HC Deb 30 May 1945 vol 411 cc279-81
Mr. Turton

I beg to move, in page 14, line 19, after "month," insert: not enjoying the protection of the Rent Restriction Acts, 1920. The House will recollect that we inserted a definition during the Committee stage of Clause 17 as to who was to be served with a notice of proposal coming under this part of the Bill. I raised the question of what would happen to a tenant under the Rent Restriction Acts and suggested that he had as great an interest in his occupation as any tenant, if not a greater interest than any tenant, outside those Acts and with a longer tenancy. The present Home Secretary then said that there was something in the point, and that he would look into the matter and try to put it right. As the Government had not, by last night, apparently reached the position of knowing what Amendment would be required, I have tried my hand at drafting one. I am not very happy at the drafting, and no doubt the Government can devise better words, but I do claim that a tenant who has the protection of the Rent Restriction Acts should also be protected by this Measure. He should be told, when proposals are being made which will affect his security of tenure. I cannot believe that the House and the country would wish such tenants to be dispossessed of their cottages because they have not had sufficient notice to enable them to make objection under this part of the Measure. This is a matter of great importance and it differs from the Amendment I last moved in that there is a point of justice involved in it.

Major York

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Attorney-General

We have carried out the pledge and looked into this point with some care. The notice in question is one of intention compulsorily to acquire the land, if the Commission report in favour of the proposal. I do not want to go into the metaphysics of the definition of "tenancy." Under the Rent Restriction Acts with which my hon. Friend, in a former manifestation, was very familiar some years ago, but I think he would agree with me that a tenant under those Acts has, in law, no such interest in land as we contemplate here. For that purpose, it would be inappropriate on the technical side to include him in the list of those to whom the notice should be sent. I am sure that the House is much more concerned with the practical side of what is going to happen in these circumstances. I want to deal with that point very shortly.

The primary effect will be the change of landlord. With his knowledge of these matters I am sure my hon. Friend had in mind the question of the Crown not being bound in certain circumstances by the Rent Restriction Acts, but I am happy to inform him that as a matter of practice the Crown do treat themselves as bound, and give notice to tenants to which they would be entitled, whether they are protected tenants or not. More than that, the Crown fall in with the necessity of providing alternative accommodation and taking any steps to see that that accommodation is there. Therefore, I can assure my hon. Friend that the protected tenants will not in practice be damnified. I hope that with that assurance he will believe that his point has been considered and will not press it further on this occasion.

Mr. Turton

In view of the general attitude of the Government I would like to say that I am not persuaded on this occasion, and that I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.