§ Mr. Powell
I beg to move, in page 8, line 15, to leave out "one month," and to insert "three months."
The object of the Amendment is a simple one which will, I hope, commend itself to the Government. I think it will be agreed that whether or not a tenancy is to be prolonged by the operation of Part II of the Bill, by the time that the original tenancy expires the landlord should be in no uncertainty as to whether he is then free to dispose of it to another tenant or whether the protection should continue. With the period of notice of one month which is written into the Clause, that will not normally happen.
A tenant can leave his making of application for renewal under this part of the Bill to as late as one month before the tenancy is due to expire. Under the Bill, the application then goes to a court, who may dismiss it or may grant an extension. It may be two weeks, a month or, perhaps, two months before the application came before the hearing of the court. If the application is dismissed, then, under subsection (3), a further period of a month must elapse before the tenancy determines. Thus it may be several weeks after the date of the expiry of the original tenancy before the landlord regains possession, even though the court may have decided that the grounds for an extension were not sufficient. That seems to us to be unreasonable.
It seems to us, that, normally, by the time the original tenancy expires, the position should already have been cleared up. Therefore, we propose to require that the length of notice for making an application before the expiry of the tenancy should be not less than three months. That will give sufficient time for the court to hear the application and to decide upon it and, if they reject the application, for the further period of a month not to carry the tenancy beyond the original expiry date. That is the simple object of our proposed substitution of "three months" for "one month," and I hope that the Committee will see fit to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Janner
I appreciate the point that has been made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), but I think on balance it would not be 1379 fair to limit the time to three months, for this reason. Those who have any experience of legal practice know very well that a large number of people are not aware of the rights which are available to them. Many of us find that the periods that are granted in the courts for certain purposes—the time limits within which certain applications have to be made, and so on—are overlooked by laymen. The result is that in many cases the courts have permitted special applications for an extention of time even when there have been limits imposed by other rules of court and Acts which permit of this discretion being exercised.
I could have understood it if the Amendment which required at least three years' occupation had been carried, but in shorter terms of occupation I think it would be unreasonable to impose a period of three months. Let me give one illustration. This Measure being in force, assume that a man lets a shop on a monthly tenancy, knowing that this Bill has become an Act. It would be impossible for that tenant to be protected. It may be an extreme case, but one has to deal with extreme cases; we have to provide for these things. It would be impossible for the court to provide for such a case.
This Amendment would prevent a certain number of people from enjoying the benefits of this Measure, and we ought to be very wary about restricting the rights of people and depriving them of protection owing perhaps to some mistake or misunderstanding on their part. I hope, in those circumstances, that my right hon. and learned Friend will not concede this Amendment.
§ Mr. Granville West (Pontypool)
I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will resist the Amendment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) has said, it is quite clear to those of us who have had a good deal of experience of tenants that they are inclined to overlook their rights until towards the end of the period of their tenancy. If they have to do something three months before the end of the tenancy, when perhaps the urgency of the situation has not been brought home to them, they are likely to be in great difficulty.
1380 I do not think the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has a substantial point when he says that it sometimes takes three months for an application to come before the court. I think it is well recognised that if an application is made one month before the expiration of the tenancy, in the vast majority of cases that application will be heard by the county court before the month has expired. The only period that is required for the service of an application in ordinary county court proceedings is 15 days; it may be less, but the period of time for the service of proceedings in the county court is 15 days before the return day. If an application is made a fortnight before that, there is not the slightest difficulty whatsoever in the case coming before the court. I do not think landlords would suffer any hardship if the Amendment were rejected.
§ Mr. Powell
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that if a court rejects the application there is then a further period of a month added to the tenancy?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
How does the hon. Gentleman's argument affect those places where the county court sits only once a month?
§ Mr. West
It is true that, generally speaking, county courts in the provinces sit once a month—sometimes once in three weeks, but usually once a month. If an application has to be made one month before the expiration of the tenancy, and the application is put in, then the next available county court must surely be held within that month.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Weitzman
I think this is a very reasonable Amendment, and I hope the Committee will support it. One reason why I say it is a practical Amendment is this. If one has a month before the expiration of the tenancy in which to make an application, it is clear that the matter could not be disposed of by the county 1381 court, and that would be a real hardship to the landlord. If the period were extended to three months, the tenant could make his application within that period and the whole cause could be dealt with, thus avoiding any hardship.
I know that one could put forward the argument that some tenants are not aware of their rights and should be allowed as much time as possible; but, after all, we have discussed this Bill; it has had a good deal of publicity, and there is no reason why people should not know what the position is. Such matters as these could not reasonably be dealt with in one month in justice to the landlord, and I am sure that hon. Members on this side of the Committee are anxious to do justice to both sides, including landlords. I suggest that the Amendment should be accepted.
§ The Solicitor-General
I have always regarded this as one of the most difficult Amendments to the Bill, although it is a very simple one. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman), has said, we ought to be fair to both sides. When I came into the Committee my mind worked in this way. I thought that if we extended the period from one month to three months many tenants might get accidentally caught by forgetting to give their notice within the necessary three months. I must confess that that seems to me to be a very weighty consideration.
I am sure that no hon. Members on either side of the Committee would want tenants to be excluded by accident. It seems to me that there is a formidable danger of tenants being excluded by mischance. One knows that certain tenants of small tenancies are not accustomed to look at the written letter of the law. Therefore, speaking for myself, I feel there is a real danger of that undesirable consequence resulting if we accept the Amendment.
