§ (1) Where notice of intention to increase rent has, whether before or after the passing of this Act, been served on a tenant in conformity with Sub-section (2) of Section three of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), and a notice to terminate the tenancy was necessary in order to make such increase effective, the notice of intention to increase the rent shall have effect and shall be deemed always to have had effect as if it were or had been also a notice to terminate the existing tenancy on the day immediately preceding the day as from which the increase is or was first to take effect, or on the earliest day thereafter on which if it had been a notice to terminate the tenancy, it would have been effective for that purpose, and in the latter case a notice of increase served before the passing of this Act shall be deemed to have had effect as if such earliest date had been specified in the notice as the date as from which the increase was to take effect:
§ Provided that—
- (a) nothing in this Act shall entitle a landlord after the passing of this Act to recover from a tenant, in respect of any period before the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, the increase of rent made valid by this Act, or any sums which have been recovered from the landlord before that date by means of deductions from rent or otherwise, or any rent due before that date which has not been paid by reason of such deductions having been made therefrom; but Section fourteen, Sub-section (1), of the principal Act shall not apply to an increase of rent made valid by this Act which was paid by, or recovered from, a tenant prior to the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two;
- (b) nothing in this Act shall affect the right to enforce any judgment of a Court of competent jurisdiction given before the fifteenth day of February, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, or render recoverable any sum paid under such a judgment.
§ (2) Any increase of rent made valid by this Act is hereinafter referred to as a validated increase of rent.1654
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "rent" ["Where notice of intention to increase rent"], to insert the wordson account of an increase in rates.Some of us on these benches are greatly surprised that the Government have been audacious enough to bring this Measure before the House at all after the very severe treatment the Bill received at the hands of the Committee upstairs. But the Government have deemed it advisable to bring the Bill again before the House, and I think it is only proper that we on these benches should once again make a general protest against the whole provisions of the Measure. We object to the Bill because it provides retrospective legislation. We say that retrospective legislation is bad in quality, wrong in principle, and dangerous in character; and we are informed that this Bill is unique in the history of British law. In fact, I would describe it as the illegitimate child of the Mother of Parliaments.
The Amendment deals with a concrete point. We desire to reduce the problem contained in the Bill to that of rates only. Section 3 of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920, permitted certain increases of rent, provided that proper notice was given by the landlord to the tenant, including a notice to quit. This question, as many of the problems that have come before the House of Commons recently, affects Scotland very intimately. So far as I understand the provisions of the Measure, Scotland will be affected very much more than England and Wales. In most cases, in England and Wales, the printers of legal forms were keen enough, and the lawyers of England and Wales, apparently were more wideawake than the lawyers in Scotland. The forms printed in England and Wales and on which notification was given that the rent was to be increased did contain a Notice to Quit. There was, however, a general failure in Scotland to comply with the law, and the Government in this Bill are simply subsidising the ignorance of property owners of Scotland and the carelessness of Scottish lawyers. We had a case, as the House knows, in the House of Lords which determined very definitely that the landlords in Scotland, and in England if there were any, must be penalised for their carelessness, and then 1655 the Government bring forward this Bill in order to get the landlords out of their difficulty. We say that a Government which does that sort of thing, subsidising ignorance and carelessness, is not doing the right thing, and I hope that in the future the Government itself will be penalised in some form or other for what they are doing to-day.
After making our protest in that way we have decided to try to compromise. The Attorney-General unfortunately failed us in assisting in any compromise Amendments which we moved upstairs. He did give us one slight concession, which I understand Members of his party intend to-day to try to take away. The increase of 40 per cent. in rent which is allowed by the 1920 Act is made up of 25 per cent. to cover the increased cost of repairs, 10 per cent. to enable the owner to pay the increased rate of interest of 1 per cent. allowed to a mortgagee under the Act, and 5 per cent. to give a landlord an increased rate of interest of 1 per cent. on his own capital. Our Amendment reduces the problem to this. Whereas we have a general objection to any landlord who failed to give notice to quit receiving anything at all, yet, as the Government which has a majority has decided that this Bill must go through, we desire to offer a compromise, and we are willing if this Bill becomes law to allow such a landlord an increase of rent so far as the rates go, but we wish to stop there.
We have strong reasons for putting forward this Amendment. I give my own case to illustrate our first reason. In 1913 I lived in a house at 11s. 6d. a week rent. That rent was increased to 19s. 6d. Strange to say, when I paid 11s. 6d., the landlord did all the repairs and decorations. But when the increase of 8s. was made, he never did any decorations or repairs at all. We object to landlords receiving the 40 per cent. increase when we know that they are not using that money as it was intended by law that they should use it. That is the meaning of our Amendment. The landlord in England, Scotland, and Wales was not only supposed to decorate and clean and repair the house, but he was allowed so much increase of rent to cover the cost of the increase in rates as well. We know full 1656 well what the increase of rates was in every town in this country. We are not sure what the increase in interest was, and we are not satisfied that any person can prove what the cost of repairs or decorations made would be. The increase in rates is a known amount. We can say with regard to Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, or anywhere else, what the increase in rates was. We are willing to meet the Government by saying that if they will accept our Amendment we shall allow the Bill to pass, but unless the Government agree to our Amendment we shall oppose the Bill, as we did before it went upstairs, and as we opposed it upstairs. We are definitely opposed to the Measure; it is a bad Measure. It is a gift to careless landlords and ignorant lawyers, and I trust that before the day is out we shall show the Government that we mean what we say.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not anticipate the Third Reading debate. There will be a day next week for the Third Reading.
§ Mr. GROVES
I beg to second the Amendment.
When the Bill went into Committee I had an open mind on the subject. The Labour party have been called class representatives, but in this particular case the position is reversed, because as I listened to the speeches in Committee, my honest view of this Measure was that it is legislation directed against the tenant. I represent a poor district of West Ham, and the reason that I am so concerned about this Amendment is that I feel that if the Government will accept the position that the Bill will only permit landlords to demand that degree of rent increase which is pro rata with the increase of local rates, and exclude landlords from demanding any additional amount, which is presumably in proportion to some degree of structural alterations or maintenance of the house in a fit state, then the position would be a fair one. I am no more opposed to the landlord receiving a fair rental for his house than I am opposed to a baker receiving a fair price for his bread. We on these benches do not assume the position that we want to be rent free, but if in my borough a baker sells bread which obviously is adulterated 1657 to the extent of not being fit for human consumption, our medical officer immediately takes action, and the purveyor of the bread is brought before the local magistrate and condemned. A local baker was fined £20 and costs for this offence.
My borough does prove the actual need for the Amendment. When I listened in Committee to the speeches of Scottish Members I came to the conclusion that the housing conditions in their area are worse than the conditions in the East End of London, and when I listened last evening to the speech of the Minister for Health, and his details of the housing conditions in Scotland, I made up my mind that the conditions there must be worse than those in West Ham. But the official document issued by my borough contains sufficient evidence to prove that our Amendment is moderate, and in this very large industrial centre there is no need to argue that the owners of property should receive a single penny in addition to the local increase of rates. Even on that point I think that we on these benches are granting something in not seriously opposing that position, because it is the housing conditions in my borough which tend to increase the local rates for social service. On the medical department we are spending a great deal of money, as the Minister of Health knows by his experience. This is obviously the direct result of the bad housing conditions. Neither side of the House will deny that general position.
In the Housing Bill the Minister of Health is assuming the position that the Government and the local authority are endeavouring to work side by side with one another for the construction of new houses and the clearance of slums. In my borough there are 48,302 houses. We cannot inspect all these houses every year. The number inspected in 1922 was 10,413 and the medical officer in West Ham has certified that out of that number 8,413 were found to be not reasonably fit in all respects for human habitation. That is over 80 per cent. I think that details would be more appropriate at a later stage in this discussion, but I use this as an argument, that there is no justification at the moment for the landlords to claim and the Government to provide the payment to the property owners of an amount of money presumably 1658 for the maintenance of the houses in a fit state. If we can prove that the houses which are occupied by the poorer classes of this large industrial borough are really unfit then the case of the Government for an increase of rent on the ground that the houses have been made fit disappears. On those grounds I second the Amendment.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I listened with the greatest possible pleasure to the two speeches made from the Labour Benches upon this question. The chief reason why I did so is because they show a new enthusiasm on the part of Members from districts other than Scotland for Scottish interests. Both of them spoke with an accent which does not come from North of the Tweed. Both of them say that this Bill, above all, affects Scotland, and in particular the great city from which I have the honour to come. It is true that we in Scotland are a laconic and somewhat tongue-tied race, especially those of us who come from Glasgow constituencies, and we are grateful to these two representatives of English constituencies for the interest which they are taking in this topic. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment did it on grounds which seemed to me to be entirely unjustified by the speech which he made. He said he is willing to allow some increase of rent to be granted in respect of rates, because it is a known quantity, but the speech which he made in support of that theory was grounded on the fact that landlords who failed to serve the appropriate notice ought not to obtain any increase of rent at all, because he said we were simply subsidising careless landlords and inefficient lawyers. I am not in favour of subsidising either of these classes; I do not belong to either of them. But his speech was entirely subverted by the speech of the Seconder of the Amendment, who laid it down as the foundation of his principle that, provided the article was supplied, he was not unwilling that payment should be made for it.
Let us take the case with which we are dealing. You have two tenements side by side, and in each case you have tenants occupying the houses. In each case the tenants have the advantage of a roof over their heads and such accommodation as the house gives. But in the one case the landlord has failed to serve 1659 a particular notice and in the other case notice has been served. In each case the tenants have had the same article. Yet the Mover of the Amendment suggests that the rent should be taken in the one case and should be denied in the other. The two speeches cannot stand together. I suggest that we should have some regard to the equities of a situation which no one anticipated would ever arise. The whole question has arisen because of a particular form of notice which, for the most part, in Scotland, it was not thought necessary to serve. Yet because of that trivial circumstance we are asked to adopt a principle which is to deny to the landlord rent in a case where such notice was not served, and to give him the right to exact the rent for the same kind of accommodation where notice was served. The House should deal with realities. I hope we shall get forward with this Bill instead of dealing with such comparatively small matters.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I would not have intervened had it not been for the speech of my colleague the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). We Glasgow Members are very delighted to welcome his somewhat belated intervention in the proceedings on this Bill, considering the interest that has been taken in it in his own constituency and in neighbouring constituencies in Glasgow. All along from the Labour Benches we have asked the Government to consider, not the minutiae of the matter, but the equity of the case, and the equity of the case, we hold, was propounded by the House of Lords. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Well, I do not arrogate to myself the right to criticise the highest Court in our land. I believe that justice and equity are occasionally to be found together and that they were so found in this case. We would be quite prepared to support the right hon. Member for Hillhead if he would agree that the Bill should be rejected entirely and the matter be fought out as between any particular tenant and any particular landlord in the Scottish Law Courts. The right hon. Gentleman said it is unfair that the landlord owning this property shall receive the rent, and that the landlord owning neighbouring property shall not receive the rent for exactly the same type of house in the same condition. But that is exactly what this Bill is laying 1660 down—that the landlord of this particular tenement shall receive the rent and that the landlord next door shall not receive it.
Whereas up to now this kind of thing has not had legislative sanction, should this Bill go through it will have the imprimatur of this House of Commons upon it. We know, of course, that the right hon. Member for Hillhead comes from a very exceptional constituency in Glasgow. Perhaps he has a greater security of tenure in that division than has any other Member of this House, but at the most it cannot be extended for more than a year or two, and, in case there may be any difficulties arising, he may take this as an official notice to quit. I was informed that even in that favoured community of Glasgow one of his constituents fainted in the Sheriff Court on an afternoon of last week when the Sheriff told her that she would have to pay a certain proportion of her rent, as she was over the nine months in arrears. It was a pathetic sight to see the lady from that division of Glasgow, dressed in her rather superior garments, among the poor people from the east end, collapse at the terrible thought that she now had to pay rent. That was only one case brought to my notice. Probably there are thousands of the same kind where people are concealing their real difficulties under a decent outward appearance. I rather fancy that I am incurring the risk to which Mr. Speaker referred earlier on.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is so. We cannot have to-day speeches that would be appropriate to the Third Reading, which will be taken on Tuesday next. On the Report stage, we have to deal strictly with the points of each Amendment.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I raised the matter with you, Mr. Speaker, in order that the right hon. Member for Hillhead, whose Parliamentary experience is much greater than mine, would realise the enormity of his offence in making a Third Reading speech on the Report stage. I am not on my feet to deal with that, but simply to support the Amendment. The Amendment does not strike at the general principle of the Bill, but attempts to make the Bill—I was going to say rational, but really it is impossible to describe any provision of this Bill or any suggested Amendment of this most fundamentally irrational Bill as 1661 rational. The Amendment does make the Bill a little less irrational, and for that reason I have pleasure in supporting it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. I am not quite certain whether it would be in order now to discuss the retrospective nature of the Bill. I thought that the point ought to be discussed on an Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). As I am not in favour of the retrospective nature of the Bill, I would like to explain why I cannot support the Government on this point. I want to know whether I am to speak now or whether I am to wait for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Baronet is perfectly right. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley raises that particular point. I had some doubt whether the subject ought not to be reserved for the Third Reading, but I came to the conclusion to allow a short Debate on the subject to-day as well as next Tuesday, if it were so desired. It is not in order to raise that point on the present Amendment.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
Hon. Members opposite show such a desire for a Third Reading Debate to-night, that I am almost tempted to suggest that we may get the Third Reading as well as the Report stage and so put hon. Members out of their misery. That, however, might involve rather a late sitting, and I propose now to say only a few words against the Amendment. The Mover of the Amendment began by reminding us of what he called the severe treatment which it had in Committee. This particular Amendment was the first to be moved in Committee, and after a Debate which extended over 40 pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT, it was negatived by a majority of more than two to one. Similarly severe treatment will satisfy the Government this evening. I would like the House to understand what is the effect of the Amendment, because I am not sure that the Mover and Seconder have made it clear. The principal Act, the Act of 1920, lays down four heads under which a landlord is entitled to increased rent—structural alterations, rates, 15 per cent. for the increase of value, and 25 per cent. 1662 for repairs. The effect of this Amendment would be to say that such landlords as had failed to give notice to quit at the same time as they gave statutory notice of increase of rent, should not get any of the increase, except the one in respect of rates. What logical ground there can be for that contention I have not been able to understand.
The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment said that there are many cases in which houses are unfit for habitation and in respect of which the landlords have failed in their duty to carry out proper repairs. That would be a very good reason for refusing a landlord any increase in respect of repairs. The hon. Members either forgot or did not appreciate that the Bill provides that in such a case the landlord shall not get an increase in respect of repairs. In Clause 3 it is expressly stated that wherever the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair, the landlord is not to get the increase so long as that state of affairs continues. Therefore, we are imposing upon the landlord a more stringent penalty than that which the hon. Members propose, because we are saying that, so long as the landlord fails in his duty to keep a house in proper repair, he shall not get any increase, whereas the Amendment provides that, because some landlords do not keep their houses in proper repair, no landlord shall get any increase except in respect of rates. That does not seem to me to be a logical proposal.
Mr. J. RAMSAY MacDONALD
There is something more in the Amendment than the learned Attorney-General has suggested. It may be true that in Committee, after 40 pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT were spoken, the Attorney-General was relieved from his difficulties by a Division, and it may be that to-day he expects the same form of relief. We have all known in this House and in Standing Committee what a very happy relief a Division is to the Government, and that, so for from regarding it as a seal of victory, those of us who have read those 40 pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT will regard the Division as a form of relief rather than as a triumphant ending of a good Debate. We have had it again here to-day. What does the Attorney-General and, in that connection, the right hon. Member for 1663 Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) say? It is very difficult to leave out, altogether, the general setting and the foundation of the Bill. That, of course, will have to be discussed next Tuesday, but we must just found ourselves upon it. The Bill says that certain mistakes have been declared to have been made in the legal operations to secure rent. The House of Lords have come to that decision, and this Bill is going to rectify what the Government regard as a substantial injustice done. Quite obviously, that rectification can be made only by some kind of compromise. There is a compromise to be made somehow, and somewhere. The right hon. Member for Hillhead very properly points out that this is a bad compromise, and that if you have two tenants, enjoying exactly the same quality and quantity of occupancy, one of them should not be allowed to get off while the other is compelled to pay. That is the proposition he laid down this afternoon. That being so, the right hon. Gentleman is bound, I think, to follow us in the Division Lobby rather than the Government, so that his vote will not be cast, I suppose, in the majority that is about to be cast.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The Bill does not go far enough. That is my abjection. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then vote against it."] Half a loaf is better than no bread.
Possibly. I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman if he says, "I abandon the whole principle altogether, and take my stand upon convenience." But, taking his stand upon convenience, it does not lie with him to lay down this fine-sounding principle that equal tenants should receive equal treatment which, as a matter of fact, he has no intention of giving. What is the compromise suggested in this Measure? The right hon. and learned Attorney-General says if tenants have refused to pay they should not be asked to pay, and if they have paid, then there is no redress. In any event, I think we have a more rational suggestion to make than that. We say that the compromise ought to be made in some way such as this. The landlord, whether his rent exaction is just or unjust, has had to pay rates. In accordance with the principal Act, one of the reasons why rents may be legally increased is the payment of rates; and 1664 there are two or three other things, which the right hon. Gentleman has just quoted, and which I will not tire the House by quoting again.
