HC Deb 02 November 1948 vol 457 cc650-1
3. Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will reconsider his decision not to introduce legislation to give increased security of tenure to the tenants of business and shop premises.

10. Mr. J. L. Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will announce what action he proposes to take to implement the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the tenure of shop premises in Scotland.

Mr. Woodburn

I have given further consideration to the position of tenants of shop premises in Scotland, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, and we propose that in the light of recent experience the matter should be the subject of further inquiry which will cover examination of the terms of tenancy of shops and business premises. We have accordingly invited the members of the Committee of Inquiry to continue their investigations with broader terms of remit, and to report specially, as soon as possible, on shops. The terms of reference of the reconvened Committee are being circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

While welcoming this statement by the Secretary of State, can he hold out any hope of the report being made available in time to deal with this matter before the May term?

Mr. Woodburn

I should hope so. I have asked them to report quickly on the shops.

Mr. J. L. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of the people affected will be very glad to hear that there is a move on?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any action that may be taken as result of this inquiry will be retrospective? That is very important.

Mr. Woodburn

I should require notice of that question.

Mr. Carmichael

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the same personnel is adequate to deal with this problem in view of the report that was brought in on the last occasion.

Mr. Woodburn

I do not think any reflection should be made on the bona fides of the Committee, who came to a judgment on the evidence submitted to them. I must repudiate any suggestion that that Committee acted otherwise than in the best judicial fashion, and the Committee will be appointed—there may be some changes—to go into the evidence again. Those who have evidence ought to submit it.

Following are the terms of reference:

  1. "(a) To consider and report whether, in the light of recent experiences, any modification of the conclusions recorded by the Committee in their previous Report with regard to Shop Premises is called for; and
  2. (b)To investigate the position at the termination of their tenancies of tenants of premises used for business, trade or professional purposes, and to report:
    1. (i)Whether and in what circumstances an occupying tenant of such premises should be given security of tenure such as is at present enjoyed by tenants of premises which are subject to the Rent Restriction Acts; and
    2. (ii) Whether it is desirable and practicable to control rents charged for such premises, and if so by what means."