HC Deb 15 May 1933 vol 278 cc111-34

8.22 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 24, to leave out Subsection (3).

Under Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, houses which are at the same time dwelling-houses and business premises still enjoy the protection of the Rent Restrictions Acts where they fall below £45, £45 and £35 in their rateable value. Sub-section (3) makes one exception from that general rule, and the protection which these hybrid houses enjoy is taken away from licensed premises, so that, although the great mass of landlords in this country will still suffer the disability of having their property controlled within these limits, brewers who hold tied houses will enjoy a protection which no other landlord in the country will enjoy. The case which we desire to put before the Government is that there is no reason at all for giving to brewery companies, as landlords, a protection which no other landlord in this country or in Scotland will enjoy.

I will tell the House the history of this particular portion of the Rent Restrictions Act. Exactly the same point was raised when the Bill of 1923 was under discussion, and, on the 9th July, 1923, when that Bill was before the House, I moved the deletion of a Clause exactly like this one, which deprived public houses of this protection and gave this special privilege to the brewers. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then Minister of Health, accepted the Amendment, taking the view that there was no reason for giving this privilege to brewery companies if they obtained the advantage of a provision which is repeated in the present Bill in paragraph (e) of the First Schedule. Under that paragraph, in the case of one of these hybrid houses which is partly a dwelling-house and partly licensed premises, an ejectment order will be granted by the county court judge if the tenant has committed an offence as holder of the licence or has not conducted the business to the satisfaction of the licensing justices or the police authority, or has carried it on in a manner detrimental to the public interest, or the renewal of the licence has for any reason been refused. That Section was inserted in the Act of 1923 in order to make compensation to the brewers for the preservation of control in the case of licensed houses. After 1930 the brewers began to move for the entire elimination of licensed premises from the Act, and they submitted written memoranda to two commissions that were then sitting, the Licensing Commission and the Marley Commission. When their case went before the Licensing Commission, verbal evidence was given by Mr. Neville, a director of Whitbreads, and Mr. Holmes, Secretary of the Brewers' Society. It was pointed out to them by the Commission that the protection given by this Clause was really adequate in cases like this and that, in view of the retention of the provision, it would be unfair to deprive licensed premises of a protection which all other business premises enjoyed under the Act. On the 12th November, 1930, before the Licensing Commission Mr. Neville withdrew, as Mr. Holmes had also done, his objection to the continuance of control in the case of licensed premises.

Unfortunately the Marley Commission only had the written evidence of the Brewers' Society. No witnesses gave evidence, there was no cross-examination, and they accepted without hEarlng the other side the ex-parte view of the Brewers' Society, although that view had been formally withdrawn when Mr. Holmes gave evidence before the Licensing Commission. The result is very strange, because you still find on page 16 the retention in some circumstances of this Clause as to ejectment being granted in cases where protected dwelling houses were also licensed houses and where no offence had been committed against the licensing laws and where, therefore, the brewers had some right to ask that their tenants should cease to have protection. That Clause is quite incompatible with the Clause of which I am now moving the deletion because, if, in fact, there is to be entire decontrol of all licensed houses, the Clause on page 16 is quite pointless and inept. There is really no case for the imposition of these penalties on licensees and for the granting of this special privilege to brewers who own tied houses.

There is no more reason now for the Government to insist upon the retention of Sub-section (1) (3) than the Government had 10 years ago when they conceded that there was no need to deprive licensed premises of the advantage that control gave them. Imagine the case of licensees who have built up a goodwill in their premises and have conducted themselves with complete propriety. In a ease of that sort they have no right under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, to claim any compensation for a refusal to renew the lease or for having added to the value of the goodwill, and this Clause deprived them of any advantage which all other tenants enjoy. They have built up a goodwill and made the house a profitable one, and yet they can be turned out by the landlord at any time without any consideration at all. There are really no grounds for differentiating the case of the tenant of licensed premises from the case of any other tenant. There is really no good ground for giving the landlords of such premises protection which no other landlords enjoy, having regard particularly to the fact that the Clause which is preserved in the Schedule, with a slight amendment, would give them all reasonable rights which they could possibly ask in the event of the tenants misusing their position.