Our suggestion is, divide the reasons for which rent may legitimately be increased, and let us impose on the tenants the responsibility of recouping the landlords for the increase of rates, legally or illegally exacted in respect of rates, and let the tenant have the benefit of the law as regards other things. That may be satisfactory or it may be unsatisfactory, but it is far more in accordance with legal practice and sound politics, and with the justice and the equities of the case that a compromise such as this should be made in the frame of mind shown by my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, than in the frame of mind shown by the Government Bill. The Government Bill has no pretence to equity or justice; it simply says, "We do not care if the landlords have put their property in order, or not. We do not care about that; we do not care about rates, about costs, and charges. The only thing we are concerned about is this, that we are afraid to compel tenants who have not paid to pay. We have no intention of compelling landlords who have exacted payments, declared illegal by the House of Lords, to refund them to the tenants."
I am getting on to the edge of the Third Reading, and I will not pursue it. A point that might remain until Tuesday, when we shall return to this matter, is that made by the right hon. and learned Attorney-General, regarding Clause 3. We want the increases of rent in respect of repairs, which in the vast majority of cases were never carried out at all, to be eliminated. The Attorney-General says that if, under Clause 3, a Court should declare, either on the motion of the tenant who believes himself to be aggrieved, or on the motion of the sanitary authority, that the house is not fit for habitation, and so on, then part of the increase in rent will be eliminated.
The whole increase in rent will be eliminated. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there is no substance in such a proposal. He knows perfectly well that the cases are not merely where the house is 1665 declared to be insanitary or unfit for habitation. It is not in respect to those houses that increases in rent have been imposed. It is not in respect of that type of property that landlords have been allowed, under the principal Act, to increase their rent. The increase of rent has been in respect of repairs which, whether made or not made, the house still is not in a fit state to be Inhabited; but not having been made, the charge for them amounts, not to a repayment of an outgoing on the part of the landlord, but to a pure form of rent, an increase in the cost of the house accommodation. That is what we want left out when we move this Amendment to secure that only payment for rates should be considered when the landlord is allowed to increase his rent. I therefore submit to the House that the Amendment of my hon. Friend is a sound Amendment; sound in principle; sound in equity. It is the best form of making a compromise which will make this Bill decent, and I hope the House will carry it by a majority.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
There is one matter upon which I can agree with the Leader of the Opposition, and that is that in many respects this Bill is a bad one. If, however, this Amendment be carried, it will make it a much worse Bill still. This is by no means a Scottish question, because I can speak, so far as this country is concerned, for a very large number of people who will be affected by this legislation. I am particularly concerned in the operation of this Amendment, not with the large landlords in this country who were properly advised, and who gave their notices to quit; but with those large numbers of people in West Ham and East Ham, in London generally, and all over the country, who own one house and collect their own rents themselves. There are a very large number of these people, and they are not accustomed to get legal advice. They simply got a form from a stationer in their district, filled it up in accordance with the Schedules of the Act, and thought they had given a proper and legal notice.
If this Amendment is carried, the position of these people will be simply this, that if they have carried out their repairs, if they have acted properly, as they have seen fit to do, they are not entitled to have the money they have expended. That is a most unfair position to put people in. 1666 I did not follow the Leader of the Opposition at all in his interpretation of Clause 3. Clause 3, I think, gives most wide and extensive powers. If he will look at the phraseology of it, he will see that any tenant can apply on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation—I cannot conceive any wider phrase—or is otherwise not in a reasonably fit state.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The answer is, that so far as previous legislation is concerned it has never gone so wide as that. So far as the interpretation of this Clause has been given in this country by our county court judges, no hon. Member opposite will dispute the fact that they have been most scrupulous in their interpretation on behalf of the tenant. If this Amendment is passed, what is going to happen to all those large numbers of people, in this country at any rate, who have had no legal advice, and have given the notices which they thought fit and right? They are to be debarred from recovering the reasonable sums they have expended.
My complaint against the Bill is not that of hon. Members opposite at all. They are to be highly congratulated on the terms of the Bill. I think it is very unfair, in many respects, to the landlords of this country, but I am not going to vote against the Bill for the same reason as that given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). [Laughter.] I do not think it gives rise to amusement. I can see the people of this country getting little out of this Bill, and my complaint against the Government is that they have not had the courage to put this matter on a reasonable basis. I do not share, for a moment, the criticism that has been levelled against the Bill by hon. Members opposite. If this Amendment were passed it would simply make matters worse.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I want to deal with the statement of the Attorney-General that there is no logic in this Amendment. The proper answer to that is, that no one in this House who knows anything at all about logic will say that the Bill is a logical Measure. It is based altogether, as has been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, on an illogical ground. I want to impress on the 1667 Attorney-General that, inasmuch as there is no logic in the Measure, it is not good enough, as an excuse, for him to refuse this Amendment, to say it is an illogical Amendment. If it be illogical, then it is thoroughly in keeping with the general Measure. I suggest to him that, whether it is illogical or not—while I should agree with the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), who might not have sat for Hillhead had he been as outright in his opinions when he was before the electorate of Hillhead—it is in thorough keeping with the rest of the Bill. The Amendment should be agreed to for this reason, that it will not do so much injustice to the tenants in the various cases would be done if it were not accepted. I want the Attorney-General to look at this Amendment, not from the point of view of the landlord, not from the point of view of those who, with the opportunities they have of knowing the law, by the opportunities given to them by the amount of wealth they possess and who are able to get the best leading opinion, but to look at it from the point of view of the ordinary member of the working classes. I want him to have regard to the circumstances of the man of the working classes who is face to face with this complicated Measure. That man acted in accordance with what he thought was the meaning of the Act. In many cases in Scotland he tried to get repayments made to him, and in the Sheriff Court it was said that it was just as good as paying his money into the bank, that afterwards it would be all right. If this Amendment be accepted, I hold you will not be doing as great a measure of injustice to that working man as you will be doing if the Bill passes without it.
Do the Members of this House realise how hard are the circumstances of the working classes of the country? Yet you are going to refuse to them in this illegal Measure any measure of justice whatsoever. You are going to push it to the extreme against them. It has been suggested that the Bill is a compromise. I say to you that, if it is a compromise, if you accept this Amendment, you will be making that compromise more favourable to those working people, many of them unemployed and up against the most fearful circumstances. I ask the Attorney-General to reconsider his decision. I 1668 suggest to the Solicitor-General for Scotland—who is fortunate in that for the present he represents a Scottish constituency—that he should have some regard to his own political life and that he should agree with us and give us the Amendment we are pressing for. I am quite certain his constituents in Aberdeen, were they here, would be with us in pressing for this Amendment. I want to appeal to the learned Gentlemen on the Front Bench to reconsider this matter and give some little measure of justice to the working man. Give to him something in the nature of a compromise and do not only have regard to the interests of wealth and property as has been the case with the Government when they brought forward such a horrible Measure as this.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
On that point there is an Amendment to Clause 3 raising that specific question, and the hon. Member can then get his opportunity.
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
There is one point to which I should like to draw the attention of the House and which has not been dealt with by the Attorney-General. I want to draw attention to the fact that the owners of houses were advised that, before they would be entitled to get any increase of rent, they would require to give notice to quit, and that by far the largest proportion of the house-owners in this country—I mean England, Scotland and Wales—did give that notice and as a consequence are receiving increased rent. There is another proportion of houseowners who did not give the notice. I am not speaking of the poor widow. She is not in it. If it had only been the individual case mentioned or referred to by the hon. Gentleman for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) this Bill would not have been under discussion to-day. The gentlemen who refused to carry out the law equally got the same advice, but they did not consider that they were bound in any way to pay any attention to what they conceived to be an injunction or an instruction contrary to what they thought was common sense.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
No. On Clause 3 the Amendment of the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) covers that point.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 147; Noes, 258.1671
|Division No. 127.]||AYES.||[5.10 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Harris, Percy A.||Paling, W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayday, Arthur||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Attlee, C. R.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Potts, John S.|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Herriotts, J.||Richards, R.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hill, A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hinds, John||Riley, Ben|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Brotherton, J.||Hogge, James Myles||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buchanan, G,||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Burgess, S.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Sexton, James|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Chapple, W. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Snowden, Philip|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Kirkwood, D.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, George||Sullivan, J.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lawson, John James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Duncan, C.||Leach, W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lee, F.||Thornton, M.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lowth, T.||Turner, Ben|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Falconer, J.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Foot, Isaac||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Warne, G. H.|
|Gosling, Harry||M'Entee, V. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Webb, Sidney|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||March, S.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Greenall, T.||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Weir, L. M.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Maxton, James||Westwood, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Millar, J. D.||Wheatley, J.|
|Groves, T.||Morel, E. D.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Mosley, Oswald||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Muir, John W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Mertbyr Tydvil)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Wright, W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Nichol, Robert|
|Hancock, John George||O'Grady, Captain James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, George D.||Oliver, George Harold||Mr. Neil Maclean and Mr. Lunn.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Berry, Sir George||Butcher, Sir John George|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Betterton, Henry B.||Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Blundell, F. N.||Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Button, H. S.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Brass, Captain W.||Cadogan, Major Edward|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Broad, F. A.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Becker, Harry||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Bell, Lieut-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bruford, R.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Bruton, Sir James||Clayton, G. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Cope, Major William||Hudson, Capt. A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hughes, Collingwood||Remnant, Sir James|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Hume, G. H.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hurd, Percy A.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)||Jephcott, A. R.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sandon, Lord|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lorden, John William||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lorimer, H. D.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lougher, L.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Furness, G. J.||Manville, Edward||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Garland, C. S.||Mercer, Colonel H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gates, Percy||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Molson, Major John Elsdate||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Murchison, C. K.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Halstead, Major D.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington).|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wells, S. R.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Harney, E. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Whitla, Sir William|
|Harrison, F. C.||Paget, T. G.||Willey, Arthur|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Pease, William Edwin||Winterton, Earl|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Wise, Frederick|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Penny, Frederick George||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Perring, William George||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Peto, Basil E.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Pielou, D. P.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Young, Rt. Hon. E, H. (Norwich)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Privett, F. J.|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Raeburn, Sir William H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Raine, W.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. Lansbury:
In Sub-section (1), to leave out the words 'whether before or' ['whether before or after the passing of this Act'].
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On a point of Order. Before the hon. Member for Bow and 1672 Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) moves the Amendment standing in his name, I desire to call your attention to the fact that there two Amendments standing next on the Paper in my name, to leave out the word "whether" and also the words "or after," and I wish to submit that as the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley is equivalent 1673 to a rejection of the principle of the Bill, my Amendment, which raises a minor issue, but deals with the question as to whether there shall be an alteration of the law for the future, should be taken instead. May I remind you, Sir, that on the Committee stage the whole question of retrospective operation was fully argued, but, owing to the Rules of Order, the other question, which is also very important and which affects closely the structure of the Bill, could not be discussed or decided by the Committee. I submit it would be for the convenience of the House that at least one opportunity should be given for discussing the question as to whether, in this Bill, which purports to get over the effects of the Rouse of Lords decision, we should at the same time alter the law for the future.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I was quite aware that the two next Amendments on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle), taken together, bring forward a proposition which is the reverse of that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, but I can hardly agree with the hon. Member on the matter of importance. It would not be possible to take both propositions, bemuse the settlement of one will rule out the other. I am afraid I am in the same position as the Chairman of the Committee, and am unable under the Rules to give the hon. Member the opportunity he desires.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I was merely making the submission to you, Sir, because to you is open a discretion on the point. The Chairman of the Committee, as I understand the Rules, is bound to take the Amendments in the order in which they are handed in and in which they appear on the Paper. That obligation does not, as I understand it, rest upon the Chair here, which has the right to select Amendments. My submission was that instead of taking the Amendment which, in effect, reverses the decision of this House on the Second Reading and which would render the whole Bill of no effect, an opportunity should, on the other hand, be given to discuss an Amendment, which is not fatal to the principle of the Bill, but which raises an important issue, namely, whether in dealing with the rights of persons affected by the House of Lords decision we should alter the general law relating to notices.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
As between the two hon. Members, I do not think there is much in the difference, because the second proposition would destroy the Bill as much as the first.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is a matter, on which I must exercise my own opinion. I can only say that I carefully considered the two Amendments of the hon. Member in coming to a decision as to which Amendment on this point I should select.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I wish, with all respect, to make this further point that my Amendment is not fatal to the Bill in any respect.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I quite agree from the hon. Member's point of view it is no use. I submit that the effect of my Amendment would be that while the situation arising out of the House of Lords decision would be dealt with by the Bill, the law as settled by the House of Lords would remain, and I had hoped to convince the House that we would have had a clearer condition of the law on the point if my Amendment were adopted. I think in the course of the discussion in Committee that view was to some extent shared by the Law Officers of the Crown. I am quite agreeable if you, Sir, should take the advice of either the learned Attorney-General or the learned Solicitor-General on this matter.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Fortunately, I am not a lawyer, and I have to exercise whatever small gifts are left to me. I have used them such as they are in regard to this matter, and have come to the conclusion in favour of the Amendment which I have already called.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "whether before or" ["whether before or after the passing of this Act"].
The whole of the discussion of this Bill so far, and the very necessity for the Bill, I think proves that the judgment which you, Mr. Speaker, have exercised is right. The plea that the legal Gentlemen should determine which of these Amendments is the best falls to the ground, considering the mess which has been made and which has brought this Bill into existence. The effect of this 1675 Amendment will be to make the Subsection read in this way:Where notice of intention to increase rent has after the passing of this Act been served etc.It really knocks out the retrospective part of the Bill. I should like to read to the House what the Attorney-General said in Committee on an Amendment of this kind:What we say is that where people have paid in the belief that they were bound to pay the Act of Parliament shall state in effect, 'You are perfectly right in making payment and you shall not be put in the position of being able to force the landlord to repay the money which you paid in the belief that notice to quit was not necessary; which he accepted in the same belief and with which you were both satisfied, if there had not been certain agitators to tell you that you were being done out of your rights.'I always understood that legal gentlemen were the people who agitated other people to demand their rights and I do not think we are the only people who agitate men and women to get their rights. The statement I have read exactly applies to the point which was submitted a little while ago, that this Bill does not establish proper relationships, say, as between two sets of tenants in one building. One tenant may have, as it were, got away with it during the past year or two and the other may have paid. The Bill says that those tenants who were for tunate enough to know the law shall have the benefit, but that those who did not know the law shall be deprived of the benefit. How one can regard that as an equitable arrangement I am at a loss to understand. We want to get back to a position which is both legal and equitable. I do not take the view that the Amendment would, of necessity, destroy the Bill. We could make the law clear so that a similar situation would not arise hereafter.
It is assumed by legal gentlemen who speak on this subject that the people understand the housing laws. I doubt if there is a single Member in the House who understands all the different housing laws, and the regulations under which they are administered. The fact is these laws are such a hotch-potch that it takes a lawyer to explain first one part and then another. Large numbers of people who 1676 have never had their houses or apartments done up, do not understand the powers they possess of enforcing their rights on the landlords. The argument that the Bill only affects Scotland is quite fallacious. In the district from which I come a large number of people have refused to pay, and, I believe, are still refusing to pay, and if this Bill goes through as it stands, we shall be in very great trouble in trying to get money out of people who have not any money. The last condition of this difficult problem will be worse than the first. You are proposing to say to the people that on a certain date in December last they should have known what was in the mind of the Government. There again the assumption is that the people all read the Debates in this House, appearing in the newspapers, and know the words of wisdom which fall from the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General. There are masses of people in the country who know nothing about these things, and who do not take the faintest interest in the proceedings of this House. There is no law compelling them to do so, and before a law has been passed, no one has the right to say that people should be cognisant of the fact that such a law is going to be passed. It is an entirely new doctrine if we are to frame our lives and rule our outgoings and incomings, not by what the law is, but by what the law may be. If hon. Gentlemen opposite understood what is implied in this retrospective Clause, they would not so readily vote in large numbers in its favour, as they have done on previous occasions.
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Hillhead Division of Glasgow (Sir R. Horne) talked about the poor widows. When it is sought to defend some vested interests the poor widow and orphans are always trotted out. The people concerned in East London are not poor widows and orphans, but people who bought up very bad property at ruinous prices and now charge enormous rents for quite old slums. Many of those people thought the tenants did not know anything about their legal rights, and they imposed the increase of rent. You are now going to say to the poor people who had the benefit of that, and who spent the money, that they must pay it back again. I think you will not get it back. I think this Bill will lead 1677 to an enormous amount of litigation and trouble in districts like the East End of London. In regard to the equity and the morals of this question, somebody on the other side appealed to us on the score of morality to pass this Bill. If life was organised on a moral basis, I hope I would be willing to judge all questions purely from the point of view of morals, but there are no morals in the law. The law is the law, whether it is moral or immoral. I say to the Attorney-General what I have said to judges and magistrates, and that is that the law never takes into account humanity and human beings, and the magistrates and judges have always answered me, "I am very sorry, but this is the law, and I am here only to administer the law." I have had a judge tell me he agreed with everything I said, and then at the end say. "I am very sorry, but I am not a legislator; I have to administer the law as I find it," and then he sent me to prison.
