HC Deb 03 May 1923 vol 163 cc1756-86

(1) A tenant, who becomes by virtue of this Act liable to pay any sum by way of rent or on account of arrears, or the sanitary authority, may apply to the County Court for an order suspending such liability on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or that it is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair, and Section two of the principal Act shall apply as if the application had been made under Sub-section (2) of that Section.

(2) Where the liability in respect of the payment of instalments is so suspended, the instalments which would have become payable during the period of suspension, shall for the purpose of calculating the aggregate amount of instalments paid be deemed to have been paid.

The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. Fairbairn: In Sub-section (1) to leave out the words: or the sanitary authority, may apply to the County Court for an order suspending such liability on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or that it is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair, and Section two of the principal Act shall apply as if the application had been made under Sub-section (2) of that Section, and to insert thereof the words may apply to the County Court, or at his option to the sanitary authority of the district in which the house in question is situate, for an order suspending such liability on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation, or that it is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair; which order the County Court or the sanitary authority is hereby empowered to make.


With reference to this Clause, there are two Amendments which more or less deal with the same point. The first one in the name of the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Fairbairn) is not in the correct Parliamentary form, and that is why I pass it over, and call the second one. The hon. Member for Worcester can state his case on the second one.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "or" ["arrears or the sanitary authority"] and to insert instead thereof the words "may apply to."

The question I want to raise on this Amendment is that of the increase of rent in regard to insanitary premises. In the course of the discussions in this House, whenever insanitary houses were referred to, the Attorney-General has invariably risen and pointed to the fact that within the four corners of this Bill he had protected the occupiers of insanitary dwellings from having to pay the increased rent. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General intends to give these people that protection. What I am submitting to him here is that the present provisions in actual practice do not protect these tenants at all. I think I have the general sympathy of the House in this, that where a habitation is certified by the local medical officer of health as not reasonably fit for occupancy, no increased rent should be imposed on that dwelling. It was clearly the intention of the Act of Parliament that that should be the case. But what do we find in actual practice? The course the occupier of insanitary property has to adopt is this. He first of all applies to the sanitary authorities for a certificate that his dwelling-house is not reasonably fit for human habitation. But possession of that certificate is not sufficient to entitle him to withhold the increase of rent. He must follow that up by raising an action in the Court against the owner and showing the certificate as a weighty piece of evidence in favour of his application for suspension of the increase. In the working out of that we get up against a serious difficulty.

As the Attorney-General is aware, we have in Scotland, as in England, two forms of courts. We have what we call in Scotland a Small Debt Court, and we have the Ordinary Court, and the expense of raising an action in these courts differs widely. If an action has been raised in a Small Debt Court, the initial expenditure consists of the procuring and issuing of a summons at a total expenditure of about 6s. 6d., and even if the litigant loses his case, the total expenditure that might be involved would be a small sum to the witnesses and a small fee to the opposing agent. The expense would seldom exceed a guinea, and hardly, if ever, exceed two guineas. But a tenant cannot go to that court with an application for the suspension of the increase of rent, because there is no form in that Small Debt Court in Scotland by which he can take this procedure. He must raise an action in the ordinary court, and when an action is raised there he enters upon an endless field of expenditure.

The Attorney-General made a good deal of the point that if a tenant, either through ignorance or poverty, might be unable to raise this action in Court, the local authority has been empowered in this Bill to raise that action. But I want to tell the Attorney-General that in actual practice the local authorities have found that almost impossible. The Glasgow Town Council are sympathetic to the unfortunate inhabitants of these dwellings, and they want to protect them against the impositions to which I have referred. They undertook the responsibility of raising an action, but, after their experience of one case, they have dropped it. They raised an action and the landlord appealed against their decision, and the case dragged on and on, and before it was finished the owner had to put his house into a state of repair. The course was so cumbersome and so costly, that I am officially informed that the Corporation have not gone beyond their test case.

I am not laying down any form of words, but if I can get the Attorney-General to agree to this proposal the form of words can be drafted. I submit to him that he is not conceding anything if he accepts the Amendment that would delegate to a Committee the powers of the local authority. What I am submitting is that in actual practice these powers are useless for the purpose. I propose that when a tenant applies to the sanitary authority and gets a certificate that his house is not in a reasonably fit state of repair that that should be accepted as primâ facie evidence of the condition of the house, and that possession of that certificate from the sanitary authority should entitle the tenant to withhold the increase of rent until the owner satisfies the Court he has put his house into a habitable state. That would shift the onus of initiating proceedings from the tenant to the owner. But it would do something more. It would change the Court from the Ordinary Court to the Small Debt Court. A tenant having withheld the increase of rent, the owner would be compelled to sue him in the Small Debt Court, and in that Court the case would be decided on the lower rate of expense. That, I think, is a perfectly reasonable appeal to make to the Attorney-General. Consider the two classes of people with whom you are dealing. On the one side, you have the most helpless section of the community, the poverty-stricken, unfortunate inhabitants of the slums; and, on the other hand, you have the owners of these houses which are not fit, according to our medical officers, for human habitation, which should not in their present state be profit-making subjects at all, but which are allowed to be profit-making subjects and to be inhabited because of the unfortunate shortage of houses leaving no alternative accommodation. We ask that the onus of proving that the houses are habitable should be put on the owner, where the tenant is in a position to produce a certificate to the contrary from the sanitary authority. I appeal to the Attorney-General to accept that alteration in the law, in whatever form of words he thinks will be suitable.


I beg to second the Amendment. Anyone who has had experience on a local authority which is dealing with the slum problem knows that problem to be the big part of the trouble with which we are endeavouring to deal. For many years I was a member of a local authority and we had in our area houses which were condemned 10 years previously as unfit for human habitation. But we were held up; we could not close up the houses because there was nowhere else for the people to go, although certificates were granted. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) referred entirely to the procedure in a big city like Glasgow, but take the case of smaller towns situated perhaps 50 miles away from the Sheriff Court town; consider what it means for a poor tenant living in a miserable slum habitation in such a town to take the necessary action. If he gets a certificate, he is compelled to go to the Sheriff Court, perhaps a day's journey away, at tremendous expense, and after he has got his decision, it is not worth anything at all. I hope the Attorney-General will take a sympathetic view of this proposal. We ask that the onus of proof shall be shifted from the tenant of the insanitary house on to the proprietor of the insanitary house, and that the court powers shall be changed from the Sheriff Court which is a costly court, to the Small Debt court which is held periodically in all the large towns. It would mean that justice would be cheaper and it would mean that justice, for the first time, would be effective. It would mean that the purpose which we understand the Attorney-General has in view, namely, to stop the slum owner from securing the increase of rent, will be achieved.

