley, Oswald White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
Foot, Isaac Muir, John W. Whiteley, W.
Gosling, Harry Murray, John (Leeds, West) Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Gray, Frank (Oxford) Newbold, J. T. W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) O'Grady, Captain James Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Groves, T. Oliver, George Harold Wright, W.
Grundy, T. W. Paling, W. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Parker, H. (Hanley)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Phillipps, Vivian TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hancock, John George Ponsonby, Arthur Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Ammon.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 247; Noes, 135.

Division No. 283.] AYES. [7.30 p.m.
Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dem Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Brass, Captain W. Chilcott, Sir Warden
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Churchman, Sir Arthur
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East) Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham) Clarry, Reginald George
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.) Clayton, G. C.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W. Bruford, R. Cobb, Sir Cyril
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W. Buckingham, Sir H. Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Conway, Sir W. Martin
Barnston, Major Harry Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Cope, Major William
Becker, Harry Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North) Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Butt, Sir Alfred Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Button, H. S. Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Cadogan, Major Edward Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Curzon, Captain Viscount
Berry, Sir George Cassels, J. D. Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Cautley, Henry Strother Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester) Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)
Blundell, F. N. Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin) Dawson, Sir Philip
Dixon, Capt. H. (Belfast, E.) Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor) Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.
Dixon, C. H. (Rutland) Jephcott, A. R. Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Doyle, N. Grattan Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.) Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Kelley, Major Sir Frederick A. Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isi'gt'n W)
Ellis, R. G. Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
England, Lieut.-Colonel A. King, Capt. Henry Douglas Rogerson, Capt. J. E.
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Lamb, J. Q. Rothschild, Lionel de
Erskine-Bolst, Captain C. Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R. Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.) Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Ruggles-Brise, Major E.
Evans, Ernest (Cardigan) Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Bolton M. Lorden, John William Russell, William (Bolton)
Falcon, Captain Michael Lort-Williams, J. Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Lougher, L. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Flanagan, W. H. Lowe, Sir Francis William Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Ford, Patrick Johnston Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.
Foreman, Sir Henry Lumley, L. R. Sanderson, Sir Frank B.
Forestier-Walker, L. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l Exchange)
Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Shakespeare, G. H.
Fraser, Major Sir Keith McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Frece, Sir Walter de Makins, Brigadier-General E. Shepperson, E. W.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Margesson, H. D. R. Shipwright, Captain D.
Furness, G. J. Marks, Sir George Croydon Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.
Galbraith, J. F. W. Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Singleton, J. E.
Gardiner, James Mercer, Colonel H. Skelton, A. N.
Garland, C. S. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)
Gates, Percy Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R. Molloy, Major L. G. S. Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)
Goff, Sir R. Park Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton) Stanley, Lord
Gretton, Colonel John Nall, Major Joseph Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)
Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley) Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth
Gwynne, Rupert S. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster) Strauss, Edward Anthony
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by) Nield, Sir Herbert Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Halstead, Major D. Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Harrison, F. C. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Titchfield, Marquess of
Harvey, Major S. E. Paget, T. G. Tubbs, S. W.
Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South) Parker, Owen (Kettering) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Pease, William Edwin Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Pennefather, De Fonblanque Waring, Major Walter
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Penny, Frederick George Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Wells, S. R.
Hiley, Sir Ernest Perkins, Colonel E. K. Weston, Colonel John Wakefield
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Perring, William George Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Peto, Basil E. White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Pielou, D. P. Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Pilditch, Sir Philip Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hood, Sir Joseph Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray Wise, Frederick
Hopkins, John W. W. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Wolmer, Viscount
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Privett, F. J. Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Houfton, John Plowright Rae, Sir Henry N. Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.) Raeburn, Sir William H. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Raine, W. Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Hudson, Capt. A. Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C. Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Rees, Sir Beddoe
Hurd, Percy A. Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley Reid, D. D. (County Down) Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel
Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove) Rentoul, G. S. the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs.
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Reynolds, W. G. W.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Charleton, H. C. Gosling, Harry
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Clarke, Sir E. C. Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gray, Frank (Oxford)
Ammon, Charles George Collison, Levi Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)
Attlee, C. R. Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh) Groves, T.
Barnes, A. Dudgeon, Major C. R. Grundy, T. W.
Batey, Joseph Duffy, T. Gavan Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Duncan, C. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland
Bonwick, A. Dunnico, H. Hancock, John George
Broad, F. A. Ede, James Chuter Hardie, George D.
Bromfield, William Edmonds, G. Harney, E. A.
Brotherton, J. Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Hastings, Patrick
Buckie, J. Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.) Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)
Burgess, S. Entwistle, Major C. F. Hayday, Arthur
Burnie, Major J. (Bootle) Fairbairn, R. R. Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)
Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Falconer, J. Hemmerde, E. G.
Chapple, W. A. Foot, Isaac Herriotts, J.
Hill, A. Newbold, J. T. W. Smith, T. (Pontefract)
Hillary, A. E. O'Grady, Captain James Snowden, Philip
Hirst, G. H. Oliver, George Harold Spoor, B. G.
Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Paling, W. Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Irving, Dan Parker, H. (Hanley) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Phillipps, Vivian Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Ponsonby, Arthur Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon) Potts, John S. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Pringle, W. M. R. Thornton, M.
Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools) Raeburn, Sir William H. Trevelyan, C. P.
Kenyon, Barnet Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Wallhead, Richard C.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Riley, Ben Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Lawson, John James Ritson, J. Warne, G. H.
Leach, W. Roberts, C. H. (Derby) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lee, F. Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Royce, William Stapleton Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Linfield, F. C. Saklatvala, S. White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Lowth, T. Salter, Dr. A. White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
M'Entee, V. L. Scrymgeour, E. Whiteley, W.
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Sexton, James Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Marshall, Sir Arthur H. Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.) Shinwell, Emanuel Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Middleton, G. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Millar, J. D. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Wright, W.
Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Simpson, J. Hope Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Mosley, Oswald Sinclair, Sir A.
Muir, John W. Sitch, Charles H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Smillie, Robert Mr. Morgan Jones and Mr. Lunn.

