HC Deb 04 April 1951 vol 486 cc218-81

4.1 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Northants, South)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 7, after "tenancy," to insert "of residential property."

A long time has elapsed since we last had an opportunity of considering this Bill, which I fear is dull and uninteresting to most hon. Members, although it is of great importance to many people throughout the country. The importance depends to some extent upon what happens today and what may happen to the Bill in the future. The Amendment is a simple one and easily capable of comprehension.

The House will observe that the Bill proposes to do two separate and distinct things. The long Title makes that clear. The first thing it proposes to do is to make temporary provision for the protection of occupiers of residential property against the coming to an end of long leases. The second thing is the renewal of tenancies of shops. Part I of the Bill is headed "Dwellings," and Part II "Shops," and yet, on looking through Part I, one finds no reference to the words "residential property." Nor, apart from that heading, is there any reference to the word "dwellings" in Part I. I drew attention to this fact during the Committee stage, when we suggested that the word "dwelling-house" should be inserted in the operative part of Clause 1. We gave to that expression the same definition as is contained in the Rent Acts.

In his reply, the Attorney-General expressed the view that as a true ground lease was a lease of land without buildings on it at that moment, and a dwelling-house subsequently erected on that land would be excluded from the definition, there would be no letting of a separate dwelling-house. I think that that opinion expressed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, whom I am sorry not to see here today, is inaccurate. I think that he would find it so if he were to refer to one of the decided cases. He said that he would look at the point. I have not had any communication from him with regard to the matter, and if he has looked at it he has not sought to make any alteration to the Bill.

The new approach which we are seeking to make by the insertion of the words "residential property" should commend itself to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. One reason is that it makes the text of the Bill accord with the long Title, which at present it does not. There is no reference in the body of the Bill to the words "residential property," which are contained in the long Title. What is residential property is in each case a question of fact. I do not think it would be necessary, if these words were inserted, to provide any definition of residential property. No one would regard Selfridge's, Woolworth's or the Albert Hall—these instances were given on the Committee stage—as residential properties, but yet, under the Bill as it stands, in the case of a shop let on a lease for more than 21 years, as many shops are, all that the tenant or a member of his family would have to do in order to bring that shop within Part I of the Bill, would be to go and live there immediately before the lease of the shop expired.

I cannot believe that it is the intention that this very bad Bill should create such a degree of uncertainty as to its operation as to lead, in all probability, to litigation upon that point. No one can say that the point is not liable to arise if it is left open to all tenants of property held on leases of over 21 years to make use of Part I of the Bill in that way. No landlord of business premises would find it possible to make any arrangements certain in character for the future. No would-be tenant would be able to rely upon securing possession, even though the tenant in occupation had said that he was going. Any arrangements that the would-be tenant had made could be defeated if the occupying tenant changed his mind and decided to live on the premises for a week or so before the expiry of the lease.

It is a serious defect in the Bill that the words "residential property," although they appear in the long Title, do not appear anywhere in the text. As I understand the Bill from the long Title, the intention is that Part I should apply only to residential property, but that is not said. We say that, to make Part I accord with the long Title, the House should certainly incorporate these words. In that connection I would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman of the passage in the Gracious Speech referring to the Bill, which said: My Ministers have under consideration the reform of the law relating to leaseholds and meanwhile measures will be introduced to provide for the continuation for a short period of ground leases relating to residential premises."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 8.] The Amendment seeks to carry out the intention, revealed in not only the long Title of the Bill but also in the Gracious Speech.

Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)

I am very sympathetic to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying, but does not the title "Dwellings" at the head of Part I comprehend the very objective he seeks to attain?

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman does not consider that the heading forms any part of the Statute for the purposes of interpretation? What we have to look at is the wording of the text. I appreciate that he is not unsympathetic. If he looks at the text, he will see that, although we have the heading "Dwellings," there is no reference to "dwellings" anywhere in Part I and also no reference to residential property. As objection was taken to our attempting to insert the word "dwelling," we are now seeking to do nothing else than to put in the Bill what should obviously be there to carry out the intention of the Gracious Speech and the long Title.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Is not the point that "dwellings" is a classification? I agree that it is not a very tidy one, but nevertheless it stands there as a category. The point is whether incorporating between the words "tenancy" and "was" the phrase "of residential property" will make confusion worse confounded. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to do what he now seeks to do, it seems that it might be wise to eliminate the title "Dwellings" altogether and then incorporate the phrase "of residential property." It would be rather confusing if both were to stand together.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I do not share that view for two reasons. One is that "dwelling" is another way of expressing "residential property." The second reason is that the word "Dwellings" at the head of Part I is of as much assistance in interpreting the Statute as the marginal note, but it does not form part of the Statute.

I am sure that the hon. and learned Member will agree that no one could say, merely because of the one word at the top of Part I, that the application of Clause I could be limited to dwellings, if a case could be brought within the actual wording of the Clause. While I see no difficulty arising if Part I is headed "Dwellings" and the first line of the Clause refers to "residential property," we feel that if we insert the words "residential property" or "dwellings"—we do not mind which it is in the actual text of the Bill—it will lead to clarity, and the avoidance of a great deal of confusion and a great many attempts by various individuals to take advantage of the Measure when it is not intended to apply to them.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

Unlike my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), I am not a bit sympathetic to the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller). Is it not quite obvious to the hon. and learned Gentleman that, even if these words were inserted, the position would still be left exactly the same in the instance which he gave of the person going to live in a shop?

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The hon. Gentleman's views are not nearly so convincing as those of his hon. and learned Friend. He may be less sympathetic to my argument, but his views are also less well founded. It is obvious that, if we insert "residential property" in the text, in order to bring a person within the Clause we have to find that he is living in residential property. No solicitor could be heard to contend that the Albert Hall would become residential property merely because the hon. Gentleman once spent a night there.

4.15 p.m.

By inserting the words "residential property" we should clarify and, at the same time define the operation of Part I. Although the hon. Member says that he is unsympathetic to the argument I am advancing, I would point out to him that his lack of sympathy relates, I believe, to the whole of the Measure, because all we are seeking to do is to make the Measure accord with the intention expressed in the long Title and in the Gracious Speech and to make it as clear as it can be made and as workable as such a very bad Measure can be made.

Mr. Black (Wimbledon)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I always feel a certain amount of diffidence, not being a member of the legal profession, in taking part in the discussion of this very difficult and complicated Measure, but I am fortified by the view that, when the Bill becomes an Act, we hope it will be understood by the members of the public who will be concerned in its operation and not merely by those who can bring a trained legal mind to bear upon its phraseology.

Therefore, I plead with the House to accept the Amendment with the object of making the Bill a little more intelligible to the ordinary member of the public. I am fortified in my appeal by two statements made by the Attorney-General in Second Reading debate. He said: … we are left only with the word 'dwelling'; and there is really no definition of 'dwelling.' Anything is a dwelling in which a person happens to dwell at the time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 937.] Therefore, even if it were possible to import the word "dwellings," it would be an unsatisfactory way of seeking to define what classes of property should properly be brought within the purview of the Clause. In the same speech the Attorney-General said: … I am in favour of anything which avoids unnecessary litigation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 936.] Acceptance of the Amendment would avoid a considerable amount of misunderstanding and litigation later on.

If we accept the Attorney-General's statement that "dwelling" means "anything…in which a person happens to dwell at the time," it is obvious that we are dealing with something wider in scope than a residential property, and it would be fair to say that if one had a very large office building in London containing two or three rooms reserved for the occupation of a caretaker or a housekeeper, although 99 per cent. of the building was devoted to office purposes, those rooms could be regarded as a dwelling. Therefore if that is the case, the lessee of such a property under a ground lease would only have to enter into possession of those two or three rooms for a short period over the expiration of the lease itself to bring the property within the scope of Part I of this Bill. I cannot for one moment think that it was really in the minds of those who brought the Bill before the House that that type of case should be caught by Part I of the Bill.

It would also be fair to say that in the case of a man having a chain of multiple shops where in each shop the occupation was predominantly a business occupation, but each shop had two or three rooms occupied by a manager or an assistant, the proprietor of the business, by living in the two or three rooms for a limited period over the expiration of the lease, would be able to bring himself within the framework of Part I of the Bill.

If the Amendment were accepted we would, by the insertion of the words "residential property," limit the operation of Part I to the class of property which it was intended to bring within the scope of Part I, and would get away from the obvious ambiguity which exists regarding the interpretation of the word "dwelling," even if it were possible to bring the word "dwelling" from the head of this part of the Bill into the interpretation of what follows.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

Since the Committee stage of this Bill we have carefully reconsidered the wording of this Clause, and as a result we feel that it is perfectly satisfactory as it stands. May I endeavour to give my reasons why? I think that some hon. Members are under a slight misapprehension about the object of Part I. It is not intended to apply exclusively to residential premises: it is intended to include mixed residential and shop premises, and that is made perfectly clear by the language used.

Clause 1 requires, first, that there should be a tenancy for the requisite period of years and, secondly, that immediately before the date of expiry of that tenancy the tenant or a member of his family is living in the property or a part thereof in right of the tenancy. Upon the assumption that those conditions are fulfilled, Part I has application, and it will be immediately apparent, if one considers those words, that it has application as a result to premises which may be partly shop premises and partly residential, so long as one can say of them that, first, they are held upon a lease which is of the requisite length, and secondly, that the tenant or a member of his family in right of the tenancy is living either in the premises as a whole or in part of them.

If we introduced the words, "of residential property" as proposed by the Amendment, the effect would be substantially to limit the application of the Clause. It would mean that the only premises which were affected by Part I would be those premises which could be described as residential premises and it would exclude all mixed premises. That is not the intention, and the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) is not quite accurate in saying that my right hon. and learned Friend did not intimate that it was the intention of those who proposed this Bill that mixed premises should be included. If the hon. and learned Member will be so good as to look again at a letter which my right hon. and learned Friend wrote on 21st March of this year, after the Committee stage proceedings, he will see that that was made clear.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain, then, why the first part of the long Title, which relates solely to Part I, refers only to residential property?

The Solicitor-General

Because if the premises are lived in they also include residential premises and therefore would be within the long Title. That is why we feel we should be limiting the first Clause to an extent which is not intended if we accepted the words in the Amendment.

The basis of the argument advanced in support of the Amendment is as follows. It is said that if we do not import some words like "residential premises" it may lead to ridiculous results. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) instanced the case of a large block of offices in one or two rooms of which a caretaker was living. Of course, if these were the circumstances, that would not be sufficient to make Part I of the Bill apply because, as the hon. Member is well aware, the person who has to be living in the premises has to be the tenant or a member of the tenant's family. I think the hon. Member intimated that he was aware of that, because he went on to assume that in the case he was posing, the owner of the block of offices had at the last moment evicted and supplanted the caretaker.

One has to look at the generality of cases. I suppose one could theoretically or conceivably have a case of a large block of offices the lessee of which was minded at the last moment before the expiry of the lease to expel the caretaker living in part of them and to supplant him by his own personality; but I am sure the hon. Member will agree that is an unlikely case.

Mr. Black


The Solicitor-General

Equally is it unlikely that one would get a person moving his bed on Christmas Eve into the Albert Hall, which was another example given at an earlier stage. Such things do happen in this world in which almost everything is possible, but obviously that is an extraordinary case and that rarified concatenation of circumstances is not the sort of thing about which one has to legislate.

We have to deal with the generality of cases in which either the tenant or a member of his family is living, in the true sense of the word, in the whole or part of the premises. The touchstone is the word "living." It is always a question of fact whether premises are residential. It is equally a question of fact whether one can say in any given circumstances that a person is living in premises.

I should have thought it unlikely as a fact that any court would conclude that, supposing a person moved his bed into the Albert Hall on Christmas Eve—for some reason which might be difficult to conjecture, at any rate without further explanation—he was living in the Albert Hall. Equally I should have thought it unlikely on the whole that if the lessee in a large block of offices supplanted the caretaker and moved in for two days at the end of the term, it would be said that he was living there.

4.30 p.m.

Therefore, the qualification is to be found in the word "living." We have to find the premises and then we have to be able to say as a matter of fact that the tenant or a member of his family is living in those premises. The word is "living," and, after all, to come within the four corners of that word there has to be a given state of fact which does correspond to what the ordinary person regards as the process of living in a particular building. I hope, therefore, that with that explanation and the assurance that we have carefully considered again the arguments put forward and we feel that the present language in the Bill is satisfactory, the House will agree that the Amendment ought not to be accepted.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

This is not a subject in which I am very well versed, but I understand that the word "reside" is normally the word used in statutes of this kind. Therefore, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument really turns on what is or is not meant by the word "living." He said that if one moved a bed into the Albert Hall, one could not make the Albert Hall into a residence. I understand why that may be in an extreme case.