I was in one house along with the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) where an eviction took place. They had lifted a sick woman from a bed four stories up, in a place which had been condemned eight years previously. This occurred in the absence of her husband, who had been unemployed for a number of years, and who was, at the time, out looking for work. This man was a total abstainer from alcohol; nobody could say a word against his character, but he was unfortunate enough to be out of work; he was living in a slum house, and he had not been able to pay the rent. They lifted this poor woman out of the house and laid her on an ash-pit, and the medical officer testified that during the time she lay there, an infant in a little box which was a substitute for a cradle, was bitten in the cheek by a huge rat. That infernal, stinking, foul, foetid den had its 40 per cent. increase imposed, and there is no means whatever of stopping that sort of thing, unless this Amendment, or some such Amendment, is accepted by the Government. If they do not accept it the local authorities, and I speak for the smaller towns, are absolutely unable to deal with condemned insanitary property. I repeat what was said the other day by the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. James Stewart), that the nation, the State, the community is losing millions of pounds per annum in the peoples' health, because of our inability to deal with the slum problem which is crushing local authorities.

I would very earnestly appeal to the Attorney-General, even if it be at some slight sacrifice of the Government's amour propre, even if it cause them some slight trouble in redrafting the Clause, to appreciate the seriousness of this matter. This is apart altogether from the ordinary debates about increases of rent for tenants, some of whom may be able to pay. This is dealing with people who are absolutely down and out; they are unable to pay. They are living in places that are officially certified as unsuitable for human habitation, and unless the Attorney-General so amends the regulations and procedure as to enable the local authorities and the inhabitants of these slum dwellings to put pressure to bear upon the proprietors—and they will do that by stopping the 40 per cent. increase—it will be very many years before you will be able to take your population out of these slum houses. The State will lose millions of pounds and thousands of lives, and the limbs, and the bodies, and the minds of hundreds and thousands of people will be permanently poisoned. I appeal to the Attorney-General to accept the Amendment.


I am sure we are all impressed by these terrible stories from Scotland, but I rise, representing an English constituency, to make the same claim for the English constituencies. I understand that the Amendment in my name is not in strict Parliamentary form, but I warmly support the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Shettlestone (Mr. Wheatley). In my constituency the same state of things obtains. These poor people do not go to the County Court, they cannot understand the formalities of the County Court, they cannot pay the expenses of the County Court, and it seems to me that the sanitary authority are the best judges of the condition of the houses, and their certificate, when given, ought to be effective, without the tenant having to go to the County Court with it. I urge this in the name of my corporation, and I want to join in the appeal to the Attorney-General. This is not a political or a party matter. My corporation is a Tory corporation of the Toriest, but I am speaking here on behalf of my corporation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What corporation is that?"] Worcester. Hon. Members ought to remember Worcester. There are so many of these poor people who are paying a 40 per cent. increase when the repairs have not been carried out, who have a right to look to Parliament for protection, and I appeal to the Attorney-General to say that for once, in this matter, some concession can be made. I want to point out that it was on the Attorney-General's own Motion that the sanitary authority was put in—it was an Amendment in Committee—and having done that, I think the Government ought to take the logical consequences of their own action and do what they can by accepting this Amendment, or some similar Amendment, to enable the sanitary authority's certificate to be sufficient justification for withholding the increase in rent where the repairs have not been carried out. Tenants do not go to the County Court; in fact, they like to keep away from it. But these poorer people would have no hesitation whatever in approaching their local authority through the sanitary or health committee. I submit that, as people will not go to the County Court, they should be permitted to go to the sanitary authority in some way, which, I am sure, the Attorney-General could devise, if he would only make us this one concession—we have had none up to now—in the interests of the poorer people.


I think the House will do the Government the justice at least of recognising that they have not, in introducing this Bill, been unmindful of the fact that there were houses out of repair, on which account the landlord ought not to be entitled to increase, because it was one of the original proposals of the Bill by Clause 3 that that should be a ground for refusing the increase. The House will remember also that an Amendment has been introduced, I think at my instance, in Committee, in order to make it easier for the suspension to be obtained, because it was represented—as the hon. Member who has just sat down has represented—that the poorer classes would not be in a position either to find the money or to have the expert knowledge to go to the County Court, and therefore would be deprived of the opportunity of getting their suspension. In order to meet that, I introduced an Amendment which empowers the sanitary authority itself to apply. Therefore, if my hon. Friend tells us, as he does, that his corporation are anxious about this matter, I have put the remedy in their own hands, because they can apply, in every case in which they think there is any justification, for application to a County Court for themselves, on behalf of the tenant.

There is a different point, which has been raised by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment. It was pointed out that the expense of going to the Sheriff Court in Scotland was very considerable, and that the matter could be very much more expeditiously dealt with by going to the Small Debt Court. He said that it saved money, and rendered it much more easy to get the suspension where it ought to be granted, and he reminded us of a case where one of the great corporations had tried the experiment of going to the Sheriff Court, and had decided that the expense was too great to justify their going again. I do not think the suggestion has been made before of going to the Small Debt Court. I am speaking now about Scottish procedure, of which I am profoundly ignorant, but I recognise that it may very well be that there is, perhaps, in Scotland, undue expense incurred by going to a more cumbersome Court than that best suited to a matter of this kind. I cannot at this moment accept an Amendment to substitute the Small Debt Court, because I do not know enough about Scottish procedure to know whether such a Court would be a proper tribunal to deal with a matter of this kind.


