HC Deb 11 November 1927 vol 210 cc573-85

I beg to move, in page 16, line 38, after the word "buildings," to insert the words: and the lessor is not one of the bodies mentioned in Section 4, Subsection (1), paragraph (f). The object of this Amendment I will explain very briefly and without elaborate argument, because I understand it is viewed with favour by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. When this Bill was first introduced it contained a provision, a very common provision, that in the case of the sub-letting of a long lease consent by the owner was necessary, but that such consent should not be unreasonably withheld. In Committee an Amendment was made which went further and provided that in the case of leases of 40 years and upwards no consent at all should be necessary except in the last seven years of the tenancy. It seems that in the case of public authorities, Government Departments or municipalities and statutory and public utility companies, the interest of the general public might be seriously prejudiced if this wide provision did not except from the general terms the properties leased by these bodies.

I will give two illustrations to make the matter clear. We will take the case of the docks. It is within the knowledge of everyone who is familiar with docks that there are certain parts of dock premises which can accommodate the largest vessels and other parts of the same docks which cannot do so. At Southampton, for instance, there are certain parts of the dock premises where vessels of over 50,000 tons can berth. The sites along those parts of the dock premises are leased in the public interest to the companies owning those vessels of the largest size. We will suppose that one of the great ocean shipping lines owning 50,000-ton vessels decided to change its port of call. It would be possible, unless this Amendment were accepted, for the company to render the use of those premises by a rival line impossible by leasing the sites of their warehouses to a company employing vessels of much smaller tonnage, which in the public interest could more conveniently be accommodated in other parts of the docks.

I will give another instance which is perhaps even more striking. The problem of traffic in London and its outskirts has led, in a number of cases, to the provision by one or more of the great railway companies of sites adjoining their suburban stations, and these sites have been leased for a long period to companies which are to erect large motor garages to accommodate the cars of passengers so as to enable them to leave their care in safety and complete their journey by rail. It is obviously in the public interest that those sites should not pass into hands that would not use them for such a purpose. It is all part of the public convenience. It might very easily happen that the sites were of such great value for other purposes of no direct interest to the public, that the companies to whom the leases are granted could make a substantial profit by subleasing, which they would be able to do if the Bill were passed without my Amendment incorporated.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I think the Amendment is on the lines of other provisions for the security of railways, docks and harbours, and it ought to be accepted.


I regret very much to hear that statement by the Home Secretary. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members to laugh, but I represent a constituency where the railway companies own considerable property which is not dock property though within the vicinity of the docks, and is let for ordinary trading purposes. If the Amendment is carried what will be the position of the tenants in those premises? This is not a question affecting merely dock berths and so on; it will include all the property that the railway companies own, whether near the railway station or dock or anywhere else. The railway companies are considerable owners of property in many parts of the country. I hope the House will discuss this matter a little more fully, because it is a very serious matter for many of my constituents.


I can see the difficulty pointed out by the last speaker. Would it not be possible, even now, to amend the Amendment by stating precisely the bodies intended in the Amendment; instead of referring to paragraph (f) cannot we say definitely what the bodies are? On referring to paragraph (f) I see that it refers to any Government Department or local authority or public utility or statutory company or charity. With most of these we should all agree. Where the public authority is the land owner the public interest will naturally preponderate in deciding what should be done, but I do not think that that applies to public utility companies as a whole or to statutory companies. Not being a lawyer I am not quite certain what a statutory company is. I take it that a railway company is a statutory company, and all gas and electric light companies are statutory companies. Perhaps tramway companies and private dock authorities are statutory also. There is no difference in the House at all so far as the land-owning body is a body subject to public control, but when you get any of these statutory companies or public utility companies which are not subject to public control to exercise their rights either under a Statute or simply as ordinary shareholders with limited dividends, I do not think that in those cases we ought to differentiate between the ordinary landowner operating his property directly for his own personal gain, and the company, whether statutory or public utility, which also is going to operate that property, not necessarily or primarily in the public interest, but in the interest of the corporate body possessing the property.

