HC Deb 27 October 1943 vol 393 cc236-8
The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 3, line 12, at the end, to insert: (2) A local authority shall have power to publish information regarding the provisions of this Act. There is already power under the Rent Restrictions Acts for local authorities to publish information about the rights of people under those Acts. We think it very desirable, if the new provisions in this Bill are to become widely known, that similar authority should be given to local authorities to publish information about these provisions.

Mr. McKinlay

I must again express my regret that the Secretary of State stopped short where he has done. I should have tried, at least, to put in a manuscript Amendment, providing that the local authorities shall have power to compel the registration of all such premises. That would not only strengthen the hands of the local authorities, but would give a much-needed jumping-off ground for the tribunal. I am still of the view that such a registration is necessary, but the Secretary of State, I know, is willing to give an undertaking that if the position proves to be unsatisfactory he will not hesitate to take powers to correct it. I think, however, that registration is the kernel of the whole problem.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. McNeil (Greenock)

There is one small point I want to raise. The power of the local authority is defined in Subsection (1) of this Clause. It is made clear in the previous Clause that the tribunal will be expected to make a specification of the premises which are registered. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is always a most tricky business to make an entry into a house. Of course, the circumstances are different with commercial premises, but in law it is difficult to enter into a house. Yet it seems that specifications cannot be made unless such an entry is effected. Under this Clause, the local authority may delegate powers to an officer, and I should like the Lord Advocate to tell us whether he anticipates that this officer will have the right to effect an entry into a home when part of that home is to be registered. I am not attempting to make difficulties, but I think the Committee should have advice on this matter, because it is a most delicate business to extend the powers of entry into private dwellings.

The Lord Advocate

This precise point had not occurred to me, and I will look into it in detail, but I think I can give this answer at the moment. If the hon. Member will look at the latter part of Sub-section (1) of Clause 2, he will find that when a matter is referred to the tribunal it is the duty of the lessor to give such information as the tribunal may reasonably require. Obviously, if a lessor withholds facilities for getting proper information, the tribunal is more likely to decide doubtful points against him than if he is entirely candid and allows full inspection. I do not think there is anything in the Bill which confers right of entry upon an officer which he would not otherwise have, and I am not sure that there should be any such power. I will certainly look into the point.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clauses 5 and 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.