I wonder what happens in a case corresponding to that in which certain Ministers have the use of certain rooms in their Department and which they occasionally use when kept up late in the House or when they cannot get home at night. It may very well be that similar circumstances occur in other walks of life. A solicitor may have a bed in his office for occasional use, or a doctor in Harley Street who did not live in that street, might find that from time to time he occasionally slept a couple of nights in his consulting rooms. Would that constitute living in premises under the Bill? It would not constitute residing under the law as it is now. By changing the word to "residing" instead of "living," might it not be said that this would let out the kind of case I have in mind?

The Solicitor-General

As I am sure the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) will agree at once, it is very difficult to draw the line. If one takes the case of the Harley Street doctor living on the premises for an occasional night, I do not think an ordinary person considering the ordinary meaning of the word "living" would say that he was living there. On the other hand, supposing one had a shop with premises at the back where a person habitually sleeps, then he lives there.

I should have thought that, generally speaking, it would not be difficult to say on which side of the line the case fell, and in the sort of example the right hon. and gallant Member gives the line would fall roughly as I sought to put it. With regard to the use of the word "reside," I think he is not quite accurate in thinking that is the usual word used in legislation of this kind. If one looks, for example, at the Rent Restriction Acts—a very extensive code with very many Acts going to make it up and where one would be able to find some answer as to what is the usual word used—I think I am right in saying that the word "reside" is used in only one place; that is in Section 12 (1, g) of the 1920 Act, where it would be awkward for a particular reason, if one looks at the definition, to use the word "living" because it would have an unfortunate connotation. Broadly speaking, I think it cannot be said that the word "reside" is the usual word used. Therefore I think the answer to the question the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has put to me is "No."

Looking away from legislation, I think that if one asked, in the ordinary English acceptation of the term, "Does the word 'living' convey a clear conception or is a clearer conception conveyed by the word 'reside'?" I should have thought the ordinary meaning to be attributed to it is also the legal meaning. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would agree that the expression "to live in premises" is cleary understood on the whole and conveys a perfectly clear connotation to the mind of the ordinary person.

If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not agree, may I make a quotation from the "Manchester Guardian" which contains a very outspoken protest against what is described as ugly English, and the word "resided" is selected as an example of ugly English and the word "live" is preferred to the word "reside"? If one judges the matter by standards of taste, perhaps the "Manchester Guardian" view is one which the House would be disposed to take into account as being authoritative in the matter. I think the House would agree that no really useful purpose would be served by making the change.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South West)

There are two separate apprehensions in the minds of those of us who support the Amendment. The first is that without some limitation of this kind this part of the Bill might apply to property which is not residential at all. The second apprehension is that it might apply to property which, although mixed residential and non-residential, is of a kind and scope which we feel should not be dealt with in the manner laid down in Part I.

The Solicitor-General has argued that if there were non-residential premises into which the tenant moved and took up his temporary habitation shortly before the date of expiry, that would not attract the provisions of Part 1 of the Act. He prayed in aid the use of the word "living" as the technical term in the Rent Restriction Acts. He overlooked the reason the Rent Restriction Acts do not cover non-residential property. It is not by reason of the exclusive force of the word "living" but by reason of the exclusive force of the word "house." The basic conception is "house."

In various cases arising under the Rent Restriction Acts, it has been ruled that a person who was living, and more or less permanently living, in premises which were not in themselves adapted for residence could not invoke the protection of the Rent Restriction Acts because the premises were not a house. In fact, the term "living" has been treated as having the opposite force to that which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave to it in this Clause. Therefore, on the first count, I feel that unless there is some limitation, some change in the wording, this part of the Bill will be found to cover premises which are not residential, and there will be a quite considerable loophole where residence is taken up for a short time or where there is temporary use of such premises by the tenant for sleeping or other forms of habitation.

As regards mixed premises, it seems to me that the Solicitor-General put Part I of this Bill in a rather new light in his remarks to the House. We have all along been led to understand that it was the protection of a tenant in his domestic occupation which was the aim of Part I and not that the intention was to protect him in his tenancy of non-residential property which happened to be conjoined or linked up with it. Now we are told that there was a subsidiary aim to Part I and that was to protect mixed premises. Admittedly the Solicitor-General said "mixed residential and shop premises," but there is nothing in the terms of the Bill to restrict it to mixed residential and shop premises. It may be mixed premises of any kind. It may include a factory or a workshop and a block of offices where there is living accommodation and where tenants are living, a solicitor's office and so forth.

So we must not be misled by the limitation which the Solicitor-General imported. He is now claiming it is the object of Part I to protect a tenant not only in his home but in his business premises. To me that is a quite new application of this part of the Bill. In so far as it is desired to give protection to a mixed residential and shop property, that protection is given under the provisions of Part II. All along the Government have argued that they have no desire to protect any kind of non-residential property except shop property and so the second half of a possible case falls.

I feel that on both counts, first, the danger that this Clause might cover property which is not residential at all, and secondly, the admitted fact that it could cover property which is only partly residential and is either protected by Part II or is property which the Government decide they do not want to protect at all, it is most essential that we should introduce some limitation in this Clause to import protection for the residential character of this property.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I do not think anyone could deny that this Clause is rather obscurely worded. It is far better to face the fact than to try to skate round it. On the other hand, one has to consider whether the Amendment would do anything to correct that position. The Solicitor-General has said that this Clause clearly applies to mixed property, that is to say, to property which is partly a dwelling and is residential, and may be also, as to the rest of the premises, a shop or used for some other purposes of occupation.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I think there is some foundation in the Clause for the Solicitor-General's argument because it distinctly refers to property in which the tenant is living or a part thereof. It therefore clearly indicates premises of which a part may be occupied for the purpose of dwelling and another part for some other purpose. At the same time it is perfectly clear that the wording of the Clause might lead to difficulty. I think that the matter would be completely clarified if, instead of inserting the words "residential property" the words "residential property or premises which are partly residential or used for residential purposes" were inserted. That would clearly—

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

It is as clear as mud now.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I do not suppose that my hon. Friend understands the Clause, either in its present form or as it would be if amended, but it seems to me that what it is sought to do by this Clause is to say that it is to apply to residential property, for otherwise the term "dwelling" would have no sense or meaning. It is no use the Solicitor-General saying that "residing" is an ugly word. It may be ugly but it is intelligible.

Mr. John Foster (Northwich)

Has the hon. and learned Member considered the protection given to people who live in shops by Clause 10 (2, b) and would that satisfy him? Does he think that is an answer to the Solicitor-General?

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I quite agree, and that, of course, makes it so confusing. Here we have a two-fold classification. One part expressly refers to dwellings, and in the long Title the term "residential property" is specifically used. Although there is provision made for shops and shops only, the first part does undoubtedly refer to property which may be something more than a dwelling—

Mr. Foster

Not shops only.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I agree. It refers to property which may be something more than a dwelling, and that is where the confusion arises. It is no use the Solicitor-General trying to make out that this is clear, because it is not. I should have thought that the wording of Clause 1 might have been altered to make clear that what is intended is to include pro- perty used for residential occupation even where there is another part of the property occupied for some other purpose. It is perfectly clear that the Clause as it stands does not easily indicate that. I think that the proper thing to do would be to import words which would achieve that end. I do not think the Amendment really does that; it is very limited and does not remove the confusion, and I could not support it.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. J. Foster

The Solicitor-General put forward an objection in principle to the Amendment, and his argument was that we want to protect mixed property and the usual mixed property he took was a shop and dwelling accommodation. He said that if the Clause were partly restricted to residential property, it would not give protection to the mixed property which included the shops. But protection is already given under Clause 10 (2, b) to mixed property. I quite agree that it is not quite the same kind of protection. I want to try to convince the Solicitor-General that it is not necessary to have the same kind of protection as we have under Clause 1 for the mixed property.

I will take an instance of what would happen under this Bill. A gentleman may take a lease of a shop for seven years—I am using the term "take a lease" in the layman's way and not indicating the type of lease—and he is entitled to the protection of this Measure. He goes along to his solicitor to get advice on what protection he is entitled to have. If he has acquired the tail end of a 21-year lease, he gets the protection of Clause 1, but if he has a new lease he gets the protection of Clause 10 (2, b). What is the sense in that? From the layman's point of view he has taken a new lease on a shop, but from a legal point of view he has been assigned a lease of over 21 years under Clause 1. Surely the protection given to shops in premises which consist partly of shops and partly of accommodation is sufficient protection for a mixed tenancy.

On this side of the House we think that the Government have been very cowardly in bringing forward this legislation instead of facing the problem and giving better protection than they give under this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I know that hon. Members do not like that, but they have refused to face the problem and have put in stopgap legislation which produces even more anomalies in this welter of rent restriction, control of tenancy, rent tribunals and so on, and they make confusion worse confounded by making a purely arbitrary distinction between the two types of leases. If the long Title is observed, it is quite easy. One divides the two classes into residential property and gives them protection under the first part of the long Title. We then look at the second part of the long Title and give protection for the renewal of tenancies of shops and keep the definition in Clause 10 (2, b), and the whole thing is much simpler. Then there is not the overlapping to which the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) referred, and the division is quite simple.

It was said by the Solicitor-General that the instances given by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), were far-fetched. They are not far-fetched, because if this anomalous position is established very important tenancies which involve a lot of money may be continued to the benefit of the tenant. The House will appreciate that this concerns a lease of 21 years. Let us take one where the lease is for 99 years and where there is a big block of offices or flats bringing in anything from £5 to £500 a week. There the ground lease is substantial and the worth of the tenancies of the flats and offices is many thousands of pounds a year. In such a case it is not inconceivable to imagine a tenancy being worth anything between £40,000 to £100,000 a year. The ground tenant can get the benefit of a couple of hundred thousand pounds by moving into one room.

If the Solicitor-General is convinced that that is possible, would he not think it desirable again—he has one further opportunity I understand of reconsidering the matter when the Bill goes to another place—to take the opportunity of preventing such unjustifiable gain to a tenant just because the wording of this Clause does not differentiate between a residential property and a property which is mixed in the sense of one room and one office or 500 rooms and 500 offices. Surely that is wrong, and is a case for looking at the wording again. As I said, there is sufficient protection under Clause 10 (2, b) for the typical case of a mixed tenant, and I quite agree that he should have that protection. Would the Solicitor-General tell the House what he thinks about that?

Mr. Turner-Samuels

The hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to Clause 10 (2). Is not the trouble there that that Clause is limited and applies to the actual tenant, or someone in his employment in that particular trade and that that limits the protection?

Mr. Foster

I do not think so. A tenant in a shop gets protection, as does the typical case which the Solicitor-General wants to have covered.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

It would not be as wide as under that Clause, assuming it was made clear that it applies to mixed property like shops and residences. That is much wider.

Mr. Foster

I think it is wider in the sense that it concerns a member of a family.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

It is wider, never mind to what extent.

Mr. Foster

Yes, but that would be a reason for amending Clause 10 (2, b), but it is not a reason for refraining from amending Clause 1.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

It is a good reason for not substituting Clause 10 (2) for Clause 1.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

We have had a fairly lengthy discussion on these three very important words, and even the utterances of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) have made no impression on his Front Bench. The arguments against the present wording in this Clause are in my opinion quite overwhelming, and I regret the attitude adopted by the Solicitor-General with regard to our Amendment to make the Clause correspond with what was said on Second Reading. As we have been unable to make any further impression upon him, it is obviously of very little use continuing the debate and we should reveal our opinions in the Division Lobby.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 195; Noes, 236.