I advise the Committee to reject the Amendment, but I would add this: this is a difficult point and, speaking for the Government, I can say that we should like to consider it further in case we think it desirable, on Report, to change the advice which we offer to hon. Members. At the moment, however, having listened to arguments by Members on both sides of the Committee, who are not 1382 divided on party lines—my hon. Friends differ in the matter while hon. Members opposite do not differ—I ask the Committee not to accept the Amendment. At the same time, my mind would not be closed to the possible desirability of doing something on the lines suggested in the Amendment.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I should like to ask a question. The Committee will want to make up their minds on this Amendment fairly soon. I appreciate what the Solicitor-General has said, but there is a risk equally with one month as with three months. People forget about their, rights; they forget to fill in forms in time, but, after all, that is always happening—even with respect to filling in voting papers, and there is no saving clause there.
Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman find a form of words providing for three months' notice, or a lesser period, where good cause can be shown for not having complied with the three months' notice? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman would do that I am sure we on this side of the Committee would willingly withdraw the Amendment. We must ask him to try to find a form of words providing for three months, for the reasons so clearly stated by the hon. Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman), and others, giving an overriding discretion whereby if a tenant can make out a good case that the matter was overlooked by an unfortunate mischance, the three month period can be waived.
I feel quite sure that the vast majority of landlords would not take the view that a notice had arrived a week or a fortnight too late. It is obviously much better that both sides should have an opportunity of considering the position in the last three months of the lease.
§ The Solicitor-General
I cannot give any such undertaking. If we introduced some such form of wording we should be introducing a further element of uncertainty in the minds of both parties. It seems to me that the alternative is to have either one month or three months, and that it would be right to consider the balance of advantage of justice in those two periods. Speaking for myself, when I addressed the Committee earlier I said I would advise them to reject the Amendment and I simply said that my 1383 own mind was not finally closed on this matter. I gave the advice to the Committee which I have given because it seems to me that we have to consider this factor in the situation—that a number of people, especially small tenants, might, with a three months' limitation, by a mere mischance lose the advantages intended to be conferred upon them.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
I am quite unsatisfied by the right hon. and learned Gentleman's reply. I do not think he has given sufficient weight to the very great advantage to both parties of trying to get a settlement by the court before the end of the tenancy. I am perfectly certain that that would be very much to the advantage of both parties. For that reason it seems to me that three months is much the better period.
I entirely agree that there may be cases, through illness or some other reason, where a person who is completely innocent in the matter may not take advantage of his or her rights, but surely there exists analogies for a court having discretion to extend the time if just cause is shown. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said he will consider the matter. I think he would be better fortified in his consideration by a vote of the Committee.
§ The Solicitor-General
I said that I could not give an undertaking such as that requested by the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) but I listened, of course, to what he said and also to what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). We shall bear in mind what has been said. I simply commented that my prima facie reaction was that the Amendment would not be a good solution.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not look at this point too lightly. I believe that it is much more profound than has been indicated by the observations made so far. This is essentially a relief Act—a relief Act for tenants—and, in any provisions, we have to consider whether the words used are in conformity with that objective. The test which I put to myself is this: is it unfair to the landlord that 1384 the period should be one month instead of three? I am bound to consider the tenant's position. As this is a tenants' relief Act, my submission is that the tenant should have an opportunity, as far as possible, right down to the last moment to exercise the right of relief which is conferred upon him.
To my mind, this question of a balance of advantages so far as the county court is concerned is quite irrelevant to the point we are discussing. It is true that if it were a question of equal balance, if it were a question of being fair to the tenant and to the landlord, if this were a Measure in which it was desired to give equal rights to the landlord and to the tenant, then one would properly consider whether a period of one month or a period of three months was right. But we have primarily to consider the tenant here, and those of us who have had experience of this know that the rights conferred under a relief Measure are often overlooked until it becomes too late to exercise them.
Consequently, I believe that the tenant should be given to the last possible moment to make his application. There is no injustice to the landlord. If he has to wait, that is a fate which often follows in this line of litigation; that frequently happens. In this case it is only a question of an application in a county court, which can and will be brought speedily. There are many cases in the High Court which take very much longer indeed for consideration, quite apart from any period of relief which is given. I have certainly never known a period as short as this.
All the statutes have been made so as to serve the advantages of both the tenant and the landlord, but this provision is made purely for the protection and relief of the tenant and, in those circumstances, I urge my right hon. and learned Friend, in looking at this matter again, to come to the conclusion that my view should be more rather than less strongly supported.
