HC Deb 28 February 1928 vol 214 cc227-31

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the registration of persons carrying out certain duties in connection with landed property. This Bill provides for compulsory registration of all persons acting as agents for the letting or sale of land or houses to the public, and its object is to protect the public against the consequences that may follow from the employment of unqualified agents. At the present time, any person can put up a board and style himself a house and estate agent. It is true that in some cases he has to take out an auctioneer's licence, but, even in those cases, there is no inquiry; the licence is granted automatically on the payment of a fee. While, however, persons without any test as to their good conduct or financial standing are entitled to carry on this business, it is still a business which involves the passing of considerable sums of money from the hands of the public into those of the estate agents, and I understand that recently there has been a growing number of cases in the Courts where malversation has been proved against such persons. I submit, therefore, that it is only right that persons carrying on this class of work should be placed under some sort of professional control, and should be subjected to some kind of disciplinary treatment. In the case of solicitors, doctors, dentists, chemists and others, upon whose character and competence in the conduct of their business the public are dependent, there is such registration, and I am told that the house and estate agents themselves are unanimously in favour of this proposal.

The machinery by which this little Bill proposes to bring it about is very simple. A registration board would be set up, to be composed of nominees from each of the recognised bodies. The functions of this board would be to compile and maintain a list of qualified persons, and the nature of the qualification would be determined by the board as regards conditions, examinations, character, and so on; but the rules regulating that would have in the first instance to obtain the approval of Parliament. There is one safeguard in the Bill. A great number of people carrying on business as solicitors, accountants, architects and so on, do a class of work, or some of a class of work, that could legitimately be carried on by house and estate agents. It is not right that they should be compelled also to register, and the Bill provides that any of these classes of persons, provided that they are already under some sort of professional control, shall not be required to register under this Measure.

For two years, the Act would remain permissive, that is to say, during that period anyone who desired to do so could apply for registration. At the expiration of two years it would become compulsory, and then no person would be entitled to carry on the work of a house or estate agent, unless he had qualified under this Measure. If he carried on such work without registration, he would be unable to recover his fees and would be subject to certain penalties. That is really the whole of this short Bill, and I commend it to the House as being at all events a very useful Measure. All of us are largely dependent upon these agents for the straightness with which they deal with us, for their being under an obligation to make good their words, and for their capacity. Moreover, they very often, as I said at the beginning, receive moneys of the public, and in some cases, I am sorry to say, they misuse those moneys. In the circumstances, I ask the House to give me leave to introduce this little Bill, which will have the effect of giving a greater status to men engaged in this occupation, and will also prove a protection to the public in dealing with them in what is now a largely growing class of business, namely, the obtaining of houses and of land. I beg to move.


I hope the House will not give leave to introduce this Bill. There are three well-recognised and long-established organisations representing the professions that would be affected by this proposed Bill, namely. the Surveyors' Institution, the Auctioneers' Institute, and the Land Agents' Society. They have requested

Division No. 18.] AYES. [4.0p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Gillett George M. Mosley, Oswald
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gosling, Harry Murnin, H.
Baker. J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Grace, John Naylor, T. E.
Barr, J. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Owen, Major G.
Batey, Joseph Graham, Rt. Hon. Win. (Edin., Cent.) Palin, John Henry
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Greenall, T. Paling. W.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Braithwalte, Major A. N. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Penny, Frederick George
Brass, Captain W. Grotrian, H. Brent Ponsonby, Arthur
Bromfield, William Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Potts, John S.
Broun-Lindsay. Major H. Hardie, George D. Riley, Ben
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hirst, G. H Rose, Frank H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Buchanan, G. Hore Belisha, Leslie Salmon, Major I.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shaw. Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cape, Thomas Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sitch, Charles H.
Cluse. W. S. Kelly, W. T. Smillie. Robert
Compton. Joseph Kennedy, T. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Kidd, J. (Linllthgow) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Crawfurd, H. E. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Snell, Harry
Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Kirkwood, D. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Lansbury, George Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Lawrence, Susan Stamford, T. W.
Day, Harry Lowth, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Dunnico, H. Lunn, William Sullivan, J.
Edge, Sir William MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sutton, J. E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacIntyre, Ian Them, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Maxton, James Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Fenby, T. D. Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley) Tinker. John Joseph
Fermoy, Lord Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Tomlinson, R. P.
Foster, Sir Harry S. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Townend, A. E.
Gibbins, Joseph Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.

me to put certain facts to the House, and to invite the House to refuse the leave for which my hon. and learned Friend has just asked. Although there is much in the Bill with which those three bodies could agree—that is to say, the Bill as it has been privately circulated outside the House—there is also much of which they do not approve, and they feel, not unnaturally, that, as they are the recognised organisations of this profession, a Bill that was presented, read a First time, printed, and circulated by the authority of this House, dealing with the internal economy and domestic discipline of the profession which they represent, would be naturally, though falsely, assumed to represent their views, which it does not. I do not think that more words are necessary, but I hope the House will not allow legislation dealing with the discipline of a profession to be introduced into this House unless it has the approval and authority of the representative organisations of that profession.

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the registration of persons carrying out certain duties in connection with landed property.

The House divided: Ayes, 122; Noes, 132.

Wallhead, Richard C. Wayland, Sir William A. Womersley, W. J.
Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen Wellock, Wilfred
Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Waterhouse, Captain Charles Wiggins, William Martin Mr. Harney and Mr. Briant
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Windsor, Walter
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Goff, Sir Park Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Groves, T. Meller, R. J.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne) Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Barnes, A. Hamilton, Sir George Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Berry, Sir George Hammersley, S. S. Moreing, Captain A. H.
Blades, Sir George Rowland Hanbury, C. Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Harrison, G. J. C. Murchison, Sir Kenneth
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hartington, Marquess of Nelson, Sir Frank
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Nicholson,Col.Rt.Hon.W.G.(Ptrsf'td.)
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Haslam, Henry C. Nuttall, Ellis
Briggs, J. Harold Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Oman. Sir Charles William C.
Briscoe, Richard George Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Brittain, Sir Harry Henn, Sir Sydney H. Preston, William
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hills, Major John Walter Price, Major C. W. M.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Hilton, Cecil Ramsden, E.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Remnant, Sir James
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Rentoul, G. S.
Burman, J. B. Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Rice, Sir Frederick
Campbell, E. T. Hopklnson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Sandeman, N. Stewart
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hurd, Percy A. Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Christie, J. A. Hurst. Gerald B. Sanderson. Sir Frank
Clarry, Reginald George Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Savery, S. S.
Conway, Sir W. Martin James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Scrymgeour, E.
Cooper, A. Duff Jephcott. A. R. Shaw, Lt.-Col.A. D.Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Kindersley, Major G. M. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. King, Commodore Henry Douglas Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Knox, Sir Alfred Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Crookshank. Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Lamb, J. Q. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Davies, Maj. Geo. f, (Somerset,Yeovil) Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Dawson, Sir Philip Long, Major Eric Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Looker, Herbert William Viant, S. P
Eden, Captain Anthony Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Waddington. R.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Watts, Dr. T.
Ellis, R. G. Lumley, L. R. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Erskine.Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Williams. Herbert G. (Reading)
Everard', W. Lindsay McLean, Major A. Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks,Richm'd)
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Macmillan, Captain H. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Falie, Sir Bertram G. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Wood, sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Malone, Major P. B.
Gates, Percy Manningham Buller, Sir Mervyn TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Glyn, Major R. G. C. March, S. Sir Cooper Rawson and Sir George Courthope.