I want to point out that it is no use appealing to us on the score of morality or of equity. You have got to take the law as it stands, and I hope the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) will support us in this, not only by speech, but by coming into the Lobby, because he knows very well that the one thing you try to impose upon workmen—and we try, too—is the sanctity of agreements. In effect, a landlord, when he lets a house to a tenant, does so according to the law of the land, which gives the tenant certain rights and the landlord certain rights. We maintain that if Parliament carries a Bill of this kind, if in the future we want to break all the contracts that have been made between the State and individuals, none of you could stand up and deny our right to do so. To-day you are going to use the brute force of Parliament against, not rich people, but very poor people. There are no middle class persons, in the sense in which we understand the middle class, and certainly no upper class people, who are concerned in this business at all. In our district in East London they are very poor people, living under most wretched conditions. I do not want to go outside the Speaker's ruling, and I will not pursue that except to say that this House is being asked to take away from poor people something that the law gave them. This House is being asked, because 1678 some fairly well-to-do people have lost some money, to do what, in my memory, I do not ever remember it doing before, and that is to make a great Act of Parliament retrospective, to compel very poor people who have had money and were legally entitled to money, to give it up. You are going to say to those people that they must give it up after a certain date, having left other people, who got their advantage before that date, to get away with it altogether.
This House will commit a profound blunder, not only as concerns the working class, but as concerns the whole social life of the country. You are destroying the sanctity of contracts and any faith in your law, and you will make us all understand that when we get into power we can pass whatever laws we like, without any regard to whether it is right or wrong, so long as it is of advantage to the class, as you say, that we represent. I hope the House, before it rejects this Amendment, will very carefully consider the effect of passing the Bill as it stands. Finally, I want to say that you are defending, by passing this Bill, some of the worst rack-renters in the east end of London. You are defending some people who for years have doomed men and women to live under the most foul conditions. I would not defend what you are doing, even if they were good landlords, but most of the landlords who control the working people, being in the mass what they are, I say you are going to help the least deserving section of the community.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I beg to second the Amendment.
This is a very serious matter to the people whom we represent, in the West of Scotland in particular. This idea of going to take money from people who have not got the money to give will be nothing short of asking for a revolution. We have done our very best, in Committee, to reason with the Attorney-General, with the Solicitor-General, and with the representative of the Scottish Office in order to impress on them the seriousness of this Bill. We have been told that this Bill is the result of deep consideration and due deliberation by the Attorney-General, in order to take us out of a quagmire, so far as the law is concerned. I am no lawyer—thank God for that!—but any man with any commonsense 1679 can see at a glance, in going over this Bill, that it is going to land us in a mess that will take some clearing up. We have that on the authority of no less a personage than the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), and also the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), two men who are recognised as authorities on that side of the House. Never mind us here, who are actuated, not by points of law at all, but by points of humanity, but those lawyers, that learned fraternity which lives on the flesh and blood of the working classes—they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you. That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.Even they have descended from their pedestals to come down here to-day, amongst ordinary mortals, and use their influence, which should be considerable, with the Government, but it has evidently been of no avail. So that how an ordinary mortal like myself will be able to penetrate the hide of men of this description is beyond the tongue of man to tell. I have just come fresh from the Clyde, and I want, in all sincerity, to warn the Attorney-General. I know quite well that warning is of no avail in a great many cases, and men of that type live long, but nevertheless I want to say that my people on the Clyde are right up against it. They are not able to pay the current rent, let alone paying retrospective rent, and you are running the risk, a very serious risk, of the law being defied. What is the use of you making laws with which the people for whom you are making them are not able to comply? You are flying in the face of fate in performing in that fashion, and you have to remember this, that my people in Scotland—[An HON. MEMBER: "King of Scotland!"] Do not irritate me with your Kings. If you leave me alone, I will leave your King alone, but if you tread on a thistle, it will jag you!
The law in Scotland is being violated by this Bill, which is founded on a decision known as the Kerr v. Bryde decision, from my constituency. It was fought right up to the highest court in my native land, and we won, that unless the landlord had given due notice to quit, he had no right to any increase in rent, and Scotland says that is correct—not the 1680 Socialists, not the Labour men, but the lawyers of Scotland. It was tried at the green table of Edinburgh—that is something you ken nothing about—tried at the highest court in Scotland, and it was decided that, unless that notice was given, they had no right to any increase. Then they came over the border into this modern Babylon, that is destroying ordinary mortals, because it is a city of corruption. They brought it to London here, and they saw the Secretary for Scotland—as we called him at that time in Scotland, Rab Munro—and he told them that he could do nothing; he could not bring it before the Cabinet until they had explored every avenue of the law. The only avenue left to them was the House of Lords. They went before the House of Lords, and the House of Lords again decided in favour of the tenant. But the landlords had the Government on their side, and they appealed to their friends. The rich man appealed to the rich man. It was the first time in history, as far as we are able to read, that the law operated in favour of the poor. Then they come to this Government, which will pass down to posterity with a curse on its head. Those who are part and parcel of this Government—they can take it from me—will be cursed by posterity. I am not making that statement on my own authority. I am making that statement on the authority of the Book which we Scotsmen revere—the Bible, another Book that I would recommend to Members opposite to read and study. And what do I find there there?Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark.These poor people, through the Labour movement, were able to fight a case right up to the highest court in the land and win, and then there are men with the brass face to sit on that bench and pose as being nice, kind Christian gentlemen, and yet plot and plan. I know the Attorney-General has lost some sleep on this Bill, and he can take it from me that it is only the beginning of the sleep that he will lose. The Premier has gone. There are others going the same way. We have been sent here to defend our people, and we are going to defend them. We on these benches are the men who to day are standing by the constitution of our country. I say to the Attorney-General, "Thou art the man." He is defying all 1681 Government. He is trying to legislate against the constitution of my country. [Interruption.] I know perfectly well that Members opposite are doing their utmost to draw me off the trail. That was all right at the beginning, but I have tried my 'prentice hand on them, and I now stand fully fledged.
My purpose here to-day—I make no bones about it; there is no polish or veneer about me—is to see that everything possible is done to make Members opposite see the error of their ways, and get them to legislate in accordance with the ideas of the people, against whom this Bill is particularly directed. I warn the Attorney-General that he is making a law that the people of Scotland cannot keep. I want to drive that point home, because it is so important to Scotland. We have always been law-abiding. Time and again we have been misunderstood, and we have paid the penalty. I have never flinched when I have had to pay the penalty. It is a different matter when you instil in a whole nation the idea that you are going to turn down what they consider to be right. The decision of the highest authority in the land has got to be turned to one side by an Act of Parliament, not because the Government think it right, but because they have the majority. If they are able with their reasoning power, which they have, I admit; if they are able, through persuasion, to prove to us that they are right and we are wrong, then all will be well. But they have not been able to do that. I point again to the hon. Member for West Woolwich and the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), two outstanding personalities in the House, to try to do what they can to appeal to the Government not to go on with the Bill.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Believe me, I am very earnest in this matter. I know the circumstances of the people for whom I am appealing. I know the difficulty, and I got the Attorney-General in direct touch with the sheriffs of Glasgow to obtain for himself all the details that were necessary in order that he might know the thorny path he had set about to tread. We come here and appeal to 1682 the Government to accept this Amendment, because if they do not, then it means that our people will defy the law, and I shall be one of those who will advise them to defy the law. I have done it all along. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Wait till I have finished my sentence. It is hon. Members opposite who are defying the law. The fact of the matter is—I have no desire to say but it is pulled out of me, and the truth will out—that those men would violate Christianity, they would violate the laws of our country, they would destroy our people.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
It is quite true that this Amendment does raise the whole point of the Bill, but the hon. Member must remember that the Bill is set down for Third Reading on Tuesday, and we cannot have the discussion now on the Third Reading as well as on Tuesday. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will stick closely to the Amendment.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
There is only one point I wish to make, and then I am finished. It appears to me that because the present Government has a big majority over us at the moment, they are going to use that majority to ride roughshod over us, and we are determined, no matter what it costs us, that this is not going to take place. Our people are not able to pay any retrospective rent. How the Attorney-General can expect them to pay restrospective rent I do not know. Had he come to the Clyde he would have seen men and women, industrious fathers and mothers, who have been two years unemployed—no better tradesmen in the world, not a better asset in the British Empire than those people—being chased away from the banks of the Clyde and starved out of their native land. Then the Attorney-General, in the midst of that disaster, in the midst of that weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth—because that is what it comes to—takes the attitude he does. If we have got to focus that discontent and that misery against the powers that be, then if you are not going to allow us constitutionally to do this, we are going to focus it, because we are not going to allow our people to be starved slowly into submission.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have always been opposed to retrospective legislation, and 1683 I am sorry to say that I cannot support it because it happens to be moved by a Government of which I am a supporter. The real facts of the case are very simple. As I understand it, a certain Measure was passed which contained a Section which was difficult of interpretation. That Section went through various Courts of Law and finally went to the House of Lords. The House of Lords thereupon gave a decision, which decision resulted in the fact that certain people who knew nothing of the technicalities of the Act, and had not complied with these technicalities, were unable to raise their rents. The reason of it all, of course, was that owing to the horribly hasty legislation passed during the last five or six years this House really did not quite know what it was doing. It is quite clear that Members of the House and members of the Government who were responsible did not intend that the Bill should be interpreted in the way in which it was interpreted by the House of Lords. But the fact remains that it was so interpreted, and that it was so interpreted by the highest Court of the Realm. That being so, I must say, being a law-abiding citizen, I am bound to obey—I am sorry to obey—but I am bound to obey the decision given by that Court.
It is certainly quite clear that there was a misunderstanding. It would be quite in order for the Government in a Bill to correct that misunderstanding. But that Bill ought to have the force of law from the time that it passed into law, or, at any rate, from the time it was introduced into the House. In my humble opinion it should be one of those two days. This is dangerous legislation for the Conservative party to bring in, to say that because the House of Lords has given a decision founded on a mistake—I do not mean that the House of Lords was wrong—but because there has been this decision that retrospective legislation should ensue. I have been 31 years in this House. During the whole of that time I have been strongly opposed to retrospective legislation, and I certainly am not going to change my opinions at the last moment. But I must say that I am rather astonished at the attitude taken up by the Labour party, because these are the people I have endeavoured without success to convince that 1684 retrospective legislation is wrong—that is, those Labour Members who were in the House at the time, and I met with extreme ridicule. They have always been in favour of retrospective legislation, and I am, therefore, very much surprised that they should suddenly turn and take up the attitude they do.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes. I was going to give one or two when the hon. Gentleman interrupted me. Those Members of the Labour party who were in the House then know what was done with respect to the Taff Vale decision. That decision was not based in any way upon an error, but upon the common law of the land. The Taff Vale decision happened to be one against the desires of the then existing trade unions. We were told that judge-made law was a wrong thing, and that judge-made law ought to be reversed, and unfortunately it was reversed—and I hope it will be reversed again.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
May I interrupt the right hon. Baronet? Does he remember that the Unionist Government, of which he was a supporter, gave one of the best examples of really retrospective legislatin in dealing with the Churches of Scotland Act? That Act reversed the decision of the House of Lords in regard to the property of the Free Church and was retrospective in that it took the property of the Free Church?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have never taken up the attitude that a Conservative Government is always right. I have always exercised an independent judgment. Also, they very often make mistakes in Scotland. But because the Conservative Government made one mistake in the Kirk of Scotland that is not an argument that they should go on and make another in what is a serious question. I do not understand the attitude of the Labour party. Still I am always ready to welcome converts. I am glad the Labour party are standing up in defiance of any retrospective legislation, and in defence of the judgment of the House of Lords, and under the circumstances I beg most humbly to congratulate them on their conversion and to assure them if they take this matter to a Division in reasonable time I shall vote with them.
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
We had hoped that in the proposals under consideration the Government would be prepared to consider them more reasonably than apparently they are prepared to do. We are not suggesting at all that any legal rent should not be paid. This Amendment of ours means—if it means anything at all—that it is accepted that the law, so far as the payment of increased rent goes, shall operate in future. What we are asking the Government to agree to is that it shall not be retrospective: that it should not go back to a date mentioned from the Government Benches. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has dealt with this question very largely from a constitutional standpoint. He congratulates the Labour party on their conversion to his view. I am afraid we are not yet converted. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we have on various occasions attempted to get the Government to agree to the principle of retrospective legislation where we thought we had convinced them that a case had been made out for such legislation. We have invariably failed.
The Compensation Act, for instance, is a case in point. When the Compensation Act was first passed—I think it was in 1897—it was clearly stated that there were thousands of people who would have been entitled to benefit had their accident taken place somewhat later, but the Conservative Government of that day—I believe the right hon. Baronet would be a Member of the House at that time—decided they would not accept the principle of retrospective legislation. They decided that those men and women entitled to come under the Compensation Act would be entitled only to come under it from the date of the passing of the Act. There is no single instance, so far as I know—and I shall be pleased if anybody will tell me—in our industrial history where retrospective legislation has been passed for the advantage of the ordinary members of the working classes. There are any number of cases where remedial legislation has been passed; and this remedial legislation, when it was passed, was generally long overdue. But it never dated from a date prior to the passing of the Act itself.
1686 We approach this matter, however, from more standpoints than that of the merely constitutional. Even though you could make out that there was a good constitutional precedent for restrospective legislation, still we on this side say that it would be inadvisable in the highest degree on the part of the Government under present conditions to attempt to pass that sort of lgislation. I do not know that it should be necessary for me to remind hon. Members opposite of what are the actual conditions. I am not here to say that the conditions are worse in Scotland than in England. We are not dealing with a purely Scottish question, but something which is affecting the interests of the British working man as tenant and also the owners of houses. We have no desire to do the latter any injustice. We would be perfectly willing to meet the Government so far as possible in giving relief to the men and women who have been unfortunate in so far as this difficulty is concerned. There is a way out if the Government care to take it. We are not objecting to the Government subsidising housing if they do it at the expense of the nation, but we object to them doing it at the expense of the poor tenant. I am certainly prepared, speaking of my own knowledge of what are the actual conditions in certain parts of the country, and what is likely to happen if this Bill passes in its present form, to suggest that the Government should endeavour to get out of their difficulties by another course than that proposed in the Bill. Quite frankly, we are animated not by any hatred or dislike of the houseowner. We quite agree that there is room for difference of opinion. We accepted that position up to the time the House of Lords gave their decision. Once they gave it we think we were entitled to ask that the policy always pursued in this country should be pursued in this particular case, and if there was a case to be made for the continuance of the increase of that 40 per cent. on rent, and the Government introduced legislation to make it perfectly legal, we should not have objected so strongly as we are doing to this form of legislation. People are perfectly entitled to object to any increase in rent. As a matter of fact, the increase of 40 per cent. was given in direct contradiction of a pledge made by the present Prime Minister in 1918, and in 1920 this legislation was passed. It gave the landlords the 1687 right to increase rents by 40 per cent., and it is no use the Attorney-General or anybody else in this House suggesting that there are differences in the amount of the increase that has to be paid. The landlords have always interpreted the 1920 Act to mean that they were entitled to an increase of 40 per cent. on the standard rent whether the house was habitable or uninhabitable.
I am merely reminding hon. Members that there has been from 1920 up to the present time considerable disquiet in the minds of many thousands of tenants not associated with the Labour party, because of the deliberate breach of the promise that was made by the present Prime Minister and by the late Prime Minister. We are now moving to leave out the words, "whether before or" and then the Clause will read:Where notice of intention to increase rent has, after the passing of this ActWe are making a considerable concession. We are willing to accept the 40 per cent. increase, notwithstanding the fact that we protested against it, providing that you do not seek to introduce something which is bound to create a considerable amount of trouble in the industrial centres of this country. There is no need for us to threaten you or try to frighten you into the acceptance of our Amendment. It our case is not based upon reasonable grounds we ought not to win, but I submit to the Attorney-General that, apart from the constitutional aspect of the quesion, there are some social and economic reasons why some other method should be adopted to get over this difficulty than that which is presented in this Bill. I appeal to the Attorney-General even now to postpone the final consideration of this question until the Report stage, and if he does so and makes enquiries as to the actual situation he will find that it is much more to the advantage of the Government to meet us by some concession that will be more acceptable to the tenant and the houseowner than by pressing through this proposal.
