§ 6.42 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
This Clause deals with the duty imposed upon the landlord of informing the local authority of any case of overcrowding in a house let by him which has come to his knowledge. When the matter was discussed in Committee it was pointed out that it would be difficult to prove knowledge on the part of the landlord that a house belonging to him was overcrowded. It was also pointed out by the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) that owners who lived on their property would be put in the invidious position of having to play the role of informer against their own tenants, and by that means the good relations existing between landlords and tenants in the country districts would be destroyed. On further consideration we think that there is very great force in both of those arguments.
The purpose of the Clause was to make sure that landlords could not connive at overcrowding on the part of their tenants, and where there was that connivance we proposed to make it an offence which would be punishable by a penalty. It has, however, been our object all along in this Bill to do away with prosecutions and the imposition of penalties wherever that is practicable, as long as we can get the Bill to work efficiently without them. We think that what was aimed at by the insertion of this Clause can be sufficiently secured by other Clauses, particularly Clause 7, which lays upon landlords the duty of informing prospective tenants of the number of persons who are permitted 1769 to sleep in a house, and if they do not do so it is an offence punishable by a penalty. It is also achieved by Clause 10 (2), which requires the submission of information with regard to the occupancy of a house by the tenant on demand of the local authority. We think that these provisions will be sufficient to ensure that the local authority become aware of all cases of overcrowding, and they will then be in a position to take steps, which they are bound to take, to abate such overcrowding.
§ Amendment agreed to.