Therefore, I respectfully submit that if the Amendment is to be accepted we should limit it to those public authorities where the public interest must necessarily predominate in the method of carrying on a business, and not extend it broadcast to all railways or tramway property. As canals went out of use 80 years ago and gradually failed to carry on their usual business, so now railways are passing through the same stage. It would be extremely undesirable to give to railway companies the power to prevent any tenants of theirs from changing the character of the business carried on in those premises by reason of the fact that they were statutory companies and therefore exempt from all these interferences. I hope that the Mover of the Amendment will see his way to make some modification in that direction. In the case of the Southampton Docks which belong to the railway company, I can conceive a reason why the Cunard Company, if that be the company which owns the warehouses and has the lease, should have the power to sub-let, in spite of the fact that the railway company did not think it was good business to allow the Cunard Company any possibility of shifting from Southampton to another port.


I think the speakers on this point have been somewhat misled and have not looked into the matter carefully. They will notice that this question is limited to cases where a lease has been granted for more than 40 years and is made in consideration, wholly or partly of the erection or the substantial improvement, addition, or operation for building. That is to say, the dock company or whoever the landlord is has granted to some other tenant in consideration of these improvements a, lease at 40 years or more, but that is quite a different thing from the explanation given by the Mover. Here you have a case where the tenant has a great interest in the property and the Committee upstairs very rightly provided that he should have the right to sublet to whoever he liked. He has a substantial interest in the property and can be trusted to look after it. I suggest that in the interest of the tenants this provision should be allowed to stand as it is and that the reasons given for the Amendment do not apply.


With very great respect to the hon. Member who has just spoken, I do not think it would be fair in the circumstances mentioned by the Mover that the new tenant should be in competition with the landlord. I am surprised at the right, hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) suggesting that the Amendment is wrong. Has he considered the position of public authorities who, rightly or wrongly, carry on municipal trading? Would he think it fair that while such authorities are engaged in the excellent enterprise of selling, in some cases at the ratepayers' expense, one of their tenants, who had a lease coming within the provisions of this Bill should assign to someone else who would directly enter into competition with the local authority and try to undersell them. I am astonished that anyone who holds Socialist views should put forward that proposal. I thought if there was anyone who would protest against outside competition with municipal trading it was the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.


I am afraid the hon. Member does not know me as well as I know him.


I submit to the Solicitor-General that the answers given by the Home Secretary on this point have been far from reassuring. Not only is there the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Withers) but a local authority might give a long lease to somebody for a consideration, similar to that which he mentioned, and if that authority carried on municipal trading they might withhold their consent to the sub-letting of the premises. If the local authority thought fit to say that the new occupier would be a competitor with them and withheld their consent it would be unreasonable. We ought to limit this proposal, and I am sure it is within the skill of the Solicitor-General to do so. If we desire to do what the Amendment suggests why not bring in another Clause, making this provision for this particular class of property. The Amendment is a wholesale one, and is going to affect a great number of interests, quite apart from those which have been mentioned. The Solicitor-General should give us some further information and an assurance that he has considered the matter in all its bearings and not from the limited outlook indicated by the Mover.


In view of the doubt which evidently exists as to the scope and effect of the Amendment I suggest that it should be withdrawn at this stage, reconsidered in another place, and, perhaps, submitted again to the House in a more clear cut form. As it stands, several distinct classes of public bodies and corporations are affected by it. We on this side make no objection as regards safeguarding the position of Government departments, public authorities or even certain further classes which might be affected, but we have grave doubts about some classes which might be brought in, and it is not possible to deal with them all in a bald form of words of this kind.

