HC Deb 08 July 1930 vol 241 cc264-6

(1) Section one hundred and twenty-eight of the principal Act (which excludes in certain cases the application of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act, 1920) is hereby repealed and in sub-stitution therefor the following provisions of this sub-section shall have effect, that is to say: Nothing in the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Acts, 1920 to 1925, shall be deemed to affect the provisions of this Act relating to the obtaining possession of a house with respect to which a clearance order or demolition order has been made, or to prevent possession being obtained of any house possession of which is required for the purpose of enabling a local authority to exorcise their powers under ally enactment relating to the housing of the working classes, or for the purpose of securing compliance with any by-laws made for the prevention of overcrowding.

(2) Where a local authority, for the purpose of exercising their powers under any enactment relating to the housing of the working-classes, require possession of any building or any part of a building of which they are the owners, then, whatever may be the value or rent of the building or part of a building, they may obtain possession thereof under the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, as in the cases therein provided for, at any time after the tenancy of the occupier has expired or has been determined.—[Miss Lawrence.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

A considerable part of this Clause, that is to say the part down to the word "or" in line 11, is pure redrafting. It will be remembered that in Committee we amended Section 128 of the principal Act. This new Clause repeals that Section of the principal Act and substitutes another Clause for it, and the substituted Clause down to the word "or" is pure redrafting. Then we come to a new proposal: or for the purpose of securing compliance with any by-laws made for the prevention of overcrowding. This is a new case and gives power to a local authority to acquire possession of a house for the purpase of securing compliance with by-laws which the local authority may make. The clearance in such a case has become part of the purposes of the Housing Act, and as such would logically fall within the provisions of this Clause, and we therefore propose formally to extend Section 128 to cover those cases, cases which will perhaps not be of very great frequency, but which may conceivably occur.

Sub-section (2) is a new provision. By Clause 38 of the Bill there is procedure provided for securing the possession of buildings which are the subject of a clearance order or demolition order. Local authorities have made the point that the provisions of the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, provide a simpler procedure than going before the magistrate. It is a very good Act. Its only drawback is that it was passed in 1838, and therefore fixed a limit of rent, namely £20, which would be quite inapplicable at the present time. Subsection (2) of this new Clause allows summary procedure to obtain possession of houses with regard to which clearance or demolition orders have become operative to be taken in all cases by local authorities under the Small Tenements Recovery Act, irrespective of the amount of rent. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) in Committee moved an Amendment; which was substantially to the same effect. We could not accept it then, because the wording was perhaps not quite consonant with other parts of the Bill, but I think that it substance his point is met by this Clause.


The first observation which I should like to make about this Clause is that it seeks in the last part of the first Sub-section to deal with and amend the provisions of the Rent and Mortgage Interest. (Restrictions) Act s, 1920 to 1925, and it is very unsatisfactory to endeavour to deal with the Rent Restrictions Acts in a piecemeal fashion like this. The Government have been urged from time to time to deal with the Rent Restrictions Acts, and they have procrastinated and delayed and done nothing, as usual; but. I do think that it is unfortunate that we should take one little tiny bit of this Act and say: "This is consequential on what has been done previously, and we will just deal with this little bit, because it is on all fours with what was previously done." I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree with me when I say that that is not a satisfactory way of dealing with an Act which certainly calls for revision, not only in favour of the landlord, but in many respects in favour of the tenant as well. It is very unsatisfactory that it should be dealt with in this way.

As regards Sub-section (2), the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) will probably think that his point has been met somewhat by this new Clause. So far as I am concerned, it seems to me that this may be of value. The provisions of the Small Tenements Recovery Act, 1838, have, so far as I know, worked satisfactorily except from the point of view of amount, and it may be of value to adopt the suggestion which has been made; but I do think that we should raise a protest both with regard to the manner of dealing with the Rent Restrictions Acts and with regard to the failure of the Government to deal with one of the most urgent matters of the day.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.