This is the kernel of the Bill, and if this Clause is forced through it will create a difficult situation, not on the Clyde, the Tyne or the Weir alone, but on the Thames as well. In every industrial part of the country you will find the people determined not to pay this increased rent 1688 which is being made retrospective. I do not enter into the fancy points which have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) or the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) which are lawyer's points. We are trying to approach this question in a practical way. You are asking for money from tenants who cannot give it, and the only recourse left to the owner is to bring them before the Sheriff's Court or the County Court, and under this Bill, when they have got before those Courts, the judge will have no choice but to issue a notice of eviction which will spell ruin to hundreds and thousands of women and men who are quite as good as we are, and quite as honest. I appeal to the Attorney-General to give some humane consideration to this matter, and if he does I am sure he will meet the wishes of his own friends, as well as hon. Members on these benches by coming to some sort of arrangement which will obviate the necessity of trouble of the kind to which I have alluded.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
We have had an interesting discussion on this question, which really goes to the root of the Bill. We have had the legal aspect discussed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), whom we are glad to see taking part in our Debates again. We have had the humane and practical aspect put before the House by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) and the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Kirkwood). I join issue with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City, who wrings his hands over the distressing precedent which the Government he follows and loves so well is now creating. I was amused to find the right hon. Gentleman's recollection had gone so sadly astray. His great case of retrospective legislation was the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, but, as a matter of fact, that was not a retrospective Act at all.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I never said that it was. I simply brought it forward to show the extraordinary change which has taken place in the Labour party. They then sought to alter the decision of the House of Lords, and in this case they do not want to alter the decision of the House of Lords.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
In this matter, I am within the recollection of the House. I 1689 would remind hon. Members that just before the right hon. Gentleman cited this particular Act he was saying that in the past the Radical party and the Labour party had both been guilty of putting forward retrospective legislation. I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman and asked him to give us some examples, and the example which he gave of this vice of retrospective legislation was the Trade Disputes Act. In this case we must assume that the example which the right hon. Gentleman put forward, and the vice to which he says Radicals and Labour Members have been addicted in the past, is totally irrelevant.
I object to retrospective legislation, but I do not regard the Trade Disputes Act as in any respect retrospective legislation, because it accepted the decision of the House of Lords as the finding of the Law as it then was. But surely Parliament is entitled to alter the law and make new laws in fact, that is what Parliament is for. If it were not necessary to have new legislation then the work of Parliament would be unnecessary. We have had retrospective legislation before from a Unionist Government. There was the case of the Church in Scotland. The case of the property of the Church of Scotland came before the House of Lords, and a decision was given in favour of the smaller body—the Free Church, which was known as the "Wee Frees," a name which has descended upon another organisation which is equally responsible, and it is a case of equal devotion to principle and an equal willingness to make sacrifices for it. I am dealing with the question of retrospective legislation. What happened was this. Parliament intervened and took away property from the Free Church which the House of Lords decision had adjudicated to that church. The right hon Gentleman was a Member of Parliament then, and he took no exception to that.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I knew nothing about it, because I do not bother about Free Church matters, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) told me that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) was quite wrong in his statement.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
It is unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman is not here. 1690 At any rate, it is not so bad in the present Bill. I come to a more recent date at which the right hon. Gentleman assented to retrospective legislation, and it is the case affecting Lord Birkenhead. First of all, he was Solicitor-General in the Coalition Government. He then accepted the office of Attorney-General on the resignation of Lord Carson. He did not submit himself for re-election, and he sat and voted here for several months, incurring thereby heavy penalty. What happened? A retrospective Act was passed relieving the Attorney-General from penalties of thousands of pounds which he had incurred by a breach of law.
I was the only Member who objected to that legislation. I have a clean record on retrospective legislation, and it is absolutely stainless, and I only regret that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Banbury) cannot share that record with me. I sympathise from the legal and constitutional point of view with the attitude which has been taken up by the Labour party in this matter. I believe that this is a thoroughly bad precedent. I believe that right hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite will live to regret this proposal, and that they will find this case cited against them in the future when questions affecting property come to be decided in another Parliament by men holding other views, and who have other objects in their mind. They will say that when the Court of this land decided once in favour of that power you interfered with what had been adjudicated upon by the highest Court in the land; they will follow your example and will bear that precedent in mind when they are legislating also for the disinheritance of people. [Interruption.] It may be a long time, but if you go on in this way it will come sooner. The hon. Gentleman, who is a Scotsman, and sits for one of the least enlightened areas of Scotland, because he lives in the seclusion of Streatham, and is thereby altogether screened from the currents which are affecting the greater democratic areas of this country, cannot afford to treat these things with contempt.
It is a very real situation which now exists on the Clyde. There is unemployment on the Clyde—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am on the practical effects of this legislation. I have dealt with the legal aspects, and have shown that there is no precedent for anything like what is done in this Bill. I was advocating a particular method of dealing with rent restriction yesterday, and I pointed out that, by inserting a Clause in the Bill which has to be introduced, the necessity for yesterday's Bill could be obviated. But the taunt thrown at me by the Minister of Health was that I was doing an extraordinary thing in suggesting retrospective legislation. All I suggested was that that Bill, when introduced, should only operate as from the date of its introduction. It is a thing that has often been done by Parliament before, because it has been held that, when a Bill is introduced, notice is given to the parties of the effect of it. That was the case with the principal Act. It was assumed that by the introduction of the Bill notice was given, and, indeed, the principal Act was not passed until a week after the term in England, and six weeks after the term in Scotland, whereby the rents of the parties were affected. This, however, is quite a different matter; you go back to a much earlier period. You go back to a declaration of the Prime Minister. A speech of the Prime Minister is your standard. That is a thing that has never been done before by any party in this House. It is quite without precedent, and it is a most surprising thing that the party which boasts that it is the constitutional party, the party of law and order, the party which used to support the principles of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London—the principles of which he is now the last exponent in this House—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am delighted, of course, that on this occasion the right hon. Baronet is going to be true to his principles. I know that he has often done it apart from his party before, but I am singling him out for unique distinction as the last of the Conservatives. I think it, is relevant, on this question of the retrospective operation of this Act, to consider also its practical effects in relation to the conditions of Glasgow and the Clyde. There you have unemployment more severe at the present moment than in 1692 almost any other part of the country. In some parts of the country unemployment has diminished, but it cannot be said that there is any improvement in that area. What does that mean? It means that large masses of the people there are not able to pay the current rent, and you are passing, in this Measure, a provision which is going to compel them, not only to pay the current rent which they are incapable of paying, but also to pay arrears, in respect of which their ability to pay must obviously be much less. I say it is absurd to expect that it can be practically operative. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs talked about revolutionary conditions. It is a thing that cannot be enforced, and it is well to remember that this area is in a particular position in regard to this question of rent. It was there that the problem first arose. It was there that the first unconscionable increases of rent, in the early days of the War, were made, and it was the people who made the increases then who made the first Rent Restrictions Act inevitable. I am dealing with what occurred in 1915, and I say that the people who made that necessary are the people also who did not give the notices, and who have brought about this position and caused all this trouble. I think I ought to call attention to that. I say that, under these conditions, and bearing that history in mind, if you endeavour to force this, you are going to fail, and, whatever value you put upon your Statute, your Statute in the long run, for this purpose, in relation to people who are too poor to pay, is not worth more than waste paper.
I was wanting to make a few observations on another aspect of the Bill. I have, as the House will remember, an Amendment on the Paper which relates to certain words included in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. I put that Amendment on the Paper with a view to calling attention to what I regard as another of the vices of the Bill. This Bill is not only retrospective; it alters the law for the future. By altering the law for the future, it is introducing confusion which is bound to create difficulty for the future, and, as that, arises on one of the words included in this Amendment, I hope I shall be able to point to the confusion that will thereby result. The House will observe that this Bill says that the notice given will have a certain effect, whether it be 1693 given before or after the passing of the Act, and then the remainder of the Clause goes on to deal with both sets of circumstances concurrently, or pari passu. The result of this is that you have, as it were, two series of phrases running through the Clause together, making distinctions between the one and the other, and thereby making the whole thing a most confusing conglomeration, practically impossible for the ordinary man to interpret. There are several hon. and learned Gentlemen here this afternoon. There is the ex-Attorney-General, whom we are glad to see, and who, I believe, can be relieved of all responsibility for the principal Act, because I understand that the Law Officers were thought to be incompetent to advise upon that Measure. It was a monument to the legislative capacity of the then Minister of Health, for which the lawyers have no responsibility whatever. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, is quite disinterested, but I would put it to him, or to the hon. and learned Member for the St. Ives Division of Cornwall (Mr. Hawke), or to the hon. and learned Member for the Hartlepools (Mr. Jowitt), that it would be difficult to find in any Statute a more complicated and difficult Sub-section than Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 of this Bill. It is all because, in this single Sub-section, you are endeavouring to do two things—you are endeavouring to deal with the law as declared by the House of Lords, and the notices which had been given before that decision, and you are also endeavouring to deal with the notices given subsequently to that decision.
When the House decided to give a Second Reading to this Bill, I believe it decided that there should be retrospective legislation. That was the principle accepted by the House, that the practical effects arising out of that decision were to be dealt with in one way or another. But my submission to the House is that that was all that you had to do. You did not need to alter the law after that. After the House of Lords gave its decision in Kerr v. Bryde, everyone knew what the law was. The great majority of people believed before that the law was as the House of Lords defined it, but after the decision was given the position was perfectly plain. No one was in any doubt; 1694 everyone knew the kind of notice required to be given for the purposes of making an increase of rent under the principal Act. That is agreed. Why, then, alter that law for the future? Why say that you are going to have a different kind of notice in regard to all future cases that arise under the Act? It is absolutely unnecessary. And what is the effect? First of all, you do not repeal the provision in the principal Act which was interpreted in Kerr v. Bryde, so that that stands, and, in addition, you have another procedure under this Sub-section. Therefore, for the future, in any case arising under the Rent Restriction Act, the landlord may decide to give the notice in the one form or the other, and the tenant will not know under which Section the landlord is giving it. You are, therefore, most likely to cause confusion among the people affected by the Act, and, by causing confusion, you are likely to bring about one of those incidents which have been so plentiful under the original Act, where legislation will arise, where the minds of Judges will be puzzled, and where, probably, a decision will be given altogether contrary to what this House or the Government expect. It is for that reason that I think, even yet, the Attorney-General should consider this matter in the later stages of the Bill, and eliminate all those provisions which alter the law for the future. Let him be content with dealing with the effect of the decision in Kerr v. Bryde, and leave the definition of the law as it was in that decision for the future. I suggest that that will be in the interests of all concerned.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
We have listened, in the course of the Debate on this Amendment, to speeches which were some of them persuasive and some of them fiery, and I have heard myself compared to a number of people whom I did not know I resembled. I think the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) began by comparing me with Solomon, and went on to compare me to a gentleman who was cursed in the Bible for removing his neighbour's landmark. I do not think that either comparison was a very apt one. The hon. Member said that, if only we could persuade him that we were right, he would not vote against us, but, in fact, would support us. I am not very sanguine of succeeding, because 1695 I have tried before and failed, but I will have another try, and, perhaps, this time hip ears will be opened to hear.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
On a point of Order. The Attorney-General is just going over exactly the same phraseology that I used to him.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I did not know that the Scripture was copyright, and the hon. Member will agree with me that I must obviously, at any rate, have listened to his speech, if I am able to reproduce it. I am going a little further in following his example, if I may be allowed to do so. He made an appeal to me to try and mitigate the trouble which he foresaw, by departing from what he regarded as the error of my ways. I am going to make an appeal to him. He has told us that in Scotland his people are law-abiding people, and he has told us they are anxious to obey and keep the law. May I appeal to him if the majority of this House, who, after all, represent their constituents just as much as he represents his, come to the conclusion that the law wants altering, as we think it does, whether he will not try to persuade his people to continue to be law-abiding citizens, and encourage them to keep the law. I think that might perhaps be a better service to his people as well as to his country.
Several hon. Members have said there is no instance where the Courts have decided in favour of a rich man against a poor man where Parliament has interfered retrospectively. I should weary the House if I were to go through all the instances I could find, but I will give the one that is easiest to refer to, because it is embodied in the very Act with which we are now dealing. In Section 14 of the Principal Act there is a provision which re-enacts a similar provision in the Act of 1917 which was passed because it was pointed out to Parliament that decisions of the Courts acted harshly on poor men because the Courts had decided that where a tenant had paid money which he was not legally liable to pay under the various Rent Restrictions Acts he could not recover the money so paid. Thereupon Parliament interfered and enacted that where before or after the passing of the Act a tenant had paid such moneys he should be able to recover 1696 them. In other words, Parliament altered retrospectively the rights of tenants against landlords. I think Parliament was probably quite right in doing that. I am not concerned to challenge their wisdom. I am mentioning it because I am challenged to produce an instance of retrospective legislation and that is a very obvious one which is quite ready to our hands. [Interruption.] I do not appreciate any difference.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
Is not the difference this, that in one case money was taken and held illegally and it had to be refunded, and in this case the money is already handed over illegally according to the last Act, but this Act seeks to make the holding of that money perfectly legal.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I do not think the hon. Member has quite taken the point I was trying to deal with. The suggestion is that Parliament does not interfere retrospectively in favour of the tenant. I have given an instance, and I think it is a fair one, where Parliament has interfered retrospectively in favour of the tenant, and has given him the right to get money which at the moment that Act was passed he had no right to recover because the Courts had decided that the landlord was legally entitled to it. It is a perfectly fair instance. I could find others, but I do not want to take up the time of the House at great length in what we shall have to debate again to a great extent on Tuesday next.
The right hon. baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) objected to retrospective legislation, and no one suggests that retrospective legislation is in itself a desirable thing. He said the problem we had to meet was that a decision of the House of Lords had been given on what was an obscure and difficult point, and that as the result of that decision certain people were unable to raise their rent, and he said we could quite rightly bring in a Bill to correct the misunderstanding for the future, but that we had no business retrospectively to alter the law. If the problem were what my right hon. Friend suggests it was, I think his argument would be unanswerable and I should accede to his suggestion. But in fact that is not the problem with which we have to deal. The problem 1697 is not whether certain people are unable to raise their rent. That would be a trifling matter. The real problem is a very different one. It affects not a few people in Glasgow only, but a very large number of people all over the United Kingdom. After the 1920 Act was passed, in which the notice of increase of rent was set out in the Schedule, the tenants proceeded to pay the increases demanded and they have continued to pay those increases in some cases down to the present day, and in most cases for something like two years. Then came the decision of the House of Lords, by a majority, that the notice of increase for which the Act of Parliament stipulated was not legal unless it was accompanied by a notice to quit, and thereupon we are faced with the position that all the tenants who have been paying under notices of increase for periods of sometimes two or two and three years, and who, of course, would have paid just the same if they had had notice to quit at the same time, are now claiming to recover from their landlord the whole of the increases which they have paid for those two or three years. If you pass an Act which says for the future notices of increase need not be accompanied with a notice to quit, you do not deal with the problem at all. You do not help the position with which you have to grapple, and it is no good ignoring a problem like that and thinking that by doing that you are solving it. You have in some way to grapple with the situation which has been created by a decision whose correctness I, of course, do not challenge, but which was certainly not appreciated by a great number of people, both lawyers and laymen, until it was pronounced by the House of Lords. I am right in saying that, because two out of the five Law Lords, including the Scotsmen, were in the dissenting minority.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Lord Dunedin, who for many years sat as a Scottish judge, was President in Scotland and is now one of our most valued judicial Members of the House of Lords, was one of the dissenting judges. I should have thought Lord Dunedin was as good a Scotsman as the hon. Member could desire. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member was speaking about the 1698 Scottish Courts, the first decision that was given on the effect of this Act, so far as I know, was given in Scotland by the sheriff substitute in a case actually brought against a present Member of the House and the decision, which was never appealed, was that no notice to quit was necessary. Anything more calculated to mislead the landlords into the belief that their position was correct it is difficult to imagine.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
May I put the same question I put to the right hon. Gentleman the last time he made that statement. May I ask him, as a lawyer, is there any appeal under the Act he is discussing if the other side does not agree?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
In English law, certainly. As to Scottish law, I cannot pretend to speak with authority, but the question has been put to me before, and I have consulted other Scottish lawyers, and I am assured that there could have been an appeal in that case. But the point is not whether there could be an appeal or not. The point I am trying to make is that the only judicial decision upon this question which was known to Scottish people down to this case was a decision that no notice to quit was necessary, and therefore it is not quite fair to say there was no decision by Scottish judges to the same effect as the dissenting minority in the House of Lords. That is the problem with which this House has to deal. You do not deal with it at all if you merely say that for the future notice to quit is not necessary. Everyone admits it is an idle formality to give notice to quit. No one has ever suggested it has any practical value for landlords or tenants. Obviously, it might have a grave disadvantage to tenants by unsettling their minds to be told they were to clear out in a week when there was no intention of making them move. No one suggests that there is any value in a notice to quit, and therefore the position is that all those tenants who have paid under the belief that there was no need for a notice to quit, the landlords not having troubled them with an absolutely useless notice to quit, but having carefully given them the notice of increase which the Act described, could sue their landlords in all probability for the whole of the increases of rent they have been paying for years past.