The only ground on which the Brewers' Society made this representation on which this elimination of the existing protection of the tenant was granted was that county court judges were apt to be too lenient with tenants, but that was withdrawn when the Brewers' Society gave evidence before the Licensing Commission, and I think the House will probably trust the discretion, wisdom and experience of the ordinary county court judge. It is an anomalous thing that this special benefit should be given to the brewers. It must have been an afterthought, because the inclusion of the paragraph on page 16 shows that the elimination was not origiNaily contemplated. I ask the Solicitor-General to take into consideration these facts, together with the previous history of the matter, and to have regard to the fact that there has really been no alteration in the experience of this type of property during the last 10 years to deprive tenants of licensed houses who conduct themselves properly of the protection which this House afforded them 10 years ago.

8.32 p.m.


I beg to Second the Amendment.

Apart from the anomalous position of licensed houses, I want to stress an additional reason why it should receive favourable consideration. It is, perhaps, a timely Amendment, because the present Budget has brought about a reduction in the Beer Duty. A great number of the licensees in these public houses have for the past 18 months been weathering a very severe storm from a business point of view. There has been very little question of their ejectment during that period, for the simple reason that the trade has been in such a depressed condition that there have not been a great number of people anxious to relieve them of their duties and take over these licensed houses. But now that there has been a reduction in the Beer Duty, when they may reasonably look forward to an improvement in trade and better times, it seems to me only right and proper that this House should afford this additional method of protection to those who have seen their houses through an extremely difficult time.

8.34 p.m.


An hon. Friend of mine put his name to this Amendment. Unfortunately, he is prevented from being present but I should like to support it, because I think an unanswerable case has been made for it. I do not know why it should be fashionable to single out publicans for specially hard treatment. They are as deserving of consideration as any tradesmen. They have been going through a very hard time during the last couple of years. Receipts have been falling and their difficulties in these tied houses have been great and serious. If they should find themselves turned out of their tenancies, they are going to have as much difficulty as any ordinary tenant in finding a new home and new premises in which they can earn their living and carry on their business. We have to be realists in this matter. We are conscious of the tied-house system. As a rule, publicans throughout the country nowadays are only able to earn a bare living. Life has been hard and difficult, and I cannot see why this special favour should be shown to brewers. I know that the brewers during the last 18 months have had difficulties, but those difficulties are nothing compared with the difficulties of other business houses, trade organisations, and people who have to earn their own living.

I think that the case which was so ably put by the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) is unanswerable. Apparently, when the representative of the brewers was subjected to cross-examination at the Royal Commission on Licensing he did not make his case, but withdrew it. When a proposal is made by the Lord Marley Commission apparently we have to accept it as the law of the Medes and Persians. I cannot understand the extraordinary love and affection of the Government for Lord Marley. He is not a great supporter of them, and does not show great affection for them in another place. We are constantly told that "It is in the Marley Report and therefore we cannot go against it." I have greater confidence in the Government than in Lord Marley. Let them put on their thinking-cap and see that they are about to perpetrate an injustice. Do not let them take cover behind the wisdom of Lord Marley. They have their own intelligence, and the strong case made by one of their ablest, learned supporters in this House must be answered. Indeed, it cannot be answered, and I hope, therefore, that the Amendment will be accepted.

8.37 p.m.


I am not sure whether something has not gone awry here. I am not certain that it is the point which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) indicated. There seems to be a distinction between Sub-section (3) of the Clause and paragraph (e) of the First Schedule to the Bill, because I observe that Sub-section (3) of the Clause deals with the case of licensed premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, whereas, when we turn to paragraph (e) of the Schedule we are dealing with a dwelling-house which: consists of or includes premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, not to be consumed on the premises. Therefore, at first sight it would appear as though the two provisions were entirely consistent. If you leave out of the Bill, as Sub-section (3) of Clause 1 proposes to do, premises which are licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, presumably you leave in the Bill premises which are licensed, in whole or in part, for the sale of intoxicating liquors not to be consumed on the premises, and then you would want paragraph (e) of the Schedule. But it has been occuring to me that a great number of licensed premises are licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor to be consumed on the premises, and also have a jug and bottle department under which arrangement you may take your drink away and consume it in the privacy of your own home. I am wondering where the Bill or the Act of Parliament stands if you get a house which is licensed for both purposes. According to Sub-section (3) of the Clause, that part of the house which is the jug and bottle department is within the Act, and then you want paragraph (e). If you find a house which is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor on the premises, the effect is that it does not matter whether it is licensed for the consumption of liquor off the premises I do not know. I do not suppose that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side, who has obviously paid a lot of attention to the problem, knows the answer to the conundrum either. But it is a little hard to find a Sub-section of this sort in a Section of an Act of Parliament dealing with a very important matter, which, apparently, leaves a conundrum of that sort entirely unsolved and unsolvable. For these reasons, I appeal to the Government, either to accept the Amendment, which would have the effect of eliminating all difficulties, or at least to promise us that the matter will receive that further consideration which, I venture in all humility to suggest, it so manifestly requires.