You cannot apply to the Small Debt Court unless for a small debt, but the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley), by putting the power in the hands of a sanitary authority to give a certificate, would have the effect of enabling the tenant to refuse to pay the increase, and the owner would then be compelled to sue the tenant in the Small Debt Court.


I quite appreciate that point, but I hope I shall be able to point out that it does not affect the Amendment. What I was going to say was that I shall seek advice as to whether it is not possible that jurisdiction may be offered by this Act to allow an application to be made to the Small Debt Court. I do not know whether or not it can be done, but if it should appear that it can be done then I will see if an Amendment cannot be brought forward in another place, to add words to the effect that the County Court, or in Scotland the Small Debt Court, shall be the place of application, and that I suppose would get over the difficulty of the instances put forward by the hon. Member for Shettleston. I am coming to the suggestion of the hon. Member, and I will point out why I do not think it would be fair, or one that could be accepted. I am quite sympathetic to the suggestion that if facility could be given for obtaining a judicial decision as to a house being beyond repair, I am anxious to ensure that that judicial decision should be obtainable with the least possible expense and trouble. It was for that purpose, as the House will perhaps remember, that in Committee I introduced a Clause which enabled the sanitary authority to make the application, and it is for that reason that. I am going to see, in response to the hon. Member—if he accepts my suggestion—whether or not we cannot give power to the Small Debt- Court to give a certificate and thereby save the expense to which he has referred. When, however, he goes on further to suggest, as he does by the Amendment, that if the tenant goes to the sanitary authority and that authority gives a certificate that that shall ipso facto prevent the landlord from ever getting any increase of rent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Will hon. Members allow me to call attention to the Amendment to leave out the word "or" and to insert the words "apply to"?


Take the other Amendment.


I am coming to the other Amendment. I will take the two together as they are intended to work together— A tenant who becomes by virtue of this Act liable to pay any sum by way of rent or on account of arrears may apply to the sanitary authority for an order suspending such liability— Then come the words on the ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or that it is otherwise not in a reasonable state of repair, and Section ten of the principal Act shall apply as if the application had been under Sub-section (2) of that Section. Then we come to the other words If the authority as a result of such aplication issues such certificate as aforesaid the liability of the tenant to pay such rent or arrears shall be suspended until such time as the landlord is able to satisfy the County Court that the grounds on which the certificate was granted have ceased to exist, and that the certificate should be cancelled.


That is quite reasonable!


I think I was quite accurate in what I was saying—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—that the effect of the Amendment would be this, that the tenant applies to the sanitary authority, and if the sanitary authority issues the certificate ipso facto, the very fact of its issue prevents the landlord from recovering his increased rent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]


Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman read the further words?


I think I have read the words of the Amendment. I am explaining to the House what the effect will be if the tenant applies to the sanitary authority and the tenant gets a certificate which would ipso facto suspend the right of the landlord to recover any increase of rent, and the landlord would then never be able to get any increase of rent until he had made an application to the County Court and satisfied the County Court that the grounds on which the certificate was granted had ceased to exist. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I am going to say why I think not. The first reason is that, in my experience as a lawyer, and I think the experience of most people who have had to do with public affairs, it has always been considered unfair that a man should be condemned without being heard. The House will appreciate, if this Amendment is carried, since application to the sanitary authority must ipso facto suspend the increase, the landlord would find his rent suspended without knowing that an application had been made against him; and after the suspension was granted—it might be quite wrongly—he could not get it reversed. He could only apply to the County Court, and when the case came on, perhaps after a considerable period of time, he would have to satisfy the County Court that the grounds on which the certificate was granted had ceased to exist, whereas the real case might be that they had never existed at all. Even if the landlord proved that they had not existed, he would not get the rent for the period for which it had been suspended. That does not seem to me a reasonable or fair position in which to put anybody. I am really anxious that a house out of repair shall not entitle the landlord to get the increase of rent, but I am also anxious that an Order which penalises him in that way shall not be made without the landlord has had an opportunity of being heard.


That is the law at the present time.


The hon. Member will perhaps forgive me if I say that it is not the law. Nowhere that I know of does the law provide that a judgment can be given against a man who has never had a chance of being heard.


But the landlord can be heard before the sanitary authority has given the certificate.


Does the Attorney-General wish this House to believe that a sanitary inspector, at the present time, can close a house which he says is unfit for habitation without the proprietor of that house having an opportunity of being heard?


Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, may I ask him this question? Does he mean to suggest that any responsible sanitary authority in England—I know nothing about Scotland—would make an order under this Clause without inviting the landlord to be heard before they did so?


There is no question here of making an order. As I have already said, so far as I know, neither in England nor in Scotland can a man be condemned unheard, and before a closing order can be made there must not only be an application to the sanitary authority, but it must be heard by a magistrate, and it is simply that procedure that I am insisting upon in this case; but there is nothing, certainly in England—I do not know about Scotland, but I should think the same applies there—to prevent a sanitary authority, on the application of a tenant, certifying that a house is not in a proper condition of repair, and, in fact, a medical officer of health does certify, without having made inquiry of the landlord at all. Hon. Members who are landlords may have had that happen to them.


May I, as the convener of a health committee dealing with this matter, say that the procedure is that the corporation hears its officials, and decides to issue a closing order, but, before that closing order is dealt with, the person concerned, either the factor or the landlord, is summoned to a meeting of the authority. They are heard, the case is stated to them in their presence, and, after they have been heard, the closing order is issued by the authority. But that does not finish it. The landlord or factor concerned has the right of appeal to the sheriff against the issue of that closing order. When the sheriff has heard the case and issued his judgment, then the closing order becomes effective. But why is that closing order issued? Because the house is insanitary; and when the tenant makes application for his certificate, it, can only be issued after such procedure has been gone through—not merely on the application of the tenant.


The hon. Member will forgive me when I point out that that is the very thing that I am emphasising. At present in Scotland, so he tells me, and in England, as I know, before you can get an effective closing order the landlord has an opportunity of being heard. But this is not a Clause which provides that after a closing order has been made by the Court the rent shall be suspended. If that were the proposal I should not see very much objection to it, except that in the interests of the tenant it would be unfair, because at present you can get the rent increase suspended if the house is not in a reasonable state of repair, whereas under the other proposal you would have to go so far as to get an actual closing order before you could get the increase suspended. It would operate against the tenant. The point I am trying to make, and which I want the House to appreciate, is that under the proposal of the hon. Member for Shettleston, which is the proposal of this Amendment, no closing order is required, but merely that the statement of the sanitary authority that they certify that the house is not in a reasonable state of repair shall of itself operate as a suspension of the rent.

