§ For the purposes of paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of Section two of the Act of 1920 the words "payable by the landlord" and "payable in respect of any period" shall be construed as meaning the full rates charged in respect of all houses for which the owner is for the first time liable for payment of rates under Section eleven of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, or under any Corporation Act passed since 1914.—[Sir S. Roberts.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 12.18 a.m.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
I apologise to the Committee for moving a manuscript Amendment at this time, but the new Clause can be found in the shape of an Amendment, to Clause 10, in page 10, line 43, standing on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). This new Clause is put down for the purpose of dealing with part of the grievance that landlords have been suffering under a decision of the House of Lords in the case of Nicholson v. Jackson. The House of Lords then decided that under the wording of the Acts the benefit of the compounding allowance, which is given to the landlord in recompense for his collecting the rates and handing them over to the municipality, instead of inuring to the landlord as Parliament certainly intended, and as the various committees and commissions which have considered this matter have said Parliament did intend, is passed on in full to the tenant. The Royal Commission, when considering it, turned down the suggestion of reversing the decision in Nicholson v. Jackson on the grounds that it would mean reopening the question of the rent books in about 5,000,000 different cases, going back to the period of 1914, when many of the facts would be difficult to find, and considered the amount involved would not be worth the trouble. In the new Clause we have put down, we have endeavoured to meet what is the major part of the grievance, and the part which can be ascertained. I will not go into the reasons why it does not fall so much on other but on those houses which have come into compounding either through the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, or through various cor- 2529 poration Acts that have been passed since 1914, the full burden falls. I think in one of the decisions given in the courts it was said that what the landlords lost on the swings they gained on the roundabouts. But on the houses that have come into compounding since 1914 they have lost on both, and there is nothing from which they can get compensation.
This is really a considerable grievance, as I think hon. Members will realise from some figures that have been given to me. The amount of rates collected in a year on houses coming into compounding since 1914 amounts to more than £500,000, and the compounded allowance amounts to more than £50,000. Worse still, the landlords have had to pay 5 per cent. commission to the collectors for collecting these rates, amounting to £25,000. They have been actually worse off since coming into compounding because they have not got the allowance and they have had to pay this commission to the collectors. I realise the answer will probably be that the new Clause is illogical and will upset the Nicholson v. Jackson decision. I submit that would be a good answer if my new Clause was going to do anybody an injustice. I say it will do no single person an injustice, because every one of the tenants who is getting the benefit of the compounding allowance is not really entitled to it. It is an absolutely one-sided case. All these years tenants have been getting this benefit which Parliament never intended they should have, and by putting in this Clause it will remove a very serious injustice.
§ 12.24 a.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid it is impossible to accept the new Clause. To use the hon. Member's words, he is trying on behalf of the landlords to get it on the swings and not on the roundabouts. It was pointed out by the Committee that if you were to put right the injustice caused by the Nicholson v. Jackson case, you would have to deal with this large number of cases, and in the vast majority of them the tenants would gain. This proposal only deals with the case where the landlords would gain. As the Committee recommended that the matter should not be dealt with because of the difficulties of dealing with 2530 it altogether, it is not right to deal with it in this one-sided manner.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.