§ Question put, "That 'one month' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 204: Noes, 192.1375
|Division No. 22.]||AYES||[4.50 p.m.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Gamer-Evans, E. H.(Denbigh)|
|Amery, J. (Preston, N.)||Channon, H.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Granville, E. (Eye)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Colegate, A.||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Cranborne, Viscount||Harris, P. W. (Croydon, N.)|
|Baker, P.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Baldock, J. M||Crouch, R. F.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Baldwin, A. E||Crowder, Capt. John F E. (Finchley)|
|Banks, Col C.||Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Hay, John|
|Baxter, A. B.||Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Head, Brig. A. H.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||de Chair, S.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.|
|Bell, R. M.||Deedes, W. F.||Heald, L F.|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Donner, P, W.||Heath, E. R.|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Birch, Nigel||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Black, C. W||Duthie W. S.||Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Wells)||Eccles, D. M.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.|
|Boothby, R.||Eden, Rt. Hon A||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Bower, N.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Fisher, Nigel||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Braine, B.||Fort, R.||Hylton-Foster, H. B.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Foster, J. G.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.|
|Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon, L. W|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Keeling, E. H.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Fyle, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Gammans, L D.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Linstead, H. N.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Teeling, William|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Pickthorn, K.||Thompson, R. H, M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Low, A. R. W.||Powell, J. Enoch||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Prescott, Stanley||Thornton-Kemsley, C N|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Tilney, John|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O||Profumo, J. D||Touche, G C.|
|McAdden, S. J||Raikes, H. V.||Turner, H. F. L|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Redmayne, M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Remnant, Hon. P||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Renton, D. L. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McKibbin, A.||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)||Vaughan-Morgan, J K|
|Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S)||Vosper, D. F.|
|MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Roper, Sir H.||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)|
|Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Ropner, Col. L||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Manningham-Buller, R. E||Russell, R. S.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Marples, A. E.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon C|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D||Watkinson, H|
|Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Scott, Donald||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Medlicott, Brigadier F||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Mellor, Sir J.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Williams, Sir H. G (Croydon, E.)|
|Molson, A H. E.||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)||Wills, G.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Smyth, Brig J. G. (Norwood)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Nabarro, G.||Spans, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon Eart|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N Fylde)||Wood, Hon. R|
|Nutting, Anthony||Stevens, G. P.|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Steward, W. A (Woolwich, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Storey, S.||Major Conant and|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Mr. Digby.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Mention, N.)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Adams, Richard||Driberg, T. E. N.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Dye, S.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Ede, Rt. Hon J. C||Janner, B.|
|Awbery, S S||Edelman, M.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Balfour, A.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Keenan, W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Evans, Albert (Islington. S.W.)||Key, Rt. Hon C. W.|
|Bartley, P.||Ewart, R.||King, H. M.|
|Benn, Hon. A N Wedgwood||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, F. (Newton)|
|Benson, G||Field, Capt. W. J||Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)|
|Beswick, F||Finch, H. J.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A (Ebbw Vale)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Blenkinsop, A||Follick, M.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Foot, M. M.||McGhee, H. G|
|Bottomley, A. G||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McInnes, J.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M||Gibson, C. W||McLeavy, F.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Gilzean, A.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Brooks, T J. (Normanton)||Greenwood, Anthony W. J (Rossendale)||Mallalieu, J. P W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D||Grenfell, D. R||Manuel, A. C|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Grey, C. F.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A|
|Brown, T J. (Ince)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Burton, Miss E.||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Mellish, R J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Messer, F.|
|Champion. A. J.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Cretwynd, G. R||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Clunie, J||Mitchison, G. R|
|Cocks, F. S||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Come V'll'y)||Moeran, E. W|
|Coldrick, W||Hamilton, W. W||Monslow, W.|
|Collick, P.||Hannan, W.||Moody, A. S.|
|Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Hargreaves, A||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H (Lewisham, S.)|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Harrison, J.||Moyle, A.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hastings, Dr. Somervilie||Mulley, F. W|
|Crawley, A.||Hayman, F. H.||Neal, H.|
|Crosland, C. A R||Henderson, Rt. Hon A (Rowley Regis)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J|
|Daines, P.||Herbison, Miss M||Oliver, G. H.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hobson, C. R.||Orbach, M|
|Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||Holman, P.||Padley, W. E|
|Davies, A Edward (Stoke, N.)||Houghton, Douglas||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hoy, J.||Pannell, T. C|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Paton, J.|
|Deer, G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Popplewell, E|
|Dodds, N. N.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Porter, G.|
|Donnelly, D.||Irvine. A. J. (Edge Hill)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Rankin, J.||Sylvester, G. O.||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Raid, T. (Swindon)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C.A B|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Silverman, J, (Erdington)||Tomney, F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Simmons, C. J.||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Slater, J.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Viant, S. P.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F.||Wallace, H. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A|
|Sparks, J. A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Weitzman, D.||Yates, V. F.|
|Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Stross, Dr. B.||West, D. G.|
|Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Royle.|
Question put, and agreed to.
|Division No. 23.]||AYES||[5.27 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard||Gibson, C. W.||Paget, R. T.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Gilzean, A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Pannell, T. C.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Granville, E. (Eye)||Pargiter, G. A|
|Ayles, W. H.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Rossendale)||Paton, J.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Grenfell, D. R.||Pearson, A.|
|Baird, J.||Grey, C. F.||Popplewell, E.|
|Balfour, A.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Porter, G.|
|Barnes, Rt Hon. A. J||Griffiths, Rt. Man. J. (Llanelly)||Proctor, W. T|
|Bartley, P.||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Rankin, J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Reeves, J.|
|Bonn, Hon. A. N. Wedgwood||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Benson, G.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Beswick, F.||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hamilton, W. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hannan, W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hargreaves, A.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Harrison, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hayman, F. H.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Herbison, Miss M.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Holman, P.||Simmons, C. J|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Houghton, Douglas||Slater, J.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Hoy, J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Burton, Miss E.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Champion, A. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Chetwynd, G R||Janner, B.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Clunie, J.||Jay, D. P. T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Collick, P.||Keenan, W.||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||King, H. M.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Lee, F. (Newton)||Tomney, F.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Lindgren, G. S,||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L|
