HC Deb 13 June 1939 vol 348 cc1146-88

(1)The owner of any building or block of buildings to which this section applies may prepare a scheme for providing air-raid shelter in or near the building or block for the persons living and working in the building or block.

(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, and is let out in separate parts:

Provided that so much of any building or block as consists of, or is comprised in, any factory premises or commercial building shall be disregarded.

(3) Any such scheme shall—

  1. (a) state the situation and the general nature of the shelter to be provided under the scheme and the number of persons which the shelter is to be constructed to accommodate;
  2. (b) state the estimated cost of the pro-vision of the shelter;
  3. (c) contain a statement of the effect of the subsequent provisions of this section as to increases of rent;
and may contain such other information as appears to the owner to be relevant in connection with the scheme.

(4)The owner shall serve a copy of any such scheme on the occupier of every separate part of the building or block not occupied by the owner thereof.

(5)If the occupiers of more than one-half in number of the separate parts of the building or block (other than parts thereof which are in the occupation of the owner of the building or block) assent to the scheme then, on completion by the owner of the shelter specified by the scheme in accordance with the provisions thereof, the rent payable under every lease derived from the estate or interest of the owner (being a lease in existence at the date of the completion of the shelter) shall, unless it is otherwise agreed in connection with, or after the provision of the shelter, be increased to the extent and for the period specified in the subsequent provisions of this section.

Provided that where a part of a building or block is occupied under a lease of which the unexpired term is less than six months that person shall be deemed for the purposes of this Sub-section to be the occupier of that part who would be the occupier thereof if every such lease thereof had been surrendered.

(6) The said increase shall be calculated as follows: —

  1. (a)there shall first be taken the expenses of the owner in providing the shelter or the amounts specified in the scheme as the estimate of those expenses, whichever is the less;
  2. (b)there shall then be ascertained the proportion which the annual value of the part of the building or block to which the lease in question relates at the date of the completion of the works bears to the annual value of the whole building or block at that date;
  3. (c)the proportion so arrived at shall be applied to the sum ascertained under paragraph (a) of this Sub-section; and
  4. (d)the increase in rent shall be at the annual rate of one-tenth of the sum arrived at under paragraph(c)

(7) The rent on which the said increase operates is all rent payable under the lease in question in respect of any rent period beginning after the date of the completion of the shelter:

Provided that no increase shall operate for more than ten years.

(8)A surety for the payment of any rent which is increased under this section shall not be discharged by reason of the increase, but shall not be liable in respect of the increase.

(9)Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorising the owner of any building or block of buildings to enter upon any premises or land, or to do any work thereon, if he would not have been entitled to enter or to do that work apart from the provisions of this section.

(10) In this section—

  1. (a) the expression "owner," in relation to a building or block of buildings to which this section applies has the same meaning as that expression has in relation to a commercial building; and
  2. (b) the expression "separate part," means, in relation to a building or block of buildings, a part thereof which is in separate occupation, or, if unoccupied, is intended for separate occupation; and
  3. (c) the expression "rent period," means, in relation to a lease, the quarter or other period in respect of which an instalment of rent becomes payable thereunder.—[Sir J. Anderson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.37 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The buildings chiefly contemplated are blocks of flats, and the Clause is designed to fill a gap in the general scheme of shelter provision under this Bill. Part III of the Bill provides for shelter for employés in industry and commercial buildings, and Part II of the Bill provides for public shelters to be provided by local authorities. When, some time ago, I met representatives of local authorities, after the Bill had been introduced, the question was raised whether arrangements could not be made to facilitate the provision of shelter for the occupants of existing blocks of flats. That matter was given consideration mainly in regard to two types of buildings—first, the blocks of working-class flats which have been brought into existence under various Housing Acts by local authorities and similar buildings that have been erected by various trusts, such as the Guinness Trust, the Sutton Trust, and so on, and by certain commercial owners. That was the first class of buildings that we took into consideration from this point of view, and in that case the solution at which we arrived was one that did not require, in our view, any amendment of the law. We took the view that in the case of working-class flats, flats occupied predominantly by persons who would be considered entitled to the free provision of one of the standard types of Government shears, it would be proper that the local authority, under the Act of 1937, should be enabled to provide shelter of a communal character in connection with such flats and should be entitled to claim the grant at the full rate appropriate under the Act of 1937 for such provision. That decision, which was intimated to those concerned—it was an administrative decision—was, I think, very much welcomed, and it was recognised as making a very substantial contribution towards the solution of an important problem.

But that decision left untouched the case of flats of a somewhat more expensive description, what you might call middle-class flats or luxury flats. In such cases it would not, according to the practice of the Department be proper that public funds should be saddled with the cost of providing shelter, and it is for that case that this Clause has been devised. The scheme of the Clause is this: The owner of the flats may prepare a scheme for providing shelter in or near the building, and he has to circulate the scheme to the occupiers, describing the general nature of the shelter to be provided and the estimated cost. If the occupiers of more than one half in number of the separate parts of the building assent to the scheme, then, when the scheme is carried out, the cost can be added by the owner to the rents, not merely of those who have agreed, but of all the occupiers of different parts of the building, proportionately to what they are already paying. The increases in rent are to be based on the actual cost of the scheme or the amount of the circulated estimate, whichever is the less. The occupier with a lease with less than six months to run is not in that case given the vote, but it goes to the person who would be the occupier if the short lease had been surrendered. The owner is not enabled to construct works in any part of the building on which he would not have been entitled to carry out work apart from the Clause; that is to say, he cannot use for shelter purposes an occupied flat without the consent of the occupier. He must in that case find accommodation either in the garden or some other part of the building. The Clause is not entirely limited to residential flats. There might be cases where there were two shops on the ground floor of a residential building, shops in which less than the standard number of 50 people were employed, and in that case those shops might be enabled to participate in the shelter provided. The scheme of the Clause is not so much to confer compulsory powers on anyone, as to remove obstacles that might prevent shelter being provided where the owner and the majority of his tenants were perfectly willing that it should be provided, but where a minority of the tenants were holding out and in that way preventing the carrying-out of desirable work.

4.43 p.m.

Mr. H. Morrison

This Clause presumably seeks to fill up one of the gaps that I mentioned yesterday in the discussion on the shelter provisions under Clause 7, and every one of us would wish that those gaps should be filled up, and that the middle-class population that lives in the higher rented flats should not be excluded from reasonable shelter provision. But this is really an utterly unsatisfactory Clause to that end, and my hon. Friends the Members for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and North Islington (Dr. Guest) have an Amendment down designed to make the Clause operative. First of all, the Clause does not operate at all unless the owner of the building puts forward a scheme, and, as I am reminded, he may not live there. It is highly probable in most cases that he does not live there, and indeed, as I am also reminded, it may be a limited company. That is the first, the major, and the very great difficulty, and I think it is monstrous that this important and growing section of the population that lives in these higher rented flats and is often somewhat exploited in the process should be left in a position where there is no proper guarantee of shelter whatever. If the owner merely stands pat and nothing happens, they do not get their shelter, because under the Clause they cannot provide it for themselves, even if they wish to. The rights of the owner would prevent them from doing so.

Secondly, 50 percent, of the tenants must consent to the scheme and, whilst it is in accordance with the formal statistical principles of democracy that there should not be less than 50 percent, assenting, it will be very rough on them if only 49 percent, consent, or any other proportion, if they are left out because there is an insufficient number of occupiers who consent to the provision. Supposing, for example that a considerable number of occupiers have made arrangements to leave the vulnerable area on the outbreak of an emergency or, though they have an interest in the provision of a shelter in that place, they do not wish to pay additional rent and they vote against the scheme being operated, that will be exceedingly rough on the remaining people who, for financial, business or patriotic reasons remain behind and will have no shelter provision what ever in the building. There are grave objections to this automatic 50 percent, requirement. I should have thought, if the scheme was to be operated and complete, there ought to be a clear obligation stated by Parliament on the owner of the building.

There is another subsidiary point which is not covered in the Clause. If the premises are let as furnished flats, the rent payable will have no regard to the value of the flat as flat, apart from the furniture, and the owner might in that case get an excessive return. I am exceedingly apprehensive that the Clause will be largely inoperative and that a substantial and growing portion of the middle-class population of the great cities, which are increasingly tending to occupy flats, will be left out. A point raised by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) in Committee dealt with the class of property which is the old house formerly in single family occupation but now broken up into flats. I should like to know whether it is held that this Clause will apply to property of that kind. That, of course, is not the large conglomeration of flats but an individual house in three or four floors which has been broken up into tenements or flats. I raise the point because under Sub-section (2), 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, and is let out in separate parts Presumably, therefore, it will be dealt with administratively and should be within the meaning of the Section, provided the Minister takes the view that it is a building or block of buildings to which the order should apply.

4.49 p.m.