Division No. 68.] AYES [4.55 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Heath, Edward
Alport, C. J. M. Cranborne, Viscount Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Higgs, J. M. C.
Arbuthnot, John Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Astor, Hon. M. L. Cundiff, F. W. Hirst, Geoffrey
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Cuthbert, W. N. Hollis, M. C.
Baldwin, A. E. Davies, Nigel (Epping) Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.
Banks, Col. C. de Chair, Somerset Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.
Baxter, A. B. De la Bère, R. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Beamish, Major Tufton Deedes, W. F. Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Bell, R. M. Dodos-Parker, A. D Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,.)
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Drayson, G. B. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Drewe, C. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Hurd, A. R.
Birch, Nigel Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Bishop, F. P. Duthie, W. S. Hutchison, Colonel James
Black, C. W. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Jeffreys, General Sir George
Boothby, R. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Fisher, Nigel Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Boyle, Sir Edward Foster, John Lambert, Hon. G
Braine, B. R. Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lindsay, Martin
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Gammans, L. D. Lloyd, Rt Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton)
Bullock, Capt. M. Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Gates, Maj. E. E. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Gridley, Sir Arnold Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Butcher, H. W. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Low, A. R. W.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Harden, J. R. E. McCallum, Major D.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Clyde, J. L Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) McKibbin, A.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Hay, John McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Head, Brig. A. H. Maclay, Hon. John
Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Heald, Lionel MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Summers, G. S.
Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Profumo, J. D. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Manningham-Buller, R. E. Raikes, H. V. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Marples, A. E. Redmayne, M. Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.) Remnant, Hon. P. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Maudling R. Robson-Brown, W. Thorp, Brig, R. A. F.
Mellor, Sir John Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Tilney, John
Molson, A. H. E. Roper, Sir Harold Touche, G. C.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ropner, Col. L Turner, H. F. L.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Russell, R. S. Turton, R. H.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D Vane, W. M. F.
Nabarro, G. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Nicholls, Harmar Savory, Prof. D. L. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nield, Basil (Chester) Scott, Donald Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. G.
Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Waller Watkinson, H.
Nugent, G. R. H. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham) Watt, Sir George Harvie
Odey, G. W. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Webbe, Sir Harold
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Snadden, W. McN. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Soames, Capt. C. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Spearman, A. C. M. Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Osborne, C. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde) Wills, G.
Peaks, Rt. Hon. O. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Perkins, W. R. D. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Storey, S. Wood, Hon. R.
Pickthorn, K. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Powell, J. Enoch Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Studholme, H. G. Major Conant and Mr. Digby.
Acland, Sir Richard Deer, G. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Adams, H. R. Delargy, H. J. Jay, D. P. T.
Albu, A. H. Dodds, N. N. Jenkins, R. H.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Donnelly, D. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Driberg, T. E. N Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Dye, S. Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Awbery, S. S. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Ayles, W. H. Edwards, W. J (Stepnay) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Baird, J. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)
Barnes, Rt. Hon A J Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Keenan, W.
Bartley, P. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Kenyon, C.
Benn, Wedgwood Ewart, R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Benson, G. Fernyhough, E. Kinley, J.
Beswick, F. Field, Capt. W. J. Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Woolwich, E.) Finch, H. J. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Bing, G. H. C Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Blenkinsop, A. Follick, M. Logan, D. G
Blyton, W. R. Foot, M. M. Longden, Fred (Small Heath)
Boardman, H. Forman, J. C. MacColl, J. E.
Booth, A. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McGhee, H. G.
Bottomley, A. G. Freeman, Peter (Newport) McInnes, J.
Bowden, H. W Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N McKay, John (Wallsend)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Ganley, Mrs. C. S. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Gibson, C. W. Mainwaring, W. H.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Gilzean, A. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Glanville, James (Consett) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Gooch, E. G Manuel, A. C
Brown, George (Belper) Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Grenfell, D. R. Mellish, R. J.
Burke, W. A. Grey, C. F. Messer, F.
Burton, Miss E. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Middleton, Mrs. L.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Grimond, J. Mikardo, Ian
Callaghan, L. J. Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Mitchison, G. R.
Carmichael, J. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Champion, A. J. Hamilton, W. W Moeran, E. W.
Clunie, J. Hannan, W. Monslow, W.
Cocks, F. S. Hardman, D. R Moody, A. S.
Coldrick, W. Hardy, E. A Morley, R.
Collick, P. Hargreaves, A. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Cook, T. F. Harrison, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Hayman, F. H. Mort, D. L.
Cooper, John (Deptford) Hewitson, Capt. M Moyle, A.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham) Hobson, C. R. Mulley, F. W.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Holman, P. Murray, J. D.
Crosland, C. A. R. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Nally, W.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Houghton, D. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Dames, P. Hubbard, T. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Oldfield, W. H.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Orbach, M.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Paget, R. T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
de Freitas, G. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Pannell, T. C.
Parker, J. Slater, J. Wallace, H. W.
Paton, J. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Pearson, A. Snow, J. W. Wells, William (Walsall)
Peart, T. F. Sorensen, R. W. West, D. G.
Poole, C. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh E.)
Popplewell, E. Sparks, J. A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Porter, G. Steele, T. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Wigg, G
Rankin, J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wilkins, W. A.
Rees, Mrs. D. Stross, Dr. Barnett Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Reeves, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Sylvester, G. O. Williams, David (Neath)
Reid, William (Camlachie) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Richards, R. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Robens, A. Thomas, David (Aberdare) Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Thomas, George (Cardiff) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Wise, F. J.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Thurtle, Ernest Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Shackleton, E. A. A. Timmons, J. Woods, Rev. G. S.
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Wyatt, W. L.
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Tomney, F. Yates, V. F.
Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Turner-Samuels, M.
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Vernon, W. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Simmons, C. J. Viant, S. P. Mr. Royle and
Mr. Kenneth Robinson.
Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 1, line 8, to leave out "twenty-one," and to insert "thirty."

In our discussions on the last Amendment I referred to the Gracious Speech and I quoted the expression used in that speech: ground leases relating to residential property. It is quite clear now that the words "relating to residential property" were not entirely accurate; and it would now appear as the Clause stands that the words, "ground leases" are not in any respect entirely accurate. On the Committee stage we endeavoured to insert in this Bill the words "ground leases" and a definition of that phrase—[Interruption.] I am sorry that my remarks appear to cause amusement on the back benches opposite. I do not think there is anything particularly funny about them.

I was referring to the reply of the learned Attorney-General on that point and endeavouring to remind the House of it. He said it was not practical to find a satisfactory definition of the phrase "ground lease," and so the period of 21 years was arbitrarily selected as the line to be drawn in this part of the Bill. With regard to the definition which we put forward, which had been taken out of an Act of Parliament passed in 1939, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said this: By 1941 experience had shown that the definition in the Act had become completely unworkable, and in that year an amending Bill was passed, the definition was repealed and the distinction between ground leases and other leases was abolished for the purpose of the 1939 Act on which this Amendment was modelled.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 739.] I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not here today. I do not know why he is not present. As he was present on the Committee stage dealing with this, I thought he would be present today. No doubt there is some good reason for his absence. I have not communicated with him, nor am I proposing to engage in a personal attack, but I should have thought it was an occasion on which he might have been present to correct something he told the Committee which was entirely inaccurate.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said on Committee stage—and no doubt it counted a great deal with the Committee—that the definition which we had put forward had been repealed. Well, in fact it has not. It is still on the Statute Book. Why the right hon. and learned Gentleman should make that statement to the Committee I do not know. He went on to say that the definition we put forward had been shown to have become completely unworkable. No evidence was advanced for that at all. There is no reported case on that definition to show that in any sense it has become unworkable.

The implication of what he said was that the 1941 amending Act was brought in because of the defectiveness of that definition. There again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was entirely inaccurate. The reason for the 1941 amending Act was the introduction of the War Damage Act which made the distinction drawn in the 1939 Act between ground leases and other leases no longer necessary to maintain. I am therefore sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not here to explain why he made these statements, which in my opinion, are entirely inaccurate.

We put forward that definition of ground leases and in our opinion it was a very good definition. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman, apart from seeking to meet our argument by making statements which were patently not accurate—and when I say "patently" I should say not accurate when one looks to see precisely what was the position, that definition not having been repealed and still being on the Statute Book even now—did go on to recognise that drawing the line at leases of over 21 years would mean that more than ground leases were caught in the net set by this Bill.

Views may differ as to the number of leases of over 21 years, which are not ground leases, which are likely to be brought in, but it is becoming not an uncommon practice to let shops and other business premises; Government Departments I believe take leases very frequently on a rack rent over 21 years. That is becoming by no means uncommon. Views may differ as to the number of leases which are not ground leases which will be brought in by the Bill as drafted. We should try to make certain what we are doing by this Measure in this very badly drafted Clause.

I do not think it in the least degree impossible to provide a satisfactory definition of ground leases—one which would work. Any lawyer has only to look at a document to know whether it is a ground lease or not. I shall not come back to that, but I regret that, in dealing with the definition we put forward, the Attorney-General should have misled the Committee. The Attorney-General was adamant in his refusal to insert a definition, or to insert the words "ground lease" anywhere in this Measure.

Realising that we could not prevail upon the Government by pursuing that line, we have sought to do the next best thing and to amend the Bill by altering the period and making it apply to leases of over 30 years rather than to leases of over 21 years. The reasons for this Amendment are twofold. One reason which should commend itself to the Government is that a period of over 30 years is provided in the Scottish Bill which will be discussed when we have concluded our consideration of this Measure. Why should there be a different period in Scotland? That is one argument. I hope that the Solicitor-General, even without the assistance of the Lord Advocate, will be able to satisfy us why the period should be longer in Scotland than it is in England.

The second and perhaps the more cogent reason is that I have never heard of a ground lease being granted for a period of less than 30 years. Usually it is granted for a very much longer period. I do not believe that by putting the period up to 30 years we shall be excluding any category of tenancy which this Bill was intended to include under Part I. If we put it up to 30, we shall exclude a considerable number of leases which are not ground leases in any sense whatever and which were not intended to be within the scope of this part of the Bill. I hope that I have made the point clearly. In order to make this Bill apply to ground leases, and to exclude a large number of leases which are not ground leases, I move that these words be inserted.

Mr. John Hay (Henley)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I would remind the Committee that it has been our objective in these debates to improve what we consider to be a Measure which in many ways is extremely unsatisfactory and almost unworkable. This Amendment will make it far easier for people to understand that what is really struck at by Part I of the Bill is the long ground lease. I do not propose to traverse the ground which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), has already covered in describing the various ways in which the Attorney-General, on the Committee stage, endeavoured to persuade the Committee that there was no satisfactory definition of a ground lease.

5.15 p.m.

I should have thought that a Socialist Attorney-General would have considered the admirable precedent set for him some years ago by a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer, the late Lord Snowden. In the Finance Act of, I think, 1931, there was a special provision dealing with ground leases. When that Act brought in the Land Tax certain properties were exempted. The sort of properties exempted were those let on leases of 50 years or more. Those were considered to be properties let on ground leases. I should have thought that that example might have been one to which the Attorney-General could quickly have flown if he was in any doubt what was meant by a long lease or a ground lease.

Our purpose is to improve the Bill. For all practical purposes, there is not a great deal of difference between a lease of over 21 years and a lease of over 30 years. When we bear in mind that most of the cases which it is intended by this Measure to protect—those small people living in what they consider to be their own houses which they have had in their families for a good many years—the likelihood is that most of them will have had very long leases, not of 21 years or 30 years, but often of 99 years. We say, therefore, that it is not often that one finds a property let on a lease of 21 years if it is to be used for residential purposes.

We want to try to protect the person who is living in what he regards as his own home which he has on a lease. It is very seldom that one finds a property to let on that sort of basis under a ground lease of 21 years. In practice the figure is usually 99 years. We think that 30 years, which would marry this Measure with the Scottish Measure, would be about the right period to make clear what is meant by a ground lease and to make clear that this Bill applies to ground leases. In seconding the Amendment, I urge the Government to think a second time about this matter. I ask the Solicitor-General—realising that the Attorney-General blundered badly on the Committee stage by telling us something which was entirely inaccurate—to say that this Amendment can be accepted.

Mr. G. Thomas

Those hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken in this debate have been in perfect harmony with the attitude of the Conservative Party purposes of hon. Members on this side. It may be the case that the interests of throughout the debates on this Bill. They have sought to emasculate the Bill. They have sought to cut out, category by category, all beneficiaries from its scope. If this unhappy Amendment were accepted, then another class of person—to the great delight of hon. Gentlemen opposite—would not benefit under this Measure. It is clear that the Opposition are seeking not to extend any benefits. The people to whom the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) referred are already protected by the 21-year limitation. He is seeking to limit the benefit and, in that way, to save more money for the ground landlords.