|Daines, P.||Lipton, LI.-Col. M.||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H||MacColl, J. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||McGhee, H. G.||Wade, D. W.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||McInnes, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|de Freitas. Geoffrey||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Deer, G||McLeavy, F.||West, D. G.|
|Delargy, H. J||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Donnelly, D||Manuel, A. C.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Dye, S.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mellish, R. J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Edelman, M.||Messer, F.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mikardo, Ian||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mitchison, G. R.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Volley)|
|Ewart, R.||Moeran, E. W.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Monslow, W.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huytan)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Moody, A. S||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Finch, H. J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington C.)||Moyle, A||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Follick, M||Mulley, F. W.||Wyatt, W. L|
|Fool, M. M.||Neal, H.||Yates, V. F|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Oliver, G. H|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Orbach, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|George, Lady M Lloyd||Padley, W. E.||Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Royle.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Baxter, A. B.||Bower, N.|
|Amery, J (Preston, N.)||Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bell, R. M.||Boyle, Sir Edward|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Braine, B.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Birch, Nigel||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bishop, F. P.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Baker, P.||Black, C. W.||Brooke, H. (Hampstead)|
|Baldock J. M.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Browne, J. N. (Govan)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Boothby, R.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Bossom, A. C.||Bullock, Capt. M|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Redmayne, M.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hurd, A. R.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Word, N.)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)|
|Channon, H.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Clarke, Brig. T. H (Portsmouth, W.)||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Rodgers, J. (Sevenoaks)|
|Colegate, A.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Roper, Sir H.|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Crantborne, Viscount||Keeling, E. H.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Russell, R. S.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D|
|Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley)||Leather, E. H. C.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Darling. Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Scott, Donald|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)|
|de Chair, S.||Linstead, H. N.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G (Norwood)|
|Conner, P. W.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.||Low, A. R. W.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Storey, S.|
|Eccles, D. M.||McAdden, S. J.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mackeson, Brig. H. R||Teeling, William|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||McKibbin, A.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford/|
|Fort, R.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thompson, R H. M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Foster, J. G.||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Tilney, John|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Touche, G. C.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Turner, H. F. L|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Marples, A. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Medlicott, Brigadier F.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Mellor, Sir J.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Molson, A. H. E.||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Morris, R. Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Hay, John||Nabarro, G.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Head, Brig. A. H.||Nutting, Anthony||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Oakshott, H D.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Heald, L. F.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Watkinson, H.|
|Heath, E. R.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wills, G.|
|Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Pickthorn, K.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)||Profumo, J. D||Major Conant and|
§ Mr. Powell
I beg to move, in page 8, line 45, at the end, to add:or the date on which the expiring tenancy is due thereafter to come to an end, whichever is the sooner.I was under the impression when I moved the last Amendment that it was more simple than the Solicitor-General eventually discovered it to be. I hope I shall not have the same experience in this case. The object of this Amendment is to prevent the provisions of this Clause from being used for purely vexatious purposes, which I am sure no hon. Member would desire to see done.
As the Clause is drawn, the following sequence of events can occur. A tenant, a month before his tenancy is due to ex- 1388 pire, may make application for its extension, by virtue of this Part of the Bill, without believing that he has any grounds on which such an application could, in fact, reasonably be founded; he can then, one day before the tenancy expires, shall we say, withdraw that application; and then, under paragraph (b) of subsection (3), he has an extra month's tenancy gratis and for nothing, in addition to his covenanted period.
As the Clause is drawn there is, therefore, a standing invitation to any tenant whose tenancy is due to expire within the period covered by this Part of the Bill to put in an application anyhow, because he cannot fail, by putting in an application, to get a month's automatic extension. That, I am sure, is a result which no one would wish to see.
1389 By adding the words set out in the Amendment we obtain this result, that if the application is withdrawn, the date of expiry remains unchanged so that it is impossible for a tenant, merely by putting in an application which never comes before a court, to obtain any extension of the original tenancy. That is the simple point of this Amendment.
§ The Solicitor-General
On balance, here again, I would advise the Committee to reject the Amendment. Under the Clause as drafted, as the hon. Member who moved the Amendment said, the tenant gets an extra month, if he makes an application. However, the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong, of course, in saying that he gets it free, gratis and for nothing.
§ The Solicitor-General
He gets it automatically; that is a better way of putting it. He has to pay his rent, so he does not get it free, gratis and for nothing. As a pure matter of drafting—perhaps, it is rather more than a matter of drafting—the Amendment scarcely makes sense. Possibly that could be remedied. It is a rather technical ground, but the ground is this. Subsection (2) of the Clause provides that where the expiring tenancy would, apart from the Clause, come to an end before the relevant date, it should be treated as continuing until the relevant date.
The effect of the Amendment is to make the relevant date the date on which the expiring tenancy is in any event coming to an end. If these words are written into the opening words of subsection (2) they produce the result that that subsection is dealing with a case wherethe expiring tenancy would apart from this section come to an end before…the date on which it would come to an end, which, I am sure the hon. Member would agree, is obviously quite absurd. Perhaps it is rather a technical point of view, but as a mere matter of drafting it is obvious that it would need a good deal of recasting to bring about the result desired by the hon. Member.
On balance, however, on the merits we rather think that on the whole the landlord is in a more advantageous position 1390 under the Clause as it stands than he would be if the Amendment were accepted in a form appropriate from a drafting point of view. If the Amendment were accepted, the result would be that a tenant whose expiring tenancy is shortly due to end could put in an application for renewal of the tenancy under Part II and then withdraw the application, say three days before the tenancy is due to end. The result would be that the landlord might find the premises on his hands at three days' notice.
Looking at it from his point of view, one has to ask whether it is preferable for a landlord to be in an uncertain state as to whether he might have his premises landed back on him at short notice, or whether it is preferable that he should know that at any rate one month must elapse in respect of which he would be entitled to receive rent and during which he could make alternative arrangements for the disposal of the premises. On balance, it seems to us that that situation is more rational and preferable from the point of view of the landlord to the situation that would emerge if the Amendment were accepted.
§ Mr. Powell
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate that if his second thoughts lead him to substitute three months for one as the period of notice in subsection (1) then the difficulty to which he is drawing attention would disappear since the application, if not previously withdrawn, would come before the court sometime before the determination of the original tenancy.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
As the Bill stands at present, the period is one month and I was discussing it on that basis. As the Bill stands, a tenant who makes an application and, upon maturer reflection and fuller consideration of the circumstances as the period comes near its end, realises that his application is hopeless or most unlikely to succeed, can withdraw it with the knowledge that he will have a reasonable time to get out. Otherwise, he would have to get out—supposing he had made an application—almost at a moment's notice if he had decided to withdraw the application.
