HC Deb 10 July 1939 vol 349 cc1987-90

"A.—(1) If, in the case of any building or block of buildings to which this section applies there is adjacent thereto any land used in common by the occupiers of the building or block, a request in writing signed by more than one-half in number of the occupiers of the separate parts of the building or block that the local authority should utilise that land for the construction or erection of an air-raid shelter shall confer upon the local authority the like rights as respects entry upon the land and the execution of works thereon as they would possess if the request had been and continued to be concurred in by all persons in any way interested in the land.

(2) In this Section the expression 'building or block of buildings to which this Section applies' means a building or block of buildings which is situated in an area specified in an order made by the Minister under Part III of this Act, is wholly or mainly used for residential purposes and is let out in separate parts:

Provided that

  1. (a)so much of any building or block of buildings as consists of, or is comprised in,any factory premises or commercial building shall be disregarded;
  2. (b)the said expression does not include any building or block of buildings the owner of which may be required to provide air-raid shelter in accordance with a scheme prepared under the last preceding Section."

Sir J. Anderson

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Clause is concerned with what is, in the main, a matter of machinery. There are cases where people of the class who are entitled to free shelter live in blocks of flats or tenements where there is attached to the block of flats or tenements a piece of land which is used in common by the occupiers of the block. That piece of land may in certain cases be the only suitable piece of land on which a shelter constructed from materials provided free by the Government can be installed. As matters stand, unless all the occupiers consent the land cannot be used for that purpose. The sole object of the Clause is to provide that where the majority of the occupiers desire the land to be so used it may be used even if a minority do not agree.


Mr. Ede

This Clause, I understand, has been introduced mainly to meet the point, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) in Committee and on the Report stage of the Bill. It does not appear to me to carry out all the points which we on this side of the House think should be met. As I read the Clause, unless all the tenants and occupiers are entitled to the common use of the land, it does not become applicable. That is the first point. Another point which the hon. Member for Jarrow wanted to be included was the case where the land has been so cut up into small pieces and let out, not to all the tenants in common but to each separate tenant individually, either in such shapes or sizes that it is not possible to put an appropriate kind of shelter on it. That, again, is not dealt with in this Clause. It would appear that it might have been perfectly possible in drafting the Clause to have taken into account a far wider range of cases than those actually dealt with by the Clause. As far as it goes, it is undoubtedly an improvement, but it does not go very far. I cannot help wishing that the right hon. Gentleman had consulted my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), because it appears to be only in consultation with him that we can get anything approaching satisfaction. It seems that my hon. and learned Friend can explain the idea much better than the Government can do. I hope that the Government will watch the working of this Clause and at the earliest possible moment carry out an expansion to it to cover the points which have been raised.

1.20 a.m.

Mr. Gallacher

I would like to draw attention to another point that leaves a serious loop-hole. There is not only the question of the land that may be divided into sections and each owned by a particular tenant of a particular block of flats but there are some cases where a piece of land adjacent to the house may be owned by the tenants in the bottom part of the flat. It may be considered to be theirs and actually under their control. I would also like to know what is the position if you have a situation in which there are 10 tenants of a flat and five are for a shelter and five against? The Clause lays it down that a request is to be in writing signed by more than half. You could quite easily have a situation where you have evens so far as the demand is concerned. I am of opinion that if you have even one tenant who considers it necessary to have a shelter, there should be power to ensure that a shelter is there. You could quite easily have a situation where there are 11 tenants, and five are for and six against. They will get no shelter. I suggest that this Clause should be recast so as to make it easier in those cases to get shelters provided, to do away with the necessity for a majority of the tenants to make a request, and to provide that consideration shall be given to a request for a shelter where it comes either from a minority of a particular character or else from any tenant.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 53, line 24, agreed to.