8.41 p.m.


I rise to support what my hon. and learned Friend has just said, and to ask the Minister or the learned Solicitor-General, when he deals with the matter, to give a reasonable explanation why the brewer who has these houses should be put in a more specially favoured position than any other business under the whole of the Bill. I cannot see why, applying this matter as fairly as the Bill tries to do, it should pick out an in- dustry and give it the benefit of protection which it gives to no other trade or business in any of its provisions. If I am wrong in my construction of the matter, and in viewing what my hon. and learned Friend has said upon the reading of the Sub-section, I hope that the learned Solicitor-General will correct us and tell us where we are under a misapprehension.

8.42 p.m.


I am afraid that I am unable to accept the Amendment for reasons which are stated very conclusively in the various inquiries which have been made into this particular class of controlled premises. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) objected to a certain authority, I am sure that I do not know why. But let me refer be another authority, the authority of Lord Onslow and the Onslow Committee, because in the report of that Committee the reasons for the permanent provisions of the Bill are stated as clearly as they can possibly be stated. I will quote from that report by reading the following passage: It will be remembered that the jurisdiction of the justices over licensed premises is extensive, and no transfer of a licence is valid without their consent; and, in consequence we think that there is email chance of hardship by eviction being inflicted on a tenant, as the whole Circumstances must come before the justices before the tenant can be displaced. On the other hand, with the Act as at present in force, the licence of the house may be lost or jeopardised through the misconduct of the tenant, and the owner has no power to obtain possession of the premises. We would, therefore, recommend that licensed houses should not come within the scope of the new Act. That is really the basis of the procedure proposed in the Bill. The point is that there is an alternative method, the method under the ordinary law, by which the protection of the holder of licensed premises is secured by the jurisdiction of the justices. No transfer of the licence is valid without their consent. So that the tenant of the licensed premises cannot be put out of his business without the decision of the court that there are adequate grounds why that should be so. If that is secured in one direction, it is unnecessary to secure it in another.

The answer to the question which was asked by the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson), as I am advised, distinguishing between the on-licence and the off-licence, is that the decontrolling provisions refer to the on-licences. In this matter I am advised that the greater includes the less. If there is also an off-licence it will not affect the matter because the determining circumstance is the existence of the on-licence. If there was an off-licence only this provision would not apply. As the hon. and learned Member, with his great authority, has raised the point, I will make sure that the answer I have given is supported by legal opinion on further consideration. That is my provisional answer, subject to further consideration of the interesting point which the hon. and learned Member has raised.

Amendment negatived.

8.46 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, at the end, to insert the words: (4) This Act shall not apply to any dwelling-house which is reasonably required by the landlord for occupation as a residence for some person engaged in his whole-time employment or in the whole-time employment of some tenant from him or with whom, conditional on housing accommodation being provided, a contract for such employment has been entered into and the person for whose occupation the dwelling-house is required by the landlord is, or 1s to be, employed on work necessary for the proper working of an agricultural estate. To a large extent this Amendment was covered in the new Clause which was debated this afternoon, but I want to raise a point on the question of obtaining possession in order to accommodate agricultural workers. Owing to the recent agricultural depression a great many cottages that were origiNaily occupied by agricultural workers, at agricultural rents, are now occupied by workers in other trades, for whom I have greatest sympathy. Should agriculture revive, as we hope it will under the policy of His Majesty's Government, it will be very essential that the workers on the land should be accommodated in cottages which will be comparatively or reasonably near their work. I am bound to admit that on re-reading the drafting of the Amendment it may not entirely accomplish the object which I desire. If the Parliamentary Secretary will indicate that this particular point is being considered by the Government, and that it will be dealt with when the Bill goes to another place, I will not detain the House any longer. It will be very essential should agriculture revive that the owner or occupier of land should be able to house his workers reasonably near their work. I do not think it is quite appreciated to what extent agricultural cottages which were origiNaily occupied by agricultural labourers are now occupied by people who do other work, possibly in towns some way off. I am bound to admit that the wording of the Amendment is unsatisfactory, but perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will indicate that he will give sympathetic consideration to the point.


I beg to second the Amendment.

8.48 p.m.