Sir Percy Harris

I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to add a Clause of this kind. It is a very long Clause but in London this is becoming a very big living issue. London is rapidly becoming a city of flat dwellers. Victorian houses and villas—semi detached houses—are being rapidly swept away and these vast blocks of dwellings are being put up, in some cases housing thousands of people. One cannot help visualising that in case of war these blocks of flats will present a very real problem. If, by some tragedy, one of these big blocks in the centre or in the suburbs of London was hit, it would be nothing short of disaster. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—it is an old controversy—that the word "shall" ought to be put in and not "may." After all, most of these big blocks are owned by limited companies. It is be coming a very considerable business, large commercial undertakings developing these big blocks of flats. They provide an investment for the public. I do not think it is fair to put on the owner the responsibility of deciding whether he should expend the shareholders' money in providing shelters for the tenants. The right way is to say that it is a legal obligation on certain conditions.

The responsibility might be divided between the tenants and the local authorities. I should have thought the local authority, which is responsible for pro- viding shelter for the public, ought to be able to say to one of these big owners, "It is your duty to provide, if you like, with the consent of the tenants, the necessary shelter in some shape or form." These great modern buildings lend them selves to some form of cellar shelter or shelter in the square or gardens at the back. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought seriously to consider the suggestion contained in the Amendment. I am quite satisfied that on the whole the private landlords or companies that own these buildings will not take the initiative unless they have some form of legal obligation to do the work either at the request of the local authority or of the tenant.

4.53 p.m.

Mr. Duncan

I would also emphasise the necessity for this Clause in London. This question of providing shelter in blocks of flats is a very live issue, and structurally it is a very difficult one. The hon. Baronet, who is also a London Member, suggested that the local authority should have the option of ordering the owner to put up a scheme. I would much rather make it an obligation on the owner to put up a scheme whether the local authorities wish to do so or not. If the tenants turn it down, the owner is relieved of his obligation—it is a matter for them —but I think the owner should have the obligation of doing so. After all, if he is able to consider, in making up his mind whether to submit a scheme, the nearness of a public shelter, it may well be that he will be able to say to the tenants, "You can go down the street; the borough council will put up a shelter for you," and he may be able to evade what I consider should be an obligation to his tenants and overcrowd the shelter of the local authority. I hope that when the time comes, my right hon. Friend will favourably consider the Amendment.

4.55 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson

I am not rising in order to criticise the Clause but to ask whether the point I have raised has been met, because I cannot see that it has been, though I may be wrong. Curiously enough, the problem affects two districts so unrelated as Bloomsbury and the tenement area of Jarrow, for one of which I am a Member and of the other an inhabitant. The position is this. Where you have an old house converted into flats, you very often have a piece of land which once was the garden of the house, but which in fact is no man's land. It really belongs to the original owner, but it is not let out by him. It is just a place for tin cans. There are four or five flats, and it may be that in three or four the income is over £250 and in the other, below it, and they get a steel shelter. What are they to do when they have got it? He only place where they can put it is in this derelict garden. Very often the property is so old that they are just waiting till the lease runs out and the owner will not move to erect any kind of underground shelter. All that is really needed is that the tenants, individually or collectively, should have the right to erect their steel shelters in the one piece of land to which they have any access at all. It is not interfering with anyone. What is worrying me is that the Clause says, Nothing in this Section shall be construed as authorising the owner of any building or block of buildings to enter upon any premises or land, or to do any work thereon, if he would not have been entitled to enter or to do that work apart from the provisions of this Section. What is really the point is for the tenants to have the right to put the shelters up there.

The other point is that it must be decided by a majority. I submit that there is really no necessity to have a majority. If one person out of the whole number has a steel shelter, provided by the Government, presumably the Government intends that he should use it. This may seem a small point, but there are whole areas, particularly in the West Central district, where big houses have been divided into tenement flats. They are not blocks of flats at all, except under a wide usage of the word. I should like to ask the Minister whether he considers that the problem that I put before him is met in the Clause, and, if not, whether he can suggest any way by which it can be met.

4.59 p.m.

Mr. McEntee

The Clause uses the un fortunate word "may." The owner of a building or block of buildings may make provision for shelter for the tenants. There are a number of different kinds of buildings and blocks of buildings which might come under the Clause. There is the type that has been referred to, the old house which has been turned into flats, there is the block of expensive and extensive flats, many of which are around this and other areas in London, and there is the poorer, cheaper type of flats occupied in many parts of East London by very large numbers of people. The owner of any of these blocks may do certain things. What will be the consideration that will induce that owner to take the precaution of providing for his tenants the amount of shelter accommodation that is necessary? Obviously he will only do it if he can see that he will be able to recover from the tenants enough money to repay him and perhaps give a small profit over. That will largely depend on whether the owners of that property are themselves in a position to expend money in the first instance. If they are people who have considerable amounts of capital available they may say that they can afford to use the money now and recover the cost ultimately from the tenants. On the other hand, if the property is old and has been turned into flats, the owner may very easily be comparatively poor and quite unable to expend money upon a shelter. The property may perhaps be in an area where street accommodation is near. The Clause might very easily be made to read: The owners of any building or block of buildings to which this Section applies may by themselves or in conjunction with the local authority prepare a scheme … If you go further and take out the word "may" and insert "shall," then both the owner and the local authority could in conjunction recover from the tenants the amount of money expended. Where the owner is unable to find the capital the local authority might be given power to lend the money necessary. That would make sure that the people living in the property would be provided with the necessary shelter and it would make it obligatory on the local authority and the owner in conjunction to see that air-raid shelter was provided. Frankly I think the Clause as it is now will operate in some cases and not in others. We ought to see that accommodation is actually provided for all the people who need it. It has already been stated that many people will go away to what they consider to be safe places, leaving behind them perhaps tenants without shelter accommodation except where they are reasonably near a public shelter. It would be just as easy and far more satisfactory to make the Clause compulsory.

5.5 p.m.

Dr. Haden Guest

I want to ask the Minister whether the Clause if passed will have the effect of operating in the case of the very large number of buildings which are converted houses, in the London area. I suppose a very large part of Bloomsbury, the whole of Bays-water, and the whole of South Kensington, Earl's Court and some of the outer parts like Hampstead, contain buildings which originally were inhabited by one family and are now cut up into a number of floors. Sometimes there may be accommodation for two groups of people or even half a dozen. Sometimes they are very cheap and sometimes very expensive. In this district immediately around the House of Commons there are towards Victoria some coverted houses in which the rents are extremely high. Will this Clause apply to them? That is an extremely difficult point. It is all very well saying that the landlord "may," but there is very good evidence that there must be some way of making "may" into "must." Unless some form of pres sure can be applied to the landlord by those using the premises a great many landlords will not take any steps at all. It may be said by the Minister that the landlord can at the present time provide any air-raid shelter he likes in respect of his own property. Will he do it? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentle man has seen a letter in this morning's "Daily Telegraph" dealing with this point. It is signed by "Five senior wardens" and they say that there are unfortunate exceptions to the rule that land lords are ready to provide shelters. They go on: Certain landlords of blocks of flats have, despite repeated requests, refused to take any steps whatever to reinforce basements, to supply fire-fighting appliances, or otherwise endeavour to provide for the safety of their tenants and incidentally their own property. In adopting this regrettable attitude they are doubtless taking advantage of the fact that at present local authorities have not and apparently will not have legal powers to compel them to take adequate measures to safeguard life and property. That is a very definite and precise statement and it is said by the authors that it applies to the safety of8,000 people in part of the Royal Borough of Kensington. I am not therefore waving the red flag. This comes from a very eminently respect able part of London. It does indicate that unless there is a possibility of a cer- tain amount of pressure on the landlord there will be very great difficulty in getting some people to provide any accommodation at all.

There is the very important point raised by my hon. Friend who has just spoken about the case of the landlord who has not got the money to provide shelter. There are a good many people in London who take a house with the object of living themselves on one floor rent free and dividing. the rest of the house into flats from which they draw rent, the total probably being just enough to pay their outgoings. How are people of that kind going to deal with the situation? As one goes on with this Bill its difficulties and complexities be come so great that I do not want to press the Minister too hard, but I do hope that he has got some suggestions. At any rate he has been fertile in suggestions, and at a later stage when my hon. Friend and myself come to put an Amendment for ward I hope it will be accepted because I do not think the thing will work unless it is. But, apart from that, how is the question of the provision of shelter in places in which the landlord is not in a financial position to do anything at all, to be met?

5.11 p.m.

Sir S. Cripps

Might I just raise one point? It does seem to me that this Clause is really trying to deal with two quite different problems. There is the problem of the big flat, like Dolphin House, which has been mentioned, with landlords who have plenty of money behind them, perfectly capable of shouldering this burden, but there is other property very extensive in the west of London and West Central which includes perhaps one, two or three houses converted, with a very large number of inhabitants living in single rooms. I live in such a place myself and in the square in which I live are buildings which contain an average number of families of 20, 30 or more. They are let for periods of six or nine months, or a year, and I am not clear whether that sort of premises is intended to be covered. If the Minister does intend to cover them I think some of the terms are hardly applicable.