Mr. Hay


Mr. Thomas

It is obvious that it hurts the hon. Gentleman to have his real motive revealed before the House. It is clear that the game being played by the Opposition is to fight to the last ditch for the ground landlord. I commend them on the obvious sincerity with which they defend the interests of the ground landlords. Many hon. Members opposite have already announced, at various stages of the Bill, their interest in this matter as directors of great concerns which will suffer by its terms. I quite understand that they will not miss a further opportunity of limiting the protection which this Bill will give to people, such as those in my own constituency, about whom I hope to speak on the Third Reading.

Mr. Black

I think it is usually considered, under the rules and customs of this House, that an hon. Member, who has declared his interest when he has taken part in the discussions in the previous stages of a Bill, is not called upon, on any and every occasion on which he rises to speak, to continue in a kind of parrot-like fashion to repeat the fact that he has an interest in property. Perhaps the hon. Member on the other side will take a little trouble in future, before intervening in matters of this kind, to inform himself as to the customs and practices of this House, and, if he does that, I am quite certain that we shall be able to proceed with the discussion of these matters without foolish and irrelevant interventions.

We have listened to an unfortunately typical speech from the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). It was a speech characterised by inaccuracy and by misrepresentation of the intentions and truth and accuracy are even higher interests than interests of a financial character, and I want to bring back the attention of hon. Members to one or two of the entirely unjustified statements which have just been made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West.

He has stated quite categorically that the whole effort of hon. Members on this side has been to limit the scope of and protection afforded by this Bill, and, having made that statement, I will invite him, if he will be good enough to give me his attention, to refer—because it is relevant to this particular allegation—to page 11, lines 35–37 of the Bill, to which there is a subsequent Amendment on the Order Paper, sponsored by hon. Members on this side of the House. The purpose of the Amendment is to prevent certain classes of persons being deprived of the protection which this Bill would give them when it becomes an Act. If the sincerity of hon. Members is being called into question, we shall be able to judge of the sincerity of the hon. Member who has just spoken according to whether he accompanies us into the Division Lobby when that Amendment is reached.

The purpose of that Amendment is to remove the exclusion, which the Bill at present contains, from the protection provided by the Bill, of those persons occupying premises where an interest belonging to a public authority is concerned, and where, in the public interest, a new tenancy ought not to be granted. We are desirous of extending the protection of the Bill to that class of person, who is at present excluded from protection, and I hope that the sincerity of the hon. Gentleman opposite will become clear and be revealed by the manner on which he votes on that Amendment.

What we are doing here, in the Amendment now before the House, is simply to give effect to what, from start to finish, has been claimed to be the aim and intention of those who sponsor the Bill. All along, the contention has been that this is a Bill to deal with ground leases, and we contend that a period of 30 years and over is a more suitable definition or classification of a ground lease than the existing definition or classification as a lease of over 21 years.

I will suggest for the consideration of the House that it is an unheard of thing for a ground lease ever to be granted for a period of less than 30 years. The essence of a ground lease is that it is a lease of a piece of ground where an obligation is imposed on the lessee to erect a building, and, as a matter of practical knowledge and experience, no one would ever contemplate erecting a building on a site where the lease was 30 years or less, as it would be impossible for him to get adequate recompense for that expenditure over such a short period as 30 years or less.

This Amendment, therefore, simply seeks to carry into effect—in an imperfect way, we agree, because we would rather have had a proper definition of a ground lease than the extension of the period over 30 years—what all along has been declared to be the intention; namely, to confine within the ambit of Part I ground leases and only ground leases.

Mr. Gibson (Clapham)

The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) got rather annoyed with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), because he said that nearly all the Amendments which were discussed on the Committee stage and the first two discussed today would have had the effect of reducing the number of people who will be beneficiaries under the Bill. There is no doubt about that. I do not think the hon. Gentleman will deny it.

Mr. Black

If the hon. Gentleman will excuse me, the statement to which I took exception was not "nearly every Amendment," but "every Amendment."

Mr. G. Thomas

If the hon. Gentleman will also excuse me, I am quite prepared to meet him and to say that 90 per cent. and over of the Amendments from the other side were attempts to exclude people from benefit.

Mr. Gibson

I am not very interested in the discussion between the two hon. Gentlemen. The real point about this Amendment is that it will have the effect, which so many of the Opposition Amendments would have, of reducing the number of people who will benefit under this Bill, and therefore I fail entirely to understand how the Conservative Party, even with the effrontery for which they are famous can say that they are attempting to improve the Bill. They are making it worse, and this Amendment would make it worse.

I am not a lawyer, and I would therefore hesitate to butt in on this argument whether the definition given by the Attorney-General covered ground leases or leases which are not ground leases. All I can say is that the Title of this Bill does not specifically refer only to ground leases, and I am quite sure that, when the Tory Party discussed the matter at their annual conference last year at which a resolution was carried, they meant to try to assist people with long leases, whether ground leases or just leases on the houses themselves.

We are anxious, and I think the whole House is anxious, to protect the people who have paid for the houses in which they are living, many of whom have raised their families in them, against the danger of being robbed of their houses merely because, by the passage of time, the lease runs out. We consider that handing these people over, however legally it may be done, to the ground landlords is not entirely satisfactory, and, later on, we want to see something very much stronger in the way of protection for leaseholders than is provided by this Bill.

However, this Bill does give considerable protection, and I therefore hope that the Opposition will cease trying to whittle down the number of people who will derive benefit from this Bill. If they do not, all I can say is that I hope that the Press will take notice of it and that the people of this country will realise that, when the Tory Party pass a resolution about leasehold reform, they really do not mean it.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Powell

A slightly wrong impression might have been given by the remarks which the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) has just addresed to the House. It is as well to be clear as to what sort of persons will be excluded by the substitution of "thirty" for "twenty-one." The only people who will be deprived of protection thereby are people occupying property of a rateable value outside the rent restriction limits and who hold that property on leases of between 21 and 30 years. They will be given a protection which is not accorded to persons holding similar property on leases of less than 21 years.

To take a concrete example, imagine a property of a rateable value of £150 in London. If it is held on a lease of 20 years, the occupier has no protection under the Rent Restrictions Acts and he gains no protection under the Bill. As the Bill stands, if that occupier holds the property on a 22 years' lease, then he will have a two years' extension. That is a quite absurd anomaly, outside the intentions of the Government.

Mr. Awbery (Bristol, Central)

A man with a lease with 29 years unexpired would not receive the benefit of the Bill, but a man with 31 years would do so. The same principle applies, whatever number of years is agreed upon in a Bill.

Mr. Powell

On the contrary, unless it can be shown that ground leases—that is, leases which fall outside the Rent Restrictions Acts because the rent is less than two-thirds of the rateable value—are granted for less than 30 years, which my hon. Friends and I believe cannot be shown, there is no reason for a figure lower than 30 being written into the Bill.

The Solicitor-General

At one stage in the discussion on the Amendment a certain amount of heat began to be engendered in the debate. Probably my hon. Friends on this side and hon. Members opposite will agree that it was rather a relief to our feelings that that should be so with a Bill of this sort, but they will probably also agree that we would make more progress with the examination of the matter if we brought the debate back to an atmosphere more appropriate to a difficult Bill of this sort. That is what I shall endeavour to do.

I begin by saying that it is, possibly, a little unfortunate for the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) to think it right to make a charge against my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General without giving him the courtesy of notice that he was proposing to do so, and then complaining that my right hon. and learned Friend was not here after he had not been given such notice.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I said I regretted that the Attorney-General was not here, because I naturally assumed that he would be here as he dealt with this part of the Bill on the Committee stage. Had I thought for a moment that he would not be here, I certainly would have told him of the obvious inaccuracy into which he fell on that occasion. But I do not see that because the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not present for the discussion of a Bill with which he dealt on Committee stage, I should refrain from drawing attention to something which is obviously wrong.

The Solicitor-General

It is a matter, perhaps, of personal taste, on which our respective views are not quite in accord. It would have been quite easy for the hon. and learned Member to write a note yesterday to say that he had that intention if, in fact, he had it. Perhaps, however, it would be better to draw a veil over the incident, particularly as the charge is not well founded.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Indeed it is.

The Solicitor-General

The hon. and learned Member says that the charge is well founded. If he will excuse my saying so, it is not well founded. I will refer him to the Sections to which my right hon. and learned Friend was referring and then the hon. and learned Member can judge for himself. I hope that if he thinks I am right, he will withdraw what he has said.

The Sections in question were Section 13 of the Landlord and Tenant (War Damage) Act, 1939, and the definition of a ground lease that goes with that Section is contained in Section 24 of that Act. If the hon. and learned Member would turn to Section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant (War Damage) (Amendment) Act, 1941, he would find, in subsection (1), that: The principal Act shall apply to ground leases in like manner as it applies to other leases, and accordingly sections thirteen and fourteen of that Act shall cease to have effect.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The definition Section is not repealed.

The Solicitor-General

I was just about to concede that point. In terms, that does not repeal the definition in Section 24, but it does repeal one of, I think, the only two Sections to which the definition Section has reference.

Mr. Manningham-Buller rose

The Solicitor-General

If the hon. and learned Member will allow me to complete what I want to say, he can then carry on the argument. Not only is that the case, but when the consolidation Act of 1943 was enacted, that definition of a ground lease was no longer included in that Act, so that although upon a very limited view it can be said that the definition was not, in terms, repealed by the 1941 Act, what the 1941 Act did was to repeal the Sections in the 1939 Act for which the definition was included in that Act, and the definition was not subsequently reproduced in the consolidating Act of 1943. Therefore—

Mr. Manningham-Buller rose

The Solicitor-General

I am not giving way until I have made the point I want to make. Therefore, in substance, it was perfectly true to say, as my right hon. and learned Friend did say, that the definition in the 1939 Act had been removed from the face of existing legislation; that is the effect of what he said. That explanation could have been given by him in person had the hon. and learned Member been so good as to give him notice.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. That, of course, is not what the Attorney-General said on the Committee stage, and it is no use the right hon. and learned Gentleman now seeking to put a gloss upon those words. Indeed, the sections to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred—I am grateful to him for doing so—in the 1941 Act make it quite clear that the point I made was entirely justified.

I will read what the Attorney-General said: By 1941 experience had shown that the definition in the Act had become completely unworkable … I drew attention to that not being the case. Now, mark these clear and unambiguous subsequent words of the Attorney-General: … and in that year"— that is, 1941— an amending Bill was passed, the definition was repealed …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 739.] The definition was not repealed in 1941. It remained on the Statute Book. The reason for the alteration had nothing to do with the definition of ground leases, but was because of the passage of the War Damage Act; and that is easily ascertainable.

The Solicitor-General

To go on trying to draw distinctions where they really do not exist, in substance at any rate, is not advancing the interests of the House.

What happened was that Section 13 was, in terms, repealed, and if we repeal Section 13 we are taking away all reason for the existence of the definition. That was followed up by the fact that the definition was not reproduced in the 1943 Act. It is a question as to how one should describe that legislative process but I would put it to the House, if we are really entering into the minutiae of expression, that it is certainly not an inaccurate way of putting it to say that the definition was repealed. At least, it would be perfectly accurate to say—perhaps the hon. and learned Member will give me the courtesy of his attention. At least, it would be accurate to say that it had been repealed by 1943. I am sure that the hon. and learned Member would agree to that.

However, whether that is so or not, I now pass on to the substance of the argument and away from the personal charges that have been made. We have carefully examined this position, as we have done a long time ago, and our researches lead us to think that the statement made by the Attorney-General in opening the Second Reading debate was perfectly accurate. It has not been shown to be in any substantial sense inaccurate, and I would desire to repeat what he said on that occasion. He said: I have been talking all this time about ground leases, building leases. It is very difficult to define them, and the Bill, as a matter of fact, uses the expression 'long leases granted for more than 21 years.' In practice, such leases are almost invariably, if not invariably, building leases. We shall cover by this method of definition everything we intend to protect and it is most unlikely that we shall cover anything else. Leases of houses already built are generally for three, five, seven, 14 or, occasionally, 21 years. Although I have not heard of such a case, there may be exceptional ones where leases of already existing houses extend for more than 21 years. If we did protect an occasional house of that kind, it would be most exceptional and no great harm would be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1950; Vol. 482, c. 382.] That is a general statement of the position. It is accurate as far as we are able to ascertain, and if it is accurate it is perfectly satisfactory as it stands. We believe that we give cover and protection in all cases where necessary. If it is the case that exceptional circumstances may creep within the ambit of the Bill, so be it. It means that in exceptional cases we may have given cover where it is not necessary. But that is the exceptional case. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that there are other cases. If I heard him aright I think he said that in the case of leases to Government Departments or something of that sort, there might be a long lease at a rack rent.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

If I may help the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I said that it is by no means uncommon in these days to have leases of over 21 years for shop premises and business premises, and quite frequently leases are taken by Government Departments for periods longer than that. I am sure the Solicitor-General will find that that is so.