As hon. Members know, the certificate can be applied for—and the tenant is so told in the very form of notice which, under this Act, as the House will see in the Schedule, is provided—the tenant can apply to the sanitary authority and on payment of a shilling get the certificate of the sanitary authority, if they see fit to issue it. There is no provision for any hearing of the landlord, and in practice, as far as I know, no such hearing takes place before the certificate is issued. What I am anxious to provide for is that, if a case can be made good, then, as cheaply as possible, it shall be adjudicated. What I am anxious to prevent is that the order shall become operative, suspending the right to receive the right to receive rent, without a hearing and without the landlord having had a chance to say anything. That is the effect of the Amendment as it stands, and the mistake which hon. Members opposite seem to insist on making is to confuse the issue of a certificate, which is provided for in the principal Act and in this Measure, with the issue of a closing order, which is a very different proceeding, and which, of course, involves a judicial inquiry before it becomes effective. If the hon. Member had proposed that after the closing order had been made by the Court the rent should be suspended, I should have no objection except that I do not think it would operate in the interest of the tenants, whose interests the hon. Member is anxious to safeguard. I rose at this early stage because I was anxious to give what I hoped might be a possible concession, though I could not embody it at this stage, namely, to meet the point the hon. Member made of the expense of applying to the County Court and the Sheriff's Court in Scotland, and I was anxious, if I could, to obviate that by providing that the Small Debt Court should deal with it if it turns out on inquiry that that is a practical course. The effect will be this. On the notice of the increase of rent the tenant is told he has a right to apply to the sanitary authority for a certificate, which will cost him a shilling and he will get the shilling back. The moment he gets the certificate he can apply to the County Court, or if he cannot afford it the sanitary authority can itself on his behalf apply to the County Court for an Order suspending the increase, and the effect of that will be that on the hearing of that application the certificate itself is primâ facie evidence, so the burden which the hon. Member for Shettleston is anxious to put upon the landlord is in fact imposed on him of showing that the certificate was wrongly issued. When these precautions are taken we have adequately safeguarded the position. I agree it is a considerable alteration from the position we originally took up when the Bill was introduced. I have made these alterations because I am as anxious as any hon. Member opposite that houses which are not properly kept in repair shall not have these increases, and it is in order to ensure that that I am taking every measure I can reasonably think of to provide that where houses are wrong it shall be possible to suspend the increase of rent cheaply and effectively either by the tenant or by the local authority on his behalf. I think the precautions we have put in are adequate, and I cannot accept an Amendment which departs from what I regard as a fundamental principle of British justice, namely, that a man shall be heard before he is condemned.


Would it influence the Attorney-General if I gave him evidence of a case where the procedure that he has outlined cost over £20?


Would the right hon. Gentleman consider a court of summary jurisdiction?


I cannot at the moment give a definite pledge one way or the other, because I had thought the County Court acted, at any rate in England, fairly satisfactorily, but I will certainly consider the suggestion of a court of summary jurisdiction if the House thinks that would be more effective. My only object is to ensure that some judicial court shall decide upon this matter before there is any suspension order made.


Although we are very much obliged to the Attorney-General for promising that in another place he may make certain Amendments, especially regarding Scotland, which will mean that the case will be heard before the Small Debt Court rather than before the Sheriff Court, I think we must express our profound disappointment at the way he has met the hon. Member for Shettleston. It may be quite true what he says of the wording of the Amendment, that there will be no personal hearing of the landlord. Two or three words would make that alteration. "On notice being given to the landlord," inserted at the proper place, will secure what the learned Attorney-General wants. This is a point of great substance. Eeveryone knows who has any experience at all in the administration of slum property that the reasons that slums have persisted so long has been that the landlord has never yet been put by the law in a state of defence. The matter has been allowed to drag on, and drag on, and drag on, sanitary authorities without sufficient power, tenants without sufficient opportunity to take the landlord to court, and in the end even today, and with reference to this property about which the learned Attorney has been so tender, my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston) has told us of property which 10 years ago was the subject of condemning certificates, but which is still being inhabited, and not only inhabited but subject to the increase of 40 per cent. allowed by the principal Act of 1920. That is a state of things that I am perfectly certain the learned Attorney-General does not feel in his heart called upon to defend.

Take a case in my own constituency, which has been put into my hand. There are two rows of houses in a small mining village which are, I believe, about 100 years old. They have been subject to the increases of rent, and not one halfpenny has been spent on improvements, or to put them into a truly habitable condition. No repairs have been done, although rents have been increased and charges made for repairs. In one neighbour's house the kitchen window dare not be touched as the frame would drop to pieces, it is so rotten. Some of the neighbours have to place baths on the stair landing to catch the water when it rains. The houses, as a matter of fact, should be pulled down. What is the position of the tenants of those houses under this Bill? First of all, they themselves must take the owner of these houses, who has already pocketed the rents, into the County Court. They cannot do it. That is the first thing. If they do take him into the County Court the expenses are so great and the conditions are so unfamiliar to these people that they not only hesitate before doing it, but cannot do it successfully except on very rare occasions. I had the great pleasure and equally great profit of spending an evening not long ago with one of the best-known and most respected of our County Court judges, and with him were two equally well-known and equally highly-respected Registrars of County Courts, while in addition there was a medical officer in the company. We met for the purpose of discussing precisely this point, and the opinion of them all without any equivocation or qualification was that to give the tenants occupying slum property, or property that ought not to be inhabited on account of its evil condition, the power to take the landlord to the County Court was really putting into an Act of Parliament words which never eventuated nor could eventuate. The second point is that these people, further, may apply to the sanitary authority, and the sanitary authority itself may apply to the County Court. In this case again I am perfectly certain that the learned Attorney-General has no idea that that is going to be an effective way of dealing with the matter. What is going to happen? The tenant for the purpose of getting his rent reduced applies to the sanitary inspector, but not for a certificate he is going to use himself. If a tenant could use the certificate effectively there might be something indeed to justify the proposition. The proposition is that the sanitary authority puts itself in the position of the prosecuting authority against the landlord. Is that going to be done? How can it be done in any number of cases?