That is a situation which rather penalises the bona fide tenant who puts in a reasonable application to safeguard the 1391 situation and, having considered it more maturely and on profounder reflection, realises that his application is not entitled to succeed. It is in the public interest, in the interest of the tenant and of the landlord that in those circumstances the tenant should be able to withdraw his application and that he should be able to withdraw it in the knowledge that he will also have at least a month in which to make alternative arrangements. In relation to the Amendment, it seems to us that the situation from the point of view of both landlord and tenant is preferable as the Clause now stands.
The landlord knows he will have rent for a month and that he can make arrangements in that month. The tenant knows that if, bona fide, he decides to withdraw the application because it is not likely to succeed, he will also have an extra month to make provision for himself. One is always face to face with the difficulty that one may have an unscrupulous person on either side of the fence—the landlord's or the tenant's—who will try to use the situation to his own advantage. But the body of responsible people wanting to deal fairly with one another should not be put at a disadvantage because of the far fewer instances of those who might seek to abuse the provisions of the Bill.
If the change proposed in the Amendment is accepted the tenant who is unscrupulous can equally abuse it. He can equally put in his application, get his extension of tenancy, and, at the last moment, disappear and not turn up to support his application. If he does that he gets a certain amount of advantage by putting in his application even if the hon. Member's Amendment is accepted. Therefore, it is not as if by accepting the Amendment one can put an obstruction in the path of an unscrupulous tenant. We have formed the view that it would be certainly to the advantage of both landlord and tenant that the Clause should stand as it is, and my advice to the Committee would be to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I find the Solicitor-General's argument singularly unconvincing. It seems to me that he would have had difficulty in finding any argument he could have advanced which would have had even the appearance of substance behind it. Let us try to get 1392 this matter into perspective. First of all, I come back to a point which influenced the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) who, I am sorry to see, has gone from us. This, again, is an interference with the contract between landlord and tenant, an interference with the sanctity of contract to enable the tenant to obtain an extension of his lease.
Let us accept, for the purpose of argument, that it is obviously right that if we are going to do the first, then the tenant should remain in occupation of his premises until that matter is adjudicated on by the county court. That is a case which the Solicitor-General would not have found at all difficult to argue. He would not have experienced any of the difficulties he experienced just now. But this is quite different. This is giving an automatic right to an increase of his tenancy to someone who has merely put in his application and then withdrawn it.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Why should the contract be extended for one month where the tenant is not wishing to take advantage of this Measure? There is real scope for abuse here, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman should apply his mind to it. Our Amendment is not designed to impede the bona fide applicant at all. Our Amendment is designed to stop what may become, as so many things have become under the party opposite, a racket.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not applied his mind to stopping that at all. He talks as if the fact that a landlord is entitled to rent for another month is sufficient compensation, but he knows full well, with his experience in the courts, that to be entitled to rent is one thing and to receive it is very often quite different. Why should a tenant, merely by putting in an application and then withdrawing it, be automatically entitled to a further extension of his tenancy? Why should he be allowed to break his word for a further month, because he has given his word to vacate by a certain time, merely in consequence of having put in an application and then having withdraw it? It seems to us that this is something quite outside the intention of this Bill.
1393 If the right hon. and learned Gentleman, speaking for his party, seeks to convince us that this is in the best interests of the landlords, I must say to him that there are some arguments which are much easier for us to swallow than that one. When he says that, on balance, this is all right as it is, my answer is that I do not mind a bit about his spending time in criticising the drafting of our Amendment—I will not take up time in trying to answer his criticism about that—but it is perfectly clear from the Bill that anyone who likes to put in an application for an extension and then withdraws it gets an automatic extension of his tenancy for one month. It is true that he is liable to pay rent; but why should he get that extension when he does not want to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill?
§ Mr. Granville West
Is it quite clear that by making an application he does desire to take advantage of the Bill? Some other factor may have crept in which induces him to withdraw the application. Probably he has obtained the tenancy of other premises, and, therefore, it is to the landlord's advantage that the application should be brought.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. Gentleman is trying to be more obtuse than he really is. I am not dealing with a bona fide case. I am dealing with the case which is a deliberate attempt to get an extension for one month by just lodging an application and then withdrawing it. I thought that I had made that quite clear. I am not dealing with the case where there is a bona fide application and a bona fide withdrawal of the application.
I am pointing out to the hon. Gentleman—I am sure that he can follow my argument—what can happen here, if we have a number of persons—and they do exist—who say quite deliberately, "This is a bit of jam for us. We do not want another lease for one year, but, look, we can get another month automatically. You do not even have to go to court to satisfy them that it is reasonable. All we have to do is to put in an application and then withdraw it."
That is the effect of the Bill as it stands. If the hon. Gentleman does not agree that that is the effect, I am sure that the Solicitor-General will agree with 1394 me that it is. He did not dispute the proposition put by my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). He did not challenge it at all; he recognised it. He said that, on balance, we think that the Clause should stay as it is. I say that it is a very bad balance if steps are not taken to prevent the misuse of the powers obtained under this Clause. We want to stop abuse of the provisions of the Bill. The Amendment is designed to do that. We are not trying to affect the bona fide case where a man genuinely wants an extension for one year, and something happens, and he withdraws his application.
