HC Deb 20 April 1948 vol 449 cc1603-4
13. Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the position of complaints put forward by recipients of "buy or quit" notices prior to the issue of instructions contained in circular letter No. 6785 of the Scottish Home Department of 7th April; what is the position of tenants on 28th May who have received no decision from the Secretary of State by that time; and how does the landlord of the premises know that a complaint has been lodged against his "buy or quit" notice.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)

Complaints from or on behalf of individual shopkeepers which were received before 7th April have been transmitted to the local authority for consideration. Unless in any case a decision is taken to exercise requisitioning powers in order to secure a sufficiency of essential supplies and services, the terms of tenancy will not be affected. Where it is proposed to exercise such powers, the landlord will be informed by the local authority and allowed 14 days in which to make any representations in the matter.

Colonel Hutchison

Would the right hon. Gentleman say how many applications he has received as a result of this circular letter, and whether he is satisfied that the machinery he has set up will be able to handle all these cases in time to allow the individuals concerned to make the arrangements which will be necessary?

Mr. Woodburn

The local authorities are dealing with it at the moment. Certain complaints have reached me—not a great number—and they are being examined.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

Is the local authority to make any decision, or is it merely to sift the cases and send on to the right hon. Gentleman those cases in which it thinks action may be required?

Mr. Woodburn

The local authorities are acting as my agent to find out whether there is sufficient cause in their view for the cases to merit consideration.

Mr. Reid

But who makes the decision?

Mr. Woodburn

The Secretary of State makes the decision.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the local authorities are deeply dissatisfied with the terms of his circular letter, because it covers the position of shops alone and not of offices and small business premises, and is he prepared to take any steps to cover the position of the two latter categories?

Mr. Woodburn

The local authorities have been informed that the question of offices is a matter for the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Minister aware that the position is still utterly unsatisfactory, and will he issue a standstill order and prepare legislation on this question?

Commander Galbraith

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the President of the Board of Trade has indicated his willingness to receive representations?

Mr. Woodburn

That is a question which should be put to the President of the Board of Trade. With regard to the other point, standstill legislation is not a practical possibility in time.

Mr. Scollan

Does the Minister think it advisable to tell the Scottish people that he can take no action whatever, because if he did the legislation would also have to apply to England; and is not that why he is doing nothing about it?

Mr. Woodburn

I would not think that advisable or accurate.

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