§ The following Section shall be substituted for Section five of the principal Act, namely:
§ "5.—(1) No order or judgment for the recovery of possession of any dwelling-house to which this Act applies, or for the ejectment of a tenant therefrom, shall be made or given unless—
- "(a) any rent lawfully due from the tenant has not been paid, or any other obligation of the tenancy (whether under the contract of tenancy or under this Act) so far as the same is consistent with the provisions of this Act has been broken or not performed; or
- "(b) the tenant or any person residing or lodging with him or being his subtenant has been guilty of conduct which is a nuisance or annoyance to adjoining occupiers, or has been convicted of using the premises or allowing the premises to be used for an immoral or illegal purpose, or the condition of the dwelling-house has, in the opinion of the court, deteriorated owing to acts of waste by or the neglect or default of the tenant or any such person, and, where such person is a lodger or sub-tenant, the court is satisfied that the tenant has not, before the making or giving of the order or judgment, taken such steps as he ought reasonably to have taken for the removal of the lodger or sub-tenant; or
- "(c) the tenant has given notice to quit, and in consequence of that notice the landlord has contracted to sell or let the dwelling-house or has taken any other steps as a result of which he would, in the opinion of the court, be seriously prejudiced if he could not obtain possession; or
- "(d) the dwelling-house is reasonably required by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself, or for any son or daughter of his over eighteen years of age, or for any person bona, fide residing with him, or for some person engaged in his whole time employment or in the whole time employment of some tenant from him or with whom, conditional on housing accommodation being provided, a contract for such employment has been entered into, and (except as otherwise provided by this Sub-section) the court is satisfied that alternative accommodation is available which is reasonably suitable to the means of the tenant and to the needs of the tenant and his family as regards extent, character, and proximity to place of work and which consists either of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies, or of premises to be let as a separate dwelling on terms which will afford to the tenant security of tenure reasonably equivalent to the security afforded by this Act in the case of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies; or
- "(e) the dwelling-house is reasonably required for the purpose of the execution of the statutory duties or powers of a local authority, or statutory undertaking, or for any purpose Which, in the opinion of the court, is in the public interest, and the court in either case is satisfied as aforesaid as respects alternative accommodation; or
- "(f) the landlord became the landlord after service in any of His Majesty's forces during the war and requires the house for his personal occupation and offers the tenant accommodation on reasonable terms in the same dwelling-house, such accommodation being considered by the court as reasonably sufficient in the circumstances; or
- "(g) the dwelling-house is required for occupation as a residence by a former tenant thereof who gave up occupation in consequence of his service in any of His Majesty's forces during the war; or
- "(h) the tenant without the consent of the landlord has at any time after the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, assigned or sub-let the whole of the dwelling-house or sub-let part of the dwelling-house, the remainder being already sub-let; or
- "(i) the dwelling-house consists of or includes premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, and the tenant has committed an offence as holder of the licence or has not conducted the business to the satisfaction of the licensing justices or the police authority, or has carried it on in a manner detrimental to the public interest, or the renewal of the licence has for any reason been refused;
§ "The existence of alternative accommodation shall not be a condition of an order or judgment on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (d) of this Sub-section—
- "(i) where the tenant was in the employment of the landlord or a former landlord, and the dwelling-house was let to him in consequence of that employment and he has ceased to be in that employment; or"
- (ii) where the court is satisfied by a certificate of the county agricultural committee, or of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries pending the formation of such committee, that the dwelling-house is required by the landlord for the occupation of a person engaged on work necessary for the proper working of an agricultural holding, or with whom conditional on housing accommodation being provided, a contract for employment on such work has been entered into; or"
- (iii) where the landlord gave up the occupation of the dwelling-house in consequence of his service in any of His Majesty's forces during the war; or"
- (iv) where the landlord or the husband or wife of the landlord became the landlord before the thirtieth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, and the dwelling-house is reasonably required by him for occupation as a residence for himselff or for any son or daughter of his over eighteen years of age; or"
- (v) where the landlord or the husband or wife of the landlord did not become the landlord before the thirtieth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, and the dwelling-house is reasonably required by him for occupation as a residence for himself or for any son or daughter of his over eighteen years of age, and the court is satisfied that greater hardship would be caused by refusing to grant an order or judgment for possession than by granting it.