If he withdraws his application, why should he not leave on the date he agreed to? So much more so with the man whose application is mala fide and never bona fide. There can be no case, on balance, or in any respect at all, for giving a mala fide applicant an automatic extension of one month, just in consequence of his putting in his application. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will apply his mind more to stopping this possible abuse than to drawing attention to the drafting difficulties. I hope that he will say that, if he cannot do so now, he will at least undertake to look into this matter and see what can be done on Report stage.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
This is a small point so far as time is concerned. There is only one month involved. I think that there is some substance in what the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has said. I opposed tile last Amendment because I did not think that it was right, but I am inclined to support this Amendment. The proposition which has been put forward is this: where an application is withdrawn the tenancy, nevertheless, under the provisions of the Bill, goes on for another month. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that that is not right. He says that if the tenant has pre-determined that he does not want anything more to do with the tenancy, he can, if he makes unscrupulous use of this provision, give himself a gratituitous extension of two, three or four weeks. I do not thing that any Act of Parliament, whatever the shortness of the period involved, should lend any support whatever to any act of that kind.
1395 I think that it is the duty of the Legislature, quite apart from the Front Bench, and of every hon. Member, to prevent such a wrong use of a statute if it can be prevented. The way in which it is sought to be prevented is, as I understand it, this: it is said that if an application is withdrawn it then indicates that the tenant wants nothing more to do with the tenancy. In those circumstances, why, if the lease comes to an end at an earlier date than the month which this provision gives, should the tenant have that advantage?
It is true that the time is only short, and, therefore, this may seem a little trumpery—but the principle is not trumpery—and because of that, I think that the Solicitor-General ought to look at this matter again. If he comes to the conclusion as I think he may—I do not put it any higher than that—that it is possible to make an unfair or an unscrupulous use of this provision, then something ought to be done to stop it, and the simplest way to stop it is by the method of the Amendment. What finally makes me conclude in favour of the Amendment is that it does not seem to me to put any injustice upon the tenant. Therefore, if we can, by one stroke, remove an injustice to the landlord, and, at the same time, do no injustice to the tenant. I think that ought to be clone, and that the Amendment does it.
§ The Solicitor-General
May I implement what I said? I do not think that I have made the point which I was trying to make clear either to hon. Members opposite or to my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). Let us take this case. The tenancy is due to come to an end on the 31st of the month, and, it being the beginning of the month, the tenant puts in an application. The month goes on, and, if the Amendment is accepted, at any time during that month—say on the the 27th, 28th or 29th of the month—the tenant can withdraw his application. If he does so, it means that two things then follow. On the 31st of the month the premises are again upon the landlord's hands. That we thought was unfair to the landlord.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite talked about it as a matter of principle. We are trying to be fair to both parties. It seemed to 1396 us that it was not only fair to the tenant, but also fair to the landlord that, in a case like, he should, once an application has been made, have at least one month, whether the application is withdrawn or not, to make his own arrangements. If the Clause stands as it is and the tenant withdraws his application on the 27th of the month, then the landlord has at least one month, and so does the tenant. Each probably needs it, and each gets it.
It is a highly undesirable arrangement for both if, in the event of the tenant deciding for perfectly good reasons that he will not go on with his application, he gets out in three days and the landlord has the premises on his hands in three days. It is not that the unscrupulous tenant will be impeded by the Amendment. He will make his application and will not turn up when it is due to be heard. The application will go before the court, and the tenant will have his tenancy. No doubt costs will be made against him, but it will not make much difference. He will have his extra tenancy and will then clear out. The Amendment will not put any difficulties in his way, but it will make it a great deal more difficult for a respectable landlord and tenant to make their arrangements.
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
The difficulties that have been raised by the Solicitor-General arise from the fact that the period of notice that must be given is one month instead of three. His argument stems from the fact that the notice is so short that the county court may not have decided the point before the one month has expired. If the Solicitor-General thinks that there is any strength in his argument, I hope he will see that it comes from this fact. I hope that when he reconsiders the period of notice, he will reverse his argument against himself and see that if the notice were for three months the tenant could not be put in that difficulty.
§ Mr. Janner
On a point of order. Is not the hon. and learned Member referring to the previous Amendment on which we have just taken a decision?
§ Mr. Foster
I am sure that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) does not wish to exclude any argument that is a good argument, even if it is linked up with an Amendment upon which a decision has been taken. I know that the hon. Member is in favour of the Bill. If my argument is a good one, I hope he will listen to it and be persuaded by it. I am particularly addressing my argument to him and to the Solicitor-General.
I admit that there is some force in the argument of the Solicitor-General, that we do not want to put the landlord in difficulty. It occurred to me that he might have put his argument a little stronger. It would be possible for the tenant after the one month to give his notice and put the landlord in the difficulty of the tenancy ending that very day. I should like to see the Solicitor-General having as strong an argument as possible, because he would then have a chance to persuade his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels).
The fallacy of the way these two Clauses are linked together is that the Solicitor-General is basing himself on the sine qua non of one month's notice. He must see that the injustice that might be caused in a rare case on the landlord is based on the fact that it is a one month's notice. The hardship our Amendment is trying to cure, which is not based on one month's notice, is due to the fact that the unscrupulous tenant can end the tenancy one month hence. That is making the position very difficult so far as these applications are concerned. The unscrupulous tenant is presumably a tenant on a short tenancy, and he is a tenant we should wish to discourage from making unscrupulous applications. He will be discouraged by the fact that he has to incur costs, or that his tenancy ends immediately.
I do not think the Solicitor-General paid sufficient attention to the fact of costs. It is a new theory on his part that only poor people are unscrupulous. He has told us that in the case of an unscrupulous tenant the question of costs would not make any difference. I do not subscribe to that. I believe that people with money might also be a little unscrupulous at times. I am addressing my argument to the observations of the Solicitor-General, that the poor tenant 1398 would be upscrupulous and that the tenant who had means to pay would not be unscrupulous. I cannot tell whether his nodding means that he agrees with me or not.
