HC Deb 15 May 1933 vol 278 cc153-6

10.52 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 16, line 11, after the word "that," to insert the words: the overcrowding could have been abated by the removal of any lodger or sub-tenant (not being a parent or child of the tenant) whom it would, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the question whether other accommodation is available for him, have been reasonable to remove, and that. This Amendment refers to the Clause in the Bill which enunciates a new principle in this legislation, in as much as it gives to the court power to give possession to a landlord in certain cases where there is overcrowding by the tenant. The Clause, as drawn, will operate somewhat harshly in various cases, particularly where there is a shortage of housing in the locality. The Amendment was accepted in principle by the Minister when the Bill was in Committee and has been re-drafted. As it now stands, the right of the court to give possession in these cases is limited to cases where the overcrowding is due to a lodger or subtenant other than a parent or child of the tenant, and it will not operate unless there is reasonable alternative accommodation which can be provided for the lodger or sub-tenant.


I beg to second the Amendment.


Do I understand from the speech of the hon. Member that the Government accept the Amendment?

10.54 p.m.


The Noble Lord anticipated me. This Amendment was fully discussed in Committee, and on that occasion I undertook to accept the Amendment in principle. After discussion of the actual words of the Amendment, the difficulties that had occurred have been solved by the adoption of the present form of words and the Government propose to accept the Amendment. The object of the Amendment has been explained by the hon. Member for East Newcastle (Sir R. Aske). It was never intended that the landlord should obtain possession merely because the tenant's family had increased from three to seven and was somewhat too large by up-to-date standards for the accommodation the landlord had. That was not the kind of case which the provisions of the Bill against overcrowding were intended to meet. The overcrowding it was intended to meet must be caused by lodgers or sub-tenants, whom he ought to and can remove. The provisions of the Bill against overcrowding were never intended to deal with conditions which the sub-tenant was unable to remedy; it was only when he could remedy them that some kind of penalty ought to be imposed for allowing something which he could prevent. Even in the case of overcrowding by a lodger and a sub-tenant, it is not contemplated that possession should be obtainable where it is not reasonably possible for the tenant to remedy the overcrowding without hardship. The Amendment is for this purpose and that is in accordance) with the original intentions of the Bill Those intentions are plain. They are to confine the sanctions and the penalties against overcrowding by the sub-tenant to conditions outside the sub-tenant's family, and, secondly, to confine them to conditions where there is a remedy in the sub-tenant's hands. In those circumstances the penalties provided by the Bill, such as they are, should apply. The Amendment tends to make more clear the intentions of the Bill, and I think we can reasonably accept it.

10.56 p.m.


Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into consideration the fact that this will make it more difficult than now to prevent overcrowding? One of the great difficulties is that the courts refuse to abate overcrowding, on the ground that no alternative accommodation is available. I know of cases where application has been made to the court to abate overcrowding to the extent of 10 people in one room, and the court refused to make an order on the ground that there was no available accommodation in the district. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that point?

10.57 p.m.


I cannot help thinking that there is some misapprehension as to the general bEarlng of the Amendment. The provisions of the Bill to ensure action against overcrowding are really unlimited in their intention, in their practical applicability, by the present Amendment. The Noble Lord, I am sure, is a supporter of the main provisions of the Bill to ensure the reduction of overcrowding where it is of an improper nature, and the present Amendment goes no further than is reasonably necessary in order to make sure that the overcrowding against which these provisions are directed shall be of an improper nature. It would, I think, be harsh and improper to visit these penalties against the tenant simply owing to an increase in the size of his own family. I think that would offend the sense of fair play on the part of the House, and I think it would also offend our sense of fair play if some sort of penalty were directed against the tenant for conditions which he had no possibility of preventing. I believe the effect of the Amendment is really to bring the provisions of the original Bill to prevent overcrowding, useful and most important as they are, into clearer relation to what is in accordance with our sense of fair play and also what is practical; and, therefore, they are an improvement of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 16, line 12, leave out from the word "taken," to the end of the paragraph, and insert instead thereof the words "for his removal."—[Sir B. Aske.]

11 p.m.


I bog to move, "That further Consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."

I trust that we may adjourn now and take the one or two Amendments still to come, together with the Third Beading of the Bill, to-morrow. We understand that the Third Reading is to be over by 7.30, and I believe that there is a general agreement to see that that is carried through.



I am sure that the House will agree that we have made extremely good progress with the Bill by the co-operation of all parties, and as I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition reasonably expects that we shall get the Third Reading by 7.30 to-morrow, I think that we might adjourn further consideration now.

Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.