1699 That is an impossible and an intolerable position. The only two solutions which have been suggested other than our own are the suggestion that the State should pay all the landlords the whole amount of the increase, which is not one which would commend itself to an economical Government, and the suggestion which has come from some hon. Members that, to be logical, the retrospective character of the Bill ought to go right back to 1920, and that we have no business to limit it to 1st December, 1922. That again, though it might be logical, is not in our view either fair or practicable, and we are not proposing to do it. Hon. Members opposite have spoken as if we were making tenants pay retrospectively from July, 1920. Of course we are not. We are only making tenants pay who have not paid up from 1st December, 1922, and when hon. Members point out, as they no doubt quite rightly do, that there is unemployment and distress not only on the Clyde but in other parts of the country, and when they say these poor people cannot pay these rents, you must remember that the rents we are asking them to pay are being asked from people who have for the last five months refused to pay any rent at all, and it would be very unfair that the man on the one side who has paid his rent all along should be put in one position and the man who has for the last four months refused to pay any rent at all should now be in a position to say, "I cannot pay these increases, I have spent the money on something else."
One other word about payment. We recognise that, although these moneys have not been paid since 1st December, it would not be reasonable or possible to ask people to pay up four or five months' arrears of rent at one fell swoop. They could not do it, and accordingly—if the House compares the Bill now with the Bill as it passed Second Reading it will see that we have made substantial concessions—we have provided that instalments only shall be paid, which I am afraid will mean that the rent, even if the instalments are kept up regularly, will not be paid in some instances for three or four years. We have made the instalments as low as we can, and I can reassure the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Duncan Graham), who said where tenants could not pay and were brought 1700 before the sheriff or the County Court judge there would be no option for the judge except to turn them out, by reminding him that there is an express provision in Section 5 (2) of the principal Act which gives a discretion to the County Court judge or the sheriff, as the case may be, either to suspend or to cancel the eviction order when he thinks it right and just.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. D. GRAHAM
Is the Attorney-General receiving any information from Scotland at the present time of the numbers of eviction orders that are being brought before the Courts, and as a result of which in very many cases the people are turned out?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I have no doubt whatever that eviction orders are being made. That was not the point I was making. As I understood him, what the hon. Gentleman suggested was that if a tenant could not pay these instalments and was brought before the sheriff or the County Court judge the sheriff or County Court judge has no option but to turn him out. I want to reassure the hon. Member about that. That is not the law, and if he will read Section 5, Sub-section (2), of the principal Act, which is incorporated in the present Bill, he will see—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read it!"]—this is the full provision:At the time of the application for or the making or giving of any order or judgment for the recovery or possession of any such dwelling-house,"—That is, any dwelling-house to which this Bill applies—or for the ejectment of a tenant therefrom, 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.I venture to think that the House and the hon. Gentleman may be reassured against those fears which he entertained 1701 that the Court have no option on an application of this kind except to make an eviction order and turn the tenant out. I have taken up rather more time than I meant to do because I have dealt with matters which we shall have to discuss later. I think I am not taking an undue advantage of the House or the Opposition if I suggest that any further discussion on this particular Amendment can take place adequately on the Third Reading, where, quite obviously, it will be the main topic which we shall discuss, and rightly
§ discuss. I suggest that it may be in the interests of time and would not involve any sacrifice of their proper interests or any sacrifice of their proper principles if hon. Members were good enough to allow the House to come to a decision on this Amendment forthwith.
§ Question put, "That the words 'whether before or' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 160.1703
|Division No. 128.]||AYES.||[7.5 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Apsley, Lord||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Coin. Frederick W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hudson, Capt. A.|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hughes, Collingwood|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hume, G. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Ednam, Viscount||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Becker, Harry||Ellis, R. G.||Jarrett, G. W. S.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Jodreil, Sir Neville Paul|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Falcon, Captain Michael||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Berry, Sir George||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Foreman, Sir Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Forestier-Walker, L.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Lorden, John William|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Furness, G. J.||Lougher, L.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Ganzoni, Sir John||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Garland, C. S.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Goff, Sir R. Park||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Gould, James C.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Bruford, R.||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Manville, Edward|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Buckley, Lieut-Colonel A.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Halstead, Major D.||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harney, E. A.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harrison, F. C.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hawke, John Anthony||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cope, Major William||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Paget, T. G.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Pease, William Edwin||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Russell, William (Bolton)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Penny, Frederick George||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Perring, William George||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Peto, Basil E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Pielou, D. P.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Shepperson, E. W.||Wells, S. R.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Privett, F. J.||Simpson, J. Hope||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Raine, W.||Singleton, J. E.||Willey, Arthur|
|Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Winterton, Earl|
|Remnant, Sir James||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)||Wise, Frederick|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Sparkes, H. W.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Reynolds, W. G. W.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||Steel, Major S. Strang||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Gibbs.|
|Adams, D.||Hayday, Arthur||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hemmerde, E. G.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Potts, John S.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Richards, R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Herriotts, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hill, A.||Riley, Ben|
|Bonwick, A.||Hinds, John||Ritson, J.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Briant, Frank||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Brotherton, J.||Hogge, James Myles||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Saklatvala, S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Burgess, S.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Sexton, James|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Cairns, John||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Chapple, W. A.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Snell, Harry|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Snowden, Philip|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Kirkwood, D.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lawson, John James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Leach, W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Linfield, F. C.||Tout, W. J.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Edmonds, G.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Turner, Ben|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||M'Entee, V. L.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||McLaren, Andrew||Warne, G. H.|
|Foot, Isaac||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gosling, Harry||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Webb, Sidney|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maxton, James||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Millar, J. D.||Weir, L. M.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Morel, E. D.||Westwood, J.|
|Greenall, T.||Morris, Harold||Wheatley, J.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mosley, Oswald||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Groves, T.||Muir, John W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Nichol, Robert||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, George Harold||Wright, W.|
|Hancock, John George||Paling, W.|
|Hardie, George D.||Parker, H. (Hanley)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Percy A.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. Neil Maclean and Mr. Lunn.|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment at which I have been looking is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Bodmin Division (Mr. Foot), but as it appears on the Paper, it would not read.
§ Mr. FOOT
It is in the wrong place, and should read "In Sub-section (1 (a)), leave out the words 'first day of December nineteen hundred and twenty-two' ["in respect of any period before the first day of December nineteen hundred and twenty-two"], and insert instead thereof the words 'fifteenth day of February nineteen hundred and twenty-three.'"
§ Mr. FOOT
It raises the point as to the date to which this Bill should be made retrospective, whether it should be made retrospective to the date when the Prime Minister makes a statement in this House or to the date when the Bill itself was introduced. I submit that it does raise an important point upon the question of retrospective law.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I would suggest that that is probably the same Amendment as that which stands just below in the name of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Short).
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I had on my paper a note that it was much to the same purpose. It must come, if at all, after the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Duncan Graham). Perhaps the hon. Member will consult me in the meantime.
§ Mr. D. GRAHAM
I beg to move, after the word "that" ["Provided that"], to insert a new paragraph:(a) This Section shall not apply where the tenant was a workman in the employment of the owner of a mine to which the Coal Mines Act, 1911, applies, and the dwelling-house was let to him by such owner or a former owner in consequence of that employment.We cannot in the case of this Amendment have the argument about the poor landlord or the widow. This Amendment is intended to apply to the case of men occupying colliery company houses, whose rent is deducted weekly or quarterly, and who have had no opportunity of securing the advantages that thousands of other tenants have had during the last few 1706 months, since the decision of the House of Lords was given. I would remind the Attorney-General that the question of the 13 per cent. instalment payments does not apply in this case, for this reason, that the colliery owners have not allowed the tenants of their houses to be in arrear. Notwithstanding what the Attorney-General has said up to the present, the owners have illegally deducted 40 per cent. rent increase from July, 1920, up till the present date from the wages of the men whom they employ, who are occupants of their houses, and they do not require to pay the cost of repairs. They only pay their proportion of the cost of repairs, but they have increased their rent by the 40 per cent., and this applies to many thousands of tenants similarly placed not only in Scotland but also in England and Wales. This is not a purely Scottish question. It affects tenants in mining districts in the three countries.
The Attorney-General cannot give any sound reason why the owners of colliery houses, who have always had skilled advice in these matters, should be allowed to get this increased rent when other house owners have not been able to enforce it. Since the 1920 Act came into operation the miners have had three months' stoppage, and those of them who are occupying houses belonging to the company ran three months in arrear and some of them more than three months. When they resumed work the owners took the increased rent, notwithstanding that they knew that it was illegal. There is no use of the Attorney-General trying to cod us into the belief that the owners did not know that this was an illegal thing to do, because, in 1920, as admitted by the representatives of the house owners themselves, they did get notice that, to make their claim for increased rent legal, it was essential to give notice to quit, and there is not a single case, so far as I know, in Scotland in which the colliery owners gave the mining occupier notice to quit before they enforced the increase in rent. Neither is there a single case in which they did not take the 40 per cent. increase from these men after the stoppage was ended, while making them pay up arrears. There are no arrears here and no possibility of arrears. It is a question whether, even though no attempt was made by this House to overturn the House of Lords decision, the 1707 owners would be prepared to give the mining occupiers back the rent that they have taken from them illegally.
The plea that there is a special case is given as a justification for the manner in which this Bill deals with the whole question. The Attorney-General has carefully pointed out that the Bill does not propose to make retrospective payments of the rent to July, 1920, that it only applies to December of last year. That means that there is a certain proportion of the tenants who have paid the increased rent all that time, and they are to receive no advantage, and a certain other proportion who have refused to pay from the date of the decision of the House of Lords, and they will have this advantage, that the arrears which they will be called on to pay, if the Bill passes in its present form, will be at the rate of 15 per cent. on the standard rent of 1914. The men who are affected by this particular Amendment have not any of the advantages that any of the other tenants have. They are not in arrears. From December to the present day they have been compelled to pay what is admittedly an illegal rent. There is no sheriff in Scotland who will, or can, use his discretion in favour of the tenant occupying a colliery company's house who is being pursued by the owner to get that house. The Attorney-General cannot get out of this argument in the same way as he attempted to get out of the last one, because the employé has got to go. Yet notwithstanding that the British colliery owners have been free of the restrictions which apply to other owners of house property they have taken advantage of their economic strength, and the fact that so many men are unemployed in the mining industry to compel the occupants of these houses to pay a rent which, since the decision of the House of Lords, is illegal.
I hope that the Attorney-General will agree that there is a case for exemption in regard to these tenants. There has been an understanding that the discussion is to be more or less a short one, as I believe it is for the purpose of giving us an opportunity of seeing whether there is any change in the opinion of the Government as compared with when the matter was before us in Committee. Therefore I do not propose to take up 1708 much more time. The Attorney-General had the matter put before him in Committee, and I think that he was to some extent influenced to believe that there was something in this case. I gathered from him then that he was prepared to inquire into the matter, and if he has done so he will admit that the statements which he made were in accord with fact. I have tried to put the case fairly and without exaggeration. We are asking here that the tenants occupying houses which, I was going to say in every case, are uninhabitable—so far as Scotland is concerned it makes no difference whether they are habitable or uninhabitable—shall not have to pay the increased rents to the colliery owners, who have had an advantage which has not been enjoyed by other owners of house property throughout the country, and in accepting this Amendment the Attorney-General will be doing no injustice, and he will not be discriminating in any way unfavourably if he exempts these colliery owners from the operation of this Bill, until at least it has passed into law.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
In supporting this Amendment I do not intend to develop any arguments in justification for it. My hon. Friend has indicated clearly the exceptional circumstances dealt with by this proposal. The Bill, taken as a whole, has been justified from the very outset by the plea that the poor property owner would be bankrupt if this Bill were not passed. That argument cannot be used to defeat this Amendment. First of all, all colliery companies which have their own houses, in which they imprison their workmen, are well able to afford the legal aid that they need. When it comes to the point of prosecuting an individual, or where their own particular interests are concerned, they never fail in securing all the legal aid that they require. From the point of view of the moneys that they would, perhaps, be entitled to, that is to say, so far as arrears are concerned, should the Bill pass in its present form, I am convinced that the same weapon as has been used from time to time to impose intolerable conditions upon some miners would also be used to exact the arrears of rent that would accrue under this Bill.
If only for the purpose of retaining for the men the very small element of freedom that they now enjoy, the Attorney-General 1709 ought not to hesitate in expressing approval of this Amendment. One could give individual cases where definite hardship has been imposed upon tenants by colliery companies which own a large number of houses. I do not think that the Attorney-General ought to be an accessory before or after the fact of placing in their hands a further weapon with which to tyrannise over their workmen. The conditions are bad enough at the moment, without attempting to place more power in the hands of the colliery companies. On the other hand, the position of the tenant, already very bad when he happens to be the tenant of a colliery company or of a large employer, ought not to be made worse because of the exclusion of the Amendment now before the House. As has been stated, many arguments can be submitted for and against some of the Amendments that are on the Paper, but in this case I think it would not be possible to justify opposition to what is a very modest Amendment.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I accept at once the statement of the Mover of the Amendment that he has presented his case without exaggeration and without undue heat or bias. The case was sympathetically put forward. I am sorry that in spite of that fact I cannot see my way to accept the Amendment. The Mover based his argument on the fact that the colliery companies, who are the people to be affected by this Amendment, are in a position to pay for legal advice, and that, therefore, they must have known that a notice to quit was necessary. The Seconder of the Amendment pointed out that this Bill was in some way giving the colliery owners a weapon with which to tyrannise over their workmen. Though I have listened carefully, I confess that I have failed to find out what advantage any colliery owner could gain by not giving a notice to quit, but by giving notice of increase of rent without notice to quit. How on earth anyone can suggest that the colliery owner puts himself in a better position by giving a notice of increase without a notice to quit, when he knows that a notice to quit is necessary, I am quite unable to understand. Of course, if there were some subtle advantage which the colliery owner would get by omitting to give notice to quit, one would understand the argument that he must have done it knowingly in order to gain that advantage.
§ Mr. D. GRAHAM
Is the learned Attorney-General not aware that the owners are able to carry out the law, that the law is that they are not entitled to deduct the rent, but that they are deducting it?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
If I am a tenant, as I am, of an ordinary house, I can refuse to pay the increased rent. If I am the tenant of a colliery company's house, I cannot refuse to pay the increased rent. But at many collieries it is being deducted from the men's wages, whether the men will it or not, and that is against the law.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Member is quite right in saying that this Bill will affect the position of colliery owners just as it will affect the position of other house owners, in the sense that it will enable them to retain money which have been paid, so long as they are not in excess of the maximum provided by the 1920 Act.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I do not want to interrupt, and I will not do it again. There is no use saying that the money is "paid." It is not paid; it is deducted from the wages.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
I was not making any play with the word "pay." I quite accept the statement that the method by which payment is exacted is to deduct the money from the wages. I do not dispute for a moment that, if this Bill becomes law, the colliery owner, just like any other house owner, will be entitled to retain the money which has been paid, either by deduction from wages or in cash, so long as they do not exceed the increases which are prescribed by the 1920 Act. The suggestion has been made that the colliery owner is in a different position from other people, because, whereas other people may have been unable to obtain legal advice and may have acted in ignorance of the law, the colliery owner must have known all along that a notice to quit was necessary, and that he deliberately abstained from giving it. My point is, that it is very difficult to understand what underlies that suggestion. What possible advantage could a colliery owner gain by refraining from giving a notice to quit?
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
There is a reply to that question. In many cases the colliery owner would have found that his colliery would have stopped if he had given the notice to quit.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Member will believe me, I hope, when I say that I cannot see why. Under the Act of 1920, there is a notice of increase prescribed. That notice, it is assumed, is given. If the colliery owner has not given that notice, this Bill does not help him; he still will not be able to keep any increase which he has exacted, unless he has given the notice which the Act prescribes. Supposing he at the same time had given a notice to quit, what difference could it have made to any miner? Of course, we are assuming that he would have had at the same time explain to the miner that the notice to quit was not intended to be operative. It is one of the absurdities of the result of the 1920 Act that the owner, at the same time as he has to give notice to quit, has to warn the tenant not to be frightened, because the notice means nothing. But I cannot understand, still, why the colliery owner, if he knew that a notice to quit was necessary in order to validate notice of increase, could not have given it. The reason he did not do it, I suggest, is that he thought, like so many other people, that the notice of increase, which is the only thing that the Act apparently prescribes, was all that was required, and he, like other people, I dare say, acting on skilled advice, did not realise that it was necessary.
There is another point which was made. When we were discussing the last Amendment there was put to me more than once the difficulty that the people who have not paid will be put in by this Bill. I was told, "You are imposing, by virtue of this Bill, an additional liability to pay off arears. That is a liability which they cannot endure." So far as collieries are concerned, the miner is in a better position than any other tenant, because there are no arrears to be collected. Therefore, the effect, so far as colliery houses are concerned, will be merely this—that the miner will go on in future paying the same rent as he has been paying in the past. He will not have to add to his payments a weekly sum by way of instalment for arrears, because there are no arrears to be paid. [HON. 1712 MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I really am not trying to be frivolous about this. It is a legitimate point. The suggestion is that some different treatment should be given in the case of miners. One of the difficulties in the case of some classes of tenants is that they will be faced with large sums of arrears, which will increase their rent for a long time to come. By reason of the fact that the statutory increase has been deducted week by week from the rent, so that there are no arrears in the case of miners, the only effect of this Bill will be that the miners will go on paying exactly the same rent for the future as they have paid since July, 1920, and as Parliament intended in 1920 they should be liable to pay. Of course, you cannot get more than the amount permitted by the 1920 Act, either from the miners or from anyone else, if this Bill passes. You cannot legally get it, and if you do get it there is a right of recovery given by the principal Act.