§ "(2) At the time of the application for or the making or giving of any order or judgment for the recovery of possession of any such dwelling-house, or for the ejectment of a tenant there from, or in the case of any such order or judgment which has been made or given, whether before or after the passing of this Act, and not executed at any subsequent time, the court may adjourn the application, or stay or suspend execution on any such order or judgment, or postpone the date of possession for such period or periods as it thinks fit, and subject to such conditions (if any) in regard to payment by the tenant of arrears of rent, rent, or mesne profits and otherwise as the court thinks fit, and, if such conditions are complied with, the court may, if it thinks fit, discharge or rescind any such order or judgment.1118
§ "(3) Where any order or judgment has been made or given before the passing of this Act but not executed, and, in the opinion of the court, the order or judgment would not have been made or given if this Act had been in force at the time when such order or judgment was made or given, the court may, on application by the tenant, rescind or vary such order or judgment in such manner as the court may think fit for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.
§ "(4) Notwithstanding anything in Section one hundred and forty-three of the County Courts Act, 1888, or in Section one of the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, every warrant for delivery of possession of, or to enter and give possession of, any dwelling-house to which this Act applies, shall remain in force for three months from the day next after the last day named in the judgment or order for delivery of possession or ejectment, or, in the case of a warrant under the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, from the date of the issue of the warrant, and in either case for such further period or periods, if any, as the court shall from time to time, whether before or after the expiration of such three months, direct
§ "(5) An order or judgment against a tenant for the recovery of possession of any dwelling-house or ejectment therefrom under this Section shall not affect the right of any sub-tenant to whom the premises or any part thereof have been lawfully sub-let before proceedings for recovery of possession or ejectment were commenced, to retain possession under this Section, or be in any way operative against any such sub-tenants.
§ "(6) Where a landlord has obtained an order or judgment for possession or ejectment under this Section on the ground that he requires a dwelling-house for his own occupation, and it is subsequently made to appear to the court that the order or judgment was obtained by misrepresentation or the concealment of material facts, the court may order the landlord to pay to the former tenant such sum as appears sufficient as compensation for damage or loss sustained by that tenant as the result of the order or judgment.
§ "(7) The provisions of the last preceding Sub-section shall apply in any case where the landlord has, after the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, obtained an order or judgment for possession or ejectment on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (d) of Sub-section (1) of this Section, and it is subsequently made to appear to the Court that the order or judgment was obtained by misrepresentation or concealment of material facts, and in any such case the court may, if it thinks fit, in addition to making an order for payment of compensation by the landlord to the former tenant, direct that the dwelling-house shall not be excluded from this Act by reason of the landlord having come into possession thereof under the said order or judgment, and if such a direction is given, this Act shall apply and be deemed to have applied to the dwelling-house as from the date mentioned in such direction."1119
§ Lords Amendment read a Second time.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) has handed in an Amendment to the Lords Amendment. I understand his claim is that in the redrafting of the Clause in the other place, an ambiguity has been removed, but that ambiguity was one which might be raised by some people in favour of one party, and by other people in favour of another party; and that he bases his claim to move his Amendment to the Lords Amendment on the fact that the paragraph—as I remember it being stated in Committee by some Members—as it left this House did not appear. Do I understand that that is the hon. Member's meaning?
§ Mr. FOOT
My contention on Third Reading was that paragraph (iv), as it left this House, bore a meaning contrary to the meaning as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health. It has not come back with a different meaning, as I submit, from the meaning it had when it left this House. It is upon that ground I ask that I may move the Amendment. I admit there may be a conflict of opinion as to whether the interpretation I put upon the Clause was the right interpretation, and there was a Division in the House on that matter. My Amendment is based on the contention that the paragraph as it comes back from the Lords is really a different one from that which went up from this House.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is a very technical and difficult matter. I do not feel at the moment that I can give a judgment on that question, but, in view of the claim that there is a doubt, I think I must give the hon. Member the opportunity of moving his Amendment.