I think I can satisfy my hon. Friend. I entirely agree with the spirit of his remarks. It must be very annoying for anyone who represents a constituency where agriculture plays a part to find so many urban dwellers coming down and taking cottages that should be occupied by the workers of a particular farm. The Amendment cannot be accepted. We have already gone as far as we think we are entitled to go in making a concession to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) as regards low-rented agricultural cottages. But occupational tenancy has always been put in a special position under the Rent Restrictions Acts, and that position is being continued. The owner of a cottage which is necessary for the working of an agricultural holding has not to prove alternative accommodation; he can go to the court and get possession without proving it. The special privileges accorded to the farmer are being extended under this Bill. I hope my hon. Friend will be satisfied with that explanation.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.50 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, after the word "is," to insert the words: by virtue only of the principal Acts. This Amendment and the next two following are being moved in order to give effect to an undertaking that we gave in Committee. A doubt was raised whether existing tenants under a contract of tenancy would be affected by the Bill. I stressed the view in Committee that the Bill was so drafted that they would not be affected, but we undertook to make absolutely certain, so that there could be no doubt about it. I think there can be no doubt that these Amendments will give effect to that undertaking. I will read the first portion of the Sub-section as it will stand with the Amendments: A person who, on the twenty-eighth day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, is, by virtue only of the principal Acts, tenant of a dwelling-house to which those Acts cease to apply as from the following day by virtue of the provisions of this Section shall be entitled to retain possession of the dwelling-house, and so forth. It is made quite clear that persons under an existing contract of tenancy will not be affected.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 2, line 8, leave out the words "the principal," and insert instead thereof the word "those."

In page 2, line 10, leave out from the word "entitled," to the word "to," in line 14.—[The Solicitor-General.]

8.53 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 30, to leave out the words "one month," and to insert instead thereof the words "three months."

I feel fortified in moving the Amendment by having the support of the London County Council. A special Resolution was moved in the county council supporting the principle of the Amendment that I moved in the Committee stage. In Committee I moved the substitution of six months for one month, but I am now moving the Amendment in a more moderate form in the hope of persuading the right hon. Gentleman to give tenants in a place like London this reasonable protection. It may be said that the passing of this Bill into law will be so noised abroad that the tenants who are to be affected by decontrol will become conscious of their fate. Unfortunately, the proceedings of this House now gain so little publicity that the average citizen going about his daily work is unconscious only too often of what we are doing. For years, rightly or wrongly, tenants have enjoyed the protection of the various Rent Restrictions Acts. They have gone on believing that they could live in comfort and safety without the danger of disturbance by notice to quit. Now, in 1933, there comes this change. I am assured by the valuer to the London County Council, probably the greatest expert in London, that the provisions of this Clause will affect thousands of middle-class property, a class of house of which there is a great demand at the present time. People engaged in the City who have to live within reasonable distance of their work, will probably find themselves faced with a notice to quit—one month's notice. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has ever embarked on the unpleasant amusement of house hunting in London, where the field is large and the opportunities small, where the area is great but that mysterious thing an empty house difficult to discover. A man living in Kensington or Paddington, near his employment, who suddenly finds that he has received a most unpleasant thing, a notice to quit, will naturally be terrified and alarmed at the prospect of having to find a new home in four weeks. I suggest that it will be imposing no serious hardship on the landlord to require him to give three months' notice. It is not a big concession; but it would bring comfort to tens of thousands of people in London and in the provincial districts.

I am glad to know that I have the support of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Sir G. Hume). On countless occasions we have been in different Lobbies; now we are united in a common bond—the interests of the tenants of London. I am not interested in this matter because my constituency will not be much affected, but in the suburbs of London, in the outlying districts, in Islington, Hackney, Dulwich, Greenwich, tens of thousands of people will be affected. It may be that a case has been made out for this change by the Marley Report, but let us soften the change as much as we can and not make it too violent. We have a great responsibility in regard to the interests of the community, and we should give the tenants a fair deal and a reasonable time to adjust themselves to the new circumstances.

8.58 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) has given such a reasoned argument in favour of the proposal that there is little left for anyone who follows him to say in order to convInce those who were at first doubtful in regard to the position. There can be no question that this is going to work hardship on the landlord. We have been told that we have so far supported one side as against the other, as far as landlords and tenants are concerned. As a matter of fact, we have tried to steer an even course and to act in the most reasonable manner towards both. In this case there can be no hardship on the landlord; and for this reason. In any circumstances the commencing date at which the landlord can obtain possession is in September and, therefore, if he has to make up his mind as to whether he wants possession or not he has ample time to do so and to give three months' notice if he so desires. If, on the other hand, he wants to wait and rush a notice on the tenant, the tenant may then be placed in a difficult position. Within a month he has to make up his mind whether he will accept the terms which the landlord chooser to impose upon him. I say that the tenant is not getting a fair chance. He will have to search for other terms. He cannot get these terms so easily; it will take him much longer than a month, on the average, to find a suitable place. He will have to face one of two alternatives; either to take a place temporarily or submit to any request which his landlord may impose upon him. That is unreasonable. A reasonable period should be given to the tenant to find suitable alternative accommodation.