It is done. I have experience of a local authority.


So have I. Of course, it is done occasionally, but the very fact that local authorities have not been able to put into operation the power to clear slums shows that this is going to be ineffective. Of course, I understand the hon. Member's point. His interests do not appear to be the interests of the tenant—


The hon. Member has no right to say that. I have been a member of a local authority, and I know that many landlords are proceeded against direct by the local authority.


Many sanitary officers have been discharged, because they tried to put it into effect. The Chairman is very often a slum landlord.


I know that slum landlords are sometimes proceeded against, but—


Every week in London.

11.0 P.M.


Every week in London thousands of landlords ought to be proceeded against and are not. That is true of every borough in the country. The attitude of the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Lorden) led me into an expression which I would rather not have used, but if I have trespassed in comment in the House, I withdraw. But there is the point. The policy of the Government is this. It puts the onus of action upon the tenant or upon the sanitary authority on a matter not of the reconstruction of houses, not for the purpose of enabling the sanitary authority to carry out its duty, but for the secondary purpose of enabling the tenant to get some benefit under this Bill. That is not the right way to do it. The hon. Member for Shettleston makes a proposal which changers the proposal of the Attorney-General. My hon. Friend says that the sanitary authority, which is the authority on the condition of the property, which judges whether it is habitable or not, should issue a certificate after the landlord is heard. Put in any form of words you like to secure that, and we all support it. Make all the provisions and conditions secure, so far as the Attorney-General thinks they are necessary, but let him put the onus, not on the tenant, but on the landlord. Let the Attorney-General deal, not with the smaller points, but with the substantial point that so long as a tenant, a slum tenant, a poor man or woman, is compelled to live in houses in the condition described in Clause 3, so long injustice will be done. The only way to secure justice for these people is to say to the landlord: "If the sanitary authority issues a certificate, after hearing you, that your property is not up to the standard contemplated by the House of Commons when it passed Clause 3, the tenant is to get protection without going to the expense and the uncertainty of an action in the Courts."


I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the withdrawal that he has made. I want to put this case to the House: A certificate is granted ex parte by the sanitary inspector. I will give an instance which was brought to my notice a little while ago. A tenant who had got not as nicely decorated a house as she desired called in the sanitary inspector, who issued a certificate that certain things were not to his liking. The owner sent back the certificate to the medical officer of health with the statement that he was prepared to do everything to make the house in a sanitary state and fit for human habitation, but that he was not prepared to do decorations such as the tenant required.


An imaginary case. All imagination!


It is not imagination. I can, if necessary, give chapter and verse. This was a case, not of slum property, but of a very good class of house. The medical officer went and saw the property, and then wrote to the owner, "I am sorry that you have been troubled. The notice is withdrawn." The local authority is not a judicial body; it has no means of hearing evidence. Under this Amendment the local authority would become a court of law, instead of carrying out its function in looking after sanitation, road-making, and so forth. I want to show how wicked and wrong it would be to put into the hands of a sanitary authority power to issue these certificates. I do not know much about Scottish conditions. Evidently what they have in Scotland may be something very different, but it cannot apply to England, as you will see from the evidence I have given, which I am prepared to prove up to the hilt and for which I can give chapter and verse. It was brought to me as a flagrant case under the Rent Restrictions Act, and it was put right in that way.


I want to correct the last speaker in so far as the orders made by the sanitary inspector are concerned. In the first place, they do not apply to decorations at all. Let me illustrate that fact. I was for five years on the Glasgow Town Council, which is about the second in size, and the first in importance. What occurs is that all your sanitary authorities insist on is not decorations at all, but that the place shall be reasonably fit for people to live in. It does not include decorations or even painting. Take the case of a farmer with a byre for keeping cattle in. All that is insisted on there is that the place shall be well white-washed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, cattle!" and "Give him a chance."] The hon. Member does not give anybody a chance; he is too prejudiced. His interest is too much at stake. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] In the case to which I have referred, there is no compulsion to paint, but there is compulsion to put it into a sanitary state, even in regard to cattle. That is all that is applied to house property, namely that the owner of the property is only compelled to make it sanitary. He has not necessarily to paper it, but only to whitewash it and put it in the same condition as a man does a cattle-byre or a factory, which are two totally different things. Even then, he has an appeal. The sanitary inspector, in the first case, grants an order and, in my opinion, 99 times out of 100, the sanitary authority is more inclined to take the landlord's side than that of the tenant, because the local authority is dominated by people who are more or less interested in property. Consequently, like everybody else—like the officials in this House, and like the officials in every place—they are inclined to serve those who have the majority, and who rule. That applies to the local authorities. Even there, after a certificate is given, the man has the right to appeal against that certificate being granted.

All this Amendment asks is very simple, and I am astounded at the attitude of the Attorney-General on this question. I speak with experience of a local authority. The Glasgow Corporation had a majority of people who were anti-Labour, and we discussed this selfsame proposal some time ago, because our opinion had been asked in relation to the Rent Restriction Act. Unanimously, the Corporation agreed that, in the interests of the great city, this Amendment, which we are now proposing, ought to be carried into law. Hon. Members talk about making it cheap. It is not uncommon for the cost of people going to the Sheriff Court to be £20 or £30. The total cost, if this Amendment were carried, might be only £5, yet the man who has a perfectly legitimate grievance may be run into costs reaching £20. The result is that you pay to the landlords every time. It is no use appealing to you. It is no use appealing to certain people; there are vested interests; the money interest is so strong; and to the last speaker that applies particularly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]


I cannot allow that to be said. We do not allow anyone to impute personal motives.