There are two other points I want to raise. One is in connection with sub-paragraph (9). This seems to me to put it out of the power of the owner to do the work which he very likely may have to do if he wants to make an effective scheme. He may have a basement flat which is let off and the only possibility of doing any effective work as regards an air-raid shelter is to do something in the basement. There is no power of entry for any purpose of that kind in the existing lease. If he does not get a power of entry he will be absolutely powerless unless the tenant consents, and if the tenant does not consent he will be stopping the whole scheme. Secondly, there is the expression "owner" which is defined in the same terms as the owner of a commercial building. On page 69 of the Bill it is stated that "owner" means: Where there is no lease of the whole of the premises or building the unexpired term of which is 10 years or more, the person in whom the fee simple of the premises or building is vested. That leaves entirely out of account that very unpleasant type of man known as the receiver, who is unfortunately found in a great many of this sort of house and is in fact operating as the owner. He is in possession. The owner is bankrupt. The receiver is carrying on the business, very often representing an insurance company from whom money was borrowed in the first instance, and unless something is done to include the receiver in such cases within the expression "owner" I think there will be a great many cases where this will be perfectly useless because the bankrupt owner will be the only person compelled to do anything. You cannot compel a man who has nothing, to spend money on doing something. I suggest that that is a point which must be considered if the new Clause is to be made effective.

5.15 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

A great many points have been raised on this proposal, some of them of a general character and others concerning the details. Let me take one or two of the details first. It was intended that the new Clause should deal not only with large blocks of flats but also with converted houses of the type to which the hon. Member for Islington, North (Dr. Guest) and the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) have referred. We had not particularly in mind the case of apartment houses let in furnished apartments, we were thinking of separate dwellings let unfurnished. The case of the cheaper type normally occupied by working-class people, which the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. McEntee) has in mind, are really outside the new Clause, as I have already explained. That observation also applies to the case brought forward by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson). As I tried to make clear, the Government have been at pains to provide by administrative action some ready means by which shelter can be provided, on the initiative of the local authority, for per sons living in flats or converted houses of the class for which free shelters would be provided if they were living in circum stances suitable for the provision of such shelter. We are really thinking here of the middle class.

It has been said by the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) that the new Clause does not go nearly far enough, and that it is monstrous that we should be content with a Clause which in practice can have only a partial application. I suggest that this is one of the cases in which it may be better to deal with the matter in this way. We have to deal with a very difficult problem with which the Bill in its original form made no attempt to deal, and I should be the last person to contend that the new Clause covers the whole of the ground. I regret that it should be so. I would very much rather be putting for ward a thoroughgoing watertight proposal which I could say represented a complete and wholly satisfactory solution for a particular part or section of our shelter problem. I doubt whether it would have been practicable to proceed in this particular matter on the line of compulsion. We started with compulsion for the owner-occupier of a factory. It was a fairly simple problem. Then we proceeded with the case of the owners of commercial buildings, and we found ourselves confronted with a multiplicity of interests, involving great complexities, and involving difficult administrative problems and heavy burdens on local authorities and also on the central government. Then we came to the varied conditions of flats and converted dwellings. If we were to introduce compulsory powers and substitute "shall." for "may" we should be obliged to have a completely new administrative scheme. It may be no good, I suggest, and I have addressed myself to the problem with every desire to go as far as it was feasible, to put an obligation on an owner to prepare a scheme and submit it to his tenants, and then if a certain proportion of his tenants accept the scheme give him the necessary power to apply the scheme compulsorily. That might not be effective. An owner who was unwilling to act could put up a scheme which would comply with the provisions of such a Clause, but which would have no chance whatever of being accepted by the tenants. If you were to proceed on compulsory lines, with much hope of making what you are seeking to achieve effective, you would have to provide for supervision by some authority. It would have to have the power to lay down conditions to which the scheme must conform, and there would have to be very drastic powers reserved to the authority to lay down the precise terms and conditions to which such schemes must conform under all the varying circumstances which would arise in actual practice. There would have to be elaborate provision for appeal.

When, after consideration of the problem, we came to realise that all these difficulties stood in the way we had to ask ourselves this question: is it reason able to overburden the administration which under the Bill is already heavily burdened with tremendous tasks—that applies not only to the central Department but just as much to local authorities —or is it better, on the contrary, to proceed on the line that we shall never achieve the purpose of the Bill unless we can invoke on a very large scale the good will of the public in carrying out what the Bill contemplates? In all its aspects you must rely primarily on a realisation on the part of the public of what is needed and on their good will in carrying out the necessary arrangements. If that be the true line of approach, then our task in framing this new Clause was to do what we reasonably could to remove the artificial obstacles in the way. We thought we had done that when we had provided that if a majority of the tenants agreed to the landlord's proposal then the minority of unwilling tenants, possibly tenants who had no interest in the premises in time of war, should not stand in the way. The landlords we had in mind were those who had a direct interest in providing adequate shelter, landlords of the better-class luxury flats.

As and when shelter provision becomes more general—and I would remind the House that under the Bill all new blocks of flats will have to contain shelter—the owner of a block of flats or a composite building which does not contain shelter will find himself more and more at an economic disadvantage. We felt there fore that, while we should like to have gone very much further a proposal on the lines of the new Clause would be of real value, probably of increasing value as time went on, and that it was better to be content with such a provision for the time being as a supplement to the very elaborate and rather complex provisions dealing with the more urgent cases already in the Bill than to try and achieve what might very well prove, as an administrative problem, to be impracticable. Those are the reasons why in framing this new Clause we stopped short where we did.

I quite recognise that there might be certain defects in the new Clause which, if the general line of approach is accepted, will have to be remedied. I do not think we shall be able to find a convenient remedy for the defect which the hon. and learned Member found in Sub-section (9). It is true that as the new Clause is drawn an owner cannot convert the basement part of a building into a shelter for all the occupants of the building unless it happens to be under his control or unless he can induce the tenant to place it at his disposal. There is, of course, always the possibility that a local authority might consider that such a basement was really suitable as a shelter and might appropriately be designated under Clause 2 for the purpose of a public shelter. The existence of that possibility might render the tenant of such a basement rather more amenable if a reasonable proposition was put to him, but I quite recognise that it may be represented as a defect in the Bill. It was suggested by the hon. and learned Member that the new Clause would be in all probability quite useless in a proportion of the cases in which the effective owner is a receiver. That may be so, but I suggest that there will be many cases in which the new Clause will be of use.

Sir S. Crippe:

Has the right hon. Gentleman any objection to having "receiver" added to the definition of "owner"?

Sir J. Anderson

I am prepared to see what can be done in that matter without introducing complications. In conclusion, I can only submit to the House that we have done our best. What we have achieved certainly is not perfection, but I think the Clause will have value and that its value will be increased as time goes on and the provision of shelter becomes more and more general.

Mr. Markham

I should like my right hon. Friend to clear up one point on the question as to what is a large block of flats. As I understand his explanation, the Clause will not apply to blocks of flats of less than 10 or 20 flats in a single block, and it will not apply to a divided house that is let in separate flats.

Sir J. Anderson

I said that the Clause is so drawn that it will deal with a large block of flats and with a divided house, but I did say that we had not had in mind the particular case mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) of a house let in separate furnished apartments.

5.32 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 2, after "applies," to insert: "shall if so required by more than, one-half in number of the occupiers of the separate parts of the building or block and in any other case. The effect of this Amendment would be to give the occupiers as well as the owner some initiative in the matter of providing shelter. As the Clause stands, if the owner does not move, the occupiers are left without shelter, although all of them may be willing to incur the necessary expense in which this Clause would involve them if a shelter were provided. Inasmuch as it would be the occupiers' lives that would be at stake if the building were damaged in the course of a hostile air attack, it would appear to me to be desirable that the occupiers should have some opportunity of expressing their opinion as to whether the owner should provide the necessary shelter. It is difficult to understand why the Minister has not intimated his willingness to accept the Amendment, because it has already received the support of one hon. Member behind him who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to a Minister, and, therefore, is understood to be a person of some experience in these matters, and who represents the districts in which very large numbers of these middle-class flats have been erected. I imagine that he finds that a very considerable proportion of his electorate lives in such flats.