But there is something much more important than that. I do not know whether the Minister of Health has considered this point. At the present time it is not certain, in fact, it is very doubtful, whether the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1927 applies to houses which are under control. A house which is let as a dwelling-house within the meaning of the Act may consist, and often does consist, particularly in these higher rated houses, of a house and a shop or business premises—


May I assist the hon. Member on this point. There is a specific Amendment which deals with the extension of the rights for compensation under the Landlord and Tenant Act, which is to be considered when we shall have an opportunity of dealing with that matter. I propose to deal with it in a certain way.


I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. It makes my argument all the stronger. I knew that this Amendment was being brought forward and I saw that there was a considerable flaw in the Bill as at present presented. May I respectfully suggest the reason is this. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to make it clear that the Landlord and Tenant Act does apply in respect of these houses, then one month's notice is absolutely insufficient, because under the Landlord and Tenant Act a tenant has one month within which to give notice, after receiving notice from the landlord, to claim compensation, or to claim a further extension of his tenancy. The landlord then has a month within which to consider that notice, and if one month is not sufficient under this Bill it will mean that the later proviso will become ineffective. The right hon. Gentleman will agree, and I am sure the Solicitor-General will agree, that my contention is correct, and that it is a matter which should receive careful consideration. We are most concerned about it, because many of us feel that the Landlord and Tenant Act should have applied all along to this particular type of house, and are happy to hear that some attempt will be made to meet the point at a later stage. On the ground of reasonableness for the purpose of finding other accommodation, and on the substantial ground that without this allowance the tenant will not be in a position to take advantage of his rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act, I submit that the Amendment should be accepted. I would like to sum up by repeating the two points, first, on the ground of reasonableness, that the person shall not be turned out; and on the other hand that the landlord can in no circumstances be placed at a disadvantage. The second point, which is much more important and substantial, is that the Landlord and Tenant Act, if it is to apply to this particular Bill, will not have any force or effect unless this particular concession is granted to us.

9.6 p.m.


As the hon. Baronet who moved this Amendment reminded us, we are making a very big experiment in this Bill. Let me recall the sequence of events. We are making a big experiment. We are decontrolling all the "A" class houses. We are doing so on the recommendation of a committee, and with that recommendation in substance this House agreed, for there was no substantial opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill. At the time of the Second Reading there was no such Clause in the Bill as that to which the hon. Baronet is moving his Amendment. We introduced the Clause in Committee in order to make the position of the tenants of decontrolled houses certain and easier. We provided that the tenant is to have a notice, that the Acts shall continue to apply to his tenancy until the landlord gives that notice, and we made a month's notice applicable to all tenancies, whether weekly or quarterly. Then the hon. Baronet comes along and says: "A month is not enough. Give us three months."


In Committee I said six months.


And now it is three months that the hon. Baronet wants. The position really is this: We are in the middle of May. Does anyone suppose that tenants of "A" class houses have no idea of what is going on in Parliament? We have extended the earliest date for the operation of this part of the Bill until 29th September, and no notice can expire before that date. It may be assumed that the Bill will receive the Royal Assent before the end of June, and any tenant can therefore find out from any landlord what his position is to be on 29th September. To ask for an extension, first to six months and then to three months, does not really come within the scope of the Clause to which this Amendment is proposed.

9.8 p.m.


I put my name to this Amendment on two grounds; first on merits, and secondly as an act of penance. When my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) moved his Amendment in Committee he stated that he was backed by the opinion of the London County Council. By inadvertence I found myself in the Lobby opposed to him, and from that fact some conclusions might have been drawn which were not correct. As regards the merits, let me say that we are very grateful to the Government for having introduced the Amendment which they carried in Committee. But it has been felt on the London County Council that a month is scarcely sufficient time. I am not going to argue the case, as it has been fully argued in Committee; but I think we are all agreed that this passing over from one stage to another should be made with as little shock as possible. That being so, I cannot see in what way landlords will be put in a difficult position by having to give three months' notice. It will not affect the date, 29th September, as no doubt this Bill will become an Act in ample time to give three months' notice before 29th September.