§ Mr. FOOT
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in Sub-section (1, iv), to leave out the wordsor(v) where the landlord or the husband or wife of the landlord did not become the landlord before the thirtieth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, and the dwelling-house is reasonably required by him for occupation as a residence for himself or for any son or daughter of his over eighteen years of age, and 1120 the Court is satisfied that greater hardship would be caused by refusing to grant an order or judgment for possession than by granting it.and to insert instead thereof the words,and the Court is satisfied that greater hardship will be caused by refusing to grant an order or judgment for possession than by granting it.Under the principal Act, there was one very important date, namely, September, 1917, and, as has already been stated, if a man had bought his house before September, 1917, there was no necessity for him to prove alternative accommodation in desiring to obtain the house for himself. All that that landlord had to do was to satisfy the Court that upon the balance of hardship he ought to be granted the house. If he bought the house after September, 1917, then, like any other person desiring to obtain possession, he had to show that there was alternative accommodation available. When we were discussing the Bill on Third Reading, I said that, having regard to my own experience, having been advising on this Measure from time to time, I knew that it was the usual course for the solicitor advising his client to ask in these cases when the house was bought. It was the very first question which we always put to any landlord who came for advice—"When did you buy your house?" If, in fact, he bought the house before September, 1917, then we knew there was a chance of obtaining possession for him. If he bought the house after that, the difficulty of providing alternative accommodation was so great that we advised him not to go to the expense and trouble of going to the Court at all. A great advantage was conferred upon the landlord who had bought before September, 1917. That is the law until to-morrow night, when the present Act expires.
In the Bill with the Lords Amendment, substantial alterations have been made. There is, first of all, the new date. Instead of that important date being September, 1917, it is the 30th June, 1922. That will be the date to which every lawyer advising on the Act in future will immediately look. He will ask, "When did you buy your house?" and if the landlord says, "Before the 30th June, 1922," then, under this Bill, there will be no inquiry into the balance of hardship, and if the landlord can satisfy the Court that he reasonably requires it for his own 1121 occupation, he is entitled to possession. If he bought after that date, then he has got to satisfy the Court, first of all, that he reasonably requires the house for his own accommodation or for that of one of his children over 18 years of age, and he has to satisfy the Court also that, taking the convenience of the tenant and taking his own convenience, greater hardship will be caused by refusing his application than will be caused to the tenant by granting it. That is a fundamental change as compared with the old Measure. I submit that it is too big a change, and I want the House to realise what trouble will be caused in the country if the Bill passes in its present form.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Is not the hon. Member now discussing what we discussed on the Report stage, namely, the change made in the Bill as compared with the principal Act? That seems to be raising a larger question than can be raised on the Amendment now before the House, and which I understood was to put the hon. Member's interpretation of the meaning of the original Sub-section in the Lords Amendment.
§ Mr. FOOT
It is a different change, as I submit, that is now brought about. As the Bill left the House on the Third Reading, it did intend to bring about the change in the existing law, but as it now comes back from the Lords, it does effect a different change from that intended when it left this House after Third Reading.
§ Mr. FOOT
As the Bill left this House on the Third Reading, my submission was that all persons who had bought before June, 1922, according to the last words of that Sub-section, would actually be subject to the necessity of proving alternative accommodation. A very substantial alteration has now been made in sending this Clause back to us. It is quite clear the Government's intention—and this is my submission—that the Government's intention is now made clear in this Clause, and opens up a very serious possibility which would justify us in supporting the Amendment which I am putting before the House, and voting for it. I submit I would be in order in showing what the 1122 consequence would be of carrying out the law as it is now put by the Lords Amendment. The matter is one of serious import. I suppose that 19 out of every 20 owners in this country who are desirous of possessing the houses they themselves bought before June, 1922, really all those desiring occupation, bought before June, 1922—most lawyers would agree that there has been very little change in house property during the last 12 months, though there was considerable change before 1922—and it means now that in 19 cases out of 20 those who are desirous of getting their house for their own occupation will be able to go to the Court and prove that they reasonably require it, and so obtain possession of the house. I know that some reference has been made earlier to-day to the words at the end of paragraph (i) as mentioned in the Lords Amendment—and, in any such case as aforesaid. the Court considers it reasonable to make such order or give such judgment.Emphasis has been placed upon those words. My submission is that a County Court Judge would not be entitled to read into those words something that is different from the provision in paragraphs (iv) and (v). In paragraph (v) we see the balance of hardship considered; and in paragraph (iv) the balance of hardship is not to be gone into. Whatever may be the general words earlier in the paragraph it would be impossible for a Judge, having regard to the fact that the balance of hardship is not mentioned at all in paragraph (iv), to go into that question in any sense whatever. If the landlord can show that he reasonably desires the house for his own occupation then he has practically an unconditional right to demand it.