There is the case of what were formerly large country houses that one finds in such places as Streatham and other suburbs of London, where the owner is generally a person living many miles away, who has no direct interest in making the place secure for these purposes, but whose tenants may be exceedingly anxious that their lives should be protected in the event of air attack. Early this afternoon, I was approached in the Lobby by one of the signatories to the letter to the Press to which my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) has alluded. These five senior wardens appear to be gentlemen who have given a very great amount of their time, in one of the London suburbs, to the problem of finding out what effective shelter will be available to the dwellers in these large blocks of flats. They have found to their astonishment that the owners are not proposing to do anything; they say frankly that they do not think the Minister's Clause will induce the owners to do anything, and that the occupiers are expressing great perturbation about the position in which they find themselves. These five gentlemen wrote: "In the areas for which we are responsible, which are typical of many areas in London and other parts of the country, there are blocks of flats in which the number of residents is far in excess of the number of employés mentioned with regard to commercial buildings, but for whom apparently no protection can be required. The tenant is powerless in the matter, and generally cannot afford to move to other premises so long as his existing lease continues. We are unable to appreciate the reason for this distinction between commercial premises, which are mainly occupied in the day time only, and residential premises, which may be, and often are, occupied throughout the 24 hours, and consider that it is of equal importance that provision should be made for safeguarding the lives of persons who may be, by circumstances, compelled to live in large buildings, and who in many cases are aged and infirm. Our practical experience leads us to the conclusion that the Civil Defence Bill is seriously defective in the respect which we have mentioned, and we regard it as being of the utmost importance that this defect should be remedied while there is still time. That is the opinion of five men who are giving their spare time to the preparation of the civil population for adequate defence in the event of war. They are operating in an area where a great proportion of the population live in blocks of flats or houses that have been divided up. I ask the Minister whether it is not right that there should be this power given to the tenants so that they can compel the owner to do something. There is the case where the owner is a limited company. I understand that most of the big blocks of flats in London are owned by limited companies. There is also the case of houses similar to that in which I live, which is a large house divided into nine flats, in one of which the owner resides; he has to share with the rest of us any risks that may be run. But we all know that a limited company has not a body that can be kicked, or a soul that can be appropriately punished in the next world; and neither, as far as I can make out, has it any corporate entity that can be gravely endangered if its property is bombed by hostile aircraft. In those cases, it is necessary that the unfortunate tenants should have an opportunity of making their wishes known and making them effective. They would not impose any cost on the owner that he could not recover under the Clause. All that they could do, if the Amendment were accepted, would be to compel the owner to take the necessary steps to make reasonable provision for them.

I suggest to the Lord Privy Seal that there are limits to the doctrine which he has stated this afternoon, that we must proceed by general consent as far as we can. After all, if we proceeded on those principles, there would be no need to publish more than the Ten Commandments. If only everybody would observe the Ten Commandments, the greater part of the work of the House would be entirely unnecessary. It is due to the fact that people do not adopt that attitude towards the affairs of themselves and their neighbours that we have to bring in the compulsion of the civil law to rein force the moral precepts which, in general, most people are willing to accept until they have to apply them to their own particular difficulties. Every one who goes to church and listens to a sermon realises how well it fits everybody else, arid goes away thinking what an uncomfortable time somebody else must have had, when very likely, if the parson knows the people at all, he has been thinking more of the person who distributes the sermon in that way than of the people to whom it has been distributed.

I ask the Minister to realise that in this matter these tenants are quite defenceless unless he is prepared to give them the power of initiative for which I am asking. The local authority has no power to compel the owner to make the provision and the right hon. Gentleman himself will not give these people shelters, and if he did, they would have no place on which to put the shelters. Their only chance of getting adequate protection is that the landlord should make the provision. If he declines, as the Clause is worded, these people will have no remedy. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that something very much more convincing than what he said just now will have to be said before he will be able to persuade these people that he is adequately looking after them in this matter. I wish we could get back the feeling that we had last September and last March. In September, while the crisis was at its height, I had occasion to go across London by road as far as Edmonton in North London, on the Sunday evening when everybody was streaming into the schools and public buildings to get gas masks. That was at the moment when people thought the danger was very imminent. When people are in that frame of mind they are prepared, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, to put up with a good many things which two or three years ago they would not have regarded as being things which the Government ought to ask them to undergo.

The case for this Bill is that we shall get back to that position again, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) said yesterday, there are people who can fix the date when we shall next be in that position; but when we get into it, it will be too late to attempt to operate a Clause of this sort. The provision to be made under the Clause is of a kind that requires adequate planning beforehand and some considerable time for construction, and unless we take steps now that will enable the necessary shelter to be provided, when the next crisis comes we shall find our selves as unprovided for as in September and March last. For these reasons, I hope the Lord Privy Seal will see his way to accept the Amendment and give these people an opportunity of doing something to help themselves. They are, in the main, the kind of people who, if they are given the power of initiative, are capable of using it. In many of the large blocks of flats there are now residents' associations and similar corporate bodies in which the residents can get together, and which afford them an opportunity of making the necessary representations to the owners. I beseech the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the large number of people in London and other large towns who are now affected by this mode of living, to accept this Clause so that they may have some power of assisting them selves in those cases where the landlord has not shown, and is unlikely to show, any readiness to meet them

5.45 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

I have had put into my hands within the last few minutes an Amendment which is not upon the Order Paper but which I presume it would be the intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite to move if the Amendment which we are now discussing were adopted. May I ask whether that is so?

Mr. H. Morrison

We propose to move it in either case, whether this one is adopted or not, if we are permitted to do so.

Sir J. Anderson

I feel in something of a difficulty because I do not believe there is any difference in purpose or intention between my colleagues and myself and hon. Gentlemen opposite. If it were the view of those who have had experience in the matter that modifying the procedure contemplated by the Clause to the extent which is suggested in the Amendment which has been moved, and possibly in the further Amendment to which I have just referred, without going any further, would have a useful moral effect in stimulating action, I should be extremely reluctant to put my own more limited experience against theirs. I say that frankly. What I am apprehensive of is that we might find ourselves involved in a great new administrative procedure which added to the obligations already in the Bill and involved a risk of something approaching a breakdown. But I can see the argument for giving the initiative to the tenants, because it would bring the landlord up to their fence, at any rate, and would compel the landlord to go through the motions of producing a scheme and expose him to a certain amount of obloquy should he produce a scheme that is merely derisory. If I am correctly interpreting the views of hon. Members opposite, and that is what they have in contemplation, then I should be disposed to accept the Amendments, subject to possible reconsideration in another place.

5.49 p.m.

Dr. Guest

The right hon. Gentleman put the view that it was perhaps a question of bringing a landlord up to the fence, but that difficulty may arise not necessarily because he is immoral or not desirous of doing his duty, but because he is absent, or not get-at-able. Yesterday I had occasion, in another connection, to bring before the Committee some observations upon the difficulties which local authorities have in actually tracing an owner of property, and if they have a difficulty in tracing an owner it may also be very difficult for an owner to be got at by his tenants. In many cases property may be owned by a company, which is difficult to get at, or it may be administered by trustees, and the trustees may not be able to get at the owner. Further, there is the absent owner to be taken into account, the man who does not attend to his property, who cannot be got at, and is, perhaps, very careless. There are a large number of such owners. Some time ago I was living in a flat in a property which was administered by a trustee, and when it was necessary to get the consent of the owner to some alterations which were desired it was extremely difficult to get at the owner, because he was absent from the country and could not be communicated with. There is also the further case, mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), where property may be in the hands of a receiver.

It is not so much a question of pressure being put upon certain landlords as of giving the initiative in the matter to the tenants in cases where the owner does not take the initiative. If the owner does not take the initiative because he is away, or is careless, or out of the country altogether, or if it is the case of a trustee who does not regard his trust sufficiently seriously, unless there is the possibility of the tenants taking the initiative we shall get nothing done. As regards what the Lord Privy Seal said about the prospect of introducing big administrative machinery, the fact that the initiative is in the hands of the tenants will not make the position any different from what it would be if the initiative were in the hands of the landlord, and it does seem to be reasonable, not only from the point of view of applying compulsion, but from the point of view of getting a move on at all in certain cases, for the initiative to be in the hands of the tenants. I hope the Lord Privy Seal will agree either to the exact form of words or something similar.

5.52 p.m.

Sir Robert Tasker

The Mover of the Amendment said the tenants who exercised these rights would pay their proportion of the costs, but in the Clause we are putting a certain number of tenants—one-half or more than one-half —in the position of being able to have this work undertaken and to require the other tenants, who may not want it, to contribute to the cost.

Mr. Ede

If the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (5) of the new Clause we are discussing he will find that if the same proportion agree they become chargeable with the cost.

Sir R. Tasker

But it may be a question of the owner only receiving as his fee simple a fee farm rent, or a perpetual rent, which means the rent can never be increased.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. H. Morrison

There is a provision in the Clause which we are not disturbing whereby the owner can recover 'by annual payments the capital expenditure involved. But I rise really to express our thanks to the Lord Privy Seal for accepting this Amendment and for his intimation that he will accept the further manuscript Amendment which I shall move at the proper stage. I recognise that there may have to be some little tidying-up for legal purposes, but we had here a real problem, about which we felt gravely worried in the interests of a very large number of people of the middle class and even well-to-do people, who had no reasonable protection, and we are very much obliged to the Lord Privy Seal for the sympathetic consideration he has given to the case

5.55 p.m.

Mr. Charles Williams

This Amendment does not affect me in any way, but I am rather interested in the point with which it is dealing. When he accepted the Amendment the Minister did not give us many reasons for doing so, and what I am not sure about is who is to put it into operation. Supposing 50 percent, of the tenants wish for this work to be under taken, what powers have they of seeing that it is done? That is a question which ought to be answered. Further, why should 51 percent, of the tenants in a particular block of flats have conferred upon them the power to lay a tax upon the remaining 49 percent, of the tenants? The work is done and the cost of it is distributed among all. We are dealing here with an Amendment the terms of which may prove to be very wide. Personally, I do not like the wording of it, and we have had no legal opinion on the matter. We may be going very much further than we realise at the present time if we are going to give powers which will enable a section of the tenants in a block of flats who want certain amenities to have them provided and then to distribute the cost over the whole of the tenants in the flats, whether the others wanted those amenities or not.