Resolution agreed to.


I beg to move, after Sub-section (1), to insert a new Sub-section— (2) A tenant who has so sub-let part of any such dwelling-house shall, on being so requested in writing by the landlord of the dwelling-house, supply him, within fourteen days thereafter, with a statement in writing of any sub-letting, giving particulars of occupancy, including the rent charged, and should he without reasonable excuse fail to do so or supply a statement which is false in any material particulars he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two pounds. When I moved these words as a new Clause, it was suggested that my proposal would come best as an Amendment to Clause 6. I put down this Amendment, because the landlord cannot possibly know what rent his tenant is getting for subletting unless he makes some return. I think it is quite reasonable that the tenant, if requested by the landlord, should be compelled to give that information.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

We cannot hear a word you are saying.


Hon. Members are making such a noise. The only means which the landlord has of knowing to what extent sub-letting is going on is by insisting on his tenant making out a return. Objection has been taken to the imposing of a penalty for refusing to supply this return or making a false statement, but my proposal cannot very well be carried out if there is no penalty attached for refusing to comply, because the tenant would only have to snap his fingers at the landlord and make no return at all. I would point out that penalties are imposed upon the landlord for failing to comply with the Act, and I do not see why penalties should not also be imposed upon the tenant under similar circumstances.

Captain BRASS

I beg to second the Amendment.


I am not quite clear as to whether the proposal now before us is word for word the same as the proposal which was put down as a new Clause, or whether it has been modified in any way.


In essence, it is the same.


I feel some difficulty about this proposal, and I hope one of the Ministers in charge of this Measure will explain how this Amendment is going to work. The proviso is one which requires that a tenant who has so sub-let part of any such dwelling-house shall, on being so requested in writing by the landlord of the dwelling-house, supply him, within fourteen days thereafter, with a statement in writing of any sub-letting, giving particulars of occupancy, including the rent charged. I should like to hear from the Minister how this proposal is going to work. First of all, the proviso appears to be one which is not of continuous operation. The landlord may ask the question to-day, again in six months' time, again in a year's time, and so forth. It has been said that this proposal will assist the operation of Clause 6, but I cannot see how that can come about. The first Subsection of Clause 6 merely provides that the landlord of a house may add 10 per cent. of the net rent of the sub-tenancy. I do not see how the net rent is going to be ascertained. In a vast number of cases there is sub-letting by tenants to sub-tenants at grossly excessive sub-rents. Am I to understand that the intention is to add 10 per cent. to that grossly excessive sub-rent? Is that the meaning of this Amendment? If that is not the meaning of the Clause, then what is the object of the landlord finding out what is the grossly excessive sub-rent? I very much question whether a number of people understand what Sub-section 1 provides. You have a tenant of a house who perhaps pays 10s. a week to the land lord. He has a sub-tenant occupying a portion of the house. In the vast majority of cases he overcharges that sub-tenant. It is a great scandal that he does, and I should be glad to find effective steps taken to stop him, but I do not find them in this Bill.

Suppose he overcharges the sub-tenant by charging him for only half the house what is the rent of the whole house, what good does it do the landlord to find that out. If it is only to enable the tenant, who is already overcharging his subtenant, to overcharge him more by adding another 10 per cent. then I can understand it, but I cannot understand how any Government could propose so ridiculous and so unjust a provision. If, on the other hand, you mean that this additional 10 per cent. permitted is 10 per cent. on the properly apportioned rent, the standard rent for his portion of the house, then since in some cases there is an overcharge what good does it do for the landlord to ascertain what is being charged the sub-tenant? The thing does not hold together. The only explanation that will make it plain to me is the suggestion that the Bill is at present incomprehensible, and will become more incomprehensible if this proviso is adopted. No doubt my Noble Friend has some view as to what this sub-section and proviso mean and I should be very glad to hear from him what it is.


