HC Deb 11 July 1924 vol 175 cc2715-7

Lords Amendment:

In page 1, line 18, after "himself" insert or for any son or daughter of his over eighteen years of age.

Lords Reason:

The Lords insist on this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because they consider that a landlord who wants his house for the use of his son or daughter should be able to resume possession.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth not insist upon its disagreement with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. A. Greenwood.)


It may be necessary and expedient at this particular stage in the Session to give way on these matters, but I feel that the weakening on the son and daughter question is very serious. It might seem to the uninitiated and to the Members of another place a very small and unimportant matter and it does not seem unreasonable on the face of it that the owner of a house should be allowed to give occupation to his son or daughter. Of course where there is a married son or daughter serious arguments can be put forward, but I know in practice what is actually taking place in East London, and there is no reason to believe that similar circumstances are not arising in provincial towns throughout the country. Owners are getting possession of dwelling-houses in East London by putting a boy or girl of 18 into one room in that house and as soon as possession has been obtained by nominal occupation of that kind the dwelling-house is converted into a factory. I have taken considerable trouble to investigate the matter and I can take Members to several of these factories which are converted dwelling-houses. It is causing terrible heartburning. I do not think hon. Members who represent rural areas realise the terrible state of affairs in East London, where it is quite impossible to get a house to live in on any conditions. The overcrowding, far from being less, is every day growing worse, and I get most pathetic letters from constituents complaining how they are getting comparatively good wages, but whole families have to live in one room because of the impossibility of getting any accommodation. Houses that have for centuries been used as houses are being converted into factories, on the excuse that they are required for a son or daughter, and, possession having been obtained, and a mere nominal occupation arranged, these houses are then converted into factories. This is a very serious cause of discontent, and it is bringing about much bitterness and heart burning. The other place, I am sure, when they made this Amendment did not do so realising the effect of their action, but the responsibility must be theirs, and I am afraid the Government are justified, at this very late hour, and with so many urgent matters contained in this Bill, in giving way. All that I can say is that, if bad feeling is created by this action, this House cannot take the responsibility, but I feel that I was bound to state the facts to the House so that the House would know the result of accepting these Amendments.


I wish to say, on behalf of those hon. Members who form the Liberal housing group, that we feel bound to accept the Government's decision in this matter, although we thought when the Bill was drafted that it was the very minimum by way of instalment to get urgent justice for a large number of people. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. P. Harris) that the inclusion of this Amendment seriously weakens the purpose of the Measure, but I regretfully concur in the Government's decision.


I am very much surprised to hear protests from hon. Members on the Liberal Benches. I remember very well on the broad principle of evictions during this Session that the big principle instituted by the Government to prevent evictions on a large scale throughout the country was absolutely killed by hon. Members below the Gangway. That is my recollection, and I think it is the recollection of the House, that, so far as the big general question of protecting tenants against eviction is concerned, hon. Members below the Gangway on this side were the means of killing that particular Bill. They then brought forward this emaciated thing, which has been still further emaciated by noble Lord in another place, and while I and my friends may have ground for protesting that this House has refused to deal in a sensible and decent way with the whole principle of evictions, and with the real attempt to protect poor people throughout this country which was being made by the Government, I do not see that hon. Members on the Liberal Benches have any right now to enter any protest against what the noble Lords are doing.

Question, "That this House doth not insist upon its disagreement with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.