Sir S. Cripps

Surely the hon. Member appreciates that at the present moment the landlord can do it even if all the tenants dislike it.

Mr. Williams

Yes, but the landlord is letting his property. It is like a lawyer making his charge—he is giving them something for the money. I am thinking of a case where there are 100 people in a block of flats and 59 vote for this work to be done and the others do not want it to be done. Of course, the landlord can do it, just as he can put in electric light or anything else. Still, I am obliged to my hon. and learned Friend for his intervention. Recently he came to my help in my own division—not intentionally but in a roundabout way. I hope the point I have raised will receive some further consideration and that the Minister, even if he accepts the Amendment, will look very carefully at the wording of it.

5.57 P.m.

Mr. Spens

I have had the advantage of seeing the manuscript Amendment which is going to be moved, and while I hope that hon. Members opposite will realise that I am very much in sympathy with what is behind these Amendments, I think it is my duty to point out that a very practical difficulty is involved. The result of accepting these Amendments would be that the majority of tenants in a block of flats would be put in a position to compel the owner to prepare a scheme and to complete the work, and the owner is then to have the rights to recover the money from those tenants who happen to remain in possession over a period of 10 years, however much the area is bombed or not bombed. A great number of the owners of these properties are, in fact, trustees, and they have no funds what ever which they are authorised to expend upon a substantial capital improvement of this description, and what these Amendments do is to compel people reduced to a position like that to find money for the purpose personally, because they can find no trust money to do the work and have to take the chance of being able to re cover it hereafter from the tenants. As the Clause was drafted it was left to be a matter of agreement, of the owner coming to a bargain with the tenants, but the moment we make it compulsory owners have go to find the money and take the chance of getting it back. I suggest that a big crop of legal difficulties is being created.

Sir P. Harmon

On a point of Order. I think the House is somewhat confused as to its position. The hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) is afraid of an Amendment which is about to be submitted which we have not seen. We ought to know something about the next Amendment before we really discuss it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)

There is certainly an inconvenience in hon. Members not having before them the terms of an Amendment which has been referred to, and I have had the advantage of reading it, and I can assure the House that both Amendments deal with the same point, or that in my opinion there is no reason why the House should not proceed with and come to a decision on the Amendment now before the House.

Sir I. Albery

The point I was going to raise was approximately the same, that we are dealing at the present moment with an Amendment that is not on the Paper.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The reference which was made by the hon. and learned Member just now to a manuscript Amendment was not strictly in order, and it is quite clear that we are not discussing it at the moment. It is out of order to make any further reference to the manuscript Amendment.

Mr. Spens

There is very little in the Amendment now under discussion except that owners should prepare a scheme, but under the forthcoming Amendment, I am compelled to point out, they will have to build and to spend money, and that is a very different matter.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That Amendment will come on at a later stage.

Sir I. Albery

I do not think that you quite understood what I said. I was referring to an Amendment which I under stood was still before the House. I rather gathered that the Lord Privy Seal had indicated that he was prepared to accept this Amendment in view of another Amendment subsequently to be submitted and which is not upon the Order Paper.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No, I think that is not so. The House must take it that we are dealing with one particular Amendment. I will do my best to see that the Debate is kept to the amendment to the proposed Amendment, now before the House.

Sir I. Albery

I still have not been able to explain the one point which I wished to bring to your notice. A manuscript Amendment has been handed in by Members of the Opposition and seen by the Lord Privy Seal and the hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens). We have been led to believe that the seeing of that Amendment has an influence on the decision to which the House will come upon the Amendment under discussion. In the circumstances I suggest it is desirable that the Amendment should be read out, so that hon. Members may be aware of its contents before we part with this Amendment. In ordinary circum stances it would be upon the Paper. I am really only asking that we should be put into the same position.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

For the convenience of certain Members of the House I shall be very glad to read out the terms of the manuscript Amendment, but I must ask that the House proceed after that with the Question which is now before it. The manuscript Amendment referred to is: In line 21, to leave out from the beginning to "on" in line 23, and to insert: Unless the occupiers of more than one half in number of separate parts of the building or block (other than parts thereof which are in the occupation of the owner of the building or block) dissent from the scheme, then the owner shall complete the same and.

Amendment agreed to. 6.5 p.m.

Mr. Duncan

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 7, at the end, to insert: not being a building or block constructed by a local authority under the enactments relating to housing, or a building or block of buildings in connection with the construction of which assistance was given by a local authority under those Acts, Since listening to the discussion I confess that my Amendment seems not so apt in its wording as I imagined it would be when I put it upon the Paper. I understood that the Clause was only to cover a block of flats and not converted houses. The Amendment was designed on the lines that blocks of flats only were covered by the Clause. None the less, I want to put the point, in the hope that my right hon. Friend will consider what is involved and, if the principle of the Amendment is accepted, will put in at a later stage what words are necessary.

The position is that under the Clause as it stands an owner, whether that be the local authority, a housing association or a housing trust, comes under the Clause. As the Clause read until a moment ago, if more than half of the tenants chose to go in for the scheme there would be a scheme, and as a result of that scheme the rest of the tenants would come in. The tenants of blocks of flats and buildings built under enactments relating to housing, in connection with the construction of which assistance was given by local authorities under the Housing Acts, may have tenants which are in the same position financially as tenants of houses who get what are commonly called the Anderson shelters, and tenants of three and four-storey tenement houses, for whom provision is now being made for the structural protection of basements— if there are basements.

I want to make it clear that neither a local authority, nor a housing association nor anybody else in the position of owner of those houses or blocks of buildings, will be in a position to quote this Bill and avoid the obligations to provide protection for their tenants. I understand that local authorities provide the Anderson shelters by administrative action under the 1937 Act free, and are receiving grants from the Government. I want the same position to obtain in the provision of shelters for blocks of working-class flats. I move the Amendment to make it clear to the local authorities and the tenants of the flats as well as to the owners whoever they may be, that they must come under the administrative scheme of the Minister and not take refuge under this Clause of the Bill.

Mr. Spens

I beg to second the Amendment.

6.10 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

I explained on the Second Reading of the Clause that it was not designed to deal with the case of ordinary working-class flats; and that being so, and the structure of the Clause being in several respects clearly inappropriate to that case I should be inclined to suggest that an Amendment on the lines proposed is not necessary and that its inclusion might lead to misunderstanding. There may be border line cases which would bring into question a block of ordinary working-class flats, built maybe with some assistance from the local authorities, in which case, as the Amendment stands the building would be disqualified from the operation of the Clause. It seems to me that a provision on these lines would not really serve any useful purpose.

6.11 p.m.

Sir R. Tasker

May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? On the Second Reading of the Bill I put forward a case relating to blocks of flats built for the occupation of ex-service men. It seems to me that in the present discussion we are getting into a muddle because we are differentiating between one kind and type of building and another kind and type of building. In one type the Government are to give a grant and to another type they are proposing to deny a grant. If the great municipal authority with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) is associated puts up dwellings the Government will give a grant, but if dwellings are provided by a private individual or an association of private individuals, performing a great and beneficent act by erecting dwellings at uneconomic rents for ex-service men who were broken during the War, there is to be no contribution or grant.

I am not putting a hypothetical, but an actual case, that of the Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions for ex-service men in Fulham. When I asked a question as to whether a grant would be forthcoming for shelters in this case, the Lord Privy Seal answered that the construction of shelters for tenants would not come out of capital; it must therefore be assumed it came out of revenue, but the revenue is absorbed and those who determine the end should devise and provide the means to accomplish the design. I wish to pay a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's Department in regard to what happened. When I followed this matter up my right hon. Friend, through the Home Office, very kindly directed one of his technical experts to come down to Fulham and visit the buildings. As a result, we received a suggestion that we should build a wall along the front of the building, almost entombing the tenants on the ground floor, but complete silence about a grant. Why should this House give a grant for shelters to people who are housed by the municipality and not to people who have suffered for their country and who are now almost totally incapacitated and can never recover? You cannot accomplish these ideals which are in the sky by putting your hands in the till if the till is empty. The Government are giving a grant in one case and denying it in another. Why can they not give equal treatment all round? These Amendments mean that the owner can do as he likes, provided he does what he is told to do by his tenants.

