HC Deb 03 May 1923 vol 163 cc1753-6

(1).—(i) The tenant may at any time pay to the landlord the full amount of such arrears subject to the deduction of the aggregate amount of the instalments (if any) already paid; and

(3) The notice shall be in the form contained in the Schedule to this Act, or in a form substantially to the same effect, and the landlord shall furnish him with details in writing showing how the amount claimed is arrived at, and how the amount of the instalments has been calculated.


The next Amendment I call upon is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Sir W. Raeburn)—in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "standard" ["per cent. of the standard rent"]. Does the hon. Member desire to move that Amendment?


I do not wish to move that Amendment. I rise to a point of Order with regard to a former Amendment standing in my name, which has been disallowed. It proposes to put back the date of the end of the instalment period to 23rd February. It is, at the end of Clause 1, to insert the following new Sub-section: (3) In the application of this Act to Scotland the landlord shall be entitled to claim from the assessing authorities a rebate on the assessments payable by him as owner for the year of assessment terminating at Whitsunday, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, of such proportion thereof as has been imposed in respect of any validated increases of rent for the period from the commencement of the said year of assessment to the first day of December, nineteen hundred and twenty-two. My reason for doing this is that the Government gave a concession upstairs, and the Attorney-General said quite plainly that they were going to press on the Bill, and that they exepected it would be on the Statute Book by the middle of April. It will not be on the Statute Book, if I can judge aright, this month, and it is a very great injustice indeed to those who were relying on the 23rd February. This is going to put back the hands of the clock in instalments for one whole year, and I thought my Amendment would have been very much in Order on the Report stage, subject to what we agreed in Committee upstairs, because of the date of 15th April being held out to us. It makes all the difference in the world, and the 15th April may be turned into the 15th June. That is the reason why I put this Amendment down. Of course, I submit at once to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I thought it was worth while to explain why this was put down, when there was not a Division on it upstairs.


The fact that this Amendment was rejected by the Committee upstairs without a Division added to my decision not to re-open the matter at this stage.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, i), after the word "to" ["arrears subject to the deductions"], to insert the words "ten per cent. discount for cash and after."

10.0 P.M.

It would appear that an Amendment of this kind ought to be acceptable to the Government, and I am not without hope that they may, on this occasion, give us some concession. Up to the present, to-day we have received no concession at all from them. This will not cost the Government anything, and I do not think it will offend their dignity in the least. Although this may appear a very trivial matter, it has some substance in it. It will be said from the Government Benches that the tenant and the landlord may make an arrangement like this voluntarily. From my experience of discussing this Bill, I think there is very little hope of anything being done voluntarily by the landlord. I want the tenant to have the opportunity, if he is able financially so to do, to pay the amount he would otherwise pay in instalments in a lump sum, and to have some encouragement to do so by way of a 10 per cent. discount. I shall be told there is nothing in law at all on these lines, but I would point out that practically in every municipality, in order to collect the accounts in respect of gas, electricity, and in some cases the rates, there is a discount in respect to lump sums paid on any given date.


I beg to second the Amendment.


The hon. Member who moved the Amendment is always sanguine, but I am afraid he will be disappointed again. I ought to tell the House that this question of discount was raised and discussed in the Committee, but at that time hon. Members opposite were more modest, because they asked for 5 per cent. I have turned up the discussion, and I find that the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden), speaking on the Amendment said: The danger of giving these concessions is that these gentlemen will keep on and on, and probably if it is 5 per cent. this morning, you will find that to-morrow it will be something in the nature of 10 per cent. Evidently my hon. Friend is something of a prophet.


Next Tuesday, it will be 15 per cent.


If the House will consider for a moment, they will see that really we cannot accept this. It is an Amendment having the effect of compelling the landlord—who is, by the provisions of this Bill, already compelled to wait for some four or five years to get the whole of his money—at any time to give in addition to all that time, 10 per cent. for cash for being paid money which is, sometimes, perhaps three or four years overdue. That is not a reasonable suggestion. It was argued in Committee that many landlords would be glad to get the money at a discount of 5 per cent. No doubt that is true, and there is nothing in the Bill which will prevent their getting their cash at a discount of 5 per cent., if they like to agree to it. What we are unable to accept is an Amendment which compels the landlord to give 10 per cent. if, at any time, a tenant chooses to pay the balance of arrears. That is not reasonable, when one remembers that the tenant will not be paying in advance, but will be paying money which is already overdue, and is only being spread over instalments over a long period of time because of the fact that the tenant is, as a rule, not in a position to pay the money which he owes, and is unable to pay it except by small instalments. If he wants to make an arrangement he can do so, but I cannot agree to this being put into the Bill.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the word "him" ["the landlord shall furnish him with details in writing"], and to insert instead thereof the words "the tenant."

The Bill was amended in Committee by altering the form of notice the landlord had to give so as to make him give further particulars to the tenant. Unfortunately, in the alteration we omitted to notice a slight consequential phrase in Sub-section (3) of Clause 2. That reads, "The notice shall be in the form contained in the Schedule to this Act, or in a form substantially to the same effect, and the landlord shall furnish him with details," and so on. The word "him" is not grammar, and I want to put in the words "the tenant."

Amendment agreed to.