3.0 p.m.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)

I had not the advantage of hearing the Home Secretary explaining the scope of this Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not!"] Well I had not the advantage of hearing him accept it, but I think there should not be so much difficulty in understanding its scope as some hon. Members appear to feel. I have been asked to give a further explanation of it. I am sure the Mover gave some explanation, but I am quite willing to state what I understood by it when I first saw it on the Order Paper. It was necessary in consequence of an Amendment made in Committee on the motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Withers). It occurred to those responsible for the undertakings mentioned that this would have the effect of tying up some of their property over which it was essential in the performance of their public duties they should have continued control.


What are the public duties of a railway company?


I am surprised at that question. They are common carriers.


Is it their business to preserve the status quo of their property?


The business of a railway company—I am not thinking merely of their statutory duties —is to conduct their business so as to afford the greatest possible facilities to the travelling public. It is no part of a railway company's duty to become landlords in the ordinary sense of the word or owners of property not required in connection with their undertaking. Under the general law if a railway company has land, not required for the purposes of its undertaking, that land becomes surplus, and sooner or later must be returned to the owners of adjoining property. No doubt, there are cases where railway companies have rather extended powers of retaining land but, generally speaking, the railway company or dock company or local authority is not like an ordinary landlord, holding land for profit. They are holding it for the purposes of their undertaking, either in the present or the immediate or possibly more distant future.

Having regard to the fact that they have acquired that property and are holding it with a view to use in connection with the purposes for which they acquired it, it seems not unreasonable that they should be free from restrictions and liabilities to which an ordinary landlord is exposed. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Amendment, I should assume—I have not had any con- versation with him, nor did I know about the Amendment until I saw it on the Paper—moved it in order to preserve the freedom of these public authorities to conduct their affairs with due regard to the interests that are primarily theirs. In the ordinary way, it is certain that this Amendment can have a very limited scope and reach. It will apply only to those properties that are held and controlled by the public companies to which reference has been made, and I feel sure that it will not affect, generally speaking, the privileges which tenants acquire under this Bill, if there are any, contrary apparently to the opinion of some hon. Members opposite. I hope the acceptance of this Amendment by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will, on reconsideration, commend itself to the House.

The hon. Gentleman opposite suggested that the Amendment should be withdrawn and that it should be re-introduced in another place. I am glad to find that somebody opposite has some use for the other place, but I am a little surprised to hear the appeal made by the hon. Gentleman to the Government that they should fall so low as to let the proper Amendment be made in that other place. I prefer to adopt the attitude that this House had better make its own Amendments, and if the Bill requires fresh consideration, the other House, fortunately, does offer an Opportunity for such fresh consideration. I will promise that the fullest opportunity shall be taken of it, and I can give hon. Members in all parts of the House the fullest and most sincere assurances that my right hon. Friend will certainly consider the matter further, and then we shall seek to amend it, if permission be given, so as to make it as useful as possible for the purpose for which it is required.


We regret that the hon. and learned Member has not seen fit to accept the very reasonable suggestion made by my hon. Friend. I thought it was the Government and their supporters who were so dissatisfied with another place that they had about 20 or 30 schemes for its reform, but, however that may be, the substantial reason for this Amendment in its present form is very unsatisfactory. Apart from the merits which have been discussed, it purports to deal with Part II of this Bill, and Part II is dealing with the general law of landlord and tenant. I do not blame the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Amendment for the particular drafting of it, but it is most unfortunate, because it throws you back on to Part I of this Bill, and that means that in the ordinary consideration of the law of landlords and tenants, when you are dealing with the Law of Property Act and the Conveyancing Act, in order to discover this particular right, you have to get hold of Part I of this Bill, which has really no direct relation at all to the general law of landlords and tenants. I should have thought that that alone would have shown how unsatisfactory is this Amendment in its present form. Surely, as a mere matter of drafting or understanding of what this Measure is about, this Amendment is about as unsatisfactory a way of dealing with the matter as possible.

