§ If in proceedings for the recovery of possession of a dwelling-house to which the principal Acts apply, not being a sub-let part of another such dwelling-house, or for the ejectment of a tenant there from, the court is satisfied that the recoverable rent of the dwelling-house in respect of which the proceedings are taken is not more than two shillings and sixpence weekly and that the landlord or some person from whom he derives his title has Since the passing of this Act been in possession thereof, section five of the Act of 1920 (which relates to restrictions on the right to possession and other like matters) shall not apply in relation to those proceedings.—[Sir H. Young.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause deals with the exemption from the Act of 1920 of certain dwelling-houses of low value. It has been drafted in pursuance of an undertaking which I gave during the Committee stage to my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) and to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown). I accepted the principle of a new Clause which they brought forward and undertook to find wording which would fit into the Bill. The object of this Clause was fully explained by the hon. Member for Aylesbury during the Committee stage. It is to enable the best use to be made by the agricultural world of cottages for agricultural and estate management purposes. The new Clause proposes to do this by providing that in the case of cottages let at 2s. 6d. a week or less—that is a category that covers practically nothing except agricultural cottages—the provisions of the Act of 1920, except those which limit the permitted rent, shall cease to apply if the landlord wishes to obtain possession.
38 It will be apparent to the House that this Clause deals only with cottages which are in use for agricultural or estate management purposes. In effect it provides an alternative method of obtaining possession for the sake of the management of the farm or estate—an alternative to the present method under which the owner has to get a certificate from the local authority to the effect that the house is required for agricultural purposes. This is considered to be a more convenient method. There are two points I would emphasise to enable the House to understand the bEarlng of the Clause. First, it leaves the present sitting tenant fully protected in his tenancy, and, secondly, future tenants also, who under the law as it is now would have no protection at all will have the protection of a limitation of rent. The Clause preserves the pool of small houses and carries out the general policy of the Government.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. MICHAEL BEAUMONT
I wish to thank the Minister for proposing to embody in the Bill this provision which I think, is a good one and will improve the Measure. It has been suggested in some quarters that the sum of 2s. 6d. weekly is too low and that it should have been 3s. weekly. On reflection I am confirmed in the view that the sum of 2s. 6d. which I origiNaily selected is the correct one. It is essential that this provision should not be used for profit-making purposes and the sum of 2s. 6d. is so low that there cannot be any question of profit-making. No one has ever accused me of being unduly harsh in regard to the rights of owners and, frankly, I think that owners who wish to avail themselves of this privilege can very well keep the rents at this figure. In the Clause as origiNaily proposed the sum mentioned was 2s. 6d. weekly evclusive of rates. In the new Clause proposed by the Minister there is no mention of rates. I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman what is the position in that respect because, as he knows, some houses are let exclusive of rates and others inclusive of rates? I again thank the right hon. Gentleman for having made this improvement in what I think is already a good Bill.
§ Sir H. YOUNG
If the hon. Member looks at the wording of the Clause he will see: 39The recoverable rent …in respect of which the proceedings are taken, is not more than two shillings and sixpence weekly.
§ That is the rent exclusive of rates.
§ Clause added to the Bill.