The Solicitor-General

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He said that it is by no means rare that that should happen. All I know is that our researches do not accord with that. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned business premises and shop premises. Only mixed premises would come within Part I, because the premises would only be within Part I if the tenant or a member of his family lived in the premises. That, I should have thought, would exclude many kinds of premises to which the hon. and learned Gentleman was referring. He simply uses a vague generalisation and makes a very broad statement about it. It is difficult to get to grips with it without having any details, especially as we ourselves, as far as our researches have gone, have not been led to the same conclusion as he has. Therefore, it seems to us that the situation remains as it was when my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made the statement which I have quoted.

We bring in cases which need protection. We think that nothing is to be gained by arbitrarily increasing the period from 21 to 30 years. An hon. Member has referred to the Long Leases (Temporary Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, where 31 years is the period mentioned. It is a period used for a very different purpose. It is used as a boundary of time beyond which leases are registerable under the Registration of Leases (Scotland) Act, 1857. We have no analogous time period in England, and it does not seem to us that there is any logical or practical reason why, that being so, we should adopt that purely arbitrary extension of a period which does not coincide with the experience which we have had. I hope the House will agree that this Amendment ought to be rejected.

Mr. J. Foster rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think we ought to make progress.

Mr. Foster

With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, there has not been a long period of discussion on this Amendment.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We have discussed this comparatively small Amendment for three quarters of an hour, and we have a great many Amendments on the Order Paper.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Foster

If I may, I will particularly address my remarks to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to convince you that it is not a small Amendment. The discussion in Committee on the Amendment about ground leases proceeded on the footing that the Attorney-General was intending only to protect people who have a house under a ground lease. That is the answer to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson). If an Amendment cuts down the number of people protected by the Bill, it is not necessarily bad if the people protected by the Clause as drafted were not intended by the drafters of the Bill to be covered. The Solicitor-General has proceeded also on the same argument, and wants the same thing as we do—namely, only to protect people whose ground leases come to an end and not to protect people who have a rack rent of say 21 years or more.

The remarks of the Attorney-General on this Amendment in the Committee stage show that clearly. He said: … I said, and subsequent inquiries confirmed me in the view, that we thought the test we had adopted in the Bill would, in fact, embrace all ground leases and very little else."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 742.] That shows that the Attorney-General wanted the Bill to protect ground leases and nothing else. Part of the argument of the Solicitor-General would seem to be that the Bill as drafted now only protects ground leases and that if the Opposition Amendment were carried it would exclude certain types of ground leases. The basis on which the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General made their arguments is that they want to protect ground leases and nothing else, and that is the answer to the hon. Member for Clapham.

The question I want to ask the Solicitor-General is this. Has he ever heard of a ground lease—can he give an instance—for between 21 and 30 years? He seeks to throw the onus on us of saying that we have not proved that the Bill would protect people on a rack rent for a period between 21 and 30 years. That is easy to do with mixed property. Anybody who has had anything to do with the letting of shops—I have some acquaintance with that—knows that there are shops which are let at over 21 years; and they are mixed premises at that. So there would be shops on a rack rent, with mixed accommodation, and owing to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's refusal to accept the last Amendment this is another anomaly which creeps in. There are many instances of shops with mixed accommodation which are let at a rack rent for more than 21 years. But let hon. Members produce a ground lease for more than 21 and less than 30 years. I do not think they can do it.

Mr. MacColl (Widnes)

I could have produced one if I had been given notice. I could have produced my own.

Mr. Foster

A ground lease?

Mr. MacColl


Mr. Foster

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he will tell us a little bit more about the ground lease. Is he saying that between 21 and 30 years ago his land was not built on, that somebody built on the land and then let it at a ground lease for between 21 and 30 years? I am sure he is wrong about that. I will give him an opportunity to intervene again if he is really saying that.

Mr. MacColl

The hon. and learned Gentleman heard what I said. I am not submitting myself to cross-examination. I was asked, as were other hon. Members, to give information. I merely give the information that the ground lease under which I hold my house is for between 20 and 30 years.

Mr. Foster

I think the hon. Member must be under some misapprehension. I am sure he is absolutely sincere and that he believes what he says; it is just that he is wrong.

Mr. MacColl

Where are we getting? The hon. and learned Gentleman challenges us to produce such a lease.

Mr. Foster

A ground lease.

Mr. MacColl

A ground lease which does not come within the Rent Restrictions Acts. He starts on the assumption that such a thing is impossible and if we produce one he says we must be wrong. That is an insincere challenge to us because he does not accept our reply.

Mr. Foster

I said the hon. Gentleman must be wrong because he said he did not want to submit himself to cross-examination. When I gave him an example of what must have happened he did not say, "Yes, it was empty and the house was built." I know he is sincere, I know he believes what he says and I know he has had legal training, but it is very difficult to believe what he says. If he has such a ground lease, then it is an exceptional lease and it does not justify this Bill. The hon. Gentleman has to say that 30 years ago the land was unbuilt on, that a builder built on it and let the building at a ground rent of 21 years.

Mr. Granville West (Pontypool)

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman know that under certain manors building leases were granted; plots of land were leased upon which the lessee had to build a house; the lease was for 21 years renewable; and every time the lease expired the lessee had to apply for a new lease, which was granted. The lease is, therefore, for 21 years. If the lessee fails to send in his notice at the proper time, then, of course, his lease expires.

Mr. Foster

That is a perpetually renewable lease.

Mr. Granville West


Mr. Foster

It is a perpetually renewable lease under the Law of Property Act. Hon. Members really must consider what they are saying. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) has challenged me. Let me issue another challenge. Hon. Members opposite are saying that they know of such a case where there was a plot of land unbuilt on; it was then let to a builder and he had to build a house on it. Even in the times of a Conservative Government, when one could build a good house cheaply, the house would cost, let us say, between £300 and £500. The hon. Member for Widnes says that at the end of the lease of 21 years the house went back to the ground landlord. I do not believe anybody would have built a house on those terms, nor does the hon. Member. I cannot accept that he believes such a house would have been built on those terms.

Mr. Granville West

May I inform the hon. and learned Member that in the area of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Rev. Llywelyn Williams) large numbers of houses were built under the manor then existing and leases were granted for 21 years renewable up to a period of 99 years. The last lease, which comes under this Bill, is for 21 years, and if the Amendment is accepted it means that a number of people in the area of my hon. Friend will have no protection whatsoever under the Bill.

Mr. Foster

Does the hon. Gentleman say that they have no protection under the Bill at present, whether it is amended or not? Does he agree with me—

Mr. Granville West

I said that they will have no protection if the Amendment is accepted.

Mr. Foster

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that there will be no protection for these people under the Bill as it stands? He must study the Bill. Even a non-lawyer or a layman must read the Bill, which says "exceeding 21 years." I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to understand that when he says "21 years" it is not the same as saying "exceeding 21 years." Cannot the hon. Gentleman understand that?

I think this discussion has shown how confused are hon. Members opposite. It has shown that they think there is a house on a ground lease of less than 30 years. I do not see how anybody in their senses would build a house and then be willing to lose it to the ground landlord at the end of 30 years, and I appeal to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) to tell us what he thinks about it. Does he not feel that some of his hon. Friends are incorrect in their appreciation?

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I am taking it all sub silentio.

Mr. Foster

I know that when the hon. and learned Gentleman takes refuge in Latin it is because he wants to be polite to his fellow hon. Members on that side of the House. The point is quite clear. The Government say that they achieve the object of protecting the ground lessee by making the period 21 years, and they agree with us that the object of the Bill is to protect only the ground lessee. I appreciate that a section of hon. Members opposite want to protect everybody who is in a house, whether he is a ground lessee or not, which is why the hon. Member for Clapham speaks on the basis that if there is anything which cuts down the Bill it is bad and he is against it. I understand that point of view, but I do not understand the point of view of the

people who are piloting the Bill, who agree with us that the object is to protect the ground lessee and the ground lessee only, and then say that 21 years achieves that object and does not bring in rack rents, because they are thus committed to the view that there are such things as ground leases between 21 years and 30 years.

There may have been a case of a lunatic builder. Let us say that the hon. Member for Widnes was lucky enough to obtain a lease. Obviously, one cannot say that there is not one single ground lease of that sort in England, although in the light of misapprehensions about another property, I am not sure that the hon. Member for Widnes is not also under a misapprehension in this case. The point remains that not only by and large but in the vast majority of cases—I should have thought 100 per cent.—there is no such thing as a ground lease between 21 and 30 years. I ask the Solicitor-General to see whether he can find such leases. If he cannot, let him say so; and that is a reason for accepting the Amendment.

Question put, "That 'twenty-one' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 191.

Division No. 69.] AYES [6.0 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Coldrick, W Gaitskell, Rt. Hon H. T. N.
Adams, H. R. Collick, P. Gibson, C. W.
Albu, A. H. Cook, T. F. Gilzean, A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Glanville, James (Consett)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham) Gooch, E. G.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gordon-Walker, Rt Hon. P. C.
Awbery, S. S. Crosland, C. A. R. Grenfell, D. R.
Ayles, W. H. Crossman, R. H. S. Grey, C. F.
Baird, J. Cullen, Mrs. A. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Daines, P. Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)
Bartley, P. Cullen, Rt. Hon. H. Grimond, J.
Benn, Wedgwood Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hale, Joseph (Rochdale)
Benson, G. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Beswick, F. Davies, Harold (Leek) Hamilton, W. W.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A (Ebbw Vale) Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Hardman, D. R.
Bing, G. H. C. de Freitas, G. Hardy, E. A.
Blyton, W. R. Deer, G. Hargreaves, A.
Boardman, H. Delargy, H. J. Harrison, J.
Booth, A. Dodds, N. N. Hayman, F. H.
Bottomley, A. G. Donnelly, D. Hewitson, Capt. M
Bowden, H. W. Driberg, T. E. N. Hobson, C. R.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Dye, S. Holman, P.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Houghton, D.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hubbard, T.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Brown, George (Belper) Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Ewart, R. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Burke, W. A. Fernyhough, E. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Burton, Miss E. Field, Capt. W. J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney S.) Finch, H. J. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Callaghan, L. J. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Jay, D. P. T.
Carmichael, J Follick, M. Jenkins, R. H.
Champion, A. J. Forman, J. C. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Clunie, J. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Cooks, F. S. Freeman. Peter (Newport) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Orbach, M. Sylvester, G. O.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Keenan, W. Pannell, T. C. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Kenyon, C. Pargiter, G. A. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Parker, J. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E. Paton, J. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Kinley, J. Pearson, A. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Peart, T. F. Thurtle, Ernest
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Poole, C. Timmons, J.
Lindgren, G. S. Popplewell, E. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Porter, G. Tomney, F.
Logan, D. G. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Turner-Samuels, M.
Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Rankin, J. Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.
MacColl, J. E. Rees, Mrs. D. Vernal, W. F.
McGhee, H. G. Reeves, J. Viant, S. P.
McInnes, J. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Wallace, H. W.
McKay, John (Wallsend) Reid, William (Camlachie) Weitzman, D.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Richards, R Wells, Percy (Faversham)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Wells, William (Walsall)
Mainwaring, W. H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) West, D. G.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Mann, Mrs. Jean Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Manuel, A. C. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mellish, R. J. Royle, C. Wigg, G.
Messer, F. Shackleton, E. A. A. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Mikardo, Ian Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, David (Neath)
Mitchison, G. R. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Moeran, E. W. Silverman, Sydney (Melton) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Monslow, W. Simmons, C. J. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Moody, A. S. Slater, J. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Morley, R. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Snow, J. W. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Mort, D. L. Sorensen, R. W. Wise, F. J.
Moyle, A. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mulley, F. W. Sparks, J. A. Woods, Rev. G. S.
Murray, J. O. Steele, T. Wyatt, W. L.
Nally, W. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Yates, V. F.
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Oldfield, W. H. Stross, Dr. Barnett TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Oliver, G. H. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith Mr. Hannan and Mr. Wilkins
Aitken, W. T. Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Harvey, Ail Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)
Alport, C. J. M. Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Hay, John
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Cranborne, Viscount Head, Brig. A. H.
Arbuthnot, John Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Heald, Lionel
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Astor, Hon. M. L. Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Higgs, J. M. C.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Baldwin, A. E. Cundiff, F. W. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Banks, Col. C. Cuthbert, W. N. Hirst, Geoffrey
Baxter, A. B. Davidson, Viscountess Hollis, M. C.
Beamish, Major Tufton Davies, Nigel (Epping) Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.
Bell, R. M. de Chair, Somerset Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) De la Bère, R. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Bennett, William (Woodside) Deedes, W. F. Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Birch, Nigel Digby, S. W. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,.)
Bishop, F. P Dodds-Parker, A. D Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)
Black, C. W. Drayson, G. B. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Drewe, C Hurd, A. R.
Boothby, R. Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Duthie, W. S. Hutchison, Colonel James
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B. Eccles, D. M. Jeffreys, General Sir George
Braine, B. R. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Jennings, R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Fisher, Nigel Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Browne, Jack (Govan) Foster, John Lambert, Hon. G.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bullock, Capt. M. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A Gage, C. H. Lindsay, Martin
Butcher, H. W. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton.)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Gates, Maj. E. E. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Gridley, Sir Arnold Low, A. R. W.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McCallum, Major D.
Clyde, J. L. Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Harden, J. R. E. McKibbin, A.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hare, Hon J. H. (Woodbridge) McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Maclay, Hon. John Powell, J. Enoch Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Studholme, H. G.
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Summers, G. S.
Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Raikes, H. V. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Manningham-Buller, R. E. Redmayne, M. Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Marples, A. E. Remnant, Hon. P. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley) Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Maudling R. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Tilney, John
Mellor, Sir John Roper, Sir Harold Touche, G. C.
Molson, A. H. E. Ropner, Col. L Turner, H. F. L.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Russell, R. S. Turton, R. H.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Vane, W. M. F.
Nabarro, G. Savory, Prof. D. L. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nicholls, Harmar Scott, Donald Watkinson, H.
Nield, Basil (Chester) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Watt, Sir George Harvie
Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham) Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Nugent, G. R. H. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Nutting, Anthony Snadden, W. McN Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Odey, G. W. Soames, Capt. C. Williams, Gerald (Tunbridge)
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Spearman, A. C. M. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Wills, G.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Osborne, C. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wood, Hon. R.
Peaks, Rt. Hon. O. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Perkins, W. R. D. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Storey, S. Major Conant and
Pickthorn, K. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Mr. Edward Heath.
Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, to leave out "immediately before the date of expiry," and to insert: on and since the twentieth day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty. This Amendment seeks, quite frankly, to exclude certain persons from the benefit of the Bill, and I challenge hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House to say they ought to be included. Its effect is to require that no person who has started to live in the premises as a tenant in right of tenancy after the publication of the Bill shall be entitled to benefit under this Bill. The whole of the case made by the Government for this Measure, and for the accompanying Scottish Measure, is that it is to protect people who have lived in their houses as their homes—to protect them from being turned out by the wicked landlord on the expiration of their leases at the present time.