We have been told that the bodies mentioned in Clause 4 (1, f) are themselves not adequately denned. It has been pointed out how railway companies,

for example, either under private Acts of Parliament or otherwise, are landlords, and use their land for letting it out to tenants for purposes which are not immediately concerned with their undertakings; and the same may be true of any other body. In the circumstances, I think it is a hasty step to accept this Amendment, which, with all due respect to its Mover, is ill-drafted and does not really perform the function it is intended to perform. There is another place where these things, in spite of the hon. Gentle' man's badinage, can be adequately dealt with. I must therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to accept the very reasonable suggestion which has been made, otherwise we shall have to divide the House. The House should not at this moment put this particular blemish on the Bill, but should leave the matter for further consideration.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 91.

Division No. 323.] AYES. [3.12 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Cockerill, Brlg.-General Sir George Harrison, G. J. C.
Ainsworth, Major Charles Cohen, Major J. Brunei Hartlngton, Marquess of
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Conway, Sir W. Martin Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennlngton)
Applln, Colonel R. V. K. Cope, Major William Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Apsley, Lord Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hawke, John Anthony
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Crookshank,Cpt.H.(LIndsey, Galnsbro) Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Astor, MaJ. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cunllffe, Sir Herbert Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)
Atkinson, C. Curzon, Captain Viscount Heneage, Lleut.-Col. Arthur P.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Dalkeith, Earl of Henn, Sir Sydney H.
Balnlel, Lord Davidson,J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Davles, MaJ. Geo. F. (Somerset.Yeovll) Holt, Captain H. P.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Davles, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Hopkins, J. W. W.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Davles, Dr. Vernon Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C K.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Bellalrs, Commander Carlyon W. Dawson, Sir Philip Hume, Sir G. H.
Berry, Sir George Dean, Arthur Wellesley Hurd, Percy A.
Birchall, Maior J. Dearman Dixey, A. C. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Eden, Captain Anthony Iliffe, Sir Edward M.
Boothby, R. J. G. Edmondson, Major A. J. Insklp, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Elliot, Major Walter E. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Ersklne, James Malcolm Montelth James Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cllve Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
Briggs, J. Harold Everard, W. Lindsay King, Commodore Henry Douglas
Briscoe, Richard George Fairfax, Captain J. G. Klnioch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Lamb, J. Q.
Broun-Llndsay, Major H. Finburgh, S. Looker, Herbert William
Brown, Brig.-G en. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Ford, Sir P. J. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere
Buckingham, Sir H. Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Luce, MaJ.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Foster, Sir Harry S. Lynn, Sir R. J.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Mac Andrew, Major Charles Glen
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Fraser, Captain Ian Maclntyre, Ian
Campbell, E. T. Galbralth, J. F. W. McLean, Major A.
Cassels, J. D. Ganzonl, Sir John Macmlllan, Captain H.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Gates, Percy Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Glbbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel
Chadwlck, Sir Robert Burton Gllmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Blrm.,W.) Gower, Sir Robert Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Charterls, Brigadier-General J. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Clarry, Reginald George Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon, B. M.
Clayton, G. C. Greene, W. P. Crawford Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Gunston, Captain D. W. Moore, Sir Newton J.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Moreing, Captain A. H.
Murchison, Sir Kenneth Sandeman, N. Stewart Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Sandon, Lord Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Nelson, Sir Frank Savery, S. S. Warrender, Sir Victor
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Shepperson, E. W. Wells, S. R.
Nuttall, Ellis Skelton, A. N. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
O'Connor, T. J. (Bedtord, Luton) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Penny, Frederick George Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.) Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Winby, Colonel L. P.
Perkins, Colonel E. K. Smithers, Waldron Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Somervllle, A. A. (Windsor) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frame) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland) Wolmer, Viscount
Pilcher, G. Storry-Deans, R. Wood, B C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Plldltch, Sir Philip Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H. Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Power, Sir John Cecil Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C. Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)
Price, Major C. W. M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wood, Sir S. HIll- (High Peak)
Remnant, Sir James Tasker, R. Inigo. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Rye, F. G. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Major Sir George Hennessy and
Salmon, Major I. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P. Captain Margesson.
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wallace, Captain D. E.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Rltson, J.
Adamson, W. M. (Stall. Cannock) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Robinson, W.C. (Yorks, W R., Elland)
Ammon, Charles George Hardle, George D. Rose, Frank H.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Salter, Dr. Alfred
Baker, Walter Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Scrymgeour, E.
Barnes, A. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Scurr, John
Batey, Joseph Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Hore-Beilsha, Leslie Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Sowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. John, William (Rhondda, West) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Briant, Frank Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)
Broad, F. A. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Smith, H. B. Lees (Kelghley)
Bromley, J. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Rennle (Penistone)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Kennedy, T. Snell, Harry
Charleton, H. C. Lansbury, George Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Cluse, W. S. Lawrence, Susan Stephen, Campbell
Connolly, M. Lee, F. Thurtle, Ernest
Cove, W. G. Lowth, T. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Oalton, Hugh Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Vlant, S. P.
Day, Colonel Harry MacLaren, Andrew Wallhead, Richard C.
Dennison, R. MacNeill-Weir, L. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Duncan, C. March, S. Wellock, Wilfred
Dunnlco, H. Maxton, James Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Montague, Frederick Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercllfle)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Naylor, T. E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Glllett, George M. Owen, Major G. Windsor, Walter
Gosling, Harry Paling, W. Withers, John James
Graham, Rt. Hon. Win. (Edln., Cent.) Perring, Sir William George Womersley, W. J.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wright, W,
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Ponsonby, Arthur Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Groves, T. Potts, John S.
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Hayes and Mr. Whiteley.

