HC Deb 31 July 1930 vol 242 cc865-71

Lords Amendment in lieu of their Amendment disagreed to by the Commons: In page 11, line 23, at the end, insert Provided that in any case where it is proved that a building which is injurious or dangerous to health by reason only of the narrowness or bad arrangement of the streets on any land in a clearance area was acquired by the owner before the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and nineteen, the arbitrator shall make to the owner an allowance for the value of the building having regard to the provisions of Part II of the Third Schedule to this Act.


I understand that this Amendment raises a question of Privilege, as it affects the amount of compensation that may be granted.


I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I make this Motion on the ground of Privilege. It may, perhaps, be far the convenience of the House if I explain that on this Bill we have to deal with two Amendments which have come back from their Lordships' House. The one with which we shall deal presently concerns the question of disrepair, and on that question, as I will explain, I am not prepared to offer objections; but on the Amendment now before us I feel that I must press the question of Privilege. In any event I should, in other circumstances, have been prepared to argue the merits of the case.

We have arrived now at a very critical stage in the history of this Bill. Their Lordships' House has chosen to disagree with this House on a question which you, Sir, have said was privileged—on a question of compensation which is vital to the Bill; and I have to say to the House very seriously that the responsibility for destroying this Bill must rest on another place. We have arrived at a stage, very late in the discussions on this Bill, when we have to choose between insisting on our privileges or on giving way to the House of Lords on a matter which is vital to the Measure.

I do not wish to enter into a discussion of the merits of the Amendment, except to say that, consistently, at all stages in the passage of the Bill through the House, I have said that we could never give way on this vital principle of compensation. If it were a matter where adjustment was possible, I should at this stage of the Session have been inclined to give way, because I am not fundamentally an unreasonable person; but this is a problem of very great importance. I am convinced, after my long discussions with the local authorities, that any Amendment which imposes on the local authorities an additional burden for compensation will impose a burden which will weaken the local authorities in their attack upon this problem; and I say that no person in public life dare take the responsibility for adding to the burdens of local authorities on this question. If it should be that their Lordships' House still insist on this Amendment, I put the responsibility for the destruction of this Measure on them, and not on the Government.

I would make this further remark, that in another place to-day, the Housing (No. 2) Bill and the Housing (Scotland) Bill have been under discussion, and this precise point arises on both Measures. In the case of the Scottish Bill the House of Lords do not insist; they made no objection; they have conceded the point which I have always made during the passage of this Bill through the House. While it is not for me to criticise what has happened in another place, I say that for them in one day, within two hours, to have taken two contradictory decisions confirms me in my view that we are right in standing by our original decision a few nights ago to insist on our privilege. If it should be that their Lordships' House tomorrow insist on their opposition, 13 months' work will have been destroyed. This Bill will have ceased to be. I am in the hands of the House. I take this risk. I do not want to offer a challenge to another place, but I suggest to them that there is no public body at this stage, after the full consideration that has been given to this Bill, which would take the responsibility of destroying a measure which, I believe, is going to be of inestimable value to the people of the country. I, therefore, hope the House will insist upon its privilege, and I hope at the same time that their Lordships' House will see in this Measure, however imperfect it may be, a sincere attempt to deal with a pressing national problem.


We have had a very melodramatic speech from the right hon. Gentleman, who seems to be rather oppressed, I suppose by the late hour of the evening, but he has very little to complain of in the attitude of this House or of the other Chamber. At many stages of the Bill this party has supplied a quorum for it. But for the fact, particularly on the last day of the Bill, that unless hon. Members on this side and on the Liberal benches appeared in Committee, this wonderful Bill, on which the right hon. Gentleman says he is going to stand or fall, would have disappeared altogether. So let us hear no more about that aspect of the matter. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has any reason to complain of the contentions that have been made by the other House in respect of their Amendments. Yesterday, or the day before, the other House sent down a number of Amendments to the Bill, and I think it can be said with perfect accuracy that a very great majority of them were accepted, and to-night we simply have two Amendments to consider. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that, as far as the second of the Amendments is concerned, he is prepared to meet the wishes, and I hope he means to meet the justice of the contentions that have been put forward. Therefore, we are left with the consideration of one single Amendment. There must obviously be some real reasons why this Amendment is again being pressed upon the House of Commons.

The right hon. Gentleman very wisely did not deal with the merits of the Amendment. His first wards were, "I do not propose to deal with the merits of the Amendment which the other place has sent down". The only matter to which he addressed himself was to draw a distinction between the attitude of the Second Chamber towards the Scottish Bill and the attitude of the Second Chamber towards the English Bill as far as the question of compensation is concerned. He has neglected to tell the House that the Government themselves have made a very considerable alteration and exception in regard to the principle of compensation. I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary of State are in their places, and I am sure that they will agree with me when I say that they have not taken up the attitude which the English Ministers have taken up on the question of compensation. There is a vital difference in this matter which the Minister of Health has not explained to the House. If hon. Members look at the Scottish Bill, they will see that a considerable distinction has been made. Therefore, it is idle for the right hon. Gentleman to come here to-night and say that the Lords have made a contradictory decision as far as these Bills are concerned. My hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), who has taken part in the proceedings on both Bills, will bear me out when I repeat that there is here a considerable difference of principle. It is a vital matter, and Members of the House must be prepared to deal with it however late it may be. After all, we have to deal with the merits of this matter. What is the proposition which has been sent to us by the Second Chamber? When this Amendment was first sent down from another place, an hon. Member, who is not here to-night, took considerable exception to the fact that in the first proposal which the Second Chamber made it was suggested that the owner either of property or of a business which was condemned on account of the bad arrangement of streets should receive compensation. He stated that it might very well be that in such a case a purchaser might come along knowing that compensation would be payable and that within a few days after he had purchased the property or business he would receive a considerable addition to the purchase price which he had given