There are a very great number of ground lessees who have not lived in the premises, but have merely collected the rack rents for the premises or parts of the premises. There has already been a reference to those ground lessees who had the advantage of being lessees of large blocks of property—of offices—and who, at the last moment, would reside in them to qualify as ground lessees living in the premises as at the date when the Bill came into operation. There are a great number of other much less financially ambitious ground lessees merely content to let the premises at rack rents, and who, for years, have been collecting the rents and nothing more.

One specific case is worth all the theory on this Bill, of which we have had a great deal. In my post last week there was a letter from a landlady, asking these questions: What are the conditions necessary for claiming the further two years? Must the leaseholder have lived on the premises for any specified length of time? Perhaps I am not very clear. The lease I am interested in expires in June. The holders have been sleeping on the premises for a few nights during the last month only. In other words, it is perfectly clear that in this instance the ground lessee has intelligently read the terms of this Bill, and realises that as long as he can qualify on the date on which the Bill comes into operation as a person living on the premises he will automatically get a two years' extension of his lease. All he has to do is to go into occupation of one room, or one flat, and he will continue for another two years to draw the rack rents from the rest of the premises. That person has been referred to as a speculator in the fag-ends of leases. That those persons exist there can be no question, and when this Bill was first thought of I am sure there was no intention to benefit a man or woman of that sort.

The Bill has been drafted in such a way that it clearly holds out an enormous inducement to every ground lessee who has been living on the rents during these last years to go into occupation of part of the premises himself and thereby continue for the remaining two years to collect those rents. All he sacrifices is the rack rent of the room or flat into which he has to go, although he gets the benefit of living there. Now, that cannot be right. It cannot affect the other tenants in the house, because, if the Amendment is accepted, when the lease comes to an end the sub-tenants will be protected, and will be sub-tenants of the ground landlord; they will be no worse off and no better off than they are at present, except that their direct landlord will be the ground landlord and not the ground lessee. I cannot believe that hon. Members opposite intend to protect the ground lessee who has been living in the room, whose home it has never been, who all the time has only been collecting rack rents, and who will be given the benefit of this not very large financial advantage for the next two years instead of the ground landlord, or, in the case I cited, the ground landlady.

Mr. Powell

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do not believe that a great deal of argument is needed to carry conviction to both sides of the House that this Amendment is necessary. The principle underlying it and the object behind it have already been conceded by the Government in an Amendment which they very wisely, if I may say so, made in Committee when they inserted what is now Clause 3. Under Clause 3, a tenant who benefits by this Bill may not at any time after the expiry of his original lease assign that lease to another person without thereby losing the benefits of the Bill. It was only right that a person should not be able to cash in, if I may so describe it, upon this uncovenanted benefit of an extra two years if he did not himself, for himself or his family, require the protection of the Bill. It was quite unreasonable that a person whose lease ran out in June of next year should in the July be able to sell a two years' lease which he had been given as a windfall by this Bill.

6.15 p.m.

It is a necessary and logical extension of the principle recognised by the Government in Clause 3 that they should extend the same prohibition backwards to the date when the provisions of the Bill were known. That is to say, it should be impossible for a person, immediately before the date of expiry of his lease, a week or two weeks before, to assign the lease and to get the value of the extra two years' lease created by the Bill. Let me illustrate what I mean by this example. Suppose, in 1945, a person bought the last six years of a lease, and at the end of last year he was fortunate enough to obtain a licence to build, and, taking a rather rosy view, that his house will be ready for occupation in May. In May, when he moves into that new house he has still in his hands, by virtue of this Bill, a two years' lease, which he can sell and get the value of—a two years' lease for which he did not pay in 1945 and of which he has no need. I submit that that is a situation just as unreasonable as that he should be allowed to assign the lease immediately after the date of expiry.

I suggest that it is only right to insist upon the person who is to benefit from Part I of the Bill having been in residence continuously from the date when the provisions of the Bill were known until the date of the expiry of his old lease when the provisions of the new Clause will take over and come into effect. Therefore, both on the ground of the possible activities of the non-resident lessee, dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend, and on the ground of the resident tenant who is enabled to cash in on an advantage of which he has no personal or family need, it is only just and equitable that this Amendment should be accepted.

The Solicitor-General

This Amendment does not raise any new problem. We have already rather exhaustively discussed the question whether there should be some qualifying period and I do not think I can usefully add to what has already been said upon that topic. As was pointed out, any qualifying period must, of necessity, be arbitrary. However it is fixed, there will be cases that fall on each side of the line, and in drafting this legislation we have to look at the great generality of cases. I suppose there is very little legislation which is not capable of abuse by some persons, and no doubt this legislation will not form an exception to that general rule.

Be that as it may, one has to have regard to the interests of the very large number of persons whose interests will be regulated by the provisions of this Bill. Looking, for example, at legislation such as the rent restriction legislation one finds that there is no qualifying period of residence, or anything of that sort. It is very likely that the Legislature which put that legislation on the Statute Book had in mind the consideration that any qualifying period must be purely arbitrary.

When this point was raised in the earlier stages of the Bill it was based largely upon the person who purchases the fag-end of a lease. As the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), pointed out, we have at least met that. We think we have gone as far as we can go in this case. If one looks at the kind of problem we are dealing with, Clause 3 will cover most kinds of speculation which might be encouraged by the provisions of the Bill, and we think that to go further is simply to be purely arbitrary in this matter and to affect adversely a great many very deserving cases. In those circumstances, we feel that it will not improve the Bill to make this change.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

We have had a most astonishing reply from the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I am sorry that we should have had such a disappointing one at the same time. It is very difficult to make much progress with this Measure unless some attention is paid to the arguments advanced. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not sought to meet the argument which has great weight attached to it. In so far as he has advanced any argument against it, his argument, as I hope I shall show, is completely unsound.

Let us go back to what this Bill was primarily intended to deal with. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be in agreement when I say that the real intention of the Bill was to give protection to those who had for many years been residing in particular premises and whose leases of tenancies were expiring—to give them protection and to secure that they were not evicted or held up to ransom at this time of acute housing shortage for which the party opposite are so largely responsible. That was the object of the Measure.

The Leasehold Reform Committee's majority Report, with a view to ensuring that that category of long-standing tenants should benefit and not the speculators in "fag-ends"—the people who were trying to get high rents out of sub-tenants—recommended that no one should qualify for protection unless he was in occupation for a period of three years before the law was altered. On the Committee stage, we moved an Amendment in accordance with that majority recommendation, and we were defeated. We are not moving it again. The Amendment which we are moving today is quite a different one. It is to ensure that, while allowing all those in occupation up to the date of the publication of the Bill to benefit under the Bill, they must have been in occupation on and since 20th November, the date of publication, for them to qualify for the protection accorded.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that this point had been met by Clause 3, but that Clause applies only to a sub-letting of the whole of the residential accommodation or to an assignment after the date of the expiry of the lease. Clause 3 does not deal with the point that we are making now. Really, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is being singularly ingenuous in seeking to convince us that it does. The case which we are trying to present is the case where the intelligent speculator, the intelligent ground lessee, who has perhaps let the whole of his premises reads this Bill and realises what are the advantages which he can get by turning out a sub-tenant and going to live in the premises himself in one room, thereby getting further rent for a further period of two years from those sub-tenants.

We say that on and since 20th November we will exclude that particular individual but without affecting the subtenants, and by excluding him discourage other ground lessees from doing the same thing. It will also exclude all those who are speculating and protect all those who have read and not understood the provisions of the Bill. When it comes to someone trying to deal with the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson), I think that, having regard to his last speech, he is certainly in need of protection and he ought to support us on this matter to ensure that people who are not well acquainted with the terms of this Bill have no advantage taken of them by those who have read and understood it.

I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that he will give further consideration to this question. This is not an Amendment which can in any sense be described as a wrecking Amendment or as one which is diminishing the value of the Bill. All that it is seeking to do is to prevent the Bill from being abused, and it is nonsense to advance the argument that any qualifying period is purely arbitrary.

It is quite clear, in my submission, that if we take the date of the publication of this Bill it is a very sound date to take, and one which is by no means infrequently taken. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that, while he may talk easily about the interest of the great majority, it is not to the interest of the great majority of the people of this country that this Bill should become the vehicle for abuse and exploitation, and if these loopholes in it are not stopped up, the Bill will become as unpopular as the Socialist Town and Country Planning Act is at the present time.

We press the right hon. and learned Gentleman upon this matter. He must improve the Bill by stopping up this loophole, and by doing so he will not be excluding a single one of the category of tenants whom this Bill is intended to benefit. He must agree that that is so. I am sure that he realises it is so, and I press him very strongly upon this point, because in my belief, unless this Amendment is accepted, we shall have considerable abuse of this Measure, and one does not want to see a bad Measure working worse than it need do.

Mr. Higgs (Bromsgrove)

There is one point upon which my right hon. and learned Friend has not pitched his argument quite high enough. We are discussing on this Amendment who is to get the benefits of the Bill in the case where there is somebody between the ground landlord and the occupant. Is the occupant to have the benefit of the Bill, or is he to be put in the position that some intermediate landlord can push him out owing to his not being protected by the Rent Acts because the landlord has established himself in the house before the lease expired and himself gets the benefit of the Bill?

I wonder, in these circumstances, whom hon. Gentlemen opposite are seeking to protect? Are they seeking to protect the person living in the property now, or who was living in it when this Measure was introduced, or someone who comes along afterwards—the intermediate landlord or the speculative purchaser, if he can find a lease which is for sale?