The Amendment I suggest is that we shall strike out paragraph (v) altogether and that we shall add words relating to the balance of hardship to paragraph (iv). Perhaps the House will see then what will happen! If this Amendment be carried the landlord who has bought before 1922 would be entitled to get possession if he can show that he should have the house on the balance of hardship. That is a very great advantage. The man who has bought on the 6th of June, 1922, would have to show alternative accommodation. It may be asked: Why are we conferring such an advantage upon the landlord? Landlords under my Amendment would 1123 be very much better off than under the old Act. In the first place, they will have a very much later date, June, 1922, instead of September, 1917, so that we shall gather most of the landlords in; and, secondly, those who become owners since June, 1922, will have to prove alternative hardship—it is true—but of a very different kind to that necessary under the old Act. The alternative accommodation now is by no means so onerous as it was under the old Measure. Under the old Measure it was very difficult to prove alternative accommodation because of the wording of the Section, but now the landlord will have the advantage of a looser term and of a wider definition of alternative accommodation. So that the landlord will be in a very much better position even if my Amendment be carried.
I would ask the House to consider this: The advantage that is given by the Bill as it now stands by the Lords Amendment would be conferred not only on those present owners who have bought since June, 1922, but all future owners, and undoubtedly this will result in many landlords holding up their tenants to ransom. The landlord who at the present time cannot sell his house because nobody is going to buy a lawsuit—it is almost an impossible proposition—those who have had to do with the selling of cottages or small house property know that in the proposed buying up of houses where the tenant is in occupation that there is no sale effected, or very rarely—the landlord now will be able to go to the tenant and to say: "Somebody wants to buy this house, he is in great difficulty, he is a man living, say, in a couple of rooms or in furnished lodgings. I shall have no difficulty in getting possession. Now you have a chance to buy; my price is so much," and if the tenant does not buy it means that this person will buy the house and the tenant will be turned out. It will mean an immense disturbance amongst tenants throughout the country.
In the speech that he made upon the Second Reading the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health referred to the hardships of landlords. I admit that. I think that landlords in many cases desiring houses for their own occupation have been very harshly treated. The 1124 right hon. Gentleman gave us a number of letters which I think corresponded with the facts as we know them throughout the country; but there was not one illustration which would not be covered by this Amendment. He gave us one case after another where the landlord was placed in a very much worse position than the tenant, and where the tenant very often was making a good deal of money out of a furnished house, and the landlord himself was very badly placed.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must confine himself to the Amendment and to the Bill as it left the House on the Third Reading. His argument seems to me directed beyond that period. Perhaps he will explain the position he took up when he said that as the Bill left this House, there were two possible interpretations to it.
§ Mr. FOOT
I understand it would not have been possible for me on the Third Reading, holding the view that I did as to the meaning of the Clause, then to have advanced my present arguments. I could not have said:"This Clause bears a certain interpretation, but if it bear a contrary interpretation, my arguments are different." That is my difficulty. Taking the view I did of the Clause I was bound to accept my right hon. Friend's interpretation of the Clause. I know the matter is a complicated one, but I submit, Mr. Speaker, to the House that the Clause as it left on the Third Reading, and as it was submitted to us on the Third Reading, gives an advantage to those who became landlords since June, 1922, and exposed all earlier landlords to the necessity of proving alternative accommodation. Whatever was the intention of the Government, the wording of the Clause did bear that construction! [HON. MEMBERS:"No!"] That was my contention, and I was supported in that not only by another right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House, but an hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House. He supported me in the view held, and shared my apprehensions. Taking, therefore, that view of that Clause, it would have been impossible for me then to have advanced the argument I am advancing now. I can only advance those arguments because the Bill has come back in another form.