A point made by both hon. Members was that in the case of the miners there was the difficulty that many of the houses were in a shockingly bad condition, and that the miner could not object, because if he went to the County Court he would lose his job. That is a legitimate criticism, and because of that I, in Committee, deliberately accepted or moved an Amendment which rendered it no longer obligatory on a tenant to make an application for suspension of rent, and gave the right to the sanitary authority in any district to apply in respect of any houses which were not reasonably fit for habitation. So that without the miner having to face the odium and risk of making an application himself, the sanitary authority could be set in motion and an order could be made suspending the increase of rent until the house was put into a reasonable state of repair.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
By any friend of the collier, who, if he does not like to do it, can go to the medical officer of health, or by the medical officer who, as the House very well knows, inspects these houses. Anybody can call the attention of the sanitary authority of the district to houses that are not in a proper state of repair, and by virtue of the Amendment introduced in Committee, 1713 the sanitary authority can then take the initiative, and apply for and obtain an order suspending all increases, unless and until these houses are put right. It was in order to protect the position—which was a perfectly fair one put forward by the colliers, that I accepted the Amendment in Committee. I think, in the circumstances, the House cannot reasonably be asked to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. J. ROBERTSON
The Attorney-General told us that he could not accept the Amendment. I followed him very closely to see how he would reconcile that position with the reasons advanced by the Government in support of the principle contained in the Bill. That principle is simply this, that the tenant who paid is supposed to have known the law. The tenant who did not pay is not called upon to pay. The Attorney-General has defended that principle, over and over again, but here we have a class of tenants who had no choice. They belong to neither of the categories into which the Government have divided the two sets of tenants, and by which they have justified the most extraordinary principles contained in this Bill. I am not going to argue the rights or wrongs of either class of tenant, but the defence for this Bill is that the tenants who knew, paid, and having paid they are supposed to have known; while the tenants who did not pay are not required to do anything. It would have been much more to the purpose had the Attorney-General tried to square the Bill with the treatment meted out to tenants living in company cottages. I am not trying to say that colliery proprietors are in a different position from other landlords. That is not the question that I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I asked him, and I am asking him now, how he justifies this Bill allowing tenants who paid no rent to go free of rent, while those who paid are held to have known the law?
The men in the company houses are a class of tenant who did not know, and had no choice, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given no answer as to why the Government are treating them in such a way. We are entitled to a reply, otherwise, we shall be forced to the conclusion that it is not a question of putting the matter right as between landlord and tenant, but merely of standing 1714 on the side of the landlord. These men in the company houses had no choice. They may or may not have believed that they were entitled to pay the rent. The House is entitled to hear from the Attorney-General, as spokesman of the Government, why such a large number of men are being treated in an entirely different fashion, owing to circumstances over which they had no control.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I am very much amazed that the Attorney-General refused to answer at least one part of the question put to him by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham). Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman forgot the fact that the Act was brought into operation largely because of the increased cost to householders for repairs. That cannot be argued in this case, for, of every particle of repairs done to the company houses, 83 per cent. of the money is paid by the miner, out of his wages. Why owners should be allowed to increase their rents by 40 per cent., because other people have got that right, when they have already got the money out of the miners, I cannot understand. The Attorney-General never mentioned that side of the case at all. In his reply to my hon. Friend, he made play with the question of the notices, and asked what difference it would have made to the miner, as compared with the tenant. The question of notice is important. Had notice been given to all the miners to quit their houses because of the increase, then all these claims would have come to the front. The miners could and would have argued that they had already paid for all these repairs, and that they should not be asked again to pay. If that had been done, it would have been understood.
In my own particular area, we do not pay rent in the way my hon. Friends do in Scotland, Yorkshire, and elsewhere. We have the house as part of our earnings. Whole villages have been condemned by the local sanitary authority as unfit for human habitation, and I take it that very much the same conditions prevail in many villages in Scotland, Yorkshire, and elsewhere. The point is, if you close these houses and turn the people out, where are you going to put them? That 1715 is the problem with which we are always faced. Despite the fact that we are paying for repairs to the colliery owner, even if he does nothing at all to any company cottage which the miner occupies, the Government have a bad case in refusing the Amendment. Surely a few moments' reflection will suffice to convince the Government that where people have paid they should not be called upon to pay twice. Where they have had no notice and could not avoid payment, it is unreasonable and unthinkable. I plead with the Attorney-General to reconsider his decision, and to do justice to the miner who could not help himself.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I listened with amazement to the defence, by the Attorney-General, of his rejection of this Amendment. If I understand his argument aright it is that the collier ought to consider himself lucky, because there will be no rise in rent so far as he is concerned. He has been illegally robbed, since 1920, and after three years of robbery he ought to be content because he will not feel any difference after this Bill is passed. He will not notice any real difference whatever; a thing that was illegal for three years now becomes legal, and the collier, who lives in a company cottage, ought to feel thankful on that account. It seems to me that the Government has not much case for this attitude. Part of the reason given for allowing the increase of rent was the cost of repairs and decorations. I am fairly conversant with the mining districts of our country. I have had a good deal to do with collecting evidence to place before housing committees of one sort or another, particularly in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and Durham. I am not exaggerating when I say that there is no class of cottage or house anywhere of such a disreputable character as that provided by wealthy companies for the workers in their mines. I could give illustrations from Lanarkshire and Ayrshire of whole streets of single-roomed cottages and two-roomed cottages, provided by millionaire companies, in which there is not a single sanitary convenience for the whole lot. My hon. Friends here know that that is the case. That evidence is contained in the Blue Books of this House. It has been placed before the Housing Commission, and has 1716 not been denied. To argue that a rise of rent is justifiable on the ground of repairs to property under such conditions is surely straining the English language to the most unjustifiable extent.
I suppose the Government are obdurate and will remain obdurate. When the hon Member for Hamilton opened the discussion on this Amendment, and said he did not think it was possible to find legitimate arguments for its refusal, it struck me that I could find several. I do not know what is the pecuniary advantage accruing to the colliery companies from the rise in rent, got from the unfortunate tenants, but supposing I put the figure at £200,000, I can find 200,000 arguments, which will appeal to hon. Members on the benches opposite, for refusing this Amendment. Every Treasury Note is a very solid argument, and if we are to have this kind of legislation we might as well be frank about the matter. Amendments have been refused because, in other cases, they would operate harshly against the poor widow. When questions of this character are being discussed one would almost think that poor widows carried the British Empire on their backs, for they are always invoked if it is necessary to carry some particular piece of hocus-pocus. If more attention were paid to the protection of the poor widow in other directions, she probably would not be so poor as she is always supposed to be when measures of this description are discussed.
We have been asked not to be harsh with the poor widow and with the poor owners of single cottages, but this is asking us not to be harsh with the millionaire owners of colliery properties. The argument is invoked on behalf of the poor in one case, and on behalf of the rich in the other. As a matter of fact, if this Amendment be rejected it will be no use talking about particular class legislation. The refusal to accept this Amendment is as crass a piece of class legislation as it is possible to imagine, because I agree entirely that no case has been made out showing that the owners have not been acting illegally. I have always understood that lack of knowledge of the British law was never an escape from responsibility for one's omissions. I do not see why, because owners have acted in ignorance, or in defiance, or that, because 1717 of negligence, they have refused or neglected to put the law into operation, they should be allowed to reap a rich harvest at the expense of the men who had no power at all. If this House is just to the occupiers of company houses, particularly in colliery districts, they will
§ accept this Amendment, and attempt to do even justice so far as this question is concerned.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 150; Noes, 239.1719
|Division No. 129.]||AYES.||[8.1 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Harris, Percy A.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Potts, John S.|
|Barker, G, (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Barnes, A.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Richards, R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hemmerde, E. G.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Riley, Ben|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Ritson, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Brotherton, J.||Herriotts, J.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hill, A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hinds, John||Saklatvala, S.|
|Burgess, S.||Hirst, G. H.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Burnle, Major J. (Bootle)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Sexton, James|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hogge, James Myles||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Charleton, H. C.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Snowden, Philip|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Sullivan, J.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Leach, W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lee, F.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Linfield, F. C.||Tout, W. J.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lowth, T.||Turner, Ben|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Lunn, William||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Foot, Isaac||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Warne, G. H.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||M'Entee, V. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gosling, Harry||McLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Weir, L. M.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Maxton, James||Westwood, J.|
|Greenall, T.||Millar, J. D.||Wheatley, J.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morel, E. D.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morris, Harold||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Groves, T.||Muir, John W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Nichol, Robert||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, George Harold||Wright, W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Paling, W.|
|Hancock, John George||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, George D.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Berry, Sir George||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Betterton, Henry B.||Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Butcher, Sir John George|
|Apsley, Lord||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Button, H. S.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Blundell, F. N.||Cadogan, Major Edward|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cassels, J. D.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brass, Captain W.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Brown, Brig. Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Becker, Harry||Bruford, R.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bruton, Sir James||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Remer, J. R.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hudson, Capt. A.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Cope, Major William||Hume, G. H.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chrtsy)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Jephcott, A. R.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lorden, John William||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Lort-Williams, J.||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lougher, L.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Manville, Edward||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mercer, Colonel H.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Furness, G. J.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Murchison, C. K.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F (Dulwich)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Halstead, Major D.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wells, S. R.|
|Harrison, F. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Paget, T. G.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Pease, William Edwin||Willey, Arthur|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Penny, Frederick George||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Winterton, Earl|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Perring, William George||Wise, Frederick|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Pielou, D. P.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hoare, Lieut. Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Privett, F. J.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Raine, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Gibbs.|
§ Mr. FOOT
I beg to move, in Subsection (1, a), to leave out the words, "first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two" ["in respect of any period before the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two "], and to insert instead thereof the words, "fifteenth day of February, nineteen hundred and twenty-three."
This Amendment raises the point as to how far this legislation is to be retrospective. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Attorney-General, 1720 will agree with those on this side of the House in deploring that retrospective legislation is sometimes necessary. As, however, there is to be retrospective legislation, the question is the date to which the legislation should be retrospective. The Attorney-General defended the fixing of the date as the 1st December both here and in Committee on the ground that when the subject was discussed in the House on the 30th November the intention of the Government to make the legislation retrospective was brought home 1721 to everybody in the country. What was said in this House on 30th November? A question was put by a Member on this side, who asked the Prime Minister what decision the Government had reached in regard to the House of Lords decision. This was the answer given by the Prime Minister, on which the Attorney-General defends the fixing of the date as 1st December. The Prime Minister said:A small Cabinet Committee has been appointed to consider this subject, but it is impossible that their report should be ready in time to enable it to be dealt with this Session. I have, however, no doubt that the result of the inquiry will convince the Government that legislation is required, and in that case the necessary legislation will be carried out as early as possible next Session, and it will, of course, be retrospective."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1922; col. 901, Vol. 159.]I would ask the Attorney-General if he will again address his mind to that answer. There is nothing definite about it. There is nothing definite in it that would convince anyone, even a Member of this House, that the 1st December was to be the definite date to which the legislation was to be made retrospective. In the Prime Minister's answer he does not anticipate with any certainty what is the result of the inquiry. He says, "I have no doubt the result of the inquiry will convince the Government that legislation is necessary." However, it is on that answer that the Attorney-General has the temerity to suggest that everybody knew there was to be retrospective legislation as to that date.
I suggest that not one person in a hundred could have known what was the Prime Minister's intention when he answered that question. I am doubtful if the Attorney-General himself knew, and I am doubtful if the Prime Minister knew. If the Prime Minister knew on the 30th November that the date was to be the 1st December why did he not say so, and say that "legislation will be retrospective as from tomorrow"? Yet, what was obviously unknown to the Prime Minister and to the Attorney-General and to all the Members of this House at that time is supposed to have been clear to all the people in the country. There are many tenants who did not see the newspapers, or if they did see the newspapers, they did not see that answer because some of the newspapers did not print it at all. 1722 The issue raised here is whether the Government is to have power by Act of Parliament not merely to upset a decision of the Law Courts, but to fix a purely arbitrary date. I suggest that very much stronger reasons should be advanced on this point by the Attorney-General than those he advanced on the Second Reading and in Committee upstairs. I suggest that we should make a date that is defensible and reasonable, and that we should take the date on which this Bill was introduced in the House of Commons. That gave notice to the country that something was to be done, but up to that time there was no clear indication, there was nothing definite. If retrospective legislation does unfortunately become necessary it ought to be very carefully safeguarded, and there ought to be some substantial grounds for deciding on the date back to which we should go. The reasons advanced in favour of the suggested date are not sufficient, and I therefore ask the House to accept the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
I beg to second the Amendment.
The argument in favour of inserting the 1st December is that the Prime Minister gave a promise, and apparently because he gave a promise we must make this Act of Parliament date accordingly. If we examine that proposition we shall see how it looks having regard to all the Prime Ministers who have made promises which have not been fulfilled. No Prime Minister should be able to pledge this House, because the House itself sometimes has difficulty in coming to a decision. I do not think there is anything good in this particular Clause, and the creation of a new saints' day in the calendar is certainly not one of the good things in it. I trust the House will consider it a very dangerous principle that merely because somebody suggests something an Act of Parliament should be based on the suggestion. We say that the date inserted should be the 15th February. The Attorney-General had time to consider this question if he cared to meet any of these Amendments, but if he will have his own way in this as in some other matters, I am inclined to think his decision will be like a boomerang and will come back against him. I hope even at this late hour he will see fit to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I remember the occasion on which the Prime Minister made his statement regarding this legislation, and I say without hesitation, nay with every confidence, that not one single Member of this House on that occasion even dreamt for a second that the date he mentioned was a date to be taken seriously and fixed as the date of the commencement of the operation of this Measure. The statement was made in an off-hand fashion—just in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman's speech regarding tranquillity—without any thought or without any real idea of the precedent it created. As a matter of fact, what occurred was this; after the Prime Minister and the Government came to the conclusion that legislation was necessary, they looked about for some peg on which to hang it. They looked about for some excuse and they re-read their old speeches. The right hon. Gentleman happened to re-read a speech of his dealing with this particular proposal made on this particular date and thereupon fixed the date accordingly.
The whole principle of this legislation is bad, but when we create the precedent that if a man comes into this Chamber, makes a speech in an off-hand fashion and mentions a date in connection with a Bill which affects the lives of many thousands of people, that that date is to be accepted as fixed—then it seems to me, we are coming near to making legislation a farce. I could have seen the force of the Government bringing in a Bill indemnifying the landlords completely, or I could have seen grounds for making the Bill operate as from the date on which it becomes an Act, but to strike on this peculiar date seems to me to be without any reason at all. Had the Government indemnified the landlords it would, at any rate, have carried conviction to the many thousands of working people who still, to some extent, I am sorry to say, support the Conservative party. It would have proved to them, without the shadow of a doubt, that the party of the right hon. and learned Attorney-General was purely a landlords' and masters' party, which is framing this proposal in such a way as to try to maintain the last remnant of its claim to be considered a democratic party. In my younger days I used to think that the Conservative party, whatever its faults, was attempting to carry out legislation in a fair way.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I held those view, in any case, at a time when the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health held contrary views.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I was drawn aside from the question before the House when I looked across at the kind face of the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health. In the days to which I refer, I think, a majority of the people of the country thought the Conservative party was in favour of honest legislation, yet here we have that party putting forward this patchwork proposal and suggesting a date upon which nobody can depend. Take the case of the City of Glasgow. The majority of the Corporation are not of our way of thinking, but they agree that 1st December is not a suitable date and should not be given effect to. The proposal is also bad, because it goes too far back, and there was no definite guarantee at that time. I could have understood it, had the Prime Minister said with deliberation and conviction, after consulting his colleagues in the Cabinet, "We intend to introduce a Bill which will operate and have effect as from 1st December." But, as a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman rose without having had notice of the question put to him, and he could not have consulted his colleagues, and, apparently without giving the matter any thought, he made the statement as to the 1st December. Now we are told that is the reason why the date should be included in this Bill.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
In that case, I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. Apart from that, however, the answer given in the OFFICIAL REPORT, which I looked up to-day, certainly did not convey the impression that the Measure was to operate from that date. I went through the OFFICIAL REPORT this forenoon, and I put it to two people who are not Members of Parliament but who have some knowledge of Parliamentary procedure, what they would take to be the meaning of the answer. Both of them 1725 suggested to me that the meaning now being given to it could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be conveyed. I think, on the whole, that the Bill ought to operate from a much later date, but I know the ways of Parliament and that, more or less, you build up on compromise. It is the history of all parties. It was the history of the right hon. Gentleman who sits below the Gangway (Mr. Lloyd George), even when his party were in power. You have constantly to compromise with the other side, to give and take, and it will possibly be the way when our party comes into power, although I hope not. Here we are, however, at the present time offering an extremely reasonable compromise to the Government, to accept, not until the Bill becomes an Act, but midway between the two dates. We offer it as a reasonable way out. If you carry it with the date as it is, it means that thousands of my constituents will suffer, and represent possibly the poorest district in the whole country. Nobody who has not actually been there can describe the poverty-stricken area I represent.