There will be a shock; there is no doubt about it, and no argument will get rid of that fact. Thousands will be taken by surprise. If they are given a little more latitude I believe it will help all of us in having to face the situation which will then arise. I know it is quite hopeless to plead the case now, because the Government have already expressed their view on the matter; but still there is room for penitence in another place.

9.10 p.m.


I support this Amendment, because in my opinion the dangers which have been referred to will arise. I think we should concentrate our minds on the reason that will prompt the giving of this notice by landlords. In my opinion the prompting will come from the fact that landlords will realise, as a result of the passing of this Bill, that on 29th September they can demand a different level of rent from that which they are in a position to demand now. So far as the tenant is concerned the receipt of the notice will mean additional rent. If the tenant is not in a position to pay that additional rent because of the wages he receives, it stands to reason that the month will be insufficient. The difficulty of finding alternative accommodation by virtue of this Bill will become even greater than it is now. If a tenant can afford only 10s. a week and under the new conditions 12s. 6d. is demanded, where is the tenant going to find alternative accommodation that will fit his purse? A month is insufficient, even at the present moment, for the finding of alternative accommodation. It will certainly be insufficient under the new conditions that will arise.

During the Committee stage I mentioned that, having regard to the period of the year, greater consideration should be given to the tenant who has to vacate a house because of his inability to pay the rent. By 29th September he will have to find alternative accommodation. No one assumes that a tenant can settle down in alternative accommodation, even if he is lucky enough to find it, within a period that will give him the opportunity to enjoy the festive season as others enjoy it. The period is insufficient because the notice comes at the wrong time of the year to begin with, and it comes at a time when everyone likes to have just that little extra meed of enjoyment and luxury that he cannot afford all the year round. I do not know whether the Minister has considered that point, but I ask that these issues be considered in so far as the industrial communities are concerned. I believe that in 99 cases out of every 100 where notices can be given they will be given, and I believe they will be delayed to the latest possible moment. By such delay the hardship to the persons concerned will be made all the greater. This is a reasonable Amendment. As the learned Solicitor-General has said, this Bill is a new adventure entirely. Because it is a new adventure, and because there is an enormous amount of risk at the back of it, which might mean increased hardship to a very large proportion of the community, I ask the Government to go carefully in case they are backing the wrong horse.

9.15 p.m.


I desire briefly to support the view expressed by the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike). The Majority of the speeches on this Amendment have been made by hon. Members representing the London constituencies, and I desire to emphasise the fact that this matter also affects us closely in the provInces and especially in the industrial North. A short time ago when my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) moved an Amendment dealing with the machinery which will be required when this Measure becomes due to expire in 1938, the Solicitor-General took the view that the time to discuss that subject was in 1938 and not now. This Amendment, however, deals with a situation which is going to arise now, and the House ought to give this Amendment careful consideration. The matter was debated at some length on the Committee stage when those of us who thought the period of one month insufficient, tabled an Amendment proposing to increase the period of six months. We made it clear that we should be satisfied with a compromise of three months; we felt that that would give a reasonable opportunity to these tenants to find other accommodation.

We are now backed in that view by the London County Council whose opinion of Government will surely take into consideration—not as the opinion of individual Members but as the opinion of a body which has great experience in these matters and realises what the

situation will be is the period of one months is not extended. Mention of the London County Council reminds one of the speech of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Sir G. Hume). I understood him to say that there might be penitence in another place, but I was always brought up to believe that penitence ought to be exercised here below, and that we ought not to trust too much to any developments that might take place at later stages in our careers. I hope that the Government will give this Amendment further consideration.

Question put, "That the words 'one month' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 226; Noes, 60.