§ Sir PHILIP PILDITCH
Might I suggest to the hon. Member that he should compare the wording of the Clause as it left this House with the wording of the Clause as it has come back from the Lords. If he point out the difference the House will get some clear idea!
§ Mr. FOOT
I am trying to do that, but I thank my hon. Friend for his suggestion. If hon. Members have the Bill in front of them as it left this House on Third Reading, they will see that this Clause which is the subject of controversy, is at the bottom of page 4, and is paragraph (f). That paragraph (f) reads as follows:(f) the following paragraph shall be substituted for paragraph (iv).(iv) Where the dwelling-house is reasonably required by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any son or daughter of his over 18 years of age and where the landlord or the husband or wife of the landlord did not become the landlord before the thirtieth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, the Court is satisfied that the greater hardship would be caused by refusing to grant an order or judgment for possession than by granting it.That is as it left the House.
§ Mr. FOOT
That has given place now to two paragraphs of the Lords Amendments. Hon. Members will note that the wording is very much more full in the latter Amendments, is set out more fully, and the connecting word between paragraphs (iv) and (v) is "or," and not as it is in what I term the offending Clause. As the Clause left on the Third Reading it was open, as I think, to the construction I have put upon it that the words "and where" ["and where the landlord, or the husband"] only dealt with one class of persons. That question was put in another place as soon as the Clause came up for consideration. It was asked whether one class of person was dealt with in this offending section or two classes of persons. That question was never answered, because my right hon. Friend's representative in that Rouse said immediately:"The whole Clause will be recast." That was the answer given to that criticism, so that it is upon that suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that we have here the substantial change.
§ Mr. FOOT
In the offending Clause 3 the wording to which I was drawing attention in paragraph (v), substituted paragraph (iv) was "and where" ["and where the landlord or the husband"], and I said that that was open to the construction that there was only that class of person dealt with, while in the Lords Amendment there were two classes. It is quite clear that two classes of persons are dealt with.
§ Mr. FOOT
At any rate, Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of such consequence that we welcome the opportunity of putting this appeal before the House and before the right hon. Gentleman. If he can accept this Amendment he will effect this: that the landlords are placed in a very much better position than they were, for this to a very great extent meets the hardship to which he referred on the Second Reading, and which we endorse. He will have done that, and at the same time he will have saved himself the immense trouble that will be caused if the Bill passes in its present form. I indulged in a prophecy on the Third Reading of the Bill here, and I make this further prophecy, that if the Bill passes in its present form there will be great astonishment throughout the country and an immense protest, a hurricane protest, from a good many people who cannot protect themselves and require some protection in these very difficult times.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The, position is a little bit obscure and I shall do my best to make it clear. Apart from the ambiguity of the language in the Bill as it left this House, there is no doubt that the intention of the Government was at any rate quite clear. A date was fixed, namely, 22nd June in the case of all persons who became landlords prior to 22nd June. 1127 They could get the tenant out if they required the house for themselves or their children, provided they were able to show that it was a matter of greater hardship to refuse the application than to grant it. That was the position as the Bill left this House. It provided that the landlord could get his house for himself or his children provided ho could show that greater hardship will be done to himself by allowing the tenant to remain than would be done to the tenant. On the other side the Bill says to the landlord,"You can get the house for yourself or your children provided you can find alternative accommodation for the tenant."
§ Captain ELLIOT (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland)
Where do you get that?
§ Mr. HARNEY
I am asked where do you get it from that the Bill as introduced into this House and as it left this House provided or intended to provide that landlords who became such prior to 22nd June were entitled to get their houses back in cases of hardship.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I am not saying a word now about alternative accommodation. I doubt if the Minister of Health will contradict me when I say that the Bill as introduced by him, and as he understood it, meant that where the landlord became such prior to 22nd June he was entitled to recover possession of his house in case of the hardship being greater on him than the tenant. In the case of a landlord who became such after that date, he was not entitled to recover possession unless he could find alternative accommodation.