Resolution agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 16, line 38, to leave out the words "such licence or consent is only to be required to," and to insert instead thereof the words "in the case of."

This Amendment and the succeeding one are purely drafting Amendments, or if not that, at least consequential upon an Amendment made in Committee in order to put the Clause in a rather better form. It is also to ensure that the lessor in a building lease shall be informed as to the changes in connection with his property of which it is essential that he should have notice. If these Amendments are not inserted he will be ignorant of what is being done with his own property. The Amendments do not give him any power to interfere with the disposal of the property.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 16, line 42, leave out the words "during the last seven years of the term," and insert instead thereof the words: effected more than seven years before the end of the term no consent or licence shall be required, but notice in writing of the transaction shall be given to the lessor within six months after the transaction is. effected."—(The Solicitor-General.)

Brigadier-General Sir GEORGE COCKERILL

I beg to move, in page 17, line 36, after the second word "of," to insert the words: the capitalised value of the net addition to the letting value of the holding that is determined to be the direct result of the alteration of the user, and of. Cases frequently arise where a tenant desires an alteration of user which would bring him distinct financial advantage. At present there is no inducement whatever to the landlord to give his assent. He may give all or he may give none, but there is no halfway house. The object of this Amendment is to provide a halfway house, where there is a distinct value in the user to the tenant, to enable the tenant to acquire that user by agreement with the landlord.


I beg to second the Amendment.

My hon. and gallant Friend has spoken on behalf of the tenant, and I, too, think the tenant will be placed in an awkward position if some such change as this is not made, and I think the same consideration applies to the landlord. If left as it is, the landlord will be in the invidious position of having arbitrarily to refuse his consent and will have to forgo any share in the improvement of the premises which might take place if this improvement were allowed to be made. I am not quite sure whether my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is prepared to deal with this matter at the moment. It is an important point, and I think if he said he would give it consideration I would advise my hon. and gallant Friend to agree to postponement.


I think that would he the best course. The Amendment raises rather a difficult point. I have not yet had time to consult the Law Officers upon it. The Lord Chancellor will be in charge of the Bill in another place, and I will consult him before it gets there.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.