I am prepared to accept this Amendment. As regards the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman, the new Sub-section not only enables the landlord to get information as to the amount of rent charged, but also as to whether there is or is not a sub-tenant. As regards the statement as to the amount of rent charged, that I think must be taken in connection with the Clause which gives the landlord the power, which he has hitherto never had, to go to the County Court to get an apportionment of the rent as between the tenant and the sub-tenant. The sub-tenant who wants at present to escape from additional rent has to go to the County Court himself against his landlord who is the tenant of the house. This is a thing which very few sub-tenants like to do. Therefore the landlord will be able by going to the County Court to get the County Court statement as to what is the apportioned rent. He will be able to calculate the net rent. On the net rent he will be able to calculate what is the amount which is due to him from the tenant in respect of the sub-tenancy, and under this new Sub-section he will also have the power to find out whether the tenant is, in fact, charging only the permitted rent to the sub-tenant or whether he is charging more. There are many landlordq who wish to find that out, and I think that it is in the interests of the community that a landlord should ascertain that. I agree with the hon. and learned Member to this extent, that this power which is proposed to be given by the new Sub-section will be far more effective and far more useful after the landlord has been to the County Court and has found out the permitted rent than it would be before he has been there, but, taken in conjunction with his power of going to the County Court, I think it is a very good Amendment.


Will the Noble Lord consider whether or not this ought not to be amended by limiting the landlord's right to make the inquiry and secure the punishment of the tenant in the manner and to the cases which he has himself indicated by introducing a proviso that it may be done after the landlord has exercised his power and got the subtenant's rent properly fixed?


I am afraid that that would not do, because there are various cases in which the permitted rental has already been fixed. I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman should be so anxious that the landlord should not have the right to get this information.


I am not in the least anxious that the landlord should not have proper information, but I am anxious that the House of Commons should not pass a Bill which, to the best of my own understanding, is at present nearly unintelligible, and will, I think, become quite unintelligible when this proviso is put in.


Assuming that the landlord, the tenant and the sub-tenant appear in Court and are called upon to go into the witness box, will they be, by law, compelled to answer questions? So far as I understand, there is no law to compel either landlord or tenant to give any evidence in the box if he does not care to do so.

Amendment agreed to.


May I ask for information, which I understand is available, as to the course of business during the night?

The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETAR to the TREASURY (Colonel Leslie Wilson)

In the absence of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, I have his instructions to say that he realises that the House would like to have as much time for the Third Reading of this Bill as possible, and, as the House was up fairly late last night, if hon. Members opposite will agree, it would be convenient that we should finish the Report stage at a conveniently early hour tonight—that is not later than about half-past twelve o'clock. In such a case the Third Reading could be taken on Friday. But it is the general view in the House that the Bill standing on the name of the Noble Lady for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) should be taken in the earlier part of Friday. Therefore the proposal is that the first two hours on Friday should be devoted to that Bill, and the remaining three hours on Friday to the Third Reading of this Bill, if that he acceptable to all parties in the House.


I can speak for a very large number of Members of the House when I say that they welcome the terms of the statement which has just been made, and will be glad to help to give effect to them, but perhaps it would be possible for us to conclude the business to-night somewhat earlier than 12.30?

Colonel WILSON

On behalf of the Government, I may say that we shall be glad to conclude the business at the earliest possible hour.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has not been following this Debate, is willing that it should come to an end as speedily as possible, but in view of the importance of the issues yet to be discussed, I do not think that anybody is sanguine enough to imagine that the Debate can be concluded much before half-past twelve o'clock, and at the same time allow a reasonable discussion of the important matters which have still to be thrashed out. With regard to the proceedings on Friday, are we to understand that if the Debate on the first Bill is not concluded at one o'clock then the Adjournment will be moved?

Colonel WILSON

There is a distinct understanding that if the Debate on the Report stage and Third Reading is not concluded at one o'clock, the Government are prepared to move the Adjournment.


With regard to the appointment of the Reference Committee and what may be called the constitutional position of that Committee if appointed, many of us think that that is a legitimate subject of Debate which should be discussed fully and frankly, though not at undue length.


I agree with the suggestions which have been made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury as to the hour at which we may conclude our proceedings to-night. What we on these Benches have undertaken is to do our best to facilitate the conclusion of the proceedings on the Report stage at a reasonable hour, on the understanding that we shall have the Adjournment moved on Friday on the first Bill, if it lasts longer than the first two hours of that day.