§ Mr. HARNEY
The Lords Amendment provides thatWhere the dwelling-house is reasonably required by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any son or daughter of his over 18 years of age, or for any person bona fide residing with him or 1128 for some person engaged in his whole-time employment and the Court is satisfied that alternative accommodation is available which is reasonably suitable.Does not that clearly say that a landlord who wants a house for himself or his children is entitled to possession on condition that he provides alternative accommodation? If the hon. Member will turn to page 4 of the Bill as it left the House he will see that alternative accommodation need not be found in certain cases, and one of them is when he became the landlord before 22nd June. Having done that perhaps the hon. Member who interrupted me will agree with me now that the Bill as it left the House contained two categories: (1) dealing with landlords prior to 22nd June, who need not provide alternative accommodation, but only prove a case of hardship; and (2) another category of landlords, after 22nd June, who, if they want the House, must show that alternative accommodation is available. As this provision comes back from the Lords it provides that where the landlord became such prior to June, 1922, he is entitled to get possession where he reasonably requires it, whereas, as the Bill left this House, the landlord who was the landlord prior to 22nd June had to prove a case of hardship. A landlord in that category can obtain possession now if he shows that he reasonably requires it, but when the Bill left this House a landlord who became such after 22nd June, if he required possession, would have to find alternative accommodation.
As the Bill comes back to us, a landlord, after 22nd June, need not find alternative accommodation, and only needs to show that it is a case of hardship. Does that not make it perfectly clear that, as regards the one category prior to 22nd June, the tenant is put in a worse position to this extent, that now he can be put out if the landlord merely reasonably requires the house, whereas, as the Bill left this House, he could not be put out unless hardship was proved? Therefore the position of the tenant after that date is worse, because a tenant before could not be put out without alternative accommodation being provided, but now he can be put out without finding alternative accommodation if the landlord proves hardship. Therefore there is a vital difference as this Bill comes back to us from the Lords. 1129 What is proposed is a fundamental difference, and I shall support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), which, at all events, brings the Lords Amendment more into line with the general character of the Bill.
My experience of this House is much shorter than that of many hon. Members, but I do not recollect such an extraordinary situation arising as appears to have arisen this afternoon. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) has moved an Amendment on the grounds that he understood a particular passage in this Bill in a different sense from that which was understood by, I think, the majority of the House, or the interpretation which was placed upon it by myself in very clear language, and the interpretation put upon it by several of the hon. Member's Friends opposite. You have allowed the hon. Member, Mr. Speaker, to move an Amendment on the ground that his Amendment, if carried, would bring back the Bill to the interpretation which the hon. Member himself put upon it. The Amendment, of which the hon. Member has not furnished me with a copy, if it were carried, would provide that in the first paragraph the landlord who became the landlord before the 30th June, 1922, would have to show that greater hardship was caused to him than to the tenant if the Court refused to grant an order for possession.
I submit that by no possible strain of the interpretation which the hon. Member has put upon the Bill as it left this House could that meaning be given to that Clause. What the hon. Member argued, and what the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) has argued was that alternative accommodation would have to be provided by the landlord in certain cases and that that alternative accommodation is not now required. That is not the whole effect of this Amendment. The effect is to introduce wholly new matter, and, with all respect, it appears to me that the discussion which has been proceeding on this Amendment is really a revival of the discussion which we had on the Report stage and in Committee upon the conditions under which a landlord who required a house for his own occupation is entitled to get possession. I must 1130 point out to the House that this matter was made perfectly clear on the Report stage. Let me first remind the House what the original proposal was. It was that the landlord who became a landlord before the 30th June, 1922, should not have to provide alternative accommodation in any of the cases mentioned in paragraph (d), and that the landlord who became a landlord after the 30th June should have to show greater hardship to himself than to the tenant. On Report, it was attempted, mistakenly perhaps, to shorten the Clause by putting the two cases into one paragraph. I recognised myself that the use of the word "where" twice over in a somewhat different sense might give rise to confusion. On Report I moved an Amendment to pat in the words "in any case" after the word "and" and just before the second "where." I then attempted to explain to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) who said he did not clearly apprehend the meaning of the paragraph—I said to him that in the Act there are a number of paragraphs each of which begins with the word "where" and the first "where" in this case was at the beginning of paragraph F (4).