The point which I make is that the incentive to that speculative purchaser is probably not just the rent for two years. What is the real incentive to the speculator or to the intermediate lessor who is so far not living in the property? The inducement of the lease in front of him is not just to continue to collect the rack rent and to pay out only the ground rent for the remainder of the two years which this Bill covers, but possibly to go on doing that for a very much longer period—perhaps even ad infinitum.

I suggest that there is a very real risk in cases where there is somebody who is in a position of being able to say, "I can turn out the occupants because I am their superior and they are not protected by the Rent Acts because this is leasehold property, and if I turn them out I can make a profit for myself not only to 1953 but to 1953 plus the probability of such further period as the permanent legislation may give. I suggest that, since my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) has quoted a case where an intermediate landlord has discovered this loophole in the Bill, the Amendment should commend itself to the Government. It can keep out no one whom they intend to protect, although it can keep out the sort of people whom we do not often find receiving enthusiastic support from Members opposite.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. J. Foster

It is to be regretted that the Solicitor-General wants to protect a man who acts in this way. Let me give an instance of how a man can act. He finds a number of ground leases, in the sense in which this Bill defines them, of over 21 years which are going to expire, and he gets hold of a man of straw. He buys the end of the ground lease and puts in the man of straw in part of the house, and he does this in mixed accommodation—flats, and so on. If he finds enough of these properties he may make an enormous amount of money, because the ground landlord will not be able to get his reversion as the man will have gone in within the period provided by the Bill.

If the Amendment is accepted, it will stop the man who can take advantage of this gap. The Amendment will not exclude anyone whom it is intended to protect. There was the Attorney-General's argument against the Amendment on the Committee stage on the three-year period. The argument there was that persons might have paid a premium for an assignment of the tail end of the ground lease genuinely intending to go there for residential purposes, and that it might be hard if they were turned out at the end of the ground lease. The only people who will be hit by this Amendment are those who have taken advantage of this position and have bought or had assigned to them the tail end of a ground lease in order to get the extension of two years.

Hon. Members must not think the sums concerned will necessarily be small. They can be very big indeed. Owing to the effect of the Bill, the occupation of a proportion of the premises gives protection to the whole of the premises. Suppose that Park West were on a ground lease and the ground lease were expiring within the period in this Bill. It would be possible for someone to get assigned the tail end of the lease, to instal himself in one of the flats, and then to get the extension of two years. The bigger the property the more valuable is the reversion. Some can go into hundreds of thousands of pounds. There could be a yearly

income of £60,000 to £80,000 a year. That is an extreme case, but there are cases up and down the line.

The speculator who is astute and is prepared to get hold of a man of straw so that he will not be liable at the end of the period when permanent legislation is brought into force will be able to exploit the community. Hon. Members opposite do not seem to be interested in this. They do not seem to think that it is a wrong thing. The reason is that they are determined not to have the Bill amended. But I appeal to them to realise that they must be wrong. If a speculator is given an obvious loophole, then the Bill should be altered.

Mr. Molson (The High Peak)

I appeal to the Solicitor-General to answer the point put to him since his speech. The main argument he advanced was that the benefits of the Bill should apply to those whom, from the date when the Bill was published, it was his desire to include. He has not told us which category of people in his opinion are meritorious. Will he tell us why he is resisting this Amendment and what category of persons he desires to protect?

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 210; Noes, 177.

Division No. 70.] AYES [6.35 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Callaghan, L. J. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)
Adams, H. R. Carmichael, J. Ewart, R.
Albu, A. H. Champion, A. J Fernyhough, E.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Clunie, J. Field, Capt. W. J.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Cocks, F. S. Finch, H. J.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Coldrick, W Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)
Awbery, S. S. Collick, P. Forman, J. C.
Ayles, W. H. Cook, T. F. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Bartley, P. Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham) Gibson, C. W.
Benn, Wedgwood Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gilzean, A.
Benson, G. Crosland, C.A R Glanville, James (Consett)
Beswick, F. Cullen, Mrs. A. Gooch, E. G.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Daines, P. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Bing, G. H. C. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Grenfell, D. R.
Blyton, W. R. Darling, George (Hillsborough) Grey, C. F.
Boardman, H Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Booth, A. Davies, Harold (Leek) Hale, Joseph (Rochdale)
Bottomley, A. G Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Bowden, H. W. de Freitas, G. Hamilton, W. W.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Deer, G. Hardman, D. R
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Delargy, H. J. Hardy, E. A.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Dodds, N. N. Hargreaves, A
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Donnelly, D. Harrison, J.
Broughton, Dr. A D. D. Driberg, T. E. N Hayman, F. H.
Brown, George (Belper) Dye, S. Hewitson, Capt. M.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hobson, C. R.
Burke, W. A. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Holman, P.
Burton, Miss E. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Houghton, D.
Hubbard, T. Morley, R. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Stross, Dr. Barnett
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Mort, D. L. Sylvester, G. O.
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Moyle, A. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Mullay, F. W. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Murray, J. D. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Janner, B. Nally, W. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Jay, D. P. T. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Jenkins, R. H Oldfield, W. H. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Johnson, James (Rugby) Oliver, G. H. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Timmons, J.
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Pannell, T. C. Tomney, F.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Pargiter, G. A. Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.
Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Pearson, A. Vernon, W. F.
Keenan, W. Peart, T. F. Viant, S. P.
Kenyon, C. Popplewell, E. Wallace, H. W.
Kinley, J. Porter, G. Weitzman, D.
Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wells, William (Walsall)
Lindgren, G. S. Rees, Mrs. D. West, D. G.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Logan, D. G. Richards, R. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Robens, A. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
MacColl, J. E. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
McGhee, H. G. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wigg, G.
McInnes, J. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, W.) Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
McKay, John (Wallsend) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Williams, David (Neath)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Royle, C. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Mainwaring, W. H. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Mann, Mrs. Jean Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Manuel, A. C. Simmons, C. J. Wise, F. J.
Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Slater, J. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mellish, R. J. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Woods, Rev. G. S.
Messer, F. Snow, J. W. Wyatt, W. L.
Middleton, Mrs. L- Sorensen. R. W. Yates, V. F.
Moeran, E. W. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Monslow, W. Sparks, J. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Moody, A. S. Steele, T. Mr. Hannan and Mr. Wilkins.
Aitken, W. T. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Alport, C. J. M. Cundiff, F. W. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Davies, Nigel (Epping) Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) de Chair, Somerset Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Astor, Hon. M. L. Deedes, W. F. Hurd, A. R.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Digby, S. W. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Baldwin, A. E. Dodds-Parker, A. D Hutchison, Colonel James
Banks, Col. C. Drayson, G. B. Jeffreys, General Sir George
Beamish, Major Tufton Drewe, C. Jennings, R.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Birch, Nigel Eccles, D. M. Lambert, Hon. G.
Bishop, F. P. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Black, C. W. Elliot, Rt. Hon W. E Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Fisher, Nigel Lindsay, Martin
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Foster, John Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Low, A. R. W.
Braine, B. R. Gage, C. H. McCallum, Major D.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) McKibbin, A.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Gates, Mai. E. E. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Gridley, Sir Arnold Maclay, Hon. John
Bullock, Capt. M. Grimond, J. MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W.)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A Grimston, Robert (Westbury) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Butcher, H. W. Harden, J. R. E. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Harvey, Air Codre A. V. (Macclesfield) Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hay, John Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Head, Brig. A. H. Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Heald, Lionel Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Heath, Edward Maudling R.
Clyde, J. L. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Mellor, Sir John
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Higgs, J. M. C. Molson, A. H. E.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Nabarro, G.
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Hirst, Geoffrey Nicholls, Harmar
Cranborne, Viscount Hope, Lord John Nield, Basil (Chester)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. Hopkinson, H. L. D'A. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Nugent, G. R. H.
Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Odey, G. W.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Scott, Donald Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian ('Hendon, N.) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Tilney, John
Osborne, C. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham) Turner, H. F. L.
Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Turton, R. H.
Perkins, W. R. D. Snadden, W. McN Vane, W. M. F.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Soames, Capt. C. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Pickthorn, K. Spearman, A. C. M. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Powell, J. Enoch Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Watkinson, H.
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Watt, Sir George Harvie
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde) Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Raikes, H. V. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Redmayne, M. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Remnant, Hon. P. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Storey, S. Wills, G.
Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Wood, Hon. R.
Roper, Sir Harold Summers, G. S.
Ropner, Col. L. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Russell, R. S. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton) Mr. Studholme and
Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.

Bill read the Third time, and passed. [King's Consent on behalf of the Crown signified.]

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 1, line 18, at the end, to insert: (2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any premises to which Part II of this Act applies. This is the first of two Amendments to line 18, and I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we deal separately with them, because they deal with different points. We moved a similar Amendment on the Committee stage to try to ensure some clarity and eliminate some uncertainty in the Bill as to its effect. From the speeches made on Second Reading from the Government Front Bench, from a perusal of the Bill itself, and from what was said in the Gracious Speech, we understood that the object was two-fold—to provide some measure of protection, first, for those holding residential property on ground leases, and secondly, for those who occupy shops.

It is quite clear under the Bill that shop and living accommodation clearly comes within the purview of Part II. I pointed out on the Committee stage that it was possible for a tenancy of a dwelling and of a shop to come under Part I and I indicated that that was likely to cause confusion and uncertainty. The Attorney-General said that he would like to have an opportunity of considering the matter before the Report stage, and, in view of that, naturally we withdrew the Amendment. Since that date the right hon. and learned Gentleman has very kindly sent me a letter expressing his view with regard to that particular point. I think its contents are of such importance in explaining the operation of this Bill that they should be made public, and by tabling this Amendment we have enabled the Government to do so. I do not want to prejudice the explanation that the Solicitor-General will give, but as on the Report stage one can speak only once without obtaining the leave of the House, I will, if I may, comment shortly upon the answer that the Attorney-General has given me.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that the tenancy of a dwelling house and a shop could come under either part of the Bill. Indeed, some tenancies can come under both parts. If a tenancy is for over 21 years, there will, of course, be automatic extension for two years at the same rent. If the tenancy is less than 21 years and expires within the next two years, Part II applies, in which case the tenant can get an extension on terms settled by the county court. A very important step, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made clear to me in his letter, was that if during the period of automatic extension a landlord gives notice, on the ground of assignment or sub-letting under Clause 3, then in spite of that the tenant will be enabled, although he has assigned or sub-let the whole of the accommodation, to make an application which will bring him within Part II.

It was not apparent to me when I moved the Amendment on the Committee stage that not only could one particular property come both within Part I and Part II of the Bill, but also that Clause 3 would be used in relation to a tenancy under Part I, when the tenant of the premises, under a lease for over 21 years, was given notice to quit on the ground that he had assigned the whole of his interest or sub-let the whole of the residential accommodation. As I understand it, from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's letter to me, that is the present position under the Bill.

Indeed, the Solicitor-General, earlier this afternoon, made it clear—it was not made clear in the Second Reading debate—that it is the intention to deal with shops both under Part I and Part II. It seems to me that whatever one may say for or against the Bill, the present position is likely to create all kinds of anomalies. There may be two adjoining shops or two shops in the same neighbourhood, one with a lease expiring in the next two years which may have its rent increased after the man has gone to the county court. The other one, a neighbouring shop, it may be of a competitor and perhaps occupying comparable premises, will have an automatic extension for two years with no increase in rent. As between shops, irrespective of landlords and of competing shopkeepers, that does not appear to be logical or fair.

I call the attention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman particularly to this point and to the uncertainty which arises, in view of the present position under the Bill, as to whether notice under Part I, Clause 3, will result in possession being given or obtained, and which makes it impossible to plan ahead. I am not at all sure in relation to this Measure, which is only supposed to operate for two years, that there is not a good deal to be said for confining Part I to dwellings and properties let for rent under one long-term lease, and confining Part II to shops with living accommodation let with the shop. That would avoid all overlapping. It would certainly make it much easier for both landlord and tenant, whether of residential property or of shops, to understand the position, it would lead to a reduction of litigation—not always to be discouraged—and I am sure that it would lead to the Bill being easier to operate.

I hope that I have not taken unduly long in dealing with this point. We put the Amendment forward in the belief that it will improve the Bill, although it may cause the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) to rise to his feet and misrepresent once more the action that we are taking. I am sure that if he understands what I have been saying, he will appreciate the error of his ways.