Nobody can describe what havoc this Bill will play, and particularly relating to the date, in the Division that I represent, and it is because I feel that, from the humane point of view, it would be an honourable thing and a big thing on the part of the Attorney-General to concede this, that I put this plea before him. Nobody can imagine how those poor people are reading the debates on this question, more than all the debates on foreign policy or all the other questions that come before this House. They are looking at the Government at the present time, and here they are with a decision that may affect their homes. In that spirit I would appeal to the Attorney-General, with all the earnestness at my command and with all the conviction that I can carry, and I appeal also to the Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland, who knows some of the conditions and knows the havoc that will be played if that date operates, for the sake, not of his own party, or even of the Labour party, or any other party in this House, but for the sake of poor down-trodden humanity, at least to concede this point in the hope of ameliorating the conditions under which they are living. It would be the greatest thing that this Government 1726 are ever likely to do in their history, a thing that would be read with the greatest happiness to-morrow in all our newspapers in Scotland, the news that the Government had conceded this comparatively minor point.
You can choose between two courses. You can either concede this point and help the poor people, or refuse to concede it and help the fairly well-to-do landlords. They may not be too well-to-do, but if you concede this point to us not one single landlord will be without a home or without a breakfast when the Bill becomes an Act, whereas, if you do not concede it, thousands of poor people will be both homeless and foodless, and I appeal to you, for the sake of humanity, not to make anybody homeless. I am sure the Attorney-General, with his own family knowledge, with his love of his own children, with his love of his own wife, would never sit complacently in his seat in this House if he thought anything was going to interfere with their home conditions or with anything regarding them. The Under-Secretary of Health for Scotland would, I am sure, indignant if he thought that even one of his constituents was in danger of becoming in that plight, and I would earnestly urge the Government even at the last moment, to give way on this point. There is nothing I have found in my trade union work or my work here which makes me think it would be undignified to alter my decision at the last minute. I do not think there is any degradation in coming to a decision, even favourable to us, at the last moment. Nay, on the other hand, if the Government altered their mind at the present time they would show a largeness of heart, a bigness of spirit, with which, I am afraid, the masses of the people do not credit them at the moment. I ask my hon. Friends who occupy the Front Government Bench to concede this point at this late hour, and so help, not to save themselves or us, but to save the mass, not even of women and men—I am not so much concerned with them—but the children, who ought to be free at least from the anxiety of being without a home.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
We could not have had a more eloquent or moving appeal than the one to which we have just listened—from the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). It was spoken with obvious sincerity and was 1727 one which, if anything could have persuaded us, would certainly be calculated to do it, but we have, on this side, to try and hold the balance, as we think, fairly, and I hope the hon. Member will believe me when I say that we are not without sympathy for the people who are poor and downtrodden and in difficulties. It is not because we are regardless of their difficulties that this legislation, or any other legislation for which we are responsible, is introduced. We have here to meet what seems to us a real grievance and a real difficulty. The hon. Member has spoken as if we were imposing upon those for whom he was pleading the whole burden of the retrospective effect of the principal Act.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Let me remind the hon. Member that the people of whom he is speaking are people who, he says, in order to comply with the provisions of this Act, will have to go without almost the necessities of life. What he is presumably saying is that the result of our legislation will be so to increase the burdens under which they are now labouring as to render them almost intolerable. It is in order to avoid that, that the Government have chosen what we think is the last possible date to choose for the commencement of the operation of this Act. The House will remember that the principal Act goes back to July, 1920. We are saying that any sums recovered by tenants, or unpaid by tenants, up to 1st December, 1922, shall not be recoverable from them; that is to say, 2½ years out of something less than the three years, which is the total span of time from the date of the principal Act down to the present time. Why have we taken 1st December? The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), in moving this Amendment, was quite right in saying that the Prime Minister's speech did not specify the date from which the Act would commence to operate, but I think the hon. Member for the Gorbals Division did the Prime Minister a little less than justice when he said that his speech must have been given without consideration. As evidence of that fact, he said it was delivered in the same sort of way as his speech about tranquillity, 1728 which, if my memory does not fail me, was the official pronouncement of the Government—not quite the best illustration of what you would call an unconsidered statement.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
We have not had much tranquillity, anyhow. If tranquillity is the considered judgment of the Government, it has been a very poor one, and unjustified by the circumstances which have followed.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I do not want to be led astray by a discussion on tranquillity, but I would remind the hon. Member that it was not tranquillity for ourselves at which we were aiming. Tranquillity was an object for the country, and not for the Government.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It is a rebuke which is very well deserved. The reason we adopted the date 1st December, 1922, was that the Prime Minister on that date—or, rather, on the 30th November, and the newspapers reported it on the 1st December—stated quite definitely in this House that legislation would be necessary, and that, of course, it would be retrospective. It is perfectly true he did not say how far back it would go. I do not suppose at that time he had definitely decided how far back it should go, and was considering the matter, but the latest date to which it could go back, obviously, if it was to be retrospective on the 30th November, would be a date not later than the 30th November, and we have, therefore, selected, in the interests of the tenant, a date which some people, at any rate, think is too lenient to the tenant and too hard on the landlord, namely, the date on which the Prime Minister made the announcement that legislation was going to be retrospective, because from that date everybody knew that legislation was going to be introduced. We have here a date which some people think is unduly hard on the landlord, and as to which some hold the opinion which has been so eloquently put before the House by the hon. Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. Buchanan). I venture to submit that we could not fairly have done less than we have done, and that we have made a compromise in a very reasonable and generous spirit.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not intend to follow the example of the learned Attorney-General, and make a disorderly and irrelevant speech. I wish to confine myself exclusively to the subject of the Amendment with which, in the latter part of his speech, he dealt. He endeavoured once more to defend the selection of the 1st December as the date in respect of which this Bill is to be retrospective. I contend that not only was there nothing in the Prime Minister's reply to indicate that the 1st December was to be the date but that a contrary impression prevailed outside, that a contrary impression was being disseminated in Scotland, and two questions on subsequent days were put by hon. Members on the Labour Benches to elicit the exact intentions of the Government. The First Commissioner of Works, who was then replying on behalf of the Scottish Office, refused to give any information to the House. I will call attention to those replies. On the 11th December, 1922, the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr. Nichol) put this question to the First Commissioner of Works as representing the Secretary for Scotland:Whether he is aware that house factors in Glasgow and the West of Scotland have issued letters to tenants stating that the present Government, through the Prime Minister, has given to the country indication that proprietors will not be called upon to refund rents under the Kerr v. Bryde decision, and demanding continued payment of the increase of rent decreed to be illegal; and whether he will take steps to have the confusion in this matter cleared up?That was a clear attempt to obtain a definite statement from the Government. The reply of the First Commissioner of Works—it was a written answer—was:My Noble Friend has no information as to the action which is said to have been taken by house factors in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. He is unable to add to the statements on the position arising out of the Kerr v. Bryde decision which has been made by the Prime Minister." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1922; col. 2386, Vol. 159.]On the 12th December, the same hon. Member put a question which received an oral reply. It dealt with very much the same set of facts, and the hon. Member asked again whether steps would be taken to have the confusion in this matter cleared up. Once more the First Commissioner of Works said: 1730My Noble Friend has had his attention drawn to a case in which a Glasgow house factor has issued a letter of the kind referred to in the first part of the question. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to his question on this subject yesterday." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1922; col. 2576, Vol. 159.]I say, in view of those answers, there was obviously no intention to make the 1st December the critical date in regard to the retrospective action. The Government themselves at the time refused to give any indication of their view. I would be prepared to admit that if the Prime Minister had said that this would be retrospective as from that date, the Attorney-General would have a good case. Something similar happened in regard to the principal Act, when a definite statement was made that that Act would have effect as from the term beginning the 25th March, 1920, and the Bill was immediately introduced. But here you have no such definite statement, and I say, therefore, in these circumstances, if you are to have a retroactive effect, it must be at the utmost the day on which the Bill was introduced. I would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the attitude of his colleague yesterday on this matter. I made a suggestion in regard to the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Continuance) Bill, and the Minister of Health said it was a most extraordinary suggestion to make, and held me up to the derision of the House for making it. We can claim consistency in this matter; we suggest that in both Measures the same principle should be applied. You have no right, apart from an express declaration, to make your Bill retrospective beyond the date of its introduction. There has been no express declaration in this case. Instead of an express declaration, we have a declaration which admittedly created confusion in the West of Scotland. In these circumstances, I think the House should insist that the date selected is not an arbitrarily chosen date, but the date of the introduction of the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 153.1733
|Division No. 130.]||AYES.||[8.47 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Furness, G. J.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Penny, Frederick George|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Perring, William George|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Pielou, D. P.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Privett, F. J.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Becker, Harry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Raine, W.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Halstead, Major D.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Aitrincham)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Berry, Sir George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Remer, J. R.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Harrison, F. C.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Harvey, Major S. E.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hawke, John Anthony||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chrtsy)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Bruford, R.||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bull, St. Hon. Sir William James||Hood, Sir Joseph||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Cadogan, Major-Edward||Hudson, Capt. A.||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hume, G. H.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jephcott, A. R.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lamb, J. Q.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cope, Major William||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lorden, John William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lort-Williams, J.||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Lougher, L.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D, Steel-||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wells, S. R.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Manville, Edward||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mercer, Colonel H.||Willey, Arthur|
|Ednam, Viscount||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Winterton, Earl|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Wise, Frederick|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Adams, D.||Batey, Joseph||Broad, F. A.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Brotherton, J.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Bonwick, A.||Buchanan, G.|
|Barnes, A.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Burgess, S.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Herriotts, J.||Richards, R.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hill, A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cairns, John||Hinds, John||Riley, Ben|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Collie, Sir John||Hogge, James Myles||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Irving, Dan||Saklatvala, S.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Sexton, James|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Dunnico, H.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Snell, Harry|
|Ede, James Chuter||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Philip|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Lawson, John James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Leach, W.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lee, F.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Linfield, F. C.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Lowth, T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Lunn, William||Turner, Ben|
|Greenall, T.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||M'Entee, V. L.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||McLaren, Andrew||Warne, G. H.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Groves, T.||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Millar, J. D.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Morel, E. D.||Weir, L. M.|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Westwood, J.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Muir, John W.||Wheatley, J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Newbold, J. T. W.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Hancock, John George||Nichol, Robert||Whiteley, W.|
|Hardie, George D.||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wright, W.|
|Hemmerde, E. G.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Phillipps, Vivian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Potts, John S.||Sir A. Marshall ad Mr. Isaac|
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to leave out the word "before" and to insert instead thereof the wordsagainst a landlord between the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, and—.This is a very simple Amendment, and I do not think it need take up much time. In paragraph (b) it is laid down thatnothing in this Act shall affect the right to enforce any judgment of a Court of competent jurisdiction given before the fifteenth day of February, nineteen hundred and twenty-three.The object of my Amendment is to limit those judgments which are to be stabilised to those obtained against the landlord by tenants prior to the 15th February. My case is that in Glasgow it was quite common, where the very poor people were sued for arrears of rent during the period covered by the recent dispute, to grant a decree for the sum in excess of nine months' rent and rates combined where the party appeared in court, the assumption 1734 of the Sheriff being that nine months was approximately equal to the improperly increased rent, and should be deducted from the amount sued for. But where the tenant did not appear in court the Sheriff had no option but to grant a decree for the full sum which included the improperly imposed increases. A considerable amount of hardship is being done to a very poor section of the community. Many of these cases were defended by women who had very little knowledge of the law, and owing to the continued stress of unemployment, found themselves in a position of hopelessness and despair, and in many cases they really felt there was nothing to be gained by putting up a defence, and they did not attend the courts. The words which I desire to put in are quoted from a statement made by the Attorney-General himself when we were discussing this point in Committee, when he stated thatthe object of the Clause was simple and solely to prevent tenants who got judgments from the landlord between the 1st of 1735 December, 1922, and the 15th February, 1923, from having these judgments made void.He said that was simply and solely the object of the Clause, and I am now asking the Attorney-General to put in the Bill the promise he made to the Committee. I have moved the Amendment in his own words in the hope that it will be accepted.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
The proposal of the hon. Member to draw a distinction between judgments obtained against the landlord and any other judgments is not in itself easy to understand, and the hon. Gentleman has not suggested any reason for drawing such a distinction, nor has he given any reason why he should take the date of the 1st. December, 1922, and why we should enact that judgments obtained between the 1st December, 1922, and the 15th February, 1923, obtained against the landlord should be effective, and no other judgment against the landlord should hold good. I do not follow what the hon. Gentleman has quoted, and I am afraid that he has misapprehended what the Attorney-General stated in Committee, at least, that is my impression so far as I have followed the Report of the proceedings in Committee. The distinction between judgments obtained before the 1st December, 1922, and those obtained between the 1st February, 1923, is not one which is founded upon any just principle, and in spite of what the hon. Member has suggested, I cannot accept that statement which he has made as being the opinion of the Attorney- General, and I am not able to accept this Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), at the end of paragraph (b) to insert a new paragraph—(c) Where a notice to increase rent has been served on a tenant who has thereafter given up possession and a subsequent tenant has contracted to pay rent within the limits permitted by the principal Act, nothing in this Act shall validate any increases on the standard rent which had been recovered from the landlord before the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, unless a notice to quit was served before the date of the operation of the increases on a former tenant of the house or on the tenant so contracting.1736 This is an attempt to put the tenants who have become occupiers since the 1920 Act came into operation on exactly the same footing as those who were tenants before the 2nd July, 1920. Let me explain this point. When a case went to the court in Scotland in which the tenant had not been the occupier of the house at the 2nd July, 1920, the court held that, as he had become an occupier since that date, he had thereby accepted full liability for the increased rent. In other words, the period between the old tenant going out and the new tenant coming in was a period within which the owner was entitled to enter into possession, and that was the reason why the notice to quit was not essential. The result has been that these new tenants who have recovered the improperly imposed increases in the usual manner are now being pressed by the owners for these sums to be paid up. Instead of what was intended we now find an exactly opposite state of affairs existing, and the object of my Amendment is to assimilate the law of Scotland to that of the law of England and save pending litigation.