Mr. Duncan

In view of the statement of my right hon. Friend on the Second Reading of the Bill, in which he said that administratively a block of flats will be treated in the same way in the provision of Anderson shelters, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. H. Morrison

I beg to move, as art Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 21, to leave out from the beginning to "on" in line 23, and to insert: Unless the occupiers of more than one-half in number of the separate parts of the building or block (other than parts thereof which are in the occupation of the owner of the building or block) dissent from the scheme, then the owner shall complete the same and. The purpose of this Amendment is very simple. The Clause as it stands on the Order Paper provides that, if 50 per cent, or more of the occupiers indicate their willingness to contribute to and take part in a scheme of shelter prepared by the owner, the owner may proceed. It is thought that, in the light of the observations I made on the Second Reading of the Clause, that is not quite good enough, and that the position should be that the owner should be required to proceed, as he will be under the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), not if 50 per cent, or more indicate their wish that he should, but unless more than one-half of the occupiers of the separate parts of the building consent. This constructional work will be of great importance, and, while one would prefer that consent should not be required at all, and that there should be a direct obligation on the owner in any case, we feel that the Amendment will improve the Clause, and I am glad to know, from the intimation of the Lord Privy Seal, that the Government will be willing to accept it. I fully appreciate, of course, that some tidying up may be required, and that the Government may have to promote further Amendments in order to make the Clause a coherent whole and, in particular, to tidy up the operative parts of the Clause. In the meantime, I desire to express my appreciation of the Lord Privy Seal's cooperation with us in the matter, subject to the understanding that further Amendments will be promoted in another place.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Spens

I venture to emphasise again the fact that the important words in this Amendment are: the owner shall complete. These words are not included in the Clause on the Paper. So far as that is concerned, the obligation on the owner is to prepare a scheme, and, if more than 50 per cent, of the tenants consent to it, then, if the owner completes it, he is entitled to spread the cost over the tenants and get his money back. But that obviously leaves open the case referred to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, where the owner has not the money wherewith to do the work. These very important works are forcing an obligation on individuals, whoever they happen to be and in whatever capacity they happen to be the owners of premises, to do the work themselves and take the chance of getting their money back. I gave the instance of trustees, and another actual case is that of a trustee in bankruptcy. These words will force upon people such as that to find the money to do the work and take the chance of getting it back. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has recognised that further Amendments will be necessary, and it is only on that understanding that I can see my way to consent to this Amendment at all. On the understanding, however, that these points will somehow or other be dealt with in another place so as to protect the individual in such cases as I have indicated, I do not propose to detain the House further on the matter.

Amendment agreed to.


Mr. R. Morgan

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 44, to leave out "one-tenth," and to insert "one-seventh."

The object of this Amendment is very simple. Seven years or some multiple of seven years is a normal term for leases, and I cannot understand why the Lord Privy Seal in this case should choose a period of 10 years. What would happen in the case of a tenant who has a lease for seven years and who leaves at the end of the seven years? The liability in respect of the last three years would render it necessary for the incoming tenant to pay so high a price that it would be almost impossible for him to pay an economic rent. It does not seem to me that in any case the cost of the works would be so large that it could not be met in seven years.


Sir Patrick Hannon

I beg to second the Amendment.

As my hon. Friend has said, except in the City of London, seven years is the normal term for a lease. I do not know how far leases in the City of London extend to 10 years, but this period of 10 years would make it very difficult for owners to give the fullest co-operation with the Lord Privy Seal in carrying out great schemes affecting property, and it seems to me that a seven-year period would be much better. Great embarrassment would be caused to the owner when the ordinary period of seven years terminates, leaving a further three years' compensatory period still to run. It is difficult to understand the reason for choosing a period of 10 years, and I would ask my right hon. Friend to consider the point of view which has been put to him and see whether he could not make the period seven years instead of 10 years.

6.23 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

The period of 10 years is admittedly quite arbitrary. It has no relation to the assumed prevalence of a period of seven years for leases, or to leases of any other period. We have to provide that the landlord shall be able to recover his expenses from his tenants, just as is the case in another part of the Bill which deals with commercial buildings, and it seemed to us that 10 years was a reasonable period, balancing the interest. of the landlord against the interest of the tenant, over which to spread the repayment. The fact that a large proportion of leases may be for seven years was represented to me while the Clause was under discussion earlier, but I confess that it seemed to me to be quite irrelevant, because, if the average term of a lease is seven years, the average outstanding period of current leases will not be seven years, but presumably something near three and a-half years. The position of the owner after the lease has expired is that he is free to obtain, by the play of the market, whatever rent he can from a new incoming tenant, and, on the view that the provision of air-raid shelters will in course of time enhance the value of buildings in the eyes of prospective tenants, it seemed to the Government to be not unfair to leave the landlord, in respect of leases which may have expired during the period of 10 years, to recover the balance of the amount due to him in respect of a particular portion of the building as best he can.

Mr. C. Williams

I would ask the Minister whether he could not accept this Amendment. The longer the period over which the repayment is spread, the greater is the advantage to the actual tenants, and some of them may escape a good deal of the payment. The Minister's argument that in the case of a lease for seven years the average outstanding period would be three years, or whatever it may be, is really the exact case for supporting the proposal that the period should not be so long as 10 years, and that seven years is certainly long enough. Surely the people who are going to get the advantage of this work should pay for it in a shorter period, so that it may be certain that they will pay their fair share. Moreover, it may be that in a few years' time we shall have a Government in power that will not want any of these things, and then this burden will fall on the public. I have always been an optimist, and I refuse to believe it is not possible that such a time may come, though I admit that there are very grave dangers at present. I think, however, that the Minister might on this occasion accept an Amendment put forward by his own supporters, seeing that he has been so kind to the Opposition in accepting Amendments of theirs alter very little argument. Surely, having done that, he might meet us in some way.

6.30 p.m.

Sir Herbert Williams

I also would appeal to the Minister to reconsider this. He pointed out, with truth, that there is no theoretically perfect period, because leases are always running out; but, within limits, the shorter the period the better. Little or no efforts have been made up to now to accord protection to people in my position— I speak as a tenant—and the reason is obvious. In most cases the companies concerned have very small liquid assets, and their uncertainties are very great. If the period is as long as 10 years, they know that they will never recover the expenditure from the tenants, because the possibility of evacuation is going to create a surplus of accommodation. Therefore, there is not the slightest chance that, on the renewal of leases which run out, the landlord will recover the old rent plus what I might call the A.R.P. rent. The Minister may in a few months' time find, with the Act on the Statute Book, that there is virtually a sit- down strike; that the work will not be done, not because these people do not want to do it but because they cannot.

6.32 p.m.

Mr. Naylor

The owners of property seem to have a large number of defenders in this Debate. It is suggested that they are in a very bad financial position in regard to the rent they are able to charge. I am pleased to find the Minister, for once, proving himself superior to the appeals made to him by his own supporters. I trust that he will not reconsider the attitude he has already taken. One would suppose that owners of property have no reserves of capital. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has just stated that they would not be able to find the capital to provide these additions, and that they probably would not be able to conform to the terms of the Act. We know that landlords have always complained of the insufficiency of their returns, yet there is no safer investment for capital than houses, and no investment which yields higher average returns.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. McEntee

The owner's interest is not the only consideration in regard to this period, but I suggest that the owner himself would be better served if the period were 10 years than if it were seven. It has been argued by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) that the amount which would be added when a new lease began would be so great that the landlord would not be able to recover it from the tenant. Is not that an argument against the Amendment? Would not the amount of the repayments be less if the period were 10 years than if it were seven years? The lower rent would be more likely to attract a tenant. The tenant also should be considered. In many cases he would not be a very rich man, and the longer period would enable him to pay a lower rent. The Minister put forward a perfectly sound argument, and I think the House would be well advised to accept the longer period.

6.36 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to say a word on this matter. I am sure it would not be the wish of the House that we should consider this matter on the basis of landlords versus tenants. It is not a question of protecting one against the other, but of trying to achieve a balance in fairness to both. That is important, not only on the ground of abstract justice. It is evident that, if the terms imposed on landlords are felt by them to be unfair, the Clause will not be worked by them with the same enthusiasm as it should be, and the effect will be that there will be a lack of shelters. My right hon. Friend has already told the House that an alteration of the period at this stage would cause an anomaly as between the period for commercial buildings and the period for a factory occupied on a short lease. Therefore, I would ask my hon. Friends not to press the Amendment at this stage. But, at the same time, my right hon. Friend has asked me to say that, as the manuscript Amendments which he has accepted at very short notice will require to be examined, in order to see how the substance of them can be fitted in, he will undertake to give this matter consideration at the same time.


Mr. C. Williams

My right hon. Friend says that an anomaly would be created in respect of these buildings and factory buildings if the period were altered to seven years. That is so; but, after all, the 10 years is for a factory, which is an earning thing, and the position of the ordinary tenant of these flats is very different. Would he give full weight to the fact that the difference is there, and that it is a very wide difference; and also that in the case of a factory there is a likelihood of the same tenant being there for a very long time and the payment going on, whereas the Lord Privy Seal has himself pointed out the likelihood of the tenancy of one of these flats changing at least once in 10 years?