Certainly. If the hon. Member will imagine that before the word "and" ("and where the landlord") there is a bracket, and after the words "nineteen hundred and twenty-two" there is another bracket, that will perhaps make the sense of the Clause clearer. The second "where" makes a different kind of exception. It is provided that in any case where the landlord became the landlord before the 30th June he is to prove greater hardship to himself than to the tenant before he can get an order. I think the hon. Member at that time understood the meaning of that paragraph as he did not pursue the matter further.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
May I say by way of explanation that I did not pursue the matter further, because the right hon. Gentleman undertook to reconsider it in another place.
Although he was of opinion that the intention might be 1131 made clearer, there was no doubt in his own mind as to the meaning of the paragraph.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Why did you not put in the brackets when you had the opportunity? Why was no comma put in? At any rate, what I had in my mind was that the Clause was to be redrafted in another place, although the hon. Member for Bodmin said on the Third Reading that it was perfectly plain as it was.
The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) speaks with such slowness that I think sometimes when he gets to the end of a sentence he has forgotten how it began. He has several times spoken at great length and with inordinate slowness in giving his version of what the Clause meant when it left the House. But unfortunately the version he has given today is the exact opposite of the version which he gave on the Report stage. He says that the person who became a landlord after June, 1922, has merely to show that hardship would be caused by refusing the order.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I really think it is the right hon. Gentleman himself who is confused. What I was speaking of on the Report stage was this. The right hon. Gentleman had stated the intention of the Clause, but I pointed out that the language used made it appear to have a contrary meaning to that intention.
The hon. Member was trying to make quite clear what he thought was the meaning of the Clause, and he was vexed because my hon. and gallant Friend near me (Captain Elliot) interrupted him. He said that if my hon. and gallant Friend would be good enough to look at the wording of the Bill he did not think he would make any further contradiction. That showed that at that time the hon. Member was taking a different view.
If this Amendment to the Lords Amendment is to be allowed on the ground that the hon. Member did not know what the meaning of the Clause was, we may have Amendments moved to Lords Amendments of any kind or sort, because as far as I can see the hon. Member changed his opinion as to the meaning of the Clause between the Third Reading and the consideration of the Lords Amendments. I do not propose to argue again the case for this Bill as it was at the time of the Third Reading. The effect of the Amendments made in another place is in no way to alter the sense of the Bill. They are merely drafting Amendments, and I hope if there is to be any further Debate on this Clause it will be confined to the point of Order laid down by the Chair.
§ Mr. D. HERBERT
May I ask whether, after the explanation we have had, the Amendment is now in order?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have the disadvantage of not being a lawyer. I have listened carefully to what has been said. I have had my doubts all along. As I said at the very beginning, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot). I think, having done that, the House should not take advantage of what I thought it right to do by discussing the matter at over length. I did not lay down the law on the point.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not propose to proceed at any length with this particular Amendment, but I think the right hon. Gentleman has not given a fair or a complete account of what occurred on the Report stage. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman then moved an Amendment with the object of making the matter clear, and the fact that he did thus move an Amendment showed that the Clause as it left the Committee was not clear. But I am not going to enter into the question of the particular Amendment thus moved. On account of the discussion on the Report stage the right hon. Gentleman withdrew that Amendment, and the important thing I would remind him is that when he was replying to me on the Report stage he said that if the hon. Member for Penistone will imagine that after the word "where" there is a bracket and after the words "nineteen 1133 hundred and twenty" there is another bracket, it will make the case clear. I think hon. and learned Members in this House will be able to confirm me when I say that no Court will imagine the existence of a bracket where there is no bracket. We cannot interpret the words of a section or of an Act of Parliament by imagining in it what is not there, and I think the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) will agree with me as to that. In this particular Clause the punctuation was bad. There was no comma even at the end of the first Clause, and the two paragraphs beginning with the word "where" were joined together by the word "and." In these circumstances any Court would read the two Clauses as a single Clause, and not as separate Clauses describing two different classes. I would not express an opinion with absolute certainty on the matter, for I recognise how difficult it is when these things come to be interpreted in a Court to forecast what the judgment of the Court will be. I am certain that whatever the right hon. Gentleman intended he has need to make an alteration if he desires to describe two different classes in this paragraph, and the only way to do that is to alter the conjunction between the two paragraphs by substituting "or" for "and."