I will withdraw for the only person who can ask me to withdraw—Mr. Speaker. If I made a remark which is wrong, which is un-Parliamentary and which is not commonly used in this House, then I withdraw. Finally, may I say, that in the division in which I live there are something like 1,000 houses already condemned. I know of a house in my constituency which is in a condition that one could hardly describe, with rats running all over the floors. You quote one case—I could quote 1,000 against you, and I hope the House will see the reasonableness of the Amendment which is now put forward.


We have had a great deal of discussion on what is, after all, a minor point. If hon. Members will refer to the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1909, Sections 14 and 15, they will find it clearly laid down that the landlord of a house of this class is required, when the house is originally let, to have it in a state reasonably fit for human habitation; and, by Section 15, he is required during the period of the letting to maintain the house in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation. If the landlord does not do that, the local authority can do it, and the landlord, in going to court against the tenant for rent due, can be met by a defence on the ground of his failure to keep the house in reasonable repair, not only in regard to any increase of rent, but in regard to any rent at all. That is much more material and important than the point which we are discussing. The matter has been the subject of decisions in England; in Scotland, unfortunately, it was only last year that the question was taken up, and the Sheriff Principal of Renfrewshire, in the case of Weston against Morris, held that until the landlord executed all repairs which had on the evidence been found necessary, he would not be entitled to a single penny of rent. If the original rent is not payable in such circumstances, how much less is the increase of rent payable? If my hon. Friends opposite—[An HON. MEMBER: "Anything but your Friends!"]—if the hon. Members who are in opposition, would study previous Acts of Parliament, it would not be necessary to have so much discussion on a minor point when the major point is safeguarded in Sections 14 and 15 of the Act to which I have referred. If the landlord is met by the defence that the house is not reasonably fit for human habitation, and if that is proved by the evidence, the sheriff will refuse an order for the payment of the rent, and, in these circumstances, Parliament has already given protection to the tenants in regard to this question.


I wish to reply to the statement of the hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. W. Hutchison) that powers for this purpose already exist, under the Act of 1909. If that is so, we find the same powers being enacted in Clause 3 of the present Bill, and that seems to be redundant legislation for which the law officers have been responsible. I would point out that the case mentioned by the hon. Member was taken to the Sheriff Court and fought out by people who could afford to do so—by people living in a house which, in ordinary circumstances and properly repaired, would have been a decent house in a decent locality. The Amendment deals with houses in slum areas. It was not in a slum area that the case cited by the hon. Member arose.


The case I gave was one where the rent was under £16. Is that not pretty well a slum area, to start with?


The hon. Member shows that he does not understand the housing question in Scotland. I can take him into districts in the City of Glasgow where, prior to the War, a house of £10 was a decent house in a decent, artisan working-class district, but it is the slum areas we are talking about, not ordinary, decent, working-class dwellings. The cases dealt with by the Amendment are cases where the people scarcely have sufficient coming into the house to pay the rents that are being charged and to purchase a very inadequate supply of food and clothing for their families, and what is wanted by the hon. Member for Shettleston is that the Attorney-General shall frame a form of words that will cover the points put forward by him. His own form of words may be unfortunate, but any hon. Member trained in the law can pick holes in the verbal construction of any Amendment submitted. That is not the point that we should be at, however. The Attorney-General understands just as well as does the hon. Member for Shettleston what the hon. Member is aiming at in this Amendment, and so do the Scottish officers representing the Government. Why then quibble over the form of words? Why not recognise the human element in this case? Why not rise superior to all this quibbling, and get down to the human element? Here is a section of our people living in slum areas, many houses of which are similar to that house which was quoted by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Johnston). Many houses are of that character, and these people cannot afford to take the owner or factor of the house into court in order to prove that the house is insanitary. Let the sanitary authority—not the sanitary inspector, I would remind the hon. Member for Kelvingrove, not an individual, but the authority—be asked by the tenant to come down and inspect these particular houses; let the inspector who is sent then submit a report to the authority that governs his action, and let that authority then lay the report before the owner of the house, so that he can understand the complaint that is being alleged against him. Do all these things if you like, but, for goodness' sake, let us get these poor people, who cannot fight for themselves, to realise that the House of Commons can rise superior to mere words, that it can judge an issue upon its human merits, that it can look upon these people as people whom it is here to protect, that it can lose the party feeling that sometimes animates all of us on certain issues; but that, as far as the bottom dog in society is concerned, we are not going to have any party issue, but we are all going to unite in saying that he at least is going to have as decent a condition as we can guarantee him.

I hope the Attorney-General will appreciate our position and understand that we are not quibbling. I hope he will understand that this is not a fractious Amendment we are moving. It is an Amendment of some substance which, if carried, would confer enormous benefit upon thousands of people in our industrial towns as well as hundreds of people in our rural areas. I hope the Attorney-General and his advisers on the Scottish side will agree with us and that he will put into the Bill a form of words which will guarantee to the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and the people on behalf of whom he speaks a protection which does not exist in the Bill at present.


This would be a very small concession for the Attorney-General to make but it would be a very large concession for the tenant to receive—the hopeless oppressed tenant. The Attorney-General said his objection to the Amendment was that it did not give the landlord an opportunity to be heard. The Attorney-General made a very strong case on behalf of the landlord, and I could not help thinking that if he had been defending the landlord in a court of law he would not have done it better than he has tonight. But we are not advocates here; we are legislators. This, of course, is a landlords' Bill, and it is appropriate that the Attorney-General should state the landlords' case. I want to say a word for the tenant. The Attorney-General said the landlord would not have an opportunity to be heard, and that is his only objection to the Amendment, but the rent would only be suspended for a certain time. The landlord will not be deprived of it. The liability of the tenant to pay is suspended, for what reason? Because the house is uninhabitable. That is a very good reason, surely. We are not asking the landlord to forego any rent; we are only asking him to wait till repairs are such that the house is habitable. That is not a very great concession to make to the tenant, and it is not a very great hardship upon the landlord that you should suspend payment for a certain period, that period being the period during which the repairs are being made. The landlord has to satisfy the authority that these repairs had been made. The payment is suspended because the house is not habitable, because it is in disrepair, and as soon as it is put into repair the payment of rent resumes. The great advantage is that it is automatic on the part of the tenant. He has not to go to law. If he gets the sanitary authority to certify that the house requires repair, then the payment is suspended till it is put into repair. What a small concession to make to an oppressed and a helpless tenant! And yet we have the Attorney-General defending for twenty minutes the landlords against a small concession of that kind. We are pleading for the helpless and most poverty-stricken in the land, and yet the right hon. Gentleman spends 20 minutes defending the wealthiest in the land, and giving us the landlord's case against the poor, oppressed and helpless tenant. I appeal to him for a moment to become a legislator, and not a landlord's advocate. If he knows nothing about Scottish law, as he so modestly pleads, he has plenty of assistance. He has beside him the Solicitor-General for Scotland, who occupies his position because of his great knowledge of Scottish law. The right hon. Gentleman makes the objection that the landlord cannot be heard. Then let the right hon. Gentleman call in the assistance of his colleague to see if he can devise an Amendment of this Clause in order to do justice to the landlord. If he is not satisfied with the advice of the Solicitor-General, where is the Lord Advocate? If the Lord Advocate cannot enjoy the privilege of sitting on the Treasury Bench, he can sit under the Gallery, and prompt the Attorney-General all the time. Here is a case peculiarly applicable to Scotland. Why then, not make use of all the resources?