Mr. Hay

I beg to second the Amendment.

The further we go with this Bill the worse it seems to get. We have now an entirely new situation, which I think none of us contemplated either on the Second Reading or on the Committee stage. We now have the letter which has passed between the Attorney-General and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), in which an entirely new construction is placed upon Parts I and II, as they apply to mixed properties. I have not had the opportunity of reading or of hearing the contents of the letter, but it fills me with amazement to think that the Attorney-General, who appeared very conciliatory on the Committee stage when this point was raised, should say that, so far as the Government are concerned, they are prepared to give a tenant, who may not be a deserving tenant, two bites at the cherry.

It seems a very odd situation. It is something which ought to have been disclosed to the House at a much earlier stage. I strongly support the Amendment, and I hope that the Government will have second thoughts about it. If that is to be the situation, we are surely giving an altogether unjust advantage to a tenant. In spite of the remarks of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), and other hon. Members, we on this side of the House are just as much concerned about the position of tenants as of landlords. We have said that there should be a just and equitable balance between the two. We do not like the Bill and the way in which it proposes to do this job, and if it can be improved we seek to improve it.

The Solicitor-General

I gather that the object of moving the Amendment is to invite the Government to explain the effect of the Bill in certain of its aspects. I am sorry if it has not been clear before, but we certainly thought that in this respect the Bill was perfectly clear. The Attorney-General in his letter to the hon. and learned Member has made clear what the effect of it is. Perhaps I might just quote the relevant part of the letter so that it may go publicly on record. It is this: Part II only operates where the tenancy is due to come to an end within the period of two years, beginning with the commencement of the Act. If the tenancy is affected by Part I at all, that is, if it was granted by a long lease of mixed residential and shop property, it will be extended automatically by Part I and will not come to an end within the two-year period, so that Part II will have no application. I should have thought, and I would urge upon the House, that that was the clear effect of the Bill. You first look at Part I. When you contemplate the premises in question you ask: "Do they comply with the requirements of Part I?" Axe they, in other words, held on a long lease? Is the tenant, or a member of his family, living in them or part of them? If the answer to these questions is "yes," Part I is applicable, with the result that the lease is extended for two years at the same rent.

If the lease is extended for two years it follows automatically and axiomatically, that Part II cannot apply to it, for the very reason that Part II can come into application only when the tenancy comes to an end within the period of two years beginning with the commencement of the Act and would come to an end by efflux-ion of time or by the expiration of a notice to quit. Ex concesso, if the tenancy has already been extended for two years under Part I, it obviously cannot come to an end within those two years so as to bring into operation these words which I have just cited from Clause 10, in Part II. Therefore; it is perfectly clear that if the premises fall within Part I, Part II cannot apply to them.

I gather that that brings about a result which in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite is undesirable and which somehow shocks them. I really do not see why. Suppose the landlord gives notice under Clause 3 on the ground that there has been a sub-tenancy or an assignment. What happens? Part I ceases to apply and the tenancy comes to an end. Then you look to see what Part II does. The new tenant—not the old tenant, if I may take the case of a sub-tenancy—can then apply under Part II. He is then given a tenancy.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says "new tenant," is that really right? The new tenant who comes in, the one to whom the sub-tenancy or assignment is made, has not held under a lease which expires within two years.

The Solicitor-General

I really am sure about this point. What happens is that the long lease is prolonged under Part I. It then comes to an end, because the lessee has sub-let—to take a simple case—within the two-year period, with the result that the landlord obtains the right to terminate the tenancy under Clause 3. The subtenancy having taken place, obviously a new tenant is in occupation. There is a new tenant.

7.0 p.m.

The new tenant has been brought on to the scene by virtue of the fact that there is a sub-tenancy. There we have a case which then falls within Part II, because it is a case of shop premises, the tenancy in regard to which comes to an end within the relevant two years. The result of that is that the tenant of those shop premises can, under Clause 12, if the county court judge thinks it appropriate in all the circumstances to give him a new tenancy, obtain a fresh tenancy for a period not exceeding a year: but, of course, he does not get the new tenancy at anything like the original ground rent; he gets it at a reasonable rent, whatever a reasonable rent is.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

This is very important, and I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not mind my putting a point to him to get it clear. Take sub-letting; on that ground the original tenant is given notice to quit, and the landlord obtains possession. It may be that a sub-tenant has gone into occupation under the sub-lease but that subtenant will not be the tenant of the landlord in consequence of that. That is one point, and I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with that.

Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the new sub-tenant can claim under Part II. Is that really right? He cannot claim under Part II unless it is a lease expiring within the two years, and he holds no lease of that landlord. He had a tenancy of his landlord who has been ejected from the property because he had no right to sub-let. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the new tenant can claim under Part II but is that really so, because the new tenant will not be holding under a lease expiring within the two years? He will not be holding under any lease.

The Solicitor-General

I really think that I am right. What happens? We get the premises and there is a tenant in them. The tenant then assigns or sublets his tenancy to a new tenant. Let us call the new tenant B and the original tenant A. Tenant B goes into possession by virtue of the assignment or sub-letting of the tenancy by tenant A. Tenant B then finds that the tenancy under which he is holding is determined. He is then the tenant of premises the tenancy of which has been brought to an end by notice to quite being given by the landlord within two years.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

But he will not have any notice from the landlord.

The Solicitor-General

He will not have that, but it will be a case of a tenancy coming to an end by virtue of a notice to quit by the landlord. [HON. MEMBERS: "But not his landlord."] Nevertheless it will be brought to an end; he will stand in the same shoes as the original tenant who sub-let to him and the tenancy will come to an end. That is the effect of the Bill. That is rather a by-product of the original proposition which I was advancing, which was that the effect of the Bill is that Part II applies only in the case where Part I no longer has any application.

Mr. Higgs

The new interpretation of the Clause which has been given to us has come as something of a surprise. It seems to have come as something of a surprise to the Attorney-General when he looked into the matter after what was said on the Committee stage. It is surprising that the Bill should have got as far as this without people realising quite what happens. From the beginning I have been concerned about the fact that properties could apparently come within both Part I and Part II of the Bill, and it seems that they can still do so. A tenant can not only have the pick of Part I or Part II but, if he is sufficiently ingenious, he can have first the whole of the benefit of Part I and then the whole of the benefit of Part II, one after the other, if his property is mixed.

It is only by looking into these rather curious aspects that we are able to discover where the Bill takes us. If I understood the Solicitor-General aright, this is what happens. When a tenant comes to the end of his lease of a mixed property, Part I will cover him and carry him until the day in 1953 when the Bill runs out. But under Clause 4, if he is careful, he can bring the tenancy to an end on the 364th day of the second year and can then say that his tenancy has come to an end within the period of two years, and toddle off to the county court to get an extension of a further 12 months.

I do not know whether I am right or whether there is an answer to the instance I have cited. It may be that the Solicitor-General has an answer. But if these points keep cropping up within ten minutes of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), reading out the new interpretation of the Bill, how many more such situations may arise? Surely it would be wise to say that no property should come within both Parts of the Bill, which is all we are seeking to say. As we can do no harm to anybody by saying so, why not let us do so?

The Solicitor-General

I should like to deal with that point. In the case in which a tenant gives notice under Clause 4, the requisite requirements of Clause 10 would not operate because it would not be a case of a tenancy which: …would…come to an end by effluxion of time or by the expiration of a notice to quit given by the landlord.… It would be a case of a notice given by the tenant, so that in a case of that sort there would be no right on the part of the tenant.

I should like to correct one thing which I said in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller). I think I was mistaken about it. What I said was perfectly correct in the case of an assignee but not in the case of a sub-tenant. The assignee would be a person whose tenancy is determined within the meaning of Clause 10 by a notice to quit given by the landlord, that notice to quit being given under the powers conferred on the landlord by Clause 3. The sub-tenant, however, would not have a right under Clause 10 because, as the hon. and learned Gentleman rightly pointed out, it would not be a case of his getting a notice to quit from his landlord. Therefore, the position would be that the assignee would have a right and that the sub-tenant would not.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

If I may speak again by leave of the House, I should like to say that the House is grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for throwing light upon the darkness created by the obscurities in the Bill. We cannot usefully pursue the matter any further today. However, even now I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider the point that we have put foward and, if possible, try to prevent the possibility of the Bill leading to protracted litigation, which only benefits a small section of the community.

Mr. J. Foster

If the Solicitor-General is to consider this matter, perhaps he will also consider a point which I have to make. Let us assume a continued tenancy of mixed premises where the tenant leases part of the living accommodation. I am envisaging a situation where the tenant of mixed premises—a shop and living accommodation—sub-lets part of the living accommodation and then the landlord gives him notice under Clause 3. Is not that a case where the tenant, being an occupier of a shop under Part II, would be entitled to go to the county court and ask for a year's extension? I think that must be so.

The Solicitor-General indicated assent.

Mr. Foster

I see that prima facie the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks it is right, but is not that a situation which should be cured? It is contrary to the views of the Attorney-General stated in his letter, because we have the position that the tenant of this mixed accommodation sub-lets under his new continued tenancy. The intention of the Bill is that the landlord should be able to determine his tenancy once and for all, yet, owing to the way it is drafted, the tenant pops into Part II, says, "I am the occupier of a shop; I have been given notice; therefore, I want a year's extension." I am sure the House will allow the Solicitor-General to answer that problem.

The Solicitor-General

May I deal with that, with the leave of the House? In the case which the hon. and learned Gentleman envisages, the position would be that if the tenant finds that he comes within Part II and applies for a fresh year's tenancy of the mixed premises in question, of course he does not have the advantage of getting it at the low rent he was previously paying. Indeed the county court judge, in considering his application, will take into account these circumstances and may refuse the tenancy altogether. Anyhow, if it is decided that the tenant should have an extended tenancy, he has to pay the new rent which is reasonable in the circumstances. So I do not really think that the objection felt by the hon. and learned Gentleman to the Clause is well founded. It acts perfectly equitably in the circumstances.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 1, line 18, at the end, to insert: Provided that where the interest of the landlord of a dwelling-house to which this section applies is determined (whether by effluxion of time, act of the parties, or for any other reason) before the expiration of the two years after the commencement of this Act, the tenant who retains possession by virtue of this section shall be deemed for the purposes of and subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act to become the tenant on the terms of his previous tenancy of the landlord who would thereupon but for the provisions of this Part of this Act have become entitled to possession of the dwelling-house. This is a similar Amendment to the one tabled in the Committee stage which the Attorney-General said he would look at. We put this Amendment down again with the object of clarifying the Bill, and with the intention of embodying in one short proviso the object of the complicated Clause 5—Clause 7 as it now is—and what was Clause 15 and is now Clause 17.

If hon. Members will look at those two Clauses they will see that they are not only extremely long and complicated, but beyond the comprehension of most people without devoting many hours of study to them. I think I am right in saying that the object of those two Clauses is to secure that as each intermediate lease expires, the reversioner will become the landlord of the tenant under the lease for 21 years. So, if the intervening lease drops out, the tenant in occupation automatically becomes the tenant of the landlord next higher up the chain.

Although the wording of this proviso may not fit exactly into the drafting of the Bill, it shows a way in which that purpose could be effected much more simply and much more clearly. Although the right hon. and learned Gentleman said he would look at this point, I have not had the advantage of a letter from him. I want to make it clear that I make no complaint about that. However, I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman may be able to tell us that, having looked at it, he will be able, later, to adopt something on the lines of this Amendment with a view to shortening and clarifying an already complicated Bill.

Mr. Powell

I beg to second the Amendment.

7.15 p.m.

The Solicitor-General

We considered this Amendment, but we cannot see our way to accept it. Although it was put down with the laudable object of trying to compress Clause 7, it contains effects which are quite fatal. I will indicate only one of them, although there are five or six. The first is rather a technical point. It refers to "a dwelling-house to which this section applies.…" That must mean a dwelling-house which is the subject of a ground lease extended by Clause 1. But it is a condition for extension by that Clause that the ground lessee or his family should be in occupation of the premises or part of them. The people one is trying to protect in Clause 7 are sub-lessees of the ground lessee. Therefore, the proviso leaves out the very people Clause 7 is trying to protect.

No doubt all those defects I have referred to could be remedied by drafting, but if we tried to do that we should have a Clause of exactly the same length as Clause 7. Therefore, although we are obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his endeavours to shorten and simplify the Bill, we feel that this effort has not succeeded.

Amendment negatived.