The wording of the paragraph has been altered, and it was found necessary to use the word "and."
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not think that helps, neither do I think it would help the Court. After the experience the Ministry of Health has had of the Law Courts, I am astonished at the confidence the Minister has shown in his interpretation of this Clause. We had an official interpretation by the Minister of Health in regard to a Section in a former Act which had to be decided in the House of Lords, and the decision in regard to which had unfortunate results for the Government, and when we find the Minister of Health, unaided by a Law Officer here venturing to interpret a Clause with equal confidence, one has certain doubts as to what the ultimate result will be. My own view is that the Clause as it 1134 stood was both ungrammatical and unintelligible. I did not move an Amendment because I did not know how to amend that which was unintelligible. My own anxiety was to get an undertaking from the right hon. Gentleman to make his meaning, whatever it was, clear in another place. That was the undertaking I assumed I got on the Report stage, but the right hon. Gentleman denied on the Third Reading that he had given it. At the same time he endeavoured to overwhelm me with ridicule by repeating a nursery rhyme. I think the nursery rhyme is now rather on the other foot, or rather on the, foot of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Now the Government have made it perfectly clear what the Amendment means, it is important that the House should have an opportunity of coming to a decision on it in a plain way. There is no doubt that, owing to its obscurity, most hon. Members entertained doubts as to its real meaning. I know my hon. Friends on the Committee upstairs regarded the thing as ambiguous and unintelligible. They believed it was going to lead to litigation. They believed the litigation would end in favour of the tenant, and, with those Machiavellian motives, they were prepared to allow the right hon. Gentleman to rush head-long to his fate. I am inclined to be more generous to him. I did not want him to get into trouble in the Courts at all. I did not want him to have to introduce an amending Bill, and I besought him to have it amended in another place, or at least to make clear what he was doing. He did not show any recognition of my kindly motive, nor has he shown any gratitude at any stage of the Bill. I can say at least that, whatever the result of this discussion, litigation has been saved, and as litigation has been saved, a certain advantage has been secured. On the other hand, I believe the form of the Amendment, which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) has moved, is in accordance with the professions the Government made on the Second Reading to deal with hard cases. This effectively deals with all the hard cases the right hon. Gentleman put before the House on Second Reading. It will leave no hard case unremedied, and, at the same time, it will prevent certain things happening 1135 under the Clause as now framed, which neither the Government, its supporters, nor the people outside had any reason to expect.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Lords Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 207; Noes, 70.1137
|Division No. 341.]||AYES.||[7.3 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gosling, Harry||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Perring, William George|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Peto, Basil E.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Gretton, Colonel John||Philipson, Mabel|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Privett, F. J.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Raine, W.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Halstead, Major D.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Becker, Harry||Harrison, F. C.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hawke, John Anthony||Remnant, Sir James|
|Berry, Sir George||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isigtn, W)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hirst, G. H.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
|Briggs, Harold||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bruford, R||Hopkins, John W. W.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Buckle, J.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Hughes, Collingwood||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Hurd, Percy A.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sexton, James|
|Cassels, J. D.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Clayton. G. C.||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lamb, J. Q.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Cope, Major William||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lorden, John William||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sudden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Lumley, L. R.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Thomson. F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Martin, A. E. (Essex, Romford)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Mercer, Colonel H.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||White, Lt. Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Morning, Captain Algernon H.||Winterton, Earl|
|Edmondson. Major A. J.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wise, Frederick|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Erskine-Boist, Captain C.||Murchison, C. K.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Flanagan, W. H.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Furness, G. J.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Commander the Rt. Hon. B. M. Eyres-Monsell and Colonel the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs.|
|Garland, C. S.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Pennetather, De Fonblanque|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Penny, Frederick George|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harris, Percy A.||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Hill, A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hillary, A. E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hinds, John||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Broad, F. A.||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Snell, Harry|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Sullivan, J.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Collison, Levi||Lansbury, George||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Leach, W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Linfieid, F. C.||Thornton, M.|
|Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Duncan, C.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Falconer, J.||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Foot and Mr. Harney.|
Question put, and agreed to.