HC Deb 04 April 1951 vol 486 cc326-8
Mr. Hay

I beg to move, in page 14, line 37, to leave out from "Section," to "shall," in line 38, and to insert: twenty-three of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927. This is identical with an Amendment which I moved on the Committee stage and which, I am afraid, owing to a misapprehension about the time, I did not move in anything like the detail I ought to have done, and I now will put the position more clearly, I hope, before the House; and I am fortified by the knowledge that the Amendment has met with a certain amount of sympathy from the Government.

Clause 19 is that which deals with the question of the service of notices. Section 196 of the Law of Property Act, 1925, is the sort of omnibus section which is often used by reference in other Statutes. If we want to get regulations for the service of notices, we refer to Section 196, and in a normal Bill I do not think there would be any difficulty or doubt about it that that would be a fairly appropriate section to refer to. However, in connection with this Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Higgs) and I feel that Section 23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, would be the more appropriate section to refer to, because that section similarly governs the giving of notices, but it has certain advantages, in my view, over Section 196 of the Law of Property Act which, I think, make it more appropriate in this particular context of this Bill.

I do not want to delay the House a long time, and therefore I shall not read, as I might have done, Section 196 of the Law of Property Act and Section 23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, but I should like just to remind hon. Members of what are the principal advantages of the section which I propose to incorporate in this Bill.

First of all, it is a section in an Act of Parliament which was framed specifically for the purpose of regulating relationships between landlords and tenants, and therefore Section 23 deals only with landlords and tenants, and no other persons are mentioned except landlords and tenants. Section 196 of the Law of Property Act, on the other hand, refers to a large number of other people—mortgagors and mortgagees, for example.

I think it is important that this Bill, if we can possibly make it so, should be drafted in a way which can easily be understood by the average man, because we are dealing here with people who will often have to make up their minds for themselves as to what the provisions of this Measure mean. Therefore, I think the shorter and far less complicated form of Section 23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act has a great deal to commend it in this context.

There is another important aspect of the matter, and that is that under Section 23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act permission is given for notices which have to be served to be served on agents for the purpose. In fact, that same provision is not repeated in Section 196 of the Law of Property Act. Often it will happen, in connection with the Bill which we are now considering, that one party or the other, the landlord or the tenant, will have to give notice to his opposite number, and frequently it will happen—very often, I expect—that the person who gives notice will be the tenant, and he will have to give it to his landlord.

Often the landlord will be a large property-owning company, an impersonal entity of that kind; therefore, I think it is important that there should be some means whereby the tenant can serve a notice upon an agent, and not have to go round to the registered office of the company, after searching perhaps through Somerset House to find out exactly where that is, and have to hand the notice over the counter, having first assured himself that the person to whom he hands the notice is one duly authorised by the company to receive it. If he can do it by serving under Section 23 of the Landlord and Tenant Act he can serve on an agent and it will be easier for him. Those, very shortly, are the main points in support of this Amendment, which I hope the House will agree to accept.

Mr. Higgs

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Solicitor-General

We think the Amendment is certainly an improvement on the Bill. We have pleasure in accepting it, and thank the hon. Gentleman for moving it.

Amendment agreed to.