§ Mr. Foster
There seems to be some good will on both sides. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester has put his finger on the spot. He is quite right in saying that there are some difficulties that arise. Therefore, it would be much better if this Amendment were accepted and the difficulty mentioned by the Solicitor-General was got over in some way by altering the terms of notice on Report stage.
§ Mr. Janner
I am surprised at the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) seeking to reopen a matter on which we have already taken a decision. What he appears to want is to do something different at a later stage. The real trouble arises from the fact that Members opposite have overlooked their experience in dealing with county court matters. If they will throw their minds back to the time when they were less prosperous, when they were not addressing judges of the High Court, attending Courts of Appeal, the House of Lords and Privy Council cases, they will remember that if a person is unscrupulous and wants time he can get it easily enough.
§ Mr. Janner
My hon. and learned Friend is thinking of different spheres. He could use the county court pro cedure as it stands, when there is any difficulty for extension of the time. If he wants to make an application under the Rent Acts or to extend the periods of payments, judgment summonses and so on, he would very easily, even if this very proposal were inserted in the Bill, be able to avoid what hon. Members opposite want to avoid. It is a very simple matter. Instead of withdrawing the case it would be allowed to go to court and would incur the county court costs of the day, which would be very little more than the costs which would be incurred up to the time of the withdrawal of the case, because a person has to pay anyway the costs up to the withdrawal.
1399 The amount involved would not be very large and counsel would not be allowed in the matter either. The result would be that the landlords would let the matter come to the date of hearing and they would appear and say that they had decided not to contest the case. The learned judge would give judgment for the respondent, and they would still have the amounts that they want. The Solicitor-General is right, because an unscrupulous tenant would, if he wanted to cheat a landlord and if this Amendment were accepted, be in a position to withdraw at any time, and so keep the landlord guessing as to what was going to happen and place him at a very big disadvantage.
Hon. Members opposite, who are so concerned about the landlords' interests, should study what the Solicitor-General has said, and they will save the landlords from great difficulty. At present the Amendment is such as would entitle the landlords to say, "God save us from our friends." We are advising the landlords from this side of the Committee to be more generous towards their friends, and not allow themselves to be placed in the hands of unscrupulous tenants who want to do this sort of thing. Hon. Members opposite would be well advised, instead of driving this decision to a Division, to agree to withdraw the Amendment altogether.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), made an attractive plea as one of the landlords' friends, but I am not sure that the landlords would not necessarily thank him for what he said. I should like to take one point the hon. Member has been making, following up what the Solicitor-General has said, from the point of view of the landlords. First of all, what most landlords, especially if they have several properties of a similar kind in the same district, are anxious to do is to keep their tenancies running from a particular date in each year. It may be Ladyday or it may be Michaelmas. There are some tenancies which run from January, and the landlord might wish to retain the custom and system which has been observed in the past. Therefore, he will not mind very much if he has to let two or three days pass before he gets the final termination of the tenancy.
1400 So far as I can see it, the point about this Clause is—and I am surprised that the arguments used by hon. Members opposite should have led them to the conclusion which they have—that we all know perfectly well that almost every kind of simple procedure ever sanctioned by this House has lent itself to abuse—perfectly legitimate abuse we may call it or if it is so desired, a legal racket. It has been used, however, for the purposes of obtaining a delay and Parliament has not intended that it should be so used. In this case we find Parliament is doing a most extraordinary thing. It has agreed to a new procedure which can specifically, by the very words which Parliament is using, be taken as Parliamentary sanction to one month's delay, and that one month's delay can be used for the purpose of abusive delay.
When we are faced with a position like that I suggest, if I may use a vulgar expression, we should not stick our necks out. We should be dealing with the abuses that there have been in the past rather than sanction a bigger form of abuse than was allowed before. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but that is the perfectly truthful position. An application can be put in for reasons, other than reasons of delay, and then suddenly it is withdrawn. From the moment it is withdrawn the person concerned has another month to go. In fact, in effect, very nearly two months' delay can be obtained as a result.