Division No. 170.] AYES. [9.19 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Dickie, John P. Kerr, Hamilton W.
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M. Donner, P. W. Kimball, Lawrence
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Doran, Edward Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Duckworth, George A. V. Law, Sir Alfred
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Apsley, Lord Elliston, Captain George Sampson Leckie, J. A.
Aske, Sir Robert William Elmley, Viscount Leech, Dr. J. W.
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lees-Jones, John
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Balfour, George "(Hampstead) Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Levy, Thomas
Balniel, Lord Everard, W. Lindsay Llewellin, Major John J.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Ford, Sir Patrick J. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.) Fox, Sir Gifford Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Fremantle, Sir Francis MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Fuller, Captain A. G. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.) Ganzoni, Sir John McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Blindell, James Glossop, C. W. H. McKie, John Hamilton
Boothby, Robert John Graham Goff, Sir Park McLean, Major Sir Alan
Boulton, W. W. Goldie, Noel B. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Gower, Sir Robert Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Brass, Captain Sir William Graham, Sir Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Greene, William P. C. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Broadbent, Colonel John Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Grimston, R. V. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Merriman. Sir F. Boyd
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mitchell, Harold p.(Brtf'd & Chisw'k)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Burghley, Lord Hanbury, Cecil Moreing, Adrian C
Burnett, John George Hanley, Dennis A. Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morrison, William Shepherd
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Hartland, George A. Muirhead, Major A. J.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Munro, Patrick
Cassels, James Dale Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Murray-Phllipson, Hylton Raiph
Castle Stewart, Earl Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Nail, Sir Joseph
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Nicholson. Godlrey (Morpeth)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Nunn, William
Clayton, Dr. George C. Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Cobb, sir Cyril Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Penny, Sir George
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hopkinson, Austin Percy, Lord Eustace
Collox. Major William Philip Hornby, Frank Perkins, Walter R. D.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Horsbrugh, Florence Petherick, M.
Cooke, Douglas Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Preston, Sir Walter Rueben
Crookshank, Col. C.de Windt (Bootle) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Procter, Major Henry Adam
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Crosstey, A. C. Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Islet)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rankin, Robert
Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Reid, David D. (County Down) Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Slater, John Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Renwick, Major Gustav A. Smiles, Lieut.-col. Sir Walter D. Tryon, Rt. Hon, George Clement
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Wallace, John (DunferMilne)
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L (Hull)
Robinson, John Roland Smith, R. W- (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine.C.) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Rosbotham, Sir Samuel Smith-Carington, Neville W. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Ross, Ronald D. Somervell, Donald Bradley Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Ruggles Brise, Colonel E. A. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Runge, Norah Cecil Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Rutherford. John (Edmonton) Spens, William Patrick Whyte, Jardine Bell
Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Stanley, Hon. 0. F. G. (Westmorland) Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.) Winterton. Rt. Hon. Earl
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Storey, Samuel Wise. Alfred R.
Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Strickland, Captain W. F. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Savery, Samuel Servington Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Selley, Harry R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Summersby, Charles H. Major George Davies and Dr.
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Morris-Jones.
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Thompson, Luke
Attlee, Clement Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur McGovern, John
Banfield, John William Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Mailalieu, Edward Lancelot
Bernays, Robert Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh. E.)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hicks, Ernest George Maxton, James
Briant, Frank Hirst, George Henry Milner, Major James
Brown, C. W. E. {Notts., Mansfield) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Owen, Major Goronwy
Buchanan, George Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Pike, Cecil F.
Cape, Thomas John, William Price, Gabriel
Cove, William G. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rea, Walter Russell
Cowan, D. M. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kirkwood, David Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William Wallhead, Richard C.
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Lunn, William Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mabane, William
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) McEntee, Valentine L. Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Janner.

9.27 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 37, after the word "offer," to insert the words "in writing."

This and the next three Amendments are to give effect to an undertaking which was given in Committee. This Subsection of Clause 1 provides that a landlord may give notice to a tenant of a new offer of terms upon which he is prepared to continue the tenancy. As the Clause stood, fear was expressed that the landlord might keep the tenant dangling until the last moment and then by the last words of the Clause be in a position to hold him down to the terms offered. We are now providing that the notice itself is to be in writing and there is to be a statement in writing of the effect of the Clause itself. If the tenant holds over in face of the terms he is offered and without coming to some other agreement, then and then only is he to be held bound by the terms offered.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 38, leave out the word "then," and insert instead thereof the words: and a written statement that.

In line 41, leave out the word "shall," and insert instead thereof the words: will by virtue of this Act.

In line 42, at the end, insert the words: "then if the tenant so retains possession he shall be deemed to do so on those terms."—[The Solicitor-General.]