Mr. R. C. Morrison

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider that, in another part of the Bill, there is provision for local authorities to advance money to enable small householders to erect shelters for themselves, and that this is on a basis of 10 years' repayment?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

With regard to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), we shall bear that consideration in mind; but I would point out that the 10 years for a factory also applies where there is only a short period for the lease to run.. With regard to what the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison) has said, that reinforces my argument that we should not disturb this period. I hope that, in view of my assurance, my hon. Friends will not press the Amendment.

Sir R. Tasker

Will my right hon. Friend also take into consideration the case of the trustee who enjoys an income not for his own benefit but which he has to disperse among the beneficiaries, in accordance with the terms of the trusteeship?

6.41 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I welcome the fact that the Government at this stage are not accepting this Amendment, but I should not like them to think that we regard the position under this Clause in this respect as altered by the Amendments which my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison.) and I moved earlier this afternoon. We have acted on the assumption throughout that it was intended that this Clause should work. All we have tried to do is to provide machinery to achieve what we understood it was the object of the Government should be achieved. We did not think that this was a mere piece of window-dressing, put in in the belief that it would never get beyond the window-dressing stage. Throughout the Bill 10 years is the period provided for these repayments, and we should require far stronger arguments than have been adduced by the supporters of the Amendment or by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to be convinced that alterations made elsewhere would justify the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.43 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 53, to leave out Sub-section (9).

On the last occasion when I questioned the Lord Privy Seal I found the Government Front Bench exceedingly reasonable, and I regret the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy has just remarked to his right hon. Friend, "I will deal with this." We are very anxious to find out what the significance of this Sub-section is. It may operate in a great many cases to prevent all efforts to ensure that shelters shall be provided for these persons by the owners, from being effective. Take the kind of cases mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) and my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson), where you have one of these old houses which has some waste land, which was at one time a garden, possibly the land in front of the coach house and stables, which is let to one or other of the tenants. Sometimes the tenants have the joint use of such land. In other cases—in the block of flats where I live, for instance—the old kitchen garden has been, to a considerable extent, let off to a market gardener; and I imagine the owner has no right of access to this land, and, as the law stands at present, could be prevented from going on it for the purpose of carrying on any works.

We envisaged a state of affairs in which this provision is to be made for the safety of the lives and limbs of the tenants. We are exceedingly anxious that the Clause shall be worked, and that the owner, having this piece of land at the side of the house, shall be in a position to go upon it and carry out any reasonable and necessary scheme. We do not want him to be provided with the answer, "It is true that the land is there, but, although it is a sensible place upon which to make provision, owing to the working of Sub-section (9), I am relieved of the responsibility of providing for this shelter, because I have parted with the power to go on to the land." I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that that position is a simple one to explain to us, and we would like to know exactly the significance of this Sub-section as viewed by the Government.

6.46 p.m.

Mr. W, S. Morrison

I hope that the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) did not detect anything amusing in the tone with which I informed my right hon. Friend that I would attempt to deal with his manuscript Amendment, but it was the fact that I had early notice of it at the time it was handed in. The explanation I should give to the hon. Member about this depends upon the understanding, in the first place, of what was the general scheme of this Clause. It was a voluntary scheme. All the arrangements which it contemplates were to be the result of agreement between the landlord and the tenants, and between the majority of the tenants themselves. It was not framed in that way upon any compulsory basis at all. You have to proceed on either one or the other of these two lines. It is either to be compulsory in the full sense, in which case you have to have some supervising authority to see that the works are up to standard, and you have to have a number of consequential provisions for compensation for the exercise of compulsory powers, and none of these things find a place in this Clause. All along, what was contemplated was that the landlord in the proper case should use the facilities which he has at his disposal for providing shelter for his tenants.

This particular Sub-section which has attracted the attack of the hon. Member for South Shields is one of purely a declaratory nature. Its omission, as his Amendment suggests, would, in reality, make no difference to the legal position of the parties as defined in the rest of the Clause, but it would leave these parties perhaps in some doubt as to their position, and force them to have recourse to lawyers, and may be to the courts, in order to find out the actual position. [An Hon. Member: "The lawyers would not object."] I do not know that they would. "Live and let live" is a very good motto in every set of circumstances. But that is the answer to this Amendment. It is to make clear the position of the law, and its abstraction would merely make the position obscure, and I hope that for that reason the hon. Member will not persist in it.

Mr. Speaker

Does the hon. Member wish to withdraw the Amendment?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Clause."

The House divided: Ayes, 228; Noes, 125.

