HC Deb 22 April 1947 vol 436 cc796-8
33. Lady Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will ask that the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Eviction of Shopkeepers may be presented to him well before 28th May, so that the results of the inquiry may be known to those under threat of eviction on that date.

Mr. Westwood

The Committee of Inquiry into the tenure of shop premises in Scotland held their first meeting on 18th April. I have no doubt that they will proceed with their investigations without delay, but at this stage it is impossible for me to fix a date for their Report.

Lady Grant

Will the Secretary of State consider taking measures to postpone evictions until the publication of the Report?

Mr. Westwood

I have not the powers to do that, and I am awaiting the Report, which, no doubt, will be presented to me as speedily as possible, containing the necessary recommendations, on which I can then take action, if necessary, to bring in legislation.

Mr. Carmichael

When setting up the Committee did my right hon. Friend make representations to them to consider submitting an interim Report, as that might get over the difficulty?

Mr. Westwood

At the moment I have not done that because they held their first meeting only the other day, but, as soon as is practicable when they get down to their business, I will ask them to consider the possibility of drawing up an interim Report.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

Could not the right hon. Gentleman take powers under the Statutory Rules and Orders to deal with this?

Mr. Westwood

I am advised that I cannot do so.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Is it not a fact that, irrespective of the conclusions of the Committee, the shopkeepers can have no redress unless the Secretary of State himself brings in speedy legislation? Is he also aware that since the setting up of the Committee, Members on both sides of the House from all over Scotland are finding that shopkeepers in their constituencies arc threatened with increases in their rents, because the owners feel that they must "make hay while the sun shines" and so they announce increases? Will my right hon. Friend take steps speedily in regard to these threats?

Mr. Westwood

I have already indicated that I cannot take any action and that I will not take any action until the Committee make an interim Report or present their full Report to me. Anyway, there is not time for legislation dealing with this matter before 28th May.

Mr. Rankin

Will my right hon. Friend make known to the Committee as soon as he can the opinion—and the Scottish opinion especially—on both sides of the House with regard to the urgency of this Report?

Mr. Westwood

These questions and answers I am perfectly sure will be read by the Committee with interest, and they will know of the feeling in this House for a speedy Report.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not clear to my right hon. Friend and to every Member of this House that it is the robber Tory 'landlords who are responsible for this shocking state of affairs, and will he not take immediate steps to abolish them?

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