9.30 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, at the end, to insert the words: (6)"Where upon the expiration of such a notice as aforesaid a tenant ceases to be entitled by virtue of this Act to retain possession of a dwelling-house the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, shall apply in respect of the premises as if they had been held under a tenancy terminated by that notice. The Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, introduced an entirely new principle of law in respect of tenants of houses that were used for business or professional purposes, and it had for its object the giving of compensation in certain cases for improvements in the premises by the tenant and for the value of the goodwill that had been created during the tenancy. The object of the Amendment is to bring the same benefit to those who receive a notice to terminate the tenancy of a house in the way provided for in this Bill. Where the tenant has done something during his tenancy that adds to the letting value of the premises, it is only right that he should be given some compensation for what he has done if his tenancy is brought to a conclusion. I hope the Government and the Minister of Health will be able to accept this Amendment, as it is clearly properly applicable to the position of a tenant who becomes dispossessed through this Bill in the same way as it is applicable to a dispossessed tenant under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, which was passed by this House with a full appreciation of all the circumstances. It is not necessary for me, when speaking of an Act of Parliament so well within the memory of the House, to detail the position further. Machinery was set up under that Act to prevent any abuse of its privileges, and I ask the House to extend those privileges to a tenant dispossessed under this Bill as well as to a dispossessed tenant under the Landlord and Tenant Act,. 1927.

9.32 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I feel sure the House will realise that, in the demand we are putting before the Government, we are asking for justice for very small people who, at great expense to themselves, convert what was a property of low value into a property of considerably higher value to the landlord through their own efforts. Under this Clause the landlord will be able to give notice to a tenant where his property has risen in value through the efforts of the tenant. He can do that without granting any compensation whatever, but if the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, are brought into effect, they will provide for compensation and at the same time preclude any idea of the tenant taking any advantage of his landlord because the conditions laid down cover almost any point raised. I ask the Government to consider this as a very fair Amendment which will improve and not detract from the Bill.

9.34 p.m.


I propose to accept the Amendment. Its purpose is to extend to tenants of shops and business premises held under tie statutory tenancy created under the Rent Restrictions Acts the same rights of compensation on the conclusion of their occupation as are enjoyed by tenants who hold under a contractual tenancy. One futher word of explanation. When the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, was passing through the House, there was something of a conflict of opinion on this point between the two Houses, and as a result of that conflict a Resolution in another place which had the intention of excluding these rights of compensation from the so-called contractual premises was not accepted by this House. As a result of that procedure, both Houses were left under the impression that they had specifically enacted that these rights of compensation should be extended to the occupants of the so-called contractual premises, but, as a matter of fact, the best legal opinion is that both Houses failed of their purpose and that that right of compensation is probably not at present enjoyed by the occupants of those premises. Under those conditions, I think it right to accept this Amendment.

9.36 p.m.


While agreeing with the establishment of the definite rights of a person under these Acts to come within the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act, I should like to point out that without some further modification, in my view anyhow, of the period of notice being inserted, we shall find ourselves in a considerable difficulty, for this reason, that the Landlord and Tenant Act, quite rightly so far as ordinary compensation is concerned, says that the notice requiring compensation must be made within one month, but there is another provision of that Act which, in my view, deals specifically with the position which may now be created. Sec- tion 5 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, says: Where the tenant alleges that, though he will be entitled to compensation under the last foregoing section, the sum which could be awarded to him under that section would not compensate him for the loss of goodwill he will suffer if he removes to and carries on his trade or business in other premises, he may in lieu of claiming such compensation, at any time within the period allowed for making a claim under the said section, serve on the landlord notice requiring a new lease of the premises at which the trade or business is carried on to be granted to him. If he serves that notice within two months after the service of the notice, the court may, if it considers the grant of a new tenancy is in all the circumstances reasonable, order the grant of a new tenancy. I tried to point out in Committee that the one month's notice was not sufficient, because I felt that if the Landlord and Tenant Act was going to apply to the case of business premises which came outside the present Acts, a person would have to have similar facilities as far as his notices were concerned to those of one who was placed in a similar position outside the Acts before this provision was accepted. I may be wrong, but I should like an explanation of it, because, if I am right, the matter ought to be put right somehow, and the provisions which have now been accepted should be made effective.

9.40 p.m.


The effect of accepting this Amendment will be that the rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, if and where they are greater or more extensive or more favourable to the tenant than the rights under the main Act, will rule. I shall be very happy to consider the point which the hon. Member has suggested, in order to make sure, but I am advised that there is no doubt as to the effect of the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:

In page 3, line 1, to leave out "Subsection (6)."—[Mr. Janner.]

9.41 p.m.


Under Part II of the 1923 Act provisions were made whereby, after the expiration of the Acts, certain circumstances were taken into consideration and opportunities given for the courts to decide whether or not tenants should be turned out. I understand that a concession has been made at an earlier stage with regard to an Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend with regard to an Amendment that he has moved, and in those circumstances I do not suppose that all the arguments in the world would convInce the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health to extend that concession. In these circumstances, I shall not call upon him to reply to this Amendment, and I do not move it.