Division No. 168.] AYES. [3.58 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Campbell, Sir E. T. Dodd, J. S.
Albery, Sir Irving Cartland, J. R. H. Doland, G. F.
Allen, Col. J. Sandemen (B'knhead) Cary, R. A. Donner, P. W.
Anderson, R(. Hn. Sir J. (Se'h Univ's) Castlereagh, Viscount Drewe, C.
Assheton, R. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Duggan, H. J.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Duncan, J. A. L.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Channon, H. Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Ellis, Sir G.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Emmott, C. E. G. C.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Clarry, Sir Reginald Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Beechman, N. A. Colfox, Major Sir W. P. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Bennett, Sir E. N. Colman, N. C. D. Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)
Bernays, R. H. Colville, Rt. Hon. John Everard, Sir William Lindsay
Bird, Sir R. B. Conant, Captain R. J. E. Findlay, Sir E.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk. N.) Fleming, E. L.
Bossom, A. C. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Foot, D. M.
Boulton, W. W. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Furness, S. N.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Gledhill, G.
Brass, Sir W. Cox, H. B. Trevor Gluckstein, L. H.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Craven-Ellis, W. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Brown, Brig-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.
Bullock, Capt. M. Crowder, J. F. E. Gridley Sir A. B.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Culverwell, C. T. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Burton, Col. H. W. Davison, Sir W. H. Grigg, Sir E. W. M.
Butcher, H. W. De la Bėre, R. Grimston, R. V.
Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J, R. J. Salt, E. W.
Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Macquisten, F. A. Salter, Sir J. Arthur (Oxford U.)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Magnay, T. Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Hambro, A. V. Maitland, Sir Adam Sandys, E. D.
Hannah, I. C. Making, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Mander, G. le M. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Harbord, Sir A. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Harris, Sir P. A. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Markham, S. F. Smithers, Sir W.
Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Snadden, W. McN.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Medlicott, F. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)
Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Hepworth, J. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Spens. W. P.
Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Herbert, Lt.Col. J. A. (Monmouth) Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Higgs, W. F. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Storey, S.
Holdsworth, H. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ,s.) Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Holmes, J. S. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Hopkinson, A. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Strickland, Captain W. F
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N, J. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Hume, Sir G. H. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Hunloke, H. P. Owen, Major G. Thomas, J. P. L.
Hunter, T. Palmer, G. E. H. Touche, G. C.
Hutchinson, G. C. Patrick, C. M. Train, Sir J.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Peaks, O. Tree, A. R. L. F.
James, Wing-commander A. W. H. Perkins, W. R. D. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Jennings, R. Peters, Dr. S. J. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R, L.
Joel, D. J. B. Petherick, M. Turton, R. H.
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wakefield, W. W.
Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Pilkington, R. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Evan
Keeling, E. H. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Ward, Lieut.Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.) Radford, E. A. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Kimball, L. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Warrender, Sir V.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.) Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Leech, Sir J. W. Rawson, Sir Cooper Wells, Sir Sydney
Lees-Jones, J. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Levy, T. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Lewis, O. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Liddall, W. S. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Lipson, D. L. Rosbotham, Sir T. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Little, J. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lloyd, G. W. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Locker-Lampson, Comdr. D. S. Rowlands, G. Wragg, H.
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A, C.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel sir E. A. York, C.
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Russell, Sir Alexander Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
McKie, J. H. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) TELLERS FOR THE AYES AYES.—
Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Salmon, Sir I. Captain Dugdale and Mr. Munro.
Adams, D. (Consett) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kirby, B. V.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H Kirkwood, D.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Frankel, D. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Adamson, W. M. Gallacher, W. Lathan, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Gardner, B. W. Lawson, J. J.
Banfield, J. W. Garro Jones, G. M. Leach, W.
Barnes, A. J. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Lee, F.
Barr. J. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Leslie, J. R.
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Logan, D. G.
Bellenger, F. J. Grenfell, D. R. Lunn, W.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Benson, G. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) McEntee, V. La T.
Burke, W. A. Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) McGhee, H. G.
Cape, T. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Maclean, N.
Charleton, H. C. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mainwaring, W. H.
Cluse, W. S. Hayday, A. Marshall, F.
Clynes, Rt, Hon. J. R. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Maxton, J.
Cocks, F. S. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Montague, F.
Collindridge, F. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Cove, W. G. Hicks, E. G. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Hills, A. (Pontefract) Muff, G.
Daggar, G. Isaacs, G. A. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Jagger, J. Paling, W.
Davies, Ft. J. (Westhoughton) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parker, J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr). Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Parkinson, J. A.
Day, H. John, W. Pearson, A.
Dobbie, W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Ede, J. C. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Price, M. P.
Quibell, D. J. K. Smith, E. (Stoke) Watkins, F. C.
Richards, R. (Wrexham) Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Watson, W. MoL.
Ridley, G. Smith, T. (Normanton) Wedgwood, Rt. Han. J. C.
Riley, B. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng) Welsh, J. C.
Ritson, J. Stokes, R. R. Westwood, J,
Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Sanders, W. S. Summerskill, Dr. Edith Wilkinson, Ellen
Sexton. T. M. Thorne, W. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Shinwell, E. Thurtle, E. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Silkin, L. Tinker, J. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Silverman, S. S. Viant, S. P. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Simpson, F. B. Walkden, A. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Walker, J. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Groves.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Division No. 169.] AYES. [6.50 p.m.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Perkins, W. R. D.
Albery, Sir Irving Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Hely-Hutchinson, M, R. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Se'h Univ's) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Procter, Major H. A.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Radford, E. A.
Aske, Sir R. W. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Ramsden, Sir E.
Assheton, R. Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth) Rankin, Sir R.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Higgs, W. F. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. p. H. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Bernays, R. H. Higgs, Hon. Q. MoG. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Boothby, R. J. G. Holdsworth, H. Remer, J. R.
Bossom, A. C. Holmes, J. S. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Boulton, W. W. Hopkinson, A. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Horsbrugh, Florence Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Boyce, H. Leslie Howitt, Dr. A. B Ropner, Colonel L.
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Rosbotham, Sir T.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hume, Sir G. H. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodkridge)
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Hunter, T. Rowlands, G.
Brooks, H. (Lowisham, W.) Hutchinson, G. C. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Ruggles-Brise. Colonel Sir E. A.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Russell, Sir Alexander
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Salt, E. W.
Burton, Col. H. W. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Samuel, M. R. A.
Butcher, H. W. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Keeling, E. H. Sandys, E. D.
Cartland, J. R. H. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Schuster, Sir G. E.
Carver, Major W. H. Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.) Seely, Sir H. M.
Cary, R. A. Kimball, L. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Lamb, Sir J, Q. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Lancaster, Captain C. G. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Colfox, Major Sir W. P. Lees-Jones, J. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Leech, Sir J. W. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Snadden, W. McN.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Levy, T. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Lewis, O. Somervelle, Sir A. A. (Windsor)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Liddall, W. S. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.. Lipson, D. L. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir M. Page Little, J. Spens. W. p.
Crooks, Sir J. Smedley Lloyd, G. W. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Loftus, P. C. Storey, S.
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Strickland, Captain W. F
Denville, Alfred MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Dodd, J. S. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn
Doland, G. F. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Sueter, Rear Admiral Sir M. F.
Donner, P. W. McKie, J. H. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourno)
Drewe, C. Magnay, T. Touche, G. C.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Maitland, Sir Adam Tree, A. R. L. F.
Duggan, H. J. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Duncan, J. A. L. Mander, G. le M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Turton, R. H.
Ellis, Sir G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Wakefield, W. W.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Markham, S. F. Ward, Lieut. Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Medlicott, F. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Warrender, Sir V.
Everard, Sir William Lindsay Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Wayland, Sir W. A
Fleming, E. L. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Foot, D M. Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R. Wells, Sir Sydney
Furness, S. N. Moreing, A. C. White, H. Graham
Fyfe, D. P. M. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Williams, C. (Torquay)
Gledhill, G. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Gower, Sir R. V. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Munro, P. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Neven-Spene, Major B. H. H. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Nicolson, Han. H. G. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Wragg, H.
Grimston, R. V. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wright, Wing-commander J. A. C.
Hammersley, S. S. Orr-Ewing, I. L. York, C.
Hannah, I. C. Owen, Major G. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Palmer, G. E. H.
Harbord, Sir A. Peake, O. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Harris, Sir P. A. Peat, C. U. Major Sir James Edmondson and Lieut.-Colonel Harvie Watt.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Barnes, A. J.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Ammon, C. G. Barr J.
Adamson, W. M. Banfield, J. W. Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.
Benson, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Bevan, A. Hicks, E. G. Price, M. P.
Broad, F. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Pritt, D. N.
Bromfield, W. Hollins, A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Buchanan, G. Isaacs, G. A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Burke, W. A. Jagger, J. Ridley, G.
Cape, T. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Riley, B.
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Ritson, J.
Chater, D. John, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Cluse, W. S. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sanders, W. S.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M,
Cooks, F. S. Kirby, B. V. Shinwell, E.
Collindridge, F. Kirkwood, D. Silverman, S. S.
Cove, W. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Simpson, F. B.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Latham, G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Daggar, G. Lawson, J. J. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B.Lees- (K'ly)
Dalton, H. Leach. W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, R. J. (Westhougnton) Lee, F. Stewart, W. J. (Hgh'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leonard, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Dabbie, W. Leslie, J. R. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Ede, J. C. Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Edwards, Sir C. (Badwellty) Lunn, W. Thorne, W.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tinker, J. J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T.H. McEntee, V. La T. Viant, S. P.
Frankel, D. McGhee, H. G. Walkden, A. G.
Gardner, B. W. MacLaren, A. Watkins, F. C.
Garro Jones, G. M. Mclean, N. Watson, W. MoL.
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Mainwaring, W. H. Welsh, J. C.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Marshall, F. Westwood. J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Maxton J. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Grenfell, D. R. Messer, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Milner, Major J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Montague, F. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Wilmot, J.
Halt, G. H. (Aberdare) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Naylor, T. E. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Harvey. T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Oliver, G. H.
Hayday, A. Paling, W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parkinson, J. A. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Groves.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pearson. A.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the proposed Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill."

6.59 p.m.

Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

Before we part with this Clause, I wish to make one or two remarks upon it. I have listened to the discussion on practically all the Amendments to this new Clause, and I appreciate the fact that, although the Government and the Opposition have been anxious to hammer out a Clause which would really work, as I see it, the Government have, in fact, turned a complete somersault from the optional Clause, the working of which they believed would be successful, to one which is purely mandatory. The acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has changed the entire character of the Clause. I would not have any objection to that if I were at all confident that under the newly adopted wording the Clause would work any better, but it has been agreed on both sides that it is very doubtful whether it will work any better. In the speech which my right hon. Friend made a few minutes ago on the Amendment to leave out "one-tenth" and to insert "one-seventh" he made it clear that success is only possible if we get a Clause under which landlord and tenant would work together. As it is now, the only thing which gives me any satisfaction is the Lord Privy Seal's statement—and I understand that almost an agreement has been made with the Opposition— that the whole matter will be reconsidered at a further stage of the Bill.

May I make clear why I say that the Government have made a complete change? Under the original scheme of the Clause a landlord would presumably consult his tenants beforehand, and if 51 per cent, of them agreed to the scheme and would support it he would go ahead with it, knowing that he would recover at any rate a substantial portion of the cost from tenants who were anxious to get these new shelters. As the position is now, the landlord is forced to do something if 50 per cent, of the tenants—who may be only there for a year or two— signify their approval, which they are likely to do if it is not going to cost them anything.

With regard to the agreement that I understand has been made with the Opposition, the Lord Privy Seal has said that these matters will have to be very carefully considered at a further stage, and probably new Clauses will have to be brought forward. I want to ask him a very definite question. If on further consideration it is found that it is not feasible, or not advisable, to work on the system of compulsion, is he then at liberty to go back to the scheme of the original Clause? I want to be clear that he is not bound by the acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Shields to adopt in any new Clause which he may hereafter bring forward the scheme of compulsion set out in that Amendment. If that is clear I think there is no possible objection, because the whole matter could be considered de novo. Whether the facts eventually show that the compulsory scheme is right or not, all of us want to get the air-raid precautions scheme working, and the best way to do that is by agreement between landlord and tenant.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

The net result of the hon. Gentleman's speech is that in matters affecting property owners it is sacrilege for this House to impose any compulsion, but if it is a matter of calling up men to fight, then compulsion is essential. Property owners, even though they may live many miles away from the property affected, may be allowed to leave the workmen in that property entirely unprotected from any attack, and it would be a dreadful thing for this House to impose any obligations on the owners. I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman opposite should develop that idea, because we are trying on all sides of the House to make this a workable Measure. The hon. Gentleman opposite now strongly objects because the Lord Privy Seal, forsooth, has accepted an Amendment from the Opposition benches. I thought it was the object of the Opposition to try to join with the Government in improving the Bill, but there seems to be a suspicion in the minds of certain hon. Members opposite that anything the Lord Privy Seal may accept is to be condemned if it comes from the Opposition side. My experience may be different from that of the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that tenants, either of the kind of property we have been discussing or of any other kind, are going to act in the irresponsible way which he fears. He said these tenants will of course vote in favour of having protection provided against air raids, because it will cost them nothing.

Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

I said it might not cost them anything.

Mr, Morrison

I do not wish to be involved in an argument with the hon. Gentleman, but there was a considerable amount of illogicality about the vigorous protest he made against any compulsion on owners of flats, although Parliament is bringing compulsion on almost everybody in the community in connection with the air menace, and I do not see why owners of flats should be excepted.

Question, "That the proposed Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.