The Amendment, if carried, would give simplicity to the case. The tenant would have redress automatically and spontaneously without going to a Court of Law; and in Scotland especially, the poorer the people are, the more they dread the Courts of Law. In Scotland we all dread the Courts of Law, except the lawyers. It sometimes pays to suffer a grave and persistent injustice rather than take the case to the Courts, and there is an inherent aversion among Scottish people to going to law. By threatening a man that "you will have the law on him, you can put the fear of death into him," and oppress him, and sometimes succeed with an unjust claim. This Amendment gives simplicity. It allows a tenant to approach the Sanitary Authority and automatically to get the landlord to sit up and take notice. The Attorney-General speaking on behalf of the landlord, with a tear in his voice, said the landlord could not be heard. It specifically says in the Amendment that the landlord has an opportunity of satisfying the authority that he has made the repairs. I know of a house in my constituency on which the increase has been paid all this time, and a promise was made to carry out repairs, which promise has never been fulfilled. The paper was hanging from the ceiling and walls, and a great part of the roof was in a gross state of disrepair. This tenant would see the authority who would give a certificate that the house was in a state of disrepair, and the following morning the landlord would be there to have a look at it. If there is any suspension—it may only be for a few days—you get the thing done automatically, rapidly. I went to circumvent the courts and the lawyer; to short-circuit the courts and to get justice as though the courts and lawyers were not there. If the suggestion we put forward is followed out we get justice at once, and without going through the courts which are so much dreaded by many people. I am pleading on behalf of the poorest of the poor, and you the vested interests. Justice should be the cheapest thing that the State supplies to its citizens; in this country it is the dearest. It should be the most rapid; it is here the slowest. Here is one of the very few opportunities that we have in this place to get rapidity, cheapness, simplicity and to get justice done automatically and "while you wait." The Attorney-General calls up all his reserves and his knowledge and legal lore, and so we have spent the whole of the evening here. Who has wasted the time of the House? The man who wastes the time of the House is the man who resists a reasonable request. Who causes the greatest noise and riot in the House? He who persistently withholds justice! We have had illustration after illustration of that in our present Parliament. I am not going to allow anyone to challenge me in this matter; to accuse me of wasting the time of the House, or of keeping the Members out of bed. I point to the Attorney-General and to the absence of the Lord Advocate, and I say that this request is one of the most reasonable of requests.


Might I remind the hon. Member of Standing Order 19?


I am sorry to have transgressed, but I seem to have read somewhere that nothing but repetition here impresses Ministers.


The hon. Member had better read it again.


The Attorney-General can make me resume my seat at once and stop my speech if he makes the concession I demand. If—and this is a new point—if this concession be given the landlord is not asked to suffer. He is not impoverished. He is simply asked to do his duty. That is why I think that the request is reasonable if I may say that again. That is why I think the Attorney-General should answer the question which I put to him as to whether he will make such suggestions for the modification of this Amendment as will satisfy the criticism which he made, namely, that the landlord was not considered. I think we are entitled to have a word from the Solicitor-General for Scotland. A Scottish member moved this Amendment and it was seconded by another Scottish member and we have put forward the difficulties arising in Scotland. They tried to show that there was a cheaper way by which they could proceed, and I ask the Solicitor-General for Scotland to try and satisfy the demands of Scottish members as to whether or not the lesser and the cheaper court might be used in Scotland and whether or not some modification of this Amendment in that direction might be made.


I want to put in a plea for the Amendment on behalf of the subordinate kingdom of England. This is not purely a Scottish question because it is one that affects very much the district from which I come. One hon. Member said the sanitary inspectors could make orders in these cases, but there is no sanitary authority in the country which allows the sanitary inspectors to make orders on anybody, and I never heard of such an ignorant statement as that. We have also been reminded by another hon. Member that the sanitary authority when it comes across bad dwellings has power to put them into a proper state of repair, but hon. Members must be aware that the Courts have held that when a sanitary authority has done that the payments can be spread over a long period of years and the poor sanitary authorities would be bankrupt before the money was paid. It is perfectly certain that if we had the power to say to the slum owner, instead of stepping in and putting his rotten dwellings in a state of repair and allowing him to repay us over a period of 30 years, "If you keep these dwellings in this condition you will not get any rent," the landlord would jolly soon put them into a proper state of repair. I hope that the Attorney-General will consult the Minister of Health for England and perhaps with the assistance of two or three hon. Members from each side of the House we might be able to come to an agreement as to an Amendment to be moved in another place. I only realised the great importance of this Amendment during the discussion. It is certainly one of substance and I can assure the hon. Member opposite who quoted the law on this subject that it is a dead letter because poor districts like Poplar cannot afford to put this kind of property into a proper state of repair and spread the expense over a long period.

If the Attorney-General would give us a pledge, and we could have some consultation as to how to carry it into effect, I am sure the desire of his legal mind that we should not do an injustice to anyone could be satisfied. We only want to get rid of slums, to get rid of

the necessity for people paying a man for the privilege of living in a slum. There is only one way of doing that, and that is by stopping his rent when the place is a slum.