It is quite obvious that, in order to overcome the difficulties which are created by this situation, the precise form of words necessary are not easy to find. I have listened carefully to this discussion, and I see the difficulty which the learned Solicitor-General has mentioned. Again, it is a question of weighing up the arguments on one side or the other, and coming down in favour of the side on which the maximum amount of reason would appear to lie. I should have thought that rather than lend ourselves to a process, which, as the Bill stands, is certain to lead in some cases to the abuse of a month's delay, we should contrive means—and this Amendment seems to do it not perfectly perhaps but as well as may be in the circumstances—to cut out that abuse, and nevertheless 1401 preserve the right where it is legitimately used. For those reasons I suggest that the Amendment ought to be supported.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
We have had a fairly lengthy discussion on this small point, and our discussions are apt to get a little lengthy once the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) intervenes. I think we should seek to come to a conclusion on this matter.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am not giving way. The advice given by the hon. Member in his speech was not the best advice given by him, and it is advice which I would not advise anyone to take. I do not believe he is a good spokesman for the interests he was representing in his
§ speech. We have drawn attention to the real need, which could be cured without interfering with the main object of this Bill. It could be stopped and easily prevented, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not see it. I have paid attention to both his speeches. I thought his arguments the second time less convincing than the first. I am sorry that we disagree on that, because I thought we should have agreed here and that we would try to stop this Measure being abused. That we cannot do, so we can only express our views in the Division Lobby.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 178 Noes, 199.1403
|Division No. 24.]||AYES||[6.20 p.m.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fisher, Nigel||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Amery, J, (Preston, N.)||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Foster, J. G.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marples, A. E.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Baker, P.||Gage, C. H.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Baldock J. M.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Medlicott, Brigadier F.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gammans, L. D.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Banks, Col. C||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Nabarro, G.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Bell, R. M.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hay, John||Orr-Ewing, Ian. L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Black, C. W.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Boothby, R.||Heald, L. F.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Bossom, A. C||Heath, E. R.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Bower, N.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W||Prescott, Stanley|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Higgs, J. M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hill, Or. C. (Luton)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Braine, B.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hopkinson, H. L. D A.||Redmayne, M.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Brooke, H. (Hempstead)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Howard, G, R. (St. Ives)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Roper, Sir H.|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.||Hurd, A. R.||Ropner, Col. L|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Ross, Sir R. D (Londonderry)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Russell, R. S.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D|
|Channon, H.||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Clarke, Brig T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Scott, Donald|
|Colegate, A.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Linstead, H. N.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R (N. Fylde)|
|Crowder, Capt. John F E. (Finchley)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Storey, S.|
|de Chair, S.||Low, A. R. W.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Donner, P. W.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Teeling, William|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Thompson, R. H M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Thorneycroft, G. E P. (Monmouth)|
|Duthie, W. S.||McKibbin, A.||Tilney, John|
|Ecoles, D. M.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Touche, G. C.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Turner, H. F. L|
|Turton, R. H.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Vane, W. M. F.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon C||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Watkinson, H.|
|Vosper, D. F.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)||Major Conant and|
|Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)||Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.|
|Walker-Smith, D. C.||Wills, G.|
|Adams, Richard||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Orbach, M.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||George, Lady M. Lloyd||Padley, W. E.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Gibson, C. W.||Paget, R. T.|
|Ayles, W, H.||Gilzean, A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Pannell, T. C.|
|Baird, J.||Granville, E. (Eye)||Pargiter, G. A|
|Balfour, A.||Greenwood, A. W. J (Rossendale)||Parker, J.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J||Grenfell, D. R.||Paton, J.|
|Bartley, P.||Grey, C. F.||Pearson, A.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Popplewell, E|
|Benn, Hon. A. N Wedgwood||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Porter, G.|
|Benson, G.||Grimond, J.||Proctor, W. T|
|Beswick, F.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Rankin, J.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Reeves, J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Reid, W. (Camlachie)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hamilton, W. W.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hargreaves, A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Harrison, J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hayman, F. H.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Henderson, Rt. Hon, A (Rowley Regis)||Royle, C.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Herbison, Miss M.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Hobson, C. R.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Holman, P.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Houghton, Douglas||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hoy, J.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Burton, Miss E.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Slater, J.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir F.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Clunie, J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Janner, B.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jay, D. P. T.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Collick, P.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Collindridge, F.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough W.)||Keenan, W.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||King, H. M.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Lee, F. (Newton)||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lindgren, G S.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Tomney, F.|
|Daines, P.||MacColl, J. E.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||McGhee, H. G.||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L|
|Darling, G. (Hillsboro)||McInnes, J.||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Viant, S P.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McLeavy, F.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M (Bradford, C.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Weitzman, D.|
|Deer, G.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Delargy, H J.||Manuel, A. C.||West, D. G.|
|Donnelly, D.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Dye, S.||Mellish, R. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Messer, F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Edelman, M.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Wigg, George|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Mikardo, Ian||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mitchison, G. R.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Moeran, E. W.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Ewart, R.||Monslow, W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Moody, A. S.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Field, Capt. W. J||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Finch, H. J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Moyle, A.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Follick, M.||Mulley, F. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Foot, M. M.||Neal. H.||Younger, Hon Kenneth|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Oliver, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Hannan and Mr. Wilkins.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I should like to put a point to the Solicitor-General. When the committee considered the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, there was a great deal of evidence that the Act had become virtually a dead letter. It was suggested by one member of the committee that it had succeeded in enabling people to negotiate settlements, but there was little statistical evidence to support that view. It was stated by members of great experience that one reason why the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927, had completely failed was because the tenant had an obligation in regard to giving notices and occupiers could very rarely remember dates, and particularly the date of expiry, the occupier was nearly always out of time. Any hon. Member who cares to refer to the report of the full committee will find that this matter was dealt with in paragraph 204 of that report, and in subsection 2 (a) of this Clause.
If a tenant forgets to make his application, I can see no provision at all that will enable the tribunal to consider the matter, or any power to give relief such as they have in other Acts, to give to a tenant who is out of time through mistake or misunderstanding or other reasonable cause. I agree that paragraph 204 refers to proposals that notices should be given 12 months before termination, but I take the same argument to apply precisely to the present case. The committee said:A tenant holding under a tenancy for a fixed term may lose altogether the opportunity of renewal if he fails to initiate his claim at least 12 months before the tenancy comes to an end. The Interim Report did not propose to relieve the tenant of the responsibility for making the first move but upon consideration it appears to us that no very great hardship would be caused to the landlord if he were required to give the tenant notice of his rights under the Act. Our suggestion is that the tenant should be entitled to give his notice of claim at any time during the three years next preceding the termination of the tenancy but not later than 1 month after the service on him of a notice by the landlord adequately calling his attention to his rights under the Act.I suggest that that really should be the position. The tenant should make his application, but the landlord should not be able to terminate the occupancy without giving the tenant a reminder of some kind informing him of the date of termination or his rights under the Act. In 1406 any event, I suggest that the general law in these matters should be applied by an amending Clause so that the appropriate tribunal should be empowered on due and proper application to relieve a tenant from the forfeiture of his claim by mistake or other reasonable cause and provision should be made for a just hearing of the matter notwithstanding the tenant's omission.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.