In order to deal with that objection, they have deleted entirely from the Amendment now before the House any compensation for the particular individual. That has been done in order to meet the contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think, if anything, they have erred in that direction, because one of the blots on the Bill was the fact that the owner of a small business will receive little or no compensation in respect of slum clearance schemes. Hon. Gentleman will hear a great deal more of this within the next twelve months.

That provision has been deleted, and what the House has to decide to-night is whether reasonable compensation should or should not be given to the owner of a particular property—many years ago, and not to-day or yesterday, but in accordance with the year that was first suggested in the Amendment—who has kept that property in repair and has obeyed all the regulations imposed upon him by the local authorities, but whose property is being condemned on account of the bad arrangement of the streets. That is the sole issue which has been referred back by the Second Chamber to this House for decision. The issue has been raised, not from this side of the Chamber only. In another place, it was raised by Lord Buckmaster, who certainly is not only a judicial but a fairminded man. There is a distinction because many men who may decide a matter from the purely judicial point of view may not be regarded in this House as having a knowledge of ordinary affairs. No one can say that of Lord Buckmaster. He said that if this particular objection was met, as it has been, he could not see why the owner of such a property, who has carried out his duties as a landlord reasonably and com-

plied with all regulations, should not receive reasonable compensation. Therefore the whole question is whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to extend the ordinary justice which anyone in this House would desire to receive, if he owned such property. It is quite conceivable—though I hope I shall not be subjected to any allegations in this connection—that any person in this House might own such property. It is perfectly monstrous that in such a case as I have alluded to that the owner should be treated in the same way as the man who has allowed property to get into such bad disrepairs as is in mind. What I suggest would be only reasonable justice, and I urge that the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of the melodramatic speech which he has made, should address himself to the merits of the proposal, which I commend to the House as reasonable and fair. I hope the House will reconsider the matter and give consideration to the point sent down to us from another place.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 165; Noes 15.

Division No. 484.] AYES. [11.57 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Edge, Sir William Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Edmunds, J. E. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lees, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Egan, W. H. Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Ammon, Charles George Foot, Isaac Lloyd, C. Ellis
Arnott, John Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Logan, David Gilbert
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Moseley) Longden, F.
Barnes, Alfred John Gill, T. H. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Barr, James. Gossling, A. G. McElwee, A.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Gould, F. McEntee, V. L.
Bellamy, Albert Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) McKinlay, A.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) McShane, John James
Benson, G. Groves, Thomas E. Mansfield, W.
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Marcus, M.
Bevan, Anourin (Ebbw Vale) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Marley, J.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hardie, George D. Marshall, Fred
Bowen, J. W. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Mathers, George
Bromley, J. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Matters, L. W.
Brooke, W. Haycock, A. W. Messer, Fred
Brothers, M. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Middleton, G.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Mills, J. E.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Montague, Frederick
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hoffman, F. C. Morley, Ralph
Burgess, F. G. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Calne, Derwent Hall- Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Mort, D. L.
Cameron, A. G. John, William (Rhondda, West) Moses, J. J. H.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Johnston, Thomas Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Chater, Daniel Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Church, Major A. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Muggeridge, H. T.
Clarke, J. S. Kelly, W. T. Murnin, Hugh
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Thomas Noel Baker, P. J.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kinley, J. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Compton, Joseph Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Oldfleid, J. R.
Daggar, George Lathan, G. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Dalton, Hugh Law, A. (Rosendale) Owen. H. F. (Hereford)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lawrence, Susan Palin, John Henry
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Paling, Wilfrid
Duncan, Charles Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Ede, James Chuter Leach, W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Shield, George William Viant, S. P.
Potts, John S. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Walkden, A. G.
Quibell, D. J. K. Shillaker, J. F. Walker, J.
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Simmons, C. J. Wallace, H. W.
Raynes, W. R. Sinkinson, George Wellock, Wilfred
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Ritson, J. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) West, F. R.
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Westwood, Joseph
Romeril, H. G. Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Rowson, Guy Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Sanders, W. S. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sawyer, G. F. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Scurr, John Tinker, John Joseph Wise, E. F.
Sexton, James Toole, Joseph
Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Townend, A. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Sherwood, G. H. Vaughan, D. J. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
William Whiteley.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Mond, Hon. Henry Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Butler, R. A. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Womersley, W. J.
Elliot, Major Walter E. Penny, Sir George Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Llewellin, Major J. J. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Captain Euan Wallace.

Question, "That this House doth insist upon its disagreement with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Lords Reason for disagreeing to Amendment proposed by the Commons, in lieu of Lords Amendments in page 49, line 43, and page 50, line 1, considered.