Question put, "That the word 'or' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 222; Noes, 145.

Division No. 133.] AYES. [11.42 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Erskine-Bolst, Captain C. Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M. Morden, Col. W. Grant
Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark) Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Ford, Patrick Johnston Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Apsley, Lord Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Murchison, C. K.
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Furness, G. J. Nesbitt, Robert C.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)
Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover) Ganzoni, Sir John Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Garland, C. S. Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gates, Percy Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague Goff, Sir R. Park Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Barrett, Major Richard W. Gray, Harold (Cambridge) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Barnston, Major Harry Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.) Paget, T. G.
Becker, Harry Gretton, Colonel John Parker, Owen (Kettering)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Pease, William Edwin
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Gwynne, Rupert S. Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks) Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Penny, Frederick George
Berry, Sir George Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Betterton, Henry B. Halstead, Major D. Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Hamilton, Sir George C. (Aitrincham) Perring, William George
Blades, Sir George Rowland Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Pielou, D. P.
Blundell, F. N. Harrison, F. C. Pilditch, Sir Philip
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Harvey, Major S. E. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hawke, John Anthony Privett, F. J.
Brass, Captain W. Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South) Raeburn, Sir William H.
Brassey, Sir Leonard Henn, Sir Sydney H. Raine, W.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Rankin, Captain James Stuart
Brittain, Sir Harry Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham) Hewett, Sir J. P. Remer, J. R.
Bruford, R. Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Rentoul, G. S.
Bruton, Sir James Hiley, Sir Ernest Reynolds, W. G. W.
Buckingham, Sir H. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Robertson- Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W.)
Butcher, Sir John George Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Rothschild, Lionel de
Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North) Hopkins, John W. W. Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Butt, Sir Alfred Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.) Ruggles-Brise, Major E.
Button, H. S. Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cadogan, Major Edward Hudson, Capt. A. Russell, William (Bolton)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hughes, Collingwood Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cautley, Henry Strother Hume, G. H. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.) Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove) Sanderson, Sir Frank B.
Churchman, Sir Arthur Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Clarry, Reginald George Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Shepperson, E. W.
Clayton, G. C. Jephcott, A. R. Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale King, Captain Henry Douglas Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)
Cope, Major William Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South) Lamb, J. Q. Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L. Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R. Stanley, Lord
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Steel, Major S. Strang
Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)
Crooke, J. S. (Deritend) Lorden, John William Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Lougher, L. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead) Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln) McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury) Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.) Torrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Manville, Edward Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Dawson, Sir Philip Margesson, H. D. R. Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Titchfield, Marquess of
Edmondson, Major A. J. Mercer, Colonel H. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Ednam, Viscount Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Turton, Edmund Russborough
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Ellis, R. G. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wallace, Captain E.
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Molloy, Major L. G. S. Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington) Winterton, Earl Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Wells, S. R. Wise, Frederick Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Wheler, Col. Granville C. H. Wolmer, Viscount
White, Col. G. D. (Southport) Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Whitla, Sir William Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West) Colonel Leslie Wilson and Lieut.-
Willey, Arthur Wood, Major Sir S. Hill-(High Peak) Colonel Gibbs.
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Adams, D. Hartshorn, Vernon Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hastings, Patrick Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)
Alexander, A. V, (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart) Phillipps, Vivian
Barnes, A. Hayday, Arthur Ponsonby, Arthur
Batey, Joseph Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill) Potts, John S.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.) Pringle, W. M. R.
Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Rees, Sir Beddoe
Bonwick, A. Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh) Richards, R.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Herriotts, J. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Briant, Frank Hill, A. Riley, Ben
Broad, F. A. Hinds, John Ritson, J.
Buchanan, G. Hirst, G. H. Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)
Burgess, S. Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston) Rose, Frank H.
Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.) Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy) Saklatvala, S.
Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Jarrett, G. W. S. Salter, Dr. A.
Cairns, John Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Scrymgeour, E.
Chapple, W. A. John, William (Rhondda, West) Sexton, James
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Clarke, Sir E. C. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Simpson, J. Hope
Collins, Pat (Walsall) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, T. (Pontefract)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon) Snell, Harry
Darbishire, C. W. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Snowden, Philip
Davies, David (Montgomery) Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools) Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Kirkwood, D. Stephen, Campbell
Duffy, T. Gavan Lansbury, George Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Duncan, C. Lawson, John James Sullivan, J.
Dunnico, H. Leach, W. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Ede, James Chuter Lee, F. Thornton, M.
Edge, Captain Sir William Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Trevelyan, C. P.
Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.) Linfield, F. C. Turner, Ben
England, Lieut.-Colonel A. MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon) Warne, G. H.
Fairbairn, R. R. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Foot, Isaac M'Entee, V. L. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
George, Major G. L. (Pembroke) McLaren, Andrew Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Gosling, Harry Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Wheatley, J.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) March, S. White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Gray, Frank (Oxford) Marshall, Sir Arthur H. White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
Greenall, T. Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.) Whiteley, W.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Maxton, James Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Millar, J. D. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Groves, T. Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Wintringham, Margaret
Grundy, T. W. Newbold, J. T. W. Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wright, W.
Guthrie, Thomas Maule Nichol, Robert
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) O'Grady, Captain James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Oliver, George Harold Mr. John Robertson and Mr.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Paling, W. Lunn.
Hardie, George D. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)

Bill read the Third time, and passed.


I beg to move, at the end of the Clause to insert a new Sub-section— (3) A sanitary authority may appoint a Committee for the purpose of this Act and may delegate, with or without restrictions, to such Committee or to an existing Committee of the authority all or any of the powers of the authority under this Act. I hope the Government will accept this as it is a drafting Amendment that will be very convenient to local authorities, and one that is really essential if they are to carry out the proposals of the Attorney-General.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I am going to ask the House to accept this Amendment—[Interruption]—and I hope the Opposition is not going to decide against it now that we are agreed. It is an Amendment which I think will be useful, because it will enable the Sanitary Authority to act through a Committee instead of their whole body. I think that may be useful and of practical assistance.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read the Third time upon Tuesday next.