According to the decision in the King's Bench Division on 20th February, 1922, it was held that a new tenant is in exactly the same position as a tenant who was in possession on the 2nd July, 1920. As the Bill stands all those English tenants who have recovered the increase of rents under the King's Bench Division judgment will be in danger of being sued by the owner to pay up all those increases. If the Bill is allowed to go through as it stands to-day you will have endless trouble in England, and you will probably be landed into a rent strike on a scale that we have not experienced or even contemplated in the past. I am appealing to the Government to accept this Amendment, and lay down that the law will be the same in both countries, and that a tenant who has entered the house since the 2nd July, 1920, shall have all the rights and privileges of a tenant who occupied the house prior to that date, and that unless a notice to quit was served on the present tenant of the house, or on a former tenant since the 2nd July, 1920, that the landlord shall have no power to recover from a tenant any sums which the tenant has obtained from the landlord by deductions from rent as a means of recovering those improperly imposed 1737 increases. I hope the Solicitor-General will see his way to accept this Amendment, because if he does not he is going to deprive the English tenant of sums of money which the Government never intended to deprive them of, and it will lead to endless trouble.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The intention of this Amendment is, as I understand it, to give a tenant who has entered into a house of which the previous tenant has given up possession all the rights the previous tenant would have had. That goes a considerable way
§ beyond the intention of the Bill, which is to deal with one particular defect in the previous Rent Restriction Act and its consequences. This proposal, so far as I understand it, is not necessary to make plain any provision of the law with regard to tenancies which have come into existence after the first tenant has given up occupation, and it is not an Amendment which, although it may be strictly permissible, is really within the scope of the Bill, and I cannot accept it.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 151; Noes, 227.1739
|Division No. 131.]||AYES.||[9.10 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Hardie, George D.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hastings, Patrick||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Potts, John S.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hemmerde, E. G.||Richards, R.|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Riley, Ben|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Ritson, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Herriotts, J.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Brotherton, J.||Hill, A.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hinds, John||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hirst, G. H.||Saklatvala, S.|
|Burgess, S.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cairns, John||Hogge, James Myles||Sexton, James|
|Cape, Thomas||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Irving, Dan||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snell, Harry|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Philip|
|Collie, Sir John||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Sullivan, J.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, D.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lawson, John James||Turner, Ben|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Leach, W.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Lee, F.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Linfield, F. C.||Warne, G. H.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Lowth, T.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lunn, William||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Webb, Sidney|
|Falconer, J.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Foot, Isaac||M'Entee, V. L.||Weir, L. M.|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||McLaren, Andrew||Westwood, J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wheatley, J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Maxton, James||Whiteley, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Millar, J. D.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morel, E. D.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morris, Harold||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Muir, John W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Wright, W.|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Newbold, J. T. W.|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Nichol, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||O'Grady, Captain James||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Morgan|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, George Harold||Jones.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Paling, W.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Balfour, George (Hampstead)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Becker, Harry||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Perring, William George|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Berry, Sir George||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Halstead, Major D.||Privett, F. J.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Aitrincham)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hancock, John George||Raine, W.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Harrison, F. C.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harvey, Major S. E.||Remer, J. R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hawke, John Anthony||Remnant, Sir James|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Bruford, R.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hood, Sir Joseph||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hopkins, John W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hudson, Capt. A.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hume, G. H.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jephcott, A. R.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cope, Major William||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lamb, J. Q.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lorden, John William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lort-Williams, J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lougher, L.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Manville, Edward||Wells, S. R.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Mercer, Colonel H.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Whitla, Sir William|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Willey, Arthur|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Winterton, Earl|
|Fildes, Henry||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Furness, G. J.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Paget, T. G.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Gibbs.|
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add a new Sub-section—(3) 'Increase of rent' means increase over the standard rent permitted by the principal Act.1740 My object in moving this Amendment is to get a clear statement embodied in the Bill as to what is really meant by the phrase "increase in rent," because we have had varying decisions in the Law Courts on the point. I want it to be laid 1741 down that it means increase of rent over the standard rent permitted by the Act. I think the Solicitor-General will agree that, in a Bill dealing with increases which may be retained by a tenant, some finite definition of what those increases are must be given. Otherwise, you are bound to have litigation, and the prime object of this Bill was to clarify legislation, to inform the tenants and the owners exactly what the law was. All the trouble is alleged to have arisen from ambiguous legislation which people could not understand. As things are at present, the decisions which are being given in England are not similar to those which are being given in Scotland. In England a tenant, in calculating the increases of rent, was entitled to take into account every penny paid in excess of the standard rent, which is, of course, the rent of 1914; and those increases, in England, might run up to 65 per cent. In Scotland, on the other hand, the Sheriffs have given conflicting opinions In one case it was held that all that could be taken into account was the 40 per cent., and that no account could be taken of the amounts that had been imposed to cover increases that had occurred in the rates on the house. One decision was given in Dumbarton, and another in Hamilton, by Scottish Sheriffs, and those are now the subject of a contemplated appeal to the House of Lords. I am appealing to the Solicitor-General to make the intention of this Bill clear by a finite definition of exactly what is meant by the phrase "increase of rent," and I want him to accept, as a definition of that phrase, everything above the standard rent imposed in 1914.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The proposal of the hon. Member is really to do something which, if I may say so, is unnecessary. I have great respect for the hon. Member's learning in these matters, and, as I understand it, the point of his Amendment is, that the Scottish decisions have not uniformly followed some of the English decisions.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
It is my misfortune that, although I am indifferently acquainted with English law, I 1742 am still less acquainted with Scottish law. All I can say is, that the definition which the hon. Member proposes to insert is really implicit in the operative Clauses of the Act of 1920. The expression "increase of rent" is consistently used throughout that Act, and, so far as I know, has never been understood otherwise than as meaning the increase which a landlord might desire to make over the standard rent. As the hon. Member knows, the increases are by the Act limited, of course, to those specified in the Act.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
May I put a case? The Sheriff at Hamilton laid it down that an increase imposed to meet an increase in rates was not an increase in rent, whereas the other Sheriffs have held it was.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The Sheriff's decision to which the hon Member refers may or may not be a right decision. It would not be proper for me, in my place, to express an opinion as to the correctness of a legal decision given by one individual Sheriff in Scotland. I can only say that the definition appears to me to be quite unnecessary. It is really, as I have said, expressed in the Act, and I do not think that, apart from the decision that the hon. Member has mentioned, anyone would have understood the phrase in the original Act to have any other meaning.
This is, surely, an instance of how very improper it is for the Government to get this Bill through without a Law Officer versed in Scottish law being on the Front Bench.
Then, surely, as the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) referred to Scottish law, it would have been far better if the lawyer versed in Scottish law had taken the matter in hand. I am not a lawyer, either Scottish or English, but my hon. Friend makes the statement that the Scottish decisions are not in accord with each other—that you have a Sheriff here declaring that rent is this, and you have a Sheriff there declaring that rent is that—and that although a definition of the standard rent or the increase of rent may 1743 be employed in the original Act of 1920 nevertheless these facts do occur. If we do not define what an increase of rent is according to the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston, then I suppose these Scottish cases must go to higher courts, to the unnecesary expense of those concerned in them. If, as the Solicitor-General said, it is the intention of this House to define the standard rent as that rent which was paid before the 1920 Act, and the increases in that rent be meant to include increases in payments owing to increases of rates, if there is any doubt about why not say so now? Surely it is our business to stop useless litigation. One or other of these sheriffs is right and one or other of these sheriffs is wrong, and if the Government's mind is perfectly clear as to what it means by an increase of rent and there is going to be continued litigation to make other people's minds clear on the subject, it is the duty of the Government to make it specific in this amending Act. I do hope that in dealing with this matter of legislation and law in which Scotland is so much interested we shall have the benefit of the advice of the Scottish Law Officers, because apparently they alone can tell us exactly where we stand in this matter.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND (Mr. F. C. Thomson)
I am not familiar with the decision referred to, but I cannot think that, on the terms of the Act, there can be any doubt about it. The words being used in the same sense are perfectly clear throughout.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
Surely this is a very unsatisfactory state of things. Here we are discussing a Bill the main purpose of which is to deal with the situation which arose in Scotland owing to the bad drafting of the earlier Bill. That is where we stand to-day, and the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) declares, and gives chapter and verse for the declaration, that some Scottish Courts have decided that increase of rent is defined in a way that the English Courts do not use. He therefore proposes to define the term. The Scottish Law Officer, on whom I think the main onus of defending this Bill should rest because it deals with Scotland, in a very brief and transient appearance at the Treasury Box says he does not think there is anything in the point. He says 1744 he is not familiar with the case put by the hon. Member for Shettleston. Surely it is reducing legislation, I will not say to a farce, but to a point that is not very creditable to the Government that on this Bill, which is mainly Scottish, the only contribution should be these entirely uncertain one or two sentences by the Scottish Solicitor-General which lead us nowhere, and give us no help whatever.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I should like to press this point. If there is any ambiguity in the terms, surely this is the opportunity and the time when it should be cleared up because if a decision has been given in one court upon the meaning of the term "rent" and another decision has been given in another court the time and opportunity for clearing away that ambiguity are now when we are dealing with this very question. Is it to be said that when an ambiguity like that exists and the opportunity like this exists the Solicitor-General is not competent to say what definition this term is to have in this particular Act? If we are passing the Bill there should be no ambiguity, and I press the Solicitor-General to accept this, or to give us a definition which will remove all doubt.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I would like to dwell still further on the cases that have been quoted. It is a tremendous pity that we coming from Scotland find we are in the hands of those who quite openly confess that they do not understand the law of Scotland nor the practice so far as house-letting is concerned. What we have been fighting in Scotland is this. Some factors try to get the tenants to understand that when the costs for repairs in a house go up they have to meet that by increased rent, and they try to work on the poor, innocent, souls that when rates and taxes go up they have also to be compensated out of rent. What we want in this Bill is a clear understanding that whatever the sum named as rent it shall be for the use of certain premises. We want it quite clear that no factor or anyone letting premises shall be able to pass the burden of that which is not in any sense rent on to the tenant of the premises. We have to get that quite clear. If you take the distance between Hamilton and Glasgow, a distance of 10 miles, or you take the distance between Dumbarton and Glasgow, a distance of 19 miles, yet in those three areas you have men learned 1745 in the law giving judgments and not one coinciding with the other. We want to get out of this quagmire. It is all very well for those in the legal profession to have things like that to create work. If we were to solve the unemployment problem on those lines we should not have many unemployed. The Scotsman is Nature's lawyer. He is a logical man, and he wants to get something in this Bill which when he reads he can understand insted of having to go and pay for the advice of a lawyer. What we are pressing for is that the language shall not be that seen through the eyes of the English lawyers, but language which shall be understood by every Scots man and woman who reads it. We do not want this indefinite legal phraseology which seems to be characteristic of all the English Bills, and if we had a strong logical Government on the other side we would not to-night be sitting without our chief representative in Scottish law being on those benches. It seems to be another sign of the great weakness of this Government that a Bill of such importance as this should be in the hands of a solicitor in charge of the Bill who stands up and plainly confesses that he has no knowledge of what the thing deals with, since he has no knowledge of the law. We are going to press this and if we do not get it now we shall take other means.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I really think, if the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) will forgive me, that this is, I was going to say a really unnecessary mare's nest, but that may sound disrespectful.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
It is evident that the Sub-section he proposes to introduce is a Sub-section to say that "increase of rent" means increase over the standard rent permitted by the principal Act. The expression "increase of rent" occurs, as far as I know, in only two places in that Act, and it there appears, not by itself, but with a qualification—Any increase of rent made valid by this Act is hereinafter referred to as a validated increase of rent.With all respect to hon. Members opposite, even in Scotland, I should have 1746 thought that the natural lawyers of that country could not possibly have found any ambiguity in that.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
This is a case, not of a natural lawyer, but of a professional lawyer, a sheriff. He has decided that a landlord is entitled to add to the standard 1914 rent the increased rates, and that the tenant is only entitled to deduct what is in excess of that combined sum.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. I am sorry that I was not in the House when he was speaking, but I had to be away at the time. As I understand the decision it is this, that the increased rates, which are one of the things which the 1920 Act enables you to add, are to be treated as increased rent under the 1920 Act. Assuming that decision to be given, and assuming it to conflict, as I think it must, with other decisions, obviously it is a matter which ought to be put right more cheaply than by going to a Court of Appeal to determine. But it is not in this Act that we can put it right, because this Act does not amend the principal Act. We are going in the next six weeks—I think it was promised—or at any rate in a very short time, to introduce a Bill which is going to deal with the principal Act and amend it. If the hon. Gentleman would be so very kind as to send to me particulars of the case—I am not in the least challenging the accuracy of his report, but naturally one likes to look into it—I will undertake to look into it, and if there is any ambiguity it shall be put right in the Bill which is going to be brought in. But for the purposes of this Bill, it is not necessary, because this Bill does not use the words "increase of rent" by themselves. It only uses the expressionany increase of rent made valid by this Act.It is not necessary for the purposes of this Bill to have a definition Clause. All this Bill does is to say that the notice to quit objection shall not affect the validity of a landlord's claim.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
Surely it also entitles a tenant to retain sums recovered prior to the 1st December, 1922, and if that sum 1747 is to be limited by the decision referred to, then that decision is a matter which should be dealt with here.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
This Bill does not give the tenant the right to retain sums before the 1st December, 1922. What it does is to say that it shall not give the landlord the right to get those sums from the tenant. This Bill does not say that the tenant shall retain any money. What it says is that the landlord shall not be entitled by virtue of this Bill to recover certain moneys from the tenant. If he is entitled to recover from the tenant independently of this Bill, he will still be entitled to recover it after the Bill is passed. If he is not entitled to recover it, he will still not be entitled to recover it. All that this Bill does is to say that from the 1st December, 1922, certain moneys shall be recoverable, but that under this Bill the landlord shall not be entitled to recover moneys before that. Therefore, it is not necessary, for the purpose of this Bill, to have the definition which has been suggested, and I think that I am meeting the hon. Member fairly if I say that, with regard to the principal Act, if he gives me the decision referred to, I will look into it and, if necessary, see that it is put right.
May I ask whether the rent which the landlord is entitled to recover is not, if my hon. Friend's presentation of the facts is accurate, an unknown quantity, and, therefore, until the Amendment of the principal Act becomes an Act of Parliament, that quantity will remain unknown? Surely from that point of view it should be for the convenience of the public that a definition should come in here.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The rent which the landlord is entitled to recover is quite a well-known quantity, even in spite of that decision. Under the 1920 Act there are four main heads, in respect of which the landlord is entitled to increased rent—structural alterations, repairs, 15 per cent., and the rates. As I understand, the Sheriff held that, whether or not a notice to quit had been given, increased rates can be recovered. Therefore if that be so, then the only effect of the Bill will be to enable the landlord to recover the other three. If that is wrong, then the landlord by virtue 1748 of this Bill is entitled to recover all four. In that case he recovers all four. In one case he recovers it by virtue of this Bill, and in the other case he recovers it by virtue of the Sheriff's decision. He gets the same amount in either case. If there is any ambiguity of the kind, it ought to be put right when we come to the other Bill.
§ Mr. NICHOL
I think that the Attorney-General ought to put in this definition, because from another point of view a very large amount of ambiguity has arisen from the phrase. Last July when the case, having passed from the Court of Session in Edinburgh, was pending an appeal to the House of Lords, it was part of my work to investigate more than 1,100 rent books. I spent more than a month going over these rent books, and I found that about 730 of them were confused on this particular issue. It is all very well in this House, when we have all the details before us and the structure of the Bill has been debated for days, to say what it means. But from the tenant's point of view, all that appears is the actual figure of the increase, and when the tenant goes to the factor all these arguments have been introduced, and so far as litigation is concerned, if it had not been the case that the principal test case was going through the Court at that time, I am certain that of these 730 cases we could easily, if the tenants had been in a position to face the cost, have contested successfully in the Courts more than 600 of them.
From that point of view I suggest that the Attorney-General ought to make this point clear. This is an amending Act. It is going to refer to the moneys from the dates mentioned in this Bill, and the controversies that are going to arise as to the amount of that money are going specifically to relate to the increase of rent, and this Act will be the Act to affect these things. From that point of view I make the appeal that the definition which has been suggested should be adopted. Apart altogether from the case or two that have come to light in the Courts, I can assure the Attorney-General that there are hundreds of other cases, and we have in many cases prevented the tenant from going into the Law Courts because of the enormous amount of money and time that the thing would cost. In hundreds of these cases 1749 I persuaded the tenant concerned to delay any action until the principal test case had gone through. It is not true that there was not a possibility of thousands of cases. The fact is that those of us who were interested in this test case were actually persuading people not to go barging into the Courts until the main case was got out of the way. This particular point is a point on which litigation is possible in thousands of cases as the matter stands now. From that point of view I suggest that there is an overwhelming case for the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND
My hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) has alluded to the position that arises under the House Letting Act of 1911, where the occupier's rates became payable by the owner. That was for houses under a particular value, under £21 in towns of 50,000 inhabitants, with smaller limitations where the populations were smaller. By the House Letting and Rating Act of 1920 any increase
§ over the previous year in occupiers' assessments which are payable by the owner are deemed to be a lawful addition to the rent for the whole of the year for which increased assessments were imposed. There is a question as to whether these increases fall under Kerr v. Bryde and under Clause 3 of the principal Act. I have not got particulars of the case in the Hamilton Sheriff Court. That is a matter outside the scope of the present Bill. I should have thought that the increases of rent under the 1920 House Letting Act—that is where the occupiers' assessments for one year are higher than the year before—did not fall under the Kerr v. Bryde decision. But that is a matter which will be adjudicated on in the Court, and it is entirely outside the scope of this Bill. Therefore, the matter being perfectly plain under the 1920 Act, there is no need for the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 241.1753
|Division No. 132.]||AYES.||[9.50 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Groves, T.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grundy, T. W.||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||McLaren, Andrew|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.|
|Barnes, A.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Millar, J. D.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Muir, John W.|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Hancock, John George||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)|
|Bonwick, A.||Hardie, George D.||Newbold, J. T. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Nichol, Robert|
|Broad, F. A.||Hastings, Patrick||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Brotherton, J.||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hayday, Arthur||Paling, W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Parker, H. (Hanley)|
|Burgess, S.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Cairns, John||Herriotts, J.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Cape, Thomas||Hill, A.||Potts, John S.|
|Chappie, W. A.||Hinds, John||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hirst, G. H.||Richards, R.|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Riley, Ben|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Ritson, J.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Dunnico, H.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Sexton, James|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Falconer, J.||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Foot, Isaac||Lawson, John James||Snowden, Philip|
|Gosling, Harry||Leach, W.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lee, F.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greenall, T.||Linfield, F. C.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Turner, Ben||Weir, L. M.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Wallhead, Richard C.||Westwood, J.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)||Wheatley, J.||Wright, W.|
|Warne, G. H.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Watson, W. M. (Dunlermline)||Whiteley, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)||Mr. Neil Maclean and Mr. Morgan|
|Webb, Sidney||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Jones.|
|Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Foreman, Sir Henry||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Forestier-Walker, L.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Frece, Sir Walter de||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Furness, G. J.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Becker, Harry||Ganzoni, Sir John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Garland, C. S.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Berry, Sir George||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Paget, T. G.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Halstead, Major D.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Perring, William George|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Harrison, F. C.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Harvey, Major S. E.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Hawke, John Anthony||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Privett, F. J.|
|Bruford, R.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Raine, W.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Remer, J. R.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Remnant, Sir James|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Button, H. S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hertford)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hopkins, John W. W.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hudson, Capt. A.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hume, G. H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cope, Major William||Jephcott, A. R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)||Lamb, J. Q.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lorden, John William||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lougher, L.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Ednam, Viscount||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Manville, Edward||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Thomson, F. C (Aberdeen, South)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Titchfield, Marquess of||White, Col. G. O. (Southport)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Whitla, Sir William||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Tubbs, S. W.||Willey, Arthur||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Wallace, Captain E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Winterton, Earl||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)||Wise, Frederick||Gibbs.|
|Wells, S. R.||Wolmer, Viscount|