HC Deb 30 July 1951 vol 491 cc1080-1

Lords Amendment: In page 28, line 7, at end, insert: or will have such accommodation at their disposal at or before the time when it is proposed that the order or judgment should take effect.

The Solicitor-General

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Subsection (3) enables the court, in certain circumstances, for police or public utility purposes to grant an order for possession of a house without proving that suitable alternative accommodation is available. This Amendment meets a point raised on the Report stage and provides that the court can take into consideration the question of whether the public utility company or public concern have alternative accommodation at their disposal at the time of the hearing, and, as was emphasised on the Report stage, at or before the time the order will have been effected.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I do not think that anyone looking at the Clause in the Bill corresponding to Clause 20 when it was introduced and Clause 20 now would think that they had any relation to each other. During the discussion on this Clause very considerable alterations were made. We raised points of the greatest importance about the privileged position which the new town corporations and local authorities were given for securing accommodation without proving that alternative accommodation would be available for the occupants of the premises whom they were seeking to dispossess. The Clause has been very radically altered, largely thanks to the efforts of my hon. Friends. It is in very much better form, and much better also than the corresponding Clause in the Leasehold Reform Bill. It is much better for achieving the purpose.

The defect of the Clause was that the local authority or the new town corporations could avoid offering alternative accommodation if they could show that at the time of the application they had no alternative accommodation. The Amendment entitles the county court judge to make inquiries whether, before the order takes effect, it will be possible for the local authority, statutory undertaker or new town corporation to provide alternative accommodation. I am glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman has been able to meet us in alleviating hardship that might otherwise have arisen.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I regard the Amendment as a very substantial improvement in the Bill, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman for his interpretation of the words in the Lords Amendment: when it is proposed. Does that expression refer to the time proposed for the judgment to take effect, in the sense that that is the time when the plaintiff is asking for it to take effect, or is it the time when the court decides that possession shall be granted?

The Solicitor-General

The intention is that it should be the time when the judgment of the court is to take effect. If it were the time of the application it would obviously be difficult to work.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It relates to the intention of the court as to the time?

The Solicitor-General


Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment, in page 30, line 14, at end, insert new Clause.